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Christmas and the Scripture

By Joe Garnett

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 festival? 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?

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 show 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, Ouija 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 Christians 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 babblings (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).

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