(NB Headings are not part of original, but are added for clarity)

The World Tomorrow

Xmas — Part 1

by Herbert W Armstrong


And greetings friends, this is Herbert W. Armstrong with the good news of the World Tomorrow. Once again, let me ask this question, "Where did Christmas come from?" Many of you are going to be absolutely shocked and surprised when you learn the truth about Christmas. Did it come from the Bible, or did it come out of paganism?

Do you know the origin of the Christmas tree? Where did Santa Claus originate anyway? And a lot of people would think, from what you see in the stores and what you see on the street corners, with men dressed up to let little children think they are Santa Claus, that it would be Santa Claus' birthday that they are celebrating. And does Christmas really celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ? Was He born on December the 25th?

You are going to be surprised if you are not afraid of being offended. Did Paul, the Apostles, the early church of the New Testament ever celebrate Christmas? Does the Bible tell you to celebrate Christmas? Do you know what the Bible says about the Christmas tree? — and it does tell you something about it. You know, if you'll only stop to think, you're doing a lot of things you don't know why you do. You don't know how you came to do them, but just like dumb sheep we follow the crowd, and other people are doing it and we all do the same.

Now you were born in a world that was doing a lot of these things and you grew up doing them, but the day you were born you didn't know anything. You didn't have any knowledge whatsoever the day you were born. And you found people, as a little bit of a baby, observing Christmas. You found a Christmas tree in your home. You found that you would get toys and presents and gifts would be given on Christmas time, so you grew up thinking it's a pretty good thing.

And then you found somehow it was supposed to be a Christian holiday. And once in a great while you hear something about the fact it's supposed to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, but you don't hear too much about that. It's the time to buy a lot of presents and create quite a shopping spree; a commercial season to make profits for the merchants of course. And it's a time to get presents, or to give presents and to trade and exchange gifts all around, and everybody thinks it must be the thing to do.

But why do we do it? Did it come out of the Bible? Did it come from the Church as Jesus Christ set it in the Church or as the apostles did under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? You would be surprised. Yes you will be surprised. Now the Protestant world really got it from the Catholics, and where did the Catholics get it?

Well if you want to know what they say themselves in their own Encyclopedia where they got it — and they tell the truth about it, they're not hiding it at all — you'll want to read our most interesting booklet, 'The Plain Truth About Christmas'. That is, if you won't be offended at the truth because the truth is going to be a little bit shocking. Why don't you write in for that booklet and just satisfy your curiosity about it.

Where did the mistletoe come from, the holly wreath, this custom of exchanging gifts? Or you think the custom of exchanging gifts came because the wise men gave gifts to Jesus Christ? People buy presents lavishly, as they do every year at the Christmas season supposing that they are following the example of the wise men in giving gifts to Christ. Yet, without realizing it my friends, they are doing exactly the opposite.

I'd like you to notice this, from the Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 12, pages 153 to 155, it says there, "The interchange of presents between friends must have been adopted by Christians from the pagans"; from the pagans, and the fact is, this custom of exchanging presents at Christmas time has not a single trace of Christianity about it, believe it or not.

Did you ever attend a birthday party where all of the guests spent lavishly for birthday presents, then they came to the birthday party in honor of one who's birthday it was, and then they began trading gifts back and forth among themselves and no-one had a single present for the person whose birthday it was? Wouldn't that be an insult, or wouldn't it be a little bit silly? Well my friends, that's what everybody is doing today and they don't realize they are doing it. I don't think you ever stopped to think about it that way yourself, did you?

Not The Birthday Of Christ (Play from 4:58)

Christmas actually does not honor Christ's birthday because Jesus Christ was not born on December the 25th, or even in that time of the year. But whose birthday does Christmas celebrate, do you know? You're going to be shocked when you find out whose birthday Christmas really does celebrate; and when you find out that it is an old festival that was in force and in effect as a custom in the pagan world for hundreds of years before Christ; and when you find out whose birthday it is supposed to celebrate. Well if you write in for that booklet — there's no charge for it, it's free - 'The Plain Truth About Christmas', you will get it.

