Monday, June 15, 2015

Straw Man Arguments (part 4)

The Bible plainly says that the church which is the Body of Christ was a mystery hid in God until He revealed it through the apostle Paul (Eph. 3:1-13) and that we are made members of this one spiritual Body by believing the gospel (Eph. 3:6). Which gospel? The one that Christ revealed through Paul (Gal. 1:11-12). But for some reason most fundamental preachers think that is some kind of dangerous heresy and they are dogmatic that God started building the Body of Christ before Paul was saved. A dispensation is a dispensing of divine revelation with corresponding human responsibility. How could this present dispensation begin before Christ dispensed the distinctive truths of it through Paul? 
Another straw man argument goes something like this, "Paul himself said that he persecuted the church before he was saved (1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13) and he referred to those who were in Christ before him (Rom. 16:7)."
This is a straw man argument because the fact that there was a church before Paul was saved and that there were believers in Christ before him in no way refutes our position. 
What is a church? It is simply a called out assembly. We don't read the word "church" in the OT because it is translated from Greek and not Hebrew. However we know there was a church in the OT because that is what Stephen said Israel was when they were called out of Egypt and assembled in the wilderness (Acts 7:38). David prophesied of the kingdom church in Ps. 22:22-31. When the writer of Hebrews quotes Ps. 22:22 he says "church" instead of "congregation" (Heb. 2:12). The church in Jerusalem was certainly the church of God but it was a prophesied church looking for the Messianic kingdom (Acts 1:6; 2:30) and not a mystery hid in God! The Body of Christ is a church but not every church in the Bible is the Body of Christ.
What makes the Body of Christ distinct is not that we are "in Christ" but that we are "one new man" (Eph. 2:15) in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal. 3:27-28). Every believer that is redeemed by the blood of Christ is "in Christ" and so ALL believers on this side of the cross are "in Christ". A person can only be "in Adam" or "in Christ" (1 Cor. 15:22). When Israel is saved under the new covenant they will be "in the LORD" but they will still be a distinct nation with authority over the Gentiles.
(Isaiah 45:17) But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
(Isaiah 45:24-25) Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.  {25} In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
In the eternal state the nation of Israel, the saved Gentile nations, and the Body of Christ will be one family of God and will all be "in Christ"! But these groups will remain distinct throughout eternity.
(Ephesians 1:10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
(Ephesians 3:14-15) For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  {15} Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
Another proof text I have often heard preachers use is found in the account of Paul's conversion.
(Acts 9:4-5) "And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  {5} And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
We are told that this verse proves Paul persecuted the Body of Christ. Was Christ talking about the Body of Christ in the following passage? No, He was talking about Jewish saints in the tribulation period!  
(Matthew 25:31-46) ¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  {32} And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:  {33} And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  {34} Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  {35} For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  {36} Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  {37} Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  {38} When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  {39} Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  {40} And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  {41} Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  {42} For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:  {43} I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.  {44} Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?  {45} Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  {46} And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

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