• Christ and Church Life and Building Spirit and Bride

    基督與召會
    生命與建造
    那靈與新婦



    As a lover of Christ and a pursuer of truth, I write down my joys, memories and reflections.

    May God lead us all into the secret of His presence, and build us into the oneness of His body in love.
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Concerning Christmas

Presently, political Babylon is less prominent than religious Babylon. Political Babylon is somewhat in a state of repose, whereas religious Babylon is flourishing. For example, Christmas, which is celebrated throughout the world, is altogether from Babylon. Participating in Christmas may seem to be a small thing, but anything that is part of Babylon is abominable in the eyes of God. The system in the church meetings of one man speaking and all the rest listening is also a part of Babylon. This Babylonian element must not be allowed to remain among us. (LIFE-STUDY OF ISAIAH, CHAPTER 26)

Recently I read an article in which I was accused of destroying the practice of Christmas. Actually I do not have any intention to attack the practice of Christmas. My time is fully occupied with ministering Christ to others. But while I am ministering Christ, Christmas is spontaneously exposed. Yes, I have said that we should care fully for Christ and forget about the so-called Christmass or Christmas. I have also said that we should be Christians, but not care for the ‘-anity’ of Christianity. I certainly do not have the intention of opposing either Christmas or Christianity. Nevertheless, in my ministry I have said that we should care for Christ and be real Christians, but have nothing to do with the ‘-mass’ or ‘- anity.’ When certain ones hear such a word, they accuse me of opposing Christianity and ruining the practice of Christmas. (LIFE-STUDY OF SECOND CORINTHIANS, MESSAGE SEVENTEEN)

Not only the Catholic Church has taken in leaven, but the Protestant denominations and groups have also. Rock music and drama are types of leaven used to make spiritual things easier for people to accept. When I was in China, I knew of some young men in a certain organization who mixed basketball with the preaching of the gospel. Using basketball for gospel preaching is also leaven. I doubt that very many were saved through this. The whole principle of the Y.M.C.A. is leaven, for the goal of the Y.M.C.A. is to bring the heavenly standard down to the earthly level, to bring the gospel to secular society in a worldly way. So many things in Christianity are leaven. These include Christmas, Easter, idols, pictures, images, rock music, drama, and the entire Y.M.C.A. system. We must be careful not to take anything other than Christ for God’s purpose, because anything other than He is leaven. Oh, the subtle one is crouching nearby waiting for his prey! We can easily become his prey because in our human nature is the desire to make it easy for people to experience spiritual things. But whatever you use to help people to touch spiritual things is a type of leaven. The pure and sanctified way to preach the gospel and to bring people to Christ is prayer and the ministry of the Word. Do not take any other way. If after praying and ministering the Word, people will still not receive the gospel, that is up to the Lord. Whether or not people receive our word is a matter of the Father’s will. We do not want to use any gimmicks to help in our preaching. Every gimmick is leaven. We are not for a work or for a movement–we are for the testimony of Jesus. (LIFE-STUDY OF MATTHEW, MESSAGE THIRTY-EIGHT)

Almost nineteen centuries have passed since the book of Revelation was written. Throughout these centuries a struggle has been taking place between Satan and God. Satan has been trying in different ways to replace Christ. As a result, many of us, including me, were born into an organized Christianity that had very little of Christ. For example, how much of Christ is there in the celebration of Christmas? In today’s Christianity there is a mixture of truth and falsehood. Very few believers know the truth in a deep and thorough way. (LIFE-STUDY OF ACTS, MESSAGE SIXTY-FIVE)

This is not my teaching. If we return to the pure Word in the New Testament, we find the term Christ and the term Christians (Acts 11:26). However, the terms Christianity or Christmas are not in the Bible. A kind of ‘anity’ or ‘mas’ has been added to Christ. Christmas is vanity. When people hang lamps on a little tree, that is ‘anity’ and ‘mas.’ That is vanity. We must beware of religion: religion is vanity. 1. Having an Outward Name Now we need to consider a few matters about the vanity of religion. First, religion has an outward name (2:17). Recently, I went to the barber shop for a haircut. The barber talked about attending Christmas Mass. I used the opportunity to ask him how many people would be there. He said, ‘You know, this is just a religious duty. Some people attend Mass only once a year at Christmas time.’ Here we see an example of the vanity of religion: attending Mass once a year as a religious duty in order to keep the name of being a Catholic. What kind of believer is this? A believer with a mere outward name. If you are real in the spirit, meaning you are a genuine believer, that is wonderful. However, if you lack the reality and simply keep the outward name, it means nothing. It is vanity. (LIFE-STUDY OF ROMANS, MESSAGE FOUR)

