Santa Claus is Coming to Town?

There is a popular Christmas song whose message is unbiblical:

Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

This song describes Santa Claus as a giver of gifts. However, Santa only brings gifts to people (to children in particular) who santa-claus-has-the-ultimate-leadership-qualitiesare nice and good. He does not present gifts to people who are naughty and bad. Thankfully, our Father in heaven is not like the fabricated Santa Claus, because according to Isaiah 9:6, God offers His Son, the greatest gift of all, to sinners, yes, to naughty and bad people like you and me:

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given,

Who is the “us” here? Well, looking at the immediate context, this pronoun “us” refers to the people of Israel who at this time were living in the utter darkness of sin. They were very naughty and bad. Yet, the Prophet Isaiah proclaims, “For unto us [sinners] a child is born, unto us [people who are neither nice nor good] a son is given.” This is good news! Observe the following:

1. God’s gift is a person: “a child,” not a thing or an animal. This gift is so precious and unique, and worthy of all acceptation.

2. God’s gift is particular: “a son.” This is God’s only Son—the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save sinners from the power and penalty of sin.

3. God’s gift is presented: “given.” How?

First, graciously. We don’t deserve this gift. Because we are sinners, what we deserve is God’s sentence, not His Son (judgment not Jesus). In the gospel God gives us the exact opposite of what we deserve.

Second, freely. We don’t need to pay God for this gift. It is free! We don’t have to work for this gift either. What we need to do is receive His Son by faith.

Third, voluntarily. God took the initiative to give us His Son for our salvation. In fact, we asked for God’s condemnation and not for His child. As Joseph Hart (1712–1768) exclaims in his auto biographical hymn, “What an amazing change was here! I looked for hell—He brought me heaven.”

Indeed, God is graciously, freely, and voluntarily giving His only Son to us. And John the Beloved tells us that all who receive His Son and believe in His name will be given the right to become God’s children (John 1:12). Have you received God’s Son—the best gift of all? If not, you remain a child of the devil. Remember what Jesus says to those who do not receive Him as Lord and Savior, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). Sadly, many people around the globe celebrate Christmas without Christ. Ironically, they celebrate Christmas as children of the devil. Are you one of them?

Christmas Santa Claus

Is Christmas the Birth of Christ?

Christmas is a holiday widely celebrated each December.SONY DSC

 

What is Christmas?

One dictionary defines it as “a holiday on December 25 celebrating the birth of Christ.” This is the definition that many people know today. Many think that Jesus was born on December 25. As one Christmas song indicates, “Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.”

Actually the word “Christmas” is a combination of two words—Christ and mass. Thus, literally it means the mass of Christ. Christmas was originally a celebration of a particular mass in honor of the birth of Christ. The word mass comes from the Latin word missa. Several years ago at the conclusion of the church service of the Roman Catholics, the following Latin expression would be pronounced: ite missa ist which means “Go, as it is dismissed,” or “Go, it is the dismissal.” So, literally, missa (or mass in English) means dismissal. Therefore, etymologically Christmas means the dismissal of Christ. Of course when the Roman Catholics think of Christmas, they do not mean Christ’s dismissal but Christ’s birth. But is December 25 really the birthday of Jesus? Examining the history of Christmas will help us answer this question.

 

Where did Christmas originate?

Some historians believe that Christmas goes back to the time of Constantine the Great. When this pagan Emperor was converted to Christianity in 312, he began tolerating and spreading Christianity in the Roman Empire. The Roman Christians then started celebrating Christmas. This celebration eventually took the place of the holiday of Saturnalia—a pagan festival in honor of Saturn, the ancient Roman god of agriculture. This pagan feast, celebrated on December 17, included the exchanging of gifts. In the course of time, this practice became associated with Christmas. Other scholars also tell us that December 25 was regarded as the birth date of the ancient pagan god Mithras. In A.D. 349, however, Pope Julius picked December 25 to be the official day for Christmas, possibly in order to replace the pagan celebration of the Sun god Mithras.

