Welcome to God First with Brian C. Thomas, a program committed to encouraging you to put God first while viewing life through the window of the Bible. Now, in honor of the one and only true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, let's join Brian C. Thomas for today's message. And I want to wish everyone out there a very, very Merry Christmas.
We are in the Christmas season. This is the time in which we recognize and honor the fact that our great Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth, this fallen earth. He came and was born in a lowly manger. And then he lived a perfect, sinless life. And then he died in our place so that we could have the opportunity for eternal life. And for that, we are forever grateful for that. We praise him.
We adore him. We magnify the holy name of our great Lord. And I'm just excited today about being in the Christmas season as we are here to again recognize our great savior, Jesus Christ. But, you know, the interesting thing is that there are some out there who profess to be Christians, but they say that we should not celebrate the birth of our Messiah. Yes, they say that even though they are followers of Jesus Christ, they say that we are in era for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
So we're going to look at it today. Should Christians celebrate Christmas? I want to draw your attention to the book of Matthew, chapter one, verse twenty one.
And there we find and she will bring forth a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Every year, as we are approaching Christmas, as we get to the holiday season of Thanksgiving, we see this debate start to ignite. It starts to reignite every year. This hot button topic concerning Christians and the celebration of Christmas. And I remember as a young Christian, when I first heard about this years ago and heard people say, well, should Christians celebrate Christmas?
And my reaction was, what? Why should we not celebrate the birth of our savior? But I took the time to look into their arguments for those who say that we should not celebrate to find out what their concern was all about. And so as I did my research, they make the case that Christmas is derived from paganism and they'll note things like the exchanging of gifts, the burning of a yule log, the decorating of a tree, the medieval Dutch center clause, which is where we get Santa Claus. And of course, the over the top ridiculous amount of commercialization that we see in the holiday today. And of course, they know that Christmas was birthed from the Roman Emperor Constantine, who replaced the worship of the sun god Mithra on December 25th with the worship of Jesus Christ.
And so, well, as again, I researched this all over the years, these claims, and I have found them to actually be true. There are numerous pagan symbols used in the celebration of Christmas. But let's think about it for a moment. If we throw Christmas away, do we also dismiss Easter, which I prefer to call Resurrection Day, along with Sunday worship services? And do we return to the Old Testament practice of only celebrating the feast of the Lord? We must remember that to be a Christian means we are living under the grace of our Lord. The impact of how we approach God's moral standard is clearly illustrated in Romans, chapter eight, Acts chapter 11 in the entire book of Hebrews. Now, in this message, I cannot read through them all, but I encourage you on your own time to go and read through those passages, because there we find that we are free from the laws given to Moses. And that is due to the fact that the law was a pointer to sin, but cannot cleanse us because no one can meet that standard.
No one but Jesus Christ, that is. Christ, our Lord, was God in the flesh, God in human form. He came as the perfect sacrifice and fulfill the law. If you look at First Corinthians, chapter nine, verse 22, we find there to those who are without law, as without law, not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ, that I might win those who are without law.
So thanks be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are no longer under the law of sin and death. If you will look at Romans chapter eight, verse two, for the law of the spirit of life in Christ, Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Now, this does not give us a license to sin as we look at Romans chapter six, verses one through two, because we have the freedom to worship our Lord beyond do's and don'ts, but it doesn't give us a license to sin.
We also, though, have the freedom when it comes to celebrating holidays. Romans six, verses one through two reads, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in seeing that grace may abound? Certainly not.
How shall we who died to see and live any longer in it? Now, many argue that Christ was likely born in the fall and not on December the 25th. And that is likely the case. But does it really matter? Well, according to the apostle Paul, it does not, because in Romans 14, five through six, he writes, one person is steams one day above another.
Another is steams every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day observes it to the Lord, and he who does not observe the day to the Lord, he does not observe it. So we find here that Paul was saying that living under grace gives us the freedom to give spiritual significance to any day we choose or choose not to do so. The apostle also warns that we do not have the right to judge and condemn those individuals for their choices. Look at Romans 14, verses 10 through 13. But why do you judge your brother or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, for it is written, as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.
So. Due to the fact that the Romans exchanged gifts to celebrate the pagan festivals of Saturnalia, does that mean Christians should not follow the example of the wise men who gave gifts to baby Jesus? Of course not. So we can follow the example of the scriptures and give gifts as a celebration of our Lord in the same way that the wise men did. And I also must point out that God gave the rainbow as a symbol and reminder that he will never again destroy the earth by flood.
