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The Basics of Christianity
Christians believe that the Bible is the Holy, inspired Word of God. ("All Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Christianity is monotheistic there is only one God however, Christians affirm the doctrine of the Trinity. This concept has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, applying a polytheistic (more than one God) quality to Christianity that is undeserved. Christians do not believe in three different gods. The Trinity is the doctrine that states that God consists of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet one Essence. Each person of the Trinity is fully God, but there is only one God. (Admittedly the Trinity is difficult to understand.)
Christians also believe that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and that He created the Heavens and the Earth, as well as everything on the earth, including man. God created everything in six days, and rested on the seventh day, thus establishing the first Sabbath day. ("Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" Genesis 2:1-2).
The fall of man occurred when Adam and Eve (the first man and woman that God created), disobeyed God, and ate from the one tree in the Garden of Eden that they were commanded not to eat from. Because of that one act of disobedience, sin entered the world, and from that time forth, man is inherently sinful, possessing a natural tendency to further disobey God. Mans predicament is one of disobedience before God. Gods solution to mans sinfulness and separation from God lies in the person of Jesus Christ. ("For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;" Romans 3:23).
The entire Christian faith is centered on Jesus Christ, and the very name Christian originates from Him. The Bible says that Jesus is the Messiah, whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, the sinless Son of God, who came to die for the sins of the world. ("He made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" 2 Corinthians 5:21). He was crucified, died, and rose again on the 3rd day. It is only by accepting Jesus as your Savior, that you have accepted Gods only solution to mans sinfulness, and are a Christian in the true sense of the word. Man is reconciled to God through Jesus death on the cross. ("For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" Romans 5:10). Christianity is not about church attendance; time spent in prayer, or even good deeds. It is solely centered on a personal relationship with the resurrected Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament (The Old Covenant)
Spans over 4,000 years of the history of the Jewish people. The Old Testament is meant to show man his sinful condition, "I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful" Romans 7:9-13; and to point the way toward the coming Messiah; "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD" Isaiah 11:1-2. There are 39 books in the Old Testament.
There is a period of about 400 years between the writing of the last Old Testament book (Malachi about 400 B.C.) and writing of the first New Testament book (the gospel of Mark, approximately 45 A.D.). The books of the Old and New Testaments are not listed in the Bible in chronological order, and some books overlap others as far as chronological dating is concerned.
The New Testament (The New Covenant)
The books were written in approximately 50 years, all within the first
century A.D. Central to the New Testament is the message that salvation
is available through Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world, that
He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not
perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world
to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him"
The Christian Sabbath is traditionally observed on Sundays. This is a change from the Jewish Saturday observance at the founding of the Christian church because of the belief that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Church services are usually held on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evenings. The idea of church is for believers to come together as a body, and to have fellowship with other believers. ("For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another" Romans 12:4-5).
Jesus disciples received a great deal of criticism from religious leaders of their day because they did not fast. Jesus said, "But the days will come when the bridegroom [Jesus] is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day" Mark 2:20. That day is now. Fasting is usually associated with a time of intense prayer, seeking wisdom from the Lord. "When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed" Acts 14:23.
The first Lords Supper was established by Jesus Himself, the night before he was crucified. He commanded the disciples to continue this practice. "And when He [Jesus] had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood" Luke 22:19-20. Many churches incorporate an observance of the Lords Supper into their regular worship service, usually the Sunday morning service. At this time bread and wine [grape juice usually substituted] are passed out to the congregation, as everyone remembers the words of Jesus and the sacrifice He made at the Cross.
Prayer is, plain and simple, talking with God. There is no set time of
day that Christians pray, but prayer is a vital part of having a relationship
with God. The Biblical model of prayer is to pray to God the Father "Our
Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name," Matthew 6:9; through
the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, "With all prayer and petition
pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert
with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, Ephesians 6:18;"
in the name of Jesus "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of
the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect
tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;
12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own
blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal
redemption." Hebrews 9:11-12. It is by the very blood of Jesus that
we have access to God.
Handed down from directly from God to Moses on stone tablets, the Ten
Commandments are still part of the moral law that Christians should be
observing in their daily lives. The first four commandments refer to the
way we should love God, while the last six refer to the way we should
love our neighbor. Jesus summed up the law in two commands, in Mark 12:28-31
"One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing
that He had answered them well, asked Him, What commandment is the
foremost of all? Jesus answered, The foremost is, "Hear,
O Israel! The LORD our God is one Lord; and you shall love the LORD your
God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,
and with all your strength." [Deut. 6:5] The second is this,
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." [Lev. 19:18] There
is no other commandment greater than these." (See also Matthew
19, 22, and Luke 10 for parallels to Mark 12).
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