Today millions of Christians are occupied even more by the religious world than by the secular world. Take Christmas as an example. The celebration of Christmas is certainly related to the religious world. If you still observe Christmas, it is doubtful that you are living a new creation. The celebration of Christmas has nothing to do with God’s new creation. (LIFE-STUDY OF GALATIANS, MESSAGE THIRTY)

The incarnation should not be associated with Christmas. You need to burn everything related to Christmas. If you would go to China and preach the gospel to the learned people and mention Christmas, they would not listen to you. They would say that things such as Christmas trees, stockings full of candies, and Santa Claus are too low, shallow, and childish. That is not the gospel from the Word of God. That is the paganism, the leaven mentioned by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 13:33, brought into Catholicism by the ‘woman’ as the Lord prophesied. (LIFE-STUDY OF HEBREWS, MESSAGE EIGHT)

Unbelievers will think it strange that we do not care to participate with them in fleshly indulgences. In particular, they may think it strange that we do not celebrate Christmas or care for Christmas parties. The way of this corrupted world, the way of this crooked, perverted generation, is to follow the trend of indulgence and dissipation. But we would not run together with them according to this trend. (LIFE-STUDY OF FIRST PETER, MESSAGE TWENTY-SIX)

One of the most striking examples of the deeds of this apostate church is the so-called Christmas. We want Christ, but we do not need a mass. Originally, December 25, the so-called Christmas Day, was the day the ancient Europeans worshipped the sun. They said that December 25 was the birthday of the sun. When the apostate church spread to Europe, she assimilated this ancient custom because she had taken in thousands of unbelievers into the church. These unbelievers still wanted to celebrate the birthday of their god. Therefore, to accommodate them, the apostate church declared December 25 to be the birthday of Christ. This is the source of Christmas. The book, The Two Babylons, exposes the origin of the evil, demonic, pagan things that were brought into the apostate church. If we see this picture on the negative side, then we shall know what we must be on the positive side. (LIFE-STUDY OF REVELATION, MESSAGE THIRTEEN)

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Christian Practices

Christmas – December 25th – is the day designated in today’s calendars as the day of Christ’s birth. Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate it. But does the Bible have a command to remember the birth of Christ? Is this the day on which Christ was born? Are today’s Christmas custom and practices of Christian origin? Or is Christmas an example of mixture between paganism and Christianity?

Christ Not Being Born in Winter

Although the birth of Christ is one of the most important events that happened in the whole universe, yet remembering it by celebrating Christmas is not something God wants Christians to do. That no precise date of the Lord’s birth is recorded in the Bible indicates that the Lord never intended to celebrate His birthday. Rather, He wants us to remember His death and look forward to His second coming (1 Cor. 11:26; Rev. 22:12).

As to the actual date of Christ’s birth, December 25th is to be doubted. Weather condition at the time of Jesus’ birth indicates that it could not have taken place in December. Luke 2:8 tells us that when Jesus was born, the shepherds were watching over the sheep at night. The cold weather in the evening during midwinter is very piercing; it is the custom of shepherds in Judea to bring home their flocks before the start of November, prior to the onset of the cold winter months. Hence, the birth of Christ could not have been in December.

In 4 B.C. the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar issued a decree for a census to be taken in order to know just how many subjects he had and how much taxes he could collect. Quirinius, who was then governor of Syria (where Judea was then part of the great Roman-controlled province), implemented the decree to take the first enrollment for census of Judea that same year. There were no historical records to indicate that the inconvenient harsh months of winter was the time the authorities scheduled for the tax enrollment, which necessitated the population’s traveling from all parts of the land to their natal districts to register in the electoral roll, for storms and rain make journeys both unsafe and unpleasant in winter. It was in compliance to this decree for registration that Joseph went up with Mary from the city of Nazareth in southern Galilee to his hometown Bethlehem in southern Judea (Luke 2:1-5). It is also unlikely that Mary, who was pregnant, would travel 190 kilometers from Nazareth to Bethlehem because it was considered not fit for a pregnant woman to travel during winter (Matt. 24:20; Mark 12:18).

Christmas’ Account Being Inconsistent with Scriptural Record

The Christmas nativity scene, as customarily portrayed, with the infant Jesus in the manger surrounded by His parents, the shepherds with their flock, the ‘three kings’ with their gifts, gathered together in the barn, and heralded by the angels and the star outside, is not an accurate account of what actually took place during the birth of Jesus.

