CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: We are building a Biblical and historical foundation establishing the time and season of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. In doing so we will re-examine the holiday of Christmas asking ourselves why do we do it, where did the holiday originate from, who gave the Christian church the holiday and it's traditions, and is it Biblical to celebrate it. We will start off today with a continuation of Scriptures from the Book of Matthew as we look at the Biblical and historical account of our Lord's birth.
Matthew 1:18-21 KJV Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Matthew 1:25 KJV And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Although the world’s view acknowledges the birth of a man named Jesus, they would strongly disagree with the Biblical account that He was born of a virgin and was God and is God and that He died on a cross for our sins. The fact that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin is crucial to the Christian doctrine, however there are many who would say that it is not important to embrace the virgin birth to be a Christian. This doctrine would take pages for me to explain and would be getting off the main topic of the Christmas Challenge. However I will take the time to state that in John 16:8-11 we see the convicting work of the Holy Spirit as He draws people to the Lord Jesus Christ. If God is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Scriptures state through the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a virgin, then Jesus cannot be sinless in nature and cannot die for the sins of the world.
What have we established so far? Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married which is as good as married in Jewish culture. It would take a bill of divorce to break their engagement. They lived in Nazareth which was about 63 miles north of Jerusalem. Mary was a virgin and became pregnant of the Holy Spirit with the Son of God.
CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: We can start looking at the New Testament Scriptures to see what it reveals concerning the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The accounts of Mark and John reveal nothing about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ that could give us a clue as to the time or season. On the surface, the accounts of Matthew and Luke reveal little about the time of Jesus’ birth. No dates are given and no season of the year is actually named. However there are clues whereby we can surmise certain truths. We will not attempt to stress a doctrine out of Biblical silence but we can draw conclusions on limited evidence if the evidence is Biblical and historical. First we will look at some Scriptures from the Matthew account of our Lord’s birth and see if there are any clues that we can draw from. The process of going through these Scriptures may seem elementary and basic Christian teachings, but it is necessary to build truth upon truth, and precept upon precept.
Matthew 1:16 KJV And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
We know Biblically and historically a man named Jesus was born in Bethlehem. It is such a documented fact that even our calendars reflect dates such as B.C. and A.D. around his birth. From this Matthew 1:16 Scripture we surmise that our Lord was born through the genealogical line of Mary and Joseph, which can be studied in detail in Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 3. The Matthew account traces the genealogy of Joseph and the Luke account traces the genealogy of Mary. We also see that His name is Jesus but He was called Christ. Christ was not "nick name" or His middle name, but was the role or purpose that He left heaven and took on the form of man. The name "Christ" means anointed or Messiah.
CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: I will getting into the Scriptures hard and heavy in about two more posts. Before I start the defense using Scriptures I have wanted to lay out the foundation that keeps many people from receiving illumination and revelation concerning doctrinal truth. One of the problems I have experienced within the body of Christ is that we are all teachable as long as someone teaches what we already believe.
Many Christians already have their mind made up pertaining to what they believe concerning the doctrine of seasons, feasts, and holidays. These beliefs may have been passed down from family members, from a church or denomination, or come from their own personal experiences. In any of these examples, the doctrine established typically has an emotional bond associated with it. Those holding to these doctrines may not be able to produce a Scriptural basis for what they believe or why they believe it, but they are unwilling to change due to the emotional or mental bond. What they hold to may be nothing more than meaningless erroneous ideas all the way to demonic practices, all of which were picked up somewhere in their Christian walk. This emotional or mental bond is sometimes expressed verbally as an intellectual argument, but lacks the ability to be substantiated with Scriptures or historical facts.
Although Christians cannot Biblically or historically substantiate their doctrine and belief in their Christmas traditions, many are quick to verbally attack those who teach the Biblical truth concerning the birth of our Lord. I have been called a religious fanatic and a cult leader, among other names, because of my Biblical stand against the feast of Christmas. I had Christian brothers separate themselves from me and disfellowship from me because of my stand. It was not that I was preaching or teaching them in an effort to draw them away from practicing Christmas. The separation came because I would not join in their celebration.
That is the way it is with the flesh. If everyone around us does not participate and endorse in what we are doing than the easiest thing to do is to eliminate them from the equation. It happened to John the Baptist, to Jesus and to the disciples. It works like this. First, there is the attempt to discredit the message. If one cannot discredit the message then comes the attempt to discredit the messenger. If one cannot discredit the messenger, the next step is to remove the messenger from the circle of friends and activity. Watch this process as you read the gospels with John, Jesus and the disciples versus the kings and religious leaders.
