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Santa or No Santa? What Should Christian Parents Tell Their Kids?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2023 1:30 pm

Santa or No Santa? What Should Christian Parents Tell Their Kids?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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December 22, 2023 1:30 pm

Episode 1386 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

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What should Christian parents tell their kids about Santa Claus? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Hi, this is Bill Meyer along with Pastor Adrian Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can call us with your question. You can leave a voicemail for us anytime at 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also email us your question.

Here's our email address. It's questions at COREChristianity.com. And first up today, here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Tim. My question revolves around Hebrews chapter 6 starting at verse 4 where it talks about those who have tasted the heavenly presence or have received the heavenly gift have turned away or are in peril and can't be saved again because if you do that then you are basically putting the Son of God to crucify again. So my question is, I guess, have I ever really been saved or do I face eternal damnation?

Tim, thank you for reaching out for this question. You know, this passage, Hebrews chapter 6, is one that has troubled many, many believers, sincere believers, who, you know, having gone through a difficult season or fallen away, you know, there was a period where, as you mentioned, you were questioning things or you weren't walking with the Lord. You know, they read this text and they think, I'm cursed forever.

There's no more hope for me. I just want to read the passage and then I want to think about it and hopefully encourage you to press on in the faith. And so Hebrews chapter 6 beginning in verse 1, the author of the Hebrews says, Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith towards God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

This we will do if God permits, for it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt. For the land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it and produces a crop useful for those for whose sake it is cultivated receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Now those verses there at the very end, verse 7 and 8, are really important because they help us to understand what the author of the Hebrews is talking about. He gives us parable, right? The rain is falling on the land, and the rain, presumably, just in the context here, is the good word of God, these blessings, these promises, the heavenly gift. They're falling, but what is the land yielding?

It's yielding thorns and thistles. The truth of the Gospel has not been received so that it bears fruit. Instead, there is no faith. And I think that's actually confirmed a little bit earlier in the book of Hebrews, where the author of the Hebrews in chapters 3 and 4 highlights the fact that faith really is the key. He speaks up the wilderness generation.

He says they had good news. Gospel preached to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them because they were not united by faith with those who listened. That's chapter 4, verse 2. And so the issue really is faith, hearing the word of God and not truly receiving it. There's a sin that's being talked about here.

Sometimes people see this and they say, oh man, fallen away. Well, I had a season of, I was baptized and was going to church for a while, and it was on fire for Jesus. And then I started doing things I knew were wrong and contrary to God's law, and I walked away for a while, and now I'm trying to come back. Does this mean that I can't be saved anymore? Well, what the author of the Hebrews is talking about here in particular is people who are going back to Judaism, essentially, back to the Old Testament regulations and rituals in order to find justification before God, back to the animal sacrifices. That's one of the reasons why that's such a big theme in the book of Hebrews, where the author of the Hebrews is highlighting how Christ is the superior once for all sacrifice, as he says in chapter 10, for the forgiveness of sins. So to go back to those old sacrifices, there's nothing there anymore.

The reality has come. You're going back to the types and shadows, and to do that would be to reject the gospel. You've denied Christ and faith in him, and you're saying, no, Christ can't save me.

I need to go back to these rules and regulations, the blood of bulls and goats. That's the issue. And so for someone who's coming to Jesus and saying, be merciful to me, a sinner, I've wandered, I've gone astray, I've fallen away, forgive me. Oh, there is mercy and there's grace. And there's mercy and grace for you, Tim.

Don't doubt that for a moment. Instead, press forward in faith and say, God, I believe that you are merciful to me through Jesus Christ, and I'm clinging to that gospel. I'm trusting in Christ. What the people here were being tempted to do was to reject Christ altogether, to trample him underfoot, to count his blood as a common thing, as a worthless thing.

That's what the author of the Hebrews says in chapter 10. And so if you're looking to Christ, regardless of how far you've wandered, and I'm not just speaking to you right now, Tim, I'm speaking to everyone listening. You're listening right now, and you've wandered away from the fold. You've wandered away from Christ. And you've had this question, is there grace yet for me? Is there mercy yet for me?

