Friday, July 28, 2006

The New Creation, Christ's Bride

*This sermon was preached at the GBCB youth camp last month*

II. The New Community

a. Christ’s Bride


Yesterday we discussed regeneration and sanctification. All of this leads into our discussion of the Church because those who are regenerate and being sanctified make up the Church. There is a lot of confusion over what the church is, and how to define the church because the term church has been misused and redefined. In our culture people say they are “going to church on Sunday,” or they “belong to the church,” to most people the church is just a building. This is not the way that the NT defines the church. The NT defines the church as all of those individuals who have been reborn of God, and redeemed into the body of Christ. This is exactly what Ephesians 5:23 teaches us when it says “Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” So the Church proper consists of all those people who have submitted to Christ as their head and Savior. Within this Universal Church there are local communities of believers. We would call this the local church. For example, Grace Bible Church is not the church, but rather a local church body within the universal church.
The NT uses several images to describe the Church that I would like to look at (This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a sampling of how the NT views the Church). First, the NT refers to the Church as the “people of God.” 2 Corinthians 6:16 says “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Again, the NT refers to the church as people not a building. The image of the Church being God’s people emphasizes God’s initiative in choosing a people for himself. The second image that I would like to look at is the Church as the body of Christ. I will only briefly discuss this now because I want to come back to it. We read in detail this image in 2 Corinthians 12:12ff. This image of the church as the body of Christ emphasizes the close connection of the church as group of believers to one another, and to Christ. The final image that I want to discuss is the image of the Church as the “Bride of Christ.” In Ephesians 5:31-33 we see that the church’s relationship with Christ can be compared to the relationship of a husband and wife. This again emphasizes the closeness of the believers who make up the church to one another, and to Christ. But there is more to this image than just this closeness. There is also an eschatological reference here. In Revelation 21:9 we see the bride of Christ, the Church, being given to Christ at the consummation of the New Heaven and the New Earth. Christ paid for this Bride with his own blood, and at the end of time Christ will receive His bride.


b. The One Body

Being the body of Christ and the Bride of Christ carries with it great responsibility. In Ephesians 4:1-6 the apostle Paul tells us that we must live lives that are worthy of this amazing calling. We do this, in part, by preserving the unity that God has provided for us in the Church. What is amazing about this passage is that Paul does not say that we need to create a unity, but rather we must maintain the unity that God has already provided for us. In verses 4-6 we see what that this unity is. There is one church body, one Spirit, one calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and finally one God and Father. This community of regenerated individuals is in itself an amazing work of God and the unity of the Church comes from this work of God. Joshua Harris, writing on this subject, said “The longer that I’m a Christian, the more aware I become that I cannot live the Christian life on my own. My individual and direct relationship with God through Jesus is the greatest privilege and He is truly all I need—and yet God in His wisdom has created all of us to need others, too.” John Piper went so far as to say that “sanctification is a community project.” This means that as we are working out our salvation we must do so together. God has made us one through Jesus Christ.

Conclusion:


God has done an amazing work to create the church, and for us to not take that seriously is a sin. When we do not pursue peace, and lift one another up we are, by our actions, demonstrating that this work of God through Christ is unimportant to us. We must remember that God has done this amazing work in the Gospel not only to save us individually, but also to set apart for himself an entire group of people. We are a part of that group and we must remember that was we seek to live out our Christian lives.


P.S.
Yesterday Anonymous left a comment questioning my view on the Church. I hope this answers some of the questions that he left. Also, in light of the passages listed here I cannot imagine taking the RCC view of the Church (the Church refers to the hierarchy of the RCC). I would love to debate my constant commenter on this issue if he would drop the anonymous, and actually deal with me rather than secretly send me RCC dogma. Otherwise I will continue to delete his comments.





17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,
You stated,

That the RCC view of Church,
"The Church refers to the hierarchy of the RCC"

That is only partly true, your comments on Church is also a Catholic point of view.

Simplistically stated all baptized Christians are a member of the "Bride". The local RC Bishop (today’s apostle) is responsible "Shepard" for the spiritual wellbeing of all the baptized within his Diocese.

The point I was trying to get at is, Protestants typically have an exclusive group who say they are the elect and typically have a hierarchy that they associate themselves with. If you are not in this group well then they will say, “I am sorry no heaven for you” You I assume report to your pastor, however you all "Reformed Calvinist’s" seem to hold John McArthur as your ultimate leader and those that have attended his seminary are your denominational "Church" brothers in Christ so to say.
What you criticize RC for, you do the same. Lay down some guidelines for people to show what it means to be a Christian.

To prove my point, John McAurther has written countless books explaining his point of view on Christianity yet “Sola Scriptura” seems not be enough, if it was, what is the need for the countless books on understanding the bible.

Why a hierarchy with apostolic succession come in handy to settle disputes, issues and give direction to the faithful, so that as an ordered member of the bride we can unite with Jesus.

I love talking about the “bride” it is one of my favorite theology subjects.

