Essential Christianity

  1. Essential Christianity

http://www.truthnet.org/Christianity/Cults/Essentialchristianity1/

Looking at a survey of world religions, most fix the population of the Christian faith at two Billion.  The two-billion Christians include about 1 billion Protestants and 1 billion Catholics.  This number includes every sort and variety of “Christian”. Many who would not even call themselves Christian. How can we define Christianity?

            In order to answer just what is a Christian we need to understand the essentials of Christianity.  First, Christianity is based around a person.  The person is Jesus Christ; Christ is Greek equivalent of Messiah.  To discover just what is essential Christianity we need to see what Jesus and his disciples taught and wrote. How did they define a follower of Jesus the Christ?

            The foundation of Christianity is based the writings of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible.  Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of prophecies regarding the coming of a Messiah who would redeem man from their sins and restore man to a relationship with God, the creator of the universe.  The Jewish nation rejected Jesus as Messiah, and the Romans crucified him on a Cross, as a false prophet and blasphemer at the request of the High-priest. His rejection by Israel was foretold 730 years before the event in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 52:12-53:13); the concept of the Messiah suffering was not understood by the nation of Israel. 

            The Jewish nation looked for the coming of King Messiah, from the line of David who would rule over the nations.  The rejection and death Jesus, a descendent of David, was foretold by the prophets. His return to judge the world of its sins and to establish his kingdom is foretold also.  The responsibility of delivering the Gospel (Good News) of the forgiveness of sins (Redemption) by faith in Jesus Christ has been given to the church. 

            The church is composed of both Jews and Gentiles who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who have received the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing their redemption.  The message delivered to the Apostles (Luke 6:13) was to be delivered to the world at large and not to just Israel, following Pentecost.

            At Pentecost (Acts 2:1, Leviticus 23:15) the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and they began to speak in languages of different nations, proclaiming the wonders of God’s works.

From Jerusalem, the Church spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.  

With the “Inspired” writings of the Apostles and the Hebrew Prophets before them, the Gospel (Good News) of redemption reached the Pagan cities outside of Jerusalem.  These groups of believers formed into local church bodies.  These local church bodies were then built up by the Apostles during their lifetime and their disciples after their death. 

            The teachings and writing of Jesus and his Apostles formed the essence of Christianity.  Their words recorded and broadcast  via the transmission of the written word. The New Testament is written in Greek and the Old Testament[1] in Hebrew and Aramaic.  The inspired writings of the Prophets and Apostles are the scripture for the Church.  The Old Testament cannon was closed during the 5th century BC, the last book Malachi being written about 425 BC.  The collection of New Testament documents was complete by 90 AD with the book of Revelation near the reign of Domitian (96 AD).  Apostolic and scriptural authority was the foundation of the early church’s authority.

Doctrine of Authority

The children of Israel at Mt. Sinai pleaded with Moses to speak to them for God because they were afraid of God speaking directly to them.  God responded, “What they have spoken is good. 18I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” (Deuteronomy 18:17b-18).  God would speak through individuals who would represent Him to the people. 

            The authority of the Hebrew Bible (The Old Testament) is God Himself who revealed Himself through prophets who wrote God’s word to the people.  This authority of Scripture continued with the New Testament as the church is built on the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles (Ephesians 2:19-20). 

 Protestants…The historic protestant church hold that scripture alone (66 Books of the Old and New Testament) is the sole authority “Sola Scriptura” Scripture alone.

Eastern Orthodox… Eastern Orthodox also holds to the same 66 Books, but add church tradition as authoritve.

Roman Catholic…Catholics accept the 66 books, but also see the Apocrypha as inspired by God. They also view Church tradition as authoritative.

