Consistent Christianity – Part 5

How can we be certain that what we believe as Christians is correct? How can we know that we have interpreted the Scriptures in a way that will lead to salvation? What assurance do we have that we possess the truth? The answer according to the author of Hebrews is consistency. That the ministry of Jesus we subscribe to (or practice) today, is consistent (or the “same”) with what Jesus established in the past (or “yesterday”) – i.e. in the Old Testament (Jud 1:5) (v8). This most especially as it relates to salvation. We should expect continuity (or again consistency) between the system of salvation in the past and the system of salvation in the present (2Ti 3:15 = Paul can’t say this unless consistency existed between the system of salvation in the past and the present). Equally important in our quest for certainty is the rejection of those teachings that pose as Christian but are “diverse” (i.e. different and inconsistent) or “strange” (i.e. unknown to what has already been established) (v9a). This then is the litmus test for discerning truth: is what I believe to be the Christian Faith consistent with the entirety of what God has established in His Word? Or is it different and strange to what has gone before it? Is what I believe a new religion or simply the upgrade to what has already existed (i.e. Judaism 2.0)? [1]

Atonement, Circumcision, and Anointed Priests for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still requires atonement, circumcision, a High Priest – and anointed priests (shepherd-teachers – Eph 1:11), for salvation.

Marriage, Faith, Faithful Obedience to the Law and Judgment According to Works for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still requires that we pass a final judgment that will determine whether (or not) we as His people possessed not only faith during our time in covenant, but also faithful obedience to His covenant laws (1Co 3:10-17).

Apostasy and Separation for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, believers can still go apostate and God still requires that we separate from such people as well as those who claim to follow Him but are idolators.

Judges, Courts of Justice and Jurisprudence for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still requires that we use the judges, courts, and jurisprudence He has established in His church when seeking justice.

House of God, Gateway of Heaven or Church for Salvation.

5.1. In the beginning, God possessed a house on earth that not only represented the place where His special presence and salvation resided, but also the gateway (or entrance) to heaven.

For example:

5.1.1. The Garden of Eden: 1) The word used to describe God’s presence in Eden is the same word used to describe His presence in His OC houses: the tabernacle and temple (Gen 3:8 “walking” [הלך – halak] w/Lev 26:11-12; 2Sa 7:6 [“moved about”]), 2) Satan is portrayed as wearing the garments of the high priest while in Eden also identifying it as the first house of God (Eze 28:13 w/Exo 28:17-21 = The jewelry is the same), 3) Jesus refers to heaven (or God’s heavenly abode) as “paradise” which is the same Greek word used in the LXX to refer to the “garden” (of Eden) (Luk 23:43 w/Gen 2:8; See also Rev 2:7, 22:2 = Eden is equated w/the new heaven and earth/the place where God is the temple/house – Rev 21:22), 4) The two guarding cherubs to the entrance of Eden (or gateway to heaven) (Gen 3:24) are memorialized on the mercy seat -or lid of the ark of the covenant, the centerpiece of the OC houses of God and place of God’s special presence and salvation (Exo 25:8, 21-22 w/Lev 16:15-16, 30-34, Exo 29:43-46, 40:34; Num 7:89)[2], 5) The interior design of the OC house of God (i.e. the temple) was meant to depict the garden of Eden (1Ki 6:18, 32, 35, 7:18-20), 6) Eden was on a mountain facing East, the same as God’s house in Ezekiel (Eze 40:2, 6, 43:1-6, 12 w/Gen 3:24 and Eze 28:14, 16)[3].

5.1.2. Bethel [Literally, “house of God”] (Gen 28:10-19).

5.2. Under the Old Covenant, God commanded His people to build Him a house (first the tabernacle, then the temple) that not only represented the place of His special presence and salvation, but also the gateway to heaven.

As it relates to the tabernacle/temple as:

5.2.1. God’s houses (Exo 23:19, 31:1-5; Deu 23:18; 1Ch 28:6; Isa 56:7; Psa 26:8, 84:4, 92:12-13).

5.2.2. The place of God’s special presence and salvation (discussed – e.g. The ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies/Most Holy Place = The place where God meets and grants salvation – again Exo 25:21-22 w/Lev 16:15-16, 30-34).

5.2.3. The gateway/entrance to heaven (Rev 21:16-17) = The new heavens and earth are depicted in terms of the tabernacle/temple’s most holy place (the Holy of Holies)[4].

5.3. Under the New Covenant, the church is identified as the house of God that likewise represents not only the place where His special presence and salvation resides but also the gateway (or entrance) to heaven.

As it relates to the church as:

5.3.1. God’s house, the place of His special presence and salvific promises (1Ti 3:14-15 “pillar” – See again Gen 28:18 w/31:13 w/31:45) = Place where we make covenant and receiving the promises. Notice God identifies Himself w/the place of the sacred (or “anointed”) pillar. He is the “God of Bethel” – i.e. this is now the place of His special presence.

 

5.3.1.1. Additional support for the church as the place of God – or Christ’s special presence (Mat 18:20) = Jesus is “there…among (us) in when we are “gathered in (His name)” – i.e. gathered as “the church” (v17 – the context); (Eph 1:22-23 “Who fills all in all”) = Christ fills the church w/His presence); (Eph 2:19-22 “household of God…a dwelling place for God by the Spirit”) = The church is where God’s Spirit resides.

 

5.3.1.2. Additional support for the church as the place for receiving God’s salvific promises (Eph 5:22, 25-32 w/Rev 19:6-8) = It is the “church” for whom Christ is “Savior”. She is His “Bride” – or He marries at the end of the age – not the individual Christian (we are to be her beautiful – “without spot or wrinkle”, “fine linen” wedding dress – Eph 5:27 w/Rev 19:8). Which means if we are not “members” of her, then we are not going to be wed (or saved) by Christ; Act 20:28 = Christ “obtained” the “church of God” by “His own blood” – not the individual. Which means to possess it for salvation, we must go thru/be a part of her; (Mat 18:18 w/Joh 20:21-23) = Forgiveness – or loosing unto salvation has been given to the church (or her officers), most clearly seen in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Table – both propitiatory acts (1Pe 3:21 and Joh 13:1-10).[5]

5.3.2. The gateway/entrance to heaven (Mat 16:19 “keys to the kingdom of heaven”) = The keys to the gates of heaven exist within the church (the contest of this verse – see v17); (Heb 10:19-27) = The “holy places” (i.e. the Holy place and Most Holy Place – or the gateway to heaven) now resides in the new “house of God” (the church) where Jesus is the “great (or High) priest” (v21, Heb 4:14) and we must not neglect to “meet together” (συναγωγή – same word to describe the congregation of Israel in LXX – e.g. Lev 8:4). “For if” we neglect this “house of God” (i.e. go on sinning deliberately”), there “no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (vv25-26); (Heb 12:18-24) = Notice that by coming to the “assembly” (or “church” – v23 see Fn), we are also connected to “the heavenly Jerusalem” – or God’s heavenly abode (v22). IOW: the church is our gateway to heaven. This truth is picked up also by the fact that when we are a part of the “church” we are identified as “the firstborn [i.e. sons/daughters of the inheritance] enrolled in heaven” (v23; Phi 3:30; See also Eph 2:6).