I'd like you to consider about this giving of the gifts to the Christ child. And I think it is about time we knew some of the things we do, or why we do them, and where they came from and whether we ought to be doing them. Of course I know most people say, "Well I don't see that it makes any difference". Perhaps it doesn't to you. There's going to come a time of reckoning my friends, when we're all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There is a judgment day coming, and whether we like it or not, my friends, and whether this is popular or pleasant or not to you, there is going to be a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth when that time comes.

And a lot of people are going to see that a lot of things that they think now does not make any difference, make all the DIFFERENCE in the world. Not only to God ALMIGHTY, but to THEM and to their happiness and welfare because the laws of God and the desires of God, so far as your life and mine are concerned; is that you find the way to happiness and to peace. And the way we're doing and the customs that men are following on this earth are not leading to peace, or to prosperity or to happiness or anything good.

And we're all wrapped up in a lot of customs we don't know where they came from, and we look at the poverty, the squalor, the unhappiness, the empty lives all over this world and we don't know why. Well I'll tell you, in the broad principle, it's all coming because men have departed from God and they think it doesn't make any difference. And they are doing the things that seem right to men.

Now I'm not saying that so far as Christmas observance and the trading of presents and all that sort of thing, that it has a direct bearing on all the war and the unhappiness and all that kind of thing in the world. But I do say that the law of God was set to give us the way to peace, the way to prosperity and to happiness. And in just a moment I am going to speak about prosperity and why so many of you do not have the prosperity that you think you ought to have and why you are having so many financial worries, and how you can be more prosperous and end your financial worries.

And I am not going to give you any commercial for any loan company that will put a mortgage on your home or your automobile, or attach your salary or something and loan you money, because that is not the way out that I'm going to give you, but something that will really solve your problems and troubles permanently if you want to find that way.

But it's God's way, and God's way is our good and our happiness. God wants us to be prosperous. God wants us to be healthy. God wants us to be successful, and happy, and joyful. He wants us even, on occasion, to be merry and to really enjoy life to the full. Oh if we could ever realize that, and realize that God doesn't want us to be long-faced and bored with life and unhappy and miserable. That doesn't give God any happiness or pleasure, none whatsoever.

Who Were The Gifts For? (Play from 08:42)

Well, now this thing about trading presents back and forth and following the example of the wise men. Let's look into the Bible just a minute and see what really did happen. It's in Matthew the second chapter and the first eleven verses. Now here's what you read. Matthew 2, beginning with verse 1 and this is excerpts from the first eleven verses.

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:1-2)

Notice they said, "...Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" Let's go back and get a little of that again.

"Now when Jesus was born [He was already born notice. This was after His birthday. He was already born] in Bethlehem of Judaea [it was] in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east...[now they didn't even start their journey until they heard He was born. And they came] Saying, Where is he that is born [He was already born] King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:1-2)

He was born King, notice. Alright these wise men knew and they claimed that Jesus was born KING! Now continue the quotation.

"And when they were come into the house [after they arrived where He was], they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts;" (Matthew 2:11)

Did they trade presents back and forth among themselves and ignore Christ? Oh my friends, I wonder if you ever noticed that they presented their gifts to HIM? But why? Was this Christmas time? Was this His birthday? Were they doing it as a birthday present? Why not at all. I want you to notice something. Why did they give these gifts? And the first thing to notice is they gave them to HIM. They didn't exchange or trade presents back and forth. It was not because it was His birthday because He had been born a good many days ahead of this time.

This was days after His birthday, because transportation was very slow in those days and they had traveled all this distance from where they were way over in the east, after He had been born. They didn't trade gifts among themselves; they gave their gifts to Him. But why? Yes, why? Well here's the answer. Let me read it to you from the Adam Clarke Commentary, Volume 5, page 46, giving the commentary on this very passage by one of the great noted scholars of the past century.

"The people of the east never approached the presence of kings or great personages, without a present in their hands. The custom is often noticed in the Old Testament and still prevails in the east."

