24 December, 2009

Vain Customs & Following Not

Most of you know we don't celebrate x-mass. I know "X-mass" itself upsets a lot of people, & there are no end of church billboards calling for us to "Keep Christ in christmas!" But how many people ask themselves if Christ is happy being put where He never was?

Mike & I did grow up w/ the usual celebrations & did enjoy them when younger. After all it's pretty & you get new toys. The tree was my favorite. But no one ever taught or read to me Jeremiah 10:

Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
Jer 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
Jer 10:3 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 axe.
Jer 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Jer 10:5 They [are] upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also [is it] in them to do good.

While this chapter is mainly about the construction of idols, it goes on to excoriate the wisdom of men (8, 14, 21 & 23) & from what I've seen go on in many houses the tree is given such prominance & even deference so as to be idolish. I was doing the same myself up to the Dec. before Victor was born & I got into some serious study & research that lasted nearly a year.

I know many people feel that we are robbing our children by not lying to to them about Santa Clause, denying them gifts on a particular day or joining in w/ the usual traditions, but I do not apologize. We are to raise our children to walk in truth & the usual traditions are not God's Truth. They know the Nativity story, or at least Victor does. He knows we are to celebrate & remember Christ's death rather than His birth. They receive gifts through out the year & don't feel deprived or lacking in anything.

It was becoming a conscience test & compared to God's Word I felt we couldn't participate. I approached Mike w/ the idea 3 years ago & he assented even before reading anything I had gathered to back my position. Anyway, here are some excerpts for our reasoning.

"Why, you may ask, do I continue to term this “holiday”, X- Mass? Because it is a holiday of (and for) papists. Here is the definition of Christmas from the Catholic Encyclopedia: The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ. A “mass” is the prayer for the soul of one who has died, it is a celebration of death. The Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to say, rather blatantly: Christmas was NOT among the earliest festivals of the church. In fact, one of the earliest of the Catholic writers said, “that in the scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday.”- excerpt from Michael Bunker

XMAS by A. W. Pink

"Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen… for the CUSTOMS of the people are vain." (Jer. 10:1-3)

Christmas is coming! Quite so; but what is "Christmas"? Does not the very term itself denote its source—"Christ-mass." Thus it is of Romish origin, brought over from Paganism. But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Savior's birth. It is? And who authorized such commemoration? Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples "remember" Him in His death, but there is not a word in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation which tells us to celebrate His birth. Moreover, who knows when, in what month, He was born? The Bible is silent thereon. Is it without reason that the only "birthday" commemorations mentioned in God's Word are Pharaoh's (Gen. 40:20) and Herod's (Matt. 14:6)? Is this recorded "for our learning"? If so, have we prayerfully taken it to heart?

And who is it that celebrates "Christmas"? The whole "civilized world." Millions who make no profession of faith in the blood of the Lamb, who "despise and reject Him," and millions more who while claiming to be His followers yet in works deny Him, join in merrymaking under the pretense of honoring the birth of the Lord Jesus. Putting it on its lowest ground, we would ask, Is it fitting that His friends should unite with His enemies in a worldly round of fleshly gratification? Does any truly born-again soul really think that He whom the world cast out is either pleased or glorified by such participation in the world's joys? Verily, "the customs of the people are vain"; and it is written, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil." (Ex. 23:2)

Some will argue for the "keeping of Christmas" on the ground of "giving the kiddies a good time." But why do this under the cloak of honoring the Savior's birth? Why is it necessary to drag in His holy name in connection with what takes place at that season of carnal jollification? Is this taking the little ones with you out of Egypt (Ex. 10:9, 10) a type of the world, or is it not plainly mingling with the present-day Egyptians in their "pleasures of sin for a season"? (Heb. 11:25) Scripture says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Prov. 22:6) Scripture does command God's people to bring up their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4), but where does it stipulate that it is our duty to give the little ones a "good time"? Do we ever give the children "a good time" when we engage in anything upon which we cannot fittingly ask the Lord's blessing?

