Christianity VS. True Christianity

by Harold Hancock


Scripture: Acts 11:26 Mar 17, 2024

This sermon contrasts "Christianity" as commonly understood by the world with true, New Testament Christianity. It highlights differences between popular beliefs and biblical teachings regarding the nature of Jesus, the authority of Scripture, the singularity of the church, and the plan of salvation. The central call is to guard the faith by adhering strictly to the New Testament's teachings rather than being misled by popular "Christian" beliefs that deviate from biblical truth.


I'm glad to be here and have enjoyed our worship service, enjoyed the class, enjoyed the song service, which we worship, edified one another, worship God and edify one another. Appreciate the thoughts that were presented by Jay on the Lord's Supper as we thought about that. Just been a good morning thus far.

And I'm glad that you're here this morning also. And if you're joining us online, we appreciate. You being here with us in that way. I'm more aware now, I guess that we have note takers and that you'd like a title to begin with after Reagan's announcements the other day. But I ask you just to bear with me for just a moment and let me say just a few things that I think will explain the title and show you why we've chosen that title.

The purpose of it. I want you to begin by looking, if you would, to the book of Acts in the 11th chapter and verse 26. That will serve as an introduction to our lesson or a lesson text. There's been persecution in Jerusalem and people, because of that persecution, have spread to other places. And it tells us that the gospel had come to Israel.

The city of Antioch, and that there were many people there that had believed. And so the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas down to go and encourage those people. And Barnabas went, and he encouraged them with purpose of heart. And then it tells us that he went to Tarsus to seek Paul, and then verse 26, And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.

So they, they were for a whole year there assembling with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. I want you to focus for a second on that last part. Christians were first, or disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. That's the first of three times that this Greek word that is translated Christian is used in our Bible.

It's used here in Acts 11, 26. It's used again by Agrippa when Paul is talking to Agrippa and has talked to Paul about, or talked to Agrippa about Christ. And Agrippa has learned what he said, and then in chapter 26 and verse 28, And Griffith says, Paul, almost thou persuadeth me to be a Christian. And then in 1 Peter 4 and verse 11, Peter writes and says, If any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify.

Now I want you to notice that this word Christian, that that's where we get our word Christianity from. And while Christian is a Bible word, Christianity is not a Bible word, but it seems to certainly be. describe and seems to be a good word to describe what we see in the process of being a Christian.

Webster defines this word Christianity as being that which is based on Jesus Christ and the scriptures. And so that's basically what we're talking about. That which is a religion that is based on Jesus Christ and based on the scriptures.

I want to talk with you this morning about the subject, Christianity versus true or New Testament Christianity And let me show you why that title. That's the title, Christianity vs. True, or New Testament Christianity. Why that title? I want you to suppose that you just meet somebody in a public place, but not the church building.

I remember meeting some people in out front standpipe one time, they were moving to Lufkin or thinking about moving to Lufkin, and so we were talking about how good a place Lufkin is to live. And suppose the person you're talking to, like the persons I talked to, said, well, we're Christian. What do you really know about those people from that state?

We're Christian.

I picked up, Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis the other day. I've read screw tape letters long ago. I don't think I've ever read Mere Christianity, and I thought, well, maybe I'll read it. And in the preface, C. S. Lewis says that the word gentleman used to refer to a property owner. It had nothing to do with a man's character.

Today it has everything to do with character. And just because you call somebody a gentleman doesn't mean at all that they're property. And my point is that words change, or people use words differently. And while we use the word Christian in the sense that the Bible used it and should use it in that way, and from that have gotten the word Christianity, those words in the minds of people have changed.

And so I want to talk with you about the subject Christianity. what this could mean versus what Christianity is in the New Testament, true Christianity is. And the reason I do that is, is because Christianity today, that word Christianity today doesn't mean what we think it means sometimes when we talk about Christianity.

And there may be some even here or online that, that are listening to what people say about Christianity, but they're listening to what people. are thinking about Christianity rather than what the New Testament teaches about Christianity. And I hope we can end some of those erroneous concepts those people have.

