If you feel you love Jesus, please ask yourself, "Does Christmas really honor Him?" Prepare to discover the astounding answer.
The term "regifting" entered American slang from a television sitcom.
[Woman] He recycled this gift! He's a regifter!
[Gary] It is used to describe someone who receives a gift and then gives that same gift to another person. Now imagine a wife giving a gift to her husband on his birthday. Only it isn't his birthday and the gift was something given to her by an old boyfriend. It would be natural for the husband to doubt the genuineness of her love.
The greatest gift God ever gave humanity was the life of His Son. It is the most precious of all gifts. But are you guilty of dishonoring God by "Regifting Jesus"?
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[Gary] Regifting can feel like you're receiving a secondhand emotion. I mean if someone really loved you it seems like they wouldn't give you a gift from an old flame.
Is Christmas a way of regifting Jesus? Now stick with me on this. I'm going to tell you something you may not know, and it's true.
Why do you observe Christmas?
Well if you're a traditional Christian you would say that you observe Christmas because it's a way of showing love to Jesus Christ. I mean Jesus is the Son of God who came to this earth as a baby to be born in a manger as the prophesied Messiah. You probably attend midnight mass or a church service on Christmas morning. Your children participate in a play pretending to be Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem. While you might even have a nativity scene or a giant plastic Santa Claus in your front yard.
Christmas is a time of friends and family, the smell of freshly baked cookies and the excitement of children under the decorated tree, tearing the wrappings from gifts.
Let's look at another side of Christmas from the website Witchology.com: "What is the Pagan secret that Christianity has tried to keep from you? The truth about Christmas is that it is not Christmas at all. It is the Winter Solstice, a Pagan holy day observed around the world and since time immemorial from the Native American tribes, to the Norsemen, to the ancient Romans, and today by modern Pagans, Witches and Wiccans."
The startling fact is that the information about the origins of Christmas on this site, it's actually true. Christmas customs are rooted in paganism and Jesus wasn't born on December 25th. Most Christians respond to this information with, "I know there are some pagan and secular customs incorporated into Christmas, but these customs were Christianized. In this way we choose to show love towards Jesus."
It's time we asked the really hard question that few want to face: Could observing Christmas actually be dishonoring Jesus?
Now if you've stayed with me so far - stay with me just a little longer.
Let's go back in time to the first Christians who lived in the ancient city of Corinth. Now like most ancient seaports, Corinth was known for its multiculturalism, lucrative business opportunities, religious diversity and seamy pleasures. Its name spawned a Greek verb to mean "to practice fornication." Corinth was an economic powerhouse of around half-a-million people, now that was a mega-metropolis by the standards of the day.
Of course the majority of people in Corinth were pagans. They worshipped the traditional Greek gods and goddesses, or sacrificed in the temples of one of the various mystery religions. One of the most magnificent Corinthian temples stood on a hill dominating the city. It was the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, employing a thousand temple prostitutes.
Of course as people from this pagan-Greek background converted to Christianity, they naturally continued to practice some of their old customs. I mean it would have been easy for them to see these old customs as celebrations imbued with a new Christian spirit honoring Jesus.
The apostle Paul wrote to these early Christian in 1 Corinthians 10. He says, "…the things which the gentiles" - which just means the nations - they "sacrifice they sacrifice" - and he's talking about sacrificing to idols here - "they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons" (verse 20-21).
I mean think about what the apostle Paul is saying. You want to be a follower of Jesus Christ. You believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Now are you willing to go where the Bible takes you?
Satan and demons are not fairy tale creatures. They are real. Demons are angels that rebelled against God and embody all that is evil. You know in another New Testament letter the apostle Paul wrote that Satan is "the god of this world." You can't escape Paul's logic. Paganism isn't harmless - it is the worship of demons and the false god of this world.
Let me read a little more from that Wiccan website about the origins of Christmas: "One of the eight Sabbats of Witchcraft, this season, known as [the] Yule, the great annual festival of Saturn, the Saturnalia, of Pagan Rome, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti of the Mithras cult, the Winter Solstice is a sacred time in the Pagan calendar."
"What is the Christmas secret? What are the facts Christians would rather you did not know. We set our clocks by it, we celebrated a Millennium because of it, but the shocking truth is it did not happen. The birth of a boy under remarkable circumstances to humble parents in a stable in Bethlehem did not happen on the 25th of December, 1 A.D."
Now the truth is of course, Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary just as the Old Testament prophets foretold. What is amazing is that this pagan website is actually telling the truth about the origins of modern Christmas. This isn't hidden knowledge. Let's face it, most Christians know that the Yule log, mistletoe, the Christmas tree and even the date of Christmas are rooted in paganism and not the Bible.
