. . . fully after the LORD I Kings 11:6 by Steve Flinchum
FROM HEAVEN OR OF MEN ?
As we continue in this study, let us remember the words of Jesus in John 4:23-24. In verse 23 He said:
In verse 24 He said:
Let us also keep in mind that each true congregation of the Lord is made up of individual members who are saved, baptized, and joined together as the body of Christ in a certain location or area with the purpose and charge of continuing His work on earth.
This body does not dissolve or cease to exist at the last "amen" on Sunday night and then mystically reconstitute at the next meeting. It is still a body on Monday, Tuesday, and every day. A member or members cannot live an unholy or disobedient life at home, at work, at school, or at play without having a harmful effect on the body it is a part of.
Since the religious holidays have such an influence and impact, it seems sensible to me that we should want to know and do God's will and follow His instructions for us in regard to them.
The celebrations and observance of "Christmas" and "Easter" are undoubtedly the most esteemed and enthusiastically participated in. At "Easter" we often see community wide and inter-denominational participation in "holy week" observances and "sunrise services" and such things. At "Christmas" time we will see "church houses" packed beyond capacity and folks "goin' early to get a good seat" for "Christmas" programs. At that time of year, many homes where the Bible is never opened suddenly become traffic-stopping religious displays. Many promote the holiday as a great opportunity to "share Christ with the world." Let us ask, "What is proper -- what is acceptable to God regarding our participation in and observance of these holidays?"
I have many times heard, "No one knows the exact date of Christ's birth, but most Christians observe Christmas on December 25." I looked in the World Book Encyclopedia under "Christmas," and that is the exact wording of the second sentence in that article. That troubled me because I have also heard many times, and believe that, "if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right."
To appreciate the seriousness of the matter, consider the examples and consequences from the Bible involving improper religious practices that we looked at earlier.
We have clear guidance from the Bible for the observing of "the Lord's day" on the first day of the week, for a memorial of Christ's resurrection as the seventh day had been a memorial of God's finished work of creation.
In John 20:19, we find the disciples assembled on the first day of the week, and Jesus came and "stood in the midst." In verse 26, we see that "after eight days again" the same thing happened. In Acts 2:1 we read:
There, they were again meeting on the first day of the week, and with the presence and approval of the Holy Spirit. Again in Acts 20:7, "upon the first day of the week" the Lord's congregation "came together." In I Corinthians 16:1-2, Paul giving instruction "concerning the collection," said:
It was "on the Lord's day" (Revelation 1:10) when Jesus appeared to John with the Revelation.
Notice the precision of God's instructions in the Old Testament regarding the days for the feasts and other things. Those Jewish feast days were accurately kept up with and are still noted on many calendars. If we are to observe an event of such magnitude as "Christmas", shouldn't we get the date right?
In Luke 1:5, speaking of the father of John the Baptist, the Bible says that he was "a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia." It was "while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course," (Luke 1:8) that an "angel of the Lord" (v.11) told him, ". . . thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John" (v.13).
In I Chronicles 24:10, it is found that the eighth course of priestly duty was assigned to Abia or "Abijah" as it is spelled there. There were twenty-four such courses of duty, each course being one week in duration. Counting one week for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and one week for Pentecost, when all were on duty, Zacharias' course would be the tenth week of the year on the religious calendar in use at that time. Zacharias would also have had another "course" of priestly duty the thirty-fifth week, when his turn would come again, counting one week for the Feast of Tabernacles.
By the wording of Luke 1:23-24, it would seem most probable that Elisabeth conceived as soon as this course of Zacharias' was over. That would have been either about the twenty-first day of the month of Sivan or about the twenty-first day of Heshvan. We can see from Luke 1:56-57 and Luke 2:6 that the birth of John and the birth of Jesus were both at full term. According to Luke 1:36 John was six months older than Jesus. With all this we can be fairly confident that Jesus was born either in mid to late September or mid to late January, as it would come out on our calendar today. The exact date varies from year to year, because of the difference in a lunar based calendar and a solar based calendar.
A close look at Matthew 2:13-23 and Luke 2:21-39, in light of "the law of Moses" (Luke 2:22), which is found in Leviticus 12:1-8, reveals that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus fled to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14) "And was there until the death of Herod . . ." (v.15).
According to these verses, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem forty-one days after He was born. Herod must have died less than forty days after Jesus' birth.
Josephus wrote quite a bit about this Herod, and described in much detail his illness leading to his death. Josephus even gave a date during that illness of Herod of March 13, 4 B.C., when there was an eclipse of the moon. Josephus then continued telling of Herod's illness and other events up until the time of his death, which was probably several months later. While it looks like Josephus could easily have given us the date of Herod's death, we are left conspicuously without one.
Polycarp could very well have known the date of Jesus' birth. Polycarp, a pastor at Smyrna, was born around 69 A.D., and was martyred on February 23, 155. Irenaeus, in a letter to Florinus wrote of his remembrance of hearing Polycarp preach and talk of his acquaintance
This information can be found in the 1957 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, in the article on Polycarp.
