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What About Christmas? 

The truth is somewhere between the extremes

Matthew 1 and Luke 2

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 25, In the year of our Lord, 2016

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Larry Amberg – No suggestions

Prelude

  1. The entrance of the Savior into the world 
    1. was a joyous occasion, and
    2. we should find joy in it also.
      1. However, is it possible to look beyond the extremes and
      2. remember the birth of Christ the way God wants us to acknowledge it?

Persuasion

  1. From Pagan Holiday to Jesus Is the Reason for the Season 
    1. Some say celebrating the birth of Jesus is pagan.
      1. Others say you are a pagan, if you do not celebrate it.
    2. Is remembering the birth of Christ pagan?
      1. There may have been some pagan things adopted, but
        1. does that inherently mean if you remember the birth of Jesus,
        2. you are doing something pagan?
      2. In Western Culture we have adopted somethings
        1. that may have been pagan at one time, but
        2. they no longer are.
    3. Even using the term, “Christmas,” does not retain its original meaning of
      1. a mass, a Catholic mass, for Christ.
      2. This is an example of how languages change, because
        1. English is a living language.
        2. Latin is a dead language.
          1. Therefore the meaning of its words
            1. do not change from decade to decade or
            2. from century to century.
          2. Scientists use Latin for that reason.
            1. What Isaac Newton wrote centuries ago
            2. retains the same meaning today.
        3. “Thursday” is an example:
          1. “Day of Thunder,” referring to Thor, the Germanic god for thunder.
          2. When you say to me, We should get together next Thursday,
            1. we do not think that we will honor the German god Thor,
            2. although we call it Thorsday or Thursday.
    4. Then there is the, “Merry Christmas,” versus, “Happy Holidays,” controversy.
      1. The Bible does not mandate which one you should use.
      2. The Bible does provide guidelines
        1. on how to deal with brothers and sisters
        2. who do not see things as we do, and
          1. how to deal with unbelievers
          2. whose beliefs or non-beliefs will differ from our own.
  2. Do What Is Honorable 
    1. Second Corinthians 8.21

      21 [Provide] honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men (2Co 8.21).
    2. Romans 14

      1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.

      5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

      19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another (Rom 14.1–3, 5, 19).

      1. You are not going to hell if you say, Happy Holidays, nor
      2. are you going to Heaven because you say, Merry Christmas.
        1. Do not demand that someone observe the birth of Christ, and
        2. do not condemn someone who does.
    3. Let us not make laws,
      1. where God did not make them
      2. by declaring it is unscriptural to speak of the birth of Jesus in December.
  3. We Complain When America Drifts and When America Seeks God 
    1. Ask almost anyone of any church or denomination
      1. about the state of religion, spirituality, and Christianity in America.
      2. My guess is that 90% of them will give a negative view.
    2. Yet, our nation has not gone down totally.
      1. The Klamath Falls newspaper, The Herald and News,
        1. used to put the whole Gospel narrative of the birth of the Christ
        2. into the newspaper without comment or interpretation.
      2. Can we not rejoice that a non-religious newspaper would do such a thing?
  4. What about Other Holidays? 
    1. What about Thanksgiving?
      1. I do not even hear anyone say,
      2. “The Bible never says to give thanks on the fourth Thursday of November.”
    2. What about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and other holidays?
      1. In my 36 years of preaching,
      2. I have only heard one criticism, actually, warning
        1. not to make Mother or Father’s Days
        2. more important than remembering it is the Lord’s Day.
          1. That is a good warning, but
          2. it is also true that to honor the Lord,
            1. we have to honor those
            2. whom the Lord says to honor.

              1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph 6.1–3).

              1. Does it specify a day on which to do it?
              2. No, why then does no one object to it?
    3. Should we not remember the Lord Jesus Christ, including
      1. His highly unusual entrance into the world,
      2. having been born of a virgin?
        1. Can I remember the virgin birth of Christ when other people do?
        2. We do not want to add things to it that contradict Scripture.
  5. What Does the Bible Say? 
    1. It does not give us the day of His birth.
      1. It may have been in October or November.
        1. We have a general idea of the time of His death, because
        2. it was at Passover.
          1. We know when Passover is,
          2. thought it changes annually, based on the moon.
        3. Anyway, Jesus died at about 33.5 years of age.
          1. Daniel 9 explains that He would die after 3 ½ years of ministry.
          2. Luke 3 declares His age when He began His ministry,

            23a Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age… (Luke 3.23a).