Maybe somebody even here thinks themselves to be a Christian who have just simply been deceived by what people are saying about Christianity and Christians. The way I propose to do this, I want to suggest to you some four areas for us to look at that are truly important to Christianity as the Bible talks about it.

And then look at some of the ways that Christianity as the world thinks about it. Thinks about these subjects and these, the first one I wanna talk to you about is, is the very person of Jesus. And I wanna suggest to you that the scriptures teach us that Jesus is the son of God. You remember in the temptations of Jesus, in Matthew four and verse one through 10, do you, do you know how Satan approached each of those temptations?

He started by saying, if you are the Son of God. Why did he start that way? Because Jesus came as the Son of God. Not only that, but if you look at Matthew 26 in verse 63, when Jesus was before the high priest at his trial. He said, I dare you, tell me if you are the son of God. And Jesus says, it is as you say it is.

And when you turn over to the book of Acts in the second chapter, when Peter has preached the first gospel sermon, he comes down to Acts two and verse 36, and he says, this Jesus. Lord and Christ. That's the second thing I want you to know about Jesus. First, He is the Son of God, and by that He means He is God.

And then secondly, He is Lord and Christ. One other passage you might look at is the book of Acts in the 8th chapter when Paul, or when Philip is preaching to the eunuch. And preaches Jesus unto him, and they come by this pool of water, and the unit says, Here's water, what does henth of me to be baptized?

And the unit says, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And so, these are fundamental truths. Jesus is the Son of God. He is both Lord and Christ. And by that we mean He was Deity. And He is our Lord. And He is our Christ, our Savior, as Acts the fourth chapter says. In no other name can we be saved. That's what the New Testament teaches.

That's what true Christianity should be teaching. That Jesus is Lord and God, or, or it's the Son of God, Lord and Christ. And that He's our Savior, the only Savior. But did you know that, quote, Christianity, as it's used in the world, doesn't necessarily believe that? There are those groups, and I look to make sure, but Jehovah Witnesses call themselves a Christian group.

That's what They don't believe that Jesus was deity. Our Bibles in the book of First John in the Or Not First John, in the Gospel of John, in the first chapter, verse one tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the word was with God, and the Word was God. Their translation says in the beginning was the Word, and the word was a God, not God with a capital G, but God with a little g.

I've had a discussion not long ago with someone, and they brought up John 1. And I answered that for them and knew that they wouldn't accept it, though. So I went down and I looked at every passage, or every passage I could find, in both Old Testament and New Testament, that talked about Jesus as God. Not a God, but God.

And you have passages like Isaiah, the seventh chapter, where He is foretold in prophecy and says he would be called Emmanuel, which says is interpreted God with us. You have passages that are quoted in Hebrews where God is speaking to Jesus or of Jesus and saying my God and calls Jesus God. And some of those passages in Old Testament.

is the word Jehovah, which is a word that speaks and talks about God. Mormons do not mean by son of God what you and I mean by son of God. When I was in Fort Smith, Arkansas, I met with some Mormons sometime and we talked about it and I knew their thoughts on Jesus, I was talking to one of my members and I told them they don't mean what we mean by Son of God.

Some of the Mormons went by his house. He said, well, our preacher says you don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And I said, oh, we believe that. So I called him. That's the one that I dealt with. I said, can you get these people and bring them to my office and let's talk for a while? He said, yes. This fellow walked in and he says, I want you to stop lying about us.

I said, I haven't lied about you. I looked to the one I was talking to, I said, Have I in all the time I've been talking to you ever lied about what you believed or misrepresented what you believe? He said, No, sir. This young one said, Well, you told this one that we didn't believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

I said, No, he misquoted me. I said, I don't believe, I said you don't believe what we mean, Son of God means. Mormons think that, Mr. and Ms. God had a son, Jesus, the brother of Lucifer, and that he's eternal only in that he will last here on, not that he was forever and ever, started out being, and has always been in existence, and always will be in existence.

