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“Unity of the Faith” at the End of the Age

Unity of the Faith Conference – Day 2 Session 5

 

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When we discuss unity of faith at the end of the age we are discussing how God has ordained the pressures/trials at the end of the age to bring together a church/bride that is mature in the apostolic faith and able to stand firm as a unified body through the trials that will come. This is the unity we see in the first century church––they stood firm to the point of death in the faith Jesus gave them. This teaching seeks to exhort us in the glory of suffering before the glory that will be revealed on the day Jesus appears, and that these sufferings will bring the very unity of faith Paul exhorts us to contend for.

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“Unity of the Faith” at the End of the Age

BIBLICAL UNITY OF THE FAITH

BIBLICAL UNITY OF THE FAITH

 

 

A. Eph. 4:11-13 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

      1. The Father gave the apostles (and these others) in order equip believers in the unity of faith we ought to possess, which is revealed in Christ Crucified.

B. Romans 16:25 “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested and by the Scriptures of the prophets according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations leading to obedience of faith.”

      1. The mystery that was kept secret has been made known to the apostles through the Scriptures of the prophets in order that believers would understand and obey the faith of the apostles, which is the gospel of Christ crucified.

C. Romans 15:4-6 “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Believers are to be of the same mind (unified understanding) with the apostles, according to the life and death of Christ Jesus, so that with one accord (unity) we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one unified voice.

D. Jude 1:3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you concerning our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints…now I desire to remind you…after saving a people out of the land of Egypt subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.”

We are to earnestly contend for the apostolic faith which has been handed down to us.

E. Problem: The gospel that Paul preached which was the mystery revealed is distorted and interpreted differently by many believers today. This produces disunity of the faith.

F. Heb. 3:16- 4:2 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”

G. Friends, let us not be deceived. The effects of disunity within the faith leads to many not inheriting eternal life, because they do not understand the severity of adhering only to the apostolic faith. THE WAY IS NARROW. There was one way to enter the Promised Land, obedience to the God who had revealed Himself. He had promised He would drive out the people before them no matter how big they were, and the people’s faith wavered because of the bad report of the spies. So, they turned back, saying “Let us appoint a leader to take us back to Egypt.” This ends in their immediate military failure, and their 40 years of wondering in the dessert until they all die (Exodus 13-14).

THE FAITH ACCORDING TO JESUS AND MYSTERY REVEALED

THE FAITH ACCORDING TO CHRIST JESUS AND THE MYSTERY REVEALED

 

 

A. Rom. 15:8 “…For I say that Christ became a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the Fathers…

It is critical that we interpret Jesus life as the apostles did in order to possess this same faith

v.9 “…and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy.”

It is not in accord with the apostles to teach that everything was fulfilled in Christ’s first coming.

B. Rom. 16 tells us that the mystery which was hidden from ages past has now been revealed.

      1. Israel’s Partial Hardening
        1. Romans 11:25 “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not become wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written: The Deliverer will come form Zion, He will take away ungodliness from Jacob.”
      2. Gentile Salvation and Jewish Provocation
        1. Rom. 11:11 But by their (Israel’s) transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles to make them jealous.
        2. Deut. 32:21 “I will make them jealous with a no people, and provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
      3. The Fullness of the Gentiles Comes In
        1. Paul’s understanding of Gentile salvation hinges upon its reflex of provoking Israel to jealous anger. Thus, if Paul is referring to the fullness of the gentiles coming in as a positive event of gentile salvation reaching its peak, within his mind is the fact that this peak has a negative result.
        2. Likewise, if Paul is referring here to Gentile arrogance reaching its peak and thinking that this results in gentile persecution of the holy people, then the interpretation is also negative in its orientation (Luke 21:24 “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by gentiles until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled,”).I believe it’s the second event Paul has in mind. It is an event we must be sober and mindful of in learning how to pray for gentiles and Israel.
      4. All Israel WILL be saved. This is what Jesus died to confirm.

REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY: DISOBEDIENCE OF APOSTOLIC FAITH

REPLACEMENT/FULFILLMENT THEOLOGY: DISOBEDIENCE OF THE APOSTOLIC FAITH

 

A. Rom. 11:17-18 “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

      1. Gentile arrogance is a simple matter at the core of every human heart. We want to be the most important, the best, and we will do whatever it takes to be that. It is simply the same in the theological story. We must not water down the severity of choosing to teach this doctrine. It is not simply a theology someone flippantly chooses, it is direct disobedience of the apostolic faith that serves our own interests instead of humility towards the root of Israel.

B. Replacement Theology is a curse as foretold by God in the covenantal terms.

      1. Deuteronomy 28:43 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher, but you will go down lower and lower. He shall lend to you but you will not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.”
      2. The scope of this curse is not fully depicted in Scripture, yet, we can see that Israel has been made the tail even within the theological world. God has caused this.

JEWISH/CHRISTIAN ZIONISM: NOT IN ACCORD WITH APOSTOLIC FAITH

JEWISH/CHRISTIAN ZIONISM: NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE APOSTOLIC FAITH

 

A. The approval of Israel taking back land by force, even by military and political force, is opposed to the Apostolic faith. It is akin to first century Jewish zealotry that perceived the blessing of the covenants divorced from their conditional elements as explained by God in detail in Deuteronomy 11; 28; and Leviticus 26. The Messiah restoring the land of Israel through Israel’s end-time suffering and salvation is the view of the apostles.

      1. 1 Peter 1
      2. Rom. 11: And so all Israel will be saved, just as it is written; ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob,” (Is. 59:20).
      3. Israel’s Final Trouble
        1. Deut. 28-30; 31:29; 32; Jer. 30; Daniel 9; Daniel 12
      4. Israel’s Final Salvation
        1. Isaiah 59-66; 40-66.
        2. Zech. 14

SOBRIETY AND CONTRITENESS REGARDING DISUNITY OF THE FAITH

SOBRIETY AND CONTRITENESS REGARDING THE DISUNITY OF THE FAITH

 

A. The first stage of realization in the disunity of the faith within the church usually can produce years of anger, sometimes malice, and often slander. This is a fleshly response, not from the Spirit, and one that I am the chief of. Often times I laugh it off with a cockeyed smile and say “Lord forgive me for that…” when I’m around other brothers. 

B. If the understanding of the state of the church and its current disunity regarding many doctrinal and theological matters does not turn into a spirit of grief, and mourning for Jesus’ bride then we are missing the point. Paul’s concern for the church is clearly expressed in his writings, as well as his intense desire that we be in unity with each other.

C. I am often found asking the Lord the question of “How are going to bring about this unity of the faith about which You speak?” The answer seems to come back to me more often than I want to hear it: Trials. Pressure. Fires. Persecution. Martyrdom.

“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God,” (Acts 14:22).

      1. I think as we get closer to the Day, the “church/kingdom” who has had clout in the political arena since Constantine will continue to lose influence, and believers will be faced with the choice of realigning to apocalyptic faith or continue to redefine and assimilate. As the end of the age approaches, there is beginning a “forced reorientation” or delusion and denial of reality. Obviously this is more seated in the West, and we already see a lot of this taking place. All that to say, I feel like the context of the end will create the theater for an increasing minority church to live out apocalyptic faith. Persecution will help solidify the community in its convictions, as well as encourage unity among brethren, (David R.).

THE SWORD OF <em>THE FAITH</em>

THE SWORD OF THE FAITH

 

A. When we discuss unity of faith at the end of the age we are discussing how God has ordained the pressures at the end of the age to bring together a church that is mature in the apostolic faith and able to stand firm as a unified body through the trials that will come. This is the unity we see in the first century church––they stood firm in the faith Jesus gave them. However, we must not become disillusioned as we see brothers and sisters begin to turn away from the apostolic faith and gospel. We must be sober and understand that Jesus prophesied these events, and it is for the testing of our faith that these fires have begun.

B. Matt. 10:34-39 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law; and a mans enemies will be the members of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

C. Luke 12:49-56 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother in law against daughter in law and daughter in law against mother in law. And He was saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze the present time?”

D. We must regard the present sign of disunity among the Brethren as the Lord drawing a line in the sand. The apostolic faith and those willing to stand for it are increasingly becoming the enemies of modern intellectual theology (MIT). The sword of the Gospel is beginning its threshing across the field of the world and it either cuts you down to humility, or you converge slowly with those who change the apostolic faith to suit their own interests. In the midst of this confusion God is raising up a church that is courageous yet contrite, while holding firmly to the apostolic faith even unto death at the hands of their enemies.

THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH IN THE FIRST CENTURY

THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH IN THE FIRST CENTURY

 

A. How did the church live through the pressures of first century persecution?

      1. When addressing the “success” of Christianity and the survival of the Gospel through the persecutions of the first century we must understand how this occurred. Often times we take for granted that the Gospel just continued on, forgetting that it was the ones upon the stakes, in the mouths of the beasts, being rent by the saws, and engulfed in the flames that gave the courage to the church to stand firm in one faith.
      2. Martyrdoms:
        1. James murdered by sword by Herod. James, Jesus brother, murdered by stoning by Sanhedrin. Peter, crucified head-down, at the hands of Nero in Rome. Paul beheaded by Nero around the same time as Peter’s crucifixion. Mark, had a rope placed around his neck and was drug through the streets of Alexandria until he was dead. Philip, crucified in Heiropolis upside down next to Bartholomew, and supposedly preached from his cross so that the crowd took Bartholomew off of his cross and Philip insisted that they not take him off of his cross. Bartholomew, after being taken off the cross journeyed to Armenia where he was flayed alive and hung head-down on a cross. Andrew was crucified and while he hung upon the Cross was also stoned in Kurdistan. Jude was beheaded in Syria. Simon the Zealot sawn in two, or crucified. Polycarp was burned at the stake and thrust through with a spear.
      3. 1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you that comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”
      4. The apostolic church of 70 AD was unified in their theology of suffering. Thus, they endured all forms of torture and death, showing us the simple way and termination of our faith in this age––Martyrdom. The church must therefore be unified upon our theology of the Cross, which is always suffering before glory.

THE GENTILE CHURCH OF THE 1930'S

THE GENTILE CHURCH OF THE 1930’S

 

A. Where was the church of Europe during Nazism?

      1. Conversation with friend in Israel regarding supersessionism in the Palestinian Christian church.
        1. He did not feel concern over the matter that the pastor who was discipling Muslim Background Believers was a supersessionist. Nor did he feel the need to speak to her about it. He also expressed that he did not think that her mindset would lead to her turning her back on Jews during the time of trouble. I find this mindset to be the case often. Yet again I pose the question: Where was the 99% believing population of Germany during the Holocaust? Theology always precedes practice.

B. The population of Germany in 1933 was about 60 million. The Christian registry supported statistics of 20 million Catholics and 40 million Protestants, making practically all of Germany to be professing believers. The Jewish population of Germany was thought to be 1%.

C. Within Germany arose two forms of Christians under Nazi rule, however both parts operated under the authority of the German Evangelical Church.

      1. Deutsche Christian–German Christians– Embraced many of the nationalistic and racial ideals of Nazi ideology. Sought the creation of a Reich Church, supporting a Nazified version of Christianity. They left the apostolic faith.
      2. Bekennende Kirche–Confessing Church– Opposed to the German Christians. Founding document stated that their allegiance was to God and Scripture, not a worldly Fuhrer. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Pastor Martin Neimoller were members of this Christianity. They attempted to stand on apostolic faith.

D. IN 1943 Hitler declared that all of the Jews in Denmark be rounded up and deported. The Danish resistance movement managed to evacuate 7,200 of the 7,800 Jews living in Denmark across the sea to Sweden where they were safe.

THE CHURCH UNIFIED IN THE FAITH OF THE APOSTLES

THE CHURCH UNIFIED IN THE FAITH OF THE APOSTLES AT THE END OF THE AGE

 

A. Courageous and Cross Minded

      1. Josh. 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
      2. Matt. 10:24-28 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
      3. 1 Peter 4:13 “… to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice in exultation.”
      4. Rev. 2:10 “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.”

B. Contrite and Covenant Holding

      1. Isaiah 66:2  “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
      2. Rom. 15:8 “…For I say that Christ became a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the Fathers…It is a simple manner of following Jesus to also become a servant to the circumcision -even dying for them.

C. Discerning and Sober

      1. Jer. 9: 24 “…but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”
      2. 1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 

Stephen Holmes Stephen Holmes (18 Posts)

Stephen Holmes is a missionary pastor who lives with his wife and three kids in various nations seeking to give a faithful witness of the Gospel to the Jew first and also to the Gentile through Bible Teaching, Preaching, Song and Discipleship.


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