Not a Christian, but Christ-Follower

Not a Christian, but Christ-Follower.

Anyone can understand the desire for an alternative to the word “Christian.” There are plenty of “Christians” I’d rather not be associated with.

To follow Jesus without calling oneself a “Christian.”

Non-Christian Christ-followers even seem to have some scripture on their side. The first name of the Jesus movement in the book of Acts is “followers of the Way.” There are plenty of other fully-biblical alternatives: disciples, apostles, friends of God. Apparently the movement has legs: more than 900 Facebook groups call themselves some variant of “follower of Jesus.”

God loves truthful speech and truth-tellers.

As followers of Jesus Christ, the Truth incarnate, We are called to put away the old self with its practices, which includes lying.” God loves truthful speech and truth-tellers. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight (Prov. 12:22).

More power to the people looking for alternative biblical descriptions of Christians. We can all use those—they awaken our imagination to fresh evocations of our faith. But the choice of one such term need not—can not—excise another.

Those who disagree are still members of this family. They can’t disown me anymore than I can them. Weekly we have family reunions in buildings, big and small, all over the world. And I sure hope they’ll join the rest of us at one of them from time to time. The rest of us aren’t complete without them.

God is eternal, infinite

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?"

This is one of the most difficult questions in all of theology. God is eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Why should human beings (not eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent) expect to be able to fully understand God’s ways? The book of Job deals with this issue. God had allowed Satan to do everything he wanted to Job except kill him. What was Job’s reaction? “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21). Job did not understand why God had allowed the things He did, but he knew God was good and therefore continued to trust in Him. Ultimately, that should be our reaction as well.

Why do bad things happen to good people? The biblical answer is there are no “good” people. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that all of us are tainted by and infected with sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). Romans 3:10-18 could not be clearer about the non-existence of “good” people: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Every human being on this planet deserves to be thrown into hell at this very moment. Every second we spend alive is only by the grace and mercy of God. Even the most terrible misery we could experience on this planet is merciful compared to what we deserve, eternal hell in the lake of fire.

A better question would be “Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?” Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Despite the evil, wicked, sinful nature of the people of this world, God still loves us. He loved us enough to die to take the penalty for our sins (Romans 6:23). If we receive Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16; Romans 10:9), we will be forgiven and promised an eternal home in heaven (Romans 8:1). What we deserve is hell. What we are given is eternal life in heaven if we come to Christ in faith. 

Yes, sometimes bad things happen to people who seem undeserving of them. But God allows things to happen for His reasons, whether or not we understand them. Above all, however, we must remember that God is good, just, loving, and merciful. Often things happen to us that we simply cannot understand. However, instead of doubting God’s goodness, our reaction should be to trust Him. ”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Recommended Resource: Wrestling with God: How Can I Love a God I’m Not Sure I Trust? by James Denison

Dependent on God’s Presence

prayer

Those who wait on the Lord…shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31

There is no thrill for us in walking, yet it is the test for all of our steady and enduring qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest stretch possible as a measure of strength. The word walk is used in the Bible to express the character of a person— “…John…looking at Jesus as He walked…said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ ” (John 1:35-36). There is nothing abstract or obscure in …the Bible; everything is vivid and real. God does not say, “Be spiritual,” but He says, “Walk before Me…” (Genesis 17:1).

When we are in an unhealthy condition either physically or emotionally, we always look for thrills in life. In our physical life this leads to our efforts to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit; in our emotional life it leads to obsessions and to the destruction of our morality; and in our spiritual life, if we insist on pursuing only thrills, on mounting up “with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), it will result in the destruction of our spirituality.

Having the reality of God’s presence is not dependent on our being in a particular circumstance or place, but is only dependent on our determination to keep the Lord before us continually. Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence. The experience the psalmist speaks of— “We will not fear, even though…” (Psalm 46:2)— will be ours once we are grounded on the truth of the reality of God’s presence, not just a simple awareness of it, but an understanding of the reality of it. Then we will exclaim, “He has been here all the time!” At critical moments in our lives it is necessary to ask God for guidance, but it should be unnecessary to be constantly saying, “Oh, Lord, direct me in this, and in that.” Of course He will, and in fact, He is doing it already! If our everyday decisions are not according to His will, He will press through them, bringing restraint to our spirit. Then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.

