Is December 25th Christ's Birthday?
J. W. HOLCOMB
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
Ashland, Boyd County Kentucky
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We are indeed thankful for this privilege of speaking to you on the subject of Christmas. We hope that you will receive the lesson in the same spirit that it will be delivered. I want to suggest in the beginning that anything I say en this subject, I say it with the love of God in my heart and not to hurt anyone. Therefore, if you are guilty of practicing these things we hope you will not become our enemy, but that you will examine the things that we say in the light of truth.
Now to our study of six questions.
First, Is December 25 Christ's Birthday?
There is no statement in the Bible that proves December 25 is Christ's birthday. In fact, God did not see fit to give us the date of the birth of Jesus. Most Biblical authorities, judging by the shepherds having their flocks in the fields, end knowing the month that they always brought them in, say that the birth of Jesus was sometime in the month of September or prior to that time. Therefore, we have no authority to celebrate December 25 as Christ's birthday.
Second, where did Christmas have its beginning?
The word Christmas means "Christ mass." It came to us from the Roman Catholics. They got it from the heathen celebration of Dec. 25 as the birthday of Saul The Sun God. Thus, it came from idolatrous worship which is strictly forbidden in the word of God. It was 3 pagan holiday that was celebrated long before the birth of Christ. Later it was inaugurated as the day
for celebrating the birth of Christ by the Pope of Rome. Any good encyclopedia will confirm this statement. In the tract published by Bro. Carl Findley, he said he had a Catholic friend that was a Priest who told him that he was amazed to see the denominational world protesting Catholicism, yet practicing those things that Catholicism started. He said, "We do not claim that the Bible teaches December 25 is Christ's birthday." The Catholics believe that anything the Pope inaugurates is alright because they do not believe the Bible contains all of God's revelation to man. They do not claim to have Bible authority for celebrating Christmas.
Celebrating December 25 goes back to the time when the Pagans honored Nimrod, the grandson of Noah. He was the man who encouraged the people to build the tower that would reach into the heavens. He was also the founder of the kingdom that became the Babylonian kingdom. After his death, his mother claimed that a tree sprouted and grew to full size, overnight, from a dead stump. She said that symbolized that Nimrod was alive spiritually and that he would come back there once a year and place gifts at this tree. It was then they began to worship him as a great man. They celebrated his birthday on Dec. 25th. As time passed and the worshipping of idols increased, many worshipped the sun and named their sun god, Saul. They continued to celebrate Dec. 25th as his birthday. Then the pope, saying, we have a mass for many others, let us have a mass for Christ, selected Dec. 25th for the mass. Thus we see the day most people believe to be Christ's birthday is actually a day borrowed from the Pagans and handed down to us by the Catholics.
Third, Did the early Church celebrate Christmas?
There is no hint in the New Testament that the church celebrated Christ's birthday on Dec. 25th or on any other day. In Acts 2:42 "they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine in fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." The Apostles doctrine emphasized the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and not the birth. The first day of the week was given for the day upon which the Church is to assemble to show forth the death of Christ. Acts 20:7. The Apostles forbade the Church keeping days not authorized in Christ's New Testament plan. Gal. 4:10-11. "Ye observe days and months and times and years. I am afraid of you lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain." Notice, Paul said his labor among them was in vain if they observed unauthorized days, etc.
If we were to keep a day in memory of the birth of Christ, it would be a commandment to the Church, and not a universal holiday for all people, as is the practice today.
Fourth: What does decorating trees, colored lights, feasts, parties, holly, giving and receiving of gifts,. sending cards, and Santa Claus have to do with the birth of Christ?
The birth of Chnst was a solemn occasion. God caused a virgin to conceive of the Holy Ghost and bear a son and-call his name Jesus. Mt. 1 :18-25. Because of God's love for man he gave Jesus to be the saviour of the world. Jno. 3:16. The Apostles emphasized the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. I Cor. 15:1-4. Not his birthday.