That's the end of the quotation, and there my friends, is the answer. The wise men were not instituting some new custom for Christmas time because there was no Christmas being observed, nothing called that. Christmas means Christ mass. It is something — that name, mass of Christ — was not started until hundreds of years after Christ was born, as a matter of fact.

An Ancient Custom (Play from 11:57)

Although the custom had been in progress, and a custom among people but called by a different name, and not celebrating any birthday of Jesus Christ but another birthday that you'll be surprised to learn in this booklet. It had been celebrated for hundreds of years before this. But these men had nothing to do with that. They had nothing to do with celebrating any birthday. They were not instituting any new Christmas time custom, because Christmas wasn't even heard of until generations later. But they were following an ancient custom of presenting gifts to a king, whenever, no matter what day, what day of the week or the year or anything else they might come into his presence, they always gave a gift to the king.

You'll remember reading in the Bible how the Queen of Sheba brought gifts to king Solomon of Judah when she came to visit Solomon. He was the king. Do you know that many people today when they visit the White House take presents to the President of the United States? The White House staff is just busy receiving gifts and presents that people send from all over the United States to the President whether they even go to visit him or not, and many times when they visit.

I know when foreign Royalty visits the President of the United States. When the King and Queen of England, King George, who has now died here some little time ago, it seems to me that I remember that King George and Queen Elizabeth presented the President of the United States with a gift and a present. Of course we don't have a king but he is in the place of a king here, and we have a President instead of a king.

Well that's a custom. They were not giving gifts because of a birthday. It had nothing to do with Christmas and in trading presents around among themselves today people are not in any manner, shape or form, actually following what the wise men did. As a matter of fact, what they are doing is following an ancient custom that gravitated around a pagan custom hundreds of years before Christ, when it celebrated the birthday of something very pagan, and it was not Christ.

Well, why don't you get this booklet and read it. Well, you've heard a lot of funny stories about this thing of trading presents. And really, my friends, some of the things we do that we take seriously, we don't realize how ridiculous sometimes some of these things are. Oh, I know, you think this spirit of Christmas, it's a wonderful thing for the children.

Well, you know one little child that heard all about Santa Claus and all these presents on the Christmas trees and everything, when he grew up, old enough to find out that Santa Claus was only a myth, and that his parents had really tricked him and deceived him, that there wasn't any Santa Claus at all. You know he said to his little playmate, he says, "You know what I am going to do? I found out the truth about Santa Claus and now I'm going to look into this Jesus Christ business too. Maybe there isn't any Christ. Maybe there isn't any God. I found out there isn't any Santa Claus."

Oh yes, it's a wonderful spirit! My friends I wonder, can't we teach our children the truth, and can't we give our children the kind of happiness that they ought to have, and the kind of rearing that they ought to have without going into pagan customs?

Do you know that the Bible says that if we bring up our children in the "nurture and the admonition of the Lord." (Ephesian 6:4) and that we are to "live by every word... of God." (Matthew 4:4) and we should teach our children so (Deuteronomy 6:7) and not CONTRARY to the word of God? Well at least "when they are old they will not depart from it". (Proverbs 22:6 paraphrased)

I wonder, is that right? Or are you very angry at me because I told you the truth? And sometimes the truth is not pleasant, because my friends, this world is doing a lot of things that are not right and this world is REAPING A LOT OF RESULTS that are not right. Results of its own SOWING, and WHAT WE SOW WE SHALL REAP and we ARE REAPING. And this world is reaping a lot of mighty unhappy and unpleasant things, and there are REASONS. And yet people will hate the one that tells them the truth and shows them the things that are causing so much of it and the way out of all of this and into the glorious light of truth that would bring us all happiness.

The Reason For Unhappiness (Play from 16:12)

Now let's get back to this and see what Jesus Christ said about the financial situation. You know I think there is, I've mentioned before there is some kind of trouble and worry in every home, sickness or something. Now there are two things that seem to beset almost every family and every home, and I think in almost every home tuned in, or if you are riding along in your automobile listening at this moment — in your home there is some kind of sickness or trouble, or family troubles or something. Now I think the most prevalent are sickness and disease on the one hand, and financial troubles on the other. I believe we are burdened by those two things more than any other troubles that most of us have.

