Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ our Lord (God the Messiah)

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WE GATHER TOGETHER TO WORSHIP HIM

THIS AUTHOR’S OPINION ON WHETHER WE SHOULD CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS… Yes, and No.  You have to decide.  We do in our house.

Also including some of our family’s reflections.  Those who do not esteem the day, it is up to them…So PLEASE, if you do celebrate His Birth, do not automatically label them a Calvinist, or a Hebrew Roots Movement, or a Law Keeper or legalist.  Their conscience may bother them, and our liberties should not impinge on their conscience, nor should their weaker conscience be used to judge our liberties.  They should not be condemning others as pagans.  

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  Luke 2:8-14

The Magi, seen in Matt. 2, (aka, wise men and some say Kings) came to worship Jesus and bring gifts following the Star of Bethlehem.  We are sure that they knew the promised King, that Daniel the Prophet surely had apprised them of the Scriptures (Dan 9:24-27).  He foretold of the Messiah as a Prophet, Priest and King.  Also Micah had foretold where the Messiah would be born (Micah 5:2) Some think that there were three Kings or Magi, likely because of the number of gifts mentioned.  However many, they came with gifts worthy of a King.  That much we know. We also know it was not at His birth, but later when Jesus was a young child or infant.

Gold – was a gift worthy to give Kings, along with being seen all over within the temple.  The Pharaoh honored Joseph with a gift of a gold chain around his neck.  Abraham was blessed with gold.  It symbolizes many thing, purity, blessing, honor, and again — a gift worthy of the King.

Frankincense – were offerings of incense, prayers, temple service, and acknowledgment of Jesus being God. (Ex. 30:34)  Our prayers are now mediated by our High Priest, and they are stored in golden vials in heaven. (Rev 5:8)

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Ps 141:2

Myrrh – Possibly signifies a Holy Anointing oil.  Used in service in the temple, also said to be part of the final offering to Him on the cross.  Myrrh was also used in the anointing of dead bodies when they prepared them for burial, providing a beautiful fragrance.  Jesus, was called God’s Anointed One, the Messiah. (Psalm 2)

Christmas is a time that those believers who DO celebrate should show forth our Praise to the King of Kings.   If we give gifts to others, let us remember to bring the most important gift to others, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pray for opportunities to share at this time of the year.

SOME DETRACTORS

Hyper-Calvinist A.W. Pink delivers this condemnation regarding those who choose to celebrate His birth

‘But, says someone, Christmas is the time when we commemorate the Savior’s birth’. He says, “It is? And WHO authorized such commemoration? Certainly God did not. The Redeemer bade His disciples “remember” Him in His death, but there is not a word in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, which tells us to celebrate His birth.  

(Comment: So do you need ‘authorization’ to celebrate your child’s birth?  How about a wedding anniversary?  What about a national holiday, do you protest and work?  Did Mr. Pink have a wedding ceremony when he was married?  Who authorized that?…

It can go on exponentially with this type of judging of our liberty or wondering of something may or may not have pagan roots, did God not make everything?  So do we worship as unto a pagan god, or do we worship in His name, honoring Him?).

After declaring the whole world does “it” (Christmas), he then asks of us,

“is it fitting that His friends should unite with His enemies in a worldly round of fleshly gratification?

Is that what we do? Gratify our flesh?  (Notice the accusations, with no Biblical substantiation?)  Granted, some certainly may, and here is where we might point them to the Lord, and His Word, lovingly, assuming we are one of His.  Pink did not attend church or receive brethren who came to see him from across the world… 

HERE IT COMES…(the typical questioning of a Calvinist-lawkeeper-legalist about our salvation based on works, never do they base it on belief in Him…)

PINK QUESTIONS OTHER’S SALVATION AND SAYS WE ARE DOING EVIL:

“Does any true born again soul really think that He whom the world cast out is either pleased or glorified by such participation in the world’s joys? Verily, the customs of the people are VAIN; and it is written, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2).”