Wisdom From Oswald Chambers

The fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission. It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances; we are developed because of them. It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them. The Love of God—The Message of Invincible Consolation, 674 R

Google say’s were not involved with politics.

Google CEO says, they are not involved with politics.

I think Google Trending is the problem, and all the Democrats Google support.

THE CALIFORNIA REPORT
1. Health Care Is Top Issue in California Swing Districts, Search Data Shows.  

2. Google censored search engine for China, Dragonfly?

But they are not blocking internet traffic to Christian Websites. 🙂 . Google is experiencing a “moral and ethical” crisis. who are protesting the development of a censored search engine for internet users in China.

Facebook, Twitter and Google/YouTube Censoring Christians

By RACHEL ALEXANDER 
Published on December 15, 2017

“Chillingly, a growing censorship of Christian and politically conservative viewpoints on the internet is happening in America and across the globe.” That’s from the National Religious Broadcasters’ new site, Internet Freedom Watch.

The site documents censorship of Christians and conservatives by the major online tech giants. It lists more than 30 instances between 2010 and now. They’re increasing. NRB was founded in 1944 to combat corporate censorship of evangelical radio ministries.

Social Media Censorship Is Out of Control

By Jerry Newcombe, CP Op-Ed Contributor

The New York Times’ slogan is famously, “All the news that’s fit to print.” I guess Facebook’s slogan should be, “All the liberal news that’s fit to print.” And not just Facebook, but Google, YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, and Apple.

Look at this variety of recent examples where social media giants are allegedly censoring conservative or Christian content:

•Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org (which alerts people to acts by radical Islamists) told my radio show: “There is a concerted effort by all of them—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, all of them—to de-platform or choke out or to diminish the influence of anybody who dissents from the leftist agenda. And so when it comes to Facebook, for example, my website, jihadwatch.org, for years got about 20,000 referrals a day from Facebook. And in February 2017, that dropped to 2000 a day and has never recovered. It has stayed about there ever since.” He also complains of being buried recently by Google searches for those looking up “jihad.”

•YouTube, owned by Google, has censored many PragerU videos because of their conservative content. So talk host, Dennis Prager, is suing them. He commented to D. James Kennedy Ministries: “Delta Airlines cannot announce conservatives cannot fly on our planes, and that’s what [Google-YouTube is] saying; conservatives cannot fly on our planes. And by the way, Delta would be less pernicious, because there are alternatives to Delta, but there is no alternative to Google-YouTube.”

•Google, Facebook, and Twitter interfered in a May 2018 abortion-related election in Ireland. LiveAction.org notes, “Google announced that it would suspend all advertising related to the subject. The move has been condemned by pro-life groups as an attempt ‘to rig the election.'” The voters in Ireland only heard pro-abortion rhetoric in their mainstream media, and big tech cut off alternative media (including ads) providing the pro-life side. The voters consequently voted for abortion.

Becoming more Christ-like

Pastors often warn Christians against ascribing to a “God of their own making,”

Spirit and Flesh

But today, we have smaller attendance in church, fewer biblical television evangelists, and decline in seminary enrollment.  But not necessarily that the cause of Christ is being abandoned. The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an survey by the Pew Research Center.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit

1. Fruit.

The fruit in a Christian’s life and in a Christian church could be of a great variety, but these two predominate: people being saved and the saved becoming more like Jesus. Evangelism and spiritual growth. Anyone been saved in your church lately?

2. Called Out.

The call to missions, to pastor churches, to do bold and innovative things in furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ are signs of health in a church. Has your church ordained anyone to the ministry lately?

3. Vibrant Youth.

One pastor said, “In talking to the youth in our church, I was amazed at their faith in Christ and their love for the Lord.” How are the young people in your church?

4. Love.

When you see God’s people loving the unlovely and showing genuine care for people whom they have nothing in common with, you know it’s a God thing. Anyone in your church who doesn’t look like the rest of you?

5. The Scriptures.

More love for the Word, and a devotion to studying and obeying it, as well as distributing it–these are great indicators of life in a congregation. How is the Bible study in your congregation?

6. Forgiveness.

Dealing with past sins–wrongs and omissions–mental health, etc. Over the last few years, our denomination (the SBC) has passed resolutions confessing and apologizing for racism and other wrongs. A good sign.

