Wallace G. Smith | Page 8 | Tomorrow's World

Wallace G. Smith

Who Decides Right and Wrong?

Social change. Intolerance. Social justice. Accusations. Media bias. Social agendas. The answer to one simple question solves most of these problems: Who determines right and wrong? Examine the answer from the Bible in this Tomorrow's World video, and review the consequences of people choosing what is right in their own eyes.

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

Why Moral Chaos?

Once-great nations are deteriorating right before our eyes. It seems half the people around us are enraged at the other half, and that other half is more than happy to return the anger and hatred. The voices shouting loudest for tolerance just so happen to be among the most intolerant of the bunch. But most significantly, social norms and fundamental understandings that have been in place for centuries—even thousands of years—are being overturned. What was once virtuous is now ridiculed and considered out of touch at best and downright evil at worst, while what was once thought perverse or morally wrong is now praised and promoted.

Our world is in chaos. And while it will surprise most, that chaos is rooted in civilization’s growing inability to answer one simple question: Who decides right and wrong?

Join us right now on Tomorrow’s World, where we will examine—and answer—this question together.

Is Objective Morality a Human Invention?

Greetings, and welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. It’s a privilege to discuss today’s topic with you, for it really is the single question around which the entire world is turning today: Who decides right and wrong?

Today, we will look at three terrible but popular answers to this question, as well as the only true answer there could ever be.

Now surely you’ve noticed—we are living in a world of moral chaos.

Please understand—I’m not saying we are living in a world in which there are no “morals” of any sort. Quite the contrary—the world seems filled with “moral warriors,” ready to castigate you for your lack of morality and ready to pin a medal on their own jackets for their own upstanding behavior.

Actors accept awards and spend most of their time lecturing the television audience about the moral outrage of the moment. Politicians seek to convince us that any disagreement with the laws and regulations they seek to pass is the moral equivalent of siding with Adolph Hitler. And the stoic neutrality previous generations used to see in their news anchors is a relic of the past. Anchors today are some of the most passionate preachers you’ll find on television—more interested in passing judgment than passing on the news.

In all this moralizing, whose morals serve as the basis of all this virtue signaling and righteous lecturing? Well, that’s the problem. Everyone is busy determining his own moral code—his own collection of virtues and vices. In a way, Western civilization has come to mirror the ancient time of the judges described in the Bible. We find that description given very concisely in the book of Judges, chapter 21 and verse 25:

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Exactly. Everyone today is doing what is right in his own eyes.

But a world in which each man’s morality only depends on himself and his own, individual moral code is like having a world in which there is no moral code at all. And if you’ve ever read the book of Judges, you know what sort of world results from such a state: a brutal, chaotic world in which every man is out for himself.

Sure enough, a brutal, chaotic world is exactly what we see forming about us—corresponding more and more to the world of animals than it does to anything like a civilized society.

The world needs an answer to the question of who decides right and wrong.

So let’s spend our time today examining some contenders—some potential sources of morality that many would point to as the guide we need.

Now perhaps we should start by pointing out that many point to evolution as the source of humanity’s “morals”—but not in the way most of us think about “morals.” Evolution, as explained by those biologists who subscribe to the theory, only cares about the “survival of the fittest,” so those who say that human morality is simply a product of evolution are really saying that morality, good, and evil are all illusions. They’re saying that we only believe humans have morals because evolution has supposedly genetically programmed us to, say, be polite and civil to each other.

This is, of course, absolutely wrong for a whole host of reasons. For one, the theory of Evolution is a fairy tale, with little real evidence to show for itself. We have an abundance of material about that on our website at TomorrowsWorld.org.

But even putting that aside, take a moment to consider just how ridiculous it is to think that Darwin’s brutal, bloody theory of “survival of the fittest” could produce the noble qualities we consider to be moral behavior—such as honesty, humility, and protecting the weak.

One refreshingly honest atheist pointed this out in writing to popular apologist J. Warner Wallace, admitting that there is no real connection between morality and evolution. He noted, in part:

“We are Atheists…. While we acknowledge concepts like morality, politeness, civility seem to exist, we know they do not…. My only directive is to obey my genes. Eat, sleep, reproduce, die. That is our bible…. Outside of my greedy little gene’s need to reproduce, there is nothing in my world that stops me from killing you and reproducing with your wife.”

This atheist went on to say:

“Only the fear that I might be incarcerated and thus be deprived of the opportunity to do the same with the next guy’s wife stops me…. So be nice if you want. Be involved, have polite conversations, be a model citizen. Just be aware that while technically an Atheist, you are an inferior one. You’re just a little bit less evolved, that’s all. When you are ready to join me, let me know, I’ll be reproducing with your wife…. Maybe it’s time we Atheists were a little more truthful and let the chips fall where they may. At least that’s what my genes are telling me to say.”

Now, I know many atheists would not agree with this individual—yet on what basis can they disagree? Even if it were true, Evolution would be no guide to what is morally good and right. Survival of the fittest, the strongest, and the most devious is no source for morality, so we must look elsewhere.

No Moral Authority in Science and Evolution

We’ve already seen that, even if Evolution were true (and it’s not), there’s no reason to think that a system of moral virtue would arise in the brutal struggle for survival and reproduction.

But what about science? Could science help us discover moral laws of “right” and “wrong”?

