Thursday, November 29, 2018

"The Bible pays a great deal of attention to the birth of the Saviour"

The current issue of my denomination's monthly magazine, The Sabbath Recorder, contains a number of articles for and against the celebration of Christmas by Christians. Partly because I was annoyed by some of those arguments I found Sinclair Ferguson's post, "Should Christians Abandon Christmas?," interesting and to the point:
...I read an article by a Christian lamenting the fact that his church celebrated Christmas. He didn’t believe it was “biblical.” After all, evangelical Christians and their churches are guided by Scripture—and there’s nothing in the Bible telling us to celebrate Christmas each year, far less celebrate it on December 25. I have friends who share that point of view. They believe we should order our lives, and our churches, exclusively in obedience to the directives of Scripture. And there’s no command to celebrate Christmas—much less Advent! ....

First, the biblical response. We are responsible to obey all God commands in his word. But that isn’t the same as saying that unless Scripture specifically commands it we should not do it. ....

I think there’s another consideration. Many Old Testament passages look forward to the coming of our Lord, conceived in a virgin’s womb, born in Bethlehem. Matthew devotes almost two chapters to describing and explaining the event; Luke does the same. John takes us right back into eternity when he invites us to reflect on its significance. There are other passages in the New Testament that help us to understand it. In other words, the Bible pays a great deal of attention to the birth of the Saviour and the theology of the incarnation. Why shouldn’t we?

My own experience as a minister has been as follows. Frequently I have preached between four and twelve messages on the birth of Jesus during the month of December. That amounts to somewhere between 3% and 10% of my preaching being devoted to the Grand Miracle. Is that out of proportion? Surely not.

But ask the question the other way round. When churches “ignore” Christmas, how much preaching and teaching are they likely to receive on the incarnation? Somewhere between four and twelve messages? I doubt it. Such non-scientific investigation of preachers I have done indicates that, in fact, by and large, the incarnation will be ignored. Is that a more biblical approach? I doubt it—which is why I agree with what Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “I would lay it down as a rule that there are special occasions which should always be observed…I believe in preaching special sermons on Christmas Day and during the Advent season.” .... (read it all)
Those who claim a pagan origin for the holiday are answered here, and those who wonder why December 25 here.