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Does Easter Have Pagan Origins?

Core Christianity / Michael Horton & Adriel Sanchez
The Truth Network Radio
March 31, 2021 6:30 am

Does Easter Have Pagan Origins?

Core Christianity / Michael Horton & Adriel Sanchez

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March 31, 2021 6:30 am

Episode 674 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

CoreChristianity.com

 

1. How should we interact with those who are undergoing church discipline or who have been excommunicated?

2. Which Mary was it that washed Jesus’s feet in Luke 7? Was it Mary Magdalene or the Mary of Martha and Lazarus?

3. I have heard a lot of folks say that Easter actually has pagan origins and that its not biblical. What would you say in response to the folks who make these claims and what evidence or proof texts would you use?

4. There is a longer ending to Mark 16 that in some bibles say they are not in the original manuscripts. How should we think about these?

5. Was Jael justified in killing Sisera in Judges 4?

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With Easter coming up this weekend. I've heard some Christians say that the holiday actually has pagan origins.

Is this true, this is one of the questions will be answering on today's addition of core Christianity this is Bill Meyer along with Pastor Israel Sanchez and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day.

Our phone lines are open right now and you can call us in the next 25 minutes at 833 the core that's 1-833-843-2673. Of course you can always post your question on her Facebook, Instagram or twitter accounts or email us at questions@corechristianity.com first up today. Here's a voicemail we received from Clay industrial thanks for the show.

Thanks for what you're doing had a question about church discipline when church discipline is exercised in the local church, three or four step process laid out in Matthew 18 of go to them you and him alone go to them with another brother that may be established at the mouth of two or three witnesses take them before the congregation being step three and let them be like a Tax collector in the center is step four. So, couple questions about that. Step three is that taking them to the congregation's vote of the congregation. I don't know.

And then in step four practical advice on what that looks like for someone who's been excommunicated. What kind of interaction is acceptable words is a hard and fast line in and that applies to all cases.

Thanks Ken yeah Clay thank you for that question a really important question. And frankly, we don't talk enough about church discipline. It gets a bad rap because people think about church discipline. They view it is punitive. It's like this. Primarily this punishment that's dealt out to people who are living in unrepentant sin that kind of thing, and many churches just don't practice church discipline.

It's not even a conversation that had amongst those within the church.

But really everyone in the local congregation is always in one sense, participating in discipline were all encouraging one another. We got to be at least exhorting one another, day by day. While it is still cold today like the author the Hebrew settings on that since were all always under the discipline of the church that is the encouragement of the word of God were all under the word of God.

But then there are cases where scene is in the fellowship. It needs to be dealt with. That's one of the big from ceasing the church. Today's people don't take sin seriously and so when Jesus is highlighting this process in Matthew chapter 18 he's doing it so that we can take sin seriously because he knows he taught this to the apostles, and they talk to the pastor than the church that they planted that sin spreads. It's like this disease and so we have to address it. We have to deal with it now. With regard to Matthew 18, the third third step you mentioned there you are taking it to the church. There are differences of opinion there. This relates to what we refer to as ecclesiology. Our church government. How do we understand the way in which the church is to be governed and there are some people who are of vehicle.

The Congregational mindset where they would say yeah this is something you take before the entire church in some churches do do votes that kind of thing. There are others or state will know sometimes in the New Testament that that idea of taking something to the church is that that phrase the church can refer to a smaller group of people. Some would say that the elders of the church in particular who are representatives of the whole congregation and you see that that the word church used in ways like that I think of places like acts, chapter 15, where you have the situation of the Jerusalem Council with the whole church came together through its representatives to discuss a very important issue and then in terms of practically speaking, to say someone goes through the process of church discipline, and they've been excommunicated.

While I will how you treat that individual. Let me just again say church discipline is all about restoration.

It's pursuing the best for another person. It's helping them to see you are engaging in behavior in a sin that is going to destroy your life and and ruin your relationships that's that's what sin does.