And so you can't just say, well, Christianity is right if you're talking about Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons and, and that's not only the thing. Newsweek about a year ago, put a, a survey in there, in their Newsweek, August the 30th in 2020, suggested a survey showed that nearly one third, 30 percent of evangelicals agree that Jesus isn't God.

Now, evangelicals are those that we think of as kind of mainstream religion denominations, but they don't believe that Jesus is God. And so you've got Christianity. That would might say Jesus and God, but then you have true Christianity you have The New Testament as well as the Old Testament that says Jesus is God.

I don't know of anybody that would just flat out deny that Jesus is Lord. That's not to say that there are not some that won't do that. But we've got lots of people in religion that don't accept God. from the standpoint they don't practice Him as Lord. Lord is just a, a phrase that means that He is Master.

Or that He's, He is Lord. He has all the authority. Remember in Luke 6 and verse 46 that Jesus on one occasion says, Why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say? And then in Matthew 7, 21, he says, Not everyone that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father.

His point is that Lord means master, the one that has the authority. Matthew 28, I have all authority. Well, that means that if he tells you to do something, you ought to do it. But we have people today that don't obey him. And we'll talk more about some of those things that. that they deny in just a little bit.

And certainly he is the Christ. As he said, we need to make sure that we accept Jesus as Lord Christ. And to do that, we need also to accept that he is the son of God, that he is deity. We need the, the attitude that Mary said to his servant, whatever he says, you do Or as Peter demonstrated in Luke five and verse five, when Jesus said, Put your boat out and go into the water.

And Peter said, We've been out there all day and night, but nevertheless at thy word I will. That's the way we've got to be in true Christianity. Recognizing that Jesus is Lord, that He's Christ, He's the Savior, that we have to obey Him, do the things that He says, and that He is Deity. The second area that I call your attention to to show the difference between what the world thinks about Christianity and what the New Testament says about Christianity is just how we treat the Word of God.

Psalm 119 verse 160 says the entirety of your word is truth. That's a good statement. It, it keeps you from just saying, Oh, I picked out this little piece and this, this says you ought to do this. No, you've got to look at the entirety of the word. Who's he talking to? What's he, what's he saying? But when you get to the New Testament, Hebrews, the first chapter in verse one says, God in sundry times and diverse manners spoke to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

He's our spokesman. John the 17th chapter in verse 17, Jesus said, and he's praying on this occasion, he says sanctify them, he's praying to the Father, sanctify them in thy truth, thy word is truth, thy word is truth. And then you look in passage like John 14, 16, or 14 and 6, and Jesus says, I am the way, the truth.

Now, despite such plain statements of saying, this is true, quote, Christianity, that is, Christianity of the world, doesn't necessarily agree with that. You will find where they disagree with what God teaches in doctrine, and in just the plain facts of the matter. For instance, there are many, in quote, Christianity, that is, as the world sees Christianity, Who doesn't, do not think that Jesus was actually raised from the dead.

I've just started reading Daniel King's new book on the resurrection. And he's talking about how there are lots of even religious people now that that are trying to say, well, it seemed like a resurrection and what they're really doing is saying, we don't really think that he actually was raised from the dead.

We just, we just think God made it appear like he did.

How do you come to that and still say you're a Christian? The New Testament teaches that truly he was raised from the dead. I think it was that same survey I mentioned a moment ago from. Newsweek said of the people who attend church services one or two times a month, 11 percent deny the resurrection. My guess since 2020, there's been more than 11%.

But it goes on to say that those who attend church services less than one or two times a month almost half disbelieve in the resurrection of Jesus.

What is this? Do we realize that in Romans, the 10th chapter, verse 8 and 9, Jesus said, or Paul said, But what does it say? The word is near you in your mouth and in your heart. That is the word of faith we preach. That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

And yet here's quote Christianity, much of it saying I'm not real sure about that. Maybe just seem like a resurrection and some of them won't even go that far. And that's just simply to say that there is a great difference in what the world is called in Christianity and what the New Testament teaches as Christianity.

