Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?

Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? By Herman L Hoeh September 1960 – Good News Magazine Some brethren need to WAKE UP from their spiritual laxity and begin to perform what Jesus commanded! OUR BAPTIZING tours have discovered a dreadful spiritual condition among some brethren. They have found, for example, that some have been carelessly neglecting Jesus’ passover command: “DO this in remembrance of Me.” Some admitted they just “forgot” about the passover service. Others insisted they did not know where to purchase wine! Brethren! IF, INDEED SOME OF YOU ARE BRETHREN, THIS MUST NOT BE! THINK of it! Some of you have supposedly ACCEPTED THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST — His PERFECT, Holy, Righteous Self, in YOUR stead! You have asked your Heavenly Father to apply the sacrifice of THAT perfect Life to blot out YOUR SINS! WHAT AN INEXCUSABLE, UNTHINKABLE, HEEDLESS, CARELESS, UNGRATEFUL ACT — to IGNORE the command of YOUR SAVIOUR to observe the commemoration of the SHEDDING of that precious blood! You who have done such a thing, I sternly REBUKE with the very indignation of Almighty God, and in the name of the Jesus Christ you have been FORGETTING! Don’t carelessly say: “I don’t see as it makes any difference whether I observe these days”! It Does Make a Difference! Brethren, it does make a difference! YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY depends on it! You are soon — very soon — going to stand before the judgment bar of Christ. Then you won’t carelessly say: “I do not think it makes much difference”; or, “Here is the way I look at my situation.” It does not matter how YOU look at it, or what you think. God says it makes a difference WITH HIM! You can’t treat His Son with disrespect and get away with it! There is a way that seems right to a man — to some of YOU but the end result are the ways of DEATH (Proverbs 14:12). You will be judged by what God says — not by what you think! But neglect of the passover service is not the only cause of spiritual lack. Many more of you have been neglecting to attend the Feast of Tabernacles. Some living no more than 250 miles from the Tabernacle grounds claim “it is too far to go” — or they just did not have the money.” These typical excuses are NOT valid reasons. The only reason some of you do not have sufficient money is that you have failed to save your second tithe — you have been disobedient! And as for distance — there is no distance too great to keep you from the feast IF YOU WANT TO COME. Some brethren travel 2500 miles each way to attend! The real reason why some of you have not been coming is that you are ashamed of your spiritual condition — your smoking habits you haven’t overcome — your other problems. Brethren, that is just the reason you NEED the Feast of Tabernacles! You cannot afford to miss it! I met one man last year at the feast whom I had not seen for six years! He confessed to me: “I HAD TO COME. I FOUND MYSELF DRIFTING — I knew I could not continue that any longer. So I am here and will continue to be here henceforth.” Yes, it does make a difference! A New Testament Command The Church of God today is a New Testament Church. Its Head, Jesus Christ, preached the New Testament gospel. Nowhere did Jesus during His entire New Testament ministry ever observe the temporary customs of the law of Moses. Christ never once offered an animal sacrifice. Yet Christ kept the sabbath and the annual festivals — and we shall see He commanded us to do the same. Jesus kept the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2, 10, 14, 37). He set us an example that we should follow His steps! The apostle John was inspired to write: “He that saith he abideth in him (Jesus Christ) ought himself also so to walk, even as he (Christ) walked” (I John 2:6). Are we walking as Christ walked? Are we doing the things Christ commanded? Jesus commanded His apostles to teach their converts “to observe ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED You” (Matthew 28:20). You have been taught these things. But it seems some have carelessly neglected to HEED that teaching! The apostle Paul commanded Christians to follow him as he followed Christ. What was Paul’s example? Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, not only observed the sabbath and the annual festivals, BUT COMMANDED HIS CONVERTS TO DO THE SAME! It is in your New Testament! So the sabbath and the annual Holy Days were not done away with after all. Of course! They originated before the law of Moses — and they now continue long after the law of Moses ceased to be binding. But notice the examples of Scripture. Notice the inspired New Testament practice of God’s Church. Notice why we do these things today! The New Testament PROOF In I Corinthians 5:7-8 we have a New Testament command to a church predominantly of Gentile origin. Notice Paul’s instruction! “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump…” Why? Why put out leaven, the type of sin? “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” Sin has been paid for. Christ paid for and conquered sin in the flesh! Therefore let us keep sin from recapturing us. Let us keep sin out of our lives! How? By what annual reminder? Here is the apostle’s answer: “THEREFORE LET US KEEP THE FEAST, not with old leaven” — put away leaven out of your houses each feast — not only the physical leaven and leavening agents, but also “the leaven of malice and wickedness” and keep the feast “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” No Easter here. No Lent here. But instead the New Testament passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. In I Corinthians 11:18-34 the apostle had to explain in detail how to keep the passover in the local congregation. To these same Gentile converts at Corinth Paul writes: “For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to remain a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will remain at Ephesus until Pentecost” (I Cor. 16:7-8). No Hallowe’en here — or Christmas or Whitsunday! But what do we find? The feast of Pentecost — and in the predominantly Gentile city of Ephesus! That should not surprise us. Fifty-four days after everything that was nailed to the cross was abolished the disciples and apostles were assembled to keep the day of Pentecost! Notice Acts 2:1, “And when the day of Pentecost” — one of the annual festivals God ordained, not some pagan feast — “… when the day of Pentecost was being fulfilled, all were together in the one place” (Panin trans.). Here again is the New Testament example. What could be plainer! Now turn to Acts 20:6. “And we” — Luke and those with him — “sailed away from Philippi” — a Gentile city — “after the days of unleavened bread…” Notice. Luke did not sail after Easter or some other pagan holiday. They sailed away after they had marked the days of unleavened bread! Example of the Colossian Church Did you know that your New Testament reveals the Gentile converts at Colosse were keeping the annual sabbaths, were following God’s calendar, and rested each weekly sabbath? It is there and yet you probably have never noticed it! The very scripture most often quoted against these days is, in fact, the strongest proof they were being kept! These Gentile converts, like the Thessalonians, “became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 2:14). The churches of God in Judaea kept these days. They followed the example of the Headquarters church in Jerusalem. And the scattered churches of God in the Gentile world followed their example! Notice Paul’s commendation of the converts at Colosse. “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ” (Col. 2:5). Paul had never seen or visited with these converts. The local church had been raised up by one of Paul’s evangelists. The apostle Paul had received a glowing report of the church. The Church of God at Colosse was following Christ — doing the things He did, keeping the days He kept. They had ceased their pagan customs. They had quit their heathen practices. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he (Christ) reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable… if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be nor moved away from the hope of the gospel…” (Col. 1:21-23). These Gentile converts, verse 27, had been called out of the world — called to separate from the traditions of the world — but they still lived in a world steeped with pagan superstition and custom. They were under pressure from their neighbors to give up their new-found faith. Their Gentile neighbors did not like them taking up with Biblical practices. They did not want any “Jewish practices” developing in their community! They wanted everybody to continue with the traditions and doctrines of the pagan philosophers, whom the world respected. They weren’t about to have their pagan holidays replaced by God’s holy days, or their sunworship rites superseded by the weekly sabbath, or the pagan Roman calendar replaced by God’s calendar. Gentile Colossians Were Ascetic Colosse was a very ascetic community. The people there did not believe in enjoying pleasure. They believed in a religion of severity. They believed in rigidly suppressing the body “in order to purify the soul.” They thought that any indulgence of the senses was wrong. They fasted often, punished themselves, were vegetarians in part, refused to eat those clean meats God created for us, and thought drinking wine was terrible! To keep everybody “in line” they brought social pressure, and instituted local “blue laws” to keep the preaching of the gospel from spreading. (See “The Church in the Roman Empire Before A.D. 170,” by W. M. Ramsay, Chapter X.) These pagan beliefs were commonly known to the heathen by the name “philosophy.” Paul used this very word in Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through PHILOSOPHY and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments (or basic concepts) of the world, and not after Christ.” Philosophy was the doctrine that you could pay for your own sins by denying yourself the pleasures of the body. It was a pagan doctrine which denied the need of a Saviour. It was called philosophy because the pagan PHILOSOPHERS were responsible for its introduction. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, among others, taught that the soul was immortal, that the body was a prison house, that the soul could be released from this prison house of flesh only if it were purified from any desires of the flesh. The early Catholic writers used this same expression in their day to mean asceticism. “It was very common… to call an ascetic mode of life ‘philosophical,’ or ‘the life of a philosopher.’… The growing sentiment had its roots partly in the prevailing ideas of CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY, which instinctively emphasized strongly the dualism of spirit and matter, and the necessity of subduing the latter to the former, and partly in the increasing moral corruptness of society.” “The Neo-Platonic philosophy of the times, through its doctrine of the purification of the soul by its liberation from the body or sensuous things, taught celibacy and ascetic practices generally.” (From pp. 252 and 546 of “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church,” second series, edited by Schaff and Wace.) Those who followed this philosophy were stern ascetics. They were the opposite of many other Gentiles who loved pleasure and indulged in the sins of the flesh, whose motto was “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Not so the Grecian Gentiles at Colosse. They severely judged their Christian neighbors for the least infraction of ascetic behavior. They did not like to see the Christians freely eating meat good for food, or drinking moderately, or keeping the sabbath and the annual festivals. That is why Paul wrote; “Let no man therefore judge you for eating or drinking, or in connection with the observance of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days” (Col. 2:16, margin). Here were Gentile converts, judged by relatives and neighbors, for doing the things Jesus did, Gentiles being judged for their part in the celebration of festivals commanded to be observed forever. Here were Gentiles judged for keeping holy the days God made holy! And yet this verse has been cleverly quoted by the churches to make it say the exact opposite of what it does say. It is time we noticed what this chapter really says. It is time we see for ourselves the meaning of this scripture, and quit taking for granted what it nowhere says! Not Law of Moses Probably most of us have taken for granted for years that Paul is writing about the law of Moses in Colossians that the newly converted Gentiles there were being led into “Judaism.” This is absolutely untrue! There is not one indication that there were any Jews attempting to lead Christians into Judaism. (See the plain admission of this in the Introduction to Colossians in the “International Critical Commentary.”) Paul DOES indeed speak of Judaism in Galatians and Romans, but not here in the book of Colossians. Notice with your own eyes the startling proof here revealed — proof that the converted Gentile Colossians were being judged by their heathen neighbors FOR KEEPING THE DAYS GOD MADE HOLY! Consider verse 8 again. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit — it does NOT say the law of Moses. It does speak of pagans who adhered to “philosophy.” Continuing: “after the rudiments (fundamental beliefs) OF THE WORLD, and not after Christ.” The evil doctrines Paul is condemning were OF THE WORLD. The world then was a GENTILE world. It was a pagan Roman world, filled with foolish and vain traditions. The Jews prided themselves on being racially separate from the world. The Jews thought themselves superior to the sinful Gentile world. So these traditions were Gentile traditions which Paul warns us to beware of! Now verses 9 and on: “For in him (Christ) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” God dwelt in Christ, not in the philosophers. “And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.” We are made perfect in Christ, not through asceticism and human traditions. Christ is the Head over all. He is the One we must look to, not to the highly vaunted philosophers. “In whom (Christ) also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision or Christ” (verse 10). Paul elsewhere reveals we are to be circumcised in the heart” (Romans 2:29). Christ conquered sin in the flesh. If we surrender ourselves to Christ, He will enter into us through His Holy Spirit and clean us up, conquer our sins — circumcise our hearts or minds spiritually. Physical circumcision involves cutting away a tiny portion of flesh, but Christ circumcises the WHOLE BODY which is full of sin. He enables us to completely cut away sin out of our lives — enables us to bury all our past sins in the waters of baptism, as you read in Col. 2:12: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also we are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God” — faith in God’s ability to supply us with the Holy Spirit and raise us from a dead past to new life just as He “hath raised him (Christ) from the dead.” Sin, Not Law, Blotted Out “And you,” Paul continues, “being dead in your sins and the UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH” — these people were, prior to conversion, uncircumcised Gentiles — “hath he (the Father) quickened together with him (Christ), having forgiven you all trespasses. God forgives sin. These Gentile converts had sinned. They had been following the foul, heathenish practices of the world about them. They had been trying to pay for their own hurt consciences by penance, by ascetism. But always they had their past to live with. No matter what they gave up or denied themselves, their consciences continued to plague them. They still weren’t forgiven. NOW things were different. They had really been forgiven. They were no longer bound to their past sins. They had no longer the guilt of following human customs, human ordinances, human decrees and vanity. Their sins had been blotted out; Christ had taken them away. Every truly converted person knows what a relief it is to have his sins BLOTTED OUT forever, never to reappear in the judgment. And it was all accomplished by Christ who “bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (I Peter 2:24). What Was Nailed to the Cross? Notice that CHRIST was nailed to the cross. HE bore our SINS. When He shed His blood from the cross in our stead, He thereby blotted out all our sins by paying for them in full with His own life. It is SIN which was blotted out. Notice Acts 3:19, “that your SINS may be BLOTTED OUT.” “Have mercy upon me, cried David, “blot out my TRANSGRESSIONS… Hide thy face from my SINS, and BLOT OUT all mine INIQUITIES” (Psalm 51:1,9). Turn now to II Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Are your bad deeds covered by the blood of Christ? Are the SINS WHICH STOOD AGAINST YOU blotted out? Next, read Revelation 20:12. Here is what happens in the final judgment. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened… and the dead were judged out of those things which were WRITTEN IN THE BOOKS, ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS.” The record of your past sins stands at this moment AGAINST YOU — unless Christ’s blood covers them, blots them out. Christ died to blot our the written record of your and my guilty past. The record of our past sins has been figuratively nailed to the cross, taken out of the way. Now we all can better understand Colossians 2:14. Notice this verse as it stands in the King James Version. “Blotting our the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Haven’t you assumed this verse to mean God’s law? — some assume the ten commandments, others the law of Moses. But look at the verse again. What is blotted out? SIN! It does not say “the ten commandments.” It does not read “law of Moses,” or “works of the law.” It reads “handwriting of ordinances.” What “ordinances” were these? Sinful Pagan Customs Let the Bible answer. Paul tells us in verses 20 to 23 of this same chapter! “Wherefore if ye” — the Gentile converts — “be dead with Christ from the rudiments (fundamental principles or ideas) of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ORDINANCES” (verse 20). ORDINANCES! Notice it. But which ordinances? Notice the answer in the next verse: “(Touch not; taste not; handle not; which are all to perish with the using;) AFTER THE COMMANDMENTS AND DOCTRINES OF MEN?” There you are! They were human traditions! Ways of sin! Continuing: “Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in WILL WORSHIP” — pagan asceticism — “and humility, and neglecting of the body” — appearing outwardly humble and self-denying, but inwardly self-righteous — “BUT ARE OF NO VALUE AGAINST INDULGENCE OF THE FLESH” (last part from Panin trans.). Did you catch it? These evil practices were pagan ordinances, or customs of men — based on the commandments and doctrines of pagan speculative philosophy. They were HEATHEN ordinances, HEATHEN customs forbidding people from touching, tasting and handling those things God allows. We see the same customs today: don’t dance, don’t drink, etc. in pseudo-Christianity today! Those heathen Gentiles at Colosse did not want THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. They wanted THEIR OWN righteousness. “Don’t eat this! Don’t drink that! Don’t touch something else.” In other words, a pagan religion of “don’ts!” So the original inspired Greek for “handwriting of ordinances” is not even referring to Moses’ laws! In fact this is not a proper translation! The original Greek reads “cheirographon tois dogmasin.” It does not mean a code of laws. The Greek word for “handwriting” originally referred to “a note of hand, or writing in which one acknowledges that money has either been deposited with him or lent to him by another, to be returned at an appointed time.” (From Thayer’s “Lexicon.”) It came later to refer to any acknowledgment of debt. We all owe a spiritual debt to God because of sin. We have all sinned and must pay that penalty or have Christ pay it for us. That is the meaning of the word “handwriting” here — all acknowledgment of debt. But how was it originally incurred? What did the Colossians do that brought on that debt of sin? The answer is in verse 13. What was blotted out were TRESPASSES (verse 13, last part) incurred through following SINFUL ORDINANCES, believing LYING DOGMAS — like the doctrine of the immortality of the soul which was at the root of pagan asceticism! Nothing is said here about any “law of Moses.” Those Gentiles had never heard of or kept THAT law! So the written record of SINS which were blotted out involved the frightful practice of evil pagan ordinances for which Christ paid the penalty and God forgave us. How Colossians OBEYED The Colossians had been taught the gospel. They obeyed it. They were doing the things Christ did. Christ was living His life in them as they yielded to Him. They were being knit together in love (Col. 2:2). Love is the FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW (Romans 13:10). The Colossians were KEEPING God’s law. Like other Gentiles they had not heard of God’s law before it was preached to them. (See Romans 2:12,13.) They did not know the way of love. But now they not only knew it, they were practicing it! They were no longer ascetics, trying to conquer the flesh by themselves. They were conquering themselves through the Holy Spirit. But God gives His Holy Spirit only to those “who OBEY Him” (Acts 5:32). Because the Colossian Christians were obeying God, it made their neighbors feel self-condemned and inferior. Their neighbors began sitting in judgment of them — condemning them — for following the ways of Christ which they had newly learned. And what were these Christians being judged for? Notice it! It was not for keeping Christmas and Easter and Sunday — pagan holidays, not for abstinence from certain foods and alcohol! No indeed! But — notice it: “Let no man therefore judge you in eating and drinking” (margin) — the Colossians were no longer ascetics — or in connection with the observance of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths.” That is what they were being judged for — “in connection with the observance” (as Moffatt translates it) — of God’s festivals, His calendar measured by the new moon, and the sabbath! The once-pagan Colossians never kept these days before! They were heathen prior to conversion. Now that they had learned the gospel, they were keeping holy the days God made holy. And Paul is warning them not to return to or be influenced by their old pagan ways — the ways of their relatives and neighbors who hated God’s law and His festivals. For years most of us have taken for granted that these verses in Colossians were speaking of the law of Moses and rituals and sacrifices. They are not! There is nothing here about the ceremonial law — about animal sacrifices and drink offerings. The original Greek is “en broosei” and “en posei” and means “in eating and in drinking.” It does not mean meat and drink offerings. Every competent scholar acknowledges this to be true — yet they ASSUME it does not mean eating and drinking but sacrificial rituals! No, these verses are speaking of the Christian liberty to enjoy life! Jesus came eating and drinking (Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34). Jesus set us the example. He was no ascetic! And neither were the Colossian Christians any longer! They were daily enjoying the Christian life in temperance and self-control, and especially in connection with each feast, every new month and the weekly sabbaths! What Did They Foreshadow? Now notice verse 17. “Which are shadows of things to come…” Or, better translated, “which foreshadow things to come.” Did these scriptural days foreshadow things to come? Indeed! Does the weekly sabbath foreshadow good things to come? Indeed it does! Not only is the weekly sabbath a memorial of creation — but it also fore-shadows the seventh 1000-years in which man shall rest from his labors of sin. In speaking of the SEVENTH DAY OF THE WEEK, in Hebrews 4:4, the apostle Paul goes right on to show that that day foreshadows God’s thousand year millennial rest. But does that do away with the weekly sabbath? Not at all! “There REMAINETH therefore THE KEEPING OF A SABBATH to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9, margin). Sabbathkeeping is a TEST OF OBEDIENCE. NO one shall enter into an eternal rest unless he first, here and now, is willing to enter into the rest of each sabbath, each seventh day of the week. And that is exactly what the Colossians were doing — observing the weekly sabbaths. In like manner the annual festivals, instituted as MEMORIALS, also foreshadow the plan of God. They were given to the Church in order to keep the Church in the knowledge of that plan. Only one festival has been entirely fulfilled in type — the passover. Yet Jesus said that each year we are to celebrate it again: “DO THIS in remembrance of Me.” Seventh Day Adventists and other groups claim that Colossians 2:16 refers “to annual feasts, new moons, and annual sabbaths” — not to the weekly sabbaths. THIS IS NOT TRUE! Whenever the expression “sabbath days” is used WITH “holy days” and “new moons,” the WEEKLY sabbaths are ALWAYS meant! There is no exception. Read I Chr. 23:31; II Chr. 2:4; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Neh. 10:33. All annual holy days ARE annual sabbaths! Notice that in all these verses the weekly sabbaths are referred to IN THE PLURAL just as in Colossians 2:16! Col. 2:16 includes BOTH weekly AND annual sabbaths! If it abolishes one, it abolishes the other. But as it establishes one, SO IT ESTABLISHES THE OTHER AS NEW TESTAMENT PRACTICE. The Body of Christ “Let no man therefore judge you” in these matters, said Paul, “but (rather) the body OF Christ” (Col. 2:17, last part). This verse has troubled many. Yet it should not. Notice that the word “is” in the King James Version is in italics. It does not appear in the original. The original Greek says only: “the body of Christ.” What is the body of Christ? How does Paul use this expression in Colossians? Turn to chapter 1. In verse 18 we find that Christ “is the Head of the body, THE CHURCH.” And in Col. 2:19: “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands [has] nourishment ministered…” The true Church of God is the body of Christ. Just as the Spirit of God once dwelled in the earthly body of Jesus Christ, so now the Holy Spirit dwells in each member of the Church and together we constitute one body, doing the very work Christ did. We are therefore Christ’s body today! And Christ is the Head as the Husband is the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23). No man is to sit in judgment of our Christian conduct, Paul is declaring in Colossians 2:16-17. Man does not determine how we should live. But it is the responsibility of the Church — the body of Christ — to determine these matters! The Church is to teach how to observe the festivals — to explain the meaning of self-control, etc. So these little-understood verses ought to be translated clearly: “Let no man therefore judge you… but (rather) let the body of Christ (determine it). Greek scholars recognize that the first expression “let no man” demands that there be a subsequent expression which tells who is to do the judging of the matter! How plain these verses are. How clear that the Colossians were keeping holy the time God made holy! Since the true meaning of the expression “handwriting of ordinances” according to the Bible is “acknowledgment of guilt through (following human) dogmas” — what about the “law of commandments in ordinances” mentioned in Ephesians 2:15? Another Common Assumption Here again people take for granted the Law of God or the “ceremonial” law of Moses! But it is neither! Notice hurriedly verses 11-12 of chapter 2: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh” — not Jews, notice, but Gentiles — “who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise” — having no knowledge of God’s covenants and His laws — “having no hope, and without God in the world.” But Christ came to bring those far off near to God. How? Through the blood of Christ (verse 13). Christ reconciled us to God — reconciled the Gentile who was far off and the Jew who was near. This is explained in verse 16: “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” So we now have access to God by the Holy Spirit and whether Jew or Gentile are part of the one body — the body of Christ! How did God reconcile us to Himself? Through the sacrifice of Christ! Christ paid for our sins! He condemned sin in the flesh. He conquered the carnal mind. “The carnal mind is ENMITY against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). It was because of the enmity — the ill-will, the hatred — of the natural mind in every human being that Christ had to die. What stood between all humanity and God was the natural enmity in every human mind. That is what separated us from God. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). It is not the law of God that has separated us from God. It is the violation of that law — sin — that separated us. That is the meaning of Ephesians 2:14 — “and hath broken down the middle wall of partition” Notice that the words “between us” have been added and are in italics. Granted that there was a physical wall in the temple which separated the Jews who were “near” to God from the Gentiles who were “far off,” but merely reconciling Jew with Gentile would not reconcile us with God. It is our relationship to God that counts! The only wall referred to in Scripture is the wall that separates man from God. Notice Ezekiel 43:8. Because of idolatry — sin, God says “there was a wall between Me and them” (margin). That wall of sin — the natural ENMITY in the human heart and in society is broken down. Christ paid for it by sacrificing His own life for ours — “having abolished in his flesh the ENMITY” — having paid for sin and making possible the receipt of the Holy Spirit to conquer the carnality of man, the carnal opposition of society with its ways. Jesus said, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Through the power of the Spirit in our lives, we, too, can overcome the world, its customs, its false teachings, its heathen dogmas masquerading in the name of Christ, the dictates of society! That is what Christ abolished — “Having abolished in his flesh the ENMITY, even the law of commandments in ordinances”. Notice it! The enmity against God is expressed by commands in the form of “ordinances” — “dogmasin,” in the Greek — the very commandments of men, human tradition, heathen customs, the dictates of society, which Paul condemned in Colossians. That is what Christ abolished through His sacrifice. The Gentile Ephesians did not know the law of God — they never practiced the law of Moses. It was their frightful sins which separated them from God. Now they were reconciled to God, forgiven of their past sin. They had the Spirit of God to overcome themselves and to overcome the world around them, with its human traditions, its human dogmas, its human commandments which were in opposition to God and to His law! There is certainly not one word here about the law of Moses or the Ten Commandments being annulled. Yes, it does make a difference to God whether we obey Him. It does make a difference which days we keep! But what about Galatians 4:10 and Romans 14:5-6. What are the days referred to here? Esteeming One Day Above Another Let’s notice what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14:5, 6. “One MAN esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be FULLY PERSUADED in his own mind” (Romans 14:5, 6). By taking these verses out of their setting, people make Paul say something altogether different from what he intended. Does Paul say to observe Christmas, Easter, Lent, Good Friday, Sunday, or the Festival of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven? Does he say here that Jesus by His death did away with the very days He kept during His whole life? Does Paul say “GOD esteemeth one day above another” and “GOD esteemeth every day alike?” NO! The Scripture says “one MAN esteemeth one day above another.” This tells us what certain MEN thought, not what God says! We are not to be JUDGED by what MEN think, but by the word of God! John 12:48 reads: “The WORD that I have spoken, THE SAME shall judge him in the last day.” Jesus is not going to judge you by what any MAN believes, but by the words He spoke! Next, notice that these saints at Rome, having differing opinions, were forbidden to JUDGE ONE ANOTHER as unworthy of Christ. “Who are you that judges another man’s servant? to his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be helped up: for GOD IS ABLE TO MAKE HIM STAND” (Rom. 14:4). Paul is not sanctioning nor condemning any particular periods of time, but warning the saints not to JUDGE one another and cause strife for having differing opinions about things THEY DID NOT YET UNDERSTAND CLEARLY. The Lord is the Judge of their deeds. “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it UNTO THE LORD, and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.” Continuing, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Does this give license to believe whatever you want? God commands: “Lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). How are you going to be fully assured in your own mind UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT GOD SAYS IN HIS WORD? “The holy scriptures… are able to make you wise to salvation,” wrote Paul (II Tim. 3:15). By studying the Word of God to prove all things, and by holding fast that which is good (I Thess. 