OriginalChristianity.Net

Not Traditional, Original

The Vision of OriginalChristianity.Net

The vision of OriginalChristianity.Net is to look at the beliefs and practices of the the original Christians.  The reason why this is important is that over the millennium Christianity has developed numerous factions that all claim that that they are the true continuation of original Christianity.  I heard exactly that when I visited a Greek Orthodox Church, I have read it in Roman Catholic literature, it is in the bulletin of a local non-denominational church in my area.  They make these claims despite the fact that they have disagreed, even violently at times.  For other articles on this topic, see A Major Objection to the Restoration Movement Is That Christianity Has Not Changed Substantially Over Time, and Another Claim of Original Christianity in Practice Today,

Throughout this website are numerous articles written on the numerous divisions in the Church that we have today, how a lot of these doctrines developed that are behind all these divisions, and some key points on how original Christianity differed from today.  It is important to look at all these things because they are part of Christianity now and play a big part, perhaps more as obstacles, in the faith of the individual believer.

But the key point of this website is to be able to envision what original Christianity, and in particular the time of Jesus and the apostles and disciples that he touched was really like. There was an incredible spirituality. With the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, and afterward the sending of the Holy Spirit we see the most incredible movement of God on earth since creation.

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This was a time of power, miracles, healing, and deliverance, not only by Jesus, but by those he touched, his apostles and disciples. People saw God in action through these men. They saw the word of God living, because they lived it together. There was incredible community and sharing. There was incredible believing. There was great faith.

It was a time of simple doctrine.  There were no official doctrines on infant baptism or believer’s baptism. There was no doctrine that prophecy and the other gifts and manifestations of the spirit had ceased. There were baptisms being carried out, and the last supper repeated as a memorial, but there were no “sacraments”, somehow mysteriously conveying grace by ritualistic practices. There were no autonomous churches disputing which form of church government was doctrinally correct, which end times theology was correct, or arguments over whether or not there was eternal security.

There was no argument over the status of the Bible, because there was no Bible. Jesus had referenced the law and the prophets, including the Psalms, as the word of God. And only those books with the addition of the words of Jesus were considered the word of God. There were no written Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There were no epistles of Peter, Paul, Hebrews, John, and Jude. So there was no argument over doctrines derived from them like eternal security, justification by grace, predestination, or even the Trinity.

Philosophy was rejected as an unwise practice of the Greeks that actually tore down faith more than it built, so discussion of faith wasn’t an analytical exercise in the nuances of the meanings of words, but rather simple directives, and powerful stories and analogies that emphasize the important meanings to be focused on while ignoring the myriad details that can lead people astray.

What existed was the good news that Jesus the Messiah had come, that he had fulfilled the law, had sent the Holy Spirit, and now many believers were walking in great faith and power. What existed was great praise, great faith, and great love of God.

All of this is not to say that this was an easy time. There were persecutions, challenges, and trials, as both the Jews and the Romans saw this burgeoning Christianity as a threat. But this just served to bring the Christians closer together, and more united in their faith.

Original Christianity was a time of great unity, simple doctrine, great believing, with many believers walking in the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

So as you read these articles that discuss all of the divisions, and developments, both good and bad throughout the millennia of history of Christianity, it is important to maintain the focus of the simple vision of original Christianity.  Pray, praise the Lord, walk in the power of the spirit, love God and love your neighbor, and rejoice in what Christ has done. Join together with any Christian who is doing the same.  And in the process perhaps we can bring some of what made original Christianity so great back to life.

© copyright 2012 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

Welcome to Original Christianity.Net

It appears that universally, in the church, we Christians marvel at both at Jesus’ miracles and the wisdom in his parables. We especially are in awe of his life, his incredible birth, his short but incredibly powerful ministry, his passion, death, and resurrection. We love him for those. We are also moved by the depth of the wisdom and inspiration of books like the Psalms and Proverbs. Almost universally, although most would say all true Christians, acknowledge him as Lord, and strive to follow his leadership as we walk in a dark world filled with daily challenges, including overcoming evil.

