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November 20, 2020 12:00 am
Martin Luther was not glorifying the tree he wasn't paying homage to some pagan ritual. He was bringing glory to the one who made the tree since his. They of course we string lights around our Christmas trees symbolize the birth of the light of the world.
I think of even Isaiah is Isaiah saying, glory, the Juniper box.
Cypress together to beautify the place of my sanctuary. That's Isaiah 60. This is become one of our most popular broadcast over the years as twice each month on the first and third Friday of each month we answer questions that have come in from listeners. Is it okay for Christians to have a Christmas tree will animals go to heaven. What about a Christian and in their thought life when they have bad thoughts. How they respond to those we have lots of great questions today and were eager to get started back in a few minutes and let you know how you can call in and ask your question but were really eager to get started. So here's our first caller on how to train started taking rituals right now and I grew up not calibrating pagan holiday question is if we are claiming. Are we limiting title things so it's okay to use things that have pagan origins as long as they are used for good. Now think you just think you so much for calling in with that question. So the Stevens people need to ask forgiveness well is a good question that I'm so glad Jessica called in with this than I do get asked us periodically and Scott in the moment.
I think you need to tell people about a resource that I think will be helpful to people but there are well-meaning believers who think we should not celebrate Christmas at all.
Given the pagan origins of many of the things related to Christmas. It's simply true that there are many pagan roots to our Christmas celebrations. We know from history. The Romans decorated their temples pagan altars with greenery with candles. In fact, when the Romans conquered the British Isles.
They found Druids using mistletoe in their pagan worship ceremonies and Holly and IV for decor by the fifth century. All of these become a part of the church's celebration of Christmas and and and it has caused quite a bit of heartburn over that and in the Puritans of course try to stamp all of it out and they enacted laws in the 17th century. For instance, they made it illegal to cook any kind of special dessert for Christmas and they made it illegal to cook plum pudding and mince pie in December because they didn't want anybody celebrating anything related to December 25. The problem with this Scott you know we hear this question is are so many things embedded in our culture that have pagan roots but observing them doesn't mean were pagans, for instance, every day of our week is named after a God or a goddess.
If you happen to drive a truck or a car named Mazda that will that's up pagan Persian God.
That's his name. The fish symbol that that has pagan roots fact drawn vertically, it represented the womb of the goddess in China. To this day, the great mother goddess Quan Yin is portrayed in the likeness of the fish you go back in the Egypt during the days of Paul and the mother goddess was called the great fish of the abyssal honor nonself and by the way don't eat fish on Friday because that's what the pagans did to honor Aphrodite. In fact, don't even mention Friday because Friday is the name of the goddess sounds like pagan origins are really embedded in a significant portion of our culture.
They really are and there are kernels of truth embedded in culture as well. For instance, if you look at some of the some of the traditions of even Hinduism, for instance, I came across in my research.
One of their sacred texts. The Vishnu Purana, which they believe the sacred listen to how familiar this sounds Scott especially relation to Christmas in this belief.
Christmas father journeys with his wife to pay their taxes in a different city on their journey Christian is born in a cow stall while shepherds come to adore the baby. A meteor appears in the sky at that birthplace and the prophet tells the king that this baby will overthrow him and the king orders the male children in that country to be put to death you how helpful they are is there what is borrowing from whom will obviously the enemy Satan is known the gospel prophesied centuries before it occurred and he's embedded in cultures, not just symbols but just stories. So the question is what do we do about it. Do we use the word Friday. Do we use the word Sunday that's named after the sun god of the Romans and can we decorate Christmas trees, or ego, are you trying to bring me back to the task at hand. Thank you for that. Well II think Martin Luther had it right.
Martin Luther, the converted monk Catholic monk wanted to give a redemptive meaning to these symbols. He didn't want to acknowledge paganism, but he wanted to use them to deliver the gospel story and in many believe that it's Martin Luther who was the first to put candles in globes on his tree and what he did disease the Evergreen and he put globes on their with lit candles to reflect or refer to the gospel of Christ.
Martin Luther was not glorifying the tree he wasn't paying homage to some pagan ritual. He was bringing glory to the one who made the tree and since his day. Of course we we string lights around our Christmas trees to symbolize the birth of the light of the world.