CONCLUSION: Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still possesses a house on earth (His church), that not only represents the place where His special presence and salvation reside, but also the gateway (or entrance to heaven). As such, a person must be a part of (or enter through) this house (i.e. the church), if they are to be saved and get to heaven.

[1] The importance of consistency goes beyond being confident that what we believe and practice is indeed the truth. It is the basis of all understanding and certainty in the universe. Nothing can be known, anticipated, or planned without the principle of consistency (e.g. mathematics). Thankfully, our God is a God of redundancy – or consistency. He has built consistency into the system (e.g. Gen 8:22). To say therefore that you believe something to be true without the ability to demonstrate consistency is not only the highest form of arrogance but reckless delusion. Even Jesus and the apostle Paul demonstrated consistency (to the OT scriptures) as the proof of their legitimacy as ministers of God’s Word (e.g. Joh 5:39; Luk 24:27; Rom 3:28-31).

[2] In Talmudic literature, the garden of Eden is depicted as the entrance or gateway to God’s heavenly abode (e.g. “Gan [the garden of] Eden and heaven were created by one Word [of God], and the chambers of the Gan [garden of] Eden are constructed as those of heaven…” – Aggadat Shir ha-Shirim)

[3] For additional discussion on Eden as the first house of God see The Temple And the Church’s Mission by G.K. Beale or A New Heaven And A New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology by J. Richard Middleton

[4] Scholars view the Holy of Holies as the place where heaven meets earth and the Day of Atonement, the time when that portal and its subsequent blessings are opened to God’s people. For further study see Who Shall Ascend the Mountain Of the Lord? by J. Michael Morales.

[5] “There is no salvation outside the church…He who does not have the church as his Mother, cannot have God as his Father.” These oft-repeated slogans by some of church history’s earliest leaders (e.g. Cyprian) not only lends additional support to the church’s necessity to salvation but also how far modern Christianity has drifted from the truth.

Consistent Christianity – Part 4

How can we be certain that what we believe as Christians is correct? How can we know that we have interpreted the Scriptures in a way that will lead to salvation? What assurance do we have that we possess the truth? The answer according to the author of Hebrews is consistency. That the ministry of Jesus we subscribe to (or practice) today, is consistent (or the “same”) with what Jesus established in the past (or “yesterday”) – i.e. in the Old Testament (Jud 1:5) (v8). This most especially as it relates to salvation. We should expect continuity (or again consistency) between the system of salvation in the past and the system of salvation in the present (2Ti 3:15 = Paul can’t say this unless consistency existed between the system of salvation in the past and the present). Equally important in our quest for certainty is the rejection of those teachings that pose as Christian but are “diverse” (i.e. different and inconsistent) or “strange” (i.e. unknown to what has already been established) (v9a). This then is the litmus test for discerning truth: is what I believe to be the Christian Faith consistent with the entirety of what God has established in His Word? Or is it different and strange to what has gone before it? Is what I believe a new religion or simply the upgrade to what has already existed (i.e. Judaism 2.0)? [1]

The goal of this study is, therefore, three-fold: 1) apologetic: to defend – as well as give the members of Christ Covenant Church absolute assurance, that what we believe is consistent with the entirety of God’s Word – or what was established by Jesus in the past. In this church, Jesus is the same “today” as He was “yesterday” and will be “forever”; 2) evangelistic: to provide you with the most powerful tool for not only defending what you believe but also convincing others of this fact as well (i.e. the fact that we are consistent!). The reason the Jews called the Christians a “sect” or cult was bc they believed them to be inconsistent w/the OT (Act 21:20-24 w/24:14; Evangelicalism’s gospel [of faith alone] is horribly inconsistent w/the rest of Scripture), 3) discipleship: to (re)introduce you to what we believe and practice – but with the (new) appreciation of knowing that what we do is consistent.

CONSISTENT CHRISTIANITY

Atonement, Circumcision, and Anointed Priests for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still requires atonement, circumcision, a High Priest – and anointed priests (shepherd-teachers – Eph 1:11), for salvation.

Marriage, Faith, Faithful Obedience to the Law and Judgment According to Works for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still requires that we pass a final judgment that will determine whether (or not) we as His people possessed not only faith during our time in covenant, but also faithful obedience to His covenant laws (1Co 3:10-17).

Apostasy and Separation for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, believers can still go apostate and God still requires that we separate from such people as well as those who claim to follow Him but are idolators.

Judges, Courts of Justice and Jurisprudence for Salvation.

4.1. Under the Old Covenant, God established judges, courts of justice, and jurisprudence for dealing with complaints and crimes in the covenant community.

In relation to:

4.1.1. Judges = God gave the Levites and the anointed priests the authority to investigate complaints or crimes and – in accordance w/His Law and the will of the High Priest, to determine justice for the covenant community (Deu 16:18-20 w/17:2-5, 8-12, 19:18, 21:5; 2Ch 19:8-11; Act 23:5).

4.1.2. Courts of justice = The congregation assisted the judges in determining justice. Though these members possessed no authority, the decision of the judges (those with authority) required their affirmation/agreement for justice to be served. Together they formed the court of justice (or judicial council) for the covenant community (Deu 17:6-7, 13, 19:20; Lev 24:16; Num 35:12/Jos 20:6 = The congregation was a part of the judicial council – or court, affirming and carrying out its judgments).

4.1.3. Jurisprudence (philosophy of law or how justice works): 1) evidence = No one was to be charged with wrongdoing w/o sufficient evidence that God’s law had been broken (Deu 17:6; Num 35:30;

Deu 19:15-21 = The penalty is severe for those who accuse w/o sufficient evidence)[2], 2) trial = When there was difficulty/dispute in relation to a complaint or crime, both parties were to appear before the court (consisting of the judges and congregation) to determine the final judgment (Deu 17:9-13 = Notice, the court’s “decision” was final – i.e. any deviation would mean apostasy; Deu 25:1)[3], 3) equity = There was to be no partiality. It was “one law for all” “the punishment shall fit the crime” (Deu 16:19; Num 15:15-16; Deu 19:21).

4.2. Under the New Covenant, God also established judges, courts of justice and jurisprudence for dealing with complaints and crimes in the covenant community.

In relation to:

4.2.1. Judges = God has given the NC Levites (or ruling elders/shepherds) and priests (ordained elders/shepherd-teachers) the authority to investigate complaints or crimes and -in accordance w/His Law and the will of the High Priest (Jesus), to determine justice for the covenant community (Mat 16:16-19 and Joh 20:21-23 w/Mat 18:18-20 = Notice, Jesus [the High Priest] – as well as God the Father, are backing the NC Levites and priests in their binding and loosing (or judgments) [vv19-20 “if two of you agree…it will be done by My Father…for where two or three are gathered…there I am”]; 1Co 5:1-3; Heb 13:17; e.g. Act 15:1-6, 7-21 = Notice it is the judges [v6 – “the apostles and elders” = NC priests and Levites] who are speaking and determining what is just/right as it regards God’s law for that particular situation; The restoration of such judges was prophesied to be a part of the NC church – Isa 1:26-27 w/Isa 66:21).