And so we have to take it so seriously. And Paul talks about this in first Corinthians chapter 5 actually a situation where discipline, church discipline needed to be enacted, and he says to the Corinthians in first 20th chapter 5 verse nine I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people, not at all, meaning the sexual immoral of this world or the greedy and swindlers are idolaters since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed or is an idolater or revile her drunkard or swindler, not even to eat with such a one, so Paul is saying look at. If somebody's gone through this process if if they been convicted of being an idolater that kind of a thing.

Don't just hang out with them like you normally would be. Don't get together and and watch the football game and have dinner and laugh and joke as if there's nothing wrong. Note there engaging in a sin that is going to destroy them. Now that doesn't mean that we don't continue to love them and reach out to them in and share Christ's goodness with them, even inviting them to charge me they could still be there to hear the preached word but we don't treat sin as if it's not an issue if you saw someone on the on the side of the road. You know, gasping for air struggling for life about to die, you would do something. At least I hope that you would that we would let you know we have to take action because the situation was so severe it's similar with with something like this one. When a brother or sister is engaging in this kind of of behavior behavior that we know is destructive while in love.

We don't just sort of brushed under the rug we address it. We talk about it and so I think that's were called. Paul talks about inference gradients five and I appreciate this question on church discipline. So thank you Clay God bless always a difficult situation.

Yet, as you said a lot of church is not taking this seriously enough in our day and age. This is core Christianity with pastor Pedro Sanchez. Here's the number to call if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, and call us right now for the next 20 minutes or so 833 the core that's 1-833-843-2673 let's go to Linda in Avoca, Arkansas Linda, what's your question for pastor atrial documentary on line 8, and not be going out after a great handle amount of money. I'll will thank you later. There are actually quite a few Mary's in the Gospels mean Odyssey of Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the mother of James, you have Mary Magdalene, you have this.

This woman here in Luke chapter 7 and it's sort of difficult to parse it all out it that the reality is I don't think were entirely sure 100%. It's clear that Mary in Luke chapter 7 this this situation. In particular, she has a history image is referred to as as a sinner and that Jesus is is you know, sort of. Confronted by this Pharisee. The Pharisee sees this woman wiping Jesus's feet and he says if this man were a prophet he would have known who and what sort of woman. This is who is touching him for she is a sinner. Now some people say will. This is maybe the same as Mary Magdalene because would work a little bit later I think is in Luke's gospel as well that Mary Magdalene had demons cast out of her and so she also has this this history this past were not 100% sure whether were talking about the same Mary here, of course, that was a very common name and can we get that from the fact that there are all sorts of different Mary's in the New Testament. One thing that I've been thinking about lately as were approaching Easter here is the fact that Mary Magdalene was was one of the first the first person to see the risen Christ mission goes to the tomb were told, and in Mark chapter 16 she's on her way there with probably a group of women to anoint the body of Jesus that they're expecting to find the corpse of Jesus and and they're distraught to realize that the stone is been rolled away and Jesus isn't there. Late in the tomb and Jesus appears to her and tells her rejoice. He gives her this greeting. He calls her to be at peace and it just is such a beautiful picture of our Lord coming to Mary the one, from whom he had cast out all of these demons she's the first one to experience the presence of the risen Lord. She's commanded to go and share this message with the apostles there. Some theologians who called her the instructor to the apostles and as I've been really meditating on that Willie.

But I don't think I can give you a sure answer and and I think anyone can as to whether or not this is for certain, the same Mary there some similarities. Both have a sinful past. It seems you possessed by demons and struggling with with some sort of sinful pattern but were not 100% sure Linda, thank you for your question. This is core Christianity with pastor atrial Sanchez by the way here at the core. We aren't supported by a particular church or denomination. We rely on people just like you to make donations to keep us on the here and if you find this program helpful. We would ask you to prayerfully consider making a gift of any amount you can do that on our website it core, Christianity.com you can also join what we call our inner core. Just go to the core, Christianity.com/inner core. To learn more about that. Let's go to a voicemail we received yesterday from one of our listeners named Taylor in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lots of people say that Easter and other religious holidays are actually hating and are actually so I am wondering what I would say to the people say those kind of things are what evidences you see for violation celebrate now. I mean I was a really relevant question right now is in it Taylor into everything I want to say is Sunday the Lord today is the day that Jesus rose again from the dead. The reason Christians began meeting on Sundays.

