THE REASON FOR THIS STUDY
As a believer in Christ I hold to the principle that what was written in the Scripture is what I must believe. We are even told to give answers to those inquirers as we read from the Scriptures.
1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Col 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
But there was a point in my life that I was speechless when I was asked this question regarding Christmas. “Why celebrate Christmas if it wasn’t written in your bible (Scripture)?” I showed him the Scripture that says about the birth of Christ yet what the man wants is a clear proof that Christmas celebration on the 25th of December is in the word of God and is yearly celebrated by Chritian known in Bible times. He told me that historical proof will reveal that their Popes started it and that the Scripture is not the basis of faith but the traditions. It was my first time to hear about that and nobody told me for long years. I am a man who loves Christmas among many celebrated seasons and that is from childhood. I have experienced what it is to hold on traditions religiously yet as I grow in faith it seems that traditions has done a lot in me to hold me back and to draw me away.
I also experienced that when I learned this truth and shared this to others, they were mad at me, or as if I said something not biblical. I remember Paul saying “Am I your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal.) .You may not want to finish your reading but you might be wrong to jump into conclusion without going over the other pages. In quoting this I want to say that this studies may sound new to you. Let us learn how to truly appreciate Christ’s first advent, many commonly called as Christmas.
I have to admit that I did not know this well when somebody confronted me. So I began to inquire from His words until I found some answers and I believe it will also aid you when such confrontation comes along your way.Although, I do not intend to hurt your feelings through this studies. I know you are entitled to your own beliefs and preferences, but at least through this you will know if your tradition is a good one. I also learned that we are not only to see if it is written in the Scripture but also to find out if that is what God wants us today. To sum up, we are to see if it is according to His words rightly divided.
You can observe that people love Christmas but do not truly love Christ. In saying this I do not intend to dishonor your observance, nor to question your sincerity, devotion or to interfere on your rejoicing, but I just wanted to share what I learned from the Scripture and how a believer in God’s word can relate on this Seasonal event. You may call me many things, accuse me of many words, yet to no offense I would like to challenge you to challenge yourself by searching His words. Why not search the Scriptures and try to see for yourselves if the truth is what you’ve got? The Bereans did the same thing though the person that is teaching before them is an apostle, teacher and with high profile in ministry.
Act 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
That is what they did before they believed (Acts 17:12). I will not ask you to be me so you don’t have to be afraid on these studies. Let’s find out how we got our Christmas. What does the word of God have to say concerning this kind of celebration and how we can relate in remembering the first advent of our Lord.
MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
The word Christmas in old English term is equivalent to “Cristes-Maesse‟ (mass of Christ) which is a usual ritual of Roman Catholics. This was first used in the year 1038 and became “Cristes-Messe‟ in year 1131. In Latin this is the word “Dies Natalis”, French “Noel”, Italian “Natale”, Dutch “Kerst-misse”, German “Weihnachten”, Spaniards “Navidad” and for Filipino “Pasko”.
Christmas is a yearly celebration of many people concerning the birth of Christ which is held on December 25th. They say that if someone joyously celebrates his own birthday, much more in the said birthday of our Lord. There’s giving of presence, feasting on foods, decorating with lights, caroling and the mass they called Misa de Galio (which is for 9 consecutive early morning mass). Rich and poor have joy and laughter on that season. Others also believed, “And men will live forever more because of Christmas day”.
For many people who believed in the celebration of Christmas, they said that its meaning is very simple. That it means love and giving. Just like the love of God when He gave to the world His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.(This is the so called First Coming of Christ, His manifestation in the flesh according to John 1:14).
Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
But what does it means to you?
Before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, there were already celebrations linked to the 25th of December. The Romans celebrates “Saturnalia‟, a festivity in honor of the god Saturn (believed to be the god of agriculture). Persians also celebrates “Mithraism‟, a festivity in honor of Mithra (the son god. For Romans Mithra is also the god of unconquerable sun.) In some parts of Europe they are celebrating “Yule‟ wherein they are offering huge logs to be burned in honor of their gods and that the sun would continually give its bright lights.