4.2.2. Courts of justice = The congregation is to assist the judges in determining justice. Though these members possess no authority, the decision of the judges (those with authority) require their affirmation for justice to be served[4]. Together they form the court of justice (or judicial council) for the covenant community (1Co 5:4-5, 6:1-4; 1Ti 5:20; Mat 18:20 = Jesus and Father’s support is given to the elders’ ruling [their binding and loosing – v18] when they are gathered w/the congregation [“gathered in My Name” – See Eph 3:10-11 w/15]; e.g. Gal 2:1-2; Act 15:12 [congregation/“assembly” in attendance]; Act 15:22 [congregation affirming the judgment])[5].

4.2.3. Jurisprudence (philosophy of law or how justice ): 1) evidence = No one shall be charged with wrongdoing w/o sufficient evidence (“beyond a reasonable doubt”) that God’s law has been broken (Mat 18:15-16; Joh 5:31 w/39; 1Co 5:1 “reported” = Confirmed by testimony; 2Co 13:1; 1Ti 5:19; Heb 10:28), 2) trial = When there is difficulty/dispute in relation to a complaint or crime, both parties are to appear before the court (consisting of the judges and congregation) to determine the final judgment (Mat 18:15-17 = Notice once more, the judgment is final. If the guilty “refuses to listen”, then they are apostate [“let them be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”]; Joh 7:51 w/40-43; Act 15:1-3; Act 22:30-23:1), 3) equity = No partiality – or one law for all and the punishment shall fit the crime (1Ti 5:21; 2Co 13:1-2 “I will not spare them” = The punishment will fit their crimes)[6].

CONCLUSION = The church and her elders are the new court of justice and judges whom the congregation assists to protect the innocent and punish the guilty (Deu 25:1).

[1] The importance of consistency goes beyond being confident that what we believe and practice is indeed the truth. It is the basis of all understanding and certainty in the universe. Nothing can be known, anticipated, or planned without the principle of consistency (e.g. mathematics). Thankfully, our God is a God of redundancy – or consistency. He has built consistency into the system (e.g. Gen 8:22). To say therefore that you believe something to be true without the ability to demonstrate consistency is not only the highest form of arrogance but reckless delusion. Even Jesus and the apostle Paul demonstrated consistency (to the OT scriptures) as the proof of their legitimacy as ministers of God’s Word (e.g. Joh 5:39; Luk 24:27; Rom 3:28-31).

[2] “two or three witnesses” – or sufficient evidence, is the equivalent to what our American justice system requires in criminal cases which is evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” (i.e. no other logical explanation) versus that used in civil suits, a “preponderance of evidence” (i.e. we are fairly certain).

[3] The one exception to this rule would be in the case of new evidence – or evidence that could change the verdict. In such situations, an appeal would need to be made for another trial. Only after the prior judgment had been overturned, could the guilty party cease to follow it.

[4] The early church knew the importance of not only the judgment of NC Levites and priests in judicial matters but also the congregation’s affirmation. For example, consider the words of early Church Father, Cyprian (210-258 A.D.): “From the commencement of my bishopric [See 1Ti 3:2 “bishop” = anointed/ordained priests], I determined to do nothing without the advice of the clergy [or Levites], nothing without the consent of the people [or congregation].”

[5] Even the Reformers recognized the authority and importance of the church’s courts. Consider: “The church cannot dispense with the spiritual jurisdiction which existed from the beginning. This has been confirmed by consent of all times. First, that this spiritual power be altogether distinct from the power of the sword; secondly, that it be not administered at the will of the individual, but by a lawful consistory (1Co 5:4). Both were observed in the purer times of the church.” – John Calvin

[6] Though a little far afield from the current discussion, consider the following as historical support for the church’s work in excommunication -or its consistency to the OC in putting to death (spiritual death) those who commit capital crimes: “The severest punishment of the church, and, as it were, her last thunderbolt, is excommunication. Those who profess to be the household of faith ought to be judged according to the doctrine which is taught. Now this cannot be done without connecting with the office of the ministry a right…of keeping back from the communion of the Lord’s Supper (1Co 5:12). Paul makes the members of the church subject to censures for the correction of their vices and intimates the existence of tribunals from which no believer is exempted. This power, as we have already stated, did not belong to an individual who could exercise it as he pleased, but belonged to the consistory of elders, which was in the church what a council is in a city. If no society, or no house with even a moderate family can be kept in a right state without discipline, much more necessary is it in the church, whose state ought to be the best ordered as possible. Hence as the saving doctrine of Christ is the life of the church, so discipline is, as it were, its sinews; for to it is owing that the members of the body adhere together, each in its own place. Wherefore, all who either wish that discipline were abolished, or who impede the restoration of it, whether they do this by design or through thoughtlessness, certainly aim at the complete devastation of the church. Paul…punishes the incestuous Corinthian with excommunication as soon as he was informed of his crime (1Co 5:4). Therefore, when the church banishes from its fellowship open adulterers, fornicators, the perjured, false witnesses, etc., it exercises a jurisdiction which it has received from the Lord. Moreover, lest anyone should despise the judgment of the church, or count it a small matter, the Lord has declared that it is nothing else than a promulgation of his own sentence, and that that which they do on earth is ratified in heaven. For they act by the word of the Lord in condemning the perverse (Joh 20:23). Those, I say, who trust that churches can long stand without the bond of discipline are mistaken, unless, indeed, we can with impunity dispense with a help which the Lord foresaw would be necessary. Those whose turpitude might throw infamy on the name must be expelled from the family. And here, also, regard must be had to the Lord’s Supper, which might be profaned by (their) admission. This was the method observed by the ancient church when legitimate government was in vigor…to abstain from participation in the sacred Supper, and thereafter to humble himself before God, and testify his penitence before the church. There were, moreover, solemn rites, which, as indications of repentance, were wont to be prescribed to those who had lapsed. When the penitent had thus mad satisfaction to the church, he was received into favor by the laying on of hands. The legitimate course to be taken in excommunication, as shown by Paul is not for the elders alone to act apart from others, but with the knowledge and approbation of the church, so that the body of people, without regulating the procedure, may, as witnesses and guardians, observe it, and prevent the few from doing anything capriciously. Our Savior confines the power of binding, the censure of the church, which does not consign those who are excommunicated to perpetual ruin and damnation, but assures them that perpetual damnation will follow if they do not repent. Excommunication [therefore] differs from anathema [apostasy] in this, that the latter completely excluding pardon, dooms and devotes the individual to eternal destruction, whereas the former rather forewarns of his future doom.” – John Calvin

