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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - A Night to Be Remembered

Charles Stanley - A Night to Be Remembered

Charles Stanley - A Night to Be Remembered
TOPICS: Christmas

Suppose you'd never seen a Bible, never heard a sermon, never been in a church, never watched anything on television that reminded you of anything religious, and all of a sudden you landed in this country on this weekend. And you said to someone, "What's happening"? And they would say to you, "Why, this is Christmas, this is the Christmas season". They didn't explain to you what Christmas meant, and so you figured you'd sorta decide in your own mind what's Christmas all about?

So, I wonder what you would discover about Christmas if, first of all, you decided to take a stroll through the mall and just look around, see what's there. And then you attended a typical Christmas party. And then you were in a very crowded restaurant, and you overheard some people talking, and they were talking about all the things they were interested in and what they were doing. Then you even had the privilege to spend the night in a typical, normal sort of church-goer's home. Then you watched the television, watched all these ads, then you listened to the radio and listened to all those ads. When you had done all of that, how much do you think you would understand about the real, true meaning of Christmas? Not very much.

Because you see, if you'll look around ya', something has really happened to the meaning of Christmas. If you'll think about marching through the malls, floating through them, everybody's got plastic, few people have cash, and all the parties that go on and the things that go on at parties, and even in a lot of Christian homes. What do people talk about? Watching the television, all the things that are going on about what people ought to buy and they've just got to have this and it's the last minute and it's on sale, get it while you can. When you think about all of those things, what in the world does that have to do with Christmas?

Now, I'm all for having a good time at Christmas, love to go to parties, love to enjoy the fellowship and to eat and all the rest of that. But the issue is, not that that's wrong, but whatever happened to Christmas? I wonder how many people where you work talk about Jesus. I wonder even in your home as a Christian, in this season of the year, His name ever comes up. I wonder in your school, in your classroom, I wonder in your college dorm, at the Christmas season, how many times does His name come up? The tragedy is we have so covered it with paganism and materialism, you can hardly find what Christmas is all about. And I think about millions of people who will grow up in homes today and they will live all of their life, and they will do what they call "celebrating Christmas". They buy presents, they give presents, they go to parties, they have their friends, they feast, they have a wonderful time together.

And yet, they will go through all of their life and come to the end of their life, and if someone were to say to them, "Now tell me what is it that Christmas is all about? What's the real message of Christmas"? You know what, most people will not be able to tell you because somehow along the way, amidst all the trappings and all the things we've covered it up with, most people don't even know why we celebrate Christmas. It's a holiday. It's a few days off. You get to see your friends, lots of feasting. You get things that you've wanted you wouldn't buy for yourself. And so you get a chance to express your joy or your love to someone else. But what's the real meaning of it all?

Well, it's a tragedy to think that a person could live all of their life and miss the real meaning of the most joyous, happy time of life, but most of all, the very focal point of history, and people miss the true meaning. Well, certainly something awesome happened that night, so I want you to turn, if you will, to Luke the second chapter, and I want us to read down through this twentieth verse. And these are verses that are familiar to us, naturally, but I want you to think about it in the light of this very particular night and what took place, and then what you think about at Christmas time and how much of your conversation, how much of your thought is given to what it's really all about.

Well, the scripture says, "Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David," they had to go back to their original area there...

" order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find the baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.' And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into the heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, 'Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.' And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about the Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them".

Now, it's interesting to me how these two groups responded. When the shepherds heard the message by the angel, absolutely terrified by the brilliance of his presence, the scripture says they made haste. In other words, to put it in our language, what they said is, "Forget the sheep! Let's find out what in the world is going on in Bethlehem". But those whom they told after they saw the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph, the Bible says they just wondered about it. They didn't say, "Well, let's go find. If these shepherds have seen an angel and they say that the Son of God, the Messiah, has come, let's go find Him also". No, the Bible says they just wondered about Him.

And I wonder how many of you, all of your life you've celebrated Christmas. Or maybe for the few years of your life you've celebrated Christmas. You know all about what the Christmas season is about, to some degree. But you've never stopped to ponder and to ask yourself the question: What is the cause of all of this? What is the root of all of this? What's the real heart? Is this just another holiday, or is there something so significant that here at the end of the year everybody seems to be joyous? Everybody seems to be happier. Everybody seems to be having a... what's the heart? Where did this all begin? What's this all about? Or, are you one of those persons who just sorta wondered in your mind a little bit and then you joined the crowd to celebrate and you've never understood what this Christmas season is all about.

