The Witness of the Christmas Carols
By Al Stoner
It has long been our persuasion that the traditional Christ-exalting Christmas carols shall have proved, in the Day of Judgment, to have been a powerful, bright and shining witness for the truth among men. But, alas, in recent decades ungodly men have become increasingly intolerant of anything directly to do with Christ!
The truth of the salvation in Christ Jesus is declared in so many of them (in some more clearly than others) in a manner that is charmingly captivating, heart-warming, and inviting to all who will lend an ear. This witness has been clearly sounded forth each year in spite of a church (and we are speaking here of everything that calls itself the church) that is, for the most part dead, and, as a consequence, grievously recreant in its proclamation of the truth.
Not that long ago in late November and throughout the month of December there would be hardly a street, a church, a home, a business, or a shopping mall, where the sound of these carols did not clearly resonate. Men and women, boys and girls, could be seen going about here and there, listening intently, noticeably pleased by these canticles of hope with their compelling and unspeakably joyous content. Often they could even be heard to sing, hum, or whistle along with the words and melodies.
However, by the time that January had arrived, all the joyous considerations contained in these hymns would be put away by men for another year. And life would go on unaffected for the most part, business as usual. And alas, year after year the same tragic and inexplicable cycle would continue, and to some degree still continues on: the truth is heard by multitudes of men and women over and over again, but the truth, and particularly the all-essential love for it (II Th. 2:10), is not received by them!
The Day of Reckoning is Coming! The day is coming, however, when men shall give an account for all the truth which they have heard, but have not embraced, (and we are speaking now particularly of the truth which they have heard from the songs referred to above.) Ungodly men, standing there before the great and august judgment bar, shall give an account to God for not giving heed to the truth and for not embracing the glorious salvation in Christ Jesus, which was so powerfully declared in these hymns.
God will surely say to all those who would attempt to excuse and justify themselves in that great and notable Day, "Why did you not consider and inquire into this message of salvation that you repeatedly heard? You had entire lifetime to do so." And those that had made an empty profession of faith, as well, shall give account to Him as to why they had not hungered and thirsted after God's salvation and why they had not grown up into the truth that was so clearly and wonderfully proclaimed in so many of these carols year after year.
Men Must Grow Up into the Truth of Salvation. The faith of our Lord Jesus Christ has to do with great and abiding realities, and is, by its very nature, not at all seasonal (cf. Gal. 4:9-11). (It should go without saying that there is no observance of Christmas before the great white throne in Heaven. Actually, Christmas was not even celebrated on earth until about the year 300 A.D.)
Nevertheless, the kernels of truth that are declared during this time of remembrance each year are foundational to men's faith and are to be diligently embraced, put on, grown up into, and they are to be matters of intimate conversancy to all who profess the Name of the Lord Jesus. Men and women professing godliness ought to be at least as spiritually and intelligently conversant with the salvation in Christ Jesus as they are with their own families and with their jobs, and increasingly so. Anything short of this would simply be unreasonable!! The knowledge of God, and of His salvation in Christ Jesus, is the only abiding knowledge. All other lesser bodies of knowledge shall soon suffer obsolescence and pass away.
Some Examples of What We are Speaking. To cite some examples of the conversancy of which we are speaking, the word "Emmanuel" ought not, primarily, to provoke men to think of "the Christmas season," but rather it ought to transport them in their thoughts to the wonderfully great and abiding reality, that in Christ Jesus, "the eternal God" (Deut. 33:27), "the Creator of the ends of the earth" (Isa. 40:28), is now very near to us, He is with us, and even dwelling in us, in a marvelous sense that He never was before! Charles Wesley expressed it so very well in his familiar carol, "Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, Hail, the Incarnate Deity, Pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel!" Expressions such as these have proceeded forth from a deep love for the Scriptures and for the blessed Redeemer, which they declare. When earnestly considered, these expressions, set to verse in many of these carols, will assist men in perceiving somewhat of the preciousness of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and will stir them up to make diligent inquiry into the truth themselves so that they may take hold of it.
Bible words such as (Emmanuel, the Last Adam, the Second Man, Prince of Peace, Desire of Nations, Sun of Righteousness, reconciliation, and so many others) ought to continually provoke further inquiry among redeemed personalities as to their preciousness and their great personal relevance, significance, and glorious benefit to men, both as they pertain to this world and to the one which is to come.
If angels desire to look into the things pertaining to redemption in Christ (I Pet. 1:12), how much more should men desire to look and inquire and explore, who are the recipients of that redemption? Those who name the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ must not content themselves with being pabulum-fed by their local ministers. Rather they must accustom themselves to intelligently searching out and exploring the truth as those who are seeking after great and hid treasure (cf. Mt. 13:44). Let us all, therefore, resolve to heartily embrace and grow up into the truth being sounded forth in the specific carols of which we are speaking, and may they provoke us to make more diligent search into "the truth of" God's "salvation" (Ps. 69:13) which is "contained in the Scripture" (I Pet. 2:6).