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To Truly be Christian by Corey Burns

An Exposition to the One Faith

Christianity in the modern day

Christianity today has taken over the landscapes of most nations, from hillside crosses to small chapel steeples. Almost all peoples have encountered the message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ through whose sacrifice, the forgiveness of sins, is committed (​Mat 9:6, Act 5:31, Act 26:18, Eph 1:7, Col 1:14, 1Jn 1:9​).

It could easily be argued that Jesus of Nazareth is the most well-known figure of history, topping every most famous person of all time list, with the Bible (the collection of canonical scriptural books) as the most-selling book of all time.

There are an estimated 2.6 billion Christians in the world spread across potentially ~43,000 denominations according to the​ ​Center for the Study of​ ​Global Christianity​ at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary​.

Merriam-Webster ​dictionary defines a denomination as ​“a religious organization whose congregations​ are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices.” Each has their own defined principles of how to observe the faith that Christ Jesus commanded His disciples to adhere to.

Jesus exhorted His disciples and all who believed in Him to be faithful (​Luk 22:32)​, a more well-known example being that of a mustard seed (​Mat 17:20​). Without faith one cannot please God according to Hebrews 11:6. So if one believes in Christ and considers themself a Christian, there is a requirement of faith that pleases God to inherit the promises of Scripture, eternal life.

But one must ask themself: what is this faith and how does one become a Christian? This is what we will provide some insight on in this article.

Statements of the Faith

Paul stated in his epistle to Galatians with great severity, “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,”Galatians 1:9. There is a grievous penalty to one’s salvation if they bring any other gospel than the one Paul received. Paul, a pharisaical Jew who one day on his way to Damascus (in Acts 9) while persecuting the budding church, was knocked off his horse by the risen Christ Jesus who then blessed Paul with the grace of truly understanding the scriptures, the covenant of Abraham, and the promises of God given through His Son.

This grace that was given to Paul (​Eph 3:3​) was then given to the Gentiles that they may be partakers in the good pleasure of the will of the Almighty (​Eph 1:9​). The redemption of the human family from this fallen state is the good pleasure of the Father. However, people have choice, and the choice to walk in faith has spiritual boundaries.

Interpretations of these boundaries are known as “statements of faith,” which are what observations and beliefs a congregation will adhere to. Some examples are given below.

Examples of Statement of Faith with supporting scripture:
The Bible is God’s Word – given by​ ​divine​ ​inspiration​ – I Peter 1:23-25; John 17:17; II Timothy 3:16-17; II Timothy 3:16; John 20:31; I John 5:9-12; Matthew 4:4; I Peter 2:2

One living and true God – perfect in wisdom, sovereignty, holiness, justice, mercy, and love, He exists eternally in three co-equal persons who act together in creation, providence, and redemption.​ – I Timothy 1:12; Psalm 86:15; Deuteronomy 32:3-4; Genesis 1:26; Hebrews 1:1-3; I Chronicles 29:11-13; Matthew 7:11 ; John 14:9; Hebrews 4:15; James 1:18; I Peter 4:10

Believe God created spiritual beings​ – Hebrews 1:6-7, 13-14; Psalm 148:1-5; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 2:14; I Timothy 4:1; I Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:7-9; Revelation 20:10

God created man – God created man in His own image to have fellowship with Him​ – Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 3; Romans 5:12-21, 8:22; Ephesians 4:27; II Corinthians 2:11

Salvation – salvation is redemption of the whole person from sin and death through Christ​ – II Timothy 1:9-10; I Thessalonians 5:23; II Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:15; I Thessalonians 3:12

The church is the body of Christ – bonded by the Spirit of God united through the great calling of faith and belief in the true Word​ – Ephesians 1:22-23; Romans 12:4-5; Acts 2:41-42, 47; Luke 24:45-48; Ephesians 4:4

God’s timing – in His own time and in His own way, will bring all things to their appropriate end – Ephesians 1:9-10; Philippians 3:20-21; Titus 2:13; Revelation 1:7, 3:11, 21:1; John 14:1-3

Revelation – divine revelation of the Word leads believers into a deeper relationship with the Father​ – Ephesians 1:17; Hebrews 6:1; Matthew 5:8; Revelation 1:1-20; Matthew 16:13-20

And when you look at 43,000 denominations, you can see how lists like this grow into a panoply of varying interpretations, operations, observances, doctrines, beliefs, and understandings on the gospel that Paul preached.