Is your response like so many people, "Oh it doesn't matter. I don't use the Christmas tree to worship Scandinavian gods. I observe Christmas in order to show love to Jesus Christ."
Well let's go back to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10. He writes: "...the things which [the nations], the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink [of] the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons."
I mean we are forced by the Scripture to ask a hard question. You need to ask yourself this: How much are you willing to drink of the cup of the Lord's table and the cup of the table of demons and conclude that it doesn't matter to Christ?
At the beginning of the program I talked about a woman who repackaged a gift from an old boyfriend and presented it to her husband as a birthday present - even though it wasn't his birthday. Pretending it's someone's birthday and giving them a gift that is obviously from a secondhand emotion isn't exhibiting love or respect, is it?
Well then why do you believe that you are showing Jesus love and respect when you do the exact same thing to Him by regifting paganism and pretending it's His birthday?
There are celebrations that do honor Jesus Christ in the way that He wishes to be honored. Now we'll explain those celebrations and how they can help you experience a greater fulfillment in your relationship with God, but first let me tell you about the booklet we're offering today, Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?
If something is missing in your Christmas celebration this easy to read, free study guide, Holidays or Holy Days: Does it Matter Which Days We Observe? can help you discover what's missing.
Did you know that Jesus wasn't born on December 25th? The date was actually chosen because of an ancient Roman pagan celebration. What does decorating a tree have to do with Jesus' birth? It's all explained in Holidays or Holy Days. Now before you say, "That's not important. Christmas is for children." You need to ask yourself this question: Does it matter to Jesus Christ, whose birthday you're supposedly celebrating?
In North America, you can receive this free booklet by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv. Now if you live outside of North America, to request your free booklet please go to our website or write us a letter at the address on your screen.
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The first Christians in ancient Corinth struggled with giving up their old pagan customs. Questions concerning the old ways caused controversy in their congregation. The apostle Paul had to deal with these questions of whether Christians should participate in pagan celebrations or even eat meat that had been sacrificed in a pagan temple.
Paganism permeated every aspect of their culture, and in Paul's letter to the Corinthians he clearly teaches that those early converts were to reject pagan culture and accept a new Christian culture. He goes as far as to claim that, he writes "...[these] things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons."
His use of the term "the Lord's table" is very important. Let's look at what Paul meant when he wrote it. You may be surprised.
In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul corrects the Corinthians for a serious sin taking place in their congregation. He writes to them, "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (verses 6-7).
Remember, Paul is writing to a congregation that is primarily non-Jewish, yet he expects them to have an understanding of the Passover from the Hebrew Scriptures and how Christ is the fulfillment of the Passover lamb.
The next verse is even more astounding. He wrote, "Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
What is the feast that the apostle Paul is instructing this gentile church to observe?
In the Old Testament, the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were commanded celebrations that occurred in the spring of the year in the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Now the gentile converts of Corinth would have to possess a detailed understanding of these celebrations in order to comprehend Paul's point here in 1 Corinthians 5. And remember the apostle Paul also commands these gentile Christians to "keep the feast."
You see, the earliest Christians didn't observe Christmas or Easter. They can't be found at all in the New Testament. But this doesn't mean that they didn't have celebrations that honored Jesus Christ. The earliest Christians observed - now this is going to surprise you - the annual Holy Days outlined in Leviticus 23 but with the understanding that these celebrations pictured the salvation work God is doing through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I mean Paul clearly taught the Corinthians to honor Jesus as the Passover who was sacrificed for our sins. He also tells them to keep the feast and explains the profound spiritual meaning of leavening in relationship to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Now in 1 Corinthians 11 Paul writes even more about the table of the Lord or the Lord's table when he explains how Jesus, on the night that He was betrayed gave bread and wine to His disciples as symbols of His broken body and shed blood. Now what Jesus did that night that he was betrayed was part of a Passover service. The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread have deep meaning and purpose for Christians today. They have meaning for you! They are not days regifted from the worship of demons and covered with Christian wrappings. These are days given by God Himself and observed by Jesus and the earliest Christians.
Now I know, at this point some will say, "but those are Jewish holidays and they have nothing to do with Christians."
And immediately, people who say that, turn to another of Paul's letters - Colossians. Now in Colossians 2:16 Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
American King James Version×Paul writes about the festivals and Sabbaths mentioned in Leviticus 23 and he says that they are shadows of things to come.
Now the common argument at this point is, "See, those festivals and Sabbaths were given to Jews to picture Jesus Christ and since He came and returned to heaven, they're no longer applicable for Christians."