The shepherds’ visit of Jesus and the magi’s visit occurred at different times and separate places! Matthew 2:1-12 and Luke 2:1-20 are two Biblical passages that record separate accounts of stories related to the birth of Jesus. We do not see the shepherds in Matthew chapter 2, neither do we see the ‘three kings’ in Luke chapter 2. Luke chapter 2 presents the picture of the angels appearing to the shepherds who eventually found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus lying in the manger (v.16). Matthew chapter 2 portrays the magi (or wise men, not kings) from the east, who after sighting the star and believing such a star must be the sign that a great king had been born in far off Judea, set off to the capital city, Jerusalem, where a new king is supposed to be born, only to find that Herod still reigned as king and were interrogated by him. By the time they arrived in Bethlehem under the guidance of the star, Joseph had been able to move Mary and Jesus from the temporary rough shelter of the barn to a house. As they entered into the house they found the child Jesus and Mary only (v.11). This could have transpired quite a while after the Lord’s birth, which was why Herod ordered the slaughter of all the boys in Bethlehem and in all its borders from two years old and under according to the time accurately determined from the magi (Matt. 2:16). Moreover, the fact that the magi brought three kinds of gifts does not necessarily mean that there were three magi.

The Origin of Christmas Being Paganistic

Under the article ‘Christmas’, the Catholic Encyclopedia states: ‘In the earliest days of the Church there was no such feast. …Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church …’ Christians in early days did not commemorate Jesus’ birthday!

Christians in the first three centuries were persecuted for their faith until 325 A.D. when Roman Emperor Constantine in the council of Nicea formulated the Nicene Creed, fully legalizing and legitimizing Christianity, even making it the state religion of the Empire. In an effort to appease the nominal converts all over the Roman-subjugated territories who were unwilling to give up their heathen feasts and to make them subservient to the cause of religion, Constantine adopted many heathen religious feasts and practices in honor of the various gods into Christianity. Despite protests by many faithful believers against the paganistic nature and frivolity with which Christ’s birth was celebrated, a Roman Almanac from 354 A.D. gives a first clear reference to December 25, the date celebrated by several pagan religions, being regarded as the date of Christ’s birth.

Prior to conversion to Christianity, Mithraism was the most wide-spread and most influential pagan religion among the Roman subjects. Mithra was the sun god in ancient Persia (today’s Iran). After the defeat of the Persians by Alexander centuries ago, the soldiers brought the worship of Mithra throughout Asia and to Europe where he was called Deus Sol Invictus Mithras. It fostered the celebration of December 25 as a holiday throughout the Roman and Greek worlds. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that, ‘The birth of Christ was assigned the date of the winter solstice because on this day, as the sun began its return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated dies natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the Invincible or Unconquered Sun). …The well-known solar feast…celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date.’

The Romans adopted this festivity to honor Saturn and other agricultural gods with boisterous week-long feasts of Saturnalia and Brumalia during the winter solstice that culminates on December 25. These two pagan feasts were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence that in 530 A.D. the Roman church commissioned the Monk Dionysius Exiguus to officially proclaim December 25 as the birth of Christ.

The midwinter festival was also celebrated by many other cultures. The Egyptians dedicated it to the son of Isis, Queen of Heaven, and to Osiris and Horus. The Greek dedicated it to their gods Apollo, Dionysus, and Adonis. Sabeans of Arabia celebrated it as the birthday of the moon. The Saxons celebrated Yule in honor of Thor, Scandinavian god of war. In Scotland, Hogmany was celebrated. In England it was to the Nordic God Balder. The Babylonians celebrated Baal’s birthday with the festival of Bacchus, the ‘Drunken festival’.

In 600 A.D. Pope Gregory I instructed Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, to adapt existing local religious customs to Christianity in order to help propagate the faith. This humongous amalgamation of paganism and Christianity has resulted in a grotesque mixture of what is known today as Christmas.

The Customs and Practices of Christmas Being Idolatrous

Christmas Tree – Scandinavians in pre-Christian era worshipped trees. In Egypt, the date palm was brought indoors as a religious symbol. In Rome, the fir tree was decorated with toys in honor of Saturn’s birthday; candles were fastened to trees to indicate the return of the sun to the earth. The Druids honored Odin (Woden) by tying gilded apples and other offerings on the tree branches. The Germans used evergreen trees in worship and celebration of the yule god and also in observance of the resurrected sun god; they brought it indoor as a symbol of good luck. In Jeremiah 10:2-5, the Lord strongly forbade us to learn the vain and idolatrous customs of the nations in cutting down trees and decorating them indoor.

