Friday, October 21, 2011

Misconceptions, Part 1 of 2

What does the Christian Church teach regarding its exclusivity? Do we covet a dogmatic “our way alone” mentality that denies everyone else? Is there a particular denomination in today’s rank and file of the church that is the main gate by which the saints must enter?

There seems to be misconceptions abounding regarding the historic faith Jesus Christ founded two thousand years ago. Some denominations denounce others as heretical; while some denominations have opened their doors to ecumenical talks about “mutual faith” between various religions; not only within the Christian pale but also with Muslims, Mormons, etc. Is there a commonality of faith between all religions? Or does one particular faith—and more so, one denomination within said faith—hold all of the answers?

First of all the air must be cleared on how the church and the saints within it perceives itself. There must also be further clarification as to what the nature of the term “church” means as it is applied in the New Testament. The Greek word for church in the New Testament is “ekklessia” and means “the called out ones.” The teachings of the church within the Bible are amazingly simple. The word may be applied in one of several ways.

 
First, every individual believer is a member of the church. The church universal and invisible with Christ as the head and the Holy Spirit present as His Vicar within every Christian is the universal (or catholic) church. Roman Catholics make a grave error when they attribute the title “vicar” to a man such as the Pope; Christ our Lord did not leave the authority of the church’s government to any one man or line of men; He left the Holy Spirit as a sign and seal, and earnest within every believer who is born again through faith in Jesus Christ, John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 2nd Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14. Every believer is a priest unto God; there was never meant to be the human creation of a laity/clergy dichotomy, 1st Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6.
 
Second, there is a locality where the members of Christ gather. The building is not really regarded as the church; rather the saved men and women within it are, Ephesians 1:22-23; Philippians 4:15; Philemon 1:3. The local churches are to aid one another but there is no indication that a particular church was to have predominance over all others. Rather each local shepherd was answerable to Christ, not a hierarchy, about the spiritual condition of the members therein, Revelation chapters 2-3. Each local church is to be governed by Scripture as the Holy Spirit expounds it to the body, Acts 20:27; 2nd Timothy 3:16-17; 2nd Peter 1:3. Adding to the Bible or altering the gospel that saves results in immediate condemnation: and that from God, 2nd Corinthians 11:3-15; Galatians 1:6-9; 2nd John 1:9-11; Revelation 22:18-19.
 
With the idea of what the church even means cleared up a trifle let us turn again to our questions. The first was this: does the church (the universal body of Christ) have an exclusive attitude? Are we a “we’re in and you’re not” mentality? First of all, it was not the church that pioneered an exlusivist mentality; it was Jesus. Our Lord taught emphatically, dogmatically, and simplistically that He alone was the Savior. Christ alone forgave sins and provided atonement. He alone was the way to God. He alone was the object of a worshiper’s faith. He alone could give eternal life.

John the Baptist declared of Jesus: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John 1:29.

Jesus went on record saying, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God,” John 3:15-16, 18.

John the Baptist again testified, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:35-36.

Jesus told the Jews of His day, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man,” John 5:24-27.

Also: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day,” John 6:38-40.

Finally Jesus speaks of those who adamantly reject His testimony: “And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God,” John 8:45-47.

3 comments:

  1. Excellent post Ian. I am looking forward to reading part 2. God's blessings my friend in Christ. Lloyd

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  2. Thank you, Lloyd. It was in part inspired by your inquiry regarding the RCC as well as a couple of local issues that I felt needed addressing.

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  3. Great post, Ian.

    So many fail to recognize that Christ is the head of the church and every Christian is personally accountable to him. He forbid putting any man in that position, instructing that the apostles themselves were not to be called by special names or placed above others in Matthew 23:8-10.

    John 14:6 is pretty exclusive, as is Romans 8:9 and I John 4:1-8.

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