Christians or Disciples?
by Sandor Balog
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No wonder that some present-day Christians sincerely striving to be followers of Jesus have become fed up with being made to feel guilty by non-Christians and anti-Christians alike for all the sins that have been committed in the name of Christianity over nearly two millennia. The best way for them to avoid being permanently accused of what they have never committed is to clearly distance themselves from what has stuck to Christianity over the past nearly two thousand years. They could simply abandon using the notions Christian and Christianity and identify themselves otherwise. I recommend using the term “Disciple”. If, for clarity, they, in certain instances, wish to differentiate themselves from Jesus’ first century disciples, they could call themselves “modern-day disciples”. They should follow Jesus’ Two Commandments complemented with Acts 15:20: “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood.” Furthermore, they should consider John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” There is a crystal-clear message to them in John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him.” Those who accept and live in the spirit of these Bible verses can feel reassured that in doing so, they are also complying fully with the Ten Commandments. In other words, the Ten Commandments are included in Jesus’ Two Commandments complemented with Acts 15:20. Jesus told a rich man in Luke 18:20: “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother.” Consequently, Jesus did not abolish the Ten Commandments but incorporated them in His Two Commandments. Nevertheless, for the Disciples, it is sufficient to heed Jesus’ Two Commandments (in addition to Acts 15:20) as they include all of the Ten Commandments, except one. This is not good news for Sabbatarians, since the only commandment of the Ten Commandments, which Jesus does not mention specifically anywhere is precisely that relating to the Sabbath. Some present-day Christian Churches tend to overemphasize the Ten Commandments, especially the one that bans any labor on the Sabbath day. They condemn those holding a different view, disregarding or intentionally misinterpreting what Jesus said in Mat 12:8: “For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” This sentence is included in all four Gospels. Those present-day senior Christian churchmen who attach too much importance to not working on the Sabbath day might well claim to be the ideological successors of the Jewish scribes of Jesus’ days. The Disciples should let Christians believe and practice their religion as they wish to. Nevertheless, Christian members of or sympathizers with the so-called traditional Churches that “officially” tolerate and even practice Pagan customs and habits, such as celebrating Easter and Christmas, should read and interpret Ezekiel 20:28 for themselves: “[For] when I had brought them into the land, [for] the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every hill, and all thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savor, and poured out there their drink offerings.” Idolatry remained an abomination to Jesus too (see Acts 15:20 above). Also, Disciples should distance themselves from any traditional Church having non-Scriptural traditions, legends, countless saints (“in addition to” Jesus, which is a redundancy and, what is more, non-Scriptural in the light of 1Timothy 2:5: “For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”), piles of relics, holy days celebrated on many, in fact most calendar days of the year. They should also distance themselves from all Churches or denominations, including those recently founded, making a confusing amalgam of OT instructions and NT events. They are not willing to acknowledge that today the Old Testament is for reference only. No, my friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is no blasphemy! Christians who would rather cling to “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” Old Testament than comply with what Jesus taught are free to call themselves Christians but, in my view, they have not really understood what Jesus taught.
Disciples should be especially careful in handling the statements made by well-known theologians bathing in the limelight of the mainstream media. Just ask them a few questions and you will immediately realize that they are very far from knowing the Scriptures as well as they claim or are supposed to.
1) ASK THEM if they have a readily available concept about the Creation based on the Bible.
2) ASK THEM in how many years did God create the world?
3) ASK THEM on which Creation Day are we living?
4) ASK THEM if they know the explanation for the discrepancy between the assertion in the Ten Commandments that God created the world in six days and the Genesis Account ending in the morning of Day 6 with nothing happening between morning and evening on Day 6.
5) ASK THEM if they have any explanation for the apparent discrepancy between Luke’s and Matthew’s Bethlehem stories.
6) ASK THEM if they know exactly which calendar day Jesus was born on and on which day He died.
7) ASK THEM if they know the importance of the sign of Jonah.
They are simply unable, or which is still worse, unwilling to answer these questions and many more or regard them as being without interest. This also applies to the leading clergymen of all present-day Christian Churches (including the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope, to whom I offered the opportunity, in his mother tongue, German, to take a stand on the issue of the three days and three nights, in an email I sent to him on November 15, 2010, and have also sent 2 chasers /reminders/, to no avail) and denominations. The approach they usually adopt in responding to questions they are unable or unwilling to answer, or that they regard as without interest, invariably comprises such options as: 1) undervalue the person asking the question by trying to discredit them with reference to their education, country of origin etc.; 2) underrate the significance of the question, saying: “That’s not important for your (or our) salvation” and/or similar empty phrases. They should, however, be aware of the significance of the issue of the THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS Jesus spent in the tomb according to Mat 12:40, which, in fact, seems to closely correlate with the exact date of Jesus’ death, as the sign of Jonah being the only sign Jesus gave, may well be a yardstick for Jesus to “measure” our faith in Him and in His Father on the Day of Judgment. If someone believes that Jesus was three days and three nights in the tomb as He had foretold, that will be to his credit. The sign of Jonah may well be a criterion for Jesus to “separate the sheep from the goats” (to use the own words of Jesus). You are free to decide if you want to be a Christian or a Disciple (of Jesus). In making your decision I wish you much insight. God’s Congregation, as you can see, is a “strait gate” being both symbolic and virtual nowadays. Come and join this congregation of the disciples in your heart and mind! There is no application form, nor any membership fee, nor mandatory attendance of regular gatherings. The only important thing is for you to be there and permanently. Study the Scriptures and be a disciple pleasing God rather than men!
By Sandor Balog
Word Count: 1309
Sandor Balog (pen name: Attila B. Magyar), author of Palm Wednesday. Seen several Bible-related sites. Asks and tries to answer unasked biblical questions, writes articles. A non-denominational follower and modern-day disciple of Jesus.
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