Christmas Joy

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.—Luke 2:10

Fear not!

Tidings of great joy, indeed, I bring!

Was it Gabriel, the angel that standeth before God, who so suddenly burst forth in the darkness of the night from heaven’s star-studded canopy, and appeared upon the peaceful scene of the shepherds keeping watch over their flock?


"Heartily recommended to the reading public!"

With delight this new book by author Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, is heartily recommended to the reading public!

In this new publication the author addresses what by his own confession is “the greatest miracle in history”: the incarnation, birth, and childhood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1).


Our classic advent devotional

What child of God, saved by grace, does not turn with an ever new interest and spiritual delight to Bethlehem in “the fullness of time,” to contemplate in humble adoration the mystery of salvation, revealed, yet hid, in the child in the manger? ... Millions of sermons have been delivered on this theme…but the theme was never exhausted and always kindles anew the interest of the believer.—Herman Hoeksema

Give the gift of books this Christmas!

Give the gift of books this Christmas!

Born for Our Salvation by Rev. McGeown – ebook now available!

Born for Our Salvation by Rev. McGeown – ebook now available!

Let Us Go To Bethlehem

In the fullness of time, when Jesus Christ our Savior was born, Bethlehem was the focal point of the universe. All things wend their way to the city of David.

First, there is that decree of Caesar Augustus! Yes, I have placed an exclamation point behind that sentence, and well I might. Wonder what the poor man is thinking about all through the ages of his hellish suffering. It was even through his imperial decree that Joseph and Mary and the child to be born took their journey to David’s city.

An exclamation point, for it shows us that the world must help to bring the kingdom of God to its completion. All through the ages, all things work together to bring the children in the bosom of the Father. All things are united in that one purpose.


Jesus the Refugee

Around this time of the year, liberal churches like to focus on certain aspects of the story of Christ’s nativity in order to make political commentary. One of the favorite approaches of such liberal commentators, whether the pope of Rome, the archbishop of Canterbury, or liberal churches in the USA and Europe, is to present the baby Jesus as a migrant or a refugee. For example, a church in Massachusetts recently erected a “nativity scene” in which “the baby Jesus” was locked up in a cage, separating him from Mary and Joseph, while the “three wise men” were blocked from reaching Jesus by a wall or a fence. Such a scene was designed to provoke a conversation about immigration, constituted a protest against the separation of children from their parents by U.S. border control, and was designed to raise awareness about the plight of caravans of migrants attempting to cross the same U.S. border.

It is not my intention to make a political statement about U.S. immigration policy (or even EU immigration policy for that matter), but to explain the biblical text, which has been hijacked and twisted in an attempt to push a particular political and moral agenda. Many of the same liberals, of course, will champion abortion, but will cry foul if the same biblical passages are used to argue against the evil of murdering the unborn. For example, had Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist) been alive today, they could have—if they had been so wickedly inclined—walked into an abortion clinic and terminated their pregnancies. Mary, who in Luke 1:42 was perhaps only a few weeks pregnant at most, could have taken an abortion pill, which is now readily available in many Western countries; while Elizabeth, who in Luke 1:36 was six months pregnant, could have opted for a surgical procedure in a state-funded abortion facility such as Planned Parenthood. While any right-minded Christian shudders at the idea, many of the same liberals who promote the “Jesus was a refugee; therefore, we should have open borders” narrative are champions for the freedom of choice of women like Mary and Elizabeth, and would even demand that the taxpayer fund the right of abortion. Liberals, therefore, are selective in their “biblically-based political outrage.”

Continue reading...


A White Christmas

Our flesh so quickly associates a snow cover with the celebration of Christmas, and then it gives the pre-eminence to the incidental and loses the essential. The white snow on the ground becomes in our thinking essential as a part of Christmas. Its absence detracts from the significance of the holiday for us, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. 

Even then in these areas where snow is so common in December, the holiday is by no means a white Christmas in many respects. In fact it is a most colorful, if not indeed the most colorful of all the holidays. Christmas trees are strung with colored lights here and also in the South. Buildings have their outlines set off with colored lights that shine brilliantly in the cold air, and blink on and off in patterns of color and design. The use of red and green is everywhere to be seen for decorative purposes. It is called the season to be gay. Colorful greetings cards are mailed in staggering numbers and volume. Tinsel and the holly and the ivy are used in abundance to give a little more color to the holiday.

