Common Era, or the Year of the Lord?

Recently I have noticed an unusual abbreviation included with date notations. Specifically, I sometimes see a date such as July 3, 2016 C.E. The last two characters, “C.E.” is that unusual abbreviation about which I write.

Upon investigation I discovered that C.E. refers to “Common Era,” and B.C.E is for “Before Common Era.” Most of us know that dates are usually given with the abbreviation “A.D.,” short for Anno Domini, or Year of the Lord. Years prior to A.D. 1 are expressed as B.C., for Before Christ. As one writer noted: “some people, who want to avoid the reference to Christ that is implied in these terms, prefer the abbreviations BCE. . .and CE.”

Just a note about the year A.D. 1 as a point of reference: the Gregorian calenda, which we use today, was developed in the sixth century A.D., and was not adopted in the American colonies until 1752. The actual year of Jesus' birth was incorrectly calculated. From Matthew's account Jesus was born during the reign of Herod, who died in 4 B.C. Matt. 2:16 tells us that Herod had all the children who had been born in Bethlehem two years old and under killed. So, it was quite possible that Jesus could have been born in 7 or 6 B.C. Obviously, A.D. 1 as a reference point in time is incorrect.

What I find to be so unsettling in the use of C.E. is that it implies that the birth of Christ is common: it was anything but common! There is a hymn we sometimes sing which words were written by J. M. Driver, entitled “Wonderful Story of Love.”

Wonderful story of love:
Tell it to me again;
Wonderful story of love:
Wake the immortal strain!
Angels with rapture announce it,
Shepherds with wonder receive it;
Sinner, O won't you believe it?
Wonderful story of love.

This verse brings to memory the events which Luke reported through inspiration in Luke 2:8-20; how the angel of the Lord had informed the shepherds in the fields (who were tending their flocks that glorious night) about the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord; how a multitude of angels suddenly appeared praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” From this time forward mankind could anticipate the “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19) because God was going to make peace with mankind (Col. 1:20), who had made themselves His enemies (James 4:4, 1 Jn. 2:15, Is. 59:2). The song continues that wonderful story, in how our loving God calls from Calvary's mountain to the sinner to return to Him, and about the promised rest reserved for those who have believed and obeyed before.

Also, the conception and birth of Christ was most uncommon. Particularly, Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20), and was born of Mary, who was a virgin until after Jesus was born (Matt. 1:25). The whole account of Jesus' birth is given in Luke 2:1-20 and Matt. 1:18ff. Verses 22 and 23 summarize the importance of this once in all time event, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” The prophecy is recorded in Is. 7:1-14. Of great significance is not only that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, and conceived by the Holy Spirit, but that this spectacular entry into the world by our Saviour was prophesied hundreds of years before it happened!

Common Era? I think not! God brings us times of refreshing through our peacemaker, Jesus Christ. The work of redeeming mankind continues to this day as the Lord's church is commissioned to herald these truths. We are warned with the gravest of warnings that one who disregards God's call will suffer eternally in hell (Heb. 10:26-27). Those who answer the call of the Gospel to believe (Heb. 11:6), confess Christ as the Son of God (Rom. 10:10, Acts 8:37), repent, and be baptized (Acts 2:38) will receive the promised reward of eternal life in heaven.

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX

Curtis A. Little
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Morning Worship . . .9:30 AM
Bible Class . . . . . . 10:45 AM

Evening Worship . . .5:00 PM
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Royse City, Texas 75189

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Royse City, Texas 75189