[Steve] I was fooled the other day. I thought I had a bargain, but come to find out, when I opened the container, there was hardly anything in it. Now because of the size of the box, I ended up with a lot less than I thought I had. It actually cost me more than I realized.
Are you an easy target for nice packaging? What about your religious beliefs? Deceptive packaging is what's wrong with the way many worship God today!
Easter is the most important holiday for hundreds of millions of people around the world. But, is Easter's packaging costing you more than you realize?
Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we pose the question: "How Christian is Easter?"
[Announcer] Join our host, Steve Myers and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Steve] All Christians want God to guide and lead them. But could you be misled?
Now these probably look familiar - if you're like me, and like to play board games. Most of us can easily tell the difference between a fake and the genuine article, especially when it comes to play money. But did you know that there's a chance you could be carrying a worthless bill and not even know it? The U.S. Treasury says about 1 dollar in every 10,000 is a counterfeit. Forgery is one of the oldest crimes in history, but it doesn't just affect money.
There's a much greater counterfeit today that's so successful, that most don't even realize they're deceived. It's religion. Jesus Himself warned about religious counterfeits saying: "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24)
Deceptive religion and its wrong traditions have been foisted on the world by the greatest forger in the universe, Satan the devil. Now could even Easter be affected?
On today's program, we'll examine three ways to answer the question: How Christian is Easter?
Now to start with, we need to go back to the beginning - back to the Garden of Eden. And here's where we find our first point: Easter mixes good with evil.
Now everyone would agree that God wanted to guide Adam and Eve. But Satan was in the business of deception right from the very beginning. He knew exactly how to make his counterfeit pass for the real thing.
Now how did he do it? He lied. He said, if they ate of the forbidden fruit, "You will not surely die." In fact he contradicted God. But, it wasn't all lies. He also said, "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5).
Did you catch the deception? Part of it was true - the good and evil part. God had two trees in the garden - the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God wanted to lead them and for them to choose life. But when they chose the wrong tree, they chose a mixture; a blending, a combination of good and bad. You see that's Satan's sinful concoction.
So right at the very foundation, our ancestors began by rejecting God's guidance and that tendency has continued right down to this day.
Now think about it for a minute. That's what our world is like - it's filled with both truth and error, fact and fable, good and bad. So at times, it's even hard to tell the difference between the real thing and an evil counterpart. Why? Because they look alike - it seems good and right but the devil cleverly mixes right with wrong as though it were not evil. But if it was all evil, completely evil, everyone would see it for what it is. But he is so devious in his deception that it will hurt you.
He kept Adam and Eve from God and he wants to keep you too, from having a great relationship with God. He's also affected Christianity and its holidays and wants to deceive everyone from understanding God's truth.
Now unfortunately, most can't discern the real from the replica. God's true days of worship are priceless but the devil has made a forgery - a fraudulent, worthless copy of what is valuable and good.
It's true with money. It's true in religion as well. Now is it possible that you've accepted a blend of religious ideas because even today, Satan uses his advanced counterfeiting techniques. He's constantly working to promote a religious mixture - a combination of good and evil that's contrary to the true God because he did not stop in the Garden of Eden.
So as with Adam and Eve, God wants to lead you. He wants to guide you in truth and in love. He wants you to honor Him the way that He directs. So that includes observing the days and the ways that truly honor Him. Now do you know God's biblical Holy Days?
That's why it's important for us to answer the question, "How Christian is Easter?" First, we've got to recognize that combination of truth and error.
Now once you're on the outlook for the blending of right and wrong, it's time to take the next step to reject that imitation and that is: Easter is a counterfeit.
Do you know where Easter celebrations originated? Now it may seem hard to believe, but they began hundreds of years before Christ!
If you go to Genesis 10, the Bible tells how people gathered into cities and opposed God. Remember the story? They began to build a massive skyscraper called the Tower of Babel.
Now once again, we find the devil at work. This time he inspired this kingdom of Babylon, and to help with that slick counterfeiting job, he used them. So finally, God had to confuse their language, and the people were scattered over the face of the earth (Genesis 11:9).