There are those who do abstain from some of the grosser carnalities of the "festive season," yet are they nevertheless in cruel bondage to the prevailing custom of "Christmas" namely that of exchanging "gifts." We say "exchanging" for that is what it really amounts to in many cases. A list is kept, either on paper or in memory, of those from whom gifts were received last year, and that for the purpose of returning the compliment this year. Nor is this all: great care has to be taken that the "gift" made to the friend is worth as much in dollars and cents as the one they expect to receive from him or her. Thus, with many who can ill afford it, a considerable sum has to be set aside each year with which to purchase things simply to send them out in return for others which are likely to be received. Thus a burden has been bound on them which not a few find hard to bear.

But what are we to do? If we fail to send out "gifts" our friends will think hard of us, probably deem us stingy and miserly. The honest course is to go to the trouble of notifying them—by letter if at a distance—that from now on you do not propose to send out any more "Christmas gifts" as such. Give your reasons. State plainly that you have been brought to see that "Christmas merry-making" is entirely a thing of the world, devoid of any Scriptural warrant; that it is a Romish institution, and now that you see this, you dare no longer have any fellowship with it (Eph. 5:11); that you are the Lord's "free man" (1 Cor. 7:22), and therefore you refuse to be in bondage to a costly custom imposed by the world.

What about sending out "Christmas cards" with a text of Scripture on them? That also is an abomination in the sight of God. Why? Because His Word expressly forbids all unholy mixtures; Deut. 22:10, 11 typified this. What do we mean by an "unholy mixture"? This: the linking together of the pure Word of God with the Romish "Christ-mass." By all means send cards (preferably at some other time of the year) to your ungodly friends, and Christians too, with a verse of Scripture, but not with "Christmas" on it. What would you think of a printed program of a vaudeville having Isa. 53:5 at the foot of it? Why, that it was altogether out of place, highly incongruous. But in the sight of God the circus and the theatre are far less obnoxious than the "Christmas celebration" of Romish and Protestant "churches." Why? Because the latter are done under the cover of the holy name of Christ; the former are not."

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Prov. 4:18) Where there is a heart that really desires to please the Lord, He graciously grants increasing knowledge of His will. If He is pleased to use these lines in opening the eyes of some of His dear people to recognize what is a growing evil, and to show them that they have been dishonoring Christ by linking the name of the Man of Sorrows (and such He was, when on earth) with a "Merry Christmas," then join with the writer in a repentant confessing of this sin to God, seeking His grace for complete deliverance from it, and praise Him for the light which He has granted you concerning it.

Beloved fellow-Christian, "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh." (Jas. 5:8) Do we really believe this? Believe it not because the Papacy is regaining its lost temporal power, but because God says so—"for we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7) If so, what effects does such believing have on our walk? This may be your last Christmas on earth. During it the Lord may descend from heaven with a shout to gather His own to Himself. Would you like to be summoned from a "Christmas party" to meet Him in the air? The call for the moment is, "Go ye out to meet Him" (Matt. 25:6) out from a Godless Christendom, out from the Christ-deserted "churches," out from the horrible burlesque of "religion" which now masquerades under His name.

"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." (2 Cor. 5:10) How solemn and searching! The Lord Jesus declared that "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." (Matt. 12:36) If every "idle word" is going to be taken note of, then most assuredly will be every wasted energy, every wasted dollar, every wasted hour! Should we still be on earth when the closing days of this year arrive, let writer and reader earnestly seek grace to live and act with the judgment-seat of Christ before us. His "well done" will be ample compensation for the sneers and taunts which we may now receive from Christless souls.

Does any Christian reader imagine for a moment that when he or she shall stand before their holy Lord, that they will regret having lived "too strictly" on earth? Is there the slightest danger of His reproving any of His own because they were "too extreme" in "abstaining from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." (1 Peter 2:11) ? We may gain the good will and good word of worldly religionists today by our compromisings on "little (?) points," but shall we receive His smile of approval on that Day? Oh to be more concerned about what He thinks, and less concerned about what perishing mortals think.

"Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil." (Ex. 23:2) Ah, it is an easy thing to float with the tide of popular opinion; but it takes much grace, diligently sought from God, to swim against it. Yet that is what the heir of heaven is called on to do: to "Be not conformed to this world" (Rom. 12:2), to deny self, take up the cross, and follow a rejected Christ. How sorely does both writer and reader need to heed that word of the Savior, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Rev. 3:11) Oh that each of us may be able to truthfully say, "I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Thy Word." (Psa. 119:101)

Our final word is to the pastors. To you the Word of the Lord is, "Be thou an example of believers in word, in deportment, in love in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim. 4:12) Is it not true that the most corrupt "churches" you know of, where almost every fundamental of the faith is denied, will have their "Christmas celebrations?" Will you imitate them? Are you consistent to protest against unscriptural methods of "raising money," and then to sanction unscriptural "Christmas services"? Seek grace to firmly but lovingly set God's Truth on this subject before your people, and announce that you can have no part in following Pagan, Romish, and Worldly customs.

Christmas and the Scripture

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15).

Christians are to measure all things by the rule of scripture. Thus when we consider Christmas we should not hesitate to test its authenticity by God's word. One who seeks to do this is immediately met with a quandary. Where do we find this holy day in the Bible? What are our instructions with regard to this festivity? Where can we look for the authority for our involvement in the traditions intimate with it? Are there commands of our Lord and the apostles concerning it, as there are with the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper?

Christmas and the Scripture, by Joe Garnett

The scripture records the fact of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ in two of the gospels. Other than these and the prophecies concerning it, there is no big scriptural emphasis with regard to it. (Let it be understood that the incarnation and the birth are not one and the same. The incarnation took place about nine months prior to the birth). The one who would defend the festival of Christmas is left with no biblical basis with respect to a date, instruction or authority for its observance. At this point the proponent of Christmas will often assert that the Bible in no place commands us not to observe the holiday so we can do what we wish. The opponent is chastened to show scripturally why he would deny the "liberty" of others to do what they want to do. I believe those that bring pagan holidays, feasts, myths, etc. into Christ's Church are the ones that bear the burden of scripturally defending their actions. However, there is biblical teaching that shows their error in participation of such religiosity.

Before proceeding further I wish to point out that Christmas is a "christianized" pagan festival. It finds it origin in Babylonian mythology. The Roman festival of Saturnalia was celebrated during the winter solstice. This festival was incorporated into the evolving Roman Catholic religious system in its early days. There are those who will deny this, yet at the same time they cannot produce a Biblical origin or even another historical one. It is not our purpose at this time to deal with this aspect. The student is encouraged to read other sources. My first suggestion would be The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop, published by Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey. The Lord Jesus Christ once rebuked the religious leaders of His day saying, "But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9). The sinful nature of men often leads them into pseudo worship of God in their own way and with their own devices. They believe they can add to or modify that which God has revealed and present to Him something better that will please him. However, God prefers obedience to His word rather than our "sacrifices."

Consider some selected portions from Deuteronomy 12 in which God instructed His people Israel:

And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place (vs. 3) Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes (vs. 8). What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it (vs. 32).The Lord God instructed his people to destroy all the items of heathen worship. They were not to be incorporated into the worship of the one true God. This instruction is seen also in the following portions of scripture:The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: Thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing (Deut. 7:25,26).

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel (II Kings 23:4).

Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver (Acts 19:19).Thus we see that the accursed things were not to be saved and used in the service of God or for other purposes. Proper disposal involved burning them with fire.

My belief is that these "cursed things" are identical with or related to what is known today in the occult as "familiar objects." These objects which come from pagan and occult origins have evil spirits associated with them. For this reason they have influence when anyone partakes of them in any fashion. Mature Christians would never have a crystal ball, quija board or tarot cards in their home. But they would have numerous other items associated with paganism. These items have influence whether the item is there by ignorance or is known to be occultic (even though the consequences of its presence is denied). I have seen such items in various Christian’s homes, particularly at Christmas.

