Dr. C. S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
THE CROSS IS GOD’S CHRISTMAS TREE
What is the origin of the modern Christmas tree? We don’t know. This question arises regularly with each return of Christmas, and just as regularly disappears at the close of Christmas. While there is no definite answer, one thing is sure: It has no Biblical basis. How the decorated tree found its way into our Christmas is anyone’s guess.
Despite all this, God has His Christmas tree. It is not as pretty as the department store tree you see everywhere, but God does have a Christmas tree. It is the CROSS of Christ. In fact, the proper name for the cross is TREE!
In one of the first great sermons ever given in the church, we find “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew and hanged on a tree” (Acts 5:30 KJV). Peter in his first Epistle writes: “Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Let’s look underneath God’s Christmas tree and discover some of the many gifts of His grace that are there for you today. You may not recognize these gifts at first because they are spiritual, and you are used to those things which come gift wrapped. Yet they are of infinite beauty, for they come out of heaven. They have not been bought at a Black Friday sale or a pre-Christmas sale. They have been purchased with the precious blood of Christ.
NOW FOR THE GIFTS THEMSELVES
Because they are spiritual, some think they are not practical for today. But they are practical and relevant. We so often think of salvation as being something that is yet future, that it is a package labeled “Do not open until eternity.” We think of salvation in terms of golden streets and harps in our hands. But the salvation that God gives is a salvation for right now, and it brings gifts to you. They are underneath God’s Christmas tree. They have your name on them, and you can receive them now. These gifts come to us BY FAITH. We are justified by faith. In fact, that is the only way in which God justifies anyone today.
WHEN HE JUSTIFIES US, HE IS DOING MORE THAN FORGIVING US
There was a famous case in Alabama many years ago in which a boy was brought before the judge who was his father. It is always the custom that when a judge has a relative come before him, someone else is asked to take the bench, but this judge did not. When the son, obviously guilty, was brought before him, the boy cried out, “Can’t you forgive me?” The judge said, “Yes, I can and do forgive you, but I cannot justify you. I cannot justify you before the community. I cannot justify you before the law. I cannot justify you before God. You will have to pay the penalty.”
When we are justified that means there is no cause in us whatsoever. For when God justifies, it is perfect and complete. We are justified from all things. No guilt left whatsoever. A clean slate.
It is not great faith that is so important, but the fact that God justifies; a little faith will save because God justifies in a perfect way. It is not only perfect but a permanent justification. It is perpetuity from now on into eternity.
God justifies sinners, who do nothing more or less than simply trust in Jesus, who come to His Christmas tree, the cross of Christ. God has placed at the foot of the cross many gifts for you, and I want to identify some of them here.
1. PEACE. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).
2. ACCESS TO GOD. “Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Rom. 5:2). Now that we have peace with God, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
3. HOPE. “Looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Now, what is this “glorious appearing?” When Jesus returns, it will not be as the Babe of Bethlehem, but in glory greater than that of the sun. Even though we cannot comprehend, it’s so dazzling.
4. TRIUMPH IN TROUBLE. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5: 3,4). The word “experience” is better translated as “character.” God seeks to develop character in us and He does it with the refining fires of trouble. He doesn’t save us by our character, but He does save us to produce character. Trouble should not weaken the faith for a believer, but actually strengthen it. This fourth gift has done its job when you can REJOICE in trouble. And that’s a real gift!
5. THE LOVE OF GOD. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5 ESV). The general meaning of “shed blood” is that the love of God gushes forth from our hearts like oil from a gusher. This has nothing to do with human emotion; the love of God is a fruit of the Spirit. It means to love as God loved when it was said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should never perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
The materialism of today has almost obliterated the real Christian love which comes when we seek the face of God. When the world works up some sentiment and breaks out with the “Christmas spirit” in making donations to this and that cause, the real love of John 3:16 is buried under the feet of the world in its rush to make money off the emotions of those joyful days.
6. THE HOLY SPIRIT. “And hope does not disappoint, because the Love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5 NKJV). You don’t have to seek this gift, and you don’t have to wait for Him. There is no delay involved. When Jesus was preparing to leave this earth, He said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16). Notice that the love of God is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit Who was given to us. The indwelling work of the Spirit in the believer is His peculiar work in this age of grace.
7. DELIVERANCE FROM WRATH. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him” (Rom. 5:9). Some have asked me to point to a verse that says Christians will not go through the Great Tribulation. Well, this is one of many. Others seem to think the tribulation will be like one of those hurricanes that hit the coast of Florida, and we have to hide in a storm cellar until it blows over. Wrong idea. The text says, “For the great day of His wrath has come and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:17). That’s part of it. We also know antichrist is coming in great power and will promise the world peace. The world will believe him. If you think believers will—you can laugh over that. You see, our thinking mustn’t be muddled at this point. For if God was willing to give His Son to die for us when we were His enemies, don’t you know that when we become His children, we will not taste the wrath to come. What a priceless gift—saved from the wrath to come!
8. JOY. “Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have received reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11). I’ll add—because He lives, we live! The word rejoice might be better as “boast.” We can boast in Him, not because of what we are or what we have, but we can boast of what we have received—mercy. Total, unlimited MERCY, washed whiter that snow!
You and I are joined to God through Jesus Christ. These fabulous gifts are the result of that union. So you see, the cross of Christ is . . .
GOD’S CHRISTMAS TREE!
And all those gifts under that tree are yours!
C. S. Lovett
© 2018 Personal Christianity. All rights reserved
Dr. Lovett’s best-selling book DEALING WITH THE DEVIL has been updated and revised for today’s readers. It is our desire that every Christian home has a copy of this vital and informative book regarding Satan and his evil doings. It is available on Amazon.com and sells for $14.99. If you are interested, click HERE to order. Dr. Lovett's most recent book THE PREPARED LIFE is also available by ordering through Amazon. Click HERE to order and get more information.
Another year has gone by quickly and we want to thank you for supporting this ministry through your prayers, letters of encouragement, and donations. We feel so blessed by your partnering with us in helping to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations.
We are delighted that we can keep Dr. Lovett’s legacy of books and other writings available by continuing to send out the monthly Maranatha Family Newsletter, maintaining the ministry website, and offering Dr. Lovett’s new and updated books through Amazon.com.
May God bless you and your family, and may the true meaning of Christmas fill your heart.
The Lovett Family
PERSONAL CHRISTIANITY, PO BOX 918, MIDDLETON, ID 83644
“Preparing for His Appearing”