Is the Keeping of Christmas Pleasing to the Lord?

Throwback – 2012

Can it be? Two Dispensationalists in two days…on JM’s blog? lol

IS THE KEEPING OF CHRISTMAS PLEASING TO THE LORD?
by Robert D. Gracey (1935)

Christmas, a name that has lost its one-time charm!

Years ago when we were children, Christmas was to us a name associated with the purest joys of earth. It stood for giving and forgiving, for love, self-sacrifice and neighbourliness. Even the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, held no charm like December 25th. Such as they were, there were always enough little gifts to go round the large family circle. And, literally, the day was scarcely over before we were laying plans for the next year’s happy family reunion and celebration.

• The Reproach of Being Different

We do not keep Christmas now. It was a terrible wrench to give it up. But, thank God, there are many others who are prepared to share the reproach of being different to the majority of those about them; who are willing to forego the popularity which might be theirs by simply joining in the popular enjoyments of the times; who place faithfulness to Christ in His absence before personal pleasure.

The Scriptures say nothing about the disciples of the Lord Jesus celebrating the anniversary of His birth. On the other hand, there are many references to the commemoration of His death, the Breaking of Bread, which was evidently to take place on the first day of each week. See Luke 22: 19-20; 1 Cor. 11: 23-26; Acts 20: 7.

Like many other things which affect people generally and which have more or less of a connection with Christianity, the kindly sentiment and activities connected with Christmas-keeping have doubtless had a softening effect upon this Godless world. But think how this ostensibly religious festival has become commercialized! Theatres, restaurants, stores and business concerns generally, have come to depend upon it annually as a source of revenue. True, it is still to many sincere persons a time of family reunion and of simple, natural pleasures,
but can any true lover of the crucified Saviour, the rejected Son of God, afford to overlook how He must regard these annual celebrations which bear His holy Name?

• The World’s Idea of a ‘Merry’ Time

As another has pointed out, if on the occasion of celebrating the birthday of a dead patriot one were to arise and eulogize him feelingly in well-chosen terms, those gathered in his memory would be delighted. Alas, how different it would be if a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ were to stand up in any one of most of the Christmas Day gatherings large or small and tell out in simple, heartfelt language the story of the humble circumstances of His miraculous birth; of His pathway of untiring service, yet of rejection, culminating in His vicarious death on Calvary’s cross; of His burial, resurrection and ascension and of the glorious prospect of His soon coming to take those who love Him to be forever with Himself.

Who would hesitate to admit that such a theme, even on Christmas Day, is not the world’s idea of a ‘merry’ time? To venture to tell of the Saviour’s dying love of His hatred of sin yet compassion for sinners, and of His holy perfections so delightful to the heart of God, would indeed be inappropriate and unwelcome in the great majority of Christmas Day parties or audiences.

• Objections

‘But’, says a fellow-Christian, ‘what you have said so far does not apply to my case at all. The fact that so many leave the Lord Himself out of their Christmas Day activities does not mean that everybody leaves Him out.

‘For me the Day is filled with thoughts of His lowly birth, of the visit of the magi who brought Him gifts of “gold, and frankincense and myrrh”.’

‘The family reunions, the renewing of friendships by means of greeting cards and visits, as well as the providing of food and other presents for the poor, are joys connected with Christmas that are almost sacred.’

‘In fact, I hold the Day itself so sacred that I would give up my position rather than consent to work on December 25th! ‘

• God is Calling Attention to Death of Christ

That is all quite understandable. No doubt your convictions and feelings are perfectly honest and sincere. Your motives too may be the best. But our convictions and feelings and motives, even at their best, are an unreliable guide in themselves. Cain’s motives may have been good enough when he thought to give an offering of the fruit of the ground, but his offering nevertheless was not acceptable to God. The important thing was not Cain’s intention, but God’s requirement what would be pleasing to Him.

Cain’s offering overlooked the necessity of blood-shedding; Abel’s, on the other hand, gave evidence that he valued in type the death of Christ, so he offered a lamb; and it says that “The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect”.

Surely no lover of the Lord Jesus who reads his or her Bible prayerfully and in dependence upon the Spirit of God, can fail to see that God is calling special attention to the death of Christ rather than to His birth.

• A Device of Satan

Not only does the word of God make no request of us to commemorate the Lord’s birth, but, as we have already noted, it gives no intimation that the earliest disciples marked its anniversary. Nor does Scripture indicate the exact date of His birth.

