Mardi Gras, Lent, Valentine's Day, Easter...Ahhh!! What Are Christians to Do? Part 3
It's getting late and it's high time I finish out this series. I haven't spoken up this year about the celebration of Easter nearly as much as I did last year. I guess, at least on my social media sites, I figure people there know my stance on this celebration and the one leading up to it, Lent, so why keep beating a dead horse? But is that really the attitude I should take? Is it really enough to speak once about something that is anti-Christ and then never mention it again, especially when so many of God's people are still taking part in it? I'd say it isn't, so it's high time I finish out this series on why Lent and, yes, even Easter are unbiblical celebrations even though Christians all across the earth, from nearly every denomination (division), have embraced it fully.
While there are a number of denominations that do not take part in Lent, there are still many which do. I must address this practice before I address the practice of "Resurrection Sunday" or more commonly, Easter.
20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship (Italics mine), and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
Definition of will worship: n. Worship according to one's own fancy; worship imposed merely by human will, not by divine authority; supererogatory worship.
worship which one prescribes and devises for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of faith which ought to be directed to Christ
said of the misdirected zeal and the practice of ascetics
Boy, just knowing the definition of will worship, alone, should be enough to make us reconsider some of the things we do in our worship services, shouldn't it? "Worship which one prescribes and devises for himself"? Is this definition implying that we must, instead, worship in a way that Christ has prescribed for us? I'm inclined to think so, what else am I to conclude here? So the first question I ask is this, in so many of our religious holy days, where do we find the command to make such holy days? I know people like to use Romans 14 to justify nearly everything they want to do in their Christian life, but when it comes to worship, I think it's very important to do what God tells us to do, rather than what we devise.
Now, back to our discussion on Lent and Colossians 2. Doesn't Colossians 2 tell us that we are not subject to ordinances that tell us we what cannot eat, touch, or handle during a time of will worship? Oh sure, we can find in the Old Covenant this sort of thing, but these pre-Christ things were done for an illustrative purpose and then fulfilled (kept perfectly for us, since we've never been able to do so ourselves) in Christ. So many people fail to understand this concept. They think that Christ fulfilling the law is either doing away with it completely or that Christ's fulfillment was just an instance of law-keeping and that we are all still required to do that which Christ already fulfilled. Perhaps a word study on what "fulfilled" means would be helpful. The truth is, the law had to have been fulfilled or else none of us will see Heaven. Prior to Christ, God's people did their best to keep the law, laboring hard to keep such a heavy burden, and they had to shed much animal blood to atone for the fact that they couldn't possibly be holy enough on their own to satisfy God. After Christ, we keep the law through Him, because we're not capable of it, and because the law has already been kept perfectly by Him. His blood is the atonement we need for our ineptitude in keeping the law. We keep our eyes on Christ, count on Him to present us to the Father blameless and spotless, and we no longer have to labor through the keeping of the law. Yes, we strive to keep the moral commmandments reiterated by Christ and we do our best to live a life pleasing to Christ (because we love Him, not because our striving will affect our ability to get into Heaven), but all this extra-curricular ordinance keeping is pointless and it diminishes the power of Christ in us.
Many Lent-keepers will refer to passages in the Old Testament that refer to ashes and dust to justify their practices. But I submit to you this passage from Isaiah.
5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Isaiah here is questioning the common practice of the day that constituted people spending time weeping (often called weeping for Tammuz) on top of ashes and sackloth in an outward show of religiosity. Now, this display is a far cry from smearing ashes on one's forehead and going about your business of the day. If we're going to use the OT people's weeping for Tammuz as a justification for smearing ashes on our heads, then at least we should do it like they did. But, regarless, it is clear here that the prophet Isaiah is speaking against such practices. And with good reason, because these were Pagan practices. Isaish says that, instead, true fasting is for the purpose of loosing "the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke" and so on. Walking around with ashes on our foreheads, rolling around on the ground on top of ashes, doesn't impress God. It's not an outward sign that impresses God, but rather what's on the inside. If we are making a show of our religiosity, we are only satisfying our selfish pride and we are taking part in the forbidden will worship spoken about by Paul in Colossians.
I will always go back to this: Where has God given us a command to worship Him in such a way? If we point to an OT practice, we must be sure that that practice was not fulfilled in Christ. Christ wants us to follow Him, and to follow Him we must do as He says. (Matthew 28:20) We must also be very careful not to add to or subtract from God's word. (Proverbs 30:6, Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Revelation 22:18-19, because Psalm 119:160) It is my stern and unwavering belief that this also includes that which we do concerning holy days (holidays).