Consistent Christianity – Part 3

How can we be certain that what we believe as Christians is correct? How can we know that we have interpreted the Scriptures in a way that will lead to salvation? What assurance do we have that we possess the truth? The answer according to the author of Hebrews is consistency. That the ministry of Jesus we subscribe to (or practice) today, is consistent (or the “same”) with what Jesus established in the past (or “yesterday”) – i.e. in the Old Testament (Jud 1:5) (v8). This most especially as it relates to salvation. We should expect continuity (or again consistency) between the system of salvation in the past and the system of salvation in the present (2Ti 3:15 = Paul can’t say this unless consistency existed between the system of salvation in the past and the present). Equally important in our quest for certainty is the rejection of those teachings that pose as Christian but are “diverse” (i.e. different and inconsistent) or “strange” (i.e. unknown to what has already been established) (v9a). This then is the litmus test for discerning truth: is what I believe to be the Christian Faith consistent with the entirety of what God has established in His Word? Or is it different and strange to what has gone before it? Is what I believe a new religion or simply the upgrade to what has already existed (i.e. Judaism 2.0)? [1]

The goal of this study is, therefore, three-fold: 1) apologetic: to defend – as well as give the members of Christ Covenant Church absolute assurance, that what we believe is consistent with the entirety of God’s Word – or what was established by Jesus in the past. In this church, Jesus is the same “today” as He was “yesterday” and will be “forever”; 2) evangelistic: to provide you with the most powerful tool for not only defending what you believe but also convincing others of this fact as well (i.e. the fact that we are consistent!). The reason the Jews called the Christians a “sect” or cult was bc they believed them to be inconsistent w/the OT (Act 21:20-24 w/24:14; Evangelicalism’s gospel [of faith alone] is horribly inconsistent w/the rest of Scripture), 3) discipleship: to (re)introduce you to what we believe and practice – but with the (new) appreciation of knowing that what we do is consistent.

Atonement, Circumcision, and Anointed Priests for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still requires atonement, circumcision, a High Priest – and anointed priests (shepherd-teachers – Eph 1:11), for salvation.

Marriage, Faith, Faithful Obedience to the Law and Judgment According to Works for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still requires that we pass a final judgment that will determine whether (or not) we as His people possessed not only faith during our time in covenant, but also faithful obedience to His covenant laws (2Co 11:15).

Apostasy and Separation for Salvation. [2]

3.1. Under the Old Covenant, apostasy happened whenever individuals deserted Christ for other gods (or gospels) or refused to obey or acknowledge the authority of Christ or His (anointed) priests and Levites.[3]

As it relates to:

3.1.1. deserting Christ for other gods (or gospels) or refusing to obey/acknowledge the authority of Christ (Deu 29:18-20) = All three are present in these verses: 1) deserting Christ for other gods (v18), 2) deserting Christ for other gospels (v19 = By this person’s belief that he “shall be safe” [i.e. saved] though continuing to “walk in the stubbornness of [his] heart”, he is [by such actions] embracing a different gospel – i.e. the gospel of antinomianism/evangelicalism), 3) refusing to obey/acknowledge the authority of Christ (also v19 = He “hears” the words of the “covenant” and knows the obligation he possesses to obey Christ’s authority yet ignores it and instead “blesses himself in his heart”).

3.1.2. refusing to obey/acknowledge the authority of Christ’s anointed priests and Levites (Num 15:28-31 “but the person who does anything [against the priest – v28] with a high hand…reviles the Lord [Literally, blasphemes the HS – i.e. refuses to acknowledge God’s authority thru that person]…that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him”) = The person guilty of this crime will be apostate; (Deu 17:9-13) = Anyone who refuses to obey the “decision” or “instructions” of God’s “Levitical priests” (the Levites – See Jos 3:3) and “the judge who is in office” (the anointed priest) acts “presumptuously” (Same word translated as “sins w/a high hand” in Num 15:30 referring to blasphemy of the HS). They are therefore apostate. Hence the reason “all the people shall hear and fear and not act” this way (bc such disregard for Christ’s officers will again, mean apostasy).

3.2. Under the New Covenant, apostasy happens whenever individuals leave Christ for other gods (or gospels) or refuse to obey or acknowledge the authority of Christ or His (anointed) priests and Levites.

As it relates to:

3.2.1. deserting Christ for other gods (or gospels) (Heb 6:1-6) = Based on the description of the individuals in these verses, they are baptized believers who have also received the washing of regeneration by the Holy Spirit (v2 “washings” [baptism] w/v4 “shared in the HS” [regeneration] w/Tit 3:5 “washing of regeneration by the HS” [baptismal regeneration]). Yet because they have “fallen away”, they cannot come back (Christ will not be re-crucified nor dishonored [held “up to contempt”]). Though the reason is not given specifically, desertion for other gods or gospels would qualify (Gal 1:6-9 “accursed/anathema” [damned forever]); See also (Heb 12:15) = This verse is a direct allusion to (Deu 29:18-20) where such actions are the result of seeking other gods or gospels. Notice also, no amount of “tears” (of repentance or remorse) will change things once this line has been crossed (vv16-17).

3.2.2. refusing to obey or acknowledge the authority of Christ (Heb 10:26-31 “sinning deliberately”) = Refusing to obey or comply w/all of Christ’s laws – including those of the OT (Mat 5:17-19 w/Act 21:21 – “forsake Moses” [ἀποστασίαν= apostasy… from the Law]); In regard to refusing to acknowledge Christ’s authority, see (Mat 12:22-32) = Speaking against the person of Jesus was forgivable. However, rejecting the authority by which He spoke (i.e. the Holy Spirit) was not. Attributing Jesus’ ability to cast out demons to the devil (versus God) made the Pharisees guilty of this crime and therefore unable to be forgiven (or apostate). Such blasphemy was the “eternal sin” (Mar 3:22-30). Examples of this form of apostasy would include: refusing Christ’s authority (jurisdiction/control) over a certain area in your life – i.e. how you parent (discipline and disciple) your kids, gender or sexual issues, how you handle your money, what you choose to do w/your life or as your career, what you choose to think about, believe – or entertain w/your mind, etc. Any Christian who says, “Christ doesn’t have authority over that aspect of my life”, they are committing blasphemy of the HS.

3.2.2. refusing to obey or acknowledge the authority of Christ’s anointed priests and Levites[4] (Mat 16:16-19 “‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God [the Davidic king w/divine authority]’… on this [rock of authority] I will build my church [which is why] I will give you [my church] the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”) =Like the previous covenant community/assembly (what the word “church” refers to [ἐκκλησία]), Jesus’ NC community would also possess priests and Levites w/divine authority that could not be refused w/o committing blasphemy of the HS (Mat 12:32 w/Joh 20:21-23 “Receive the Holy Spirit”) = As promised, the mantle of divine authority was passed to the church. Hence, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” – i.e. they remain permanently bound in their sins – or apostate); See also (Mat 18:15-17) = Like Deu 17:9-13, any infraction (signaling unrepentance or a refusal to obey) after the injunction (ruling by the judges) is immediate grounds for declaring that person apostate (“let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” = A reprobate or apostate person; e.g. Eph 4:17-19; Hence the reason we declare apostate those who commit cap crimes under excommunication). Notice, Jesus supports the church’s declaration of apostasy (vv18-20).[5]

 

3.3. Under the Old Covenant, God required His people (under threat of destruction) to separate not only from those who were apostate but also those who claimed to be followers of God who were instead, idolators.[6]

Consider:

3.3.1. (Exo 23:31-33 [vv31-32 “You shall make no covenant w/them…They shall not dwell in your land”]) = You must separate yourself from the idolators (See also 34:12-16).

