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Original Christianity Review

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The Apostle Paul warned THE ELDERS of THE CHURCH at EPHESUS of coming APOSTASY, writing: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all THE FLOCK, among which THE HOLY SPIRIT has made you OVERSEERS, to shepherd THE CHURCH of GOD, which He purchased with His own blood, for I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing THE FLOCK. Also from among yourselves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the Disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for 3 years I did not cease to warn everyone night & day with tears.” (ACTS 20:28-31)

Paul wasn’t acting paranoid, he was writing as THE HOLY SPIRIT moved him, and from his own experience: “But shun profane & idle bablings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like CANCER. Hymenaeus & Philetus are of this sort, who have STRAYED CONCERNING THE FAITH, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they OVERTHROW the Faith of some.”(II TIMOTHY 2:16-18).

The Apostle John also warned of Apostasy coming upon THE CHURCH: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Anti-Christ is coming, even now MANY Anti-Christs have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us .” (I JN. 2:18,19)

This growing Apostasy in THE SPIRITUAL HOUSE of GOD led JUDE (vs. 3,4) to write: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to CONTEND EARNESTLY for THE FAITH WHICH WAS ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our GOD into lewdness and deny the only YAHWEH GOD, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Protestant Scholar Jesse Lyman Hurlbut acknowledges: “For 50 years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the Church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the Earliest Church Fathers, we find a Church in many respects very different from that in the days of St. Peter & St. Paul… the Services of Worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times. The forms and ceremonies of Paganism gradually crept into the Worship. Some of the Old Heathen Feasts became Church Festivals with a change of name & of worship. About 405 A. D. images of Saints and Martyrs began to appear in the Churches, at first as memorials, then in succession revered, adored & worshiped. The Adoration of the Virgin Mary was substituted for the worship of Venus & Diana; the Lord’s Supper became a Sacrament in place of a memorial; and the Elder evolved from a Preacher into a Priest.”(Story of the Christian Church, p. 41,79)

The Apostle John wrote: “STAY WITH WHAT YOU HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING, the ORIGINAL MESSAGE. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son & FATHER…” (I JOHN 2:24,25 MSG)

And Paul wrote: “Therefore, brethren, STAND FAST and HOLD THE TRADITIONS WHICH YOU WERE TAUGHT, whether by word or our Epistle.” (II THESSALONIANS 2:15)

YAHWEH said to the Israelites who had strayed from theORIGINAL FAITH given to them through Moses: “Stand in THE WAYS and see, and ask for THE OLD PATHS, where THE GOOD WAY IS, and WALK IN IT; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in IT.” (JEREMIAH 6:16-19) Too many Christians are saying the same thing today about THE FAITH ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS (JUDE vs. 3& 4) Read: (II CORINTHIANS 11:13-16)

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Why are so many Christians overwhelmed with the size and scope of the Bible? Why does it seem so impossible to grasp the entire Biblical message? Why didn’t GOD make the Bible easier to read by putting all the texts on a subject together for easy comparison? 

The Bible has been the best-selling book in Western Civilization for as long as records have been kept! Most Households in America have 2 or more copies in their bookshelves. 

Yet On-going polls show a decline in the number of Americans reading Scripture, and Biblical Illiteracy at an all-time high!

If you’ve attended a Christian Church on a regular basis over the years – you probably have notebooks full of notes you’ve taken on Sermons – yet still don’t feel like you really know your Bible. 

So let us simplify the process of Bible Comprehension. If you could summarize the whole Biblical Message in one word – what would it be? Some might answer SALVATION, others might say LOVE, but as I will show you in the course of this program – the best word to summarize the Biblical message is RELATIONSHIPS

When Jesus was asked by a Pharisee about WHICH was the GREAT COMMANDMENT in THE LAW, Jesus responded by talking about 3 specific RELATIONSHIPS:

“You shall love YAHOVAH your GOD with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the 1st and GREAT COMMANDMENT. And the 2nd is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these 2 commandments HANG ALL THE LAW and THEPROPHETS.” (MATTHEW 22:36-40 NKJV)

Too many Christians miss the monumental significance of Jesus final statement: THE ENTIRE OLDTESTAMENT is aboutRELATIONSHIPS! Every LAW, every PROPHECY, every HISTORICAL ACCOUNT laid out in the pages of the Tanakh – is meant to teach us ‘HOW TO’ or ‘HOW NOT TO’ have RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS with GOD, Our Fellow Man, and Ourselves.

