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Biblical Christianity--"A Simple but not a Simple-Minded Religion"
 

The Bible calls the Church of Jesus Christ to simplicity.  We must neither add to nor subtract from the pure and simple Gospel and the pure and simple Word of truth, which God has given to us:

2 Corinthians 11:3-4: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted -- you may well put up with it!” (NKJ)

Sadly, much of what constitutes Christianity in our day is no longer simple.  Countless traditions, human inventions, and new teachings have been added to the simple teachings of the Bible, while much of the Bible is no longer taught in many churches today. 

While Biblical Christianity is simple, it is not simple-minded.  Biblical Christianity engages the mind; it is intellectual; it is communicated through language.  God’s revealed will is found not in images but in words; the Bible is a book of logical, propositional truth.  That is why Christianity emphasizes the importance of reading, writing, and speaking (cf. Deut. 6:6-9; 31:11; Ezra 7:10; Matt. 4:4; 1 Cor. 1:18, 21).

TRADITION

In the New Testament, the words tradition and traditions appear fourteen times.  Three times they appear positively, eleven times negatively.  In the three positive occurrences, the word tradition refers to the teachings of the Bible, which is sometimes called the apostolic tradition—that is, what the apostles taught and that which was recorded for all time in the New Testament:

Paul praised the Corinthian Christians who kept “the traditions” just as he delivered them (1 Cor. 11:2).  He called the Thessalonian Christians to “stand fast and hold the traditions” which they were taught and to “withdraw” from every professing Christian who does not live in accordance with the teachings of the apostles (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6). 

Yet, nowhere in the Bible are we ever told to believe in or keep the traditions of men, the traditions of our ancestors, or the traditions of churches; we are only told to hold to, believe in, practice and keep the teachings of God’s Word.  The twelve negative examples of the word tradition or traditions in Scripture demonstrate this:

Matthew 15:2 "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." 3 He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? . . . 6 . . . Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

Mark 7:3 “For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. . . . 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?" . . . Jesus replied, 8 “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men -- the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." 9 He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. . . .  making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do." 

Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” 

1 Peter 1:18 “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers.” 

Galatians 1:14 The apostle Paul testified that before his conversion, “I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”

The Bible warns Christians to stand on guard against "false brothers" who seek to take away the freedom that we have in Christ by imposing the old covenant ceremonial law, humanly-invented traditions, or other extra-Biblical laws and requirements on Christians (Gal. 2:4-5). 

TRUTH

Biblical Christianity is based on the Bible alone.  The Bible teaches that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).  Biblical Christianity tells us that all of God's Word is essential truth.  If all that was essential was a tract or pamphlet, then that is all God would have given us, but instead He gave us sixty-six books and commanded us to live by all of them (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). 

Biblical Christianity teaches us that Jesus Christ is a true historical person with two distinct natures; He is fully God and fully man.  The Bible teaches that in a profound way Jesus Christ is the word of God (John 1).  Therefore, to reject any part of God’s revealed will, the Bible, is to reject Jesus Christ who is God.  Jesus Christ is “the truth” (John 14:6).  He said to God the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth.  Your word is truth” (John 17:17).  The Bible says of the resurrected Christ: “His name is called The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13).  The Psalmist declared that God’s “law is truth,” His “commandments are truth,” and “the entirety of [His] word is truth” (Ps. 119:142, 151, 160).  God’s word is the “word of truth” (Ps. 119:43; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:15; Jas. 1:18).  In all of these instances, truth means absolute truth.  The Bible does not just speak of a truth but of absolute truth because God is infinitely true; He does not lie.  He is sinless (Heb. 4:15), and He cannot lie (Tit. 1:2). 

Since Jesus Christ is the word of God, all of His Word is essential truth for His people.  You don’t have to know or understand all the Bible in order to be saved, but if you are a Christian, God expects you to live by all of it.  Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4, emphasis added).  The apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, emphasis added).

The church of Jesus Christ is also called the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).  God’s Word, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, are all-sufficient, the final and complete, whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3). 

SIMPLICITY

The simplicity of the Biblical model for the Church as a house of prayer, praise, and worship has been obscured in our day by complex and sometimes very expensive innovations.  Many of the things that people think of as essential elements of Christianity are not even mentioned in the New Testament at all.  Consider some of the things that are now commonplace in many American Christian churches even though they aren’t mentioned in the Bible:   

Drama and plays
Church-sponsored Easter egg hunts, puppets, mimes, and clowns
Choirs, organs, rock bands, video screens, movies, and entertainment
Religious symbols, such as images of Jesus and of angels
Religious observance of annual holidays and seasons (Christmas, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Advent, and Lent)
Various ceremonies and religious rituals not mentioned in the Bible

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with puppets, instrumental music, or giving presents to your friends and family.  But the point is that none of these things are mentioned in the New Testament; God never told us that it was His will for us to do any of these things as a church.

If none of these things are mentioned in the Bible as essential elements of the Christian faith, what things are mentioned in the New Testament? 

