New Testament Christianity Today
When we speak of New Testament Christianity, we’re speaking of the authority God and His Word has in our lives. We live in a world where everything is viewed as being subjective, where the ultimate authority for many is oneself. Such a view has led to distorted understandings about the role of Scripture in one’s life, and what a proper response to it should be. Many individuals, and many denominations, use Scripture to legitimatize their desires, but are not willing to go to Scripture to allow God to mold their desires in Him. Christianity in the worldly sense may have been tried and found wanting, but New Testament Christianity has still to be discovered and lived by many. God is sovereign (Proverbs 19:21), and we must submit to His authority to have His abundant life (Romans 11:36; John 10:10).
Does doctrine matter? Of course it does! God’s will is not subject to humanity’s whims; it has been once for all delivered (Jude 1:3). Only by allowing Scripture to be authoritative in one’s life can God accomplish His good will in us, to make us “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). To alter the teaching of Scripture is to pervert the gospel, and subject us to eternal condemnation (Galatians 1:8-9). God takes His Word very seriously, and so should we (Revelation 22:18-19).
Why does doctrine matter? Only correct doctrine produces a correct lifestyle. “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). Only by holding fast to the pattern of sound words found in Scripture, can one be a pattern in Christian living. “In all things, show yourself to be a pattern of good works…” (Titus 2:7). Neither personal feelings nor societal trends will equip us for eternity, but Scripture will.
New Testament Christianity is a call to put God first, to let Him speak to us through Scripture, to conform ourselves to His image. Christianity as the world knows it will never accomplish this goal in us, but New Testament Christianity will. It’s time to reaffirm Peter’s directive for our lives; “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).
The name Christian means “a follower of Christ.” To follow Christ one must follow His word (John 8:31-32). Just to wear the name Christian, then, doesn’t make it so, as the above example reveals. How do we distinguish ourselves as Christians, compared with its use in the world around us? With such distorted concepts, we should identify ourselves as New Testament Christians. Such a phrase separates itself from the conflicting views of society, and focuses attention back where it should be, back on Christ and His revealed will. As long as the name Christian is used indiscriminately, there will continue to be confusion and problems in society. Are you a New Testament Christian? Do you live as a New Testament Christian?
Our only source of authority is the word of God, as it alone is inspired and God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), able to equip us for life today and life eternal (2 Timothy 3:17). As the Hebrew writer exhorts us, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
μαράνα θᾶ (1 Cor. 16:22)