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The Men Called Christians

Posted by: Administrator on November 04, 1996 2:04:24 PM (5082 Reads)

- Who is the Pastor and Teacher of the MEN CALLED CHRISTIANS?

- How are they being "fed" with the words of God? Who feeds them?

- What is their primary activity?

 

THE MEN CALLED CHRISTIANS

 

Christianity refers to a major religion of the world whose belief in God is based on the HOLY BIBLE. Therefore, members of all religious sects that use the Bible as the basis of their teachings are generally called CHRISTIANS. The designation is derived from the name of the central figure of the book -- JESUS CHRIST. However, within the realm of this religion today, adherents no longer call themselves Christians, for the title has become a generic term. This is because Christianity Today is divided into so many denominations that to use the title will only invite ambiguity. The latest count runs to several thousands. Therefore, to call the members of the different segments of Christianity as Christians will create confusion.

 

It is, therefore, common today to hear people believing in Jesus Christ identifying themselves by the religious sects to which they belong. Thus, members say, "I am a Lutheran, I am a Presbyterian,...a Roman Catholic, ...a Baptist, ...a Greek or Eastern Orthodox, ...a Pentecostal, ...a Methodist, ...a Pentecostal Oneness, ...a Charismatic, ...a Catholic Charismatic, ...a Protestant Charismatic, ...a Born Again Charismatic, ...a 7th Day Adventist, ...a Jehovah’s Witness, ...a Church of God, ...a Church of Christ, ...an Assembly of God, plus many more, running to thousands.

 

How does this compare to 30-96 A.D. Christianity? This is one area of difference that the observant will easily discern. What is surprising, however, is that only very few of those who belong to the Christian religion ever realize this. The great majority, if not all, think that it is their respective denomination that represents the Christian religion, with the rest surreptitiously appropriating the title.

 

 

THE CHRISTIANS OF 30-96 A.D. AND THEIR RECOGNITION OF GOD 

 

The title "Christian" to describe the followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ was first heard in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Later, the title was applied to the believers in different places; thus, "the Christians of Rome," "the Christians of Corinth.," "...of Galatia," "...of Ephesus," "...of Philippi," "...of Thessalonica," "...of Colosse."

 

Generally speaking, the 1st century Christians were in the minority. They were obscure, and ostracized. They were perceived to be antisocial and were thus hated. As such, they never merited a place in history any more its founder.

 

One thing that characterized the early Christians, though, was their unity in all aspects of the teachings of Christ, and everything written in the Bible. They had a common recognition of the "one Lord and one God," for nowhere in the Acts of the Apostles do we find them ever arguing or differing in beliefs on the relationship among the invisible God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. This was enunciated in the "first commandment" or the "most important commandment" stated by our Lord when He was asked by a Scribe as to which is the first or the most important commandment of all:

 

Mark 12:29 "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:" (KJV)

 

Mark 12:29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, ‘is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." (NIV)

 

We can no longer find unity in belief in "the Lord our God is one Lord" in Today’s Christianity. "God is one Lord" is the subject of heated discussions among many religious sects today. In fact, this is a major cause of the division of Today’s Christianity. The importance of the truth stated by Jesus Christ in Mark 12:29 cannot be overemphasized. The recognition of the "Lord our God is one Lord" is a prerequisite to the TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS stated in Mark 12:30-31. It is in this regard that the exhortation of Paul to the Christians of Ephesus finds its mark:  

 

Ephesians 4:4 "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

 

Each religious sect of Today’s Christianity claims this kind of "unity." But how spiritually profound is it entrenched in the light of the real application of the word of God and its perfect message? To cite just one example, how do modern Christians look at:

 

Hebrews 8:11 "And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest."

 

How easy it is for everybody to say, "I know the Lord." But how deep and real, and how clear is that recognition? Does not one find some mystery in the relationship among the Father God, Jesus Christ, and the invisible Holy Spirit? Can he not perceive them to be interacting with each other as: The Son is talking to the Father and the Father talking to the Son; and sees them distinct and separate from each other as in the baptism of Jesus Christ: the Son was in the water, the Father was speaking about the Son, and the Holy Spirit was seen as a dove? The Bible says such thing was not present in the early Christians:

 

Colossians 2:2-3 "...unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

 

The mystery about the great Creator was revealed to the early Christians.