Now the ancient historian, Herodotus witnessed what they took with them. What was it? Their mystery religious rituals. He wrote that Babylon was the prime source of evil from which all systems of idolatry and false worship flowed.
So, would the world accept the substitute? Did it affect Christianity? Well, here's where it gets interesting:
The Babylonian fertility gods were Tammuz and Ishtar. Ancient tribes of Europe worshipped a variation of that goddess of spring named Eastra. Do you realize that the word Easter is a variation of her name?
Sir James Frazer writes: "Under the names of Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, and Attis, the peoples of Egypt and Western Asia represented the yearly decay and revival of life ...which they personified as a god who annually died and rose again from the dead. In name and detail the rites varied from place to place: in substance they were the same" ( The Golden Bough, 1993, p. 325).
You see history records that centuries before the death and resurrection of Christ, there were already ancient Easter celebrations - festivals honoring resurrection and worship of the rising sun long before Jesus. You see the world had already accepted the satanic substitute that Easter mixes good and evil and Easter is a counterfeit of how God intends us to worship.
So, how does God want us to worship Him? We'd like to help you personally answer that question by offering you a special free publication that examines several religious counterfeits - including the common celebration of Easter. Our free study aid, Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? - it will help you with what you need to discover and that is the truth.
With this helpful study guide, you'll be able to read your Bible with greater understanding. You'll find out who is the power behind man's traditions. And the importance and value of God's true days of worship.
So go online to BeyondToday.tv where you can read or download Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? In North America, you can receive your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or write us at the address on your screen to order your free booklet or go online to our website at BeyondToday.tv
What is it that's keeping you from knowing the real Jesus Christ? Get your free study aid to help you understand why it matters and the powerful difference it will make in your life.
Now we've been examining ways to answer the question: How Christian is Easter? First we realized the powerful influence of Satan as Easter mixes good with evil. And then we recognized throughout history that mankind has accepted a substitute holiday.
But God tells us, "...What do right and wrong have in common? Can light and darkness be friends? How can Christ and Satan agree? ...How can the temple of the true God and the statues of other gods agree? ...‘So come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord'" (2 Corinthians 6:14-17, NIRV).
You see God wants us to understand the difference because one thing counterfeiters rely on is ignorance. Take the euro for example. When the euro was first launched, just one year after the euro currency was distributed; guess what happened? Counterfeiting! Over 1/2 million fake euro notes had to be removed from circulation. In fact just a couple of years later, French police seized phony euro notes for a total worth around €1.8 million. Now can you image how you'd feel if someone pawned off a fake bill on you?
You see, if you're unfamiliar with what the bill should look like, it's easier to be fooled. The US Secret Service has 20 Web pages under the title: "Know Your Money." It tells us, "Those who fail to carefully examine the money they receive...are potential victims."
And you know, it's no different than counterfeit holidays and religion because it thrives on people's ignorance of the Bible. Now that's the third way to answer the question: How Christian is Easter?
Easter is not biblical - God has other ways He directs us to worship.
Do you know for yourself what the Word of God actually says or could you be fooled? Surprising as it may seem, most Christians don't attend church regularly and most don't read the Bible much. Now is that an exaggeration?
Well near the end of 2012, LifeWay Research surveyed American churchgoers and they found that 90 percent of them "desire to please and honor Jesus" in all they do. Now that's wonderful. That's very good! But it also found that more than 80 percent don't read their Bibles daily! Now, that's an amazing disconnect. How can you honor God if you don't know and you haven't read what actually pleases Him? You see you can't use the counterfeit because it's worthless before God. So if you're unaware of what Jesus actually taught, you're easy prey for an empty imitation of religion.
By not really understanding the Bible you could also be distracted. And of course that's another way counterfeiters rely on: diversion. When someone passes a phony bill, they try to focus the cashier on other things. They try to distract them hoping they don't check the money until it's way too late. And since many aren't on the lookout for counterfeit money, the lawbreaker can get away with it.
You know most Christians; they're not on the outlook for the counterfeiter either. Most just want a church they like, so even cheap imitations can fool so many people. So it's good to ask yourself: "What's diverted my attention and made me vulnerable to miss the real Jesus?"