Under "Christmas," in Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) we read that Polycarp ". . . set His birth on Sunday, when the world's creation began . . . ," but to my knowledge, he never gave a date in any of his writings. Jesus' birthday was obviously not observed or celebrated by Polycarp or by the Christians of that time.
One would think that Mary, Joseph, Elisabeth, Zacharias, the shepherds, the wise men, Simeon, or Anna, realizing what had happened, would have noted and remembered the date of Jesus' birth and one of the writers of the New Testament would have recorded it.
Adam Clark, John Gill, Albert Barnes, J.B. Lightfoot, Joseph Mede, and many other commentators question the likelihood of shepherds being in the fields in winter. For several reasons, I believe the September date, which would be the same date as the first day of creation and of the Feast of Trumpets (marked Rosh Hashanah on many calendars today) to be the most likely, but it must be admitted that we can only speculate as to which of the two dates is correct.
Why does the Bible leave us hanging with those two dates without specifying one? Why has God kept the writers of history from recording the date? Could it be that God did not intend for us to know the date or to celebrate Jesus' birth? I believe that that is precisely the case, and as we continue to investigate, it will be shown why. I believe God has blessed us with the two dates so that we can know that December 25 is not a celebration of Jesus' birth, yet left the ambiguity to show that we are not to celebrate the occasion at all.
All this should lead us to ask, "How did December 25 get chosen for this celebration, and if God didn't give us the holiday, who did?"
Not long after the world had been destroyed by the flood of Noah's time, people were again being led by, and following, the same spirit as had "Cain, who was of that wicked one" (I John 3:12). In every age there have been false prophets such as the "certain men crept in unawares"in Jude verse 4. They, like "the angels which kept not their first estate" in Jude verse 6, and "despise dominion"(v.8), "speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves" (v.10).
In making his offering to God, Cain taught error in his typological preaching, and rather than repent, he rebelled.
Rejecting God, the people corrupted themselves with "what they know naturally as brute beasts." Recognizing the heat from the sun as the primary cause of the earth's production, the heathen people thought of the sun as the father of all living things, and the earth as a goddess, fertilized by the rays of the sun. That most likely was the religious belief of the builders of the tower of Babel.
That is also the origin of the terms, "Mother Earth" and "Mother Nature" which are experiencing great revival today.
Evidence of the worship of "father sun" and "mother earth," and the many religions that have developed from it, can be found world-wide and in almost every time period. Its influence can be seen in many ways. Notice the similarity and relationship of the words "mother," "maternity," and "maternal," derived from the Latin word "mater," and the words "matter," and "material," which come from the Latin word "materia." Notice how the theme of the fertile mating of the earth and sky is central and universal in about all mythology.
In The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop traces the development of the Babylonian mystery religion back to Semiramis, the wife of Noah's great-grandson Nimrod. Speaking of the worship of Semiramis by the Babylonians, and how she bore a child whom she declared was miraculously conceived, Hislop says on page 21 that:
On page 291 of Lectures on the Revelation, H.A. Ironside says:
In Egypt was the myth of Isis, "the Great Mother." Will Durant, in volume one (pages 200-201) of his nine volume The Story of Civilization says:
In a later chapter of volume one of The Story of Civilization (page 235) Durant says:
Durant then quotes from The Mothers by Robert Briffault, a Babylonian litany in which they address Ishtar as "Queen of Heaven."
A couple of pages later (p.238) Durant says:
On the next page, Durant says:
Two chapters later, on page 295, Durant says:
Encyclopedia Britannica (1957), which also contains much of this information, says:
In Persia, at the time of Artaxerxes II (404-359 B.C.), the worship of Mithra became strong. In chapter 13, on page 372, Durant says:
Encyclopedia Britannica mentions the date of December 25 as being a Mithraic feast in the fourth century.
Instead of believing the first verse of the Bible that, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," those worshipers believe that the gods were created by the earth and sun.
In Encyclopedia Britannica(1957), the article on "Christmas" says:
Notice that God did not instruct us to have any such celebration or observance and gave us no date for it. It was "the fathers of the church" who "decided" upon the celebration and the date. It is important to recognize that the "church" we are talking about here is the "church" whose "father's" also had about two-hundred years earlier "decided" on the false doctrine of baptism being necessary for the obtaining of salvation, and about one-hundred years earlier, had "decided" that babies must be baptized to keep them from going to hell. It is the same "church" that has killed over fifty-million people for refusing to recognize their baptism ("picture-preaching") as valid.
In Mark 11:28 Jesus was asked the question:
Jesus answered their question with a question, saying in verse 30:
(Implying that it was from heaven.)
In our evaluation of or participation with this so called "church" or her daughter "churches" (those who protested out of her) or her baptisms, ceremonies, and holidays, I believe it is imperative that we ask the question, "Is it from heaven or of men?"
