The early Jewish church was Jewish in leadership and membership. It functioned in synagogues and had Pharisaic traditions and it never lost its traces of Rabbinic Halakha [religious law]…
But as Gentiles were being converted to the God of Israel, too many power-hungry men saw an opportunity to use Gentiles who were poorly educated in the Jewish scriptures to build up their personal power base.
The split between Judaism and Christianity was gradual and happened at different rates in different places…from the middle of the first century CE to the middle of the fourth CE…
The process by which this happened was to split off the Jewish Scriptures.
scholars propose that it was Melito of Sardis [d.180 AD] who originally coined the phrase Old Testament.
Jewish by birth, Melito lived in an atmosphere where the type of Christianity practiced was largely oriented toward the Jewish form…[but] Melito was fully immersed in Greek culture…
Melito gave the first Christian list of the canon in the Old Testament…
[His] Peri Pascha [On the Passover] provides an accurate description of Christian feelings towards Jews at the time and their opinion of Judaism. The text is not an all-out attack on the Jewish people; however, the Jewish people are explicitly blamed for killing Christ. Melito does not blame Pontius Pilate for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…Wanting to differentiate the Christian community from the Jewish one since the two were very similar…Melito is widely remembered for his supersessionism….that the Old Covenant is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ…also assumes that the Jewish people fail to fulfill the Old Covenant due to their lack of belief in Jesus Christ.
Marcion of Sinope, a bishop of Asia Minor who went to Rome and was later excommunicated for his views, may have been the first of record to propose a definitive, exclusive, unique list of Christian scriptures, compiled sometime between 130–140 AD…Marcion [unfavorably] viewed the church at this time as largely an Old Testament church (one that “follows the Testament of the Creator-God“)…[and hoped to change the church to his point of view with his canon]…
The Marcion canon…consisted of eleven books: a gospel, which was a shorter version of the Gospel of Luke, and ten Pauline epistles…Marcion’s gospel…differed from the Gospel of Lukeby lacking any passages that connected Jesus with the Old Testament. He believed that the god of Israel, who gave the Torah to the Israelites, was an entirely different god from the Supreme God who sent Jesus and inspired the New Testament…his collection of Pauline epistles…also differed from the versions accepted by later Christian Orthodoxy…He considered himself a follower of Paul the Apostle, whom he believed to have been the only true apostle of Jess Christ [by misinterpreting his anti-Judaizer writings as wholly anti-Jewish.]
But obviously he wasn’t.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers…despisers of those that are good…Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions…what persecutions I endured…Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of,
- knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
- And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
- All scripture [Old and New] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3)
The holy scriptures are the only standard for determining truth. Every cult leader can be recognized by comparing his / her message against the gold standard of what we call the “Old Testament”.
“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called…Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and
- exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints…
- remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1)
There is no change in saving faith “once delivered” unto all saints throughout all time between the old and the new covenant. The faith is in God’s promise that one’s death sentence can be commuted by substituting another’s life in the blood. Jesus Christ pronounced the difference between the “old” covenant in animal blood to the “new” covenant in his own human, therefore perfect sacrificial, substitutionary, atoning blood.
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect… For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me…Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:1-10)
The words of the apostles are not new doctrine, but the essential witness of of the turning point in human history when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. This was evidence – not just of the power of God to resurrect – but of God’s satisfaction of the promised plan to redeem the Adams through the Seed of the Woman’s sacrificial death.
“of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs…Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:1-3, 21-22)
The canons [writings accepted as accurate and authoritative] of modern history differ significantly from those of ancient history. Like modern historians, ancient historians, too, utilized sources in order to construct a narrative account that was faithful to the event or series of events under consideration. Unlike modern historians, however, [but exactly like judges in a courtroom] ancient historians often favored oral sources over written ones…information obtained directly through person-to-person communication was considered more trustworthy than that obtained from a written source…
at least one reason is worth mentioning…People in antiquity had few ways to record any given moment at the point when it occurred…reporting who said what, when and to whom would be a difficult thing to do accurately without the benefits of modern technology. (Paul Was Not A Christian : The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle, by Pamela Eisenbaum)
We must acknowledge that the eyewitness testimony of the 12+ apostles of Jesus Christ who corroborated each other’s accounts provide an unparalleled historical body of evidence for religious truth. The chain of custody and credentials of the expert witnesses giving testimony outweighs any other claimant to truth. For example, Muhammed and Joseph Smith are the sole witnesses to their revelations, which come from an angel of God, not God himself. The witness factor alone should make any truth seeker choose the biblical authors over their versions of God’s message.
“I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For WE have not followed cunningly devised fables, when WE made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven WE heard, when WE were with him in the holy mount.
WE have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts [the resurrection of believers]: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (I Peter 1:15-21)
Paul was a Pharisee, a devout fundamentalist who scrupulously rejected anything that went against the written word of God. Paul’s writings are commentaries on the writings of the Old Testament prophets, proving the validity of everything he taught about the revelation of God through Jesus the Christ. His conversion to faith in Jesus as the Christ / Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament was not the result of a vision that could be attributed to a psychotic disorder. Paul’s meeting with the risen Jesus was the same proof given to the other apostles. None of the apostles put their faith in Jesus until proof of life was provided after death, as per scripture.
“Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people...the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him…Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself…And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (Luke 24:20-39)
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once…After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also.” (I Corinthians 15:1-8)
As the author of the vast majority of the letters to the churches, Paul rightly exhorts members of the body of Christ to follow his lead. Those who merge their identity in YHVH’s Savior’s death and resurrection to spiritual life have the same purpose in this life – to bear personal witness of transformation using the eternal truth in scripture regarding freedom from sin’s destruction in this life and resurrection to eternal life to come.
Trust me, even as a secular psychiatric provider I can assure you that people do not like hearing that they, themselves – not society or their partner or their mother – are responsible for their misery, and that they themselves need to change in order to fix their problems.
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know [identify with] not him that sent me.” (John 15:18-21)
Regardless of the differences in false doctrines, there is one single common denominator that underlies every one, every time. It is defined in this passage as refusing to suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up…Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:19-22)
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 3:17-20)
Wouldn’t you think it would be easy to spot the false teachers in Christianity?
- Anyone who doesn’t conform to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in the whole Bible.
- Anyone who isn’t being persecuted by the ungodly.
The problem is that followers
- don’t know enough Bible to realize that its policies and practices aren’t being followed,
- and either misinterpret problems of their own creation as persecution, or eagerly accept a persecution-free paradigm.
It is no surprise that Paul’s greatest concentration of teaching on faith was addressed to the Romans.
““I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:16-20)
“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? [Stated first by Moses] The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord YHVH’s Savior / Seed of the Woman / Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed (Isaiah 28:16)...For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD / YHVH shall be saved (Joel 2:23).
- How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
- and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
- and how shall they hear without a preacher?
- And how shall they preach, except they be sent?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:6-17)