You see manmade holidays deflect attention and they concentrate on less important issues. You see if you feel good about what you're doing, it doesn't make that much difference what you're taught. Some churches appeal to that. They appeal to your emotions by talking a lot about love and feelings.
But let me tell you why that's dangerous: it can cause you to choose what you believe and what you practice based on how you feel, rather than on God's clear teaching in the Bible. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
That's the issue. The devil wants you to have religion but one that only resembles true worship. Understand this: Satan wants you to have a religion that actually worships him!
But on the other hand, God wants you to become an expert at identifying the counterfeits! Don't fall for an imitation. Here's how you can begin: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15, RSV).
You see that means you should carefully examine what you believe and what you practice and make sure that agrees with the Bible.
Just claiming something is Christian or just saying it honors God doesn't make it acceptable to Him. Did you know that the Bible doesn't mention an Easter celebration? Early Christians had nothing to do with Easter. Instead, they kept the Passover and the rest of God's Holy Days .
The New Testament Passover, that's the real thing - Easter, just a cheap imitation. Jesus Himself gave Passover even deeper meaning under the New Covenant. Jesus Himself didn't focus on the resurrection but instead His suffering and death for our sin.
And Christ expected His followers to continue observing the New Testament Passover. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." (1 Corinthians 11: 26). So, instead of a day celebrating His resurrection, which, it harkens back Satan's substitute, Jesus tells us to remember His true Passover sacrifice - His death for sin.
So you may ask, "How did Easter replace the New Testament Passover?"
Well notice carefully what historian Will Durant wrote: "Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it" (The Story of Civilization, Caesar and Christ, Will Durant, Part III, 1944, p. 595). That's amazing! Think about it. If you look into history, about 300 years after Christ, the Roman Emperor Constantine became the greatest promoter of non-biblical Christianity.
Expanding his Empire and uniting the Roman Church included those three aspects of the things we've been talking about: mixing truth with error, accepting a substitute and a true lack of biblical understanding.
And Christian leaders, well they believed that they could choose their own times; that they could choose their own ways to worship. New converts, they didn't throw away their rituals; they didn't throw away their traditions. Those counterfeit sacraments, those artificial practices? They were absorbed right into Christianity.
But God doesn't mince words. He says: "...If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life..." (Revelation 22:18).
So in fact, Easter cannot represent a resurrected Jesus. Like any counterfeit, it's hollow. It is empty because God didn't design it. Instead, it perpetuates the ungodly practice of honoring false gods.
"...What I am saying is that these sacrifices which people make are made to demons and not to God. I don't want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the Lord's cup and the cup of demons. You cannot participate at the table of the Lord and at the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20-21, GW).
So remember, Easter mixes good and evil, Easter is a counterfeit of how God intends us to worship Him and Easter is not biblical - God has other ways He directs us to worship.
So isn't it time to take a more meaningful approach to religion than the holidays? There's a much more important alternative: the genuine article - authentic Christianity. And it's not found in Easter or any manmade holiday, but instead worshipping God in spirit and in truth - on His days.
Now there's much more to discuss on this topic. Why does it really matter what days we worship? Well up next we'll be talking with the Beyond Today panel but first, I'd like to remind you about our special offer today.
This free study aid exposes several religious counterfeits - including the common practice of celebrating Easter. Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? will help you avoid the forgeries and discover God's truth.
I'd also like to tell you about our magazine, The Good News . The Good News gives insight into our world and connects it to what the Bible teaches. You'll find interesting articles, not only on godly worship but also on prophecy and Christian living - all with biblical insight.
That's why you need your free subscription to The Good News . Call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or write us at the address on your screen.
Don't forget to visit us on the Web at BeyondToday.tv and order your subscription.
Now on today's program, we posed the question: How Christian is Easter? To help answer that question we have our Beyond Today panel - fellow hosts, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty.
Now, many may be shocked by the idea that Easter is a counterfeit. So, how can we begin to address this topic in a way that really helps people to see that, that Easter really has been counterfeited? That Satan the devil has influenced Christianity. Many would doubt that so, has he really?