The next item concerning the history and development of the holidays that I want to present is a quotation of Pope Gregory I, from the writings of Bede.
Bede was born in 672 or 673, and lived until 735. He was a Catholic priest and according to his autobiography, spent his whole life, from the age of seven, in a monastery. In 731 Bede wrote the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation. Encyclopedia Britannica says of Bede:
Bede had at his disposal the library of books collected by Benedict Biscop. In Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Bede quoted instructions given by Pope Gregory I, in 601 A.D., to missionaries sent from Rome. In those instructions, Pope Gregory I said:
That quotation is in the Encyclopedia Britannica (1957), under "Christmas."
In 719, Pope Gregory II commisioned St. Boniface as a missionary to Germany. While in Germany, St. Boniface found that the Teutonic people had a tradition of sacrificing a child each year under a large oak tree. St. Boniface suggested that rather than sacrifice the child, they should cut a fir tree and celebrate around it at home. The Christmas tree tradition continued down through the years in Germany and, in the sixteenth century, Martin Luther decorated one with candles. From that, the decorating with lights and ornaments caught on. Early in the nineteenth century (less than two hundred years ago), the Christmas tree tradition was brought into America by German settlers.
Most of this information can be gleaned from Encyclopedia Britannica under "Boniface, Saint," "Christmas," and "Teutonic Peoples."
World Book Encyclopedia (1985) says:
Let us now look at what the Bible says about the worship of these gods and goddesses of the sun and the earth. Review the paragraphs, a few pages ago, about Ashtoreth, Ishtar, and Isis. In Judges 2:13 we find that Israel was worshiping Ashtaroth.
Baal is also synonymous with Tammuz. Notice God's response in verses 14 and 15:
I Kings 11:5 says:
Verse 6 says:
It will be shown that God considers participating in the worship of those gods and goddesses to be adultery. It is not that Solomon totally renounced God, or came to the point of no longer believing in God, but that he tried to serve both; he "went not fully after the LORD." Notice also that spiritual adultery is far more serious than physical adultery. David had committed physical adultery with Bathsheba, which was wrong, and even had her husband murdered, which was wrong, but Solomon's spiritual adultery was far worse.
In Matthew Henry's commentary on this eleventh chapter of I Kings, he says that Solomon "left his first love." Reading farther, verses 9-11 say:
Nergal, mentioned in II Kings 17:30, is the sun god Horus, the "divine child" of Isis ("Mother of God" to the Egyptians), mentioned earlier.
In I Samuel chapter 7, we also find record of a time when the Israelites were worshiping Ashtaroth. Note that they had not intentionally abandoned God and renounced Him, but were trying to hang on to both. Verse 2 says that, ". . . all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD." They wanted God and His blessings, but they were sinning against Him, committing adultery with the "strange gods and Ashtaroth."
They repented with a genuine repentance and verse 9 says that ". . . the LORD heard . . . ."
Not long afterwards, in I Samuel 12:10, the same people were again serving Baalim and Ashtaroth.
We know that adultery does not necessarily mean the divorcing or total abandonment of one's spouse for another, but is often an attempt to love more than one. One need only give the appearance of having an "affair" to show dishonor and disrespect. These things are true in the spiritual sense as well.
In II Kings 23 we see the proper action taken by Josiah, regarding the "high places . . . which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth (v.13). In verse 14, Josiah "brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves."
Israel, as the wife of God, is to be seen as a type of the bride of Christ, to whom He has engaged Himself to be married. The bride of Christ, I believe, will consist of the saved who have followed Christ in proper baptism, served Him as obedient members of one of His true congregations, and have kept themselves pure by ecclesiastical separation and going "fully after the LORD." Every person who is saved will not be in the bride of Christ, although one who is saved can be, by repenting of what is wrong and making it right. While all who go to Heaven will be clothed in the imputed righteousness of Christ, Revelation 19:7 shows that the Lamb's wife will have "made herself ready." We can start today. We can learn much from the study of the typology of the wife of God.
I Corinthians 10:6-11 says:
Isaiah 54:5-6 says to Israel:
In Jeremiah 3:8 God said:
In verse 11 He said:
Verse 14 says:
In Jeremiah 31:31-32, God said of Israel and Judah, ". . . I was an husband unto them."
In Hosea chapters 1 and 2, Israel is pictured as the cast off wife.
I believe Jesus made the formal announcement and declaration of His engagement and intention to marry His bride elect in Matthew 26:29 when He said:
He then went on to say:
Notice that He said, "are many mansions" (as in already are), yet promised, "I go to prepare a place for you" (His bride).
I believe that that indicates that while all who are truly saved by God's grace through faith in Christ will go to Heaven, there will be something special for those who have followed Christ in proper baptism and serving in one of His congregations with obedience, ecclesiastical separation, and spiritual purity. We may stumble, fall, and fail many times, like Peter did that night, when he denied the Lord. Matthew 26:75 says, ". . . And he went out, and wept bitterly." God stands ready to forgive, if we will turn to Him in sincere repentance.