Science has allowed mankind to discover many of the laws of nature itself, and much of what we enjoy in our modern world has been built on those discoveries. We’ve uncovered laws of physics and chemistry. Science has allowed us to peer into the deepest parts of our universe and into the inner world of the atom. But can science reveal for us more than the natural laws of our world—of what is and is not? Can science also reveal the moral laws of life—what should and should not be? Can science tell us what is morally good and evil—right and wrong?

This is the view of famous atheist and neuroscientist Sam Harris.

In his book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, Harris argues that moral values can be discovered through science, with no need at all for God or religion:

“Meaning, values, morality, and the good life must relate to facts about the well-being of conscious creatures—and, in our case, must lawfully depend on events in the world and upon states of the human brain….”

[Harris continues…]

“I am arguing that science can, in principle, help us understand what we should do and should want—and, therefore, what other people should do and should want in order to live the best lives possible” (pp. 6, 28, 2010).

Harris notes that science can help us understand what can help conscious creatures to flourish and be healthy and productive—and to a certain extent, that’s true. Just like science can help us formulate the healthiest dog food and cat food for our pets, it can help us examine the effects of various choices on our lives and the lives of others.

But it can’t tell us why we should care, or why any of us should feel obligated to do anything. Science can explore and examine the impact of my choices on my neighbor, but it can’t tell me why I should care for my neighbor in the first place.

In fact, it can’t even tell me why I should care for my neighbor more than I care for my dog or my house cat. Why is the benefit of humanity a “moral good”? Why should I morally seek the benefit of humanity versus the benefit of any other species—chimpanzees, or zebras, or, for that matter, cockroaches? Many scientists, such as Harris’ atheist peer, Richard Dawkins, have argued that humans have no moral priority or value above other animals, such as the great apes.

But we know there is a difference, don’t we? A moral difference. Some chimpanzees kill and eat their young—yet we would all agree that it would be a moral outrage for any human being to do so. But why? What would make it a moral evil? Science cannot tell us. Because science is limited to telling us only the natural facts—what is and is not—and cannot access moral facts about what should and should not be.

History records the terrible scientific experiments the Nazi regime performed on captive Jews in the concentration camps. Yet science is powerless to tell you why such experiments are immoral abominations. After all, according to many scientists, we’re just one more kind of animal, and if those experiments were eventually going to benefit humanity at large, well then, hey, who’s to say they were wrong?

That’s the point: Science can’t tell us that. And yet, thankfully, most of us know those horrific experiments were, indeed, wrong—no matter what could have been learned from them.

No, “science” is not the answer to our question, “Who decides right and wrong?”

But we still need an answer. After all, if science cannot tell us why the experiments of the Nazi concentration camps were a moral evil, surely something else must, for we know that they were—just as we know that acts such as rape and murder are morally wrong. So, who decides they are immoral?

An increasingly popular answer to that question is society. That is, they say that we simply agree, as a civil society, that such things as rape, murder, and torturous experiments on imprisoned human beings are “wrong,” and it is society, as a collective whole, that determines what is right and wrong.

Is Right and Wrong Merely a Social Consensus?

According to this idea, acts such as rape, murder, human trafficking, or slavery are morally wrong because society rejects these acts and declares them “immoral.” They violate society’s sense of what should be right and moral, and so—according to this theory, anyway—it is society that declares them wrong and evil. In the eyes of those who believe this idea, society becomes, then, the ultimate moral authority.

They say that society collectively decides that rape is wrong and that we don’t want people murdering each other, so we pass laws to make those things illegal and imprison or execute those who do them.

It all sounds very democratic, doesn’t it? And, frankly, it has a certain appeal to our human, sinful nature. It implies that we’re not responsible to any sort of divine being, like God—that we are only responsible to ourselves. And from mankind’s very beginning, that is what humans have sought: the freedom to define for ourselves what is good and what is evil.

In Genesis chapter 2, we’re told that God created the first human being and placed him in the Garden of Eden with some very specific instructions;

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16–17).

God told mankind what was right—not eating from that tree—and what was wrong—eating from the tree. But Adam and Eve decided to ignore God’s instruction and eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, choosing to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. And we have all been repeating Adam and Eve’s choice in our own, individual ways for the last several thousand years.

This idea of society as the decider of right and wrong reflects this thinking. We, “the People,” decide what is right and wrong, and we use our governments to enforce our collective morality.

Yet, such an approach is fraught with contradictions and produces truly horrific consequences. For instance, consider the horrors of slavery in the pre-Civil War American South. We now universally recognize that slavery was a moral stain on American history. But if society determines what is “right” and “wrong,” then slavery was supposedly moral in the 1700s and 1800s because society approved of it, but it is now immoral because society does not? That’s utter nonsense.

Consider, too, the Holocaust of World War II—one of history’s greatest immoral campaigns, in which millions of human beings were exterminated like animals. Was the Holocaust somehow a moral good in Nazi Germany but is now an abominable moral evil because the Nazis lost? Would it have remained a moral good if Germany had won the war? Does morality change based on who wins and gets to run society?

Of course not. The slavery of the U.S. South was immoral, and the Holocaust was a great evil, and it’s irrelevant whether their nations’ societies agreed at the time.

Even today, there are societies in the world that condone forcing women and children into sexual prostitution and servitude—that morally sanction rape and murder.

