The Didache: The Guide to Living A Christ-Like Life in the Early Church

Believe it or not, there was a scroll that went around the churches that is said to predate the writings of Paul and the Gospels themselves. It has a unique history in that it is mentioned by very early writers such as Origen who lived in the Second Century A.D. Who exactly wrote it is uncertain and why it isn’t in the cannon of Scripture will be found to be obvious as we continue reading and researching it.

SO WHY BRING THIS UP THIS YEAR????? 

Brothers and Sisters, this was what the early Gentile followers of Christ had to life a right life. It brought the Ten Commandments and other basic teachings to include the morality laws that Jesus reiterated NOT removed from how to live and be saved from eternal death.

If we want to get a closer look at what was taught and how it was presented to the early church before for year 100 A.D. then this is it. It is simple yet complex. It does not contain complex doctrinal ideals that we find in Paul’s writings. NOr does it contain the Spiritualism written in John’s Gospel. Simply the Didache is a text for understanding right from wrong, Baptizing procedures, and the treatment of others who come to preach the Word as well as a look into the Lord’s Supper, how to pray and more.

The text is propsed to have been written at a point not too long after Jesus was Crucified so if you want to know what they knew and understood this is it.    

So Let’s Get Started 

To start us off, the first chapter says begins with a clear statement, a way leading to life, and a way leading to death. The writer concentrates on a way of life. Here is the first Chapter.     

 There are two ways, one of life and one of death! And there is a great difference between the two ways.

 The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. The meaning of these sayings is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the heathens do the same? But you should love those who hate you, and then you shall have no enemies. Abstain from fleshly and bodily lusts: If someone strikes your right cheek, turn the other also, and be perfect. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. If someone takes your cloak, give also your coat. If someone takes from you what is yours, don’t ask for it back. You really cannot. Give to everyone who asks you, and don’t ask for it back. The Father wants his blessings shared. Happy is the giver who lives according to this rule, for that one is guiltless. But the receiver must beware; for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless, but if one receives not having need, he shall stand trial, answering why he received and for what use. If he is found guilty he shall not escape until he pays back the last penny. However, concerning this, there is a saying: “Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give them.”

The difference between life and death has to do with the way we live our days. Follow the path of light written in the Word and you live, not doing so leads to death. So what are the basic tenants we are to follow? Love God the Father, Creator; Give the same love to others as you would have love for yourself; Treat others how you wish to be treated. We are told that loving our neighbor should include those who we dislike, in fact we should show them love more, how else would we share God’s Love than to show our “enemies” that it is better to love than to hate. We are, after all, made of the same flesh and bone with slight physical variations.

America was on the verge of equality until certain incidents occurred that caused racial tensions to rise way beyond what they should have. An act of justice that leads to a violent outbreak only to find out the accusations were fabricated and the city was in ruins over a big misunderstanding caused a movement that separated a nation. Rights were given to individuals under false pretenses and the persons took to destroying the rights of others to further the cause of destroying good moral values and the family. These things have led to people taking up causes that go against the values on which America was built on. Violence does beget violence but true love and understanding begets peace.    

The next grouping is the physical side of living. Our bodies, though made of flesh, are special and uniquely made. They are not meant for others to view over the internet or be paraded on stages or screens. Abstain From Fleshly And Bodily Lusts. There is it folks- oversexualization of the human body leads to disobedience of the Commandments and total misuse can lead to physical and eternal death.

When someone strikes you or verbally abuses you stand up for yourself, do not let them see your actions as weakness but strength by standing firm. They will get their due. Do not give into your own anger and strike back but kill the individual with God’s love and forgiveness. When we are given a task don’t just do the mission and say it is complete, do more than required because God never stopped with us after creation. Material things should have no high place in the movement of our lives, if someone is in need and you have extra, give all you can, do not hoard things because you will only cause yourself calamity when many are in need and know that you have more than enough.

Giving is Good, Recieving for Purposes that are not your true needs, BAD

Giving of yourself and your material goods is one of the many other things God desires of us. However, remember this if you are on the receiving side, you best have actual need or when you are discovered you will face the consequences of your thievery. Those in need will have blessings bestowed but those who are greedy will live destitute and faithless in the long run. Be aware of where and to whom the material things and funds are given. We have seen this with the recent disasters as misfortunes where people are asking for donations so they can help and instead pocket it.  The sympathies of people when a situation hits a family are one thing but to ask for funds when all things are already being provided for is theft.

Brothers and Sisters, this first part of the Didache tells us to be watchful and diligent in staying in the Word. The basics on the greatest commandment and living a Christ like life are only the beginning of these teachings. Keep with me as we continue to move forward and learn what could be the first missions directives and pamphlet on Christian living,      

*The Didache is in the public domain.

