New Testament Christianity...
What's It All About?
By Mark J. Ward
The church of which I am a member claims to be a church following the New Testament pattern. We are simply a group of Christians (who have no ties to any denomination) working and worshipping in the same local congregation. There is to be no authority but the Bible in our religious teaching and practice, so this is our guide.
The work of the church is to save lost souls, build up the members spiritually and help any of the needy whom the Bible points out the church should relieve. The church that Jesus built is His and to keep it His we must adhere to the teachings of Scripture that apply to it. Otherwise, we change the Lord's church into some man-made religious organization and become a part of the denominational world which exists today. We believe this to be a gross error.
Jesus Christ is the Savior of all who have been truly converted to Christ and it is to Him that we look for our salvation. John 14:6 says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father but through Him.
There are many positive meassages found in Scripture and there are negative messages, as well. We teach and believe that we are to include the "whole counsel of God" in order to be right in God's eyes. Man is not at liberty to pick and choose his desire in religious matters today and be acceptable. The Bible teaches that the Creator has set the rules for the creature (i.e. mankind) to follow. Please investigate the remainder of this article with an open, honest, truth-seeking heart.
Many religious organizations exist today. They all can't be right. In fact, truth does not contradict truth and God's Word teaches there is "one faith" (See Ephesians 4:1-5). We should concentrate on worshipping God and following His Word as outlined in the New Testament, our perfect law of liberty which we will be judged by when Jesus comes again (See John 4:24; Matthew 15:9; James 1:25 and James 2:12).
What do we mean when we speak of "New Testament Christianity"? One proper definition, based on God's Word, is: "The way of life pleasing to God introduced in the books of Matthew-Revelation involving both individual and congregational responsibilities prescribed by God in Scripture."
New Testament Christianity is NOT...
While there are many things which comprise true New Testament Christianity, there are many things New Testament Christianity is NOT. Consider:
New Testament Christianity is NOT:
Attending the church of YOUR Choice (or Denominationalism)
Picking and Choosing Parts of the Bible we like to obey
Being "Sunday Only" Christians
Many people are content to simply "play" at church. These folks attend the "main service" on Sunday and usually make it a social occasion. While there is much benefit to be derived from being with other people in a religious setting, it is not enough for one to merely attend on the pretense of being a child of God. Let's NOT be found "guilty" of playing church. The stakes are too high!
In the very first issue of this webzine, back in January 1998, we had an article entitle Peanut Butter Religion, wherein we discussed the fallacy of picking and choosing what we like in religious matters today. God has prescribed what is best for mankind (Isa. 55:8.9; Jer. 10:23). We must have authority from heaven to proceed in any matter, religious or secular (Col. 3:17). If we have no Bible authority for an activity, we should not do it (I John 3:4; 2 John 9). Denominationalism is a concept of religious division being acceptable, an "all roads lead to heaven" concept that is certainly NOT taught in God's Word. In fact, the very opposite is true (John 17; I Cor. 1:10). New Testament Christianity includes attend the church of God's choice, not "attend the church of your choice".
Do you follow just the things in the Bible you like to obey? Those are the easy ones, aren't they? What kind of sacrifice is that? See Romans 12:1 and read that we are to be living sacrifices, doing God's Will and not ours. Also note the teaching in Romans 6 about being servants of righteousness instead of slaves to sin. Do we think God is "fooled" when we simply obey the parts of the Bible we like to obey and leave the other things undone that He asks of us that we dislike? If we LOVE God, we will keep His commandments and we won't find them to be burdensome (See I John 5:3).
Have you seen folks who claim to be Christians and live like the devil Monday through Saturday, but clean up their act only on the first day of the week? I am sure all of us know of people like this. Some are so turned off by hypocrites that they say, "I'll never go to church, there are too many hypocrites!" Well, the devil is very pleased if folks are so shallow that they will let someone else who lives wrong (but who attends church services) stand in their way from being saved! Imagine if everyone took this approach. Matthew 23 speaks of hypocrites in Jesus' day...there will always be hypocrites in religion as long as the earth stands (even in the Lord's church)...just don't let that keep you from deciding to do what is right. After all, judgment will be on an individual basis (See Matthew 25).
When you really think about it, the folks that are being turned off by hypocrites to the point that they won't obey God (including not attending scriptural worship services) will end up in eternity in the same place as those that they despise so much! Wouldn't you rather live in this world for 70-100 years worshipping with some who are hypocrites possibly present in the services and live right and get to heaven to be with the all the faithful for eternity than to live isolated from hypocrites for the 70-100 years on earth (by not attending church services) and yet get to be with them for eternity in hell? Some choice, huh? Yet, many are deceived by the devil and use this shallow excuse for not being religious and serving God today.
In future articles, we will explore more about true New Testament Christianity as found in the pages of God's Word. Examine your faith and see if it harmonizes with the faith of the New Testament (Jude 3; Eph. 4:5).
Thanks for reading. - Mark
Email the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
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