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Does Christmas Have Pagan Origins?

Core Christianity / Michael Horton & Adriel Sanchez
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2020 1:00 am

Does Christmas Have Pagan Origins?

Core Christianity / Michael Horton & Adriel Sanchez

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December 22, 2020 1:00 am

Episode 601 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

CoreChristianity.com

 

Show Notes

 

1. Fear is very real these days and how do we as Christians, believers in Christ, keep our faith in these uncertain times. How can we connect our faith to very real and palpable fear that we feel in the world around us?

2. What is the "gospel of the kingdom" that Jesus preached in Matthew 4:23? It sounds as if it is something different from the common use of the phrase "the gospel" or "the gospel of Jesus Christ" as it is used today.

3. I am scared to death that I have committed the unforgivable sin. I heard one explanation of this saying that the unforgivable sin is simply denying Christ and then I heard that it is saying the same things that the religious leaders said about Jesus. Can you help clarify this for me?

4. I love and appreciate Core Christianity, thank you both for all that you do. My question is: Is it true that Christmas is rooted in a pagan holiday? And if we want to celebrate the incarnation, then why does our celebration often look like the world's celebration of Christmas?

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Child in a Manger: The True Meaning of Christmas by Sinclair B. Ferguson

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Christians around the world believe Christmas is a time to remember the incarnation of Christ, but does the celebration of the Christmas season have pagan origins. That's just one of the questions will be answering on today's addition of core Christianity hi this is Bill Meyer, along with my friend Pastor Israel Sanchez and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day.

You can call us with your question.

At 833 the core that's 1-833-843-2673.

You could also post your question on our Facebook, Instagram or twitter accounts and you can email us with your question at questions at core, Christianity.com so Pastor Israel. You just returned from a few days at your mom's house and grandma was there to how is your time.

It was a wonderful time she made a big old pot of both Soleil and if you ever had that bill what is put Soleil well it's not pronounced that way for a right it's this sort of do work in harmony and Chile italics. My food so I beat it is the perfect light do not really but delicious and so you get time. Now I'm I'm recovering during set up. Let's get to our first question of the day.

This one is a Facebook post from Bruce. He says fear is very real in our country these days. How do we as Christians keep our faith in these uncertain times, how can we connect our faith to very real and palpable fear that we feel in the world around us and Bruce and inking about your question for sale want to say is this, be immersed in the word of God because there is story after story of how God saw his people through very difficult situations times where fear was really at the doorstep when you think of the slavery in Egypt and being delivered out of Egypt.

Think of the exile. Later on in a win-win. The Babylonians came against the people of God. All these instances where fear was a very pressing reality. And yet God was still there with this people speaking to his people giving them hope and comfort and a and even guidance in the midst of those difficult times that I think if there's anything that the Bible can give us hope during times of great fear and the other thing I would say is this one of the one of the main things that I see all around us right now and I'm sure you're seeing the same thing is just a fear concerning death, especially the coronavirus pandemic is has brought this front and center. We were talking some some time ago about how now you just hearing the language of death all over the place. You know every day you check the news and it says this many people have died and it's interesting because as a society we really try to avoid talking about death altogether. Don't we believe we've sort of tried to dress it up.

It's just a natural part of life.

We even depicted is this beautiful thing but the fact of the matter is, is what up when a pandemic hits. Do you realize death is anything but beautiful. Actually it's it's precisely what the Bible says that it is its the great enemy of humanity. And here I think we point people Bruce to the hope of the resurrection.

We really don't make this connection as often as I think we need to put the Christian faith gives us hope in the face of our greatest fear, the fear of death because Jesus came to conquer death through his life, his death and his resurrection. Put away sin and give us the hope of eternal life, and even the resurrection of the body, and I think of what the authors of the Hebrew set in Hebrews chapter 2 verses 14 and 15. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself.

Jesus, likewise partook of the same things that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery and we look around us right now and we see a lot of people who were still enslaved to the fear of death that nothing we we minimize the reality of things like the pandemic we don't take it serious.

I think that there's a foolish way to approach this as well, but the reality is we don't have to be gripped enslaved to the fear of death, because we know the one who has actually conquered death. Jesus. So Bruce I think in these days in days where people are gripped by that fear. We need to cling all the more to the message of the resurrection of the dead.

