Is it Christianity ...?

If Its Not In The New Testament...

Writing to another Christian publication, one of its readers roundly condemned an earlier contributor for advocating a practice which, he claimed, was not mentioned - or required - by the New Testament. The topic was tithing.

But his complaint raises the question as to the source of our belief. Is it indeed true that "if it's not in the New Testament" we ought not to observe the practice? It has all sorts of interesting and disturbing implications.

How many modern church practices can we "prove" from the New Testament?

How many modern church practices can we "prove" from the New Testament? Where, for example, does the NT urge on us the festival of Christmas? And I challenge you to prove from it that Christians ought to keep the first day of the week as a rest and worship day! And do you see in it a direction to attend an "Easter sunrise" service? Include the Old Testament, of course, and such observances are roundly condemned!

First Century Bible

The letter writer went on to ask "...should Christians be putting themselves back under laws Christ died to free us from?" Did he (or she) perhaps mean the law that prohibits murder? Or the one against stealing, or adultery? Or "you shall have no other gods before me" - not, by the way, directly quoted in the New Testament but surely still valid!

There is here woeful ignorance of the role of the Old Testament in the life of the Christian. Realize that in the days of the apostles the New Testament writings didn't exist. And the new disciples were constantly directed - by the apostles - to study the Old Testament.

Of the Berean Christians. Paul wrote "...they were more noble ... for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Which Scriptures? None other than what we today call the Old Testament!

To Timothy, the apostle wrote:

"From childhood you have been acquainted with the Sacred Writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete..." (II Timothy 3:15-16).

What "sacred writings"'? Why none other than the Old Testament!

Source of Belief

God, for emphasis, often repeats Himself in His Word. But He doesn't have to. So those first Christians pored over "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" (Luke 24:44-45) to find out how they should behave as Christians. That's where they learned when to worship, when to come together for Festivals. That's where they learned about tithing. That's where they learned to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). For most of them had never heard Jesus utter those words - and they hadn't yet been written down by New Testament scribes!

The Early Christians modelled their lives on the Old Testament!

History attests that they modelled their lives on what they read in the Old Testament. Only a tiny number of well-documented changes - e.g., circumcision (Acts 15), or the sacrificial system (Hebrews) - were introduced. These changes are writ large and clearly attested in the New Testament.

Jesus warned against those who follow human traditional beliefs "making void the word of God". [Read Mark 7:6-13] If you want to be certain you are indeed "right with God" then check your own beliefs with God's revelation - the entire Holy Bible.

To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.

For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Special Issue. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.

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