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     <h3 class="panel-title">[[File:Page.png]] '''January's''' featured article</h3>
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     <h3 class="panel-title">[[File:Page.png]] '''December's''' featured article</h3>
 
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====Faith====
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===='''History of Christmas'''====
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
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Faith is to be in the Lord, not in spiritual principles. We are to call upon the Lord. The Scriptures do not counsel us to attempt to learn how to manipulate the spiritual realm. The Scriptures direct us to put our faith in the Lord and to wait upon Him. This is a different approach than learning how to work miracles by understanding how the spiritual realm operates.
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Having surveyed the subject of festivals in scripture we will briefly consider the origin and story of Christmas observance, I will not go into great detail on this subject as any encyclopaedia will give most of the required information.
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The early church, as we have seen, simply did not observe Christmas. Until the 5th century there was no consensus of opinion as to when it should be observed. Jan 6th and March 25th were rival dates. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica December 25th was originally a Mithraic festival, the natalis invicti solis, or birthday of the unconquered sun. It seems clear that the time of the winter solstice was generally a time of pagan festivity.
  
Faith in the Lord brings glory to the Lord Jesus. The working of spiritual principles exalts the adamic man and leaves him in the bondage of sin and self-will.
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Before proceeding we must ask some controversial and radical questions. After the departure of the original apostles, did the church steadily grow into maturity, or did it steadily decline into darkness? Was the establishment of Christianity under Constantine as Rome's official religion a triumph or a tragedy? Was the "Christianising" of heathen places of worship and customs a wise and generous compromise, or was it departure from the truth?
  
Have you ever defined faith as a sort of magic that you can work once you know the tricks? If you have you probably have given up in despair, being somewhat condemned that you "do not have enough faith" to get your answer. Faith is not magic or a metaphysical principle, it is our grasp on God's Character and the faithfulness of His promises.
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I would submit that Scripture and history unite to testify that the organised church went progressively into darkness rather than into light. In general the church steadily lost the spiritual dimension of the New Covenant. Then, instead of simply retreating into the truths of the Old Covenant, its leaders like Jeroboam of old produced idols and festivals out of their own hearts to satisfy the people; or perhaps to be more accurate, they turned to paganism for their inspiration! Consequently the period when the church held undisputed sway over all Europe has become known to historians with unbelievable irony as the dark ages.
  
The Scriptures promise great joy to the believer. One of our favorite passages is as follows:
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The date of Christmas is clearly heathen, but what about its customs? Where do they come from? In fact they come from many different sources all of which are pagan and were gradually added over the centuries. The decorating of homes and giving of presents comes from the Roman Saturnalia. Mistletoe comes from the druids. The Saxons used holly and ivy. The emphasis on lights and fires probably comes from the original sun worship at the darkest time of the year. The Christmas tree appears to be of German origin.
  
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:4)
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More significant perhaps than these customs, whose origin has largely been forgotten, is the central religious theme of Christmas: the worship of the mother and child. The ancient Babylonians worshipped a goddess mother and her son and this worship appears to have spread throughout the ancient cultures. At Christmas this ancient idolatry appears annually disguised as Mary and Jesus.
  
Another is:
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In mediaeval times the "merrymaking" aspect became particularly strong. This included eating, drinking, carol singing, dancing and pantomimes. Ceremonies were directed by a man whose official title was the "Lord of Misrule".
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Christmas was forbidden in England by act of parliament by the Puritans under Cromwell, but revived with the restoration under King Charles II. In Scotland it has only become a public holiday in the last 30 years.
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A minority of Christians, notably among the Brethren, have rejected Christmas in recent times.
  
For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalms 84:11)
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===='''Christmas Today'''====
  
God will withhold no good thing from the individual who walks uprightly.
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We must bring this study up-to-date by considering modern Christmas. Each year as world poverty increases, some new spending record is made. Presents that might have seemed expensive twenty years ago are nothing today. Children feel deprived if their presents aren't as good as those of their friends. Bigger and better presents compensate for less and less happy families. Each year the police have a special campaign to prevent drunken driving. Women especially wear themselves out with endless hours of buying presents, sending cards, preparing food and decorating the house. The pagan origins of the festival are forgotten and materialism has taken over.
  
We know that God answers prayer. Though it may take a long period of time we are to wait for the answer. In God's Presence there is fullness of joy. He eventually heals all our diseases and fills our mouth with good things. The Lord delivers us from all our afflictions.
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Should we attempt to "put Christ back into Christmas", as an old slogan used to exhort us. Can we encourage people to remember its "true meaning"?! I believe we face fundamentally the same problem as the early church and indeed as the modern missionary. Can we take something essentially heathen and make it Christian? I personally do not believe we can. It is not the way of the Bible or of God.
  
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Psalms 103:3)
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No doubt here are many people who seek to keep Christmas "in the right spirit". They genuinely seek to remember the birth of Jesus without undue emphasis on Mary. They seek to turn the occasion to an evangelistic opportunity. They minimise the worldly aspects of it all. They visit the elderly and lonely and welcome them into their homes. Such actions one can only praise, but must they be done in the name of Christmas? If I were in India and felt moved to pray, I would not go to a Hindu temple to do it. If I wanted to hold a Christian meeting I would not normally do it in a mosque.
 
