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Thursday, December 17, 2015


Eternal Security!?
Dr. David L. Brown

EternalSecurity.2015

No chapter in the Bible has disturbed and worried people more than has Hebrews 6, specifically verses 4-6. Tragically many people use these verses as a proof text to support their errant view that a believer can lose his or her salvation. It says - “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”



These verses have been misunderstood and misapplied by many. Also, there are too many who make the error of developing doctrine based on obscure verses. I would remind you that we are to interpret the obscure by the obvious. There are MANY verses in the Scriptures that assure the true believer that he or she can never be lost! While I do not want to give a false assurance to any professed Christian who is NOT truly born again, neither do I want to cause a TRUE believer to stumble and doubt God’s truth concerning Salvation.



Following are some OBVIOUS verses that assure the true believer that their salvation is secure, they cannot lose it.



·        Christ Is The One Who Gives Eternal Life to His Sheep and He Is the One Who Keeps Them - John 10:28-30 “And I [Jesus] give unto them [His sheep; those who have believed] eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.



This is one of the clearest statements in the Bible that one who believes in Jesus for salvation will never be lost. Believers sin and stumble, but Jesus as the perfect Shepherd loses none of His flock.



Note the phrase, “I give unto them eternal life….” If you believe in Christ today and have eternal life, but you lose it tomorrow, then the life that was given was NOT “eternal” at all. Therefore, if you can lose your salvation, the promises of eternal life in the Bible are erroneous.



“They shall never perish” is a strong affirmation in the Greek: ou mē apolōntai eis ton aiōna (“they will indeed not ever perish”; cf. John 3:16, mē apolētai, “should not perish”). The security of the sheep is found in the ability of the Shepherd to defend and preserve His flock. Such security does not depend on the ability of the frail sheep. Note the word “pluck.” It means to carry off by force; to snatch away. No wolf, no thief, no bandit, on hireling, no demon, not even the devil can pluck the sheep out of Christ’s grasp! We are safe and secure in our Heavenly Father and His Son’s Hand.



·        Christ Promises That Those Who Come To Him Are Secure



John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”



I really appreciate this verse. However, I admit it does annoy the Calvinists though. Election and free will are both in this verse. “All that the father giveth me shall come to me” states a truth, and that is election. But wait a minute! “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” is also true, and “him that cometh to me” is free will. I don't know how to reconcile them, but they are both true. The Father gives men to Christ, but men of their own free will have to come. And the ones that come are the ones, apparently, whom the Father gives to Him. You and I are down here, and we don't see into the operation of God and the machinery of heaven. I don't know how God runs that computer of election, but I know that He has given to you and to me a free will and we have to exercise it.



Charles H. Spurgeon was a Calvinist of sorts. Yet, he preached a “whosoever will” Gospel.  Someone said to Spurgeon, “If I believed like you do about election, I wouldn't preach like you do.”



Spurgeon's answer went something like this, “If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I'd go up and down the street lifting up shirttails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I'd give them the Gospel. But God didn't do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.’” Jesus says, “… and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”



So, my Calvinist friends, you can argue about election all you want to, but you can come. And if you come, He'll not cast you out. Jesus assured them that nobody who came to Him would ever be lost but would be raised at the last day. Even death cannot rob us of salvation! (In regard to the “last day,” (John 6:40).



·        The Holy Spirit Seals The Believer - Ephesians 1:13-14  “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,   14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.



In the Bible a seal signifies 1) A Finished Transaction (Jeremiah 32:9-10). 2) Ownership (Jeremiah 32:11-12; 2 Timothy 2:19) 3) Security (Esther 8:8; Daniel 6:17; Ephesians 4:30)



God places the Holy Spirit in us permanently (He indwells us, taking up permanent residence) indicating that the great transactions in which God the Son paid for sin, thus satisfying the just demand of God’s Holy Law is FINISHED (John 19:30). The believer’s body becomes “the temple of the Holy Ghost” and we are OWNED by God for we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And clearly, we are SECURE for Ephesians 4:30 says, “ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief.



·        Those Who Believe Are Guaranteed Everlasting Life -John 3:15-16 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.



