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Scripture Memory: The Day of God.

VERSE: 2 Peter 3:12 “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

 

17 December 2017

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Charles Seet (The Road Less Travelled, Matt 7:12-14)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Hallelujah!, Psalm 150)

 

24 December 2017

9am Combined English Christmas Service

Rev Calvin Loh (The One Who Brings Peace to the World, Luke 2:8-21)

8 pm Christmas Carol Service (Bilingual)

Rev Daniel Khoo (For Mine Eyes Have Seen Thy Salvation, Luke 2:22-35)

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QUESTIONS ABOUT CHRISTMAS

What does “Christmas” mean? 

 “Christmas” is a term which was coined by the Roman church to designate the special mass that was held on December 25th to commemorate Christ’s birth. In some countries, an early morning mass is held for nine days until Christmas. And because it is held so early in the morning, it is called the Misa de gallo (“Mass of the chicken,” referring to the time when the cock crows). Then on Christmas Eve, a special midnight mass is held.

The special masses that were held at this time is where the name Christmas came from – “Christ’s Mass.” The mass is a distortion of the Lord’s Supper, where the priest supposedly changes the bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation). While we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas, we should never participate in the mass.

Is the 25th of December, the actual date of Christ’s birth?

No one knows the actual date of Christ’s birth, because there is no record in the Scriptures concerning the time of year when He was born. Different groups of early Christians commemorated His birth at different times of the year: Some in December, some in April, and in May, but mostly in January.

In the 4th-5th centuries when Christianity became a State religion in the Roman Empire, all Christian churches, except Armenians (celebrating 6th January), accepted 25th December as the day when Christ was born. One possible reason for this was the popular idea in the church at that time, that Mary conceived on the anniversary of God’s creation of the Earth, which was believed to be 25th March. The 25th of December would then be the most likely date for Christ’s birth because it is exactly nine months after 25th March.

The truth of the matter is that it is immaterial whether or not the 25th of December is the actual date of Christ’s birth, because it is the event that matters, and not the day. The birth of Christ can be remembered on any day of the year. This situation can be likened to that of the Jews in the time of King Hezekiah who kept the Passover in a different month (2 Chronicles 30:1-3) because of insufficient preparations.

Is it true that Christmas celebration originated from a pagan festival?

The commemoration of Christ’s birth was not introduced into the church only in the 4th or 5th century as claimed. The following is quoted from the second chapter of a book by N.B. Warren and published in New York by Hurd and Houghton publishers in 1868, entitled, The Holidays: Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide: Their social festivities, customs and carols:

The religious observance of Christmas dates from a period as early, at least, as the Second Century. Haydn says it was first observed A.D. 98. Clement, the co-worker of. St. Paul, mentioned by him in his Epistle to the Philippians (iii. 3), says: “Brethren, keep diligently feast days; and truly in the first place the day of Christ's birth.” It was ordered to be kept as a solemn Feast, and with the performance of Divine Services, on the 25th of December, by Telesphorus, Bishop of Rome, about A.D. 137. His injunctions are, “that in the holy night of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour, they do celebrate public Church services, and in them solemnly sing the Angels' Hymn, because also the same night he was declared unto the shepherds by an angel, as the truth itself doth witnesse.” In the same age Theophilus, Bishop of Caesarea, recommends “the celebration of the birth-day of Our Lord, on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen.” In the following century, Cyprian begins his “Treatise on the Nativity,” thus: “The much wished for and long expected Nativity of Christ is come, the famous solemnity is come.”

All of this happened in the first two centuries during the time when the church was still being persecuted by the Roman Emperors and before pagan practices began to be introduced into the church by Rome

Unfortunately in the 4th-5th centuries, when December 25 became officially accepted by all as the birthday of Christ, the celebration of the event took on some of the customs of the pagan festivities that went on at that time of the year, particularly, the old Roman Saturnalia festival (17-21 December), with its tumultuous and unruly celebrations. The cult of Sol Invictus (the invincible sun, the same as the Iranian god Mithra) celebrated the birthday of its god on 25th December. Some believe that the church’s choice of a pagan feast date for celebrating Christ’s birth was deliberately done to change the rough pagan ways into a more civilized commemoration.

How should I respond when someone says that it is wrong to celebrate Christmas?

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Puritans in England and New England tried to abolish Christmas. But that move was unpopular, and Christmas survived. They believed that Christians should not celebrate Christmas at all because there is no mention in the Scriptures that Christ’s birth is to be celebrated. Against all the arguments that have been used against celebrating Christmas, the following can be mentioned:

  1. Although it is not mentioned in the scriptures, the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ stands in a good tradition which began in the early church, close to the apostolic era.
  2. The biblical principle of Christian liberty should be applied (Romans 14:4-6). While it is not compulsory to remember the birth of Christ in any way, it is quite natural for people to remember the birth of someone they love in a special way.
  3. The world today has largely forgotten the ancient pagan associations of Christmas celebration that were introduced only during the 4th-5th centuries AD.
  4. What the Bible prohibits is the observance of days with the aim of gaining merit in God’s eyes, through keeping the ceremonial laws (cf. Colossians 2:20-23).
  5. There is still included in Christmas today, the thought that it has something to do with Christianity and Jesus Christ. The church should therefore not lose out on this opportunity to declare the true meaning of this event and to witness to the Saviour’s birth.

