When I was young, I would see people doing something (skating, skiing, playing music, etc.) and clearly they were enjoying themselves. I would eagerly want to start doing those things–which would mean that my parents had to buy me skates, skis, etc. (more…)
“Christianity” is not only a religion (and it is that certainly!) but it is specifically a trust in God through Jesus Christ which works out in the whole being of a person (Faith and Practice). The understanding of what to believe (the object of faith) is found in the New Testament Scriptures, and is based on prophecy, promises and teachings from the Old (Luke 24:27). The way of practicing that faith is largely found in the Acts, and the Epistles (wherein the Apostles give us “the mind of Christ” with commands, principles, guidelines and even the examples of the Apostles).
So, is the life I have that I call “Christianity,” formed by the Scriptures ( properly understood) as an attempt to continue the faith and practice handed down from the Apostles? Or is it phenomenally influenced by or even specifically founded in the thoughts, writings, visions, (or whatever) of someone else?
If one’s belief and practice is founded in the writings, visions, thoughts of someone else since the Apostles, why would I trust that person–those people? Paul was deeply concerned for the church of Corinth in that they are in danger of straying from the Good News (faith and practice) he brought to them. His concern is expressed throughout both Epistles, but is clear in 1 Cor 2:1-5. Are you putting faith in the “power of God” or in something dreamed up (often quite literally these days) by a non-chosen, non-Apostolic, non-messenger of God?
Thinking of the some of the themes from:
Colossians 2:18-19 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. NASB95
Also in terms of the force which Apostolic teaching must have:
1 Corinthians 11:1-2 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.
1 Corinthians 11:16 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.
1 Corinthians 11:23 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you,
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
In order for a person to be a member of the body of Christ through the New Covenant, (i.e. to be a Christian) there must be a Divine, miraculous change in the heart of such a person. That change culminates in faith and repentance; faith in the finished work of Christ while turning from sin–calling on God to bring salvation.
That is a heart-work no human being can do, but only the Spirit of God. In reading John 9 and 10 (Jesus healing the blind man and Jesus’ subsequent discussion of the “sheep fold,” the “flock” and “other sheep” outside “the fold”), we see how sheep from Israel (“fold”) and “other sheep” (outside of Israel, i.e. Gentiles) are combined together into a “flock” who have one true Shepherd. BTW, this will not be obvious in the KJV (there is a mistranslation of some of the original language).
What is the fellowship or commonality these in the “flock” hold? Is it their outward appearance, genetic background, or anything visible? No, it is a spiritual, Divine fellowship–”my sheep hear my voice and follow Me” and “I know My sheep and they know Me.” This is the essence of belonging to the New Covenant people (to bearing the name “Christian”)–an invisible, Divine spiritual work through which His people follow and know to follow their Shepherd. They trust in Him for forgiveness, salvation and life, and through the Spirit’s power and Christian graces, they keep following until He returns.
Any togetherness beyond this divinely-produced, invisible unity, or any claimed connection to the regenerate (born-again) Body of Christ through heritage, genetics, familial ties, etc. is something other than Christian unity, however pleasant, sentimentally-comforting, etc. that “unity” may be.
Example: I hear this often from Christians–it goes something like this: “I don’t try to waste my time in evangelizing that person anymore because in Matthew 10, Jesus told His disciples to shake the dust off their feet and abandon people who either rejected Jesus or would not help them in their mission.”
I even heard a person recently use this to defend the notion of not needing to forgive someone (who, by the way was just one of the many on a list of that person’s “unforgivable” people).
A simple question: If you are going to obey Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10:13-14, are you also going to obey what He says in the same speech in verse 5 “Matthew 10:5-6 Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel?”
This from one of the most hardworking (and prolific) Baptist soulwinners. (I say soulwinner, because based on what he has to say, many would say “Why not just stop this divisive talk and get back to the Gospel”). Notice where he points his hearers…
From Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
THE PARACLETE, NO. 1074, A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 6, 1872, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON
Dear Brothers and Sisters, honor the Spirit of God as you would honor Jesus Christ if He were present! If Jesus Christ were dwelling in your house you would not ignore Him, you would not go about your business as if He were not there! Do not ignore the Presence of the Holy Spirit in your soul! I beseech you, do not live as if you had not heard whether there were a Holy Spirit. To Him pay your constant adorations. Reverence the august Guest who has been pleased to make your body His sacred abode. Love Him, obey Him, worship Him! Take care never to impute the vain imaginings (more…)
Whether we are faithful in praying or not, whether we pray rightly or not, God the Holy Spirit is deeply earnest and divinely effective in personally communicating the saint’s deepest needs to the Father. Romans 8:26-27
Our ultimate hope is not in governmental or societal change, it is in Christ. Any effort we might make (more…)
Of course there is some value to seeing themes of redemption, grace and the like in popular media (songs, books, motion pictures and in television programs). The Spirit of God does indeed open our eyes to see our world’s messages differently. But let us never forget that He does so by means of His Word.
Let’s say a Christian reads his Bible 5 min/day, (more…)
An NBA player claims to live by Christian principles while at the same time living according to his same-gender romantic, emotional and sexual desires, and this has a lot of Christian up in arms.
I get that. (more…)