(As I read his argument, I was in disbelief as he used Ex 10:9-10 out of context for ‘taking the little one with you OUT of Egypt’….as well as partial verses, and using Mosaic law, not one properly divided passage.)

The condemnation and the judging of my liberty continues.

According to Pink, celebrating the birth of Jesus is…

“dragging his Holy name in connection…season of carnal jollification …

“a type of the world”

“a mingling with the present day Egyptians in their pleasures of sin for a season”.

He asks, “Do we ever give the children “a good time” when we engage in anything upon which we cannot fittingly ask THE LORD’S blessing?” (we can’t? Says who?)

DO YOU GIVE GIFTS? PINK says you are: “in cruel bondage to the prevailing custom of “Christmas” namely that of exchanging “gifts.” (somebody should have told the Kings that in advance-Ps 72:10-11, 17…)

So no gift giving either right? In any circumstance?  Or just when THEY say so?  Maybe when Jesus said this, He should have warned these ‘good gifts’ were pagan.

 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?  Luke 11:10-13

He continues:

“Christmas merrymaking” is entirely a thing OF THE WORLD”

“devoid of any Scriptural warrant”.

(I could come up with a whole list of things “devoid of Scriptural warrant”, as he has done, based on law, as he uses.   How about wearing pants, driving cars, banking institutions, writing checks with pagan dates, even having a green houseplant in our house, equating it to the Jeremiah 10 idol carved from a tree?  This is a short list, look at the 600+ laws, you will have plenty of reasons to despair…)  

“a Romish institution”

(Some customs do come from traditions of Rome, such as the name of Christ-mass itself.  They also celebrate Resurrection day (Easter), and wear crosses and use His name, shall we stop? They meet in churches, do we need to talk about that?  Carry Bibles, worship on Sunday, use music in church, and do plenty that we do.

But why do we do something?  How do we esteem the day?  If it is not in their way (such as attending the mass to take the eucharist, are we then to worry about the word that has been adapted from them?  We use many words that have been adapted from all sorts of other religions. How many words do you use from Catholic, Old English or Latin root word etymology? Do you know?.  Who are these men to judge us?  Is that the reason you do something (worshiping an idol), is this why you esteem the day (a sun god)?  Ask the Lord to show you where you are not doing any part as unto Him as we should do with each and every day…)

Here he compares any observance of Christ’s birth with the unfruitful deeds of darkness by saying:

“now that you see this, you dare no longer have any fellowship with it (Eph. 5:11).

Sorry Mr. Pink, I do not ‘see this’ your way.  My Master is able to make me stand, and I look to Him in these things, and where there is not direct prohibition, I will not stand condemned.  

I will not listen to incorrectly exegeted (and eisegeted) passages of these with weaker consciences, or even worse, who are living by the law.

I will refrain from judging another man’s servant and prayerfully I will also not cause another to stumble.

Sending out Christmas cards with Scripture on them?  

He says, “That also is an abomination in the sight of God.”

AMAZINGLY, again, he cites Old Testament law out of context, Deut 22:9-10 as his proof.  Again, completely and wrongly divided to condemn another.

Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.  Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.

Why would he not cite prior verse 8, that says this?… “When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.”

Or even a couple of verses later, does he wear wool with linen?  Does he have four fringes on his vestures? This is where I see him deceitfully handling God’s Word throughout. Where was your parapet Mr. Pink, or do you not live in a house?

A.W. Pink suggests IF we have “a heart that really desires to please the Lord” (key word for Legal/law keepers is always use “if” ….then they fill in the blank) Pinks says, if, then He will grant us increasing knowledge of His will in this “growing evil” and “dishonoring Christ”

But Jesus said: If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. John 7:17

The Garcia celebration of Christ’s birth(Christmas)

Isn’t Christmas the name the Roman Catholics assigned to it?