Wreaths – In early days, pagans decorated places of worship with wreaths at the feasts to express good luck. But ‘blessed is the man who makes Jehovah his trust’ (Psa. 40:4a) and ‘blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him’ (Psa. 34:8b).

Holly, Berries, and Mistletoe – The Christmas practice of ‘kissing under the mistletoe’ came from the feast of Saturnalia. The holly, berries, and mistletoe were hung in doorways of temples and homes to invoke powers of fertility in those who stood beneath and kissed, causing the spirits of god and goddess to enter them.

Gift-Giving – This originated from the Roman celebration of the feast of Saturnalia and Kalends of January (Roman New Year). Today’s Christmas practice of exchanging gifts is based on the notion that gifts were presented during the Lord’s birth. But the wise men gave gifts to the Lord and not to one another.

Santa Claus – Saint Nicholas in the 4th century was said to have brought gifts to children by throwing them through the windows. The belief that he enters the house through the chimney comes from an Old Norse legend that believed the goddess Hertha appeared in the fireplace and brought good luck to the house.

Christmas Party – The merrymaking in Christmas parties today is commensurable to the ancient pagan feasts of Saturnalia and Brumalia that were highlighted by wanton indulgence of eating, drinking, and revelries dressed in costumes. Paul warned us to ‘neither become idolaters, as some of them did; as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play’ (1 Cor. 10:7).

Conclusion

In his message REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS, Brother Watchman Nee said, ‘According to the opinions of many believers, it is a good thing to have a day each year to remember the Savior’s birth….Apart from one’s opinion, God’s Word, the Bible, is still the only standard and the highest standard. Our concern lies not on what man speaks, but on what God has spoken….Does the Bible have a command to remember the birth of Christ?…Only one who believes in the Bible will know that the things God did not command and the things God did command have the same significance ….Many say that God never put a stop to the celebration of Christmas….It is sad when Christians search the Scriptures to give a basis for their sin and an occasion to the flesh….May God give us more strength to enable us to say, ‘How do we dare do what God has not commanded?”

The true significance of Christ’s birth is God became man (through His incarnation – John 1:14) that man may become God (through our regeneration to become His sons – John 1:12-13) in life (1 Pet. 1:3) and in nature (2 Pet. 1:4) but not in the Godhead (1 Cor. 8:6). As God’s children, we are in the world, but we are not of the world (John 17:11,14). If we make a clear-cut separation from the world, we will live a sanctified life (1 Thes. 5:23) and a holy life for the church life. Jesting and revelry in paganistic Christmas celebration will put our holy life under siege. Idolatry is a serious sin. To participate in Christmas celebration is an abomination that the Lord hates. Christ is the reality of all feasts; we do not need the shadow because we have Christ as the reality (Col. 2:16-17; John 1:14b). As the world is celebrating the day of the unconquered sun god, we have Christ as the true Sun of righteousness (Mal. 4:2) who has conquered Satan, world, sin, and death. We want Christ, but not the ‘mas’, the mixture.

Christmas is a leaven added to the meal by Christendom (Matt. 13:33). In 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Paul admonished us to purge out the leaven and instead keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the continuation of the Passover (Exo. 12:15-20). It lasted for seven days, a period of completion, signifying the entire period of our Christian life. It is a life-long feast that we must keep with unleavened bread, which is Christ as our nourishment and enjoyment. Only He is the life supply of sincerity and truth, absolutely pure, without mixture, and full of reality.

We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people acquired for a possession (1 Pet. 2:9). In this age of apostasy the Lord is calling us, the overcomers, to come out and be separated from the world and from the degraded Christianity that is full of mixtures (2 Cor. 6:17), and not to participate in her sins that we might not receive her plagues (Rev. 18:4). The Lord’s promise to the overcomers is to give them to eat of the hidden manna (Rev. 2:17). If we love the Lord and forsake the world and its enjoyment, we shall surely enjoy the Lord in a subjective and transcendent way.

Bible Verses for Your Reading:

Jer. 10:2-3 ‘Do not learn the way of the nations …for the customs of the people are vanity.’
1 Cor. 5:8 ‘So then let us keep the feast, not with old leaven …but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truths.’
1 Cor. 10:14 ‘ Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.’

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