MARVIN L. WEIR
One will not win a popularity contest by writing an article such as this one. A Christian does, however, have the obligation to honor God’s will above man’s will. Most who profess to believe in God are shocked to learn that one claiming to be a Christian would reject celebrating "Christmas" in a religious sense. The word "Christmas," however, is not found in Holy Writ. This truth should cause people to realize that the tradition comes from the mind of man instead of the word of God. One will search the Scriptures in vain for the word “Christmas” or the authority to celebrate "Christmas" with religious connotations.
Philip Schaff in the History of the Christian Church gives credit to bishop Liberius of Rome for first celebrating Christmas in A.D. 360 (Vol. III, p. 395). It was mere men who finally confirmed "the symbolical reference of the feast of the birth of Christ, the Sun of righteousness, the Light of the world, to the birth-festival of the unconquered sun, which on the twenty-fifth of December, after the winter solstice, breaks the growing power of darkness, and begins anew his heroic career. It was at the same time, moreover, the prevailing opinion of the church in the fourth and fifth centuries, that Christ was actually born on the twenty-fifth of December" (Vol. III, pp. 396-397).
A SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLE
Christmas may be a "holy day" in the mind of men but it is not a “holy day” in the mind of God! The apostle Paul warned the Galatians against celebrating such holy days by saying, "but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain" (Galatians 4:9-11).
Please keep in mind that the Christian dispensation was in force when Paul addressed the Galatian brethren. These people had become converts from Judaism to Christianity, but some were returning to the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law. The apostle reminds them that these special days, feasts, ceremonies and rites could not impart a single spiritual blessing. In fact, Paul stresses that if they insist upon engaging in practices not authorized by the New Covenant that his labor with them will be considered to have been in vain! Such is also true today when we honor and exalt the traditions of men above the will of God.
May we ever remember that we must go back to the Bible to determine whether or not we have authority for a religious activity. No matter how sincere, religious acts engaged in without divine authority are empty, vain and sinful. It was Jesus who said, "Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men" (Matt. 15:7-9).
In striving to set a proper example before others, Christians should avoid using decorations during the “Christmas holidays” that are associated with religion (religious cards, stamps, nativity scenes, etc.). Why sing songs during the holiday season about the birth of Christ that are not normally sung during other months of the year? Why go "Christmas caroling" singing religious songs? Those who engage in these acts during the holiday season evidently believe that “Christmas” is very closely connected with the Christ. Please keep an open mind and ask yourself, “Where do I find the date of Christ’s birthday in the Bible and the authority to make it a religious celebration?”
It is my personal conviction that December 25th can be observed as a national holiday to visit with friends and family. It becomes a violation of God’s law only when one establishes a religious holiday that God has not established. Giving gifts and eating meals in and of themselves are not wrong — just do not connect any of these things with the religion of the Bible or the birth of Christ.
FACT VERSUS FICTION
As the prophet Isaiah implored, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah …” (1:18). It is a truth that must be pointed out that the popular celebration of Christmas does not agree with Biblical facts. First, men celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Christ, but the Word of God does not reveal the date of His birth. When Christ was born the Bible says, "And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock" (Luke 2:8). Those who are familiar with the land of Palestine say that such a scene would not occur in the month of December due to the cold, rainy season. The shepherds would likely not be out with their sheep later than mid-October.
Second, the ever-popular manger scene places Jesus in a stable with cows, horses, lambs, donkeys or such-like animals. The Bible is silent in regard to such a scene! Please read your Bible carefully. You may be surprised to learn that many things that are considered to be Bible truth or fact cannot be found in the Bible! Let us exercise care that we do not confuse what we think might have happened with what the Scriptures say actually happened.
Third, most people believe there were three wise men who visited baby Jesus in a manger. Not so! An angel appeared to some shepherds who were told they would find a "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12). It was most likely several months later that the wise men arrived in Bethlehem (cf. Matthew 2:16), and they visited Jesus in a home (Matthew 2:11) — not a manger!
It is also assumed that there were three wise men because of the gifts mentioned – gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). The truth of the matter is that the Bible does not reveal the number of wise men who made the journey to Bethlehem.