I think of even Isaiah here is Isaiah saying the glory of Lebanon will come to you the Juniper the box tree in the Cypress together to beautify the place of my sanctuary.
That's Isaiah 60 verse 13. In other words, God is honoring in a sense his glory through the visual stunning side of these magnificent trees which would be used to build the sanctuary, the Evergreen and the Cypress. Well, it's no surprise that Satan would counterfeit and incorrect. This just to corrupt everything and he would have his followers adopt the use of it Evergreen and worship it. So that's corrupted. Let's give it redemptive value and let's turn it around. I think that's what we could do with the days of the week with eating fish with the symbols of the fish itself drive in a Mazda you name it's got all of these are embedded. Let's make sure that what we do doesn't honor paganism, but for not honoring paganism or using a symbol of sorts in giving redemptive value like Martin Luther with the Christmas tree. I think that has value thank you Steven and thanks Jessica for calling him with that question. I hope it was helpful for Jessica and any of you who'd like to study a little bit more on this topic.
We have a booklet available that I think will help you Stevens written a booklet called trees in the Christmas story where he outlined some of the things that he said today in relates really closely to Jessica's question about Christmas trees.
If you go to our website wisdom online.org and navigate to the resource section and look for the booklet trees and the Christmas story again. Our website is wisdom online.org. The phone number that Jessica used to ask her question is 910-808-9384. That's a special phone line that we have set up for you to ask us any questions you have about the Christian faith or the Bible. It's 910-808-9384. You can call that number any time that you have a question recorded for us and will play it on the future broadcast. If you're studying the Bible and you come across a question you can ask us at 910-808-9384.
Please know that we don't monitor that that line in the sense that we can't answer that call and we can't return your call. That's only for you to call in and record your question. We also heard from this listener problem. I'm a Christian. I struggle with out thanks for calling. And that question is it possible for a person to be a Christian and still struggle with bad thoughts. Good question and the answer is absolutely yes were going to struggle our entire lives until were glorified in the presence of Christ and perfected and that the wicked fall in nature that reflects itself that we battle against that we fight that we yield to Christ daily that can be taken care of. Only then, in the meantime you have the testimony of someone like the apostle Paul who said a wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from this body of death he's talking about the things I want to do. I don't do the things I don't want to do.
I do know is not saying friends that you can just go sand and don't worry about it.
Paul wanted a little righteous and holy life you want to reflect Christ in his being his vocabulary, his actions, and certainly his thoughts.
Because what we do think in our hearts. That's really the battleground is and it isn't the battle in your mind, you discovered that as a Christian, haven't you, that's the battleground. So I think the word practice. Arlene is a keyword that I want you to think about.
Go to the New Testament sometime and just look up the word practice because that's the key. It isn't that were going to be sinless. And whenever you have a bad thought if we do have a bad thought that must mean that her heart is in converted know the issue is, will you practice what you gonna pursue.
James writes in chapter 3 where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. He talks about in Revelation chapter 2, John does you hate the practices of the Nicollet attends Revelation chapter 21 he talks about the practices of idolaters and liars. In Revelation 2215 outside of heaven are those who practice magic on the, the occult, they practice sexual immorality.
They practice murder, idolatry, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. So the question is do we sin because we do. The question really is, do we want to practice it and that person wants to practice evil that person who wants to cherish immorality.
That person was to pursue it and live for it that persons reflecting an unredeemed heart. Thank you Steven and thank you Arlena for asking that question friends once again.
I'll give you the number that you can use to ask your question. That's 910-808-9384. You can call in any time just like this listener will there be Daniel. That's a great question Stephen. I was out Daniel's way this summer made it out West in there are some beautiful animals out in his world, so I want to ask you Daniel's question really into ways so he's asking. Are there animals in heaven but also like you to deal with. If you would about our animals hardhats that they did they make it into heaven, I hope not. Others like you see the difference in the letters right okay please tell my pets.
I said that I had a dog I really hope is there occupy way too much of my time was into the first part of that question are there animals in heaven. The answers absolutely yes if you look at the passages that relate to us not only the kingdom in the coming kingdom, and the plethora of animals, but the new creation that Christ creates the new heaven and the new earth and the earth will be populated. He's taking us back to the garden as it were, and the new heaven and new earth to be something will explore forever.
If you look at the picture of the host of heaven that returns with Christ in Revelation 19 the Lord is riding on a white horse, and this is the armies that follow are writing with him and we have every reason to believe that's to be taken literally, which means I'm going to have to learn how to ride a horse because I eye the last time I try to fell off, but I think in our perfected state in the glory of that will be displayed in the heavens as the Army of Christ rides forward in Isaiah chapter 11 and also 65 were worked were given again a picture of the eternal state and that experience because the pull back its curtain in the kingdom where you have reference to a calf and the lion and a goat and a line and a horse in a leopard could be rendered Wolf laying down together in peaceful harmony, so that's interesting to consider all of these animals, I have every reason to believe that every animal God created when he created earth will be re-created and enjoyed forever in the eternal state of heaven Avenue work right so the follow-up to that, then regards the animals that we currently no pets other animals do do our pets do.
Animals living on earth.
Now while well I'll tell you what's got.
I was actually asked that question yesterday from a lady in our church has two cats. Well, yeah. My answer was actually very compassionate. In fact, I kinda laughed with her and I said you know, there are actually good people who believe that the pets of the believers will be in heaven this CS Lewis taught that there are at least that's how he answered the children he did, and in fact go back further.
Jonathan Edwards, the great church leader believe that the pets of the elect.
The believers are going to be in heaven I and then they answered it because of the joy that it perhaps would bring someone, and God would give us every possible venue of joy. My problem with that is number one.
We don't have a verse that tells us number two we understand that the animal kingdom is not immortal.
So you have to do something unusual to my dog pixie for her to show up in heaven because she's not immortal shooting of a soul or spirit like humans do were made in the image of God which means were eternal animals are not.
Third, the problem I have is what what would bring me joy in heaven.
Well, do I have any idea I think of what CS Lewis also wrote what he talked about a little boy in making mud pies in the backyard when he's been invited to the ocean and he didn't want to leave a little mud pies.
He has no idea of the ocean.
Well, when I'm standing in the presence of God.
When I before his throne on that sea of glass, and those created creatures are circling his throne crying, holy, holy, holy, and 100 million Angels are singing to his glorious John saw what am I really going to miss pixie and I really going to think if if only pixie were here, I'd really be happy. That's my concern Scott and so I wouldn't agree with those that say that this has to bring me joy, because I think the way we view joy that will be so different than thank you so much Steven and thank you Daniel for calling in to ask your question. That number that Daniel used is 910-808-9384 910-808-9384 Shirley Florida question.
You can explain why I like churches only*great, thank you so much Steven. If I understand correctly, there is a denomination called the apostolic church and Shirley is interested in knowing a little bit more about that denomination sure what I think good for the most part it is correct on so many things related to salvation related to God. They believe the Trinity they believe in toning the atoning work of Christ, the virgin birth, a sinless life, the resurrection, it seems to me they got a lot of gospel right from what little I know about it where they would differ with us or at least our church.
I should say is that they believe that they tracked back to the apostles, and they have apostolic powers of their leaders are going to be involved in all the apostolic evidences speaking in tongues and and healing all sorts of things. The baptism of the Holy Ghost which is something would follow salvation. The signs of supernatural sides, all those things. Typically, here's how you can define them. They believe that we live in the book of acts they've never move beyond it, they don't get in the epistles or you have the sign gifts waning and literally going out of existence: first rate is 13, making it clear the prophecies can, and the word of knowledge is going to and they don't get there.
They stay in acts because the apostles did it were going to do it. There many problems with that. Obviously, because the apostles raise the dead. The apostles shadows fell on people and they were healed. The apostles were given to prove the validity of the gospel. Hebrews tells us in chapter 1, by means of the size were not proving the validity anymore without a Bible we have the Bible.
This is now the litmus test of false teacher is one is determined by their adherence to the teaching of the apostles, not the signs of the apostles. So my congregation doesn't look to me to raise the dead know I actually preside over the funeral the carnations out looking for me to heal all their diseases.