These verses tell us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will "have eternal life." If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never "eternal" to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

Another supporting passage is John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.



·        Ye Must Be Born-Again Not Again & Again



John 1:12-13 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”



Once you are born, you cannot be unborn. Jesus said you must be born-again, not you must be born-again and again (John 3:7). In facts since we are God’s children we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). When His children sin, God does not kick them out of the family back into the dominion of the devil for we have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13-14), but, as a proper human father deals with an errant child, God our father disciplines his children (Hebrews 12:4-13). Once you are born into the family of God you can never be unborn.



·        Nothing Can Separate Us From Christ Who Redeemed Us



Perhaps the most powerful proof for eternal security is Romans 8:31-39. Our eternal security is based on God's love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.



I am SURE that God the Father, His Son and my Savior Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit will keep me saved! Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:12 “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”



THE PROBLEM PASSAGE IN FOCUS



Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”



Those who believe Christians can lose their salvation appeal to these verses as “proof” of their theory. Then there are those like me who believe we are to interpret the obscure by the obvious. As I showed you in my last message there are many verses that clearly teach that true believers can never lose their salvation. So what is the meaning of Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”



First of all, the writer IS describing saved people. We read in verse 4 they were “once enlightened.” The word once is a first aorist passive articular participle, which indicates it means once and for all enlightened, indicating an experience of true salvation. They have “tasted [experienced] of the Heavenly gift,” the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ. They were “partakers [sharers] of the Holy Ghost”, “tasted [experienced] the good word of God and “the powers of the world to come.” Clearly believers are being addressed here.



The second thing to note is the focus is on repentance, NOT salvation. The writer of Hebrews is talking about the fruit of salvation, not about the root of salvation. Notice verse Hebrews 6:9 - “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation [he hasn't been discussing salvation but the things that accompany salvation], though we thus speak.”



He is speaking of the fruit of the Christian's life and the reward that comes to him as the result. The whole tenor of this passage is that he is warning them of the possibility of losing their reward not losing their salvation`. I am talking about the Judgment Seat of Christ before which all believers will appear (2 Corinthians 5:10). Our works will be tested there by fire (1 Corintians 3:11-15).



Now to the troublesome verse: - “If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (v.6).



The phrase fall away is NOT apostasia, from which we get the English word “apostasy.” It is It is parapipto, (par-ap-ip'-to) which means “to fall beside, to deviate, to turn aside, to wander.”



It is similar to the word for “fault,” as found in Galatians 6:1 (“if a man be overtaken in a fault [trespass]”). So, Hebrews 6:6 describes believers who have experienced the spiritual blessings of God but who fall by the side, backslidden or trespassed because of unbelief. Having done this, they are in danger of divine chastening (see Hebrews 12:5-13) and of becoming castaways (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), which results in loss of reward and divine disapproval, but NOT loss of salvation.



You should also note that the words “crucify” and “put” in Hebrews 6:6 are, in the Greek, present participles: “while they are crucifying . . . and while they are putting Him to an open shame.” That means, the writer IS NOT SAYING that these people could never be brought to repentance. He said that they could not be brought to repentance while they were treating Jesus Christ in such a shameful way. Once they stop disgracing Jesus Christ in this way, they can be brought to repentance and renew their fellowship with God.



There are many examples in Scripture of men who “fell away.” The apostle Peter fell, but he was not lost. The Lord Jesus said to him, "I have prayed that your faith might not fail" (see Luke 22:32). Peter suffered loss, but he was not lost.



John Mark is another example. He failed so miserably on the first missionary journey that when his uncle Barnabas suggested that he go on the second journey, Paul turned him down. He as much as said, “Never. This boy has failed, and as far as I am concerned, I am through with him” (see Act 15:37-39). Well, thank God, although he stumbled and fell, God was not through with him. Even the apostle Paul, before he died, acknowledged that he had made a misjudgment of John Mark. In his last epistle he wrote, "… Take Mark and bring him with thee; for he is useful to me for ministering" (2 Timothy 4:11). Now, neither Peter nor John Mark lost his salvation, but they certainly failed and they suffered loss for it.



