Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Faith...Believing What is True!


Luke 18:8b (NIV) When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Believing The Truth

Faith is believing in what is true. Faith has two elements: 1) being convinced of the truth, being certain of reality, having evidence of unseen things, and 2) believing, hoping in, embracing, seizing the truth.
Heb 11:1 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Heb 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Heb 11:1 (NEB) Faith... makes us certain of realities we do not see.

Heb 11:1 (Mof) Now faith means that we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see.

Heb 11:1 (Wey) Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.

While faith requires being convinced that what we believe in is true, just knowing the truth is only half of faith. God's word must be hoped for, embraced, seized!
Luke 17:5 (NIV) The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."

Believing is not exactly the same as faith. For belief to be faith, it must light on what is certainly true. Yet Scripture gives examples of situations where belief alone is required, even commanded. There's no time for evidence collection, to wait, to hear, for certainty. Just believe. Like Peter walking on the water--don't think, act! God even requires us to believe in him when, temporarily, the evidence looks bad: to trust. [We will study belief and trust separately.] God requires belief and trust in moments of human weakness, but faith is what makes us strong. Faith is the state of being convinced about what we hope for.

How To Get More Faith

Contrary to popular teaching, faith is not mental delusion, presumption or self-deception, but a work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Rom 10:17 (NIV) Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Rom 10:17 (Phi) Faith, you see, can only come from hearing the message, and the message is the word of Christ.

Rom 10:17 (Wey) And this proves that faith comes from a Message heard, and that the Message comes through having been spoken by Christ.

New-Age Faith
Eze 13:6 (NIV) ... they expect their words to be fulfilled.

C.S. Lewis: "We must not encourage in ourselves or others any tendency to work up a subjective state which, if we succeeded, we should describe as "faith", with the idea that this will somehow insure the granting of our prayer.... The state of mind which desperate desire working on a strong imagination can manufacture is not faith in the Christian sense. It is a feat of psychological gymnastics."

Websters: CREDULITY \ kri-du-let-ee, CREDULOUS \ krej-u-les 1) Naive, not critical, believing on slight or uncertain evidence. 2) A tendency to believe too readily, especially with little or no proof.

Belief detached from the truth is not faith. Believing in what is not from God, not true, believing in "the word of your own imagination", or even the "word of Satan", is deception pure and simple. Calling this deception "faith" does not make it so.

A.W. Tozer: "I do not recall another period when "faith" was as popular as it is today. If only we believe hard enough we'll make it somehow. So goes the popular chant. What you believe is not important. Only believe... What is overlooked in all this is that faith is good only when it engages truth; when it is made to rest upon falsehood it can and often does lead to eternal tragedy. For it is not enough that we believe; we must believe the right thing about the right One.
2 Thes 2:10b-11 (NIV) They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.

"It is no sin to doubt some things... it may be fatal to believe everything. Faith never means gullibility. Credulity never honors God. The healthy soul, like the healthy blood system, has it's proper proportion of white and red blood cells. The red corpuscles are like faith: they carry the life giving oxygen to every part of the body. The white cells are like discernment: they pounce upon dead and toxic matter and carry it out to the drain. In the healthy heart there must be provision for keeping dead and poisonous matter out of the life stream. This the credulous person never suspects. He is all for "faith".

The Way Of Faith For Thomas... And Us
Rom 14:5b (NIV) Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Mat 24:4-5 (NIV) Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many."

Mark 13:5-6 (Phi) "Be very careful that no one deceives you. Many are going to come in my name and say, 'I am he', and will lead many astray.

Luke 21:8 (Jer) He said, "Take care that you are not misled. For many will come claiming my name and saying 'I am he'."

John 20:25-28 (NIV) When the other disciples told him [Thomas] that they had seen the Lord, he declared, "... I will not believe it." A week later... Jesus... said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

John 20:31 (NIV) These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Believing The Gospel Truth
Col 1:5b-6 (Phi) ... that hope that first became yours when you heard the message of truth. This is the Gospel itself, which has reached you as it spreads out all over the world. Wherever that gospel goes, it produces Christian character, and develops it, as it has done in your own case from the time you first heard and realized the truth of God's grace.

Col 1:23 (Phi) This reconciliation assumes that you maintain a firm position in the faith, and do not allow yourselves to be shifted away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard....

C.S. Lewis: "The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotions and imagination on the other.... Supposing a man's reason once decides that weight of evidence is for Christianity. I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true.

"Now faith... is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.... Make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life....

"If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?"
Heb 2:1-3 (Phi) We ought, therefore, to pay the greatest attention to the truth that we have heard and not allow ourselves to drift away from it. For if the message given through angels proved authentic, so that defiance of it and disobedience to it received appropriate retribution, how shall we escape if we refuse to pay proper attention to that greater salvation which is offered us? For this salvation came first through the words of the Lord himself.

2 Tim 2:15-17 (Phi) For yourself, concentrate on winning God's approval, on being a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, and who knows how to use the word of truth to the best advantage. But steer clear of these unchristian babblings, which in practice lead further and further away from Christian living. For their teachings are as dangerous as blood-poisoning to the body, and spread like sepsis from a wound. Hymenaeus and Philetus are responsible for this sort of thing, and they are palpable traitors to the truth...

2 Tim 1:12b-14 (NIV) I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you, guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit that lives in us.

Abraham, an Example of Faith
Rom 4:18-21 (Phi) Abraham, when hope was dead within him, went on hoping in faith, believing that he would become "the father of many nations". He relied on the word of God which definitely referred to "thy seed". With undaunted faith he looked at the facts--his own impotence (he was practically a hundred years old at the time) and his wife Sarah's apparent barrenness. Yet he refused to allow any distrust of a definite pronouncement of God to make him waver. He drew strength from his faith, and, while giving the glory to God, remained absolutely convinced that God was able to implement his own promise.

Rom 4:22-25 (Phi) This was the "faith" which was counted unto him for righteousness. Now this counting of faith for righteousness was not recorded simply for Abraham's credit, but as a divine principle which should apply to us as well. Faith is to be reckoned as righteousness to us also, who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered to death for our sins and raised again to secure our justification.

Faith To Crucify The Flesh

A.W. Tozer: "The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.

"True faith requires that we believe everything God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything he has said about US. Until we believe that we are really as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do. Right here is where popular religion breaks down."
Luke 9:23-24 (NIV) Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."

John 11:25-26 (NIV) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Gal 5:24 (Jer) You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.

As God calls each Christian to "die to self" and promises "new life", the flesh protests: "What if it doesn't work? What if I'm left empty-handed? What if God isn't faithful?" But we have the gripping example of Jesus's faith--when He let the life drain out of Him on the cross--with the attitude, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And about that much easier thing His Spirit is convicting you to give up now, this same Jesus says from the cross: "Follow me!"
Heb 12:1-3 (Phi) Surrounded as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin that dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering; and he is now seated at the right hand of God's throne. Think constantly of his enduring all that sinful men could say against him and you will not lose your purpose or your courage.

A Life Of Faith
Heb 11:6 (NIV) Without faith it is impossible to please God....

Heb 11:24-27 (Phi) By faith... Moses... refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He preferred sharing the burden of God's people to enjoying the temporary advantages of sin. He considered the "reproach of Christ" more precious than all the wealth of Egypt, for he looked steadily at the ultimate reward. By faith he left Egypt; he defied the king's anger with the strength that comes from obedience to the invisible king.

Heb 10:32,35-39 (NIV) ... in the face of suffering... do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

2 Cor 4:8-10 (Phi) We are hard-pressed on all sides, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but are never deserted; we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out! Everyday we experience something of the death of Jesus, so that we may also show the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours. Yes, we who are living are always being exposed to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be plainly seen in our mortal lives.

2 Cor 4:16-18 (Phi) This is the reason we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent.

1 Pet 1:6-7 (Phi) This means tremendous joy to you, even though at present you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials. This is no accident--it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold, and gold, as you know, even though it is ultimately perishable, must be purified by fire.

Eph 6:16 (Phi) Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you.

Heb 11:1 (Phi) Faith means that we have full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.

Rom 4:16 (Phi) The whole thing, then, is a matter of faith on man's part and generosity on God's. He gives the security of his own promise to all men....

Job 13:15 (NAS) Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him....