We find that in Genesis Chapter 9, verses 11 through 17. But as Satan often attempts to desecrate the things of God, he has influenced those who want to practice a sexual lifestyle that is contrary to the scriptures to claim it as their symbol. So does that mean that Christians should view the rainbow as evil?
Absolutely not. We are instead to redeem it to its original meaning. So in the same way that I can celebrate the resurrection of Christ without participating in the pagan practice of the Easter Bunny and the Easter eggs, I can also celebrate the birth of our Messiah without accepting the pagan symbols that Satan has attempted to taint the holiday with.
We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If the angels, the shepherds and the heavenly hosts celebrated the birth of Christ, why shouldn't we do the same? So for any that are asking, what are you talking about? The angels and the shepherds and the heavenly hosts, turn your Bibles to Luke Chapter 2. Let's look at verses 8 through 20.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel of the Lord said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you. You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly that was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. So it was when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherd said to one another, Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in the manger. Now, when they had seen him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had seen and as was told to them.
So did you see that, folks? Here they are giving glory and honor and praise over the birth of this babe that was in the manger, which was Jesus Christ, our God coming to this earth in the flesh. So if the shepherds, the angels and the heavenly hosts, if they all celebrated, if they all said glory to God and then and peace and goodwill toward men, they are are given praise and given adoration over this event that has taken place that truly happened in history.
So if it is OK for them to do so, why is it not OK for us today to recognize and to honor and to commemorate the birth of our Lord? You see, the question that I have, are you excited and thankful that Christ died for your sins? Because I'm excited and I'm thankful that he died for my sins. I'm very grateful because if he had not died for our sins, we would all be headed for eternal suffering. And since he had to be born before he could die, I will always rejoice. I will always celebrate his birth regardless of when it actually occurred. I would not allow the great deceiver Satan to stop me from honoring the birth of our Lord. And so I want to encourage those out there today, the ones who say that we are not true Christians, the ones who say that we are wrong and that we are in error. I want you to reexamine this thing.
And again, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. We don't have to participate in the paganism that we see in the holiday. We don't have to participate in the idolatry that we see in the holiday with people just focusing on spending a lot of money, even going into debt to buy gifts.
No, that is not what it's all about. The reason for the season is Jesus Christ. And we come to commemorate and to remember his birth, because again, he had to be born before he could die for our sins. And that is why we just honor him and we look forward to this day, Christmas, in which we can honor our Lord, in which we give him praise and we just adore him for all the great and wonderful things that he's done. Come into this earth, this fallen earth and standing in our place so that we can have eternal life. You know, he didn't have to do it, but he did it because of love.
And there is no greater love that can be found anywhere than the love that we have in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But the thing I want to make clear on is that I don't condemn those who choose not to celebrate it. If you feel in your heart that it is best that you not participate in the day, so be it. I'm not going to say that you're not saved.
I'm not going to say that you're wrong. But in the same manner, I ask that you also respect those of us who do celebrate the day, for those of us who do want to honor our Lord, for those of us who do want to remember his great birth, for those of us who have the excitement and the joy in being so grateful and thankful that he came to this earth to die for our sins. Do not condemn us. Remember the words of the apostle Paul in which he said, one will esteem one day, one will not.
But it does not mean that either of us are wrong. So let's love one another. Let's not get divided over issues that are not salvific type of issues. Remember to keep our focus on the great love of our Lord Jesus and how he came and made a way so that we could have the opportunity for eternal life. We're going to take a short break, but on the other side of the break, we're going to come back and talk about a family living in my area, right in my own backyard, that are celebrating Christmas, that are thankful for Christmas.
But there are some out there that have a problem with the way in which they are doing it. Don't go away. You are tuned into the God First program. You are listening to Brian C. Thomas on God First. For more of Brian's teachings, please visit GodFirst.org to browse our extensive library of material. There you will find devotionals, blogs, articles, and audio messages available as MP3 downloads on various topics, such as salvation, Bible prophecy, marriage, and the significance of Lesson Israel, just to name a few.
You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter and visit our web store. So please visit us at GodFirst.org. Now, let's return to the conclusion of today's message. Welcome back to the God First program. My name is Brian Thomas, and I am so honored that you have joined me today as we are looking at the topic of Christmas and should Christians celebrate Christmas.
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Box 266, Knightdale, North Carolina 27545. Well, it is the Christmas season. It is a time in which we recognize it as a time in which we celebrate the birth of our great and wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. Well, here in my area, in my own backyard, there's actually a Raleigh family in which they are celebrating Jesus Christ. Now they are doing so by displaying a cross at their home. And what we found is that the homeowners association actually has a problem with this cross.