Now what about the Christmas tree? Jer. 10: 1-5. Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, oh house of Israel: "Thus saith the Lord, learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven: for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; fot they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good." Please notice the custom of cutting a tree and decking it as most people do today, is a heathen custom, not a Christian act. Also the lights, holly, and other decorations date back to the Pagan festivals and their decorating of buildings, etc., and also has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Now to the giving of gifts. It is true the wise men gave gifts to Christ. But where is the Scripture that says they gave their relatives and friends gifts because Christ was born?
What would you think of someone celebrating your birthday by giving gifts to people all around you but giving you nothing? The people of the world neglect Christ all year long, and call themselves celebrating his birth — Dec. 25th, by giving gifts to others. What are you giving him? Can you not see this idea is of man? Let me also add that the wise men brought gifts probably several days after Christ's birth, not on the day of his birth.
Members of the Church get themselves in such financial condition, buying gifts, they neglect to give as they have been prospered. I Cor. 16:1-2. Neglecting Christ's work while they claim to be remembering His birth. Folks exhaust themselves Christmas shopping but are too tried to go to the services of the Church?
What about Santa Claus?
This idea came from the legend of St. Nicholas, a Bishop of Myra in Lycia, who gave gifts in secret to three daughters of an improvished citizen. From this originated the custom of giving gifts in secret on the eve of St. Nicholas, subsequently transferred to Christmas day. Hence the association of Christmas with Santa Claus, a corruption brought to America by the early Dutch colonists. (Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 16, page 416).
Parents teach their children that it is wrong to lie, Rev. 21 :8, but on the eve of Dec. 25th will actually lie to them. The story was told of a boy who had been taught there was a Santa Claus. When his parents finally told him the truth he was disappointed and said he was going to check and see if there was any truth in this they had told him about1 Jesus Christ. If we aren't careful we may cause our children to doubt those things that are true. Besides it's wrong to deceive.
Fifth: Does the Church today have Biblical authority to celebrate Christ's birthday on Dec. 25th or any other day? Definitely, not. There are no passages we can use to justify our joining hands with the world to practice a thing in the name of religion that was handed down to us by the Catholics that we have no Scripture for at all. Christians are commanded to come out of Babylon and not be partakers of her sins. Rev. 18:4. In II Cor. 6:17 we read: "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate said the Lord and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you." Many people are in spiritual Babylon and don't know it.
Merchants encourage folk to get in what they call the Christmas spirit, many of whom don't believe in Christ. They are only interested in making money, and not in honoring Christ. Like all of Satan's delusions this one appears as an angel of light. II Cor. 11 :13-15.
Sixth: Is it sinful for Christians to participate inthe celebrating of Christmas as a religious holiday?
Christians are to walk by faith. II Cor. 5:7. Faith comes by hearing God's word. Rom. 10:17. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin," Rom. 14:23. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Heb. 1 1 :6. "If any man speaks let him speak as the oracles of God." I Pet. 4:11. There is no hint in the Scriptures that would cause us to believe God would permit us to engage in this heathen custom and yet please him.
But some say they are celebrating Christmas in a non-religious way. Now stop and think. How can you keep a religious day in a non-religious way? We are to let our light shine. Mt. 5:16. When folk see us doing what they are, how are they to know we are not doing it for the same purpose they are? That is just an excuse some use to do as they please. But remember this, that is the very foundation of denominational ism. Do as you please, and though they have no Bible authority, just say I'm doing it for a good purpose, and I can't see anything wrong with it.
Sending cards, a trea in our homes is a dead giveaway to the world that we are with them all the way in this thing. The practice of sending Christmas cards was frowned upon by Baptists, Methodists, Men-nonites, Amish and Lutherans until 1900. Roman Catholics and Protestant Episcopalians were the first to adopt the custom. Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 5, pages 644 and 645).
The way to Heaven is a straight and narrow way. Mt. 7:13-14. Since God did net give us the date of Christs birth, I know He did not command us to keep it. But he did give the first day of the week as the day we are to remember Christ's death. I beg of you, think on these things. Phil. 4:8.
—J. W. HOLCOMB