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THE CHRISTLESS CHRISTMAS
OF THE MODERN WORLD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, December 23, 2001

“They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him” (John 20:13).

Mary Magdalene was heartbroken when she came to the tomb. The body of Jesus was gone. "Someone has stolen his body," she thought. She stood there alone in the early morning light weeping. Then she looked into the tomb again, and saw what appeared to be two men. They asked her, "Why are you crying?" She answered, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him" (John 20:13).

"They have taken away my Lord" - What an application her statement has to our modern world at Christmas time! "They have taken away my Lord!" Jesus is nowhere heard of - and the very name "Christmas" - because it has "Christ" in it - has been completely thrown out. You never hear anyone say, "Merry Christmas" any more.

"They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him" (John 20:13).

This evening I will bring out three points on this subject:

1. How they have taken away Christ.

2. Why they have taken away Christ.

3. What you can do to find Christ.

I. First, how they have taken away Christ.

A cold, dark cloud has fallen over our land this December. Never in my memory of sixty Christmases has there ever been one as Christless as this. A city manager in the State of Washington has told city employees that they cannot say "Merry Christmas." Instead, while on the job, they are forced to say "Happy Holidays." Glasgow, Scotland changed the name "Christmas" to "Shine On" a few years ago. Recently they changed it again to "Winter Festival." The city of Birmingham has officially changed "Christmas" to "Winterval." The city of Sheffield no longer says that it puts up "Christmas lights." They are now officially called "city lights" (www.cwnews.com, November 24, 2001).

"Residents of Luton, England will not be able to celebrate Christmas this year. Instead, the town's official ceremonies will be [renamed] 'Luminos,' a word taken from the wildly popular line of Harry Potter books" (ibid).

Iain Bainbridge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, called it "politically correct paranoia, a ridiculous overreaction." He went on to say:

It is political correctness gone mad. In a country with a strong Christian heritage and a predominantly Christian constitution it is crazy not to have this manifest at Christmas. We are renowned as a country of religious tolerance but it now appears as if the Christian faith is respected the least (ibid).

Several Muslim groups in England have been against dropping the term "Christmas," Bainbridge said. He also noted that "It is not so much an agenda of sensitivity to other faiths as it is a secular agenda" (ibid). This is a good insight. It is actually the secularists who want all religion banned who are against the word "Christmas."

Mr. Ceron is the official painter and decorator of our church. I asked him to buy a banner that says "Merry Christmas" to hang inside our church. He went to five party stores, but not one of them had a Christmas banner. They all said things like, "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings." The sales people said to him, over and over, "We don't sell anything with the word 'Christmas' on it any more."

"They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him" (John 20:13).

The whole world seems like old Scrooge, in Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The world has become so stiff and hard and calloused that, in the name of tolerance, they have not tolerated Jesus Christ on His own birthday. In the name of open-mindedness they have shut Jesus Christ out of His own birthday party. They have said, "Bah, humbug! Christmas is humbug!" to the Son of God. And so, the world has come full circle. As in Bible times, Jesus is rejected now.

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).

Even President Bush is guilty. He was the first President to bring a menorah into the White House. He was the first President to bring a Christmas message from the Koran. Will he give that kind of honor to Jesus Christ? He will not! You see, Mr. Bush is a United Methodist - so he thinks "we all believe in the same God." That's what the liberal Methodists teach.

But real Christians do not believe in the same God! No, we don't! We believe that Jesus Christ is God - God the Son! God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity!

"They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him" (John 20:13).

II. Secondly, why they have taken away Christ.

Jesus is called "a rock of offence" three times in the Bible - in Isaiah 8:14, Romans 9:33, and I Peter 2:8. Notice the last passage of Scripture:

"Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed" (I Peter 2:7-8).

Those who are disobedient do not obey Christ. Those who will not obey God, who are disobedient to God, will not want anything to do with the Son of God. And that is why Christ is shut out of Christmas. That is why the very name of "Christmas" is changed to "the Holidays." Disobedient, sinful men do not want anything to do with Jesus Christ. This has always been true:

"They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted (beat) him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands" (Matthew 26:66-67).

