The Beginning that Changed the World

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

Mr. Jack H. Brown.

Special Music


O Come, All Ye Faithful
Come, O Long Expected Jesus
O Holy Night

And the Glory of the Lord

Amy Gillette - Do You Hear What I Hear?
Kathy Mattea - "Angels We Have Heard on High"

The Message

Message by: Robert H. Schuller

My message today, which sets off the whole Christmas season from this place, is entitled “The Beginning that Changed the World.” There are infinite possibilities in little beginnings if God is in it. And there are infinite possibilities in the world when Jesus was born. That was the beginning of a new religion that would change the world forever. The world would call it Christianity. And one of the most beautiful things is that it celebrates the giving of gifts you know. It’s so much fun to give gifts.

Well this church is offering many gifts to the whole community and to the world this Christmas season. First of all, we have the Glory of Christmas and the attendance is running higher than last year. It’s phenomenal and it’s getting rave reviews around the world. Exchange student from Germany watched the rehearsals this week and she couldn’t say enough about it. She’d never seen anything like it. So don’t miss it, even if you saw it before and its become Southern California’s Christmas tradition like the Rose Parade in Pasadena has become a New Year’s tradition. Don’t miss it. Put it on your Christmas gift list.

Or, bring somebody to the Christmas Eve church services. They’re totally free. Seven of them. I will be speaking at all seven. Phenomenal! And they will be on television live coming from the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove California. We’re thrilled about Christmas Eve and you can come here in person. That’s a gift. Take somebody with you. You can bring these gifts. Make it a great Christmas.

I want to say that the birth of Jesus was the beginning that changed the world. And I don’t think anybody that looked down at that little baby in a manger, in a cow stall, in Bethlehem, could ever have imagined what would happen. But today, more people belong to faiths that honor the name of Jesus than any other faith. What really happened with the birth of Jesus? I would say look at the Christmas tree. That’s a good illustration. The Christmas tree. I remember a Christmas in my home when all of our kids were little and we got the tree up and they were all tiny. And they wanted to decorate the tree so that we got out the box and they put the stuff here, all the way along the bottom. And they finally said they’re finished dad. Boy it’s beautiful. And when I went to look at it, guess what: it was decorated from the bottom up to about a little over half. They said it was done. They couldn’t reach any higher. It was a limit to their eyes.

Christmas came to the world and one of the greatest religions in the world at that time was Judaism. And one of the young Jews was named Jesus. And He said we’re going to add something because by the time you finish with Moses and the prophets, we needed something more. We need a charity, we needed grace, we needed love. So God sent His son into the world to finish decorating the Christmas tree. It was Jesus. And He put a star at the top. The Christian religion has never changed. Look what Christianity brought to the world. The hospitals, Christians invented the hospital system. Literacy, country after country, Christianity brought literacy and sent missionaries to take the spoken language, put it in writing. Religion changed forever when Jesus was born. A new religion and the Christmas tree finally had lights all the way to the top. Wow. We made a new God decision. That’s what happened.

Today, two thousand years later, more people respect the name of Jesus than the name of anybody else. Wow. And we acquired a leader. You can’t make a movement succeed without a leader. We had.. a leader is the one who makes the final interpretations and when it comes to religion, every movement needs a leader and the leader is the one who has the last word. And when it comes to interpretation of religious life and principles, we have the greatest leader. His name is Jesus.

Yes Christmas was the beginning that changed the future of the whole world. Without Christmas, we wouldn’t have a New Testament. We needed a New Testament because the Old Testament alone is law and not grace. Hear me clear: we need grace. What is grace? Christian religion is the only religion of ethical monotheism that teaches grace. The others, its law. Judaism has its laws. The Muslim movement has its laws. The Christian religion has laws. But the last line is grace. And what is grace? Grace is the promise that you can be forgiven because God loves you. Grace is God’s love in action for people who haven’t deserved it. That’s grace. A remarkable shocking contribution to religious thinking happened when Jesus was born and as He lived His life and finally died on the cross. And we’re taught in Christianity that we’re to exercise grace, not judgment.

Forgiveness. My guest this morning from Germany said it all. Yeah. Just before he went to meet me for the second time, something had to happen. God told him to call up that man who bankrupted your company, ran off with the money, took your telephone call on his yacht, and you forgave him even before he repented. Pretty shocking. That’s our religion, the final word; the most honorable word is when you call somebody a graceful person. Grace. Yeah.

And then, Christianity was the beginning that changed the world because it gave the world a new emotional support system. Think of this. Think of this! Think of it. There never was a religion that gave a full and adequate emotional support system to the human being. I started preparing for the ministry, not by taking Bible classes. I had a lot of that in catechism. I started by psychology at Hope College. They had a good psych department. The professor, Dr. Myers has written a primary book on psychology that is read by more entry students in the universities of America than any other textbook. It’s a good college. And emotional support is: where do you get the hope to hang on anyway? Where do you get the strength not to hit a bridge? Where do you get the courage to stay alive even after your spouse left for someone else?

The biggest problems are only decisions you don’t want to make or don’t dare to make. When you get the courage and the strength and the wisdom to make them, that’s what you call emotional support. And this is the only religion on planet earth that has a full scale, fully beautiful emotional support system through its prayers, through its forgiveness. You heard our guest this morning how he called and forgave an enemy. Show me another religion outside of Jesus that teaches that. You can’t. That’s why Christianity always survives.

I told you last week I came back from China, wow. Nineteen years, total atheism. Every church closed, well with a couple exceptions. Theological schools that would teach people to believe closed. Except for two. One in Nan King. I went there and saw the name of my denomination that helped build that almost a hundred years ago. It’s now open and I’ll be going back next year at their invitation to teach our theology. And seminary students are going to go out over China, churches with standing room only. No gray hairs. Preached to the church on Sunday morning. They didn’t know me but there were a thousand people plus every corner was filled to standing room and it was only one of four morning church services. And they’re young and now we are given the joy and the opportunity to train in positive, possibility thinking theology, the faith that you’ve heard us here preach for 50 years.
The world is changing. This church is a big part of it, more than you’ll ever know. So emotional support system. You come out of this kind of a faith with a book called the Bible. A person called Jesus. A God that’s intelligent, not just a vague cosmic force. I don’t need that kind of a God. A God who is intelligent and a God who’s affectionate. And a belief system that has grace at its core. And a religion that is targeting emotional support. You land up with the kind of a personality and you begin to dream a dream! That’s what this kind of religion does. You begin to believe in possibilities. That’s what this religion teaches. Then you believe in forgiveness. That’s what this religion teaches.

Finally, eternal life. The beginning that changed the world. Finally, God came in His Son Jesus Christ to live and to die on a cross and to rise again and leave this as His last word. All the things Jesus taught, everything that He left. It started when He was born in Bethlehem and His last word was there is life after death. The soul is the recording; the brain is only the recorder. The recorder goes out of business but the tape recording never does. Eternal life to you who accept Jesus. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, about that long, little baby. Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. So Merry, Merry Christmas.

Come, join the Christian faith. You can’t match it or surpass it and its simply coming to love Jesus. Amen.

Dear Lord, it’s the Christmas season and when we remember what changes came into the world, what changes come into human life when they let Christmas be the rebirth of their eternal soul. People here now and I want them to raise at least the hand in their heart, when I ask them to accept Jesus as their Savior when I ask them to step into the faith. Stop waiting, stop wondering, stop waiting, stop putting it off. Give yourself the best Christmas gift you can. And that’s following Jesus Christ born 2000 years ago. Amen.

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