A Study of Christmas:
O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL?
1. Even before Halloween was over, evidence of Christmas could be seen. Now that Thanksgiving is past, the season is in full swing.
2. This holiday will be celebrated as the birth of Christ. Yet......
a. During this season, there will be more domestic violence, more alcohol-related injuries & death, more debt incurred, & more marital infidelity than at any other time of the year!
b. Office parties soon become drinking parties, reveling, etc.
c. And this is how men should remember the birth of Jesus?
3. Men are far more interested in observing their religious days
(Christmas, Easter) than they are in observing the Lord's Day (Heb. 10:25).
a. Human memorials of Christ's birth vs. Lord's memorial of His death (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
b. Christ will only accept honor given Him in God's way - Jno. 4:23-24.
4. We should be concerned w/ Christian's involvement in the activities
a. Is the religious observance of Christ's birth authorized by God?
b. What is the history of this religious holiday?
c. What is the Christian to do at this time of year?
d. What are we teaching our children about Christmas?
5. We want to be "the faithful" who come before God as He commands!
I. THE BASIS FOR THE RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE OF CHRIST'S BIRTH: MAN OR
A. The Bible Does Not Reveal The Date Of Christ's Birth.
1. Matt. 2:1; Lk. 2:1 - Days of Herod the Great (37-4 BC) & Caesar Augustus (27 BC-14 AD).
2. Lk. 2:8 - Shepherds in fields watching flocks:
a. Summer months.
b. S of S 2:11 - Winter marked by cold & rain.
c. December is not "the time of Christ's birth!"
3. Human speculation over date:
a. Clement of Alexandria - Nov. 18, 3 BC. / May 20.
b. Hippolytus - Jan. 2, March 25 or April 2, finally Dec. 25.
c. Others - January 6; March 28; April 18 or 19; Every month!
d. "No sufficient data, however, exists for the determination of the month or day of the event" - The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia Of Religious Knowledge, Reprint 1977, III:47.
4. God would have told us if He had wanted us to know! (Deut. 29:29)
B. There Is No Biblical Authorization For The Celebration Of Christ's Birth.
1. Historical record does not authorize celebration of the event!
a. Baptism of Jesus; Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension......
b. Silence of Bible must be respected by men!
C. The Religious Celebration Of Christ's Birth Is Based Upon Human Authority, Not Divine Authority - Matt. 21:23; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Col. 3:17; 2 Jno. 9-11; Gal. 1:8-9.
II. THE ORIGIN OF CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.
A. Definition Of "Christmas" - "Mass Of Christ."
1. Catholicism - Celebration of the birth of Christ by a special mass.
2. This festival created to counter pagan festivals:
a. Roman Saturnalia (Dec. 17-24) - Honored Saturnus, a pagan god. A time of gluttony and licentiousness.
b. Roman feast of Mithrand, the Sun god (Dec. 25).
B. Clearly, The Festival Of The Birth Of Christ Began In Post-Apostolic Times.
1. Encyclopedia Of Religion & Ethics, III:601 - "There is no evidence of the existence of a Feast of the Nativity before the 4th century."
2. Shaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, III:47 - "There is no historical evidence that our Lord's birthday was celebrated during the apostolic or early post-apostolic times."
3. How December 25 was selected for celebrating Christ's birth:
a. Liberius, Bishop of Rome, declared Dec. 25 celebrated as Christ's birthday in 354 AD.
b. "There can be little doubt that the Church was anxious to distract the attention of Christians from the old heathen feast days by celebrating Christian festivals on the same days (Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics, III:607).
c. "The indications are, that the Church in this way grasped the opportunity to turn the people away from a purely pagan observance of the winter solstice to a day of adoration of Christ the Lord" - Collier's Encyclopedia.
4. The observance of Christ's birth began in Catholicism & paganism, not Christianity!
5. "Human in its origin, arbitrary and irrelevant in its time, and Pagan in its ceremonies, it clearly has no claims whatever upon the true Christian." (W.K. Pendleton, Millennial Harbinger, 1848, p.22).
III. WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN TO DO?
A. He Cannot Participate In The Religious Additions Of Men - 2 Jno. 9-11.
1. 2 Jno. 9-11 - Breaks fellowship w/ God; Fellowships errors of men.
2. Gal. 4:8-11 - Religious days of OT wrong to observe...What of those started by men in 4th century?!
3. 2 Cor. 6:14 - Don't be forced into adding to God's will for your life!
B. Use The Opportunities Of The Season To Explain Why You Do Not Celebrate Christmas As The Birthday Of Christ - Matt. 5:13-16 (v. 11-12).
1. Cf. School activities, work events, neighbors.
2. People are surprised, but generally respectful of your convictions. But, you must live by your convictions regardless of how others react.......do not compromise your faith!
C. A Christian Can Observe Portions Of The Christmas Holiday Non-Religiously.
1. Many things which may carry religious meaning can be practiced non-religiously:
a. Circumcision - Acts 16:1-3.
b. Washing hands; Eating meats sacrificed to idols, etc.
2. Rom. 14:5, 23 - Without violating God's authority or one's conscience!
a. Festive, joyous season of goodwill, exchanging gifts, visits, helping the needy, many seasonal traditions which have no inherent religious significance.
b. Gal. 6:10 - Of course, these should be everyday attitudes & actions!
3. Christmas can be observed non-religiously, even though some will be observing it religiously!
1. The basis for observing Christmas as the birth of Christ is man's religious authority (Catholicism & paganism). It started centuries after the time of Christ. It is not commanded in anyway in the New Testament.
2. While we fully believe in the virgin birth of Christ & thank God for it, God has not authorized us to celebrate the birth of Jesus, & to do so is a violation of His holy will!
3. Let us truly be faithful to Christ this holiday season, and every day of the year!