5:21), YOU BECOME FULLY PERSUADED IN YOUR OWN MINDS concerning what GOD says. Converts at Rome Were Weak The saints at Rome were weak in the faith, not having acquired perfect knowledge. Paul says: “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end that you MAY BE ESTABLISHED” (Rom. 1:11). It is so plain. Here were new converts at Rome, without a regular local congregation, still weak in the faith, who were divided in their regard of certain customs. Paul told them not to sit in judgment of one another, but to follow peace, because GOD would judge them, after setting them aright through more perfect knowledge which Paul was going to preach to them. In the meantime they were to act in accordance with the best they knew from GOD’S Word, not MAN’S word. This did not give them liberty to do as they pleased. They were to obey what God revealed. It would be sin if they disobeyed AFTER THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH HAD COME. For to him that KNOWS to do good and doesn’t do it, it is sin (James 4:17; John 9:41). What Were These Days? But what days was Paul referring to? Let’s read these verses in Romans 14 in their setting, rather than take them out of their context. Notice! Paul is writing to the saints at Rome, both Jew and Gentile. He admonished them to receive those who are weak in the faith (Rom. 14:1), not to dispute with them over unimportant matters and sit in judgment on them. Some of these recently converted Gentiles, being weak in the faith, refused to eat meats, subsisting on vegetables mainly. The reason for this is explained in I Corinthians 8. Most meat that could be bought had been offered to idols. Therefore some, with conscience of the idol “ate it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being WEAK is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not are we the worse” (I Cor. 8:7, 8). There is the simple answer! Some Gentiles at Rome had been converted and HAD GIVEN UP IDOLATRY. But they still held superstitious beliefs in their minds, thinking that the idol was something REAL. But why did Paul break into his dissertation — about eating meat or refraining from eating it — and mention “days?” Notice the answer in the Moffatt translation of this passage: “Then again, this man rates one day above another, while that man rates all days alike. Well, everyone must be convinced in his mind; the man who values a particular day does so to the Lord. The eater eats to the Lord, since he thanks God for his food; the non-eater abstains to the Lord, and he too thanks God” (Rom. 14:5, 6). Did you catch what Paul wrote? Not only were there weak converts who were afraid of eating meat offered to idols, but there were others also who customarily ABSTAINED FROM PARTICULAR FOODS — THEY SEMI-FASTED — ON CERTAIN PARTICULAR DAYS. STILL OTHERS REFUSED TO PRACTICE A SEMI-FAST OR ABSTAIN FROM FOODS BUT REGARDED EVERY DAY IN THE SAME WAY. The whole question surrounded the matter of abstention on particular days. It is not a question of pagan holidays or God’s Holy Days. It is merely a question of the days upon which many voluntarily abstained from certain foods. Jesus said that our fasting should be done before God, and not to be seen or known of men unnecessarily (Matthew 6:16). But many Jews and Gentiles both practiced semi-fasts on particular days of each week or month. The Jews customarily fasted “twice in the week” — Monday and Thursday (Luke 18:12). They also fasted during certain months (Zech. 7:4-7). The Jews were divided on this matter. The Gentiles also had their divisions over when to abstain from certain foods. See Hasting’s “Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics.” In God’s sight it does not matter when one abstains or fasts — but it does matter that we do it with a right heart. Paul was going to Rome to straighten the brethren out on when and how to abstain, but for the moment he wanted them to live at peace with one another. SO THESE DAYS WEREN’T GOD’S DAYS AFTER ALL! There is nothing here referring to the Sabbath or the holy days of God which Paul commanded to be observed by the Gentiles. But what about Paul’s warning to the churches in Galatia against observing “days, months, times and years”? What were THESE DAYS against which Paul preached? The answer will probably stun you! The Letter to the Galatians Here is what Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Howbeit then, WHEN YOU KNEW NOT GOD, YOU DID SERVICE TO THEM WHICH BY NATURE ARE NO GODS. But now, AFTER you have known God, HOW TURN YOU BACK AGAIN to the weak and beggarly elements [Gentile traditions] where-unto you desire AGAIN to be in bondage? YOU OBSERVE DAYS, AND MONTHS, AND TIMES, AND YEARS” — (Galatians 4:8-11). I am alarmed about you, he concludes! What is this that Paul is saying? Read it again! Did he say, “Ye observe the Sabbath and annual holy days such as the Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles”? No! Paul said: “Days and months, and times, and years” — something altogether different! What Days Were These! Notice this entire fourth chapter of Galatians. Paul begins the chapter by addressing the JEWS — not Gentiles, but Jews — who had been enslaved to worldly traditions sinful practices inherited from the Gentiles since the days of Alexander the Great’s conquest of Palestine. These worldly traditions, which the apostle called “elements of the world” (Gal. 4:3), came to be known as Judaism. These were NOT God’s laws, but the “traditions of the elders” (Mark 7:9) — worldly customs the Jews had adopted. Paul addresses these Jews as “we,” because Paul was also a Jew. He says “we” — THE JEWS — were redeemed from “under the law”‘ — that is, redeemed from death — the penalty of breaking God’s spiritual law. The law had a claim over our lives because of our sins — because of following human, sinful practices (verse 5). Beginning with verse 6, PAUL CEASES TO SPEAK TO THE JEWS. Now he is speaking to the Gentile converts. He does not say “we,” but “you.” Notice it! “Howbeit, then, WHEN YE KNEW NOT GOD” — remember, THE JEWS KNEW GOD, but the Gentiles had not known God before the preaching of the gospel! Jesus said to the Gentile Samaritan woman: “YE” the Gentiles — “worship ye know not what: WE” — the Jews — “know what we worship for salvation is of the JEWS” (John 4:22). Continuing with Gal. 4:8: “When YE knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God… how turn YE again unto the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire AGAIN to be in bondage?” These converts to whom Paul is now writing WERE NOT JEWS! They were Gentiles by birth. These GENTILE converts in times past did not know God, were cut off from Him (see Eph. 2:12), “were slaves to gods which were no gods at all.” They had been serving demons and idols, not the Living God. False teachers were coming among them, perverting the true gospel, beguiling them to TURN AGAIN TO THEIR FORMER WAYS. Paul was alarmed. They were departing from the gospel and RETURNING to WHAT? “Days, and months, and times and years.” Pagan practices! — doing penance an Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, Sunday! They couldn’t be returning to God’s festivals. They never kept them before Paul preached about them. What Are “Times”? Next, turn to Leviticus 19:26 and Deuteronomy 18:10, 14. Here Moses, according to the command of God, orders the Israelites NOT TO OBSERVE “TIMES!” This is ABSOLUTE PROOF that the days Paul is forbidding are pagan and NOT God-given. To observe TIMES originally was a HEATHEN practice often attached to the heavenly bodies, especially in determining the pagan calendar and the heathen religious seasons. Some today try to make you believe Paul was condemning Jews for returning to the Sabbath and holy days of God, which they claim were in the Law of Moses. But the Law of Moses forbade observance of “times.” Paul was writing to GENTILES who wanted to return to observing penance on the Gentile “days” associated with “times” — pagan “times” or “seasons” — such as the Easter and Christmas seasons! The Catholic Bishop Chrysostom, who lived in the fourth century, admits that these superstitious TIMES which Paul forbids, were PAGAN CUSTOMS practiced by “Christians” in his day, as in the days of old. He says: “Many were superstitiously addicted to divination… upon them… In the celebration of these TIMES [they] set up lamps in the marketplace, and CROWN THEIR DOORS WITH GARLANDS” — as is done at Christmas time today! (From “Bingham’s Antiquities of the Christian Church,” pp. 1123, 1124). Besides TIMES, the Greeks observed special DAYS in honor of the dead. “The rites took place on the… unlucky DAYS accompanied by complete idleness and cessation of business” (From “Rest Days,” p. 79). Today several churches celebrate pagan days in honor of the dead, such as All Souls’ Day and All Saints Day [CALLED Hallowe’en by the world]. These are the heathen days Paul forbids Christians to observe! These Gentile Galatians were returning to the custom of doing penance on the old pagan days — days which now masquerade under Christian sounding names! “Many of the holy days in the religious calendar of Christendom were BORROWED, as is well known, FROM THE FESTIVALS OF ANCIENT PAGANISM” (“Rest Days,” p. 306). Paul denounces this vain and abominable practice. We are NOT TO LEARN the way of the heathen (Jer. 10). In connection with the old pagan idolatry, WERE NUMEROUS DAYS OBSERVED AS IDOLATROUS PENITENTIAL FESTIVALS. These days were consecrated to deities of the state religious cults and were “UNLUCKY” because of the supposed influence of the gods! These religious holidays were set aside as periods of penance because they were “regarded as unsuitable for many purposes, both public and private: for battles, levies, sacred rites, journeys and marriages. We are told that they owed their unlucky quality to the pronouncement of the Senate and pontiffs.” (From “Rest Days” by Webster, p. 171.) As many as ONE THIRD OF THE DAYS OF the old Greek and Roman calendars were marked as “unlawful for judicial and political business… and… on which the state expected the citizens to abstain, as far as possible, from their private business and labour!” No wonder Paul spoke of “days!” And how many “worldly” as well as religious people still have similar beliefs today! Such as “unlucky” FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH! Paul was writing to the Galatians to enlighten their minds so they would GIVE UP this foolish regard of heathen days. Other Heathen Holidays Notice that Paul also condemns the pagan custom of observing “months and years” — another pagan custom! Certain MONTHS of the year were considered sacred to the Greek gods, Apollo (April, October), Zeus (February, June), Artemas (April), Bacchus (January) and many others which you can read of in the “Encyclopedia Americana,” article “Festival.” God never commanded His people to commemorate months. But the world today has adopted the heathen months of the Roman calendar — and forgotten God’s calendar! Also certain YEARS were set aside quadrennially and biennially during which were national idolatrous feasts and the celebration of the Olympic, Ithmaian, Nemean and Pythian games. Every one of these was connected with idolatrous worship and ceremony. Paul was forbidding Gentile converts to return to these heathen practices. So, many of the present holidays of Christendom were celebrated in the heathen world WHEN PAUL AND CHRIST WERE ON EARTH, but they refused to observe them and commanded the true Church not to observe them! It Was Prophesied to Happen! “Why,” it is often asked, “did the Bible not warn us that pagan holidays would be substituted for the holy days?” The answer is that THE BIBLE DOES WARN US! It was prophesied in advance — over 800 years before Paul warned about it in Galatians 4:10. Turn to the book of Hosea. The prophet had a message for the future — for our day! Notice: “And I” — God is quoted by the prophet — “will punish her” — our people today — “for the FEAST DAYS OF THE BAALS!” Sunday, Christmas, Easter, Halloween are feast days of Baal! What could be plainer! Our people “forgot Me, says the Lord” — because they have rejected His holy days. “And in that day” — the very near future when Christ intervenes in world affairs — “I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more” (Hosea 2:13, 17, RSV). How clear! Israel today — our people — have adopted the feast days of Baal. The greatest of church holidays — Easter — is named after the wife of Baal or Nimrod. God forbids us to honor Him by celebrating these Babylonish feasts. God warns: “Take heed… that thou inquire not…`How used these nations to serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.’ THOU SHALT NOT DO SO UNTO THE LORD THY GOD. For every abomination which He hateth, have they done unto their gods” (Deut. 12:30-31). These pagan abominations are forbidden by the apostle Paul in Galatians. THAT is New Testament teaching! Misunderstood Texts in the Old Testament God chose Israel for a special mission they have failed to perform. He revealed to them His Sabbath as a sign so they would never forget that He is the Creator. He also gave Israel annual holy days, MEMORIALS, to commemorate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt — A PICTURE FOR HIS CHURCH OF THE PLAN OF GOD IN DELIVERING THE WORLD FROM SIN. But Israel did not remain faithful to these God-given festivals! They invented days of their own! Several chapters are devoted by the prophet Ezekiel to a CONDEMNATION OF ISRAEL FOR BREAKING THE SABBATHS GOD HAD GIVEN. Take special note of Ezekiel 20:12-26 and 22:26. The punishment inflicted upon the House of Israel was for desecrating the Sabbaths. What was the extreme evil of Sabbath-breaking? With the desecration of the Sabbaths, idolatry was a natural consequence, and Sunday, Christmas and Easter were introduced. THESE pagan holidays God calls “abominations!” Some claim there are texts in the Old Testament in which God says “My” Sabbaths and festivals “I hate.” This is not true. God said: “I hate, I DESPISE your feast days, and… YOUR solemn assemblies.” Notice it. “YOUR new moons and YOUR appointed feasts my soul hateth: for they are a trouble unto me” (Amos 5:21; 8:10, Isaiah 1:10-15; Hosea 2:11). These were not divine institutions, but MAN-APPOINTED days observed in Israel. These days God despised. Ancient Israel did NOT continue to observe the holy days of God. They refused His judgments and statutes (Ezekiel 20:18). They copied the heathen idolatrous feasts of surrounding nations. History proves this fact! The chronicler of ancient Israel preserved a record of just such A CHANGE IN THE LAWS of God, WHEN THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL SEPARATED FROM JUDAH. “And JEROBOAM ORDAINED A FEAST in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar… sacrificing unto the calves that he had made the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month WHICH HE HAD DEVISED OF HIS OWN HEART…” (I Kings 12:32, 33). This feast is the origin of Hallowe’en! Thereafter ISRAEL ALTERED THE NEW MOONS AND CHANGED THE SACRED CALENDAR. They EXCHANGED THE SABBATHS FOR IDOLATROUS DAYS FOR SUN-WORSHIP — the rest day was transferred from Saturday to Sunday. Israel, taking over the feasts of the HEATHEN BAAL — SUN-WORSHIP turned them into IDOLATROUS rest days according to the statutes of the kings of Israel (II Kings 17:8). When the House of Israel is next found in history, as the nations of Northwestern Europe, they are keeping the day of the sun! So the Ever-Living God never hated nor abolished His feasts. But He did hate the different days which Israel invented! Now let us continue with the history of the Jews. Did Judah Remain Faithful? Consider now what God says about “Jewish” feasts! Now notice the first chapter of Isaiah. It is addressed in particular to Judah. Like the ancient people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Jews instituted their own appointed feasts and tampered with the period of the new moon. “YOUR new moons and YOUR appointed feasts my soul hateth,” said the Word of the Lord (Isaiah 1:14). This was the beginning of what are customarily called “Jewish feasts.” Being instituted BY THE JEWS they were naturally “Jewish.” But NOTHING is said about the Jews’ instituting their own Sabbath! It is not surprising then, that THE JEWS HAVE PRESERVED THE RIGHT SABBATH of God to our generation. The house of Israel (the Democratic nations of the Western World) which did not keep the seventh day as the Sabbath, has NEVER OBSERVED IT SINCE. Although the Jews added their own appointed feasts and new moons, they ALSO RETAINED the Biblical ones — “THE new moons and Sabbaths, THE calling of assemblies.” These they turned into abominations and profaned by idolatry and labor. “I cannot endure iniquity,” says God, along with the solemn assembly.” No wonder GOD ABHORRED THE MANNER in which the Jews treated His holy Sabbath and festivals (Isa. 1:13). For that sin, especially, they were driven out of Judea and DEPRIVED OF ONE OF THE MAJOR BLESSINGS OF GOD — the joy of keeping His days. They became the property of their enemies and “the Lord… caused the solemn feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion” (Lamentations 2:6). Jeremiah does NOT joy over the abolition of the festivals, but LAMENTS OVER THEIR BEING FORGOTTEN! Notice that at the return of Christ — when He brings “good tidings” and “announceth peace” — He also commands His feasts to BE KEPT ONCE AGAIN (Nahum 1:15 and Zechariah 14:16-19 and Isaiah 56). It is time we begin to follow Jesus’ example and keep holy the days God made holy, instead of neglecting them! Let’s all be at the Feast of Tabernacles!]]>

