A recent national headline raises questions for thousands of people about their baptisms. An Arizona priest performed the rite for more than twenty years and now the Catholic church has invalidated those baptisms due to an error when they were performed. In this broadcast of Let the Bible Speak, we consider what the bible teaches about baptism and why some are invalid according to the scriptures.
Archives for February 2022
Welcome to Let the Bible Speak. It’s good to have this time with you to study the Word of God. Today, I want us to study the church; the church that Jesus Christ built and the church that is His bride. How do you view the church? Do you love the church? Or do you look upon the church with skepticism or even disdain? That’s the case with many in our day, even many of those who claim to love and follow Christ.
The bible uses many metaphors and adjectives to describe it, but perhaps the word that conveys, as well as any, what Christ sees when He looks at His church is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. This epistle deals with the doctrine of the church as much as any in the New Testament. Paul emphasizes and illustrates many powerful truths about the church in Ephesians and in the fifth chapter, he beautifully describes the churches relationship to Christ, likening it to the marriage union of a man and a woman. Beginning in verse 25, he writes: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
Here, Paul uses a superlative to describe the church of Christ that many would never ascribe to the church. He says it is a “glorious” church. The word glory means having great splendor or beauty. What makes it so? By what right does Paul call the church a glorious or beautiful thing when so many today so the church as anything but that? Perhaps we need to look into the scriptures and try to see the church through the eyes of Christ.
When you speak of the church today, it provokes different emotions. Our culture increasingly looks upon the church with suspicion and often holds it in contempt and derision. Many view the church as a corrupted form of organized religion that should fade into the past where it belongs. They tell us that what is important is a relationship with God or with Christ but that has nothing to do with the church. Consequently, churches are quickly dwindling in size and the younger generations want little to do with it even if they claim to believe in God and have a relationship with Christ. Some make fun of the church and treat of it lightly and blaspheme it at every opportunity. Some are simply disillusioned and don’t know what to think about it and so, they simply avoid it.
While some who profess Christianity and are considered members of the church have brought shame upon the church by their hypocrisy and evil conduct, the church is extremely important to God. It is important enough that the bible says Christ died on the cross to obtain the church. Paul tearfully said to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” And Paul also said that it is through the church that God has revealed His eternal purpose for mankind, according to Ephesians 3:8-10. Yes, when God looks at the church, He sees something valuable and something beautiful and glorious and He wants us to see the church in the same way.
What makes the church glorious in God’s eyes? It’s not the things that make something splendorous in the eyes of people. It’s not the building it meets in because the church is not a building. A church might meet in a breathtakingly beautiful cathedral, but it can also meet in a simple home or in a plain meeting room and be just as glorious in the eyes of God. It’s not it’s societal status. Though it seems many religious leaders are intent upon making the church palatable and attractive to the world, such will never be the case if that church is true to the word of God. Acts 28:22 says that many considered the early church led by the apostles as “the sect that is spoken against everywhere.” The church derives its power not from government, society, or any other earthly hierarchy of power or influence. It derives its power from Christ and the gospel. The church is not glorious because of the social status of its members either for its membership largely consists of common, simple, and often poor people. That was the level of society where Jesus had His greatest appeal while He was on earth and has been the case ever since. “…not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise…” said Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:26-27. It is not even the size of her membership. Though the church of Christ continues to girdle the globe and though the kingdom of Christ continues to increase, the membership of Christ’s church is small compared to the population of earth and any local church constitutes a fraction of the people that live in that community. As Jesus said, many travel the broad way that leads to destruction, and few enter the narrow gate unto life. (Matthew 7:13-14) So, if the church is a relatively small group of people with little wealth, little earthly power, and no societal position to speak of, then why does it appear before Christ as a glorious church and why should we see it so today?