And yet we know that those societies are wrong. Rape is wrong. Murder is wrong. And protecting women and children from sexual abuse is good.

We know these things are so regardless of what those societies might approve of in their own nations.

The fact is that societies change over time, and even in a given moment, societies differ from location to location. What is considered “evil” and “immoral” by one society in one place or time may be considered “upright” and “virtuous” in another.

But does that mean what is truly morally good or evil varies across time or based on your geography? Is rape, murder, theft, or torturing the weak and defenseless ever a moral “good” in any society at any time? Should we ever accept the Holocaust, the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge, or the antebellum slavery in the U.S. as anything other than moral evils, regardless of the decisions of their governments or societies—and regardless of how our own society may change in the future?

Of course not. We do not determine standards of “right” and “wrong” based on the decisions of society. Rather, we judge societies by those standards. Societies and cultures change, but what is right and wrong never does.

For instance, that’s how chattel slavery was defeated in Western civilization. Men such as William Wilberforce, at the turn of the 19th century, compared the practices of society to the eternal moral principles of the Bible and saw chattel slavery as the terrible moral sin that it truly was.

No, society is not the final authority in what is right or wrong. We will reveal that ultimate and undeniable authority in just a moment.

But first, let’s take one more moment to give you an opportunity to request today’s free booklet. Most people have no idea how Jesus Christ focused on the Ten Commandments in His ministry and spent a great deal of effort telling us how to keep them. It was Christ, Himself, who said,

“If you want to enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS” (Matthew 19:17).

God’s Laws Provide the Ultimate Standard—The Source of Moral Truth!

The only answer to the question “Who decides right and wrong?” is that the Eternal God of Creation decides. His very character is morally pure and good, and His commands reflect that perfect character!

The Apostle Paul, speaking of the commandments and law of God, says in Romans 7 and verse 12 that…

“… the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”

The commands of God flow from His perfect moral character, and out of His goodness, He shows us what is right and good. As King David wrote in Psalm 25,

“Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He teaches sinners in the way” (v. 8).

That’s why we have a certain, limited, natural sense of right and wrong that you find in cultures all over the world—not because of Evolution, but because of our common Creator. Paul says in Romans 2 and verses 14 and 15 that to a certain extent, all humans created by God have a sense of what is right and wrong, but it’s not the whole.

Understanding the whole of right and wrong requires a relationship with our Creator—allowing Him to instruct us and Jesus Christ to lead us.

The Bible prophesies a time when the whole world will seek the knowledge of God, to understand what is good and what is evil. In Micah chapter 4 and verse 2, we read of one such prophecy:

“Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

That time will come with the return of Jesus Christ. But you and I don’t have to wait until then. We can begin learning the divine difference between right and wrong and putting it to work in our lives right now if we’ll only let God teach us that difference.

Thanks so much for watching today! [We] really do appreciate you coming by. We here at Tomorrow’s World strive very hard to try to make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. We hope this has been beneficial. If you’d like today’s free offer, there’s a link in the description. If you enjoyed this video and would like to see more, then please do hit the subscribe button, and if you want to be notified, then just click on that bell. Thanks again!

The Credibility Crisis

Dr. Anthony Fauci wearing mask

In our modern high-tech world, no one person can “do it all.” We rely on those we trust to have the expertise that builds our cities, grows our food, makes our laws, educates our youth, heals our sick, and fills our airwaves. But what can we do when that trust is gone?

Is Jesus a Christian?

What defines a true Christian? To take Jesus Christ's name—to be a Christian—implies living as He lived, following His example and teachings. But are you? What if today's Christianity has drastically changed from Jesus Christ's intent? What would Jesus do—and not do—as a Christian living in today's world? Watch to find out from the Bible whether you are measuring up to Christ's standard—or if Jesus' example requires something more than "come as you are."

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

A Most Unusual Question

More than two billion people—approximately one-third of all humanity—claim to be Christian, a religion that takes its name from Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ and Son of God, according to the Bible. But here’s a strange question that almost seems silly until you take the time to really think about it: Is Jesus Himself a Christian? Today, we’re going to tackle that question together, and we’ll discover that the answer is far more revealing that you might think. Join us here on Tomorrow’s World as we answer the question “Is Jesus a Christian?”

What Did Jesus Really Do and Practice?

Greetings, and welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible.

Now I know our title seems unusual today. After all, if anyone can be described as a Christian, surely it is Jesus Christ, the very founder of Christianity! The answer seems obvious! However, I am certain that you will find that that simple question leads to other intriguing questions—and to intriguing answers—that reveal far more about Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity than you might have guessed.

Today, we’re asking the question, “Is Jesus a Christian?” And I hope you don’t think I’m asking the question to either make light of Christianity or Jesus Christ. I’m not. Here at Tomorrow’s World, all of us believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, who died for our sins, rose again three days and three nights later, and lives now, guiding His Church from Heaven—the Savior whose return and reign is getting closer day by day.

In fact, it is because we take Jesus Christ and His teachings seriously that we ask this question today: “Is Jesus Christ a Christian?”

Most of us know Christians in our lives—many of us believe we ARE Christians. In fact, as we mentioned at the very beginning of our program today, more than TWO BILLION people claim to be Christians today—literally almost one-third of humanity. The influence of the religion going by the name of “Christianity” touches every continent on the globe, and its principles and precepts have impacted governments, cultures, and traditions all over the world.