There is two final points I want to address. First, lose, sinful living by a believer can so damage his or her testimony that others blaspheme, mock and deride Christ. You can so destroy your testimony that you become unusable by the Lord. Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” That means unworthy and unusable. Those who are castaway’s have not lost their salvation, but they have lost their testimonies and damaged the name of Christ to such an extent that they are no longer useable. They will be saved, but “yet so as by fire!” (1 Corinthians 3:15). Those who are genuinely saved cannot lose their salvation but they can lose their testimonies and put Christ to open shame. I know of several instances where this has happened. Sin destroyed the persons testimony, caused people to mock Christ, destroyed the church and has had long lasting consequences for several generations.



Finally, there are people who have done the “1, 2, 3 pray after me” thing, and there has never been a change in their lives. There is no fruit, not even a dried raisin. Then there are others who professions of faith for some reason or other for ulterior motives. I remember a young man who went and asked a dad if he could date his daughter. The dad said, are you a born-again believer. The young man answered “No!” The dad said, “You may not until you get saved.” That Sunday, the young man responded to the invitation and “trusted Christ.” He got baptized, and joined the church and a year later he and the young lady were married. He continued to attend church, later taught a Sunday school class, sang in the choir and even became a Trustee. However, more than two decades later, walked the aisle during an invitation and confessed to the people he was not really saved. He made a profession so he could marry the young lady. That evening, this middle aged man got GLORIOUSLY SAVED!



So, what is my point? Be SURE you are genuinely saved. 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”



There is NO chance in eternity to change your destiny!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Truth Is Fallen In The Street


Truth Is Fallen In The Street
By Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
 
Truth Is Fallen In The Streets. 06282015
Isaiah 59:12-15  “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity [right] cannot enter. 15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.”
 


God’s Prophet Isaiah lays out Israel’s spiritual condition. Their transgressions against God had multiplied to such an extent that they became so corrupt spiritually their justice system was characterized as “judgment turned away backward,” meaning judgment had turned its back on justice. Truth was disregarded and is characterized as being “fallen in the streets.” Right or “equity” barred from entering. There was such a flagrant disregard for truth, to the extent, that those who stood against evil and for the truth became the target of derision, mockery and persecution (“maketh himself a prey”). Israel’s sin, deliberate rebellion against the Lord, lying, injustice, and persecution of those who stood for righteousness, brought God’s wrath down upon them. God is NOT mocked!
 
Tragically, our nation is following the same path that Israel followed. Over my lifetime I have seen “truth” fall in the streets so to speak. Slowly but surely an unelected committed of nine judges (the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States) have thrown Biblical truth in the street, robbed the People for their freedom of religion, taken away their liberty to govern themselves, and have set up our nation for the Judgment of God. Let me trace for you how, in the United States, “judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street.”
SCOTIS (Supreme Court Of The United States) Decisions
 
·       Engel v. Vitale - "The Regents School Prayer" - 1962
 
The New York school system had adopted a prayer to be said before the start of each day's classes. (I will remember my kindergarten teacher leading in prayer when I was in school). This prayer was to help promote good moral character of the students, spiritual training and help combat juvenile delinquency. The Regents wrote a prayer for the schools which had to be non-sectarian or denominational. It was so bland that it became known to some religious leaders as the "to whom it may concern prayer." This is the Regents School Prayer - Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.
 
The court Warren court ignored the plainly stated truth of the Founding Fathers that stated that religion and morality were to be a part of our society and government and instead expelled prayer from the public schools for the first time. George Washington said, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.”  He also said, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” Noah Webster said, "[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence." 
 
The Supreme Court by majority vote thumbed their noses at our Founding Father and what is exceedingly worse, at God.
 
·       Murray v. Curlett "School Prayer" - 1963
 
Madalyn Murray O'Hair, a militant left wing atheist with close ties to the American Communist Party, took the school board of Baltimore to court for allowing prayer in school. The local court judge J. Gilbert Pendergast dismissed the petition stating, “It is abundantly clear that petitioners' real objective is to drive every concept of religion out of the public school system.” The case went to the Maryland Court of Appeals, and the court ruled, “neither the First nor the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to stifle all rapport [relationship] between religion and government.”  
 
