Christianity A New Religion
BASED ON A SERMON BY N.B.HARDEMAN
As a basis for our lesson for this allotted time, I want to read to you from: Hebrews 8:13
13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Then again in: Hebrews 10:19-20 these words:
19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
And one other Ephesians 2:14-16
14For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
I think these texts justify the title that I have selected for this lesson: “Christianity A New Religion.”
Let me say that Christianity is not something that has come down to us from generation to generation as a matter of tradition. It is not the outgrowth of some human philosophy, developed and formulated into what is called the “Christian religion’. Nor is it a compilation of anything that has gone before. It is new in all of its phases and in all of its relationships.
I submit to you some of the outstanding features wherein it is new.
First, let me say to you that the religion of the New Testament is new in that it is the only religion that ever promised absolute forgiveness of sin.
The very highest conception of pagan religion was to suffer some sort of self-imposed penalty in order to appease the wrath of some fancied god. They never had the idea of real forgiveness of sins.
Under the patriarchal era of twenty-five hundred years, plus the fifteen hundred years characteristic of the Jewish system, there was no such thing as absolute forgiveness of sins.
I know that from the time the smoke ascended from the altars of the Patriarchs down through the Jewish ages, the very best they could expect was a rolling forward of their sins for just one year. That truth is so obvious in the Bible that real students thereof grasp it at once. Hebrews 9:22
22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. Now hold that statement--- “without the shedding of blood there can be no remission.”
Then in Hebrews 10:4
4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. The conclusion is unavoidable, that without the shedding of the blood of Christ there never was a sin absolutely forgiven.
When a Jew came to the altar on the day of sacrificing and presented his victim, he had assurance that all of his sins were rolled forward¾ But in those sacrifices there was remembrance made again of sins every year and at the expiration of that year, all of his sins stood against him in full force and effect. Hence the necessity of offering another sacrifice for the coming year and on down the line.
15And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance
Christ therefore died for the sins of all that had gone before, and likewise to obtain eternal redemption for those who were to come after. There is definite assurance that under the Christian religion, sins are wholly forgiven and remembered no more Heb. 8:12
12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Hence when John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!” he had in mind the Christ whose blood would be shed for the remission of sins.
In our prayers we often use expressions that are unnecessary. It is quite common to hear a brother pray thus; “Lord forgive us and remember them against us no more.” We may rest assured, when God forgives them He does not remember them any more against.
Listen to this beautiful text from Psalm 103:8-13
8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
God forgives men, and I must evidence the same spirit if I be His. “If a brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3) That ought to end the matter. Often we forgive, but it is next to impossible to forget.
Not Only, Is Christianity New In That It Offers Absolute Forgiveness Of Sins, But It Is New In Another Respect. It is the only religion the world ever knew that offered eternal life to any man. The great question of the Old Testament was
“If a man die, shall he live again?”
The ancients wondered why it was that with the coming of spring all thing in the vegetable world burst forth with a new life. They wondered why the great king of day (the Sun) would drive across the sky to light up this old earth, pillow his head at night, then rise again from behind the eastern hills, while human beings sank out of sight to rise no more.
Their questions were unanswered by any theory of paganism. Neither in the Patriarchal nor Jewish age was there a direct answer.
Christ said to the Jews in John 5:39,40
39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
The tragedy of our Jewish friends today is the deceptive thought that outside of Jesus Christ life eternal may be theirs. That we know is not true. Christ said:
“I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25
Not only that, but our Lord further stated: John 14:6.
6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. And in John 8:24 these words—
24I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Hence eternal life centers in Christ, and apart from Him there would not be one ray of hope, or one crumb of comfort to mankind. Believe it, my friends, eternal life is in Jesus Christ and attaches only to the Christian religion,
“the new and living way.’
But again, Christianity is new in that it is the only religion of which ever recognized the fatherhood of God. Did you ever stop to think that before Christ came there was no such word as “Mankind”? That term was wholly foreign to everything that went before.
Unto the Jew everyone was Gentile or a dog, unfit for their association. Unto the Grecian mind everyone else was a barbarian. Unto all people the principle was that “might made right”. Paul announced a great truth absolutely new when on Mars Hill, he said God:
26hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, Acts 17:26
Hence the universal kinship of the human family coming from a common Father. We can understand now why Christ said: “Our Father who art in heaven.”
May I suggest again that Christianity is new in that it teaches “The real standard of greatness among men”.
When the mother of James and John as well as other disciples, was so solicitous about the promotion and prominence of her boys, in asking that one sit upon the right hand and one on the left in his kingdom, Christ practically said: “Woman you know not what you ask. Your idea of greatness is wholly foreign to mine., You ask the very opposite of what real greatness is .”
Then he said: Matthew 20: 25
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27“And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
From what Christ said here, you can see at once that the standard of greatness as men count it is wholly different from our Lord’s standard. Ask any man who is the greatest man in the nation, in the state, or in the city. He will answer; “It is he who has the greatest authority and who exercises dominion over his fellows”. But Christ said “Not so!”
Real greatness lies in service. The biggest man in all the land is the greatest servant of the people. Greatness is always characterized by meekness and humility. “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted”. Luke 14:11
In Philippians 2:5-11 we read of the mind of Christ, hear it:
5Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Our Lord said: “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant.” Matthew 20:27 Members of the church and all inhabitants of the earth need to learn this important lesson. Christ set the example of greatness the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Christianity is new in another regard It’s teaching is positive rather than negative. Review the Decalogue for just a moment.
Every pronouncement was: “Thou shalt not.” note the Ten Commandments! Old Confucius put the golden rule in a negative form: All things whatsoever ye would not that men should do unto you, do not unto them.”
Christianity is absolutely positive. The great question is never, “Lord what will thou have me not do”? But “what will Thou have me do?”
All members of denominations need to learn this difference about Christianity. Their attitude is “Where did God ever prohibit?” “Where did God ever say “thou shalt not?” When a man asks me a question of that sort, I know that he has never learn the fundamental idea of Christianity.
We live by what God says, not by what He has not mentioned. Christianity is positive, not negative in nature. He has given unto us
“all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” His word is a “lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
If I ever get through the gates of celestial joys, it will because I have practiced the principles of “pure and undefiled religion”. Because I have worshipped as God has stated, not by what He did not say.
Christianity is the only religion in the world that is missionary in spirit. Jesus gave us our orders as he ascended back to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
1. “Go!” said He, “into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Matt 28:19-20
The religions of many countries have died. Many are stagnant. Christianity is the new and living way. These are some of the things that distinguish Christianity from all other religions in the world.
Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