Why all the fuss about Christmas? Why do we celebrate Christmas? Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – a man who lived two thousand years ago? Why did the angels say that the news of Jesus’ birth was “good news of great joy” that is for “all the people” (Lk 2:10)?
It is because…hell is real.
In the book of revelation hell is described as a lake of fire (Rev 19:20; 20:14-
15; 21:8). We are told that those who go there are tormented with fire forever, with no rest day or night (Rev 14:10-11). Jesus calls it the fiery furnace (Matt 13:42), the eternal fire (Matt 18:8) and the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 8:12). As I read through these verses again I am terrified and I fear that words probably don’t do justice to the horror that is experienced in hell.
There are many people in our day however, even some who call themselves Christians, who deny what the Bible teaches about hell. Some say that those who do not go to heaven will just cease to exist; others say that all this talk about fire and torment is simply a metaphor for suffering in this life. Some say that hell is real but it is not eternal. Still others believe that everyone will go to heaven. But, however, the Bible speaks about hell too vividly, too often and with too much seriousness for us not to take it seriously.
The Bible is right. Hell is real and those who go there remain there for eternity.
Hell is real and hell is necessary. What I mean by that is that hell exists because there is a God and he is infinitely good. He is so good and wonderful and perfect and powerful and wise and just and kind and loving that he deserves to be worshiped and served and glorified and honoured by all his creation. Not only that, but since he is our creator, it is our duty to worship and serve him. But we don’t worship him or praise him or serve him or glorify him. Rather we reject him, break his commands, do what is right in our own minds and worship ourselves. Because God is infinitely good, to deny him the worship that he deserves is an infinite crime deserving of an infinite punishment.
We have all sinned therefore we all deserve to be cast into hell.
Why do we celebrate Christmas? Because hell is real. But that’s not all (that in itself would be no reason to celebrate!). We celebrate Christmas because two thousand years ago in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, was born (Lk2:11)!
You see, when we were helpless under God’s judgement, when we had blown it, when we could not go back and take away our sins and so could not stop God from casting us into hell, he has sent a Saviour. He has had compassion on us and sent Jesus Christ his Son. He was born to Mary in Bethlehem while she was still a virgin and spent his first night in an animals drinking trough!
This little baby grew up to be a man. He lived a perfect life, died a sinners death, was buried, was raised from the dead, appeared alive to over five hundred people, then ascended into heaven to sit at God’s right has as King over all creation.
Whoever repents and believes in him will not perish but has eternal life. That person is no longer on their way to judgement and hell but has passed from death to life (Lk 13:3; Jn 3:16; 5:24)!
Hell is real. But a Saviour has been born! His name is Jesus. This is good news of great joy. This is a reason to celebrate.
Glory to God in the Highest (Lk 2:14)!
Matt Cole is in his second year of ministry training at PTC and attends Somerville Presbyterian Church