And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 02 December 09, 2007
In this issue:
Only God knows the day on which Jesus was born. The Bible does not say; only that he was born in the days of Herod the Great (37-4 BC) and Caesar Augustus (27 BC-14 AD) (Matt. 2:1; Lk. 2:1), and that there were “shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Lk. 2:8). Those who observe December 25 as His birthday should know this, yet many do not.
• Historians do not know the date, although many have speculated on it.
• The Roman Catholic Church does not know the date. During its early development there was much disagreement over the date and its celebration. In 354 AD Liberius, the Bishop of Rome, declared December 25 to be the day for celebrating the birth of Christ. This date gradually became the prevailing view and practice.
• The Orthodox Churches do not know the date; they choose to celebrate the birth of Jesus in January.
• The Protestant Churches do not know the date; they have retained the Catholic view and practice.
Likewise, the Bible does not command, show an example of or infer the practice of a “Feast of the Nativity” (i.e., Christmas). Men began and continue the religious celebration of Christ’s birth; not the word of God.
Here are some things we do know about the birth of Jesus:
• It was prophesied centuries earlier (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22-23). His birth was divinely planned and accomplished (Lk. 1:30-31). The virgin gave birth to a son whose name was Jesus (“savior,” Matt. 1:21, 25).
• It was the right time for God to send His Son into the world. “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4).
• It was the day on which God became flesh. “…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35). Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). On that day the Word, who is deity, became flesh (Jno. 1:1, 14). A body was prepared for him that would be sacrificed for the sins of the world (Heb. 10:5-10).
• It was troubling and joyous. Unrighteous men were troubled. Men like King Herod, who feared the prophesied ruler (Matt. 2:3-6). He was so worried that he murdered the babies of Bethlehem (Matt. 2:16). On the other hand, angels praised God, wise men worshiped the child and shepherds glorified God (Matt. 2:11; Lk. 2:8-20).
• It was never observed as a religious festival in New Testament days. “There is no evidence of the existence of a Feast of the Nativity before the 4th century” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, III:601). Since God did not command a religious celebration of Christ’s birth, we do not offer Him one. Instead, we continually rejoice, praise and worship God for His wonderful gift of love: a Savior, a King…His Son! (Jno. 3:16)
Unless I have overlooked it somewhere, the expression “disobedient to parents” is only found two times in the New Testament. The first reference is found in Romans 1:29-31, where Paul says, “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful”; etc. The second time is found in 2 Timothy 3:2, and is joined with this: “For men will be lovers of them-selves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanders, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” etc. Obviously such a disposition is not pleasing to God and is not the type of company we would like to be identified with.
I’m sure, especially from this context, that Paul is not referring to a child who might misunderstand or disagree sometimes with his parents. Rather, the context suggests a child of the nature who might “curse” his parents (Exod. 21:17, Lev. 20;9) or “strike” his parents (Exod. 21:15). Such a child, along with the rebellious and lazy (“glutton and drunkard”), was to be brought before the elders, formally accused, and stoned (Deut. 21:18-21). According to a Jewish commentary I have in my library, they interpret to “curse” to invoke the name of the Lord against, and to “strike” to leave a bruise. And although there is no record of anyone actually being put to death for such, it does well express God’s disapproval for such an attitude. Such a child, refusing to heed anything his parents might say, would also rebel against the laws of the land and the laws of God as well.
Contrast this with the attitude of Christ, who was subject to his parents (Luke 2:51). Also with the other child, interested in doing God’s will, who is instructed to “obey” his parents (Eph. 6:1, Col. 3:20), and to “honor” them (Eph. 6:2). They may not always be right, but they are our parents, and in God’s divine plan, they are to be respected as such. When differences arise, we need to learn to discuss such with them, showing the proper respect due their position and wisdom (Prov. 13:1). We may not always agree with them, or even like their decisions; but to respect God’s divine arrangement, we must learn proper respect for them as well. And sometimes, as we grow older, we learn their wisdom was much wiser than ours was at a younger age. That is why God made us subject to our parents, and not the parents to the children.
In 3 John 11, John says, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.” Now, pause and think a moment: Which group are you imitating? Is it the group that respects God and his word, or the group that is in rebellion against all that pleases God? If you are in the wrong group, perhaps you need to reexamine your disposition and make some changes! And when was the last time you praised your parents for what they did for you?
Guardian of Truth XLI:5 p. 8
Romney on Religious Tolerance
Today, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney spoke of his personal faith and of religious tolerance in America:
“I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind,” Mr. Romney said. “My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.” (“Romney Seeks to Defuse Concerns Over Mormon Faith,” NY Times, 06Dec07).
There is no “maybe” about it, Mr. Romney. The Mormon beliefs about Christ are not the same as other faiths. More importantly, Mormonism does not believe the Bible’s teachings about Christ, including his eternal deity (Jno. 1:1-3, 14-18; Col. 2:9).
Romney went on to say,
“If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.” (Ibid.)
Jesus (in whom Mr. Romney affirms belief) said, “no one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jno. 14:6). Jesus commands men and women to serve His religion, His cause and His interests above all others (Matt. 6:33; Lk. 6:46; 10:34-39; 14:25-26). There is a conflict between what Jesus said and what Mr. Romney said.
Such is the nature of politics; please as many as you can to achieve your objective. Politics in the church is similar - and sinful. We must not tolerate scratching itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Religious tolerance in America means accepting all faiths. The gospel of Christ says religious “tolerance” means compromise with sin and error; something Jesus warned against (Lk. 6:46; 12:51-53).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 12/08/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA