Why The Church Of Christ Does Not Observe Christmas

It is the time of year when every place we look, we see Christmas trees and lights. Tis a sign of the season and a celebration of the birth of Christ (or so we are told). There are several questions which are prompted when a member of the Church of Christ says they do not believe this should be celebrated as Christ’s birthday. “Do you not believe in the Bible account of the birth of Jesus?” “Do you not believe that the birth of Jesus is an event worth remembering?” The fact is, that we do indeed believe every word of that divine record. But there are several reasons why the church of Christ does not observe Christmas, and so I wish to mention some of them.

There Is No Divine Command Or Precept

We are told we are to do all things by the authority of Jesus (Col. 3:17). Therefore, we must have a divine command or precept for all that we do in religion. With this thought in mind, we do not believe we are authorized to observe religious holidays that are not mentioned in the Bible for Christians to observe. There is no record in the Bible that any Christian ever observed a holiday in the memory of the birth of Christ. Although the Bible does tell us of the activities of the early church, it gives no hint that anyone in apostolic times thought of declaring a holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, or that God wanted it to be celebrated. In fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica reveals that it was a good many years after the death of Jesus before a certain Pope conceived the idea of having a Mass to celebrate the birth of the Savior. To learn of the beginning of Christmas, we must go to the encyclopedia rather than the Bible, for the Bible is silent about the subject. Reading further in the encyclopedia we learn that the Pope who first inaugurated Christmas said, “We have a Mass for every saint, but there is no Mass for Christ.” He decreed that henceforth the 25th day of December each year would be observed as Christ Mass Day. For many years, in fact for many centuries, Christmas was strictly a Catholic holiday, but when various Protestant churches came into being, one by one they borrowed that holiday.

We Must Speak As The Utterances (Oracles, KJV) Of God

The church of Christ does not observe Christmas because of the apostle Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 4:11. We cannot speak as the utterances of God and speak of Christmas. Why? Because the utterances of God are silent about such a holiday. If the New Testament spoke of Christmas and we had the teaching that Christians in New Testament times observed that holiday, the church of Christ would do so now.

Is December 25th Christ’s Birth Day?

Most will readily agree it is not. But they continue to celebrate it as such. I submit to you that a fourth reason the church of Christ does not observe and celebrate Christmas is for the very reason that no one knows when Jesus was born. That particular day and month (December 25th) was selected by the Pope (there appear to be certain pagan reasons for his choice) who inaugurated that holiday. Most Bible scholars believe that Christ was really born in the summer time, but the very fact that God was not pleased to reveal (Deut. 29:29) through His word the day or the month in which His Son was born is evidence that he did not expect us to reverence that day.

It Is A Catholic Holiday

I have already mentioned that originally Christmas was called Christ Mass Day, having been inaugurated by the Pope. Protestant churches borrowed this day from the Catholic church. The church of Christ has never borrowed it. Let me say in this connection that nearly everything that it practiced in many Protestant churches has been borrowed from the Catholic church. Instrumental music, infant baptism, sprinkling, Christmas and Easter Day observance are just a few of the inventions of Catholicism which have been borrowed by Protestants. A number of years ago a Catholic priest remarked that it was amusing to see Protestants borrow such things as Christmas and infant baptism from the Catholics and then try to prove that the Bible mentions and commands such things. He added, “We practice them because our church councils decided that we should do so. We do not believe that the Bible mentions or suggests these things.” He explained that the Catholic church differs from many other churches in that it does not believe that it is necessary to prove by the Bible all things that they do. I think this priest had a greater respect for the church of Christ after learning that we do not take this inconsistent position of being opposed to Catholicism, but at the same time imitating and borrowing from these things invented by Catholicism, of which Christmas is one.

Should Christians observe Christmas? Religiously no! As a family, if they so desire (although I think there may be valid reasons to forgo even that). I am, however, of the firm opinion that it should have no place in the church for which Jesus died.

—Selected

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Gambling (Part 2)

