If you were to tell me a year ago that I would hold the convictions I do today, I would have laughed; but I would have believed you. See, I know the power of the Holy Spirit, and that nothing is out of His reach, if He wills it. His power got the needle out of my arm, my life off the streets, and my eyes fixed on Him, even before I’d heard the complete gospel. His sovereignty is why I have the beautiful life that I have, and why I hunger for His truth. Now, I’ve only been an orthodox presbyterian for less than six months, so I have only just began to study the theology surrounding it. However, I do have a firm understanding of the solid ground that all theology flows from; the Bible is the inerrant word of God; complete and immutable.
What Does The Bible Say?
Who To Worship
The second commandment tells us who to worship.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
We are to worship Him alone, and by His commandments alone. He has also shown us what happens to those who break his worship commands.
“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.”
When To Worship
The forth commandment tells us when to worship.
““Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
God has commanded us two things here:
- To work six days and rest on the Sabbath
That the Sabbath is the only holy day
“There is no day commanded in Scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord’s Day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days commonly called holy day having no warrant in the Word of God are not to be continued.” Directory of Public Worship
The feasts appointed in the old testament pointed to Christ, and Christ fulfilled them.
Why Worship This Way
The Bible tells us that whatever is not commanded or sanctioned by God is forbidden. “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.” (Duet. 12:32)
These commandments still stand. Christ is our sacrificial lamb. He fulfilled our ceremonial (and civil) laws, but not our moral ones. “‘Do not think that I [Christ] have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt. 5:17)
Christ makes clear that traditions of men are to never replace God’s commands, or to even come close.
“And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
’You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!”
How I Worship
After reading and studying these passages, I am convicted that to celebrate Christmas as a holy day is not commanded by God, and therefore a sin. Whether Christmas can be celebrated civically is something I am still wrestling with, but am leaning towards no. However, lights, trees, food, family, gifts; none of these are tied exclusively to Christmas, and but they do, as everything does, have the potential to become an idol in our lives.So this year on December 25th, we plan on eating good food with family, and giving glory to God, as in everything we do.
Edited To Add: I no longer believe Christmas can be celebrated at all. We should be fleeing as far away from it as possible. As Robert McCurley says in his “Holy God and Holy Days” sermon,
Well then let’s go the other way and let’s take Christ out of the “Christ mass.” And, if someone says that at least they are getting the point a little bit and heading in the right direction BUT it’s NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Is it? Because, to say well if we just take Christ out of the “Christ mass,” then we’re saying we’ll keep Jesus and hold onto monuments of idolatry. We’re doing what the Old Testament people did. We’ll do not one or the other but BOTH The idea of kind of secular “Christ mass” is just mimicking an idolatrous world and taking all of their paraphernalia. And, God is saying, “DON’T DO THAT! DON’T GO THERE!” These things are to be separated from us.
So this year, and every year, December 25th will be a regular weekend type day. Unless of course it’s on the Sabbath, then we will be worshiping our holy God how he has asked to be worshiped.