We Wish You a Merry Christmas!
It has not been the easiest year for trading, but that is to be expected when we are almost done with the fifth year of an old, tired bull market. That is the toughest trading one can have. When the next bear market happens, after that the next new bull market will begin. That will be the start of the best year of trading you will ever have. We will have a whole group of NeUventure students become millionaires that year, and some of you will be in that group! The key is to have money left when that year arrives!
Therefore, now while the trading is tougher, use good money management (i.e. stop out properly when trades go the wrong way); only do trades that have all the elements present of a perfect trade (good fundamentals; a good recognizable pattern, and a perfect buy point; and market tone in favor of your play). Do fewer trades, but better trades. Go over all your plays from 2013 to see what you did well and where you broke rules. Study and practice. Be ready when opportunity presents itself.
Now that the Fed has made its decision to scale back quantitative easing, the market will most likely settle down and be more normal after the first of the year-at least we certainly hope so. One thing is for sure. Many of you newer students who only know about this kind of difficult market, are going to be REALLY GOOD in the first two or three years of the next new bull--you will think it's easy! You have been raised up and exercised during hard times, and it will actually make you better than others.
Now, I want to share with you something beautiful from the Christmas story this Christmas season. In going back and studying the Christmas story again this year in preparation for a Christmas message, I found that the plan of Salvation is embedded clearly in the Christmas story itself. It is embedded in it again and again. If you know me, you know I can talk a while about the Bible, so if you are running short on time, you can skip half way down this entire study to where you see in bold, "But everyone sees the Christmas story...." You can pick it up there if you want the shorter version. For those who want to read a serious study on salvation, start right here!
You know, there are really only two plans of salvation in the world. The first is man's method, and all the cult groups, and all the great world religions, except Biblical Christianity, follow it. It always includes man playing a part in his own salvation. Man doing a list of "good things" in order to attempt to please God, so that God will save man on the basis of man's goodness. The second is God's plan. In God's plan, God Himself becomes the Savior and saves man, who is helpless and powerless, and He saves man totally apart from any effort on man's part. God's salvation is JESUS PLUS NOTHING.
One of my new friends and NeUventure students I met this year, Dale Stone, told me about something his seminary professor, Wilson Fagerburg, shared with the class one day.
There are two plans of salvation in the world:
The first is, "Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better, and your better best, and like Ivory Soap you float right up into heaven.
The second is God descends the golden staircase from heaven. He is holding a bundle. Inside is His son. He leaves the gift of Jesus in a manger for Mary and Joseph, and for the world.
The sad thing is that the modern church has morphed into a "gospel" which smacks more of the humanistic plan, than the true plan--it sounds more like the "ivory soap" plan rather than the "bundle" plan. The modern church always adds something on man's part to be done along with what Jesus has done. Sometimes it is "repent." Some say, "confess." Some say, "keep the commandments," "obey," "trust and obey," "be baptized in water," "join the church," "keep the sacraments," or "believe," or some combination of these things...and then God will save you on the basis of your having done these things. They say, "Oh, we believe that you must trust Christ, but you must also...." So truth is mixed with a little error, but Jesus said a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump!
We will look at part of the Christmas story, but first let me say that it is interesting to me that the Bible itself says the Apostle Paul's salvation is a pattern for everyone's salvation experience.
1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern
to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
The word "pattern" comes from the Greek root word, tupŏs, which means "a die (as struck)." You have an emblem you want on a piece of leather, so you create a die with the emblem in it and place it on the leather and strike it with a heavy hammer. The exact emblem is now on the leather. Paul's salvation experience is the die, and our salvation is an exact replica of his.
When we look at Paul's salvation we find him, a lost, religious man, who hated Jesus Christ and his followers, on a road to Damascus seeking to kill Christians. He was so depraved that he thought he was doing this for God. Each step he took down that road as a Christ killer, lead him one step closer to his salvation. Yet, this was a salvation he was not seeking.
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
As a depraved man, he had no way of saving himself, or even believing in Jesus. If belief were the "condition" of his salvation, then he was lost, for he could not believe because he could not believe something which he could not hear, and he did not have ears to hear.
He could not believe in someone He could not see, and he did not have eyes to see. He could not accept life, for he himself was dead. He could not be saved by good works, because "there is none that doeth good, no, not one." He was helpless, and lost, yet he thought he was following and serving God! What a pattern!