 

Ephesians 3:9 "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:"

 

 

ACTIVITIES OF TODAY’S CHRISTIANS

 

The activities of modern Christianity, represented by the religious sects that compose it, are varied. These activities may be classified into: religious, social, civic, and political.

 

RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES

 

Of course, the main activity of all religious sects centers on the religious. This refers to the regular religious services on certain days like Sunday, Saturday, and other days of the week. The services are varied in each denomination. They may take the form of ceremonies like Masses, processions, or such activities as Bible studies, preaching, singing of hymns, giving of testimonies, among others.

 

Included also in the religious activities are the different evangelical work or ministries: radio, television, religious rallies, distribution of printed materials, either free or for sale, to promote every denomination’s doctrines. Also classified as religious activity is fund-raising for the construction of chapels, churches, and cathedrals, and the establishment of seminaries and Bible schools for the training of pastors, priests, and ministers.

 

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

 

Modern Christianity, through the religious sects composing it, brings to attention the different social activities. Included here are the baptismal, wedding, and house-warming or blessing ceremonies, followed by reception and revelry.

 

CIVIC ACTIVITIES 

 

Modern Christianity does not only engage in religious and social, but also in civic activities. Almost all religious denominations have their respective civic programs. We find them conducting their own charitable works on many occasions such as Christmas, and in time of calamities like earthquakes, floods, typhoons, and the like. The larger religious sects have elaborate projects such as the establishment of orphanages, home for the aged, hospitals, and schools, and caring for the unwed mothers.

 

POLITICAL ACTIVITIES

 

Modern Christianity, through some religious sects, also finds itself actively engaged in politics. Religious leaders and the laity take an indirect and, in some cases, a direct hand in the political affairs of certain countries. Political leaders of some countries are influenced, in varying degrees, by the political activity of some religious sects. Elections and major political decisions cannot shed their religious color in some underdeveloped countries.

 

The foregoing, in a nutshell, are the different and major activities of Christianity Today.

 

 

ACTIVITIES OF 30-96 A.D. CHRISTIANITY

 

n contrast with modern Christianity, early Christians had very limited activity. This was confined to purely spiritual work. The Jews anticipated that the work of the Messiah would involve the kinds of activity we find in Today’s Christianity. Right from the birth of Jesus Christ, Herod thought that the child born in Bethlehem would be a threat to his throne. That is why he plotted His murder. That misconception resulted in the death of many male children below two years old (Matthew 2:16).

 

When our Lord began His ministry, many of the Jews who saw His miracles were convinced that He was the king spoken of by the prophets. In the belief that Jesus would deliver their country Israel from the political control of Rome, they plotted to force him to take a political role:

 

John 6:14 "Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."

 

Even Pilate, the Roman governor, thought that Jesus was the king of the Jews. Watch how Pilate talked to our Lord:

 

John 18:35 "Pilate answered...Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world..."

 

Jesus Christ disassociated Himself from the political leaders and from politics. It was prophesied by Isaiah that He would free the prisoners (Isaiah 42:7). But nowhere in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John can we find that Jesus Christ ever approached the governing authorities and worked for the release of criminals from their prison cells.

 

Nowhere also in the Acts of the Apostles can we find the apostles working for the welfare of the socially and politically oppressed and those people behind bars. Jesus Christ and the apostles never meddled in the affairs of the government. While Jesus Christ distanced Himself from politics, He, however, preached good citizenship:

 

Matthew 22:21 "They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way."

 

Paul, following Christ’s example, also preached the same thing (Romans 13:1-7). Peter has this to say on the subject:

 

1 Peter 2:13 "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well."

 

Notice how we are led in our comparison of the two periods of Christianity: by facts as recorded in history and current events, and by truths as written in the Holy Bible.

 

 

THE LIVING BREAD

 

If modern Christianity, through the many religious sects that compose it, is actively engaged in civic activities, we cannot find such thing in early Christianity. Nowhere in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John can we find Jesus Christ ever involving Himself in civic works, as we find Christian religious sects today. True, Jesus Christ fed 4,000 men on one occasion, and another 5,000 men, excluding women and children in another instance. What He fed them was bread and fishes. Jesus Christ saw these bread and fishes in a different light. He emphatically stated in:

 

John 6:63 "...the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

 

Literally, the body or the flesh of the multitude who ate bread and fishes were benefited. Our Lord, however, stated that "the flesh or the body profiteth nothing." To follow the literal understanding of what happened, it is similar to what Satan saw in Jesus Christ when He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (Matthew 4:2-3). The devil saw physical hunger in our Lord. That is why he told Him "command that these stones be made bread." But our Lord, true to His statement in John 6:63, "the words that I speak...they are spirit," rebuked Satan:

 

Matthew 4:4 "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

 

Here, what was considered as the real bread or food by our Lord is "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3)." This is substantiated by the Word of God itself in:

 

Jeremiah 15:16 "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."

 

The name of the LORD is:

 

1 Corinthians 8:6 "But to us there is but...one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."

 

It is the word of God that is spiritually eaten. Can we not see here the Word of God as the "Living Bread that gives eternal life?" Jesus stated in:

 

John 6: 48 "I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven..."

 

Many things are brought about by the forgoing verses, including the following:

 

1. Jesus fed the 4,000 and the 5,000 men with literal bread and literal fishes.

 

2. The Israelites were fed with literal manna which was their literal food, and had died.

 

3. Jesus was tempted by the Devil to eat literal bread out of stones, and our Lord rebuked him.

 

4. Jesus emphasized the more important food over the physical food. It is the word of God, the spiritual food.

 

5. Jeremiah confirmed Jesus’ statement that, indeed, "the word of God is the spiritual bread" and is capable of "being eaten."

 

6. Jesus referred to Himself as the "Living Bread."

 

7. The "Living Bread" is not a literal bread, but a spiritual food.

 

8. Literal manna, the physical food, did not prevent the Israelites from dying in the wilderness; but the "living or spiritual bread," according to Jesus Christ, prevents "death." This should not refer to physical death, but spiritual. The "living bread" gives eternal life.

 

9. Jesus did not refer to physical death when He said, "A man may eat thereof and not die." He meant eternal life. "This is spiritual life, and not physical life."

 

10. Jesus was speaking "spiritual things." All of these confirm Christ’s statement in:

 

John 6:63 "...the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

 

11. The apostles realized this after Pentecost. Paul wrote about it in:

 

Romans 7:14 "For we know that the law is spiritual..."

 

12. The phrase, "the words are spirit, and the laws are spiritual," points to the spiritual message of the word of God as the spiritual food, that gives eternal life.

 

13. When Jesus said in JOHN 6:48 "I am the bread of life," this clearly confirms that Jesus Christ is indeed the Word of God:

 

Revelation 19:13 "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God."

 

John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..."

 

14. When man reads about bread and manna, he thinks of physical food to satisfy physical hunger. But the Bible is leading us to the spiritual message of all these physical things and events. Look at this:

 

Amos 8:11-12 "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it."

 

15. When Jesus Christ fed the 4,000 and 5,000 men, they did not only eat bread, but were given fishes as well.

 

16. In the wilderness, the Israelites were not only fed with manna, but were also given water to drink.

 

17. In Amos 8:11, God forewarned the people that they would not only suffer famine of spiritual bread, but also thirst for spiritual water.

 

18. We have seen the following that always go together:

 

a. Manna and water

 

b. Bread and fishes

 

c. Bread and water

 

19. The Bible gave us the meaning for the symbolism:

 

a. Bread and Manna for Jesus (John 6:48)

 

b. Jesus for the Word (Revelation 19:13)

 

20. Therefore, bread and manna symbolize Jesus Christ Who is the source of eternal life.

 

21. But Jesus Christ is nowhere to be found today for He is a spirit. It is the Word of God, representing Jesus Christ, that man has access to that is now the source of eternal life.

 

22. What do water and fishes symbolize now?

 

23. Jesus referred to water as representing the Holy Spirit in:

 

John 7:38 "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given..."

 

John 4:14 "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

 

24. Now, what do fishes symbolize?

 

God teaches us how to read the Sacred Scriptures: Isaiah 28:10 "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little." This should be distinguished from, "line upon line, here a little and there a little" in Isaiah 28:11-12 in support of human precepts and doctrines. There should be no opinion or philosophy. It must be case of the Bible explaining itself.

 

25. The Bible speaks of fishes in:

 

Habakkuk 1:14 "And makest men as the fishes of the sea..."

 

26. Jesus Christ picked this up when He told His apostles:

 

Matthew 4:19 "And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

 

27. Literally, if fishes refer to men and the 4,000 and 5,000 men were fed with fishes, the Natural Man would ask, "how could men be fed with men?" "This must be foolishness," he would say. But the Bible anticipated this to happen:

 

1 Corinthians 2:14 "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

 

28. The phrase, "4,000 and 5,000 men being fed with fishes,: has some spiritual significance. If fishes have blood and they refer to men, does not the Bible speak of Jesus Christ as a man?

 

Philippians 2:7 "...and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death..."

 

1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"

 

29. Jesus also spoke of having His blood drunk:

 

John 6:54 "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

 

30. Can we not now find direct relationship between manna and water, and bread and fishes in:

 

John 6:54 "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him."

 

31. Are not manna and bread the spiritual food, and water and blood the spiritual drink?

 

32. Did not Jesus call Himself the "living bread" in John 6:48, and call water the Holy Spirit in John 7:38-39?

 

33. Do we not now see that the reason why water and blood are grouped together is because "blood" also refers to the Holy Spirit?

 

34. Was not the Holy Spirit made available with the fulfillment of the Testament by the shedding of the blood?.

 

35. To recapitulate:

 

a. Manna and bread both symbolize the spiritual food. He is Jesus Christ in the flesh. He is the Word.

 

b. Water and blood both symbolize the spiritual drink. He is the Holy Spirit Who gives spiritual meaning to the word.

 

c. The Word of God, given spiritual meaning by the Spirit, is the real food and the real drink that gives eternal life.

 

d. Can we not now see that manna and water, bread and fishes, flesh and blood, and bread and wine, refer to the literal word and the spiritual message of the word?

 

e. Do not the literal and spiritual message of the word represent the TRUTH?

 

f. Is not the truth, in effect, the real food that leads man to eternal life?

 

36. God has removed the slightest of doubt that, indeed, "His word is spirit and the laws are spiritual."

 

37. Realizing this, can man now accept what our Lord said in:

 

John 6:63 "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."

 

It is the spirit, Holy Spirit, that quickens or gives life to the literal word, making it a spiritual word. This is the word that gives eternal life.

 

38. And by this, the reader must have realized the spiritual significance of the physical things and events that happened in the past. They are actually God’s messages today and in the future.

 

Ecclesiastes 1:9 "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."

 

Ecclesiastes 3:15 "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past."

 

Jesus Christ fed bread and fishes to the multitude. We cannot find this in the Acts of the Apostles. But the apostles did it spiritually by feeding the people with the living bread, and giving them living water to drink. Perhaps, it is only now that the following statement of our Lord is made clear:

 

Matthew 25:31 "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink..."

 

The righteous will protest for not having remembered how and when they gave food and drink to the King.

 

Matthew 25:37 "Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?"

 

But the King will remind them of the things (literal-physical or spiritual?) they had done:

 

Matthew 25:40 "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

 

Have we noticed the people to whom God is referring as having been given food and water? "Unto one of the least of these my brethren."

 

After having seen the great spiritual message of the word of God, can we still think that the food given to the "least of the brethren" is literal bread made of flour or physical rice, and the water is the drinking water from the faucet?

 

 

THE EARLY CHRISTIANS DID NOT CONDUCT CIVIC AND CHARITABLE WORKS

 

Modern Christianity, through the religious sects that compose it, interprets the following literally:

 

Matthew 25:35 "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

 

This is the inspiration for the many charitable works of religious organizations and their individual members today. Fund-raising and distribution of material goods, and the supply of basic needs to victims of calamities such as earthquakes, floods, typhoons, fire, and the like. This is also the basis for the establishment of orphanages, hospitals, and schools, and care for the aged and unwed mothers. Of course, these are not bad things. They are unquestionably sublime undertakings. Distinction, however, must be made between spiritual and civic matters. The Bible deals with spiritual matters. No wonder, nowhere in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John nor in the Acts of the Apostles can we find Jesus Christ and His apostles ever doing these things literally-physically.

 

There was even a prophecy for the Messiah providing freedom to the prisoners:

 

Isaiah 42:7 "To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."

 

No account is ever recorded in the Bible of our Lord during His entire ministry freeing a single physical prisoner. But let us remember that this prophecy of "freeing the prisoners" must be fulfilled. This was fulfilled, not physically but spiritually. Our Lord set the term for the freedom of the prisoners:

 

John 8:32 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

 

The Jews did not understand the spiritual language of our Lord. They could not admit that they were in bondage to any man. They professed that they were the children of Abraham, knowing that the children of Abraham were free. They were indeed ignorant, spiritually blind and spiritually deaf, not knowing that being children of Abraham does not only mean physical offspring but spiritual descendants as well:

 

Galatians 3:7 "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham."

 

But the Jews were spiritually blind indeed for right there in the book of Isaiah, the spiritual meaning of his prophecy about freedom was manifested:

 

Isaiah 49:9 "That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. 10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them."

 

1. "Say to the prisoners" does not refer to the physical but to the spiritual prisoners. They are the people bound by falsehood and misrepresentation -- for it is only the truth that can set them free.

 

2. "Go forth to them that are in darkness" does not refer to people who are deprived of the physical light of the sun, or the moon, or the stars, or the light invented by man. God is referring to those who are in the spiritual darkness, those who cannot see the spiritual light. The spiritual light is Jesus Christ (John 8:12), and Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6) and the Word (Revelation 19:13).

 

3. "Feed in the ways" refers to spiritual feeding with the living bread as discussed.

 

4. "Pasture for the sheep" points to Jesus Christ shepherding the spiritual sheep -- the real Christians. But Christ is nowhere to be found, for He is a spirit. He is, however, present, for He is represented by the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is spiritually shepherding the real Christians.

 

5. The spiritual sheep will never get hungry, for they will be fed with the living bread and with the spiritual springs of water.

 

 

TAKING STRANGERS IN

 

"I was a stranger and ye took me in." Strangers are the people outside the "household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). To take the "stranger in" is to welcome the people who do not yet belong to the family of God. That is what our Lord and His apostles did during their time -- taking spiritual strangers in the house of the Lord, in the family of God, the spiritual church and not a physical congregation as we see every religious sect proselytizing in Today’s Christianity.

 

Spiritual strangers are the lost sheep that our Lord, represented by the truth, is looking for (Luke 15:3-7). Not just anybody can be a spiritual stranger:

 

Psalms 69:8 "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children."

 

They are the people "whose names are written in the book of life since the foundation of the world,"(Revelation 13:8, 17:8) who are only waiting for the truth to come. Upon hearing the truth, that is, the invitation of the people at the right hand of the King, the stranger goes to the "house" and there he is reunited with the "other children of the mother." Let us remember that not everybody who hears the truth accepts it.

 

Strangers could not have referred to literal strangers, for as Jesus said, "the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit." Modern Christianity may be thinking of them as the aged, the unwed mothers, and the orphans who need physical help. But let not be thought and feeling twist the spiritual message of the word. Man may be thinking of help to the physical well-being of his fellowmen. This must also be done, but properly distinguished as civic work profiting the body. God is more concerned with he spiritual well-being of the chosen. Did not God put premium on the soul over the body?

 

Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with civic and charitable works. They are good. But let us not confuse what is good in the eyes of men with what is acceptable to God according to His word. We must be able to distinguish between God’s standard and man’s standard of goodness and righteousness. The distinction is found in the article CLEANLINESS ON THE "OUTSIDE" AND "INSIDE."

 

 

CLOTHING THE NAKED

 

God gives us the clue on who the spiritually naked are. Man realized his spiritual nakedness right in the garden of Eden upon the fall. He became aware of the loss of his salvation. From then on, man needed the garment of salvation:

 

Isaiah 61:10 "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

 

It is only the people at the right hand of the King (Matthew 10:33), the spiritual sheep, who have this kind of clothes. This is the spiritual garment that can be given to the spiritually naked. What is this spiritual robe or garment that can cover spiritual nakedness?

 

Galatians 3:27 "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

 

Romans 13:14 "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh..."

 

How far is the literal from the spiritual! Here, Jesus Christ is referred to as the spiritual garment. "While it is easy to profess to have Jesus Christ as the spiritual clothes or garment for the spiritually naked, not everybody can share the TRUTH. Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6). Spiritual garment, therefore, is the truth which covers man’s spiritual nakedness. Who can honestly profess membership in Christianity Yesterday, the pure and perfect Christianity? Who can claim to have clothed the naked when the King comes to separate the sheep from the goats?

 

 

"I WAS SICK AND YE VISITED ME"

 

We have seen the difference between the literal and the spiritual meaning of the word. The physically sick is a person suffering from physical ailment like fever, tuberculosis, cancer, and all sorts of diseases. Physical disease may lead to physical death of the body.

 

The spiritually sick may be physically healthy, but suffering from spiritual malady. This is spiritual illness:

 

Psalms 41:4 "I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee."

 

Look how the Bible explains itself! Now, what are spiritual diseases? Some examples:

 

Galatians 5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

 

We must remember that it is the people at the right hand of the King, the real Christians, to whom this is addressed. The people a the right hand, the spiritual sheep, must be very healthy spiritually. Can people on the left hand, the spiritual goats, who are themselves spiritually sick, be able to "visit the sick?"

 

Spiritual diseases lead to spiritual death of the soul. Have we heard this before? Here is what God says in:

 

Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul that sinneth, it shall die..."

 

What kind of death is the death of the soul?

 

Revelation 2:11 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."

 

Revelation 21:8 "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

 

Man conceived religion with its sets of virtuous norms as the way to God. The Almighty stooping down to this level, through James, expressed its purity as:

 

James 1:27 "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

 

Every religion of the world -- Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, among others -- adopts this practice of "visiting the fatherless and the widows" as a major doctrine. But look how the Natural Man is again caught flatfooted in this regard. Christ set the gist of the word of God as spiritual rather than literal-physical. It does not need the Holy Spirit’s guidance to know the story and understand the literal message of the word. But for the spiritual, it needs the divine revelation of God.

 

Who are the spiritual "fatherless" or orphans? Who are the spiritual "widows?" Who are the spiritual women, the spiritual wives? Who are the spiritual husbands?

 

The "fatherless" or the spiritual orphans are revealed by our Lord, not explained by any man, in:

 

John 8:44 "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."

 

With man’s fall into sin, his love for lies, falsehoods, deceptions, and hatred made him a spiritual son of the devil. The "death" therefore of these evil characters of the spiritual father, Satan, makes one a spiritual orphan or "fatherless."

 

The spiritual widow is likewise revealed through the word of God. The husband symbolizes God and Jesus Christ, while the wife represents the Church.

 

Ephesians 5:22 "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church... 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing."

 

Christ is married to the Church. The Church is the temple of God. The temple of God is man himself, the real Christians:"

 

1 Corinthians 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

 

Man, therefore, is supposed to be spiritually married to God. But there is an evil usurper to this role of God as the husband -- the devil. The Word of God makes it clear when man is married to God or to the devil. It is when the devil "dies" in the life of a man, now the spiritual woman, the spiritual wife, that "she" becomes a spiritual widow. The word of God in James 1:27 is now made clearer as to who the "widows" and the "fatherless" are.

 

Can we now see the relationship between the good works of the men at the right hand of the King, the spiritual sheep, and the "fatherless and the widows?" The spiritual orphans and widows truly need spiritual care. They must be spiritually fed and given spiritual garments, and they must be taken I as spiritual strangers.

 

Can the Natural Man still insist that the word of God is simply literal? Does man have the courage to resist the spiritual word and have his socio-civic-political work credited as spiritual deeds? We keep on repeating, these activities are not bad. They are good and they must be done. But distinction should be made between socio-civic-political-scientific and spiritual works. "The word of God is spirit, and the laws are spiritual."

 

We must remember that it is the people at the right hand of the King, the real Christians, to whom this is addressed. The people at the right hand, the spiritual sheep, must be very healthy spiritually. Can people on the left hand, the spiritual goats, who are themselves spiritually sick be able to "visit the sick?"

 

 

"I WAS IN PRISON AND YE CAME UNTO ME" 

 

"Visiting the sick" equally applies to visiting the prisoners. We have seen the spiritual prisoners. They are those who are bound by falsehood and deception. Spiritual prisoners are freed only by the truth:

 

John 8:32 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

 

Again our Lord referred to the people at the right hand of the king, the real Christians, who would do this work of visiting and comforting the prisoners. Can people who are themselves imprisoned by falsehood be able to visit and comfort other prisoners?

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

We have seen some of the beliefs and practices in the first century followers of Christ. They were called CHRISTIANS. The followers of the "teachings of Christ" today are called by the name of their respective denominations.

 

Jeremiah 15:16 "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."

 

People who truly "eat the word of God" are called by the NAME of the Lord. The name of the Lord is revealed in:

 

Matthew 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"

 

The NAME of the Father, the NAME of the Son, and the NAME of the HOLY SPIRIT is divulged to Peter in:

 

Acts 2:38 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

 

Details of the name and identity of God and Jesus Christ is discussed in the article THE GOD OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT.

 

Perhaps the word of God becomes more spiritually alive if we look and compare the situation as follows:

 

A. Comparing Today’s Christianity, with

 

B. Jesus Christ and His Disciples, and the religious people during His time.

 

1. At that time, the known people of God were also divided into religious sects: the Sect of the Pharisees and the Sect of the Sadducees, and the priests and elders of Israel.

 

2. Both Jesus Christ and His Disciples, and the sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees, were preaching the word of God, called the Laws - as we find the different religious sects today also preaching the Holy Bible, which contains the word of God.

 

3. The Pharisees and the Sadducees claimed knowledge and recognition of the God of their father Abraham - as we find Christianity Today also claiming recognition of the God of the Bible.

 

a. But our Lord told them in John 8:54-55 "Jesus answered... it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him.."

 

b. That is being repeated today. Christianity Today’s false claim of total and clear recognition of the God of the Bible is exposed by the very leaders’ own admission that, "the relationship among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit remains a great mystery. God is a mystery."

 

4. The Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, and the Jews in general claimed sonship of Abraham; so do today’s members of all religious sects also claiming sonship of God.

 

a. Just as the Jews took pride in exploiting the name of their father Abraham, so are the members of all religious sects today taking glory in claiming salvation in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

b. Unfortunately, this claim of present-day Christians has long been prophesied by our Lord in:

 

Matthew 24:5 "For many shall come in my name..."

 

Matthew 24:23 "Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."

 

Jesus Christ today is known by His different identities. These are under the Oneness doctrine, Arian doctrine, Heraclian doctrine, Jehovah doctrine, Trinitarian doctrine, among others, and each claims true recognition.

 

5. Jesus Christ spoke of and referred to the laws preached by the religious sects during His time. They could not understand it because He was speaking the "spiritual language" of God. The Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and the Jews in general could only understand the literal meaning of the laws. Do we not see the same thing today? Does modern Christianity understand and speak the "spiritual language" of God? Details on this are discussed in the article DECIPHERING GOD’S SPIRITUAL LANGUAGE..

 

6. Despite the advent of modern machines and equipment like the printing press, computers, television, radio, satellite communication, and the establishment of religious training centers, modern Christianity seems to remain as ignorant of the real identity of God and Jesus Christ, and also of His language, as the Jews of almost 2000 years ago. The statement of our Lord is relived:

 

Matthew 11:25 "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."

 

7. The religious sects during the time of Christ fought each other, yet were one and united in hating and condemning Jesus Christ. Can we not expect the same thing today? While no two religious sects can agree on doctrines, will they not be one and united also in hating and condemning the truth? Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6).

 

8. Jesus Christ during His time condemned the practice of the Scribes and Pharisees in:

 

Matthew 23:5 "But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ."

 

Can we not see that what was condemned by our Lord during His time is the very same thing we find in the people who say they are the followers of Christ today? Do not leaders of religious sects today also love the greetings and extraordinary attention from the people? Don’t they also dress very distinctly from the laity in order to be identified? Are not leaders of some religious sects also called "fathers?" Are they not being called "Rabbi" or "teacher or leader or chief or head or pastor or shepherd?" Are they not also being addressed as REVEREND, when this special title belongs exclusively to God?

 

Psalms 111:9 "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name."

 

 

NICOLAITANISM AND THE NICOLAITANS

 

Don’t we see the position of the leaders of religious sects within the organization? Jesus Christ, in His revelation to John the Beloved in the Island of Patmos, warned the people on this religious doctrine:

 

Revelation 2:15 "So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate."

 

What is this doctrine of the Nicolaitans that our Lord hates? Nicolaitan is a word derived from the Greek nike, meaning victory, and laos which means laity or people; thus, victory over the laity or people. "Victory" of the leaders over the people, therefore, is taking a superior position and exercising ruling authority over them. Results: great adulation by the people of the religious leaders. This was a practice of the Gentiles of which our Lord even during His time had warned His disciples:

 

Luke 22:24 "And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve."

 

Leaders of religious denominations exercise governing authority under the guise of church discipline. James aptly put it in:

 

James 2:9 "But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors."

 

9. Can we see the religiosity of the Jews during the time of our Lord, as clearly as we see the religiosity of the people who profess to follow Jesus Christ today? Did the Jews see the spirituality preached by our Lord as distinguished from their religiosity? Do so-called Christians today see the same thing?

 

 

CAN MANY PEOPLE TODAY ACCEPT THIS BITTER TRUTH, AND FEEL THE SHARPNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD?

 

Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

 

Do we now see the distinction between the early Christians and the modern members of the different religious sects? Who are THE MEN CALLED CHRISTIANS? Are not religious people today offended by simply being called Christians, because they take pride in the title by which they are identified with their respective sect? WHAT A GREAT SPIRITUAL REVELATION!

 

 

SPIRITUAL FELLOWSHIP AMONG CHRISTIANS

 

God commands His people to have fellowship among themselves: 

 

Hebrews 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

 

Is it the kind that religious sects have in their meetings in chapels, churches and Cathedrals? Look here if God does not guide His chosen few to the spiritual fellowship:

 

Romans 1:11 "For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me."

 

Here is Paul the apostle. Did he do what the modern apostles, pastors, teachers are doing now? Paul wanted to listen to the Christians ,that according to him, "I may be comforted from your faith," as you also may be comforted from mine.

 

The fellowship, therefore, is not a "one-way" talk from the pulpit, as modern apostles are doing now. Rather, it is a "mutual sharing of faith through the word of God." Is not the word of God the "spiritual food?" Therefore, as in the Last Supper, the Christians "eat together." The "food" is the word of God.

 

Jeremiah 15:16 "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."

 

Matthew 4:4 "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

 

The "One distributing the bread and wine" is JESUS" -- not Peter, not John, not Paul. The "bread" is the literal word, while the "wine" symbolizing the Holy Spirit gives "life" to the word becoming the "spiritual message of the word."

 

It is Christ Who appoints apostles, evangelists, prophets, pastors, and teachers. From among the brethren therefore will the FUNCTION of any of these offices will fall according to the will of God. Example: If there is any topic opened, the person who is endowed with the divine revelation of the word of God will speak. The words must be "powerful, forceful, and effective" and in perfect harmony with what is written in the Holy Bible. This is the proof that it is God that is actually speaking, and the brethren is only a vessel.

 

The brethren, therefore, performs the FUNCTION of the office. Can he claim authority? No! Therefore, no TITLE (respect/honor) can ever be appropriated. The TITLE (Father or Rabbi or teacher or leader or chief or shepherd or pastor) solely belongs to God. The Christians are all "brethren."

 

Matthew 23: 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called master: for one is your Master, even Christ."

 

One example of a brethren speaking for God is the case of Paul in rebuking Peter. Did not Paul rebuke Peter because the latter’s act was not in line with the truth? (Galatians 2:11-14)

 

Is there any particular speaker among the brethren? Who is the appointing authority? Who is the wise?

 

1 Corinthians 3:18 "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise."

 

God loves the humble: "he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."

 

 

"WOMEN NOT ALLOWED TO TALK"

 

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

 

Does God consider gender? Who thinks of gender consideration? God or man?

 

Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

 

Who is the MAN or HUSBAND, and who is the WOMAN or wife?

 

Isaiah 54:5 "For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel..."

 

Who can comprehend that the spiritual husband is GOD, and the spiritual woman or wife are the people of God? Why is MAN the only One allowed "to speak" in the Church? When does the WOMAN speak in the Church?

 

God reveals that He is the MAN. The people are the WOMAN. Surely, when the MAN or God speaks, there is power and perfect harmony and clarity in His words. When the WOMAN, actually a male or female person, speaks, the real Christians can easily detect that human wisdom is injected into the word of God. There is contradiction to what is written and no power is felt on the word of God.

 

From this spiritual set up of meetings or gathering among CHRISTIANS, does the number of persons of primary importance? Is there a need for a LEADER, HEAD, CHIEF, DIRECTOR, TEACHER, PASTOR, SHEPHERD? Who is the "Father" or "Rabbi" or Master anyway?

 

Matthew 23:8 "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ."

 

Is there still a need for chapels, churches, and cathedrals? The men called CHRISTIANS are easily distinguished from the rest.

 

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

 

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