Turning to accredited encyclopedias – e.g., Encyclopedia Britannica – we find the speculation as to the probable date ranged in early centuries from January 6, March 28, April 19 or 20, May 20, November 17 to December 25th! December 25th was evidently a day originally connected with sun-worship. My own suspicion is that Christmas-keeping was a device of Satan – who according to 2 Corinthians 11: 14 is transformed into an angel of light with a view to creating a place where Christian and unconverted might eventually meet on common ground in the Name of the Lord Jesus. If my suspicion is correct, Satan’s plan would seem to have proved to be one of his masterpieces, for Christmas calls supreme attention to the birth of Jesus whereas it is unmistakably evident from the Scriptures that God would have us constantly engaged with the efficacy of His atoning death.

Commemorating the Lord’s death involves reproach, which is true Christian ground. Heb. 13: 13. Commemorating a day which is generally accepted as His birthday involves no reproach whatever; on the contrary, to fail to keep it is sure to cause misunderstanding and reproach.
Evidently, therefore, not to keep the Day as the masses do is consistent for those who “esteem the reproach of Christ”, Heb. 11: 26.

• Three Questions

To those therefore who are really concerned as to whether or not they should ‘keep Christmas’, I would commend prayerful consideration of three questions:

Do I keep Christmas to please myself?
Do I keep it to please others?
Do I keep it to please the Lord?

The beloved Apostle Paul indicated that he felt the need of such concern as to matters in his own life, for he says in writing to the Corinthians: “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him”, 2 Cor. 5: 9. Of the Lord Jesus it says that He “pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me”, Romans 15: 3.

I am persuaded that in the face of the word of Scripture, of history and of present-day conditions, the question of Christmas-keeping will not be a difficult one for the Christian whose honest concern in life is to be pleasing to the Lord.

R.D.G.
Westfield, N.J., December 7, 1935

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The Origin of Christmas

Posted in 2012

More reading from my fav Dispensationalist. (at least he was a Calvinist)

THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS
by J. N. Darby

The church gives a yearly round of fasts and festivals, so that mere outward events may be before the mind without any dealing of God with the individual soul …

Scripture says, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe”; but this foolishness of God dealing with the individual does not please the wisdom of the church. It has its own way of doing it. It keeps days, and months, and years. They turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which they desire again to be in bondage.

“I am afraid of you”, says the apostle. It was, he tells us, going back to heathenism … except Easter, which was the Jewish Passover, and Pentecost, and perhaps some more recently added saints’ days, the church festivals were deliberately and formally added from heathenism. Christians, so-called, would have festivals, and they tacked on Christian names to heathen ones.

The great Augustine informs us that “the church” did it, that if they would get drunk – which they did even in the churches – they should do do in honour of saints, not of demons. One of the Gregorys was famous for this, and left only seventeen heathen in his dioceses by means of it. And another Gregory, sending another Augustine to England, directed him not to destroy the idol temples, but to turn them into churches; and as the heathen were accustomed to have an anniversary festival to their god, to replace it by one to a saint.

It was thus Europe, Africa, and Asia Minor as least were Christianised. Sicily, which in spite of all efforts had remained heathen, as soon as it was decided that Mary was the mother of God at what I must call the disgraceful and infamous general council of Ephesus, gave up all her temples and churches. It was as easy to worship the mother of God as the mother of the gods. But everywhere drunkeness in honour of the saints, and even in the churches, took the place of drunkeness in honour of demigods, the great Augustine and other fathers bearing witness.

Such were the festal anniversaries.

Christmas having been – and it is still celebrated in heathen countries – the worst of heathen festivals, to celebrate the return of the sun from the winter solstice, without a pretence that Christ was born that day, but as they could not stop the revelry, they put Christ’s birth there. Such, in real fact, is the church’s celebration of anniversaries and saints’ days. This is certain, that the apostle declares that it was a return to heathenism, so that he was afraid his labour was in vain – avowedly turning the great and mighty parts of Christianity, by which God acted upon souls, to bring them into blessed and divinely-wrought relationship with Himself, individually and collectively, into certain outward events, or outward facts, and exclusively to their announcement as occurring at particular times. “I am afraid of you”.

In result the gospel is founded on a series of mighty and divine facts, by which, through the foolishness of preaching, God, in the power of the Holy Ghost, does act on individual souls for salvation, and gather them into one. The church system makes of them a set of outward events, historically remembered by anniversaries.

