WORDS OF FAITH
“… nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine …”
1 Tim. 4:6
Central Church of Christ
December 25, 2011
Does the Bible Authorize Christmas to be Celebrated as a Religious Holiday?
Paul commanded that all things must be done by the authority of
God, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). To
do something in the name of the Lord is to act by His authority. When
one is commanded to, “Stop in the name of the law,” he is commanded to
stop his activities based upon the authority of the law. Therefore, all
things that all men do must be authorized by God. That is, men must do
only that which God’s Word authorizes him to do and men must not take
it upon themselves to do those things which God’s Word does not authorize.
Bible authorization is the key to answering the above question.
As it has already been established that all things must be done by God’s
authority, one must regulate his actions regarding Christmas as a religious
holiday based upon the sanction of God’s Word.
To begin, one should understand how God’s Word authorizes.
The Bible authorizes by: direct statements, implication, and accounts of
action. Mark sixteen furnishes an example of both direct statements and
implication, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach
the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). This command was directed
to the eleven apostles (Mark 16:14; Judas was dead and Matthias had not
yet been selected to replace Judas). The command to preach the Gospel
was a direct command and explicitly stated. Implication must be used to
determine if any man now living is also commanded to preach the Gospel
(to all the world). Since no man now living is explicitly addressed by
any passage in the Bible, if the Bible commands anything of any man
now living it must be by implication. Since only the one true Gospel of
the Christ can save men (Gal. 1:6-9), and the Christ is the one and only
mediator between man and God (1 Tim. 2:5), and the Christ’s mediatorial
work is ever abiding (Heb. 7:25-28); all men for all time (that is up to the time of the Judgment) must obey the Gospel to be saved. If all men in all
times – after the Cross and until the Judgment – must obey the Gospel;
the Gospel must be preached in all places until the Judgment. Therefore,
all men now living are to preach the Gospel unto all the world.
An account of action, concerning preaching the Gospel, can be
found in Acts 18: 24-28. A certain Jew named Apollos (living and acting
after the institution of the Great Commission – Mark 16:15-16; et al.)
was preaching the baptism of John which was in force only until the
Cross (Acts 19:1-5). Apollos was obligated to preach the preaching of the
Great Commission, therefore, he was taught “the way of God more perfectly.”
Since Apollos was required to preach only the preaching of the
Great Commission he was required (by the Law of God) to cease preaching
the baptism of John. Thus, Acts 18:24-28 involves an account of action
which is prohibited by God’s Word concerning all living in the
Christian age. (It should be noted that accounts of action recorded by the
explicit statements of the Bible can be either positive or negative in authorization.)
Returning to the subject of Christmas, there are no direct statements
that authorize the institution of a celebrated memorial of the
Lord’s birth. Further, there are no passages which authorize, by implication
or account of action, a celebrated memorial of the Lord’s birth.
There is, however, authorization to observe a memorial of the Lord’s death.
Jesus directly commanded that the Lord’s Supper be observed in
memory of His death, “…This is my body which is given for you: this do
in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Accounts of (approved) action
are recorded in Acts: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine
and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (2:42),
and, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together
to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the
morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (20:7). By implication
one may deduce that this is to be a memorial observed weekly by the
church in all places in all times from Pentecost until the Lord returns
(Acts 2; 20:1-7; 1 Corinthians 11:20-34).
Notice now how the New Testament writers have remembered
the birth of the Lord: “…God sent forth his Son, made of a woman…”
(Gal. 4:4); “…our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according
to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3); “And the Word was made flesh…” (John 1:14);
and “…but a body hast thou prepared me” (Heb. 10:5). Each writer
simply shows how the birth of the Christ was a fulfillment of Old Testament
prophecies and/or part of the scheme of redemption and eternal
purpose of God (Eph. 3:11; the same could be said about the details of
Jesus’ birth found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke). They did not institute a
celebrated memorial of Jesus’ birth, but recognized it as a necessary plan
of God to reconcile men unto Himself – so also must men today.
No passage of Scripture authorizes any man to establish a memorial
of the birth of Jesus, therefore, Christmas must not be celebrated
as a religious holiday.