[General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists]

General Conference

The Incarnation of Christ

President of the Global Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ted Wilson, shares a special Christmas Sermon

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of a special Christmas message, posted to YouTube on December 22, from president of the Adventist Church, Ted N.C. Wilson. Elder Wilson will release a new video each week. You can see past messages here.

What is it about this season that makes it so special? Well, let's go behind the scenes to understand what it is that makes Christmas, and of course, we don't know exactly when Christ was born. It probably was sometime in the springtime. Traditionally, people have looked at December and people celebrate it. It's an opportunity for us to focus people's attention on Christ and His redemption and evangelism. So use that opportunity! 

But let's go behind the scenes to understand the background as to why people are focused upon Christ as the baby who came to Bethlehem. Well, what is it about this season that is really so unique in terms of the presence of Jesus?

It is the incarnation. Jesus willing to descend from heaven, to save us, to redeem us; His creation, His people, and to die for us as our Savior.

That is the reason for the season. In the Book of Romans Chapter five, we read in verse six: "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." You see, the Lord, in His graciousness has died for those who at times don't even know that He has given His life for them. And then when they awaken and realize what Jesus has done and they give their hearts to Him because of what He has done, that is the new beginning, the awakening in a person's life that yes, Jesus is my Savior.

Well, it says in verse seven, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die;" I mean, somebody might give their life or risk their life to save someone who's drowning. If that was a good person. "Oh, I don't want my loved one to die. Let me help them." But then it says here, "yet perhaps for a good man, some would even dare to die." Then it says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners--while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." And so, here we were, sinners. We are sinners in need of a Savior. And even though at times we reject Christ, it's a sobering thought. But we reject Him every time we do our own will and not the will of the Heavenly Father.

 Even in those situations, Christ died for us. "Much more then," verse nine "having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." His blood covers us with His righteousness. That's justification.

Well, it goes on to say in verse ten, "For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son." In other words, we were rebellious, sinful people, "...much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life." His perfect life. His magnificent life. His life without sin. He died for you and for me that He might take on our sins and we might take on His righteousness. This is the magnificence of Christ becoming incarnated into a human being and being fully human, fully divine. Now, I can't explain that, but He is fully human and He will maintain those special characteristics throughout eternity. We will identify with this one that has come to take us into eternity by His grace.

Well, let me read to you something in Selected Messages (Book one, page 253). "What a sight was this for Heaven to look upon! Christ, who knew not the least taint of sin or defilement, took our nature in its deteriorated condition. This was humiliation greater than finite men can comprehend. God was manifest in the flesh. He humbled Himself. What a subject for thought, for deep, earnest contemplation! So infinitely great that He was the Majesty of heaven, and yet He stooped so low, without losing one atom of His dignity and glory! He stooped to poverty and to the deepest abasement among men. For our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich."

What an amazing incarnation. What an amazing opportunity for us to realize the love of God towards us and our response to Him by saying: Yes Lord! Thank you for what you've given to me. Your justifying and your sanctifying Grace and Righteousness! Yes, Lord! 

And Isaiah said in Chapter six, "Lord, here I am, send me." We can also say, as our whole World Church is focusing on its strategic plan for this new quinquennium and coming near to the second coming of the Lord, we can say: Yes Lord, I will go. Use me in Total Member Involvement, to try and reach people with the marvelous message of Christ's incarnation and His soon second coming.

What a blessing for us to be part of the reason for the season. You know, the Lord asks us to be filled with His goodness and His power as we move forward in a very dynamic way.

Now I want to read from Desire of Ages, (page 19, 20), "By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to man and to angels. He was the Word of God,--God's thought made audible. Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God's wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which 'Angels desire to look,’ and will be then studied throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ, their science and their song. It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love."

That's the reason for the season. In the beautiful book of Philippians and in Chapter 2, we see an amazing understanding of how it is that Christ took on this incarnation. As we look in verse five of Philippians 2. I love this chapter. It's a wonderful chapter to preach on, to meditate on, to give a witness to others on this chapter. Philippians 2:5. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God." 

Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, the three are part of the Godhead, three persons in one. Now I can't really explain that and nobody can because that's God. But we understand what God has said. So these three persons together make up the Godhead and what a wonderful thing it is that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit worked together even before the creation of this world, to understand that there needed to be a Plan of Salvation. As they produced this, Jesus said: Yes, I will go. I will be the one who will be incarnated into a human form and I will be Emmanuel, God with us. That's the reason for the season. And so the Bible says "He did not consider robbery to be equal with God." He is God. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, three persons, all God in the Godhead.

Then it goes on to say in verse seven, "but made Himself have no reputation." Now you will see the downward trend of Christ condescending to become an incarnated person in a human form, coming from the highest level to the humblest situation. So it says, "..taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men." Verse eight now, "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." Can you imagine? The King of the universe dying on a cross? This is what He did for you and for me. The reason for the season.

Then it says in verse nine, "Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."

You see, the Lord wants you to understand and accept that He is our Lord and Savior because of what He has done for us. He created us and now he has redeemed us. This is the reason for the season. Now, as we understand further that Christ is the center of everything that we do, Christ is the center of our salvation, Christ is the one who was the incarnated God and became a human being. He became a baby, Emmanuel, God with us. 

