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WILL YOU HAVE A CHRISTLESS
The world calls it "the Holidays." Christians call it "Christmas." It's that time of year when neo-pagans have time for everything except Jesus Christ. That's why they no longer call it "Christmas" in America. They now call it "the Holidays." It is quite clear to the discerning Christian that "the Holidays" don't have anything to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. It is largely a time of drunkenness, social gatherings, and other tomfoolery.
Don't get me wrong. I agree with Dr. John R. Rice when he said, "I love Christmas." So do I. But I have a strong dislike for what the worldly pagans call "the Holidays." My reason is this: the time of winter holidays has a tendency to pull people away from Christ and the local church.
Not long ago in our nation's history people were far more apt to be in church at Christmas and New Year's than at any other time of the year. But in the post-modern world the exact opposite happens. Today people are less likely to be in church around Christmas and New Year's. America has become so pagan that "the Holidays" take people away from Christ into a maze of foolishness that ends in nothing. What do I mean? Well, they "get ready" for Christmas and New Year's for weeks. They get everything prepared. Then it comes. What do they have when it comes? A headache. A hangover. An empty house. There is such a let down, year after year, that the number of suicides goes way up, and depression and loneliness become even more common. This happens year after year, but people never seem to question it. They go right on doing the same meaningless things every December.
There is no real joy in their "Holidays" for two reasons. First, they leave Christ out of it almost entirely. Without Christ there is no meaning to life itself, and certainly no meaning to Christmas. Second, they leave church out of it. The local church is our spiritual mother. When you leave church out of Christmas and New Year's, you leave out the heart of it, the part that can make it a joyful time. You lose the wonderful, heartwarming experience of praying and singing the old Christmas carols with wonderful Christian friends. The world's pagan "Holiday" parties are like having a birthday party for your mother, but not inviting her to come! If you have a birthday party for Jesus, but forget to invite Him, and leave out His church, you are as big a fool as a man having a birthday party for his mother, but not inviting her to come! No wonder people feel so lonely and blown away when their "Holidays" are over! That's the reason we say, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!"
Now my purpose in this sermon is to warn many of you who have been visiting our church for a while that you must be very careful at this time of year. We have found over the years that people who have been coming to our church for several months, or several weeks, often fall away from the church during "the Holidays." If you intend to be here a few weeks from now, when January comes, you must be very careful not to let anything stop you from continuing to come to church. We have also found that when young people stop coming to church for a Sunday or two during "the Holidays" they seldom come back. They may intend to come back, but in this modern world, with all its fanciful charms, somehow they don't. Now our passage of Scripture speaks about this phenomenon, and I want you to think about it carefully.
I. First, some of you will come once or twice to church,
but fall away during "the Holidays."
Notice verse twelve:
"Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12).
In this verse Christ tells us that many people will hear the sermon, "they that hear." Then Christ said that the Devil takes the word that they heard preached out of their hearts.
Christ said that very "few" people get saved in Matthew 7:14. The rare person who gets saved is the one who listens to the preaching of God's Word and then goes home and thinks about it for several days! Not a single person gets saved without doing that. But it's very difficult, because there is a Devil, and he is very powerful. He uses all of his power and all of his trickery to take "away the word out of [your] hearts, lest [you] should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12).
At Christmas and New Year's, the Devil has even more tricks than usual, to destroy your soul by keeping you from coming back to church and getting saved.
You will come to church once or twice, but then something will "come up" and you will miss. We will never see you again, in all likelihood. Why? Because the Devil plucked the sermon out of your heart to keep you from being saved.
You must be on guard, and not let anything keep you from being here. We make coming to church a lot of fun! Don't miss the birthday party and lunch afterwards! Think about the preaching. Make new friends. Why be lonely? Come home - to church!
II. Second, some of you who have been coming to church here
for several months will fall away during "the Holidays."
Look at verse thirteen:
"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).
Now this verse describes the condition of people who come to church for several months and then stop coming during "the Holidays." This happens to several people every year. They think they will only miss once, and then come back. But once they get out of the "rhythm" of coming, we never see them again. "Which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).
Notice the reason they leave the church, "these have no root" (Luke 8:13). Dr. J. Vernon McGee points out that they
…are those who receive the Word of God in the enthusiasm [emotion] of the flesh. Trouble and persecution dampen the interest. For a time [they] manifest great interest and zeal, but a little trouble reveals their lack of true [saving] faith" (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, volume IV, note on Luke 8:4-15).
Matthew Henry adds these observations:
Whether the temptation arises from the smiles or the frowns, of the world, they are easily overcome by it ( Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, volume V, note on Luke 8:4-21).
The reason that such people leave during "the Holidays" is because they have never been converted.
As we saw in the sermon last Sunday morning, you can give a man severe shocks with an electric cattle prod and he will not turn from Christ if he is converted. That happens frequently to Christians in China. Yet they remain faithful. People like those Chinese are truly converted. But those who leave the church because of the activities of "the Holidays" are far from being real Christians. They have "no root." That means they have no real contact with Christ. They were never saved.
III. Third, some of you will be choked with cares and money,
and will fall away from the church during "the Holidays."
Look at verse fourteen:
"And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection"
This refers to people who hear the preaching, but their faith is choked by worrying about money and the problems of life. Dr. McGee said, "A little trouble reveals their lack of true faith" (ibid.). We have seen religious but lost people "choked with cares and riches [money] and pleasures of this life." Sadly, some of you will be gone at this "Holiday" season because of those temptations and snares.
Put Christ back into Christmas this year! Be in all the services! Don't let the Devil destroy your soul for a few "Holiday" "cares" or "pleasures" (ref. Luke 8:14). Why be lonely? Come home - to church - and stay here!
"Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12).
"[They] are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection" (Luke 8:14).
It is a dangerous path that leads to salvation, as Bunyan pointed out in Pilgrim's Progress. Few people ever make it to the place of real conversion.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).
Will you leave the church and have a Christless Christmas this year? I hope not! I hope and pray that you will resist the Devil - and stay true to the church! Don't let any person, or any party, or any problem keep you from being with us! And come fully to Jesus Christ and be saved. He shed His Blood on the Cross to wash away your sins. He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven. He is now seated on the right side of God in Heaven. Come to Him! Have your sins washed away by His Blood. And, remember: Why be lonely? Come home - to church! And stick with us through the "Holidays" - and throughout the year!
I've wandered far away from God, Now I'm coming home;
The paths of sin too long I've trod, Lord, I'm coming home.
Coming home, coming home, Never more to roam,
Open wide Thine arms of love, Lord, I'm coming home.
("Lord, I'm Coming Home" by William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921).
(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 by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 8:4-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Put Christ Back Into Christmas"
THE OUTLINE OF
WILL YOU HAVE A CHRISTLESS
I. Some of you will come once or twice to church, but fall
II. Some of you who have been coming to church here for
III. Some of you will be choked with cares and money, and will