Ten Reasons Why I Don't Keep Christmas!

Ten Reasons Why I Don’t Keep Christmas! By David Jon Hill December 1971 – Tomorrow’s World Magazine Sour grapes? A bah-humbug Scrooge? Anti-establishment? Irreligious? NO! None of these. Here’s a plain speaking-out about a holiday nearly everybody keeps, religious or non-religious, and nearly no one seems to really understand why! Read this personal-experience article for understanding. It’s practical. logical. Truthful. Biblical. All of these! MANY years ago I stopped to ask myself — Why do I Keep Christmas? More people are unhappy, miserable, depressed, deep in debt, and violent during the holiday season than any other time of the year. There’s precious little peace on earth or good will among men. There doesn’t seem to be much of Christ in the commercialized Christmas that begins to be advertised each year before the last Christmas is paid for! For that matter, in what little reading I had done in the Bible, I never had read anything about Christmas. Where did we get all of these customs anyway? Why do I have to practice them just because everybody else does? What difference will it make if I don’t keep Christmas? At first I argued with myself that I would create problems with my friends and relatives, particularly the kids in the family, if I didn’t go along with the customs surrounding the twenty-fifth of December. But I was wrong! When I said I was sick and tired of it and determined not to have anything to do with it, I found many people who felt the same way. A great number of those who had in previous years felt obliged to trade gifts with me sighed in relief at not having that obligation. As for the children, when we took the time to look into the encyclopedia and the other reference works at the library, when we read with our thinking caps on the many articles that come out in daily newspapers during the Christmas season, we realized that the origins of these customs were not Biblical at all — and in fact, had nothing to do with Jesus Christ of Nazareth! And children, until they are taught differently, have an inspiring respect for the plain truth! So looking back on the many years which I have, not kept Christmas, I can with happy hind sight give many more reasons now than when I first quit observing this’ outstanding holiday of the “Christian” calendar. Perhaps you will benefit by the cataloguing of some of those experiences and the reasons that I have learned over the years for not having to become involved in what is not only the least understood but the most misunderstood of social customs in the Western world. I Can’t Afford It! By the time you add up the cost of decorations, special meals, travel expenses, gifts and cards, time taken off from work during a forced holiday season, etc., etc., it can often — especially by the time you add carrying charges and interest on those things which have been put on credit — amount to nearly ten percent of your gross annual income that can be spent on this occasion. You just have to ask yourself — is it worth it? The answer I had to give myself was – absolutely not! By the time I examined my budget in the light of the rising, inflationary cost of living — by the time I realized the serious investment that has to be made ahead of time for my children’s education and for my own old age — by the time I added up all the deductions from my paycheck and then subtracted the absolutely necessary amounts for the basics of living — by the time I set aside a little for yearly family excursions to some place on this beautiful earth that I have not seen before – by the time I added in the expense of those things which are not necessary but which I would like to do and be FREE to do (not be forced to do) — by the time I set aside a little for unexpected occurrences and all the other picky things that belong in a budget, I realized that I had nothing left over to pay for financing the biggest business bust of the year! Whenever I mention this to other people, I usually get a hearty agreement and a wistful look from them that says they wish they had the gumption to cut free from this ridiculous expense themselves. Accent on Get! Materialism and commercialism so dominate this “season to be jolly” that there can surely be no soul so blind as not to see it! Although it is the season of giving — and everyone is propagandized to feel evil if they are not involved in that giving — the overtones, from the candy store on the corner to the department store that has everything and the mail-order-catalogue businesses, obviously put the stress on getting them more business during this time of year than any other comparable season. In fact, many commercial ventures rely on this season of the year for their survival. Whenever a question is asked after the twenty-fifth of December is past, it is generally, “What did you GET for Christmas?” Each vies with the other, determined to express the idea that he got more. Nobody likes to pay taxes and I’m sure that if there were a way out everybody would take it and cease paying taxes immediately. But taxes are demanded and it is a criminal offense not to pay them. Being taxed in addition to that by the crass commercialism and social pressure mounted at Christmas time is something I have found the strength to refuse. It is not a crime to refuse to go along with the crowds in their rush to fulfill the season’s demands — in fact, there’s a certain sense of satisfaction in having been able to be assailed with all of that accumulation of social trends and business furor and withstand it all, independent, watching the madness from the sidelines! There’s enough of the “go now and pay later” — the “put it on credit and don’t worry about payments until February,” the “why use cash when… you can use credit?” syndromes going on in the world as it is. I not only don’t have to worry about payments until February, but I don’t have to worry about payments even when it gets to be March or April or May or June or July or for however long those holidays may continue to cost the average person for his response to Christmas commercialism. Giving Is Special By withdrawing myself from the social demands of giving on command, of Chris being obliged to give things I can’t afford to people to whom I don’t want to give — who feel the same way about me and wouldn’t like what I give them anyway — doesn’t mean that I have given up giving. My children, my wife, my family and close friends receive gifts from me, or I do nice things for them, at spontaneous times that are special — just between me and the one to whom I give. That way the gift is much more special. The receiver realizes that it doesn’t have to be done. The thought behind the gift really does count more than the gift. All the giving is not done in just one season. Special joy comes from giving and receiving between people who love each other — and it is spread over the whole year. Because it is special, care and thought beyond the mad rush of the commercial season are lavished uniquely on the one gift at the one time for the special occasion which I find stands out much more in the memory of the giver and the receiver than any Christmas gift ever could. This way I’m free to give, not bound to give — and I find this freedom refreshing! Hypocrisy — the Spirit of Christmas “I hate Christmas,” said one department store manager in California. “I hate the hypocrisy, the one-day Christianity of Christmas; I hate the commercialism – and I’m part of it.” A seasoned divorce lawyer wrote, “Lawyers usually see an influx of new divorce clients immediately following the Christmas and New Year holidays. Too much holiday cheer touches off the smoldering conflicts that have been under control all year.” A psychiatrist says, “At Christmas, the lonely begin feeling lonelier, the tension prone tighten up as pressures mount and the illusion appears of ecstatic happiness for all just around the corner. Christmas is the worst season of the year for the mentally ill.” Even the Better Business Bureau warns, “Tis the season to be wary” — that is, it’s the season of shysters, shoplifters and sidewalk salesmen. They warn that those who plead for charity should be investigated before any donation is made — especially at this time of year. In a desperate effort to fit in with the “spirit of Christmas,” people smile when they don’t feel like smiling. They greet one another with old pagan slogans. They get increasingly concerned about the debts they are mounting up. They get into more and more of a hard faced, bitter fighting with their fellow Christmas shoppers as the deadline approaches and they desperately try to snap up the last few gifts from the counters which they know are going to offer the same items the day after Christmas for 30 to 50 percent off! Far too many try to get their Christmas spirits from the bottle, and either end up drunk with a hangover, or perhaps seriously injured or dead as a result of overindulgence while driving. So many so deeply wish they didn’t have to be involved in this season but are forced to by social custom. Hypocrisy stands as the hallmark of this season. I Hate to Lie — Especially to Kids! A famous physician says that the Santa Claus myth is a fantastic web of lies which can cause your child — “when he finds out” — confusion of mind, possible schizoid splits in his personality, or even a physical ailment resulting from the emotional letdown of “losing” so close a friend (Santa). One psychology professor even laid part of the blame for the generation gap and the emerging hippie subculture on the Santa Claus myth. In the parent-child relationship the TRUTH is the most priceless commodity that they must always share. How many times have you found yourself saying to your child — “Now you be sure to tell me the truth, young man (or young lady)”? We even want them to tell us if they have done something bad — which is difficult for anybody to tell. We want them to tell us about their grades in school, about their friends and what they do and think, whether they broke a neighbor’s window or took money from mama’s purse. We preach over and over to them that they must always tell the truth. And then we proceed in nearly every holiday season of the year to manufacture the most ridiculous falsehoods imaginable! Sober-faced and with our hypocritical spirit of Christmas wrapped around us, we tell them — and even associate it with God and Christ and the Bible — one blatant lie after another! Is it any wonder we have a generation gap! One of the biggest things that the young people of today are accusing the older generation of is hypocrisy — and I’m afraid that I have to agree with that charge for the majority of the people who live as slaves to the social system which surrounds us. Thankfully, I determined, before my children were old enough to talk to, that I was not going to tell them any lies about a fat man who dresses in a red suit, flies in some magical way on a sled led by a red-nosed reindeer and somehow manages to squeeze down my chimney on the dark night of the twenty-fourth to deposit gifts for all the good little children under some tinseled tree that I have trucked in. My children didn’t have to find out that dad was lying about Santa Claus. My children didn’t have to even think the thought in their minds which has been expressed by a few bold children – that thought: “If they lie to me about Santa Claus, what else will they lie to me about? Now I wonder about this whole Jesus Christ business!” This doesn’t mean that my children never have lied — I certainly don’t pride myself on being a perfect parent. But it does mean that they could not excuse any lying they did because they caught their mother or father telling them big whoppers — and doing it in the setting of religious worship at that! They know mom and dad don’t lie and this gives them a special respect and a special contact that is not only precious to my wife and me as parents but which we feel is a basic requirement and an indispensable tool of child rearing. It’s all too often that we run across the syndrome of people not practicing what they preach. You can’t ask your kids to do what they don’t see you doing, You can tell your kids, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say,” but it won’t work! Children have to learn to trust their parents — but I never knew an inveterate liar who could be trusted! Being forced by society to tell a package of lies at a time which is so special in the minds of children — when they are at their most tender and impressionable age — deals a crippling blow to child-parent relationships and creates a giant credibility gap between children and adults — no matter how much we might pooh-pooh the idea. As a child grows up, it leads to a cynical turn of mind. It gives him or her a set of values which is cheap and tawdry regarding the truth. Yet it is a reward no parent wants to miss to have his children come to him and ask any question they want to, in an open trust, knowing that they will be told the truth. You can’t buy that commodity. There’s no commercialism or materialism involved with it. It is the opposite of hypocrisy. And despite the fact that you cannot buy it, it costs absolutely nothing! The truth is that commodity which is most missing in today’s world, and it truly is the source and power of freedom — “the truth SHALL make YOU free!” Xmas Tree Bears Bad Fruit! Another reason I don’t keep Christmas is a logical, cause-and-effect reason. I look around me and it doesn’t take too much intelligence or research effort on my part to determine that the fruits of the Christmas tree are heavily seasoned with bitterness and violence, depression, depravity and debt. The Book my Maker gave me says that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. When I look at this Christmas tree, I see a great deal of bad fruit. It’s a paradox. At Christmas time, when millions of families are drawn close together, at least in physical proximity, it is also a fact that simultaneously more people are depressed, deep in debt, discouraged, drunken and dying during that time than any other month of the year. The FBI says, “The peak monthly rate [for murder and manslaughter} almost invariably occurs in December. This may have something to do with the approach of Christmas, which leads to an unusually large number of family rows… ‘Peace on earth,’ we say, but it looks very doubtful that we really mean it at Christmas. Not when families are suffering such heavy crime statistics. On a week for week basis more people commit suicide during this holiday season than any other period of the year.” A policeman writes, “I have been an officer for over 19 years… we get more calls from neighbors to go out and settle family fights on Christmas Eve than any other night during the year, including New Year’s. You walk into a house that is gaily decorated, the tree is aglow, beautifully wrapped gifts are under the tree and the husband and wife are throwing things at each other. The kids are crouched in the corner scared out of their wits.” A leading neurologist says, “There are certainly more depressions, suicidal gestures, cries for help at Christmas than at any other time.” Overeating, hives, crying jags, dishonesty, sexual deviation, playing with your neighbor’s wife, plain orneriness, a peak in highway accidents, and family murders are among the fruits of this season’s tree! Personally, for me, I thank God that the Christmas tree is not in my home to bear these bad fruits! Xmas Demands Intellectual Dishonesty! Beyond just plain lying to our children, coming up with reasons why we keep these holidays produces a prime example of either a bad case of intellectual blinders or outright intellectual dishonesty. It doesn’t take great, in-depth research to find out that the roots of Christmas — and for that matter every so-called Christian holiday on the calendar — are not found in the Bible, which is the handbook from the Creator. A little further basic research in encyclopedias will force a person to either rebel against the dictates of commercial society — or compromise his intellectual honesty. Take the Catholic Encyclopedia, for instance, under the article “Christmas.” It plainly tells us that many early church fathers condemned the keeping of this baptized Saturnalia and that it was not an acceptable “Christian” holiday until well into the fourth century. Even after that it goes on to show that many outstanding leaders in the history of that church as well as a Pope or two have condemned the practices of that season. It continues explaining that even the Parliament of England declared the holiday illegal at one time. It states very plainly that there is no Bible example of the observing of birthdays of holy men or saints but rather their death-days! It plainly points out that nobody really knows when Christ was born — that “respected authorities” can be found who place the birth of Christ in almost any month of the year. Further than that it plainly explains that if there is any one month when the birth of Christ could not have occurred it would be December! And on and on and on…. To think that in the light of these facts and many more — be sure to read Mr. Portune’s article on “Is Christmas Christian?” in this issue of TOMORROW’S WORLD — to think that in the light of all the information which is readily available any individual would continue to celebrate this festival seems to me to be blatant intellectual dishonesty. You always hear over The WORLD TOMORROW’S broadcast or see us say in the pages of WORLD TOMORROW’S. “Don’t believe us just because we say it, prove it yourself!” To be forced by social pressure to develop a study habit of rejecting or overlooking or compromising or ignoring or twisting plain facts is an exercise I do not want to enjoin on myself, my son, my daughter, my wife, or my friends! Christ Never Was in Christ-Mass “Let’s put Christ back into Christmas,” some say when they notice the commercialism. Yet this saying is of itself a sad commentary on the entire subject. When you put all your research together, looking at the Bible, looking at the readily available references in your public library and perhaps at the books on your own shelf, you can quickly see that the true Jesus Christ of Nazareth who lived in Galilee nearly two thousand years ago never was in Christmas! As you progress through a short study, you realize that His name was put into Christmas and accepted as the heart of the story of Christmas by about the fourth century. You realize the name of Christ was used and applied to this custom. But then, of course, you realize that the name of Christ was prophesied by Jesus Himself to be preached and associated with the deception of the many as one of the signs that would precede His coming and that He Himself gave this prophecy to His disciples in Matthew 24. As your study goes further, you realize that many attempts at reform were made at various times in both the Catholic and Protestant churches — feeble attempts to get back to the faith once delivered to the saints — attempts to not allow, as the early New Testament church did not, the name of Christ to be associated with this holiday with such a dubious background! It would be impossible to put the true Christ back into Christmas because the true Christ never was IN Christmas! Christ’s name has been used in vain to decorate that day, and so the third of the great Ten Commandments is broken. Jesus Christ is the Living Word — the personal, human and now divine expression of the living Ten Commandments. The keeping of this holiday breaks not only the third commandment but every other one! It’s obvious to see that the commandment against lying is broken here. Often the commandment not to commit adultery is broken especially on that day! It’s obvious to see that coveting is the universal principle of this season. It is all too sadly plain to recognize that murder is committed and a great deal of stealing goes on and children have a very difficult time honoring their parents. The Jesus Christ of Nazareth who gave His life to pay for my all-too-many sins — the Jesus Christ of Nazareth who by the Spirit of God is, according to the dictates of His Word, the Bible, supposed to be living His life style over in my life — that living Jesus soon to come to this world as its King of kings and Lord of lords will not give authority for His name to be associated with any aspect of this pagan holiday! It’s Pagan! In most any public library you can get proof of this in a book entitled Pour Thousal2d Years of Christmas by Earl Wendell Count. The very name of this book proves that the Christmas holiday isn’t Christian. It was celebrated two thousand years before the birth of Christ in honor of pagan gods! Therefore, it was and is idolatry. God very patently says, “Take heed… that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, How do these nations serve their gods? that I also may do likewise. You shall not do so to the Eternal your God: for every abominable thing which the Eternal hates, they have done for their gods” (Deut. 12:30-31). I Give to Christ! The excuse of giving gifts that comes from the story of the birth of Christ regarding the wise men giving Christ gifts is misapplied in our giving one another gifts! The reason the wise men gave gifts to Christ was because He was a King. He is much more a King now than He was then and He will be even much more a King in the soon-coming future than He is now. To give to every Tom, Dick and Harry and NOT to give to Christ, particularly at a season which claims Christ as its center, seems to me the worst hypocrisy of all. Having read and believed Malachi 3, which says that any individual or nation that does not give its tithes to God is guilty of grand larceny, of robbing God — I have dedicated that first ten percent and another generous amount of my budget to be given to God, to His Work on this earth today, to proclaiming the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God to rule over this world, to His representatives who preach and teach that truth which is the only source of freedom! I find many Biblical commands-in escapable — which require me to give and other statements which allow me to give freely of free-will offerings at any time or on special occasions. This kind of giving I can do with a completely free conscience. This kind of giving I will be able to justify when I look my Creator in the face. I may be faced with a few unpleasant comments from people and have to suffer ridicule or scoffing or accusations because I don’t keep the arch holiday which is designated by the name of Christ (taken in vain), but I will not have to stand before my Creator whose name is Jesus Christ and explain to Him why I kept Christmas. I don’t think it will be too difficult facing the judgment — to be able to say to my Creator that, instead of giving at a time of the pagan winter solstice, gifts I couldn’t afford, which were not appreciated, to all kinds of people in His name — that I have instead given directly as commanded (and I hope generously as free-will offerings) my gifts directly to the Work of the Living Jesus Christ! These are just ten reasons why I don’t keep Christmas — but I think they are adequate to explain my conduct. The freedom I enjoy, the good conscience I am able to have, the sincere friends who give to me of their time and effort and consideration as well as a little, physical gift from time to time — the security I feel at not having a mountain of debts to pay, the ability to look my son and daughter or anyone else in the eye and tell the truth — all these are priceless and indispensable factors that influence every day of my life. When I gave up Christmas, I didn’t give up anything but debt, materialism, hypocrisy, lying, bad fruits, intellectual, dishonesty and paganism! The freedom of the truth is rich and it gets richer every year. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Why don’t you join me in my freedom!]]>

Where Did Christmas Come From?