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In fact, there are some universal, and some almost universal, elements in Christianity. Universally held elements of Christianity include this deep awe of Christ, and likewise, for the bible. The bible, or at least for some, sections of the bible, such as the parables of Christ in the gospels, the powerful poetry of the Psalms, and the wisdom in Proverbs are universally held in the deepest regard. Almost universally held elements include the belief in Christ as the only begotten son of the Father, physically born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, who died for out sins, and was raised from the dead and is presently seated at the right hand of God. Christians look forward to spending eternity with the Lord. Even more, there is common ground as churches promote worship, baptism, and communion with some similarity.

But beyond some basics like these, there is far less agreement on the tenets of Christianity. In fact, there is an elephant in the Church, an elephant of disagreement resulting in tens of thousands of sects, disagreeing on many doctrines.

The disagreements have been legion, often bloody, and always confusing. Christians have killed other Christians for defying the rule of infant baptism and proclaiming “believer’s baptism”. Many Christians have declared other Christians apostate because of their view of the Bible, whether it is inerrant, infallible, or at least partially of human origin.

And even if they agree on the status of the Bible, they don’t agree on what it says on these issues. For example, there is disagreement over basic principles of interpretation like whether the overriding principle is based on the covenants of God versus which dispensation we are in.

There are Christians that call other Christians apostate (traitorous) because they believe that the gifts of the spirit, i.e., prophecy and speaking in tongues, etc. still exist, and vice versa. These days there are sharp divides over homosexuality, abortion, the Word of Faith movement, the emergent Church movement, and the role of women in the church.

Even if Christians don’t call others apostate, they still disagree to the point of not fellowshipping over issues like: dietary laws (whether they need to be followed), drinking alcohol, end times (Eschatology), eternal security, evolution vs. literal seven days of creation, giving vs. tithing, predestination, psychology: the acceptability of Christian counseling, sacraments as conveyers of grace or not, the “in the name of Jesus” debate, and pacifism vs. the concept of a just war, and other issues.

Then there is the ecumenical concept of Christian “orthodoxy” that suggests that none of the issues so far discussed really matter even there are huge divisions over them. The only issue that really matters in “orthodoxy” is whether one accepts the doctrine of the Trinity, that Jesus the man is really God and a person in a triune godhead with two other persons, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. This doctrine is promoted as the absolutely most important concept in Christianity even though this emphasis is totally missing for the first centuries of the church.

And let alone that the very doctrine of the Trinity has been disputed over the centuries with more Christians killing other Christians over this issue than any other. It appears that for some that as long as a church accepts the doctrine of the Trinity it doesn’t matter if it teaches that homosexuality is normal or apostate, and/or abortion is choice or murder, and/or baptism should be infant baptism or believer’s baptism, and/or there are two “ordinances” or seven sacraments, and so forth, and so on.

This mess is a huge blemish on the body of Christ. Some of these issues may be legitimate, but to have so many “orthodox” churches teaching so many disparate doctrines flies right in the face of Paul’s charge for believers to have the same mind:

Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all say the same thing, and there be no divisions among you, but you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 LITV)

If, as Paul teaches, we corporately are the body of Christ, then does the current collective body of competing Christian theologies accurately reflect the mind of Christ. Certainly, no one can think so.

But, before the present time with our tens of thousands of Christian denominations, and before the Reformation that shifted the focus of Christianity from the decisions of church councils and the Pope to the Bible as the principle source of guidance, and before the great schism about a thousand years ago, even before there were arguments over the nature of Christ, the Trinity and whether Mary was the mother of God in the beginning of the age of Christendom (fourth century), even before there was a Catholic church (110 A.D.) there was original primitive Christianity.