In Steps to Christ (page 54 and 55) we read, "Look up, you that are doubting and trembling for Jesus lives to make intercession for us. Thank God for the gift of His dear Son and pray that He may not have died for you in vain. The Spirit invites you today. Come with your whole heart to Jesus, and you may claim His blessing."

This was the reason for the season: Salvation in Jesus, justified by Jesus every day, sanctified every day by the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ's righteousness every moment, in the presence of God as He takes our lives and helps us to become more and more like Jesus.

You see, this incarnation was a marvelous experience for us to observe that Christ's perfect life impacts our life and should be the overpowering influence in our daily activities. Not just a 'superficial Christmas kind of setting' where we are so involved in glitter and in display, and in things that seem to focus on human beings--No. Christmas and the spirit of Christmas.

Whenever Christ was born, and again, as I said it, it probably was in the springtime. This spirit should not just be at Christmas, it should be throughout the year because Jesus came for us. It's the reason for the season.

You see, it's a rather interesting contrast that is made, a rather strange contrast with what some people observe about Christmas, and it is filled with festivities and lights, and Santa Claus, and all kinds of things like that. When in reality, Christmas and the birth of Jesus is the real reason for the season.

I'm going to read something that perhaps you've heard, I heard it, read at a particular worship one time several years ago, and it has the contrast, and I want you to understand, we do not believe in Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a figment of imagination, of tradition and many people look to this as being Christmas.

But Christmas and the salvation aspect all throughout the year is focused upon the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Listen to this interesting contrast. Santa lives at the North Pole. Now, as I said, this is all a figment of imagination for people but listen to the contrast. And you will see how some people who look at Christmas time look at it in a completely false way. 

Santa lives at the North Pole, Jesus lives everywhere. Santa rides in a sleigh, Jesus rides on the wind and walks on water. Santa comes but once a year, Jesus is an ever-present help. Santa fills your stockings with goodies, Jesus supplies all of your needs all the time. Santa comes down your chimney uninvited, Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks, and enters when you say, come in. Referring, of course, to the Book of Revelation chapter 3 at the end of that chapter. 

You have to wait in line to see Santa, Jesus is as close as the mention of His name. What a marvelous connection we have through prayer with Jesus. Santa lets you sit on his lap, Jesus lets you rest in His arms. Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly, Jesus has a heart of love. All Santa can do is say, “Ho ho ho.” But Jesus offers three better words beginning with “H”—health, help and hope. 

Santa says “you better not cry”, Jesus says, “cast all your cares on Me for I care for you.” Santa’s little helpers make toys, Jesus makes new life, mends broken, wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions in heaven. 

Oh, I would much rather understand that the reason for this season is Jesus and not all the superficial things that you see around you. And going on, Santa makes you laugh, but Jesus gives you everlasting joy. Santa puts gifts under your tree, Jesus became our gift and died on a tree. 

There really is no comparison. Christmas is not about Santa. It’s about a Savior. It’s not about gifts. It’s about grace. Jesus will always be the reason for the season because He is Lord.  

As you reach out and touch the lives of people during this period of time and into the New Year of 2021, as you encounter challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic and all of those restrictions, God will open ways for you to help people understand that Jesus is not only the reason for the season, He is the reason for the entire year and for our lives of commitment to Him. 

There is a beautiful rendition that was given about Jesus. It comes from an anonymous author. We’re not sure who it was, but this is the life of Jesus.

“One Solitary Life”: “He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where he worked in a carpenter's shop until he was thirty. Then for three years, he was an itinerant preacher . He never had a family or owned a home. He never set a foot inside a big city, he never traveled two hundred miles from the place he was born.

“He never wrote a book or held an office, he did none of these things that usually accompany greatness. While he was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trail. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While he was dying , his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had, his coat. When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Nineteen, twenty centuries have come and gone and today he is the central figure for much of the human race.”

All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that have ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the Earth as powerfully as this One Solitary Life.” 

This is the reason for the season. Our Lord and our Savior, the One who is calling you to go and be a part of the great proclamation of Christ’s soon return and the Three Angels Messages, warning people and bringing people back to the true worship of God, this is your commission. 

Because of what Jesus has done for us, who is the reason for the season? And in the beautiful book of Isaiah, as we close this marvelous chapter 53 and verses four and five, it says here, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteem Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, HE was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed.” The reason for the season. 

Listen to this final quotation from Desire of Ages, (page 25): “Christ was treated as we deserve that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. With His stripes we are healed.”

The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the reason for the season and I thank God for Jesus and what He means to me. My Lord, my Savior, my soon coming King, Emmanuel, God with us. I appeal to each of you, to recognize that God wants you to humble yourself before Him. To be filled with His Holy Spirit, and to then proclaim this magnificent message to all those around you as we look forward to Jesus soon coming and proclaim those Three Angels Messages in a powerful way through the Holy Spirit's power. The Lord will use you as you commit your life to Him, for He is the reason for the season. 

Let me pray with you. Our father in heaven, we pray for our dear believers, and workers and leaders, churches, teachers, health professionals, literature evangelists, publishing workers and so many more. Encourage them right now and help each one to say: Yes, Lord, I will go. I will be part of the final proclamation. To tell people about this incarnation and about Christ's soon second coming and about the Three Angels Messages, helping people to turn back to the true worship of God.

Lord, thank you for hearing us and thank you for the incarnation of Christ who will forever bear the marks of humanity and of His crucifixion, reminding us of what He has done for us, as the reason for the season. In Jesus' name, we ask it. Amen.

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