As I write this column, the Bible is being maligned and misrepresented by a growing throng that wishes to revise the unchangeable truth of God's Word to fit their own beliefs. But the Bible remains as true and relevant today as it did when God instilled it into the hearts of the biblical authors.
And so as Christmastime approaches, I want to hearken back to a wonderful passage of Scripture in the book of John to see how one man prepared the hearts of his generation for Jesus' earthly ministry.
His name was John the Baptist, and he was an unlikely messenger to herald the coming of the Christ. John was a camel hide-wearing, locust-eating evangelist who lived in the backwoods and had a sole purpose: calling people to believe.
At the onset of the book of John, we see a brief description of the incarnation of Jesus. Verse 14 tells us, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (NKJV)
Could there be any more lovely words to describe the miracle of God coming to earth in human form to provide the avenue to heaven for all who will believe? This is not a myth or a fairy tale. The Son of God, Jesus, came to earth to be born of a virgin.
And so Jesus grew and became a man. And as it came time for Jesus to conduct His earthly ministry, John the Baptist was preparing hearts in Jerusalem. Jesus did not arrive on the scene unannounced; John prepared the way.
John paves the way
What made John so special that he took on this task? Let's examine some of his characteristics as we search John Chapter 1.
First, he was ministering and living his life above reproach to the point that people believed him to be the Old Testament prophet Elijah. John, of course, denied this, stating, "I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord."
Second, he did not compromise. The movement to undermine the Gospel was also alive in John's day, but he preached only "a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."
Third, he was subservient, saying that he was not even worthy of loosening the strap on Jesus' sandal. "He must increase, but I must decrease," he stated.
Fourth, he testified that what Jesus taught about Himself is true: "He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true."
I focus on John today because I see him as an example of how we should be living.
John dedicated his life to pointing to the kingdom of God without regard for self. We, too, need to be selflessly telling others that the same Savior who came to earth as a little baby is coming again to establish His eternal kingdom.
Christmas provides us with the perfect opportunity to talk to people about the personhood of Jesus, His purpose of salvation and His Second Coming. Be advised: This may come at a price. My fifth point about John the Baptist is this: He was later jailed and beheaded because of his uncompromising Christian witness.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph of this column, many in the so-called mainstream are attempting to recreate the Bible in their own image. Subsequently, we who believe that the Bible is a never-changing text that was literally inspired by the breath of God are seen as gullible rubes.
But that's all right. John the Baptist was not concerned with how his message was received in his culture, and neither should we be concerned. Hold fast to the words of Jesus: "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." (John 15:18)
I encourage all believers to be bold representatives of Christ during this Christmas season, keeping the example of John the Baptist in our hearts. Let us join as one voice as we call out into the modern wilderness that Jesus is coming again.