A great number of people in our country have been taught for years that the birthday of our Lord is on December 25th. They have been taught that people must celebrate it in some form or fashion each year in order to please God. However, does the Bible teach us to celebrate the birthday of Christ on December 25th, or any other day of the year? The Bible teaches that all we do and say must be in accordance with the will of God (1 Peter 4:11; Colossians 3:17). Therefore, where has the Bible revealed that man celebrate the birth of Christ? If something has been said about it, what does the Bible reveal is necessary for the appropriate celebration of the Lord’s birth? Some people will attend special “church services,” masses, and the like on December 25th, others will do nothing. I know some who have decorated birthday cakes which said, “Happy Birthday Jesus” on it, and other such things. What is the truth? Are we to celebrate the Lord’s birth as some type of “holy day”? Let us spend some time in God’s book, and learn what the Bible says about our remembering Christ, as well as examine some misconceptions about Christmas.
The Wise Men
Many believe that there were three wise men that came to visit Jesus at His birth. Any “nativity scene” you see will portray three wise men standing around looking at a baby lying in a manger. People assume that there were three wise men present within a few minutes or hours of the birth of Christ, since this is what the majority of the world has said over the years. Yet, Matthew 2:11 reveals that the wise men came “into the house…” and not the stable! J.W. McGarvey (The Fourfold Gospel, p. 42-43) shows by the Bible and historical records that Jesus was no less than 40 days old by the time the wise men worshipped Him and presented the gifts. This is because Luke’s account of Christ’s birth shows that after our Lord’s birth, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice (Luke 2:22-24). It was upon their return from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, that the wise men came and found Jesus (Matthew 2:9-11).
Continue reading » The History of Christmas
As all of us are keenly aware, the "Twin Towers" are no more. A portion of the Pentagon is in ruins as well. These acts were the result of planning, spying, and a deep-seated hatred for the United States. The product of such hatred is the destruction of American landmarks, and the death or injury of untold thousands. As I write these lines, it is not known what the actual death-toll might be, nor do we know the number of injured people buried in the rubble and ruin from the attacks. Some ten years ago, I was in one of the "Twin Towers" — the second one to fall. It had an observation deck on the 110th floor, from which you could see for many miles in any direction. Such an experience helps me to appreciate the destruction which occurred on Tuesday, "911", as it has been called. I am sure others who read this article have been to the World Trade Center, and/or perhaps have visited the Pentagon, and have an idea of the destruction that has taken place.
As I watched in horror the tragic events of September 11, I was numb with shock, as there was no way to put into words what one feels at a time when one’s own country is being attacked from an unknown enemy. Through the day that fateful Tuesday, many thoughts went through my mind, and I wish to use this space to consider a few of my thoughts in light of what the Bible says. Perhaps this will help all of us to put these horrible acts in perspective. In light of the horrible acts of terror we faced together as nation, let us realize ….
Continue reading » Lessons from Terror
In contrast to the works of the flesh described by Paul in Galatians 5:19-21, the fruit of the spirit in verses 22-23 stands out as character traits all Christians must have. It is these things that Paul said, “against such there is no law.” In other words, there is nothing to condemn such a one who practices the virtues mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Contrasted here, are the works of verses 19-21 which would and do condemn men, and which are characteristics that ought not be in anyone’s life. Paul’s style of writing often uses such means of teaching, i.e., the contrasting of two opposing lifestyles, and showing which one the Christian ought to possess. He often tells men what not to do, and then will follow that with what God expects of them. We find this in Colossians 3:5-14. It is also apparent in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (4:22-32). It is fascinating to consider Paul’s style of teaching. As we consider what Paul (by the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Corinthians 7:40b, 14:37) had to say concerning the fruit of the spirit, let us consider the characteristic of temperance, or self-control.
Definition Of Temperance
Many times, people think of the word “temperance” only in connection with alcohol. One might remember the “temperance” movement of the 20th Century, where this nation succeeded in outlawing all alcohol from legal consumption for a time. (Note: I said “legal consumption.” It is clear there were many who illegally brewed and sold their alcohol.) In fact, in the town near where I grew up, the main street through town is named “Temperance Street.” It was called such because originally in that town, there were no establishments allowed on that street which sold alcohol. (This rule has since changed dramatically over the years.) Continue reading » Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control (Temperance)
In studying Galatians 5:19-21, the second sin, or “work of the flesh” mentioned by Paul is that of fornication. Galatians 5:19-21 closely parallels 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. There, Paul told those brethren that some “shall not inherit the kingdom of God”; and the very first ones on the list were “fornicators”! A note of interest to me concerning Galatians 5:19-21 is that in J.N. Darby’s translation (1871), he omits listing “adultery” and has “fornication” mentioned first. This is also true of the Common English Version, printed in 1865. The New American Standard Bible simply lumps both adultery and fornication together, calling it “immorality.” Nevertheless, to discuss the subject of fornication is certainly a Bible topic, and one which merits our study. We read the word “fornication” no less than 36 times in the Bible. “Whoredom” is found 22 times, and “whoring” is found 19 times. I mention “fornication,” “whoredom,” and “whoring” together because these three words come from the same Hebrew word (zanah) in the Old Testament, and the same Greek word (porneia/pornos) in the New Testament. Fornication is something that is consistently called a sin from Old to New Testament times, and should be treated as such today. Fornication is called a “work of the flesh” by Paul for a reason. Therefore, let us learn why we must avoid such sins. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Fornication
This subject is perhaps the most argued, the most denied, and the most misunderstood among people who say they believe in God, in Christ, and say they are saved. I myself have debated this subject twice between November of 1998 and March of 1999. I affirmed that baptism was necessary for the remission of sins and my opponent denied this. Why is this such a controversial topic? Why such division on this subject when the New Testament is filled with references concerning the necessity of baptism?