While some of the focus of Christianity remains, much has changed over the millennia. The question is whether all or even any of the different traditions that have developed are correct, or the original believers were the ones that actually got it the most right. The place to start is by looking at the beliefs and practices of original, primitive Christianity, and seriously consider embracing them again even though some of them may be radically different from what you or I hold today.

In the days of original, primitive Christianity:

(In the listings below hyperlinks offer more information on the point being made.)

Elements usually still held today:

Elements still held today by some:

Elements held today by few, if any believers:

Elements that are divisive today but didn’t appear to exist then:

The most current blogs (articles) are below. The articles can touch on a large number of topics including ancient history, the original language of the bible, grammar and logic, dividing doctrines besides the basics of Christianity, what Jesus taught, and development (movements) in Christianity throughout the centuries. For an organized listing of the blogs (articles) to get an overview and better understanding of the contents on this web site, go to the table of contents. There is more information on design of this website on this page; look on the right sidebar under Original Christianity and click “Why? Click to Read More…”

H3 Four kinds of love in the Bible, When Love is not Love

(Warning – mature content, parental guidance, items of a sexual nature are discussed)

In Agape – First Things First – Christians Love we learn that the love of God is the great commandment of God and the mark of the true believer. But not every place that the word love is used in our English Bible does it mean this love of God.

There are four different Greek words translated love in the English Bible, and they mean different things.

The four words are:

  • Agape – unselfish, unconditional love
  • Phileo – friendship
  • Eros – sexual, romantic love
  • Storge – familial affection

The Definition of Love is a Huge Cultural Topic.

There are some popular songs along the line of love is just love. In fact, Love is Love is a popular song by Grace Potter. It’s a song about infidelity where love is the justification for it.

LeeAnn rhymes wrote a named song Love is Love is Love which is a pro LGBTQ song. Here are some of the lyrics:

“These politics and religion
Everyday they’re starting wars
And we believe we’re not the hateful, no no
When we can dance with the worst of them
When we can sing with our enemies “

In this song, LeAnn projects that anyone that disagrees with the LGBTQ agenda is a hater. But in the song, she does promote hating the hate, not the hater. Hating the sin, not the sinner has been a theme in Christianity for who knows how long.

Love is love is an LGBTQ mantra sold on T-shirts and other paraphernalia. A visit to a gay pride site reveals that mantra along with things like, being Bi is not a choice, being gay is not a choice, being trans is not a choice, do you know what is a choice? Homophobia!.i And then the mantra Love is Love. The LGBTQ point being that any of those lifestyles is not by choice (see H2 Born Gay: Scientific Fact or False Idol of Bad Science?) and they do involve the argument that love and any kind of love is love and is therefore okay and anyone who disagrees with that is just wrong and a hater and so on and so forth.

But, even people in those camps will draw the line at some things. For example, incest. Incest is sex between immediate family members, and in some jurisdictions, first, or even second cousins. For example, in the United States over half of the states ban sexual relations between cousins while the remainder does not. That begs the question of whether love is love there.

Or even more taboo, bestiality! Did you know that bestiality is not illegal in ten states in the US?ii There are three countries in Europe where it is still legal.iii But in most places it is taboo. Sexual love between people and animals in those places banning bestiality is not considered love. Do the people in favor of bestiality call the rest of us bestiphobes?.

There are even groups that advocate for the decriminalization of pedophilia. That is another love that today almost everyone sees as taboo. But the point is that the procession of homosexuality from taboo to legal is an example that what is taboo today could be legal tomorrow. That is true especially if the rule is that all love is love. But the truth is that not all love is love everywhere under all conditions. The disagreement then is what are legitimate conditions. Fifty years ago the argument was for free love, that is sexual love outside of marriage to be acceptable. Today the push is for LGBTQ loves to be acceptable. What is coming tomorrow?

Examples of Different Kinds of Love in the Bible.