So I want to want to have you listen to this news soundbite from WTVD, the local ABC affiliate, WTVD 11 News, and listen to this report concerning the faces and their battle with the homeowners association. Right now is for a Raleigh homeowner is battling his homeowners association over his Christmas decorations. The HOA telling him he needed to take down this cross. Ana Rivera has the reason why one North Raleigh family put up this cross for their Christmas decorations, never thinking that it would ever cause a controversy during this time of year. But now they say it's a symbol of hope and they're not taking it down. A reason for the season or an HOA violation. Lo and behold, after putting it out right after Thanksgiving, we got a notice in the mail and and it was just it shocked us.
James Fason and his wife have lived in their community for five years. This Christmas, they put up a six foot cross in their yard. So we believe that the cross is symbolic of hope, salvation and deliverance. And it's so important that we have this cross up for Christmas time. But the HOA believed it was a violation, sending them this letter saying the cross is not considered a Christmas decoration, but for Easter or Passover. So it needed to be removed or pay a hundred dollar fine.
Look for the Merry Christmas wreath up here as well. And so when the faces questioned the violation, the HOA responded. They didn't mention anything in the bylaws. They didn't say go and look here in the bylaws as far as as it relates to the HOA in the community. This is the reason why they didn't say any of those things. But they asked me to provide these provide biblical references. Despite their confusion, the faces provided biblical references to connect Christmas and the cross. It wasn't until Eyewitness News contacted the HOA, they responded, saying the cross can stay up.
But the case is still under review. We're HOA paying residents. We love the community, great community, nice neighbors and everything. But at the same time, the HOA, what they have done, they've crossed the line. And because this is considered a Christmas decoration, the HOA says that it does have to be down within two to four weeks after the holiday.
I'm Ana Rivera, ABC 11 Eyewitness News. So as you heard, James facing state there in that interview with the local news affiliate that they view the cross as a sign of salvation, as a sign of hope. And that is certainly what it represents. It represents Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. And I also want to just mention that James facing is a personal friend of mine.
I actually had him on the program a couple of months ago. Wonderful man who has a wonderful wife, wonderful family. And they are displaying the cross as a symbol to honor Jesus Christ at Christmastime. But you can see here through this report that the homeowners association has issue with the cross. And so when the faces were questioned or when the faces questioned the violation, I should say, as you can hear from the report, the homeowners association responded asking for scripture to connect the cross and Christmas. And despite their confusion, the faces provided biblical references to connect Christmas with the cross.
Now, people think about this for a moment. We're living in an era in which there are people asking the question, what does the cross have to do with Christmas? What does the cross have to do with Christmas?
That is where we have arrived now. Jesus Christ again came and was born in a manger, lived a perfect, sinless life and was the perfect sacrifice that was required so that we could have eternal life. And the way that he died was on the cross.
And so that should be obvious to anyone. But we are in an era in which they're being challenged because of their faith in Jesus Christ and their their decision to display that by a cross. Now, the statement reads, I want to share, read the statement in which the homeowners association wrote to the face and family, quote, I did share your response with the board and several members of the board are devout Christians and are intimately familiar with the cross being the foundation for which Christianity is based. The cross represents the death of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins so we could have eternal life. The Christmas season is associated with the birth of the Savior, such as nativity scenes would be appropriate representation of the season.
The board believes that the Bible is very clear on the distinction between these two major events in Christ's life on Earth. The cross is appropriate for display during the Easter season, but not as a decoration during the Christmas season, unless biblical references can be provided, noting the cross as a symbol of the Christmas season for the board to reconsider. The cross is not considered to be a Christmas decoration, end quote.
That was the statement that the homeowners association sent to the face and family. So it wasn't until eyewitness news, which was you just heard on the report that they contacted the homeowners association and then they said the cross can stay up, but the case is still under review. Folks, what this boils down to is the world does not want to admit that Christmas is about Jesus Christ.
It's simply what it boils down to. And if you look at the word Christmas, the root word is Christ. You can't have the word Christmas without Christ. It is all about Jesus Christ. That is why we say Jesus is the reason for the season. And what was his purpose for coming to Earth? His purpose was to come and live a sinless life and be the sacrifice that was required so that we could have eternal life and to die on what? The cross.
And so the faces are simply displaying the cross to recognize that, to remember that, to commemorate the sacrifice that our Lord made. But the homeowners association says, no, Christmas is about is about his birth and they don't want to recognize anything related to the cross. And, you know, as over the years, I've heard and listened to people talk about Christmas. I've even found there are atheists that celebrate Christmas because they know there's something special about it. I heard an atheist on a radio program years ago and the host was was challenging him. And he was asking the question, well, why do you celebrate Christmas if you are an atheist? Because the atheists believe there is no God. And so the man responded.