7. Church planting.

Even as some churches are always dying for a hundred reasons, a sign of vitality in a denomination is new church plants. In my former hometown of New Orleans, I’m told there are many new congregations of all types, many of them Baptist, but certainly not all. Good.

8. Sacrifice.

Sacrificial giving and living. When you see people denying themselves in order to minister to the hurting and needy, that’s a sign of health, an evidence of the presence of Christ in that life.

9. Outreach to the poor.

Defending the poor, the orphans, the needy, the voiceless and defenseless is a huge deal with our God, as found in both Testaments.

God desires spiritual fruit in His people. Patiently He looks for the fruit of His labor in the lives of those He has saved. To insure that we actually bear spiritual fruit He sends His Holy Spirit to cultivate it in us.

This book sets out to show how the Spirit does this work. It is a vital book with an urgently needed message for each Christian because it shows how each may produce the fruit of the Spirit in rich abundance.

Are you earnest about your spiritual walk with God? This book is essential reading for anyone who desires to produce spiritual fruit that exalts God.

Mike Huckabee Resigns From Country Music

Mike Huckabee crazy Christian conservatives

Mike Huckabee Resigns From Country Music Association Board as Nashville Firestorm Ignites

“Basically, every gay man in town is furious,” says one manager of the former Arkansas governor’s short tenure with the CMAs’ educational wing.

Almost as quickly as he was appointed, conservative radio host Mike Huckabee has resigned from the board of the CMA Foundation, an educational arm of the Country Music Association. “The CMA Foundation has accepted former Governor Mike Huckabee’s resignation from its Board of Directors, effective immediately,” the CMA said in a statement late Thursday afternoon, just a day after revealing that Huckabee had joined the board, an announcement that immediately set off a firestorm in the country music community.

The CMA had obviously seen Huckabee’s appointment as apolitical, since the former Arkansas governor had long been a champion of putting the arts in schools, which is the CMA Foundation’s mission. But hardly everyone thought it was possible to view Huckabee’s philanthropic efforts as separate from his hardline politics. “Basically, every gay man in town is furious,” said one artist manager, before the resignation was announced — and the chatter around Nashville made it clear that many of the straight men and women heading the town’s biggest label groups and management firms were every bit as angry.

The writing appeared to be on the wall for Huckabee’s day-long tenure after one of the most influential managers in Nashville, Jason Owen, wrote a letter to the CMA announcing that his artists would no longer work on Foundation efforts. Owen even suggested that cooperation with the entire CMA was in question. Owen’s clients include Little Big Town, whose Karen Fairchild sits on the Foundation board, and was seen as likely to resign if Owen intended to carry out his words. Owen also represents Kacey Musgraves, whose gay-friendly “Follow Your Arrow” politics might be seen as not exactly aligning with Huckabee’s.

Owen’s letter to the CMAs’ CEO, Sarah Trahern, and director of community outreach, Tiffany Kerns, read: “It is with a heavy heart that I must let you know moving forward, Sandbox [his management firm] and Monument [Sandbox’s Sony-distributed label] will no longer support the CMA Foundation in any way (this includes everyone we represent collectively) considering the heartbreaking news shared today regarding Mike Huckabee appointee/elected to the CMA Foundation. Further, we find it hard to support the organization as a whole as a result. As you may know I have a child and two on the way. This man has made it clear that my family is not welcome in his America. And the CMA has opened their arms to him, making him feel welcome and relevant. Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family is morally beneath his and uses language that has a profoundly negative impact upon young people all across this country. Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice.”

 

Mike Huckabee crazy Christian conservatives
Mike Huckabee crazy Christian conservatives

“I will not participate in any organization that elevates people like this to positions that amplify their sick voices,” Owen’s letter continued. “This was a detrimentally poor choice by the CMA and its leaders. I only wish the best for you and I know how hard you work for the foundation but a grossly offensive decision like this only makes your job harder and diminishes the foundation’s purpose.”