Agape – the Love of God

Agape love is the topic of Agape – First Things First – Christians Love. Basically, the greatest love in the Bible is agape. In fact, it is written that God is love:

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1Jn 4:8 ESV)

The words used for love in the above verse are both the verb and noun forms of the Greek word agape.

As we saw in the above-mentioned article agape is the love that we as Christians are called to live.

While it is hard to put into words the greatness of this love we must try. Agape love, the love of God, is the subject of many verses in the Bible including first Corinthians chapter 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1Co 13:1-13 ESV)

Some of the highlights to me are that Love is patient, kind, rejoicing, and enduring. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and never ends. Of all the fruit of the Spirit it is the most powerful and important.

It is impossible to quantify this love. In I John it is written that God is love. That is so huge! Agape, the love of God, is God himself, Everything that you can imagine about being good and awesome is in there and then some. That’s our God and that’s the love that we are called to live.

Phileo Love – Friendship

Phileo love is a category of love that refers th that special bond between friends:

… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Pro 18:24b ESV)

Here we see a closeness referred to that is closer than family. That is the potential of friendship.

In the Bible a very interesting place where we see this friendship love being talked about is regarding Lazarus:

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” (Joh 11:1-3 ESV)

Now we all know this great story of Lazarus and how Jesus waited until Lazarus was actually dead before he came to heal him. And the resulting miracle is of great note in that Lazarus was raised from the dead.

But this is also an illustration of the fact that our Lord and Savior had friends. Verse three refers to the person that Jesus loved, and the word love there is phileo. Another way to translate it would’ve been “was friends with.”

A very interesting example in the Scripture that contrasts two Greek words, agape, and phileo is in John chapter 21:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (Joh 21:15-17 ESV)

The first two times that Jesus asked Peter if he loves him he uses the word agape, but Peter responds with the word phileo. The third time that Jesus asked Peter if he loves them he uses the word phileo, and again Peter responds with phileo. In the English, this looks like they’re using the same word but in the Greek, we see that they are not which shines new light on what is going on here. Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him with the love of God to which Peter never responds that he does. But he does respond that he loves him as a friend. In the end, Jesus charges him to feed his sheep, to pastor his flock.

We are not called to have this special phileo love with everyone. In fact, Paul writes:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom 12:18 ESV)

This verse expresses the reality that you will not be able to live as peaceably with some as others. Not everyone will be that special phileo friend, but we still are called to agape love them,

And not all friendships are good! Look at these verses:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1Co 15:33 ESV)

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Pro 13:20 ESV)

One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Pro 12:26 ESV)

Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence. (Pro 3:31-32 ESV)

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4 ESV)

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. (Pro 20:19 ESV)

There are some strong admonitions here. You may be attracted to certain people as friends who are not good for you. Basically, if someone is following the ways of the world they may be an influence for you to do likewise. Stay away from the violent person, the devious person, the foolish person, the babbler. Don’t make friends with people that will increase your temptation to sin!

If you tend to drink too much stay away from people who drink too much. Any person that manifests a tendency to do things that tempt you is probably not a good person for you. People get caught up in all kinds of things; lying, stealing, gossiping, envying, being lazy, hooking up (sexually), drugs. And it may not be apparent right away.

That isn’t to say you can’t be friends with a person with flaws because we all have flaws. But being friends with someone who is weak in a flaw that you are also weak in is flirting with disaster.

On the other hand, there are cases where God calls people to help flawed people with caution:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Gal 6:1 ESV)

There is a great benefit of friendship. If you are caught up in some flaw and someone could help you get out of it, wouldn’t that be great? Or maybe you could be the inspiration for someone else to overcome something! How great would that be!

That brings us to something else. The bible has some good things to say about the benefits of friends:

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Pro 17:17 ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecc 4:9-10 ESV)

How great it is to have a friends to help each other out in times of need,

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Pro 27:17 ESV)

You want to have sharp friends! And you should want to be a sharp friend yourself.

