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[Editor’s Note: This is the fifth installment of a multi-part essay called “Questions from a Clergyman”. Click here to read from the beginning.]
One of my most significant questions when I first encountered the Baha’i Faith related to what exactly Christ taught and what could, as a result, be considered fundamental or core Christian belief. Pastor Dan’s next “Cult Night” question — like the one about Pentecost — was one I had confronted in my own investigation.
Dan asked: “Wasn’t the message the disciples delivered to their audiences about the blood atonement and the resurrection?”
The passage I cited in an earlier post (Matthew 28: 16,20) tells us exactly what the disciples taught their audiences — specifically, “to observe all things that I have commanded you.” The Gospel says simply that the new believers must love God, believe in the One He sent, and observe His commandments — a message so simple a child could understand it.
The record of the missionary work of the early disciples bears this out. In Acts 16:30-32, when asked how he might be saved, the disciples told the centurion that he must “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The verse continues, “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord.”
Again and again, the scripture tells us how Christ’s disciples taught. Of course, they would have told of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. They did this, according to Peter “that your faith and hope might be in God.”
But, note what the salvation of the individual is linked to:
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart … Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby… – 1 Peter 1: 22-25 & 2:1-3
The believer has purified his soul in obeying the truth. Further, he is born again … by the word of God. Then Peter gives a metaphor for the word — as milk to a newborn babe. Newborns cannot live without mother’s milk, and this important metaphor tells us that the human soul cannot be born again without the word of God, and cannot live without it. The Baha’i writings put it this way:
…in the spiritual realm of intelligence and idealism there must be a center of illumination, and that center is the everlasting, ever-shining Sun, the Word of God. Its lights are the lights of reality which have shone upon humanity, illumining the realm of thought and morals, conferring the bounties of the divine world upon man. These lights are the cause of the education of souls and the source of the enlightenment of hearts, sending forth in effulgent radiance the message of the glad-tidings of the kingdom of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 254.
While the disciples spoke of Christ’s sacrifice and the shedding of His precious blood, it was not His blood, but the “pure milk” of His word that they offered to those they taught.
Read the next article in the series: The Agent of Salvation
Read the previous article in the series: Pentecost and the Spirit of Truth