Where Did Christmas Come From? By Herbert W Armstrong The World Tomorrow Radio Broadcast And greetings friends, this is Herbert W. Armstrong with the good news of the World Tomorrow. Once again, let me ask this question, “Where did Christmas come from?” Many of you are going to be absolutely shocked and surprised when you learn the truth about Christmas. Did it come from the Bible, or did it come out of paganism? Do you know the origin of the Christmas tree? Where did Santa Claus originate anyway? And a lot of people would think, from what you see in the stores and what you see on the street corners, with men dressed up to let little children think they are Santa Claus, that it would be Santa Claus’ birthday that they are celebrating. And does Christmas really celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ? Was He born on December the 25th? You are going to be surprised if you are not afraid of being offended. Did Paul, the Apostles, the early church of the New Testament ever celebrate Christmas? Does the Bible tell you to celebrate Christmas? Do you know what the Bible says about the Christmas tree? — and it does tell you something about it. You know, if you’ll only stop to think, you’re doing a lot of things you don’t know why you do. You don’t know how you came to do them, but just like dumb sheep we follow the crowd, and other people are doing it and we all do the same. Now you were born in a world that was doing a lot of these things and you grew up doing them, but the day you were born you didn’t know anything. You didn’t have any knowledge whatsoever the day you were born. And you found people, as a little bit of a baby, observing Christmas. You found a Christmas tree in your home. You found that you would get toys and presents and gifts would be given on Christmas time, so you grew up thinking it’s a pretty good thing. And then you found somehow it was supposed to be a Christian holiday. And once in a great while you hear something about the fact it’s supposed to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, but you don’t hear too much about that. It’s the time to buy a lot of presents and create quite a shopping spree; a commercial season to make profits for the merchants of course. And it’s a time to get presents, or to give presents and to trade and exchange gifts all around, and everybody thinks it must be the thing to do. But why do we do it? Did it come out of the Bible? Did it come from the Church as Jesus Christ set it in the Church or as the apostles did under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? You would be surprised. Yes you will be surprised. Now the Protestant world really got it from the Catholics, and where did the Catholics get it? Well if you want to know what they say themselves in their own Encyclopedia where they got it — and they tell the truth about it, they’re not hiding it at all — you’ll want to read our most interesting booklet, ‘The Plain Truth About Christmas’. That is, if you won’t be offended at the truth because the truth is going to be a little bit shocking. Why don’t you write in for that booklet and just satisfy your curiosity about it. Where did the mistletoe come from, the holly wreath, this custom of exchanging gifts? Or you think the custom of exchanging gifts came because the wise men gave gifts to Jesus Christ? People buy presents lavishly, as they do every year at the Christmas season supposing that they are following the example of the wise men in giving gifts to Christ. Yet, without realizing it my friends, they are doing exactly the opposite. I’d like you to notice this, from the Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 12, pages 153 to 155, it says there, “The interchange of presents between friends must have been adopted by Christians from the pagans”; from the pagans, and the fact is, this custom of exchanging presents at Christmas time has not a single trace of Christianity about it, believe it or not. Did you ever attend a birthday party where all of the guests spent lavishly for birthday presents, then they came to the birthday party in honor of one who’s birthday it was, and then they began trading gifts back and forth among themselves and no-one had a single present for the person whose birthday it was? Wouldn’t that be an insult, or wouldn’t it be a little bit silly? Well my friends, that’s what everybody is doing today and they don’t realize they are doing it. I don’t think you ever stopped to think about it that way yourself, did you? Not The Birthday Of Christ Christmas actually does not honor Christ’s birthday because Jesus Christ was not born on December the 25th, or even in that time of the year. But whose birthday does Christmas celebrate, do you know? You’re going to be shocked when you find out whose birthday Christmas really does celebrate; and when you find out that it is an old festival that was in force and in effect as a custom in the pagan world for hundreds of years before Christ; and when you find out whose birthday it is supposed to celebrate. Well if you write in for that booklet — there’s no charge for it, it’s free – ‘The Plain Truth About Christmas’, you will get it. I’d like you to consider about this giving of the gifts to the Christ child. And I think it is about time we knew some of the things we do, or why we do them, and where they came from and whether we ought to be doing them. Of course I know most people say, “Well I don’t see that it makes any difference”. Perhaps it doesn’t to you. There’s going to come a time of reckoning my friends, when we’re all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There is a judgment day coming, and whether we like it or not, my friends, and whether this is popular or pleasant or not to you, there is going to be a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth when that time comes. And a lot of people are going to see that a lot of things that they think now does not make any difference, make all the DIFFERENCE in the world. Not only to God ALMIGHTY, but to THEM and to their happiness and welfare because the laws of God and the desires of God, so far as your life and mine are concerned; is that you find the way to happiness and to peace. And the way we’re doing and the customs that men are following on this earth are not leading to peace, or to prosperity or to happiness or anything good. And we’re all wrapped up in a lot of customs we don’t know where they came from, and we look at the poverty, the squalor, the unhappiness, the empty lives all over this world and we don’t know why. Well I’ll tell you, in the broad principle, it’s all coming because men have departed from God and they think it doesn’t make any difference. And they are doing the things that seem right to men. Now I’m not saying that so far as Christmas observance and the trading of presents and all that sort of thing, that it has a direct bearing on all the war and the unhappiness and all that kind of thing in the world. But I do say that the law of God was set to give us the way to peace, the way to prosperity and to happiness. And in just a moment I am going to speak about prosperity and why so many of you do not have the prosperity that you think you ought to have and why you are having so many financial worries, and how you can be more prosperous and end your financial worries. And I am not going to give you any commercial for any loan company that will put a mortgage on your home or your automobile, or attach your salary or something and loan you money, because that is not the way out that I’m going to give you, but something that will really solve your problems and troubles permanently if you want to find that way. But it’s God’s way, and God’s way is our good and our happiness. God wants us to be prosperous. God wants us to be healthy. God wants us to be successful, and happy, and joyful. He wants us even, on occasion, to be merry and to really enjoy life to the full. Oh if we could ever realize that, and realize that God doesn’t want us to be long-faced and bored with life and unhappy and miserable. That doesn’t give God any happiness or pleasure, none whatsoever. Who Were The Gifts For? Well, now this thing about trading presents back and forth and following the example of the wise men. Let’s look into the Bible just a minute and see what really did happen. It’s in Matthew the second chapter and the first eleven verses. Now here’s what you read. Matthew 2, beginning with verse 1 and this is excerpts from the first eleven verses. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1-2) Notice they said, “…Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” Let’s go back and get a little of that again. “Now when Jesus was born [He was already born notice. This was after His birthday. He was already born] in Bethlehem of Judaea [it was] in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east…[now they didn’t even start their journey until they heard He was born. And they came] Saying, Where is he that is born [He was already born] King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1-2) He was born King, notice. Alright these wise men knew and they claimed that Jesus was born KING! Now continue the quotation. “And when they were come into the house [after they arrived where He was], they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts;” (Matthew 2:11) Did they trade presents back and forth among themselves and ignore Christ? Oh my friends, I wonder if you ever noticed that they presented their gifts to HIM? But why? Was this Christmas time? Was this His birthday? Were they doing it as a birthday present? Why not at all. I want you to notice something. Why did they give these gifts? And the first thing to notice is they gave them to HIM. They didn’t exchange or trade presents back and forth. It was not because it was His birthday because He had been born a good many days ahead of this time. This was days after His birthday, because transportation was very slow in those days and they had traveled all this distance from where they were way over in the east, after He had been born. They didn’t trade gifts among themselves; they gave their gifts to Him. But why? Yes, why? Well here’s the answer. Let me read it to you from the Adam Clarke Commentary, Volume 5, page 46, giving the commentary on this very passage by one of the great noted scholars of the past century. “The people of the east never approached the presence of kings or great personages, without a present in their hands. The custom is often noticed in the Old Testament and still prevails in the east.” That’s the end of the quotation, and there my friends, is the answer. The wise men were not instituting some new custom for Christmas time because there was no Christmas being observed, nothing called that. Christmas means Christ mass. It is something — that name, mass of Christ — was not started until hundreds of years after Christ was born, as a matter of fact. An Ancient Custom Although the custom had been in progress, and a custom among people but called by a different name, and not celebrating any birthday of Jesus Christ but another birthday that you’ll be surprised to learn in this booklet. It had been celebrated for hundreds of years before this. But these men had nothing to do with that. They had nothing to do with celebrating any birthday. They were not instituting any new Christmas time custom, because Christmas wasn’t even heard of until generations later. But they were following an ancient custom of presenting gifts to a king, whenever, no matter what day, what day of the week or the year or anything else they might come into his presence, they always gave a gift to the king. You’ll remember reading in the Bible how the Queen of Sheba brought gifts to king Solomon of Judah when she came to visit Solomon. He was the king. Do you know that many people today when they visit the White House take presents to the President of the United States? The White House staff is just busy receiving gifts and presents that people send from all over the United States to the President whether they even go to visit him or not, and many times when they visit. I know when foreign Royalty visits the President of the United States. When the King and Queen of England, King George, who has now died here some little time ago, it seems to me that I remember that King George and Queen Elizabeth presented the President of the United States with a gift and a present. Of course we don’t have a king but he is in the place of a king here, and we have a President instead of a king. Well that’s a custom. They were not giving gifts because of a birthday. It had nothing to do with Christmas and in trading presents around among themselves today people are not in any manner, shape or form, actually following what the wise men did. As a matter of fact, what they are doing is following an ancient custom that gravitated around a pagan custom hundreds of years before Christ, when it celebrated the birthday of something very pagan, and it was not Christ. Well, why don’t you get this booklet and read it. Well, you’ve heard a lot of funny stories about this thing of trading presents. And really, my friends, some of the things we do that we take seriously, we don’t realize how ridiculous sometimes some of these things are. Oh, I know, you think this spirit of Christmas, it’s a wonderful thing for the children. Well, you know one little child that heard all about Santa Claus and all these presents on the Christmas trees and everything, when he grew up, old enough to find out that Santa Claus was only a myth, and that his parents had really tricked him and deceived him, that there wasn’t any Santa Claus at all. You know he said to his little playmate, he says, “You know what I am going to do? I found out the truth about Santa Claus and now I’m going to look into this Jesus Christ business too. Maybe there isn’t any Christ. Maybe there isn’t any God. I found out there isn’t any Santa Claus.” Oh yes, it’s a wonderful spirit! My friends I wonder, can’t we teach our children the truth, and can’t we give our children the kind of happiness that they ought to have, and the kind of rearing that they ought to have without going into pagan customs? Do you know that the Bible says that if we bring up our children in the “nurture and the admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesian 6:4) and that we are to “live by every word… of God.” (Matthew 4:4) and we should teach our children so (Deuteronomy 6:7) and not CONTRARY to the word of God? Well at least “when they are old they will not depart from it”. (Proverbs 22:6 paraphrased) I wonder, is that right? Or are you very angry at me because I told you the truth? And sometimes the truth is not pleasant, because my friends, this world is doing a lot of things that are not right and this world is REAPING A LOT OF RESULTS that are not right. Results of its own SOWING, and WHAT WE SOW WE SHALL REAP and we ARE REAPING. And this world is reaping a lot of mighty unhappy and unpleasant things, and there are REASONS. And yet people will hate the one that tells them the truth and shows them the things that are causing so much of it and the way out of all of this and into the glorious light of truth that would bring us all happiness. The Reason For Unhappiness Now let’s get back to this and see what Jesus Christ said about the financial situation. You know I think there is, I’ve mentioned before there is some kind of trouble and worry in every home, sickness or something. Now there are two things that seem to beset almost every family and every home, and I think in almost every home tuned in, or if you are riding along in your automobile listening at this moment — in your home there is some kind of sickness or trouble, or family troubles or something. Now I think the most prevalent are sickness and disease on the one hand, and financial troubles on the other. I believe we are burdened by those two things more than any other troubles that most of us have. You know, we have a little baby and it begins to talk and he whimpers and cries a little and we talk about him telling us his troubles. And of course we think that’s a lot of fun. But you know, it is serious to that baby, and we’re just babies grown up, and we have our troubles. And we all have them, don’t we? And they aren’t funny, they are real. And a lot of us have financial troubles. Well, in this teaching of Jesus when He was teaching His disciples, it’s been called ‘The Sermon on the Mount.’ It’s been acclaimed the greatest sermon ever preached. People don’t think it’s very practical. They don’t really believe it when Jesus said “Love your enemies”! (Matthew 5:44) People don’t think that’s a good thing to do, they’d rather hate their enemies. When He said, “If anyone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other and let him hit it too.” (Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29 paraphrased) Why of course that’s not very practical is it? People don’t seem to believe what Jesus taught. He said He didn’t come to destroy the law, that not a crossing of a {1} “t” or the dotting of an “i” will be removed until everyone is obeying it and it’s fulfilled by everybody. That’s the real meaning of the original Greek words there. And that “anyone that will break that law and teach men so will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven;” (Matthew 5:19 paraphrased) But he won’t be there; he’ll be called that by those who are there. “But he that will DO the commands of God and teach men so, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19 paraphrased) Of course he won’t be called great by men here on earth and I have explained that before and I do, and a lot of people don’t think so highly of me, but I’m more concerned about what God thinks than what men think, frankly. And we depend on God and we rely on Him and not on men, and so we are able to serve God FAITHFULLY because we don’t have to depend on MEN! We don’t beg for money over the air, we just tell you the truth. Now in this message, this sermon, here we are, it’s in the sixth chapter of Matthew now and up to verse nineteen. This sermon had continued all the way through the fifth chapter and the sixth chapter up to here, and we’re still going on with it. Chapter six, verse nineteen. Get your own Bible. Look at this yourself, Jesus said here; “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth… But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where the moth nor rust doth consume, and where the thieves can’t break through and steal:…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 paraphrased) Now what did He mean by that? I’m going to hurry right over it as rapidly as I can now. But there was a rich young ruler who had no right to some treasure. He had a position; well he was a Levite, but he had no right to the money that he had — it was illegal in other words. Jesus said to him (he had accumulated a lot of money that was illegal) and Jesus said, “go and sell what you have, and give to the poor and lay up treasure in heaven:” (Matthew 19:21 paraphrased) Now the way you lay up treasure in heaven is by doing what you ought to do here and now, by obeying God. And when you obey God and keep His commandments; and after all, all of the commandments of God are merely love. It’s love towards God and love towards your fellow man, and that is love expressed to others and doing good in service and in helping others and making others a little happier. Well that is laying up treasure in heaven because everything we do is recorded. It’s recorded in heaven, but you’re not going up to heaven to get your reward, Jesus is going to bring His reward with Him when He comes. But you’re laying up the treasure in heaven and it’s going to come to you some day. You might lay up treasure in the bank but you’re not going to go and live in the bank all your life. You go and get the money out of the bank when you want to spend it, and go somewhere else with it. And that treasure is coming down out of heaven when we are ready for it. And it isn’t the treasure you lay up, it’s the good deeds and the things you do. Now: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) I want to tell you my friends that I have never yet found anyone whose heart can be in the work of God and who can remain a real Christian, whose pocketbook hasn’t been converted and whose money is not in the work of Christ also. I have never known a one, and I have known people that believed in tithing, that saw that tithing is ordained in the New Testament as well as the Old, as the Apostle Paul himself said, and who would tithe and they were very successful, and they prospered. Then they get to thinking, “Well I’m going to hang onto that money. Why should I give that away? Maybe I don’t like the way the preacher is handling it.” Or something like that. Well of course the minister, if he is God’s servant, is responsible to God, and they don’t realize that and they don’t realize that God could take his office away from him or strike him down quicker than you can bat an eye, any time God wants to! But people think they have to run God’s business for Him and so they get offended and then they withdraw their tithe money and they quit tithing and they keep it all for themselves. And I’ve known people like that, that went into every financial hardship in the world after they did it. But not only that, they spiritually shrivel up and die. I have never known an exception. The Tithe Belongs To God Now you can’t buy your way into the Kingdom of God but the first tenth of every bit of your income is not yours, it’s God’s. It belongs to Him and God says, we’re not honest, that we are thieves and we are stealing, we are robbing God. You know, the New Testament Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and [the] prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;” (Ephesians 2:20) And one of the prophets, the very last one in the Old Testament, is Malachi. And Malachi, one of the prophets on whom the New Testament Church is founded, says that we are robbing God in tithes and offerings whenever we don’t pay over our tithe faithfully. It belongs to God. Now anyone who does do it is going to be prospered by God and they’re going to get along alright, if they are diligent. I don’t mean they can get along alright if they lay around, and perhaps I should say lay instead of lie too, because that’s about what a lot of them do. I know a hen lays, but a lot of people do too sometimes. And so, I tell you my friends, if we just follow God’s way we’ll fare so much better. Now, “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” (Matthew 6:21) That doesn’t mean that we necessarily worship money. You know, money is not the root of all evil, but “the love of money is the root of all evil:” (I Timothy 6:10) That’s what the Bible says. The Bible does not say that money is the root of all evil, it isn’t. Money can be a very good thing. Money of itself is not either good or bad. But it can be beneficial or harmful depending on how we humans use it and what use we put it to. Now let’s continue, I want to get to a little more of this if I can. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) And mammon there simply means money. If you’re going to love money, why you can’t serve God. “Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what you shall eat, what you shall drink…” (Matthew 6:25 American Revised Standard Version) Now the meaning of that, the Greek word there “take no thought” it is in the King James translation, and I’m reading it, the Revised, the old American Revised of about 1900 A.D. And it means to have that kind of anxious thought that is really a lot of worry and over-concern about your financial condition. Now here it says to not be overly concerned and burdened about it. And God doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be concerned, because we should all be concerned and we should be careful in financial matters and all of that sort of thing. But I mean this worry and this concern where it weighs you down and becomes your whole life. “…of what you shall eat or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on [that’s food and clothing and drink and all that sort of thing]. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Behold the birds of the air, they don’t sow [that is they don’t plant seeds like a farmer out in the ground], neither do they reap, nor do they gather into barns, but your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are you not of much more value than they?”(Matthew 6:25-26 ARSV) Do you know why? We’re in the image of God and we’re to be begotten of God and later born of God and to enter into the very family, the KINGDOM of God. Of course we’re more valuable than they are. God Knows Our Needs “And which of you, being anxious [that is overly concerned now, so concerned that you have no time left for God or anything like that] can add one cubit [or that is one inch, let’s say in American; I don’t mean a cubit is an inch, but let’s just say an inch to his height or to his stature]. And why are you anxious concerning clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they don’t toil neither do they spin; and yet I say to you, that even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, oh ye of little faith?”(Matthew 6:27-30 paraphrased) “Be not therefore anxious [that’s overly concerned and just weighted down by this worry about money] saying, What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after these things do the Gentiles seek [unconverted people are just burdened down and worried about those things all the time, and a real Christian can be relieved from that, and from fear and from worry and from all of those things]. Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. But seek ye first His Kingdom…”(Matthew 6:31-33 ARSV) Or, as it is in the King James; “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33) And that is all of His commandments, Psalms 119: 172 “all of God’s commandments are righteousness.” (Psalm 119:172 paraphrased) And if you seek that; “…all these things [these material things of your clothing, your food, your shelter] shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be…. [it’ll take care of itself.] …Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:33-34 paraphrased) My friends, if we will only obey God, if we would only do His work, His way, and we are supposed to have our minds on what we do and use our minds intelligently and to be industrious and diligent, that’s true. We will be taken care of and everybody would be prosperous if we do it.]]>

