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Whose Church Is It Anyway?

Yesterday, I talked about accountability, and how leadership positions in a local church, or in ministry organizations, need strong accountability factors in order to maintain the right perspective. Too often we hear people say inappropriate things such as: "I have been going to John MacArthur's church," or "John Piper's church," which implies that these pastors are the reason people attend that church. Now, I know that most people use the pastor as the reference point to what church they are attending, but it may lend itself to a wrong attitude about leadership.  I was listening to a podcast from R.C Sproul where everything they promoted was from a Reformed Theology perspective, as if to say, this is the only way you are going to understand the Bible is through this theological lens. This bothers me, because I am not sure as a believer, I am to lay a theological template over the scriptures and interpret the Bible according to that template. Is that a correct way to interpret the Bible? Most denominations have their own templates when it comes to the Bible, but this sets up a sectarian grid that puts us against them when it comes to interpreting how we are to live according to the scriptures.  For example, you have templates that tell you that Israel is no longer an important part of modern Christianity, and that the Old Testament is only a history lesson, but has little to no bearing on the Church.They say this because they have a template that tells them that the Church supersedes all previous Biblical standards.  You also have theologians who tell us that various gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer valid, therefore anyone who exercises those gifts are not from God, but are heretics.

Theological templates can lead people to a wrong conclusion, and I would recommend you rid yourself of these and go back to a simple interpretation method. Let me explain.

Historical interpretation:

The Bible is a historical account of God's redemptive process of establishing and maintaining a relationship with His creation. He began this process with a chosen people where He established and maintained a relationship with them, through a series of covenants.  The last of these covenants ushered in the New Covenant of the cross and the formation of what we call Christianity today. Christianity is that last covenant God made with His people the Jews.  Here it is in Jeremiah 31-31-33.

The New Covenant

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,  32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.  33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

This was a different relationship that God was establishing, one based upon a person, His son Jesus Christ. It is in Christ that all people will be able to know God in their hearts. This is what the Hebrew writer meant when he said:

Hebrews 8:11

 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest

So the historical is essential in understanding God's plan, and how He used the Jews to bring about the Messiah/Savior of the world. Jesus did not come to start a new religion, He came to fulfill God's promises to Israel, which included a salvation for the entire world. If you get this wrong, you are foundationally inept to understand God.

  Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Jesus did not come to establish the church to replace the foundations God laid with Israel, He came to fulfill all God had promised to Israel, which included a salvation for everyone. So when people put pastor's names in the description of the church they attend it is a dishonor to Christ, because it is His Church, not any pastor. It is also a dishonor for any church to say that the Church has replaced Israel in the plan of God, that is heresy, and any template that teaches this dishonors the work of the cross.  Part of the problem with this replacement theology is the fact we use an Old Testament template, and a New Testament template to understand God.  By doing this, we miss the point that both testaments are one story, not two.  Everything that the New Testament teaches, comes out from the Old Testament. The church in the New Testament s an extension of the Israel in the Old Testament, and together they make up the one new man. 

 Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  15 by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Israel and the Church are one, both make up God's story, just as the two Testaments do.  We shouldn't put our theological templates over His story, let's read it and believe it according to what it says, not according to what we want it to say according to the templates we have been told to believe. Its time for a reformation of reading the scriptures as they are written without the tainted commentaries of learned opinions.

Be back tomorrow with more. 

Keeping it honest and truthful...K


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