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What does the bible say about Christmas

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1 What does the bible say about Christmas on Tue Dec 13, 2016 12:08 pm

LesBrewer

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Over the next few days leading to Christmas I will be sharing some biblical questions on what the bible says about that special day that we all celebrate. So grab your bibles and visit regularly as we take a look at these interesting questions.

Today we will start by "Should Christians celebrate Christmas?"

The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?

First, let’s look at the reasons why some Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have origins in paganism. Searching for reliable information on this topic is difficult because the origins of many of our traditions are so obscure that sources often contradict one another. Bells, candles, holly, and yuletide decorations are mentioned in the history of pagan worship, but the use of such in one’s home certainly does not indicate a return to paganism. While there are definitely pagan roots to some traditions, there are many more traditions associated with the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Savior of the world in Bethlehem. Bells are played to ring out the joyous news, candles are lit to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4-9), a star is placed on the top of a Christmas tree to remember the Star of Bethlehem, and gifts are exchanged to remind us of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, the greatest gift of God to mankind.

Another argument against Christmas, especially having a Christmas tree, is that the Bible forbids bringing trees into our homes and decorating them. The passage often cited is Jeremiah 10:1-16, but this passage refers to cutting down trees, chiseling the wood to make an idol, and then decorating the idol with silver and gold for the purpose of bowing down before it to worship it (see also Isaiah 44:9-18). The passage in Jeremiah cannot be taken out of its context and used to make a legitimate argument against Christmas trees.

Christians who choose to ignore Christmas point to the fact that the Bible doesn’t give us the date of Christ’s birth, which is certainly true. December 25 may not be even close to the time Jesus was born, and arguments on both sides are legion, some relating to climate in Israel, the practices of shepherds in winter, and the dates of Roman census-taking. None of these points are without a certain amount of conjecture, which brings us back to the fact that the Bible doesn’t tell us when Jesus was born. Some see this as proof positive that God didn’t want us to celebrate the birth, while others see the Bible’s silence on the issue as tacit approval.

Some Christians say that since the world celebrates Christmas—although it is becoming more and more politically correct to refer to it as “the holidays”—Christians should avoid it. But that is the same argument made by false religions that deny Christ altogether, as well as cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny His deity. Those Christians who do celebrate Christmas often see the occasion as an opportunity to proclaim Christ as “the reason for the season” among the nations and to those trapped in false religions.

As we have seen, there is no legitimate scriptural reason not to celebrate Christmas. At the same time, there is no biblical mandate to celebrate it, either. In the end, of course, whether or not to celebrate Christmas is a personal decision. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5) and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas.

2 Re: What does the bible say about Christmas on Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:10 pm

LesBrewer

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What is the true meaning of Christmas?

The true meaning of Christmas is love. John 3:16-17 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love.

The real Christmas story is the story of God's becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. Why did God do such a thing? Because He loves us! Why was Christmas necessary? Because we needed a Savior! Why does God love us so much? Because He is love itself (1 John 4:8). Why do we celebrate Christmas each year? Out of gratitude for what God did for us, we remember His birth by giving each other gifts, worshipping Him, and being especially conscious of the poor and less fortunate.

The true meaning of Christmas is love. God loved His own and provided a way—the only Way—for us to spend eternity with Him. He gave His only Son to take our punishment for our sins. He paid the price in full, and we are free from condemnation when we accept that free gift of love. "But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

3 Re: What does the bible say about Christmas on Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:09 am

LesBrewer

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Should we give gifts at Christmas?

Many people take the idea of gift giving at Christmas back to the scripture in Matthew 2:10-11 which talks about the Magi (wise men) giving gifts to Jesus at his home: "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."

The Bible gives a wonderful story about the gift God gave us—Jesus Christ—and we can use it as an opportunity to present the gospel and to show love. Giving and receiving gifts can be part of fulfilling what Paul says about giving in 2 Corinthians 8:7-8, "But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others." Paul was talking to the churches who were giving him gifts (financial) so that he could keep on in the ministry. We can apply this same lesson to our own lives by giving to others, not just at Christmas, but year round!

So, can gift giving become the focus of Christmas instead of thanking the Lord for the gift of His Son (John 3:16)? Absolutely! Does giving gifts have to take away from the true meaning of Christmas? No, it does not. If we focus on the wonderful gift of salvation the Lord has given us (Isaiah 9:6), giving to others is a natural expression of that gratitude. The key is our focus. Is your focus on the gift, or on the ultimate gift-giver, our gracious Heavenly Father? "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..." (James 1:17).

4 Re: What does the bible say about Christmas on Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:43 pm

LesBrewer

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Was Jesus actually born in September or was it December?

The time of year that Jesus was born is a matter of some debate, but the exact timing of Jesus’ birth is nothing to be dogmatic about, given the Bible’s lack of detail on the subject. Of course, the traditional date of celebrating Jesus’ birth is December 25, but the Bible nowhere points to His being born in mid-winter. One alternative theory is that Jesus was born sometime in September.

Those who propose that Jesus was born in September make their case using the following points: first, at the time of Jesus’ birth, there were shepherds in the fields watching their flocks (Luke 2:8). According to some sources, shepherds were not normally in the fields during December, due to the cold and wet conditions in Judea during that time of year. Therefore, Luke’s account suggests that Jesus may have been born in late summer or early fall (i.e., in September). The problem with this argument is that the average low temperature in Bethlehem in December is in the low-to-mid-forties—the same as Jacksonville, Florida.

Second, the idea of a September birth of Jesus includes a consideration of the census affecting Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:1–4). Some argue that Roman censuses would not have been taken in winter, as cold temperatures and poor road conditions would have made participation in a census difficult. However, others point out that Roman officials were not all that concerned with the burdens they placed on the citizenry. It was either obey Caesar or else; ease and convenience did not factor into the law-making process.

Third, and most significant, the theory that Jesus was born in September depends on the timing of John the Baptist’s birth. These biblical facts lay the groundwork: John’s father, a priest named Zechariah, was taking his turn to serve in the temple when the angel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, would conceive a son (Luke 1:8–13). After Zechariah returned home, his wife conceived, just as the angel had said (Luke 1:23–24). Gabriel then visited Mary to announce the miraculous conception of Jesus, and this visit came in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:26, 36). Another important detail: Zechariah “belonged to the priestly division of Abijah” (Luke 1:5).

Using the above information, the calculations are made thus: the priests in the Abijah division served from June 13—19. Assuming that Elizabeth conceived shortly after Gabriel’s announcement to Zechariah, her sixth month—the month that Gabriel visits Mary—would be December or January. Assuming that Mary conceives shortly after Gabriel’s announcement to her, Jesus would have been born nine months later, i.e., August or September.

There is still one problem with using those calculations to arrive at a September birth of Jesus. We just aren’t sure exactly when the Abijah division of priests served. The priestly divisions were created by David and instituted during Solomon’s reign (1 Chronicles 24:7–18), but the Babylonian exile required a “reset” of the divisions and their rotation (Ezra 2). Zechariah’s division could have served in mid-June, but other sources calculate Abijah’s course to have ended on October 9 of that same year. An October conception of John would place Jesus’ birth in December or January.

In the final analysis, no one knows in what month Jesus was born. It could have been December. It could have been September or some other month. Usually, supporters of the September date are reacting against the fact that December 25 was an ancient pagan holiday. But it should be noted that the Christian observance of December 25 has nothing to do with paganism today. If anything, Christian practice has “redeemed” the date from paganism and given it a new meaning full of praise to our Savior.

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