The Bible has a lot to say about the state Paul was in just a few steps before his salvation experience on that road to Damascus. Each step, he hated Christ, and then he took a step, stopped in his tracks and found himself saved. This is NOT the modern church's plan of salvation, but it is the pattern of TRUE salvation. Paul was not seeking Christ, Christ was seeking Paul. Here is why it had to be this way….
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
So, Paul was walking down that road an "alien, and a stranger from the covenant" God had made with Abraham. Paul was in a state of having "no hope," and being "without God in the world." He had no hope of pleasing God, he had no hope of believing in Jesus Christ, he was in fact without God in the world.
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Paul was also in a state of mind where his understanding was darkened. The Greek word for understanding is dianŏia--his faculty to think, to imagine, to understand had been darkened (skŏtizō, obscured). Paul was alienated from life (eternal life) because his heart was BLIND.
1 And you...were DEAD in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Paul was DEAD in trespasses and sins. He was walking according to the world system, and according to Satan, and in the lusts of his own flesh and mind, and was by nature a child of wrath.
For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed….
Paul was DEAF, and could not hear God's true voice.
Now if we summarize the state Paul was in one step from his salvation, taking step after step as a depraved lost man, here was his state:
1. He was not righteous.
2. He could not understand God.
3. He was not seeking God.
4. He was unprofitable (i.e. God could throw him out because he brought no profit to His Creator).
5. His hands were dirty, and he could not do good.
6. He was without Christ.
7. He was an alien and stranger from the Abrahamic Covenant.
8. He was without hope.
9. He was without God in the world.
10. His understanding had been darkened by sin.
11. He was alienated from LIFE.
12. His heart was BLIND.
13. He was spiritually DEAD in trespasses and sins.
14. He was LAME and could not follow God, walking according to the world system.
15. He was walking according to Satan's influence.
16. He was walking according to the lusts of his own flesh and mind.
17. He was by nature a child of wrath (i.e. he had a sin nature)
18. He was DEAF
The picture of Paul, is a pattern of all of us just a nano-second before our salvation….
Dirty hands (which could not serve Him)
Dark mind (which could not conceive of Him)
Blind eyes (which could not perceive Him)
Dead spirit (which could not sense Him or know Him)
Lame feet (which could not follow Him)
Deaf ears (which could not hear His call).
No wonder the Scripture says we were "without hope, and without God in the world."
Yet the world's plan, the modern church's plan of salvation is for man to believe, repent, confess, and follow in order to be saved! How can a dead man do any of this?
God answers this in the same passage in which many of the above traits were found, Ephesians, Chapter 2...
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
In the Greek language, the very grammar demands that the "grace," the "salvation," and the "faith" mentioned in verse eight are all gifts from God. Therefore it is not some worked up human belief that saves a man, any more than the demons who "believe and tremble." It is a God-given faith, actually the "faith OF Christ" (Gal. 3.22 et. al.) which is given as a gift from God to his child so that he might be saved. This faith, unlike man's faith, is a faith that can walk on water. It is a faith that not only believes in God, but knows God, beholds God! Verses 8-10 clearly show that salvation comes as a gift, then obedience follows as a result of the salvation. This pattern is seen in Paul's salvation, and also in the Christmas Story as we shall see below.
As we look at Paul's conversion in the book of Acts, which is a pattern of our own salvation, we see the mechanism by which God accomplishes this impossible, miraculous salvation of a totally depraved, dirty, dark, blind, dead, lame, deaf man--a man who could never believe nor save himself in any way--a man without hope and without God in the world! It begins with Paul speaking, giving his testimony.
1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense which I make now unto you.
2(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
(1.) First, Paul was taught by Gamaliel the perfect manner of the law-zealous toward God, which to a Jew meant zealous toward the law! He believed in salvation by a system of works, or rules, and he was a zealous defender of that system, which was diametrically opposed to salvation by grace through Jesus, who Paul hated! He was NOT looking for Jesus, not seeking Jesus. He felt he was already right with God! We were all that way.
4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
(2.) He was on his way to kill Christians.
5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
(3.) Paul was making HIS journey. He was NOT seeking God, he was making his own plans, following them down his own road, but was abruptly stopped by GOD not by anything within himself!
(4.) Suddenly God did something that Paul was the recipient of, not the CAUSE of. (In the grammar, passive not active--i.e. this was something that was done to Paul by someone bigger and stronger than himself.)
7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
(5.) His DEAF EARS were opened by the Lord Jesus Christ. Passive, not active.