Defining “Baptism”Baptism, as the word is used in the Bible, is “consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence …. to dip” (Vine’s Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 62). Mr. Thayer defines baptism as, “to immerge, submerge …. to overwhelm, to be overwhelmed with calamities, of those who must bear them” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 94). Therefore, baptism itself is an immersion in something. The context tells us the element. This will be made clear in our next point. Continue reading » “Baptism for the Remission of Sins”
Caesarea Philippi was located in northern Palestine, on the southern slopes of Mount Hermon. This town was located near the most eastern source of the Jordan river. There has been a city in existence on this site since Old Testament days. In Joshua’s day, it was not know by the name “Caesarea Philippi,” but probably known as “BaalGad” (Josh. 11:16-19). In later years, the Greeks conquered this land, and the city became a center of worship to the Greek god Pan. Pan was the Greek god of forests, pastures, flocks, and shepherds; represented with the head, arms, and chest of a man, and the legs, ears and horns of a goat. In honor to their god, the Greeks named the city “Paneas.” After the Romans conquered the Greeks, Augustus Caesar gave the town to Herod the Great. Herod then built a marble temple and dedicated it to the Roman emperor in 20 BC. Herod’s son Philip enlarged the city, renaming it Caesarea, to honor Augustus. By the first century, this town was called Caesarea Philippi in order to distinguish it from the seaport and capital, Caesarea Martina. In medieval times (1120 AD) the Crusaders built a castle on a mountain spur about 1,150 feet above the Jordan’s primary source and called it “The Castle of Subeibeh.”
Caesarea Philippi is known today as Banias. In 1983, the Israeli Department of Antiquities began archaeological excavations. In their digs, they have found artifacts dating back to the early Roman period. Massive underground systems of vaulted Roman buildings have been discovered, as well as other amazing artifacts. The marble temple built by Herod has not yet been discovered, but three coins that picture the structure, along with numerous other coins depicting the worship of Pan, have been unearthed. Caesarea Philippi certainly played a part in the early history of the world. Continue reading » Caesarea Philippi
In 1 Corinthians, chapter one, Paul greets these brethren, stating that he thanked God for them. Since Chloe let Paul know of their division over names (v. 11-12), he told them they were to be united (v. 10). He also stated that he was glad he baptized none but the few mentioned in verses 14 and 16 for fear that some might think he had baptized them in his own name (v. 15).
Paul then turns his attention to the “preaching of the cross” (v. 18). In so doing, he makes several interesting contrasts. In the last half of 1 Corinthians one, Paul contrasts the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God. Paul said God used what appeared foolish to the world, what appeared weak, that which was considered base, despised, and things that are not “to bring to nought things that are.” Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 really brings out the contrast. There, we read, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Paul makes it clear that God chose what the world calls foolish to save lost souls. And truly, those who are lost consider the things of God foolish. In fact, “the fool hath said in his heart there is no God” (Ps. 14:1). Therefore, it pleased God to use what men consider foolish (preaching the gospel) to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21). Understanding passages like this makes me appreciate passages like Romans 1:16 all the more. Remember that Paul said he was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Though it was considered foolishness by men, he told the Romans it was “the power of God unto salvation” to save those who believe. Knowing the saving power of God is revealed in the gospel, it is imperative that men and women do all they can to spread the gospel (2 Tim. 2:2). Only through teaching and spreading the gospel will men be presented with the opportunity to hear and obey the saving gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-2). Continue reading » The Foolishness of Preaching Morality
Job chapter nine records one of the speeches Job made while defending himself against Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. This speech in chapter nine is somewhat different from the others. This is because Job does not spend much of his speech responding directly to Bildad and what he has said in chapter eight. In chapter 9, Job devotes his attention to God and His greatness. The questions Job asks in this chapter get to the heart of the matter of sin.
In Job 9:1-10, Job declares God’s greatness. Here, he asks a question in verse 2, “…how should man be just with God?” or (NKJV) “…how can a man be righteous before God?” Job is simply asking, “How can a man maintain that he is in the right and then be in opposition to God?” Job has maintained all along that he has done nothing that would warrant his present situation, yet, he has been suffering. He then says, “If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand” (v. 3). Near the end of this chapter, Job pleads for a “daysman.” He says, “For he (God) is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:32-33). Continue reading » The Plea for a Daysman
The Need for Children to be Taught
There is a great need today for our young people to be taught the word of God. As I write this, I believe it goes without saying that this is true. The need for gospel teaching is seen in the words of Christ as He commanded His disciples to, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15-16). It is seen in Paul’s words, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Peter’s words also show us how important it is to be taught God’s word. This is because we must, “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” and “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 2:11, 4:11). There is no way a Christian (regardless of age) may live, speak, or teach others in a way that pleases God unless he/she is taught what pleases God.
The Need for Teaching Our Young PeopleIn considering our subject, why is it necessary to teach our young people? First of all, it is necessary because teaching our youth is commanded by God, as we have already shown. Teaching our young people also shows that we are following the apostolic example (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:16). Paul took time to impart his experience and knowledge to young men like Timothy and Titus. (Not unlike what Christ did for His disciples!). Paul knew he wasn’t going to live forever, and that men like Timothy and Titus were going to have to rise up and fill Paul’s place as a teacher and exhorter of brethren when he was gone. Continue reading » We Need Watchmen Because of Our Children