3.3.2. (Deu 7:1-10 [v2 – “You shall make no covenant w/them and show no mercy to them”] = You must separate from the idolators; [v10 – “repays to their face those who hate Him, by destroying them”]) = God destroys those who will not separate from idolators.

3.3.3. (Deu 13:1-18 [v5 – “you shall purge the evil from your midst” w/v9 – “you shall kill him” w/v17 – “none of the devoted things shall stick to your hand”]) = You must separate yourself from the apostate.

3.3.4. (Jos 6:17-18 w/7:1-26 [v18]) = Separate or else be destroyed.

 

3.4. Under the New Covenant, God requires His people (under threat of destruction) to separate not only from those who are apostate but also those who claim to be Christian who are instead, idolators.

Consider:

3.4.1. (2Jo 1:7-11) = These verses teach guilt by association (v8 – “watch yourselves, so that you do not lose what we have worked for…v11 – for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works”). And we are guilty of such association (according to John) anytime we unnecessarily communicate or associate ourselves (v10 – “do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting”) w/those who do “not abide in the teaching of Christ” (v9 – i.e. claims Christ but disobeys Him as an idolator).[7]

3.4.2. (1Co 5:10-11) = In contrast to those who are repenting of capital crimes and excommunicated (or “removed” – v2), Paul calls for more extreme measures w/those who claim to be Christian (v11 –“bears the name brother”) yet live in defiance through the practice of sin. Our attitude toward these individuals is to be the same as w/the apostate – no association, even to the point of refusing to share a meal with them.

 

CONCLUSION = Believers can still go apostate and God still requires that we separate from such people as well as those who claim to follow Him but are idolators.

 

[1] The importance of consistency goes beyond being confident that what we believe and practice is indeed the truth. It is the basis of all understanding and certainty in the universe. Nothing can be known, anticipated or planned without the principle of consistency (e.g. mathematics). Thankfully, our God is a God of redundancy – or consistency. He has built consistency into the system (e.g. Gen 8:22). To say therefore that you believe something to be true without the ability to demonstrate consistency, is not only the highest form of arrogance, but reckless delusion. Even Jesus and the apostle Paul demonstrated consistency (to the OT scriptures) as the proof of their legitimacy as ministers of God’s Word (e.g. Joh 5:39; Luk 24:27; Rom 3:28-31).

[2] Definitions: 1) Separate = The refusal or removal of relationship w/that person which includes the avoidance of all unnecessary communication, contact, collaboration, cooperation, association, assistance or support of them. 2) Apostasy = The permanent loss of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, justification, covenant relationship and salvation in relation to those who once possessed it, while they are still living, with no hope of regaining those things – regardless of present or future remorse or repentance, having been blotted out of God’s book of life (or covenant) and forever sealed in an unrepentant and damned state. In the words of B.J. Oropeza, “God forsakes those who forsake Him, and those who forsake Him may never return.” (Paul and Apostasy, p.24) In response to those embracing a “once saved always saved” viewpoint or the doctrine of eternal security (i.e. evangelicals) consider also, “[D.A.] Carson asserts that arguing for a hypothetical warning or loss of service or rewards as opposed to a [permanent] loss of salvation…in certain New Testament passages…[is] ‘desperate expedients that responsible exegesis will avoid.’ Such views cannot be sustained without torturing [i.e. being dishonest to] the texts.” (ibid, p.21-25).

[3] Jesus is the One in marriage covenant relationship w/the Israelites under the Old Covenant (Jud 1:5). He is the specific member of the Godhead being most violated by Israel’s unfaithfulness. Their chronic desertion of Christ eventually leads to His divorce (permanent separation) and (therefore) apostasy of the nation (Deu 24:1-4 [Notice, no chance for reconciliation] w/Jer 3:1 w/Rev 5:1-5).

[4] See study number one in the series (Isa 66:21 w/Eph 4:11) = NC Levites are the ruling elders or “shepherds” and the anointed priests are the ordained elder or “shepherd-teachers”.

[5] That the anointed priests and Levites are who Jesus is specifically referring to when he sees “tell it to the church” is confirmed by the fact that they are the only ones given the keys for binding and loosing (See again Mat16:19). Jesus’ mention of the “church” however is no doubt deliberate, emphasizing that what the elders (or priests and Levites) decide is not to be without the congregation’s involvement and affirmation (e.g. Act 15:1-22). As an example of this understanding in th early church, consider 1st century bishop Clement’s letter to Corinthian congregation. Clement warns certain instigators to repent and submit to the ruling of the elders lest they be cast out w/ “no hope of God” (2 Clement 6:7)

[6] Those identified as idolators in Scripture include not only those who follow false religions (or gods), but also those who claim they are followers of the true God (or religion), yet knowingly live in disobedience to His commands (e.g. 1Sa 15:22-23).

[7] As an example of how serious the command to separate is – including to what extremes we may need to go, consider the story of the apostle John. According to Irenaeus, the moment John discovered the false Christian and idolator Cerinthus was in the same bath-house, he rushed out exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”

Consistent Christianity – Part 2

How can we be certain that what we believe as Christians is correct? How can we know that we have interpreted the Scriptures in a way that will lead to salvation? What assurance do we have that we possess the truth? The answer according to the author of Hebrews is consistency. That the ministry of Jesus we subscribe to (or practice) today, is consistent (or the “same”) with what Jesus established in the past (or “yesterday”) – i.e. in the Old Testament (Jud 1:5) (v8). This most especially as it relates to salvation. We should expect continuity (or again consistency) between the system of salvation in the past and the system of salvation in the present (2Ti 3:15 = Paul can’t say this unless consistency existed between the system of salvation in the past and the present). Equally important in our quest for certainty is the rejection of those teachings that pose as Christian but are “diverse” (i.e. different and inconsistent) or “strange” (i.e. unknown to what has already been established) (v9a). This then is the litmus test for discerning truth: is what I believe to be the Christian Faith consistent with the entirety of what God has established in His Word? Or is it different and strange to what has gone before it? Is what I believe a new religion or simply the upgrade to what has already existed (i.e. Judaism 2.0)? [1]

The goal of this study is, therefore, three-fold: 1) apologetic: to defend – as well as give the members of Christ Covenant Church absolute assurance, that what we believe is consistent with the entirety of God’s Word – or what was established by Jesus in the past. In this church, Jesus is the same “today” as He was “yesterday” and will be “forever”; 2) evangelistic: to provide you with the most powerful tool for not only defending what you believe but also convincing others of this fact as well (i.e. the fact that we are consistent!). The reason the Jews called the Christians a “sect” or cult was bc they believed them to be inconsistent w/the OT (Act 21:20-24 w/24:14; Evangelicalism’s gospel [of faith alone] is horribly inconsistent w/the rest of Scripture), 3) discipleship: to (re)introduce you to what we believe and practice – but with the (new) appreciation of knowing that what we do is consistent.