Well, today I want to answer that question. Because the night Jesus Christ was born, that was the focal point, became the focal point of all history. Now, why would that be true? Well, it's true because of who was born that night. Now somebody says, "Well, oh, I know who was born. Jesus was born". Well, the issue is not if you know His name, the issue is do you know who He was? Well, I want you to turn, if you will, to Philippians chapter two. The scripture says in Philippians chapter two, when Paul is speaking of our attitude, and in the process of doing that.

Here's what He says, "Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although," listen to this, "He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death of a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father".

Now, it's interesting to me when you listen to most of the songs about Christmas. And of course, we understand why Christmas carols would naturally talk about Jesus being a baby. But even songs that are written today, most all the emphasis is on Jesus as the baby. Now, listen carefully, as long as the world can keep Him in a manger as a baby, they don't have to face the reality of who He is. As long as we can talk about Baby Jesus this and Baby Jesus that and Baby Jesus, and keep Him in a manger and keep Him confined to babyhood, we don't have to face who He is. But once He gets out of that cradle, once He gets out of the manger, once we allow Him to grow up, once we allow Him to be the man He was and the man He became, all of a sudden I can no longer ignore Him very confidently. And so, when I think about what happened here, listen to what the Apostle Paul said.

Now, go back, if you will, in verse six. Speaking of Jesus, "Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped," held onto, "but emptied Himself". What did He empty Himself of? "Taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men". Humbling Himself even to death. Now what does that mean? You see, the reason this night is the focal point of history and a night to be remembered is this. That night God came to earth in the birth of the Son of God, in the person of Jesus Christ. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. God the Son taking upon Himself human flesh. Taking upon Himself human nature and becoming a man.

Now, to be sure, we understand what that means. I heard on the way in this morning this song, and the song talked about Jesus laying aside His deity. Listen carefully, Jesus never laid aside His deity. When the Bible says He took upon Himself the form of flesh, the form of humanity, what did He do? He was born of a virgin, the Virgin Mary. He took upon Himself an additional nature. He didn't exchange natures from being deity to being human. He took upon Himself an additional nature, the nature of humanity. God the Son came into this world in order that you and I may be able to understand who the Father is. What is He like? You remember He says, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father".

Think about this, He never ceased to be God, always God. Why do you put such emphasis on that? Because here's the reason. If that isn't true, Christianity is on the same level with every other religion in the world. There is absolutely no difference. Only God, in His perfect humanity and perfect deity, could die for your sins and my sins and pay our sin-debt in full. It is the basic foundational tenet of everything you and I believe, that Jesus Christ, that Babe in that manger was not just a baby. He was absolutely, perfectly, eternally, and always God, who took upon Himself human flesh. That's the reason that you and I can come to Him with assurance and confidence that whatever we bring to Him, He is absolutely able to handle it because He is God, He is not just a baby. Amen?

Now, well, you say, "Well, what evidence is there in the scripture that He was God"? Well, there are many evidences, but let me just mention three of them. One of them certainly is this, and that is the fact that the Bible says He was pre-existent. That means He certainly existed before He was born that night and laid in the manger. Listen to what he says in First John chapter one. Watch this now, "What was," listen, "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen, our eyes have seen". What was from the beginning. Here's what he's saying, here's the beginning and here's what was from that. John the Beloved says in his Gospel that which was going on when the beginning began.

Jesus Christ is the pre-existent eternal Son of God. That is, before creation ever began, Jesus Christ was certainly in existence, and Genesis chapter one, verse twenty-six, "Let us make man in our image" certainly included the Trinity. And then, if you'll recall what Jesus said in the eighth chapter, look in the eighth chapter of John for a moment, and He was continually identifying who He was, especially to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were always arguing about Him. And you'll recall one of the things that they hated Him for, the thing that they hated Him most for was the fact that He claimed to be who He was, the Son of the Living God. And you recall He said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father". They could not stand that. And I mean, this one right here tore them to shreds when He said, listen, verse fifty-seven of chapter eight of John, "The Jews therefore said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.'"

Now listen, when people say to you, "Now look, don't give me this religious bit. I believe Jesus was a good man, but I don't believe He was God". No, listen, if He's not God, He can't be a good man. "Well, why can't He be a good man? He healed people, He taught them, He raised the dead, anybody who does that's a good man". Mm-mmm, no. Listen, if He's not God, He's not a good man. Why is He not a good man? Because if He's not, listen, if He's not God, He's a liar, He's a counterfeit and a liar and an imposter because He said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father. Before Abraham was," He said, He said, "Before Abraham was, I am". That is, I AM. Why does He say I am? Jesus never says I was, I am, I will be, I AM. I AM in eternity past, I AM today and I AM in eternity future, never a time when He did not exist. He is the eternal I AM. The Sadducees and the Pharisees hated Him to no end because He claimed to be the Living God.

