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#55339 Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:33 AM
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Tom Offline OP
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At this time of the year, as we see in many threads over the years, the topic of whether or not Christians should actually celebrate Christmas comes up.
I have a question related to the RPW and Christmas. I first looked in the archives to see if it was covered but didn't see it.
Lately I have been noticing people use (almost mockingly) the RPW against those who choose to follow Christmas.
Saying the RPW says we may not use anything expressly not commanded in Scripture to worship God.
The celebration of Christmas is not commanded in Scripture and therefore forbidden. They say it is as simple as that. To celebrate it is not only against the RPW, but it is sin.
Thoughts?

Tom

Tom #55340 Mon Dec 24, 2018 7:16 AM
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1. Define, "celebration".

2. The RPW (Regulative Principle of Worship" is just that... a biblically based principle that regulates the worship of God, with formal, corporate worship as its main focus. Thus, there is no explicit nor implicit command nor principle to be found in Scripture for the Church to set aside and assign December 25th as a 'holy day' and that the people of God are required to gather together for formal worship. In fact, Scripture forbids the Church to make such a legal requirement.

3. However, Scripture nor the RPW forbids any believer from personally worshipping God nor meditating upon God and His marvelous works nor the Son's incarnation, in this case, on any particular day. The believer is absolutely free and even enjoined to exalt God 24-7, on every day of the week. December 25th, from what is allegedly known is not the date on which The Son of God took upon Himself human flesh and was born into this world as Jesus of Nazareth. This does not therefore negate one from giving special thought of the incarnation and the great redemption that Christ's birth secured for those whom He had come to save.

4. The Roman Catholic Church nor the world has any authority nor power to define what they call "Christmas" which is binding upon any man, woman or child. Let them follow their own fabrications and silly myths. The have nothing to do with the truth!

5. Conclusion: It is no sin to privately worship God and to rejoice in the incarnation; the birth of Christ. It IS a sin to make December 25th a "holy day", an official ecclesiastical proclamation that is to be recognized as binding upon the conscience.


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Tom #55341 Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:54 AM
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For clarification, traditionally speaking, most Reformed Christians that I know have services either about the incarnation of Jesus either on December 25th or before the 25th. The Church I attend has a service on the 24th.
Is this wrong?
Tom

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What I meant by celebration is have a worship service, with the main emphasis on the incarnation of Christ.
This of course isn't something that the local Church requires members to attend; such as they do with the Lord Day. Yet, it is encouraged.

This is something basically that most local Churches of Reformed persuasion practice, that I am aware of and this includes St. Andrews which is the Church the late RC Sproul pastored.
Of course, there seems to be many who come out of the wood work every year; condemning this practice as totally against the RPW and therefore those who practice it not only go against the RPW; but are sinning. While some say that individuals may privately worship God and to rejoice in the incarnation. However, it is another thing for a local Church to do it.

Tom #55346 Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:13 PM
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Hi Tom,

There is nothing wrong with preaching about the incarnation in December or thinking about the incarnation, and so on. However, sanctifying a date on the calendar without any biblical warrant to do so is wrong. (See the end of the Westminster Directory for Publick Worship). Christmas is a celebration overflowing with pagan and Roman Catholic elements, and origin.

Here is a brief article about that, but at the link you will find more information relating to Christmas and the RPW specifically. The Puritans wanted nothing to do with Christmas. Only one reformed confession (the Helvetic) approves of special days to celebrate the incarnation, but it assumes a Christian-state, and a day nothing like the popular worldly and Roman Catholic Christmas known in the world today. Here is the link:

http://www.fpchurch.org.uk/2018/12/the-pagan-origin-of-christmas-a-reminder/

The prophet Jeremiah said, "Learn not the way of the heathen ... for the customs of the people are vain" Jeremiah 10

Christmas as it stands today (the observance of the 25th December) is a festivity originally plucked from heathen idolatry, thinly veiled with Christianity, has become one of the biggest Roman Catholic religious observances in the world, and the rest about Santa and elves is just vanity and worldliness; all which has no basis in the word of God, and runs directly contrary to it. In fact part of the duties enjoined under the 2nd commandment is the destroying of all "monuments of idolatry". George Gillespie (a Scottish minister who was one of the commisioners to the Westminster Assembly) should come up in a Google search with a persuasive biblical argument on the subject of monuments of idolatry.