The Authority of Scripture

1
29 “Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
30 “And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
31 “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ “Luke 16:29-31

 

The words Moses and the prophets are more effective than a dead man coming to life
2 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Luke 24:44 Jesus confirmed the inspiration of  the Old Testament
3
20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,
21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

        2  Peter 1:20-21

Scripture is God revelation through chosen men
4
20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

       Isaiah 8:20

God’s revelation of Truth is “Light” anything contrary is darkness
5
39 “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.John 5:39

 

The Old Testament speaks of Jesus
6
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  2 Timothy 3:16-17

Scripture is a guide for the person of God.
7
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.  
31 “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,
       

Matthew 22:29,31

Without the scripture, God revelation of truth we are mistaken
8
25 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,

   Acts 28:25

The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets who wrote the words

Doctrine of God

The doctrine of God is the same in all three branches of Christianity.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Question 6) reads, “There are three persons in the Godhead; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”[2]

The Athenasian Creed

………We worship one God in Trinity, and
Trinity in Unity; (4) Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.
(5) For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the
Holy Spirit. (6) But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal………

The word “Trinity” does not appear in the scripture, but is demonstrated in both the Old and New Testaments.  The Trinity is merely a word to describe God’s revelation of Himself in the scripture.  By reading both the Old and New Testament we see Three Distinct revelations of the One God. God is revealed as Father, Son and Spirit, with each being in substance God but having distinctness.  The word “Trinity” describes this revelation. 

The Deity of Christ

1 6     For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 The Messiah will be called Mighty God 

Everlasting Father

 

Wonderful

2 13    “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man,      Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.

14    Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting     dominion,Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.  Daniel 7:13-14

The Son of Man will be served (Worshipped) by the people of the Earth 

Worship is for God Only.

 

3 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.  Zechariah 12:10 Zechariah wrote 550 years before Christ. God is speaking first person. Then God says.. “They shall look on Me”…The Me being Jesus who was killed at His “First Coming”.
5
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  John 1:1-3

 

The Word was …At the Beginning Jesus already existed as God with God the Father.Jesus is creator of All

All made things came through the Word.

All includes everything.. emphasized by  “Nothing”

6 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”-then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”  Matthew 9:6 Jesus was able to forgive sins…Only the possessor  of  the sin can forgive Sins….By forgiving sins, Jesus is claiming deity.
7
22 “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,
23 “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.  John 5:22-23

 

Judgment is God’s prerogative 

Jesus is claiming equal honor to the Father

8
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:6-8

Jesus in Heaven was GodJesus came in Human form to die for the sins of mankind.
9 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”  John 8:58 Jesus by saying “I AM” was calling Himself by the name of God.

The Holy Spirit

  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters Genesis 1:2 The Holy Spirit was involved in Creation
1
8 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 “of sin, because they do not believe in Me; John 16:8-9

 

The Holy Spirit will convict the world of SinThe  Holy Spirit will point people to Jesus
2 16Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.I Corinthians 3:16 The Holy Spirit will dwell inside the believer 

The body becomes the Temple because the HS is God dwelling inside human flesh

3 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 The HS can be grieved by our actions
4
6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Judges 14:6

 

The HS empowered and inspired in the Old Testament as in the New
5 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? Acts 5:13 The HS can be lied to
6 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Acts 7:51 The HS can be resisted
7
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
32 “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12:31-32

You can blaspheme the HS meaning the HS is God

 Doctrine of the Church

1 10that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, £both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.22And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:10,22,23

Jesus Christ is head of the Church.The Church is the body which all the saved in the fullness of time are gathered.
2 23For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 27that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 32This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:23,27,32 Marriage irepresents the relationship between Christ and the Church. 

Christ seeks a righteous and sinless Church, made sinless by Christ’s sacrifice.

3 18And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.                         Colossians 1:18 Christ is head of the Body
4 2To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:I Corinthians 1:2 The church is made of sanctified believers (Saints)
5 19Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22 All believers are citizens of the household of God.The Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets.

Members of the Church are part of the Temple of God.

6 19Go £therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” £Amen. Matthew 28:19-20 The Church is made of all nations
7 11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;Ephesians 4:11-13 The Church body  has Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers to edify the body
8 12“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13“I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, £which thing I hate. 16Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

17“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

Revelation 2:13-17

Satan attacks the Church with by attempting to introduce false doctrines (Cults). 

Jesus purifies his Church through judgment.

 Doctrine of Man

1
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:26-27

Mankind is made in the image of God.
2
1 The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:

Zechariah 12:1

Our spirit is created at conception
3 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgmentHebrews 9:27 Man will be judged after deathMan only has one life
4
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18

 

Man is under a general condemnation without ChristChrist came to save man

 Doctrine of Salvation

1 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3 Those who come to Christ must be born again of the Holy Spirit.
2 14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in Him should £not perish but have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.John 3:14-18 Salvation belongs to those believe. 

