Many won’t admit it but the pandemic has unveiled a lot of mess within contemporary Christianity. Controversy and scandals have rocked the Christian world – sexual scandals, politicking and callous denial of the Covid-19 pandemic causing many to resist the required health protocols. It isn’t surprising however, for conventional Christianity has always been acquainted with controversies, lies and scandals. Yet that is not a reason for anyone to reject or abandon the Christian faith; rather, we ought to study Scripture and learn the true essence of its teaching, and the Bible alone is the source of absolute truth.
Let us first look at the contemporary definition for Christianity.
At its most basic, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ. In this context, faith refers both to the believers’ act of trust and to the content of their faith. As a tradition, Christianity is more than a system of religious belief. It also has generated a culture, a set of ideas and ways of life, practices, and artifacts that have been handed down from generation to generation since Jesus first became the object of faith. Christianity is thus both a living tradition of faith and the culture that the faith leaves behind. The agent of Christianity is the church, the community of people who make up the body of believers.Britannica.com, The Essence and Identity of Christianity
True enough, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure or person of Jesus Christ – the Messiah or Anointed One. See explanation below:
Anointed, the Greek translation of the Hebrew word rendered “Messiah” (q.v.), the official title of our Lord, occurring five hundred and fourteen times in the New Testament. It denotes that He was anointed or consecrated to His great redemptive work as Prophet, Priest, and King of His people. He is Jesus the Christ (Act 17:3; Act 18:5; Mat 22:42), the Anointed One. He is thus spoken of by Isaiah (Isa 61:1), and by Daniel (Dan 9:24-26), who styles Him “Messiah the Prince.”
The Messiah is the same person as “the seed of the woman” (Gen 3:15), “the seed of Abraham” (Gen 22:18), the “Prophet like unto Moses” (Deu 18:15), “the priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Psa 110:4), “the rod out of the stem of Jesse” (Isa 11:1, Isa 11:10), the “Immanuel,” the virgin’s son (Isa 7:14), “the branch of Jehovah” (Isa 4:2), and “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal 3:1). This is He “of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write.” The Old Testament Scripture is full of prophetic declarations regarding the Great Deliverer and the work He was to accomplish. Jesus the Christ is Jesus the Great Deliverer, the Anointed One, the Saviour of men.
To believe that “Jesus is the Christ” is to believe that He is the Anointed, the Messiah of the prophets, the Saviour sent of God, that He was, in a word, what He claimed to be. This is to believe the gospel, by the faith of which alone men can be brought unto God. That Jesus is the Christ is the testimony of God, and the faith of this constitutes a Christian (1Co 12:3; 1Jn 5:1)Easton Bible Dictionary, Christ
Jesus Christ then is not merely a figment of man’s imagination; rather, He was/is the Messiah revealed in Scripture. No wonder Paul warned against believing another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). Christianity then encompasses both the announcement and the fulfillment of the Messianic message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was/is the seed of the woman who came to redeem people from the sin and death of Adam.
Concerning the “seed of the woman”, see Genesis 3:14-19.
“The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you [serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring [Jesus Christ]; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” To the woman He said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” And to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.””
Let me first make clear that God’s curse of the ground was lifted after the judgment and flood in Noah’s time; see Genesis 8:20-22 cf. Genesis 3:17.
“Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.””
Incidentally, here is the factual truth that God would never destroy the earth as proposed and taught by the futurist camp – people who believe Christ’s return is yet to come. You may want to read my blog entitled “Utopia” for further explnation on the topic of Christ’s return. The deterioration of the earth as revealed by geoscience was due to the negligence and abuse of mankind, not God’s judgment.
God’s original intention in His creation of mankind was for them to be in the image and likeness of Him; see Genesis 1:26-27.
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
What does it mean to be created in God’s image and likeness? See 1 John 3:2. The apostle John, anticipating the soon return of Christ Jesus in his lifetime, said:
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He [Jesus Christ] appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.”
Jesus Christ died, resurrected and ascended. The apostle Paul then declared, see 1 Timothy 3:16.
“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He [Jesus Christ] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
See also Luke 24:26; the Risen Lord Jesus Christ said: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”
Now see Romans 6:3-5; the apostle Paul explained the Christian hope in Christ Jesus.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.”
Christ Jesus was resurrected in glory; that is, among other things for eternity. Christians then would also be changed from perishable to imperishable. Same as John’s declaration was Paul’s explanation in 1 Corinthians 15:21-23.
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming [return] those who belong to Christ.”
See also 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. From the context of Adam’s death and Christ’s deliverance, the apostle Paul further explained:
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We [Christians] shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet [Christ’s judgement and redemption]. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Lastly, concerning the sin and death of Adam [And to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you … by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. – Genesis 3:17].
As to the sin of Adam, see Hosea 6:7. “But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with Me.” In other words, Adam broke God’s creation covenant.
Now, on the death of Adam, again see 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Consequently, the fulfillment of Genesis 1:26-27 – that is, mankind would finally be in the everlasting presence of God – rests firmly on the coming of the Messiah, Christ Jesus our Lord, both first and His return. On the other hand, the commencement of Genesis 3:15 was declared by Paul through Galatians 4:4-7.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Doubtless, the Christian hope for salvation was not limited to the Jews alone (“those who were under the law”) but for everyone who believes in Christ Jesus, the Anointed One of God the Father. See Galatians 3:22-29.
“”But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Incidentally, the belief that God has yet to fulfill His covenant promise to Old Covenant Israel can no longer be supported by the Bible. For Scripture said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all ONE in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offsrping heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:28-29). The recent events in Israel then has nothing to do with Scripture, for God had fulfilled all His promises in Christ Jesus our Lord by His coming (both first and His return).
That is the straightforward message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 12:22-24). Consequently, in the midst of the false teachings by the Judaizers, Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
JUDAIZERS [JOO dee eye zurs] — early converts to Christianity who tried to force believers from non-Jewish backgrounds to adopt Jewish customs as a condition of salvation.
Evidence of this movement within the early church first emerged about A.D. 49, when “certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’ ” (Act 15:1).
The apostle Paul denounced this idea, insisting that only one thing is necessary for salvation: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Act 15:1-29). In the letter to the Galatians, Paul continued this same argument, insisting that the believer is justified by faith alone. To become a new person in Christ is to be set free from the requirements of the Jewish law: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Gal 6:15).Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Judaizers
The true teaching of Christianity is solely centered in Christ Jesus, embodied by Scripture alone, mandated on believers as the faith to believed and lived by. So once more, indeed Christianity is both a living tradition of faith and the culture that the faith leaves behind. But let me modify the sentence and add “Christianity then is both a living tradition of faith and the culture that the faith leaves behind for eternity of which the true church of Christ Jesus, the assembly of believers, should adhere, live and experience now and forevermore.”
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