At CDP we are for Christmas. When I think of the Gospel of John chapter 3 verse 16, two images come to mind. The verse declares, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” One image is Billy Graham speaking at a Billy Graham Crusade surrounded by his teammates Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea. This text was one of his favourites. Martin Luther said this verse was “the gospel in miniature”. I love how J W Searle sums it up in his devotional commentary:
the source of the gospel – God;
the nature of it – love;
the object of it – the world;
the gracious manifestation of it – He gave;
the purpose of it – suggested by the words “in order that”;
the scope of it – whosoever; and
the simplicity of it – believeth
The other is Arthur Stace. He is the man who wrote in chalk “Eternity” on the streets of Sydney. He had such an impact by writing this one word that at the Millennial New Year’s fireworks celebration his signature writing of “Eternity” was featured on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Arthur Stace was a reformed alcoholic and I still remember as a young boy sitting on his knee at Burton Street Baptist Church. The message of John 3:16 transforms our lives now and promises a heavenly home beyond description – Eternity.
We must not lose this message. Go and congratulate those businesses and others who display a commitment to Christmas. Also stand up for the message of the Virgin Birth, as without it there is no hope. If Jesus is not God’s son, the cross and resurrection are meaningless, and actually impossible. Apart from John’s Gospel remember both Matthew and Luke record the Virgin Birth in their opening chapter. Both are in agreement that the Holy Spirit will be the responsible agent for the conception, that the child will be God’s gift, and that angels bring the good news. They go on to bring their own perspectives – Matthew tells us of the Magi and Herod’s evil plans, whilst Luke reports on the shepherds. As a former lawyer this is what one would expect of reliable reporting: agreement in the essential facts, whilst still bringing one’s own emphasis on other issues. Here we have the ring of truth! Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us.
This Christmas celebrate the truth of John 3:16. God gave this world His only Son. Let us declare the message and proclaim it. Merry Christmas.
Rev Dr Ross Clifford – NSW President Christian Democratic Party