            1. What does, “about,” mean?
              1. Was He 29 years and 10 months old?
              2. Was He 30 years and 5 weeks old?
            2. We do not know.
          3. If He died in March,
            1. backing up six months places His birth in October, and
          4. if He died in April,
            1. that places His birth in November.
    2. We do know that His birth was and is a reason for celebrating.
      1. Luke 2 shows angels celebrating it,

        9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

        13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

        14 “Glory to God in the highest,
        And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
        (Luke 2.9–14)

      2. Luke continued to write, showing the shepherds praising God,

        15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them (Luke 2.15–20).
      3. Matthew 2 shows wise men from the East rejoicing,

        10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way (Matt 2.10–12).
    3. That last sentence sets off a horrific event.
      1. Herod had told the wise men
      2. that he wanted to know where the Christ was,
        1. so that he could allegedly worship Him, but
        2. he lied, because he wanted to kill the Christ.
          1. Since the wise men did not return to him, but fled,
          2. Herod did something beyond imagination,

            16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men (Matt 2.16).
    4. From the beginning,
      1. Satan did all that he could to keep a prophecy from fulfillment.
      2. After Adam and Eve sinned,
        1. the first prophecy of the coming Messiah,
        2. was not spoken to them, but to Satan,

          15 “And I will put enmity
          Between you and the woman,
          And between your seed and her Seed;
          He shall bruise your head,
          And you shall bruise His heel.”
          (Gen 3.15)
      3. Therefore, Satan got Adam and Eve’s wicked son Cain to kill their righteous son Abel.
        1. But the Lord provided Seth.
      4. Satan got the whole world to hate and to kill one another,
        1. knowing it would move God to destroy humanity,
        2. which He did in a global flood, but
          1. one man and his family escaped that the seed might continue.
      5. Satan worked through the division of Israel,
        1. leading most of the kings into idolatry,
        2. which the Books of the Kings shows.
          1. However, David’s seed line prevailed.
      6. Then Satan got the Lord to exile Israel to Assyria and Babylon.
        1. Satan failed again, because
        2. there was always someone who survived.
    5. Finally, when we get to the time for the Messiah to be born,
      1. Satan unleashes Herod to kill all the baby boys.
      2. However, the Lord moved Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt.
    6. When that failed Satan thought killing the Christ would do the job, but
      1. the God of heaven only used that
      2. to bring salvation to the world!
        1. Satan is a miserable failure.

Exhortation

  1. We seek to see things biblically. 
    1. We do not claim to have done it perfectly, but
    2. we strive for that goal.
      1. Christianity started with simplicity
      2. with just the things you read of in the Bible, but
        1. man has complicated it
        2. as he does everything else.
  2. Jesus was born into this world to bring us salvation. 
    1. That is why the angels rejoiced.
      1. That is why the shepherds rejoiced.
      2. That is why the wise men rejoiced.
    2. However, does not salvation imply damnation?
      1. You see, first, there is bad news.
      2. However, the God of Heaven does not desire to leave us in that condition.
  3. The issue of being saved or of being lost 
    1. all comes down to whether we believe God or not.
    2. If you do not believe what He says about
      1. the consequences for violating His commandments,
      2. you will do things that separate you from Him,
        1. putting you into a lost condition.
    3. If you believe what He says about
      1. the blessings for obeying His commandments,
      2. you will do the things that bring you closer to Him,
        1. putting you in a saved condition.
  4. Therefore, do you believe that the one born in Bethlehem, 
    1. whom we know as Jesus the Christ,
    2. is the Son of God?
      1. If you do believe,
      2. let that belief lead you
        1. into a life of change and obedience;
        2. change from your old ways to the ways of Christ;
          1. from disobedience to obedience,
          2. starting with a new birth through baptism.