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The key to fullness of joy, to the rewards we hope for and pray for, is faith. Perhaps you have had your hopes deferred and your heart is sick. You may have had to labor in a hated situation for many years. You have trusted that you would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. That expectation has kept you from fainting. But time goes on and on and there is no answer.
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How are we proceed? Is it possible we have not known how to press forward in faith? Let us look at some of the comments made in the Book of Hebrews to see how faith in God truly operates.
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Confidence
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Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. (Hebrews 10:35)
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The Word of God makes many outstanding promises to the believer.
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And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)
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And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13,14)
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Perhaps a Christian told us the above verse is a "blank check." "Just fill in the amount." We did, and nothing happened.
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Why did nothing take place? Is the Word of God not true? Don't we have enough "faith"?
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The Word of God is always true. Heaven and earth shall pass away but the Word of the Lord Jesus never shall pass away.
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What, then, is the solution?
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The solution is we are not to cast away our confidence for it shall be richly rewarded.
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[[Faith 2|Next Page]]
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Copyright © 1997-2007 by Trumpet Ministries Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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Latest revision as of 14:00, 29 November 2021

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Page.png December's featured article


History of Christmas

Having surveyed the subject of festivals in scripture we will briefly consider the origin and story of Christmas observance, I will not go into great detail on this subject as any encyclopaedia will give most of the required information. The early church, as we have seen, simply did not observe Christmas. Until the 5th century there was no consensus of opinion as to when it should be observed. Jan 6th and March 25th were rival dates. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica December 25th was originally a Mithraic festival, the natalis invicti solis, or birthday of the unconquered sun. It seems clear that the time of the winter solstice was generally a time of pagan festivity.

Before proceeding we must ask some controversial and radical questions. After the departure of the original apostles, did the church steadily grow into maturity, or did it steadily decline into darkness? Was the establishment of Christianity under Constantine as Rome's official religion a triumph or a tragedy? Was the "Christianising" of heathen places of worship and customs a wise and generous compromise, or was it departure from the truth?

I would submit that Scripture and history unite to testify that the organised church went progressively into darkness rather than into light. In general the church steadily lost the spiritual dimension of the New Covenant. Then, instead of simply retreating into the truths of the Old Covenant, its leaders like Jeroboam of old produced idols and festivals out of their own hearts to satisfy the people; or perhaps to be more accurate, they turned to paganism for their inspiration! Consequently the period when the church held undisputed sway over all Europe has become known to historians with unbelievable irony as the dark ages.

The date of Christmas is clearly heathen, but what about its customs? Where do they come from? In fact they come from many different sources all of which are pagan and were gradually added over the centuries. The decorating of homes and giving of presents comes from the Roman Saturnalia. Mistletoe comes from the druids. The Saxons used holly and ivy. The emphasis on lights and fires probably comes from the original sun worship at the darkest time of the year. The Christmas tree appears to be of German origin.

More significant perhaps than these customs, whose origin has largely been forgotten, is the central religious theme of Christmas: the worship of the mother and child. The ancient Babylonians worshipped a goddess mother and her son and this worship appears to have spread throughout the ancient cultures. At Christmas this ancient idolatry appears annually disguised as Mary and Jesus.

In mediaeval times the "merrymaking" aspect became particularly strong. This included eating, drinking, carol singing, dancing and pantomimes. Ceremonies were directed by a man whose official title was the "Lord of Misrule". Christmas was forbidden in England by act of parliament by the Puritans under Cromwell, but revived with the restoration under King Charles II. In Scotland it has only become a public holiday in the last 30 years. A minority of Christians, notably among the Brethren, have rejected Christmas in recent times.

Christmas Today

We must bring this study up-to-date by considering modern Christmas. Each year as world poverty increases, some new spending record is made. Presents that might have seemed expensive twenty years ago are nothing today. Children feel deprived if their presents aren't as good as those of their friends. Bigger and better presents compensate for less and less happy families. Each year the police have a special campaign to prevent drunken driving. Women especially wear themselves out with endless hours of buying presents, sending cards, preparing food and decorating the house. The pagan origins of the festival are forgotten and materialism has taken over.

Should we attempt to "put Christ back into Christmas", as an old slogan used to exhort us. Can we encourage people to remember its "true meaning"?! I believe we face fundamentally the same problem as the early church and indeed as the modern missionary. Can we take something essentially heathen and make it Christian? I personally do not believe we can. It is not the way of the Bible or of God.

No doubt here are many people who seek to keep Christmas "in the right spirit". They genuinely seek to remember the birth of Jesus without undue emphasis on Mary. They seek to turn the occasion to an evangelistic opportunity. They minimise the worldly aspects of it all. They visit the elderly and lonely and welcome them into their homes. Such actions one can only praise, but must they be done in the name of Christmas? If I were in India and felt moved to pray, I would not go to a Hindu temple to do it. If I wanted to hold a Christian meeting I would not normally do it in a mosque.