Atonement, Circumcision, and Anointed Priests for Salvation. [DISCUSSED]

Consistent with the rest of redemptive history, God still requires atonement, circumcision, a High Priest – and anointed priests (shepherd-teachers – Eph 1:11), for salvation (Mal 2:7 w/2Ti 1:13-14).

Marriage, Faith, Faithful Obedience to the Law and Judgment According to Works for Salvation.

2.1. Since the beginning, God has required that we enter into a marriage covenant relationship w/Jesus to be saved.

2.1.1. Salvation by covenant: 1) Adamic (Hos 6:7), 2) Noahic (Gen 6:18), 3) Abrahamic (Gen 17:2), 4) Mosaic or Old (Exo 19:5) and 5) New (Luk 22:20; Heb 8:8-13, 9:15, 10:16).

2.1.2. These covenants were marriage covenants (or betrothal) (In re: to the Old and New: Jer 31:31-32; Isa 54:15; Eze 16:1-32; Hos 2:16-20; 2Co 11:1-2; Eph 5:22-25; Rev 19:6-7).

2.1.3. Why we can be confident that the former (Adamic, Noahic, and Abrahamic) were also marital: 1) The nature of redemptive history’s two most prominent covenants (the Old and New). If this is true of the greater, we should assume it was true of the lesser (i.e. the greater is an indicator of what is true in the lesser – Luk 16:10; Mat 25:21), 2) The nature of God Himself as redundant. If this is the way He did it with the Old and New, why would expect it to be any different with the prior covenants? 3) Marriage is one of the bible’s most dominant motifs. The bible begins with a marriage (Gen 2:18-25) as well as ends with a marriage (Rev 19:6-7, 21:9, 22:7). Indeed, the vast majority of communication between God and His people, is marital – or conducive to marriage, as its context. This includes the language of the prior covenants (e.g. Gen 3:21 – Besides indicating atonement, covering Adam and Eve’s nakedness may also be an allusion to the ancient tradition indicating betrothal or marriage – see Ruth 3:8-9; Eze 16:8).

2.1.4. Why is knowing that salvation operates according to marriage so important: Because it means what 619 million people claiming to be Christians (evangelicals) believe about how a person gets saved is wrong! Evangelicals believe salvation is works-based (i.e. you earn your way to heaven by what you do). This, however, is not how a marriage functions. Marriage is never merit.

2.1.5. What is the (huge) difference between the way a marriage operates and merit theology (works-based salvation)?

2.1.5.1. Marriage = you gain the marriage relationship and all its promises/benefits by faith (e.g. abundant life, salvation), and continue to possess those promises/blessings as long as you maintain that relationship through faithful obedience to the laws of that covenant.

2.1.5.2. Merit = You earn enough credit to purchase salvation (or heaven) by your actions and/or the actions of another (in the case of Evangelicalism, the actions of Christ alone [which we access by faith alone]; in the case of Roman Catholicism, your actions plus Christ and the treasury of merit).[2]

2.2. Since the beginning, God has required faith (belief or trust) as well as faithful obedience to all His covenant laws to be saved.

2.2.1. Because of their merit theology and faith alone gospel (i.e. we are saved only by faith – or faith in Christ is the only basis of our salvation before God), Evangelicals are unable to reconcile the relationship of faith and faithful obedience (i.e. they believe them to be diametrically opposed).[3] The obligation to obedience established by Scripture is instead believed to be fulfilled by Christ. In other words, Christ obeyed for us.[4]

2.2.2. Understood biblically, however (i.e. within the construct of marriage), faith and faithfulness have been the functional pillars of salvation throughout redemptive history:

2.2.2.1. Adam (Gen 2:16-17) = IOW: Trust that what God has provided is enough – no need to take what was prohibited. If you don’t trust and disobey, then you will forfeit your current state/relationship with God. Hence (3:16-24)

2.2.2.2. Noah (Gen 6:8-9 w/2Pe 2:5; Heb 11:7)

2.2.2.3. Abraham (Gen 15:6, 18:9 w/Heb 11:8-10, 17-19)

2.2.2.4. Moses (Old Covenant) (Deu 7:9 [“know” = believe/trust; “keep” = faithfulness] w/ Heb 3:16-4:7)

2.2.2.5. Jesus (New Covenant) (Mat 7:21-27 [“I never knew you” = A reference to marital/sexual intimacy that consummates or confirms a prior betrothal – e.g. Gen 4:1]; Jam 2:20-26).

2.2.3. That such faith (or trust) and faithful obedience were to be in relation to all those covenant laws established by God up to – and at that time, is also the consistent theme present in the pages of Scriptures:

2.2.3.1. Adam, Noah and Abraham = The period before Sinai (the place where God gave the written law to Moses) bears witness to people’s culpability to [and therefore knowledge of] all ten commandments of the decalogue including several of its variegated forms: 1) Right doctrine/theology (Exo 20:1-3 w/Gen 2:17 w/3:1-5), 2. Right worship (Exo 20:4-6 w/Gen 4:1-7, 8:20, 14:20), 3) Proper representation (Exo 20:7 w/Gen 11:1-9), 4) Consecration (Exo 8-10 w/Gen 2:2), 5) Sacred offices (Exo 20:12 w/Gen 14:17-20) , 6) Sanctity of life (Exo 20:13 w/Gen 4:8-12), 7) Sexual purity (Exo 20:14 w/Gen 19:1-13), 8) Personal property (Exo 20:15 w/Exo 31:30-32), 9)Truth in reporting (Exo 20:16 w/Gen 20:1-9), 10) Proper disposition toward others (Exo 20:17 w/Gen 37:1-11 w/42:21-22)

2.2.3.2. Moses (Old Covenant) (Deu 12:32)

2.2.3.3. Jesus (New Covenant) (Mat 5:17-19 w/1Co 7:19 = OC laws w/new covenant application –e.g. circumcision = baptism; This is sometimes referred to as the “law of Christ” – 1Co 9:21; Consider also Rom 3:31 w/Rom 13:8-10 w/Mat 22:37-40 and Mal 4:4-5).