Let us turn our attention to verses 8 and 32 of Deuteronomy 12, cited above. We understand that each man was not to do what he felt like doing. He was to observe the command of the Lord, not adding to it or subtracting from it. Nadab and Abihu did not understand this. There came a time when they "offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not" (Lev. 10:1). The result of their act was death by toasting when fire from the Lord consumed them.

Saul also missed this principle as demonstrated by two of his acts of rebellion. First, he offered a burnt offering he was not to render (I Sam. 13:12). Secondly, he was instructed to destroy the Amalakites and all that belonged to them. However, he chose to spare "the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God" (I Sam. 15:15). How thoughtful of him. We might argue that he was sincere. But sincerity is not the issue and the Lord desired obedience and not a human initiated sacrifice using that which God had cursed.

Even David transgressed when he had the ark of God transported on a cart (II Sam. 6:1-7). It was supposed to be carried using the rings and staves (Exo. 25:12-15). The Levites were to be the carriers (I Chron. 15:2, 13-15). After the death of Uzzah, David came to understand that "the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for we sought him not after the due order" (I Chron. 15:13).

Don't you think it is important that we refrain from doing what is right in our own eyes and observe that which we are commanded, adding nothing and taking away nothing? If you concur, you must understand that you cannot take a pagan holiday cluttered with traditions and objects, incorporate it into biblical Christianity and please God.

Having searched the scripture for Christmas, I believe that it is found most prominently in the books of I & II Timothy and Titus. It is here that we are instructed concerning fables (myths), vain babblings, oppositions of science (knowledge) falsely so called, and foolish and unlearned questions.Using these three books, I & II Timothy and Titus, let us take a ten point true/false test concerning Christmas.Remember that Christmas has it origins in Babylonian mythology, the early church did not acknowledge it, there is no date given for Jesus' birth and there are no commands or instructions for celebrating such a festival. No cheating, you must look up the verses before answering.

I Tim. 1:4 We are to give heed to Christmas, which ministers many questions regarding the date of the birth of Christ, and the traditions associated with it.

I Tim. 1:5 Christmas is of faith unfeigned. It is genuine, supported by the scripture.

I Tim. 1:10 All that we practice with regard to Christmas is not contrary to sound doctrine because the Bible is full of instructions concerning it.

I Tim. 4:11 Christmas is among the things that Paul told Timothy (and others) to command and teach.

I Tim. 6:3 When one promotes Christmas, he is teaching according to the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ and proper doctrine.

II Tim. 1:13 When Timothy was told to hold fast to the form of sound words which Paul taught, this included Christmas.

II Tim. 2:15 One who rightly divides the word of truth finds that Christmas is the greatest Christian holy day, worthy of musical productions, parties, candlelight services, etc.

II Tim. 2:23 Christmas never engenders strife among believers because of its unquestionable biblical support.

II Tim. 4:4 Some people have believed and incorporated fables into the church, but certainly this is not the case with us and our celebration of Christmas.

Titus 2:1 Because we are committed only to sound doctrine, we should talk about and do Christmas year round.

Christmas is a fable. It is pagan and extra-biblical. One involved with it is busying himself about past traditions. It does not represent factual truth. It is deceptive, pretending to be something it is not.

Don't learn the way of the heathen for their customs are vain (Jer. 10:2,3). Don't be spoiled "...through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world..." (Col. 2:8) Refuse profane and old wives fables (I Tim 4:7). Shun profane and vain babbllings (II Tim. 2:16). Avoid foolish and unlearned questions (II Tim. 2:23).Do worship God in truth (John 4:24). Glory only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14). "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thess. 5:21). Hold fast the form of sound words, that is, the words of Scripture (II Tim. 1:13). Rightly divide the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). Continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, that is, the truth of Holy Scripture (II Tim. 3: 14,15). Speak the things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).

I call upon Christians to reject Christmas as well as other extra-biblical traditions and pagan holidays. Earnestly contend NOT for this fable, but "for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).Some facts for your consideration:Christ taught his disciples to avoid paganism, and never encouraged the celebration of his birth.The early Church knew nothing of Christmas, and rejected all such forms of idolatry. The Puritans and Colonials rejected and even banned Christmas as pagan, and offensive to Christianity.

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