You know, we have a little baby and it begins to talk and he whimpers and cries a little and we talk about him telling us his troubles. And of course we think that's a lot of fun. But you know, it is serious to that baby, and we're just babies grown up, and we have our troubles. And we all have them, don't we? And they aren't funny, they are real. And a lot of us have financial troubles.

Well, in this teaching of Jesus when He was teaching His disciples, it's been called 'The Sermon on the Mount.' It's been acclaimed the greatest sermon ever preached. People don't think it's very practical. They don't really believe it when Jesus said "Love your enemies"! (Matthew 5:44)

People don't think that's a good thing to do, they'd rather hate their enemies. When He said, "If anyone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other and let him hit it too." (Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29 paraphrased) Why of course that's not very practical is it?

People don't seem to believe what Jesus taught. He said He didn't come to destroy the law, that not a crossing of a {1} "t" or the dotting of an "i" will be removed until everyone is obeying it and it's fulfilled by everybody. That's the real meaning of the original Greek words there. And that "anyone that will break that law and teach men so will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven;" (Matthew 5:19 paraphrased) But he won't be there; he'll be called that by those who are there.

"But he that will DO the commands of God and teach men so, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19 paraphrased)

Of course he won't be called great by men here on earth and I have explained that before and I do, and a lot of people don't think so highly of me, but I'm more concerned about what God thinks than what men think, frankly. And we depend on God and we rely on Him and not on men, and so we are able to serve God FAITHFULLY because we don't have to depend on MEN! We don't beg for money over the air, we just tell you the truth.

Now in this message, this sermon, here we are, it's in the sixth chapter of Matthew now and up to verse nineteen. This sermon had continued all the way through the fifth chapter and the sixth chapter up to here, and we're still going on with it. Chapter six, verse nineteen. Get your own Bible. Look at this yourself, Jesus said here;

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth... But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where the moth nor rust doth consume, and where the thieves can't break through and steal:...For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21 paraphrased)

Now what did He mean by that? I'm going to hurry right over it as rapidly as I can now. But there was a rich young ruler who had no right to some treasure. He had a position; well he was a Levite, but he had no right to the money that he had — it was illegal in other words. Jesus said to him (he had accumulated a lot of money that was illegal) and Jesus said, "go and sell what you have, and give to the poor and lay up treasure in heaven:" (Matthew 19:21 paraphrased)

Now the way you lay up treasure in heaven is by doing what you ought to do here and now, by obeying God. And when you obey God and keep His commandments; and after all, all of the commandments of God are merely love. It's love towards God and love towards your fellow man, and that is love expressed to others and doing good in service and in helping others and making others a little happier. Well that is laying up treasure in heaven because everything we do is recorded. It's recorded in heaven, but you're not going up to heaven to get your reward, Jesus is going to bring His reward with Him when He comes.

But you're laying up the treasure in heaven and it's going to come to you some day. You might lay up treasure in the bank but you're not going to go and live in the bank all your life. You go and get the money out of the bank when you want to spend it, and go somewhere else with it. And that treasure is coming down out of heaven when we are ready for it. And it isn't the treasure you lay up, it's the good deeds and the things you do. Now:

"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21)

I want to tell you my friends that I have never yet found anyone whose heart can be in the work of God and who can remain a real Christian, whose pocketbook hasn't been converted and whose money is not in the work of Christ also. I have never known a one, and I have known people that believed in tithing, that saw that tithing is ordained in the New Testament as well as the Old, as the Apostle Paul himself said, and who would tithe and they were very successful, and they prospered.

Then they get to thinking, "Well I'm going to hang onto that money. Why should I give that away? Maybe I don't like the way the preacher is handling it." Or something like that. Well of course the minister, if he is God's servant, is responsible to God, and they don't realize that and they don't realize that God could take his office away from him or strike him down quicker than you can bat an eye, any time God wants to!