Of course, the details about what “Christianity” means vary from place to place, culture to culture—and, in some towns, even street to street, as the church on one block may teach a very different set of doctrines than the church just one block down.

Still, most of us have personal experience that gives us a sense of what the word “Christian” means in real life, based on the beliefs, practices, and lives of those we know—or even own.

So, with that in mind, is Jesus a Christian? That is, if Jesus were walking among us today—as He did in the flesh 2,000 years ago—but you did not know ahead of time that He WAS Jesus Christ, would you conclude that He was a Christian? If you compared HIS beliefs, practices, and life with the beliefs, practices, and lives of those who make up “Christianity” today, what would you conclude? How would Jesus “measure up”? Would you believe He was a Christian, or would you conclude that He belonged to some other faith—a different religion entirely?

We don’t have to guess the answer to this question. Jesus answers it for us! The Bible is, in a very real way, His book! From its first page to its last, He inspired its writing through the Holy Spirit, and His teachings are perfectly recorded within its pages. We can know what He believed and practiced, because the record of His life on earth has been preserved for us faithfully for almost 2,000 years, as have the teachings and practices of His very first disciples—personally trained by Him to represent Him to the world.

For the remainder of today’s program, we will examine the beliefs and practices of Jesus Christ and compare them to the beliefs and practices most common among Christians today—and in answering the question “Is Jesus a Christian?” we will let Jesus speak for Himself.

How Does First Century Christianity Compare to Today?

Since we have the perfect record of His beliefs, teachings, and practices. So let’s ask some questions and compare what Jesus Christ did and thought to what we see in the beliefs and practices of modern Christianity, today.

First, let’s look at holidays.

Christians around the world vary in the days they keep sacred, but there is a large consensus around some days, such as Christmas in the winter and Easter in the Spring. While these days are often described as a celebration of Jesus’ birth and resurrection, respectively, it is also a fact of history that both days derive from and are adorned with pagan practices and traditions—trappings associated with heathen gods and goddesses and pagan cultures, some of which predate Christianity by many centuries.

You don’t need to take my word for it, and even the laziest of Internet searches will dig up any number of resources for you—for instance, showing how Christmas traces itself back to customs such as the Roman worship of the Sun on the day of Sol Invictus, around the time of the winter solstice, and how many of the trappings of Easter trace back to heathen fertility rituals and the worship of gods and goddesses, such as Eostre, from which the English word “Easter” is believed to be derived.

Now, this may be news to some of you, but many Christians KNOW about the pagan origins of their favorite holidays. They simply believe that God doesn’t mind—as if, perhaps, those days have been “baptized” now, and can be celebrated by Christians with new meaning. After all, Christians don’t believe they are worshiping heathen gods on those days—they are trying to worship the God of the Bible.

Now, compare this to Jesus’ own stand.

Just as it is beyond dispute that these days and many of their traditions originate in paganism, it is also beyond dispute that, in the Bible, God commands us NOT to keep days with such origins. For instance, consider Deuteronomy chapter 12 and verse 31, where God speaks to ancient Israel of the pagan practices of other cultures and commands very clearly: “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way.” Now notice, He does NOT just say, “Don’t worship those gods.” God plainly says not to worship HIM in THOSE WAYS. We could read of other places, as well, where God’s command is clear—for instance, in Jeremiah 10, where God describes the pagan worship practices of the Gentiles and says with absolute clarity…

“DO NOT learn the way of the Gentiles…” (Jeremiah 10:2).

Of course, these commands are given in the OLD TESTAMENT, yet, what was Jesus’ position on the traditions of men when they conflicted with the commands of God? Jesus Himself tells us in Mark chapter 7, where He is accusing the Jewish leaders of His day of IGNORING God’s clear commands so that they could keep their own traditions, instead:

“He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”… All too well you REJECT the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition’” (Mark 7:6–7, 9).

It seems like Jesus’ position is pretty clear, and it is NOT in favor of keeping ANY days of pagan origin or tradition.

Still, this does not mean that Jesus observed no holy days or festivals at all, In fact, quite the opposite! While He refused to compromise and accept the traditions of men when they conflicted with God’s own commands, He DID keep the Holy Days listed in the Bible—specifically, those listed in Leviticus 23—Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day.

For instance, in John chapter 7, we see Jesus keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, which is listed in Leviticus 23:33–43.

Of course, some will say, “Well, that’s different—Jesus HAD to keep them, because He was Jewish! All those days were done away with when He died!”

Except they’d be wrong. The New Testament describes the followers He trained keeping those very same days. For instance, Acts 20:16 mentions Paul’s intention to keep the Day of Pentecost, and in 1 Corinthians chapter 5—written decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection—the Apostle clearly instructs not just Jews but non-Jewish GENTILE Christians to keep the seven-day long Feast of Unleavened Bread.

God’s word makes it plain that Jesus not only condemned elements found in today’s modern Christian holidays, but it also makes plain that He AND HIS DISCIPLES would have observed Holy Days completely foreign to those who call themselves Christian today.

We see a similar discrepancy when we look at the weekly day of worship Jesus kept.

While the vast majority of those today who consider themselves Christian keep Sunday, the first day of the week, as their weekly day of worship, Jesus plainly kept the SEVENTH DAY holy, as the Sabbath. Luke 4 and verse 16 plainly says that it was Jesus’ custom to observe the seventh-day Sabbath.

