Acts 11:26 records that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” This tells us that Christians are disciples, or f
ollowers, of Jesus. So then, the Christian church is made up of followers of Jesus, those who live as He lived and apply His teachings to their lives.
Based on Jesus’ teachings, Christianity is different from other religions in two distinct ways:
- God is the source of salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 tells us, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” This sets Christianity apart from every other religion. No other religion teaches that the deity offers itself a ransom for sinful humans. Salvation is all of Christ and not of anything that we can do.
- Christ is our High Priest. Jesus ended the hierarchy of the priesthood, saying, “One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren” (Matthew 23:8). A study of the book of Hebrews shows that Jesus is our High Priest after the order of Mechisedec.
Melchisedec, a priest in the days of Abraham, is used as a figure of Christ. He was a priest with no recorded lineage, “having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (Hebrews 7: 3). Paul, in the book of Hebrews, shows that since Christ has become our High Priest, there is no need for a continuation of the old human order of priests. The old order kept careful records of their lineage to protect the priesthood from outsiders. The keeping of genealogy is impossible in the priesthood of Melchisedec, because his singularity pointed to Christ, a High Priest with no peer.
The priesthood Jesus established is therefore spiritual. The Bible has nothing to say about an earthly hierarchy of priests and bishops based on Peter. Jesus never established a priesthood based on Peter or anyone else. Instead, He made His followers to be a priesthood of believers, as Peter himself said, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
The Reformation re-established these two principles in the Christian church. The Reformers pointed people to Christ alone (sola Christi) for salvation and it dethroned the priesthood who tried to stand between God and His worshipers.
Any religion, or even Christian denomination, that fails on either of these two points fails the test of true Christianity.
For further study, prayerfully read through Hebrews 7 – 9.
Hebrews 8: 1, 2 says, “We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.”
photo credit: planman <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/15916426@N00/25425822963″>The Disciples, and others, after the Last Supper re-enactment, ‘Bethlehem’, Gozo</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>