But let's look at what Paul actually wrote. Because we all agree that he's talking about the festivals and Sabbaths of Leviticus 23, and he says that they are shadows of things to come. Notice Paul does not say that they are shadows of things already in the past. And remember he writes this after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything God is doing through Jesus Christ as both the means of salvation and the messenger of salvation, those things haven't been completed. The person and work of Jesus Christ is to be celebrated in the Holy Days that God gave to ancient Israel.
I mean these days still apply to Christians, both Jews and non-Jews, or why would Paul command the gentile church in Corinth to "keep the feast"? A careful reading of Colossians shows that Paul is telling the Church not to judge each other on how they observe the festivals and Sabbaths, not on whether they should observe the festivals and Sabbaths. These gentiles were actively observing these very days!
So let's go back to Leviticus 23, you know the next Holy Day that's listed after the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, is Pentecost. In the New Testament, in Acts 2 we have the story of how Christ's followers were gathered to observe Pentecost and the Holy Spirit was given to them.
How wonderful the meaning of Pentecost for Christians right now, today, for you! It is a celebration of when God poured out His Spirit and founded the New Testament Church. It pictures the present work of God's Spirit in the Church right now, today!
The next Holy Days or list of Holy Days of Leviticus 23 occur in the fall of the year and are just as meaningful in honoring Jesus. The Feast of Trumpets pictures a time when God intervenes to judge humanity and it is Jesus Christ who will judge. The Day of Atonement pictures the need for an atoning sacrifice in order for a sinful humanity, for you and me, to approach the righteous God, and it is Jesus Christ who is the atoning sacrifice. The Feast of Tabernacles pictures the future reign of Jesus as King of Kings. And there is the Eighth Day festival which pictures God's completion of salvation through Christ.
Is it time for you to question the legitimacy of paganized Christianity? Yes it is! It is time to stop regifting Jesus by wrapping Him up in the trappings of Saturnalia, Mithras and the gods of ancient Scandinavia and instead seek to worship Him and the Father in spirit and truth.
It is time for you to face the reality of Jesus Christ as revealed in the annual Holy Days of Leviticus 23. These are God's Holy Days - not just for ancient Israel or the tribe of Judah - but they're for all of us. These celebrations - Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day aren't regifting Jesus in pagan trappings, but observances that truly honor Him as the Passover, the Head of the Church, Judge, High Priest and King of Kings. These observances are prophecies and fulfillments of God's plan of grace and salvation.
If you've ever felt unhappy, confused, or spiritually unfulfilled during Christmas you need to read: Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? This easy to read, free booklet, dares to tackle the question: Does it matter what we observe?
And if you call right now we will also send you a free one-year subscription to The Good News magazine. This magazine will help you discover the biblical secrets of experiencing a deeper personal relationship with God and how to live a happier life.
In North America, you can receive this free booklet and magazine by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv. If you live outside of North America, to request your free booklet please go to our website or write us a letter at the address on your screen.
We're joined by fellow Beyond Today hosts, Darris McNeely and Steve Myers to continue our discussion of regifting Jesus.
I know many Christians observe Christmas as a way of showing love to Jesus Christ and they believe that the pagan trappings just don't matter but you know that's just not true, is it Steve?
[Steve] It's not true when you really look at it. I think if Christians were honest, what does the Bible have to say about it and is it fair to repackage something that isn't Christian to begin with? I think Christ said some amazing things about that when you think about repackaging - well you mentioned wiccans and witches and witchcraft, warlocks - all of these pagan traditions, can you package that and say I'm going to honor God with this? I don't think people think of it in that sense and Christ addressed that over in the Mark 7:9 Mark 7:9And he said to them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.
American King James Version×He said, "All too well you reject the commandment of God that you may keep your tradition." And so is it fair? Can we really do that? I don't believe Christians can repackage something and call it Christian when it's not Christian to begin with.
[Darris] No you can't. The word that Steve used is honest. It's really time for an honest discussion about this and for everyone who uses that idea that well, it's okay to use pagan things to worship God or to worship and to honor Christ. Anyone who really understands the Bible understands that the, Christ was the One, the God of the Old Testament, and in the Old Testament He told Israel to destroy any vestige of pagan culture that was there and not to adapt it, not to adopt it, not to use it in any way, shape, or form. Theologians really know this. Honest theologians should know this otherwise they're willingly ignorant.
[Gary] And I think some people actually have a fear that if I give up Christmas, I won't be honoring Jesus Christ and the fact that He came into this earth and He was born from a virgin and will somehow lose all that, but what is the best way to honor the fact that Jesus Christ came to this earth and died and was resurrected? What's the best way to do that?
[Steve] I think you have to look at the lesson of the Bible. Look at the Old Testament for example. What did God expect of the Israelites? He told them how to worship Him and what was honorable to Him and so He said this is the way I want to be worshipped. Don't get involved with these other religions. Don't even think about accepting that and thinking that that could somehow honor Me because it's unacceptable. So if we don't know what God wants in the sense of how He's best worshipped, then we better study our Bible and be able to realize what exactly that is.