Now again, some might protest that this was before Jesus’ death and resurrection—that Jesus, as a Jew, HAD to keep the Sabbath, but that after His resurrection, Christians began keeping Sunday because it was the day of the week He was resurrected.

Well, the confusion of the day of the week Jesus was resurrected will be a topic for another program. But, again, we must highlight that the BIBLE shows Jesus’ own followers disagreeing with modern Christianity and keeping the VERY SAME DAY JESUS DID, even when they were Gentiles and not Jews, at all.

For instance, in Acts 13 we read of Paul preaching to both Jews and Gentiles on the seventh-day Sabbath. The non-Jewish Gentiles among them were so excited by what they heard that they begged for more. As we read in Acts 13 and verse 42:

“So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath” (Acts 13:42).

Now, did Paul say to them, “Well, hey, Gentiles, you guys aren’t Jews. Let’s just meet tomorrow on Sunday when my fellow Christians and I are going to have services”? NO, HE DID NOT! Verse 44 says,

“On the next SABBATH almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:44).

He did not invite them to meet for a Christian service on Sunday because there WAS NONE! The Apostle Paul continued, even among the GENTILES, to follow the practice and teaching of Jesus Christ and set apart the seventh-day Sabbath as God’s day for instruction and worship! Even many modern, Sunday-keeping Christian scholars agree on this point: The Bible endorses the seventh-day Sabbath as the day of worship, including the record of Jesus’ teachings and practice and those of His personally trained disciples.

So, what have we seen so far? We’ve seen that, if Jesus were alive among us today IN THE FLESH, as He was 2,000 years ago, He’d find that people who call themselves His followers, all over the world, go to their worship services on completely different days than He does and keep traditions that violate God’s commands in exactly the ways He taught them not to do.

It seems that, concerning the question “Is Jesus a Christian?,” we are beginning to see a very interesting answer ahead.

Jesus Preached the Coming Kingdom of God, and Kept the Ten Commandments!

Now, let’s continue our exploration of the question “Is Jesus a Christian?” by looking at His teachings and attitudes about the law of God and the Ten Commandments.

For most modern Christians, if they are familiar with the law of God and the Ten Commandments at all, there is a sense that the law has been effectively done away by Christ’s sacrifice—the idea that He kept God’s laws perfectly so that we don’t HAVE to keep them. Many modern Christian churches teach that Christ removed the “burden” of God’s laws from us so that we aren’t “weighed down” by such concerns.

That might explain why many Evangelical, Protestant, and Catholic Christians are beginning to live together, or cohabit, before marriage—after all, if God’s prohibitions against fornication are essentially done away with in Christ, then why not?

As Christianity Today reported in March of 2021, “Evangelicals, especially those under 40, increasingly see cohabitation as morally acceptable. Most young evangelicals have engaged in it or expect to” (“The Cohabitation Dilemma Comes for America’s Pastors,” March 16, 2021).

As I’ve said before on Tomorrow’s World, modern Christianity considers the Ten Commandments to be the Seven, Eight, or Nine Good but Not Necessary Suggestions.

But what is JESUS’ take on the Ten Commandments and the Law of God?

Not only does He reaffirm the Ten Commandments, He explains that those who follow Him should consider them even MORE binding. For instance, Jesus taught that you violate the Sixth Commandment against murder, even if you only hate someone in your heart—and if you lust after someone, then He says you are breaking the Seventh Commandment against adultery. Far from “doing away” with the Law of God, Jesus taught OBEDIENCE to them, even telling a young man in Matthew 19:17,

“[I]f you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Again, this was NOT just because He had not been crucified yet. In fact, John, the Apostle who wrote more about love than any other biblical author, explains in his first epistle, speaking of Jesus Christ:

“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4).

So, clearly Jesus and His disciples don’t exactly “line up” behind modern Christianity’s attitudes and beliefs about God’s Laws. But what about this: What is the MESSAGE of Jesus Christ? What is the actual GOSPEL MESSAGE that He came to preach?

Most modern Christians, if they’ve thought about it at all or have listened in Church, might believe that the Gospel Jesus brought was about His life, death, and resurrection, and that through believing in Him, your sins can be forgiven through His death.

Now, I am not here to disagree that forgiveness of sins comes through repenting and believing in Jesus Christ—I am grateful for that fact! But is THAT the message Jesus came to preach? Is that the Gospel? Do Jesus and most modern Christians agree on this?

No, they don’t. Passage after passage after passage after passage in the Bible makes plain that Jesus Christ came to preach about the coming Kingdom of God! Yes, salvation through Him is a part of that message—without that, we could become no part of that Kingdom! Yet, when one actually looks at the accounts of His teachings and of His disciples’ teachings, the idea that the message was merely one about His life, death, and resurrection begins to be seen as nonsense.

For instance, at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, what do we see? Mark chapter 1 and verses 14 and 15 make it plain;

“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”

But the more carefully you look, it becomes even clearer. For instance, in Luke chapter 9 we read that during His ministry Jesus called His disciples together to instruct them on teaching others. Verse 2 plainly says,

“He sent them to preach the kingdom of God [there it is again] and to heal the sick.”

