Can we celebrate Christian festivals like Easter and Christmas?


In the Pre-Internet era and before the mass spreading of conspiracy theories, Christians used to attend churches on Sundays, celebrate birthdays, observe lent (40), Mourn on Good Friday and rejoice on Easter and sing carols on Christmas. 

But after Internet and Facebook became a part of our lives, we got our hands on various articles written by various authors about these religious days that are observed by the church. These special days are observed differently by the Eastern Orthodox church, The Roman Catholic church, The Protestant church and the various other denominations in Christianity. There are many denominations that do not observe any of these special days and the reason they give is that these special days have pagan origins.

If you are an active Facebook user, you might have come across FB posts of why we should not celebrate Christmas. People will argue for and against this statement. This usually happens during the month of December. After January, discussions on Christmas will die off and discussions on Valentines day will originate. Then it will be discussions on Lent and Easter where people will link Easter to a goddess called Ishtar. 

Invariably these seasonal arguments around these special days were not even part of Christian discussion before the Internet era. But I find that with the advent of Internet and with lot of conspiracy articles that are spread around the Internet, people fall into different categories and hold onto certain Bible verses and argue tooth and nail considering their opinions as a Biblical conviction that is led by the Holy Spirit.

As a person who has been on both sides of this spectrum where I have been washed to and fro in the sea tide of such debates, I have reached a point on identifying what actually matters for my Christian faith and what does not matter.

What should a Christian do?

The cardinal rule that every Christian should follow in such a scenario is that we should be slow to listen, read extensively about a subject (Both conspiracy and Historical facts), then understand the intention behind each practice and take a stand after weighing all these in line with the  contextual scriptural passages.

Let me state my statement of faith at this point of time so that you will understand my intention for this post. I believe in Salvation by Faith alone, I believe in the Trinity of God. I am reformed and I don't belong to the Roman Catholic Church. I am a Biblical Pentecost and I don't fall under the third wave Pentecostal movements. I believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and I believe that the elect will rejoice with him for ever in his kingdom and the reprobates will be sent to eternal damnation.

I have stated my faith extensively just for the readers to understand that my belief is an offshoot of my conviction from the above belief that I just stated. There are hundreds of articles that lie in the Internet that connect Christmas to Sun god's birthday. There are hundreds of articles that connect Eater to Ishtar. Now when we read all these articles, the first thing we should do is understand the intention of the author.

Most of the articles are written with an enmity against the Roman Catholic church. I am not a Roman Catholic because I clearly stated that I am a reformed Christian. But I will never throw the baby out with the bath water. I have carefully gone through the Christian Church history as a part of my theological study and I know the value of the Apostle's creed, Nicean council and also the Athanasian creed. So with this understanding, I automatically kick off any allegiance to Arianism as a cultist teaching. If any article has come from the haystack of an Arian follower (Non Trinitarianism is one of the aspects of Arian), I would immediately shun that article because the intent of the article loses its value. Similarly if an article is written just to prove the Roman Catholic church wrong, I would still take it only with a pinch of salt, because lot of Christian practices that we all follow is still an offshoot of the RCC. But I would never accept the Salvation by works teaching by the RC church and many other teachings of the RCC.

Now coming back to the topic on festivals, many of these festivals that are celebrated in Christianity have different cultural, demographic and Political origins. One of the greatest things that I learnt in my study is that Easter is not associated with Ishtar. A very good article on this subject is written here [ Ishtar is not Easter ]

Facebook is filled with debates on why we should celebrate Easter and why we should not observe the lent. But the underlying truth is that it is not compulsory to celebrate Easter and one does not lose salvation by being disciplined in food and prayerful observance. But to make it a cardinal rule saying that we would have salvation by doing this goes against the work of Christ on the cross. At the same time to fight against a person who observes lent with conspiracy theories does not hamper his faith at all. A person who is disciplined for 40 days may be having a healthy and Spiritual lifestyle compared to a glutton who fights tooth and nail against Easter.

The Apostles never sidelined from the great commission. Paul did follow some Jewish practices of tonsuring his head even after he was sealed with the Holy Spirit. He followed those rituals for Christ and he was clear in his mind. Romans 14:5 gives a tight slap across the face for all of us when we still fight for discussions regarding days and observances. Our faith does not take a back step by practicing these rituals and we don't fall out of his salvation plan by adhering to some of these practices.