Only after the Holy Spirit "flipped a switch" in Paul, and turned on his spiritual ears (a work of God, not of Paul) could Paul hear the Words of Christ. He heard Jesus call for the first time because God had opened Paul's ears. This was a miracle, not natural. This was caused by God, not by man.
8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutes.
In a parallel passage of the same account it says:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:
it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
Paul was not in a state of desiring Christ, "he was kicking against the pricks," resisting any conviction. When his EYES and EARS were open by the Holy Spirit, then he was able to yield and be saved, calling Jesus LORD. "Lord what would you have me to do?"
(6.) The Lord put Paul under conviction here. Earlier when Paul saw Stephen die, he was NOT under conviction, but assented to his death. What is the difference? God flipped his switch on. His dead kernel of a human spirit was quickened by God so that it could receive God's communication for the first time!
9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
(7.) The others could not hear because their "switch" had not been flipped by God. They were still deaf. Jesus Himself chose who would be allowed to hear and who would not. None of the men in the group, including Paul, had the power to make that choice.
10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
(8.) Paul received Jesus as his LORD because once his eyes and ears were opened by the Holy Spirit, ONLY THEN could Paul see that Jesus was his Shepherd, and only then could Paul's ears hear the call of the Shepherd and respond to it, as all true sheep do--"I know them and they follow me...." Paul found his Great Shepherd irresistible. And why wouldn't he? The Shepherd had the food for the sheep! (Anyone who grew up on a farm or ranch like I did understands how the cattle will come to the pickup truck I own, because I feed them, but not to the truck of another! My truck is irresistible to them.)
At that moment Paul could do no other than follow Jesus, because that was his heart's desire. Just a few seconds before this, he hated Jesus Christ. Who made the choice, then? God did. However, they actually both did--first Christ chose Paul, then Paul's ears and eyes were opened by Christ, and the Holy Spirit gave Paul the "faith of Christ" and then Paul saw Jesus as His own Shepherd. THEN Paul responded (as a bride to a groom) with his own belief, and chose Jesus and received Him as his personal Lord and Saviour because with eyes that could NOW see, and ears that could NOW hear, Paul found Jesus totally irresistible!
God chose. Paul chose. The point is, Paul could never have chosen without God flipping the switch first. Therefore, God was in control and made sure that His lost sheep was found!
I had a friend once who was convinced that Paul was not saved on the road to Damascus, but only after he was baptized by Ananias later. This would of course make water baptism a condition of salvation, and this was my friends belief. However, our salvation has no conditions on man's side because it is tied in with the Abrahamic covenant which was unconditional. We know that the Abrahamic Covenant had no conditions for man to fulfill. We also know Galatians (3.6; 4.22) says our salvation is tied into the Abrahamic Covenant.
It contained no condition for man, but it did contain an act for Abraham to do signifying the covenant had already taken place--circumcision. However Genesis 17.11 says clearly that this is not a condition of the covenant, but a "token" that it had already taken place. God had already changed the heart, and the circumcision was a type or picture, or token of this fact. The word token or HBR oth means, "a sign or witness or token." Water baptism is the N.T. mirror of the O.T. circumcision. It is a symbol or token of the salvation that has already taken place.
The fact that Paul was already saved before Ananias baptized him is proven by the fact that when Ananias first laid eyes on Paul, BEFORE he baptized him, he called him "brother Saul." He was already a brother by the time Ananias met him--he had become a brother on the road to Damascus the moment he called Jesus Lord. When Ananias protested to the Lord who told him to meet Paul, the Lord told Ananias, "But the Lord said unto him...he is a chosen vessel unto me...." God had chosen Paul before the foundation of the world to be his own, and Paul responded on the road to Damascus once his eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit. Water baptism was an act of obedience which arose in Paul's life as a RESULT of the salvation he already had. It could not have been a condition of the salvation, since there are no conditions of salvation.
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy (physical) sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
In further support of the fact that we play no part in our own salvation, other than to respond to Christ immediately once we HAVE already been given it freely, I submit the following Scripture, in the words of Christ Himself.
Jesus said "No man can come to me except the father draw him" (GR. drag, as if against a depraved man's will). -- John 6.44.
He also said:
"To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.... I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. --John 10:3-5, 14
And, Jesus also said:
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth (beholdeth) the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Paul, therefore, was always a sheep, never a goat. It is clear from Jesus' parable of the sower that Satan planted some tare seeds in this world also-people who will always be tares, or goats. Goats never become sheep. Tares never become wheat. On the other hand Sheep never become goats--they are never lost, and wheat cannot morph into weeds, but is always gathered into God's barn--this is the basis for eternal security. The weeds are always bound in bundles to be burned. Without foreknowledge, predetermination and election, you have no calling, or salvation, or eternal security of the believer. In the 1600s and 1700s everyone pretty much understood this, other than the Roman Catholics. Today in the luke-warm church we have almost removed these great truths from the mind of the church. A small remnant still see it.
