What Christianity should be!

The divergence of 21st century Christian practice from the Biblical version is remarkable. If we look at what passes for Christian practice in western nations today, we can identify 3 aberrant streams.

Firstly the merely nominal adherence. Church attendance is no different from going to a form of social club. It is basically an event in the week when you meet with others. You don’t need any particular understanding or knowledge of the faith; and people are usually friendly and welcoming. It is a largely social indulgence, not a spiritual necessity.

That’s the nominal variant. There are perhaps two main variants for the more obviously committed: ie those who identify as Christian and believe that it makes a difference in their lives.

There is the touchy, feely brigade. These people want an experience and seek an experience. They pay lip service to the actual lifestyle requirements listed in the Bible, but present themselves as having made a lifestyle choice.

Labels accompanying this type include the words “charismatic” and “Arminian”. And please do not misunderstand me. This does not mean that everyone who identifies as either charismatic or as Arminian is necessarily of the type I have outlined.

On the opposite side we have the cerebreal and intellectual for whom the knowledge of the Bible and strict adherence to doctrinal purity is of the utmost importance. The label “Calvinist” often accompanies such people. Again please do not misunderstand: it does not mean that everyone who identifies as Calvinist is fixated on being clever and being a know-it-all !

The New Testament church knew the types well. The apostle Paul referred to them respectively as “Jews” and as “Greeks” – 1 Corinthians 1, verse 22. Now it is perfectly true that Paul was here referring to unbelievers, not Christian believers. He says that Jews seek a sign and that Greeks pursue wisdom. But the mentality all too easily carries over into the church when people fail to grasp what Paul then outlines by contrast as the reality of Christianity in verse 23:


That is the essence of the message in the New Testament. Christ crucified. And the New Testament is the New Testament because it supercedes the Old Testament. Yet the Old Testament remains God’s word. And it is to the Old Testament that our studies are going to continue, in particular with the book of Joshua.

Why ?

Because the Old Testament gives us pertinent clues about the spiritual life. And if we look at the Old Testament from the perspective of the New Testament as Christ taught us, then we understand its real meaning.

The apostle Paul provides a vital insight into how to view the Old Testament when he wrote to the Galatians – chapter 4 in its entirety. This way of looking at the Old from the perspective of the New Testament is repeated throughout Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. Essential reading.

Without grasping this, we will not grasp how to view the Old Testament. Indeed, many believers down the centuries have misrepresented Christianity and got into all sorts of problems because they fail to realise this. Indeed the reputations of Jesus, of the faith and of the church have all suffered because of the simple failure to understand the Old Testament from the New Testament perspective as taught by Jesus [eg Matthew chapters 5 to 7] and by the apostles [eg as already mentioned for the apostle Paul and as pointed out by Peter in 1 Peter chapter 2].

Indeed today there are too many theology graduates and trained ministers who simply have not grasped this critical key. So they teach their flocks accordingly, and so distortedly.

Why do I say that ?

Well, let me answer in this way.  When and in what church did you last hear a sermon or address devoted to HOLINESS – living a life dedicated to God, living increasingly as God wants us to live, enduring adversity in love and grace not in bitterness and resentment. Because this is the acid test.

Not numbers attending or how much is in the collection plate; not evangelistic events; not how good the preacher sounds; not how much the young people enjoy going to church; not the number of events and meetings you have; not any other criteria than this:

The persistent preaching and teaching about dedication to God himself, living our lives as God demands we live our lives: dying to self and living in the resurrection power and grace of JESUS CHRIST.

Everything follows from that. Everything. All the personal and all the local church’s true success is in that. The rest is all distraction, avoidance, disobedience: all a waste of time because it builds nothing for eternity; it builds nothing out of the eternally valuable, but builds instead on man’s own ideas and man’s own resources which all stand condemned by God as sinful, fallen and fleshly.

But God has given us the Bible to show us the way. It is a practical manual of the Christian spiritual life – a life lived in dependence on God’s ideas and God’s resources; a life lived increasingly by letting go of the values and resources of this fallen and self centred world.

That is why we go next time to the book of Joshua to encounter practice. Not in the literalist and worldly terms recorded there, but in the spiritual and godly terms of the Christian life and God’s great purpose in the New Testament.

Christian Preacher

By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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