"I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting" (Isaiah 50:6).

"And the men that held Jesus mocked him and smote (hit) him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him" (Luke 22:63-65).

"Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands" (John 19:1-3).

"As many were astonied (astonished) at thee: his visage (appearance) was so marred (disfigured) more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men" (Isaiah 52:14).

"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him…Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots" (Luke 23:33-34).

"They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture" (Psalm 22:13-18).

"And they that passed by [the Cross of Christ] railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save" (Mark 15:29-31).

"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst…When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost"

(John 19:28, 30).

"But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water" (John 19:33-34).

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man or sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).

Sinful mankind has always despised and rejected Jesus. Only they are more open about it today.

The sinful heart of mankind does not want Jesus. Man wants religion, but not Christ.

"They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him" (John 20:13).

III. Thirdly, what you can do to find Christ.

No one finds Christ unless he really wants to find Him. He said:

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

Put it down as one of the great axioms, one of the great lessons of life: you will not find Jesus Christ unless you search for Him with all your heart.

Now, the Bible teaches that no one wants Christ. No unconverted person wants Christ. He may want religion. He may want to be in church. But he does not want Christ, the Son of God.

"He is despised and rejected of men…and we hid as it were our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

The Bible teaches that there are none that seek for Him (cf. Romans 3:11). No one searches for God the Son in an unconverted state.

There are four stages in awakening that must come to you before you will truly search for Jesus. That's why the Bible says:

"Awake thou that sleepest…and Christ shall give thee light"

(Ephesians 5:14).

Awakening must come to you before you will begin searching for Jesus. God must awaken you before you will have a real interest in finding Jesus.

There are usually four stages in the awakening that causes you to look for Jesus.

1. First, you are awakened to the love of God by coming to a Bible-believing local church. You come to church and you find that people love each other here in a way that you never saw people love each other before - in all your life. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). The mark of true Christians in the local church is real love for each other. The unity and love that you find in a true church causes you to believe that God has sent Jesus, and that Jesus is real. Christ said, "That they may all be one: as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world [those who are unconverted] may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21).

You begin to believe that God sent Jesus when you see the love and unity of the people in the local church.

Again, Jesus said, "I in them, and thou in me, that they [those in the local church] may be made perfect in one; and that the world [the unconverted people who come to church] may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (John 17:23).

Unconverted people say, "These are Christ's disciples" when they see love in the local church. Then they say, "I believe God has sent Jesus," when they experience this love in the church.

Finally, they say, "I know that God has sent His Son, Jesus" when the greatness of the unity and love in the church becomes very real to them.

One young person has been coming to our church for a few months. He wrote a beautiful letter to me last Sunday, in which he said, "In my years in high school I never really had a group that I belonged to until I started coming here [to church]. But it was the first time when I stepped into [the church] and people that I had not even met welcomed and greeted me. The fellowship convinced me that I [had] found my purpose in life. I don't feel lonely at all. Now I look forward [to church]. I do feel that church is a second home for me. I even enjoy coming to church more than anything else."

That is a beautiful and meaningful expression of the fact that this young man has come to believe in the reality of Jesus by experiencing Christian love in this local church.

But that is only the first step in awakening. It is an important step - but it is only the first step.

2. The second stage of awakening comes when you begin to see that your external religion doesn't fully bring you into the love that these Christians in the church possess. Some people don't come to this second stage for a long time. They are in the church, but they are not truly a member of the church (cf. I John 2:19). They read the Bible. They attend all the services. They try to pray. But they find that something is still missing. They may go on for a long time like this: coming to church, reading the Bible, and having fellowship - but they begin to realize that there is something more - something they have missed.

We have young people who have come here for many years who have not yet come to this stage of awakening. Others have been coming here for weeks without yet coming to this stage of awakening. You are satisfied by just coming to church. That's enough for you. You haven't yet experienced an empty feeling - that there is something else - something deeper and even more meaningful than just coming to church.