I find that my beliefs concerning the bride of Christ are strongly rejected, hated and despised among most of professing Christianity. Often, when those beliefs have been defended with the Bible, the response is, "What does it matter anyway? The main thing is getting people saved." That is just the point; the main thing is getting people saved, but it is God that does the saving, and He has chosen to use the truth in doing it. God may occasionally save someone where false doctrine is being preached, but we can be sure that He did not use the false doctrine to accomplish it. Too many have decided that God can save more people if we can just trick them into believing. Is that "from heaven, or of men"?
Ephesians 5:22-32 should leave no doubt but that the Lord's true congregations are the ones engaged to be His bride. Notice especially verse 27: ". . . not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." How can we teach, or support and encourage, error and false doctrine and not have spot, or wrinkle, or blemish?
Seeing the connection of the typology of Israel and Judah as the wife of God, and how it applies to those engaged to be married to the Lamb, ("For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning . . . " Romans 15:4) let us go back and study further of their spiritual adulteries. If God regarded Judah's sin as worse than Israel's because she should have learned from Israel's mistakes, where does that put us who have the examples of both?
Go back and review the pages on Ishtar/Ashtoreth and Tammuz/Adonis, and notice also the names with which the Babylonians spoke of Ishtar/Ashtoreth, such as "The Holy Virgin," "The Virgin Mother," and "Queen of Heaven." As we study through the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we find that much is said about all this.
It is observed that the "green tree" has always been much a part of the adulterous observance of "Christmas." In Jeremiah 3:6, God accused Israel of having gone "under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot."
Jeremiah 10:1-2 says:
Remember how the heathen were dismayed by the shortening of the days toward winter solstice, and worshiped the sun to encourage it back to life? In Matthew Henry's comments on these verses, he says:
Continuing in verses 3 and 4 of Jeremiah 10, God said:
The involvement of green trees in the worship of false gods and goddesses is found in Deuteronomy 12:2; I Kings 14:23; II Kings 16:4; II Kings 17:10; II Chronicles 28:4; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6,13; Jeremiah 17:2; and Ezekiel 6:13.
Groves are mentioned in that context in Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; 12:3; 16:21; Judges 3:7; 6:25, 26, 28, 30; I Kings 14:15,23; 15:13; 16:33; 18:19; II Kings 13:6; 17:10, 16; 18:4; 21:3,7; 23:4,6,7,14,15; II Chronicles 14:3; 15;16; 17:6; 19:3; 24:18; 31:1; 33:3,19; 34:3,4,7; Isaiah 17:8; 27:9; Jeremiah 17:2; Micah 5:14.
Look at the celebration going on in Jeremiah 7:17-19 where God said:
Notice that the "queen of heaven" was being worshiped there by the people of Judah. You will remember this was one of the titles given to Ishtar/Ashtaroth by the Babylonians. Judah had learned "the way of the heathen" in that holiday celebration.
God's response in verse 20 was:
In verses 25 and 26, God said:
Remember that Romans 15:4 says:
And I Corinthians 10:6-7 says:
Notice again verses 11 and 12:
If the people of Judah, having the examples of their fathers, and God's repeated warnings and chastisement, "did worse than their fathers," then how much worse it must be for us today to be involved in the same holiday observances!
Notice how that the heathen holidays, dressed up as "Christian Holidays," gain more and more influence and emphasis each year, while going "fully after the LORD," and true Christianity, has become almost extinct. "Christmas" was hardly even observed in our country two hundred years ago. World Book Encyclopedia says:
Encyclopedia Britannica says:
There are people living today, who have, in their lifetime, seen the holiday grow from when they "were little the boys got firecrackers, the girls got a corn-shuck doll, and everybody got an apple, and sometimes an orange if daddy was able to get them," to the enormous affair that it is now, starting about a week earlier each year. In twenty years, Easter has gone from hunting Easter eggs and "dressing up" on Easter Sunday, to Easter gifts, Easter cards, Easter plays, Easter egg trees, and now, even lights. All sorts of community wide inter-denominational "holy week" activities go on.
I Corinthians 10:14 says:
Verse 21 says:
In the next chapter, teaching on the Lord's supper, I Corinthians 11:27-29, says:
How can we fool with Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) and the Easter Bunny and with Ashtaroth and Tammuz celebrations, and then observe the Lord's supper without eating and drinking "unworthily"? I Corinthians 10:30 says:
Is it any wonder that our world is "going to hell in a handbasket," and that so many of the Lord's congregations are so weak? Is it any wonder that our families are falling apart, and that loved ones are going to hell? Is it any wonder we are perceived, like Lot was, "as one who mocked"?
Let us return to the book of Jeremiah, and in chapter 19, notice the descriptions of the observances there in verses 4 and 13.
