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     <h3 class="panel-title">[[File:Page.png]] '''March's''' featured article</h3>
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     <h3 class="panel-title">[[File:Page.png]] '''December's''' featured article</h3>
 
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====Don't Give Up On God====
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===='''History of Christmas'''====
&quot;Now  the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no  pleasure in him&quot;<br>
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(Hebrews  10:38).<br>
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<br>
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by Tom Stewart<br>
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<br>
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<strong>Preface</strong><br>
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<br>
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In truth,  only two kinds of people inhabit this planet-- those who are&nbsp;<em>for</em>&nbsp;Christ and  those who are&nbsp;<em>against</em>&nbsp;Christ. Jesus said,&nbsp;&quot;He that is not  against us is on our part&quot;&nbsp;(Mark 9:40). The Apostle Peter wisely  observed,&nbsp;&quot;Of a truth I  perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that  feareth Him, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted with Him&quot;&nbsp;(Acts 10:34, 35). On one hand, Christ's  adversaries are commanded,&nbsp;&quot;Repent ye, and  believe the Gospel&quot;&nbsp;(Mark 1:15); but, on the  other, to the Saints, who may be presently undergoing difficult times and  circumstances, the Apostle Paul  said,&nbsp;&quot;Stand fast in the  faith, quit you like men, be strong&quot;&nbsp;(1Corinthians 16:13). Strength comes in the believing of  those words from God.&nbsp;&quot;In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth  rise up and walk&quot;&nbsp;(Acts 3:6). The Epistle  of James promised,&nbsp;&quot;Draw nigh to God,  and He will draw nigh to you&quot;&nbsp;(James  4:8). And, to that testimony, the Apostle Paul added,&nbsp;&quot;If God be for us, who can be against  us?&quot;&nbsp;(Romans 8:31).&nbsp;<em>If  we are doing right, then we should never quit.</em>&quot;Now the just  shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure  in him&quot;&nbsp;(Hebrews 10:38).<br>
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<strong>Right Doing is Righteousness</strong><br>
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<br>
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Right action  flows from right willing or the willingness to do right. That is Righteousness.&nbsp;&quot;Little children, let no man deceive you:  he that doeth Righteousness is righteous, even as He is Righteous&quot;&nbsp;(1John 3:7). When we are actively trusting&nbsp;&quot;Jesus Christ  the Righteous&quot;&nbsp;(2:1), then we are&nbsp;&quot;clothed with Righteousness&quot;&nbsp;(Psalm 132:9), and we may rely that His promised Spirit is  working in us&nbsp;&quot;to will and to do  of His good pleasure&quot;&nbsp;(Philippians 2:13). In  fact, we may fortify ourselves that so long as we still have the slightest  willingness to do right, the Almighty will breathe strength into us by His  Spirit.&nbsp;&quot;And I will put My  Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My  Judgments, and do them&quot;&nbsp;(Ezekiel 36:27). What an  amazing amalgamation of the Sovereignty of God with the Free Will of man!&nbsp;&quot;My Father worketh hitherto, and I  work&quot;&nbsp;(John  5:17)! When you feel yourself ready to give up, pray for the mercy of God--&nbsp;&quot;uphold me with Thy Free Spirit&quot;&nbsp;(Psalm 51:12). Since God&nbsp;&quot;cannot deny Himself&quot;&nbsp;(2Timothy 2:13), in that He faithfully chooses the right, He  will always choose those who choose the right, as well, i.e.,&nbsp;&quot;Blessed are they that keep judgment, and  he that doeth Righteousness at all times&quot;(Psalm 106:3). Even when He will soon  judge the Earth, He chooses the right in that He seeks His own highest good and  the highest good of His moral creatures.&nbsp;&quot;Thus will I magnify  Myself, and sanctify Myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations,  and they shall know that I am the LORD&quot;&nbsp;(Ezekiel 38:23).&nbsp;&quot;The LORD is known  by the Judgment which He executeth&quot;&nbsp;(Psalm 9:16).&nbsp;&quot;When Thy  Judgments are in the Earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn  Righteousness&quot;&nbsp;(Isaiah 26:9).<br>
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<strong>Giving Up on God is Not Our Right</strong><br>
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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.
  
When we are  tempted to cease from doing right, we are tempted to give up on God, e.g.,&nbsp;&quot;he that believeth not God hath made Him a  liar&quot;&nbsp;(1John 5:10). We have no more right to give up on  God than an employee has to disobey a lawful order from his employer.&nbsp;&quot;Servants, obey in all things your masters  according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness  of heart, fearing God&quot;&nbsp;(Colossians 3:22).  Neither should we feel that children obeying their parents is anything but what  is expected by God and ourselves.&nbsp;&quot;Children, obey  your parents in the LORD: for this is right&quot;&nbsp;(Ephesians 6:1). In fact, we have no right to feel that we  have done anything but our duty, when we did not give up on God.&nbsp;&quot;So likewise ye, when ye shall have done  all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we  have done that which was our duty to do&quot;&nbsp;(Luke 17:10). That  God is pleased with our faith and right doing is evident by His Word, i.e.,&nbsp;&quot;without faith it is impossible to please  Him&quot;&nbsp;(Hebrews 11:6), and by His rewards, e.g.,&nbsp;&quot;Blessed is the man that endureth  temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the Crown of Life, which the  LORD hath promised to them that love Him&quot;&nbsp;(James 1:12).<strong>But</strong>, His punishment for unbelief,  disobedience, and wickedness demonstrates His displeasure for our not doing or  ceasing to do what we know is right, i.e.,&nbsp;&quot;Therefore to him  that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin&quot;&nbsp;(James 4:17).&nbsp;&quot;8&nbsp;But unto them that are contentious, and do not  obey the Truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,&nbsp;9&nbsp;tribulation and  anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of  the Gentile&quot;&nbsp;(Romans 2:8-9).<br>
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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?
  