First, Paul tells us that the church is a glorious thing because of her relationship to Christ. The churches glory is not of herself. She does not present herself to Christ as glorious but rather, look at the text in Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” First, Christ gave Himself for her, the church. This, of course, speaks of Christ’s atoning death upon the cross whereby members of the church have been saved and MADE members of His body. We couldn’t save ourselves but, rather, Christ died FOR us, the church. Why did He die? “That He might sanctify (set us apart) and cleanse (wash us clean of our sins) that HE might present HER to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Outside of Christ, we would be in our sins and in our sins, we are dirty and defiled. Christ could not marry a defiled bride. He would only marry a chaste and untouched woman who could rightly wear the pure bridal attire of white. But those who make up His bride weren’t pure and undefiled. We were sinners and tarnished and sullied by the dirt of sin. In order that He might receive us as His bride, He washed us. He made us clean and dressed us in the pure white garments of righteousness. And because of the death He died, the blood He shed, and the atonement that He made for us, we can appear before Him pure and holy declared righteous despite our past sins. Titus 3:5, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Hebrews 10:22, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
That’s why Saul was told by Ananias when he came to believe on Christ: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'” (Acts 22:16) Friend, that’s not only what it means to be saved, but it’s what it means to be a member of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is made up of people who have been washed in the blood of Jesus, thus cleansed from all their sins, and are presented to Him as His pure and holy bride. The bible says of those who were baptized in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins in Acts 2:38 that the Lord thus added them to the church (Acts 2:47). The church is glorious to God because it is made up of His chosen ones who have been brought out of the world, restored to a right relationship with Him by having their sins forgiven and are now living in union with His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. The church is GLORIOUS because of its relationship to Christ. It is His bride. And, consequently, Christ doesn’t take any less offense to those who ridicule, reject, and otherwise abuse His bride any more than you would if others treated your bride in that way. He loves His church, and we should give her the reverence and respect that is due the Lord’s bride.
The church is also glorious not only because it’s Christ’s BRIDE, but it’s also His CREATION. Man did not design and build the church; God did that. God planned the church from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 3:14-15). It is His creation. It is built according to His wisdom. God drew the plans in eternity and in the fullness of the time, it was not only designed by the greatest Architect, but it was also built by the greatest Carpenter the world has ever seen, Jesus of Nazareth. It was built at the greatest cost of any building every constructed: the very life’s blood of the Son of God. (Acts 20:28) It is the temple and dwelling place of God among men. (Ephesians 2:21) Yes, the church is a glorious institution because God designed it to be so. And woe to the person who thinks they can improve upon it.
Now, if God is the architect and Jesus is the builder of the church, shouldn’t we be satisfied with it just as He built it? Shouldn’t we be happy to simply be the church we read about in the bible and not try to be anything more or anything less than that church? It seems some are ashamed of the church as we read about it in scripture. You know, if you look at the church as its presented in the New Testament, it’s really a very simple and humble thing, as the world looks at it. Some are embarrassed by that. They see the need to garnish and embellish the church and make it more appealing to the carnally minded world. Its simple worship is outdated and irrelevant, they think. To simply work and worship as the church in the way they did then is passe’ and out of touch and boring. If it’s ever going to be a glorious church, it must get in step with the times and with the culture and show that it can compete with all the excitement and innovation of the world. But such thinking is not only misguided; it’s wrong.
The glory of the church has nothing to do with how the world sees it or whether the world likes it and accepts it. The glory of the church is in how God sees it. It’s glory and its beauty are in the careful design He had for her when He revealed it through the apostles in the New Testament. And if you search the bible, you’ll find that God uses simple and ordinary things in powerful ways for His glory starting with the gospel itself. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29) The work of the church is straight-forward, to preach the gospel and edify itself in the truth. (Ephesians 3:10) The worship of the church is simple, primitive, reverent, and holy. John 4:24, “God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” The organization of the church is basic. Local congregations of believers who come together to worship, edify, and serve under the oversight of their own shepherds (older, qualified men appointed as elders) and deacons. You read of no other types of organization, hierarchies of power, or arrangements than that. And to Christ, the churches one and only Head, that is a beautiful and glorious thing.
His church also preaches A GLORIOUS MESSAGE. It carries the glad tidings of salvation from sin through the crucified Christ to a lost and dying world. Listen carefully now, that is the only message the church of Christ is commissioned by Christ to preach. “Go into all the world and preach the GOSPEL to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16). Paul described the posture of the church toward the world in Philippians 2:16 as “holding forth the word of life.”
When Paul wrote to the worldly Corinthian church, he reminded them that when he first came and brought them to Christ and established them as a church, he didn’t come preaching the politics of the Roman government or the Greek world. He didn’t come and share the latest and most novel and philosophies coming out of Athens. He didn’t come telling them how to live their best life now and become wealthy in worldly goods. No! Rather, he said in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” That’s what the church is to preach today as well. We have no business preaching anything or anybody other than that. Any church that is pointing people to any ideal, any movement, any standard, any authority, any aspiration, other than Jesus Christ is not the true church.
