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Traditional Christian Holidays — Spirit and Truth
It is a common belief in our era that the traditions we have inherited, and the days we celebrate have their roots in the biblical account. As a result, with the increasing commercialization there are those who are always fighting to “put Christ back into Christmas.” But was he ever there in the first place? Let’s look at the record of scripture and history to understand the traditional Christian holidays. Then we can know what God wants us to do to worship Him in spirit and truth.
Does God care about the festivals we celebrate in his honour? The scripture outlines Holy Days that are commanded, but what about other days that are not commanded? Does God leave the decision-making up to us? What criteria should we use in deciding what we should or should not celebrate? Are Christmas and Chanukah both festivals of light? More
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The Messiah’s Message for Chanukah
During the festival of Dedication in Jerusalem the religious leaders were asking, Jesus, “Are you the Messiah?” Though they had witnessed many miracles and heard Jesus’ teaching, they did not believe. They were unwilling to listen, learn, and follow the Messiah. They plotted to kill Jesus, accusing him of blasphemy, because he said he was the son of God. He in turn reminded them of the scripture that said, “You are gods.” For they all were children of the Most High. But they would die as mortals because they had rejected God’s Messiah. More
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The Father of Light
Speaking the truth in love is central to the role of a Christian. Truth, wisdom, and spiritual understanding are all good gifts. They all come from the Father who is perfect and does not change. As children of our Father we are “birthed” by the word of truth, so we can fulfil our purpose as God’s servants. Yet the history of Israel shows that they were often ignorant of God’s purpose. They discounted God’s power and his work in their lives. They were blind to the truth, and suffered as a result of their lack of understanding. So how are Christians to speak the truth? More
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Is it Love to Warn and Rebuke?
Jesus prayed to his Father, before he was betrayed. He had protected, guarded, and taught his disciples. He gave them warning and comfort so they would not be deceived or led astray. Through teaching them the truth, (alethea) the reality, Jesus prepared his leaders to fulfill their mission. They were to faithfully teach the commandments, that instruct all believers as to how we are to love God and neighbour. But loving our neighbour is more than not hating or slandering them. God also instructs us to care for them, and if need be, to rebuke them in love. What does this mean?
Imitators of Christ
Christ’s gospel was one that offered great hope. It envisioned a Kingdom and a personal relationship with God though faith. But it also included a warning. People needed to repent, and demonstrate a change of heart and action. Paul followed Christ’s example giving a loving warning that believers were to renounce their sinful ways and fully imitate God. Peter also warned against the false teachers who led New Testament writers taught that love required a loving rebuke. Why? To keep believers from straying from God’s teachings and earning the painful consequences.
A Time of Judgement
Jesus in speaking to the religious leaders of his day gave them repeated warnings. He let them know what the future held for those who rejected the scripture in favour of man-made traditions. Often his parables were a form of rebuke to those who had “ears to hear.” At other times Jesus was very direct in telling the people of his society that all the lawless and all those who cause others to stumble would be punished. Why did he do this? He was following in the footsteps of the prophets that he had sent to his people over the centuries. And his motives? “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Like a loving father, God corrects his wayward children. And as imitators of Christ, is it love to warn and rebuke those who will hear?
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Reformation and Reformers
The Protestant Reformation transformed lives and eventually nations. But it also brought conflict and confusion. Yet many reformers set an example of thankfulness in tough times. In search of the “faith once delivered,” some reformers wanted to return to the authentic worship and beliefs of the early first century church. The Separatists among them valued the decalogue, insisted on adult baptism by immersion, and followed the biblical examples of anointing and ordination. They anticipated the return and millennial reign of Christ. Some courageous non-conformists braved the rejection of society and began keeping the Sabbath, in spite of dire consequences. In a time of strong anti-semitic bias and prejudice they endured persecution and even execution, at the hand of those who insisted on religious uniformity. More
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500 Years after Luther
The Protestant Reformation is 500 years old now, but what has been the effect on Christian “morality?” Has the “faith once delivered” been restored, and have the ancient paths been re-established? God tells us that he acts on behalf of those who trust him and do good. But the reality of our Christian religious world does not seem to reflect the ideals of sola scriptura…living by every word of God. And many of our religious leaders, like those in the time of Jeremiah, or John, are merely interested in offering soothing platitudes. They deceitfully proclaim, “peace,” when there is no peace. So how can we expect God’s blessing? More
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Standing Against the Tide of Lawlessness
Remembrance Day brings to mind the lives that were sacrificed in epic battles. Soldiers who embraced their duty engaged in the struggle between good and evil. As Christians the battle we fight is no less intense. As soldiers in God’s army do we stand for what is good, and recognize the consequences of evil. This week the horror of the Sutherland Springs shooting brought to mind the scripture that speaks of our violent age. “Because lawlessness will abound the love of many will turn cold.” This lawlessness, anomia, will have consequences. When evil is allowed to flourish it is only those who stand for what is good who will endure. It is the Lord’s loving loyalty that will make them stand. More