We're making big changes. Please try out the beta site at beta.ccel.org and send us feedback. Thank you!

The Xmas Thread: Discussions on secular/pagan practices

Loutzenhiser's picture

This thread is for the discussion of secular/pagan Xmas problems and thoughts. I used Xmas to differentiate this thread form the Christmas thread. To discuss the birth of Jesus please use the Christmas Thread.

JeffLogan's picture

Ok, let's look at our

Ok, let's look at our intentions to see whether they be good or not. This has now become more than simply an issue regarding a tree. It has now become an issue of whether or not we are to obey the whole word of God.

    good intentions
    Submitted by JStaller on Mon, 2009-12-07 05:46.
    It looks like--in this post--your primary goal is getting it right.

    Your method to make sure you get it all right seems to be playing it absolutely safe by the standards you perceive to be plainly spelled out.

Yes, that would be the Bible. As your tagline reads...

You search the scriptures;
For in them ye think ye have eternal life:
These are those which testify of me.
But ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
(John 5.39-40)

We may read the Bible but if we do not perceive Christ in the Bible then it is in vain. John wrote much earlier, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And this Word "was made flesh and dwelt among us." Jesus is the Living Word, for He said of himself, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." He lived His life "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law; that is, He kept the law without sin--"sin is the transgression of the law".

My intention is to uphold the same principles that Christ lived by; to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

    Your plea that we follow this plan falls flat. "...if we want to be true to God we must follow His instructions to the letter. Yes, to the letter but with a willing spirit to do exactly as God instructs us."

    Turn to the letter. Read it. "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." This is not a minor injunction to be added to the rest. This is an abolition of the rest of the literal injunctions--Paul says that it is the foundation for the New Testament established in Jesus Christ.

Yes, the letter killeth. But the spirit giveth life. When we try to keep the letter of the law without a renewed heart our service is cold and heartless. It is impossible for men to render service in the spirit of the law without that spirit coming from God. Scripture tells us to try the spirits to see if they are from God. By what shall we try them? Paul, who said the letter kills, also said that we are to try the spirits by the law and the prophets. The law and the prophets will testify whether or not our righteousness--this is, our spirit--is from God. "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets."

That may seem very confusing at first because Paul talks of righteousness "without the law." But he also says that the "righteousness of God...is manifested" and that it is "being witnessed by the law and the prophets." The witness of the law and the prophets proves that it is the righteousness of God and is that very same righteousness that is found in the law and the prophets. So what can this mean but that man cannot attain to the righteousness of God by merely observing the letter of the law--that is, by his own works-- but man can have the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because Jesus fulfilled the whole law without any transgression--that is, without sin--and if this same Jesus lives in us then that same righteousness will be manifested in us. And the law and the prophets will testify that, yes, this is the righteousness of God of which we speak. Search the scriptures...these are those which testify of me.

    That is the letter. Now--will you follow it? Exactly and precisely?...

How can I? I cannot. But Christ did and if He lives in me then by faith I can too. Not because I am righteous but because He is. If I don't believe that this same Christ who fulfilled the law (that is, kept it without any transgression) lives in me then of course I will never be righteous on my own. And what will testify that I am a sinner? What will condemn me? The law and the prophets. But if I believe this same Christ lives in my heart by faith then what prevents me from receiving His righteous character? Peter says we become "partakers of the divine nature" by "exceeding great and precious promises" and by this we may "escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust." Are you suggesting that even if it is "NOT I, BUT CHRIST" who lives in me my life will still be at variance with God's expressed will?

    ...The exact and precise instructions God has given to Christians is that they move beyond a dependency of exact, precise instructions and--through an indwelling connection to God Almighty--recognize the will of God even when it is not spelled out, or even when it is threatened by strict, cautious, literal application of something once expressed under finite circumstances.

Your words sound correct at first and they do appeal to our carnal nature which cannot be subject to God's law. But I take exception to the word beyond because it only suggests the truth. I think the word ABOVE would be better. We can move above a mere outward, cold, and heartless observance of the law by faith in Jesus. "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."

Scripture says that love fulfills the law. And it also states that there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, temperance, etc. If we love each other then we will not steal, covet, lie, murder, hate, lust, commit adultery, etc., etc. And, thus, the love of which God speaks also fulfills the written letter of the law. Why? Because it goes beyond, as you said, and above, as I suggested. In other words, we are no longer living dependent upon our good works to keep the law. Because of the cross of Christ we are drawn by the expression of that nearly irresistible love. We love God because He first loved us. And to love God means to love who He is--His character. Scripture testifies of Jesus, "Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."

    If a person can not move beyond the literal, then they don't "have eyes to see" nor "ears to hear," . . .

