Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                          December 23, 2012                                                                                                                            NO. 47



At this time of year we hear a lot talk about the religious significance of Christmas. We thought it might be useful to separate the facts from all the fiction that has been generated about the birth of Christ.


Facts about the birth of Jesus:

There was a baby boy named Jesus born in Bethlehem more than 1900 years ago. He grew up to be one of the most influential men in history. Secular writers of history confirm there was such a man (Josephus, Tactitus, Suetonius, Pliny).

The circumstances of His birth have been confirmed by archaeological discoveries. There was an imperial census, Cyrenius was governor (Luke 2:2), and each Jew was required to go to his ancestral home.

Angels announced His birth to shepherds (Luke 2:8-14), and wise men from the East came to worship Him (Matt. 2).

He was born of a virgin, and this was attested to by His mother, Joseph, Elisabeth, John the Baptist, and the inspired writers.

He came on a mission of salvation (Luke 2:29-32).


Fiction about the birth of Jesus:

It is not a known fact that there were three wise men. The three gifts could have been brought by a smaller or larger group.

The wise men did not visit the stable, as the so-called “nativity” scenes often depict. Matthew 2:11 says they visited Jesus later, when He was in a house.

There is no evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th. In fact, there is a strong indication that it was during a warmer time of year. (The shepherds were still in the fields with their sheep at night - Luke 2:8.)

We have no instruction in the Bible to observe a special day in honor of the birth of Jesus. This is not to say that we are not grateful for His birth. Obviously, we are. But the only special observance taught in the New Testament is the Lord’s Supper which commemorates His death - and that is to be done each first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

It is also fiction to imagine that anyone could please Him by thinking of Him and worshiping Him one day per year. We must serve Him faithfully every day!

---Greg Gwin

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Devotees of pagan religions memorize their "sacred writings." No one can teach in a Mohammedan mosque until he has memorized the Koran. Buddhist priests can quote their writings for hours without making a mistake. How is this possible? They are deeply interested in their subject.

Some sports enthusiasts can tell you the batting averages of practically every player in the major leagues. They know the scores of every football game played last year. Some go so far as to watch two games at once on different televisions lest they miss some significant play. Why is this?  They are deeply interested in their subject.

Others are experts at Trivial Pursuit. They can answer questions ranging from movie stars to motor cycles, from science to snow-capped mountains, from Japanese customs to Jack and Jill nursery rhymes. How did they obtain such proficiency in trivialities?  They are deeply interested in their subject.

Some who profess to be Christians don't know where to find scriptures telling man what to do to be saved. They have need that one teach them again concerning the first principles (Heb. 5:l2). Wonder why?

---Rick Duggin 

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Irony, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is "The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning". Consider the following examples.

"Please drink responsibly." Out of context, this statement might be suggesting that consumers should exercise reasonable precautions with ordinarily harmless beverages. For instance, a cup of steaming hot coffee should be handled in such a way as to avoid spilling it on one's lap. However, every television viewer recognizes these words from advertisements promoting alcoholic beverages. That's ironic because there is no responsible way to consume an alcoholic beverage. The consumption of alcohol leads directly to drunkenness, which is explicitly and repeatedly forbidden in scripture (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21). Intoxication is doubly sinful in that it prevents self-control, a necessary quality in every Christian (Galatians 5:23; 2 Peter 1:6). There's nothing responsible about drinking alcohol.

"Please play responsibly." This phrase might be used to warn a pitcher not to bean the batter. Instead, these words come from advertisements promoting lotteries in those states where such is legal. The lottery is a form of gambling which involves the drawing of lots for a prize. There is no such thing as responsible gambling because gambling is covetous (Ephesians 5:3; Hebrews 13:5), and violates the principle of legitimate gain (Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

"Practice safe sex." To a Christian, this means that sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage and marriage alone. Sadly though, safe sex to the world means taking precautions – even while engaging in sex with various partners – to make sure you don't contract STDs and HIV. The only safe sex that has ever existed is intercourse with one's own husband or wife (Proverbs 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4). All sexual relationships outside marriage are immoral (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8), and are unsafe because they incur the wrath of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 21:8).

---Bryan Matthew Dockens

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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.

--- E.R. Hall, Jr.





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