The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Leonard Kerpelman addressed the court saying the Constitution had erected a "wall of separation" between church and state, at which point Justice Potter Steward interrupted, asking where this wording appears. Kerpelman was stumped and an embarrassing silence followed. When he regained his composure, he stated that the text was not explicit on the point but that it had been interpreted to mean so. Actually that is NOT true. The phrase “wall of separation” was in a private letter of Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists.
 
The thing that troubles me is this. Not a single Christian organization filed a brief in support of school prayer, so the case went virtually uncontested before the Court. The Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in favor of abolishing school prayer and Bible reading in the public schools. Justice Tom Clark wrote, “religious freedom, it has long been recognized that government must be neutral and, while protecting all, must prefer none and disparage none.”

·       Abington Township School District v. Schempp - "Bible reading in school" - 1963

The Pennsylvania school system complied with a state law requiring that ten verses of Scripture be read every day. The readings were without interpretation, comment or questions asked, and any student could request to be excused. It was voluntary without coercion, and the Schempp girl never asked to be excused and even volunteered to read the Bible on occasions. (This point was not brought up when the case was before the Supreme Court.)  Yet the parents brought the case to court on grounds that it was coercion.   This case came to the Supreme Court at the same time as the Murray v. Curlett case, and the court ruled on them together. After these last 2 cases were decided, the court’s ruling stated that Prayer and / or Bible reading was a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendmentIn so ruling the court established a secular religion for our school system, thus violating the "establishment clause" of the First Amendment. And thus the First Amendment has been completely revised with regard to religious freedom, putting the restrictions on the people and not the government.
 
Noah Webster who was called the School Master of the United States because of the use his Blue Back Speller in public schools,  (the speller was packed full of Biblical principles and biblical moral teachings) said, “The Bible must be considered as the great source of all truth by which men are to be guided in government as well as in all social transactions.” Yet, the majority of nine unelected men on the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the Bible and prayer must be excluded from our public schools.  These rulings attacked our God given right to exercise our religion publically. Public Schools became a NO GOD ZONE. Prayer to God and Bible reading were removed from put public schools. Today, students who bring their Bible and read them or who pray or who write papers about Jesus Christ, the Bible and God are regularly threatened and in numerous instances, expelled. To combat that parents have to engage a lawyer to fight for their child’s 1st Amendment rights.
 
·       Roe v. Wade - 1973
 
This is the Supreme Court decision overturning a Texas interpretation of abortion law and making abortion legal in the United States. Roe v. Wade attacked our God-given right-to-life and has shifted our nations focus from being a life focused culture to a death focused culture. Proverbs 8:35-36 “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. 36  But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” Innocent blood has been shed! 50 million babies have been murdered by abortion in this nation. Our nation has sown to the wind and is reaping the whirlwind.
 
Now we come to the most recent abominable Supreme Court ruling -
 
·       Obergefell v. Hodges - 2015
 
This ruling decreed that so called “same sex marriage” (an oxymoronic phrase) must be recognized in all 50 states of these United States.
 
Our Governor Scott Walker said, I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges ‘has been with us for millennia.'”
 
In fact, God established marriage in Eden. We read in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
 
 Justice Clarence Thomas said that the court’s “decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect.” The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees “the free exercise” of religion—which is not confined to “worship” that takes place within a religious building, but engages all aspects of a person’s life. “Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect,” Thomas said in his dissent.
 
“In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well,” said Thomas. “Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples…The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability,” Thomas concluded.
 
Justice Antonin Scalia declared that this Supreme Court has become a “threat to American democracy.” Here is the quote. “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy,” Scalia said. “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected commit­tee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extrav­agant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most im­portant liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
 
I would make this observation as well. Traditional marriage. Biblical Marriage is the backbone of society. Marriage unites a man and a woman as husband and wife so that the children will have both a father and a mother. Further, Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and woman are distinct and complementary and the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children fare best with a mother and a father. Redefining marriage to make it a genderless institution fundamentally changes marriage: It makes the relationship more about the desires of adults than about the needs—or rights—of children. It teaches the lie that mothers and fathers are interchangeable.
 