In the book of NUMBERS we find this summary statement:

These are THE REGULATIONS YAHOVAH gave Moses concerning RELATIONSHIPS between a man & his wife, and between a father & his young daughter still living at home.” (NUMBERS 30:16 NIV)

Jesus told the Pharisee the same thing, but on a larger scale, that ALL THE REGULATIONSGOD GAVE ISRAEL (The ‘613’) concerned our RELATIONSHIPS with GOD, NEIGHBOR &  SELF

The same is true of the 1050 LAWS in THE NEW TESTAMENT - as well as the PROPHECIES and HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS recorded in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles – they were all written to teach us how to have RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS with GOD, Our Fellow Man, and Ourselves.

Jesus chided the Legalistic Scribes & Pharisees for MISSING THE MARK OF THE LAW (which is the Hebrew & Greek definition for SIN) – which was RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS!

Today, many Christians MISS THE MARK OF GRACEwhich is to show GRACE to others – in appreciation for the GRACE shown unto each of us by GOD ALMIGHTY! 

Consequently, CHRISTIANITY is mocked by SECULARISTS, and rightfully so, because Christians have as bad or worse of a divorce rate than Non-Christians, and don’t do any better at ‘conflict resolution’ than Non-Christians.

What good is our RELIGION if it doesn’t result in RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS? James, the sibling of Jesus, addressed this dichotomy when he was inspired to write:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, DECEIVING YOURSELVES. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into THE PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY (Liberty from broken relationships), and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (because he moves in harmony with others). IF ANYONE AMONG YOU THINKS HE IS RELIGIOUS, and does not bridle his tongue (but uses it to damage & destroy relationships), and deceives his own heart, THIS ONE’S RELIGION IS USELESS. PURE & UNDEFILED RELIGION before GOD and THE FATHER IS THIS: To visit Orphans and Widows in their trouble (focusing outward to build right relationships with others), and to keep oneself unspotted from the World (living holy in our relationship with GOD & Self).” (JAMES 1:22-27 NKJV) 

LAW & GRACE don’t work against one anotherthey work IN UNISONbecause LAW wasgiven by GOD to show us how to move in A GRACEFUL WAY in all our RELATIONSHIPS! And it’s GRACE that covers us when we MISS THAT MARK and repent.

That’s what the Apostle Paul meant when he WROTE:

“Now THE PURPOSE of THE COMMANDMENT is LOVE (for GOD, Neighbor & Self) from a PURE HEART, from a GOOD CONSCIENCE & from SINCERE FAITH…” (I TIM.1:5)

Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.” (ROM. 13:10)

But it’s not just Law that points to RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS – Every Historical Account of people’ssins & successes is recorded for us, so that we can avoid behavior that damages RELATIONSHIPS, and emulate behavior that edifies or builds RELATIONSHIPS:

“Now all these things happened to them (people of the Old Testament) as EXAMPLES, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ‘Ends of the Ages’ have come.” (I COR.10:11)

And what did the Prophets write about? NATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS! Prophets were rarely sent to Individuals – they were almost always sent to convey a message from GOD to a specific Nation or Nations – about their SINS (Missing the mark of RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS with GOD, Neighbor, Self).

The Apostles of the New Testament had a similar role: They were sent by GOD to convey a message to A HOLY NATION: THE CHURCH (I PETER 2:9), to THE HEBREWS & to GENTILE NATIONS.

So – back to my opening point about Biblical Illiteracy among Christians and what we can do about it. Sincethe major theme of the Bible is RELATIONSHIPS (as I think I’ve clearly demonstrated) – shouldn’t Christians study the Bible with RELATIONSHIPS as their focus? 

We here at Original Christianity think so – and so we’ve formulated a Bible Study Plan that will help you do just that: Divide every text of the Bible into the RELATIONSHIPS it’s discussing, so we can learn what GOD wants us to learn, more than anything else - How to build RIGHTRELATIONSHIPS with GOD, Neighbor & Self – and how to avoid damaging & destroying these RELATIONSHIPS.

How much better would you know GOD, if you actually took the time to highlight every text in your Bible – about who and what HE is, what regard we should have for HIM, and what rules, rituals, and Roles HE wants us to play in relation to HIM? 

4 Texts of your Bible tell us that GOD IS A CONUSMING FIRE. YAHOVAH manifested HIMSELF in the burning bush, Mount Sinai, and the tongues of fire upon the Apostles heads on the opening day of the Christian Era. So we use an ORANGE colored pencil (the color of fire) to highlight every text in your Bible about GOD and our RELATIONSHIP with HIM. Then we link those texts together by subject through chain-referencing (Writing the 1st text under the Title GOD on the opening page of our Bibles, and then the next text on the subject – in the margin of the 1st text, and so on).