One almost feels ashamed to speak of that drab picture there on the Judean hillside with colorless sheep and even less colorful shepherds, to say nothing of that drab, dull, foul, ill-smelling, wholly undecorated grotto where among donkeys and camels the Christ-child made his appearance in our world. There were no beautiful, colorful wrappings and ribbons containing a gift for him. All was commonplace and dull. All lacked the luster that we now try to bring into the picture, not in his fear but in the satisfaction of the flesh.

God's color was there. There was the bright light of the angel of the Lord, and a few moments later that of a host of these pure, white creatures from heaven. There was the colorful message, that at the same time shown with white brilliancy, "Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." In the darkness of our night of sin the light shone so brightly in those words. For us, who are so black with sin, this was a truth of brilliant whiteness which gives such wonderful significance to Christmas unto us. And the shepherds, who were white with fright, were suddenly engulfed with another heavenly message of glory to God in the highest, and they saw a white flag of peace on earth to the men of God's good pleasure waved before their eyes.

The message was one of peace. The white flag which the angels waved before these shepherds, and through them before our eyes, was not a flag of surrender. It was the white flag of victory. Do we not read in Revelation 6 of the white horse, and that he that sat on it went forth conquering and to conquer? White stands there for victory. And do we not again read in Revelation 19 that he who sat on this white horse is called "Faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war?" A verse later we read that his name is "The Word of God." In that light also we must read Revelation 2:17, where we are told that "to him that overcometh" this babe of Bethlehem, who now is the Lord of Lords and King of kings, will give "to eat of the hidden manna" and "a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." This does not mean that we receive a name of those who surrender. It means that we receive the name of victor, through him who rides this white horse that symbolizes victory, and that we shall sit and reign with him because he goes forth conquering and to conquer. 

May God grant you a white Christmas of victory in Christ. And may he take from you the scarlet color of your sins.


This excerpt was taken from a meditation written by Rev. John Heys printed in the December 15, 1970 issue of the Standard BearerRead the full article.


The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace!


Magic name in a world of woe and turmoil!

Wonderful name, indeed, in a world torn by war, bleeding from a thousand wounds: The Prince of Peace!

Small wonder that even they who know Him not and understand nothing of the peace He came to bring are spellbound by the charm and magic of that name, and every Christmas season speak of Him and sing the praises of what they conceive to be the Prince of Peace! They catch the exquisitely soothing music of the name and they taste the heavenly gift wrapped up in that name, and the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, a world of righteousness and peace.

Seeing they see; hearing they hear.

Yet they do not perceive; still they fail to understand.

They use the name; they reject Him! Their rock is not our Rock; their Prince of Peace is not the Christ of the Scriptures.

He, the Prince of Peace, is characterized by peace in all His appearance, mission, work, and dominion. To establish peace He came into the world. To rule in peace forever He labors and toils and battles and suffers and goes down into the nethermost parts of the earth. For, peace He came to establish, peace indeed. Not the superficial peace that is created by conferences or courts of men, by treaties that are signed, by pacts that are sealed and that are broken by them that make them; but true, real, essential peace He came to create. Quite impossible it is, indeed, to bring peace in the relationships between men and nations, where there is no peace in the heart; and quite hopeless is the expectation of peace in men's hearts, as long as there is no peace with God! 

The futility of the attempt to establish peace where there is no peace the world has demonstrated in late years more clearly than ever before. For peace they longed, and war was dreaded. Of peace they spoke in speech and song and discussion around conference tables. Peace palaces were built. Peace conferences were held. Disarmament agreements were attempted. Peace treaties were signed. A league of nations was established. Yet, there was never a time in which the world was so full of greed, hatred, distrust, and war, as our own. They speak of peace, peace, where there is no peace!

Peace is a profound spiritual reality!

It is a matter of the heart. It presupposes and is rooted in love, the love of one another! The love of one another is rooted in the love of God! The love of God is love of God! And herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us!

Therefore, love is also righteousness, holiness, truth.

Without these there is no love—no love of God to us, no love of us to God, no love of one another. And without this love there is no peace—no peace with God, no peace in God toward us, no peace of us toward God, no peace between man and man, between group and group, between nation and nation. It is, and it must needs be, war!

There is no shortcut to peace!

