Why do Christians believe in the virgin birth? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, Merry Christmas to you and your family from all of us here at the CORE. I'm Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can feel free to leave us a voicemail over the weekend at that number, and of course you can always email us with your question at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to Debbie, who's calling in from Oklahoma. Debbie, what's your question for Pastor Adriel?
Hey guys, Merry Christmas. I have a couple questions for you. One's fun. I'll start with that one. The first one is, what is your favorite Christmas treat to enjoy with your family and friends? And the second one is, over the Christmas season at church, my pastor was talking about celebrating Advent. I've never done that before with my husband, but we wanted to start doing that next year. So what are some ways that we can celebrate Advent through the Christmas season next year?
Great question. Christmas treat, Bill. I just love to eat everything, which is my problem.
But I would say I'm more of a savory, not a sweet guy. So like just the Christmas foods. What is that, like turkey?
I mean, is it all the same? Yeah. So I like that. I like that a lot. I like candy canes on the Christmas tree ever since I was a kid.
Bill, how about you? Christmas chocolate. Every year... Like the Santa Claus guy?
No, no. Our relatives in Germany would send us this really wonderful German chocolate, and sometimes it would have hazelnuts in it. Oh man, big bars of chocolate with crunchy hazelnuts. Did you get that still?
No, unfortunately my uncle passed away a few years ago, but every year they would send us these wonderful chocolate packages, and they would just be smeared all over my face. Yeah, yeah. What about the second part of the question? Oh, Advent. Yes, that's right.
That's what we're talking about. Advent, well, you know, this is interesting because there's nothing in the New Testament that says, you know, Advent is a church season that we need to be celebrating really a later development in the history of the church. Certainly early on, the Christian church celebrated the incarnation of our Lord, and there were questions about, you know, what specific day to celebrate on, debates between the church in the east and in the west about this question particularly. And Advent developed out of that over time. Now, typically when people think about Advent, the word Advent comes from the Latin adventus, which means coming, and it has to do with the coming of our Lord.
Now, there are different ways to think about this. We can think about his first Advent, the incarnation, looking back to Jesus is coming to earth, and so meditating upon that I think as a family is really good. You also have the theme of focusing on the second Advent of our Lord, and I think a lot of people miss this around the Advent season. We're focused so much on the incarnation, but there's also this call to look forward to the fact that Jesus is coming back, that he's coming again.
And then some have even talked about the coming of the Lord now by the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the presence of Christ with us through his word and spirit, and certainly in those great ordinances of the church, baptism and the Lord's Supper. Now, of course, that's not the physical coming of Christ to earth, but the real sense in which we have the presence of Christ with us now as his people, and so those are the themes related to, or the focuses that you have during the Advent season, the themes of joy and expectation, longing even. One thing I do appreciate about all of this is just highlighting the fact that there are seasons to life, and there are seasons to the Christian life as well. It's not always the mountaintop experience. Sometimes we're on that spiritual high, this spiritual mountaintop, and it just seems like everything is great, and then there are other times, Bill, wouldn't you say in the Christian life where it feels like a desert.
We're walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We're longing for the presence of the Lord more and more in our lives, and so we're reminded of that around this time of the year. And I would say any and every opportunity we can take to fix our eyes on what the Bible says and to fix our eyes on Christ, we should take that. And so if you're doing that with your family during this season or look forward to doing it in future years, I would say go for it. You know, our church has that tradition of lighting the Advent candle on the different Sundays of Advent, and it's very always anxiety-provoking for me because you get these families up there that volunteer, and they can't get the candle lit. Yeah, I know.
You've got to check those lighters beforehand and get the ones that are really easy to use. Otherwise, you get up there forever and the service goes too long, and it can be a thing. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Merry Christmas to you. By the way, as we come up to the end of the year, I want to let you know that Core Christianity is a listener-supported ministry. We don't get money from a church or denomination.
We count on people just like you to keep us going, and we actually have a wonderful opportunity. If you are looking for a way to support a ministry and you believe in what we do, we have this group of people that we call our inner core. Yeah, if you've been blessed by the broadcast and you're feeling a little bit of extra Christmas generosity right now, would you consider joining the inner core?