Why would any sober-minded godly person want anything to do with it?


For these reasons, it seems to me that distancing oneself completely from what is known today as Christmas is what the Lord requires.

Kind regards
Alex

Last edited by AlexM; Mon Dec 31, 2018 5:53 PM.
AlexM #55347 Tue Jan 01, 2019 12:13 AM
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You may find the following helpful as well:

"It is often purported that the historical “continental” Reformed view of holy days differed from the Scottish Presbyterians. The inclusion of Christ-mas and Easter in the Dutch calendar was, however, not without its “Puritan” opponents. Jacobus Koelman (1632-1695) is one example. 

This post provides an extract of Mr. Koelman’s advice to parents on the matter of holy and feast days.

While almost all Presbyterian churches have moved away from the original Presbyterian understanding of the unlawfulness of observing holy (“feast”) days, to the so-called “continental” view, the writings of faithful theologians of the past may help us to gain a true biblical teaching on this serious matter."

Resd the post here: https://fpchurchvancouver.ca/a-dutch-reformers-advice-to-parents-about-holy-days/

AlexM #55349 Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:35 AM
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AlexM
I take it then, you would have a problem if The Highway started decorating their site every December?

Tom

Tom #55351 Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:59 PM
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It really doesn't matter what I would have a problem with, what matters most is what is pleasing to the Lord.

I would think it unwise and not the best witness, for a godly person not to distance themselves from Christmas, for the reasons outlined above.

Tom #55353 Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom
For clarification, traditionally speaking, most Reformed Christians that I know have services either about the incarnation of Jesus either on December 25th or before the 25th. The Church I attend has a service on the 24th.
Is this wrong?
Tom
It is not sin IF, the church does not MANDATE attendance for such services, nor officially proclaim that the Christ was born on Dec 25th, nor include any worldly items that have nothing to do with the worship of God and the incarnation of the Son of God. In short, voluntary attendance of a worship service that is typically held but with its focus upon the incarnation is certainly allowed. The RPW does not mandate that Sabbath Worship must ONLY be held on the Lord's Day; the first day of the week and no other day.


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Pilgrim #55354 Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Originally Posted by Tom
For clarification, traditionally speaking, most Reformed Christians that I know have services either about the incarnation of Jesus either on December 25th or before the 25th. The Church I attend has a service on the 24th.
Is this wrong?
Tom
It is not sin IF, the church does not MANDATE attendance for such services, nor officially proclaim that the Christ was born on Dec 25th, nor include any worldly items that have nothing to do with the worship of God and the incarnation of the Son of God. In short, voluntary attendance of a worship service that is typically held but with its focus upon the incarnation is certainly allowed. The RPW does not mandate that Sabbath Worship must ONLY be held on the Lord's Day; the first day of the week and no other day.

But if the church decides to meet regularly outside the Sabbath day for worship, midweek, don't you think Hebrews 10 verse 25 applies to that also?

I also wonder if preachers ought to be selecting their texts and appointing unique annual worship services in the manner of and based on, the fact that the heathens and papists give a certain date on the calendar a superstitious or and perhaps in the case of the heathen, an especially ungodly, significance.

Last edited by AlexM; Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:29 PM.
AlexM #55355 Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:26 PM
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What Pilgrim just said is pretty much what I was thinking about the matter.

Not sure what your point is in bringing Hebrews 10:25 into the conversation. This particular verse in context is probably talking about Lord's Day worship services. However, getting together to build one another up in the faith and learning is surely a good practice outside of the regular Sunday services. My pastor for example teaches a hermeneutics course for the men of the congregation every second Saturday morning. He does so, in the hopes it will help the men to wash their wives in the water of the Word better (Eph. 5:25-33).
We also meet for family Bible studies that are elder lead; usually on a book of the Bible. Or as a continuation of the text of Scripture my pastor preached on the previous Sunday service.