The hope that Jesus gives to us and share that with others because people are talking about death right now and in in a way that they weren't two years ago year and 1/2 ago. People are afraid. And Jesus gives us hope and meaning, and so we turned to him and I think that's the primary thing that we have to do Bruce and I pray that the Lord gives you comfort and peace and I pray that the Lord gives you comfort and peace as you continue to search the Scriptures and rest in what Jesus has done for you. First, thanks so much for your Facebook post.

It's great to hear from you and thanks for being one of our regular listeners here at core Christianity is an email we received from Douglas. He says what is the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus preached in Matthew 423. It sounds as if it's something different from the common use of the phrase the gospel or the gospel of Jesus Christ. As is used today in Matthew 417 Jesus preached repentance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand is Jesus preaching the good news to Jews, so the Messiah they been waiting for has finally come is the gospel actually a call to repentance.

Yeah Douglas there.

There are quite a few questions there, but I think that you're picking up on something that's really important and that's it.

Sometimes in our preaching of the gospel or even in our definition of the gospel. We can have two limited of view of what the gospel is on the one hand, I think we can have a sort of truncated view of the gospel meeting, we view it as the entryway into the Christian life. So the gospel is Jesus died for my sins. I can asked Jesus into my heart. Receive forgiveness and I'm saved and then I move on from the gospel to the really important stuff.

The stuff that God wants me to learn about you know the study of the end times of the study of some other doctrine that that we view is separated from severed from the gospel message which we've moved on from I remember actually be in college having a professor sitting of the gospel Or the ABCs and then we move on from the gospel we graduate to the more serious doctrines will I couldn't disagree with that idea more now because you realize as you grow in the Christian life that you never grow out of the gospel. You only grow into it deeper and deeper as you grasp the wonder of what God has done for you in Christ in us that gospel message this sustains is not just the beginning of our walk with the Lord before the entirety of our Christian lives. So it's really important that we don't have that sort of truncated view of the gospel, but we can also and I think this is another issue that you're picking up on Douglas we can have two limited definition of the gospel guy I mentioned earlier how some people say that Jesus died for my sins. I asked him in my heart. Unforgiven will yeah that's that's part of the gospel, the forgiveness of sins amidst the heart of the doctrine of justification. Too often, I think we view it primarily as this sort of personal individual thing. We don't view the gospel as good news for the whole world for even the whole creation God is establishing his perfect righteous kingdom and that was something that Jesus was was preaching away when Jesus came into the world John the Baptist as well. You know, proclaiming the message of the kingdom.

The good news of the kingdom you have to think back to what what kingdom is being referred to here. Well back in second Samuel chapter 7 God made a promise to King David that he was going to establish his kingdom and that David was always good to have someone to sit on his throne that promises actually summarized in a place like first Chronicles chapter 17 verses 11 through 14 wasn't what it says there when your days are fulfilled to walk with your father's.

I will raise up your offspring after you one of your own sons and I will establish his kingdom.

He shall build a house for me and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established for every think about this wonderful promise given to King David that he is going to have one of his sons be this forever ruler over the people of God wants that kingdom. It's that promise that Jesus fulfills. He came preaching the good news of the kingdom.

Other people in Jesus's day were expecting him to establish the kingdom very differently than the way that he did.

He was enthroned on the cross to forgive all of our sins and ultimately enthroned in his ascension.

This is actually how the New Testament sees the fulfillment if you will or the beginning of the fulfillment of this kingdom promise. Think about this passage of what you turn.

If you have a Bible turn to acts chapter 2 and look at what the text says there acts chapter 2 beginning in verse 25 for David says concerning him, that is Jesus. I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad my tongue rejoiced.

My flesh also will dwell in hope for you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your holy one see corruption.

You've made known to me the paths of life.

You will make me full of gladness with your presence. Peter began preaching that after he quotes this from David brothers. I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried in his tomb is with us to this day being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendents on his throne. He foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up in of that we are all witnesses being therefore exalted at the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit is poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing for David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool. Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ. This Jesus whom you crucified. I know that that was a lot of scripture there. You looking at that passage in first Chronicles 17 and then in acts chapter 2, but it's really important for you to understand how the Scripture works together especially as we think about this idea of the gospel of the kingdom is rooted in Christ death and resurrection.

