"But now,after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." - Galatians 4:9 - 11
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday,or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." - Colossians 2: 16 - 17
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it...." - Romans 14: 5 - 6a
When God set apart Israel to be His peculiar people and treasure(Ex. 19), He gave them His law (Ex. 20), and many judgments , statutes, and sabbaths (Ezekiel 20) to separate them from the nations, and to make Himself known to them. He wanted them to be a blessing to the nations(Gen. 12), and a light to the Gentiles- as the nation from which the Savior would come unto the whole world! These ordinances(Lev. 23) were imposed upon them until the time of reformation would come(Hebrews 9, esp. v. 10) -brought in by the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus(v. 14), Who brought in a New Testament, that spoke of better things(Heb. 12:24).
Now that salvation has been provided for all that would believe(John 3:16; Eph.2:8,9), there was no longer any need for the carnal ordinances(Heb. 9:10) that spoke of Christ(John 5:39-47)- for now God, has made one, all those that believe in Christ(Gal. 3:27-29; Eph. 2:13-19) Our relationship with God is through the One Mediator between God and man( 1 Tim. 2:5), and the spiritual has replaced the carnal (see John 4:19-24, and compare with Phil. 3:3). Our religion is a Man- now in glory, and in us! We don't go through or practice religion, to get to God; but we are "in Christ", and already in the Heavenlies with Him(Eph. 1:6). There is nothing more that is NEEDED or that can be ADDED!
Paul , and the other apostles went throughout the whole world announcing this "good news", and many with joy, took Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. BUT...they(and we) were still in the flesh(not glorified yet), and had come from backgrounds of pagan religion, or God ordained Judaism. Many missed the grandeur and splendor of their old religious practices, and many more became convinced that salvation couldn't be so easy as just believing in what Christ had done for them-they must do something! During the centuries of persecution this tendency was kept from blossoming out into the form and features of another liturgical religion. And then Christianity became a tolerated faith (313 AD); then the Emperor's preferred faith; then the proclaimed religion of the Empire ( 380 AD) The practices of the heathen religions came in as a flood , and since the Scriptures were used to justify them, Christianity became very Judaised, with altars, and priests, and sacrifices. Christmas and its many traditions came in at this time, and developed to what it is today.
The earliest reference to it having been observed is a calendar (dated 354 AD), that makes mention of an earlier observance(around 336 AD). In Constantinople(around 388 AD), mention is made to it having recently been added to their practice( probably within the last 8 years), and it didn't arrive in Egypt until the 5th century. The point is,it was NOT observed in the first several centuries of the history of the Church. There is no injunction in Scripture that such should be remembered or observed. The truth is, it is unknown what time of the year that Christ was born. The time selected bares strong dependence upon pagan practice and mythology. (And possibly a faint reminder of when Jesus was "conceived", not born.) Many of its traditions were brought over whole sale from paganism. (Observe Jeremiah 10:1-5) Then "baptised" with new "christian" meaning, with new traditions made up to defend them.(And scripture verse dug up to defend them!)
Now there is 1,500 years of "Christian" tradition supporting its observance, and a person is considered near atheistic to contend against it. The individual Christian needs to consider that Paul considers this a rebuilding of bridges that were torn down, and an indication of going back to what a person has been delivered from. There is the serious possibility of loosing the Savior in the midst of the fun and frolic, and missing the spiritual under the observance of the carnal. But finally, each person needs to determine what his growth in faith allows them to do , and we all need to accept all those whom the Lord has accepted(Romans 15:7) , and not let such mundane("of the world") differences prevent the rich fellowship that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." Might we all seek Him, and not be distracted by allowing anything to be a substitute.
Author: Lawrence Howie