Quoting my friend Mb Tu, ” I’m glad to see another who defends the right of the saints of God to celebrate and rejoice in what God has done for us. Most of the accusations are based on historical or linguistic falsehoods that have been passed like bad rumours among the professing church, on the authority of the last person who posted it (internet’s bane).

Earliest reference to celebrating Christ’s birth was around 202 AD. The word suffix “mas” comes from the Old English “messe” which ‘simply’ means “feast“. In other words, Christ-mas, is the feast of Christ.”

There is no better reason for a celebration among the saints!

nativitystory The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.  Ps 72:10-11

I’m not trying to convince anyone, you must do what seems right.  But would they being doing something worldly here by offering Him gifts, by bringing presents?

The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord.  Isaiah 60:6

They were showing forth the praises of the Lord, (think on the Queen of Sheba coming to see Solomon, think on Jesus incarnation, and think on Israel at the end of the age.  WE TOO CAN SHOW FORTH PRAISES!

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.  Numbers 24:7 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Micah 5:2 Remember, in celebrating His birth, we are also remembering why He came, and that He died for us.  Some say, How dare you say “Merry Christ’s death” (which is the supposed meaning of Christ-mass (mass they refer to the Roman Catholic, so if the name bothers you, then nothing wrong to think on it as any other day).  I am very happy that Christ died for me.  Because He rose again.  He took up His life again…The Angels announced His birth and not one person knows the day, so does it matter which day we celebrate or not?  I don’t think so.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!

We know the wise men did not come on the day of His birth, but the birth of Christ was announced to the Shepherds by the angels, and they hastened to find the babe lying in a manger. (So this is why when I put out a Nativity scene, I include the whole time period with the wise men as well- We should probably have a Simeon and Anna too) :)

So if the Angels, the Shepherd’s and His family, celebrated His birth, SO WILL I.  And I will do it unto the Lord.  If you do not esteem this day, and do not celebrate, then you do it not unto Him.   I mean no one any offense who is my brother or sister.

Let’s determine whatever our choice, that we do not judge one another, or trouble others with our conscience.  Whichever you choose, celebrate or not, let’s not be a stumbling block to another either way.   Ask yourselves, are you possibly TROUBLING others with your own conscience?  Year after year I see people wrongly understanding the Jeremiah 10 tree, and likening the Christmas tree as the same.  Again, if that is how you understand it, and you feel you have also been worshiping your tree, praying to it, bowing down to it, then you should stop.

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.  One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. Rom 14:4-6

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Col 2:16

A Saviour is Born!

Some people disagree on the time of Jesus birth.  Some like Alfred Edersheim make a good case for the reason some celebrate December 25th*. Others say Spring, yet the Bible does not tell us, although some insist they know.

Some say that He was born in September, around the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.  Also the most ancient say it was around the feast of the Dedication of the Temple. (Dec 25th is by most cipherings in that year).  I am not making a case for the day, again esteem whichever day you like, I believe no one knows the exact time, and we are joyful that He came whatever the day.

One case for the reason, and the date

Christmas-cassell-Feast Of Tabernacles. The Jewish Era:  A Christian Quarterly, Volumes 5-6. 

Hebrew Scholar, Dr. Cassel believes the festival of Christmas is not heathen or pagan, but has a Judæan origin. He says that its customs are significantly in accordance with those of the Jewish festival of the Dedication of the Temple. He says “Christmas Day was celebrated on the 25th of December because of the fulfillment of what had been symbolized in “the feast of the Dedication of the Temple”.

Others say the date chosen, was to cover up two other pagan holidays.  Biblical scholars disagree of course on these points, as well as historians.  Looks like there was an argument in the early church in the 100’s AD (close to 200) regarding celebrating Christ’s birth…. surprise surprise.. Look up Hippolytus if you’d like more info on that.

Who is right?  Is the date important?  I don’t think we see important dates in the New Covenant, just remembrances, and I see nothing wrong with remembrance of anything Christ has done at any time, any day.  He made every single day.

