Was Jesus A Religious Revolutionary

Was Jesus A Religious Revolutionary?

Was Jesus A Religious Revolutionary?

Many Christians have this picture of Jesus as a religious revolutionary. The story goes something like this.

  1. The Jewish leaders such as the Pharisees were judgemental and oppressive because they were stuck in the ways of Judaism.
  2. Jesus arrives on the scene and brings a revolutionary teaching about God’s love and desire for relationship. Now they can forget about religion.
  3. The Jews who believed in Jesus became Christians and abandoned their old religion.

Conclusion: Jesus was a religious revolutionary

The problem with this version of events is that although it contains some elements of truth, it is not entirely correct.

You see, if we look closely, we find that Jesus was not so much a religious revolutionary as he was a religious conservative.

No, we’re not making any claims about the political affiliation of Jesus today. But the word conservative is what best describes the mission of Jesus.

A conservative is one who seeks to hold on to and preserve traditional values. They work to bring clarity back to things that have become distorted over time. This is what Jesus came to do.

Let’s correct some of our narrative above.

1. The Jewish leaders such as the Pharisees were judgemental and oppressive not because they were stuck in Judaism but because they had added to God’s laws

Let us not forget that Jesus was a Jew. And that he was the most Jewish Jew that existed.

Jesus not only lived under the Torah but he was the one who created it.

When we see Jesus criticise the Pharisees, it’s not because he opposes the Jewish law but the unnecessary additions to it.

For example, what began with God’s command to honour the Sabbath became an oppressive burden with hundreds of different specific rules about what you could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath.

So when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were angry for breaking their customs. But they were missing God’s original intention because they had added additional traditions that God never created. (See Mark 2:23-27)

Not all of these traditions were bad of course but sometimes traditions can distract us from what matters most. That’s what happened with the Pharisees and we see this happen today just as frequently.

2. Jesus arrives on the scene and reminds everyone about God’s love and desire for relationship. Now they can obey God and practice religion but from a correct heart posture.

Jesus did not bring a new teaching about God’s love. If you read the Old Testament then you’ll find plenty about it. (See Psalm 103 for example). The idea of living by faith (trust in God) was also not a New Testament one.

God was always looking for people to trust in him (relationship) and therefore obey his commands (religion).

We often create a false dichotomy between relationship and religion which often subtly communicates that obedience is not that important. But a much better interpretation of scripture is that true religion flows from relationship with God.

3. The Jews who believed in Jesus acknowledged him as the promised Messiah and continued to follow Jewish customs.

Jesus never told his followers (who were all Jewish) to abandon the Law and the Prophets. In fact he specifically and emphatically stated that this was not his goal. (See Matthew 5:17)

The early church was Jewish and gradually the good news was also shared with the Gentiles. Note that the Gentiles were never required to follow the Jewish law and practices. And over the next centuries as Christianity spread, sadly the Jewish roots of the church became less understood.

Conclusion: Jesus came to bring the Jewish people back to God’s original heart and teaching.

Jesus was not a religious revolutionary. He was the promised Jewish messiah through whom God would unite all peoples.

Recommended reading

Jesus Never Said Anything New by Rabbi Matt Rosenberg

Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H Stern

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Is There A God?

Is There A God?

Is there a God?

The word God conjures up different things to different people. Those from a Christian, Islamic or Jewish background may think of a monotheistic God. Others from pantheistic religions such as Hinduism may see God more as a divine force or otherwise.

If you’re asking this question then you’re not alone. Human beings have been exploring the idea of God pretty much forever. The reasons for that are obvious because if God is real then it has a profound impact on why we are here and who we are.

Before we can answer which God is real (logic tells us they can’t all be), we must deal with the idea that there may be no sort of God at all. This is typically classified as atheism.

Atheism is the lack of belief in gods (including God)

Our easiest starting point to address atheism is to understand where life came from. Note that we can use many words to also describe ‘life’ such as the universe, nature and so on. This is a question of linguistics but doesn’t change the outcome of the question.

There are two possible answers:

  1. Life created itself
  2. Life was created by something greater than it

We can see that both of these two options actually lead back to some form of God. If anything could create itself (it can’t), it could only be explained by some sort of divine. But even then falls short as a conceptual impossibility.

And if life was created by something greater than it, this is by definition something outside of nature, specifically divine.

What the Bible says about atheism

We find therefore that the position of atheism is best matched to the one described in the Bible.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Romans 1:19-21

Our lack of belief in God does not hold up for very long at all under a proper philosophical discussion because it derives from the unwillingness to acknowledge God for what he has done. For if there can be no God then we need not acknowledge what he has to say. In rejecting the idea of God, ironically we ourselves become gods (philosophically speaking).

Is there a God?