Micah, in that fifth chapter, for example, and that's one of those little prophets back here, if you'll go back. Micah chapter five. Some of you may have a hard time finding that, but that's, you know, the big prophets, Jeremiah and Isaiah and Ezekiel. Go over to, if you will, to Micah chapter five and listen to what he says in verse two. "But as for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler of Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity". The prophets prophesied not only His virgin birth but that He was the eternal Son of God.

So, one of this certainly the evidences of the fact that He is the Son of God, the Eternal Son of God, is that He's pre-existent. A second evidence certainly is the fact when you and I think about who He is and what He did in life and all the things that when you look at the Gospels and begin to examine how He lived among men. Certainly one of the things that He would continually say was this. He would talk about His relationship to the Father. If you take a concordance and go through and write down or write down all the references to Jesus's reference to His relationship to the Father. "I and the Father are one". "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father". "I only do those things I see the Father doing". Continually referring to His relationship to the Father. Jesus Christ, listen, He must be God. One of the evidences that He's God is the fact of His personal relationship with the Father.

I wanna read you a couple of other verses here. Look to John chapter seventeen, which is His prayer before the night of His crucifixion. In two of these verses, He makes statements here that says either Jesus Christ is God or, again, He's a liar and an imposter and a fraud and a counterfeit. And I'm here to tell you He is the eternal Son of the Living God. Listen to what He says in this seventeenth chapter. He's praying for His disciples and praying about them and knowing that He's going to face death the next day. And, in this seventeenth chapter, look, if you will, in the fifth verse. Fourth verse says, "I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with You before the world was".

Listen, Jesus Christ is saying, talking to the Father and talking about, listen, He says, "Restore unto Me this glory that You and I had together before the world was". Look, if you will, in the twenty-fourth verse. "Father, I desire that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me wherever I am, in order that they may behold My glory," see My glory, "which You have given Me; for You didst love Me before the foundation of the world". Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, certainly existing before the world ever began. And listen, His high eternal estate, sitting at the right hand of the Father today. This isn't just some baby born back yonder. This is God clothed in human flesh, walking among men. If they had only known it.

And so He came and He sits at the right hand of the Father today to make intercession for every single one of us. He's always been God. He is God, forever will be God. His estate in His glorious relationship with the Father in eternity past, today, and forever says He must be God or He cannot be a truthful man. One, certainly, of the evidences of His deity, of His being God is certainly the way He expressed and exercised His miraculous power in His day. Now, you say, "But weren't there a lot of miracle workers in His day"? Well, there were lots of folks carrying on all kind of miracle ideas, but think about this. He walked among men and what did He do? He was never too busy for those who were sick and downtrodden.

When old Bartimaeus sitting by the highway side there outside the city gates of Jericho, here he was, absolutely wasted piece of human frailty. When he heard that Jesus was coming he began to cry out, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me". And they cried to him, said, "Shut up. Don’t you know this is the Messiah? Be quiet". The more they said be quiet, the more he hollered until finally, I love this phrase that says, when Jesus heard him and Jesus stood still. Never in too big a hurry, why? Because He came for mankind. And He spoke to him, He said, "Bartimaeus, what will thou that I should do unto thee"? That’s the King James’s English. "What will you, Bartimaeus, what is it that you want"? He said, "Lord, that I might receive my sight".

He gave him eyesight. He gave hearing to people who could not hear. He touched lepers, nobody would touch a leper. He would touch a leper and cleanse that leper. He would raise people from the dead. And here is this, listen to this, here's this awesome Son of the Living God. Here's God! Listen, here is God who did not, listen, who did not express all of His glory. And the only thing He laid aside was, listen, was the brilliance and the radiance and all that was wrapped up in His glory. He never laid aside His deity. Here is God walking among men who are sick and people who are dying. And think about this. This God who came into the world, listen, in order to save mankind, to absolutely revolutionize the hearts of men, to absolutely change history, to absolutely, listen, to be the core of all of history and the heart of all of time.