J.N.D.
Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, 29: 330-32

à Brakel: Commentary on Revelation

https://theoldguys.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/wilhelmus-a-brakel-1.jpeg?w=490The LORD hath said unto me, Thou are my Son, this day have I begotten thee.     Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

“Wilhelmus à Brakel, a contemporary of Voetius and Witsius, was a major representative of the Dutch Further Reformation. This movement was contemporaneous with and greatly influenced by English Puritanism.” Wikipedia

Born: January 2, 1635, Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Died: October 30, 1711, Rotterdam, Netherlands

TO ORDER THE ENGLISH COMMENTARY OF REVELATION BOOK ONLINE:

https://www.createspace.com/6066755 – Softbound version for sale

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CJ2CUNG – Digital version for sale

Online class – The Theology of Wilhelmus a’Brakel

 

Jewish Fables

Pharisees“Jewish fables (literally, myths) are no new thing. Paul has plainly warned the household of faith not to give heed thereto. He has not given us a list of those grievous heresies; but it is well known that the one that was most fondly cherished, and that constituted the gravest menace to the truth of the gospel, was the notion that the leading purpose of the mission of the coming Messiah would be the reconstitution of the Jewish nation and its elevation to the highest pinnacle of earthly dominion and glory; for that fatuous doctrine was the cornerstone of orthodox Judaism in Paul’s day; and because of his sturdy opposition to it he was persecuted, his enemies plotted to take his life, and he was sent a prisoner to Rome. No wonder that, during the term of his imprisonment there, he wrote to Titus his plain-spoken warning against “Jewish fables.”Pharisees1

Such being the case, we question if there be anything in all the long history of Christianity that is more difficult to account for than the fact that that particular fable, concerning the purpose of Christ’s mission to the Jewish people, has become the central feature of a system of doctrine which, in this 20th century of our era, has found numerous and zealous advocates amongst orthodox Christians. In view of this extraordinary phenomenon, it surely behooves those who take the Holy Scriptures for their guide and instructor in all matters of faith and doctrine, to search them with the utmost care “whether these things be so.” This present volume is the result of a painstaking investigation of that important question.” – Philip Mauro

Blood Moon!!!

A few helpful scripture quotations from DISPENSATIONALISM – CATEGORIZED SCRIPTURE LIST

The true fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies is frequently MOONindicated in the New Testament.

· The prophecy of restoring Israel was fulfilled by the calling of the Gentiles to be God’s people.

Act 15:13-17 (quoting Amos 9:11-12) And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

Rom 9:22-26 (quoting Hosea 1:10; 2:23) What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. [The verses that Paul is quoting from Hosea are clearly speaking of “the house of Israel,” and say that she will be cast off, and no longer God’s people; but then restored, and God’s people again. Paul is here saying that this restoration of Israel as God’s people is being fulfilled by God’s calling out a people “not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles”.]

· The prophecy of the New Covenant, made “with the house of Israel” (see Jeremiah 31:31-34), is fulfilled in the New Testament Church.

Heb 8:6-13 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Heb 10:14-18 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

Mat 26:26-28 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament [that is, “covenant”], which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mar 14:22-24 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament [that is, “covenant”], which is shed for many.

Luk 22:19-20 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament [that is, “covenant”] in my blood, which is shed for you.

1Co 11:23-25 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament [that is, “covenant”] in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

2Co 3:5-6 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament [that is, “covenant”]; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Philpot on Gill’s Commentary

philpotFor a sound, consistent, scriptural exposition of the word of God, no commentary, we believe, in any language can be compared with Dr. Gill’s. There may be commentaries on individual books of Scripture, which may surpass Dr. Gill’s in depth of research and fullness of exposition: and the great work from which Poole compiled his Synopsis may be more suitable to scholars and divines, as bringing together into one focus all the learning of those eminent men who in the 16th century devoted days and nights to the study and interpretation of the word of God. But for English readers there is no commentary equal to Dr. Gill’s. His alone of all we have seen is based upon consistent, harmonious views of divine truth, without turning aside to the right hand or the left. It is said of the late Mr. Simeon, of Cambridge, that his plan of preaching was, if he had what is called an Arminian text, to preach from it Arminianism, and if he took a Calvinistic text, to preach from it Calvinism. Not so Dr. Gill. He knew nothing about Arminian texts, or Arminian interpretations. He believed that the Scripture, as an inspired revelation from God, must be harmonious and consistent with itself, and that no two passages could so contradict each other as the doctrines of free will contradict the doctrines of grace. The exhortation of the apostle is, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.” (Rom. 12:6.) This apostolic rule was closely followed by Dr. Gill. “The proportion,” or as the word literally means, “analogy of faith,” was his rule and guide in interpreting the Scripture; and, therefore, as all his explanations were modeled according to the beautiful proportions of divine truth as received by faith, so every view disproportionate to the same harmonious plan was rejected by him as God-dishonoring, inconsistent, and contradictory. It is this sound, consistent, harmonious interpretation of divine truth which has stamped a peculiar weight and value on Dr. Gill’s Commentary, such as no other exposition of the whole Scripture possesses.