Job 19:25 (NAS) I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Not The Gospel Jesus Preached


Some Prosperity teachers equate wealth with godliness and faith. The Bible says otherwise.

"This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth." (Psalm 73:12)

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matt. 6:24)

"He said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." (Luke 16:15)

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matt.19:23-24) Note: It is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days." (James 5:1-3)

"But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape." (Mal. 3:15)

"They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD's wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin." (Ezk. 7:19)

"But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business." (James 1:10-11)

"You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." (Rev. 3:17)

Most Prosperity teachers boast about their wealth saying that God has blessed them. Their wealth usually comes from donations.

"For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world." (1 John 2:16)

"As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:16-17)

Prosperity teachers will tell you that you can expect a BIG return on your "donation". They create greed and discontent by saying that God wants you to be wealthy and that you will become wealthy if you give to them and have faith. The Bible teaches the opposite.

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Col. 3:2)

"Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." (Phil. 3:19)

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Tim. 6:6-10)

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Heb. 13:5)

"A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him." (Prov. 28:22)

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matt. 6:19-20)

"Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay." (Luke 3:14)

"Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." (Prov. 30:8)

Giving to Get is Unbiblical and can result in the opposite happening.

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3)

"So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be." (1 Kings 3:11-12)

The Prosperity doctrine teaches that God wants you to be wealthy and have big houses, cars, etc. They teach that if you lead a godly life, you will get these things. Again, the Bible teaches different.

"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." (1 Tim. 6:3-5)

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money." 1 Tim. 3:2-3)

"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve..." (1 Peter 5:2)

"You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts." (Jer. 12:1-2)

"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Mark 4:18-19)

NOTE: Read the parable of the Sower. (Mark 4:3-20)

Many Prosperity teachers will tell you that prosperity is a part of salvation.

Lazarus the beggar went to heaven. (Luke 16:22)

"Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" (James 2:5)

"Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15)

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers..." (1 Peter 1:18)

"Looking at his disciples, he said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." (Luke 6:20-21)

Prosperity teachers often wear expensive clothes, gold, and jewelry. Here's what the Bible says about this.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:3-4)

"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." (1 Tim. 2:9-10)

"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long...Woe to you..." (Matt. 23:5, 13)

The Prosperity Doctrine teaches that you will be rewarded now while you are living for your giving. It teaches that you will get a "100 fold" return on your donations. The Bible differs.

"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." (Matt. 16:27)

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:13-14)

"Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven..." (Luke 6:23) (See also: Luke 12:33 Matt. 5:12 Matt. 6:20 Matt. 19:21 )

"Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (Matt. 6:1)

"Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." (Matt. 19:28-29)

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Rev. 22:12)

Here's some verses that Prosperity teachers use:

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)

"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (2 Cor. 9:11)

This verse is self-explanatory. The key words are: "so that you can be generous on every occasion". God gives so we can give. If we give because we think our own pocketbook will grow, that’s being greedy. As we found out (James 4:3), selfish motives will get you nowhere. Also the use of the word "rich" is only referring to needs, not wants. (See verses 8 and 12)

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." (2 Cor. 8:9)

This verse is only referring to a spiritual or heavenly "rich" not an earthly rich. Jesus had a spiritual "rich" in heaven and became earthly poor so that we can become spiritually "rich" in heaven. You can find a good example of this spiritual "rich" in 2 Cor. 6:10. "...sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." Notice also that the disciples didn't hoard, they gave everything away. (See 2 Cor. 8:3)

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matt. 6:33)

The key words here are "these things". Prosperity teachers never tell you what "these things" are. Basic needs only, food, drink, clothing. Not wealth and riches. (See verse 31)

The Truth About Jesus

The Truth about Jesus
Charles Gilmer
When you hear the name "Jesus" what images and thoughts come to mind?

Devotion to Jesus has been a large part of the African-American experience. The black church has been and continues to be a powerful force in the African-American community. But many are questioning the propriety of African Americans following Jesus. Should we, as black people, follow this Jesus?

Some suggest that Jesus was a foreign deity forced upon our forefathers and mothers. Others suggest that worshiping Jesus has been nothing more than a psychological narcotic to deaden the pain of our oppressed existence. Still others contend that our forefathers' worship of Jesus was merely a mask for the expression of more ancient religious practices, a cover for the practice of "traditional" African religions.

How should we view that influence as we approach a new chapter of our history? Much is being said, yet is what you've heard the truth? Let's, you and I, examine some of these perspectives about African Americans and Christianity.

The best historical record of Jesus' life is found in the Bible. One of the most frequently posed challenges is directed at this book.

Is the Bible credible? Isn't it just a European book that has little to do with our people?
The answer to the questions are, "Yes, the Bible is credible", and "No, it isn't a European book that has nothing to do with our people." Black people are referred to and appear on the stage of biblical history many times. Several works have been done to chronicle these instances. {1} One notable biblical character was Zipporah, Moses' Midianite wife. This means that Zipporah's father, Laban was also black. {2} In the New Testament, there are several characters whom scholars believe were likely black due to the location of their home cities. The most undeniable instance was Lucius' comrade in Antioch, Simeon, who was called Niger. Niger simply means "black." African nations and African people are quite prominent in biblical times. To say that the Bible is the white man's holy book or to suggest that it is European in origin or nature, is simply not taking into account the facts.

Isn't Christianity a late arrival in Africa? Isn't it a foreign religion to Africa and Africans?
In his book, The Early Church in Africa, Dr. John Mbiti outlines the fact that the message of Jesus penetrated Africa before it ever reached Europe. "Christianity in Africa is so old that it can be rightly described as an indigenous, traditional and African religion," says Dr. Mbiti. {3} The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch described in the Book of Acts predates the apostle Paul's first missionary journey into Europe by a number of years. There is clear, historical documentation of the church in Africa by the third century. Christianity was the dominant religion in North Africa and most notably Egypt.

Egyptian and North African scholars such as Clement, Origen, Tertullian, and Athanasius are widely recognized as fathers of the church. By the year 300, Egypt had more than a million Christians. In the sixth century, Christianity spread to the Nubian Kingdoms, soon becoming the dominant religion. The Christian Nubian Kingdoms survived for 700 years, resisting attempted domination by Muslim conquerors for 600 of those years.

The Egyptian Coptic Church in the Sudan and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church still exist today. Though persecuted, their presence is testimony to the historicity of Christianity in Africa. {4} There is growing evidence that the long-standing presence of Christianity in the Nile Valley and in present-day Ethiopia provided a base for the introduction of Christianity in Southern and Western Africa. In summary, the assertion that Christianity is the "white man's religion" is neither historically accurate nor currently true. The first African Christians were not American slaves. The Christian heritage in Africa goes all the way back to the days of the Bible itself.

Well, didn't Christians start, perpetuate and defend American slavery?
First of all, slave trading was not introduced to Sub-Saharan Africa from Europe. Arab Muslims had been conducting a slave trade for hundreds of years before Europeans arrived on the west coast of Africa. Second, the slave traders themselves seldom claimed to be devout men, even though they came from "Christian nations."

In contradiction to this perception stands the life of a white Englishman named William Wilberforce. He led the fight against the slave trade in Parliament because of his commitment to Jesus Christ. His is an incredible story of sacrifice and dedication to truth and justice for African people. While it took his entire life to win this victory, win he did.

In the United States, Christians reacted to slavery in a substantially different way. While there was vocal Christian protest against the slave trade and much of the abolitionist movement was spear-headed by Christian people, there were also many Christians who defended slavery. The issue of slavery grew more divisive, and eventually most of the major Protestant denominations divided over the issue. This actually set the stage for the Civil War.

While many factors contributed to the onset of the Civil War, no one can argue that slavery was not a principle cause for the split of the nation, South from North. Many rightly contend that Abraham Lincoln's original objective in the war was not the removal of slavery from the South. Yet it is clear that as the war dragged on, he began to sense the larger drama that was being played out via the conflict. In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln spoke eloquently of his growing belief that God was judging the United States for indulging the wicked institution of slavery.

It is intriguing to note that our nation lost more lives in that one conflict than in all its other wars combined. Perhaps we can conclude that God did not turn a blind eye to the sufferings of the slaves, nor did He wink at the conduct of those who oppressed African people in America.