And it's not just the facts, but the morality. Think of how people are now no longer accepting what the Bible teaches about morality. I don't think you can find a better example maybe than just the attitude that we see today according to, about homosexuality. And where Paul is writing to the Corinthians and talks about how they were some of these people and, and that God's just not going to save them in that kind of life.

That's just one example of how truth as taught in the scriptures is set aside by even those in the world. They call themselves Christian. Look if you would to the book of John in the 12th chapter in verse 48 for a moment as Concludes this point. He said, He who rejects me and does not receive my words has that which judges him.

The words that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. You can deny it, he says, but my word, the truth, will be what judges you in the last days. The third thing I want to suggest to you is just look at the difference in, the attitude of what people think about the church as opposed to what the scriptures teach about the church.

I remember when I first started preaching and teaching and we had the Jewel Miller's film strips. I don't know if you're familiar with them, but they were one called the Patriarchal Age, the second called Mosaical, the Christian Age, then the Scheme of Redemption, and the History of the Church I think was the fifth one.

So but in those pemscripts, they carry you through the history of the scriptures and they presented the plan of salvation and so forth and they talked about the church. I remember they made the point about the church and then talked about denominations and at that time they said there's over 300, I think it's 300 or 250 denominations in And the nations today, there are over hundreds of thousands of religious groups in our world today claiming to be a part of the church, the church, or part of the church.

That's Christianity. This religion that's made up of all these different, quote, churches or groups that are professing maybe Jesus to be Lord. That's not what you see in the New Testament Christianity. You think about what Jesus said in Matthew 16th chapter and verse 18, when he talked about who do men say that I am?

And Peter said, art the Christ, the son of the living God. And then Jesus said, you've answered correctly and, and Man hasn't revealed this to you, but God has revealed this to you. And upon this rock I will build. Listen, my church, how many churches is my church? It's singular. And here's Jesus promising I will build my church.

And you look at Acts, the second chapter, and Peter preaches that first gospel sermon and has this idea, Jesus is both Lord and Christ. And they believe it and they're pricked in their hearts and they say, what should we do? And he says, you need to repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And then he tells them, and the Lord will add you to the church, the church, one church.

Paul would talk to the church in Ephesus, or to the elders of Ephesus, and he would talk about the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, or the church of God, but he's talking about Christ. And then you look at the book of Ephesians in the fourth chapter, and he's talking about how we have. One Lord and one Christ, or one Lord and one God.

And in that same context, he says one church. And we look at that, most of us do, and say, Okay, one Lord, that's one Jesus. Nobody else, just Jesus as Lord. One God, talking about God the Father. One God, who is the Father. And then we come to one church. We think, 350? Or hundreds of thousands of groups that that's the church.

There's hundreds of thousands of different groups teaching different doctrines and so forth. Now I want to be fair and I'll tell you that the scriptures talk about churches. For instance, in Revelation 1 and verse 4, we know that that book was addressed to the seven churches of Asia. You can read elsewhere where he talks about the churches of Christ salute you, Romans 16.

But that's not saying there's multiple churches as he's talking about when he says one church. Those are talking about the saved people in a given locality. It's not talking about different groups all having different names and different doctrines. There are people that all believe the same thing, that Jesus is the Son of God, Lord, and Christ, and who have done the same thing so as to be saved, and are added to this one group that God says are saved.

He doesn't have a group of saved that believe this and a group of saved that believe this. They all believe and they all are saved and he adds from this one group. But then now those different people may worship in a different location. And so it's referred to as, for instance, 1 the church of God at Corinth.

But that's just the church that's there. That's those people that belong to the church that now are in the church. But they believe the same thing that those in Thessalonians believed and have done the same thing that they've done. This idea of, of multiple denominations and churches and so forth, that's foreign to what we see in the New Testament.

But that's very much a part of Christianity as the world thinks about it. And then lastly, I'd just say, look at the plan of salvation and compare what The Testament says, compares to what, quote, the world says, Christianity of the world says about it. You are well familiar with the fact that numerous religious groups say faith only is going to save you.