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. (Pro 11:13 ESV)

Are you a person that blabs everything they hear? You won’t be a good friend. Good friends keep secrets so that there is trust. With trust, you can feel safe. Good friends can confide in each other.

And the Bible teaches us that it is not about how many friends you have but how good they are. Good, good friends are precious gifts:

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Pro 18:24 ESV)

Eros – Sexual, Romantic Love

Sexual love is its own category. We are attracted to some people and not to others. That, of course, does mean that God okays pursuing every attraction we feel. King David was severely admonished for chasing his attraction with Bathsheba, a married women. She got pregnant! David schemed to cover it up! When he couldn’t he schemed to have Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, a valiant man, killed! God sent Samuel to reprove David for his sin:

And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”

(2Sa 12:1-12 ESV)

This isn’t just about the murder of Uriah. Samuel says David despised God by taking another man’s wife. This is definitely against infidelity and adultery as not being something to pursue because love is love.

However, God is in favor of sexual love and believers have celebrated it throughout history. The Song of Solomon is in many ways an erotic poem. You don’t have to go further than the first verses to see that this is about love in the bedroom:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers. Others We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you. (Son 1:2-4 ESV)

“His chambers” is his bedroom! This whole book is talking about romantic, sexual love.

The Greek word Eros isn’t found in the New Testament other than being in the root of a name: Erastus. But it is in the Old Testament as found in the Septuagint. It’s found in the context of both legal and illicit love. Here’s an example of “legal” use.

the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. (Est 2:17 ESV)

The king loved (eros, romantic, sexual love) Esther more than all the women.

In the next verse, the word lover has as its root this erotic, sexual love. This is in the context of illicit love as it involves the multiple lovers of a loose woman:

Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. (Hos 2:10 ESV)

The love that a man and his wife share is this eros love. But, interestingly, when the husbands are commanded to love their wives the word used is agape, not eros!

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (Eph 5:25 ESV)

Husbands aren’t commanded to romantically love their wives here, rather, they are commanded to love with the love of God. The commandment is that husbands are not just to love their wives romantically and sexually, but with the whole love of God.

In like manner, in the context of the LGBTQ mantra, “Love is Love”, any kind of romantic, sexual love falls in the eros category which is clearly different from the agape love that we as believers are commanded to live. Eros love is not Agape love. Again, while the Love is Love mantra certainly has an emotional charge to it, it has flaws in its argument.

Storge Love or Lack of it

The last Greek word, storge, that we’re going to look at is found in the New Testament only in its opposite sense. By that I mean the word is used in a couple of places to indicate a lack of appropriate affection:

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Rom 1:29-31 ESV)

The word heartless above is the Greek word storge meaning hard-hearted, heartless, without natural affection toward. Another example is:

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, (2Ti 3:2-3 ESV)

Again, storge is translated heartless here. Both these examples show lists of sins, deficiencies, that mark people that are the opposite of true believers.

The theme here is to guard against losing your natural affection and becoming hard-hearted.

In Summary

There they are, the four words for love in the Bible; agape, phileo, eros, and storge, They all have their place. If we want to live in holiness, we need to be careful to love in each of these categories in the way God has called us. Just because we are attracted to a person in either a friend way or a romantic one does not mean that it is a good thing as God has called us to be holy in all the ways we love.

ihttps://www.pinterest.com/pin/299348706462963455/

iiFor Nat’l Cousins Day, 3 Legal Facts About Cousin Relations, https://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2014/07/for-natl-cousins-day-3-legal-facts-about-cousin-relations.html

iiiDenmark passes law to ban bestiality, http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32411241/denmark-passes-law-to-ban-bestiality

Agape – First Things First – Christians Love

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:34-35 ESV)

These are the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He says that the way that you know Christians is by their love. And he tells us that we are to love as we have been loved by him.