What was the attitude of the slaves through all of this? How could our forefathers embrace the religion of their oppressors?
Part of the rationalization of the slave trade was to "civilize" and "Christianize" the Africans. Missionary efforts among the slaves were allowed because owners assumed that Christianity would make slaves better workers. In the course of this instruction, the slaves discovered something. While the Bible did teach, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear.," it also said, "And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both your Master and theirs is in heaven and there is no favoritism with him." {5} They discovered that the slavery alluded to in the Bible was substantially different from what they were experiencing. Too many masters wanted their slaves to submit to the commands of Scripture but were unwilling to live by those commands themselves.

The slaves discovered this contradiction but did not allow that to interfere with receiving the transcendent truth of the Bible. In its pages they found hope, courage, strength and comfort. The Negro spirituals are the legacy of the faith of those who, from an earthly standpoint, had cause for despair. This faith enabled our forefathers to endure trials and hardships that we can only imagine. This faith inspired leaders to respond courageously to the problems of our people. These leaders were the likes of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and the thousands of former slaves who enlisted in the Union Army to fight for their freedom.

The liberating dynamic of the Bible caused the Southern states to place restrictions on missionary activities among the slaves, forbidding reading instruction and limiting preaching by slave preachers. They also began to put restrictions on slave worship services.

The spiritual "Steal Away" signaled the calling of a worship service to be held in the "hush arbors" outside of the scrutiny of the master or his overseers. In these hush arbors (gathering places in the seclusion of the woods) our forefathers and mothers could revel in the truth that they were not brute beasts with no more value than an ox or an ass. No, the Bible taught them that they were children of the Most High God, citizens of His heavenly kingdom, and that they had inherent value as humans. When they entered into prayer and worship, they experienced a fleeting but galvanizing foretaste of an eventual eternal reward.

The slaves who turned to Jesus knew the difference between some of the versions of Christianity they were seeing practiced and the Christianity they were hearing described in the Bible. Hence the line in the spiritual, "Everybody talkin' 'bout heaven ain't goin' there." They chose to follow the Jesus they saw in the Bible. Jesus provided the hope and power they needed to survive slavery.

Wasn't the white church an accomplice to our ongoing oppression and isn't the black church a pacifying agent in our struggle for freedom?
Of course, neither the Emancipation Proclamation nor the North's victory in the Civil War ended our problems. After the hope and turmoil of the Reconstruction period, black Americans again found themselves being systematically and legally oppressed. Unfortunately, once again, many who claimed to be Christians were involved in the reign of terror, which sought to keep African Americans in their place. The Southern white church was at best silent, and at worse, actively defending the conduct of those who were marauding among, intimidating, and lynching our people. Very few black families today are devoid of horror stories of relatives and friends who were abused and/or murdered. Black societies and businesses were seldom allowed to survive.

The black community found refuge in the church. Although there were exceptions, like the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, the church provided some protection from those who would harm black people. And in the church our people found the peace, comfort and strength previously cultivated in the hush arbors. The vibrancy and progressive power of the black church is well documented. It was in the churches that the black colleges were conceived, given birth and prayed for. It was in the churches that a young and vibrant NAACP carried on its membership drives. It was the clergy who often provided the leadership for the black community at large. The powerful building effect of the African-American church cannot be disputed. And it was the church that gave us our drum major for justice, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those who suggest that Christianity has been a debilitating and pacifying force in the African-American community are ignoring the evidence. The God of the Bible has always been a source of comfort, strength and hope for our people. Faith in Jesus Christ has not created passivity but rather activism in thousands of African Americans.

It is true that there have been those who have attempted to justify their mistreatment of us on the basis of the Bible. But this view has never held up to honest scrutiny. It is true that some of our people have listened to lies that have been told us, and to misinterpretations of biblical passages, thereby developing twisted and unhealthy views of themselves and of our people. But those who have followed Jesus Christ have been some of our most effective leaders, our most impressive achievers, and our most eloquent spokespeople. By their own testimony, these African-American Christians declare that it was their relationship with Jesus that fueled their struggle, energized their activism, and gave them hope for a better future for our people.

What happened to our "Old Time Religion"? Why does the African-American church struggle to gain the allegiance of the emerging generation?
The evolution of the Civil Rights Movement set up young African Americans for a collective crisis of faith. The post-World War II thrust for civil rights found no better incubator than the black churches of the South. Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference was the most visible manifestation of the Christian presence in the Civil Rights Movement. Those early mass meetings were characterized by prayer, the singing of hymns and spirituals, and an orderliness of conduct that revealed the Christian influence of the attendees.

Dr. King's appeal was to the moral conscience of the nation, based on its Judeo-Christian values. Yet, the white church failed to support his pleas for justice, freedom and equal treatment. It took the emerging electronic media's coverage of atrocities in the South to finally shame a reluctant federal government to get involved. It was the government, not the white church, that secured the rights for which so many had prayed, marched and shed blood.

This opened the door for those who wanted to disparage the Christian message. Many progressive whites befriended the Civil Rights leadership, becoming our allies in the struggle. Youthful leadership emerged, enraged by the cowardice and hypocrisy of the white church, to declare the need for new thinking. The new allies were quick to provide alternative ideologies, like dialectical Marxism, radical feminism and political liberalism. The patience of the previous generations began to be interpreted as weakness-a weakness often attributed to the gentle nature of Christianity.

A generation of African Americans began to drift away from the church. These first recipients of the benefits of desegregation were facing new challenges, choosing from previously unheard of opportunities and experiencing unprecedented freedom. The nation had grudgingly removed the obstacles to broader exploration and the younger crowd was ready to wander. The black church struggled to effectively speak to those who had left its confines.

What has been the outcome? Those who have not had access or failed to capitalize on the new opportunities are left without hope for a better future. And the popular notion that Jesus has nothing to offer created a vacuum of moral authority. No longer do we look to God as the one to whom we are accountable. We are our own authority. Some even teach that "The black man is God." If this is so, then we can define our own morality, establish our own standards of behavior, and sit in judgment of everyone else. But we have failed because we are not God. No wonder drug trade is seen as an understandable and too often an acceptable career choice. No wonder teenage pregnancy continues to rise and sexually transmitted diseases are approaching epidemic proportions.

And those who do get an education or establish themselves in legally acceptable jobs are not free from concern. There are still obstacles to acceptance by the mainstream society, and the children of the middle class often get caught in the undertow of sexual and chemical enticements. It almost seems that African-American culture is being overrun by a pathological pursuit of self-aggrandizement, sensuality and prosperity at any cost.

The poet and educator James Weldon Johnson proved to be prophetic when he wrote the last stanza of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" in 1921. This work came to be known as the Negro National Anthem and was sung daily after the Pledge of Allegiance in many black schools up until the time of desegregation. His lyrics warned us of the potential for our current predicament: God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who hast led us thus far on our way, Thou who hast by thy might led us into the light keep us forever in the path we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee. Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.

Sadly, too many of our feet have strayed. Too many of our hearts are drunk.

What should we do now? How can we honor our history, respond to the present, and build a viable, vibrant future for our people?
It is not too late. We can still return to the God of our fathers. You can select from a number of eras to find African people to consider your "fathers." You could choose the ancient African Christians, who laid the foundations for much of modern Africa. You could identify with those slaves who prayed in the hush arbors. Or you can honor the perseverance of those Negro Christians who washed floors and swept streets to feed and clothe your grandparents. In any case, it starts with an individual choice. You must choose Jesus for yourself.

Choosing Jesus prepares you to be a real agent of change in our community. We have had enough leaders who have experienced some success, but who got off track somehow. These sidetracks have taken many different forms, from sexual and financial scandals to a constant pursuit of acknowledgment from the white community. Too many of our leaders have compromised our spiritual heritage in order to gain political or economic allies. A vibrant relationship with Christ will give you the power to govern yourself and live according to what is right, not according to what is expedient.

Those of us who discover the power of a relationship with Christ and who see the need for spiritual transformation in our community must band together to build a new future. We must give our brothers and sisters a reason to turn away from the traps that surround them. Jesus is that reason. We must tell the truth about the challenges we face and develop an agenda for overcoming those challenges. That agenda emanates from Jesus. Then we must forge the strategies that will allow our people to make the kind of broad-based progress we all long for. Those strategies will come from people who have the mind of Christ. In the Book of Proverbs in the Bible it says, "Righteousness exalts a nation..." {6} If we allow the righteousness of Christ to flow through us, and thereby through our community, we can turn the tide.