I will certainly celebrate the resurrection of the Lord and I will definitely sing Carols for Christmas. I worship Christ and not some sun god. I proclaim that he is risen and I don't proclaim the resurrection of some ishtar goddess. When we juggle and struggle to comprehend the truth in the gospel and when we misunderstand these celebrations to religious pluralism, we become majoring in minor subjects. I have participated in debates for and against these two topic for the last 10 years and I have reached a point of ignoring and moving away from people who still hold on to certain topic like this without having a solid historic footprint in Church History. 

Opinions should never be confused for convictions. I rest my case.

What is wrong with youth camps these days?

As an young adult who has involved himself in youth camps for more than two decades, I am compelled to write this. This post is written entirely based on my observation from various youth camps and also after interacting with lot of youngsters over the last ten years.

When I was in my teens, I have participated in many youth camps. Let me take you all back to the 80s and 90s. I have attended SU camps, YFC camps, FMPB camps, Navodya camps and the various camps conducted by the church group and school groups. I have witnessed the following things

1) The camp revolved around prayer. The volunteers, musicians, speakers immersed themselves in prayer
2) The theme would be selected based on a Bible verse and all the events and activities of the camp will revolve around the theme
3) The speakers and the musicians had a testimonial life
4) The speakers had logical answers from the Bible
5) The speakers had a good grounding in the Bible and they knew their doctrinal adherence
6) Follow up sessions were frequent post camp to see how we were growing in the Lord.

These 6 points summarize how youth camps used to happen in the past. Some times these camps were boring too as they did not draw the attention of the youngsters. But now a days this trend has changed a lot. The above 6 points are still preserved but with its own twists and turns. To run a youth camp, all you need today is

1) A music team that invariably can belt out songs in a great manner ( The whole purpose of the music team is to liven up the youngsters) even if they do not have testimonial lifestyle
2) A catchy theme (Mainly an abbreviation, even if it is controversial) I was discussing the theme with a youth gang when they came up with different abbreviations. One suggestion that popped up was SEX 3:16. I had no clue how that popped up. The guy gave his explanation. SEX stands for Soul Enlightened Xtians and 3:16 stands for John 3:16. I could only see at him in disbelief. There have been camp names with titles SHUT UP, 360 UP, OMG, SACHIN and so on
3) A choreographer who can do actions for the songs even if the choreographer does not believe in Jesus
4) A skit team that practices skit (Invariably with the same quit smoking/drinking/ girlfriend theme)
5) Random speakers who have no clue on what their doctrinal stand is (I am not labeling all camps with the same brush. But I have seen this trend booming up big time)
6) Even if there is no prayer, the practise sessions will go on and the media team will take care of promotions on facebook.

Follow up sessions for camps like these are zilch. The camps become an yearly activity with no follow up. It becomes a yearly event management function in most cases.

Solution:

1) Help the youth to be grounded in the word of God
2) Teach them about church history
3) Encourage them to be the salt and light to the world
4) Have corporate prayer fellowships

Unless these four things happen, the youth camps will get worser and worser.

- Prason

What is Hyper Grace Gospel?


Hyper Grace or False Grace gospel is a new wave teaching that distorts the Biblical teaching of Grace and presents only bits and pieces of scripture laying emphasis on one sided view of grace.

Hyper Grace teachers teach that the past , present and future sins of a person are already forgiven on the cross and there is no need to repent of our sins nor confess our sins. Instead they teach that phrase "Just Believe and be Saved". They pick all their doctrines from the Bible, but the sad thing is they pick it totally out of context and put them all together and make a concocted doctrine.

Anyone who disagrees with them is often labelled as a Legalist, Pharisee or as a man bound by Religion . The sad thing is the hyper grace teachers have formed a religion of their own and they are more careful to use their arguments in a religious manner.

Hyper grace teachers often mock the evangelicals as "Hell fire preachers" and warn their followers not to be sin conscious. They stress on "Jesus Conscious" and the problem of sin is never addressed in their gospel.

When ever the hyper grace teachers come across a verse in the Bible that talks about repenting from sins, they would immediately say that particular verse was not written for believers. The Bible clearly talks about repenting from sin (Rev 2 and 3rd chapters).

Preachers of Hyper Grace gospel also say that the Old Testament commands are obsolete. They fail to realize that the moral commands and principles of the Old Covenant is still applicable for Christians. The only difference between the Old Covenant Moral Principles and the new covenant is that Man had to work to keep the old covenant; but God's grace makes Christians to obey the New Covenant.

But the Hyper grace teachers will say that if you follow the Ten commandments , you are bound by law. They fail to realize that one of the commandments that talk about "Honouring your father and mother" is a new covenant command too. When we dig deep into the word and have a discussion with the hyper grace preachers, they will escape saying that Bible is not the only word of God but Bible contains the word of God. The reason they use this escaping stance is because they can't justify many of their teachings. So they use this escape tactic to say that they have progressive revelation that were not even revealed to the apostles.