Yes, we should grow beyond merely a literal interpretation of the law but growing in the direction Christ established. Can we still be growing up in Christ if we transgress the letter of the law while we profess to be keeping the spirit of the law? Did Christ destroy the law and the prophets are did He fulfill them? Did He say it was ok to commit adultery but wrong to lust after a woman in the heart. No! Did He teach that we may murder but not hate in the heart> No! He did not destroy the letter of the law when He magnified it. What Jesus did was move the law from tables of stone to the heart. He promised in the new covenant to write His laws in our hearts and minds and in every lesson taught He attempted to do just that--to show that true obedience to God comes from the heart and not merely outward compliance. The letter of the law was to be written in the heart so that love could be the guiding principle in our lives rather than a mere cold, heartless service.

    ...and though they proclaim their love and devotion to God they fail to draw near to Him in their hearts.

Yes, this is key. We must allow the cross of Christ to warm our cold hearts. But we must also fear lest we think we draw near to God with our hearts but fail to love our fellow man. Love fulfills the law. So if while we profess to love God with all our heart we are transgressing the letter of the law--that is, we are lying, stealing, cheating, dishonest in trade, users, proud, contentious, boastful, lusting in our hearts, covetous, dishonoring parents, respecters of persons, bigots, racist, etc--then in truth we do not have that connection we claim. As I said earlier, Paul writes that the law and the prophets testify that we have the righteousness of God. The law and prophets can be used to test the spirits to see if they are of God. Paul tells us that the law was made for the sinner. It exposes sin. So we can compare our lives to the law to see if we have the righteousness of God. (But the letter of the law itself does not convict a man of sin. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin yet it does so by the Word of God, preaching, and the testimony of others whether by word of life.

    "Getting it right" is a lousy, terrible plan if your technique is to be technically flawless. The separation between Religion and Spirituality is this divide--religious people master outward actions, while spiritual people develop a right spirit. One may be both at once, or one without the other; Jesus Christ was a Messiah who did not meet the scriptural mandates for a liberating Messiah; only if one is born again can he "see the kingdom of heaven"--only if one abandons literalism and enters into the Spirit can one even recognize Jesus as he presented himself to the world.

There is nothing wrong with a desire to obey God perfectly. That is the whole duty of man and it is God who works in us to have this desire. But to attempt to do so in our own strength is an impossibility. And so it is also God who works in us to be able to do as we desire. Both our will to do and our ability to do come from God.

You say, "only if one abandons literalism and enters into the Spirit can one even recognize Jesus as he presented himself to the world." I can agree with your statement as long as abandoning literalism involves abandoning a cold, heartless service and doesn't also involve changing the letter of the law to conform to our standard. Paul said the law was spiritual. "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin." And he wrote, "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." So the problem doesn't seem to reside in the law but rather in our method of observing the law.

I've heard some say that the spirit of the law actually changes the letter of the law. Are you also addressing that here? Are you referring to a literal interpretation of God's law? Some say that the spirit of the Sabbath commandment requires that we replace "7th day" with "1st day" or "8th day" to rightly represent God's intention in giving the Sabbath command. Is that what you are speaking to when you speak of abandoning literalism? I can't think of any other commandments in the law that people consider as being interpreted literally. But what gives us the right to change God's word? What do you mean by "abandons literalism"?

    If you want to play it safe by not having Christmas trees or not celebrating Easter or locking your doors on Halloween, you are entitled. Perhaps it is best for you...

Thank you. I understand you are not giving me permission but merely acknowledging my free choice whether right or wrong.

    But woe unto ye, who bind burdens on the backs of the people--freedom in Christ is the freedom to celebrate and live in Christ as the individual conscience allows. It is dangerous, though satisfying to the ego (I speak from experience) to lay down the law and tell people what they ought to do. But this is not ideal. Because we are not scribes and Pharisees preying on the fear and paranoia of the masses trying to get it right. We are Christians, bringing rightness directly to them.

Well, not to worry. I haven' the authority to bind burdens on the backs of anyone. But I do have liberty in Christ to preach freedom from the traditions of men and the works of men which are represented as appeasing to God and are taught to be of a penitential nature. I have yet to hear anyone say, "Wow! Not putting up lights and a tree are such a burden on me." But, I have heard people say what a burden it is to put up all those lights and decorate the tree. Some do enjoy it. But not everyone. It can be a lot of work. But what you are suggesting is that by calling people to rest from the labors involved in this tradition is placing a burden upon them. That sounds very odd to me.


    You search the scriptures;
    For in them ye think ye have eternal life:
    These are those which testify of me.
    But ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
    (John 5.39-40)

And John writes in his first letter...

1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

2(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

I realize this can have different meanings to others but to me it means...

The life which was from the beginning, which was first preached by Moses, was manifested in Jesus Christ. Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets, not to destroy them. The eternal life of which Moses spoke and wrote, which was from the beginning, that Word of Life was made flesh and dwelt among men. So while you search the scriptures to find eternal life, why do you not come to Him who is that Eternal Life of which Moses and the Prophets spoke?

------- -------- ------- ------- ------- -------- ------- ------ -------
“The path of true piety is so plain as to require
but little political direction.” --George Washington,
re: absence of "Jesus Christ" in U.S. Constit

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. -Proverbs 18:2 NIV