We have been looked down on so long and so pervasively, and our people disappoint us so often, we can begin to wonder if the negative stereotypes are really true. In this vulnerable state we are susceptible to the persuasiveness of eloquent orators like Louis Farrakhan or anyone else who will tell us that we are the best, brightest, most noble people on the earth. It is easy to buy into ideas that lift black people above all others. Our righteous anger is easily manipulated to get us to buy into theories of a white conspiracy to hold us back. It feels good to hold someone else responsible for our struggles. Of course, there is plenty of racism remaining in this society, supplying fuel for those who would stoke the fires of rage and resentment.

Jesus, in what he taught and what he modeled, provides a different perspective. He teaches us that those who have oppressed us will be called to account for their actions. He also directs our attention back to our own responsibility. We will be called to reckon with our own choices. Jesus spoke a message that echoes across the landscape of time and penetrates to the heart of our predicament.

"I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:34,36

All the problems we face as individuals and as a people can be summarized in one word-sin.

Sin is the biblical word for those actions and our general state of non-conformity to the will and design of God. God made the universe to run on certain principles. When we step outside the bounds of these principles, we enter into sin. This definition helps us understand Jesus' teaching that all sin is harmful. If God designed things to run and function a certain way, whenever we step outside of those design boundaries, we are likely to experience negative consequences. Black people's suffering is either because of someone else's sin or due to our own. Yet, Jesus promises to free us from sin.

You see, God is holy. As such, He cannot tolerate the presence of sin. It is contrary to His nature. So, sin must be dealt with, or judged, and punished. Yet, God is loving. How could He be both just and loving toward us rebellious, sinful human beings? He resolved this dilemma by taking on human flesh Himself, walking this earth, and dying a painful, humiliating death to pay for the punishment of our sin. How could one man's death pay the penalty for the sin of billions of humans? Because He is God, both infinite and eternal. He created an infinite and eternal payment for sin by submitting Himself to death. How do we access this freedom that Jesus purchased for us? By personally accepting him as Savior and Lord.

This is the freedom our forefathers found in the midst of slavery. The freedom to transcend their circumstances. The freedom that comes from living on the basis of a higher reality. This is the freedom that ignited the activity of so many who have fought for the freedom and dignity of our people. This is the freedom that you can experience if you will place your trust in Him.

We have an extraordinarily rich spiritual heritage. And Jesus is central to that heritage. We can honor their memory by rediscovering the faith that allowed our forebearers to survive. We can build on the legacy they have left us by carefully following the one they followed-Jesus.

You have the opportunity to live out an incredible, eternal transcendent purpose-a purpose rooted in an eternal hope. Many are involved in seeking to bring about change in the black community. Yet, without an eternal perspective, without a hope fixed on a God who is just, loving, and who offers eternal life, all our striving has to be measured by its effect here and now, in our immediate experience. There is a lot of noble talk about needing to bring about change for the sake of the next generation. But without an eternal perspective those who live on the margins of society have little reason to hope. They have little power. They have limited opportunities. Why should they turn away from the temptations and enticements that offer them quick rewards and a short-term escape?

A relationship with Christ offers not only hope, but the power to do what is right. This is another implication of Jesus' statement, ".the truth will set you free." Jesus, in all His power, promises to take up residence in the life of those who place their trust in Him. He gives us the power to resist temptation and to live a godly life. In other words, He gives us the freedom to do what is right instead of being enslaved by our own desires and passions.

Don't let the lies being told about Jesus keep you from knowing the truth. Watch out for those who will play to your emotions, provide pseudo- intellectual arguments, but have bizarre notions built into their beliefs. Like so many of our forefathers, you will find in Jesus a kind, compassionate, powerful friend. One who can give you a new life and set you free from the penalty and power of sin. Then and only then will you be able to see the world clearly, according to truth, and find the purpose for which God created you.

The truth about Jesus is that He is our only sure and lasting hope. Black people were not an afterthought, nor has He relegated us to some secondary position in His kingdom. African people have been a part of His working from the beginning. He is the Savior of all mankind and He will work in the midst of any people who place their trust in Him. The history of African Americans is an illustration of this fact. And He awaits our response to manifest His love and power to us once again. God has a purpose for African Americans. We were created for a noble, yes, even a divine destiny. As we follow Him, we will fulfill that destiny. A destiny of eternal significance. A destiny of present impact on our community. A destiny that maximizes the potential God built into you when He created you. There is no higher calling, and no better life.

"At times we may feel that we do not need God ... There is so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God..These transitory gods are not able to save us or bring happiness to the human heart.

"Only God is able. It is faith in Him that we must rediscover. With this faith we can transform bleak and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of joy and bring new light into the dark caverns of pessimism."

--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Are you ready to respond to the Jesus who is the real truth? Or do you need to recommit your life to Him? If you realize you need to place your faith in Jesus, simply talk to Him. Say something like, "Lord Jesus, I know I have strayed from You. Thank You for paying the price for my freedom. Forgive my pride and my sin. Help me to be true to You. Amen." If you would like more information on how to grow in a relationship with Jesus, or how you can connect with other African-American Christians who share this vision, call 1-888-MPACT96.


Charles Gilmer is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked as a campus minister at Howard University. Charles is the national director of Intercultural Resources for the Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. He lives in Orlando, Fla., with his wife Rebecca and their six children.


Several good works have been done on the presence of black or African peoples in the Bible. Beyond Roots by Rev. Dwight McKissic is a simple biblical survey of the subject for popular audiences. Troubling Biblical Waters by Dr. Cain Hope Felder is a more scholarly work, sifting the subject through the filters of the more skeptical schools of textual criticism.
Genesis 2:15ff; Numbers 12:1.
John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (London: Heinemann, 1969), p.229, as cited in The Early Church and Africa, John P. Kealy and David W. Shenk, Nairobi Oxford University Press, 1975, p.1.
Ibid., pp.290-295.
Ephesians 6:5,9.
Proverbs 14:34.
©1996 Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. Campus Media Team 96-147.

Tithing VS Giving

Most churches I have been to teach rather emphatically that Christians should “tithe,” that is, give 10% of their income to their church. I have even heard some ministers say that if you don’t tithe, God will not bless you. What does the Bible say about financial giving?

“What does the Bible say?” is always the “bottom line” in life, but that vital question needs a qualifier: “To whom?” The Bible, the Word of God, most certainly does speak about financial giving, and a good case can be made that it is one of the five most basic activities for a Christian, the others being prayer, Bible reading and study, fellowship with other Christians, and telling others the Good News about Jesus Christ.

The question must be: “What does the Bible say to Christians about financial giving?” Why? Because what God says to Christians about financial giving is different than what He said to the Jews of the Old Testament about it. The sad news is that today very few Christians understand the difference, and, as a result, many are unnecessarily living under emotional and financial stress. For a more detailed exposition of this subject than we can set forth in this FAQ, I recommend our audio teachings The Joy of Giving, and Financial Stewardship: God’s Heart Concerning Money and Possessions as well as a book we carry titled The Tithing Dilemma, by Ernest L. Martin.

And, as is so often the case in examining a biblical issue, that takes us to the subject of the administrations in Scripture. Unless we understand what parts of God’s Word are written to Jews, what parts are written to Gentiles, and what parts are written to Christians, we can neither understand nor apply its truths in our daily lives.

We are currently living in what the Bible calls the Administration of the Secret (Eph. 3:9), which began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1ff) and will conclude with the Rapture of the Church (all living and dead Christians meeting the Lord in the air—1 Thess. 4:13-18). The primary curriculum for Christians (i.e., people born again of God’s incorruptible seed) is found in the Church Epistles: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians. It is there that we must look to find God’s specific directions for us today, and the issue of financial giving is given two chapters worth of ink in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9.

There are also some pertinent verses in other Epistles, and the message of Scripture to Christians is that because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, we do not live under the Mosaic Law, during which tithing was instituted and commanded as part of the Law. Therefore, tithing as a commandment of God has no relevance to believers today.