Hyper grace teachings sound so true on the surface level. For example, we are indeed saved by grace and not by works. This is the bait they use to lure innocent Christians. Once the christians are lured to this bait, they are given poisonous teachings and extra biblical revelations that contradict the foundation teachings of Christ and the Apostles.

If you do not have a grip of the whole counsel of the scriptures, it is better to avoid discussing with a hyper grace preacher because they just beat around the bush and jump from one topic to another without addressing the core issue of discussion.

What should you do if you find yourself in a Hyper Grace church?
Come out of that cult group and join a church where the whole counsel of scriptures is preached and followed.

- Shielded in God's Grace
Prason

For more indepth reading on hyper grace gospel please read the following links

1) Hyper grace Gospel - What is it? [ link ]
2) How to identify if your pastor is preaching the false hyper grace gospel [ link ]
3) The lies of the hyper grace gospel [ link ]
4) Grace on steroids = Hyper Grace [ link ]
5) Questions to Hyper Grace teachers and their wrong answers [ link]
6) Hyper grace horror stories [ link ]

Apostle Paul had a bloated Ego?

The other day I was having a Bible discussion with a friend of mine who suddenly blurted "Apostle Paul had a bloated ego."

I thought I heard him wrong. So I said "Excuse me. Come again"

"Yes, He had such a big ego that he did not even want to take a person along with him for a missionary journey because he had differences with him".

After a moment of silence, we turned the pages of the New Testament to read the passage that my friend was quoting from the scriptures. We opened Acts Chapter 15. We read that passage where Paul and Barnabas were getting ready to go for their second missionary journey.

36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15: 36-41)

After we read this passage, my friend said "Look! Paul had such a bloated ego that he did not even have the grace to take Mark along with him for the missionary journey". 

My friend in deed had a point there. It in fact looks as though Paul was so adamant in not having Mark travel along with him for the missionary journey. 

So we tried to find out whether Paul had any reason for making such a decision.  When we read Acts 13:13, we discover that Mark (John) had deserted them midway through the first missionary journey and returned back to Jerusalem. This was one of the major reasons why Paul did not want to take Mark along with him in their second missionary journey in which they were planning to revisit some of the places they had earlier visited.

Mark might have had his reasons for leaving Paul in the first missionary journey. Mark was Barnabas's relative. Till Paul came into the scene, Barnabas was the central figure along with the Apostles. But during the first missionary journey, Paul emerges as the leader of the pack. Mark might not have been comfortable with this sudden transition. The Bible does not explicitly say what exactly made Mark to leave the rest of the gang. But the Bible is very clear that Paul did not appreciate that behavior of Mark.

Because of Paul being adamant, Paul and Silas went together in their missionary journey in one direction and Barnabas and Mark took another route. The gospel spread in different regions. On the surface level, we might just see that incident as a dispute. But as we analyse it deeper, we see that God allowed that dispute to happen so that gospel could spread to different places.

12 years later Paul was in prison. Mark was also arrested along with Paul. This shows that they did minister together after a few years. Mark became more matured and Paul forgave Mark and ministered together with him.

Today when people have personal enmity with a minister, they separate themselves from that ministry and start another ministry as a competition. They also quote that Paul and Barnabas had a fight and they went in two directions. Paul and Barnabas never started two different ministries separately. They were ministers of God and they always had the love for each other.

- Shielded in God's love
Prason

Joseph Prince - False preacher

  • Question : I am a Homosexual, but I am a believer. Would God approve me and accept me as I am?
Answer : Yes. You don't have to worry about that. Our God is a Gracious God and he accepts you just as you are. If you believe in your heart that Jesus died for you and if you have accepted him as your personal savior, then you are saved. When you  think of sin, then you start to sin again. So don't think about your sin. You are righteous in Christ

  • Question : I am a believer. Do I need to confess my sins when ever I am reminded of my sins?
Answer : No. You Don't have to confess your sins and ask for repentance. The Holy Spirit will only convict the non believers of their sins. But for a believer like you, you don't have to confess and repent for your sins. You are already made righteous when you accepted Jesus to come into your heart. Now you don't have to confess your sins at all. TheHoly Spirit will never convict a believer of his sins. He will only remind the believer of his righteousness in Christ Jesus

If you are confused with the above two answers and if you think that there is something wrong with the two answers, I  welcome you to the new-age-teaching on Grace by Joseph Prince. Many call his teaching as "Cheap Grace teaching".But I would never agree with them. I have been reading his books and listening to his videos for many years; and in the last two years, I am very closely following his teachings by attending New Creation Church in Singapore. I would not term his teaching as "Cheap Grace or Sloppy Grace " teaching. His teaching is simply "Non-Grace" teaching.