But ask yourself: If the Gospel is centered on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then how did the disciples preach those things when none of those things had happened, yet? In fact, events LATER in the gospels show that they didn’t even understand yet that Jesus would DIE, let alone be RESURRECTED! And they sure didn’t understand forgiveness of sins through His shed blood! No, they preached about the coming Kingdom of God, in which the Messiah would reign over the world. THAT was their message, just as it was Jesus’ message.

We see this time and again in the biblical account. In fact, many times when Jesus heals someone in the accounts, He instructs them NOT to tell others who He is—the exact opposite of what you would expect if the very center of Christ’s message was about His person.

Finally, more than a month after His resurrection, just as Jesus is about to ascend to heaven where He would reside until His Second Coming, what does the Bible say He emphasized to His disciples in preparation for their commission to the world? Look at it in Acts chapter 1 and verse 3, where the resurrected Jesus’ instruction to His disciples is described, saying that

“He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

Yet, again, if we compare Jesus to modern Christians and their beliefs and practices and teachings, we see a stark and important difference.

We are coming to the point where our question “Is Jesus a Christian?” is pressing us to draw an important conclusion.

We’ll come to that conclusion in a moment.

Are YOU a Christian?

But regardless of what anyone else may think, the only definition of “Christian” that makes any sense is “someone who truly follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.” So if the beliefs and practices of modern Christians are out of step with Jesus Christ, it isn’t Jesus who needs to change.

Faced with these facts, those who truly long to be followers of Jesus Christ are the ones who have some thinking to do.

Thanks so much for watching! If you want the free literature that we offer on today’s program, there’s a link in the description. And people often ask us, “How do you do this for free? Why do you do this for free?” Honestly, because Jesus commands us to do it for free; “Freely you’ve received, freely give,” so as always, everything that we offer is absolutely free, and this is no different. We work hard at producing these programs; we put one out every week here at Tomorrow’s World, where we work hard to explain to you your world through the pages of the Bible. We hope that you will join us again. We hope that if it’s been interesting at all, you’ll click on the subscribe button, and if you want to be notified when we do put another one up, just click on that bell. Thanks again!

Seven Lies About Abortion

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Abortion is often sold using popular falsehoods, and the consequences to self and society are worse than many have been led to believe. What is the truth about abortion, and will society ever be free from the terrible crime of murdering the unborn?

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Consider whether Christmas is un-Christian. If its origins adopted pagan customs and traditions, does that matter to God? Did Jesus say, "That’s okay—as long as you have good intentions"? Find out the Bible's answers in this episode of Tomorrow's World.

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

Warm Traditions—But Where Did They Come From?

So many find so much joy in the sights and sounds of December—especially, the arrival of Christmas. Along with green and red decorations, signs and posters featuring a certain jolly, red-robed gentleman, and music you just can not get out of your head, comes the perennial question: Is Christmas a pagan holiday?

Most don’t even care about the answer, but for those who take biblical faith seriously, it is a serious question—and a question in need of an answer. And we will answer that question here on Tomorrow’s World, straight from the pages of your Bible, right now.

Childhood Memories Not Enough

Greetings, and welcome to Tomorrow’s World where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible! Today we’re going to tackle a question that seems to arise every December: “Is Christmas a pagan holiday?”

We’ll be examining the question honestly and openly, with a desire to orient our hearts and minds according to the advice of Jesus Christ as He taught us in Matthew 6 and verse 33 to 

“seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

And the question is important. How we choose to honor the Father and His Son matters. As we will see in the inspired words of Scripture, our practices have a profound effect on our relationship with God and on the character we are forming for His use and purposes.

For literally hundreds of thousands of people who consider themselves sincere Christians, the Christmas season is among the most sacred.

It is a time for calling to mind the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised Savior of the world. Many attend religious services in December, devoted to remembering popular narratives of the birth of Jesus, whose birth is ostensibly celebrated on Christmas Day itself.

And many of us have many pleasant memories associated with the Christmas season. In fact, celebrated as it is all over the world, it would be impossible for me to cover in a program such as this one ALL the many customs that individuals across the globe use to make the season special. So, permit me to focus a bit on those customs I, as an American, am more familiar with.

Our cities and even individual homes are often decorated with special reminders of the season—such as nativity scenes, branches or wreaths of holly, and Christmas trees decorated with tinsel of silver and gold. Many will have bought or personally crafted presents for their friends and family members, who will sometimes travel long distances to reunite for a few evenings, enjoy Christmas dinner together, and exchange presents and pleasantries. And many will seek to sneak a kiss from someone while catching them standing under mistletoe.

Of course, some children will be told the night before that their presents are being brought to them from the North Pole by Santa Claus, or “St. Nick,” as the adults wink to each other with a knowing eye.

In the morning, the children enjoy tearing into their presents to see what “Santa” brought them, and some families will head to religious services to hear a message related to the birth of Jesus—especially those who are concerned that commercialism is crowding out what they believe to be the real meaning of Christmas: The message that God sent His Son into the world on Christmas Day, born of the Virgin Mary to be the Savior of mankind.

There’s more that I could say, but hopefully this captures the popular spirit of the Christmas season. Yes, it is a stressful time for many. Sometimes family gatherings are a source of anxiety, and buying gifts for one another can seem a burdensome obligation—especially when the credit card bill begins to reveal the damage of our attempts at merrymaking.