At this point, it is important to distinguish between tithing and giving. Although tithing per se is not relevant to Christians, giving most certainly is. As a member in particular of the Body of Christ, each Christian is to determine in his own heart how much he gives and where he allocates his resources among his brothers and sisters in Christ (2 Cor. 9:7). The Epistles metaphor by which material giving is strongly encouraged is that of sowing and reaping—the more you sow, the more you reap (2 Cor. 9:6). “Tithing” is never mentioned.

We are working on a booklet on this subject, and it may be titled, In Response to a Blessing, because that is the biblical basis for giving. Under the Law, Jews were to give out of their produce, that is, what the Lord had provided for them. Just like the Word says, “We love God because He first loved us,” so we give because God has given to us. When we understand what God has done for us in Christ, and that the material blessings we have come from Him, and that He promises to bless us back for what we give, giving cheerfully is a joy.

Even in the Old Testament, believers understood that when they gave to God, they were opening a door, if you will, for Him to bless them in return. This is, of course, still true, but the idea has been distorted by some Christians who teach that one must give to God before God can bless him. Thus, too many Christians are giving in order to get. No, God always gives first.

Also, He does not specify just how He will bless us. If we sow, we will reap accordingly, but it may not be money for money, etc. Some Christians have become disillusioned about giving because when they gave money to their church, etc., they did not receive money back. They may have even failed to notice the blessing that God did give them. When we give in response to a blessing, and not so that we will get blessed, we can be cheerful and contented givers.

Making known the truth about this subject is critical, because the vast majority of Christians are told, and thus believes, that it is God’s will for them to “tithe,” which means to give one-tenth of what they earn. Many of the more “fundamental” Christian groups are adamant about this, and accompany this exhortation with a warning that failure to tithe will result in consequences of various kinds, usually having to do with a lack of prosperity.

In many groups, this has become little more than ecclesiastical extortion, with church leaders using the lever of people’s sincere desire to do what God says is right to squeeze money out of them. Such leaders proclaim that what God says is right is that you give at least ten percent of your income—to their organization. As a result of such pressure, financial giving has, for too many Christians, become a joyless, mechanical act of “bribing” God to avoid the consequences of not giving, and an attempt to earn His favor (something they already have!).

For many other Christians who once gave cheerfully, financial giving is no longer an act at all. They have stopped doing it altogether, either because they got sick and tired of the pressure being applied to them, or they really could not afford to tithe, or they saw the money they gave misused and feel that they were cheated when they did give.

Neither of these attitudes—giving joylessly or not giving at all—is biblically right, neither is the will of God, and both are therefore detrimental to a believer. That fits with John 8:32, where Jesus said that experientially knowing the truth, that is, practicing it, will make one free. Conversely, error regarding the Bible (the truth) will put people in bondage. And financial giving is a category in which countless Christian people are being subjected to the bondage of guilt and put through an emotional wringer they do not deserve.

If you feel that the above describes you, take heart, because you can be set free by the truth of God's Word. Then you can also share with others the treasure you have found. In our economically driven world of today, having the right attitude about money and material things is a huge asset in life. Knowing and practicing what God's Word says about financial giving will enable you to experience the joy of giving, and it will enable others in the Body of Christ to experience the joy of receiving and therefore having their needs met, so that together we can reach out with the Good News of God to a dying world.

A study of the Old Testament will show that tithing was instituted as part of the Mosaic Law to Israel. Some Christians point to Genesis 14 and/or 28 in a misguided attempt to prove that tithing was instituted prior to the Mosaic Law and is therefore relevant to Christians today. Their rationale is that because Abram gave ten per cent of the spoils of war to Melchisedek, and because Jacob chose ten per cent as the amount to give to God for watching over him on his journey, this is the prescribed amount God would have all people give. This is not sound biblical scholarship.

The Genesis 14 record takes place approximately 2000 years after Adam and Eve, and during all those years there is no biblical reference to tithing. Nor is there any record that Abram ever tithed as a result of some biblical law that told him to do so, and he certainly was “making money.” When he did give one tenth, it was not of the increase of his flocks and herds, which was the tithe prescribed by the Law, but rather of the spoils of war that he had gained by defeating the army from Mesopotamia.

In Genesis 28, Jacob told God that if He would keep him safe on his journey, keep him clothed and fed, and bring him home safely, he would give God a tenth of what he had. That was certainly not the Mosaic tithe, which was commanded whether or not those things happened. Both Jacob and Abram gave in response to a blessing.

Even in regard to Israel, for whom the tithe was specifically instituted, nothing was said about it until the beginning of the second year of their exodus. Prior to that, in Exodus 25, for the building of the Tabernacle, Moses instructed the Israelites to give “as their heart prompted them.”

You often hear proponents of the tithe say that surely Christians would do no less than what Jews did in the Old Testament, as if every Israelite gave ten per cent of his income. A detailed study of the tithe is beyond the scope of this FAQ, but suffice it to say that the idea that each Israelite gave ten per cent of his income (and therefore each Christian should do likewise) is far from the truth.

For example, an Israelite who had fewer than ten cattle born to him in a year did not have to tithe on them because the requirement stated that only the tenth animal that passed under the rod was to be tithed (Lev. 27:32). A farmer who had only eight cows born was therefore exempt from the tithe.

The tithe was basically on animal and agricultural products, and was paid in kind (i.e., the product itself). If one did not wish to pay his tithe in agricultural products, and decided to give money as a substitute, he was penalized and had to add a fifth part of its estimated value to the amount he paid (Lev. 27:31). Such a law was obviously not intended to encourage payment of the tithe in money.

The main purpose of the tithe was to support the Levitical priesthood. The Levites were responsible to minister to the people, and were prohibited from owning land, which obviously limited the ways in which they could earn income. God’s plan was that their support came from those to whom they ministered, much like the direction of Scripture for the Church today (1 Cor. 9:1ff; Gal. 6:6ff, etc.). The tithe also provided welfare for widows, orphans, etc.

One reason why there was no command to tithe until the Mosaic Law was that until then there was no Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) and no Temple, no regular sacrifices commanded (the daily sacrifices alone commanded by the Law required more than 700 animals a year), and no class of Levitical priests to support. None of these would be relevant to a Christian today, even if they did exist.

Should a Christian today tithe? One is free to give 10% if he chooses, but we are not commanded to give any particular percentage or amount. Sad to say that many Christians, once misled and often emotionally coerced into tithing, stopped giving altogether when they learned the tithe is not required. 2 Corinthians 9:6 and 7 make it clear that the more generously we “sow” with the right attitude, the more abundantly we will reap.

For some believers who do not earn much, giving generously may not mean a large amount. For others, it may mean millions of dollars, and far more than 10%. Each Christian’s situation is different, and that is why God does not prescribe specific amounts that we should give, but allows us to make our own decisions. Remember, we are “fellow laborers” with Him, and He loves to work with us in determining how much and to whom we should give, and He loves to bless us with more so that we can give more. That kind of giving makes for an exciting element of the Christian life.

You may say, “Well, what about Malachi 3:6-10? That says people who do not tithe are ‘robbing God.’” Those verses have been used innumerable times to prod Christians into giving, but wait a moment—to whom is Malachi written? Well, in verse 9 of chapter 3 it says “the whole nation” is under a curse. What nation? The USA? No, the book of Malachi is specifically addressed to the nation of Israel, and more specifically to the priests (see 1:6,10-13; 2:1,7 and 8) who were badly mistreating God’s people. To use verses from Malachi as if they are talking to Christians is at best poor scholarship and at worst dishonest.

So what should Christians do about financial giving? 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 is the first place to go to find the answer to that question, and the heart of the message there is expressed in 9:7: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” If, for you, that’s ten per cent, great.

Beyond that, Scripture directs us to give to those who are genuinely ministering to our spiritual needs. When we do, we are making a sound investment in (that is, sowing into) a work that is bearing good spiritual fruit. Although there is no way we can help everyone who asks us, we are also encouraged to give to those in need, and we can seek the Lord for wisdom in doing so.

For a Christian, giving from the heart is all about knowing that we have a great, big, wonderful God, and also understanding who we are in Christ. Speaking of the attitude of the believers in Macedonia about financial giving, Paul said: “This they did, not as we hoped, but even beyond that, first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us, by the will of God” (2 Cor. 8:5). As Christians, each of us has been “bought with a price.” We (let alone our material possessions) don't even belong to ourselves. When you know that you belong to the Lord, and that everything that you have belongs to the Lord, and that he is responsible to keep his promises to care for you, then you can truly be a cheerful giver.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What Does it Mean to Be "Anointed?"