2.3. Since the beginning, salvation has required that we pass a final judgment based on our works (or deeds).

2.3.1. The Old Testament is replete with references that make clear that a person’s eternal salvation (or damnation) would ultimately be determined by a future and final judgment where their thoughts, intentions, decisions, words, and actions will be impartially (or objectively) assessed and equitably rewarded or punished (Psa 62:12, 75:1-10, 96:10-13; Pro 24:12; Ecc 3:17, 11:9; Isa 66:15-16)

2.3.2. Consistent with the prior witness, the New Testament also contains many references to a coming final judgment that people -including Christians, must pass in order to be saved.[5] And like the former references, these too make clear that our behavior will matter – i.e. our salvation will not be based on our faith alone (Mal 4:1-4; Mat 7:21-28, 12:33-37, 16:27, 25:14-46; Joh 5:28-29; Rom 2:6-8, 14:10-12; 1Co 3:10-17; 2Co 5:9-10; Gal 6:7-10; 1Pe 1:13-17; Heb 4:6-13; Rev 20:11-15).

2.3.3. Salvation has (therefore) always been:

2.3.3.1. Synergistic, never monergistic[6]

2.3.3.2. A marriage not consummated until we pass the final judgment according to our deeds (Rev 19:8).

 

[1] The importance of consistency goes beyond being confident that what we believe and practice is indeed the truth. It is the basis of all understanding and certainty in the universe. Nothing can be known, anticipated or planned without the principle of consistency (e.g. mathematics). Thankfully, our God is a God of redundancy – or consistency. He has built consistency into the system (e.g. Gen 8:22). To say therefore that you believe something to be true without the ability to demonstrate consistency, is not only the highest form of arrogance, but reckless delusion. Even Jesus and the apostle Paul demonstrated consistency (to the OT scriptures) as the proof of their legitimacy as ministers of God’s Word (e.g. Joh 5:39; Luk 24:27; Rom 3:28-31).

[2] “Man’s relationship to God in creation was based on works. What Adam failed to achieve, Christ, the second Adam, succeeded in achieving. Ultimately the only way one can be justified is by works. We indeed are justified by works, but the works that justify us are the works of Christ” – R.C. Sproul (Getting The Gospel Right, p.160); The origin of merit theology is not Scripture but Roman Catholicism – and for Protestants, Martin Luther (a former Roman Catholic monk).

[3] Faith as the only basis (or grounds) of salvation is considered “the heart of Christian doctrine” and the doctrine on which “the church stands or falls” (Martin Luther). As such, there is be no place for faithful obedience in evangelical theology when discussing what accomplishes our salvation.

[4] Christ obeying for us is picked up not only in the spurious evangelical doctrine of “The Active Obedience of Christ”, but also the belief that when we practice obedience, it is actually Christ (or the Spirit) doing it for us. Consider: “The Spirit, not self- effort, produces obedience. [It is] the Spirit’s work in a person [that] produces obedience to the law. – Tom Schreiner; “Paul understands the gospel to work true obedience to the Law in those who believe. The Spirit and the Spirit alone, effects real obedience…Christ-the new person-is present within faith, performing his works”” – M.A. Seifrid; “Christ does the good works of the Christians.” – A. Stuhlmacher; “The Christian’s loving obedience to God is nothing other than the extension to him of the loving righteousness of Christ himself.” – D.B. Garlington

[5]“Approximately three-fourths of Paul’s judgment sayings refer to the judgment of Christians.” – R. Snodgrass

[6] It is here that we see a major point of digression or discontinuity in the beliefs of Evangelicals from how people were saved in the Old Testament versus how they are saved under the New Covenant. According to them, the latter was synergistic (we must work w/God), whereas the former is (now) monergistic (Christ works for us): “Paul abandoned the synergism of Jewish soteriology for the monergism of total dependence upon the grace of God in Christ.” – D.A. Hagner; “[Paul] no longer viewed God as cooperating with human effort within the framework of the covenant with Israel. Now for Paul, God’s act in Christ effected salvation in itself.” – M.A. Seifrid; In contrast: “Those who want to play down Paul’s emphasis on judgment according to works do so by claiming that Paul opposed the Jewish scheme of salvation because it was ‘synergistic,’ that is, solely and wholly dependent on God’s doing. Paul [however] did lay responsibility on his converts, in language that reads far more synergistically than monergistically” – James D.G. Dunn

Consistent Christianity – Part 1

How can we be certain that what we believe as Christians is correct? How can we know that we have interpreted the Scriptures in a way that will lead to salvation? What assurance do we have that we possess the truth? The answer according to the author of Hebrews is consistency. That the ministry of Jesus we subscribe to (or practice) today, is consistent (or the “same”) with what Jesus established in the past (or “yesterday”) – i.e. in the Old Testament (Jud 1:5) (v8). This most especially as it relates to salvation. We should expect continuity (or again consistency) between the system of salvation in the past and the system of salvation in the present (2Ti 3:15 = Paul can’t say this unless consistency existed between the system of salvation in the past and the present). Equally important in our quest for certainty is the rejection of those teachings that pose as Christian but are “diverse” (i.e. different and inconsistent) or “strange” (i.e. unknown to what has already been established) (v9a). This then is the litmus test for discerning truth: is what I believe to be the Christian Faith consistent with the entirety of what God has established in His Word? Or is it different and strange to what has gone before it? Is what I believe a new religion or simply the upgrade to what has already existed (i.e. Judaism 2.0)? [1]

The goal of this study is, therefore, three-fold: 1) apologetic: to defend – as well as give the members of Christ Covenant Church absolute assurance, that what we believe is consistent with the entirety of God’s Word – or what was established by Jesus in the past. In this church, Jesus is the same “today” as He was “yesterday” and will be “forever”, 2) evangelistic: to provide you with the most powerful tool for not only defending what you believe but also convincing others of this fact as well (i.e. the fact that we are consistent!), 3) discipleship: to (re)introduce you to what we believe and practice – but with the (new) appreciation of knowing that what we do is consistent.

CONSISTENT CHRISTIANITY

Atonement, Circumcision, and Anointed Priests for Salvation.

1.1. Since the beginning, God has required an atoning sacrifice to be saved.

Adam (Gen 3:21) “clothed” = Metaphor for atonement (e.g. Isa 61:10); Noah (Gen 8:20); Job (Job 1:5) = Job most likely lived after the flood but before Abe since there is mention of the former but not the latter (e.g. Job 22:16); Abraham (Gen 22:1-3 w/12-13); Moses (Old Covenant) (e.g. Lev 1:1-4); Jesus (New Covenant) (1Jo 4:10) “propitiation” = Atoning sacrifice (See also Gal 1:4 and Rom 5:9).

 

1.2. Under the Old Covenant, God established an anointed high priest, anointed priests and Levites.

Though not always explicit, there were two types of priests (or priestly offices): high priest and chief priests (Mat 26:3-4; Heb 5:1-4 = Aaron was the first high priest; Est’g of anointed priests and Levites – Exo 28:1, 29:44-45; Num 3:1-10 w/32, 18:1-7). Hence the distinction in garments – Exo 31:10; See also Num 35:25 -1st place here distinction of high priest is used). Only the priests were anointed (Exo 28:40-41 “anoint” = “ordain” = Lit. fill their hand w/ divine authority as Christ’s representatives on earth). Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur (Heb 9:6-7).

