-Why Is Christmas Eve Different From All Other Eves?-
(Passover Haggadah, Regulative Addendum)
Colossians 2.16-23 “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ…
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
“The Jewish festival days are beautifully fulfilled in Christ, and thus done away forever. They are never applied to the Gentile converts, although a period of tolerance for weak Jewish brethren was allowed with regard to their continued observance.” (“Christmas-Keeping and the Reformed Faith”, by David W. Cason)
“And ye shall have the fringes that when ye look upon them, ye may remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart, nor after your own eyes, after the which ye go a whoring; That ye remember and do all my commandments and be holy unto your God” (Num 15:39-40, Geneva Bible)
“I come now to ceremonies, which, while they ought to be grave attestations of divine worship, are rather a mere mockery of God. A new Judaism, as a substitute for that which God has distinctly abrogated, has again been reared up by means of numerous puerile extravagancies, collected from different quarters; and with these have been mixed up certain impious rites, partly borrowed from the heathen, and more adapted to some theatrical show than to the dignity of our religion. The first evil here is, that an immense number of ceremonies, which God had by his authority abrogated, once for all, have been again revived. The next evil is, that while ceremonies ought to be living exercises of piety, men are vainly occupied with numbers of them that are both frivolous and useless. But by far the most deadly evil of all is, that after men have thus mocked God with ceremonies of one kind or other, they think they have fulfilled their duty as admirably as if these ceremonies included in the whole essence of piety and divine worship.” – Calvin, Tracts, Vol.1, p.131 (1844; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983)
“That which the Bible calls the inferior (Heb. 9:11-15), the shadow (Heb. 10:1; 8:4-5), the obsolete (Heb. 8:13), the symbolic (Heb. 9:9), and the ineffectual (Heb. 10:4) does not continue.” – OPC – “A Brief Critique of Steven M. Schlissel’s Articles Against the Regulative Principle of Worship”, by Brian Schwertley
Sukkot booth for Tabernacles
Some readers (LOL, I’m not sure I have any) may be inclined to leave at this, thinking I’ve gone off the deep end, especially where Reformed confession is concerned. Stay with me a bit. Yes, I’ve attended Messianic services and found Messianic Judaism (what was once called “Jewish Christianity”) wanting, but when one talks of “TRADITION!” there’s no better Biblical place to start (just ask Tevye the milkman of Fiddler on the Roof), even if we Reformed must waddle back through our own history and that of Roman Catholicism and the East to get there. Passover has long since been abandoned by most Christians as abrogated Jewish anachronism; that is, Christians by and large from a very early date abandoned the Jewish Calendar, which was reconsidered with rejection by the Protestant Reformers. In reviewing Church history it’s interesting to consider the twofold influences toward the initial departure – Christianity defined and Christianity persecuted.
On the one hand, early enough to have it recorded throughout the New Testament we see a fulfillment, a completion of Old Covenant Law into the definition of New Covenant in Jesus the Christ. That is, through the sinless life and atoning work of Jesus we find new definition to Old Covenant forms and shadows – a substance of Gospel (good news), and a new freedom of spiritual ownership in transformation and indwelling of the human heart – of spiritual baptism beyond “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch” (Col. 2:21; cf. also Rom. 3:9-31, Gal. 2:16, Hebrews 12:18-29).
In defining Christianity in Christ there is the influence of leaving behind ( Phil. 3:13) any confidences in faithfulness to Jewish regulations, while at the same time pressing on “toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (v.14, NIV). Paul often fought to distinguish as bedrock of Christianity a freedom from works of the Law and Jewish regulations, while at the same time encouraging a godly lifestyle involving righteous living and obedience to Christ. This was the good news of life in Christ.
On the other hand, this definition of Christianity was challenged and persecuted also from the start. The Apostle Paul not only had to deal with Judaizers and Gnostics who sought to enslave Christians to fleshly indulgence from within the Church, but the early Church also was attacked from without by various trials and tribulations disassociating it from considerations as a sect of Judaism; first, as we see in New Testament history, by Jewish and Roman affliction, and later by Roman controls toward spiritual compromise in Emperor Constantine’s use of Christianity as his State religion. Continue reading