We first meet Melchizedek in Genesis chapter fourteen. Abraham met and gave tithes to him as he returned from a victorious battle. The whole incident is covered in just three verses. (Genesis 14:18-20) One might consider it to be a very insignificant incident in the Genesis record but later it becomes very important.
The next mention that we have of this Melchizedek makes him a very significant actor in God’s plan of redemption for mankind. Here it is: “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou [the Messiah] art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4) The meaning of this passage from the Psalms is explained in the Book of Hebrews. (Hebrews 7) It has reference to our High Priest – Jesus Christ. Jesus is a high priest not after the order of Aaron as under the law but rather Jesus is our High Priest after a much higher order – the order of Melchizedek.
How did the writer of Genesis know to include this brief incident of Abraham meeting Melchizedek? Did he know that nine hundred years later his name would come up in one of the great Messianic Psalms? Did he know of the importance the name Melchizedek would play in explaining the High Priesthood of Christ? Probably not, but the Holy Spirit who guided the Bible writers knew.
Jesus Christ is the founder of Christianity as everyone knows. Well, not quite everyone. Recently a religious writer in the Winston-Salem Journal wrote: “I believe the founder of Christianity was Paul.” This is not the first time I have heard of such but from one who claims to be a believer?
What exactly is the evidence? Is Paul rather than Jesus really the founder of Christianity? Well here are the facts. Jesus clearly stated that He would build the church. After his death and resurrection he commissioned the apostles to proclaim the gospel message beginning at Jerusalem. They did. On the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus, Peter (not Paul) preached the first gospel message. On that day those who gladly received the word were baptized and there were added to them three thousands souls.” What a glorious start for Christianity. More continued to be added. (Acts 2:47) The next number given is five thousand counting only the men. (Acts 4:4) The whole city of Jerusalem was filled with the gospel message. But there was great opposition from the religious leaders of the city. The opposition reached its height with the stoning of Stephen – the first Christian martyr. The Christians were scattered form Jerusalem but carried the gospel message with them throughout Judea and Samaria and beyond. (Acts 8:4; Acts 11:19)
Where was Paul during this spectacular beginning of Christianity? He was on the other side. He was a ring leader in the opposition. At the stoning of Stephen he gave his consent (Acts 8:1). He committed both men and women to prison. He even persecuted them in foreign cities (Acts 26:11). Paul the founder of Christianity – it’s an absolute absurdity. Why then do some believe it? Obviously they do not believe the Bible record.
Love is basic to Christianity. In the New Testament love is often put in the superlative position. Love for God and love for neighbor are made the first and second greatest commandments. (Matthew 22:34-40) Peter in the list of Christian graces made love the climax. (2 Peter 1:5-7) Paul in the Corinthian letter said, “And now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Love must be demonstrated by our deeds. This is true of our love for God. John wrote: “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1 John 5:3) Jesus said, “If ye love, me keep my commandments.” And again, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” (John 14:15,21)
Our love for one another must be seen in our actions. John wrote: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1John 3:18) The test of real LOVE is how we treat each other.
Paul in his letter to Titus whom he had left in the island of Crete, wrote, “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, ‘The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.’” (Titus 1:12) He then adds, “This witness is true.” The problem was that the Christians there were falling into some of the same sins characteristic of the people around them.
Christian people always need to be careful that they do not fall into the sins of the nation in which they live. What are some of the great American sins?
Profanity is certainly one. The taking of God’s name in vain as well as other forms of unacceptable speech is so common in America that we must all beware lest we fall into this bad habit.
Materialism is another. As a people, Americans seem obsessed with material things: houses, cars, clothes, etc. Money and the things money can buy dominate the lives of many. We must beware that we do not become caught up in the fixation with material prosperity.
Cares of this world is still another. Jesus said, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.” (Matthew 6:25) Then he adds a few verses later, “For after all these things do the Gentiles seek.” (Matthew 6:32). It would certainly be correct to say that after all these things do the American people seek. Let’s be careful that we do not let the cares of this world run and ruin our lives.