Christmas has its origin in paganism and never does the Bible command us to celebrate the birth of Christ. If God had wanted the birthday of the Savior celebrated He surely would have commanded such! We are, however, commanded to celebrate the death of our Lord each first day of the week (Luke 22:19ff; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:26). Thus, the only day that has special significance for the Christian is Sunday – the first day of the week. What is amazing is that multitudes today celebrate the birth of Christ for which there is no command while neglecting to celebrate the Lord’s Supper each Sunday for which there is a command (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:20; Hebrews 10:25).
A study of an encyclopedia will confirm that the Catholics introduced in their religion what was called the “mass of Christ.” At a later date this phrase was shortened to Christ’s mass.” It should thus not surprise one that at an even later date this event became known as “Christmas.” Let us understand that it was not God but the Catholic church that eventually decided that December 25th should be celebrated as the birthday of Christ!
THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT WHAT WE ARE SAYING
Let it be understood that we are most grateful that the Savior was born. But let us also understand that the apostle Paul taught by inspiration that "whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17). Christmas is by the authority of man, and not by the authority (in the name) of the Lord Jesus!
There are many people who profess to the believers in Christianity who fervently believe that “Christ Is The Reason For The Season.” One such person notes that "the Christians in the third and fourth centuries decided to make a Christian alternative to the pagan customs." Thus, according to his reasoning, "the symbolism of the Yule log, the tree, the wreaths, and candles have all acquired a new Christian meaning." He goes on to say, "For us, Christ is the reason for the season ... We must resist every effort to squeeze Christ out of Christmas."
Do you know why no Scriptures are cited in promoting "Christmas" and Christ as being "the reason for the season?" It is because "Christmas" is not found in God's Holy Word and neither is a reason for a special season! It is always amazing to observe all the things done in the "name of Christ" for which there is absolutely no scriptural authority! Please remember that Paul says that a follower of Christ will make sure that he has God-given authority for all spiritual matters (cf. Colossians 3:17).
Folks, the truth of the matter is that the real reason for the holiday season is the mind of man – not the mind of God! Men invented the season now called "Christmas," and men continue to keep the man-made tradition alive. “Let’s put Christ back into Christmas” and “lets not squeeze Christ out of Christmas” are ever-popular slogans that many believe to be so noble. The truth of the matter is Christ never was in Christmas! So how can you "squeeze" Him out of somewhere He never was? It is a shame that people cannot see that if they truly love the Lord they will be guided by what He says – not by what He does not say!
We live in a world where national holidays are observed, but one must understand that none of these holidays are authorized as a religious holy day in the Scriptures. The Bible is absolutely silent as to the observance of a special holy day to commemorate the birth of Christ. Neither is one Sunday (such as Easter Sunday) to be exalted above all other Lord’s Days or celebrated as a special religious holy day.
Let us not be guilty of attempting to put Christ where He never was. Christians should avoid using decorations that have a religious connotation and greeting cards that are religious in content. Postal stamps can also be avoided that have a message or picture that associates the December 25th holiday season with religion or the birth of Christ.
THAT WHICH THE BIBLE DOES DEMAND THAT WE DO
Please remember this most important truth. Jesus Christ was not born in Bethlehem so the world would celebrate His birth once a year. He was, however, born to become the Savior of all mankind. God gave His Son (John 3:16) and Jesus came to die for our sins (Romans 5:8) and to be raised from the dead to live evermore (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Will you obey the gospel that can save your soul (Romans 1:16)? Christ has all authority (Matthew 28:18) and demands that all obey His will (Hebrews 5:8-9). One must believe (Hebrews 11:6), repent of his sins (Luke 13:3), make the good confession (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized (immersed) for the remission of his sins (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:4). Christ then adds the one who has thus obeyed to His church or body – Acts 2:47), and that person must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24) and continue to “walk in the light as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7).
The Holy Bible, our guide and pattern in all religious matters (Psalms 119:105; 2 Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 8:5), does not command us to celebrate the birthday of Christ. When one speaks where the Bible has not spoken, he goes beyond that which is written (2 John 9). If one has the proper respect for sacred matters he will not add to nor take from the Holy Scriptures (Revelation 22:18-20). We have been furnished completely with that which God would have us to know (2 Timothy 3:16-17). There is nothing pertaining “unto life and godliness” that has not been revealed to us (2 Peter 1:3). It is what the Bible says that will judge us in that day (John 12:48). The Lord commanded His apostles to teach others observe all things whatsoever he had commanded them (Matthew 28:20), and they did not teach a single person to observe the birthday of Christ.
Please e-mail me (Marvin L. Weir) if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
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