by J. Clyde Strickland

There are many ways in which one may gamble. The casino offers several ways, from the various card games, the roulette wheel, to the slot machine, or one may invent ways of his own. Remember, gambling involves a bet or wager on a chance, an effort on the part of a person to obtain from another something of value without it costing him anything. Whenever these elements are present (this simply may be the price charged for playing the game, the bet or wager, and the chance or risk of winning or losing the price paid for playing the game by the players, the bets, etc.,) those engaged in that practice are gambling.
RACETRACK GAMBLING: Everyone admits that this type of betting is gambling.
SPORTS EVENTS: All should know that betting on these events is gambling, yet, there are some who will argue the question with you. Baseball and basketball players have been bribed and games have been thrown in order that certain ones who gambled on the games might be certain of winning. Betting on the outcome of any game is gambling.
LOTTERIES: Whether state-operated, authorized, or legalized, it is still gambling. The price paid for the lottery ticket constitutes the wager and is risked on the very small chance of winning. Again, this is but an effort to obtain something for very little or nothing.
Many states have legalized lotteries in order to raise revenues only to find that the lotteries are not the great revenue makers they were once thought to be. From an article published in the TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH, written by John Herbers, I lift the following: “Lotteries are now sending us a message that was not widely heard before. More significant, it is being spread not by the opponents of lotteries, but by their sponsors and advocates. The message is that lotteries remain lucrative only when bolstered by constant innovations and ceaseless advertising aimed at enticing participants to gamble.”
SWEEPSTAKES: Invitations to take part in these come quite frequently in the mails. They cost little and offer big rewards, but they involve their participants in gambling. The price of the postage stamp and your effort in sending back the entry form is the wager or bet you make against all others who enter the same sweepstakes that you will be the winner. The reward offered (whether money or something else), the cost to enter, and the chance to win or risk of loss equals gambling. The size of the wager (a postage stamp) does not determine whether a practice is gambling. If the cost of the postage stamp were a thousand dollars, would it then be gambling?
BINGO: Bingo is very popular and is legal in many states. Even some denominational churches use bingo as a fluid raiser to finance their programs of work, all of which makes it more difficult to convince people of the sinfulness of gambling. “Why my church sponsors bingo!” is often heard when someone suggests that gambling is wrong. Now, one may play bingo and not gamble, as is true of any game. Leave off the betting and the prize for winning and simply play the game for the enjoyment of the game. One does not have to gamble to have a good time!
Many of the things people do and the games they play involve gambling, and we as parents need to be alert and instruct our children regarding these practices. Many schools approve raffles as class projects to raise money for an event planned, and they engage the students to sell tickets, never thinking that they are involving them in a gambling venture. And calling the price of the ticket a “contribution” does not change the matter. It is still gambling
Young boys pitching pennies toward a given line or against the wall in which the one who gets the closest to the line or wall wins the pennies, or playing “marbles for keeps,” are forms of gambling whether those playing know it or not. We need to teach them why such is wrong.
I have been asked whether it would be gambling if in bowling or in golf, one paid a price in order to play and a prize or trophy was given to the winner? Such is a common practice. My advice has been, “Avoid such, or at least refuse to accept the prize or trophy, and by all means, let it be known WHY you refuse the prize.” Many people look upon this practice as a form of gambling, and it would be well to avoid the practice. If a practice may be a hindrance to one’s good influence, it should not be engaged in. See Rom. Ch 14 and I Cor. ch. 8.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH GAMBLING?
First, there are three legitimate means of transferring property: (1) By the law of LABOR where money is earned and paid for effort and labor expended, whether the effort or labor be mental or physical. Since Adam and Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit, it has been God’s law that man work for his food (Gen. 3:19), and the Apostle Paul charged that “If any man would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). (2) The law of exchange, where something is exchanged for its value in money or goods. In John 4:8, while Jesus rested at Jacob’s well, His disciples went into the city TO BUY food, not to gamble for it. Joseph’s brothers went down into Egypt to buy corn (Gen. chs. 42 and 43). And when Araunah offered to give David his threshing floor, the oxen and the wood, with which to offer sacrifice, David replied, “Nay, but I will buy it of thee at a price; neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God which cost me nothing” (2 Sam. 24: 23, 24). And (3) The law of love, where money and or goods are given with no expectation or desire of any return. The Samaritan of Luke 10:30-37 is a good example to follow here. Also, see Acts 20:35 where Paul states that: “So labouring we ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Gambling does not qualify when measured by any of these laws or rules.
Second: Gambling does not contribute anything laudable or good to society. Rather, gambling supports and is supported by a corrupt segment of society and is contrary to the very principles, which should undergird true human relationships. It has been said that “gambling is stealing by mutual consent just as dueling is murder by mutual consent.”
Third: By gambling many a poor man has robbed his wife and children of the food and clothing they so desperately needed; many suicides have occurred as a consequence of gambling, and wrecked homes, financially and by divorce are among its fruits.
Fourth: Gambling is “of the world” (I John 2:15-17), and it is a tool of the Devil. Gambling is ugly, degrading, and sinful. Truly, “They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Finally, gambling has an evil influence. And the Christian must maintain an influence “void of offense.” There is nothing wrong with eating meat, and the Christian has the right (privilege) to eat it (1 Tim. 4:3-5), but the Apostle Paul wrote: “Wherefore, if meat maketh my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Cor.8:13). Gambling is wrong and the practice of it is sinful, but if it were not, since its practice robs one of his good influence, the Christian cannot afford to engage in its practice.