Until you realize that there is something deeper that you don't have yet, you will be satisfied by just coming to the church services. Only when you begin to realize that you have still missed the deeper knowledge of Christ will you come to this second stage - where you are no longer satisfied with church alone - you want to know Christ Himself in a real and personal way.

3. You may then move into the third stage of awakening, where you become more desperate in your search for the reality of Christ. At this point, you begin thinking about your sins, for the first time, in a real and meaningful way.

You begin to think that you are a sinner, that you have committed terrible sins against God. The thought of your sin begins to trouble you greatly, and you become desperate. As Paul put it, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). Only when you begin to be troubled and worried about your sinful heart are you awakened in this third sense.

4. You may now be ready to move into the fourth stage of awakening - where you actually start thinking that you are lost. Yes, you love coming to church. Yes, you see that being religious and coming to church is not the whole answer. And, yes, you see that you are a sinner in need of Jesus. But now you suddenly realize that you are still a lost person - and that no amount of church or fellowship can save you. Like the prodigal son, you are brought to the place where you say within yourself, "I perish" (Luke 15:17). You will then feel that no amount of church or religion can help you, that you must find Jesus Christ - and that only Jesus Christ can forgive your sins and give you peace with God. In this fourth stage, you begin for the first time, to actually search for Jesus, so He can wash away your sins with His Blood, and convert you, and give you real, inner salvation.

If you come through these four stages of awakening, you may then be ready for real conversion to Jesus Christ. Then it may be that God will grant real salvation to you, and the experience of Ephesians 2:5-6 may become a reality to you:

"Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:5-6).

You will come to Christ - all the way to Him up in Heaven - drawn there by God the Holy Spirit. Jesus said:

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44).

Conversion does not come by your own efforts alone. God's mercy and grace must first awaken you to your sinful, lost condition, so that you see that you are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17). Only when you see your terrible, fearfully lost condition, deserving of eternal punishment in Hell - only when these things are real in your heart, are you ready for the Holy Spirit to draw you to Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sin and justification that Jesus offers.

When you surrender your will, the Holy Spirit will bring you to Christ, and you will be converted. Conversion usually happens in a very short time - in just a few moments - or even seconds - when you are drawn to Jesus by the Spirit of God.

When that happens, you are converted, and you enter into the full membership of the church - and into Heaven itself. Then we say to you, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

We will have evangelistic meetings here in our church every night, beginning January 4 and continuing each night (including Sunday) through January 9. To prepare your heart to be awakened and converted during these meetings, you should read and re-read two little books, The Anxious Inquirer After Salvation by John Angell James (put into modern English by me), and also A Treatise on Conversion by Richard Baxter, put out by me in a shortened and simplified form. Be sure you get these two books, and be sure you read some from them every night - beginning tonight.

Forget all other devotional reading. Read only these two books. Read them slowly. Think about what is said in these books. Pray as you read. May you enter into full conversion as Dr. Waldrip preaches each night beginning on January 4.

"They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him" (John 20:13).

May God bless you, and awaken you, so you can find Christ as Mary Magdalene did. God bless you, and Merry Christmas!

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon: Mark 15:16-39; Isaiah 53:3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Man of Sorrows, What a Name" by Philip P. Bliss (1838-1876).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE CHRISTLESS CHRISTMAS
OF THE MODERN WORLD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“They have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him” (John 20:13).

I.   How they have taken away Christ, Isaiah 53:3.

II.  Why they have taken away Christ, I Peter 2:7-8;
Matthew 26:66-67; Isaiah 50:6; Luke 22:63-65;
John 19:1-3; Isaiah 52:14; Luke 23:33-34;
Psalm 22:13-18; Mark 15:29-31; John 19:28,30;
John 19:33-34; Isaiah 53:3.

III. What you can do to find Christ, Jeremiah 29:13; Isaiah 53:3;
Romans 3:11; Ephesians 5:14; John 13:35; 17:21,23;
I John 2:19; Romans 7:24; Luke 15:17; Ephesians 2:5-6;
John 6:44; Revelation 3:17; Acts 16:31.