I have a book called Churches of Today, and I was looking at last, yes, Friday I guess it was, Just over and over as it talked about different denominations and say they believe in faith only and what they mean is they don't think you have to be baptized or anything just say you believe and that's it and you probably like I have have seen the commercial on TV now where from what he thinks might have been the tomb of Christ, and he says if you believe, bow and pray this prayer, and he gives you a prayer.

And suggesting you, that, that saves you. But listen to Mark 16, 16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth and is baptized. Reagan's been doing a good job of showing us all the examples of the conversion and showing how they all, the people believing and being baptized. Amen.

You look at that first example where Paul, or where Peter, preaches that gospel sermon on Pentecost, after the resurrection of Jesus. And they, they say, they are convinced that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the Living God. And they say, what shall we do? And Peter said, well, nothing for you to do. Or, bow your head and pray with me, you're saved.

That's not what Peter said. He's not like some of our preachers says, well there's nothing you can do. They've asked, what shall we do? And Peter says, Repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, or in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. That's not salvation by works, not our works.

That's salvation by God's works, as he talks about in Colossians the second chapter, that it is the work of God, baptism is. I've had a discussion with a preacher here that, in this area, that's denominational, and he'd been online, and he's gotten A bunch of the articles we've written and they've pulled out everyone that we talked about baptism.

And he says, doesn't that mean you're trying to earn your salvation just a little? And I said, no, I said, that means God is working. And I quoted Colossians 2, that it's the work of God baptism is.

You think of that second example. Conversion, not the second, but a second example of conversion in the scriptures. In Acts, the eighth chapter, where Philip joins himself to the chariot and preaches Jesus beginning in Isaiah. And tells him what he needs and they go a little further and the eunuch says, See, here's what or what does him of me to be baptized.

And Philip didn't say, Ah, you don't have anything you have to do. Just, you're saved if you believe. Oh. He said, if you believe with your heart, you can be saved. And the eunuch confessed and said, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God. And they stopped the chariot and he was baptized. Why? If it wasn't necessary.

And again, my point is this, that here's Christianity as it's called by the world and tell you all you have to do is bow and pray or all you have to do is just have faith and that's it. But the New Testament, New Testament Christianity tells us we have to believe and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, Father of mercy and sin.

I want to suggest to you. We need to guard the faith. As Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6 and I think about verse 12. Guard the faith. This is the faith. We need to guard it. We need to make sure that we don't start believing what they believe. That we believe only what the scriptures teach. We need, as Jude talks about, contend earnestly for the faith.

We need not only just to believe it, but we need to contend for the faith. And tell others, listen. What you believe as Christianity is not what the scripture's teaching. Here is what the Bible says. Don't trust your salvation, your soul to what somebody's telling you. Look and see what the scriptures tell you and do only what the scriptures tell you to do and know that you have, as Jews says.

That it's been completely revealed to us, that it's once for all delivered. It's not going to change. And what's in here, somebody's not going to have the right to come along today and say, well, I know he said that, but, but it's now changed. And this is what you got. No, this is it. This is it.

It's it because this is inspired as Paul wrote to Timothy saying, it's inspired. It's God breathed. And we're giving back to, we want to be saved. Jesus is the Savior. He's qualified because he's the son of God. He has the right to tell us what to do because he's Lord. And we ought to just do it and not argue with it.

And then we can rejoice in the salvation that we have. If you're here this morning and you somehow have not obeyed the gospel as given in the New Testament, you may think of yourself as a Christian, as being a part of Christianity. But you're not a part of that New Testament Christianity that we're talking about.

You're not really saved, but you could be today if you wanted to be. If you'll just come and do what the Bible says, and that's what we're going to show you, what the Bible says, and tell you to believe what the Bible says. And maybe you just need to study more and find out, and we're willing to do that with you too.

But if you can see what salvation is, and see what true Christianity is this morning, then don't wait. Don't. Don't delay. Obey the gospel, even now, as together we stand and sing.