It's a monthly donation of $25 or more. It's one of the ways you can support us in the work that we're doing, trying to fix people's eyes on Christ through scripture. As a thank you for joining the inner core, we'll send you a copy of the book, Core Christianity, written by Dr. Michael Horton, a wonderful resource really to get into the core doctrines of the Christian faith that so many people overlook. But please, one, thank you for encouraging us with your support and for the many who have joined the inner core. We're so grateful for you. If you're not there yet but are interested in partnering with us, then I would say jump in the saddle with us, and we'd love to partner with you. We are a charitable organization, so your gift is tax-free, and we would love to have you.
You can actually write that off on your taxes. We'd love to have you do that between now and the end of the year. If you would like to join the inner core, you can find out more by going to corechristianity.com forward slash inner core, just all one word, forward slash inner core. And check it out, and we'd love to send you that book by Dr. Michael Horton, Core Christianity. Well, let's go to a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners. This is from Paul. Question. Can a true believer who trusts in Jesus Christ deny the virgin birth?
Thank you. That's a great question, and one of the things that's a real shame is that this is one of the doctrines, I think, that has been denied more and more by people, and oftentimes the same people who are denying things like the rest of the miracles in the Bible, the resurrection, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. So usually a denial of the virgin birth, at least from what I've seen, often goes hand in hand with the denial of some of these other things, the miracles of Jesus. It's sort of birthed out of what is now called or was called Protestant liberalism, where you had this shift. In our modern era, we can't believe those miracles anymore.
The modern man is not going to believe that. We need to get to the essence of what Christianity is, which was defined by this group as really the brotherhood of mankind. We need to love each other and do good for each other, the universal fatherhood of God. I mean, that's the essence, the kernel of the Christian faith. The other stuff, the miracles, the virgin birth, come on, that's the husk.
We need to get rid of that. Well, I mean, that's just wrong. That's heresy, actually. I mean, if you deny the resurrection of Jesus, Paul says you're still dead in your sin. You're hopeless. You're not forgiven. You don't have forgiveness.
You don't have the hope of eternal life. We're called to preach the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the life of our Lord is surrounded with miraculous activity and happenings, including the virgin birth prophesied in Isaiah 7. And then it's very clear that that's referring to the virgin birth, because in the gospels, Mary's question is, how is it that I'm going to have a baby since I'm a virgin?
I've never been with a man. So that's the way we understand this. Now, can someone maybe who's newer to the faith or struggling with their faith have doubts about this and still be a true Christian?
I think that they can be. I think that there are times where we have questions and struggle through things and are trying to grasp the scriptures better. And it's clear to me that this is something that the scriptures clearly teach, but I would just say in the same way that we embrace the resurrection based on the evidence, but also that faith that we have, there's no reason to deny the virgin birth.
I mean, we believe God made all things from nothing, right? And so I would have a real concern if somebody said to me, I'm a Christian, but I deny the virgin birth. I would say, well, okay, what else do you deny that the Bible very clearly teaches and why do you deny it?
And so that would be my question. And if I'm talking to maybe someone who's saying, I'm really struggling with some of these miracles, it's hard for me to wrap my mind around this. I believe in Jesus, believe that he's God, but it's hard for me to wrap my mind around some of these miracles and say, well, yeah, I understand where you're coming from. And I wouldn't question that person's faith per se. I would want to encourage them in the word. And my guess is you would also add if you are going to a church that denies the Christian birth, that denies the resurrection, and there are those denominations, there are those churches that would say those things. I would just plead with you. I mean, if this Christmas season, your pastor has been saying things like, oh, the virgin birth is not really a virgin birth.
She was just a young lady or something like that. I would say those are huge red flags, right? I mean, I'm talking about someone who's struggling with this in their faith and they're trying to understand the scriptures, somebody who's supposed to be a teacher of the Bible, who is coming to these conclusions and teaching them, I would say that's a poisoned well that you don't want to drink from. And so go to a church where the word of God is taken seriously and where you're going to be nourished by that word. If someone tells you the resurrection is a metaphor, time to leave.