A computer search on Anoint, Anointed, and Anointing in the KJV brings up the following results..

Anointing Is used 25 times in the OT and 3 times in the NT.

Anoint Is used 30 times in the OT and 5 times in the NT.

Anointed Is used 86 times in the OT and 12 times in the NT.

Definition of 'Anoint' in Eastons Bible Dictionary.


The practice of anointing with perfumed oil was common among the Hebrews.

(1.) The act of anointing was significant of consecration to a holy or sacred use; hence the anointing of the high priest (Exo_29:29; Lev_4:3) and of the sacred vessels (Exo_30:26). The high priest and the king are thus called “the anointed” (Lev_4:3, Lev_4:5, Lev_4:16; Lev_6:20; Psa_132:10). Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him (1Sa_16:13; 2Sa_2:4, etc.). Prophets were also anointed (1Ki_19:16; 1Ch_16:22; Psa_105:15). The expression, “anoint the shield” (Isa_21:5), refers to the custom of rubbing oil on the leather of the shield so as to make it supple and fit for use in war.

(2.) Anointing was also an act of hospitality (Luk_7:38, Luk_7:46). It was the custom of the Jews in like manner to anoint themselves with oil, as a means of refreshing or invigorating their bodies (Deu_28:40; Rth_3:3; 2Sa_14:2; Psa_104:15, etc.). This custom is continued among the Arabians to the present day.

(3.) Oil was used also for medicinal purposes. It was applied to the sick, and also to wounds (Isa_1:6; Mar_6:13; Jam_5:14).

(4.) The bodies of the dead were sometimes anointed (Mar_14:8; Luk_23:56).

(5.) The promised Delivered is twice called the “Anointed” or Messiah (Psa_2:2; Dan_9:25, Dan_9:26), because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost (Isa_61:1), figuratively styled the “oil of gladness” (Psa_45:7; Heb_1:9). Jesus of Nazareth is this anointed One (Joh_1:41; Act_9:22; Act_17:2, Act_17:3; Act_18:5, Act_18:28), the Messiah of the Old Testament.

Nave's Topical Bible lists the following references to 'The Anointing'

Of the body

Deu_28:40; Rth_3:3; Est_2:12; Psa_92:10; Psa_104:15; Psa_141:5; Pro_27:9; Pro_27:16; Ecc_9:8; Son_1:3; Son_4:10; Isa_57:9; Amo_6:6; Mic_6:15

Of guests

2Ch_28:15; Luk_7:46

The sick

Isa_1:6; Mar_6:13; Luk_10:34; Jam_5:14; Rev_3:18

The dead

Mat_26:12; Mar_14:8; Mar_16:1; Luk_23:56

Of Jesus, as a token of love

Luk_7:37-38; Luk_7:46; Joh_11:2; Joh_12:3

Omitted in mourning

2Sa_12:20; 2Sa_14:2; Isa_61:3; Dan_10:3

God preserves those who receive

Psa_18:50; Psa_20:6; Psa_89:20-23

Saints receive

Isa_61:3; 1Jo_2:20

In consecration

Of high priests

Exo_29:7; Exo_29:29; Exo_40:13; Lev_6:20; Lev_8:12; Lev_16:32; Num_35:25; Psa_133:2

Of priests

Exo_28:41; Exo_30:30; Exo_40:15; Lev_4:3; Lev_8:30; Num_3:3

Of kings:

General references

Jdg_9:8; Jdg_9:15


1Sa_9:16; 1Sa_10:1; 1Sa_15:1


1Sa_16:3; 1Sa_16:12-13; 2Sa_2:4; 2Sa_5:3; 2Sa_12:7; 2Sa_19:21; 1Ch_11:3


1Ki_1:39; 1Ch_29:22


1Ki_19:16; 2Ki_9:1-3; 2Ki_9:6; 2Ki_9:12




2Ki_11:12; 2Ch_23:11





Of prophets


Of the tabernacle

General references

Exo_30:26; Exo_40:9; Lev_8:10; Num_7:1

Altars of

Exo_30:26-28; Exo_40:10; Lev_8:11; Num_7:1

Vessels of

Exo_30:27-28; Exo_40:9-10; Lev_8:10-11; Num_7:1

Jacob's pillar, at Bethel

Gen_28:18; Gen_31:13; Gen_35:14

See Dedication


Of Christ's kingly and priestly office

Psa_45:7; Psa_89:20; Isa_61:1; Dan_9:24; Luk_4:18; Act_4:27; Act_10:38; Heb_1:9

Of spiritual gifts

2Co_1:21; 1Jo_2:20; 1Jo_2:27


Exo_40:13-15; Lev_8:12; 1Sa_16:13; 1Ki_19:16

Symbolic, of Jesus

Mat_26:7-12; Joh_12:3-7


If you have looked up the above references, noting the usage of the word Anointing, I am sure you have noticed a few vital specifics.....

1) Anointing is not the "power of God," but the act of being consecrated or set aside. (anointing is constantly mis-defined as the "power of God.")

2) in the Old Testament the anointed ones were the Priests, Prophets and Kings. In the Hebrew Bible, the High Priest and the king are each sometimes called "the anointed" (Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16; 6:20; Psalms 132:10). Prophets were also anointed (1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalms 105:15). Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him, in fact in Israel a crown was not required (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4, etc.). Thus David was anointed as king by the prophet Samuel:

3) In the New Testament ALL believers are said to be anointed.. Let me repeat that.. It is NOT a few special persons who are anointed but ALL believers have a general anointing. John makes it clear that this gives us a relationship with our blessed Lord, but it never makes one better, greater or more powerful than another. As in the following three verses

2Co 1:21 Now He who establishes us together with you in Christ and who has anointed us is God,

1Jo 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

1Jo 2:27 And as for you, the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. [All Emphasis Added]

Did You Also Happen to Notice

1) There is not ONE SINGLE reference to the anointing being a supernatural power given to human by which they are able to perform miracles.

2) There is not ONE SINGLE reference to a double or triple portion of the anointing. [See Footnote I on Elisha]

3) There is not ONE SINGLE reference to anyone being able to transmit the anointing by any means, including the laying on of hands. [See Footnote II]

4) There is not ONE SINGLE reference to getting, keeping, increasing, or losing the anointing.

FOOTNOTE I: Elisha did not ask for a double portion of Elijah's anointing, but for a double portion of his spirit. The words are totally different in Hebrew. In any case the phrase, “a double portion,” was applied to the first-born [Deu_21:17], and therefore Elisha’s request was, quite possibly, to be heir to the prophetic office and gifts of his master.

FOOTNOTE II: Acts 19 tells us that when Paul laid hands on some believers from Ephesus the Spirit came (epi) upon them. It does not say a word about The Spirit coming through Paul’s hands. It came upon them... from above.

The Anointing and The Holy Spirit

Take a close look at these Bible verses

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

What was that again? The ‘Anointing’ teaches you of all things...

How can the "anointing" teach a person anything? The only way this is possible is if the anointing is in fact the person of the Holy Spirit. In order to teach one would have to be a living intelligent being, impersonal powers do not teach.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Charismatic teachers have made the anointing a separate power that God bestows on people. However the Bible connects the anointing and the presence of the Spirit, which mean you cannot have one without the other. As a believer you have the Holy Spirit, as a nonbeliever you do not. Simple as that.

Where then did these Self-styled So-called prophets find...
(list from

A Swimming anointing- “ Ezekiel 47 says clearly that though the waters will go high that you will have to swim in them. There is such a thing as swimming in the anointing. You can no longer walk in it, there is so much of it you have to swim in it. So Jesus, we are ready to go swimming tonight.” (Benny Hinn in Honolulu Blaisdale Crusade - 2/28/97) It was so hot in the Arena that they perspired enough and thought it was the Holy Spirit.