George Whitefield (1714-1770), the great 18th-century revivalist, preached a message entitled, The True Way of Keeping Christmas, in which he said, “What, shall we not remember the birth of our Jesus? Shall we yearly celebrate the birth of our temporal king, and shall that of the King of kings be quite forgotten? Shall that only, which ought to be had chiefly in remembrance, be quite forgotten? God forbid! No, my dear brethren, let us celebrate and keep this festival of our church, with joy in our hearts: let the birth of a Redeemer, which redeemed us from sin, from wrath, from death, from hell, be always remembered; may this Saviour's love never be forgotten! But may we sing forth all his love and glory as long as life shall last here, and through an endless eternity in the world above!”

Some people say that the Christmas tree is a pagan icon. Is having one in our home a stumbling block to others?

It may be true that its origins can be traced back to a pagan Roman winter festival called Saturnalia. But the practice of decorating a tree at Christmas time today is a mere Western custom that developed in Europe since the 16th Century, as a tradition. There is actually nothing Christian about Christmas trees except a tradition that Martin Luther, the 16th century Protestant Reformer, set up one in his house and decorated it with candles.

 The tree itself is not regarded by anyone today as an object of worship, but because it is evergreen, it became a symbol of undying life at a time of the year when all nature seems to be dead and lifeless.

 As the pagan associations of the Christmas tree have largely been forgotten, and there is nothing wrong or that is contrary to God’s Word with the custom itself, this is one area where Christian liberty can and should be exercised.

Are there any guidelines for celebrating Christmas?

The most important guideline is to make full use of the opportunity to preach the Gospel of Christ! This is one time of year when Bible verses can be displayed in public without incurring much public criticism. One sister in Life Church testified that it was at Christmas time that she was saved – when she heard the Gospel message sung in Christmas carols.

The second guideline is for Christians to spend time to meditate on the great truth of the incarnation of God. Christmas reminds us of the wonderful mystery that the Lord condescended to become a man in order that we might be saved. This can greatly revive and rekindle the flames of love in hearts that have grown cold toward the Lord.

The third guideline is that we should refrain from propagating all the myths about Santa Claus, Frosty the snowman, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, etc. They only tend to obscure the truth behind Christmas, and make children think that it is the birthday of Santa Claus. Keep away from the ungodly and meaningless merry-making, drinking, and dancing. Instead of wishing ‘Merry Christmas’ it would be better for us to wish one another, ‘Blessed Christmas.’ And bring some gospel tracts along if you go carolling, as these will spread real Christmas cheer!

There is nothing wrong with sending greeting cards, giving away presents, decorating a Christmas tree in your house or having a special family meal, as long as these do not take your eyes away from the Lord Jesus, who is the real reason for the season! – Pastor 

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W a t c h n i g h t     S e r v i c e
(with Holy Communion)
31 Dec 2017 (Sun), 10.30 pm -12.00 am
“Built Upon the Rock” (Matthew 7:24-27)
Rev Charles Seet 

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YF/YAF Anniversary 2017
30 Dec, 4pm-7pm, at Beulah MPH.
“Be Ye Heavenly Minded” by Rev Colin Wong.

All church members, especially previous YF/YAF members, are warmly invited. Dinner will be provided. Contact Jeremiah .

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1)  Bright Sparks Worship for children from 24 months to 3 years old will be held concurrently with the 11am worship service in FEK Room 1 (Green Doors). A short briefing for interested parents will be held TODAY at 12.30pm in FEK Rm 1.

2) The offering collected at the Christmas Carol Service at 8.00 pm next Sunday will be designated to help the poor, needy and underprivileged through Christian ministries in Singapore and overseas.

3) The EDD is organising a Street Evangelism this Saturday, 23 Dec 2017 at 7.00 pm. Please meet in front of ION Orchard.

4) Scripture Memory Verse Review No. 4. The deadline for submitting the review is 31 Dec 2017. Review Nos. 1-3 are also available for those who missed them. Obtainable at the front counter.

5) Scripture Memory Verses 2018: Memory verse booklets are available at the front counter.

6) The Combined B-P Reformation 500 Conference materials in a thumb-drive is available at RTL Office (next to Cry Room 1, FEK Block). Kindly obtain it after worship service, at S$10/- each.

7) “Daily Manna” - Daily Devotional by Rev Isaac Ong (Jan to Mar 2018). Available at the front counter. The same devotions are available online at http://www.calvaryjurong.com/index-4.html.

8) Catechism Class  for Easter Baptism on 1 Apr 2018 commences today at Beulah Centre Room 2-1, 9.40 am.

9) Sister Jacqueline Tan and family would like to express their thanks for comfort and support from Life B-P Church (English and Chinese Service)  on the homegoing of her mother, Mdm Lim Siong Heuan (87 yrs old) on 11 Dec 2017.

Preaching appointment: Rev Seet at Thai Service, 2.30 pm.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

January 21 & 28 - The Power of Prayer

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16