The Historical Continuity of the Christian Faith

 It's been said that "The best defense against error is to know the truth."

So how do we know the truth about what it means to be a Christian and follow Jesus?                           How can we check various doctrines to know if they are true or not?

 

       What is our "measuring stick"?                     

 

     Let's take a look at how the gospel message has come down to us:

Jesus → Apostles → Church → New Testament →Us

Hebrews 2:3-4  II Peter 3:1-2

 

1.  Jesus taught His disciples and gave them special insight.         Matt. 13:10-17, 34-36

 

2. Jesus prayed for His disciples and all that would believe on Him through their teaching.

   John 17:15-23

3. He told them He would leave, but He would send the Holy Spirit to them who would remind them of all He had taught them, and would continue to lead and guide them into all truth.                                                 John 14:26, 16:13-15       

4. After His resurrection, Jesus opened their understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Himself.   Luke 24:25-26, 44-49

5. Before He ascended, He commissioned them to go into all the world, preach the gospel, baptize believers in water, teach people to obey all that Jesus had commanded them, work miracles and cast out demons in His name.       Matt. 28:19, Mark 16:15-18, John 17:18-21

6. The Apostle Paul was not a follower of Jesus while Jesus was still on earth, but he received his understanding of the Gospel by special revelation from Jesus after His ascension. Later, when Paul met with Peter and some of the other apostles, they recognized that Paul's ministry was of God and his gospel was the same as what Peter preached.  Galatians 1:11-12,15-24, 2:1,2,7-9

7. Paul and the other apostles passed on their teaching about Christ to faithful men, who they

encouraged to pass it on to other faithful men who could pass it on to others.  II Tim. 2:l-2;                           I Corinthians 4:14-17, Titus 1:9,2:1,15

 8. The apostles warned those whom they taught to "guard" this body of doctrine (II Tim 1:14),

   and not to be deceived into accepting "another gospel"( Galatians 1:6-9), or any teaching or way

  of living that did not agree with "sound instruction" which "conformed" to the Gospel

(I Tim. 6:2b & 3,1 Tim 1:8-11). In other words, there was a specific content to be believed, practiced and passed on. (II Thes. 2:15, Rom. 16:25,26)

9. This "pattern of sound teaching"(II Tim. 1:13) was something to be lived, not just believed.  It  was passed on by the apostles through their teaching and example (I Cor. 4:14-17, Phil.4:9,    II Tim. 3:10), just as Jesus taught by word and example (Acts 1:1,2; I Peter 2:21). Furthermore, they told the men they passed the teaching on to that they should be good examples also.     (Titus 2:6-8, I Tim.4:ll,12,15,16 )

10. While the apostles were alive, the early church recognized the authority of the teaching

presented by them and those they trained. Paul's writings were held in the same esteem as the Old Testament Scriptures.(II Peter 3:15,16)

11. These writings were copied and used in all the churches for a long time before they were gathered together into one volume with the Old Testament. The conflicts with false teachers who penned their own writings to promote their false teachings drove the Church to declare which writings were authoritative and which were not. It forced them to establish a "canon" or accepted list of writings to be used in the churches (the word canon means "measuring stick"). The main criteria was "apostolicity", that is, it had to have been written by an apostle or the coworker of an apostle. So, all we know about Jesus and what He taught, we know through the writings of these men as they have been preserved and passed down by the Church through the centuries.

13. The New Testament writings were not written as a systematic theology or some long doctrinal treatise. They were not penned by one man or a group of men working together to start a religion. These writings came out of the life of the church itself, the Lord seeing to it that these truths were communicated to more than just the original people they were written to. In this way we have preserved for all time, the teaching of Jesus through the ministry of the apostles. This provides us with a "measuring stick" or "touchstone" by which we can evaluate any doctrine or experience we encounter. Since it is not given in a systematic way, there are many areas open for interpretation, many areas that are a mystery, but the essentials are very clear, and together with the ministry of the Body and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we can know the truth and grow in the truth and discern error.

14. The New Testament writings also preserve for us how the Apostles regarded the Old Testament. They believed that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament. They also taught that the Old Testament was profitable for living the Christian life and was even written with us in mind. (II Tim. 3:16,17; I Cor,10:ll; Hebrews 1:1,2,11:39,40)

So, our "measuring stick" is the complete Bible, 

both Old and New Testaments!!

 

 

 

 



Historical Continuity.PDF