Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs -
The Passover Season: God's People Made Innocent!
In the very beginning were two immortal Beings whom we know as God: the Father, and the One whom we know as the Logos or the Word, later born of a virgin as Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3). From the very beginning, God planned to reproduce Himself in a Family consisting of immortal sons and daughters, who could share eternal life with the Father and with Christ.
Genesis 1:26 describes the starting point. "God said 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion...'" The first man was made mortal, of the dust of the ground, but with the potential to be granted eternal life, symbolized by access to the Tree of Life. However, in order for mortal man to be born into the Family of God, he must first be imbued with the Creator's very nature of love and outgoing concern. The holy, righteous character of God Himself must be developed in human beings. Development of character involves the exercise of free will and choice. God wants real sons, not robots!
Before God created the human race, He had a great master plan. In the Garden of Eden, He included among the trees the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God told our first parents that they could not eat the fruit of that tree, and explained that the result of disobedience would be death. And He gave Satan the Devil access to the Garden.
We are told that Jesus Christ is the "Lamb of God" who was "slain from the foundation of the world" (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8). This shows that when Adam and Eve sinned, God was not shocked. He had foreseen what would happen, and had a plan to redeem mankind from sin and its consequences.
Some might ask: "Why didn't God prevent Satan from entering the Garden - and why did He place there a tree from which man was forbidden to eat?" It was not enough that Adam and Eve choose the good; they had to choose to reject the evil. God's plan had to allow for the possibility of sin. Since the penalty for sin was death, how could that penalty be paid? Only with the life of the One whose life was worth more than all human lives together. That One had to be God. The Word, who had been in the beginning with God and was God (John 1:1-2, 14), would empty Himself of divine glory and power, become flesh and give Himself as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world.
God had this plan in mind from before the world began. He reveals this plan in outline form through His annual festivals. Grouped into three festival seasons (Exodus 23:14), these annual festival days make plain the three phases of the salvation process.
First, sinful man must be cleaned up and made innocent. The Bible calls this "justification." Justification is made possible through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and is pictured by the first festival season, consisting of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Second, redeemed man must be made holy, and must partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Bible calls this "sanctification." Sanctification is pictured by the second festival season - the Feast of Pentecost, also called the Feast of Firstfruits.
In the third phase of salvation, puny man must be transformed from mortal flesh into an immortal and eternal glorified spirit being. This time of future glory is pictured by the third festival season, which comes in the fall and consists of the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.
Why Easter? Why NOT Passover?
The prophet Jeremiah wrote approximately 2,700 years ago, "Thus saith the Lord, 'Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.'" (Jeremiah 10:2)
Each Spring of the year, we hear a great deal about Jesus' resurrection in connection with the custom of Easter. Most religious leaders know that Easter is the name of an ancient pagan goddess (spelled Ishtar) and some even know that the custom of Easter observance is totally UNCHRISTIAN! Yet most excuse observing Easter as a Christian worship service. They assume it was "Christianized by Jesus' resurrection."
But does it matter? Is it acceptable in Christ's sight to worship Him through a pagan custom? Would it matter to Christ if a Christian took symbols of fertility — which all the world recognizes as such — and held them up as symbols of Him? Is it acceptable to Christ for Christians to worship Him as the heathen worshiped their chief god?
Those of you who have the ability to see this message on the Internet probably own or have access to the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia/. In the following article on Easter, in the Encarta encyclopedia 99, (Part II Pre-Christian Tradition):
"Easter, a Christian festival, embodies many pre-Christian traditions. The origin of its name is unknown. Scholars, however, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th century scholar St. Bede, believe it probably comes from Castre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to our April. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox; traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter egg rolling contests or given as gifts."
Easter supposedly embodies a number of "converging traditions;" most scholars try to associate Easter with the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, and the King James version of Acts 12:4 even mistranslates Pesach (Greek for Passover) "Easter."
Christians of Jewish origin celebrated the Passover festival, which fell on the evening of the full moon (the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the first month of the year). Passover therefore fell on different days of the week from year to year. This was unacceptable to the Gentiles who later embraced Christianity, and who wished to continue with their Easter celebration.
To this day there is a dispute between Eastern Orthodox Christians and Western Christianity. And to this day neither has it right — because they forsook the instructions of Christ and His apostles, learning instead "the way of the heathen."
Sun worship is religious devotion paid to the sun either as a deity or as the symbol of a deity. Sun worship was practiced by the Iroquois, Plains and Tsimshian peoples of North America and reached a high state of development among the Native Americans of Mexico and Peru.
The sun was a god of virtually every significant race and tribe of people, "The Babylonians were sun worshipers, and in ancient Persia worship of the Sun was an integral part of the elaborate cult of Mithras. The ancient Egyptians worshiped the sun god Ra."
"Sun worship persisted in Europe even after the introduction of Christianity, as is evidenced by its disguised survival in such traditional Christian practices as the Easter bonfire and the Yule log on Christmas."
Yes, more of the Easter customs than just the "Easter bonfire" were associated with paganism!
Quotes from "Sun Worship," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. ©1993–`998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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