However, I want to acknowledge that many joyous memories tend to be associated with Christmas and the Christmas season. I, myself, as a child and young man participated in these things. I remember the joys of receiving gifts and buying gifts for others. I don’t know if you can see it very well, but these old, blurry pictures are of me as a small child, enjoying his brand new Christmas presents.

You know, I remember seeing once, as a teenager, a small statue depicting Santa kneeling at the cradle of what was, ostensibly, the “Baby Jesus.” And I was moved—I felt at the time that it was a nice way of trying to point out what I thought was the more important aspect of the Christmas season. I’ve even played the part of Joseph once in a Christmas choral performance.

In other words, I’ve been there; I’ve done that.

I mention these things at the beginning of our discussion to highlight a crucial fact. As we tackle our question today—“Is Christmas a pagan holiday?”—we must keep in mind: None of this is relevant.

We may have years’ worth of positive memories associated with Christmas. We may love the music, the atmosphere, the traditions, and the focus on Jesus and the message of His birth.

Yet literally none of that is relevant to the question “Is Christmas a pagan holiday?”

After all, many religions have their joyous festivals, their times of family gathering, their fondly remembered songs, and traditions that warm the hearts of their adherents.

If we are going to address this question head on, we have to be willing to distance ourselves from our emotional responses and our happy memories and seek to answer the question from the perspective of facts, sound mindedness, and God’s revealed truth.

Actually, that is the easy part, as we’ll see. But what we do with that truth—that’s the hard part. Following Jesus Christ isn’t for cowards.

Seeking the Truth About Christmas—And Finding It

We want to understand the truth, and we want to seek that truth with an open mind—because truth is important.

John 4 relates a famous account of Jesus’ discussion with a Samaritan woman. She spoke to Him of the Samaritans’ traditions concerning worshiping the God of the Bible, which differed in many ways from the ways actually discussed in the Bible—even though their traditions were sincerely believed. In a sense, they worshipped God in spirit, meaning that their heart was in it, but they didn’t worship Him in truth, meaning that their sincere acts were based on falsehoods and half-truths. What did Jesus say? Did He say to her, “Well, that’s OK. As long as your intent is good, your worship is acceptable before God”?

No, He didn’t.

We read His response in John 4, beginning in verse 23:

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24).

That’s our goal today—to enable ourselves to understand how to worship God not just in spirit and intent, but in truth. Truth matters.

So, let’s look at the question with honest eyes: Is Christmas a pagan holiday?

If we’re answering this question based on the origins of the day, then the answer is very clearly “yes.” Because the origins of Christmas as a holiday—its timing, its traditions, its ancient practices—are very clearly pagan.

Now, what does it mean to be “pagan”? After all, the word is thrown about a bit carelessly these days—in fact, there is a growing movement of “neo-paganism” today, which we have covered in detail in Tomorrow’s World magazine—the very same magazine you will get a free subscription to when you request today’s free resource, Is Christmas Christian?

Let’s make sure we’re clear, then. As Merriam-Webster defines it, “pagan” means: “of, relating to, or having the characteristics of pagans”—which, we are told, are “follower[s] of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome).”

Essentially paganism represents religions and cultic practices that have their origins outside of the religions traditionally associated with the patriarch Abraham: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

And if that is the definition of “pagan,” there is no doubt that the Christmas holiday and most of its traditions originated in pagan customs and worship traditions, many of which pre-date Christianity by centuries or even millennia.

Mistletoe is associated with Roman fertility rituals and Frigga, the Norse goddess of love and lust. The timing of Christmas corresponds not to Jesus’ birth—which was likely in the fall—but to the observance of the pagan Roman Saturnalia and sun worship. That is S-U-N. As the Encyclopedia Britannica notes:

In the 3rd century, the Roman Empire, which at the time had not adopted Christianity, celebrated the rebirth of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus) on December 25th. This holiday not only marked the return of longer days after the winter solstice but also followed the popular Roman festival called the Saturnalia (during which people feasted and exchanged gifts). It was also the birthday of the Indo-European deity Mithra, a god of light and loyalty whose cult was at the time growing popular among Roman soldiers (“Why Is Christmas in December?” Britannica.com).

The Christmas tree, too, is a tradition with an ancient pagan precedent. In fact, we can see that precedent condemned in Scripture. Look at Jeremiah 10 and read it with your favorite Christmas tree tradition in mind:

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good’” (Jeremiah 10:1–5).

The list of these ancient, pagan origins to various Christmas practices is long and clear. In fact, many popular, conservative authorities in modern Christianity readily admit that the pagan origin of many of the most common and honored Christmas traditions is a fact of history. Any historical resource of repute will confirm that fact.

For instance, consider this brief summary from the widely respected “Christian” resource Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity:

The Christian church took over many pagan ideas and images. From sun-worship, for example, came the celebration of Christ’s birth on the twenty-fifth of December, the birthday of the Sun. Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival of 17–21 of December, provided the merriment, gift-giving and candles typical of later Christmas holidays…. Some pagan customs which were later Christianized, for example the use of candles, incense and garlands, were at first avoided by the church because they symbolized paganism (1977, pp. 131–132).

And in his famous work A Classical Dictionary, scholar John Lemprière summarized some of the ancient, pre-Christian practices of the pagan holiday Saturnalia:

The celebration was remarkable for the liberty which universally prevailed. The slaves were permitted to ridicule their masters… It was usual for friends to make presents one to another, all animosity ceased, no criminals were executed, schools were shut, war was never declared, but all was mirth, riot, and debauchery.