If a believer is commanded to have faith in Jesus Christ, then we need to explore who Jesus Christ of Nazareth is and what He spoke to His disciples.

The Word Made Flesh – Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Yeshua ben Yosef Hamashiach

The most important conviction of the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born from Mary in the house of Joseph from the line of David, was in fact the Messiah of Israel prophesied throughout all the Scripture.

Jesus spoke in ​John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”​ This is also confirmed again in​ Luke 24:44, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”

Now Jesus was known as The Word Made Flesh (​Jn 1:14​) – the early church disciples knew Christ Jesus as the Word of God, the Way that leads back to life.

What are some examples of Christ in the scriptures?
Prophecies of Jesus of Nazareth The Eternal High Priest – ​Genesis 3:15, 9:27, 12:2-3, 49:8-12; Numbers 24:15-19; and Deuteronomy 18:15-18

Psa 110:4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
– Heb 7:11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron?

Gen 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
– Mat 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
–  Mat 26:27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
–  Mat 26:28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
–  Mat 26:29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

One of the most direct images of Christ in Scripture is the lamb of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 53.

Isa 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
– Mat 27:12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.-  Act 8:32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO THE SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARERS IS SILENT, SO HE OPENED NOT HIS MOUTH.

–  Act 8:34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?”
–  Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

However, one of the the most subtle inferences of Christ Jesus is seen in the first and last letters of the Hebrew Aleph-bet:

The Aleph Tav
Rev 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
The Greek Alpha Omega in Hebrew is equivalent to the Aleph Tav, the first and last letters of the Aleph-bet, the Hebrew alphabet.

Strongs #853: AHLB#: 1022-A (N)
1022) TavAleph ac: Plow co: Mark ab: ?: The pictograph a(aleph) is a picture of an ox. The t(tav) is a picture of two crossed sticks used to make a sign or mark. Combined these pictures represent “an ox moving toward a mark”

This being referenced 7,032 times in the Old Testament in Hebrew is a mystery of Scripture. Through some deduction and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, we can see that Jesus Christ who’s glorified in the Book of Revelation is saying clearly that He is that Aleph Tav – He is the beginning and ending.

Here are some types of Christ in Scripture:
Adam – Image of God before his fall, first of his kind.
Job – Suffering servant faithful to the Father no matter the circumstance.
Joshua Son of Nun – High Priest who would take the people to the promised land.
Joseph – Lead the children of Israel from destruction to a plentiful land, faithful to his Father.
Cyrus – Made it possible for the children of Israel to return to Jerusalem, restored the temple.
Melchizedek – High priest who offered Abram bread and wine and blessed him.
Isaac – Just as Isaac was promised so was Jesus, also offered as a sacrifice.
Jonah – In the belly of the whale 3 days, also brought salvation to Nineveh.

We see here in just a couple examples that Christ Jesus was making a powerful statement of His divinity and position with the creator, Father of all. Another powerful statement is seen in John 6:47. He says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”

Now that we see how important belief is, what do the disciples of the Apostles have to say?

Early Church – One Faith one church one denomination

Before the council of Nicea in 325 AD ,the church was one church spread over a number of different cities around the Mediterranean, many of whom are scripturally mentioned, as seen above.

Some of the most well-known disciples, due to the fact their writings survived the ages, include: Clement of Alexandria, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Cyprian of Carthage, Origen, and many others. These men and women were heavily persecuted and received unjust treatment at every turn, and to survive this, they had deep understanding of the Scriptures handed down directly from the Apostles and their direct disciples.

“Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin” [Ps. 32:2]. That is, having repented of his sins, he can receive remission of them from God. But this not you [jews] deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this. For they say, that even though they remain sinners, the Lord will not impute sin to them, because they know God.
Justin Martyr (c. 160, E) 1.270

The early church believed that one cannot be called a Christian and walk in sin, the Jew first received the grace of the holy Scriptures then the Gentiles. However, anyone who walks in sin prophet Ezekiel says,​ “The soul who sins shall die.” (Eze 18:20)​. And 1 John 1:6 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

The Christian is always exhorted to walk in truth, in purity of heart, mind, body, and spirit, drawing near to God the Father in all things through Jesus Christ – the Word made flesh.

“Who enters on a voyage, contracts a marriage, becomes the father of children, or sows seed into the ground – without believing that better things will result from doing so?…
Origen (c.248, E) 4.401

Origen here is relating the idea of a voyage or endeavor of work as that of embarking on the Christian walk. ​Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it. ​The Christian must, according to the words of Jesus here, count the cost of the walk ahead.

