CHRISTMAS TREE: IS IT CHRISTIAN?
[Asherah: The Christmas Tree Custom]
Origins of our Christmas tree may shock readers? We seem to know little of our holidays’ ancient past? An illustrative article, “Asherah – The Christmas Tree Custom,” makes clear roots of our tree custom:
“Asherah (picture) is known in Scripture as the ‘Queen of Heaven’, and is called ‘Artemis’ by the Ephesians in the book of Acts (chapter 19)… The image of Asherah was a tree used by the Pagan Canaanites and Phoenicians. One of these Pagan Phoenicians was ‘Jezebel'(Izebel), who married Ahab, king of Israel (Samaritan king)…When northern Israel was dispersed into the nations by the Assyrians in 722 BCE, they carried this ‘tree’ custom with them. The lost tribes of dispersed Israel have preserved one of their most cherished Pagan customs among them: the Christmas tree…Christmas has been celebrated for 5000 years by Pagans, it simply has a new name and application. The Romans used ‘womb-wreaths’ at Saturnalia… Although the original concept of Asherim [plural of Asherah] worship has remained hidden from the general public…acceptance of the solstice tree is drawn directly from the Pagan worship, transformed for public consumption.”
For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. Jer 10:34
ANTITHESIS O F CHURCH OF GOD AND SECTS (G. E. Harmon, Part One)Faith and Victory Jan.1932
Years ago, just before I came out of the Methodist sect, I looked upon the Church of God as just another sect and called them ‘ ‘ Come-outers ” , “ No sects ’ ?. We thought them the most sectarian sect of all sects, because we heard our elders in our conferences speak thus of them. Our minds were prejudiced to some degree against them, believing Church of God people were rank heretics because of false reports, accusations and impressions going out, until there was an awful spirit of prejudice inculcated in the hearts and minds of the people. The same spirit was manifested against the Church of the living God in the apostolic era. The people then, as now, looked upon the Church of God as sect because everywhere it was spoken against (Acts 28: 22). Paul was accused before the governor by Tertullus of being “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes,” but Paul answered, “ Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me, but this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy (sect), so worship I the God of my fathers” (Acts 24:1- 5,13,14). Paul declared that his accusers could not prove that he belonged to a sect, yet he says, after the way “ they call” sect, he worshipped God, and so today, we defy anyone to prove we hold membership in a sect. Saints of God do not affiliate with so-called “ No sects” or “ Come-outers” , for unlike them, true saints have no sectarian spirit, but we stand opposed to sectarianism and all other isms; and abide in the Church in which we were made members by virtue of salvation.
The Church of God was built by Christ, while all sects were founded by man, and I say unto thee, “ That, thou art Peter and upon this Rock I. will build my Church” (Matt. 16: 18). It was prophesied by Daniel as a kingdom set up by the God of heaven (Dan. 2: 44). It is the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man (Heb. 8: 2). All sects have been organized by man. The Church of God is built upon the principle of unity. Sectism is built on the principle of division. The Church of God is divine, the sects are human; no affinity between the two. Christ built one church, the sects number nearly one thousand or more; therefore, Christ is not their builder. “ He is not the author of confusion.” The church Christ built, He calls “my Church” , then no sect belong to Him, for man built them. Christ said of His Church, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16: 18). It shall stand forever (Dan. 2: 44), therefore, the same Church Jesus built nineteen hundred years ago is still in existence. It stands today; the whole “ family” , the host of heaven, and all the saved of earth are members of it (Eph. 3 :15). Paul calls it the Church of God (1 Tim. 3: 15) ; the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. Thank God, we belong to it alone and no other, and it will stand while ages roll on and on in eternity.
