Have you ever wondered whether there was more to existence than this life? Have you ever considered whether there is more to living than just satisfying desire? Maybe you are deeply grieved by the suffering and pain of mankind. Perhaps you are saddened by all of the different divisions that exist in our world. Hopefully you have felt that there has to be some kind of higher power out there, but perhaps you have been disappointed by religious experiences you’ve had in the past. If any of this is the case, we would like to introduce you to the One who can truly satisfy, Jesus Christ, and His alternative to the ways of the world: New Testament Christianity.
New Testament Christianity: Following Christ
New Testament Christianity is founded upon the belief that Jesus of Nazareth represented God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14, 18). Those who seek to practice New Testament Christianity believe that there is a God, that He is the Creator of heaven and earth, and that He has revealed Himself to us through the creation, then to Israel, and now to everyone through Jesus His Son (Genesis 1:1, Romans 1:19-20, Exodus 20:1-21, Hebrews 1:1-2).
God seeks to teach us the right ways in which to live for our good; sadly, we have all disobeyed Him and sought our own ways to our hurt (Proverbs 3:5-8, Jeremiah 10:23). We all stand guilty of rebelling against God and we deserve death and condemnation because of it: nothing we could ever do can undo our acts of disobedience (Romans 3:20, 23; 6:23).
When we were without hope, God then sent God the Son to become flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus teaches us what can be known of God through His words and deeds (John 1:1, 14, 18; 14:8-11). Jesus suffered and died on the cross, not because He did anything wrong, but to pay for our wrongdoing (John 3:16, 1 Peter 2:22-24). Jesus, a force for good, suffered everything evil could throw at Him so that He could overcome and conquer evil, and provide a way for people after Him to do the same (Revelation 12:11).
Jesus died but did not remain dead; on the third day, God raised Jesus in the flesh in power, triumphing over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15). God has now made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36): Lord and Messiah, King over all people.
This is why New Testament Christians follow Jesus: He is now the Lord, and therefore we are to follow after Him and seek what He wants us to do (cf. Matthew 8:5-10). We try to be His disciples and help other people become His disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Even though “authority” and “obedience” are not popular ideas in our culture, New Testament Christians understand that they cannot trust their own ways, and thus know it is best to trust in God’s ways. That is why they emphasize serving the Lord Jesus Christ and making sure that they say and do everything according to His authority and purpose (Romans 1:5, Colossians 3:17), and are not just following after human ways.
New Testament Christianity: The Bible
New Testament Christianity is also based in the confidence that God has revealed His purposes for mankind through the Holy Spirit to the Apostles who followed Jesus and that their message is handed down to us in what we call the New Testament (Matthew 18:18, Acts 1:7-8, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, those who seek to learn of God do well to begin with the Bible.
You might wonder why emphasis is placed on the New Testament and not the whole Bible. The Old Testament teaches us much about God and His purposes, and it is very difficult to understand the New Testament without some idea of what is said in the Old; nevertheless, when it comes to how Christians are to believe and act today, we must go by what is revealed in the New Testament (Ephesians 2:11-18, Colossians 2:14-17, Hebrews 7:1-9:27). Most of us were never part of the covenant between God and Israel, and God has made it clear that the old covenant and its testament find their fulfillment in Jesus (Matthew 5:17-18).
Those who seek to practice New Testament Christianity believe firmly that everything that is necessary to believe in God, to share the faith in Jesus Christ, and to do every good work can be found in the pages of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Jude 1:3). No human organization, writings, creeds, manuals, or traditions have such authority. The truths of God as revealed in the New Testament can be understood, and God expects everyone–not just a small group of Christians, but every Christian–to work to understand them (Ephesians 5:17).
The Bible tells us the story of God’s eternal plan (Ephesians 3:11). In its pages we learn of the things He has done in order to save mankind, many aspects of His character, His expectation for humans, and the upcoming day of judgment, among many other things. There is always more we can learn of God through studying the message He revealed to us in the Bible.
New Testament Christianity and the Church
It is sad that we must speak of “New Testament” Christianity as opposed to just “Christianity” as God intended it. Sadly, over the past two thousand years, all sorts of different brands of Christianity have emerged. All sorts of different views exist about many aspects of Christianity.
When we consider what God has said in the Bible, however, we see that God intends for there to be one group of believers: the church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4-6). This “church” really is the reflection of Jesus’ rule, the Kingdom of which He spoke so frequently in His life (Matthew 4:17, Colossians 1:13).
It is true that individual believers are expected to reflect Jesus in their personal lives: they are to love their fellow man, think upon the good and to have pure thoughts, to show compassion to others, to stop doing what God says is wrong and to do what God says is right (Romans 12:9, Galatians 5:17-24, Philippians 4:8). But Christians cannot stand alone against temptation: that is why God established the church. The church is people; nothing more, nothing less. The church is to be the people of God who come together to serve God but who also work together in one another’s lives to strengthen and encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Corinthians 12:12-28).
God wanted those believers to be one: to be of the same mind and the same judgment, in humility counting each other of more value than themselves (1 Corinthians 1:10, Philippians 2:1-4). Even though they may have come from different ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds–perhaps enemies before, or even master and slave–God wanted all of them to understand that they were equally important to God and that each had his or her role to fulfill in God’s Kingdom (Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 3:10-11, Colossians 3:11).
New Testament Christians believe that God has not changed His intentions over the past two thousand years: He still wants believers to believe the same things so that they can effectively work together. Such unity can only come when believers humble themselves and seek to do all things by Christ’s authority and not based on the views of some religious organization, tradition, or their own thoughts (Colossians 3:17).
It is tragic that as we get more and more isolated from each other in our society that more and more people do not think that the church is important. God expects His followers to share in one another’s lives and that they benefit greatly from it!
Even in the midst of evil, doubt, and religious confusion, those who seek to practice New Testament Christianity remain convinced that it is possible to learn about God and to follow Him as He intends. In order to do so we must believe in God, renounce our own ways and trust in God’s ways instead, and seek His will and not our own in every aspect of our lives. If we become His disciples, we receive the privilege of having our share in the advancement of God’s eternal plan, we have the forgiveness of our sins, we can become a new and better person in Jesus, and we have assurance that in Jesus we will have the victory over sin and death, and we will share in the resurrection of life and experience glory in eternity beyond imagination (Ephesians 3:11, Romans 6:3-7, 8:1-17, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58)!
We who comprise the Venice church of Christ seek to practice New Testament Christianity. We do not claim to be perfect people, nor do we believe that we know everything, but we are trying to follow Jesus, and we come together often to strengthen each other to that end.
Thank you for considering this introduction to New Testament Christianity. If you would like more information, or are interested in a Bible study, please contact us. Have a good day!