I am in the midst of reading The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight by Dan Phillips. Though I have not finished reading yet, I wanted to pause and say, “Read this book.” Christmas being just two weeks away, and the truth of Christmas being all about the gospel, again I say, “Read this book.” I expected it to be good, and it is, and I have no reservations that I will continue to think so when I come to the end of reading it. However, the reason I paused is because today I read this passage and it reminded me of something and I wanted to share it:
“I was about to write that Jesus’ life bore a supernatural mark from conception to death and beyond. That is true. But in a way, it began long before. To be the Messiah who fulfilled prophecy, Jesus would have to hail from the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David - but not Jeconiah (Jer. 22;24-30). He would have had to be born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, under Gentile rule, before the fall of Jerusalem and 400-some-odd years after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity.
All this for starters, was required to fulfill the pattern of OT Messianic prediciton. And Jesus did tick off every one of those items, simply by being born when and where and to whom He was born.
Nice trick, given that these are particulars over which no mortal has the slightest hint of control.
Thus, it couldn’t have been a trick.” (Phillips, Dan. The World-Tilting Gospel. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2011. p. 118)
So, when I read that I was immediately reminded of an encounter I had years ago as a young newly-wed, before we had children, when I was working outside the home. I had a friend at work who was a devout Jehovah’s Witness who made a special point to seek me out for a discussion one day. During the course of the discussion, for which I had prayed and searched the scriptures for several days beforehand, she made a comment along the lines of, “Why celebrate Christmas, anyway? He hadn’t done anything yet at that point.” I remember my reaction being something like, “He hadn’t done anything yet???? What about the hundreds of prophecies that He fulfilled just by being born when He was, where He was, to whom He was? What about creating everything? What about John 1:1?” Suffice to say, we had quite a conversation. I’m fairly certain I didn’t change my friend’s mind that day, but I truly hope she at least walked away with something to think about, and I continue to pray for her, though it has been years since I lost contact with her through changing life circumstances and many moves.
So, again, I recommend Mr. Phillips’ book to you. In a time when I am often torn between screaming and crying tears of grief when I open my children’s Sunday school curriculum to prepare my lesson and see how the writers seem to be on an extended exercise in missing the point and taking vital gospel truths and sanitizing them of blood and boiling them down to simplistic, moralistic teaching points, I was saddened when I read the lesson on the Passover and there was NO mention of the lambs, NO mention of the blood on the doorposts and I was instructed to tell the children that the people of Israel placed an unspecified ‘special mark’ on the door. I thought, “What, like their initials or something? Why would we leave out the sacrifice? Why would we leave out the blood? Why would we not take this, and EVERY, opportunity to point to the true Passover Lamb who is Jesus?” Needless to say, I put it all back in and taught the real lesson. So, you can see why I was ready to applaud when I read the section in The World-Tilting Gospel on Penal Substitionary Atonement by Blood (p. 102).
So, Merry Christmas, and my Christmas gift to you, my readers, is to recommend The World-Tilting Gospel to you. You will be glad you read it. I know I am.