So You're Not Keeping Christmas?

So You’re Not Keeping Christmas? By Henry Sturcke December 1985 – Good News Magazine The halls are decked with boughs of holly; the stockings are hung by the chimney with care. The wistful voice of Tiny Tim mingles with the strains of “Silent Night” as he wishes a blessing on us, every one. All the world seems at peace. Except you. You, who can no longer in good conscience take part in the singing, the party-going, the exchanging of gifts and greeting cards. There are times you may wish you didn’t know what you know. But you do know. You know about the 4,000-year history of Christmas, about the origins of the Yule log and mistletoe, about the fact that Jesus wasn’t born on or anywhere near December 25. Most of all, you know what God says about taking pagan days and dressing them in a cloak of sanctity. And because you know, this can be the most miserable season of the year. At no other time do you feel so out of step with the society around. But there’s a danger in that. Two pitfalls God opened your mind to understand the truth about Christmas — along with other biblical truths — for a reason. But even though you’ve been called out, there’s still a strong urge to conform. Many recognize the origins of today’s Christmas observances, but these people still compromise. “What’s the difference?” they ask. Yet it must make some difference — some of them are your hottest antagonists! That you dare act on what you know torments them. They urge you to compromise – but you must not (Romans 12:2). Let’s say you resist the urge to conform, obeying God instead. That’s good. For some, that’s even exhilarating. You see, some are nonconformists by nature. It doesn’t bother them at all to be out of step with this world; that lets them feel exclusive and superior. They might even be disappointed if society abolished Christmas tomorrow — they would no longer be unique. How will they feel in the world tomorrow, when false religious observances will be wiped out , replaced by God’s Holy Days (Zechariah 14:16-19)? Rather than feel smugly superior to the rest of humanity, we ought to be profoundly sorry that they cannot see and obey the truth at this time — that they even harass us when we do obey. Note I Peter 4:16: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” If we do suffer harassment, even persecution , for not celebrating Christmas, we’re warned to avoid another wrong reaction: shame. This was driven home to me one day as I walked my son and his friend home from kindergarten. “What’s Santa bringing you, Erik?” the friend asked my son. How would Erik react? This was his first exposure to people his own age who kept Christmas. Would he be awkward and ashamed about being “different”? No. Erik answered simply, “We don’t celebrate Christmas.” No conformity, no superiority, but most of all, no embarrassment. Children learn from their parents — but this time I learned from him. In I Peter 3:15, we’re told: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Never with superiority, never with shame! Get in step with God Make no mistake. We must answer for what we do, not only to people who ask why we’re different, but also to God, if we deny the truth He’s given us (Matthew 10:33, II Timothy 2:12). In John 15:18-20, Jesus tells us we’re not of this world, and that we will be persecuted as He was. God’s people have always seemed out of step to the society around them. But in reality, it’s the world that’s out of step with God. God has called us out of this world and all of its false ways. That means resisting the temptation to conform with this world. That also means avoiding the traps of a superior attitude — or an embarrassed, inferior attitude — toward others.]]>

Should a Christian observe Christmas? How did Christmas originate?

Should a Christian observe Christmas? How did Christmas originate?

Many readers have asked us whether Jesus Christ was really born on December 25. Did Paul, the other apostles and the early New Testament Church celebrate Christmas? What is the origin of the Christmas tree — of “Santa Claus” — of the mistletoe and the holly wreath?

Most people in the Western world have grown up practicing Christmas customs and assuming these customs are Christian, but never questioning why! It is time we learned the facts.

The holiday now called “Christmas” is rooted in pagan antiquity. Christmas was celebrated by the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Assyrians 2,000 years before Christ was born. Yet Christmas was not celebrated in Jerusalem, where Christ founded the inspired New Testament Church, until A.D. 385, more than three centuries after God’s true Church fled from the city.


Did you know that the pagan Romans, long before the birth of Christ, called December 25 the Brumalia, or birthday of the new sun, after the winter solstice?

Christmas was originally celebrated in honor of the pagan false messiah. It was idolatry. You can find every one of these facts in any good encyclopedia or reference book in your public library. Though the Bible never tells us to observe Christmas and never records any such observance by the apostles or the early true Church, it does condemn the adoption of pagan practices and dressing up paganism in Christian clothes. “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen… for the customs of the people are vain” (Jeremiah 10:2-3, Authorized Version).

God warns His people not to borrow and use pagan customs or festivals to worship Him: “Take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them [the heathen]… and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise'” (Deuteronomy 12:30).

If the eternal God had wanted us to keep Christmas, He would have clearly shown us so. But He warned His people not to worship Him by means of pagan customs and pagan feasts. “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way” (verse 31).

It’s time you learned the truth about Christmas. You can have the astonishing facts about the origin and history of Christmas — about how it crept into the professing Christian world — about how the custom of trading gifts with one another started, instead of giving gifts to Christ — about the Christmas tree and many other shocking facts — by sending for a copy of our free booklet The Plain Truth About Christmas. No other booklet makes the truth about Christmas so simple. This is knowledge you desperately need — and preferably before December 25!

I’ve been trying to understand the Bible for a long time, but I’m more confused than ever. Can anyone understand the Bible on his or her own?

The Bible records an example of a man who sought to find God on his own and failed. Notice it in Acts 8:26-40. Philip, a deacon in the New Testament Church, met a man of Ethiopia, a man of great authority, sitting in his chariot on the road to Gaza. The Ethiopian was reading from the prophecies of Isaiah.

Notice what Philip asked him: “Do you understand what you are reading?” (verse 30).

The Ethiopian replied, simply, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (verse 31).

Here was an educated man of responsibilities and accomplishments, the treasurer of a queen’s wealth. But he realized that unless a minister helped him, he could not understand God’s Word.

Verse 35 shows that Philip gave him the instruction he sought: “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”

Jesus Christ revealed, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). God is not trying to draw everyone to Him now, but for those few He is calling, He has sent teachers — like Philip — to make the whole truth plain.

Notice what Paul wrote in Romans 10:13-15: “For ‘whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?”

Here is the key to understanding your Bible. First, you must determine who are the ministers God Almighty has sent. Listen to those who are God’s faithful, true servants. Listen with an open mind, willing to believe what you are taught out of your own Bible.”

Questions & Answers October-November 1985 – Good News Magazine

New Wine and Old Bottles

New Wine and Old Bottles By John Halford December 1985 – Good News Magazine Jesus Christ expects His followers to become totally committed to all of God’s laws and way of life. The transition can be very difficult! Are you thinking about making some big changes in the way you live? You have begun to understand the truth about how a real Christian ought to behave. You have realized that a lot of empty tradition has infiltrated what is known as “Christianity” today, while some of Christ’s most important teachings are ignored. Perhaps you have read Jesus’ challenging words found in Matthew 15:9: “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” And so perhaps you have decided it’s time to make some changes. Perhaps this year you and your family are (sssh don’t let the neighbors know!) — not going to keep Christmas! Of course, it might not only be Christmas. The decision to obey Jesus Christ will mean that you must change many aspects of your life, some small, others major. You might have to change the day that you have kept “holy,” or some of the things that you eat. Maybe you must alter the way you budget your money and eliminate many words from your vocabulary. But since it’s that time of year, let’s focus on Christmas. What’s so bad about Christmas? Christmas, of course, is not a Christian festival. It never has been and never will be. Hard to change Most ministers of whatever denomination admit that Jesus could not have been born on December 25. That day was kept as a pagan festival long before Jesus’ birth. Jesus nowhere told us to celebrate His birthday to do so is one of those “commandments of men” that He warned His true followers against. So you have decided not to observe it this year. It isn’t quite as easy as that, is it? Christmas has become so much a part of most people’s lives that not to observe it can mean a major disruption. No Christmas cards. What will Aunt Tess think? No relatives over for Christmas dinner. No decorations. No lights or Santa Claus. You’ll have to try to avoid the office party, and you’d better write to the school explaining that you don’t want little Fred to play an angel in the Christmas play. And no tree. I remember the first time we didn’t have a tree. r t had always been a feature in our house. We would go to a lot of trouble to deco rate it beautifully, and then put it in the front window for all to see. A good looking tree was a status symbol in our street and, though I do say it myself, ours was one of the best and most impressive. But we read in the Bible where God made some pretty pointed remarks about decorated trees. Check it for yourself in Jeremiah. 10:3-4. God said it was a futile, pagan custom a clear case of worshiping Christ in vain. So no tree. Even though we knew if we had done the right thing, we really missed that tree. The neighbors all had them, sparkling in their windows, but our window remained dark. We missed it so much that we cheated a bit. We put up a few decorations — not a tree, mind you, just a few bits and pieces to make the place look more cheerful. And we had a Christmas dinner, only we didn’t call it that. It was only a “celebration.” We felt guilty about it, because we knew we had compromised. It was just that the old way seemed so comfortable, and without a tree and all the rest of the paraphernalia, Christmas just didn’t seem like — er, Christmas. Jesus Christ knew this would happen. He explained to His disciples that they would indeed miss some aspects of the old way of life, and that even as they learned the truth from Him they would look back nostalgically from time to time. You will find what Jesus said in Luke 5:36-39. Before we read it, let’s put the incident in its right context. When Jesus began His public ministry, He immediately came into conflict with the Pharisees, a religious sect who prided themselves on the way they kept God’s laws. They had become so fanatical in their self-righteous attempts to be perfect that they had added many traditions to the basic law of God. The Pharisees thus made the keeping of God’s law into a burden. Jesus came to teach the truth. He understood not only the letter but also the spirit of God’s law. Of course, He never broke any of the commandments in any way, but to the Pharisees He seemed to be an outright liberal. And, horror of horrors, here He was in Luke 5:29 enjoying a meal with a tax collector and some other sinners. It really was too much! Not only did Jesus eat with sinners, but He didn’t seem to fast like the Pharisees thought He should. Their custom dictated that they fast twice in the week. They equated their fasting with righteousness. The Pharisees had had no great love for Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, but even the disciples of John fasted sometimes. But Jesus and his disciples never seemed to fast. Why not? Jesus explained that fasting is a way to get close to God (Luke 5:34-35). While Jesus, who was God in the flesh, was with His disciples, there was no need to fast. When, in the future, Jesus would be taken away from them, His disciples would certainly seek to get close to Him and His Father by fasting occasionally. Then Jesus went on to teach an important lesson: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old” (verse 36). Any seamstress understands that. New, un-shrunk material cannot be used to patch old, worn garments. When it shrinks, it will tear the old cloth even worse than before. Jesus’ second analogy is not quite so easy for us to follow in the 20th century: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins” (verses 37-38). In New Testament times glass bottles were rare, so wine was often transported in animal skins, usually from goats. They made a strong, airtight and moisture — proof container, but you had to be careful. New wine that had not finished fermenting gave off gas that would expand the skins. A new wineskin had some “give” to it, and would allow for the expansion. But old, used skins lost their elasticity. They would burst. The wine would be spilled and the wineskin ruined. But why tell people that? Jesus Christ’s business was not to give the multitude helpful household hints. Jesus was using a familiar situation to teach an aspect of Christian living. Withdrawal symptoms When someone begins to understand the teachings of the Bible, it is a totally new experience — unlike anything he or she has ever known — like new wine or an unused piece of cloth. Now, what most of us do is try to fit this new truth into our old way of life. That is only natural, because it is hard to change, and no one likes to admit having been wrong. The old way of life is familiar and comfortable, and we want to hang on to as much of it as possible. How about you? Perhaps you have fond memories of the Easter sunrise service, the fun of Halloween and those beautiful candlelight carol services down at the old family church. The truth comes smashing into inherited religious ideas and preconceived notions of right and wrong. It challenges comfortable beliefs, making you question things you have always done. This new way — even if it is right — sometimes seems like an unwelcome intruder, and you find yourself resenting it. Jesus warned us that that could happen: “And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’ ” (verse 39). It is not surprising that so many people, even though they acknowledge the truth, still prefer to cling to their old beliefs. Or perhaps they do as my family did when we met the truth halfway, with a sort of “un-Christmas” celebration. We didn’t enjoy our “un — Christmas.” You never can if you know that you are compromising with what is right. We were trying to put our new wine in the old bottle, and we spoiled everything. All the way Don’t make that mistake. If you are beginning to understand what it means to be a real Christian, realize that it is going to demand positive action on your part. You can’t have it both ways, observing this world’s customs and still expecting the blessing of the world tomorrow. “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say?” Jesus thundered (Luke 6:46). He expects total commitment. He demands that we come out of the Babylon of confusion that characterizes so much religion today. So along with the excitement of learning new truth comes the responsibility of making some painful decisions. Don’t compromise. God does not want to take from us anything that is good. His way of life is filled with exciting experiences that mean something and lead somewhere, not empty, senseless but often very expensive rituals. As you take the plunge and follow God’s way of life, you will begin to miss the “old wine” less and less. You will see it for what it is — a hollow counterfeit of the real thing. God is showing you the way to freedom from all that. Instead of looking back at the fraudulent ways of this world, you will begin to anticipate the excitement of helping others learn the truth in the world tomorrow.]]>