The sole road hither is that of righteousness, truth, holiness, love, life.

That road He traveled, the Prince of Peace, the Captain of our salvation!

Peace He made, first of all, with God. Everlasting peace, on the basis of an everlasting righteousness. For, voluntarily, in the obedience of love, He placed Himself under the vials of God's wrath in the hour of judgment; obediently He descended into the deepest woe and agony of death and hell to satisfy the unchangeable justice of God, thus to open the way for peace on the basis of God's own terms: His righteousness! That peace He gives unto us. For the Prince of Peace who died to make peace was raised in peace, was glorified and exalted at the right hand of God to reign in peace and to overcome all the evil forces of war, and was given the Spirit to realize that peace in the hearts of all His own. By that Spirit He leads us into His kingdom of peace with God, assures us of our reconciliation with God through His blood, removes the enmity against God that is in our hearts by nature, pours out in us the love of God, and causes us to sing with joy: "We, therefore, being justified by faith, have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

The Prince of Peace!

Through that peace with God we have peace with one another!

By nature we are war-makers. For we live in malice and envy and covetousness. We are filled with pride and hate one another. But when the Prince of Peace reigns in our hearts by His Spirit and grace, we become makers of peace, love one another, humble ourselves, forbear one another and forgive one another, even as God for Christ's sake forgave us!

And through Him we have peace with all things!

For, having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we even now are assured that all things are ours and we are His and He is God's, and that He who reconciled us with Himself through the death of His Son will surely cause all things to work together for our good.

And we look forward to the final kingdom of peace!

Then, in the new heavens and the new earth, in which righteousness shall dwell, God's tabernacle shall be spread over all!

The creature shall participate in the glorious liberty of the children of God!

And there shall be nothing that shall destroy in all God's holy mountain!

Blessed Prince of Peace!



This Christmas meditation was written by Herman Hoeksema.

You can read the full meditation in the book The Mystery of Bethlehem or on the Standard Bearer archives.


Christmas Joy

Fear not!

Tidings of great joy, indeed, I bring!

Was it Gabriel, the angel that standeth before God, who so suddenly burst forth in the darkness of the night from heaven's star-studded canopy, and appeared upon the peaceful scene of the shepherds keeping watch over their flock?

We know not.

But the shepherds, we know, instead of expecting a message of gladness and salvation, instead of rejoicing at the appearance of one of the heavenly spirits that are sent for the service of the elect, were filled with dismay. A great fear filled their hearts. They were sore afraid. The sudden appearance of the heavenly messenger wrought within them a dreadful apprehension of some great evil impending...

They feared with a great fear. Generally it was believed by the people that when one saw an angel it meant death for him, a belief that may be regarded as scarcely more than a popular superstition. But here was more than the mere fear of death. It was the fear which sinful mortals experience when they are brought face to face with the glory of the Most High.

Thus the text explains it.

When the angel of the Lord appeared and stood with them in dazzling splendor of heavenly light, the glory of the Lord shone round about the shepherds. The halo of glory the heavenly messenger brought down with him from on high, the brilliant light that with him pierced the darkness of the night in the fields of Ephratah, was a reflection of the inexpressible glory that radiates from the very face of the Lord. For this angel, whether it was Gabriel as is not improbable, seeing it was he who carried the tidings of the expected birth of Christ and his forerunner to Zacharias and Mary, or whether it was another of the heavenly spirits, came from the very presence of the Lord. From heaven he hailed, where the angels always see the face of our Father which is in heaven. And dwelling in God's heavenly presence, the heavenly glory of the Lord was reflected in their appearance. Even as the face of Moses, the mediator of the old dispensation shone with a similar reflection of the glory of the Lord when he came down from the Mount of God, so this angel suddenly radiated into the darkness of the night an effulgence of divine glory. Where he stood there beamed forth the glory of the Lord! It was a reflection of that glory which, beaming forth from God's presence, is the radiation of the pure beauty of all his virtues, of his holiness and righteousness, of his perfect goodness, and justice. Somehow the heavenly light that shone in the darkness when the angel appeared to the shepherds was vibrant with the very presence of the Lord of glory...

Do we wonder that the shepherds were sore afraid?

To read the full meditation as it originally appeared in The Standard Bearer, click here.


Post Tags

On Twitter

Follow @reformedfreepub