On a personal note:
You have a public blog that you publish; it has an Anonymous feature on it. I did not break-in to your blog so to say, in actuality you invited me to respond though your comments interactivity. I do not wish to have an internet imprint with my name on it. And will only use a “pen name”, if you would like to give me one, I’ll take one.
You do not have to publish my comments. I agree with many things that you say and enjoy reading your blog.

What are your thoughts on Christopher Cuddy?


PS. I had a little baby girl born this week and my wife and I are super excited

28/7/06 7:04 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Christopher Cuddy,

You have complied fairly well of what I have asked of you so I have published your comments. I do want to remind you that I keep the comments section of my blog so that I can hear your comments.

To be honest with you your MacArthur point does not prove anything. MacArthur is not anyone's ultimate authority. Not even at Grace Community Church where he sits on a board of Elders that make decisions as a group. I will admit that I have benefited greatly from his teaching, but he is not an authority. Your point on "Sola Scriptura" was not thought out very well. To teach is biblical. In fact, we are exhorted to teach the bible. That is all that MacArthur is doing. You make it seem like he is the protestant pope?? The difference is that when he is teaching his authority is completely dependent upon Scripture. If his teaching is faithful to whatever text he is in, then it is authoritative because it is the message of Scripture. Whereas when the Pope speaks ex cathedra it is authoritative because of his intrinsic authority within the RCC.

On a personal note:
I am sorry that it took me so long to get back with you and post your comments. My brother had surgery yesterday on his knee. He is dong great and I am finally back in a groove.

Congratulations on your little girl. We are awaiting our little girl anxiously. We have less than ten weeks to go.

1/8/06 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,

True, you have a group of elders who discuss church matters. However the Grace Bible Church of Brandon website acts as indicater of who you agree with and don't agree with. By the links the website contians.

The Master's Mission (MacArthur)
The Master's Seminary (MacArthur)
Alpha Omega Ministries (White)

If Grace Bible Church of Brandon was going to find a new Senior Pastor you would most likely find one who attended The Master's Seminary.

So maybe not in the strict sense could you call John MacArthur your Pope. He the elder statesman or respected living personification of the reformed movement. You would look to him for guidence on the subtlies of reformed theology.

You say that MacAurther is expounding(dependance) on Scripture yet he looks to the traditions of Calvinism as his guide.

The Pope would never speak against the Gospel's. The Gospel are used as Holy measuring stick so to say.

For instance, the word Trinity is never found in Sacred Scripture, yet this concept is a Tradition born of first person experience of the early Church. Scripture was still 25 to 100 years way from being written. So this Truth of Christ must rely on the early Church which had no Bible except the Old Testament. Just men and oral Tradition.
In the movie, The Robe, this point is expressed very cleary as the main Roman inquisitor (Richard Burton) meets the old man in the village. The old man recount's the Sermon on the Mount to the Roman, he did not hand the Roman a freshly minted copy of the NIV King James Bible.
For it is still 1,600 years away.
A Christian Church with out a bible is an interesting concept not easly pondered.

1/8/06 11:04 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Christopher Cuddy,

I think that you need to check your facts. If you will follow the link to the Master's Mission you will see that it is in no way affiliated with John MacArthur or GCC. So, you listed three links. There you find three separate organizations that we either support or agree in principle with. I am not sure how that compares with the pope at all. You will have to clarify.

Also, do you really want to say that the doctrine of Trinity is never found in Scripture? That is a bold and incorrect claim (Mt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14). When you say it is built on tradition you are wrong. It was built on the teachings of Christ, which were soon recognized as Scripture. Why is it easier for you to accept the tradition of men rather than the word of God?

Scripture is clear that Christ gave the Apostles in order to bridge the new church community into a period in which they would have Scripture. This by the way is where the RCC misses the boat. The apostolic tradition is not the Pope or church dogma. The apostolic tradition is Scripture. Think about it.

By the way, what is the NIV King James Bible?

2/8/06 6:52 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

By the way, when you asked "what do you think of Christopher Cuddy?" were you giving that as an option for your pen name? Or, were you asking me about this guy www.christophercuddy.blogspot.com?

3/8/06 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,
I was asking you about www.christophercuddy.blogspot.com
Seems like the word Tradition needs to be defined.

3/8/06 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,
NIV King James Bible is the
New International Version

3/8/06 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,
I stated,
"the "word" Trinity is never found in Sacred Scripture", yet it is essential for Christianity. The Church, a group of baptized believers understood the concept of the Trinity prior to an existance of a written book of books called the Bible. They relied on Christian Tradition.

3/8/06 5:30 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Anonymous,

Why don’t you go ahead and give yourself a name. I don’t think that it is unreasonable, seeing as how you know so much about myself and my church, that you at least tell me you first name. It will make me feel better. And it will help me as a pray for you and your new little girl.