In A. D. 32 Christ said, “I will build my church”. In A. D. 33 the Lord added to the Church daily such as were being saved. Acts 2: 47. So His Church was already built at this date and organized on Pentecost. Now since all sects (taking name of Christ) have come into existence since that date, not one of them is Christ’s Church. The Catholic church is the oldest sect of Babylon, but it did not come into existence until about three hundred years after Christ built His Church, so it could not be the Church of God. The oldest Protestant sect was the Lutheran sect, which was not organized until after A. I). 1530. Since that date all sects have arisen. The Church of God is the true Church; they (sects) are the false. The Church of God is the genuine; they are counterfeit. We discard all human structures or sects, and abide alone in the Church of God. We are orthodox in so doing. Some say the sects are necessary 'scaffolds’ upon which we build the Church of God. Jesus said, "Upon this Rock I will build my Church” , not on sects. Shame on theologians who teach people that human structures or sect organizations are necessary 'scaffolds’ to the building of the Church of God. They would be as a pair of wooden crutches to a sound man; the more he leaned on them for support, the weaker he would become in his natural body. His limbs would finally become useless or paralyzed, and the sooner he threw them away the better for his limbs. Sects to our spiritual life would act the same as the crutches to the normal man. They paralyze the spiritual man; then what good are the sects? No good whatever, but are positively forbidden in the Bible. “That there should be no schism (sects) in the body” (1 Cor. 12: 25). Then why preach for your worthless sects?
A sect is a cut-off part. The Church of God unites in one. It perfectly joins together (1 Cor. 1 :1 0 ), while sects divide in hundreds of different factions. Christ is the Head of the body, the Church (His Church). Some sect ministers say, "He is the head of our church too” . No, He has but one body. One head with several bodies would be a monstrosity, some unnatural thing. But if that were possible, the head alone would have the Bible name, while the different bodies would be Methodist, Baptist, Menonite, Dunkard, Quakers, Pentecost, Mormon, etc. and none of them working in harmony with each other, or in harmony with the head. Don’t you think the contention between the several hundred bodies would bring pain to the head? But, thank God it is not so with the body of Christ, for it is in perfect harmony with the head; "His body, which is the church” Col. 1: 24). No sect composes this body, ‘ the church, which is His body” (Eph. 1: 22, 23).
"Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular ” (1 Cor. 12: 27). This body is composed of all the saved; all Christians belong to the Church of God. No sect contains all Christians; hence, no sect is the Church of God. You cannot be a Christian and not be a member of the Church of God, but you can be a member of some sect and not be a member of the Church of God. So whether in or out of a sect, if you have salvation, you are a member of the Church of God. We see since the Church of God includes all Christians, it is not a sect, cut-off part; it is the whole. To become a sect, we would have to organize and join another body, for the body of Christ (His church) is already organized, and to reorganize it would be to disorganize it, and thus make another sect.
What is a sect? Any institution that does not include all the saints of heaven and earth in its membership. For example, does the Methodist denomination, to which I used to belong, include all the family of God? If so, then there are no Christians outside of that particular sect. To admit that there are saved people outside of it, is to admit' that that denomination is a sect. In talking with one of our circuit riders years ago, he said he thanked God for all the denominations of earth, for it took them all to complete the gospel Church. If so, then the sects taken together include all the saved in heaven and earth; but they do not, and they know better. There are thousands in paradise that never belonged to a sect, and thousands on earth who do not hold membership in any sect, and yet they are saints of the Most High God, and their names are in heaven. Luke 10: 20 says, rejoice not that spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. The names of all who hold membership in the Church of God are written in heaven in the Book of Life (Phil. 4: 3) The Lord shall count when He writeth up the people, that this man was born there (Psa. 87: 6), but on the other hand, all sects write their members’ names in a book “ in the earth” . “ All they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the fountain of living waters” (Jer. 17: 13).