But everyone sees the Christmas story, and the same pattern is found within it!
We begin with John the Baptist's father speaking, after going nine months without speech, having been touched by an angel.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; For he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us In the house of his servant David;
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, Which have been since the world began:
71 That we should be saved from our enemies, And from the hand of all that hate us;
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, And to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies Might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, All the days of our life.
Within this prophecy of John the Baptist's father, we see all the elements of God's true plan of salvation listed in proper order.
1. The Lord God of Israel visited and redeemed his people (vss. 67-68). God did the visiting and the redeeming. He visited people where were without hope and without God in the world, and with the blood of His son, he bought them, and set them free. There is no part of this that man could do for himself.
2. God raised up a horn of salvation (Jesus, as prophesied) FOR us (vs 69-71). Now think about this there are two ways man may plan for salvation. He can attempt to do it himself, as all the world religions and cults say it works, OR he could realize that God does it FOR him (as Zacharias said it happened). It continues, "That we should be saved from our enemies...." "Be saved" indicates clearly that this is not something we do-it is passive, in other words someone stronger than us saves us. We either save ourselves or we "be saved" it cannot happen both ways at the same time. If we are in a burning building with a beam fallen upon us, we must either BE SAVED by someone stronger and more capable than ourselves, or we perish. There is nothing we can do to help, we are without hope.
3. God did this to "perform the mercy promised to our fathers" which speaks of the Abrahamic covenant (vs. 72, 73). The Abrahamic covenant was an unconditional covenant, which means that man played no role in it-God promised and kept His promise without any condition on man's part. The book of Galatians teaches clearly that the N.T. salvation springs from the Abrahamic Covenant, therefore it is unconditional too-it comes forth from God's promise with no condition on man's part. God does it all.
4. God "grants us" that we should be delivered. "Grant" means a free gift, and this speaks of grace, or undeserved favor that God has for us. So, our deliverance, or salvation, is granted to us, we do not earn it or deserve it. (vs. 74).
5. This all happens so that we might serve God without fear, and live in holiness and righteousness before God all the days of our lives (vs. 74).
We see that God does the saving as a "grant" to us, and the RESULT (not the cause of the salvation) is our being able to serve God, and walk a holy walk.
The modern church gets the cart before the horse. It teaches that we must serve Him and try to be holy in order to please Him so that He will save us. This puts the salvation in the hands of man. This is humanism, or arminianism.
In contrast, the Bible teaches that God "GRANTS" us deliverance so that we can THEN serve him. The salvation comes first, and the service and holiness are a RESULT of it, not the cause of it.
Notice that it says in vs. 74 we serve Him "without fear." Do you realize that no person who adds his own conditions to God's salvation can say this? Only people who truly believe salvation comes through Jesus PLUS NOTHING can serve him without fear.
No modern Roman Catholic can do this. This is because their great father Augustine taught salvation by Jesus PLUS NOTHING, but the Roman church rejected his teachings and went the wrong way from that time until today. Few Church of Christ persons, few Pentecostals or Methodists, no Mormons, or Jehovah's Witnesses, no Islamic person, nor Buddhist can say they serve the Lord "without fear" because they all believe one may lose his salvation. They never know if they have served enough to maintain salvation! Therefore they serve IN fear.
This makes sense, because they also believe that one plays a part in his own salvation, in other words, contrary to the UN-conditional Abrahamic Covenant-type salvation (God's plan), they have a CONDITIONAL salvation plan (taught to them by a man, or man's religion) which has things man must do to be saved or stay saved--therefore they always live in fear that they might not have done enough! How could one do enough? God is Holy, and our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, the Bible says.
I am not knocking these groups, for they are far more consistent and logical than the modern Baptist who claims he has eternal security, yet believes that he plays a part in his own salvation through repenting and/or believing. They believe God gave the gift, but they "have to decide whether to accept it or not." This is not in the Bible, but has been repeated from one preacher to another so long that people believe it is the gospel! The Bible never says "accept Christ," it says "receive" him, and there is a BIG difference.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
To accept puts the eternal destiny in the hand of the person, who may decide to accept Christ or to reject Christ. To receive, on the other hand, means that when the switch is flipped and the eyes are opened and the ears can hear, the person receives a free gift because it is irresistible! He just takes it because he wants to. There is a huge difference! This puts the eternal destiny of a soul in God's hands, not man's. If Jesus promised that of all that the Father gave Him he would lose nothing, how could he possibly put the eternal destiny of these, God's sheep, in their own hands?!