I've failed. And you're coming to Jesus and you're saying, Lord, have mercy upon me. And you're wondering, will he have mercy on me?

If you come to him in faith, let me assure you that, yes, he is merciful and gracious and does forgive our sins when we confess them. And so I just want to encourage you with that. And again, recognize here that the heart of the issue is faith and truly believing the gospel. And that's what these people were being tempted to do away with, to walk away from the truth of the gospel and go back to their own works to justify them before God. And the author of the Hebrews says, if you do that, you're hopeless because if you're trusting in anything apart from Jesus Christ to save you, then you're in a bad place.

You're in bad shape. And so God help each of us to put our full trust in Christ and to live in light of his great mercy in our lives. Some great words of comfort. Thank you for that, Adriel. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology, you can always call us 24 hours a day. Leave us your question on our voicemail system at 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Katie calling in from Florida. Katie, what's your question for Adriel?

Hi, Pastor Adriel. I'm just wondering if it's okay to display the nativity scene for Christmas. Oh boy, maybe I'm going to get myself in trouble with this one. Is there anything wrong with nativity scenes? Yeah, well, look, here's the thing. When we look at God's law, it's very clear. We're commanded not to make images of God in part because God is the Lord. God is a spirit. Throughout the Old Testament, God is very clear.

You've never seen my form. You've only heard my voice. The pagan nations of the world, they have these idols that they carry around with them, that they mold and they bow down in worship. Idols that they see and can carry and hold but that don't speak. The God of the Bible is the God who was unseen but who truly spoke, who revealed Himself through His word and through creation. Some people say, well, He became incarnate, so we could see Him. Now, does that mean that now we're able to make images of God? Because Jesus, the eternal Son of God, became incarnate. When you look at the New Testament, even there, you think of what John says in his first epistle, in 1 John chapter 1.

I love the way he puts it because it shows us where we should focus as well. He says, that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life, the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and testified to it and proclaimed to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us. That which we have seen and heard, we proclaim also to you. In other words, the Lord who we saw, the Lord of glory, we saw Him, we touched Him, we handled Him with our hands, we proclaim Him to you. That's how we communicate the truth of the gospel, the truth of who God is. It's through preaching, it's through teaching, it's through the Word, it's not through images. I think that Scripture is clear on this.

There's your answer. Now, of course, you have different Christian traditions that disagree on this, and there are some people who might think, I mean, you're making a big deal of nothing. And I recognize that this isn't the position of everyone, but it is, it seems to me, the earliest position that Christians held. They didn't want to make images of God. In fact, oftentimes, the early Christians were accused, you know what they were accused of? They were accused of being atheists by the pagans.

Why? Because the pagans had all these images and idols that they would carry around. They're gods. They were just all over the place, and the Christians didn't have that. And so people wondered, well, where is your God? You don't have all these images and idols. You guys must be atheists. But the Christians could respond with the words of the psalmist. Our God is in the heavens.

He does whatever He pleases. And so the danger for all of us is creating God in our own image. That's the problem of idolatry, and that's what we have to be careful with.

And so even in this Christmas season, let's focus on the proclamation of the true gospel and the message of the incarnation as it's revealed in Holy Scripture. Katie, thank you for that question. How about reindeer on your lawn? Is that okay? Yeah, I think that that's all right, Bill.

I'd actually love to hear. Do you guys do a lot of decorations at your place? Like, do you decorate the outside?

We do. My wife is one of those just supreme decorators, man. Our house looks like that vacation movie. I mean, it's pretty amazing.

Whoville or something like that, right? Well, that's awesome. We didn't decorate the outside this year, but our inside is pretty Christmas cozy. It's nice. And we got the tree and all that stuff and the lights and whatnot, and so glad to hear it.

