THE SOJOURNING WITNESS OF THE EKKLESIA
A. However, righteousness was never an arbitrary system of conduct. Within the context of the covenants, the Lord would reveal Himself to a group of people to whom He would offer inclusion into the resurrection and the Kingdom. Then the stipulations of faith and repentance were simply based on the revelation of God to them. So, He would reveal Himself as holy to the children of Israel and then require their conduct to be conformed to the revelation of Himself.
2 “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. (Lev 19:2 NASB)
B. Likewise, the Ten Commandments were simply a reiteration of the way in which God had revealed Himself. Thus, the people were to have faith in Him (i.e. He really is this way) and repent from conduct that was unlike His nature.
2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God (i.e. the way that I have revealed Myself to you) in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. 8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exd 20:2-11 NASB)
C. However, these commandments were simply signs of the covenant that God was making with them. They were meant to assure them of their election, and to encourage them to walk worthy of the calling to inherit the Kingdom and the resurrection.
16 ‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” (Exd 31:16-17 NASB)
10 “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised (i.e. a sign of the required circumcision of the heart). 11 “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. (Gen 17:10-11 NASB)
D. So, in the New Covenant God has likewise revealed Himself in order to confirm the covenant with the elect. The theophany upon which the New Covenant is based is the cross. The cross of the Messiah was both an atonement by which those who repent and believe would be qualified for the resurrection as well as the fullness of the revelation of God.
E. This established our faith in God as synonymous as with a life defined by the humility of the cross. Just as in all of the covenants, inclusion into the Ekklesia at the end of the age is conditional upon perseverance in the lifestyle conformed to the image of God in Christ.
26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. … 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. … 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. (Hbr 10:26-27, 36, 39 NASB)
13 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Mar 13:13 NASB)
F. So, repentance and belief—and thus righteousness—are defined by our acknowledgment of the cross of the Messiah as the revelation of God, and our conformity to the cross.
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (Jhn 6:29 NASB)
23 And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. 27 “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 “Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” … 32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. (Jhn 12:23-28, 32-33 NASB)
G. Conformity to the cross is not advanced discipleship—as is commonly presented in the West—it is the only discipleship of the New Covenant.
17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; … 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (Jam 2:17-22, 24 NASB)
H. So, the Ekklesia of the Messiah is a witness on the earth of God and the cross with the Spirit being left as a promise which guarantees our inheritance in the resurrection. The Spirit works to bear witness to the cross by conforming the people of the Messiah to His cross, as well as by strengthening them with the powers of the age to come.
I. Just as the cross was a sign to the generation of the Messiah that He is long-suffering, and slow to anger, so we are a sign in our long suffering of God’s patience and love.
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1Pe 2:11-12 NASB)