What kind of Schooling and Education?
So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
The word “Christians” was not something the disciples created themselves, but members of public witnessed how they lived and called them “Christians” meaning “followers of Christ”.
Our Christian practice and value is in our identity with Christ.
We need education and discipleship programs that will help us establish our faith in Christ and encourage our practices in being followers of the ways and teachings of Christ.
The believers in Antioch were taught to identify with Christ and they became followers of Christ and were called “Christians”.
Our faith and identity in Christ is first based upon our commitment, agreement and unity with the founder of our faith, who is also the head of the church –
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus is the only way to salvation and eternal life.
There is no other option and no other way.
There is none other who has the power and authority to save us from sins and death and to provide us new life eternal life.
What is Covenant Relationship between Man and God?
And he (Jesus) took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Jesus did not start a new religion.
Jesus established a new covenant relationship between God and Man through His blood sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus created a new generation of “children of God” through this covenant relationship between God and Man.
But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Man was a deliberate creation of God here on Earth.
Man was created in the image of God to be God’s descendant.
The Fall of Man as recorded in Genesis testifies to our sin and disobedience to God our creator. As a result we as part of the human race (both men and women) lost our identity in God due to sin and broken covenant relationship with God, and forfeited our access to eternal life in the kingdom of God, and lost our fellowship and union with God.
Nevertheless God who is our Father in heaven is gracious and merciful to provide a solution for us.
Jesus is God’s salvation plan for Man.
Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified on the cross by order of Pontius Pilate is God’s appointed Messiah.
The same Jesus who was born through the virgin-birth of Mary, of the seed of Abraham and of the house of David, who went through water-baptism under John the Baptist and preached repentance for the kingdom of God.
The same Jesus who was betrayed and crucified on the cross but on the third day rose from the dead by the power and authority of God to resurrect the dead and never to die again.
This same Jesus is our salvation and creator of new life and eternal life for us.
This same Jesus will return in person to judge the living and the dead, all who ever lived and existed here on Earth.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Through Jesus, men and women are now able to approach God again and have access to eternal life in the kingdom of God.
Through Jesus we are born-again to live a new life for the kingdom of God.
Through Jesus we received our new identity as “sons of God” with reference to a new generation of people who are conformed to the ways of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
This “new creation” is an act of God creating in us a new life a new personality conformed to the ways of Christ.
Jesus the founder and creator of our faith emphasis the importance and necessity of being born-again
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
This born-again experience is an act of God based on human will and response to enter the kingdom of God and be identified with Jesus to be part of a new generation of “sons of God”.
Therefore it is important and necessary for an individual to act and practice in faith and obedience to response to the Gospel message of Jesus, to receive salvation, be baptized and be born-again through the work of the Holy Spirit.
This born-again experience will put us through a lifelong process of renewal and transformation through the works of the Holy Spirit in us which is evident of us abiding in Christ and in keeping our covenant relationship with God.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
This is the true mark of a born-again Christian, one who is sure of his identity in Christ, a person who abides in Jesus and who will obey the conviction of the Holy Spirit in being conformed to the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ.
For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
Grace and Due Diligence
We are saved by God’s grace through faith and we have our responsibilities to do our own due diligence to stand firm in preserving our faith and abide in Christ –
(1 Corinthians 10:11-13)
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
We live in a world flooded with distractions and diversions which can lead us astray from our faith and practice in Jesus.
Therefore we need to practice self-discipline, spiritual discipline, be involved in daily devotion, in prayers and scripture readings, in gatherings of the saints, to help us stand firm in our faith.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Christian life here on Earth is a journey of faith till we meet Jesus in person.
We are pilgrims here on Earth waiting to meet our Lord and to live with Him in eternity. Therefore let us encourage one another in abiding in Jesus and waiting for His return.
All Race and Nationalities Called to Identify with Christ and Abide in Christ
The Gospel of Salvation through Jesus is not isolated and exclusive to certain race and nationality but is for all nationalities and race –
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
To become a disciple is to practice faith and obedience to be followers of the ways and teachings of Jesus.
To act in faith and obedience is to be baptized in the name of Jesus and to bear witness to our covenant relationship with Jesus.