You see many so-called churches today steeped in politics. The church has no business in politics. Let the world be the world and the church be the church. And if the church wants to change and impact the culture then let’s get as passionate, and zealous, and consumed with preaching the gospel to lost sinners as many of us are in elections and politics. Politics cheapen the church and obscure her rightful message. In fact, it is my conviction that one of the reasons so many people are turning away from the idea of the church is because so many claiming to represent the church have prostituted the church to politics and worldly concerns. You’re not going to change the morality or the spirituality of the nation in the voting booth, or in the halls of congress, or even on the Supreme Court. You change the values and the conscience of a nation by preaching the gospel to the lost world and by raising up godly children in godly homes. The church is glorious is Christ’s eyes because of the message He provided for her to preach and the mission that He gave her to fulfill. Her mission is to save the lost by the preaching of the crucified and risen Christ and there is no more glorious mission or message.
She is also a glorious church because she wears a GLORIOUS name. Back to Ephesians the third chapter, verses 14 and 15, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” The bride of Christ has been given His name to wear. Oh, I know what people claim; that there’s nothing in a name or a name doesn’t save but friend, that’s just not biblical. It may sound good, and a lot of people may believe and parrot it but it’s not scriptural. The church belongs to Christ. It is His bride. It is His body. He owns it and rules it. He is the head of it. Why would it want to wear any other name or be described as belonging to any other person or any other thing? Think about that. Men have denominated the church by calling the church by this name or that name or identifying it with this particular doctrine or practice or the other… Why should the church be described in any other way than simply the church that belongs to Christ? The church that belongs to Jesus. Why would we want to be known as anything else? You’ll never hear a more glorious, more powerful, more holy, or more wonderful name than the name of Christ. That’s why the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. They were identified as simply being the followers of the Christ. The church that is Jesus’ bride wears a GLORIOUS name, the name of its glorious husband, the Christ Jesus.
And finally, it’s a glorious church because it has a glorious destiny. Paul said, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23) He has called the church out of this world spiritually and one day, He’ll call her out of this world physically. Christ is one day returning for His bride to take her to be with God in His eternal kingdom. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:24, that when Christ comes again, He will deliver His present kingdom, the church, up to God the Father forevermore. The church has been the target of persecutions, the object of scorn, the rejected of the world since its beginning 2,000 years ago. As one of the greatest most brutal persecutions in her history was coming against her at the end of the first century, John wrote down His great vision, known as the Revelation and assured the anxious and suffering church that a great future was in store for the faithful. That’s still true today. The church, no matter how the world looks upon it today, is destined by God for eternal glory. It is a glorious church, and may we come to see it as He does.
©2022 BibleWay Media. All rights reserved. BibleWay Media grants permission to copy this material for personal use. Permission is also granted to distribute this transcript as long as it is reproduced in its entirety, used solely for its original purpose of spreading the gospel, and attribution is given to the author and Let the Bible Speak.
The church is an unpopular institution in the world and even among some who profess to serve Christ. While hypocritical living and the corruption of some religious leaders have sullied the image of the church in the eyes of many, this does not change the fact that Christ sees His church as a glorious entity. Why could Paul say in his Ephesian letter that the church appears before the Lord Jesus as a beautiful and glorious bride? In this broadcast of Let the Bible Speak, we learn about the reasons Christ sees it as such.
We’ve heard a lot about building and tearing down walls in the world. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan famously stood in West Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate and challenged Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the wall that had divided East and West Berlin since 1961. In 1989, people finally began to cross over that wall, and by 1992, it had been demolished. Then there are some today who are interested in building walls. Some say the United States should build a wall along its border, arguing that it is necessary to preserve the security and prosperity of America. We’ll leave that to the politicians to debate.
Instead, I’m concerned about walls that God has built. When you look back through the Bible, walls were important. In ancient times, they were used to fortify a city. A wall was erected around a city, and a gate would allow people in and out. Watchmen would be perched upon the wall to scan the horizon for danger and warn the city leaders of any threat that approached.
