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The First and Second Advent

Christ was here!

Christ shall come again!

The meaning and significance of these two simple phrases is tremendous. The first advent realized all the hopes and prayers of the patriarchs for the Saviour whose coming was as the dawning of a new day over against total darkness. His humble birth in Bethlehem’s stable was the fulfillment of that promise God had given our first parents almost four thousand years before when He said that He would send a Saviour who would crush the serpent’s head and redeem His people. From this humble beginning rose up He who would bear our punishment and through whose blood the sins of all of God’s people would be blotted out. Truly, young people, this first advent of Christ is worthy to be commemorated by setting aside a day in which we dwell on that miracle of God’s grace…whereby a virgin conceived and bare a son who was Immanuel.

But does it end here? By no means! If it ended here, we as Christians still would have no comfort for we continually look forward to the promised second coming of our Redeemer. Then we shall be taken from the world of our pilgrimage to the promised land, a land where we shall sin no more, where there is no darkness, but where there is light, the perfect and brilliant light of the glory of God.

Young people, with the Christmas season upon us once again, it is imperative that we, especially, realize the true meaning of Christmas. The true biblical “Christmas spirit” is not the spirit of tinkling, shallow happiness as manifested by the world. It is not the spirit evidenced in

shrieking “Merry Christmas” at departing friends and oncoming strangers. The Christmas spirit of the world is portrayed in its bright lights and glittering tinsel, but our “Christmas spirit” does not consist of these.

Instead, our thoughts turn to Him, away from whom the world does its best to draw our attention. We see in His birth the realization of the hopes and prayers of all ages for the promised Messiah. But we see more. We see in His birth the exactitude of the planning or counsel of God. God sent His Son in the fulness of time. Heathenism, unbelief, and debasing religious services were at their peak when the light dawned in Bethlehem. All these things were a preparation for the coming of the Christ. And, dear friend, shall it not be so again when the Lord returns to earth? Again, Christ shall come in the fulness of time. We may be sure that evil will be flourishing then also, for we read in Matthew 24:24, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Going still deeper, in His birth we see the great gift of God, in that He sent His only Son to suffer and die, that we might be saved.

All this the world seeks to cover up, by its accentuation on worldly pleasure and worldly customs during the Christmas season, because of its hate for Him who by His advent destroyed all their happiness and frivolity. Are we to be taken in by this godless and Christ-less Christmas? Indeed, let us not be! Instead let us throw off the world and its foolish celebrations and look back to the first advent, and in looking back, also look forward to the second coming of our Lord, which is to result in our prefect and complete glorification.

If we as Christians, and as Protestant Reformed youth, will understand the true meaning of Christmas, there need be no fear of our placing any emphasis on the worldly celebration of that blessed day.

Know the greatness of that occasion!

Know the bounteous grace which was manifest there!

Sinless and perfect God came down to earth in the form of sinful flesh. The Almighty God gave His Son that He might be killed for the sins of His creatures. We, who also rejected and killed Christ, are made the partakers of the salvation and glory of God.

Oh, yes, Christ suffered even on the day of His birth. On the day of His birth, He was rejected. And yet He was and is THE KING. That he was THE KING was very evident from the fact that He did not have the appearance of any other king. He who was wrapped in swaddling clothes instead of royal purple, He who was born in a stable instead of a palace, He who fell asleep in a manger instead of a jeweled cradle, He who was honored by shepherds instead of nobles and princes. Yes, this Man, rejected by the whole world, was King of kings. How do we know that this Man was the KING, the Messiah, whose coming was prophesied in Genesis 3:15? By the signs of his humble birth. And because we realize that these signs were evidences of the kind of king Jesus was, a king whose kingdom was of heaven, we are happy for these signs and do not want to change them.

Yet we must understand that we too, as we are in ourselves, rejected Him. As we are according to the old man of sin, we also with Herod pursued Christ, trying to kill Him. Finally we did crucify and kill Him. Yet, only as we are in Him whom we slew, do we love Him, follow Him, and become willing to die for Him.

Does not therefore Christmas also point out to us the second advent of Christ when He shall come to receive us unto Himself in final glory?

As the world tried to prevent the first advent of Christ, so it tries to prevent the second, knowing that then the cup of all iniquity shall have been filled and that then they shall receive their reward. For the second coming shall differ from the first. There will be no power given the world, then, to persecute and slay Him. They shall not even seemingly overcome Him because then He shall come as the Victor. He shall come on the clouds of heaven with power and great might. That He is the Son of God shall be undeniably apparent to all. The world who refused Him a place in which to be born, the world who rejected Him, scoffed at Him, spit on Him, and finally, with wicked hands, slew Him, shall now recognize His Kingship and call for the mountains to fall on them.

In Christ’s second coming will be the perfect completion of God’s promise to Adam and Eve in Paradise when He said to the serpent,” And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

What a great and glorious God! Does He not finish what He has begun? From the promise to the elect in Paradise, to the cross on Calvary where the “heel of the seed of the woman was bruised,” to the final coming of Christ, when the head of the serpent is crushed in perfection, we can trace the completing of God’s promise.

Then as the youth of His Church let us celebrate Christmas with joy and gladness, but let not our celebrating be characterized by the deeds of the world. In all our celebrating may we praise God for His wondrous grace in that He gave us Jesus, THE SAVIOUR.