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The Day Christ Was Revealed to The Gentiles

Three Kings Day

The Christian celebration of Three Kings Day has taken a back seat in some modern societies as just another day but is it? No it isn’t. Yes in real time it did not happen this close to the birth, but since we only have a year to celebrate 33 years in the human life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, everything is condensed to fit.

So why is this day so important to the Christian year? The day that the Magi saw Christ is the because it signifies the revelation (revealing) of God to mankind in human form. It is the first time the “Gentiles” celebrated Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Magi had an Epiphany, “a sudden realization about the nature or meaning of something” recognizing that this is no ordinary child as they experienced a joy and hope that was truly beyond their understanding. Remember, they went to a palace first, thinking that the star was leading them to a prince born in a palace but the star kept moving for them and they began to wonder if the child was of more significance than just another prince.

Now Epiphany means “manifestation”, often of divine power but this time is actually given a more distinct term because Jesus is the manifestation of God, the term is “Theophany”. Now I know a lot of people do not want to get all philosophical and theological it terms and meanings and I kind of get scared of those myself sometimes (especially when I have an epiphany on what those words are defined as), so let’s talk in ways that all understand.

The Magi saw the child. The Holy Spirit awoke in them revealed who He was and who He would become. This was first of many true revealing of God in the flesh to a non-Hebrew. I would have loved to have been there to see the look on their faces when they came to understand that this humble child sleeping in a hay filled food trough would be the one who would rule over all the earth. Think about it. Can you even fathom the thinking of these men and their entourage when the Holy Spirit was awoken inside them and they worshiped Him.

Christ revealed, that is what this day is all about. Everybody in Jesus presence except the Pharisees, the Sadducees, those in power, and the people that were blinded by the Adversary would have a type of revealing about whom He is. Christ is revealed to us through those who speak of Him and when the Holy Spirit awakens in side of us. Do you remember when you woke up to His presence? Do you remember feeling the comfort and joy in understanding the truth about who He is? When is the last time you shared it to awaken the Spirit within someone else? Don’t you think it’s time to do that?

Today we celebrate the enunciation to the world of Christ’s birth through the revealing to the Three Wise Men, Three Kings, Magi, whatever you call them. In Germany, watch out for children who go door to door looking for Him (it is a tradition over there). The community gets together and feasts on this day as He is found and revealed as Emmanuel, “God With Us”.

Is He with you? Would you like to have Him walk with you, talk with you? All you have to do is believe, have faith, and trust that He is the way to eternal life. Repent of your sins and recognize you cannot save yourself. Let Him into your heart and awaken the Spirit to guide you and help you through life.

God Loves you, we love you, there is a big family, the church, the Body of Christ that welcomes you.

God Bless

The Apostles ‘ Creed (12th Day of Christmas)

Apostles CreedThe Apostles’ Creed does not mean the Apostles wrote it, rather it states the fundamental truths of Scripture as given to us through the apostles. It is said to have been formalized by the Second Century but began to take shape with the Apostles as a Baptismal Confession of Faith. This is reverently spoken in many denominations which hold traditional values. It is however becoming a rarely spoken Confession in most Baptist churches today which is odd considering it was a Confession of Faith spoken by those about to be baptized.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic (some use Christian) church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Twelve Tenants of Faith

  1. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth;

We have a God that has a personal relationship with us. We are His Creation, His Children by heavenly adoption through His Mercy and Grace. It is He who created us, judges us, and saves us.

  1. and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

We believe in Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God. He is God Incarnate, Immanuel Savior, Redeemer. Jesus is fully God and fully man and the Way into heaven. He is our lawyer and our substitute who receives our punishment for our sins.

  1. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary;

The seed by which Jesus was conceived was not of this world but of the Holy Spirit, God’s Breath. Born of a sexually pure young woman (translated to Virgin), Jesus was born without sin.

  1. suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.

Christians teach that the death of Christ was for the purpose of making propitiation for our sin, reconciling us to God, and paying the price for our sins in our place. This is essential to the understanding of how Jesus is able to do what He does in our lives. He had to be sacrificed to make amends for our sin.

  1. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

So is the final mission of Christ while on earth. To defeat death’s hold over us due to our sinful nature. It is crucial to the understanding of the nature of Christ, the importance of His death for our atonement, and what will happen to us after death. It is because He rose from the dead in His physical but elevated form, the Spirit in the flesh.

  1. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

Just as the Death and Resurrection are essential, the Ascension is vital to the faith because He returned to the Father to take His place at the witness stand next to God’s judgement throne. This is where He will witness us to the Father and erase our sins by speaking in our place. 

  1. from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

AS Jesus continues to watch over the flock we are judged. Jesus judges the living in matters of the heart (repentant heart) and of our faith activity after we die. The final judgement spoken here is upon Jesus return to earth He will reward the faithful and destroy the wicked.