But besides this indispensable qualification, it has other excellent qualities.gill

1. An interpreter of the word of God should have a deep and well-grounded knowledge of the languages in which the Scriptures were originally written. This Dr. Gill undoubtedly possessed. His knowledge of Hebrew, in particular, was deep and accurate, and his acquaintance with the Rabbinical writers, that is, the Jewish expositors of the Old Testament, was nearly unparalleled. Indeed, he has almost overlaid his Commentary too much with his vast and almost cumbrous Rabbinical learning, and seems to have given it more place and attached to it more value than it really deserves.

2. Another striking and admirable feature of this Commentary is, the condensation of thought and expression throughout. Dr. Gill possessed a rare and valuable gift,—that of packing. He will sometimes give four or five explanations of a difficult passage; but his words are so few and well chosen, and the meaning so condensed, that he will pack in three or four lines what most writers would swell to half a page, and then not be half so full, clear, or determinate. His Commentary has thus become full of ideas and germs of thought, which, by-the-bye, has made it such a storehouse for parsonic thieves; for the Doctor has in half a dozen lines furnished many a sermon with all the ideas it ever had worth a straw, and has given the two or three grains of gold which, under the pulpit hammer, have been beaten out to last an hour.

3. Another striking feature, in our judgment, of this admirable Commentary is the sound sense and great fairness of interpretation which pervade it. Dr. Gill possessed that priceless gift, a sound, sober mind. His judgment in divine things was not only clear and decisive, but eminently characterized by solidity and sobriety. This preserved him from all wild enthusiastic flights of imagination, as well as from that strong temptation of experimental writers and preachers,—fanciful interpretation. He never runs a figure out of breath, nor hunts a type to death; nor does he find deep mysteries in “nine and twenty knives,” or Satan bestriding the old man of sin in Balaam and his donkey.

4. The fullness of the Commentary is another noticeable feature in Dr. Gill’s Exposition. Most commentators skip over all the difficult passages. They bring you very nicely and comfortably over all the smooth ground; but just as you come to the marsh and the bog, where a few stepping stones and a friendly hand to help you over them would be acceptable, where is your companion? Gone. Lost himself, perhaps, in the bog; at any rate, not at hand to render any help. And where are the stepping stones he promised to put down? There is hardly one to be seen; or, if there be an attempt at any, they are too small, few, or wide apart to be of the least service. To one who has any insight into the word of truth, how empty, meager, and unsatisfactory are nearly all commentaries. The really difficult passages are skipped over, or by confused attempts at explanation made more difficult than before. Their views of doctrine are confused or contradictory. The sweet vein of experience in the word is never touched upon or brought to light; and even the letter of truth is garbled and mangled, or watered and diluted, until it is made to mean just nothing at all, or the very opposite of the sacred writer’s meaning. As dry as a chip, and as hard, stale, and tasteless as a forgotten crust in a corner, these miserable and abortive attempts at opening up the sacred word of God, instead of feeding you with honey out of the rock, will drain away every drop of life and feeling out of your soul, and leave you as barren and empty as if you had been attending a banter’s camp meeting, or hearing a trial sermon of a Cheshunt student as fresh from his theological tutor’s hand as his new gown. With all their learning, and with all their labor, they are as destitute of dew as the mountains of Gilboa; of life, as the Dead Sea; of unction and savor, as the shoes of the Gibeonites; and of power and profit as the rocks of Sinai.

5. There is at times a savor and sweetness in the Commentary of Dr. Gill which forms a striking contrast to these heaps of dead leaves. And this gives the crowning value to his exposition of the Scriptures.

By J. C. Philpot

Scriptural Challenges for Premillenialists

A few interesting points from Sam Storms about Premillennalism:kingdomcome

If you are a premillennialist, whether dispensational or not, there are several things with which you must reckon:

• You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s second coming.

• You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ’s second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man.

• You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ. (source)