The world was condemned before Jesus came into the world.

 

Faith in Jesus Christ the only begotten Son, is the only way of salvation

3 28Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”29Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”John 6:28-29 God only requires one work for salvation, faith in Christ.
4
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

The Holy Spirit seals those who accept  Christ, guaranteeing redemption.
5
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9

 

Salvation is from faith and not works..
6
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5

 

The Holy Spirit dwelling inside us makes us new  (Born Again)
7
2 1 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Luke 7:21-23 

 

Salvation is dependent on having a relationship with the Lord. 

Religious works are not enough to save.

 

Works can be done in Jesus name without a relationship but they are meaningless.

 [1]Most of  the Old Testament is Hebrew The parts written in Aramaic are: Daniel 2:4-7:28, Ezra 4:48-6:18, 7:11-26, Jeremiah   10:11, Genesis 31:47 (2 words) http://www.truthnet.org/Christianity/Apologetics/IsthebiblefromGod7/

[2] Handbook of Today’s Religion, Josh McDowell, Pg. 27,  Campus Crusade for Christ, 1996

The Apostles’ Creed

The Creed

  I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
  And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;
  Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary;
  Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell;
  The third day He rose again from the dead;
  He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
  From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
  I believe in the Holy Spirit.
  I believe a holy catholic[1] Church, the communion of saints;
  The forgiveness of sins;
  The resurrection of the body;
  And the life everlasting. Amen.

 THE NICENE CREED

The Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of
all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the
Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God;
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things
were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was
incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was
crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the
third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory,
to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life; who proceedeth
from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is
worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one
baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and
the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Athanasian Creed

Introduction

The Creed

(1) Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the
catholic faith; (2) Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled,
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

(3) And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and
Trinity in Unity; (4) Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.
(5) For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the
Holy Spirit. (6) But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. (7) Such as the Father is, such
is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. (8) The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate,
and the Holy Spirit uncreate. (9) The Father incomprehensible, the Son
incomprehensible, the Holy Spirit incomprehensible. (10) The Father eternal, the
Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. (11) And yet they are not three eternals,
but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. (13) So likewise the Father is
almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty; (14) And yet they are
not three almighties, but one almighty. (15) So the Father is God, the Son is God,
and the Holy Spirit is God; (16) And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
(17) So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; (20)
So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say: There are three Gods or three
Lords. (21) The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. (23) The
Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor
begotten, but proceeding. (24) So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son,
not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. (25) And in this Trinity
none is afore, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. (26) But the
whole three persons are co-eternal, and co-equal. (27) So that in all things, as
aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. (28)
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

(29) Furthermore is it necessary to everlasting salvation than he also believe
rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. (30) For the right faith is that we
believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
(31) God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of
the substance of His mother, born in the world. (32) Perfect God and perfect
man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. (33) Equal to the Father as
touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood. (34)
Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ. (35) One,
not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into
God. (36) One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
(37) For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one
Christ; (38) Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the
third day from the dead; (39) He ascended into heaven, He sitteth on the right
hand of the Father, God Almighty; (40) From thence He shall come to judge the
living and the dead. (41) At whose coming all men shall rise again with their
bodies; (42) And shall give account of their own works. (43) And they that have
done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into
everlasting fire.

(44) This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he
cannot be saved.

[1] Catholic:  Etymology: Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French catholique, from Late Latin catholicus, from Greek katholikos universal, general, from katholou in general, from kata by + holos whole— more at cata-, safe Date: 14th century   1 a often capitalized : of, relating to, or forming the church universal b often capitalized : of, relating to,or forming the ancient undivided Christian church or a church claiming historical continuity from it c capitalized

Three ways to illustrate biblical concepts of God.

1. Can you occupy two places at the same time?  

2. Can you enter a fishbowl ?

 All of me can’t enter the bowl…I am bigger then the bowl, The fish could not comprehend me. But my hand or a finger could enter the bowl and the fish could comprehend.  This position is illustrated in Isaiah 53:1, we read  “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed”  In Isaiah 59:16

He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. Isaiah 59:16

 God entered the world of man as a man, to intercede on our behalf as Isaiah foretold.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s