That's exactly what Peter says on the day of Pentecost and Jesus right now is enthroned in heaven at the right hand of the father ruling over his church and advancing his kingdom. How faithful pastor is through faithful people were sharing the message of Jesus, the good news of his kingdom of the forgiveness of sins so that people can turn to him and receive that goodness and grace. And so we we really have to understand this message of the kingdom. This gospel of the kingdom in its context, and when we do I think it helps us to realize this is this is bigger than just me personally this is good news for the whole world. This is core Christianity were we answer the questions you have about the Christian faith. Israel loves answering your questions every day and we have an amazing team of people behind us that are producing the show who write the core articles for website and produce our special core Bible studies. These are the resources that help you and other believers more fully understand the gospel and have the confidence to share your faith now as you can imagine, this requires a lot of people to come alongside us and support this important work. We can't do it without your prayers and financial contributions. MFR were asking you to come alongside us and become a regular supporter. Thanks, Bill.

Yeah, we want to invite everyone to consider coming alongside of us.

As a member of the inner core. We are so thankful for each inner core member and their regular gifts that help us to accomplish our mission with people each and every day new listeners discover the core Christianity show and your support helps us keep reaching people all over the world with this radio program podcast and the entire website of articles and resources at core, Christianity.com with your monthly donation of $25 or more. You can be a part of the team, making it possible for us to answer these questions and share the core truths of the Christian faith by signing up to be a member of the inner core. You'll get a signed copy of the book to help the started. All core Christianity finding yourself in God's story by our founder Dr. Michael Horton, much like a radio program. The book unpacks the essential beliefs that Christians share in a way that is easy to understand and it shows why these beliefs matter for our lives today side over to core Christianity.com/inner core. To learn more or give us a call at 833. The core love to have you get involved with the inner cord, head over to core Christianity.com/inner core. To learn more or call us at 833-843-2673. That's 833.

The core will schedule a call that came in at 833. The core buried on the Robert Cohen from Oceanside, California out. My cholesterol is on your committee on arm committed the unforgivable. Soon, and I don't know on her two explanations, exclamation explanations, one being that the listener that if so basically just not accepting solvation and then I heard it have to do with. So what do you have a horrible thing that the religious leaders in Israel's Saudi rate. Give me a heads up on that you want to give me an answer on the air conditioning on some of Troy. Hey Robert, well you know the first thing I want to do is pray for you father left Robert up to you and pray gracious God, that you would cause the light of your countenance to shine upon him. I know Lord that the evil one would like nothing more than to get us to believe that ours is a hopeless situation that we have exhausted your forgiveness that you are through with us. Thank you father for the blood of your son Jesus is more powerful than our sins through which we have forgiveness Lord grace and I prefer for Robert, Lord, that you would help them to know that forgiveness that grace and to rest in Lord which you be with him now would you bless him and would you open his heart to your Scriptures. In Jesus name, amen Robert. My heart goes out to you because I remember as a new Christian having this exact same fear and and really being concerned when you read certain passages in the Bible, in particular those text to talk about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and for someone who is experienced the grace of God, who knows that there are a sinner and and yet knows that there is no hope for them in themselves as well.

The idea that we've done something that would cause God to say I'M totally done with you now, though there is no more hope is is just absolutely devastating so that's why it's important that we understand what this is and what the Scriptures teach on this issue. Otherwise, I think we can be convinced that it is hopeless for us that. And that's precisely like I like.

I pray for you that's precise that they were the evil one where Satan wants us because if it's hopeless.

If God is through with me will then what's the point why go to church when I read the Scriptures.

Why try to follow Jesus that if God isn't going to accept me will then then there's nothing that I can do as a brother you need to understand that God is so merciful and that so long as you turn to Jesus. There is hope for you that was the problem with the people who committed this since they turned away from Jesus. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Mark chapter 3 says the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying Jesus is possessed by be eligible and by the prince of demons he casts out demons and he called them to him and said to them in parables. How can Satan cast out Satan, the kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom can't stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand and if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand what is coming to an end no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man then indeed he may plunder his house. Truly I say to you all sins will be forgiven. The children of man and whatever blasphemies they utter. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin, for they were saying she has an unclean spirit, but context is teaching us here. It wasn't that they had accepted Jesus and then fallen into some sin pattern or sin, struggle, and God just that I'm through with you know they didn't accept Jesus at all. They actually taught and said Jesus is demon possessed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The unpardonable sin is this unbelief that the human leverage shacks.

Jesus even going as far as to say he's the devil, a Christian who believes in Jesus Christ who confesses him as Lord who longs to know Jesus and to walk with Jesus and you look at yourself.

You and I fail so often, but that's not someone who's committed the unpardonable sin that sounds a lot more like Paul in Romans chapter 7 the things like I want to do. I don't do and the things I hate those the things that I do wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death thanks be to God through Jesus Christ and so Robert I I just want you to know brother if you coded God, looking for his grace for his forgiveness. Turning to Jesus, recognizing him as your only hope. And there is an ocean of mercy and notion of grace, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that refers to people like the ones here in Mark chapter 3, who deny Jesus and don't just deny him out of ignorance, but they've seen the signs. They've seen the change lives. They reject him and they even say he's a devil of that person, that person who clings to that idea that false idea has no hope for those who turn away from themselves to Jesus. There is hope in an Robert there is hope for you and so I would say rest in the promise of the gospel and receive the grace of Christ for you brother. This is core Christianity with Pastor Israel Sanchez and Israel. Here's an email that came in from Laura. She says I love and appreciate core Christianity. Thank you for all you do.

My question is, is it true that Christmas is rooted in a pagan holiday, and if we want to celebrate the incarnation, then why does our celebration often look like the world's celebration of Christmas in this is an objection that you hear around this time of year, and particularly vestibule say all menu Christians with Christmas, don't you know that's a pagan holiday as I think it's important that we sort of get behind that over the first few centuries of Christianity.

The church had a very simple calendar. If you will met every Sunday was the Lord's day. That was the day of feasting known when the church would gather together for worship and for celebration and and what they were celebrating was the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead on the first day of the week on the Lord's day early on. You also had a sort of annual celebration or observance of what we call Easter.

Again, the resurrection of Jesus.

Some Christian traditions referring to it as Tosca were that the resurrection again was key.

And so it seems like Laura in the days of the early church, the focus was on the resurrection of Jesus.

Now in the fourth century when Christianity became more accepted. You began to have a focus not just on the resurrection but but the Christian church began celebrating all sorts of events in the life of Jesus in Rome, many believers started to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. Now there was a pagan holiday celebrated on December 25 as well. From the time of the third century that honored the Syrian sun god.

Some people think that the Christian church simply took that over and and basically baptized this pagan holiday with with them with some you know Christian decorations now focusing on Jesus. Others came to the date of December 25 by trying to figure out what day Jesus was actually born. It was believed by many Christians that he was crucified on March 25 and there was this idea that Jesus was conceived on the same day that he died March 25 and so if you go from March 25 nine months forward. What that brings you to is December 25 and so there are different ways in which people of said Christians arrived at the celebration of Christmas on December 25 and the fourth century, but the main point is this Laura. The idea that Christians who participate in Christmas are engaging in pagan worship is just false.

That's not true whether or not Christians celebrated the birth of Christ on the 25th because they were choosing to do that instead of worshiping the Syrian sun god are commemorating some pagan holiday or because they really believe that Jesus was born on December 23 really doesn't matter to me that's not the focus of the reality is what we should focus on. Around this time a year is that the word was made flesh. John chapter 1 verse 14 that God really did come to us, born of a virgin for our salvation so that we, humanity might be redeemed. We can get so caught up in will what are the origins of this and add in a what is this associated with that.

I think we missed the entire point. The focus needs to be on Jesus and historically that's that's what it was for the church wasn't trying to introduce paganism to the church or that kind of thing was, let's focus on Jesus and in particular, let's focus on his birth around this time of year. Now it can turn bad, it can turn pagan if like the culture we turn it into consumerism and greed.

No, that's not what this is about and and and certainly if if that's we make it about will then there's a serious problem. It's about God's gift to humanity in his son. And when we focus on that as Christians have done for 2000 years and this becomes a really wonderful time. A blessed season for us and for our families to glorify Jesus and to give thanks for the man God thanks for listening to core Christianity to request your copy of today's special offer. Visit us@corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu for or call us at 1-833-843-2673 that's a 33 core when you contact us.

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