Sunday, December 18, 2016

Put the X in Xmas.

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible:
"Gradually a number of prevailing practices of the nations into which Christianity came were assimilated and ...were combined with the religious ceremonies surrounding Christmas. The assimilation of such practices generally represented efforts by Christians to transform or absorb otherwise pagan practices.
The Feast of Saturnalia in early Rome, for example, was celebrated for 7 days from the 17th to the 24th of December and was marked by a spirit of merriment, gift giving to children and other forms of entertainment. Gradually, early Christians replaced the pagan feast with the celebration of Christmas; but many of the traditions of this observance were assimilated and remain to this day a part of the observance of Christmas. Other nations, the Scandinavians, Germans, French, English and others, have left their mark . . . as well (pp. 804, 805)."

The Christian Encyclopedia:
"Various symbolic elements of the pagan celebration, such as the lighting of candles, evergreen decorations, and the giving of gifts, were adapted to Christian signification. Later as Christianity spread into northern Europe, the Celtic, Teutonic, and Slavic winter festivals contributed holly, mistletoe, the Christmas tree, bonfires, and similar items."

Unger's Bible Dictionary:
"The giving of presents was a Roman custom; while the yule tree and yule log are remnants of old Teutonic nature worship. Gradually the festival sank into mere revelry . . . . The custom was forbidden by an act of parliament in 1555; And the reformation brought in a refinement in the celebration of Christmas by emphasizing it Christian elements."

And then there is what the Bible says:

Deut 12:29-32
“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31 You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.32 “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

Daniel 7:25 He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time

Thursday, December 15, 2016

No, I don't think that's it.

When I was first attending church as a teenager I was mostly attending for the company. There were genuine loving people that I could be around and not get into too much trouble. As I attended services I would hear things that were taught, and I would to a degree, accept them blindly as they were being preached by people who had more years in the faith than I had. This acceptance of whatever was being taught lasted for a few years until I started really reading the Bible on my own. I started seeing scriptures that disagreed with some of the things that we were commonly taught. This caused me to start asking questions, and finding that a lot of people didn't have answers. This made a lot of people uncomfortable.

One of the things those questions was about the Sabbath of God and God's decree of what is or isn't food according to scripture. After all, it's all spelled out by God in the text and I wondered why we didn't follow those commands. Those questions usually got an answer that probably went something like this: Those were all part of the old covenant which was made only with the Jews, and the Jews had to follow the laws in order to be saved. We're now part of the new covenant in Jesus and we don't do those commands. Instead we're saved by faith. That might sound familiar because it's commonly taught as part of a system commonly referred to as replacement theology.

Here are a couple of issues with this line of reasoning that I have found from a scriptural platform.

 Hebrews 11:24-29
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.  By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned

This is just one part of this chapter that clearly illustrates that Moses was saved not by adhering to commands and earning salvation. No, this a man who was saved by God by way of faith and God being gracious. That's no different than you or I.  We're taught that we are part of the New Covenant, and yes we are... but few seem to know the details of that Covenant. In that Covenant, there are still God's Holy appointed times and there are still the rest of His commands of what is and is not Holy.
Some want to dismiss all the commands of God as being for the Jews, but that isn't what scriptures seem to show.
Deuteronomy 31:10-13
 10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

That seems to say that the same law for Jews was to be for gentiles too, as if there was to be one law for all of Israel.  Numbers 15:15  As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the Lord. 16 There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.’”

If you're being taught that the Law of God is in opposition to the Grace of God or Faith in God... then you need to understand that God is not against Himself.