Everything takes time, and Christianity is no different from it. Just like any other beautiful thing on earth, it did not grow overnight and somehow just became a formal thing. It had a challenging beginning, and we can only appreciate the beautiful belief that we have today if we knew how it came about.
We will be traveling down a historical lane. Hopefully, there will be a lot of learnings that you can take as we journey through it. Also, by the end of it, may it bring value to our current identity as a church and as a community of believers of Christ.
The History of Christianity
Christianity started out as a small sect that believes the same belief that we do now. A personal salvation that can be achieved through our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus started preaching this but not many people followed, he then commissioned the apostles to go therefore and make disciples of all nations as written on Matthew 28:19. Thus, Christianity was not widely spread through Jesus alone. In fact, one of the important things to note is that Apostle Paul during the first century of Christianity wrote a lot of letters to different parts of the Christian communities which are now parts of the New Testament in the Bible to let the gospel be told to different parts of the world.
It’s fascinating though that Apostle Paul wrote these letters, because as stated in Acts 9:20-22, he was of Roman citizenship and he was also a Pharisee. These are the people who persecuted the followers of Christ. While Christianity branched out from the Jewish traditions, Christianity and early believers had no legal protections from the law, as we may read on some of the apostle’s writing, there were persecutions, and there were retributions when they declared their faith, this includes being stoned to death, beheading, crucifixion, and many other ways.
Christianity only received its legal status in the year 313 CE when the Edict of Milan was proclaimed, but it was alongside other religions. This official order states that people can worship their chosen god, and this paved the way for Christians to establish churches, but it did not at that time, make it as a state church of the Roman Empire.
It was in 325 CE when Roman Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea to determine Christianity’s formal belief and it was where the Nicene Creed was created, the doctrine that the council agreed on. Finally, in 380 CE, Roman Emperor Theodosius issued the Edict of Thessalonica, which made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
This is just the beginning of Christianity as many other belief came, but I’d like for us to go back to what the Bible said about the church that Jesus Christ built:
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18
There is only one church, one body, and Jesus Christ is the head of it.
Christ As Prophesied in the Bible
Christ when translated from the origin of Hebrew means the Messiah. The Messiah then translates as the anointed one, the leader or the savior. Which is the main belief of Christianity – it is that salvation will only be achieved through believing in Jesus Christ.
It’s amazing though that even before Christianity became an official thing in writing and in history, the old testament actually talks about the Messiah already. Let’s look at some of the biblical prophecies that are made before Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Sacrificial Lamb
Do you remember the time when Abraham was tested and was asked to give his beloved son Isaac as an offering? Of course at that time, Abraham did not know he was being tested but what he said was already a prophecy of who will be offered.
“Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.” Genesis 2:8
As the story goes, we knew that instead of offering his son, the Lord provided a ram caught by its horn. Did you think it was a mistake that a ram came instead of a lamb?
It was not. Indeed a lamb came to be an offering – a sacrifice that has no stain of iniquity in Him. Indeed, there was a beloved son that was sacrificed instead of Isaac – it was Jesus. What’s amazing is that many scholars believe that the same mountain where Jesus was crucified is also the area where it was proclaimed that the lamb will be provided as an offering.
There’s no accident in God’s orchestrated plan.
Jesus Christ Came From the Line of David
In the second book of Samuel, Nathan prophesied to King David and here’s an excerpt from chapter 7,
“12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom… 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
As stated, an offspring of David will establish the kingdom forever, and see how the New Testament of the Bible started, “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
God gave His Word, and kept it. Through the Line of David, the Messiah came. He established a kingdom not just of men, but a kingdom for His Name.
Unto Us a Child is Born
We usually hear this in line with celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus. One of the prophets, Isaiah, gave a prophecy about a child that will be born and given to us. This shows Jesus’ authority being man, and being God. He was to govern not just here on earth but in the Kingdom of God forever.
This was also confirmed in the fourth chapter of Matthew as mentioned: “to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah.”
A savior will come, not just at the time when Israel feels that they have been abandoned. Truly, the savior came and He made mankind free of the sins that we have committed, with the simple belief of accepting Him, following Him, and loving each other.
Christianity Now, And Our Call to Action
As we journeyed earlier through the biblical and historical references of the origin of our faith, one thing is for sure, we are now blessed that we can proclaim our faith freely. Yes, there are still other countries to reach, those that have limited access, but compared to how the early Christians lived, we are still more favored.
The apostles were willing to share their faith with others. They made it their life’s mission to declare the gospel wherever they set their feet on. In the book of Philippians, Paul wrote that if he lives it would be for Christ, but it is also his gain if he dies because he will join Him as well. He was torn between the joy of living for or with Christ, but one thing was for sure; he rejoices as the gospel of Christ is being preached.
May we have that kind of heart as well. We may no longer be persecuted to the point of death now, but Christianity still receives judgment from other people. Now, knowing how the gospel was proclaimed even in the midst of their cultural and political trials at the time, what’s hindering us from not preaching it all around the world?
God does not even ask us to literally conquer the world alone. Our call to action is to start preaching Christ to small places where we are placed – our homes, our workplaces, our campuses, or any other spheres of society.
May we have the boldness, confidence, and courage that come from Jesus Christ alone.
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