Jesus came to provide atonement for our sins, and to also tabernacle (or live) among us.  From the beginning, He dwelt among us and desired to again.

Ex25-8 The Feast of Tabernacles actually means “THE SEASON OF OUR JOY”.  

At this time of  the year in December, the distance of the sun is the furthest from the earth, so it is/was the darkest time of the year.  So being in celebration about the Light of the World coming at this time is sure something wonderful to ponder.  Whatever day it is, we celebrate the greatest gift that was ever given. He has come to Tabernacle among men…The Wise Men from the East, rejoiced with exceeding GREAT JOY!  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, (Numbers 24:17) which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.  Matt 2:9-11

The Tree

THE TREE represents so many things to me.  If it bothers your conscience, most definitely, walk away, but quit condemning others who are not bowing down to worship their tree….

I recall the first tree, which Adam and Eve ate of, causing the first curse. I think on the Jews, awaiting the arrival of their Messiah during the Feast of Tabernacles, making a Sukkah; a dwelling which was covered with green branches, and boughs from trees.

LIGHTS The Sukkah likewise was decorated with lights, and hanging ornaments that represented their first fruits.  Likewise, Jesus is our firstfruits.  I think of these things with the tree, the lights, the ornaments…  Their sukkah outside, some say Jesus was born in a manger (like a sukkah) and stayed there for eight days until He was circumcised, which is significant to the New Covenant, the circumcision of our hearts.

Someone once said to me that it was strange for the tree to be inside.  (I didn’t say it to them, for again, their conscience.  But you have to ask, is it strange for a house plant to be inside?  What about a green tree houseplant?  Shall we nix any pine just in case?

We have trees in our house all year, so I don’t find it strange :)  Jesus came for the Lost House of Israel, and when they rejected His offer of the Kingdom, the Gentiles were grafted in to the Promise.  When we received Him (Jn 1:12), Jesus came in to dwell (tabernacle) in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17).  He now dwells INSIDE…

We do not Worship our Tree

Jesus came, knowing He would be hung on a tree. (See the Prophecies of the Crucifixion of Christ)

Deut21Gal3-cursed

In the tree, I see more symbols of the cross.

The tree that our Redeemer was foretold to hang on in order bear the curse for us…

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree… Gal 3:13 (see also Deut 21:22-23)

This same tree symbolizes LIFE for those of us who believe on what Christ did in our place on the cross.

In the evergreen of the tree, we reflect on the free gift of everlasting life.

The tree topped with either the star of Bethlehem or some put an angel, as in angel’s heralding the BIRTH of our Saviour. (Typically though they put an female angel, we prefer the Star).

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:10-11

christmas

The lights not only represent the Light of the world to us, but the life He brings.   As I see them encircle the tree, growing around the tree, outwards from top to bottom, I can’t help but smile in remembrance. The Light of His glorious gospel has gone around the world and brought light into the darkness.

I love the different colored lights, which remind me of the redeemed from every tongue, tribe and nation.   Phil 2:15, tells us we are to shine as lights in the world.

The snow blanket that many wrap around the bottom remind me of one of my favorites….

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  Isaiah 1:18 (I like to tease and say this is proof He was born in winter)

The ornaments bring to mind how wisdom is likened unto an ornament of grace in Proverbs.  The first fruits hanging in the Sukkah.  Being justified freely by the grace that Jesus gives, the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom.  The crown of glory that our Lord of Glory gives to us.   I also love this passage, seeing the ornaments and jewels on the bridegroom and bride…The garment of salvation also reminds me of what we lay around the bottom of the tree, His blood shed for us, His righteousness covers us.

Look at how the Bridegroom and Bride is described here:

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.  Isaiah 61:10-11

The Candy Canecandycane

This is a sweet story of the Candy Cane, whether true, or not, I do not know, but it is enjoyable to reflect on the Scriptures and remembrances of what Christ has done in our place.