Spiritually, God is concerned about walls around His city of truth, around His kingdom. The book of Revelation pictures the new Jerusalem as having a wall great and high around it (Revelation 21:12). We know that a wall is to exist today between the church and the world. A wall of demarcation and distinction, as the people of God are told to be a holy people, called out from the world, separated and consecrated unto God. That was also the case in the Old Testament. The scriptures picture the Jewish people as having a wall about them as a nation, separating them from all of the other nations of the world since they were the covenant people of God. God wanted them to be very careful to maintain moral, ethnic and religious purity throughout their days as a nation. Not that they might look down on the nations about them; rather so God could use them as a channel of revelation and blessing to the other nations of earth.
In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul teaches us that that wall or fence that separated the Jews from the Gentiles was the law that God exclusively gave to them through Moses. But as he argues throughout the chapter, we’re not saved today by keeping the law of Moses, but by grace through faith in Christ. The law of Moses served its purpose, then was taken out of the way and mankind was reconciled together and to God through Christ. This is what he is teaching them here.
Ephesians 2:11-14 “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
What was that wall of partition? And how did God remove it? What happened when He did so? And are men today trying to re-build the wall that God tore down?
It’s a dangerous thing to tear down walls that God builds. It’s also a serious matter to rebuild walls that God tore down. In fact, that’s what it seems men are doing today in religion. On one hand, it seems that many want the wall that God built between the church and the world taken away. While at the same time, they are eagerly taking their trowels, stones and mortar and building the very walls that God DID decree to be torn down.
Paul refers to one such wall in our text passage of Ephesian 2:14 as the middle wall of partition that had divided Jew from Gentile. What was he talking about? Some scholars say that he was referring to a literal wall that existed in the Jewish temple. It was a wall or partition that separated the court of the Gentiles from the rest of the temple that was restricted to Jews. Gentiles were forbidden to pass that point. That physical partition was even representative of the spiritual division, and even by this time, a hostility between Jews and Gentiles. You may recall that in Acts 21:28, Paul himself created an uproar when he was accused of taking Trophimus beyond that wall, thus polluting the temple according to the Jews. Some argue that Paul makes reference to that wall here. Perhaps there is a spiritual allusion to it, but the problem with that interpretation is that if he is speaking of the literal wall of the temple, it actually stood until the entire temple was destroyed, and that didn’t happen for at least eight years after Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus. Rather, Paul tells us what the middle wall refers to.
Ephesians 2:15 “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”
In other words, the law of Moses. He goes on to imply that the Old Testament law created two groups of people. How did the law distinguish between Jew and Gentile? Well, the law of Moses was not given to all mankind; it was only given to the Jews. It was part of the Abrahamic covenant—that is, those who were born of the seed of Abraham and were heirs to the promises made to him. That’s very important to note. The law was not given to ALL peoples. Every other nation of the earth was excluded from the covenant and thus, the law pertained not to them, but to those who were in a covenant relationship with God. All of the other nations of the earth were Gentiles according to the flesh. But Paul says the wall that divided Jew and Gentile (the law that made that distinction) was torn down and taken out of the way, thus making one new man (or body) instead of two. That means that today, God’s people are made up of people of every nation and tribe, and not just those who are Abraham’s children by physical birth. That was a very difficult lesson, especially for the Jewish Christians of the first century to accept. They placed great confidence in the flesh—in the fact that they had the blood of Abraham coursing thru their veins. The great tragedy was that they misunderstood this distinction that God had made at that time between them and the Gentiles. Oh, they were very careful to maintain that fleshly and national separation from other peoples, but they weren’t so concerned about the moral and spiritual distinction. In Romans 2, Paul shows they were just as great sinners as the Gentiles, yet they went about boasting of their Abrahamic lineage. They might have been able to trace their physical line back to Abraham, but the fact was they were not his children spiritually because they did not possess the faith and character that he possessed. If they had, they would not have rejected the word of God and the prophets. They would not have crucified Jesus and rejected the gospel preached by His apostles.
Paul is showing in Ephesians 1-3 as he does in some of his other epistles, that there is now no difference in the eyes of God as pertaining to the flesh. That Christ, by fulfilling the law in His life and death, had torn down the wall between Jews and Gentiles, resulting in one body made up of those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ through the kind of obedient faith that Abraham possessed. In fact, Paul tells us who the true children of Abraham are. Paul wrote the following to Gentiles who had been converted to Christ.
Galatians 3:26-27 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Who were the children of God during the time of the law? The children of Abraham, by physical birth of the lineage of Abraham. But he says now, ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Let’s read on.
Galatians 3:28-29 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
You see, he’s saying that even Gentiles are Abraham’s seed. No longer was there to be hostility between the Jew and Gentile. In fact, the law was never intended to make the Jew despise or hate the Gentile, as ended up being the case. Rather, the law was God’s way of using the Jewish people as channels of revelation and blessing to the whole world. God would give the lost human race a Messiah and a redeemer from sin through the children of Abraham. That’s why God told Abraham when He repeated the promise to him In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed (Genesis 22:18). That’s a Messianic promise. That’s talking about the fact that through the lineage of Abraham, God would provide the world with a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now let’s go back to our text and read it in the full context.
Ephesians 2:13-19 “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off (Gentiles) are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our (Jews and Gentiles) peace, who hath made both (Jews and Gentiles) one (How and where? In the church of Christ), and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us (that is, the law that delineated us); Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances (talking of the Old Testament law that came by Moses); for to make in himself of twain one new man (the church of Jesus Christ), so making peace; And that he might reconcile both (Jew and Gentile) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit (the revelation of the Spirit—the gospel) unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”
Paul clearly says that the wall has come down! Even in his own time, there were those trying to re-build the wall that God tore down. Their efforts continue even today. Did you know that many beliefs and religious practices are in effect an effort to re-build what God tore down and took out of the way?
For example, there are those who still seek to make a national and racial distinction between people. The whole doctrinal system known as dispensationalism which is wildly popular and widely believed among many denominations today, makes such a distinction. They tell us that the church is a Gentile institution and the Jews, on the other hand, are still a covenant people with God today. In other words, they say God has two programs: one for the Gentile, through faith in Christ, and one for the fleshly Jew. They say His plan for the Jews is delayed until later, while presently He is blessing the Gentiles in the church age. Well, that’s not what Paul teaches in Ephesians. Paul says He has made both one. No distinction. Both one in Christ. When? Not in the world to come, but now. In the church. The church’s very beginning consisted of whom?—Jews, who kept their covenant with God and accepted the Messiah when He came. They believed and obeyed the gospel when it was preached. They were added to the church beginning on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:47).
We read what Paul wrote to the Galatians in Galatians 3:28 where he said there is neither Jew nor Greek. Under Christ’s economy, as opposed to the Mosaic economy, there is neither Jew nor Greek in the flesh. Neither bond nor free, neither male nor female. But all are one in Christ, and if in Christ, then Abraham’s seed. Who are Abraham’s seed?—All those who are Christ’s. Just Jews?—No, Gentiles, too. Not by physical birth, but by the new birth. And heirs according to the promise. Spiritual Israel is not made up merely of Jews, but spiritual Jews—Jew and Gentile—who have come to Christ.
Any person who makes a racial, ethnic or national distinction between people does NOT understand the gospel. There is not a Jewish religion and a Gentile religion. There is not a church for the Jews and one for the Gentiles. There is the church of Christ, made up of all who have obeyed Christ, Jew OR Gentile.
Also, the church is not an American institution. Nor is it a Roman institution. Nor a European or African institution. It is a heavenly institution. That’s it. God does not have a white church and a black church, a red church and a yellow church. He only has the blood-bought church of Jesus the Lord. Consequently, any person who discriminates, hates or looks down upon another person because of the country they were born in, the color of their skin, or their socioeconomic status, any person who would withhold the gospel from such an one, or would not allow such an one a seat of honor in the kingdom of God equal to their own is what the Bible calls a respecter of persons. And the Bible plainly states that such a person commits sin (James 2:9). There is no place for racism and ethnic or national delineation or distinction in the kingdom of the Lord.
Secondly, the religious division in the form of denominationalism and sectarianism that exists today is an affront to God and is an unwitting effort to re-build the wall that God tore down. Many say that denominations are simply an unavoidable fact of religious life. In fact, the religious diversity that surrounds us is even strangely celebrated by many. We’re led to believe that the church is made up of all kinds of varied beliefs and practices represented by distinct fellowships of Christians around the world. My friend, nothing is farther from the truth. Nothing is more contrary to the spirit of Christianity as Christ authored it.
Think about it. If Christ had built His church to consist of many sects and fellowships and differing denominations, wouldn’t we immediately see that in the writings of the New Testament? Yet, we see the opposite. We see the apostles working against that. Couldn’t Christ have established a Jewish church and also a Gentile church, thus avoiding some of the conflict of the first century that was due to the brethren’s immaturity and misunderstanding? Some seemed to treat the church as though it were divided into two branches, including the apostle Peter. He was guilty of treating his Jewish and Gentile brethren in an inconsistent manner, and Paul had to rebuke him for it when he saw him in Antioch (Galatians 2:11). No, instead Christ reconciled both Jew and Gentile unto God in one body by the cross(Ephesians 2:16). What’s the body?
Colossians 1:18 “And he is the head of the body, the church…”
The body of Christ is the church of Christ. That is the will of Christ Jesus today: one body, one fellowship, one church. The idea is foreign to the scriptures to have Baptist Christians, Methodist Christians, Presbyterian Christians, Holiness Christians, Assemblies of God Christians or Seventh-Day Adventist Chistians…Rather, what we read about in the book of Acts and throughout the New Testament are simply Christians. Members of the one church that Jesus established on the Day of Pentecost, and made thus by obedience to the gospel. Being baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:27). Added by Christ Himself to that church (Acts 2:41,47).
May God help us to restore the faith that was once delivered and respect the fact that Christ tore down the wall of religious division in His death. When people come along today and celebrate the multiplicity of churches in the world with statements like one is as good as another and we are to honor, accept and respect all religious ideologies and philosophies, they are taking their brick and mortar and re-building a wall that God tore down.
I would lastly point out that men are re-building the wall that God tore down in Christ when they seek to observe the law of Moses today. We’ve been made free from that law. Paul was very plain about that in his epistles.
Galatians 2:18-19 “For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.”
What’s the broader context here? He is addressing the efforts of Judaizing Christians to go back and enforce the law of Moses (particularly circumcision under the Abrahamic covenant) on this side of the cross. To hold that over Gentiles and enforce that on them. Paul spent much of his time and energy combatting that false doctrine and heresy that afflicted the early church.
You may ask is anyone really doing that today? Are there any Judaizers left in the world today? All around us, if you stop and think about it. We see Sabbath keeping, instrumental music in worship (I know that is very popular and widely accepted today, but that is an Old Testament precept that is not taught in the New Testament.), the idea of a special priesthood (distinction between the clergy and laity), the burning of incense in religious service, the keeping of Old Testament days and feasts…All of that comes from the Old Testament—not the New Testament.
Think of it this way: if your pattern for worship and church organization necessarily comes from the Old Testament and the temple, your worship is not in spirit and in truth. If you must point to an Old Testament scripture to justify something that you offer to God as worship today, you are going back to the law and unwittingly, you are helping to build a wall that God tore down in Jesus Christ.
May the Lord help us all to preserve the walls that He has built, and on the other hand, respect the results of other walls that He, in Christ Jesus the Lord, tore down. And thank the Lord that He DID tear them down, that we might be saved in Christ.
©2022 BibleWay Media. All rights reserved. BibleWay Media grants permission to copy this material for personal use. Permission is also granted to distribute this transcript as long as it is reproduced in its entirety, used solely for its original purpose of spreading the gospel, and attribution is given to the author and Let the Bible Speak.
Walls were vital for the protection of ancient cities. When Jerusalem was overrun by the Babylonians, the task at hand upon Israel’s return was to rebuild the wall of the holy city. The New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven in Revelation 21 is described as having a wall “great and high”. The same context shows that certain ones could not enter the heavenly Jerusalem due to their sin. So, some walls are necessary and ordained of God in the church today. There is one wall, however, that God had torn down. Just as the ancient Jewish Temple had a wall that excluded Gentiles from the inner court, so the Old Law given through Moses served as a wall that excluded all nations except Israel. Paul shows in the Ephesian letter that Christ tore this wall down and took it of the way, leading to reconciliation and free access by all to the blessing of God through faith. How foolish it would be for men to seek to rebuild that wall. Yet, in effect, that is what some are doing. In this broadcast of Let the Bible Speak, we explore how men take up their trowels, stone, and mortar and attempt to rebuild the wall that God tore down at Calvary.