This is seen in evidence throughout history. The article Christians Stood Out In Early Christianity For Their Love To All During Terrifying Epidemics While Others Fled points out that Julian wrote to the high priest of Galatia that others needed to be like the Christians who were known for their love and care of people. He cites this care as primary to the cause of the rise of Christianity.

Today Christians do continue to love and give in many ways from running soup kitchens and shelters to working on housing for the poor to working in clinics to aid the sick among us. And as individuals when we see someone in need and feel the conviction of the spirit we give to that person.

The basic law of Christianity, the first and greatest commandment is to love God

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 22:34-40 ESV)

These verses go on to say that the second greatest law is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself. Our life is all about the love of God, loving God and others with that same love.

The title of this article starts with “agape” because there are four words for love in the English Bible but the subject of this article is agape love, also defined as the love of God. Look for another article to further expound on the different words translated love in the bible but briefly the others are phileo love or friendship, eros love or romantic – sexual love, and storge – familial love or affection. But back to the love of God – agape ( a-GOP-?).

Jesus lived that love on earth. The Gospels are full of examples of the love of God manifested by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everywhere he went Jesus reached out and touched people. He healed people from diseases.

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. (Mat 8:16 ESV)

Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all (Mat 12:15 ESV)

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Mat 14:13-14 ESV)

In that last verse, Jesus was mourning the death of John the Baptist. He just wanted to be alone. But the crowd heard where he was, and walked on foot to find him. In spite of his grief, when Jesus saw the crowd he had compassion on them, and he healed the sick among them. What love!

Because of the love of God in Jesus multitudes were miraculously fed. The continuation of the verses above show just such a miracle:

Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Mat 14:15-21 ESV)

Another record of miraculous feeding illustrates the same thing.

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. (Mat 15:32-38 ESV)

These were not mere displays of power, rather they were acts of love! This is the love of God to his people.

He healed the man born blind, something that had never been done.

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (Joh 9:1-7 ESV)

He raised people from the dead.

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (Joh 11:38-44 ESV)

And not only did Jesus do these things he loved and inspired people to be far greater than they thought possible.

And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Act 5:14-16 ESV)

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. (Act 19:11-12 ESV)

Our Lord Jesus told us that are defining mark is our love for God and for one for another.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:35 ESV)

Jesus told us how we love will be the main factor in him recognizing us eternally.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Mat 7:21-27 ESV)

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Mat 10:40-42 ESV)

Love, people, Love, with the love of God.

Holiness, Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at the definition of the word holy: Something that is holy is something that is set apart for God’s purposes. We also looked at how that our call to holiness is a call to good works. We discussed how we are saved by grace and those good works don’t save us. But we are called to be holy.

Now, let’s start by deepening our understanding and look at some of the things called holy in the Bible. Again, holy in the Greek is the word hagios, And it is found 665 times in the English standard version of the Bible.

One of the first things God set apart is the seventh day, the Sabbath. God set apart the seventh day in Genesis. He made it holy:

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Gen 2:3 ESV)

God made some gatherings (assemblies) holy:

On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. (Exo 12:16 ESV)

The Father set some garments and accessories of the priests holy:

These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. (Exo 28:4 ESV)

The Lord made foods holy in the Law. In the Law, a number of things were made holy. We are no longer under the Law, but studying them helps us understand this great concept of holiness:

They shall eat those things with which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration, but an outsider shall not eat of them, because they are holy. And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy. (Exo 29:33-34 ESV)

Every male among the priests may eat of it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. (Lev 7:6 ESV)

The Lord made the firstborn cow, sheep, and goat holy here:

But the firstborn of a cow, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar and shall burn their fat as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (Num 18:17 ESV)

The Lord made the altar holy here:

Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy. (Exo 29:37 ESV)

God made his chosen people, the Israelites, holy:

And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. (Isa 62:12 ESV)

He called the nation holy:

and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” (Exo 19:6 ESV)

There is a greeting with a kiss that is called holy:

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. (Rom 16:16 ESV)

Apostles and Prophets are called holy:

which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. (Eph 3:5 ESV)

The above is just a partial list but it illustrates that what the Lord set apart as holy is a long list. The Word talks of Holy covenants, places, districts, prophets, commandments, foods, livestock, and more. So holiness isn’t limited to Sunday Services on church grounds. Holiness is a lifestyle.

