Return to Fundamentals

Many people have a lot of different ideas about Christianity today. If you’re of a mind to you can search around till you find somebody who says exactly what you want to hear. With so many different flavors and variants of Christianity, it can become very easy to for Christians to find ways to set each other apart.

The human brain has an amazing power to discern patterns. This power is part of the basic functionality of the brain. When faced with something unusual or confusing, the first thing a mind tries to do is make sense of that thing by searching for patterns in it. The mind also has an great ability to detect irregularities in recognized patterns.

These two primary operations of the brain frequently combine to lead us to see how two things are different more quickly than we see how they are the same. The same is true in the practice of religion. So frequently and so sadly many people define their beliefs by delineating how they differ from the beliefs and practices of others.

In order to combat this we must return to the fundamentals.

Additionally, with so many widely varied ideas about, approaches to, and interpretations of the Bible it seems we often have the desire to make sure that any reply we give to an answer about our religion is subtly shaded to bring out every imaginable nuance of what we are trying to say. After all, with so many different ways of thinking, we want to be sure we are saying exactly what we want to say without someone else’s perceptions coloring the perception of the reply we give.

Such an attitude can make discussing religion so difficult and complex, that instead of seizing an opportunity to perhaps help some confused believer, we find ourselves paralyzed by the inability to fully frame the precise verbiage to create a perfect image in that believer’s mind.

In order to combat this we must return to the fundamentals.

In 1 Corinthians 2:2 we read that when the Apostle Paul was in Corinth he had this attitude towards preaching “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Paul was determined to return to and stay with the fundamentals. There is nothing more fundamental to the entire concept of Christianity than “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”.

With so many complications, distractions, and needless distinctions in the world of Christianity today it can become easy to lose grasp of the fact that whether you believe that Jesus is “the reason for the season” or not, Jesus is the reason period.

The crucifixion of Christ allowing him to be the atonement for our sins is the heart of Christianity. There is nothing more important, there is nothing that can overshadow this basic foundation.

This is the fundamental we need to return to.

When we, as Paul, resolve to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified we begin to see other Christians in a new light. When we strip away all the extraneous trappings we can begin to see similarities instead of differences.

In Luke 9:49-50 we read “Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

John saw someone he didn’t recognize working in Jesus name tried to stop him. Why? Perhaps he wasn’t sure the man’s doctrine was sound. Perhaps the man was casting out the demons in a style John didn’t think was appropriate.

The bottom line is that Jesus did not agree with John’s response to the situation. “Whoever is not against you is for you,” Jesus said. Jesus implied that John’s limited vision was hindering the spread of the gospel.

Many times today we react just as John did. It is far from unusual to find two churches not far from each other both of which have the same name on their signs, but neither of which want to associate or be associated with the other.

To combat this we all need to return to the fundamentals.

Let us consider that those producing fruit in the Lord’s harvest are doing God’s will. If their methods are successful- it is God blessing their work. Perhaps their methods should be studied and if appropriate adapted to use elsewhere.

However, we must also realize that it is also fundamental to Christianity that thinking along the lines described above cannot be used to countenance the distortion or abrogation of God’s will.

In Matt 12:30 Jesus says “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Instead of contradicting what He told John in the passage above, Jesus here is simply making it clear that participation in God’s work can only be done on God’s terms.

Jesus told John “He who is not against me is for me.” Here He says “He who is not with me is against me.” That is, everyone who is with Christ is for him. You can serve Jesus any way you like as long as the way you choose is in accord with His teachings.

In order to be ‘with’ Christ we must abide in his Word.

2 Tim 3:14-17 tell us we must “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

We must stand firm in what we have learned. Not only this but as 2 Tim 2:15 tells us we each must “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

It is fundamental to Christianity that we stand firm in the authority of God’s Word in all we do and say.

However, simply abiding in the Word is not sufficient if we don’t spread it.

In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commanded “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The job of Christians is to make other Christians. We have to spread the word of God as in 2 Tim 4:2 “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction.”

It is fundamental to Christianity that we must preach.

Once again, when we preach let us look to the fundamentals.

Rom 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

Rom 3:21-25 “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”

Rom 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit”

Such fundamental preaching brings us full circle to Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

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