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Christianity-1 - Chapter 11 Christianity In The Beginning...

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C hapter 11 Christianity: In The Beginning Was The Word We will study Christianity and Church History in seven stages. The stages are not divided by equal units of time but by centering around a core set of challenges and responses that give identifiable characteristics to each stage. One of the benefits of this approach is that we will learn the foundational teachings of Christianity, and then see them as they are more fully articulated and understood through a series of challenges. We will call this “Historic Christianity” to distinguish it from groups that break off from this process or which utilize Christian terminology but with meanings that are foreign to the historic meaning. This process is discussed within the New Testament in reference to the work of the Holy Spirit leading the church into all truth (John 16:13). This is a process of coming to know the fullness of truth not at the individual level, but for the corporate church throughout the church age. Furthermore, pastor/teachers are given to the church for the purpose of carrying out this work (Ephesians 4:11). Thus, we see periodic church councils where the pastor/teachers of the time come together, and after much discussion arrive at a common agreement in response to the challenges of the day. This is given precedent in the first council which was held in Jerusalem around 50 A.D. and is recorded in Acts chapter 15. After much discussion the council decided that salvation does not depend on the sacraments (in this case, circumcision). This decision is authoritative for Historic Christianity and so, if a group (even a majority group) begins to teach contrary to this council, then it has placed itself outside of Historic Christianity.
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1. The Gospels (during the life of Christ) The Old Testament tells of the person and work of the messiah that is to come. The New Testament shows how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled and is fulfilling what was written of the messiah. The substance of the Old Testament continues in effect while the outward form is done away (ceremonial law) or changed (civil law). The gospels introduce the person and work of Christ. The main events of the life of Jesus are his birth (incarnation), his baptism and temptation, his calling of his disciples, his ministry of teaching and healing, his conflict with the religious leaders (concerning the meaning of the law and his authority), his arrest and trial, his crucifixion, death and burial, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension to exercise authority for the extension of his kingdom. The reasons for the rejection of Jesus as the messiah centered on the question of his identity as not only the son of David but as the son of God, his interpretation of the law in contrast to the traditions of the elders, and the nature of the kingdom he came to establish.
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