JESUS' BIRTH The Untold Story

JESUS’ BIRTH The Untold Story By Keith W Stump November-December 1985 – Plain Truth Magazine Read here the eye-opening facts about the time of Jesus’ birth. WHY would a magazine address in early autumn the subject of Jesus’ birth? Surely that would be a topic more suitable to a wintry (Northern Hemisphere) December, when readers’ minds are turning toward the Christmas season. Or would it? Was Jesus born In December? If not, when was he born? And in what year? What difference does it make, anyway? These are questions The Plain Truth receives from a considerable number of readers each December. It is time they were answered! But again we ask, Why do we answer them at this time of year? A Visit to Bethlehem In late December of each year, thousands of tourists flock into the small town of Bethlehem in the Judean Hills south of Jerusalem to participate in annual Christmas celebrations there. Some make the 6-mile journey from Jerusalem on foot. Upon arrival, they crowd with silent awe into the paved expanse of Manger Square in front of the revered Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth. Inevitably, some of these tourists arrive in Israel unprepared. They have not thoroughly studied their guidebooks. As they step off their plane, they receive a real shock! November through early March is “winter” in Israel! The weather gets cold, especially at night. Often it rains — or even snows! Yet many arrive in Israel carrying luggage bulging with summer attire, •reasoning that it is always hot and arid in the Middle East. So they hurriedly purchase coats and sweaters in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem for their pilgrimage down to Bethlehem. Nevertheless, most of those who stand in Manger Square on December 25 each year — prepared and unprepared alike — fail to perceive the message being proclaimed by the very weather around them! Notice this plain testimony of your Bible: On the day of Jesus’ birth “there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). The shepherds were living out in the open fields, tending their flock through the night. The point? Ask any biblical scholar, or any modern Israeli: This never could have occurred in Judea in the month of December — nor even in November, or late October for that matter! In ancient times as today, shepherds brought their flocks in from the fields and penned them in shelters not later than the middle of October! This was necessary to protect them from the cold, rainy season that usually followed that date. (The Bible itself makes it clear that winter in Palestine is a rainy season; see Ezra 10:9, 13; Song of Solomon 2:11.) Yet Luke 2:8 tells us that at the time of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds were yet abiding in the fields — by night, at that! They had not yet brought their flocks home to the sheepfolds. Clearly the cold, — rainy season had not yet commenced. Thus, on the basis of Luke’s testimony alone, we see that Jesus could have been born no later than mid — October — when the weather is still pleasant at Bethlehem. A December 25 nativity is too late! More Proof Additional biblical evidence lends further support to the foregoing conclusion. Luke 1:24-38 informs us that the virgin Mary miraculously became pregnant with Jesus when her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant with a child who would later be known as John the Baptist. Jesus, then, would have been born six months after John; If we could know the time of John’s birth, we could then simply add six months and know the time of Jesus’ birth. Does the Bible reveal the general time of John’s birth? Notice: Elizabeth’s husband Zacharias was a priest at the Temple in Jerusalem. Luke 1:5 records that Zacharias was “of the course of Abia [in Hebrew, Abijah].” In the days of King David of ancient Israel (10th century B.C.), the number of priests had so increased that they had to be divided into 24 courses or shifts, which would take turns in performing the priestly duties (I Chron. 24). Each course served one week at a time, beginning and ending on a weekly Sabbath day (II Chron. 23:8). The course of Abijah was the eighth course or shift in the rotation (I Chron. 24:10). The Talmud (collection of Jewish civil and religious laws and commentaries) records that the first course performed its duties in the first week of the first month of the Hebrew calendar. This month (called Abib or Nisan) begins about the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The second course worked the second week. The third week being the annual festival season of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread — found all 24 courses serving together, sharing the heavy duties of that special time. The third shift then took its turn during the fourth week of the year. Projecting forward, the eighth course — the course of Abijah, in which Zacharias served — worked the ninth week of the year. But Zacharias’ course then stayed on at the Temple to serve the 10th week also — the week of the annual Pentecost festival — along with all the other courses. It was during that two-week period of work — near the end of spring — that the announcement by the archangel Gabriel came to Zacharias regarding his wife’s imminent conception (Luke 1:8-20). When his two weeks’ service was completed, Zacharias and Elizabeth went back to their home and Elizabeth conceived (verses 23-24)sometime late in June or early July. The rest is a matter of biology and arithmetic. Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy would have been in December. She would have given birth three months later — in late March or early April of the following year. Six months after that, Jesus would have been born, in late September or early October — before the sheep were brought in “from the fields, as we have seen! Clearly, Jesus was not born in December. Late September or early October was also the time of year that taxes were customarily paid — in the fall, at the end of the harvest. Joseph and Mary, it will be remembered, had journeyed to Bethlehem to be taxed (Luke 2:3-5). The fact that there was “no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7) also suggests the time of the autumn harvest, because the annual fall festivals occurring at that time attracted multitudes of Jews to Jerusalem and nearby towns, filling all available accommodations. Jesus Born “Before Christ”? An even more frequent question received from readers concerns the year of Jesus’ birth. Few subjects are fraught with so much confusion and misunderstanding. Opinions vary widely. This immediately brings up a preliminary question: How could Jesus have been born in a year “B.C.” — Before Christ — as most authorities suggest? It would seem to be a contradiction in terms! First, understand that the manner of reckoning time according to B.C. and A.D. was devised hundreds of years after Jesus’ birth. It was invented in the sixth century A.D. by a monk in Italy named Dionysius Exiguus. This Dionysius misunderstood the time of the reign of Herod the Great, king of Judea. So he reckoned the birth of Jesus to have occurred in December of the year 753 AUC (ab urbe condita — “from the foundation of the city [of Rome]”). In past ages, time was often reckoned using the founding of Rome as the starting point for counting. Thus, in Dionysius’ new system, January 1,754 AUC, became January 1, A.D. 1 (anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord”). That is, he assumed Jesus was born on December 25, just a week before January 1, A.D. 1. Later, it was discovered that Dionysius had been incorrect in his reckoning of the reign of Herod and hence of the commencement of the Christian era. Jesus had been born some years earlier than Dionysius had thought. But by then, the new chronology was in general use and it was too late to change! It has continued in use throughout most of the world to the present day. With that understanding, we can now proceed to determine the year of Jesus’ birth. There are several ways of doing so. Daniel’s Prophecy Notice, first, this ancient prophecy from the book of Daniel: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks… ” (Dan. 9:25). The commandment or decree to restore and build Jerusalem was made in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes I, king of ancient Persia (see Ezra 7:8)according to the autumn-to-autumn reckoning of the Jews, in 457 B.C. The archangel Gabriel told Daniel that there would be a total of 69 prophetic weeks from that time until the public appearance of the Messiah. Sixty-nine weeks is equivalent to 483 days (69 x 7). A day of prophetic fulfillment is a year in actual time (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6). So 483 prophetic days (69 prophetic weeks) is 483 years. Simple arithmetic now takes over. Four-hundred-eighty-three years from 457 B.C. (the year of the decree) brings us to A.D. 27 — the year when Jesus, the Messiah, began his public ministry. (In calculating this, be aware that you must add I to compensate for the fact that there is no year zero.) Now consider further: It is generally understood that Jesus entered upon his ministry in the autumn of the year, immediately after his baptism. (His ministry lasted 3 V2 , years, ending in the spring. at Passover time.) In Luke 3:23 we learn that Jesus was “about thirty years of age” when he began his ministry. If he was about 30 years old in the autumn of A.D. 27, then he must have been born in the end of summer or early autumn, and in 4 B.C.! (Remember, there is no year zero.) It thus stands clearly revealed from Daniel’s prophecy that Jesus was born in 4 B.C.. But there is yet further proof! Herod’s Eclipse Students of the Bible recognize that Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great (Matt. 2:15, 19). When did Herod die? The first century A.D. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus , in Antiquities of the Jews (book XVII, chapter vi), tells of an eclipse of the moon late in Herod’s reign. I have before me, as I write, the authoritative Solar and Lunar Eclipses of the Ancient Near East by Kudlek and Mickler. Its tables reveal that the lunar eclipse in question occurred on March 13, 4 B.C. Continuing with Josephus’ account, we discover that sometime after the eclipse, Herod — afflicted with a painful and loathsome disease — went beyond the river Jordan to bathe himself in hot springs there. The cures he undertook were unsuccessful. His condition worsened and he returned to Jericho. There, in a wild rage, he plotted the deaths of many prominent Jews. He also ordered his own son, Antipater, slain. All these events required some months. Josephus further reveals (chapter ix) that Herod’s death occurred sometime before a spring Passover. This Passover would have been 13 months after the eclipse, or the Passover Of April, 3 B.C. This confirms our previously calculated 4 B.C. birth date for Jesus. Further corroborating this, Josephus also records (XVII, viii, 1) that at his death, Herod had reigned 37 years since he had been declared king by the Romans. That had occurred in 40 B.C., a fact that Dionysius overlooked. Herod’s death therefore took place late in 4 B.C. — shortly after Jesus’ birth in the early autumn of 4 B.C. This is the only date that is consistent with all the provable facts! The “Star” of Bethlehem A word is necessary at this point about the celebrated “Star of Bethlehem” (Matt. 2) that guided the wise men (Greek, Magi) across the deserts of the East to Bethlehem. The Plain Truth receives many letters about this each December. Scholars have tried to pinpoint the date of Jesus’ birth by means of astronomical calculations related to the appearance of this mysterious “star.” For centuries, theologians and astronomers have puzzled over and debated this ‘perplexing question. Dozens of theories exist purporting to explain what this “star” actually was and when it appeared. Some hold it was a comet. Others postulate a nova (exploding star). Still others say it was a meteor, or a planet, or a conjunction of two or more planets. (A conjunction takes place when planets appear, from our earthly viewpoint, to briefly become a single bright object as their paths cross the sky.) Dates for proposed celestial phenomena usually range from 7 B.C. to 2 B.C. But the heart and core of the star controversy goes beyond matters of astronomy. To one who believes that the Bible is the Word of God and is to be taken at face value, the account of the star in Matthew’s gospel can have only one explanation. It was clearly and incontrovertibly a miracle. of supernatural. not natural origin! ” What natural phenomenon in the heavens — whether comet, meteor, exploding star or planet — could “go before” the Magi and “stand over” a specific house to precisely pinpoint it (Matt. 2:9-11)? And if it was attributable to a non-miraculous agency, how can we account that it appeared and reappeared to the Magi and apparently went generally unnoticed by others? Natural explanations are sheer astronomical foolishness! If the biblical account cannot be accepted in all its details, why should anyone believe it has any merit at all? The star was clearly a special miracle of God, of divine origin, defying all the proposed natural explanations of liberal scholarship. It is quite possible that the Star of Bethlehem was simply an angel sent to lead the Magi to Jesus, since the Bible often symbolically uses stars to signify angels (Job 38:7; Jude 13; Rev. 1:20; 9:1; 12:4; et al.). In Jesus’ Name? We have seen the proof that Jesus was born in the early autumn, not in the winter. But, some will ask, what difference does it make? Is it not the thought that counts? What is wrong with celebrating a day any day — in honor of Jesus’ birth? Each December, articles inevitably appear in newspapers and magazines pointing out the ancient origins of today’s Christmas customs. All authorities agree that the customs surrounding Christmas — the Christmas tree, mistletoe, holly wreaths, yule logs, stockings on the hearth, exchanging gifts and so on — were practiced in connection with pagan religious celebrations centuries before the birth of Jesus. None are of Christian origin! Anciently, December 25 was the date of the pagan Roman Brumalia, the final day of the popular weeklong Saturnalia celebration, celebrated in honor of the god Saturn. It was the day of the “invincible sun” — a winter solstice festival. “Christmas” was not among the earliest festivals of the New Testament Church. It was not until A.D. 351 that Pope Julius I decreed December 25 to be Christmas (“Christ-Mass”) Day. He sought to overshadow the popular Roman Brumalia by imparting “Christian” connotations to the day. But again, some will ask: What is so wrong with borrowing some of those early customs and using them to honor Jesus? May we not continue to celebrate December 25, as long as we do it in Jesus’ name? Can pagan practices be “Christianized” in this way? More than 34 centuries ago, the rebellious children of Israel fashioned a pagan idol — a golden calf in the wilderness (Ex. 32). It was the god Apis, the sacred Egyptian bull deity worshiped at Memphis on the Nile. Aaron declared that the pagan, Egyptian rites by which the Israelites worshiped the calf were “a feast to the Lord” (verse 5). Did God feel honored? Did he approve of their using pagan customs to worship him? Absolutely not! It was a great sin (verse 21), and 3,000 paid with their lives (verse 28)! They had deceived themselves that what they were doing was right. We are commanded not to seek to worship God with customs borrowed from other religions (Deut. 12:29-32). “Learn not the way of the heathen,” God declares (Jer. 10:2). True Christians never meet paganism half way. Pagan worship — whether “in Jesus’ name” or not — remains pagan worship! Christianity mixed with paganism is not Christianity at all. Righteousness has no fellowship with unrighteousness (II Cor. 6:14). God simply will not accept that type of false “worship.” If God had wanted us to observe Christ’s birthday, he would have given us the exact date and specific instructions on how to observe it. But he has not! Christmas IS an invention of man, issuing from pagan worship. Read our free booklet The Plain Truth About CHRISTMAS for full details on the Bible teaching about such holidays. And to discover what holy days God has ordained in the Scriptures, you might want to read Pagan Holidays – or God’s Holy Days – Which? You owe it to yourself — and to God — to understand these important truths!]]>

Is Christmas Christian?