It is striking that we repeatedly see the sacrificing of children in connection with these pagan observances. It should not surprise us that the practice of abortion and the murdering of children is enjoying an increase of popularity in proportion to that of Christmas and Easter. There are about 4400 legalized abortions per day in America. There are twice as many legalized abortions per year, in America, than the total casualties of the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined. Without any research or much thought, I can think of about ten children who have been allegedly murdered by their own parents in the past year.
Notice that the worship of Baal, mentioned in verse 5 above, is often spoken of in the Bible, and often, as in Judges 2:13 in connection with Ashtaroth ("The Holy Virgin" and "Queen of Heaven). Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says:
Reference to Baal is found in Numbers 22:41; Judges 2:13; 6:25,28,30,31,32; I Kings 16:31,32; 18:19,21,25,26,40; 19:18; 22:53; II Kings 3:2; 10:18,19,20,21,22,23,25,26,27,28; 11:18; 17:16; 21:3; 23:4,5; I Chronicles 4:33; 5:5; 8:30; 9:36; II Chronicles 23:17; Jeremiah 2:8; 7:9; 11:13,17; 12:16; 19:5; 23:13,27; 32:29,35; Hosea 2:8; 13:1; Zephaniah 1:4; and Romans 11:4.
Now look at Jeremiah 44:15-29, where the people are again worshiping "the queen of heaven," Ashtaroth, the mother of Tammuz, the sun god.
Speaking further about the Babylonian mystery-religion, on pages 292 and 293 of Lectures on the Revelation, H.A. Ironside says:
Those things are covered in great detail in The Two Babylons, by Hislop.
Finally, let us read Ezekiel 8. In this chapter, Ezekiel, who was in Babylon at the time, was taken by God, in a vision, to Jerusalem, to see the idolatry going on there. Verse 14 says:
There, there were "women weeping for Tammuz," like the Babylonians, only they were doing it at "the LORD'S house." In verse 16, Ezekiel said:
They were having a "sunrise service" in God's house and He was not pleased with it.
In verse 18, God said:
God is still God, and does not change. We, having these examples can expect no more leniency than those of old, who are our examples. Proverbs 28:9 is still true :
Encyclopedia Britannica(1957) says that, according to Bede (introduced earlier), in Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation written in 731 A.D., that:
Encyclopedia Britannica goes on to say:
World Book Encyclopedia says:
Two stories are then related in the article, of men named Saint Valentine, and then it says:
The next sentence states the fact that:
Another part of the celebration of the Roman Lupercalia, dedicated to the fertility god Lupercus was a "love lottery," in which the names of women were placed in a jar and drawn out by the young men to whom they would serve as companions for the year.
Encyclopedia Britannica(1957) says:
The article then tells much about the popular customs and practices of Halloween that were handed down from the Roman harvest festival of Pomona, and from Druidism.
Later the article says:
It has been shown here, by well documented history, and by two commonly available and well recognized encyclopedias, not only that these so called "Christian holidays" are totally of pagan origin, having been dedicated to sun gods, fertility gods and goddesses, and satanism, but also how and even when that they have been adapted and adopted by the founders of a counterfiet "Christianity."
It has been shown from the Bible, the written Word of God, numerous examples of the observances of these pagan feasts, and the attempts of the people to incorporate their observance and practice into serving or worshiping and following God.
It has also been shown from the Bible, God's disapproval of such practice, the warnings and instructions against such practice, and the consequences and costs of ignoring God's warning and instructions by continuing such practice.
Lacking spiritual discernment, most of the world's writers of history, philosophy, and religion have, knowing the things presented here, but being unable or unwilling to distinguish between the counterfeit "Christianity" and true Christianity, wrongly concluded that Christianity is no more than a "tradition" that has evolved and that changes as man does. Sadly, many of their readers, as well as many educators, and tragically many in so called Bible colleges, theological seminaries, and pulpits, have swallowed this deadly and damning lie of Satan.
Those who profess to be saved by grace through faith in Christ, and claim to be bearers of the truth, yet hold on to paganism, are just helping to support the lie. Satan must really have a big time hearing people gripe about how "the world has taken Christ out of Christmas." Christ has never been in "Christmas" --His name has been taken in vain.
Satan has known Bible doctrine and prophecy for a long time. He was familiar with God's word when he was twisting it around to deceive Eve. In Matthew 4:5-6, we find Satan able to quote scripture from Psalm 91:11-12, and understanding it to be speaking prophetically of Jesus.
James 2:19 says that the devils "believe, and tremble." The devils in Matthew 8:29 asked Jesus, "Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" Those devils had no doubt but that torment was in their future, and likely understood Tophet in Isaiah 30:33 to be a symbol of the fires of hell, which Jesus later, in Matthew 25:41, spoke of as "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." That they asked "Art thou come to torment us before the time?" indicates that they knew that there were things that must yet be fulfilled before the time of their torment.