<strong>God's Spirit and Promises Keep Us From Giving Up on Him</strong><br>
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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.
<br>
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Has the dinner bell rung yet? Is it time to  quit? Has God officially authorized us to stop doing our duty? Was it not our  understanding to keep our&nbsp;&quot;hand to the plough&quot;&nbsp;(Luke 9:62)&nbsp;until the LORD takes us Home, as He  did Enoch?&nbsp;&quot;And Enoch walked  with God: and he was not; for God took him&quot;&nbsp;(Genesis 5:24). When we are tempted to give up on God, then  we need to immediately avail ourselves of the Exceeding Great and Precious  Promises of God, that have been specifically designed for just such  temptations.&nbsp;&quot;Whereby are given  unto us Exceeding Great and Precious Promises: that by these ye might be  partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the  world through lust&quot;(2Peter 1:4).&nbsp;, to see how God has  magnificently designed His Promises to fit our every conceivable circumstance  and thereby sanctify and further prepare us for our future Heavenly vocations.]<br>
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Spiritual first aid begins by pouring in as many Promises of the Word of God as  we can reasonably find.&nbsp;&quot;As thy days, so  shall thy strength be&quot;&nbsp;(Deuteronomy 33:25).&nbsp;&nbsp;of our website would be a good place to start. Couple a good  Promise with a computerized cross reference search, such as the Treasury of  Scripture Knowledge used by the Online Bible &nbsp;and&nbsp;, and you will be able  to find even more Promises.]&nbsp;Especially  find one Promise that the Holy Spirit can recall to your mind. For example, the  need for the&nbsp;&quot;meekness and gentleness  of Christ&quot;&nbsp;(2Corinthians 10:1), especially when you are provoked by  those that despise your testimony, may call forth the Promise that preeminence  with God goes to those who primarily defend Him and not self:&nbsp;&quot;the last shall be first, and the first last&quot;&nbsp;(Matthew 20:16). The&nbsp;&quot;meek and lowly in heart&quot;&nbsp;Christ&nbsp;(Matthew 11:29)&nbsp;is<em>always</em>&nbsp;the Promise, the Pattern. and the  Example that&nbsp;&quot;ye should follow  His steps&quot;&nbsp;(1Peter 2:21).&nbsp;&quot;He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,  yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a  sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth&quot;&nbsp;(Isaiah 53:7).&nbsp;[More  about meekness may be found in the&nbsp;<br>
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Again, you may not think of your bouts with impatience, haughtiness,  fearfulness, etc. as anything more than something that you have under control;  but, why do you keep repeating the same pattern of failure?&nbsp;&quot;Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?&quot;&nbsp;(Galatians 3:3). Isn't that the same as giving up on God by  fits and starts?&nbsp;&quot;He that trusteth  in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be  delivered&quot;&nbsp;(Proverbs 28:26). It is  not enough to know that you should not do something&nbsp;<em>or</em>&nbsp;that you should do something,&nbsp;<em>but</em>&nbsp;you need the assistance of the Holy  Spirit to help you do what God says you are able to do but won't succeed in  doing until He intervenes.&nbsp;&quot;And I will put My  Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My  Judgments, and do them&quot;&nbsp;(Ezekiel 36:27).&nbsp;[See our editorial, &quot;, to see how Divine  Sovereignty providentially needs not overpower our Free Will to insure our  obedience.]<br>
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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.
  
<strong>Conclusion</strong><br>
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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.
<br>
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Though giving up on God is an option, why  entertain it?&nbsp;&quot;He which hath  begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus  Christ&quot;&nbsp;(Philippians 1:6). What  is the value of a Promise for your perseverance, unless you believe it?&nbsp;&quot;6&nbsp;But Christ as a Son  over His Own House; whose House are we,&nbsp;<strong>if</strong>&nbsp;we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end...&nbsp;14&nbsp;For we are made partakers of Christ,&nbsp;<strong>if</strong>&nbsp;we hold the beginning of our  confidence stedfast unto the end&quot;&nbsp;(Hebrews 3:6, 14). May  the God&quot;Who  worketh all things after the Counsel of His Own Will&quot;&nbsp;(Ephesians 1:11)&nbsp;magnify  Himself in keeping us from giving up on Him, in that&nbsp;&quot;He is able even to subdue all things unto  Himself&quot;&nbsp;(Philippians 3:21).<br>
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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".
<br>
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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.
Maranatha!<br>
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A minority of Christians, notably among the Brethren, have rejected Christmas in recent times.
<br>
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He.Will.Subdue.Our.Iniquit.html">He Will Subdue Our Iniquities, for encouragement for  the fulfillment of this Promise from Micah 7:19.]
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===='''Christmas Today'''====
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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.
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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.
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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.

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.