Please understand, while the Court changed the definition of marriage, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF THINGS THAT HAVE NOT CHANGED.
1.     GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE.
2.    GOD’S TRUTH ABOUT MARRIAGE HAS NOT CHANGED.
3.    THE PRINCIPLE OF ACTS 5:29 HAS NOT CHANGED - “we ought to obey God rather than man.”
4.    MAN’S NEED FOR SALVATION HAS NOT CHANGED SO WE WILL CONTINUE SHARE THE GOSPEL.
The Psalmist poses this question - “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalms 11:3
 
I have an answer. We need to keep on keeping on for the Lord. We need to stand for the TRUTH of God’s word even when the world stands against us. That is what we did when abortion was legalized. Abortion is STILL sin. It is murder, the shedding of innocent blood. So called “same sex marriage” is an abomination to almighty God! Yet, I DO know this. When a sinner turns to Jesus Christ that sinner gets saved and that sinner’s life changes. We need to seek to win them to Christ.
 
Turn to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
 
Western Civilization is rotten to the core and moving rapidly toward God's impending Judgment. I am reminded of the words that are written on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial - “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” – Thomas Jefferson  
 
We need to redouble our efforts to reach them with the Gospel. When a person is really saved his or her life changes.
 
As a side note, I like what Governor Walker said -
 
“Recognizing that our Founders made our Constitution difficult to amend, I am reminded that it was first amended to protect our ‘First Freedom' - the free exercise of religion. The First Amendment does not simply protect a narrow ‘right to worship,' but provides broad protection to individuals and institutions to worship and act in accordance with their religious beliefs. In fact, the Wisconsin constitution explicitly protects the rights of conscience of our citizens. I can assure all Wisconsinites concerned about the impact of today's decision that your conscience rights will be protected, and the government will not coerce you to act against your religious beliefs.

“I call on the president and all governors to join me in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience. We will continue to fight for the freedoms of all Americans.”

Christians; It is up to us to hold God’s Standard high. First teach them to our children and grandchildren. The government schools will try to undermine biblical values and morals. The entertainment media will continue of offer their perverted view of sex and morals. Our Government will bring it power to bear against us who know and teach the truths of the Bible. WE MUST STAND FOR THE ENDURING WORDS OF GOD!
 
 If thou faint in the day of adversity,
thy strength is small.
Proverbs 24:10

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Christmas Are You Celebrating?


By Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.

First Baptist Church of Oak Creek Wisconsin


Audio Sermons: www.sermonaudio.com/fbcoc

 

The idea for this message came from the tract titled A Christmas Trio by Trumpet Tract Ministries of Milwaukee. A husband-wife team from our church published a number of good Gospel tracts, all of which use the King James Bible for Scripture quotes.

 

Christmas is one of the United States of America’s “OFFICIAL” Holidays! Yet, there are a variety of different ways that Americans celebrate Christmas. The tract suggests three different ways people celebrate this National Holiday. I will add one more. As you listen to the four descriptions of Christmas, ask yourself this question: “What Christmas am I celebrating?”

 

Here are three, and a fourth category

 

1) The Secular Xmas

2) The Mythical Christmas

3) The Religious Christmas 

4) The True Christmas

 

Let’s begin by looking at…

 

·       The Secular Xmas


Even atheists and agnostics take part in this national holiday, however they are SURE to “X” Christ completely out. “The birth of Christ carries no relevance for them and the main concerns are gifts, parties, and family gatherings.”1 They view the primary value of the holiday as financial boost to the economy. It certainly does give a BIG boost to our economy. Americans will spend from $455 to $475 billion this Christmas.

 

But, there is a warped bent within this Xmas crowd that takes things even further. They desire to remove all public manifestations of Christ from Christmas. Nativity displays MUST GO! They insist that Christmas Trees become Holiday Trees. No “Merry Christmas” greetings! That’s a BIG “No, NO! It must be “Happy Holiday’s.” They make sure that every one knows that they are offended if “Christ” is in any way included. One community was even going to ban Red and Green because they make people think of Christmas. After a HUGE public outcry, the city council voted it down.  Red and Green can be displayed

 

Here is an email that I received from Liberty Counsel that illustrates the militant attack on Christmas-
 

Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford has issued a disturbing directive forbidding employees to say or write the word "Christmas." This directive was given by the University upon legal advice of the Oklahoma Attorney General, W.A. Drew Edmondson. Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the University following a complaint from a University affiliate.