Today, people think a simple prayer, a water baptism, and showing up for an hour on Sunday is the walk the martyrs were giving all for, but it is not. To have a Lord in your life means your life is not your own, and He must be the center of all things in your life.

“If one chooses to continue in pleasure and to sin perpetually,… let him no longer blame either God, riches, or his having fallen. Rather, let him blame his own soul, which voluntarily perishes.” Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.604

“Be perfect as your father, perfectly.” One does this by forgiving sins, forgetting injuries, and living in the habit of passionlessness. Clement of Alexandria (c 195, E), 2.549

Apart from the help of the Word,… it is impossible for a man to become free from sin. Origen (c. 248, E), 4.492

God allows Himself at all times to be comprehended in our thoughts… This is so that we may receive a desire for purity and may free ourselves from every stain by the removal of all our shortcomings. Arnobius (c 305, E), 6.419

3[46]:4 I say to him; “Sir, these commandments are great and beautiful and glorious, and are able to gladden the heart of the man who is able to observe them. But I know not whether these commandments can be kept by a man, for they are very hard.” 3[46]:5 He answered and said unto me; “If thou set it before thyself that they can be kept, thou wilt easily keep them, and they will not be hard; but if it once enter into thy heart that they cannot be kept by a man, thou wilt not keep them.
Shepherd of Hermas (Mandate 12)

Israel of God

The promise was through Isaac the first born of Sarah by the sign of circumcision given to Abraham.

Gen 17:9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
Gen 17:10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised;

Gen 17:11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.

However, we see later on that the circumcision is not of the foreskin of the male member but the foreskin of the heart.

Deu 10:16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.
Deu 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

How can open heart surgery get you right with God?? It’s a spiritual principle being shown here, the heart of a person is the seat of passions, wants, desires – the flesh of the heart can be seen as vices sickening desires, since a fatty heart can kill its victim.

This particular circumcision leads to an opening of the eyes and the ears to see and hear the relationship God the Father wants with His people and learn of Him by seeing the deep things of Scripture. These are the things by which we, as Christians, learn His ways, His teachings, the mind of Christ that can only be done through the power of the Spirit but importantly a person willing to sell it all to attain this understanding.

Rom 2:29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Joh 8:39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.

The work of a Christian is to open the eyes of people to the scriptures, the deep understanding, the one accord revelation handed down since the disciples and their disciples. This is the work that leads one to being circumcised, allowing you to be partakers of the blessings of Abraham and to be accounted as Israel.

Num 1:2 “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually,
Num 1:3 from twenty years old and above—all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies.

The scriptures do not just give a mere literal understanding of anything mentioned within, the number of Israel is, as Origen references, a clue to a deeper understanding of a divine heavenly understanding of what the Spirit is communicating to the reader:

Origen Homilies on Numbers 2.3
“In the first place you must receive God’s law, the law of the Holy Spirit; Sacrifices must be offered, purification must be fulfilled; all that the law of the Spirit teaches must be done, so that you can at some time attain to the Israelite numbering.”

The Bible is God’s Word, divinely inspired with His commandments, ordinances, and infinite wisdom, that those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the circumcised in heart rejoice with the heavenly hosts eternally search the deep things and fellowship with the Creator of all. Man grafted into the ethereal body of Christ, the one true church, by the grace given to the Apostles through the salvation of the Father in accordance with His perfect timing will shall be one with Him as Jesus is one, if the contents therein are properly kept (2Ti 2:15).

Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments(mitzvah), that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Our souls are made for the love of God, to receive it, to bask in it, to understand it to each one’s capacity but importantly as well as one family. Today there are many Christians who do not know this God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because their souls have been deceived by ~43,000 lies perverting the Way that leads back to the Father of all. These lies bring a heartbreaking separation from that love that we are made for. Just like when a mirror that holds an image is shattered, it is separated into many pieces, destroying the image it once held. But God wants to put that image back together, but one must acknowledge Him and go through His process, which is a seriously rough program. But there is a wonderful Hebrew word for what God wants for us – it’s strong’s H7965, it’s the word Shalomto be whole, to be made complete. You cannot be complete without Him, His teachings, which are not easily acquired since it is a matter for only kings to search out. Be a king, trust the process, learn the commandments, the mitzvahs, walk them out everyday for the rest of your natural life and God will make you whole with Him. Blessings

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