REJOICE AND BE JOYFUL IN OUR GOD!

The gifts under the tree are exciting to the little ones.  But the most exciting gift of all, was the free gift of salvation that Jesus brought.  Remember how you received that gift?

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.  Mark 10:15

The Magi (thought to be Kings or King makers – see passages in Ps 72 & Is 60), brought gifts to the King of Kings.  They opened their treasure chests and gave their gifts.  Jesus, who is our treasure, is the greatest gift ever given.

All these things and more are interwoven into our traditions, remembrances, joy, songs and praise in celebrating the birth of Christ our Savior.  If you do it, try to do it unto the Lord.  Use the opportunity to share Christ with others.

If not, don’t do it unto Him, but please, do not preach to us about how we are celebrating something pagan for you are then sinning by being a stumbling block to another because of your conscience.  You be fully persuaded and do as your conscience allows, I need to also be fully persuaded by Him.

Please, do not suggest (as is often the case) that you have received some extra revelation from the Holy Spirit that is not seen in His Word.  Please do not suggest you somehow have more of the Holy Spirit because you do not celebrate the day.  Follow your conscience and surely do not do it if it troubles you, but do not trouble others either…

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  Rom 14:5

Christ, the Savior is born…

As we sit down to dinner, I look back on the Passover supper, we see much of the so called “pagan roots” in that dinner…the roasted egg, the herbs, the hunt, the cups of wine.  I won’t go over it all in this, but remember the priestly bread that was broken by the Father for us… Jesus is our High Priest, He is that bread…

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life.  John 6:47-48

ps95-6-7HeisOurGodSheepHand

From the beginning we have been rebellious.  All of us… All we like Sheep have gone astray, each to His own Way.  God created us to have a relationship with Him, to KNOW Him and walk with Him.  He loved us and wanted us to love Him in return. But we disobeyed.  And in Genesis 6, it says we grieved Him in His heart because we were so sinful.

From before the very first sin, God already had a plan.  Here is the prophecy of the Savior that was to come.

God spoke to Satan and said, 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

THE CROSS – A curse He took for us (Gal 3:13)

We are told in Hebrews, that Abraham in faith offered up Isaac, knowing that God had made him a promise that the Seed (or Savior) would come through Isaac. We see this FORESHADOWING of God’s own great love towards us.  He told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  God said, “Take your son whom you LOVE”…. (Gen 22) (John 3:16)

But as we know God stopped Abraham & provided the sacrifice, foreshadowing again the PERFECT SACRIFICE that was to come along with the love God showed us in offering the Son of His love.

Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.  And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide…  Gen 22:13-14b

THIS IS THE TRIUMPH! And YOU, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.   Col 2:13-15 Col2-13-15 And the LORD always does provide doesn’t He?

This is all just a part of my family’s Christmas traditions…It is the way we remember the many things He has done for us.

I do not let others judge my choices in this, nor do I try to cause offense.  But this does not mean others can impose their viewpoint on you, or judge you by calling you an idolater.  We have liberty and He will guide us.

However, we do not want to argue with others about what we choose to do in our home, in thanks, unto God.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God.  I Cor 10:31-32

THE THORNS – Man’s curse that He took upon His brow (Gen 3:17-18)

The wreath has always reminded me of the crown of thorns, the thorny leaves of the Holly, the red berries reminding me of the drops of blood my King shed for me, the scorn He endured silently.

crown-of-thorns

And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.  And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 

And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.  Matt. 28:31

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.  Isaiah 53:7

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.  

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, (which means “God Saves” or “Jehovah is Salvation”) for He will save His people from their sins.”    (From before His incarnation, Jesus was identified as God.)  

