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  • Kevin Hall

Truth or tradition

We’re in the middle of the holiday season: a time of travel, visiting family, gift giving, and for a lot of the religious world, a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Certainly, heightened awareness of our Lord might cause people to consider Him and the gospel message. But the question must be asked: Is it in God’s plan for us to celebrate Jesus’ birth? Consider a few things. First, Christmas wasn’t celebrated for hundreds of years after the establishment of the church. It was a holiday created by man not by scriptural authority. Second, the date of December 25th was arrived at arbitrarily. It does not correspond to the seasonal evidence given in the biblical record of Jesus’ birth. Third, there is no direct command, apostolic example, or necessary inference that directs us to celebrate our Lord’s birth. While we certainly see details of the events of our Lord’s birth in scripture, we don’t see a call to set aside a day to commemorate it. Romans 14 instructs us on how we ought to behave towards each other in regards to our own consciences. If a person chooses to regard a day above another day (v.5), so be it. But this chapter deals with individuals, not the church as a whole nor the church’s practices. What we do see in scripture is a requirement to celebrate the death of Jesus. 1 Cor. 11:23-26 says, ‘For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.’ And from Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2 we see the church coming together on the first day of the week. Thereby we can conclude that we are to come together as the church on the first day of each week to take the Lord’s Supper to commemorate the death of Jesus. Holding to the proper traditions when it comes to our religious practices is of utmost importance. 2 Thess. 2:15 says, ‘So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.’ If we want to be pleasing to God then we must follow only the things authorized by Him. Jesus warns us of the dangers in following after man’s contrivances: ‘But in vain do they worship me teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ (Matt. 15:9)

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