Friday, October 2, 2015

“From Heaven He came and sought Her...”

And He wash her clean with the words that he done said to her...Lecrae 

While listening to a media preacher recently it dawned on me that today’s evangelical message is almost exclusively directed toward the individual.  And that it is largely devoid of the gospel. It is increasingly difficult to discern the difference between Dr. Phil and Rev. So and so. What I would like to explore here is: how did this happen, what are the implications or better yet consequences - and where are we going?

With that in mind what I submit following I present not us dogma, but in the spirit of “come let us reason together.”  These observations are intended to stimulate dialogue.

Personal Savior?

Did Jesus come to be our “personal savior?”  (Try looking that term up in an exhaustive concordance.)  No, He came to rescue and to claim His bride who He is calling out of many nations. The only singular person who is eternity’s object is the Son of God.  “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” Revelation 21:21 It should be noted that the purpose of God is unique in the Son - that there would be a company being conformed into His image that He would be the preeminent One among many (Romans 8:28-29).  

The purpose of God is a people - not persons. “The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock.” Zechariah 9:16 The message is not: How you can be a better you.  Yet we have succumb to the myth of individualism.  This is why the pastoral ministry is one of the loneliest professions there is - its true nature is cloaked in a shroud of invulnerability.

A Community

The Presence of God seeks to inhabit not a collection - but a community. A community that is God-centered, not individual centered.  “And in Him you (ye) too are being built together into a dwelling place for God in His Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22 Berean No single individual can fully represent the nature of Christ.  “The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High.” Charles Spurgeon

It should be noted here that when we encounter the word “you” in the modern translations of Paul’s letters the word is usually plural.  Our current individual mind set renders it as singular however. In Southern vernacular it would be “you all.”  Older translations preserve the original intent by the use of the word “ye” which is the plural of “thou.” It is hard to calculate the enormity of the misfortune rendered by this inadequate interpretation.  

The Whole Church

The apostle writes to the whole church in the city of Ephesus: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” Ephesians 4:13  I prefer the King James (or its predecessor the Geneva Bible {GNV}) translation here for this verse takes its predicate from the conjunction “till” rather than the preposition “until.” To use “until” here interjects a note of speculation (a connotation), while “till” is indicative of a predetermined purpose of accomplishment (a denotation) which ties Paul’s whole thought together - that is, it is only the many joined together in agreeing concerted complementation that can adequately give full expression to the One. He further expands on this concept: “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint (and ligament) supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:16

When Paul writes of God’s great electing purpose in Romans 9, he writes of a people not persons. “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:” v.6  And specifically these are the ones whom the Son lifts before the Father: “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” John 17:9 ESV 

To be continued.....