Know Your Bible
Is Everyone Going To Be Saved?
The idea of judging others is not very receptive to the mind of man. Jesus warned, "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6:37) From this passage many find solace in not passing judgment upon others. The basis of religious tolerance is founded upon this principle.
However, the teaching of Jesus does not hold for religious tolerance of all beliefs and practices. Jesus also commands to "not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (John 7:24) How do we do this? Righteous judgment is judgment based upon the righteousness of God and His will. Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:15-20 to judge men by their fruits. Men who were false teachers would be judged by their fruits in accordance with the word of God. Judging others is to be based upon a comparison of God's word and their lives.
This will help us understand the answer to the question, "Is everyone going to be saved?" People feel uncomfortable in seeking an answer to this question yet the Lord tells that most people will be lost. "Then one said to Him, 'Lord, are there few who are saved?' And He said to them, 'Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.'" (Luke 13:23,24) Jesus' judgment was based upon the righteous judgment of His Father.
Can judgments be made about different beliefs and systems of faith? Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." If I believe this statement to be truth, I must believe that anyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be lost. Does a Buddhist believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do those of the Islamic faith proclaim Jesus to be the Son of God? What view does a Jew have of Jesus? What is the view of Jesus from the standpoint of the Hindu or the Confucianist? Can a judgment be made of these faiths?
None of these religions teach that Jesus is the only way to the Father. A judgment can then be made that anyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God - cannot be saved! Paul wrote in Romans 10:9 - "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." An agnostic will not confess this no more than an atheist. Will everyone be saved? No!
If a judgment can be made of those who reject Jesus as being the Son of God, what will become of those who do not abide in His word? Again, Jesus makes this statement: "But why do you call Me `Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46) There are many faiths and beliefs that say they follow Christ. Jesus said that many religious people will be lost! (Matthew 7:21-23) Not everyone will be saved, even of those who profess Jesus to be the Christ. Only those who obey the will of the Father - not the will of Conventions, Papal decrees, Synods, Temples or such like - will be saved. It makes a difference and judgment must be made in accordance with the will and the word of God.
(Condensed from an article by...) ---Kent E. Heaton Sr.
What About Christmas?
Is it scriptural and right to celebrate Christmas as a religious holy day? It is an obvious fact that most religious people believe that it is. In fact, many churches stage grand productions and arrange elaborate displays for the purpose of commemorating the birth of Christ. Many of these exhibitions attract much attention, huge crowds and even new members for the performing church. Children and parents alike love the church sponsored nativity scenes, light shows and festivities, which has caused these productions to increase dramatically in size, splendor and number.
However, regardless of how impressive these presentations may be and how very "religious" the sponsors may appear, there is a larger question for people to consider: Did God ordain the celebration of Christ's birthday as a religious observance? All who are interested in "speaking as the oracles of God" will turn to the scriptures for the answer to this question (1 Peter 4:11; Isaiah 8:20). All who are interested in acting in accordance with the authority of Christ will turn to the "word of Christ" for their authority for "whatever" they do in religion, "whether in word or in deed" (Colossians 3:16-17).
The History of Christmas
The word "Christmas" comes from the Old English term Cristes maesse, meaning "Christ's mass." This expression was used to describe the worship service that was held on December 25 to commemorate Christ's birth. A Roman almanac shows Christmas first being observed on December 25th in 336 AD. This date was established in part, to compete with the pagan observance of "Saturnalia" which took place on December 17th. Also, an agreement was reached between the Western Catholic, Eastern Rite and Orthodox churches which connected December 25th to January 6th ("Epiphany" - the appearing of Jesus), resulting in what is now known as "the twelve days of Christmas." This tradition of Christmas spread rapidly and is now recognized by most countries throughout the world.
Those who wholly associate Christmas with Christ are badly mistaken. Christmas is the result of a compilation of several different religious beliefs and cultural practices. For example, some may think gift giving has always been patterned after the practice of the wise men in Matthew 2:11. However, this is not true. Early Christians had no such custom. It was actually the Roman pagan celebration of Saturnalia that inspired this practice. Interestingly, these pagans also originated the custom of decorating houses with greenery and lights. Scandanavian and Teutonic peoples of Northern Europe decorated trees and barns in order to scare away demons.
Christmas: A "Religious" Institution?
Where did either Christ, His chosen apostles, or His inspired spokesmen and writers ever instruct men to observe Christmas? Where in the Bible, can one read about the establishment of "Christmas?" Where, in Holy Writ, can one read of early Christians commemorating and celebrating the birth of Christ? References to the birth of Jesus are certainly found, but where do we read of saints observing that day as a holy day? And in the absence of this scriptural authority, upon what basis do men arbitrarily establish a day of the year as the "birthday of Christ," then proceed to honor that day as such? Furthermore, if authority for the religious observance of Christmas were to be found, where is divine authority explaining and demonstrating how this day is to be commemorated and celebrated? So far, in my personal experiences in discussing this question with people, I have never heard any of these questions answered with scripture.
The Truth About Christ's Beginning
The Bible does not de-emphasize Christ's birth, but neither does it attach a deep religious significance to that day. Why is the Bible silent about when Jesus was born? After all, exact dates are given for many other things! Why does the Bible say nothing about the need for Christians to remember and honor the day of Christ's birth? Had God chosen to, He could have told us to remember Christ's birth just as easily as He told us to "remember" His death.
God wanted mankind to emphasize, commemorate and honor Christ's death, rather than His birth (Matt. 26:26-29; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-29). It was through His death that Jesus would "draw all men to Him" (Jn. 12:32). It was through His death that Jesus offered redemption (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7). And it was His death that provided the avenue of man's reconciliation with God (Rom. 5:6,8,10; 2 Cor. 5:14-21).
Those who celebrate December 25th as a religious holy day must admit that they have absolutely no biblical authority for doing so! We are concerned that religious people have established that day as a religious holy day, and proceed to religiously celebrate that day without God's approval! This should raise some eyebrows, but I am afraid too many people have wandered too far from the scriptures to even be concerned about this at all. The important question is not what everyone else thinks and is doing, but what am I doing? What about you, dear reader? Are you participating in an unauthorized religious practice?
(Condensed from an article by...) ---Tim Haile
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