Here's the kind of man this God is. He would stop, sit down, and say, "Bring those children to Me. Bring those children to Me". No doubt pat them on the head, put His cheek against theirs, talk to them in a language that they could understand. Why was it that kids were attracted to Jesus? I'll tell you why. Because out of those eyes of love and compassion, out of, listen, out of that heart of joy, out of that caring beautiful concern of the Son of God who would never become an earthly father, He had the joy and the love and the compassion that drew them like a magnet, listen, drew those children to Him. They loved being around Him. Can you imagine sitting on the lap of the Son of God? Can you imagine sitting in the lap of Almighty God Himself?

That's who this is that is lying like a baby in a manger. He is not just another baby. He is the eternal Son of the Living God. We must never forget it. You see, one of the things that's so significant about that night is everything changed. Because now you and I have to decide what we're gonna do with Him. And we have three alternatives. One of these three alternatives you've already chosen. One alternative with this Jesus is to ignore Him. Keep Him in the manger, He's just a baby, forget it, and ignore Him. You can ignore Him, and this is what you can expect. You will one day die and stand before this same Jesus, the Son of the Living God, who came to earth in your behalf, and He will judge you because you ignored Him, when He sent you so many messages attempting to get your attention to give you life eternal. You'll stand before Him and be judged by Him and eternally separated from Him.

That's one choice. Or you could do like many other people who don't ignore Him but they evaluate, they think about it, they read about it, they listen to sermons, they watch, they hear tapes, their friends try to testify to them, and they deliberately and willfully say, "No". What can you expect? You can expect the same thing. To one day stand in the judgment seat, the Great White Throne judgment, and give an account for your life and be eternally separated from God because you deliberately, willfully, knowingly rejected Christ, your only hope of life eternal. Thank God there's one other alternative. You can acknowledge your sinfulness.

You can say, I do believe the witness of scripture, what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ, that He is the eternal Son of God. I do believe that He was born of a virgin and that He grew up to be a man as other men, only sinless and perfect. That He was indeed God. That when He went to the cross of Calvary He died for my sin and the Father placed all my sin upon Him. And when He died, He paid my sin-debt in full. And you can accept that truth as true. You can receive personally by faith Jesus Christ as your savior, your master, your lord. Simply confessing your sin and listen, your inadequacy, listen, your hopelessness and your helplessness, saying to Him, "Lord Jesus, I do accept You as my Savior, my Lord, and my Master, and receive the gift of eternal life".

And that very moment, sealed as a child of God, forever and ever and ever. These are your three choices. And you know what? Every single one of us has chosen one of those. Which one have you chosen? Let me just say this to you. That was not just another night. A night that will be eternally remembered because that's the night God invaded humanity. It became the focal point of human history because everything up until that time is gauged in time B.C., before Christ. Everything after that, A.D., anno domini, in the year of our Lord. All of time surrounds the birth of the Son of God.

No one has ever had the impact upon humanity, nor will they ever have the impact upon humanity that Jesus has had. Even though He never traveled very far from home. He never wrote a book. He never held a political office. He never had any wealth and He never marched any armies. He was the living Son of God. But He forgave men of their sin. He transformed men's lives. He took the most violent aggressor the church had ever known by the name of Saul of Tarsus. Saved him on the Damascus Road, transformed him into a flaming, evangelistic missionary who transformed the world of his day. And the world has been being transformed ever since.

This is who Jesus is. This is what Christmas is all about. This is who we're celebrating. And it is this Jesus who is your only hope, this Jesus who is the only one who can forgive you of your sin. This is the only one who can make it possible, listen, for you to stand in the presence of Almighty God one day and receive heaven as your eternal home. And my friend, it is my prayer to Almighty God that you will be wise enough in these very moments to say, "Lord Jesus, I do receive You as my savior, my master and my lord. And by Your help and Your strength I will live for You from this moment on". Then you cannot just celebrate, but you can worship at the Christmas season. This is what it's all about. Listen, He's not only the reason for the season, He's the reason for our joy, our peace, our happiness, and our eternal assurance.

And Father, we love You and praise You for what You have done for us. So undeserving we are. And how You have so chosen to reach out to an entire world living in darkness. Willing to forgive, willing to forget, willing to heal our hearts, willing to restore our lives, willing to put back together the broken pieces, willing to mend our lives, willing to transform us into the likeness of Your Son, and willing one day to take us home to be with You forever and ever and ever. We worship You, we praise You, we adore You, we bless Your holy name. We look back to that night to say thank You, and we look back to this day to praise You in Jesus's name, amen.

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