If belief is a condition of salvation, then what happens when doubt comes, as it always does with humans? What happens when we repent of the repentance? (i.e. we backslide, and go back to the things we decided were not right for us.) If those were a condition of salvation, then we just lost it because we no longer fulfill OUR condition. Yet the modern Baptist does not want to admit this, so he is the most illogical of all. I am a Baptist so I feel comfortable offering constructive criticism here.
The great Prince of Baptist Preachers, Charles Spurgeon would not recognize the modern Baptist belief, for he believed and preached that salvation was through Jesus PLUS NOTHING. (This is not to say that anyone can be saved without believing in Christ, but it IS to say that no one believes without the Holy Spirit first flipping the switch, opening the deaf ears, opening the blind eyes, quickening the dead spirit, imparting the faith of Christ into the person as a free gift of grace-all happening first with the human belief occurring after salvation, as a response to Christ's love, and a result of it. If it makes one feel better to say that the Holy Spirit imparts Christ's faith and the elect person believes simultaneously, that is fine with me because it happens in the same instant of time. When the Holy Spirit calls with His effectual call, the sheep's heart resonates in tune with it and on the same frequency. The faith of Christ is given as a gift, and the sheep's heart also believes in tune with this. However, the sequence is clear, God must raise the dead before the dead can believe, or obey, or walk. This is a miracle of God, then. Just as in the birth of a child, it is the parents that do all the planning and all the work, and the child plays no part in his own birth-he just receives all the benefits of it-spiritual birth is the same way. God did all the planning, Christ did all the work, we wake up in the family, with an inheritance, and can see and hear and are immediately hungry for the milk of God's word-we follow the Shepherd irresistibly. Yet we played no part in our birth.)
Only the person who has been truly saved by grace through the faith of Christ (according to the sound doctrines of Biblical Christianity) can say with a pure conscience that he serves God WITHOUT FEAR. This is because he knows he played no part in his own salvation, and that God gave him zero conditions to live up to, God did it ALL through the finished work of Christ on the Cross, therefore he cannot MESS IT UP! Salvation is of God. This is what the Christmas story teaches, precisely. God does require the human race to believe in His only begotten Son. However, since the human race is fallen and dead and blind and deaf, God must infuse Christ's faith as a gift within the remnant, the elect ones, chosen before the foundation of the world to be saved out of a fallen cursed race as representatives of God's grace and mercy. God Himself must perform a miracle through His Holy Spirit and make the blind eyes see, and the deaf ears hear, and the dead bones to take on life. Belief is the greatest miracle of all in a totally non-believing race, and you can be sure it comes from God, not man. "No man can come to me except the father draw him, and of them I will lose nothing." Jesus' words are so clear. Sadly, the messages we have heard from our pastors for the past 100 years are not, and they bring confusion. It is not the clear Scripture that is confusing--it is attempting to read it through pre-conceived notions we obtained from humans in our life, who received it from humans in their lives, etc. We need to simply become adults, spiritually, and read the Bible on our own. We need to read it not caring what the doctrines say, but letting them speak for themselves, and making sure our interpretations are correct because they do not contradict any other clear passages! This is just being honest with the Bible, and not falling subject to pear pressure within our "group."
I hope you can see the true reason for the season here, that is my only hope. From the beginning the Christmas story is a miracle. We see angels appearing to the Shepherds in the field. We see a virgin birth. We see the God-Man, Jesus Christ, named Jesus because He came to SAVE His people from their sins (doesn't sound like something they could do for themselves!)--called Immanuel because he was "God with us." I am not angry if you believe differently than this, and I hope you are not angry with me for sharing what I believe is the clear teaching of Christ. This is what God has called me to do. Please just examine the Scriptures themselves, rather than believing through some sieve that another man or woman, no matter how great, put in your life. Just read the Bible as it is written, none contradicting any other part, all in line with the whole. God bless you and your family this Christmas Season! I truly love you all. Your salvation is the greatest miracle in your life!
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [thing] pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no [thing] is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: And he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: For the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
The greatest miracle of Christmas is Salvation itself. If it is a miracle, it is not of man, it is of God. Man just receives the benefit! Merry Christmas!