Again, if it takes all the sects to compose the Church of God, where was His Church before they arose? But thank God, His Church was in existence 1500 years before the first Protestant sect was organized. To teach a relationship between the sects and Church of God is to make the Word of God a lie, and become guilty of heresy. God help all honest souls to hear the voice of God, ‘ ‘ Come out of her, my people, that we be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18: 4). All the saved belong to one body (Col. 1: 18) ; “ we being many are one body in Christ” (Rom. 12: 5). There is one body and one spirit (Eph. 4:4) or one body (1 Cor. 12:12), baptized into one body (verse 13), reconciled in one body (Eph. 2.: 16), called in one body (Col. 3: 15). One body proved only one church, one in Christ, then all other bodies are out of Christ. We abide only in the one body (the Church of God) and reject all others as antichrist. Christ is the head of but one body; no sect has Christ for its head. They all have human heads. Salvation makes us members of the Church of God, but not of any sect, and the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2: 47).
Jesus said, “ I am the door; by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (Joh: 10 : 9). Church and kingdom are practically the same. Conversion puts us into the kingdom (Matt. 18: 3) ; by the new birth we enter the kingdom (Jho. 3: 3- 5). The moment a person is saved, he is a member of the Church of God. Does that make him a member of the Baptist, Dunkard, Methodist, or any other sect ? No, never; for one must join to become a member of any sect institution: hence, they are not orthodox, as some sects claim, to be. The only way to become a member of the Church of God is to get salvation, but that does not make him a member of any sect.
There is not a sinner in the Church of God. We stay in there as long as we stay saved, but the moment we commit sin, we are out. God holds the blotter; no man can put us in, and no man can put us out. “ Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Ex. 32 : 33). He that committeth sin is of the devil (1 Jho. 3:8). The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezek. 18: 4). Christ takes the members into His Church. The preacher takes the members into his sect. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him” (1 Cor. 12 : 18). No sect preacher can put a member in the Church of God, or put one out. “ Who (God) hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1: 13). Men can preach the Word, instruct souls in the way of righteousness, but inducting us into the Church is the work of the Almighty. Their excuse is, the Lord takes them into the invisible church, but the preacher takes them into the visible church. This is heresy, for the Church of God existed several hundreds of years before there was a professed Christian sect' to join.
Is the Church of God an invisible body of believers ? No, Jesus likened it to a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. Has Sectisim made the church visible? ' No, they have covered it over with human rubbish and hid it for a time from the people, but God's true ministers are applying the torch of truth to their human rubbish. They say, we believe in the unity of the invisible church; well, we believe also in the unity of the visible church. For example, we hold a meeting in some locality and fifty souls are saved. They follow the Lord in baptism, assemble themselves together and partake of the ordinances of the house of God, worship Him in the spirit of holiness: is not this visible unity? Is it not Divinely organized?
But now suppose, some sectarian (wolf) got in among the flock and inculcate in their minds a schismatic spirit, and ten of them send for a Methodist preacher to organize a Methodist sect, ten send for a Baptist, ten for a Dunkard, ten for a Nazarene and ten for a Free Methodist. They come and set up their organizations; what have they done? Have they made the Chruch more visible ? No, never, but they have disorganized it. Their names were all written in heaven in the Lamb's Book of Life (Rev. 21: 27L but now they are written in the earth. “ Oh! Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters” (Jer. 17: 13), The general assembly and church of the firstborn are written in heaven. (Heb. 12: 23). But in sect Babylon each denomination has a book of their own in which they write their members' names. The Church of God unites believers while sects divide and scatter.
The New Testament is our discipline; all have the same faith and doctrine. God set every one of the members in the body (His Church). 1 Cor. 12: 18, “ Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular, and God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers. After that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. ’ ' All the above gifts are divinely ordered and placed in the body o f . Christ. The Emphatic Diaglott says, all are not prophets, all are not teachers, all do not speak with tongues, etc.