Steve Schnur, a former CMA board member, said the town’s phones were lit up all night and into this morning after Wednesday’s announcement. “I got calls in shock from multiple CMA members, asking if I knew about it, some threatening to leave,” says Schnur, who is the worldwide executive of music for EA, the blockbuster video game producer that has moved most of its efforts to Nashville, and who sits on the Recording Academy’s Nashville board. “I’ve had numerous conversations since the second I woke up with chairmen of labels and major managers, all collectively agreeing that this move, which fortunately now has been resolved, really would have put Nashville back 20 years. I hear it wasn’t properly vetted. Would the next move to have been to put somebody from the NRA on? We don’t need to live under those clichés anymore, and I’m very happy that there are people like Jason, (manager) Clarence Spalding, (UMG Nashville chief) Mike Dungan, and others that won’t stand for this stuff. This isn’t about Republican/Democrat. We have to set an example to the people around the world who put Nashville on a pedestal, and the example can’t be a lack of tolerance.”

Another music industry VIP with close ties to the CMA, who did not want to be identified, explained that in many ways, Huckabee’s appointment made sense, since he has a history of reaching across the aisle to further arts education in schools. “We are trying to support these programs in Tennessee, and he is a man who has been in the trenches and understands what it takes to get people of different backgrounds to get together and achieve a cause. My hope was that his experience would prove fruitful as we try to improve music in the schools.”

But, added this same source, “I couldn’t help but see him standing with his arms locked in the air with that Kim Davis woman in Kentucky [the clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2015]. That is not a favorable memory in my mind.”

Among those pleased by Huckabee’s swift exit is Shane McAnally, the producer of Midland’s and Old Dominion’s recent breakthroughs and co-writer of hits like Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road.” In a statement to Variety, McAnally said, “I am glad to hear that Mike Huckabee resigned from the CMA Foundation Board and I hope that this will prevent any further distractions from the work that the CMA Foundation does in our community. As a member of the CMA Board, I was disheartened to learn that Huckabee was appointed to the position because his beliefs have not been representative of our country music community as a whole, which is made up of dynamic and forward-thinking creatives. The CMA is an organization that acts as an ambassador for our industry, so it is incredibly important that we are diligent in spreading a message that embraces diversity and love. I hope that the CMA will continue to be governed by progressive and empathetic individuals in the future.”

Conservative Christianity Cult

THE CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS CULT


Conservative Christianity: Now we don’t agree with everything on this video, but the conservative Christians and Prosperity Gospel preachers are taking over the USA. Christians who tend to follow conservative values, and which stands in contrast to liberal Christianity. Some members of the clergy identify themselves as conservative Christians.

 

 

Conservative Christians pan 'prosperity gospel' Trump inaugural preacher
Conservative Christians pan ‘prosperity gospel’ Trump inaugural preacher

Prominent conservative Christians are up in arms about President-elect Trump’s choice of a controversial televangelist to deliver one of the prayers at his inauguration on Jan. 20.

Florida’s Paula White, age 50, will join Franklin Graham, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other religious leaders in participating in the Trump inaugural festivities. Unlike the others, White is a proponent of the “prosperity gospel” — the belief that God blesses the faithful with health and wealth — who has come under attack for her theology, marital history and finances.

“Paula White is a trinity denying heretic,” wrote conservative Christian commentator Erick Erickson. “She rejects the Council of Nicaea’s creed that every Christian accepts. To reject the orthodoxy of the Nicene Creed is to reject Christianity itself.”

“Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe,” echoed Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“Paula White has a long history of bankruptcies, failed business ventures, and unsuccessful marriages, which makes her the perfect choice to deliver a prayer on behalf a president-elect who has proudly proclaimed that he’s never felt the need to ask forgiveness from God for anything,” complained Paula Bolyard in a post titled “Twice Divorced Paula White Praying at Trump Inaugural Exactly What We Expected.”

White delivered the benediction on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, where Trump was nominated for president.

( We don’t agree with everything in this article, we have good information to explore this new Christian conservative cult. )

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/conservative-christians-pan-prosperity-gospel-trump-inaugural-preacher

Did Satan fall from heaven?

Bible Trivia True or False

Satan’s fall from heaven
Satan’s fall from heaven is symbolically described in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18. While these two passages are referring specifically to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, they also reference the spiritual power behind those kings, namely, Satan. These passages describe why Satan fell, but they do not specifically say when the fall occurred. What we do know is this: the angels were created before the earth (Job 38:4-7). Satan fell before he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-14).
Whether Satan’s fall occurred a few minutes, hours, or days before he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden, Scripture does not specifically say.
The book of Job
The book of Job tells us, at least at that time, Satan still had access to heaven and to the throne of God. “One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, ’Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the LORD, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it’” (Job 1:6-7). Apparently, at that time, Satan was still moving freely between heaven and earth, speaking to God directly and answering for his activities. At what point God discontinued this access is unknown.
Why did Satan fall from heaven?