Yeah, but this is a question that we do get, especially around this time of the year. By the way, one of the questions we often get here at Core Christianity is, how can I be sure I'm part of a biblical church, and what are the core doctrines of the Christian faith that my church should be following? And to answer those questions more in depth, we actually have a brand new Bible study on those topics. Yeah, so the study is on the Nicene Creed, we believe it's called, and the team put this together. It's a wonderful resource, something that will help you dig into the core doctrines of the Christian faith as they've been confessed by believers, by Christians of various traditions for the last 2,000 years, really. And again, this isn't just about church tradition, this is about the teaching of scripture.

What does the Bible have to say? What are the core fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith? And so I hope that you get a hold of this resource. It's a 10-lesson resource.

You can do it in 10 weeks on your own or with some friends from church. Let me just go through some of the chapters. What is the rule of faith? Thinking about the rule of faith being what should shape and guide the core beliefs that we have.

Is the Bible enough? Who is God? Who is Jesus?

How did God become man? This is what we're talking about around Christmastime. The work of Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit, the church, these are things that are covered in this 10-lesson study through the Nicene Creed. We want to put it in your hands for a gift of $25 or more. So I hope that you'll get a hold of this resource. I know that it will encourage you and you'll learn a lot as you dive into our new study on the Nicene Creed. By the way, if you're the leader of a small group or a Sunday school class and you're looking for some curriculum, maybe starting in January after Christmas, this would be a great Bible study to go through together on the Nicene Creed. Again, it's called We Believe. We'll give it to you for a gift of $25 or more to help us continue our work here at Core Christianity. You can find out more by going to corechristianity.com forward slash offers or call us at 833-843-2673 for help getting any one of our offers.

Well, we do receive emails here at the Core, and here's one that came in from one of our listeners named Charlotte. She says, I truly don't understand why some Christian parents tell kids that Santa is real. It's all a big lie. They give Santa all the glory, honor, and praise on Christmas, and Jesus is completely neglected. I can't even celebrate Christmas anymore because of this. Well, look, if you are worshiping Santa Claus, here's a warning for you.

That's not a good thing. Tragically, I think around this time of the year, there are so many people that celebrate Christmas, but for whom Christmas is just a sort of cultural, you know, it's all about the consumerism. It's all about, you know, the gifts. It's all about the legend of Santa Claus, those kinds of things, and they really miss out. You miss out on an opportunity to talk about the wonder and the beauty of what the Bible says took place when the Son of God came to earth, taking, you know, flesh and blood, taking humanity, really assuming humanity from the womb of the Virgin Mary. It's the great mystery of the Incarnation, and that's what Christians historically have celebrated when it comes to Christmas and the birth of Christ. And so I get the frustration, and I think I also share some of that frustration where, you know, when you look around at the ways in which people celebrate Christmas today, there's a lot of focus on the tinsel and the consumerism, and it's depressing, frankly.

But let me just say a couple of things. One, while I think Christmas is great and fun, and it really is, I mean, a cultural holiday, we're not commanded in the Bible to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity somewhere and to mark it off as a special day of worship. We have, as I've said before, one special day of worship, and it happens every week. You know, for Christians, it's called the Lord's Day, Sunday, the day that Jesus rose from the dead. We don't have these new festivals and feasts that the Church can bind our conscience with. So if you celebrate Christmas, if you're doing that, great.

That's wonderful. Be careful that you're not using it as an opportunity to indulge in sinful idolatry or to worship Santa Claus or whatever. If you don't, then that's fine too.

It's not a big deal. I think Paul talks about this in Romans chapter 14. Some people esteem one day above others, other people esteem every day alike. Look, you know, have your faith before you and the Lord, and in whatever you do, do it to the glory of God. But we have to be careful with some of these celebrations that they don't become opportunities for sinful indulgence.

And sadly, even this, even Christmas, can be that for some people. Additionally, you brought up the question about Santa Claus and talking to your kids about Santa Claus and how so many people put the focus on Santa Claus and not on Jesus. I've been asked before, is it a sin, is it wrong to do the whole Santa Claus thing as a family?