Early on I mean from from the days of the apostles on you see this and in places like acts chapter 20 in first Corinthians chapter 16 is because of the resurrection of Jesus. There was this great shift if you will, and us. So they started to gather on Sunday on the first day of the week on the Lord's day to celebrate the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead and so were called as believers to celebrate the resurrects the message of joy and hope it's the cardinal truth of our faith and the possible makes is absolutely clear in first grade.

In chapter 15. If Jesus Christ is not raise from the dead were still in our sins were lost were hopeless so we ought to.

As believers celebrate the resurrection of the question is what you think about one day out of the year really focusing on it you know something like Easter. That kind of thing and it is also historically the case that early nonbelievers did begin to to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on a particular type of particular day of the year and where they would observe this sort of feast. This celebration of what they called Tosca. They didn't call it Easter that they referred to as path because it was the fulfillment of the Passover and of course the apostle Paul says in first Corinthians chapter 5, we were just there talking about church discipline. Verse 20 is chapter 5 verse seven.

Cleanse out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven the leaven of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Jesus Christ is our Passover lamb, who through his Exodus. If you will, brings us into new life through his death and resurrection and effect. Jesus is his departure. His death is referred to as an exodus really interesting sort of echoing the Scriptures in the Old Testament in Luke's gospel at the Transfiguration.

In Luke chapter 9 verse 31. Jesus talked about his death as an Exodus as a Christian celebrated Easter on a particular day of the year. There were even debates in the ancient church about you know what day that was in particular that Christians were dividing over this, which I think is unfortunate because instead of just focusing on the fact that Christ had risen me to.

They were arguing about me or what Tay specifically did he rise on but with the big core truth is, he's risen, he's risen, and because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. We have the hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Now were there other celebrations. Even pagan celebrations around that same time of the year. Throughout the history of the church well yeah but the church wasn't trying to engage in those things for for Christians.

Historically, since it really has been a focus on the resurrection of Jesus. I do sympathize with the concern of not wanting the worship of the church to be corrupted. Not wanting pagan religion pagan ideologies to creep into the worship of the church, God cares about how he's worshiped. Chapter 12 makes is very clear. God wants to be worshiped with reverence and on.

We have to be on guard that that these false ideologies or religious beliefs don't creep into the church but I don't think that the main problem is, is celebrating Pascoe or Easter, the resurrection of Jesus. I think it's I think it's the consumerism that we see all around us in the church today. Not a high view of the word of God, not high view of Satan were talking about that earlier on the program. Taylor that's what we need to recover. We need to recover the core Christian doctrines doctrines like the doctrine of the resurrection, and so I for one, am excited to gather together with with believers and every Sunday we we rejoice in the research of what they all say that I appreciate about doing this, you know, sort of annual celebration of the resurrection, Easter, pasta, whatever you want to call it is.

It's an opportunity.

You know there are a lot of people who don't go to church Everson every Sunday or or hardly at all might be open to showing up on Easter and what an opportunity to to invite friends and family members who ordinarily don't darken the door of of a church or sit in the pew to come in here a message of hope that the hope that we have, and especially in a year like the one we we just sort of went through where there's so much concern about death mortality is served everywhere in front of us to be able to bring to people, the resurrection to preach it to share it to encourage our friends and neighbors with the fact that death has been conquered.

What a blessing.

And so I I'm excited about that and I think that you can be as well. Thank you for your question, no I drill and struck by the fact that most pastors, not including I'm guessing this include you as well are very sensitive to the fact that people may be bringing friends or relatives to church on Easter people who, as you said would never darken the door of the church or may never have heard about God's love for them in the past and so many pastors are particularly sensitive to that and they they serve gear their sermon for the people that don't have any background in the faith. What a great opportunity for all of us to be evangelistic this week and maybe take that extra step that risk of inviting a friend or relative to go to church with us on Easter guy. I appreciate that you say that bill as a pastor. Me, I'm trying to encourage all of you listening right now think about that praying about that, who someone in your life that you could potentially say hey and have never invited you to church before, but this Sunday you know is Easter Sunday and I'd love for you to join me now. I read as a polar statistic some time ago that said that most people if you invited them. The church would be willing to come.