He said, well, you know, it's just a joyous time of year of just where everybody is loving each other and giving gifts and just having a great time. But see, deep down inside that atheist knows there is a God deep down inside. That atheist knows that the God of the Bible is the supreme creator and that that God of the Bible came to the earth in the form of a man and died for our sins. But see, they don't want to admit that because they don't want to follow the rules of God. They want to live their own life.
They want to do their own things. They want to to live in sin. And so they don't want to to recognize the fact that he truly is God, the sovereign one who is above all things. But deep down inside, they know he is this. And that is something special about the Christmas season.
And therefore they participate. The Bible says that the day will come when all who have ever lived will bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. But we see the hostility towards the cross.
We see the hostility towards Jesus Christ because Satan is influencing people to be in rebellion against him. But this season is about our Lord. And I commend James facing in his family for displaying the cross, for standing firm. I've known him for a number of years, and he's always been one who stands strong on the faith and does not compromise. And I just applaud what he is doing in standing for the faith and recognizing the cross is a symbol of Jesus Christ, whether it's at Christmas, whether it's at Resurrection Day, whether it's at any time of the year, the cross represents the sacrifice of our great Lord.
And we are forever grateful, forever grateful for that sacrifice. The Book of Matthew, chapter two, verses 11, verse 11. The B clause reads, And when they had to open their treasures, they presented gifts to him, gold, frankincense and myrrh.
So you ask yourself the question, why these specific gifts? Well, they are highly symbolic because the gold speaks of the sovereign dominion of God. Jesus Christ was God in the flesh and he was born a king. And then we see the frankincense, which symbolizes his sinless deity.
He is God in human flesh. And then the myrrh represents his sacrificial death. He was born to die so that we might live. So we see the text, even at his birth, in which there were indicators of his impending death, even as he came in a manger, because they gave a myrrh as a preparation to point to his sacrificial death. And so the cross is offensive to many.
The blood of Jesus Christ is offensive to many. But had it not been for that shed blood, had it not been for him going to the cross, had it not been for him coming out of a perfect heaven, leaving all the great wonders and splendors, as the apostle Paul says, eyes have not seen and ears have not heard the great and wonderful things for all who have their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, for all who believe in him and accept him as Lord and Savior. He left all of that and came to this fallen world where they had to be suffering, where they had to be pain. But he did it because he loves us. He did it because he didn't want us. He doesn't want us to go to eternal damnation. He did it so we could have the opportunity for eternal life.
And therefore, the cross is a symbol of the birth of our great and wonderful Lord. And I want to encourage you today for for any out there who have not yet accepted him as Lord and Savior. Give your heart to Jesus Christ. Don't listen to the devil's deceptions in which he tries to tell you you've done too much wrong.
He will never accept you. The blood of Jesus Christ can and will wash away all sins. If you would just give it to him and say, Lord Jesus, I confess that I'm a sinner. I repent. I profess you as my Lord and Savior and you too could have eternal life. It's that simple, folks.
It is really and truly that simple. It is a free gift. He came. He was the best gift that has ever been known to man.
The birth of Jesus Christ coming and being born in a lowly manger. And the thing about it, folks, he's coming back again. He didn't just come one time and that's the end of the story. But the Bible says he's coming back another time, a second time. But he's coming back to rule and reign on this earth. He's coming to judge all who have rejected him as savior. So I want to encourage you today.
Give your heart to Jesus. The time is near. He said that you would see the signs and we look around the world, we see the things that our Lord said would be indicators of his second coming. And therefore, I feel truly in my heart that we are the generation that will see the Lord crack the sky and he's going to come back and rule and reign on this earth. And I get excited about it because he is coming back and there's going to be perfect peace. There's going to be nothing but joy.
No more sickness, no more death, no more pain when our Lord comes to set up his great and wonderful earthly kingdom. Well, folks, I want to thank you for joining me this week. Remember, Jesus Christ is the reason for the season.
Please come back and join us again next time. Until then, remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Bless God's great nation of Israel and to the only wise God be glory through Jesus Christ forever.
Merry Christmas to all. Amen. You've been listening to the Bible teacher, Brian C. Thomas, founder and president of God First. Brian and God first reserve all copyright protection under applicable law. Our copyright policy is available at our Web site, God first dot org. Until next time, remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Bless God's great nation of Israel and seek first the kingdom of God. We'll see you next time.
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