The curse on the serpent in Genesis 3:14–15 sets the stage for the subsequent course of redemptive history. Obvious New Testament allusions to this passage occur in places such as Luke 10:19; Romans 16:20; and Revelation 12:17. Yet from this point in the book of Genesis, the theme of “enmity between offspring/seed” characterizes the biblical narrative. This passage is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the consummate “seed of the woman” who crushes the head of the serpent. In the three curse-speeches given in Genesis 3:14–19, the plotline of history is sketched out.
What is the greatest threat to the church today? From our 2017 National Conference, W. Robert Godfrey, Michael Horton, Stephen Nichols, and Derek Thomas consider the threats of unbiblical preaching, apathetic faith, and more.
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In 2015, we released the thoroughly revised and carefully craftedReformation Study Bible. To offer a more portable study Bible, last year we released the Condensed Edition (ESV), offering the best of that commentary at half the weight of the original. Today’s the final day to get all cover styles of the Original Edition and the Condensed Edition on sale for up to 50% off. Sale ends 11:59pm ET. While supplies last.
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In Sinclair Ferguson's book, In Christ Alone, he shares the sad reality that many Christians have a Christology that is more informed by Santa Claus than Scripture. For them, the message of the incarnation has been so twisted or diluted that they have in fact created for themselves a savior who is nothing more than a Santa Christ.
As you prayerfully read Sinclair Ferguson's words, ask yourself the following question this Christmas season: "Do I believe in a Santa Christ?"
1. A Pelagian Jesus is a Santa Christ
Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been "good enough." So just as Christmas dinner is simply the better dinner we really deserve, Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners.
2. A Semi-Pelagian Jesus is a Santa Christ
Or Santa Christ may be a Semi-Pelagian Jesus -- a slightly more sophisticated Jesus who, Santa-like, gives gifts to those who have already done the best they could! Thus, Jesus' hand, like Santa's sack, opens only when we can give an upper-percentile answer to the none-too-weighty probe, "Have you done your best this year?" The only difference from medieval theology here is that we do not use its Latin phraseology: facere quod in se est (to do what one is capable of doing on one's own, or, in common parlance, "Heaven helps those who help themselves").
3. A Mystical Jesus is a Santa Christ
Then again, Santa Christ may be a mystical Jesus, who, like Santa Claus, is important because of the good experiences we have when we think about him, irrespective of his historical reality. It doesn't really matter whether the story is true or not; the important thing is the spirit of Santa Christ. For that matter, while it would spoil things to tell the children this, everyone can make up his or her own Santa Christ. As long as we have the right spirit of Santa Christ, all is well.
But Jesus is not to be identified with Santa Claus; worldly thinking — however much it employs Jesus-language — is not to be confused with biblical truth.
Who is the Biblical Christ of Christmas?
The Scriptures systematically strip away the veneer that covers the real truth of the Christmas story. Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil (Matt. 1:21; 1 John 3:8b).
- Those whose lives were bound up with the events of the first Christmas did not find His coming an easy and pleasurable experience.
- Mary and Joseph's lives were turned upside down.
- The shepherds' night was frighteningly interrupted, and their futures potentially radically changed.
- The magi faced all kinds of inconvenience and family separation.
- Our Lord Himself, conceived before wedlock, born probably in a cave, would spend His early days as a refugee from the bloodthirsty and vindictive Herod (Matt. 2:13-21).
There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. It had to be thus, for He did not come merely to add something extra to life, but to deal with our spiritual insolvency and the debt of our sin. He was not conceived in the womb of Mary for those who have done their best, but for those who know that their best is "like filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6)--far from good enough--and that in their flesh there dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18). He was not sent to be the source of good experiences, but to suffer the pangs of hell in order to be our Savior.
Adapted from In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson.
Moses is one of the most well-known figures in history. He stood against Pharaoh, a powerful Egyptian ruler, to lead the Israelites out of slavery. But why were they enslaved in the first place? And how did they eventually escape Egypt?
Intoday’s message from his video teaching series from his video teaching series Dust to Glory, R.C. Sproul recounts the dramatic events of the exodus from Egypt. As Pharaoh increased his persecution of the Israelites, God intervened to deliver them with a series of miraculous plagues, proving that He alone reigns over this world.
But God did much more than rescue the Israelites from bondage. He established Israel as His covenant people and Moses as His mediator. And centuries later, there would be a far greater Mediator and Deliverer to come: Jesus Christ.
Watchtoday’s message, or for a limited time, request your copy of the full teaching seriesDust to Glory for a donation of any amount. You can also dig deeper into the Scriptures with theReformation Study Bible.
The official blog of Ligonier Ministries, founded by theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul in 1971 to help Christians know what they believe, why the believe it, how to live it, and how to share it.