The Hurricane anointing- This anointing can blow you away…Hinn says “ The anointing was just as strong as it was in Denver. One man Nevell Mcdonald who has a church here was holding onto the pole. Gods power was so strong he could not, he was holding onto a big steel pole on the platform. “ (TBN with Paul and Jan Crouch Sept. 13 1999)

A TV Anointing- Hinn described on the Larry King show how he had a terrible cold and watched himself on the TV. On the TV tape he said, “Stretch your hands!” He thought this is stupid and then “ Suddenly the Lord really spoke to my heart and said, “ The man on television is my anointed servant.” … I went over and put my hands on the screen and yes I got healed. “

Here Hinn is promoting the anointing through his tapes. It's on them (this is an advancement in spiritual technology over the old anointed handkerchiefs . The question is why didn't he heal himself by prayer? Instead he depended on a tape of himself. Is this Biblical teaching or self aggrandizement? The reasoning behind this is probably that Hinn wants to sell tapes and make people think that God has anointed them as He has His word. Hinn says God told him the man in the picture tube is His anointed, the taped one not the real one. Yea right!

A Funtime anointing- “ Believe me that anointing is yours to work that sometimes you can play with it. if your not, but God will take it away from ya.”

Seed Anointing- ...”as you pray in the Holy Spirit God will anoint that seed your about to sow it is worth and as God anoints the seed he also anoints the ground so it can bring forth a mightier harvest for you and your children, family and bring out of bondage in the name of Jesus. Hallelujah! Hallelujah. I want you to sow the best seed. People the grounds are wet and moist by the anointing.” ( Honolulu Blaisdale Crusade 1/21/99)

An Explosive Anointing- Hinn growls “ The glory! The glory!” If I don't release it I'll blow up. If I don't release the anointing I'll blow up I got to release it on somebody.” (TBN with Paul and Jan Crouch Sept.13, 1999 video on Denver crusade)

A Fearing the Anointing- “ Do you know saint's under the, please understand this, your looking at me now wearing this sitting wearing this suite… I am not the same man under the anointing that I am now. Paul Crouch “True”I mean I'm, I believe me when I tell I you do not even identify with the Benny Hinn you see on Television. Because it’s a different man. Its not me. My children are afraid of me under the anointing. What they do not know is that I'm afraid of the anointing too.” (laughter) Paul Crouch, “True, No. true!” I'm not afraid of myself I'm afraid of what the anointing can do to me if I mistreat it. “(TBN with Paul and Jan Crouch Sept. 13, 1999)

The Rambo Anointing -Rodney Browne says “When you get the anointing of God you become the worst nightmare to the Devil. I tell you God's going to raise up holy Ghost Rambo's in these last days. To boldly go where no mans gone before.” (Rodney is the one teaching where no man has dared to have gone before).

Parsley was an assistant to Lester Sumrall. Sumrall, who died in April 1996, claimed his anointing from Smith Wigglesworth.[ “Back to the Source -- The Truth About Smith Wigglesworth,” The Quarterly Journal, January-March 1995, pg. 1.]

In 1992, Sumrall supposedly passed his “sword of anointing” to Rod Parsley and his wife.[ “The Electric Evangelist,” op. cit., pg. 50.]PFO journal.

Anointed Handkerchiefs- Rod Parsley cuts up prayer clothes to heal by laying hands on them and literally transfers and releases the tangible anointing. This is more like a transferable energy since the anointing is the holy Spirit who is God. Parsley states “ In the early church people saw tangible transfer of the anointing from the apostle Paul to those he laid hands on so then they began to give him handkerchief’s for him.” Nice try, it doesn't say that at all.

A Jubilee Anointing- Parsley says, “ We’ll send that prayer cloth back to you believing God to transfer His Jubilee anointing into your life and mark you for a miracle .”.. I’m going to place them on our prayer altar throughout Dominion 98 Camp Meeting where they will be saturated in the presence of God then sent back to you.” (And With a gift of $15 or more he’ll send you his brand new book the Jubilee Anointing). ( Potters House shown on Lesea June 12 1998)

Amnesia Anointing- “I’m telling you God is about to move so supernaturally in the anointing of his spirit in these days that when he delivers you your not even going to have the remembrance that you got delivered because you won’t have any knowledge that it ever bound you.”

The Anointing of Increase- Jesse Duplantis says, “ I declare and Decree the anointing of increase” to his congregation (12/121/99).

The Uncommon Anointing - Mike Murdock “There is an uncommon anointing even right now on the thousand dollar seed through this ministry.” “In my experience I believe there is the greatest anointing on a thousand dollar seed right now that there has ever been on any telethon on any service I’ve ever spoken.” (Lesea Telethon '97)

Anointed numbers (and a Boaz anointing)- “The reason I’m praying for 70 is that number is a anointing number under Moses, And God said whoever the 70 people are that respect your mantle , that respect your anointing, Moses every time I bless you I’ll bless them. What I’m asking God to do is every time He blesses mike Murdock he blesses you, every time he gives me a financial idea he gives you one. Every time he silences the Devil for me he’ll silences an enemy for you. Every time God heals my son he heals yours. That’s a Boaz anointing, the anointing you respect is the anointing that grows in your life.”

A Devil Bustin Anointin'- “My flesh is about to blow right out of my body. It tell you the anointing is so glorious satan better not show up tonight or well tear him apart. And I warn the devil tonight. I warn every demon in this arena. You better get out before we kick you out.,, speaking of America “God is about to kick the Devil right out of here.” (Benny Hinn Honolulu Blaisdale Crusade Jan.21 1999)

Fire anointing- The anointing is…Its all over me. “For the fire of my spirit shall burn, shall burn. (Hinn Blasedale Arena 1999)

A Cursing Anointing “ A curse on every man and woman that will stretch his hand against this anointing.” (TBN with Paul and Jan Crouch Sept. 13 1999 video on Denver Crusade).

The Energizer Bunny anointing-“I want you to get a spirit of prophesy on you that just keeps going. I call it the “energizer bunny anointing” (John Eckhardt, 5/12/00 National School Of The Prophets, Mobilizing The Prophetic Office)

100 Fold Anointing- Benny Hinn speaking, “ I had a prophecy form Rod Parsley, Kenneth Copeland, and a few others had come to be with me just the last few, few weeks and each one of them said, and I , I’m , I’m amazed because I didn’t think it would happen so fast. They said God is about to lift you to the hundred-fold anointing. Now, the hundred-fold anointing is a 1,000 percent increase. “ (TBN Oct.20, 1999)

The Speaking Anointing- “ . . . The anointing is dependent upon my words. God will not move unless I say it. Why? Because He has made us coworkers with Him. He set things up that way. “ (Benny Hinn, The Anointing, Thomas Nelson. 1992. 82).

“I was saying God give me this anointing give me this power to speak those things that come to pass. And that there'd be a witness to what I speak after I have spoken it by miracles following.” (Avanzini's testimony on audio, TBN )

The Mindless Anointing- Jesse Duplantis “The anointing of God was flowing, so I just kept saying, “ Glory to God! Thank you, Jesus!” . . .I don’t know what happened next, but all of a sudden I was in the Spirit. I didn’t feel or see anything. I was just in that fog, with smoke inside my car. . .My natural mind was not registering anymore in the car. I was caught up in the Spirit.”

The Special Sickness Anointing- Fredrick Price claims to be anointed to heal “Arthritus, Bursitis, Rheumatism with a 99% cure rate by touch.”

The Corporate Anointing - Debra Jordan “…anointing “without measure”, a corporate anointing which will achieve “the birthing forth of My glorious Church” (Debra Jordan, Zoe Ministries “Written Judgments Vol. 2 Foreword).

Seed Anointing- “Get that seed out of you pocket and get it into anointed ground, this is anointed ground, this is Jubilee ground.” (LeSea telethon 97)

100 fold Increase Anointing- “ For all those calling in pledges during that fund raiser “Brother John” Avanzini promised to speak a special anointing over the pledge slips.” Avanzini states, “I’m usually not allowed to speak about this,” Avanzini tells the TBN audience. “God only tells me at certain times that I can… I’m going to speak the hundred-fold increase in just a few moments” (November, 1990 Praise-a-Thon)

Anointed Trinkets-Marilyn Hickey's- Breastplate, mustard seed, anointed oil, prayer cloths, ropes.etc.

The Anointed Telecast- “There's an anointing on this telecast.” (Steve Munson Sept.29, 1997 on LeSea TV Network)

A Dead Mans Anointing- Hinn has said, “ One of the strangest experiences I had a few years ago [was] visiting Aimee's tomb in California. ... Friday I am gonna go and visit Kathryn Kuhlman's tomb. ... And that grave, uh, where she's buried is closed, they built walls around it. … I felt a terrific anointing when I was there. I actually, hear this, I trembled when I visited Aimee's tomb. I was shaking all over. God's power came all over me. . . I believe the anointing has lingered over Aimee's body.”