If we are honest, surely we will admit that all of this sounds very familiar.

Christmas and its traditions and customs are deeply rooted in pagan origins. In that sense, yes, Christmas is a pagan holiday.

But still, is it really? Many argue that pagan activities, celebrations, traditions, and symbols have—in a sense—been “baptized” by Christianity. The holly branches and its red berries once had pagan meanings, true, but maybe now they can be used to symbolize Christ’s crown of thorns and the red blood He shed for our sins.

Perhaps the real answer is that Christmas was a pagan holiday, but it is no longer. People can certainly be baptized and have their lives transformed. Can pagan worship practices?

Worshiping God HIS Way

Sinners can repent and change. Can’t ancient pagan practices or traditions be sort of “baptized” and kept? After all, those who keep Christmas don’t believe they are worshiping the sun god or Saturn or Mithras or Baal or Frigga or any of those pagan gods. They are often trying to sincerely worship God and Jesus as they understand Them. Do the pagan origins of Christmas really matter?

The answer is a simple one: If we desire to worship God and Jesus Christ in a manner that is pleasing to them, not just pleasing to us, then yes—they matter very much.

Again, the issue is not one of opinion or feelings. It is a matter of truth. And if we want to know the truth about how God the Father and Jesus Christ think about these things, then we must go to the Bible They have given us to help us learn to think like them. And when we do go to the Scriptures, the answer is absolutely clear.

For instance, speaking of pagan peoples and pagan traditions and customs, God commanded ancient Israel very clearly in Deuteronomy 12:30:

“[D]o not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way…” (Deuteronomy 12:30–31).

This is crucial: Notice, the Bible doesn’t just say, “Don’t worship idols” or “Don’t worship foreign gods.” It says: “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way.” God makes it plain that He does not want His followers to worship Him in pagan ways. It doesn’t make a difference if we say we’re not worshiping Mithras or Saturn or the sun or whomever—God says plainly to us “do not worship me using pagan traditions.”

We saw a very similar command earlier when we read Jeremiah 10, in which God said clearly, “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles….” And here by “Gentiles,” God means those pagans outside the nation of Israel.

The commands in the Bible simply leave no room at all to conclude that God accepts worship using pagan customs—even if it is directed at Him.

Still, that’s the Old Testament, and some might argue that Jesus came to change all of that.

Yet, once again, if we go to His actual teachings—recorded for all time in our own Bibles—we find that this is not how He thinks at all about these things.

In fact, Jesus addresses this very scenario with His disciples and the Jewish leaders of His day. In Mark chapter 7, Jesus challenges the unbiblical traditions of the first-century Pharisees. They claimed to serve God with those traditions, but Jesus told them that their pious traditions actually violated God’s commands and were to be condemned. We can read His response in Mark 7, beginning in verse 6:

“He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” For LAYING ASIDE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, you HOLD THE TRADITION OF MEN… All too well you REJECT THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, that you may KEEP YOUR TRADITION’” (Mark 7:6–9).

To observe Christmas, you would have to lay aside the commandment of God, who says plainly He does not want to be worshipped using heathen customs, so that you could hold on to your tradition. You would have to reject that commandment of God to keep that tradition. And Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the very founder of Christianity condemns doing that in no uncertain terms.

I can’t speak for you, but the idea of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, calling me a hypocrite sends chills down my spine. Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus condemned those who would dare to call Him “Lord” while ignoring His commands, asking,

“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

The evidence is clear:

  • Christmas is a pagan holiday.
  • God does not want to be worshiped using pagan traditions.
  • And Jesus Christ condemns as hypocrites those who ignore God’s commands to keep other traditions.

So, with our original question answered, the next question is clear: What do we do now?

A Difficult Choice—Choosing Christ Over Christmas

We have only a brief time left on today’s program, but let me take a moment to say that—for those whose hearts are willing to follow God wherever He and His word lead us, following His lead and obeying His commands never leads us to a worse place. Only a better place.

For instance, I know of thousands of individuals, all over the world, who have left Christmas behind and have embraced, instead, the Holy Days actually revealed in the Bible—designed by God and recorded in His word as days set apart by Him for worship, praise, and instruction.

Those individuals—the members and attendees of the Living Church of God, who sponsor the Tomorrow’s World program—would say to you as plainly as I can now from here in this studio: As Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, they would not trade observing the biblical Holy Days for keeping Christmas for all the money in the world.

Moving past Christmas does not have to mean giving up joy and meaning and warmth and fellowship. Quite the opposite. When one turns away from deceptively attractive traditions and customs that fundamentally contradict the Bible to follow Jesus Christ—the real Jesus Christ—we have the opportunity to discover exactly what Jesus meant when He spoke to the woman by the well, almost 2,000 years ago, and spoke of worshiping God not only in spirit, but in spirit and in truth.

Thank you for watching our program, and we hope that it was helpful. All of us here at Tomorrow’s World produce these videos; people in front of the camera, behind the camera, in the control room, the fellow standing right next to me holding a light. We all work hard to help you understand your world through the pages of the Bible. If you like these videos, please click on the subscribe button as well as the little bell to be notified whenever we make more, and if you want today’s offer, just go down to the description and you’ll find the link.