What If Christ Had Not Come?

Bible Book: John  15 : 22
Subject: Christ, Birth of; Christmas

You are probably familiar with the article about Jesus that was written many years ago. It is an adaptation of an essay by James A. Francis, who died in 1926. The essay is entitled “One Solitary Life.”

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30 and then for 3 years he was an itinerant preacher. He never held an office, never owned a home, never wrote a book, never had a family, never went to college, never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness, he had no credentials but himself. While he was a young man the tide of public opinion turned against him and his friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth and that was his coat. When he was dead he was laid in a private grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched and all the navies that were ever built and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as that one solitary life.

The impact that Jesus Christ has had on individuals, on families, on communities, on nations, and on the world is unparalleled--and on December 25th we celebrate his coming into the world. But what if Christ had not come? It’s a sobering thought--but Jesus himself raised the issue. In John 15:22 he said, “If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” Jesus was saying that if he had not come and proclaimed the truth then men would not have been responsible for rejecting that truth--but he did come, he did reveal the truth, and therefore men are accountable and guilty before God if they reject that truth. But let’s focus on the first five words of that verse: “If I had not come....”

Have you ever considered what life would be like if Christ had not come? Let’s think about it this morning.

I. We Would Not Have The New Testament

As a matter of fact, if Christ had not come the Old Testament would no longer have the significance that it presently has. Although it contains some wonderful moral and spiritual truths, the main purpose of the Old Testament is to point to the coming of Christ--and if Christ had not come as the prophets predicted that he would, then the Old Testament would lose its validity.

But if he had not come the New Testament would not even exist, because it is the record of his coming into the world, the impact of that coming, and then of the spread of the gospel. The New Testament has wonderful promises for the believer. It tells of the great spiritual resources available to God’s children, and of his expectations of us. Think of how much poorer the world would be without the account of the nativity, the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, the story of the prodigal son, or the story of the Good Samaritan.

The apostle Paul declared, in Acts 20:32, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” In this inspired, inerrant New Testament people in their sorrow have found comfort, in their despair hope, and in their darkness light; in their doubt they have found faith, in their confusion guidance, in their weakness strength, in their fear courage, and in their sin a Savior. But if Christ had not come, we would not have this wonderful book.

II. We Would Have No Christian Churches

Jesus is the foundation of the church, and it is because of him that we meet together in this place. To Connie and me--and I’m confident that the same is true of you--one of life’s greatest blessings is to go to church Sunday and Wednesday--to open the Word of God, to sing praises to him, and to fellowship with like-minded folks. So often during a service like this God speaks to me to convict me of sin that needs to be confessed or new beginnings that need to be made. So often as we worship God together the Lord lifts me up when I’m down, and give me new courage to keep on keeping on. So often in these services he stirs my heart and inspires me to face with new determination and hope the challenges and difficulties of the coming week. But if Christ had not come, there would be no churches--and how sad that would be.

The church has been and is today God’s primary instrument for spreading the gospel--and that is most assuredly our primary mission. But, in addition, the church is also powerfully used of God to impact lives in other ways, as well. Church people go all over America and to other parts of the world to provide help in times of disaster. Churches all over the country give to relieve hunger around the world, and send teams to various underdeveloped nations to teach them how to farm, and to help them learn how to provide sanitary drinking water. Churches send medical teams to give vaccinations to children in third-world countries, and to provide treatments for their diseases. Southern Baptists, through our International Mission Board, send missionaries throughout the world not only to proclaim the gospel but also to render various types of humanitarian aid. But if Christ had not come, we would have no churches, and therefore none of these church ministries would take place.

III. Society Would Be Much More Corrupt Than It Is Now

In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said to believers, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” Salt is a preservative. Jesus was saying to believers, “You are to be my preservative agents in this morally and spiritually deteriorating world.”

In the very next verse, he said, “Ye are the light of the world.” Throughout the Bible, sin is described as darkness. In Philippians 2:15-16 the apostle Paul prayed that Christians “may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life....”

Back in the early days of this country, when the west was largely undeveloped, a man who lived in New England got tired of hearing about Jesus; he got tired of people wanting him to go to church; he got tired of hearing about what the Bible says--so he decided to get away from it all. He moved out west, to one of the rough, rowdy little settlements, where the majority of the residents didn’t believe anything, and where there were practically no moral inhibitions. But after living out there a while, he wrote to the folks back home and said, “Please send us some preachers to start some churches, and tell them to bring plenty of Bibles, because I have discovered that a place without preaching, without churches, and without Bibles is too much like a hell on earth for a man to live in.”

If you think society is in bad shape morally and spiritually now--and it is--just imagine what conditions would be like if Christ had not come. There would be no New Testament, there would be no churches, and corruption would be even more rampant than it now is. We would be living in deep, dark paganism--as many people are now living where the gospel has not yet penetrated.

IV. We Would Not Have The World’s Greatest Artistic Treasures

Let me mention still another fact--it’s nowhere near the top of the list in importance, yet it is worthy of consideration. If Christ had not come, WE WOULD NOT HAVE THE WORLD’S GREATEST ARTISTIC TREASURES.

The literary arts would certainly be poor. The Bible itself is the greatest piece of literature the world has ever known--and many other great literary works are based on Biblical truth, some of them very directly, such as John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, which has been a classic for many years. Recently there has been a revival of interest in C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, which is a fantasy, yet indirectly presents solid Biblical truth. Two movies have been made based on those chronicles, and people of all ages are being exposed to Lewis’ unique and delightful way of conveying spiritual truth. Many other great literary works are interlaced with Biblical truths. But we would not have such literature if Christ had not come.