[Darris] Yes, he has. It is well documented. You quoted Frazer's book, The Golden Bough which is among, one of among several books that documents how these pagan rites were adopted by Christianity. Years ago I read a series that was entitled Satan's Great Deception . And I thought that series really epitomized the issue. That Satan has deceived the world, counterfeited all of this far in advance of Jesus Christ's first coming. And as a result of that, innocently perhaps, unknowingly but so many who vainly worship God are really worshipping Satan, and Satan's great desire has been to be worshipped. He said from the very beginning, we are told, that I will be like the Most High. And when we engage in these false practices and customs and traditions, we are doing exactly that.
[Steve] Maybe that's a difficult thing, that we know that Satan is evil and does really bad things, but could it happen to Christianity?
[Gary] We don't understand the extent of his power. We just go to the Bible where the apostle Paul said that Satan is the god of this world. When Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden, humanity came under his rule and unfortunately what he has created is a giant counterfeit system. I mean there are different versions of it - but even Christianity has been affected by his counterfeit to create a religion that sometimes is actually against God.
[Steve] Doesn't that seem to really fit together then when you look at the practices and the traditions that are involved with Easter and the holidays? That God really doesn't accept it?
[Darris] No He doesn't. He, Christ said that in vain do they worship me teaching for customs the traditions of men. The traditions that people have in actual worth to God and value of worshipping God in spirit and in truth, they're vain.
[Steve] So really not. It doesn't matter how good it feels, or that there are maybe nice little aspects to these things - man's traditions just don't add up.
[Gary] Well I know and the problem is everybody says, "Well it's harmless. It's harmless." But then you have to ask yourself, what if you went to church this week and your pastor said, "You know, I've discovered there are some really good principles in Hinduism. So next week we're going to bring in some Hindu statues and everybody bring some vegetables - since you know they're non-meat eaters. And we're going to have some, incorporate Hindu practices into our worship of Jesus Christ. People would be appalled! And that's exactly what has happened with Easter.
[Steve] So it really does make a difference in the sense that we need to worship God His way in the way that He directs us.
[Gary] Well as Jesus Himself said, that God was looking for those who would worship Him in spirit and in truth. Not truth and error, but in spirit and truth. So, to be a true Christian we must actually seek truth. We must look for God's truth.
[Steve] And so that's where you get down to what do we do about?
[Steve] What do we do? How do we handle it? Where do we go from here if we begin to see these things?
[Darris] What we do is we begin to obey God's laws. We begin to keep God's Holy Days. We've talked in many programs; you're working off of the booklet, Holidays or Holy Days in this program. Begin to keep God's Holy Days and His annual Sabbaths, His weekly Sabbath and learn what they are like and how they point one to Jesus Christ and to the Kingdom of God, and to a wonderful future that is true, anchored within biblical Scriptures. That's what one should do.
[Steve] We want to help everyone to be able to do that very thing, so we hope you'll remember our free offers today. You'll want to order your copy of our study aid, Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? And, of course there's you're free subscription to The Good News magazine. Call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read both The Good News and Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? online at BeyondToday.tv .
Now just as officials use identifying marks to determine if currency is real, you too must use God's Word to identify the true Church and proper godly worship.
Easter and its customs, well they mix ancient myths, observances and tradition with just a little bit of truth and that obscures and discredits Jesus Christ. It keeps you from truly honoring God.
So you have a choice. You can choose the Holy Days that God instituted or substitute holidays.
Now no doubt, Satan the counterfeiter will be caught and he'll be brought to justice. But in the meantime, he'll try anything to get you to accept an imitation. Don't let him keep you from serving the real Jesus Christ. God has shown a better way and that's the genuine article.
I'll be right back after this:
[Narrator] "You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for generations to come" (Exodus 31:13).
The Sabbath is a key to the Kingdom of God . The New Testament book of Hebrews says, "There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God."
Jesus and His followers kept the Sabbath and they still do today. God commands us to pause and reflect on His way of life. Take a break from the fast paced action of this world. Experience a rejuvenation of the mind and grow closer to Him. Join us as we explore the Sabbath and show how it is a key to the Kingdom of God.
The United Church of God is hosting free Kingdom of God Bible Seminars held around the world. Go to KOGSeminars.org to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars - giving the message of hope for tomorrow - beginning today!
[Steve] Thanks for joining us. Don't forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!