This one is a tougher one to come against. Not because the argument against it is difficult, but because it's harder to win people's hearts regarding the argument. I can't think of a single denomination of Christianity that does not take part in Easter. Yes, they may make themselves feel better by calling it, instead, Ressurection Sunday, but they are still celebrating Easter. Changing the name of the celebration doesn't change what's happening in the celebration.
The first thing I would ask of the Easter-keepers, after of course, the question of "where is the command in God's word to do so" is, why are we celebrating the resurrection of Christ at a time when He didn't actually rise? And why is it ok with everyone who celebrates this holy day to do it in an untruthful way? (John 4:24) God wants everything we do to be truthful. So if we're making a big to do about celebrating Christ's resurrection, shouldn't we at least be trying to do it on the day that it actually happened? We know the Resurrection and the Passover (and the Feast of Unleveaned Bread and the Feast of First Fruits) are intimitely intertwined. There is a reason for this. To separate the Resurrection from the Passover it so remove a very important teaching, and a very important fulfillment of prophecy, that ocurred with Christ's resurrection. Why on earth do we so carelessly separate the two?
We do so because the Catholic Church, a Pagan belief system that uses Christian terminology, changed the calendar and by so doing effectively perverted many of the teachings of God's word. It is common belief that the early Catholic Church (and very possibly the current Catholic Church) was very antagonistic towards Judaism (the religion that kept the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits). It is my belief that this antagonism had a lot to do with the changing of the calendar. I will leave it to the reader to research and, at the completion of their research, to agree or disagree. But one cannot deny that we no longer count our days and times in the same way that Christ, during His time on earth, counted days and times. The months we observe today (honoring Pagan gods) are not the same as the months found in God's Word. Why this does not concern Christians today, I have no idea.
Now obviously, we are not able to change our calendar and the way we keep time. But we can at least care about the timing of the holy days we keep. (I would argue with much confidence that we shouldn't keep these uncommanded holy days, but for the sake of this article I'll hold off on any more than just a perfunctory mention of this argument.) This perverted timing is the main reason why I will not celebrate Easter/Resurrection Sunday. I'm not going to be a part of separating the Resurrection from the Passover. There is a very important lesson to be learned there and I will not participate in diminishing that lesson. (Again, I will leave it, for now, to the reader to investigate this lesson, if you don't already know it. As already stated a few times, it's an important lesson and I pray you will not ignore it. This article is a good starting point for your study.)
You see, when we start participating in will worship and making our own ordinances, the power of Christ is always diminished. Not that Christ, Himself, can be diminished, but rather His power in and over our lives. We lead many people to Christ (allegedly) during these holy days with such a narrow understanding of the scriptures relating to the Gospel and these new converts will often remain that way for the duration of their walks with Christ. This is because, sadly, God's people would much rather have a day of celebrating and feasting than a day of truthfulness and steadfastness to the truth of God's Word. They believe that so long as it gets people into church, then who cares if we're teaching the whole truth of God's word. People can be saved on half-truths, right? Sure, people might get saved on these days, but if they were saved on these days, then they were ordained from the foundation of the world to be saved anyway. Why not lead them to the Lord under the full power of Christ? Why not teach them the full truth from the very beginning? Why not try to get them to church on a day when they're less likely to respond on emotion but instead on the true prompting of the Holy Spirit? Are we relying on our church service to lead people to God or on God to lead people to God? This is one of my biggest beefs with modern day Christianity. We talk as though God is sovereign, yet then we devise clever ways of getting people into our church services; ways that will entertain them or rely upon their sense of duty to be there. This belies our claim that God is sovereign. If He is truly sovereign, we won't have to come up with a single gimmick to get people into church, God will lead them there regardless of anything we do. We are to preach the Gospel, pray for the souls of sinners, and then let God handle the rest.
But where's the fun in that?
Do you know, if you were to die today, whether or not you'll go to be with Christ after you die? Are you 100% and completely assured of your salvation? If not, please take the time to read this salvation message today. There is nothing more important than giving your life to Christ and securing your place in eternity. I pray the Holy Spirit leads you to a personal relationship with Christ today, and I pray that you follow with a willing heart wherever the Holy Spirit leads you.
Do you know, if you were to die today, whether or not you'll go to be with Christ after you die? Are you 100% and completely assured of your salvation? If not, please take the time to read this salvation message today. There is nothing more important than giving your life to Christ and securing your place in eternity. I pray the Holy Spirit leads you to a personal relationship with Christ today, and I pray that you follow where the Holy Spirit leads you.