  1. I believe in the Holy Spirit,

The Holy Spirit, Breath of God, Third Person of the Trinity is the Helper, Comforter, Savior, that dwells within us. He is revealed by our faith through the regeneration of our soul. The Holy Spirit grants us the Gifts/Fruit by which we are known as Believers. There is no peace within us without the Holy Spirit.

  1. the holy catholic church, the communion of Saints,

The One Church Body of Jesus Christ. In other words, all Believers are part of the same Body IN Christ. The catholic spoken here is non-specific to the Roman Catholic Church but the people, the Believers, the One Church with One Mission, and Many Gifts to accomplish it. The word catholic means “universal. The church is not the “New Israel” and we did not take the place of Israel as the nation is still God’s chosen. We are, however, an extension of Israel through our faith and belief in Jesus Christ who took over the mission that the Jews could not do.

The communion of Saints has nothing to do with the sacrament. It is the coming together in one accord as Believers in Jesus to worship, fellowship, and conduct the work of the Kingdom here on earth. When God created Adam and Eve, He had communion with them. Meaning He had a close personal relationship with them and worked with them to learn more about Him. When we commune with each other, we develop relationships, learn from one another about God’s relationship in our lives.

  1. the forgiveness of sins,

Christ pardons the sins of His people by His free grace. We are forgiven by the Blood of Jesus but we must Repent of our sins. That is, we must recognize that we are filled with sinful nature, admit to our sins and the lack of being able to rid ourselves of them eternally without the sacrifice of Jesus. Without Repentance there is no forgiveness. Another piece of this is:  “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”

(Mark 11:26 NAS) Meaning, if you cannot forgive, you will not be forgiven.

  1. the resurrection of the body,

Not the Physical body as we see each other right now but a Spiritual body that leaves the flesh yet in the form of the flesh and either goes to heaven or damnation. Resurrection of the “Spiritual” body is at the instance of death. We are not held in waiting as the ancient Hebrews believed but taken up upon the earthly shells death. Yes, Sheol is real as those before Christ could not truly save themselves and they awaited the Messiah to bring them to the Father for their reward. Yes Hell is real as the place of eternal torment. The Spirit goes the direction of the Judgement.

  1. and life everlasting. Amen.

The Spirit body, once again, is eternal and lives forever either in peace or in torment dependent on how the life was lived in the body. If repentance was made truthfully then the Spirit lives with God, If there was no repentance then the Spirit suffers in the darkness away from God.

The Apostles’ Creed is an important extra biblical document that should not be overlooked or forgotten as it has been part of the faith since the beginnings of the church. Saying it is one thing, believing the basis behind it is another. This Statement of Faith should be on all Believers hearts upon Baptism and spoken as a reminder of the tenants of faith.

So ends the 12 Days of Christmas and Epiphany begins tomorrow. This celebration begins with the Wise Men visiting the Christ Child and not reporting back to Herod thereby saving Jesus life.

This coming week we will begin looking into the Didache, the teachings of the Apostles and an early guide to presenting the Gospel to the masses. God Bless you all.

The Faithful Disciples (11 Pipers)

 

Pipers PipingAS we  near the end of the 12 Days of Christmas we get to the 11 Pipers Piping. These Pipers are the faithful Disciples. Why eleven and not twelve? Judas is not counted because he betrayed Jesus. Also, the eleven followed Jesus’ mission up to their deaths.

It is interesting to note that the only Disciple not to be martyred was John the Beloved. If you want to talk faithful Disciple then he is the one. He risked being killed himself by accompanying Jesus mother and Mary Magdalene during the whole crucifixion process. The others ran and Peter even denied knowing Jesus. Because of His faithfulness and being there in the open providing comfort to Jesus mother by being there (ministry of presence), John seemed to understand people enough that they could not kill him but the Greeks and Romans exiled him to a cave on Patmos.

What happened to the rest during this time is well known and we have a page dedicated to the Apostles here: Lessons from The Apostles

When the Disciples ran where did they go? Did they return to the Upper Room and lock the door? Did they disburse and meet up later? There is no real understanding of that time except for the absolutes known because of the fast turbulent pace in which everything happened. But we do know that they all gathered within hours after Jesus died and were almost all present for Jesus first meeting with them after the Resurrection. They all did see Him and were taught much more for the 40 days before the Ascension.

The Acts of the Apostles is really only the tip of the iceberg for what the Apostles accomplished after Jesus left. We have the record of only a few written in Scripture but the rest are recorded in the annals of history and reported by the Catholic Church. I am guessing that letters were written to James, Peter, and John and the areas they were in were then researched to actually figure out their demise. One thing is certain, they faithfully served Christ.        