If he had not come, we certainly would not have the world’s greatest art. Most of the world’s greatest paintings, particularly by that group of painters referred to as “the old masters,” were inspired by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ--including his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. I think of Leonardo DaVinci’s “Last Supper”--or Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel--or Raphael’s “Madonna and Child”--and the list goes on.

We wouldn’t have the world’s greatest music if Christ had not come. The greatest compositions ever produced, those that have most moved and lifted mankind, have been inspired by the living Lord. For example, whenever I hear Handel’s “Messiah,” with the great “Hallelujah Chorus,” I am stirred to the very depths of my soul, and I have a renewed sense of God’s presence, and a renewed determination to face, with his help, whatever challenges may come my way. How much poorer we would be if we didn’t have the great Christian music that has been written in recent years--such as Bill Gaither’s “The King Is Coming,” or that song which never fails to bless my heart, “I Have Seen The Light”--or “Oh, Holy Night”--and there are so many others.

V. We Would Not Adequately Know What God Is Like

By observing the wonders of nature we realize that there must be a great designer behind it all, and our conscience also bears witness, as Paul expresses it in Romans 2:15--and by these means man can be inspired to begin searching for him. However, God’s ultimate revelation of himself is not through nature or conscience, and we don’t actually come to know Him by those avenues. We desire to know Him, though, for he created us with that built-in yearning. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 is found this statement: “...he [that is, God] hath set the world [a clearer translation is “eternity”] in their [that is, in men’s] heart....” Many don’t recognize that longing for what it is, and they try to fill that void in all sorts of foolish, shameful, destructive ways. But no person will ever find true fulfillment until he or she recognizes Jesus Christ for who He is, and responds to him accordingly.

Al Bryant said that one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome, Italy, is the Rospigliosi Palace. On the domed ceiling is the famous painting by Guido Reni entitled “The Aurora.” The dome on which that scene is painted is so high that looking up at it is a strain--one’s neck grows stiff and vision becomes blurred. To enable visitors to see and appreciate the painting, a large mirror has been installed on the floor and surrounded by a rail. People can look in that mirror and see the painting clearly.

Colossians l:15 speaks of Christ as “the image of the invisible God.” To know what God is like, we look to Jesus--who was and is God. Matthew 1:23 refers to Jesus as “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” John 1:18 says, “No man hath seen God at any time....” Let me pause to say that the inspired writer’s point is that no one has ever seen God in the state in which he usually exists--namely, his invisible state. But that verse goes on to say, “...the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” In John 14:8 Phillip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” To which Jesus replied in verse 9: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Phillip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father....” Colossians 2:9 says, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” The Greek word for “Godhead” means, literally, “divine essence, or divine nature.”

By looking at Jesus, we learn that God is not some impersonal force. He is not remote and aloof, but he is compassionate and cares about every concern of our lives. You are important to him. He knows your name, he knows all about detail of your life. He knows about your every concern, your every heartache, your every doubt and fear--and he knows about your sin, but he loves you still. He is not only all powerful and all knowing, but he is also a God of love, who will meet the deepest needs of our lives if only we will respond to him and meet his conditions. But we wouldn’t know what God is like if Christ had not come.

VI. We Would Have No Remedy For Our Sin

In Ephesians 2:12 the inspired writer is describing, for his Christian friends, what life was like for them before they were converted. He describes them as “having no hope, and without God in the world.” But look, then, at what he says in the very next verse: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

1 Kings 8:46 says, “There is no man that sinneth not....” James 1:15 says, “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”--and the primary emphasis there is on spiritual death, which means separation from God. If a person continues to the end of this earthly life in his sin, he will then be forever separated from God in that horrible place called hell. But God has provided a remedy for our sin. Jesus died on the cross of Calvary to take our punishment for us. Here’s the way 1 Peter 2:20 puts it: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye are healed.”

But how do we receive that gift of salvation? By meeting God’s two unalterable conditions set forth in Acts 20:21: “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”--and the faith of which the Bible speaks is not merely a head belief. In Romans 10 we learn that one must believe in his heart in order to be saved. That means that we must believe to the extent that we surrender ourselves totally to Jesus, and ask him to take over management of our lives. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:12, “...I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” A lot of folks are the distance between their head and their heart from hell. They believe in their head, but it has never moved down to their heart.

What happens when you repent and by faith receive Christ as Lord and Savior? He forgives your sins. Psalm 103:12 says to the believer, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” He gives you a new nature--in other words, a new set of “want to’s.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” But he not only gives you a new sense of direction, he also provides you with a new dynamic with which to move in that direction--namely, the indwelling Holy Spirit. He makes available to you spiritual resources which--if you utilize them through prayer, Bible study, worship, and service--will enable you to have, day by day, an ever-increasing degree of victory over the temptations that assail you. Then, he will take you to heaven when you die, to live with him forever.

An artist was painting a picture of a dreary winter scene. The picture, almost finished, showed a winter storm. The trees were heavily laden with snow, the limbs were bending. The house near the center of the picture was dark and desolate. It was an extremely sad picture. But then, the artist dipped his brush into some bright yellow paint, and with one masterful stroke painted a light in one of the windows. The effect was almost unbelievable. It transformed what had been a bleak, doleful scene into a scene of warmth, encouragement, and hope. That’s exactly what the coming of Jesus Christ did for a dreary world. And that’s exactly what the coming of Jesus Christ will do for you personally when you, by repentance and faith, invite him into your life.