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How We Know About the Lord
and His Coming

by Rt. Rev. Willard. D. Pendleton

From most ancient times people knew that the Lord would someday come into the world. We are told that among the people of the Most Ancient Church this knowledge was their most prized possession. And so they waited. Generations passed, hundreds of years, even thousands of years. But the Lord did not come.

Gradually, slowly, these people had almost forgotten about Him. Of all these people, there were probably only a very few who still remembered that the Lord was to come.

Then the Lord raised up the people of Israel, and among them He raised up the prophets. These prophets were men to whom the Lord spoke and foretold the future, and once again He revived the hope of His coming into the world. These prophets spoke clearly and gave signs by which people would know the Lord when He came into the world. These prophets said that

when the Lord came, a star would be seen in the east on the night that He was born. Also, they said that He would be born of the house of David, and that He would be born of a virgin mother; and more than that, the prophets said that He would be born in the little town of Bethlehem of Judea.

When people heard these things, they took hope. Once again they looked forward eagerly to the time when the Lord would come. But the Lord did not come. Years passed. Hundreds of years passed. Still the Lord did not come. Over these many, many years, once again people began to forget about the Lord until there were probably only a very few who even thought about Him any more.

Then, one night, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to shepherds who were watching their flocks in the fields of Bethlehem. When the shepherds saw him, they were afraid, for they did not know why an angel would appear to them. But what did the angel say? He said, "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 Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

So, after thousands and thousands of years, the Lord at last was born into the world, and whenever we hear the story of the Lord's birth, our hearts are filled with a great joy. This joy that we feel at Christmastime, and when we read the story of the Lord's birth, we know as the spirit of Christmas.

Now how do we know all this? We cannot see the Lord with our natural eyes. We cannot see Him as the shepherds saw Him, and as the wisemen saw Him, almost two thousand years ago. Yet we know all about His birth, and we know many things about the Lord that even the wisemen and the shepherds did not know. How do we know this? We know all this from the Lord's Word, and if we did not have the Lord's Word, we would not know about the Lord. We would not even know that there is a Lord. We would not know who He is, or what it is that He wants us to do. We would have no knowledge of the Lord whatsoever if we did not have the Word.

Now, although we cannot see the Lord with our natural eyes, we can see Him with our spiritual eyes. We can see Him with our understanding. Because whenever we go to the Word, and read about the Lord, what is it that we learn? We learn something about Him, don't we? Something that we may not have known before.

The Lord's Word is a very wonderful gift. Have you ever thought that if you could see the Lord with your natural eyes, that then you would think, "Well, now I know the Lord"? But I want you to think about this for a moment. Supposing you meet someone. You see a certain person. Do you know people just because you have seen them? No, I don't think so. But now, supposing that person were to go away. And after many, many years you would forget about him or her. But supposing that person were to write a book, and were to give you that book. And in that book the author were to tell you all about him or herself. Then you would know a great deal about the author. And if you read that book every day, you would know more and more about them.

That is what the Lord has done. He has given us a book. He has given us His Word. He has given us the Old Testament, where we can learn all about the prophecy of His Coming into the world, and how He prepared for His Coming over many thousands of years. In the New Testament, we can learn how the Lord was born into the world - the Christmas story - and how He grew up as a man, and all the miracles that He performed, and all the things that He taught about Himself. But there were still many things that people did not know about the Lord. In fact, the Lord said to His own disciples, there are many things that you do not know now. "But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth." What did the Lord mean by that? The Lord meant that someday He would come again, not as a man in person as He came the first time; but He would come again in His Word, in the spiritual sense of the Word.

So today we have the Writings. In the Writings we learn not only about the Lord as a man in this world, but we learn all about what it was that the Lord did in the other world while He was living in this world. We learn how He ordered the heavens, and how He ordered the hells, and how He ordered the world of spirits. More than that, we learn about His kingdom in the heavens, so that we know what it really is - and how it is that when we die, we, too, may go into that heaven and live as angels. The more we learn about the Lord, the more we realize that there is yet more to be learned. And if we read the Lord's Word to eternity, we still will not learn all that there is to know.

And so, children, what is the true spirit of Christmas? This is Christmastime, the time of giving gifts. To whom do we give gifts? We give gifts to those whom we love - to our parents, our brothers, our sisters, our friends. We give them these gifts as a sign of our love for them. But there is someone who loves us more than we could possibly love anyone else, and that is the Lord. And one of the things that the Lord gives us is the most precious gift of His Word. All that we have to do is go to His Word, open His Word, and He will lead us.

-New Church Home 1983;48:84-85

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