On the year 137 A.D. a bishop from Rome commanded the celebration of Christ’s birth as a solemn feast. On 274 A.D. Emperor Aurelian chose the 25th of December as the birth of the god “Mithra‟. Before 336 A.D. the Roman Catholic priests already rectify the remembrance of Christ’s birth on the 25th of December. On 350 A.D. another pope (Julius I) commanded that on the 25th of December Christmas is to be celebrated. Herein we can see that the beginning of Christmas celebration is based on the command of a Roman Catholic priests. Some scholars believed that the reason for adopting it is to change the Pagan rituals with a Christian one. We don’t know the real reasons of Popes but we can closely examine the effect of their plans. We might misquote and misunderstood those Popes who were already dead yet no matter what they did we have to realize that no individual is above God’s word. Even the apostles when placed in a dilemma says
Act 4:18- 20 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
Act 5:27- 29 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
In England and other countries, we can read from history that early Christian did not celebrated Christmas but forbids its observance. But as days passes by, that yearly celebration gained a widespread acceptance around the globe. It’s like Halloween, Valentines Day and many other celebrated days that was at first not observed by Christian, yet it sounds like a “Trojan Horse‟ that has entered the church and Christendom and has a silent devastating effect. However we have to think of a balance views which is acceptable in the sight of God, even if man does not accepts it.
LOOKING AT THE SCRIPTURE
We can hardly find Christmas celebration in the scripture. Christ’s birth was not celebrated yearly. What we can read is like this rejoicing by the wise men (Mt 2:10) but it could not be on the exact day of Christ’s birth for Christ is no longer a baby but a young child. Angels praising (Lk.2:13-140) and shepherds‟ too (Lk.2:8-20). See that no Roman Catholic during that time partakes of the celebration. But instead, a Roman ruler in the place of Herod attempts murder of a young child Jesus when he sees He could rival his reign (Mt.2).
Many Encyclopedias will tell you that Christ was not born on the 25th of December. Encarta Encyclopedia even says it’s an invention. Almost every book will tell you the circumstances on the birth of Christ and on the possible dates and those persons instrumental to such observance, yet not on the certainty of its date.
In the word of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ never celebrated His birth yearly. He did not ordained to observe it. Even His disciples and Mary, who knew well of that date compared to us, did not have any observance such as what many are doing today. There is no historical proof in the word of God that it is being celebrated yearly. There are some Scriptures that mentioned Him to be twelve and thirty years of age and if that is so special the event of celebration or remembrance would have been mentioned.
Luk 2:40-43 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
Luk 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,
See that the observance is more on the custom of feast of Passover and not connected to His birth.
THE PRACTICE OF CELEBRATING BIRTHDAY
In the word of God, only unbelievers were mentioned to be celebrating their birthdays.
Gen 40:20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
Job 1:4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
Mar 6:21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;
Have you found believers celebrating one? But I believe that it is not wrong to celebrate when somebody was born and the cultures and practices of many people everywhere has it. Yes we are told that in everything we are to give thanks and we may reason that our birthdays are among the “everything‟. Even the Psalmist asked to help him in numbering our days (Ps.90:12). The only concern that should be settled is the motives and mode of celebration. We have to do so differently than unbelievers. We can thank God for it even without food and drinks (juice and water). Many are doing so through food (feasting) and drinks (wine).But let us ask ourselves, how do we thank God for our new birth which is the spiritual one? Do we celebrate it yearly? Do we make it more special compared to our earthly birth? That should be more celebrated isn’t it? But that is so sad because in reality it is often neglected.
THE DATE OF HIS BIRTH
Luke the Doctor was used by God to pen the words on the book of Luke. In chapter 1:4 he wrote to Theophilus that God’s instruction is of certainty, and it means reliable and trustworthy. Let us find out what are those things which surround the date of our Lord’s “tabernacling in the flesh and His birth”.
In Luke 1:24-37, Mary was visited by Gabriel, an angel, announcing her conception. At that time also her cousin Elizabeth was already six months pregnant. This gives us a clue that John was ahead of six months when the Lord Jesus took the nature of man and was born. That’s why among the key to find the date of His birth was John’s birth.
The father of John the Baptizer was a priest (Lk.1:5) and it was his lot to serve in the course of Abijah. In 1 Chronicles 24:1-19 we were given the order of that course and that the course of Abijah falls on the 8th (v.10).Every course ends in One week according to 2 Kings 11:9 & 2 Chronicles 23:8. That means that every priest serve in one week every six moth. (In one month there were four courses that served. The 8th week after the Passover falls in the middle of June (Tammuz) and July. After the 6th month that the angel Gabriel showed himself to Zacharias falls on the month of “Chislev” which in our Calendar falls on November to December which is the month where Mary starts conceiving. The 9th month after that is on “Elul” (September) and “Tishri” (September-October). Therefore on the month of December Mary started to conceive and would have given birth to our Lord between the Last week of September and First week of October. We cannot go far as to the exact date but as we can see there were misinformation given about our Lord. This is not to be taken lightly because even the accounts of Christ’s resurrection the unbelievers were so die hard to make another story (Mt.28:11-15). I will ask you personally; if you have specific information about yourself do you want to have others misinformed? Why is the exact date of Christ’s birth not written? Well, you’ll agree that God has His own reason.