The challenge for the week is to do historical background on the Christmas feast that is celebrated in December and the actual original feast tied to December 25th. Investigate how Christ's birth got tied to this feast and what religious group made it happen. (Who gave us the current holiday we celebrate on December 25th). And ask why it was outlawed for so long here in America. All of this can be found on your Google search engines or your encyclopedia. More later.
CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: We have been challenging people to research the claims of the tradition of the Christmas story by researching from both the Bible and an Encyclopedia. I am claiming that our Lord Jesus Christ was not born in December and that most of what we do in the season of Christmas has nothing to do with our Lord. Can I prove such a claim that our Lord was not born in December and that the traditional Christmas celebration we all know is not found in the Bible? If He was not born in December when was He born and is it important?
However, if I am expected to prove that Christmas is not the birth of Christ and that Christmas is not a Christian holiday, then I expect the same examination from you who are reading. I will need your proof that Christ was born on Christmas and that Christmas is a Christian holiday. This would be concrete evidence and not from feelings, emotions or the pat answer of "well, I believe."
When this subject of Christmas is questioned in any way many Protestants and Catholics become quite emotional. I have said in many of my teachings that much of what we believe was taught through the traditions of man and we have become emotionally attached to it. A person cannot argue intellectually or Biblically about a doctrine that is emotionally based. Not matter what facts are presented, the mind is make up because of how one FEELS about it. That is why I started out requesting that each reader goes to an encyclopedia and study the history of Christmas.
Many have become firmly entrenched concerning the December 25th date in spite of overwhelming historical and Biblical facts showing another date. Many are emotionally and mentally tied to Christmas because they simply enjoy the season and over time have developed family traditions associated with the holidays. I'm all about family time and family traditions and I think we need them. I just don't need a holiday that is man-made to have the family time or the traditions.
Some feel that the actual day of Christ's birth is irrelevant. Most believe that Christmas, is founded on the premise that Jesus was born on December 25th. These people believe any Christian who is truly striving to follow the Bible will celebrate Christmas as Jesus' birthday and that "He is the reason for the season."
I know that the doctrine of seasons, days, feasts, and holidays can be an emotional topic for some people. I use the word doctrines because there are three different sources for established doctrines. There are doctrines of God, doctrines of man, and doctrines of demons. When we address the topic of seasons, feasts, and holidays we need to be honest about the origin and practices of such feasts and holidays. I have seen churches split and families divided over simple issues related to feasts and holidays as to which ones to celebrate and how they should be celebrated. The key to knowing the truth about God’s established feasts is the same key for knowing all doctrines, and that is to have hearts to hear and to be teachable about what the WORD of GOD says, nothing less and nothing more. More coming later.
CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: Many have had the Christmas story told to them year after year their whole life. Therefore, if someone comes along and challenges what we have been told they had better have a good argument. I will take my time each day and build my case. I welcome any comments in the comment section. I will build line upon line, precept upon precept, using both Biblical truth and historical facts. How I or anyone else FEELS about Christmas is not a Biblical or historical basis for debate. Our personal experiences over the years will not be viewed as a basis for the Christmas challenge. I will do my best to maintain integrity in bringing nothing but truth and facts without regard of personal traditions or beliefs.
We are approaching the time of the year when many people and cultures in the world celebrate the supposed birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The jingles, the Christmas songs on the radio and television, and of course our feel-good movie classics invade our sanity earlier every year. The Christmas decorations and the store advertisements now start before Halloween. Everywhere we go, the holiday cheer comes across with the greeting of “Merry Christmas.” It seems to be inescapable from Thanksgiving to New Years day. For many though, this is a season which starts in glee and joy, but in the end becomes a struggle. Many just wish it would rush by and be over.
Yet it is also a season that requires some of us to be on our guard. Since I do not celebrate Christmas, or give Merry Christmas greeting, I often stick out in a crowd. Such a different viewpoint about Christmas creates curiosity and suspicion in some and anger in others. This curiosity is especially confusing for some since I have been a Christian since 1974 and a Pastor since 1977. Many ask why I do not keep the Christmas celebration and traditions of celebrating Christ’s birth since I believe in Jesus Christ. I respond that our Lord Jesus Christ was not born on December 25, or any other date in December. I also add that according to Scriptures, it is our Lord’s death, burial, resurrection, and return that we are to remember, which we do with the Lord’s supper, and that there is nothing remotely in Scriptures on the celebration of His birth.