I don't think so. I wouldn't go as far as to say that you're sinning if you do that. I think that's going too far. But again, I think we do want to ask ourselves as believers and as Christians who are seeking to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, are we catechizing them and teaching them about the core truths of the Christian faith, that they understand the significance of what took place when the Son of God left heaven and came down and took flesh from the womb of the Virgin Mary for us and for our salvation? That's really what we want to focus on and what an opportunity we have as Christians to celebrate that around this time of the year. And so may God help each of us individually and in our families to do that, not to lose that focus and to treat this as an opportunity to glorify the Lord. Amen.

Very well said. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. You can leave your question for us on our voicemail system anytime, any day by calling us at 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Dan. My question for Pastor Adriel is, if God is holy and God is Spirit, why does He need a separate Holy Spirit?

Thank you. We're getting into the Godhead now and the three persons of the Holy Trinity. God is Spirit. Jesus says this very clearly in John chapter 4. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The Son of God, Jesus our Lord, assumed humanity as we were just talking about from the womb of the Virgin Mary, but God as He is in His essence is Spirit, if you will. And so your question here is, well, why then the Holy Spirit?

And you could even ask this another way. Well, does this mean that the Father is not holy or that the Son is not holy? Certainly we would say that Jesus is holy and that the Father is also holy, distinct.

And so how do we make sense of this? Well, it's clear in Scripture that God as He's revealed Himself, you know, the Father, the Lord, God as He's revealed Himself in His Word is three persons. Not that the Father is three persons, but that the Father is, you know, the origin, if you will, the source, and from Him, from the Father, eternally is begotten the Son, Jesus our Lord. We sometimes refer to, you know, Christ being eternally begotten of the Father. That means there wasn't a space in time where He came to be, where He began to be, as some of the early heretics said, but that He's always eternally begotten, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. And we get this from some of the revelation that we see, again, in Scripture in particular, Jesus Himself talking about sending the Spirit in places like the Gospel of John, for example, and the distinct role of the Spirit in the economy of salvation or of redemption in sanctifying us. And that's one of the reasons why He's referred to as holy. It's not that the Father isn't a spirit and that the Father isn't holy, it's that the Holy Spirit in our world today, one of His chief acts, if you will, is to sanctify the people of God. He's the Lord and giver of life. He makes us holy, and in that sense we can talk about the Spirit as holy, as the sanctifier. Now again, does that mean that the Father isn't a part of that or that the Son isn't a part of that?

No, not at all. But we're thinking about these three distinct persons of the Godhead, again, one God, three distinct persons, the same in substance, power, and glory, this one God, but the different persons of the Holy Trinity acting in concert for our redemption. The Father sending the Son, the Son accomplishing redemption, and the Holy Spirit applying that redemption to the people of God and sanctifying us as the people of God, perfecting us, perfecting the creation, if you will, for the glory of God. Again, we're getting some deep waters here with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, but this is what's revealed to us in Scripture. We receive the revelation of God as it is found in the Holy Bible, and we trust in the Lord and we worship Him as the Lord and giver of life, the Holy Spirit. This is something, again, that you see from the earliest times of the Christian church. And so, I appreciate that question, and I guess, again, to summarize, when we talk about the Holy Spirit specifically identified as the Holy Spirit, it's focusing on the Holy Spirit as the agent of our sanctification.

Thank you for that question. You know, it's interesting to me, Adriel, and we certainly see this throughout church history, there have been so many heresies raised about the Trinity, and they seem to keep resurfacing, whether you want to talk about the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Unitarians or others, but we need to get it right, don't we? Yeah, we do need to get it right, and it's no coincidence that some of these continue to resurface, especially the ones that focus on who God is and what God has done for us. The devil doesn't want to waste his time so much confusing us about things that really don't strike at the vitals of the Christian faith. The attack, the assault that he often brings against the church and against Christians is focused on who God is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and what God has done to redeem the world through His Son, Jesus. And so this is why the cross and the work of Christ is so often minimized in some of these sects and cults that reject these doctrines, and so we do need to get it right. It's vital for us to get it right, because it's at the heart of our salvation and what God has done for us to reveal His love to humanity. Hey, thanks for listening to the broadcast. God bless. ...
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-22 14:17:23 / 2023-12-22 14:27:03 / 10

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