 

The controversy began when the University's Director of Human Resources recently visited various departments and said that decorations featuring the word "Christmas" in any areas of the University must be immediately removed.  

 

He also instructed the employees not to say "Christmas" while on the job. As a result the employees cannot respond "Merry Christmas" to other employees or visitors to the University. Read our News Release for more details. (After being confronted by a law firm, the University President intervened and brought sanity back to the situation)

 

Then, closer to home, we have a group of atheists who can’t stand the fact that Racine permits a Christian Nativity scene to be erected by a private group in Monument Square. So atheists decided to erect a pyramid with various anti-religious quotes on it, right next to the crèche scene.

 

An article on the Racine Post Blog says, “David Nelson, 81, another of the half-dozen atheists who helped set the pyramid up on the square Wednesday night -- about six feet from the Nativity Scene -- insisted, ‘we're trying to educate the American public. The Founding Fathers left too many loopholes in the doctrine of separation of church and state.’”


One person who identified himself as an American agnostic is quoted to have said – “The only problem with putting the pyramid next to the nativity is that you come off as a XXXX [fool]. The atheists are probably right, that Christianity is a make-believe myth that can cause people feel all good and faithy inside, and that religion should be separate from government. But, keep in mind that it's that same government (and maybe a forgiving religion) that is keeping you (the atheists) from being lynched.”

As you can see, this crowd celebrates Xmas. No religious convictions are involved. Jesus is completely crossed out of the picture. They refuse to recognize the paramount importance of His birth. “The irony of this Christmas is that people are participating in a holiday that came about as a result of the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ; however, they don’t recognize Him as such, don’t pay attention to Him, yet will still participate in His birthday. It is made a common thing and that is a sad thing. Is this the Christmas you are celebrating?”1

 

The appropriate Scripture for the Xmas crowd is -- Psalms 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” They are fools!

 

·       The Mythical Christmas 

 

This is perhaps the most popular version that Americans celebrate. Those who celebrate the mythical Christmas combine pagan mythology and modern folklore to come up with their celebrations. Here’s what I mean. The PRIMARY character of this mythical Christmas celebration is none other than Santa Claus! The focus is on Santa not the Savior. Santa Claus got his biggest boost in America from a seminary professor, Dr. Clement Clarke Moore. He taught Oriental and Greek Literature at General Theological Seminary in New York City. At age 43 he had six children. Moore had purchased the first American Book about secular Christmas. It was called A NEW YEAR'S PRESENT FOR THE LITTLE ONES FROM FIVE TO TWELVE." It inspired him to write his poem called “A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS, OR SANTA CLAUS” for his children. He read it to them at the dinner table on Christmas Eve, 1822. We know the poem better as "T'WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS". The following year it was published in the Troy New York Sentinel anonymously. This was the beginning of Santa and his reindeer-powered sleigh. It was not until 1837 that Moore allowed his name to be used in connection with the poem.

 

 Though Bible-believing Christians were strongly against the mythical celebration of Christmas with Santa Claus and all the pagan trappings like Yule logs, mistletoe, the wassail bowl, holly, etc. in the mid 1830-1850’s, famous American Cartoonist Thomas Nast popularized Santa Claus in Harper' Bazaar from the 1860's to the 1880's. George Webster contributed the idea that Santa's headquarters was at the North Pole. Christ and Santa were further confused by Thomas Nast and Christmas Card publisher Louis Prang who pictures the Christ Child and Santa together in the 1880's and 90's.

 

Slowly but surely the Santa Claus myth usurped the truth and significance of the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. I ask you, “Is this the Christmas you are celebrating?” I would simply say this, No Virginia, there is no real Santa Claus, but Christ is real and you need Him as your Savior! I remind you, Christ is to have the preeminence in all things (Colossians 1:18).

 

That brings me to the next Christmas people celebrate…

 

·       The Religious Christmas

 

As a Pastor, I can tell you of this; I will likely see people who I never see in any other services the entire year at Easter and Christmas services! I have never quite figured it out to be honest with you. What is the rationale for throwing God a “bone” so to speak, two Sunday’s a year and ignoring Him the other 50?