Yeah, 100%, 100%. I don't have any hesitation about that. Even as a pastor, of course, I often will say, well, it's good to stick it out depending on the situation. Maybe there are some minor disagreements, but then there are certain things that if a church does them, it's just not a church anymore. And certainly if a church rejects the gospel, well, it's no longer a church. Your quote unquote pastor might, you know, wear vestments and have all the smells and bells and do all of these things. But if the word isn't there, faithfully proclaimed, well, then the Spirit's not there and there's no church.
So well said. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Merry Christmas to you and to your family. You know, this is a time of year when some people struggle with depression because all around them they're seeing, you know, the sights and the sounds of Christmas and people are telling them to be jolly. And you see Santa in the mall and you're feeling really down and discouraged.
And we have an email from one of our listeners that says this. I've struggled with depression on and off for a while now, and I want to know if depression is a sin or is it a tool that Satan uses against us? Well, the first thing I would want to say to you is depression. I mean, we're talking about clinical depression. I mean, that's not a sin. Any more than having cancer is a sin or something like, I mean, we're talking about a bodily, a physical ailment, a sickness. And the tragedy with something like depression that I've seen is so often there's also a level of guilt and shame associated with it where a person feels like, man, I should just be fine. There's nothing wrong with me.
I should just be fine. Why do I have these feelings, these thoughts? And so then, and part of the reason I think that, and Bill, you would know very well as well given your line of work too, I think part of the reason why there's that is because people have been told from Christian leaders, well, are you praying enough? You need to do more Bible reading maybe?
That sort of should fix the problem. Look, we're all for prayer and reading the scriptures here. And if you listen to this broadcast, you know that because that's what we talk about every single day. But we have to take the reality of mental health seriously and we need to understand how to approach it. And I think there is an element, there's a spiritual element where we are called to community and support and accountability and scripture and prayer. But sometimes that doesn't fix the situation where there's still this real battle with depression.
And so I don't want you to feel burdened by guilt and shame because of that, because you struggle with this. Can despair be something that the evil one uses? Yeah, I think so.
I think so. And that's why we need solid encouragement and people around us who love us well and who point us to the truth of God's word and can hold us up in prayer. And Bill, I want to obviously just give you an opportunity to chime in as well. Heartbreaking, isn't it, how so many people just see this as, well, maybe this is just a sin. You know, we've talked about this many times, how the fall has impacted us in so many ways.
Certainly it's impacted us morally, but it's impacted us physically. Our bodies have been impacted by sin and that can affect things like our brain chemistry. And we know with clinical depression, there is an issue with the chemicals in your brain and that's not sin. And as you said, Satan can certainly play on that and cause despair and getting into even a cycle of guilt and shame and more depression. And the answer, as you said, is not necessarily just pray it away, just memorize more scripture. Again, those are great things and they're beneficial to our Christian walk. But counseling, sometimes even medication, God can use those things. You wouldn't tell a diabetic, don't take your insulin because if you had enough faith, your diabetes will go away. No, that would be horrible.
I mean, that's if, yeah, I mean, just tragic what would happen in a situation like that. And sadly, I think in churches that can happen when it comes to mental health issues. And so we need to be discerning. Bill, I think one thing that would be helpful for our listeners is, you know, a lot of times people wonder, well, do I just have the blues because I'm, you know, I lost my job or something like that? Or is this a chemical imbalance?
What are some of the factors that would give someone insight into like, you know, would you just say go see a doctor if you're unsure? Are there any signs, telltale signs that this is more than just sort of the, you know, the average blues that an individual might have because they lost their job or their girlfriend broke up with them or something like that? So many of us can go through times of depression or the blues through adjustment issues like you're talking about. But if this is an ongoing feeling of hopelessness, of despair, if you have changes in your sleep patterns, if you have changes in your eating patterns, if you're thinking about taking your own life, these are things that are serious and you need to get professional help.
I would say, you know, don't hesitate. This is, even during this time of year, there are Christian counselors that take on a lot of clients during the Christmas season because they're struggling with this. So please get the help that you need that God would want you to find. Yeah.