1 Corinthians 11:24-26 KJV 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
I will get to the meat of the argument. A little here and a little there. But first I challenged you to go to your encyclopedia and read about the history of Christmas.
CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: First, I want to ensure the readers of this post that I am not an atheists. I am a Spirit-filled retired Baptist Pastor. I do a lot of reading, studying and I am an author of many books. Honesty, I am not always excited and emotionally fulfilled at the truth of God's Word in which I uncover. But God's Word is absolute and He never asks me how I might feel about it. After 42 years of pastoring there are two truths about people that remain constant. (1) "People will believe everything you teach as long as you teach what they already believe." (2) "People are more EMOTIONALLY bound to a belief than they are INTELLECTUALLY bound to it. This is why people say "I don't care what the Bible says or what you are teaching, this is what I feel to be right."
We are in our 2nd week of December and the stores are full of shoppers getting ready for the big day. I would like to issue a challenge to those who are curious for truth and facts. This challenge is not for the intention to bring condemnation, guilt, or accusation, so don't allow yourself to get mad. This is my way of getting some people educated about the upcoming season. Here goes. I challenge anyone to study the Word of God in Matthew 2 and Luke 2 with an open mind and find any "reason for the season." Then go to other sources and study the history behind the holiday. Find out what is truly worshipped on December 25th. Try not to be overcome with the emotional and mental ties of the season that might blind the truth. Look on the web, the Encyclopedia, or other sources.
Why do I do this? I refuse to keep silent when well-meaning believers consistently and emotionally state that "Jesus is the reason for the season", or that "Jesus' birthday is December 25th", or that we should not use "X-mas" because we are taking Christ out of His birthday and season.
WARNING: Don't research this if you already have your mind made up about Christmas and nothing anyone can say will change it. Or if your argument is "I've heard it all, and nothing changes what I believe." Remember, we as believers are responsible to God for truth received, to act on it. I know some may unfriend me on Facebook, social media platforms, and my website over this, because after all, it is easier to unfriend me then to take an honest look at the holiday we worship. But please don't. If you disagree with me, just consider me an over-zealous religious fanatic that will move on to another Biblical topic soon.
We finished off with study 7 showing that Mary and Joseph had traveled 70 miles south of Nazareth to Bethlehem only to find the city full of people and no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7 KJV And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
This leads to a question which we need to keep in our mind for further evaluation. The inn was a public place in which those who were poor could come and stay when visiting the city. We know that Joseph and Mary were poor for many reasons, one of which was the fact that they sought lodging in the city inn. If they were people of wealth they would have been known and accommodations would have already been arranged for them. Since they were poor, which we will explain in more detail later, they sought lodging at the inn.
The problem was not that Bethlehem did not have an inn for visitors. The problem was that they had a great influx of people that caused all the inns to be full. Why were all the inns in Bethlehem full? What was so important in the region that drew people from everywhere to Bethlehem at this particular time and season? These are interesting points and an important clue as to when our Lord was born.
We cannot surmise that the inn was full because of the census that led Joseph to come to Bethlehem in the first place. Yes many would be coming into Bethlehem for the census but many would also be leaving Bethlehem to go to their census cities. There are seven feasts recorded in the Word of God that God had given to His people to follow. These feasts were very important and had been used as the spiritual and political calendars for over 2,000 years. Later we will show that Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem during one of these seven feasts.
CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK: We are building a Biblical and historical foundation establishing the time and season of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we look at the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for Mary and Joseph. It was tax and census time and every male had to return to his house of origin. At this time Mary was well along in her pregnancy making the trip ever more difficult.
Luke 2:4-6 KJV And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
This was a 70 mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Mary was due at any time. This trip would take from 4 to 7 days walking or riding a donkey. Most likely, due to Mary's condition, the trip would have been closer to the 7 days but this is only speculation and cannot be argued from silence. After arriving in Bethlehem they were housed in a stable meant for animals because there was no room in the inn.
Luke 2:7 KJV And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
This leads to a question which we need to keep in our mind for further evaluation. The inn was a public place in which those who where poor could come and stay when visiting the city. We know that Joseph and Mary were poor for many reasons which we will lay out in a later study. The problem was not that Bethlehem did not have an inn for visitors. The problem was that they had a great influx of people that caused all the inns to be full. Why were all the inns in Bethlehem full? What was so important in the region that drew people from everywhere to Bethlehem at this particular time and season? These are interesting points and an important clue as to when our Lord was born. More on this in the next study.
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSIM USA.