It’s that time of year – the time when people ask us about the celebration of Christmas. Since we do not have any special religious celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25th, people often ask why? It’s an appropriate question. So, how are we to answer?
The short answer is this: Christmas is never mentioned in the Bible.
There are some things, some very important things that we do know about the birth of Jesus – things revealed in the Bible. We know that Jesus was born of a virgin, born to be our Savior and born in fulfillment of prophecy. (Matthew 1:18-23) Also we know the place of His birth – Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:5-6) And, too, we know that angels announced His birth. (Luke 2:8-12)
There are, however, some things that definitely are not in the Bible; for example, the actual date of Jesus’ birth. Nobody knows the date – December 25th is merely an invention of man. Furthermore, if God had wanted us to know, He could have told us. Also, the Bible makes no provision for a special celebration of the birth of Jesus. Again, if God had intended such, He could have told us.
Paul in his epistle to the church at Thessalonica wrote: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
Whether or not you have ever watched the current TV program, entitled: “Revenge;” in all probability you have seen it advertised. Early on, the promoters claimed that it was one of the most popular and therefore a must see. Now doesn’t that tell us something about the state of modern American society – revenge for entertainment.
Actually revenge is not a new thing. Remember the words of Lamech that descendent of Cain. He threatened revenge against any and all in these words: “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (Genesis 4:24) Taking vengeance has a long history reaching from the early chapters of Genesis up until our own times.
But what about Christians – are we too to live by this rule? Certainly not! In a world of revenge, a world bent on returning evil for evil, Christians are called to a higher standard. “See that none render evil for evil unto any man.”
Many times a batter has swung the bat in a smooth even swing at what seemed like a sure hit only to miss the ball completely. What happened? The pitcher threw him a curve ball. Likewise in religion many people having heard the gospel message and being desirous of the salvation offered, have nevertheless completely failed in doing God’s will. What happened? Religious teachers have thrown them a curve.
In the second chapter of the Book of Acts we have the record of the first day of Christianity. On that day the apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began to carry out the commission Jesus had given them to spread the gospel message throughout the world. The apostle Peter was the main spokesperson that day. He explained the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; he spoke of the life, death and resurrection of Christ; he told of the ascension of Jesus back to heaven where He sat down on the right hand of the Father. Then Peter concluded by announcing that “God had made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:26)
Today this same gospel message about Jesus and what he has done for us is heard repeatedly throughout the land. It is proclaimed from a thousand pulpits, heard over the airwaves, written in books and pamphlets, communicated from person to person. But then comes the curve. Today when people desiring salvation in Christ ask what to do, instead of being told: “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38) as the Bible says, they are told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer.” This “Sinner’s Prayer,” so often promoted by modern religious teachers as the way to salvation is not found in the Bible. It is rather a deceptive substitute for what the Bible really teaches. And just as many a batter has been deceived by a curve ball, so many good people have been deceived into thinking they are saved by offering the “Sinner’s Prayer.”
A while back the political crisis in the country of Ukraine was front page news. But the crisis there has been overshadowed by Isis, eboli and the mid-term election. However, for the people of Ukraine the tumult there continues. Of course, the Ukraine is on the other side of the world, but people are people no matter where they are, and some of them are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And in addition to that, as God’s people, we should be very much concerned about the evangelistic efforts there.
While the work of Eastern European Mission is not limited to the Ukraine, the work there is a major part of their efforts. Probably you already know, but in case some of us do not, they have been able to provide Bibles and other religious literature in many of the public schools in that country. Furthermore, the study of the Bible has been made a part of the curriculum of the public schools. What a door the Lord has opened for the spread of the gospel!
We are invited to the Eastern European Mission benefit dinner on Tuesday, November 18, 2014. It will be a buffet dinner and program at the South Fork Church of Christ in their Event Center. In addition to a good meal and an opportunity to fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, it will be an opportunity to get the inside information on how our brethren are doing and how the evangelistic work is progressing. And even more, we will have the privilege to be a part of this great work by making a financial gift.
If you plan to attend the dinner, please sign the signup sheet in the back hall so that we may notify them as to how many will be attending.
The meadow jumping mouse has made it to the status of “endangered” and is now protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act. Cattle have more limited water and grazing access so that the mice’s habitat can be protected. Meanwhile, a local politician is excoriated for his stand against abortion. He is cast as an “anti-abortion radical” and one known for “his steadfast efforts to restrict women’s control over their lives”.
What would our forebears think of passing federal mandates to protect rodents while protesting against one trying to afford protection for eternal beings made in the image of God? If we could travel back further in time and show these headlines to a prophet, apostle, or Jesus Himself, what would their reaction be? Might they respond, “I was known by God from my mother’s womb, sanctified and ordained by Him for a specific job.” Or say of himself, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.”
Everyone has a moral compass. It is incredible to see how improperly calibrated many such compasses are. In Canada, a pilot attempting to land amid clouds crashed, killing himself, his co-pilot, and ten passengers, in part due to a malfunctioning compass. His co-pilot pleaded with him to climb to a safer altitude before trying the landing. The last words on record belonged to the pilot, who said, “Go-around thrust!” a split second before the crash. He hardly had time to realize that he was misguided before his life ended.
Many will find out only too late their moral compass misguided their course in life! Our work is to help them see the direction God tells them to go. Only when their hearts, are aligned with THE moral compass of the Bible will they be able to look at matters, big and small, and make rational, common sense decisions. May God continue His forbearance with us as we try to repair the compass.