The reading of the Word of God (Ps. 1:1-2; Ezra 7:10; Acts 15:21; Rev. 1:3)
The preaching and teaching of the Bible (1 Cor. 1:21; 2 Tim. 4:1-4)
Prayer (Phil. 4:6)
The celebration of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-29; Acts 2:42).
Singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; Jas. 5:13)
The Lord’s Day, which is Sunday, the first day of the week (Rev. 1:10; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2)
Pastors/elders and deacons (Acts 6:3-4; Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 8-13; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-4) 
Christian discipleship--the spiritually mature mentoring the spiritually immature (Tit. 2:2-8)
Christian fellowship (Heb. 10:25)
Giving one’s time, talents, and finances to support the Church’s pastors and teachers, to further the work of the Church, and to help the poor (1 Cor. 9:14; 2 Cor. 9:7; Luke 10:2-7; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17-18; Gal. 2:10; cf. Acts 2:44-45; 4:32; Gal. 6:10). 
Christian virtues, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, humility, forgiveness, holiness and truthfulness (Gal. 5:22-23; Col. 3:12-13; Eph. 4:15, 24-25; Heb. 12:14)


Living the Christian life is not just about outward deeds but also inward motives.  The Bible calls us to walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6), which includes living an authentic and holy life.  God has revealed to us in His Word how we are to live and how we are to worship and serve Him truly and without hypocrisy.

DISCIPLESHIP

The Bible teaches that the only way a person can be justified in God’s sight is by His grace alone by faith alone in the works of Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 4:12).  Yet, it also teaches that we are saved in order to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). 

Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).  To be a Christian, you must humble yourself, renouncing the love of self and embracing the love of God and others (cf. 2 Tim. 3:2; Matt. 22:37-40).  You must renounce self-reliance and trust in Christ alone and the righteousness of God, which is received by faith alone. 

Ultimately, the issue comes down to this:  Is Jesus the Lord of your life or not? 

Do you trust in your church, your pastor, your parents, yourself—even if your church, your pastor, your parents, or yourself contradict God’s word?  Even if they add to Scripture the traditions of men or take away from what it teaches?  Even if they redefine or explain away the clear teachings of Scripture? 

Or do you trust in God’s word alone and in Jesus Christ alone?  Yes, it is proper to submit to human spiritual authorities as Scripture teaches, but we only can submit to them insofar as what they teach and practice is in accordance with the teachings of God's Word.  Remember that God teaches that Jesus Christ is the Word of God.  Therefore, to reject any portion of God’s Word amounts to rejecting Jesus Christ Himself.  If you reject Jesus Christ or His Word, you have no hope of being saved, for He is “the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (John 14:6). 

The Bible warns that those who practice lawlessness, those who do what is right in their own eyes, will never enter heaven (Matt. 7:23; Rev. 22:15).  Jesus also warned, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:37-39).  Despite the sacrifice that may be involved, salvation and eternal life are priceless.  Jesus said that “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46).  

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:11).  True Christians love the Lord Jesus Christ and seek to obey His commandments (John 14:21).  They love God’s word and love His law (Ps. 119:97, 113, 163, 165).  They have hope and peace thanks to Jesus (Ps. 119:165; Eph. 2:14).  So trust in Christ alone and in His Word alone by faith alone, and then demonstrate your genuine faith by living a life marked by obedience to God’s Word.  If you do, you can have the peace of knowing that God is well pleased with you and that you will spend eternity with God in heaven. 

The apostle Peter reminds us that the Bible is God’s word, not man’s: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy [teaching] of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy [Biblical teaching] was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet. 1:20-21, NAU).  Peter then warns of false prophets and false teachers who will lead astray multitudes of people: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.  Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep”. (2 Pet. 2:1-3, NAU, emphasis added)

Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6).  He is the head of His Church (Eph. 1:22; 5:23; Col. 1:18).  Jesus Christ is God.  He was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.  The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended up into heaven, where He now is seated at God the Father’s right hand, and from there He shall return to judge the living and the dead.  The Bible says that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10).  Note that you must believe truly from the heart and a true confession of faith flows from a submissive spirit, recognizing that Jesus is Lord and that He calls all people to obey His commandments.  True faith also results in a public confession of our faith before others.  The Bible calls Christians to be baptized with water, to become a part of Bible-believing congregations led by pastors, elders, and deacons, and to enjoy friendship with other Christians.  The Bible calls Christians to assemble for worship the first day of every week, Sunday, because it is the Lord's Day; Sunday is a holy day because it is the day Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.  The Bible calls Christians to do good to all people, to love their neighbors, to treat others as they would like to be treated, and to be peacemakers, for Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Gal. 6:10; Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Matt. 7:12; Matt. 5:9; Isa. 9:6; Luke 1:79; Eph. 2:14-17). 

If you would like to become a follower of Jesus Christ; if you desire to turn from your sins and follow Christ as the Savior and Lord of your life, then please contact us at wabashbible@frontier.com, and we will be glad to help you find out how you can know for certain that you have eternal life and how God calls us to live in a way that is honoring to Him.
 

 


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