“ Someone asked me how is it you can feel the anointing around a tomb? I have no idea man, but I sure felt it. Your gonna feel the anointing. ...I’ve heard of people healed when they visited their tomb...”

(If you believe this you might as well send away for a pet rock!)

The Double Portion Anointing- Hinn had a special visitation from Elijah who changed his ministry …' Elijah, the prophet.' I'd never heard the Lord say that to me. You know, when that happened? That happened days before the anointing on my life doubled. Literally, the ministry's anointing doubled after that. (Benny Hinn in Honolulu 2/28/97) Maybe this should be called the necromancy anointing.

The Prophetic Anointing- “prophetic anointing is not just for prophets, it’s for the entire church.” “you need to do what you can to get some prophetic anointing on you” (John Eckhardt, 5/12/00 National School Of The Prophets, Mobilizing The Prophetic Office)

A Multiplication Anointing “Saints, we have to preserve that anointing whether its the anointing that’s on Rod... Rod Parsley agrees with Hinn about the anointing as he discussed the new healing center of Hinn's on his program he said. “ God where those anointings will be multiplied Parsley says, I'm seeing this now Benny] ... Multiplied by one another, Smith Wigglesworth's anointing multiplied by Oral Roberts anointing multiplied by Kathryn Kuhlman's anointing multiplied by Benny Hinn's anointing and when the people come there, there faith will be at such a level that that spiritual genealogy which you are preserving will come to bear against their need. ... this is going to be a miracle mountain. “( This is Your Day program, Aug. 24, 1999 TBN )

Multiplied anointings. What kind of brew is this man talking about that we can mix anointings and multiply them together? Even from those who are dead These men have consistently classed themselves with the Mt.7:21 crowd. The Bible speaks of only one anointing not many.

Anointed Songs- Jesse Duplantis states …”the anointing to come through in that song.”

The Saving Anointing- Hinn states “When the anointing comes all your loved one will be saved. All the demons that harass you will be gone.”

Since None of These Anointings Came From The Bible, I Hardly Think It Would Take A Rocket Scientist To Figure Out The Source

In Matthew 24, on the Mount Of Olives, the disciples came to the Lord privately saying “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus’ first words in answer to them were “Take heed that no man lead you astray” (v.4) and then He went on to say “ For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray”. (Emphasis added)

‘Christ’ means Anointed.. it is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word rendered “Messiah”

In other words Jesus answered a direct question about what signs would signify the end of the world with a warning that ‘Many would come in His name claiming they were ‘anointed’.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Christmas is the most popular holiday in America. Both the secular and the sacred celebrate it, but for different reasons. Some see it as the greatest business time of the year which is fueled by the exchange of gifts. Others consider it the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Either way, it is a very important holiday.
The word "Christmas" comes from two old words: Christes maesse. It means, "the Mass of Christ." This comes from the Catholic Mass, that practice where the priest re-offers the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross during the time of Communion.1

The Origins of Christmas

The origins of Christmas go back to before the time of Christ when many ancient cultures celebrated the changing of the seasons. In the northern hemisphere in Europe, for example, the winter solstice, which was the shortest day of the year, occurs around Dec. 25th. These celebrations were based on the decline of winter. Since during winter animals were penned, people stayed in doors, crops didn't grow, etc., to know that winter was half over and on its way out was a time of celebration.
In the ancient Roman system of religion, Saturn was the god of agriculture. Each year during the summer, the god Jupiter would force Saturn out of his dominant position in the heavenly realm and the days would begin to shorten. In the temple to Saturn in Rome, the feet of Saturn were then symbolically bound with chains until the winter solstice when the length of days began to increase. It was this winter solstice that was a time of celebration and exchange of gifts as the hardness of winter began to wane and the days grew longer.
December 25th specifically coincided the day of the birth of the sun-god named Phyrgia a culture in the ancient Balkans.
In the Roman Empire, by the time of Christ the winter festival was known as saturnalia. The Roman Church was unable to get rid of saturnalia, so early in the 4th Century, they adopted the holiday and tried to convert it a Christian celebration of the Lord's birth. They called it the Feast of the Nativity. This custom has been part of western culture ever since.

The Christmas Tree and Mistletoe

One of the symbols of the life found in the celebration of saturnalia, was the use of evergreens. These plants which stayed green all year long, were often used in different cultures as symbols of life and rebirth. They were sometime decorated as a form of worship in some cultures in religious ceremonies dealing with fertility.
Mistletoe was considered a curative plant and was used in many ancient medicine recipes. The Celts even believed that the plant, which is a parasite that lives on trees, contained the soul of the tree it lived on. The Druids used Mistletoe in their religious ceremonies. The Druid priests would cut it up and distribute it to the people who would place the cuttings over the doorways of their homes. This was supposed to protect the dwellers from various forms of evil.

What Day Was Jesus Really Born On?

No one knows for sure what month, not to mention which day, that Jesus was born on. Various theories have been raised that put Jesus' birth in April, October, and September. But no one knows for sure.
Additionally, our calendar is inaccurate. It set about 4 years too late. This is known by comparing the biblical accounts of gospels and the extrabiblical records known about Quirinius, the governor of Syria (Luke 2:2) and Herod the Great (Matt. 2:19) who died in 4 B.C. in the year of Jesus' birth. Humorously, that would make Jesus, born in 4 B.C.

Can the Christian Celebrate Christmas?

Is the Christian free to celebrate a holiday that not only has pagan origins, but also is used by the unbelieving world a promotion of commercialism? In my opinion, it depends.
The Christians must hold his standard of righteousness and devotion to God above those of the world. The Old Testament says that we are to worship God in truth according to the dictates that He has established (Exodus 20:1-4; 24:12-31:18). Christmas was not established by God. In addition, there are no records at all of the early church celebrating the birth of Christ.
On the other hand, there are those who say we have freedom Christ and can celebrate any day we want to. Paul says, "All things are lawful, though not all are profitable" (1 Cor. 6:12).
Should we then participate in the celebration of a festival origins and exceeding commercialism?
It is my opinion that we are free to celebrate the day. This is why.
In the Bible in 1 Cor. 10:23-33, Paul speaks about meat sacrificed to idols. This meat was often sold in the meat market and the question arose, "Should a Christian each such meat?" Paul said in verse 25, "Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions for conscience' sake." The origins of the meat were, essentially, pagan. Many animals were raised for the purpose of sacrificing to pagan deities and their meat was offered in the market place. In reference to this Paul said it was okay to eat the meat.
Then in verses 28-29 he says, "But if anyone should say to you, 'This is meat sacrificed to idols,' do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience' sake; 29I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's; for why is my freedom judged by another's conscience?" (NASB). Paul is saying that if you are with someone who might be stumbled by your eating meat that was sacrificed to idols, then don't eat it -- not because of you, but because of the other person. In other words, eating that meat won't affect you. The false gods are not real. They have no power.
1 Cor. 8:-7-9 echoes this idea. It says, "However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak." Though this passage requires a bit more examination, it still carries the sense of freedom. And, Jesus has definitely set us free.
However, if you are not comfortable with this conclusion and you don't want to celebrate Christmas, that is okay. You must answer to the Lord.


The Lord, through His sacrifice, has cleansed us of our sins. When we come in contact with Him, it was we who were cleansed. It is not Him who was made dirty. The woman with the issue of blood who touched Jesus (Mark 5:25-34) was made clean. It was not Jesus who was made dirty. Likewise Jesus touched the unclean lepers and cleansed them (Matt. 8:3). Jesus came in contact with many people and it was never Him who was dirtied. It was they who were cleansed.
I think this principle can be applied to Christmas. Yes, Christmas has pagan origins. Yes, it is a highly commercial time. Yes, many do not have their eyes on Jesus. But for the Christian it is a time to reflect upon the birth of our Lord and to celebrate. We are making the day holy.

1. Because of its strong Catholic associations, Christmas was often opposed by those in the Protestant Reformation. This opposition was based largely on the belief that it contradicts the biblical teaching of the finality of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. (Cf. Heb. 9:12, 24-26; 10:10-14).