Despite the difficulty of tracing the origin of Christmas, what remains plain is that Christmas has a pagan origin and that December 25 is not really the birthday of Jesus. The Bible does not inform us of the exact date of Christ’s birth. In fact, Luke’s account about the shepherds being “out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” does not advance the idea that Jesus was born in December or in the winter. For the shepherds to stay out in the fields during the night in the winter would be odd.

Now, if the origin of Christmas is pagan, and if December 25 is not really the date of Christ’s birth, is it okay to celebrate Christmas? After all, the Bible does not command us to celebrate Christ’s birth.

Tony Capoccia has a helpful answer to this question:

Christmas is not Christ’s birthday, nor are we ever commanded to honor or celebrate His birth. Yet our culture has chosen this as an annual holiday, and it becomes much like any other national holiday for the Christian. We do not sin by putting up Christmas trees, lights, buying presents, etc. We know the true meaning, and use this national celebration to share some truth about who Christ really is, and why His birth is significant to the human race. We are in no way honoring any pagan god by using the day or the props set apart for that. If a Christian chooses not to celebrate Christmas then that is fine, but if they do, it is also fine.

I like what Tony Capoccia mentions at the end of this quote. Those who choose not to observe Christmas Day should learn to disagree respectfully with those who, for instance, hold special services in observance of Christmas Day. Conversely, those who observe this holiday should also learn to respect the conviction of those who think that observing Christmas is wrong.

 

What does the Bible teach about the birth of Christ?

The Bible is silent about the date of Christ’s birth but not about the birth of Christ. Matthew 1:18 proclaims, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.” Let me give you two basic truths about the birth of Jesus.

First, the birth of Jesus focuses on the person of Christ. The message of the angels to Mary, to Joseph, and even to the shepherds was all about Jesus (Matt. 1:20-21; Luke 1:28-33; 2:8-14). Sadly, some who celebrate Christmas do not focus on Christ but on Christmas decorations such as Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and other Christmas icons. Their eyes are fixed on the earthly gifts, rather than on the heavenly gift of eternal life. Some children are even more excited to hear about the fabricated Santa Clause than Jesus Christ. If you choose to observe Christmas, make sure that you center your celebration on Christ.

Second, the birth of Jesus focuses on the purpose of His coming into the world. Whenever the angels made an announcement about Christ’s birth, they always included the purpose for which Jesus was born. In Matthew 1:21 an angel of the Lord speaks to Joseph: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus was born to save sinners. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15). As you celebrate Christmas, think of why Jesus was born.

Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christmas

Children of God and Children of the Devil Celebrating Christmas

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)

 

There is a popular Christmas song that we do not sing in our churches because we believe its message is unbiblical:

Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

This song describes Santa Claus as a giver of gifts. However, Santa only brings gifts to people (to children in particular) who are nice and good. He does not present gifts to naughty and bad children. Thankfully, our God is not like the fabricated Santa Claus, because according to our text, God offers His Son—the greatest gift of all—to sinners such as you and I:

 For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given,

Who is the “us” here? Well, looking at the immediate context, this pronoun “us” refers to the people of Israel who at this time were living in utter darkness of sin. They were very naughty and bad. Yet, the Prophet Isaiah says, “For unto us [sinners] a child is born, unto us [sinners] a son is given.” This is good news!

Observe the following:

1. God’s gift is a person: “a child,” not a thing or an animal. This gift is so precious and unique, and worthy of all acceptation.

2. God’s gift is particular: “a son.” This is God’s only Son—the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross to save sinners from the power and penalty of sin.

3. God’s gift is presented: “given to us.” God is graciously giving His only Son to us sinners for our salvation. And John the Beloved tells us that all who receive His Son and believe in His name will be given the right to become God’s children (John 1:12).

Have you received God’s Son? If not, you remain a child of the devil. Remember what Jesus says of those who do not receive Him as Lord and Savior, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). Sadly, many people around the globe celebrate Christmas without Christ. Ironically, they celebrate Christmas as children of the devil. Are you one of them?

Christmas Gospel Santa Claus