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:18-23

Caesar Augustus had decreed that all the world should be registered. Everyone was to go to his own city.  So Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

SWADDLING CLOTHS SIGNIFY THE PERFECT SACRIFICE

The Shepherds were outside the camp, they were the lowliest of the people. This was the same place the bodies of the sacrifices were burned, where the lepers were sent, where in Hebrews 13 we are told to join Jesus in His reproach, without the camp.

The Shepherds watched over the sacrificial lambs, and in order to keep them without blemish, from the time they were born, until the time of sacrifice, they were wrapped in Swaddling cloths to keep them from nicking their fur, cutting themselves, or doing something that would cause them to be an unacceptable sacrifice.

Isn’t it significant that our humble Savior, the suffering Servant was announced to the humble keepers of the sacrifices (lambs)?

John the Baptist told us who Jesus was…. Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the World. 

WE were(are) the sinners that need that Perfect Sacrifice.

2 Cor 5:21 says, For He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The story continues

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

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.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

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

“ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

 

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.”

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.  (from Luke 2)

Christ Prophesied…

For unto us a Child is born, 

Unto us a Son is given; 

And the government will be upon His shoulder. 

And His name will be called 

Wonderful,

Counselor,

Mighty God, 

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:6

His Name is Wonderful

And the Angel of the LORD said to him,

“Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” Judges 13:8

This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.  Is 28:29

The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.  Is 10:21

Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art our father, our redeemerthy name is from everlasting.  Is 63:16

 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.  Is 54:10

FOOTNOTES AND CITATIONS:  

http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/christmas-awpink.htm * (Alfred Edersheim – March 7, 1825 – March 16, 1889, born in Vienna; a Jewish believer in Christ and a Biblical scholar.) > We have thus stated the ground on which the arguments rests that Christmas Day was celebrated on the 25th December, because it was the fulfilment of what had been symbolised in the feast of the Dedication of the Temple, which took place on the 25th of the ninth month, corresponding to our December. It is not necessary for our present purpose to maintain that this reference was understood even in the latter half of the fourth century, when the Christmas observance of the 25th December became general. Suffice that already at that time it rested “on a very ancient tradition.” The tradition may have been known, even while its origin had been forgotten. >>And yet it is singular how our Christmas customs are so thoroughly in accordance with it. Those tall, straight fir-trees, with their branches stretched out like arms, are like the candlestick in the Temple, and, as among Israel during that feast every home was lighted up, so the Christmas trees also are lighted to symbolise the same truth of light shining out into the darkness. The “gilded apples” with which they are hung were intended to convey a kindred meaning. According to Christian legend, the fruit of the tree which had caused our parents’ fall was of the apple kind (malum a malo). But now the apple is gilded, and it hangs on the Christmas tree, which is lit up in joy for the Dedication of the true Temple, which is the body of the second Adam. As for the superstitious practice of introducing the manager-cradle, we cannot find too strong words to condemn its silliness and profanity. But it is a curious illustration alike of how, in the providence of God, whatever is false avenges itself, and of the origin of superstition, that the practice of placing an ox and an ass by the side of the manger-cradle arose from a false translation3 of Hab. iii.2: “Revive thy work in the midst of the years.” The Septuagint renders it, “in the midst of two beasts shall he be known,” and this, with further reference to Isaiah i. 3, led to the custom which now so shocks our sense of reverence! But to us all, whatever our special views or conclusions may be, Christ is the true Temple, and His Incarnation the real Dedication of the Temple. God grant that from our homes the true Light of Christ, “a light to lighten the Gentiles,” may shine forth into the wintry darkness of the heathen world, and also “so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven.”

Confessions of an Ex-Calvinist

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titus 2-11 ALL

TIP-TOEING OUT OF TULIP

by an Ex-Calvinist

“I was in Calvinism for about 30 years. I was a ‘pew’ Calvinist for most of those years and had a ‘soft’ view of the 5 points or TULIP. Meaning, I took the points as they were explained, bought and read all the right books and commentaries, but did not study the doctrines in depth nor in context until many years later.

