Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                         December 21, 2014                                                                                                                            NO. 42



Folks are often surprised to learn that we have no special religious observance of the Christmas holiday. Such practices are so common place in most denominations that many people think it is odd when we don’t sing Christmas songs, decorate the church building with seasonal ornaments, and conduct special worship services.  Please allow us to explain.

First, it should be pointed out that there is no lack of appreciation in our hearts for the great gift of God in sending Jesus to this earth. We praise Him for this and continually express our thanks for the salvation made available to us through Christ. Obviously, Jesus could not have died for our sins if He had not first been born.  We rejoice in the fulfilled prophecies surrounding His miraculous birth in Bethlehem.  Hopefully, our gratitude for these blessings extends to every day of the year, not just one special holiday.

The Scriptures instruct that "whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17).  This means that we must have Bible authority for all of our practices. We are also warned that our worship becomes "vain" or worthless by "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). With these verses in mind, the question must be asked as to the origin of the religious observance of Christmas -- where did it come from?

A search of the New Testament reveals absolutely no indication of a special annual observance of the birth of Jesus. There is no command to do so, and the earliest Christians did not have a day set aside to celebrate His birth. Historical information indicates that Lyberius of Rome in 354 A. D first designated the date of December 25th as the birthday of Christ. Obvious, the Christmas celebration became an established practice centuries after the church began.  These simple observations demonstrate that this religious holiday originates with man, not God. This is the reason why we make no effort to engage in special religious activities on the day that men have appointed as Christmas. 

—Greg Gwin




Practically every day of Jesus' ministry found Him either opposed by or opposing error and sin. We read of conflicts with the Pharisees in Matt. 12,13. And, in Matt. 16, Jesus even found Himself in conflict with His disciples. Jesus taught His followers to expect trouble, opposition, and controversy. It has been said that in all of the history of our Lord Jesus Christ, we never find Him out of controversy. There is no doubt that Jesus powerfully and honorably stood against error, and in doing so He exposed the false teachings and hypocrisy of His day. 

The New Testament writers were not afraid to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Paul wrote about how he was set for the defense of the gospel, Phil. 1:16. Acts tells us of how he spoke boldly and reasoned from the Scriptures. Jude boldly warned believers to stand up against religious error. He made it perfectly clear of our need to engage in whatever controversy the forces of the devil make necessary. Christians should contend earnestly for the faith, Jude 3. There is an unmistakable concept presented in the gospel: Christians have the responsibility to stand for truth and defend God's ways against those who are willing to compromise. 

While there is a clear need to stand for God's way of doing things, Paul also wrote: "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Col. 4:5,6). When communicating the fact of religious error to those who are outside of the body of Christ, or to those who are new Christians, how do we come across? What is the perception we leave? We must exercise caution with the words we speak, lest a few careless words slam shut the doors of opportunity to teach. Sometimes we can leave the impression that our religious friends in denominations are less than smart, insincere, and at best, willfully deceptive. And with an overwhelming majority of cases, that is simply not the case. While I'm sure we know that, is this always the impression that comes across? We need to be on guard lest our Bible classes or sermons denigrate into little more than discussions of us versus them and of our disbelief of how anyone could believe the Bible that way. While our intention is noble, in that we wish to objectively contrast denominational doctrine with Christ's, we must not make the conversation personal. And things can go that way in a hurry. It is absurd to attempt to do right by doing wrong. Men have made themselves murderers on the pretense of doing God's Will. Remember Paul didn't make his argument personal, he reasoned from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2. 

Some are governed by the mentality that having the truth somehow excuses them from using tact and godliness in the way they speak of others. However, Christians are to be governed by the principles found in Col. 3:12: "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." While the truth may be on the side of the New Testament Christian, truth does not excuse him to judge motives, doubt sincerity, and treat issues with brute force that should be handled in love. When speaking about denominational doctrine or other religious errors propagated by those outside of Christ, God’s kind of person will make sure God is glorified by the way truth is shared with others. 

Accomplishing this takes wisdom. Christians need to pray for wisdom, Jas. 1:5. In Jas. 3:17 the writer describes how those with wisdom conduct themselves: "the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy." This is the effect New Testament Christianity is to have upon our heart and life, and it will be revealed by the way we speak! We have been created to have this kind of disposition. Wisdom understands that gentleness is not always to be equated with weakness. Wisdom knows that we must speak the truth in love, Eph. 4:15. Place yourself in the shoes of an average guest from the community who visits Bible classes and services. What would you think of the conversations that take place in some Bible classes? Are there impressions cast that would cause a person to come away thinking of those in Christ's church as being arrogant and condescending? 

While speaking the truth in love, some will be offended by an objective effort to contrast truth with error. And when truth is explained in the spirit of Christ, we make no apology. God calls everyone to treat His Word honestly and soberly, 1 Thess. 2:13. Some persons are in no way interested in truth or making correction. These have closed their hearts and they will answer to God for that. But let us be aware of how we come across and always keep the words of Jesus near our hearts: "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets," Matt. 7:12.

—Matthew H. Allen

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Be grateful for what you have, not regretful for what you do not have. 


We should live to learn but learn before it is too late to live.


Character is built, not inherited.


Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

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