With that kind of knowledge and insight, we should not be surprised that Satan knew enough about the future events of Jesus' birth and death, to be able to earlier lay the foundations in pagan worship, which could so easily be incorporated into his scheme of counterfeiting Christianity. Satan really meant it when he said, "I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:14).
Satan has established his counterfeit "Christianity" complete with congregations he has built, false apostles, false prophets, and false ministers.
Let us now look at yet another reason why we should not observe Christmas or Easter. Return to John 4:23-24, in which Jesus said:
Earlier, we considered the requirement of these verses that we must worship "in truth," but notice that we also "must worship him in spirit" because "God is a Spirit" and II Corinthians 3:17 says that "the Lord is that Spirit."
If we "must" worship Him in spirit and as Spirit, we can conclude that to worship Him in the flesh and as flesh, which is not commanded, is not acceptable worship. Jesus does still have a living and physical body, but it is not with us at the present time; He is with us in Spirit only.
II Corinthians 5:16 says:
In Matthew Henry's comments on this verse, he makes this note:
Galations 5:24-25 says:
Consider the record of Jesus' visit with Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42.
Martha was "cumbered about with much serving," much like you or I might be when someone special comes to visit. Martha was no doubt working hard to present the finest of accomodations within her means, but in all that, she was only relating to Jesus physically, and regarding Him in the human sense, however highly it may have been.
That was permissable at the time, since Jesus was still with them in His physical body, but such relationship and regard paled miserably in comparison to regarding and relating to Him in recognition of all that He is spiritually, as did her sister Mary.
Jesus said, "one thing is needful," and His neglect to instruct Mary to serve as was Martha, shows that that was not the "one thing" that is needful. Jesus could have provided the food that Martha was so cumbered about with, just as easily as He had fed the five-thousand. Jesus said:
Mary had chosen the spiritual part of Jesus. Physically, Jesus was about to be taken away from them, and Mary had wisely "chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Now that Jesus has departed physically, it is no longer acceptable to worship Him in the physical sense. To attempt to worship Jesus as a baby in a manger or as a man on a cross is to detract from Him as resurrected and eternal Lord and Saviour. Jesus is to be "lifted up," not brought down and degraded with paganism and idolatry, as is done with Christmas and Easter.
If we stop to consider the matter, not through man's eyes, but with spiritual discernment, (led by the Bible and the Holy Spirit) it becomes very clear that there are actually two different "Christs" we are talking about here. There is the "Christ" of Christmas and Easter that is so universally accepted and honored by the world, and there is the true Christ who is the Son of the living God, the resurrected Lord and Saviour who hates sin and has conquered death and hell, whom the world hates. As I write this paragraph, I literally tremble to think of how easily people will be deceived by "that man of sin" (II Thessalonians 2:3), after the saved are "caught up . . . in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." Will the testimony we leave behind be a help or a hindrance in the deception of friends and relatives left behind?
Think of how that big factories will shut down for Christmas, huge bonuses are sometimes given, and businesses, restaurants, and grocery stores will close so that their employees can "observe" the holiday (holy day).
Can you picture a factory shutting down for someone to preach God's Word? Can you picture bonuses being handed out to employees for telling co-workers and customers about their Saviour? Can you picture all the stores and restaurants closing so that their employees may observe the Lord's day? Can you imagine going to Sunday school and finding no empty parking spaces?
Let us pay attention to the warning Paul gave to the Galatians, to whom he said:
In Galatians 1:6-12, Paul gave them and us this warning and instruction:
It would be inexcusable not to also point out here, that to preach a Christ that can save if we can hold on to Him, or a Christ that can save if we are baptized, or if we live right, or the many other ifs that man may append, is to preach another "Christ" or another "gospel."
Let us consider one other example of someone serving and following Jesus, but not as all that He is. That is the tragic example of Judas Iscariot. I believe that Judas recognized Jesus as one who would rule and reign, as one who would set up His kingdom and rule with a rod of iron. Judas very likely recognized Jesus as virgin born and as the Son of God, having seen many miracles performed and the display of the power and presence of God as he had travelled and companied with Jesus daily. But, having not been born again, having not been quickened by the Holy Spirit, Judas was unable to recognize Jesus as Saviour. Judas could only regard Jesus in a political or worldly sense. I believe Judas was getting impatient with the present pace of things, and decided that in betraying Jesus, he could bring things to a head, to force a showdown, and get the ruling and reigning underway.
It is understandable that Judas would have been enthusiastic about such an arrangement; after all, as he probably thought, he would be the treasurer, the chief financial officer of the kingdom. Judas probably knew that Jesus couldn't be captured or killed against His will. Judas had no doubt many times witnessed Jesus eluding and escaping from those who wanted to kill Him when "his hour was not yet come." Judas no doubt knew much about Jesus' greatness and power, but did not know Him as Saviour. He didn't have "that good part," as did Mary.
