Article 63

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What we Believe






"The Church: One New Man"

"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" (Eph. 2:15).

Paul’s epistle to the Romans is central to the doctrine of righteousness. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is central to the doctrine of justification by grace rather than law. The Ephesians epistle is central to a specific doctrine as well and it is the doctrine of the mystery of Christ and His church, His body. Paul even indicates in 3:1 that his imprisonment has much to do with his stand in that doctrine (cf. 3:2-21). Being central to the doctrine of the church there are many areas concerning this body, and illustrations of this body, given by Paul in this letter. All of these details are vital to a proper and well-rounded understanding of our origin, substance, purpose, and responsibilities as members of the body of Christ, His church. This message will deal mainly with the substance (essential essence), which defines the church as declared by Paul in 2:15.

Paul is clear in that the church is comprised of some people who were before (2:11-12) of Gentile substance, and others were before of Israelite substance (2:15). We are bound to declare this "past tense" for both as to their present substance because "of twain" (of two different substances -- one Gentile the other Israelite) Christ by His blood, His sacrifice, His breaking down, and His abolishing, He did in Himself make "one new man." The two kinds of men have been made one man and this one is a new man! The word "new" here, since vitally connected with the two made into one, makes it clear that the Church, the Body, the Temple, the Family, the Wife is as to it’s essential essence, of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon or unheard of. This is the actual meaning of the phrase: "one new man." In other words, the church is not Israel, the church is not Gentile, nor is the church a combination of the two, she is as to substance or essence, NEW!

The church is new in actual fact, place, and practice, not in mere theory, name, and visual display. The church is not Israel revamped or Israel redirected as Israel, but rather something different altogether. Even the law of commandments contained in ordinances has been abolished. This is not speaking of and end being put to the law sacrifices, which we know by scripture were mere shadows or types meant to have an end. This actually says that, "the commandments in ordinances" [decrees or dogma] are abolished. In other words, circumcision did not give way to baptism; the Sabbath did not give way to Sunday; the rulers over National Israel did not give way to Bishops over The Church. The church is not the fulfillment of all the national Israelite covenants of promise. We see this when we take clear note of the fact that Paul, when reminding the Gentiles of their prior outsider status as to the commonwealth of Israel (2:11-12), when he does speak of their inclusion it is not as being a part of the commonwealth of Israel but as "fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (2:19). Those who hold that Church = Israel must, of necessity, leave out those from Adam to Abraham and Isaac as being a part of the church in the context of Paul’s doctrine here, if Paul meant such. Only those after Israel (Jacob) could be of that commonwealth, for that commonwealth (community of citizens) did not exist before him and they were not actually established as such until much later. From Abraham and Isaac all the way back to Adam, these were never Israelites! But these all were saints, and of the household of God! We should also take note of the fact when Paul declared to those who were Gentiles and were "far off" that they have been "made nigh by the blood of Christ" (2:13), this could not have been a making nigh to being of the commonwealth of Israel for even that commonwealth, which was already "nigh" was in need of the message of peace preached by Christ (2:17). The blood of Christ did not make the Gentiles savable by incorporating them into Israel. They are not said to be in Israel but "in Christ" Himself.

This doctrine has had in times past and yet has in the present a negative side effect. However, the negative side effect comes not as a fault with the doctrine but at the hands of those who reject the doctrine. Paul suffered because of this doctrine (Eph. 3:1, 13); the "sects," as they were termed by their detractors, suffered because of it at the hands of the pagan Roman state in the second and third century A.D.; the Montanists, the Novatians, the Donatists, the Waldenses, the Paulacians etc., all suffered at the hands of the "converted" Roman state because of their stand therein; the Anabaptists suffered at the hands of many Reformers because of this doctrine; Baptists in Europe suffered because of it, and those who hold to the doctrine of the "one new man" today are mocked and ridiculed by those who reject the doctrine. Nevertheless, the truth of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ marches on despite the opposition.

The essential essence of the church as this one new man is wholly founded in Christ Himself as blood sacrifice, as the partition breaker, the enmity abolisher, and the one who took of the two and made peace between them by making them of one new unprecedented kind (Eph. 2:13-15). To be "in Christ" is far superior to being "of Israel," or "of the Jews." To be Christ’s is indeed to be Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29), but we must remember that this clearly does not mean we are "True Jews" or "the New Israel" because being in Christ: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male or female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). This seed, in its essential essence, is singular [of one person -- Jesus Christ] not plural [of many persons -- Israel, Israel’s sons etc.] by the promise of God Himself (Gal. 3:16). Any attempt to make the church Hebrew or Jewish, or even Israelite in essential essence, especially if we employ the phrase "spiritually speaking" to attempt such, is an assault against the clear revelation of scripture on this matter. Spiritually speaking we are NEITHER Jew nor Gentile. But what are we? We are one new man made so by Christ in Himself!

It is also true that the elect Gentiles in this age are indeed partaking, by engrafting, of the blessings of righteousness in Christ purposed by God for the elect Jews in this age (Rom. 9:30-10:10 cf. 11:1-17). Let us clearly note that even here Paul never declares the engrafted Gentiles to have become natural branches but always refers to us as wild branches of a "wild olive tree" (11:17, 24). While broken off now because of unbelief, some natural branches are presently enemies of the gospel for the believing Gentiles sake, but as touching God’s choice of them they are still beloved for the fathers’ sakes, and God will not change His mind about His gifts and calling in this matter (11: 28-29). Natural branches can be presently grafted back in by faith (11:23-24 -- that is, a Jew who hears of Christ and rejects is not necessarily automatically then cut off, some can yet believe after initial unbelief, even as we read of James the Lord’s brother), but for now there will remain this partial blindness of Israel [that is, the majority who are blinded shall remain blinded, not, some who do see only see partially as some men would interpret this] until the engrafting of the Gentiles is complete (11: 25 – that is, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, rather than until the fullness of the Gentiles comes, as some would interpret). When that day is here and Christ comes (11: 26-27) then those natural branches that are broken off, in that day, they shall all believe and obtain the mercy of God (11:30-36 – that is, God shall save all living in that day, not God shall save all who ever lived, as some interpret this). The whole of this passage shows that God is now doing exactly as He purposed for now and He will yet do all He has purposed exactly as He has purposed. This passage does not teach Church = Israel, as some would interpret.

The essential essence of the church is in Christ by His accomplished work. The church itself is His holy temple through the Spirit while Israel only had a holy temple. The church is named of Christ as the one and only family while Israel was a special family above all the families of the earth. The church is His body, His one body by His own work while Israel separated into two different bodies by disobedience. The church is His bride who shall be presented to Christ by Himself having never been defiled, but Israel was God’s unfaithful wife. The church is His bride who is indeed of His body, of His flesh, of His bones – they are both ONE! Israel and God were never so revealed. Indeed the church is of unprecedented, uncommon, previously unheard kind as to essential essence. The church is "one new man."

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