In the process, you’ll learn all the Doctrinal aspects of GOD, as well as how to deepen your relationship with HIM.

How about the Son of GOD? Scripture tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) is our brother (HEBREWS 2:11), our High Priest (HEBREWS 7:26), our Mediator (I TIM.2:5), our Judge (II COR.5:10), and our soon coming King (REV.11:15), among other things. Wouldn’t it be great if you could open your Bible and instantly see all the texts that tell us who and what Jesus is? What regard we should have for Him & what rules, rituals, and roles He wants us to play in relation to HIM?

Since we associate PURPLE with the robe of a King – we use PURPLE to highlight Bible texts about Jesus. Imagine how much better you would know your Savior – if you took the time to highlight every text in the Old and New Testaments about Him? You would be able to chain-reference every Messianic Prophecy in the Old Testament together – along with their fulfillment texts in the New Testament! You would soon learn everything GOD wants you to learn about His Son and how to have a RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with Him.

When it comes to interacting with our ‘Neighbor,’ GOD’S word shows us that we should shine outward like the SUN & His Son – so we use a YELLOW colored pencil to highlight all the texts in the Bible that have to do with our RELATIONSHIP with OUR FELLOW MAN. This involves a lot of specific relationships, like Parent-Child, Husband-Wife, Sibling Relationships, relationships with Co-Workers & Fellow-Students, Employer-Employee relationships, and even relationships with the Wicked. Your Bible is full of instructions & examples of how to make these relationships happy, productive, and close-knit – as well as examples and instructions on how to avoid damaging these relationships. 

Too many Christians think they will walk into GOD’S KINGDOM even though they hold grudges, are engaged in cold-wars, and ‘dis’ people left and right - while they say they love GOD. But the Apostle John wrote:

“If someone says ‘I love GOD,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love GOD whom he has not seen? (I JOHN 4:20)

Everything we need to know about ‘Conflict Resolution’ is in our Bibles – we just need to connect the dots and ask GOD to help us implement the process!

You would be amazed at how many texts in your Bible have to do with your RELATIONSHIP withYOURSELF. How to take care of your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul! How to dress, what to eat & not eat, the importance of rest, exercise, and peace and quiet. 

Your Bible makes it clear that too much focus on SELF makes you BLUE – so we use a BLUE coloredpencil to highlight all the texts in the Bible having to do with our relationship withOurselves

Then we chain-reference all the texts together that have to do with a certain aspect of our relationshipwith SELF (like diet), and we’re empowered to make some positive changes that can really nurture our health.

Our RELATIONSHIP with THE EARTH affects all 4 of our other RELATIONSHIPS with GOD, HIS Son, Our Neighbors, and Ourselves.

Christians would be shocked if they took the time to highlight all the Biblical Texts about the Earth and our relationship with it. Since what makes Earth beautiful is it’s FOLIAGE, or GREENERY, we use a GREEN colored pencil to mark all the texts in Scripture about the Earth. 

Taking the time to do so will make all of us better Stewards & Conservationists, and endear us to GOD and one another, and open up our eyes to see the Earth in a whole new light!

Lastly, your Bible gives you instructions, Historical Accounts & Prophetic warnings about yourRelationship with Angels & Demons. Since Demons are associated with darkness we use a BLACK pencil to highlight texts about Satan & His cohorts. And Since Angels are kindred spirits to demons – we use a BROWN pencil to distinguish them from demons.

It’s time we all learned that RIGHTEOUSNESS is about RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS! The Afterlife we all long for is about SPENDING ETERNITY TOGETHER! But as the Apostle Paul was inspired to admonish us:

“Do you not know that THE UNRIGHTEOUS (people who damage & destroy relationships) will not inheritTHE KINGDOM of GOD? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators (who sin against their own bodies v.18), nor Idolaters (who damage their bond with GOD), nor Adulterers (who damage their bond with their mates), nor homosexuals, nor Sodomites (who damage their relationship with their bodies and with GOD), nor thieves (who damage their relationship with their Neighbor), nor covetous (who damage their relationship with themselves & GOD), nor drunkards (who damage their relationship with their bodies, with GOD & Neighbors), nor revilers (who destroy relationships with Neighbors), nor extortioners (who do likewise), will inherit THE KINGDOM of GOD.” (I CORINTHIANS 6:9,10 NKJV) 


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