Many try to follow with a pick and choose "Christianity," in which they can pick and choose and design a "Christ" that suits the fancy of their own fleshly desires. In doing so, they will tragically reject and betray the true Christ for a handful of silver, or less.
Notice how easily one can become amused and fascinated with holidays, or the abuse and perversion of Christian music, or "Christian" jewelry, "Christian" bumper stickers, "Christian" cruises and tours, books, tapes, and cards, but have no time or interest for prayer, Bible study, or even Sunday school. It is so easy to become caught up in revelry of how wonderful it will be "over yonder," but neglect to be surrendered and submissive to the Lord and His work here and now. We must examine our Christianity, and ask if it is "from heaven, or of men."
The holiday or day of special observance for a true Christian is "the Lord's day," the first day of the week. No other day should come any where close to our regard for, and the observance of "the Lord's day." That is the day which we are to observe in celebration of Jesus as resurrected Lord and Saviour. The Bible gives us instructions and examples for how to do it and when.
Just as those of old had the seventh day as a sabbath in honor of God's completion of creation, we have the first day as our sabbath in honor of the completed work of Jesus. The Lord's day should be the highest day of our life; it is the day to go all out. Nothing good should be held back in our observance and honoring of the Lord's day. It is then that our gifts are to be given in honoring Jesus.
Jesus also gave us the observance of the Lord's supper as an ordinance to His congregations, saying, "this do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19). The Bible gives us much clear instruction and teaching on this ordinance, and since it is also a part of our teaching in picture or typology, as is baptism, it is imperative that we follow the New Testament teachings on it with all sincerity and diligence.
I have shown that since Jesus no longer dwells with us in a physical body such as a baby in a manger, or a man on a cross, it is improper and degrading to worship Him as such. We do, however, have the presence of His body in the form of each of His congregations of saved and scripturally baptized followers. If we have gifts to give or honor to show unto Jesus, then it must properly be given to one of His congregations. If it is our desire to share the good news about Jesus with the world, it is to "be done decently and in order" (I Corinthians 14:40), and through one of the true congregations and bodies of Christ, not through some pagan holiday.
It seems that often the final holdout with Christmas is the giving of gifts. The objection is sometimes given, "I just like to give gifts. What's wrong with that?" With 364 other days, 51 other weeks, or 11 other months, why pick a time that would dishonor the Lord? Much is made at that time of year of "helping the needy," or giving a friend or loved one "something they really need." Why make them wait all year? Do people just get needy once a year? In I Corinthians 16:1-2, these instructions are given:
Let us go back to a statement which I quoted earlier from World Book Encyclopedia, about Christmas being considered a pagan celebration by many Christians, and the outlawing of the holiday in England and the English Colonies of America during the 1600's. That article said:
In light of all this, we are forced to ask, "What is the proper response and disposition concerning these holidays?" What part does one who has been engaged to be married as the bride of Christ have in such holidays and observances? I believe that the question can best be answered with another question. What part should a lady, engaged to be married, have in dating those other than the groom to be? What if she insists, "It's just for fun," or, "We don't really mean anything by it," or, "Everyone else does it"? What if she were your fiance? What will Jesus say? What has God's Word already said?
I realize that much of what has been written here is very harsh and strong; but the strongest, and most harsh, I have only copied from the pages of the Bible. The rest, I believe, is clearly supported by it. What I have written, I have written with the desire for lost souls to be saved, and for the Lord's congregations to be all that He meant for them to be. It is written with a desire that you and I may glorify God and experience the power, the joy, and the effectiveness of life in Christ to its fullest. It is written in humility, knowing that not so long ago I was ignorantly partaker of some of the very things written about.
Some think that I have gone too far by not observing the holidays, so I must ask, "How far is too far to go in following Jesus?" Can we ever go far enough? We must go "fully after the LORD." Remember that when Solomon "went not fully after the LORD," the Bible says that "Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD," and that "the LORD was angry with Solomon" (I Kings 11:5-11).
I am well aware, by experience, of the problems and implications in taking such a stand, but it must be done.
Are you willing to stand for the real Jesus, and let the world go by? Christian parent or head of household, are you willing to lead and to teach these truths to those whom God has given you responsibility for? This must be done in love and with patience, not procrastination but patience; but it must be done.
As it has already been shown, if we reject God's instructions, even our prayer is abomination (Proverbs 28:9). Will your prayer be abomination in your time of need? Will you be able to pray for those you love?
Teacher or pastor whom God has called to lead His people, and to teach them to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded, will you declare "all the counsel of God"? (Acts 20:27)
Someone may say, "That would split my church." I realize that that is a very serious matter, but we must ask, "Who has been doing the building?" To the extent that man has been doing the building, there is likely to be problems. If Jesus has done the building, then, conditioned on the terms that a congregation "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," we have His promises that "lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19-20), and "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). We have no promise of God's blessing upon disobedience.