Most definitely. But now begins the better question, who is God?

You might also like this article: Did God Use Evolution?

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How Did The Universe Begin

How Did The Universe Begin?

How did the universe begin?

The Big Bang Theory is the idea that the universe began as a single point and has been expanding out ever since. The Bible also aligns with this perspective, telling us the following.

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

You will be quick to realise of course that scientific consensus makes no note of the Christian God being the source of the big bang. But the Big Bang Theory does bring with it a worldview that includes the idea of God. Let’s examine why.

Nothing can create itself

We’re all aware of the reality that nothing has the ability to bring itself life. Living beings (such as a parents) are able to bring the next generation into existence. And through the wonders of science and human knowledge, we can play with some of the parameters of life itself. But no one can bring themselves into existence, no more than an egg can lay itself.

So Nature (aka the universe) could not have brought itself into existence. It is a conceptual impossibility.

If Nature did not create itself then the only other answer is that it has always existed. If we assert that Nature has always existed then surely in some sense we are simply stating that Nature is a form of God.

Of course, not directly or necessarily the Christian God. But something divinely powerful that has the ability to bring forth life in such volume and wonder? What other word could we use?

The naturalistic worldview does not remove God, it simply designates Nature as God.

What do we know about Nature as God?

If Nature is God then it must be a very bad one, even evil. All of the world’s atrocities, pains, wars, genocides, murders, abuses and so on have taken place as a result of Nature.

How can we expect justice, peace or comfort at the hand of such a merciless monster of affliction? We cannot.

And yet in a strange twist of events, Nature also has the capacity for great beauty. The wonder of the sun and the sea. The delight of good food, friendship and music. And of course sex. The list goes on and on.

Nature behaves more like a broken vehicle than a divine being

This strange mix of both beauty and brokenness makes no sense from a naturalistic point of view. The only way we can get around this philosophical constraint if we abandon all sense of morality, right and wrong, good and evil. Then we can say that these categories are meaningless and arbitrary and Nature itself is neither good or evil. And yet most naturalists are kind, wonderful and generous souls. Perhaps they betray their Christian roots.

What is the Christian worldview of the universe?

The Bible tells us that Nature did not bring itself into existence (a purely nonsensical notion) nor did it always exist but that Nature was created by a Supernature we call God.

God has always existed and nothing created him just as we supposed with Nature earlier. But this is what we should expect to find with a divine Supernature such as God.

How do we explain good and evil with God?

God created Nature and it was good. He also created man to take care of Nature. Man rebelled against God and caused Nature to become spoilt and broken. The rest of the story is about God himself coming in the form of a man to deal with the mess and to offer a means of redemption.

This is the good news about Jesus.

You might also like our article: Did God Use Evolution?

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Did God Use Evolution?

Did God Use Evolution?

Did God Use Evolution?

It is now commonly accepted in western culture that humans are the product of evolution. The idea is that all life (including humans) have evolved from simpler forms of life over the course of a very long period of time.

Let’s start by asking the following question.

How does the Bible explain the origin of human beings?

The Bible account in the book of Genesis tells us that God created the first human beings directly himself.

7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Genesis 2:7-8 (ESV)

If we are to take this account literally and on face value then the theory of evolution appears to be incompatible. For the Christian, God directly breathed life into man and formed him.

This of course creates some problems with navigating the culture that we live in because evolution is commonly accepted.

What are the implications of the Biblical account?

We are then faced with the possible options:

  1. The Bible is not accurate or reliable. We might as well not bother following Jesus at all then.
  2. Evolution did not take place.
  3. Genesis is describing events that are taking place metaphorically not literally.

The latter option seems unlikely and most likely comes from our desire to fit in with our peers but we’ll consider it as a possible option for now.

A footnote on adaptation

It’s worth noting that the Biblical view in Genesis is completely compatible with the idea of adaptation (gradual mutation within a species) but rejects the idea that a species could become something else entirely (e.g. evolution asserts human beings have evolved from apes).

Could God have used evolution to create humans?

Let’s pursue the possibility that our final option is correct and the events of creation described by the Bible are not literal.

Even still, the theory of evolution remains thoroughly incompatible with central Christian doctrine. Here’s why.

Evolution says death isn’t the result of sin

Evolution necessarily requires death in abundance to work. Mutation theoretically occurs over millions of generational iterations. This means that death was already present in the earth before the creation of man.

But we know from the rest of scripture that sin is a result of man’s disobedience to God. And the wages of sin are death. Therefore sin didn’t cause death and who could blame us for sinning if we are a product of death itself?

This also has huge implications on the nature of God.

Evolution says God is evil

If God used evolution to create man then God used the deaths of countless generations of pre-human species to do so. Not only does this mean that God is the author of death but it also raises huge ethical questions around these previous generations.