Why did Satan fall from heaven? Satan fell because of pride. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God. Notice the many “I will…” statements in Isaiah 14:12-15. Ezekiel 28:12-15 describes Satan as an exceedingly beautiful angel. Satan was likely the highest of all angels, the most beautiful of all of God’s creations, but he was not content in his position. Instead, Satan desired to be God, to essentially “kick God off His throne” and take over the rule of the universe.

How did Satan fall from heaven? Actually, a fall is not an accurate description. It would be far more accurate to say God cast Satan out of heaven (Isaiah 14:15; Ezekiel 28:16-17). Satan did not fall from heaven; rather, Satan was pushed out of heaven.

Who is God?

Who is God?

Who is God?

Who is God? – The Fact
The fact of God’s existence is so conspicuous, both through creation and through man’s conscience, that the Bible calls the atheist a “fool” (Psalm 14:1). Accordingly, the Bible never attempts to prove the existence of God; rather, it assumes His existence from the very beginning (Genesis 1:1). What the Bible does is reveal the nature, character, and work of God.

Who is God? – The Definition
Thinking correctly about God is of utmost importance because a false idea about God is idolatry. In Psalm 50:21, God reproves the wicked man with this accusation: “You thought I was altogether like you.” To start with, a good summary definition of God is “the Supreme Being; the Creator and Ruler of all that is; the Self-existent One who is perfect in power, goodness, and wisdom.”

Who is God? – His Nature
We know certain things to be true of God for one reason: in His mercy He has condescended to reveal some of His qualities to us. God is spirit, by nature intangible (John 4:24). God is One, but He exists as three Persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17). God is infinite (1 Timothy 1:17), incomparable (2 Samuel 7:22), and unchanging (Malachi 3:6). God exists everywhere (Psalm 139:7-12), knows everything (Psalm 147:5Isaiah 40:28), and has all power and authority (Ephesians 1Revelation 19:6).

Who is God? – His Character
Here are some of God’s characteristics as revealed in the Bible: God is just (Acts 17:31), loving (Ephesians 2:4-5), truthful (John 14:6), and holy (1 John 1:5). God shows compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3), mercy (Romans 9:15), and grace (Romans 5:17). God judges sin (Psalm 5:5) but also offers forgiveness (Psalm 130:4).

Who is God? – His Work
Here is an abbreviated list of God’s works, past, present, and future: God created the world (Genesis 1:1Isaiah 42:5); He actively sustains the world (Colossians 1:17); He is executing His eternal plan (Ephesians 1:11) which involves the redemption of man from the curse of sin and death (Galatians 3:13-14); He draws people to Christ (John 6:44); He disciplines His children (Hebrews 12:6); and He will judge the world (Revelation 20:11-15).

Who is God? – A Relationship with Him
In the Person of the Son, God became incarnate (John 1:14). The Son of God became the Son of Man and is therefore the “bridge” between God and man (John 14:61 Timothy 2:5). It is only through the Son that we can have forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7), reconciliation with God (John 15:15Romans 5:10), and eternal salvation (2 Timothy 2:10). In Jesus Christ “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).
Recommended Resource: Knowing God by J.I. Packer

More insights from your Bible study – Get Started with Logos Bible Software for Free!

WHAT IS CHURCH?

WHAT IS CHURCH?

What was the first / original church?

Question: “What was the first / original church? Is the original / first church the true church?”

Answer: The ability to trace one’s church back to the “first church” through apostolic succession is an argument used by a number of different churches to assert that their church is the “one true church.” The Roman Catholic Church makes this claim. The Greek Orthodox Church makes this claim. Some Protestant denominations make this claim. Some of the “Christian” cults make this claim. How do we know which church is correct? The biblical answer is – it does not matter!

The first church—its growth, doctrine, and practices—were recorded for us in the New Testament. Jesus, as well as His apostles, foretold that false teachers would arise, and indeed it is apparent from some of the New Testament epistles that these apostles had to fight against false teachers early on. Having a pedigree of apostolic succession or being able to trace a church’s roots back to the “first church” is nowhere in Scripture given as a test for being the true church. What is given is repeated comparisons between what false teachers teach and what the first church taught, as recorded in Scripture. Whether a church is the “true church” or not is determined by comparing its teachings and practices to that of the New Testament church, as recorded in Scripture.

For instance, in Acts 20:17-38, the Apostle Paul has an opportunity to talk to the church leaders in the large city of Ephesus one last time face to face. In that passage, he tells them that false teachers will not only come among them but will come FROM them (vv. 29-30). Paul does not set forth the teaching that they were to follow the “first” organized church as a safeguard for the truth. Rather, he commits them to the safekeeping of “God and to the word of His grace” (v. 32). Thus, truth could be determined by depending upon God and “the word of His grace” (i.e., Scripture, see John 10:35).

This dependence upon the Word of God, rather than following certain individual “founders” is seen again in Galatians 1:8-9, in which Paul states, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Thus, the basis for determining truth from error is not based upon even WHO it is that is teaching it, “we or an angel from heaven,” but whether it is the same gospel that they had already received – and this gospel is recorded in Scripture.

Another example of this dependence upon the Word of God is found in 2 Peter. In this epistle, the Apostle Peter is fighting against false teachers. In doing so, Peter begins by mentioning that we have a “more sure word” to depend upon than even hearing the voice of God from heaven as they did at Jesus’ transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-21). This “more sure word” is the written Word of God. Peter later tells them again to be mindful of “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2). Both the words of the holy prophets and the commandments Jesus gave to the apostles are recorded in Scripture.

How do we determine whether a church is teaching correct doctrine or not? The only infallible standard that Scripture says that we have is the Bible (Isaiah 8:202 Timothy 3:15-17Matthew 5:18John 10:35Isaiah 40:81 Peter 2:25Galatians 1:6-9). Tradition is a part of every church, and that tradition must be compared to God’s Word, lest it go against what is true (Mark 7:1-13). It is true that the cults and sometimes orthodox churches twist the interpretation of Scripture to support their practices; nonetheless, Scripture, when taken in context and faithfully studied, is able to guide one to the truth.

 

The “first church” is the church that is recorded in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul. The New Testament church is the “original church” and the “one true church.” We can know this because it is described, in great detail, in Scripture. The church, as recorded in the New Testament, is God’s pattern and foundation for His church. On this basis, let’s examine the Roman Catholic claim that it is the “first church.” Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the “one true church” doing any of the following: praying to Mary, praying to the saints, venerating Mary, submitting to a pope, having a select priesthood, baptizing an infant, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, or passing on apostolic authority to successors of the apostles. All of these are core elements of the Roman Catholic faith.

The New Testament records the history of the church from approximately A.D. 30 to approximately A.D. 90. In the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries, history records several Roman Catholic doctrines and practices among early Christians. Is it not logical that the earliest Christians would be more likely to understand what the Apostles truly meant? Yes, it is logical, but there is one problem. Christians in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries were not the earliest Christians. Again, the New Testament records the doctrine and practice of the earliest Christians…and, the New Testament does not teach Roman Catholicism. What is the explanation for why the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century church began to exhibit signs of Roman Catholicism?

The answer is simple – the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century (and following) church did not have the complete New Testament. Churches had portions of the New Testament, but the New Testament (and the full Bible) were not commonly available until after the invention of the printing press in A.D. 1440. The early church did its best in passing on the teachings of the apostles through oral tradition, and through extremely limited availability to the Word in written form. At the same time, it is easy to see how false doctrine could creep into a church that only had access to the Book of Galatians, for example. It is very interesting to note that the Protestant Reformation followed very closely after the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the common languages of the people.

Scripture never mentions using “which church came first” as the basis for determining which is the “true” church. What it does teach is that one is to use Scripture as the determining factor as to which church is preaching the truth and thus is true to the first church. It is especially important to compare Scripture with a church’s teaching on such core issues as the full deity and humanity of Christ, the atonement for sin through His blood on Calvary, salvation from sin by grace through faith, and the infallibility of the Scriptures. The “first church” and “one true church” is recorded in the New Testament. That is the church that all churches are to follow, emulate, and model themselves after.

Recommended Resource: The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and The Word of God by James McCarthy

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