Theme: The Need for Both Knowledge and Love
In this week’s lessons, we examine people in the Christmas story who did not respond to the birth of Christ as they should have.
Scripture: Luke 2:1-7
We concluded yesterday’s study with the observation that perhaps the religious leaders missed the birth of Christ because of their pride in being summoned by Herod to answer his theological question.
We see this in the religious world! There are sectors of the Church of Jesus Christ in our day in which almost any Bible question will receive a right answer. Yet in many of these places there is no real hunger after God, and thus the vital, joyous, and rewarding reality of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ is lacking. Do not misunderstand me here. Accurate Bible knowledge is wonderful. I have said on many occasions that it is only through a knowledge of the Scriptures that we can know Jesus and that it is only through knowing Jesus that we can know God. We must study our Bibles. I spend most of my own life studying the Bible and teaching it. And yet, knowing the content of the Bible is not enough. I know that myself. If we are to be all God intends us to be, we must see beyond the Book—through it, if you will—to its Author. Do you know the Author? If you do, it will make a difference in your life. He will satisfy you. He will make you forget yourself. Above all, you will be taught to love as God loved us when He gave us Jesus.
Francis Schaeffer has written:
As Christians we must not minimize the need to give honest answers to honest questions. We should have an intellectual apologetic. The Bible commands it and Christ and Paul exemplify it. In the synagogue, in the marketplace, in homes and in almost every conceivable kind of situation, Jesus and Paul discussed Christianity. It is likewise the Christian’s task to be able to give an honest answer to an honest question and then to give it.
Yet, without true Christians loving one another, Christ says the world cannot be expected to listen, even when we give proper answers. Let us be careful, indeed, to spend a lifetime studying to give honest answers. For years the orthodox, evangelical church has done this very poorly. So it is well to spend time learning to answer the questions of men who are about us. But after we have done our best to communicate to a lost world, still we must never forget that the final apologetic which Jesus gives is the observable love of true Christians.3
No one can learn that love from the Lord Jesus and fail to find Christmas.
3Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1970), pp. 139-140.
Why is it not enough simply to know the content of the Bible?
What do Christians need to do to improve their ability to answer the questions that skeptics are asking about Christianity? What can we learn from Jesus and Paul to help us become better at dealing with intellectual objections to the faith?
Application: Is there a thoughtful, well-informed Christian you know who can help you increase your biblical and theological knowledge by offering you reading and study suggestions?
Reflection: How can Christians demonstrate love toward one another such that the unbelieving world will observe it? What can you do to participate in this form of witnessing?