"And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch", (Acts 11/16)
DISCERNING BETWEEN CLAIMS AND FACTS
It would be wonderful to be able to say: ‘there is no difference between the Christianity that Christ established and the Christianity presented in modern Christendom’. But to say that would be to tell an untruth – a claim that cannot be established by the facts. We can only say what is ‘truth’ as best we know it, or believe it to be. "Thy Word is truth", said our Lord Jesus. The truth about contemporary religion is that
there is a great difference between the Christianity of Christ and His apostles and the so-called ‘Christianity’ of today
That statement is really self-evidently true – but is only clear to those who know their Bible well. Those lacking in knowledge of New Testament Christianity cannot discern the great difference. One of the sad facts of life that we all have to come to learn is that ‘things aren’t always what they seem’. Sellers of goods and services often make claims about their product or service that sometimes cannot be substantiated – and sometimes prove to be quite false. This has given rise to the wise maxim, ‘let the buyer beware!’ Buyers must take responsibility to investigate all claims - to check to see whether what is presented to them to buy or accept is what they really want, what they thought was true, or were led to believe was true. In all things (especially in religious matters which affect our eternal wellbeing), we must discern between claims and facts - between what seems to be and what in fact is.
THE CHRISTIANITY OF THE CHRIST
The Christianity established by Christ and His inspired apostles is presented in the New Testament. This records the beliefs and the practices, the concepts and the customs, of first century Christianity. It was the truly ‘Apostolic Church’.
Read what the ‘Encyclopaedia International’ (1975 - Grolier) says:
"CHRISTIANITY, the historic religion derived from the teaching and life of Jesus Christ. . . .Arising as a sect within Judaism, it had . . culminated in the Hebrew and prophetic movement and the deeply laid hope of the coming of the Messiah (the "anointed one"), who would establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
The Messiahship of Jesus. It was in the capacity of this long-expected Messiah that Jesus of Nazareth gathered around him a small band of followers. . .Jesus’ conception of the
Messiahship, however, was very different from that commonly held by the Jewish religious and political parties. . . .on one occasion it is recorded that the people tried to make Him a King (John 6:15). This He steadfastly refused to countenance, because He had no intention of becoming the leader of a Messianic insurrection.
He had been anointed by the Spirit of the Lord to "preach good tidings to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18f.), thereby connecting His conception of the Messiahship with that of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh foretold by the
Deutero-Isaiah at the end of the exile (Isa. 61:1-3; 52:7ff.; 53). His mission was to bring salvation through suffering (Mark 8:3ff.; Matt. 16:21ff.), rather than to be a greater David or spectacular Son of Man coming in power and glory to deliver the nation from the Roman yoke. . . .it would seem that He accepted the Jewish apocalyptical [‘the prophesied end of the world’] notions of a new age to be established by the appearance of the Messiah in the clouds of heaven (Mark 13; 14:62; 24; 26:64), . . . . . .
.(IThess. 4:15ff.; 5:1ff.; II Thess. 2:2; II Pet. 3:7ff.; Rev. 14:15ff.; 21)."
Christ’s Christianity centred round His two comings as the Messiah:
First, as God’s suffering Servant to provide a way of forgiveness and salvation through faith in Him. God gave His only begotten Son as a necessary sacrifice for the sins and the redemption of all;
Second, as an all conquering King who will establish on earth The Kingdom of God in place of the present kingdoms of men. Belief of Jesus’ Gospel, baptism into His Death, and a renewed walk in obedience to His commandments are His requirements for salvation - an eternal place in this Kingdom when it comes.
Our Lord Jesus Christ requires belief of the Gospel followed by baptism for salvation, (Mark 16/15,16 – see TAB 6, ‘The Truth About The Gospel’, and TAB 329, ‘The Original Gospel’). Baptism involves death and a burial to the old sinful way of life and a rising to walk in a new life of obedience to God, ( Romans 4:24; ch. 6; 16:26; John 14:15).
We find considerable difference between these things and what is taught by the so-called, ‘Christian Church’ - both Catholic (English, Greek and Roman) and non-Catholic. The dogmas of The Trinity, The supernatural Devil and Satan, heaven-going for the righteous, hell-going for the wicked, immortal souls, the Church as the Kingdom of God, (or in heaven), the pre-existence of Christ, the earth to be burnt up, Christ death as a Substitute and other fallacies are taught and required for communion. Such dogmas cannot validly be established from the Bible. Rather, they can be shown to have come from non-biblical sources.
The Christianity of Christendom in fact is an amalgam of some pagan ideas mixed with some biblical words. It represents a corruption of biblical Christianity. Israel of old were guilty of continually falling into similar corruption and regularly received the chastening hand of God – yet it stubbornly refused to return to God consistently, see Hosea 7. The so called ‘Christian nations’ of modern times have also experienced the chastening hand of God upon them many times in terrible wars, and yet for all that have not repented of their crimes, (Rev. 2/21; 9/20, 21; 16/9,11).
What then, should those do who sincerely desire to be true, biblical Christians yet who find themselves in a Christianity that is astray from the Bible?
‘COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE’
The call of Christ Himself is found in Revelation 18/4: "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues". The Lord Jesus from heaven calls modern Christianity "her" – an unchaste woman with illegitimate daughters. For the Lord’s own descriptive words see
Rev. 18/2; 17/5,6.
WHAT SHALL WE DO THEN?
We should become diligent, careful Bible readers, "hungering and thirsting after righteousness" that we may be filled, Mat. 5/6; Acts 17/11; Romans 15/4; 2 Tim.3/14-17.
We will then be equipped to search for a loving community whose beliefs and practices are truly biblical. A disciple of Christ from an address on the back cover of this pamphlet will both faithfully guide you in God’s Way of Salvation and also help you find (or in need, establish) a spiritual home in biblical Christianity.