Heresy in scripture means sect or the doctrine of a sect, as denomination. Heresies and sects are the same. Both come from the same word, hairesis. The sect (haresis) of the Sadducees (Acts 5: 17), the sect (hareses) of the Pharisees (Acts 15: 5), the sect (hareses) of the Nazarenes (Acts 24: 5). They call heresy hareses (Acts 24: 14); “ straitest sect (haireses) of our religion” (Acts 26: 5). “ Damnable heresies” (2 Pet. 2 : 21). This last scripture is in the German tongue translated “ destructive sects” . A heretic is a sectarian. There are a few honest souls, however, that have been ignorantly led into sects who have not imbibed the sect spirit. These are not sectarians, and when they hear the truth on the real Bible Church and see the sin of sect.ism., they will drop the sect and abide in the Church only. “ But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon !themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways: by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of, and through coveteousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you : whose judgment now' of a long time lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet, 2 : 1- 3). This is the apostasy that, is called “ damnable heresies” . And some versions is rendered " destructive sects"
God help men and women to hear the voice of God “ come out of her, my people” . But, says some, don’t you think God is blessing in sect.ism? Wherever God can find an honest soul, He blesses them regardless of their ignorance of the sect they are in. In Gal. 5: 19, 20, heresies (sects) are classed with drunkenness, murder, etc., under the works of the flesh, and “ they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” . “ Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause division and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them, for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good works and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16: 17, I8).
God in these last days is “ gathering together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him” (Eph. 1: 10). Sects are yoking together sinners and believers alike (2 Cor. 6: 14). What is the command of God in this case*? We will look for the answer in the 17th verse, “ Wherefore, come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.” If all preachers and Christians would preach and practise 1 Cor. 1: 10, there would be no sects. “ Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. ” “ That there should be no schism in the body” (1 Cor. 12: 25). Sects, “ schisms” or divisions are forbidden in the Word of God. Because of division among the Corinthians Paul decided that there must be heresies (sects—margin, 1 Cor. 11:18). Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness? “ Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6: 14, 1.7). It is considered an unclean, thing in the sight of God for saints to yoke up with sects or unbelievers. “ So will I seek out my sheep and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day” (Ezek. 34: 11, 12).
Next we wish to talk about the name of the Church that Jesus purchased with His own blood. “ While I was with them in the world I kept them in Thy name.” (Jho. 17: 12). Whose name? God's name. What is His name? “ The God of the whole earth shall He be called” (Isa. 54: 5). “ Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Cor. 1: 2 ; 2 Cor. 1 :1 ). “ That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim,. 3: 15). So now, as we find no Methodist, Baptist, Minnonites, Free Methodists, Dunkards, etc. in the Bible, we discard all else and abide alone in the Church of God “ which He has purchased with His own blood” . But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Gal. 1: 8). If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing but doting about questions and strifes of words whereof eometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of .corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness, from such withdraw thyself (.1 Tim. 6 : 3 -5)
The foundation of the Church of God is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3: 11). “ Upon this Rock I will build my Church” (Matt. 16: 18), and “ are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Cornerstone” (Eph. 2: 20). So if it takes all the sects to compose the Church of God, then a man would have to join all of them to teach and practise all the Word of God. He would still be wrong, as he would yet be a sectarian, and sects or schisms are positively forbidden in the Word of God (1 Cor. 12 : 25). But what about the ‘ split’ known as the Compromise or Trumpet people. They continue to call themselves the Church of God. “ They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued with us. But they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 Jno. 2: 19). This is the antichrist spirit of the 13th verse. Christ would not endorse the following, to-wit: Hireling ministers; church committee, to take the place of the Holy Ghost, to decide who should preach and who should not; going to picture shows; organizing Church of God ball teams; bowling alleys; calling ministers, Reverend, D. D., etc*.; the use of narcotics which are injurious to the body; the wearing of gold and costly array; mixing in the worldly parades; taking out life insurance ; wearing short dress, low necks, and short or no sleeves; taking doctor’s medicines; divorcing and re-marrying; separating colored saints from white saints; routing and shouting at ball games; and many other things they do, which makes them the antichrist spirit, and they have become, as one of their members said, just another church among other churches. So “ come out of her, my people” is applicable to them also, as being the “ image of the beast” in Rev. 13: 14.
“ Lo, these are parts of His ways; but how little a portion is heard of Him ? but the thunder of his powder who can understand?” (Job 26: 14).