[The Jewish calendar has 354 days. In every 3 years there’s an excess of 29 days and the month “VEADAR‟ was added and it falls between the months of ADAR and NISAN.]
The month of December which falls on “Heshvan” (Oct.-Nov.) and “Nisan” (Mar-April) according to Israel’s climate falls on a cold season. No shepherd can tend the flock outside (Ezra 10:9,13) . What is our point?
1. In Luke 2:8 some believed that as the Lord Jesus was born the angel announces this to the shepherds on the day after the birth. I also believed that but it could not be on December because no shepherds can be in the fields if it is on a cold season. It could be in another months.
2. The Emperor Augusto Caesar will not decree an unwise taxing on a cold season where it will hinder his plan (Lk.2:1-5). So, no pregnant, no children and others can tolerate the cold just to travel and certainly the Emperor is wise enough to do his plans unhindered. He will not decree it on cold season which includes December.
3. Mary, being greatly pained on labor days, along with small kids and other people from far cities, cannot tolerate the cold on a long journey.
There are many things connected to Christmas celebration that is not in accord to Scripture.
(1.) Three Kings –Every January 3rd many people celebrated the Three Kings. But the account in Matthew Chapter 2 does not give us any support that the wise men were kings, nor they were named as Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar. No king will travel from far country without their soldiers and servants. If they were kings they will prefer that somebody should be sent first to find the Christ that was born.
(2.) Santa Claus Or Satan’s Claws; this person is called the Father Christmas. It is a big lie to continue teaching that Santa gave gifts to Millions of children in many countries especially on the same date and same time. He is not omnipotent and omnipresent. History will tell us it is ascribed to a Roman Catholic St. Nicholau or to other. Children were taught to pray to him. But let us observe how this Santa copied our Lord in many ways.
Rev.1:14 White hair
Rev.19:13 Red clothing
Isa.41:25 from North, North Pole
Jn.2:24-25 All knowing He sees when you’re sleeping.. or awake, or good,etc
Rev.22:12 Gave gifts
Mt.4:11 ministering angels With elves (ministering spirits)
Do you think it is coincidence or intentional? Scramble the word Santa and the word “Satan” is visible. I believe that Santa is Satan’s Claws that caught many captive to his will (2 Tim.2:26).
SOME WARNINGS TO CONSIDER
· Gal 4:8 -11 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.
· Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
· Mar 7:6-9 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Mar 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
· 2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2Co 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
· Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
This calls for us to be different and to be careful.
1Co 9:19-23 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
Many people wanted to remember Christ but many have gone too far. The purpose is being forgotten and that is to save some or to share the Lord Jesus to others who are not yet saved. But in many case many Christians are so focused on celebration or remembrance. Or , some are majoring on remembrance and celebration and just minoring on sharing the very purpose of Christ’s birth. This should not be the case.
The world celebrates Christmas. But in what way we can be different to the pattern of this world (Rm.12:1-2)? Let us celebrate the Lord Jesus. We are not forbidden by the Scripture to remember Christ but we are cautioned from doing it against His will and according to the world’s standard. We have to use it to win others to come to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus and not that we are consumed by the Christmas tide. It is an opportunity yet sad to say many falls into “conformity‟ (Rm.12:1-2). The verse I quoted above (1 Co.9:19-23) has something in it suggesting that we can do so yet with limitations and proper motivation.
TO THE UNKNOWN CHRIST
We can remember Paul in Athens who observed the superstitions of Athenians (Acts 17:23). There was an altar without image but with writing “To the Unknown God”. This Paul declares. Like the Athenians in the passages many people who are celebrating Christmas do not truly know Christ, or they know “another Jesus” ().
May this study help us to see the need to avoid extremes and neglect of regarding His words in place of man’s tradition. And whatever it is may we have the goal to use it as an opportunity to share the Christ which is not known to most people celebrating it.
References: The King James Version
1828 Noah Webster Dictionary, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Microsoft Encarta & Dictionary,
The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol.III & Companion Bible
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