 

Christmas is one holiday in which those who evidently see no need of God or church during the year, decide to “play church” for a day and attend a Christmas service. Likely they think they are “giving God His due” so to speak.

 

Churches go to extra effort presenting plays, musicals, and special messages on this day. You have to wonder if these things are why this crowd comes! I remember reading on one church sign – “Avoid the Christmas rush! Attend church now!”

 

Don’t get me wrong! I certainly enjoy singing the Christmas hymns. I am blessed by the Christmas Cantata and my heart is warmed by the Sunday School program. However, The religious Christmas crowd too often does not get past the babe in the manger! They come, sing the songs, hear the sermon and as soon as “the doors are opened…thoughts have quickly reverted back to presents, parties, and dinner. In other words, back to everything other than Jesus….”2 For those who celebrate a religious Christmas, there is really no room in their day-to-day life for Christ. Luke 2:11 is not a reality to them "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." The Christmas message “never penetrates the heart and so never gets past being a religiously institutionalized message. Is this the Christmas you are celebrating?” Finally we come to…

 

·       The True Christmas

 

The fact is that even the enemies of Christianity claimed that Christ lived, and that He performed miracles! Early Jewish documents such as the Mishnah and even Josephus, as well as first-century Gentile historians such as Thallus, Serapion, and Tacitus, all testify that the one called Christ lived in Palestine and died under Pontius Pilate. As the British scholar, F. F. Bruce put it, “The historicity of Christ is as [certain]. . . as the historicity of Julius Caesar” (NT Documents, 119).

 

My point is this: since Jesus lived, then Jesus was born! The Gospel of Matthew tell us that His birth was shortly before Herod the Great died (Matthew 2:19). Herod's death can be fixed with certainty. Josephus records an eclipse of the moon just before Herod passed on. This occurred on March 12th or 13th in 4 B.C. Josephus also tells us that Herod expired just before Passover. This feast took place on April 11th, in the same year, 4 B.C. From other details supplied by Josephus, we can pinpoint Herod the Great's demise as occurring between March 29th and April 4th in 4 B.C.

 

Likely it sounds strange to suggest that Jesus Christ was born no later than 4 B.C. since B.C. means Before Christ. But our modern calendar which splits time between B.C. and A.D. was not invented until A.D. 525. At that time, Pope John I asked a monk named Dionysius to prepare a standardized calendar for the western Church. Unfortunately, poor Dionysius missed the real B.C./A.D. division by at least four years!

 

Matthew tells us that Herod killed Bethlehem's babies two years old and under. The earliest Jesus could have been born, therefore, is 6 B.C. Through a variety of other time indicators, we can be relatively confident that the Messiah was born in either late 5 or early 4 B.C.

 

The birth of Christ is the most important event in human history. So important in fact, that the timeline of history is divided by it - B.C. abbreviated for “Before Christ” and A.D. abbreviated for the two Latin words Anno Domini (meaning in the year of our Lord). This was no ordinary birth and it changed human history forever. Even a complete skeptic like H.G. Wells, a professional historian and science-fiction writer who made no profession of Christianity, admitted in his Outline of History, “More than 1900 years later, a historian like myself, who doesn’t even call himself a Christian, finds the picture [of history] centering irresistibly around the life and character of this most significant man.…” The True Celebration of Christmas focuses the birth of Emmanuel (God with us). You can read about all the related facts surrounding the Savior’s birth in the Gospels of Matthew (1:18-2:11) and Luke (1:26-56, 67-75, 2:4-40). But what was the purpose of Christ’s birth? We read in 1 John 4:14 “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” Why do we need a Savior? The birth of Christ was necessary because all people are lost sinners (Romans 3:23). God gave His Son Jesus a body so that so that He could pay for our sins by offering of His own body (Hebrews 10:5 & 10; 1 Peter 2:24; Colossians 2:13-14). If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Savior, do it today! “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.

 

Notes 1-2 are from A Christmas Trio by Trumpet Tract Ministry www.TrumpetTracts.com