Fruit of the Spirit (9th Day of Christmas)

Fruit of the Spirit

 I heard someone ask, “Why are they called fruits, they are not something we eat because there is no physical nourishment that comes from these?”. Well actually we do have physical reactions to the Spiritual Fruit but first let’s examine what is the fruit of the Spirit:   

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.. Galatians 5:22-23

The Spirit within is a healthy Spirit when these emotions and actions are produced by the Believer and shared with others. Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness all produce a physical response of happiness and gratitude. When we are happy, the body responds in kind and the health improves. It is a scientific fact that the human bodily functions are connected with emotion.

Why does it take a scientist or a doctor to tell us something is healthy when it is written in Scripture. The Old Testament, written by scribes who dictated what the Holy Spirit spoke to them, has numerous indicators of healthy living and how emotional responses heal or destroy the human body. The biggest destroyer of our health is sin. God’s defense mechanism came from the physical reaction of sacrifice which made individuals feel better after they had the feeling of regret, then prayed for healing to make themselves feel better. The joy of knowing that God would forgive produced happiness.

 The ritual bathing which transformed into Baptism was also a means of good health. The ritual bath water was constantly flowing so there was no stagnation which would breed harmful bacteria. This washing was done for many reasons to include disease, viruses, and after the menstrual cycle. It kept the body healthy. Not one Levitical priest was allowed to enter the Tabernacle without the ritual washing. In fact, no one who was of ill health could bring a sacrifice without first outwardly cleansing the body.

David understood the need to be cleansed before entering the presence of God when he worshipped in prayerful song:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Psalm 51

 The fruits of the Spirit are evident within David’s plea for God’s Mercy on his Soul. He understood it was not the physical sacrifices of burnt offerings but the internal peace from pouring out to God. So the Spiritual Fruit does nourish our souls and our bodies.

This year as we begin anew, let us be nourished with the fruit of the Spirit as we find our Spiritual Gifts in order to receive the blessings from our attitudes by which God is pleased in us and sends blessings. Have a safe and joyous New Year.

Do you Have the Right Attitude to Be in Christ?

Slide1

Welcome to 2018. It is interesting that the next day in the 12 Days of Christmas, Eight Maids A-Milking, points to the Beatitudes. These are the blessings that Jesus bestowed upon those who at the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are: The Poor in Spirit, Those who Mourn, The Meek, Those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, The Merciful, Those Pure in Heart, Peacemakers, Martyrs and others who are persecuted for Christ. But these are more than blessings these are attitudes a Christian must possess. They are linked directly with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. What a great way to start the year than to be reminded of a right Christian attitude which we should strive to have this year.

Slide2These blessings are meant for those who are in His presence and who will listen to His Word. The simplest explanation to the blessings is this: Being a Christian is very hard work and in most cases requires no physical work because being a Christian is striving to become a more Spiritual being. WE are humbled as we mourn our fallen souls. BE gentle and kind having self-control who strive for completion in righteousness. SHow mercy, compassion, love, and forgiveness to those who suffer or are in distress. STrive to be free of all selfish and self-serving desires. BE people of true peace even to the point of dying for the sake of our beliefs.

That was the Beatitudes in a nutshell but do you see how we need to be to receive the blessings on the Mount. To start we must rid ourselves of ourselves and humbly bow into Christ, giving up all things of the world that truly do not make us happy. To many that means giving up certain vices that are such a part of life that we would be lost completely without them if we did not know God. Then we must recognize that we cannot survive in this world on our own. We are prone to deeds that go against God’s design and plan for our lives.

 Slide3 Following Jesus means that you might be looked at as someone who does not follow the status quo, someone who works a normal job but has a belief system that does not match how society thinks they are supposed to live. For this, we are persecuted by those the devil has a firm grip on. The Christian knows the difference. The Christian knows his/her place in the world is not to have material success. We know we are not perfect but we strive to live a right moral life in accordance with God’s Word. Because we know that, For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. It is only through Jesus that we are saved from eternal darkness and can enter into the Kingdom of God.

THIS does not mean that once we have Jesus in our lives we are good and don’t need to do anything else. We cannot continue living as we were in the world. In other words we cannot continue to live in the sinfulness of our past but only in the spirit of the present life in Christ. Giving up our worldly nature is the most difficult thing especially in this day and age of mass media and communication. People share their sinfulness for all to see, boasting in it and in some cases actually making and serving the idol of money while taking many down with them.

WITH it being a new year, let’s continue to strive to not be enticed into temptation but seek Jesus every minute of every day. Be slow to anger and frustration by turning the other cheek where in our weakness we will have the strength of Jesus turning away from sin.

Be blessed this year. Share Christ in all things and do not let those who hate, deter your Love for Jesus. You will be rewarded in heaven, no longer needing physical nourishment nor seeking spiritual nourishment for it will be given freely.

Love to all in this New Year, New Start, Renewed Life in the Spirit, and God Bless You