God is good therefore he cannot do anything evil. Now that sin and death is in the world, God uses it (think Jesus on the cross) to redeem humanity. But he is not the originator of it. Yet evolution implies he is.

Evolution has moral implications

There have been many periods of history when a group of human beings (usually identified by race) have been treated as sub-human. Yet this is the inescapable conclusion of the theory of evolution. When we consider those previous generations of pre-human life, at which point did they become human beings, made in the image of God?

God did not use evolution to create human beings

Although it’s tempting to try to fit the culture we live in by asserting God could have used evolution, it’s clear to see that the Bible teaching is directly contradictory to the theory of evolution.

Interested in finding out more about the philosophy of a Christian worldview? Watch this teaching that explains why evolution cannot be true here.

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Can Anyone Come To Church

Can I Come To Church?

Is church just for Christians?

Every week in our church services, we welcome new people and visitors. Some have simply moved to a new city and want to find a new church home. Others have grown up with some sort of faith but are on a journey of reconnecting with God. And others have no faith at all.

Church is for everyone

Our church services are designed to be open and welcoming to any person, regardless of their beliefs. This includes anyone from another religion or no religion at all. Everyone is welcome to come and decide for themselves.

We believe that Jesus is the ultimate source of truth and that when we follow him, we will experience true life. And of course we want to share that with everyone.

But we also acknowledge that we are all on a journey and each of us have to make our own choices in our time. You can probably expect to be both encouraged and challenged in our church services.

To find out what actually happens in a church service, read our article here.

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What happens in a church service

What Happens At A Church Service?

Wondering what church looks like at C3 Reflect?

Church services are a time of celebration, fun and time with community. It’s also an opportunity to meet with God, worship together and experience his presence and power.

How long does a church service go for?

Our services are usually a little over 60 minutes. But we find people stick around after for tea, coffee and catch up. We love hosting new people and our services are open to anyone to come and check out.

What does worship look and sound like?

We start with a time of worship which usually consists of 3-4 songs for approx 20 minutes. These are most often contemporary songs written recently by churches and artists that glorify God. Whilst we’re always a big fan of hymns and traditional classics, we also recognise that new season require new songs and God is doing something fresh in every generation.

Depending on the team for the day, we’ll be using instruments much like any live music you might experience today such as acoustic guitars, keyboards, bass, synths and so on.

You might see people closing their eyes, lifting their hands and engaging in a way that is personal to them in worship. If worship is something that is new to you then you’re absolutely welcome just to stand, watch and enjoy the music.

Am I allowed to come?

Everyone is welcome to attend C3 Reflect whether they’ve been there for years or are exploring faith for the first time or looking for a church.

We take a few minutes to welcome everyone to the service after worship and let me know what’s happening in the life of the church. We may also take a few moments as we close worship to pray together and allow the Holy Spirit to encourage us.

(Wondering what to wear to church? Read the article here).

Last but not least we will have an encouraging message

Whilst the tone of our preaching is always encouraging and often fun, we are not just about inspiring or self-help but teaching the word of God (the Bible) and helping people very practically to live as followers of Jesus.

We often tackle wider themes over several weeks so that we can take our time as a community to learn together. We welcome healthy interaction and encouragement as we hear the message, take notes and apply the thoughts to our lives.

Preaching is never normally a silent or boring part of the service but a time where God can really speak to us through the speaker. Our preaching is approx 30 minutes long.

What happens next?

At the end of the preach, we will take a few moments to respond to the message together. This often involves some space for music and worship. After this, the services officially closes but most will stick around to hang out, catch up with friends over a delicious cup of coffee.

Come and join us at a Sunday service soon. We’d love to see you there!

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What Should I Wear To Church

What Should I Wear To Church?

Worried about your first time attending C3 Reflect?

The key to dressing well is all about understanding the setting. Naturally at special events such as a wedding we are bringing our best smarts. And when we’re hanging at our mates place for a game of FIFA, there’s no need to go all out.

Christianity is hugely diverse and whilst there are many different expressions across denominations and movements, what we wear to gather as church community is not something mandated by scripture but really up to the personal choice and culture of the congregation.

So what can you expect at C3 Reflect?

Our services are relaxed and informal in nature because we want every visitor and member to know that they can come to God exactly as they are.

You’ll probably find our team (including our pastors) wearing jeans, trainers or even jump suits. The most important thing for us is that you feel comfortable and you feel like you can be yourself.

Why do some traditions wear more formal clothing?

Other traditions or cultures may have a special emphasis on attire or formality as a means of expressing honour to God and this is absolutely great reason to do so. God is most interested in our heart as we come to worship him, not how we look externally.

We’d love to invite you to hang out at a Sunday service soon.

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