Is Christmas Christian? By Albert J Portune December 1971 – Tomorrow’s World Magazine The origin of many of our Christmas customs is amazing, SHOCKING! Millions of Christians accept the customs without ever questioning their origin. Millions observe them without REALIZING the God they hope to worship through these customs CONDEMNS THEM! HAVE you ever wondered how Santa Claus fits into the story of CHRIST? Have you ever pondered where the tinsel-covered, brightly lit Christmas tree with its ornate decorations figures in the worship of God? Why do we follow the custom of exchanging gifts at Christmas time? From where come the holly wreaths, the mistletoe and the greeting cards? Why is December 25th called the birthday of Christ? In the Bible? Did you know that thousands of years before Christ — before there was ever a CHRISTIAN — people, just as we do today — went out into the forests and cut down evergreen fir trees? They trimmed the branches, brought the trees into their homes, nailed them down and decorated them with gold and silver ornaments. They exchanged gifts, sent greeting cards, played games, sang songs and feasted in a gala festive season. Did you know this was all done on the same day of the year — our December 25th? But Jesus Christ wasn’t the central figure of that festival. It was a PAGAN GOD — the SUN-GOD! It was HIS BIRTHDAY. Everyone seems to feel that somehow the pageant of Christmas sums up the concept of God and the coming of Christ — the Savior of the world. But, shocking as it may seem, you cannot find any of these things in your Bible! Prove it for yourself! Look in your Bible. Search for a mention of Santa Claus! Search for Jesus or His apostles ever decorating a Christmas tree or Jesus ever saying we should do so in honor of Him. Examine the Bible carefully for any place Jesus said to celebrate His birthday — to exchange gifts among OURSELVES. Search for the proof December 25th WAS Jesus’ birthday. Search for holly wreaths, mistletoe and Christmas cards. They are not there! Why then do we find ourselves following such customs? Why are these things a part of Christianity? Where did they come from? The truth will amaze you! Do you have the courage to face it? The Amazing Story How these things became a part of Christianity is a story as old as history. It is a story you need to know. In the dawn of civilization on this earth, men began to multiply into tribes and nations (Gen. 10:5). These people were PAGANS without the knowledge of the true God. Their leaders and rulers had the growing problem — as they grew into nations — of keeping their people in subjection and loyal to the state. The standard pagan methods of penalty and punishment were not enough to hold down lawlessness and rebellion. A greater and more powerful tool was needed to control the masses. The tool of RELIGION! Nimrod became the first such ruler to use this tool. He taught his people that their happiness, their welfare, and their eternal destiny was not in the hands of man but in the hands of the SUN-GOD and that HE was the incarnation of that god. He introduced a “new thing” to his people — superstition and FEAR! No longer was there just a fear of a human ruler with only human powers — but now superstition and FEAR of an ALL-POWERFUL GOD who could see and detect all crime and rebellion and one who could exact retribution without detection. What a powerful tool this became! Ridership through RELIGION! Beyond the fear and superstition another concept. emerged — the WONDERFUL, the appealing and the sensuous — the PAGAN FESTIVALS in honor of that god! Festivals fraught with the fable of mystery and delight; festivals which gave the people all the pleasures and delights that appealed to the human appetite. As the SUN — their god — dipped lower and lower in the sky and winter approached, it appeared each year to these pagans (as taught by their god-leader) that their god was forsaking them. As the winter solstice of the sun approached, the sun slowed in its retreat, then stopped, and began to return. After a few days, it was evident the SUN was returning. The people became wild with rejoicing. By the time the date equivalent to our December 25th came, it was positive and a great celebration or festival began. It was called the BRUMALIA, birthday, or rebirth of the SUN — their god. As this religious holiday evolved among the pagans, the fir tree emerged as a symbol of that god. When Nimrod was killed, Semiramis, his wife, perpetuated his religion and gave added impetus to it. She claimed a fully grown-tall fir tree sprang up overnight from an old dead stump symbolizing the reincarnation of her dead husband Nimrod. It was at this time the people were taught the custom of worshipping the Christmas tree. They decorated it with round ornaments symbolizing the fertility their SUN-GOD gave them — pictured as a round EGG — the symbol of reproductive fertility. The people were taught that on each December 25th, Nimrod would visit their decorated tree and leave gifts upon it for them. This is the true origin of “Santa Claus” — St. Nicholas or NIMROD! Indeed the term “Santa” was a common name for NIMROD in Asia Minor (see Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary). What a delight this holiday became in the ancient pagan world. It was looked forward to anxiously and with great anticipation — just as Christmas is today. The whole scheme was that not only would people serve a god and a ruler they feared, but also they would be loyal to one who provided such blessings and physical pleasures. To be disloyal or unfaithful to their god and leader who not only held the supreme authority over their lives, but who also gave them the benefits of such delightful festivals—was unthinkable. It became the most effective tool to rule the people. The whole documented story from history is available to you. Read Mr. Armstrong’s shocking and eye-opening free booklet “THE PLAIN TRUTH ABOUT CHRISTMAS.” YOU Win be amazed! Proof from Historians From the pages of history comes graphic proof of how states and rulers took advantage of this tool of fable, superstition and fear to keep their people in subjection. Note this striking quotation from STRABO, a geographer and writer of the first century B.C. “The poets were by no means the first to avail themselves of mynis. STATES and LAWGIVERS had taken advantage of them LONG BEFORE, having observed the constitutional biasness of mankind. Man is eager after knowledge, and the love of legend is but the prelude thereto. This is why children begin to listen to fables and are acquainted with them before any other kind of knowledge….” Notice how these ancient rulers knew the use of fantastic fable in capturing the minds of the young. Children today learn of Santa Claus and the delights of Christmas before they learn to read and write. Strabo continues: “But the MARVELOUS, which is capable of exciting FEAR as well as pleasure, influences not childhood only, but age as well. As we relate to children pleasing tales to incite them to any course of action, and frightful ones to deter them…. So numbers of our citizens are incited to deeds of virtue by the beauties of FABLE.” Just as today, the ancient peoples were enticed into loyalty to a concept, through invented FABLE and delightful fantasy. Notice the rest of this striking quotation: “The great mass of… COMMON PEOPLE, cannot be induced by mere force of reason to devote themselves to piety, virtue and honesty; SUPERSTITION must therefore be employed, and EVEN THIS is insufficient without the aid of the MARVELOUS and the TERRIBLE. For what are the Thunderbolts (of Jupiter), the Aegin (of Minerva), the Trident (of Neptune), the Torches, the Dragons, the Barbed Thyrses, the Arm of the Gods, and ALL the paraphernalia of antique theology but FABLES employed by the FOUNDERS OF STATES.” Even ancient historians and geographers like Strabo, KNEW that these customs were purely FANTASTIC MYTH to capture the minds of the people. Another amazing quotation from history graphically illustrates how the ancient rulers of state INVENTED religious FABLE to keep the masses in line. The writer is Polybius, a Greek historian also of the first century B.C. who recognized these same forces at work in the Roman Empire. “But among all the useful institutions that demonstrate the superior excellence of the Roman government, the most considerable perhaps is the opinion which the people are taught to hold concerning the gods… I mean, SUPERSTITION, which is impressed with all its TERRORS; and influences both the PRIVATE actions of the citizens, and also the public administration of the state, in a degree that can scarcely be exceeded. This may appear astonishing to many. To me it is evident that this contrivance was at first adopted for the sake of the multitude (the common people). For if it were possible that a state could be composed of wise men only, THERE WOULD BE NO NEED PERHAPS OF ANY SUCH INVENTION. But as the peoples universally are fickle and inconstant, filled with irregular desires, precipitate in their passions and prone to violence; there is no way to restrain them, BUT BY THE DREAD OF THINGS UNSEEN, and by the PAGEANTRY of TERRIFYING FICTION. The ancients therefore acted not absurdly, nor without good reason, when they INVENTED the notion concerning the GODS…. (Book VI. 55, 56. The quote is from Hampton’s translation, Vol. II, pp. 405, 406) Thus the true source of Christmas and other religious myth is revealed. It was NEVER true. It was never a part of the TRUE worship of the true God. It was invented as a tool in the hands of ambitious leaders to ensnare their people and to capture their minds by fear and superstition! How These Customs Became Christian But how did these customs find their way into Christianity? The story will again amaze you! When the Roman Empire began to expand and rule the world, it inculcated all the pagan practices of the peoples it conquered. All the pagan gods of the subjugated peoples were brought to ROME! Rome became the religious capital of the world with its pantheon of pagan GODS! So, at the time of Christ and in the days of the apostles, these same pagan festivals were being observed in the Roman Empire. From December 17th to the 22nd, the Saturnalia was celebrated with all governmental offices and schools closed. Then on December 25th, the ancient Brumalia was celebrated in honor of the birthday of the Sun-god — just as it had been done for thousands of years before. Greeting cards were traded, gifts were exchanged — there was feasting and celebrating beginning on the “eve” before — just like our “Christmas Eve” today. But Jesus Christ was not the central figure of this festival. It was again the ancient pagan Sun-god. (See 4000 Years of Christmas by Earl Wendell) As true Christianity began to spread, false pagan teachers began to emerge. They taught a counterfeit Christianity which blended the truth of God with pagan fables which were so popular in the Roman world — following the age-old practice of absorbing all religions. The Apostle Paul — nearing the end of his “good fight” — warns Timothy of this very thing. Notice it: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own LUSTS (desire for pleasure) shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall TURN AWAY their ears from the truth and shall be turned UNTO FABLES” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Some of the teachers of the pagan religions of Rome, greedy for power and recognition, began to see the value of the simplicity of Jesus’ message. It had a Champion — the Messiah — who died for the people. It had the appeal of simple faith, the promise of eternal life. It had the overwhelming warmth of love and mercy. AND, the people were “going for it.” These pagan religious leaders knew their own sensual and alluring festivals were also popular and attractive to the people. They saw that an amalgam of the two concepts would become an all-powerful tool. Hence they became associated with the activities of the true apostles. They began to preach Christ on their own, but a different message. A message that enabled the people not only to have the promises that Jesus brought, but ALSO to continue their former festivals. They even began to teach among the Christians that those who didn’t believe in these customs — their brand of Christianity — were heretics and began to put them out of the church. Such an incident is recorded for us in III John: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (verses 9-10). Hybrid Christianity Grows Soon this hybrid religion — a mixture of Christianity and paganism — began to flourish throughout the Roman Empire. Although many “Christians” were martyred and the old religion of pagan emperor worship of Rome fought for survival, this new hybrid religion finally conquered. In the fourth century A.D. this false “Christianity” was elevated to equal status with paganism. The door was now open and thousands of former pagans became nominal Christians, bringing with them the whole scope of pagan customs into the so-called “Christian Church.” Notice this historic conflict as recorded by the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia: “How much the date of the festival (Christmas) depended upon the Pagan Brumalia (Dec. 25) following the Saturnalia (Dec. 17-24), and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the ‘new sun’… cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence… The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and in manner. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ’s birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia accused their Western brethren of idolatry and sun-worship for adopting as Christian this pagan festival.” But adopt it they did — nonetheless. Can there be any doubt as to the real origin of Christmas? Christmas originated with the pagans as an admitted lie and myth foisted off on the people to control their minds. It became a part of Christianity in the same way — through ambitious men seeking power and recognition. They used its delightful myth to lure and attract the people and bring them into their church! But What Does God Say? Most theologians admit the pagan origin of Christmas, but make the same mistake the early church leaders made. They ASSUME it DOESN’T MATTER if they take pagan holidays and Christianize them so long as they keep the name of Christ. But what does God say about this? Can WE worship God this way? Notice His answer! “Take heed to thyself that thou be not SNARED by following them (pagan peoples)… and that thou enquire NOT after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou SHALT NOT DO SO unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, WHICH HE HATETH, have they done unto their gods…” (Deut. 12:30-31). God gives us in His Word — the Bible — the WAY to worship Him. God says we must worship Him in spirit and in TRUTH (John 4:24) — NOT through the invented lies of PAGAN peoples. Additional Condemnation Now notice a specific condemnation of a practice so dear to the Christmas season. “Thus saith the Lord, LEARN NOT THE WAY OF THE HEATHEN, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven… for the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a TREE out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not” (Jer. 10:2-4). Does that sound familiar? YES IT DOES. But it is the CONDEMNATION by the Almighty God of a practice we have so long called Christian. Could anything be plainer? Does God enjoy our Christmas season and smile upon it when He sees us reveling in the very pagan practices He condemns? Is Christmas really Christian? Christmas Gifts? Many will say, “Surely giving gifts at the Christmas season is biblical. Didn’t the wise men bring gifts to CHRIST?” But there is your answer! They gave them to CHRIST — the MESSIAH — KING of the Jews, not to each other. These Magi or wise men had come to honor Him who had been born KING of the Jews (Matt. 2:2). It was long a custom of the East never to come into the presence of a king without a gift. And, here was not only the King of the Jews, but one who was to become King of kings and Lord of lords. What an open insult it would have been had these wise men exchanged gifts among THEMSELVES rather than presenting them to the King — the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet we blindly follow the same vain custom today — exchanging gifts among OURSELVES while ignoring Christ the Messiah in the very festival that is SUPPOSED to honor Him, yet does not. Christ’s Birthday Not December 25 When was Jesus born? The Bible plainly does not reveal His birthday. Yet, it is clear from the Bible that it WAS NOT on December 25th. Jesus wasn’t born in the winter at all! The Bible makes that clear: “There were shepherds abiding in the FIELD, keeping watch over their sheep by night” (Luke 2:8). Beginning in October and November the winter rains and cold weather began in Palestine. Up to that time the flocks were in the open fields, but when the rainy season began, the shepherds could no longer abide in the field. This is a plain fact, as many Bible authorities admit. The plain truth is — NO ONE knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Jesus’ message of salvation points us not to His birth, but, to His death for our sins—at the ‘Passover season — and His resurrection as our Savior, High Priest and soon-coming KING. If you would like a startling, factual account of the historic proof that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th, write for our eye-opening article “When Was Jesus Born?” The date—December 25th — therefore, has only one significance: it was the day selected to honor the rebirth of the false PAGAN SUN-GOD, but later, falsely claimed to be Christ’s birthday by the false teachers who combined pagan lies with true Christianity. Can we honor Jesus by claiming He was born on this day? Other Pagan Christmas Symbols The Christmas wreath — woven of holly vines and berries simulates the round sun and was a symbol woven during the days preceding the Brumalia as a Symbol of the SUN-GOD. The mistletoe was a similar token used in the old pagan practice of kissing beneath it as part of the revelry and celebration associated with this festival. Yes, even the Yule log and the practice of lighting fires and candles were part of the PAGAN festival and used to entice the waning sun back again. What Will You Do? Already the decorations are up. The whole land is full of Christmas. Everywhere gaily lit trees, Christmas wreaths, Christmas candles, greeting cards and Santas. Shoppers are scurrying for gifts for all. The Christmas fable will be told and retold — all in the name of Christianity. Yet, the true Christ, whose name this festival has stolen, is truly left out in the cold as we FORGET Him in exchanging gifts among ourselves and reveling amid the pagan sights and symbols around us. What will YOU do this year? Will you honor the gods of the heathen under the guise of Christianity or will you do as Almighty God says: “COME OUT OF HER (Babylon — the origin and seat of Paganism) MY PEOPLE, that you be not partakers of her SINS, and that you receive not of her PLAGUES” (Rev. 18:4).]]>