Just to let you know the NIV and KJV really have nothing to do with each other. There are some misguided folk within protestant circles that would militantly deny the inspiration of the NIV in favor of the KJV. I am not sure why you would associate those two???

Yes you did say the “word Trinity” is never found, but then you went on to say that the concept was born out of tradition. Which one is it? The word or the concept? Regardless I think that you have totally ignored my point about the teachings of Christ and the apostolic tradition. The doctrine of the Trinity was built on the pre-cannonized teachings of Christ. Teachings that would become Cannon as early as the end of the 1st century. Just because the Church had not collected and recognized the NT cannon does not mean that it had not already been inspired. This misconception on your part seems to go back to a RCC ecclesiology. The church does not have to recognize a cannon for it to exists. This means that when James wrote his letter (around 50) it was Scripture. It would soon be recognized as that by the church, but before it was recognized it was inspired. This means that the tradition you claim Triune theology came out of is the same teaching that we have today in our Scripture. Why would you want something besides Scripture? Again, I have to wonder why you wish to down play the importance of Scripture. It is as if you have some desire to suppress Scripture in favor of human tradition.

4/8/06 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,

You stated,

“The doctrine of the Trinity was built on the pre-canonized teachings of Christ. Teachings that would become Cannon as early as the end of the 1st century. Just because the Church had not collected and recognized the NT cannon does not mean that it had not already been inspired.”

I agree with this thought, you call it “pre-canonized teachings”, I call it tradition. There has to be a theological compromise though, because the word Trinity is not in Scripture. Early heresies against the Trinity; such as Aryanism, Nestorianism are suppressed by the Magesterium of the early Church, not solely through Scripture citation.

Joseph

5/8/06 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,
You stated,

“Just to let you know the NIV and KJV really have nothing to do with each other. There are some misguided folk within protestant circles that would militantly deny the inspiration of the NIV in favor of the KJV. I am not sure why you would associate those two???”

This is excerpted from the NIV official site,
“In the 17th century, King James translators worked from the Erasmus Greek text of the New Testament. Erasmus had six Greek manuscripts from which to work. NIV translators work from more than 5,000 complete or partial manuscripts and papyri.”

Maybe it is an uneducated understanding of Protestant Biblical scholarship, I would think most non-Protestant Christians think all protestant Bibles are a translation of the KJV or at a minimum use it as a guide into modern English translations. Did you know that the original King James Version of the Bible contained the complete Catholic canon?

Biblical scholarship, just within Protestant circles can twist your mind when thinking in context of Church, The Bride of Christ and Tradition.

Joseph

5/8/06 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,

You stated,

“The church does not have to recognize a canon for it to exist.”

To make a charitable point I will rewrite your statement.

The Protestant Church does not have to recognize the Catholic biblical canon for it to exist.

Joseph

5/8/06 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,

You stated,

“Why would you want something besides Scripture? Again, I have to wonder why you wish to down play the importance of Scripture.”

The proper name, self ascribed to Catholics, is The Holy Roman Catholic Church. From this I (Joseph) can deduce, Holy Scripture (an old Catholic term for Bible is Holy Writ) and Holy Tradition. Why can’t I elevate them both up to the highest possible holy Christian understanding?

Joseph

5/8/06 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,

You stated,

“Why is it easier for you to accept the tradition of men rather than the word of God?”

Why do I have to pit Tradition against the Bible? I think it is much easier to accept logically, both of them. Yes the Church Father’s are men, but their first eye account and receiving personal testimony of the Apostles. They are marked by their holiness and acceptance of Christ as their Savior. The Church recognizes this, by putting a St. in front of their name.

Joseph

5/8/06 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,

You stated,

“If you will follow the link to the Master's Mission you will see that it is in no way affiliated with John MacArthur”

Should there be some trademark enforcement on this! Ha, Ha.

Joseph

5/8/06 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul,

You stated,

“This means that when James wrote his letter (around 50) it was Scripture.”

True, but it is hard to be a Bible Christian when James wrote his letter to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, for it to be passed around to every one. Then there is a long way to go until the advent of the printing press nearly millennium and half later, when Scripture could be widely disseminated.

Joseph

5/8/06 11:39 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Joseph,

It is nice to meet you. Your shotgun approach to comments has left me with not enough time to respond to most of your comments, while at the same time trying to keep up with the blog as a whole.

Just a couple of thoughts before we move on. Your trademark enforcement joke made me laugh. However, your understanding of Biblical Scholarship does not. The NIV (which is a translation I do not favor myself) has kept certain words, like propitiation and redemption. This is the link to KJV. The NIV, and all true translations are translated from the Greek (with far more reliable text to work on than the Vulgate which the RCC depends so heavily on).

One last thing,

Here is a quote from the RCC Catech.
106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. "To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more." [DV 11.]

107 The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." [DV 11.] [702]

Joseph, your own catechism puts Scripture above tradition ("it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.")

Lets take the coversation up to a new post so it won't get barried deep in the blog.

8/8/06 10:12 AM  

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