But people think they have to run God's business for Him and so they get offended and then they withdraw their tithe money and they quit tithing and they keep it all for themselves. And I've known people like that, that went into every financial hardship in the world after they did it. But not only that, they spiritually shrivel up and die. I have never known an exception.

The Tithe Belongs To God (Play from 22:14)

Now you can't buy your way into the Kingdom of God but the first tenth of every bit of your income is not yours, it's God's. It belongs to Him and God says, we're not honest, that we are thieves and we are stealing, we are robbing God.

You know, the New Testament Church is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and [the] prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;" (Ephesians 2:20)

And one of the prophets, the very last one in the Old Testament, is Malachi. And Malachi, one of the prophets on whom the New Testament Church is founded, says that we are robbing God in tithes and offerings whenever we don't pay over our tithe faithfully. It belongs to God.

Now anyone who does do it is going to be prospered by God and they're going to get along alright, if they are diligent. I don't mean they can get along alright if they lay around, and perhaps I should say lay instead of lie too, because that's about what a lot of them do. I know a hen lays, but a lot of people do too sometimes. And so, I tell you my friends, if we just follow God's way we'll fare so much better.

Now, "Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also." (Matthew 6:21) That doesn't mean that we necessarily worship money. You know, money is not the root of all evil, but "the love of money is the root of all evil:" (I Timothy 6:10) That's what the Bible says. The Bible does not say that money is the root of all evil, it isn't. Money can be a very good thing. Money of itself is not either good or bad. But it can be beneficial or harmful depending on how we humans use it and what use we put it to.

Now let's continue, I want to get to a little more of this if I can. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24) And mammon there simply means money. If you're going to love money, why you can't serve God.

"Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what you shall eat, what you shall drink..." (Matthew 6:25 American Revised Standard Version)

Now the meaning of that, the Greek word there "take no thought" it is in the King James translation, and I'm reading it, the Revised, the old American Revised of about 1900 A.D. And it means to have that kind of anxious thought that is really a lot of worry and over-concern about your financial condition. Now here it says to not be overly concerned and burdened about it. And God doesn't mean that you shouldn't be concerned, because we should all be concerned and we should be careful in financial matters and all of that sort of thing. But I mean this worry and this concern where it weighs you down and becomes your whole life.

"...of what you shall eat or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on [that's food and clothing and drink and all that sort of thing]. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Behold the birds of the air, they don't sow [that is they don't plant seeds like a farmer out in the ground], neither do they reap, nor do they gather into barns, but your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are you not of much more value than they?"(Matthew 6:25-26 ARSV)

Do you know why? We're in the image of God and we're to be begotten of God and later born of God and to enter into the very family, the KINGDOM of God. Of course we're more valuable than they are.

God Knows Our Needs (Play from 25:38)

"And which of you, being anxious [that is overly concerned now, so concerned that you have no time left for God or anything like that] can add one cubit [or that is one inch, let's say in American; I don't mean a cubit is an inch, but let's just say an inch to his height or to his stature]. And why are you anxious concerning clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they don't toil neither do they spin; and yet I say to you, that even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, oh ye of little faith?"(Matthew 6:27-30 paraphrased)

"Be not therefore anxious [that's overly concerned and just weighted down by this worry about money] saying, What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after these things do the Gentiles seek [unconverted people are just burdened down and worried about those things all the time, and a real Christian can be relieved from that, and from fear and from worry and from all of those things]. Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. But seek ye first His Kingdom..."(Matthew 6:31-33 ARSV)

Or, as it is in the King James; "seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." (Matthew 6:33)

And that is all of His commandments, Psalms 119: 172 "all of God's commandments are righteousness." (Psalm 119:172 paraphrased)

And if you seek that; "...all these things [these material things of your clothing, your food, your shelter] shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be.... [it'll take care of itself.] ...Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:33-34 paraphrased)

My friends, if we will only obey God, if we would only do His work, His way, and we are supposed to have our minds on what we do and use our minds intelligently and to be industrious and diligent, that's true. We will be taken care of and everybody would be prosperous if we do it.

{1} Footnote: Mr. Armstrong said the “crossing the an "i"; or the dotting of a "t" but intended the reverse.