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Our Attitude Has Consequences

Webster defines attitude as, “A feeling or way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.” How do you evaluate the daily happenings in your life? Realize that how you do depends upon attitude. You can be positive and enjoy the fruits of optimism, or you can be negative and suffer the consequences of pessimism.

For some people every day is “Blue Monday.” Their favorite hymn contains the words, “Troublesome times are here . . . .” The only thing they are sure about is that things will get worse.

Our attitude is at the foundation of all that we do or aspire to be. Our attitude determines how we handle the setbacks of life, and we all have them, and the successes in life, and we all have them. Christians need to be positive and not negative as we live the Christian life. Negativism dulls our edge.

Consequence of a wrong attitude.
Israel sent 12 men to view and evaluate the conditions in Canaan. Fresh out of Egypt and on their way to the Promised Land, they selected and sent 12 spies to Canaan to spy out the land (Numbers 13:1-24). These were leaders and after 40 days they returned with fruits and evaluation of Canaan (Numbers 13:25-29).

Their evaluation became a point of controversy. Ten of the spies said, “Yet the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and besides we saw the descendants of Anak there” (Numbers 13:28-29).

However, two spies, Joshua and Caleb believed otherwise. Caleb “quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it”’ (Numbers 13:30). From this point on matters degenerated. The people murmured and desired to return to Egyptian slavery (Numbers 14:1-3) and God’s anger of destroying the nation of Israel was stopped only by the intercession of Moses (Numbers 14:4-19). The consequence, Israel wandered 40 years in the wilderness (Numbers 14:20-38).

The ten spies could only see obstacles instead of possibilities with God’s help. If God brought them out of bondage in Egypt, then surely God was able to handle their taking Canaan. Israel experienced what each and every one of us experience—the choice of attitude. We may not be able to control all the external happenings in our life, but we are in total control of how we respond to them. We cannot keep another from hating or abusing us if they so choose, but we can treat them right and no one can stop us from doing s

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Your Mindset Determines Everything

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). A Christian is to be spiritually minded which means their mindset is what it ought to be! Paul again states this concerning our mindset, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”(Phil. 2:5). Christ had the proper mindset! In Colossians 3:2 Paul says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” In order to set my mind, I must have the proper mindset and this simply means that I’m keeping God, people, and things of this world in their proper place in my mind!

Why Is This So Important?
In the Bible the words “heart” and “mind” are often used interchangeably and involve a person’s intellect, volition, and emotions — it’s much more than just our physical muscle known as the heart. Jesus stressed the importance of having our hearts (minds, intellects, emotions) in the proper place (Matt. 6:21). So according to Jesus, where my mindset is will determine where my treasure is which will in turn affect the way I live in this world. Paul stated the same thing when he told us to set our affections on things above! Paul was in essence reminding the Colossians and all who read his letter today that one’s mindset must be in the right place.

This Answers Many Questions
1. Why is it folks will dress up when going to parties, or funerals, or weddings and yet give little regard to their appearance when coming to church? THEIR MINDSET! They have unknowingly placed parties, funerals, and weddings on a higher level in their minds than they have given to almighty God!
2. Why is that children are taught to say, “Yes sir” and “No sir” and “Yes ma’am” and “No ma’am” to their elders and yet speak of God in terms of “you,” “the man upstairs,” or “him”? THEIR MINDSET! They have placed giving respect and honor to men of this world on a higher level in their minds than they have given to almighty God!
3. Why is it folks can’t make it to service but one time a week and yet they can attend a ball game and sit and watch a double header, or not miss one single meeting at school or work or even in some cases attend these functions sick? THEIR MINDSET! They have given things of this world a higher position of importance than they have given to almighty God!
4. Why is it that folks respect the laws of this land and readily accept their responsibility to obey them and yet try to disprove the law of God and show little regard for God’s authority today? THEIR MINDSET! They have brought God down to man’s level and in their minds they no longer respect and honor and give God the important position that he deserves!
One’s mindset will determine how he dresses, how he speaks, how he lives day to day, and, more importantly, where God stands in relationship to himself. For you see until I have placed God first and foremost in my mind as being the awesome supreme being that he truly is my respect and regard for what his will is will not be what it ought to be! In other words it could be said that my mindset is not right.

Where Is Your Mindset?
Can it be said that you are spiritually minded? Has your thinking become like your Savior’s? If the answer is yes then that means your affections are on things above and others will notice this because your dress, your speech, your very attitude towards God’s holy word will reflect these very things.

Where Is Your Mindset Today?
Get it right,
Put it right,
And keep it right!
Your mindset determines everything!

Truth Magazine Vol. XLIV: 20 p23 October 17, 2000 (Adapted)

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