Yeah. Thank you for that question and just pray that the Lord is with you and raises you. Let's just pray right now for all those who, during this time of the year, do feel that cloud of loneliness and hopelessness. Even Father, Lord, we know that even while there are many who are gathering together this weekend to celebrate with family and to be with loved ones, there are also many who are made to feel even more alone because they don't have any place to go. And there are many, Lord, who even there with family feel alone and struggle with things like depression. And so Father, we lift all of them up to you right now asking that the light of your love and of your presence would break through the dark clouds and that the message of your son Jesus, his incarnation, is coming into the world, the light coming into the world for us, Lord, in our downcast state might bring hope and peace and joy. And for those who do need, Lord, extra help, professional help, Lord, I do pray that you would guide them and provide for them and bring them to a place, Lord, of a healthy living as they seek you and seek to honor you, Lord, with the gifts that you've given to them. Be with us, Lord, especially this weekend. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We've been talking about the incarnation, and this is the time of year when we celebrate the fact that Jesus came to earth for us to save us from our sins.
And we actually have a voicemail question from one of our listeners that deals a little bit with this, and his name is R.L. I want to talk about the Trinity. Are there three gods, or are there only one God? That's what I want to know.
Thank you. Hey, good question. And the simple answer is there's only one God. Deuteronomy chapter 6, hero Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Now, does that mean that the Trinity isn't real, that only the Father is God and that Jesus is not God? No, because we have to understand Deuteronomy chapter 6 in the context of all of scripture. And in fact, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 8, quoting that from Deuteronomy 6, it's called the Shema, hero Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Shema being the word here, the Hebrew word for here. He inserts, Paul in 1 Corinthians 8, inserts Jesus right in the middle of that. He says, for us, there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus.
Remarkable. I mean, how could you do that, Paul? Well, it's because Paul knew the scriptures. I mean, certainly, once having been a Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, this guy who knew the word of God really well, and especially those prophecies throughout the Psalms where God himself promised that he was coming, he was coming to judge the world. Or Isaiah, right? One of those passages that we look at a lot during this time of the year, Isaiah chapter 9, for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God.
Right? And so piecing together all of these things, it's very clear that Jesus himself is God. So one God, three distinct persons. We don't confuse the person's Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It's not that the Father is the Son and the Son is the Holy Spirit or whatnot. No, they're three distinct persons, one in essence, undivided in terms of the substance, if you will, essence.
One God, but three distinct persons who are revealed to us in scripture. And it is a great mystery. It is the great mystery of the Christian faith, if you will. But this is one of the core doctrines.
I mean, this is core Christianity. We're getting to the very heart of our faith, what we believe, who God is. And it's not just who God is, but what he's done for us. And that gets us also to the message of Christmas. The Father sending his Son, the eternal Word, into the world to take flesh from the womb of the Virgin Mary and to be born as a child, to come from heaven to earth for us and for our salvation and to live the perfect life of obedience, obeying all the commandments perfectly, and then suffering the curse of the law, dying in our place, what we deserve because we're sinners, and then giving to us the greatest gift of all, the greatest gift of all, the gift of his Spirit and the righteousness that he gives, the righteous life that he lived, credited to us, applied to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity, one God, perfect, orchestrating and executing our salvation. I mean, it really is wonderful. And that's in part what we are rejoicing in this time of the year.
Amen. Here's a quick email question for you, Adriel from Chrissy. She says, I'm an inner core member and I have a family that I know believes in Jesus and his resurrection. They celebrate Christmas and Easter but only go to church when we ask. It seems like they believe, but there seems to be very little relationship with Jesus. And it doesn't appear they hold on to him and trust him for everything in their lives.
I know we can't judge their hearts. I worry that I won't see them in heaven. Well, Chrissy, I think that around this time of the year, right, there are a lot of people who are concerned with this, family members who are like, oh, I'll go to church. You know, I believe in Jesus. I believe in the resurrection.
But it really has not shaped my life in any significant way. And I think those are opportunities for conversation. And I hope that you will get to worship with those family members, maybe even this weekend, and get to talk about these important things, these wonderful truths and how they should shape our lives. We want to lead, I think, with the encouragement of, look at how good God has been to us. Look at how good God has been to you. He's given everything, his very own Son, for our redemption. And that free gift, that free gospel that we receive, should lead us to live lives of sacrificial, following Jesus as well, because he was sacrificed for us and for our sins. And so God be with you, Christi, and bless you and your family. We'll be right back with the truth of God's Word together.
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