Next week all Christendom would be remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, more popularly known as the Holy Week. For the sake of clarity, the term “Holy Week” was nowhere spoken in the Bible, it’s a later invention, see caption on quotation below.
In the Greek and Roman liturgical books, it is called the Great Week because great deeds were done by God during this week. The name Holy Week was used in the 4th century by St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, and St. Epiphanius of Constantia. Originally, only Good Friday and Holy Saturday were observed as holy days. Later, Wednesday was added as the day on which Judas plotted to betray Jesus, and by the beginning of the 3rd century the other days of the week had been added.https://www.britannica.com/topic/Holy-Week
Historically, Jesus Christ came to fulfill God’s promised of the Messiah. Yes, the Jewish religious leaders of Old Covenant Israel rejected Christ Jesus and sent Him to be crucified. To quote Joseph, son of Jacob, perhaps his words foreshadowed God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ – “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (Genesis 50:20)”.
God’s sovereign will for salvation prevailed. Jesus Christ died to overturn the curse of the Adamic Law (Genesis 2:15-17) – the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Consequently, Paul wrote “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive (1Corinthians 15:22)”. Take note, the Adamic death has to do with spiritual death, not physical. So Jesus Christ resurrected back to life offering the law of the Spirit (Romans 8:2; 1Corinthians 15:45). The Gospel was/is the law of the Spirit, the good news of the New Covenant. See 2Corinthians 3:5-9.
Not that we (Paul and his co-workers) are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter (Mosaic Law) but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.
The Mosaic Law (Galatians 3:17-19, 23-26) was an annex to the Law of Sin and Death (Adamic Law Genesis 2:15-17) to made evident the need for God’s grace (Romans 7:7-13), the Gospel.
See Romans 8:1-4 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life (the New Covenant or the Gospel) has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Adamic Law, Genesis 2:15-17). For God has done what the law (Mosaic Law, Galatians 2:15-21), weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us …”
Let’s be real, in view of God’s grace, Christians ought to focus on the grace of God made available through Christ Jesus our Lord. We are not saved by faith just so we may continue in our sinful ways (see Romans 6:10-12) but to be the light and salt of the world. Christians ought to live according to the grace and Words of Jesus Christ.
Formerly, we too were lost and were doomed to die without salvation. It was only and still is, by the grace of God that we now have salvation and eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus. Hence, the unavoidable physical death of all humanity no longer reigns over us because Jesus Christ said, “Whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24)”.
I do not mean that Christians have overcome physical death; rather, our existence would no longer be halted by physical death, for we would eternally be in the presence of God.
To be “light and salt” means we should exemplify the Christian standard of living by faith and in obedience to the Words of Jesus Christ. The Bible never spoke of Christians being perfect in themselves, rather perfection through faith on the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9, 12).
Simply said, Christians should not be an oxymoron to the confession of faith. Salvation is by faith in Christ alone, so does everything else in life. So Jesus Christ said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Christians should not have a life of duality. Worshipping God when with Christian people, but in their day-to-day, professional or business lives, they are no different from people who worshipped money and power, just to enrich themselves with unrighteous wealth instead of the true riches. Jesus Christ said, “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:11-13)
Money isn’t the enemy of Christianity. It’s simply a means for trade. Scripture said “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He (God) has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
The love of money is no different from Idolatry. The apostle Paul said “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossions 3:5)
Moreover, the unbelieving world is not the enemy of Christianity; rather, they are the focus of the Gospel. Therefore, the outreach of every Christian.
A restaurant, no matter how good its aesthetics is, would soon lose its appeal if food turned out to be not so good or bad. Similarly, Christianity should not leave a bad taste on people, thereby losing its appeal to the lost. But truth of the matter is, it isn’t Christianity in the real sense that has lost its focus but pretenders to Christianity destroying the Gospel of Christ.
Consequently, the real and true enemy of Christianity has to be the wolves in sheep’s clothing. The apostle Paul spoke of such people as “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power … (2Timothy 3:5)” Make no mistake, by “power”, Paul was talking about the faith, the Gospel, the Scripture itself, which alone has the power to transform people for Christ Jesus. Wolves in sheep’s clothing have no regards for God’s Word and the Lord’s sheep (Acts 20:29-30; John 10:12).
Hence, Paul in the succeeding verses went on to say, “But as for you (Timothy), continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you (Timothy) in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you (Timothy), always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)
The same Christian mandate holds true today. We ought to be perfectly correct as we teach God’s Word. No compromise, no modification, always remain true to the Scripture. Else, we fall into the same mold – having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.
Paul addressing the problem within the church of Corinth said: “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1Corinthians 5:6-8)
Christians, for the good of our own ranks, should be willing to cleanse out the rotten ones. In reality, within each Christian congregation gathering each week, there are not many rotten ones, but those few rotten ones are just so poisonous that they can easily misdirect the many to agree with their agendas and doings.
Termites, once detected in the house, should be remedied at once. Delays or dilly-dally after detection could cause the whole house to be damaged later. Restoration of a hugely damaged house is more costly than rebuilding new ones. Similarly, Christians should never have second thoughts addressing the termites or rotten ones within their own congregation – fast and quick.
See Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” (1Timothy 5:17-20)
Compromises or ignoring wrongs within the church was never recommended in Scripture. Do not say “the church is a place for sinners”, that is a misrepresentation of God’s word regarding the church. Rather the church is the assembly of repentant sinner that have been transformed by God’s grace.
Jesus Christ, before sending out the apostles to preach about the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel, said: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).” The religious people of Jesus’ day, the spiritual leaders of Old Covenant Israel, were the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Just as it was then, it remains the same today. We also have wolves in sheep’s clothing from within supposedly Christian institutions.
I do not mean the whole organized Christian congregation but within their midst. Though, it must be recognized we also have true people of God within their ranks. Let everyone be reminded of Jesus’s words, saying, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Seek the Scripture. Always let the Scripture be the guiding truth in decision-making. Do not be afraid to start anew once God’s truth has been compromised. Leave and start your own journey through the guidance of God’s word.
Again, Paul warned: “Pay careful attention to yourselves (Christian elders of Ephesus) and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-30)
The danger within the Christian community has always been from within their own ranks. Learn from the Old Testament stories of Israel. Every time Israel has fallen out of the Scripture and turned to the ways of the world, it was then that Israel became apostate. They sought to do things not according to the guidance of the Word of God, but according to the pattern of ungodly people.
Historically, all Christian congregation almost always have a remarkable and humble beginning. They have a simple idea establishing a place for gathering together; that is, to worship, care for one another, and honor the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, with the passing of time, each Christain community has the same tale to tell – deterioration from within their ranks.
Perhaps, history was simply repeating itself. Like Israel, Christians have sought for charismatic leaders – leaders that appear to stood above the rest. Forgetting that the true Christian leader, being a true follower of Jesus Christ, should imitate his/her Master. Jesus Christ never appeared above the rest in terms of appearance but always by His teaching and Word.
Let’s be real. Stop calling a congregation a church if it has a mix of seekers still contemplating on renouncing his/her old ways. All Jesus Christ said about such people was “You are not far from the kingdom of heaven”. Go read Mark 12:28-34.
But in contrast, with Zacchaeus, having been found and befriended by Jesus Christ, he offered to undo his mistake, giving away his wealth to repay those whom he had defruaded (surely, as a taxman, he had wronged many). The Lord Jesus declared said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he (Zacchaeus) also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Go read Luke 19:1-10.
Christianity is all about total surrender to Christ Jesus our Lord. Recognizing our wrongs, short comings and our need of Christ Jesus for salvation and everything else in life. Joining a weekly worship service but without experiencing any of the above does not make a person Christian.
Let us call a spade, a spade. The church ain’t the institution, nor was it the building where people gather each week. Rather, the church are God’s people, redeemed by His grace. They are the body of Christ, with Christ alone being the Head of His church.
Concerning the church, Paul said, “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5)
To the church in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6)
Now see 1Corinthians 3:5-8, Paul used agricultural and architectural language to described the church: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
Stop saying “I’m a member of this or that church”, for there is no church that was/is built by man but by Christ Jesus alone. Jesus Christ declared before Peter, saying, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.”
Take note that Peter wasn’t the rock by which Jesus would built His church, rather Jesus Christ was and will always be the Rock, see 1Corinthians 10:4; the cornerstone of His church (Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1Peter 2:4-7) and the church is God’s spiritual house (1Peter 2:5); also, the holy temple and God’s dwelling place (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Forget not what Jesus Christ had said to the Samaritan woman concerning God’s true temple or the place for worship. See John 4:21-24.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming,and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’”
Let’s be real. Nowhere in Scripture did Jesus tell His disciples to collect money for the building of a worship center or building. Rather, Jesus Christ asked them to preach the Gospel of the kingdom.
Let’s be real. Nowhere in Scripture did Jesus tell His disciples to gather all believer into one building. Rather, the first century church gathered in their homes and houses. It’s doable then, more so now. No parking problems. No costly buildings to build and maintain.
Let’s be real. Jesus Christ offered His life to release His people from the bondage of regulations, shackles or restrictions and the likes. All Jesus Christ demands from us Christians is a true confession of faith to His Lordship and salvation offered. Living a life of faith, trusting His Word and promise – that is the true essence of true Christian worship, in spirit and truth.
Let’s be real. Only Jesus Christ holds the key to God’s kingdom and His church. No application for church membership. No regulations for church membership. No human developed confessions needed. Rather Christians became members of God’s house – the church – through faith in Christ Jesus alone. See Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Him (Jesus Christ) you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our (the church’s) inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.”
We need not second guess Paul’s mention of the Church’s inheritance. See Ephesians 5:5 “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
In conclusion, allow me to remind everyone of God’s Word. To be real, always remember, Scripture said, “For we (Paul and Christian workers) are God’s fellow workers. You (the church) are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it (the foundation that Paul laid; that is, Christ Jesus). Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Christ Jesus is the sole foundation of God’s church. Hence, there are no numerous churches, but all true Christians are members of the body of Jesus Christ – His church or assembly.
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