 

1.3. Under the New Covenant God has also established an anointed high priest, anointed priests and Levites.

Jesus is our anointed High Priest (Heb 2:16-17, 3:1, 4:14, 5:1-6, 7:1-9:14 w/Gen 14:17-20; Yom Kippur = Heb 9:11-12). God also promised that the new covenant community would possess anointed (chief) priests and Levites (Isa 66:21 w/Eph 4:11 w/Jer 2:8 [“The priests…did not know me” = “The shepherds transgressed against me”] w/3:15 [“I will give you shepherds” = anointed priests and Levites] w/Eph 4:8) = Christ gave the NC community the promised offices of Shepherd-teachers and shepherds – or anointed priests and Levites. See also (Jer 23:1-6) = Jesus is the “Righteous Branch” of David (or “king”) Who is therefore separate from those identified as “shepherds…who will care for (the flock)”- i.e. the NC anointed priests and Levites. What it takes to be anointed/ordained under the NC = It requires training and testing (1Ti 4:14 w/4:6 and 6:12; Hence why Paul did not immediately ordain/anoint men when planting churches – e.g. Tit 1:5 “appoint”= Anoint/ordain – fill their hand w/divine authority as Christ’s reps on earth – Tit 2:15).

Historical support for anointed priests under the NC: This was the unchallenged practice for the first 1500 years of the church’s history. The earliest of the church fathers were all anointed priests (e.g. Polycarp [69-115 A.D.; disciple of the apostle John; bishop/priest of Smyrna]; Ignatius [35-110 A.D.; disciple of the apostle John; bishop/priest of Antioch], Papias [birth and death date unknown; companion to Polycarp and hearer of the apostle John; bishop/priest of Hierapolis]).

1.4. Under the Old Covenant, God required circumcision (of all males) by the anointed priests in order to be saved.

(Lev 12:1-3 w/Gen 17:9-14) = Being circumcised meant that person (as a representative of his household) had removed the curse of God’s wrath against his household that would otherwise be there. Hence the reason Moses and his family almost died for having an uncircumcised son (Exo 4:24-26).

 

1.5. Under the New Covenant, the sacrament of baptism represents circumcision and is also applied by the anointed priests for salvation.

(Col 2:11-15) = Baptism is where we receive Christ’s cross-work (by faith) as the new circumcision. Without circumcision, we would remain under a curse (Gal 3:1-14) = Christ removes the Abrahamic curse (of Gen 17) by becoming a “curse” on our behalf so that we (too) can become Abraham’s children. Baptism is therefore where we must express faith if we want God to save us (1Pe 3:21) “Baptism…now saves you” = This is the place where God accepts our faith (our “appeal to God for a good conscience”) and justifies/saves as well as regenerates us – i.e. causes us to be born again (Tit 3:5; Hence this is the immediate response to those repentant and seeking salvation – Act 2:41, 8:12, 36-38, 16:15, 33). Like circumcision, it must be administered by an anointed priest (Joh 20:21-23) = Only the anointed leaders have the authority to apply the forgiveness of Christ (i.e. justification/salvation) to a person (See also Mat 16:19). Hence the reason baptism is a sacrament (i.e. a sacred symbol imparting divine promises/power to those who correctly observe it) versus an ordinance (i.e. a symbol of one’s faith or for the purpose of remembrance – how most evangelical churches view it)[2].

 

1.6. Under the Old Covenant, the Passover sacrifice was applied by the anointed priests and eaten by the people as the means to gaining and maintaining their right standing with God (justification).

(Exo 12:1-2) “beginning of months…first month of the year” = Passover represented the beginning (or gaining) of the Israelite’s new life (i.e. a new creation), free from slavery (literally – Egyptian slavery/metaphorically – slavery to sin), and married to God/Christ (Jer 31:31-32). Passover was therefore the foundation for the rest of those atoning sacrifices and redemptive events in Israel’s liturgical calendar[3]. Hence the reason the Jews made the trip to Jerusalem every year to observe the Passover since this was the place chosen by God (i.e the place where God’s house existed and the priests did their work in making sacrifice) (Deu 16:16; e.g. Luk 2:41; Joh 11:55). That the Passover was indeed atoning/redemptive as well as performed by the priests and (then) given to the people to eat is confirmed by (Exo 12:14-18, 24-25, 43-48 w/2Chr 30:1-21).

Historical support for Passover as atoning:

“I see the Paschal blood and propitiate you. . . . I mercifully take pity on you by means of the Paschal blood and the blood of circumcision, and I propitiate your souls” – Rabbi Rashi (Ex. R. 15, 35b, 35a).

“The mark of blood was designed as an atonement for those within the house who partook of the paschal offering, and was also a sign for the destroying angel to pass by the house”- Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra (Soncino Chumash, 388).

 

1.7. Under the New Covenant, Jesus became our Passover sacrifice which is applied by the anointed priests through the sacrament of baptism and eaten by the people in the sacrament of the Lord’s Table as the means to gaining and maintaining their right standing with God (justification).

(Col 2:11-15; Rom 6:1-6 w/1Co 5:7 w/2Co 5:17 w/Luk 22:20 w/Jer 31:32-34 and 2Co 11:1-2) = Baptism represents the new life/creation/marriage gained with Christ as our Passover whereas the Lord’s Table, the maintaining of that new life/creation/marriage (Joh 6:53-58, 13:1-15; Act 20:7). Hence the reason we are to continue doing/proclaiming it until He returns (1Co 11:26).

 

CONCLUSION: Though the application between the two is different, both the Old and New Covenant require not only a High Priest but also an anointed priest for salvation.

(Psa 132:9, 16) Hence the good news of becoming a kingdom of (or possessing) priests (plural – i.e. a high priest and an anointed priest or priests) (Exo 19:6 w/Rev 1:6, 5:10, 20:4-6; Consider also 2Chr 26:16-21)[4].

 

[1] The importance of consistency goes beyond being confident that what we believe and practice is indeed the truth. It is the basis of all understanding and certainty in the universe. Nothing can be known without the principle of consistency (e.g. mathematics). Our Thankfully, our God is a God of redundancy – or consistency. He has built consistency into the system (e.g. Gen 8:22). To say therefore that you believe something to be true without the ability to demonstrate consistency, is not only the highest form of arrogance, but reckless delusion. Even Jesus and the apostle Paul demonstrated consistency (to the OT scriptures) as the proof of their legitimacy as ministers of God’s Word (e.g. Joh 5:39; Luk 24:27; Rom 3:28-31).

[2] As should be obvious, circumcision and the animal sacrifices were also sacraments given the divine promises or power associated w/them.

[3] As such, the repeated observance of Passover – as well as those regular sacrifices made throughout the year, also functioned as a means of covenant maintenance.

[4] Though I have limited the scope of my conclusion to the Old and New Covenants, the need for anointed persons on earth to be saved was true under the Abrahamic covenant also. Melchizedek was the high priest of Abraham (according to Hebrews 7). Hence the reason for paying Him tithe. And Abraham was the anointed prophet (or priest. Hence the reason he had to pray for Abimelech (Gen 20:7 w/17).