When a Prophet cries out loud from the desert, the stone hearted would not listen to his call; the stiff necked would attack the prophet and the deceived will stone him. Only those who have a heart of flesh will listen to the Prophetic voice and only the humble will learn. I certainly believe that only a very few will be Saved. Yes; Narrow is the way to Truth and Life and only a very few will find it. I strongly urge the readers to discern this article with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Read it with an open mind.

I am not gonna start a theological discussion on a Calvinist- Armenian thought. This article is to open the eyes of the deceived poor sheep who are fed with non-spiritual- stench that is puked out by Joseph Prince week after week.

Who is this Joseph Prince and what is his ministry?

I am not gonna write anything about his personal life here. Joseph Prince’s ministry finds its roots in what many people have referred to as the Word Faith Movement. Proponents of this movement include E W Kenyon (whose writings gave rise to most of the radical ideas that inform the movement), Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copleland, Joyce Meyer et al. [ If you are a follower of the word-Faith movement, you would surely hate me for this aticle]. They teach a collective theology which propounds that God has promised to bless His people based on His finished work on the cross, as well as the believer’s positive confession of faith (in other words, if you speak forth your need, and lay hold of it by faith, the spoken need will in due time come to pass. Put simply, if I desire a car, I claim it in Jesus’ name, and the car will come my way). Critics have written quite extensively on Word Faith teachings, so i will not talk further about it here.

What I do want to highlight is that JP’s teaching over the last ten years does not move beyond the whole theme of justification by faith. In fact, there has been no mention of the sanctification process or the need for it. In his teachings, believers become righteous from appropriating the finished work on the cross. There is no need to work out one’s salvation, one simply needs to “rest”.

JP’s teaching on Grace suggests a lack of basic understanding of God’s redemptive work. The Martin Luthers and Calvinists will tell you the only time a believer ever takes a rest in his walk with God is when he is getting saved through the finished work of Christ. One can’t earn salvation through his own good work, but he can by His grace and mercy as demonstrated by His outstretched arms on the cross. This is the turning point in a sinner’s life, when the sinner decides to take up the cross and follow Jesus, so that more and more he can be called to be in His image.

Positionally, the believer is forever saved, but the old man in him still needs to be transformed. Now, this walk of sanctification, JP Ministry completely ignores. It is interesting that JP perceives any effort on the believer’s part to act out God’s imperatives as the believer’s attempt to keep the law. He teaches that under the New Convenant, one does not keep the Law, but lives only by God’s grace. According to him, God has not only rescinded the need to keep the ceremonial laws, He has categorically abolished all laws, including the Decalogue (or Ten Commandments)!

Joseph Prince should get a grip of the old covenant and the New covenant before he even attempts to talk on the subject of Grace. He has a great presentation style, a smiling face (just like Joel Osteen), a charismatic body language and a wonderful root language knowledge (which he twists often)

My questions for all to consider:

1. If God has truly abolished the Decalogue, which reveals His moral character and absolute standards for human decency, then what should a believer hold fast to in order to live out his faith in a corrupt and decadent world? “We are in the world, but not of the world.” God also calls us “the salt of the earth”. What keeps us salty if God removes His standards/values for us? What is Grace? Is it a form of moral standard by which we can define and govern our thought life and behaviour?

2. If,according to JP’s theology, those of us who are trying to work out our salvation with fear and trembling are guilty of earning our salvation through our own “stinking efforts”, then what is the Holy Spirit for in our lives?

I have read almost all his books. One of his books "Destined to reign" is totally unbiblical and promotes anti-christian theology.Check this book review on his book "Destined to reign" with a prayerful heart ( Read slowly and carefully and compare it with Bible with the guidance of Holy Spirit)


I have reviewed many of his books. I am not gonna feed the whole haystack in this article. Would share the other reviews at a later point of time.

In the mean time, also take a look at this video message of Joseph Prince where he preaches that turning away from sin is not necessary for justification or forgiveness. The link also has a wonderful exposition of the sermon by a child of God.


Many word-of-Faith exponents proclaim that Jesus did not finish his work on the cross. Instead he was subjected to torture in Hell for three days. If the root is bad, the tree would be bad too. Please keep this man in your prayers. May God open his eyes and May God open the eyes of the sheep too.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says.

Shielded in God's Love,
- The Voice from the desert

Note : I thank all the Prophets of God who shared their inputs for this article.