Imagine my surprise when I read about the doctrine of double predestination… you mean God deliberately created man in his image for the sole purpose of reprobating and damning them to eternal hell?

Where was THAT in Scripture?  Mmmm, **nowhere** in Scripture; not Scripture in context.

Fourteen years ago, God, in His great kindness directed my steps to an expositional, in-depth, inductive study of Scripture…*in context.*    As we went through the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures, I started experiencing nagging doubts about some of the doctrines I believed… the real fracture in the foundation of Calvinism for me, started with Covenant vs Covenantal Theology.

The next problem, was learning that total depravity, (according to authentic, historic, Augustinian Calvinism), meant ‘total INABILITY’ … i.e., one cannot reach up to grasp the Hand of the One reaching down to save him/her.

And He has made from one blood[c] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  Acts 17:26-27

I then took each point of TULIP, and studied it out with Scripture *in context* and saw that for all those years, answers and books I had read had isolated Scripture from context to defend doctrines and ideas about God that aren’t even found in Scripture; it’s called ‘proof-texting… those ‘divine, deterministic decrees in eternity past’ ??Not there.

God creating some men and electing them to eternal salvation? Not There… and God creating others (Unconditional Election) for the sole purpose of foreordaining him to reprobation and damnation for all eternity – because it most pleased Him and glorifies
1 John2-2 Rom 3-21-26 Titus 2-11ALL
Him? Not There.

Christ died for the whole world.

I never believed Limited Atonement… but studying it shocked me to the depths of my heart… that the precious blood of Jesus was only shed for the ones God elected to salvation… meaning He did not die for all men. NOT in Scripture, ANYWHERE.

Irresistible grace or particular redemption… the idea if one is elect for salvation, the Holy Spirit will drag you, draw you, (a type of coercion, as it was initially taught by Augustine (Roman Catholic Bishop of Hippo) and then 1000 yrs later, by John Calvin, who systematized Augustine’s teachings. And ONLY those elect for salvation, are given the special grace, effectual grace, or special, inward call to guarantee they will hear the Word and be saved.

A study of history on the origin of ‘free will‘ (which term Calvinists hate) showed the Early Church Fathers coined the term, to fight and stand *against* the Gnostics of the day.

As I was studying, I realized that what the ECF taught against, is what Calvinism actually was. It was an extremely unsettling time for me. Augustine did not teach in his early years as bishop of Hippo what he taught later in his life… which is why for the first 300-400 years the ECF did not teach as Augustine taught at the end of his life.   And, I learned, that when Augustine was sent to school to study as a young teen, he rejected Christianity… know where he went? With the strongest Gnostic group the early church faced… the Manichaean Gnostics. He was with them for nine years before converting to Christianity. He only converted to Christianity, because he was told he could allegorize the OT, and spiritualize what disgusted him about the judgmental Old Testament God…

God had me in a place during this time, to be able to study… I had been asked to co-john 12-32teach a Sunday School class on Calvinism, and I was supposed to present the ‘pro’ point of view; or the positives. As it turned out, I called to tell the leader I wouldn’t be able to do that; she then asked me to teach what I was learning…

So the fissures in the foundation of my theology, that had started with questions here
and there a few years before, intensified in 2007, and became fractured as I then studied each doctrine… in-depth, inductively, and in context.

Two years ago, after a 5 1/2 month, 30-40 hours a week study, those remaining pieces, the foundation for the doctrines of authentic, historic, Augustinian Calvinism were pulverized. God did not leave even a fist-sized piece of rock from reformed, Calvinistic theology. He crushed it to fine gravel. At that point, I denounced and renounced everything of Reformed, Calvinistic theology.

I can speak clearly from my own experiences. And from the perspective of grief for those I introduced and led (family and friends) into Calvinism, where some remain.

I still say SHAME on me, for not studying sooner… but God is good and faithful, and perhaps He will use my pre-Berean days for His glory.

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