Should a Christian observe Christmas? How did Christmas originate?
Many readers have asked us whether Jesus Christ was really born on December 25. Did Paul, the other apostles and the early New Testament Church celebrate Christmas? What is the origin of the Christmas tree — of "Santa Claus" — of the mistletoe and the holly wreath? Most people in the Western world have grown up practicing Christmas customs and assuming these customs are Christian, but never questioning why! It is time we learned the facts. The holiday now called "Christmas" is rooted in pagan antiquity. Christmas was celebrated by the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Assyrians 2,000 years before Christ was born. Yet Christmas was not celebrated in Jerusalem, where Christ founded the inspired New Testament Church, until A.D. 385, more than three centuries after God's true Church fled from the city. Why? Did you know that the pagan Romans, long before the birth of Christ, called December 25 the Brumalia, or birthday of the new sun, after the winter solstice? Christmas was originally celebrated in honor of the pagan false messiah. It was idolatry. You can find every one of these facts in any good encyclopedia or reference book in your public library. Though the Bible never tells us to observe Christmas and never records any such observance by the apostles or the early true Church, it does condemn the adoption of pagan practices and dressing up paganism in Christian clothes. "Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen... for the customs of the people are vain" (Jeremiah 10:2-3, Authorized Version). God warns His people not to borrow and use pagan customs or festivals to worship Him: "Take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them [the heathen]... and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise'" (Deuteronomy 12:30). If the eternal God had wanted us to keep Christmas, He would have clearly shown us so. But He warned His people not to worship Him by means of pagan customs and pagan feasts. "You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way" (verse 31). It's time you learned the truth about Christmas. You can have the astonishing facts about the origin and history of Christmas — about how it crept into the professing Christian world — about how the custom of trading gifts with one another started, instead of giving gifts to Christ — about the Christmas tree and many other shocking facts — by sending for a copy of our free booklet The Plain Truth About Christmas. No other booklet makes the truth about Christmas so simple. This is knowledge you desperately need — and preferably before December 25!
I've been trying to understand the Bible for a long time, but I'm more confused than ever. Can anyone understand the Bible on his or her own?
The Bible records an example of a man who sought to find God on his own and failed. Notice it in Acts 8:26-40. Philip, a deacon in the New Testament Church, met a man of Ethiopia, a man of great authority, sitting in his chariot on the road to Gaza. The Ethiopian was reading from the prophecies of Isaiah. Notice what Philip asked him: "Do you understand what you are reading?" (verse 30). The Ethiopian replied, simply, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" (verse 31). Here was an educated man of responsibilities and accomplishments, the treasurer of a queen's wealth. But he realized that unless a minister helped him, he could not understand God's Word. Verse 35 shows that Philip gave him the instruction he sought: "Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him." Jesus Christ revealed, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44). God is not trying to draw everyone to Him now, but for those few He is calling, He has sent teachers — like Philip — to make the whole truth plain. Notice what Paul wrote in Romans 10:13-15: "For 'whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" Here is the key to understanding your Bible. First, you must determine who are the ministers God Almighty has sent. Listen to those who are God's faithful, true servants. Listen with an open mind, willing to believe what you are taught out of your own Bible. If you would like to begin a thorough study of the Bible, enroll now in the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. This is a unique Bible study course. The only textbook you need is your own Bible. This course provides an easy-to-follow, step-by-step study of the basic truths of God's Word. Send for your first lesson now. The entire course is absolutely free. Just mail the request envelope in this issue or write to our address nearest you (see inside front cover for a list). Don't delay — do it now!