[Darris] And begin that study with Luke 1 with the account of Jesus Christ's birth. If you want to really begin to honor Jesus at His birth, at His life, then go to that account there in Luke 1. Look at what we are told about Jesus Christ and His birth. His parents couldn't find room for a proper birth and we're told that He was born among the animals in what is called a manger. And whatever form that took, it was less than palatial circumstances into which Jesus Christ was born and came into this world. The King of Kings, the future King of Kings, came in in a very humble circumstances and surroundings. Perhaps a start there with the humility with which Christ came to the earth the first time would be a place for any of us to start to really honor Jesus Christ and His birth.
[Gary] Well and the greatest way we can honor Jesus Christ is to - imitate Him. Be like Him. Take your life and model your life after Jesus Christ, every day. Not just on certain days but every day, that's what's really important.
Now I talked a little bit earlier about the Holy Days that are mentioned in Leviticus 23 and how those days aren't just Jewish, that those days were kept by Jesus. They were observed by the early New Testament Church we see in the New Testament. And I know both of you, myself, we all observe those days as a way of honoring Jesus Christ. How's that changed your life by doing that? I mean how has it affected your life by observing those days?
[Steve] I think first and foremost, it puts Christ in the center of your life, because those Holy Days focus on Christ and God's entire plan. And so it's a reminder every time you're keeping the Sabbath, every time you're keeping the Holy Days that Christ is at the center of that. He needs to be at the center of my thinking. I need to do what Philippians 2 talks about - put on the mind of Christ, and it's one of those ways that it just changes your whole perspective and how you look at life.
[Darris] Probably the one set of Holy Days that has had the biggest impact on my life presently as I live it are the Days of Unleavened Bread which picture the putting out of sin. Which picture actually putting in, to our life, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And to live a life based on His life within us. As we focus on unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, as we focus upon Christ as the bread of life, we are learning some of the most profound things that can help us today, every day of our life and has eternal consequences for life beyond today.
[Gary] Well I just think of Pentecost. I mean Acts 2, the early New Testament Church's observing that day, it's when the Holy Spirit was given! So why wouldn't Christians observe Pentecost today?
[Steve] I think some people fall into the wrong perspective of thinking, somehow that this is legalism. That this is legalistic to keep these days. But when you're honest, when you look at what the Bible says and you see Christ in these days, it is very clear. Look at Leviticus 23, it says that these days are the feasts of the Lord. They're not of the Jews. They're not something that saves us but it's something that we must do if we are going to honor God. If Christ is our Savior, we have to do these things in honor of Him.
[Gary] It's amazing to me, we regift, we rewrap these pagan customs and say that's honoring Jesus and then ignore the very days that were given to us by God that reflect the work of salvation that He does through Jesus Christ.
Is something missing in your Christmas celebration? Well this easy to read, free study guide, Holidays or Holy Days: Does it Matter Which Days We Observe? can help you discover what's missing.
Did you know that Jesus wasn't born on December 25th? The date was actually chosen because of an ancient Roman pagan celebration. What does decorating a tree have to do with Jesus' birth? It's all explained in Holidays or Holy Days. Now before you say, "That's not important. Christmas is for children," ask yourself this important question: Does it matter to Jesus Christ? I mean it's His birthday that you're supposedly celebrating.
Now you can read Holidays or Holy Days by going online to BeyondToday.tv. To receive a free copy sent directly to your home call toll-free: 1-888-886-8632. 1-888-886-8632.
In addition, I really encourage you to visit our website. We are now producing daily video commentaries on breaking news and important topics. Join us throughout the week for BT Daily and get additional analysis on prophecy, the Bible and God's plan for your life.
You know it's never easy to examine your beliefs and practices, that you've accepted all of your life, and ask if God wants something different in your relationship with Him. God is reaching out to you to worship Him in spirit and truth. Let's stop regifting Jesus and begin to strip the pagan customs from our worship of the Great God and His Christ.
We'll be back for a final message right after this:
[Narrator] Christ came to earth with a central message of the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Most have never heard or understood what Jesus actually taught on this subject. The United Church of God is hosting free seminars held simultaneously around the world.
[Steve] That Kingdom is coming to earth - that was the message of Jesus Christ. It's not a Kingdom that's off up there in heaven but it's a Kingdom that Christ is going to establish right here on this earth.
[Narrator] Go to KOGSeminars.org for details to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars - giving the message of hope for tomorrow, beginning today.
[Gary] Join us next week as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come" as we look beyond today. I'm Gary Petty. 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!