Next, set apart from what, you may ask. The Bible tells us that believers are to be set apart from the world, dedicated to the purposes of God.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2 ESV)

I have talked with a number of Christians that act like they are still the same person after becoming a Christian, it’s just that now they go to church and have that in their lives. O, they are glad that they have Christ, but to a large degree, they still want to think the same way about things and live the same life. For a lot of things talked about in the Bible they say that its a different culture now than in the Bible. And so they say that we don’t have to do a lot of what the Bible says because there is a different culture now.

As Christians, we are not under the dietary and ceremonial tenets in the Law. But study shows us that the moral law is carried forth into the Church we are all part of. And, besides, the New Testament alone is full of commands telling us how to live holy lives:

The list of New Testament commands is not small, one site online lists 1050 commands. Here are just some highlights: i

Put on Christ (ROM 13:14) 2. Put on the armour of light (ROM 13:12) 3. Put on the new man (EPH 4:24; COL 3:10) 4. Put on the whole armour of God (EPH 6:11,13) 5. Put on the bowels of mercy (COL 3:12) 6. Put on kindness (COL 3:12) 7. Put on humility (COL 3:12) 8. Put on meekness (COL 3:12) 9. Put on longsuffering (COL 3:13) 10. Put on love (COL 3:14) 11. Put on the breastplate of faith and love (1.THESS 5:8) 12. Put on the hope of salvation (1.THESS 5:8)

Put away lying (EPH 4:25). Put away all bitterness (EPH 4:31). Put away wrath (EPH 4:31). Put away anger (EPH 4:31). Put away clamour (EPH 4:31). Put away evil speaking (EPH 4:31). Put away all malice (EPH 4:31).

1. Put off the old man (EPH 4:22; COL 3:9) 2. Put off anger (COL 3:8) 3. Put off wrath (COL 3:8) 4. Put off malice (COL 3:8) 5. Put off blasphemy (COL 3:8) 6. Put off filthy conversation (COL 3:8)

Let not the wife depart from her husband (1.COR 7:10) 8. Let not the husband put away his wife (1.COR 7:11) 9. Let not the Christian put away the unsaved companion who wishes to remain (1.COR 7:12,13) 10. Let not the sun go down on wrath (EPH 4:26) 11. Let not fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting be mentioned among you as becometh saints (EPH 5:3-4)

These things were not written by some theologian from a tradition other than your churches’ that you may disagree with. Every statement above, every command, was written by the apostle Paul in his letters to us as Christians. The above are just some of the things that are found in the New Testament. I say that because it is true that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, fulfilled the law. And so it is correct to say that just because it’s in the law that doesn’t mean it applies to us as Christians after the law is fulfilled. But the amount of commands, the amount of charges that we as believers are charged to do is huge.

So, what is the difference between living now, and living under the law, if there is still over 1000 commands that we need to follow? The difference is that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and mediates between us and the father. The burden of the law was heavy. Some sins required the death penalty. There is no death penalty now because of Christ’s sacrifice. His life paid the penalty for us all. But not so that we could just live conformed to the world in sin and not care. The abundant life that Jesus came to make available, the joy, the peace, the love, all the fruit of the spirit that is available to us as born-again believers is available to us as we walk in the spirit, striving against sin, dedicating ourselves to live the holy lives that God calls us to live.

iChristian Assemblies International, 1050 New Testament Commands, located at https://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201407/r1308729_17984331.pdf

Biblical references are from the ASV version unless otherwise noted.
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