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The subject of this chapter is not just the product of an over-active imagination or the adoption of a pet-peeve with frantic search for a Bible verse to support it. It is one of the major subjects dealt with in the Bible, and is addressed repeatedly from cover to cover. The subject is just as serious as it is real. I am convinced that participation in these pagan holy-days is as sinful and damnable now as it was four thousand years ago. We are more accountable now than ever before.
The gods and goddesses of the Babylonians and Romans are the very gods and goddesses that are worshipped and honored in the "Christ-mass" and Eostur celebrations and observances. Review chapter eight of this book, and notice that the refusal to acknowledge the gods and goddesses of these holidays was the primary reason the Christians of the first three centuries, A.D., were persecuted by the Roman pagans. Notice on page 68 that they were not persecuted because they believed in God, but because they believed in God only and refused to acknowledge the other gods. Notice on page 70 that the populace considered the Christians the enemies of their gods and blamed them for anything that went wrong. The Christians were then called, "the atheists" or, "the deniers of the gods." Notice on pages 75 through 79 that there was a time when everyone was required by law to worship those false gods, and the Christians were killed for refusing to do so. Study pages 82 and 83 where it is seen that people who claimed to be Christians, but defiled themselves with those pagan gods and holy-days is the very thing that, in the year 251 A.D., led to the Novations declaring dis-fellowship with the "church" at Rome, and others who compromised with paganism to escape persecution rather than go "fully after the LORD." That is the reason Jesus' true congregations refused to recognize the baptism of those who compromised, and as a result, have been persecuted as Re-baptizers, Ana-baptists, or Baptists ever since. I doubt that the Novations, Donatists, and ancient Waldenses congregations would accept many of us as members by letter of recommendation if they were here today. How would anyone defend his participation in the holidays to folks like Polycarp, Appolonia, Quintilla, and many others who were martyred on such occasions.
The inquisitor AEneas Sylvius who wrote a history of Bohemia and afterwards ascended to the title of Pope Pius II, made the following charge against the Waldenses of Bohemia:
Notice on page 107, that the inquisitor Reinerius Sacco complained that "they deride all the festivals" and do work on holy days.
Page 25 of History of the Ancient Christians, written by Jean Paul Perrin in 1618 says:
In book I, pages 33 and 34, of The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont, written by Samuel Moreland in 1658, we find article ten of "An ancient Confession of Faith of the Waldenses, Copied out of certain Manuscripts, bearing date Anno Dom. 1120" which says:
One of the chiefest of "those Inventions of men" which they "accounted as an unspeakable abomination before God" was the "Christ-Mass." Consider this Christmas story of some Waldensians' experience with the Roman Catholic Inquisitors, copied from pages 49 and 50 of Bright Lights in Dark Times:
That event is also told about on pages 220 and 221, volume II, of The History of the Christian Church by William Jones; in Vignaux's Memoires des Vaudois; in book II, chapter III of the section on the history of the Waldenses in History of the Ancient Christians by Jean Paul Perrin; in Pierre Gilles' Histoire Ecclesiastica; and on page 194 of The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont, by Samuel Morland.
On pages 223 and 224 of Memorials of Baptist Martyrs by J. Newton Brown, is found the following record of a meeting of Ana-baptists in Aldgate, London, England, in 1575:
It is to be noticed that the word "Easter" is found in the King James Translation, in Acts 12:4. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says:
I suppose that "Easter" is one of those "Old Ecclesiastical Words" that King James ordered "to be kept" (page 20).
Read the following samples of what a few others have written.
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H.A.Ironside, writing of the woman in Revelation 17:
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What Would They Think?
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Study Romans 1:16-32, which says:
These verses describe the development of the belief and worship of the father sun and mother earth, Tammuz and Ishtar, and the condition and circumstances that it leads to. It started with people who "knew God" but "glorified him not as God," and "their foolish heart was darkened" (v.21). They "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature," the creation, the thing or things created, "more than the Creator" (v.25). Verse 26 says, "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections. . . ." And, ". . . as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. . . ."
Is it only coincidence that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were given "up unto vile affections" and destroyed by God were located in southern Babylonia, where the worship of Tammuz and Ishtar originated? Is it only coincidence that our country, where the pagan holidays have flourished so, has to a great extent been given "up unto vile affections," and verses 28-32 are so descriptive of the true state of the Union? Is it only coincidence that the Roman Catholic Church, the new Babylon, that adapted the pagan holy-days to apostate "Christianity," are being so troubled by the "vile affections" of verses 26 and 27? Is it only coincidence that her Protestant daughters are being similarly plagued as they try to "be like mommy?" Is it only coincidence that we are experiencing such an epidemic of reprobate mindedness? No, No, No, No, and No. Yes, the pagan "Christian" holidays are as sinful and damning as ever, regardless of what we may pretend or call them. It all starts with "when they knew God, they glorified him not as God."
On page 25 of Sanctification as Taught in God's Word, Clarence Walker wrote: