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Chapter 28 - Back to Basics
For those who still claim Christ, but see little around them that they can grasp that seems both substantial and true, it can be helpful to strip away what has been taken in and start constructing a view of Christianity from the ground up. For this purpose one has to use the only resource that is certain, the word of God, the bible.
Paul presented a summary of the gospel to the Corinthians upon which it can be useful to base one’s faith.
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. - 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
The key to becoming a Christian is trusting in the gospel (good news) of the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is through this act that the Holy Spirit can ‘baptize’ (immerse) us into the life of Christ. This is the new birth that gives us eternal life.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. - Ephesians 4:4-6
Even at this first step of the Christian life, there are many confusing claims such as requirements for water baptism, repentance, etc. It is important to clearly see that each believer has the duty to judge for himself what is correct. It is understood that poor decisions may be made. However, it is important to see that clarity comes from growth and maturity. If one has made a poor decision, it needs to be recognized as maturity continues so that corrective steps can be taken. For example, a person earlier in their walk with the Lord, may offer prayers to Mary. As the Christian grows in truth and love, he may discover no biblical basis for prayers offered to Mary and begin to direct his prayers to Jesus or the Father. If one is inclined to be judgmental about ‘sin’ (doing something wrong) rather than recognizing varying degrees of maturity, the greater ‘sin’ might be failing to mature more than being mistaken about to whom to pray.
Some Christians when faced with confusing and even conflicting claims about Christianity can latch on to something like the King James version of the bible as a refuge or even as a bunker. However, our Christian walk was not supposed to be about finding security in anything or anyone but Christ.
The Greek word ‘peitho’ is often translated ‘obey’ in English. However, the word is better translated ‘be persuaded’. This is a key distinction because being persuaded requires us to be engaged, considering information, and making evaluations. Some of the confusion in the Christian life comes from not having an accurate understanding of what the bible actually says. The Christian may feel even greater anxiety if he thinks that he cannot trust the bible. Just as our walk with the Lord is to mature and deepen, our understanding of his word also deepens. We can use bible tools or seek bible teachers and compare what is said or presented with deepening understanding. Errors in translations are seen less as crippling impediments than as stepping stones to draw nearer to truth.
Clarity is achieved by seeking and following truth. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth) aids us in this. Rather than embracing one denomination or following one bible teacher, it can be beneficial to listen to different teachers and evaluate their claims on a comparative basis. This is similar to reading a commentary on a particular bible verse and considering four or five different views of the passage.
It can be tempting to place one’s trust in a particular denomination or bible teacher because it can avoid all of the trouble and effort to make evaluations oneself. However, one can ask that if comfort and ease are more preferable to truth, is a person actually trusting in Jesus.
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