The thing is we just don't invite them and so man, especially when on on this Sunday. In particular, a lot of pastors are gonna be preaching on that core truth of the Christian faith, the resurrection of Jesus. It doesn't get more central than that. What an opportunity. As I said after after the unit we just had to really encourage someone and you never know what the Lord will do in an individual's life so so invite your friends and come prayerfully and expectant to receive God's grace and his word that meant your listing to core Christianity with pastor Israel Sanchez and today we have a very special offer for you. It's a wonderful resource that a drill actually produced himself. It's called seeing Jesus.

Yeah I am and I wrote it last year when you know were sort of the height of the the pandemic and there was a lot of concern you know what we really didn't know a lot about this particular disease and there was there was so much fear in and at that time, my focus was like we set our eyes on Jesus. Jesus is the one who gives us hope in in the face of death, and so really, you know, the officer geared toward towards that.

I think that this is a resource it will really edify you and it's free and so get a hold of seeing Jesus and a bill you can tell him how to get that just go to our website which is core Christianity.com/Jesus_Christianity.com/Jesus to get your copy of seeing Jesus. You can also call us for that. At 833-843-2670 3833 the court go to a voicemail that we received from one of our listeners named Jerry where you and and market very are there other person that deal with snakes and drinking of poison, which may make out our Bible version included. Originally those verses cut and why aren't they included, there's a question about them in the first yeah that's a great questions were talking about the look what's referred to as the longer ending of marketing in the world of textual criticism.

This is one of the most disputed passages because it it's just not in the earliest New Testament manuscripts that we have the earliest New Testament main strips we have and at verse eight. And if you read Mark 16 verse eight. It just seems like that's an abrupt ending and so people that will did the original ending get lost, did Mark mean to end in this abrupt way and so what what scholars think, is that later scribes essentially tried to take outside information or piece together things in and added it to the gospel, among others. There is debate about this one thing I will say though is is, even when you read that longer ending of Mark with you know that drinking poison and handling snakes in speaking with new tongues. What you find there is a lot of what's described in the book of acts it almost perfectly sets you up for the book of acts, so there's no contradiction doctrinal contradiction with anything that you find in the longer ending of Mark, and what you see elsewhere in the New Testament, it can be harmonized. There are instances in in the book of acts where the disciples, you know, get bit by snakes and and that kind of thing in and are fine and obviously you had the day of Pentecost and all the miracles associated with that, like the speaking in tongues and so personally with we talked about this on the broadcast before. I don't I don't preach or teach that longer ending of Mark because it does seem pretty well established that it wasn't a part of the original manuscripts but like I said, it also doesn't call anything into question and so that's that's why there's that footnote in your Bibles but I think that you can rest assured I know you can rest assured that there's nothing in there that calls into question the authority of Scripture or any doctrine that we embrace as Christians, thank you for that question or listen to core Christianity with pastor Israel Sanchez. Let's go to Cheryl in Rohnert Park, California sure what your question for pastor.

Israel and later Deborah Deborah took Spike. I nail and she drove it into somebody's head and commandments and it shall not kill.

So I don't understand what is going on there. Hey Cheryl, thank you for that question you're referring to the book of Judges chapter 4 verse 21 but child, the wife of Hedberg took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand.

She went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness so he died and so what was happening here is this is the death of of Cicero. He was a commander of the Canaanite army and and this was you know it during a time in the history of Israel through the context of this this conquest that's taking place. And God ruling over his people through these judges, and there is a time of conflict here and there's a ton of death bloodshed. This is a time of of war. Essentially, and there's a difference between murder, self-defense. But you know combat war that kind of a thing, and I think what you get in the 10 Commandments with this command not to murder and so I think that we can distinguish here and that's that's one way I would approach this this question, of course, that the children of Israel as they were entering into the land of Canaan were called to cleanse the land of Canaan because it was supposed to be this this paradise of God were no idolatry was to be permitted and so we have to have. I think a more robust view of the commitments of God that allows for that kind of a thing as well.

It's not just as simple or as black-and-white as as we might think. Thank you so much for that question, Cheryl, and it really does point us forward to the hope that we have in Christ as we gather together coming up soon on Easter break the Lord.

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