I pray for them, along with others and leave it to God and his will as to their healing. So were moving beyond the book of acts. The book of acts as a bridge that takes you from the Old Testament into the New Testament, the book of acts is not a tenement house. We set up shop and live as God is progressively giving his Revelation you see the church emerging from Judaism moving toward what we know as say a full expression of of the Christian church in in the book of acts.
They determine leaders by throwing dice. We don't cast lots today.
They had one fund where they sold their property and collected it all in one pool later that the apostles be the apostles that he would get what you have your bank account. Now that I've mind. We don't collect them, but we share from what we have together in a church, but is there many things that that are changing in the book of acts. Let's make sure we don't pitch a tent and stay there that we keep moving through it.
The principles are timeless and profitable, but how the church operates. Let's go to the letters written to the church there called epistles as we define our theology, our ecclesiology, our polity that is our organization. Thank you very much, Steven, and thank you so much Shirley for calling and with that question and Stephen we have time for just one more question will say here, offering her and told it had drug related like question thank you very sorry to learn of the loss of your grandchild and we grieve for you and for your daughter and her husband for think that you call and hopefully we can be helpful. Today Stephen good question and amassed often about this.
Let me answer two different ways. First of all heaven, and the eternal state in the presence of our Lord changes so much of what we understand right now. One of those things that changes is the perception of time. For instance, David writes in Psalm chapter 90 in verse four that a thousand years in your sight oh Lord is as it were yesterday or just just a watch in the night. Peter writes similarly. In second Peter chapter 3 and verse eight that one day in the presence of the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day.
So in a way your grandson is just beginning his first few moments in the presence of the Lord because a thousand years goes by like a day so we have to consider the fact that things are different in the presence of our Lord now let me kind of turned the corner a little bit and say something that might be surprising to you because I think most believers of heard what I just said but I'm also I'm also intrigued by the fact that the martyrs who are in heaven before the throne of God and their killed during the tribulation. In Revelation chapter 6 gives us of their conversation with the Lord. So here they are. They have died. They been martyred for their faith there now in the presence of the Lord and they ask the Lord this question how long the Lord until you avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth. That's intriguing to me because here they are in heaven and they're still wanting justice there still very concerned about the Lord's glory being revealed in truth and their praying this prayer. How long Lord, will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth.
It also informs us that they know that that judgment has not yet occurred. So even though time changes in a thousand years are like a day they still know that the day of judgment has not yet occurred on those who dwell in their now having said that, does that mean that someone in heaven is looking over a banister and watching no I can't believe that simply because human beings even perfected and glorified are not omniscient, they're not on my present they're not omnipotent.
They don't have those attributes of God and that doesn't mean that just simply because are in heaven now they can see a million miles away or they can focus in on some of that so I don't think that we become God in any way shape or form. And so in order to focus on something on earth some event, some person that would require to me divine attributes and so I'm I'm not sure how and what they can see it seems to me there very aware of what's happening on earth in general. They know the judgment of God hasn't come, but I also know that that in the presence of God times to sort of evaporates and and and for your grandson and for people that I know there just now beginning to be introduced to heaven. So let me just summarize there's a mystery here is that there we can't be exactly sure but I can tell you this, Barbara. Your grandson is not grieving.
He's not sorrowing he's not sad. Even if he could see just as these martyrs are praying for God's judgment. They're not sad. They don't feel incomplete. The glory of God has overwhelmed them. They are in the presence of their Lord and nothing will ever bring a tear their eyes and sorrow. Nothing will bring them sadness there perfected in the perspective he is enjoying heaven.
He is enjoying the presence of God like we cannot imagine. Thank you Stephen, thank you so much Barbara for calling and I hope that answer was helpful for you today. Your listening to wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi. The best way for you to interact with us today is online. Our website is wisdom online.org earlier in this program. When Jessica asked Stephen about Christmas trees. I mentioned a resource on our website that I want to remind you about. Stephen has a little booklet called trees in the Christmas story go to the resource section of our website look for the booklet trees in the Christmas story that address one last time. Is wisdom online.org will also give you our mailing address. We love getting cards and letters from listeners. If you'd like to write to us. Our address is wisdom for the heart PO Box 5729, Cary, NC 275. Please join us on Monday for more wisdom for the heart