Saturday, November 7, 2015

Christmas & the Christian

I'm listening to a 7-part sermon series preached in 1994-95 by Pastor Albert Martin of Trinity Baptist Church.  The first sermon "Christmas and the Christian 1" was preached on 12/18/94.  Looking back I had only been a Christian about 3 months when he started this series at his church.  I did not even think about the possibility of not celebrating Christmas at that time; I had been celebrating it my whole life.  I knew Christmas was celebrating Jesus' birthday, but I had no clue who he was.  It was Santa Claus that brought the presents anyway.  Whether or not Santa was real made no difference to me as a child because I still got what I wanted from the Sears toy catalog...

Thankfully, the Lord has grown my husband and me spiritually over the past 21 years.  We are now convicted under the Regulative Principle of Worship not to celebrate Christmas in a corporate setting, and as a matter of Christian liberty, we don't celebrate it in private worship either.

I was interested to hear what Pastor Martin had to say on this subject.  Some Christians think that my family is legalistic because we don't celebrate Christmas and some think that we are missing a good opportunity to witness to the lost.  However, we view our decision as biblical.  We worship the Lord corporately and privately the same way through the preaching and hearing of His Word, singing, and prayer (LBCF 22.5).  The ordinances of the Lord's Supper and Baptism are additional aspects of worship, but those should only be done by called church officers, so we don't participate in them outside of corporate worship.

Pastor Martin was very aware that his sermon on Christmas would cause discomfort and possibly anger or contention in his congregation.  Nevertheless, he made the following bold statement:

"There is no biblical warrant for the remembrance of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ by means of a special designated day of religious or social celebration."

He drew two conclusions from this statement:

"The conscience of no Christian should ever be bound to have any sense of duty to observe in any way December 25th as a day of religious or social celebration."

"No Christian church can impose upon its people in their corporate life and worship any activities or objects which would indicate any special significance attached to December 25th."

In 1994, December 25th fell on a Sunday.  He gave this admonition to the church members:

"He [God] has designated a whole day for Himself...If you're prepared to take December 25th and let it alter one iota--keeping a day wholly unto God, fulfilling all your biblical and church responsibilities from morning till night--you're proving that you've allowed the world and the pressure of relatives and conformity to custom to be more important than the will of Christ as revealed in the Word of Christ.  No amount of rationalization will cut it; you don't keep that Day unto the Lord by disobeying the Lord."

December 25th fell on a Sunday in 2011.  My husband and I were just learning about the Regulative Principle of Worship earlier that fall and developing a true understanding of the Lord's Day.  We decided not to celebrate Christmas anymore when we learned that many churches in our area canceled Sunday church services so that staff and members could spend Christmas at home with their families.  Christmas has eclipsed the true worship of God, not only in the world, but also in the Church of God.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I [Jesus] have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen," (Matt. 28:19, emphasis mine).