Gideon. Samson. David. Samuel. Old Testament heroes whose faith conquered kingdoms. Ordinary men who gained extraordinary victories against all odds. They achieved what was promised. Weaknesses were turned into strengths. They unlocked a great mystery of experiencing and receiving the power of God. They trusted His promises. They took God at His Word.
“Where is my strength, O Lord?”
When our conscience screams condemnation, God promises redemption. When overcome by the burdens of guilt, God promises peace. These are elusive victories. They are battles many will fight on their own with little to no result. And the mystery behind miraculous victories can only be found in the promises foretold in the Old Testament. The same power given to Biblical heroes are given to us. That power centers on God’s Son. His life becomes our life. His victory becomes our victory.
That’s the essence of the Christmas message.
The babe born in Bethlehem is a proclamation of free and full forgiveness. It’s a victorious message of a promise kept. It is the promise given by God that by faith in Christ, we receive the full pardon of all our sins.
Our suspicious human nature still demands more information. Experience has manifested the axiom, “What sounds too good to be true, probably isn’t.” We easily join with the expert in the law who confronted Jesus with the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” We all are tempted to look within ourselves for an answer. To try harder. To stumble more often. There has to be something we can do to become more righteous, to be declared forgiven, to earn a place by God’s throne.
The mystery of faith lies behind the truth that following Christ is not a pursuit, but a surrender. It’s an abandonment of self. Faith means fully trusting a promise and believing that God is perfectly reliable.
In one sense, it’s an utter act of humility — a laying down of our plow at the feet of Christ and keeping it there. Faith ends the present tense of pursuing, and rejoices in the past tense of having already arrived. All because of what Christ has already accomplished for us on the cross. Our complete forgiveness. Our salvation assured.
Where is my strength, O Lord?
Victory is receive by those who in weakness rely solely on Christ, not to the strong who rely on human effort. Just ask Gideon, Samson, David and Samuel. Even the Apostle Paul.
There is a key that opens the kingdom of heaven. It’s a mystery already solved. Saul from Tarsus found it on the road to Damascus. His eyes were opened by the words of Christ. And in that mystery he discovered that only in Christ I am strong. In weakness there is strength.
Perhaps that’s why salvation can only be found in a manger. Seek Him and you will know.