I believe a pastor should make it clear (as my pastor does) that December 25th is not the actual date of Jesus birth. Nor is it mandated in Scripture that we need to use that date to celebrate his birth.
One of the things I have noticed is that Christmas and Easter and perhaps weddings seem to be the only times non-Christians go to Church. I realize that we must not fall into the trap in making a worship service geared towards non-Christians, because worship services are for believers worshipping God in spirit and in truth. However, the fact that the Gospel is being proclaimed; may be the avenue God uses to reach those who are elect.

Tom

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The Gospel is for believers and unbelievers alike. But if Christ was not born on the 25th, why observe that day at all? And if celebrating Christ publically on that day is not mandated in Scripture, is it not like Jeroboam who devised a feast out of his own heart?

I'm curious why you think the context Hebrews 10:25 has to do with gathering for worship only on the Sabbath?

Last edited by AlexM; Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:10 PM.
AlexM #55358 Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:03 PM
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You said:
Quote
The Gospel is for believers and unbelievers alike. But if Christ was not born on the 25th, why observe that day at all? And if celebrating Christ publically on that day is not mandated in Scripture, is it not like Jeroboam who devised a feast out of his own heart?

That is something that all of us as Christians need to wrestle with.
However, I don’t think I can say it any better than Pilgrim did.


Quote
It is not sin IF, the church does not MANDATE attendance for such services, nor officially proclaim that the Christ was born on Dec 25th, nor include any worldly items that have nothing to do with the worship of God and the incarnation of the Son of God. In short, voluntary attendance of a worship service that is typically held but with its focus upon the incarnation is certainly allowed. The RPW does not mandate that Sabbath Worship must ONLY be held on the Lord's Day; the first day of the week and no other day.

This is basically the stand that the local Church I attend takes and I believe that it is a good practice. For one thing, it keeps us focused on the Lord more as opposed to the hustle and bustle that is going around us in December.

You said:
Quote
I'm curious why you think the context Hebrews 10:25 has to do with gathering for worship only on the Sabbath?
Good question and one that I am not completely sure on. The reason I said that is a lot of times, when I am not sure on something after studying it. I usually defer to a Commentary that I trust. In this case, I am talking about Williams Hendriksen’s Commentary on the New Testament. I am not completely sure if this is exactly what he was getting at, but he seemed to be saying it was referring to the Lord’s Day where believers gather to worship the Lord.
Again, I believe it is important for Christians to get together outside of Sunday Worship services.
As you can probably see, by what I have written. I am still in the process of learning more about this subject. However, this is my understanding at present.

Tom

Tom #55359 Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom
. . . I believe it is important for Christians to get together outside of Sunday Worship services.
As you can probably see, by what I have written. I am still in the process of learning more about this subject. However, this is my understanding at present.

Beautiful.

"The meek, in judgment He will guide,
and make His path to know." - Psalm 25:9 (metrical version)

Tom #55360 Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:49 AM
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I have found John Owen's comments on this passage to be helpful, and I'll add them here in case they may be of interest:

"1. The thing spoken of, “the assembling of ourselves together;” for it is not the church-state absolutely, but the actual assemblies of believers, walking together in that state, which the apostle intends. ... These assemblies were of two sorts:
(1.) Stated, on the Lord’s day, or first day of the week, 1 Corinthians 16:2; Acts 20:7.
(2.) Occasional, as the duties or occasions of the church did require, 1 Corinthians 5:4.

The due performance of all solemn stated, orderly, evangelical worship: in prayer, preaching of the word, singing of psalms, and the administration of the sacraments.
. . .
There is a twofold forsaking of these assemblies:
(1.) That which is total, . . . and
(2.) That which is partially only, in lack of diligence and conscientious care in a constant attendance unto them . . . "

Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/hebrews/10-25.html#joc



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