Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jesus Christ; Pre-eminent?

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15,16a ESV)

Since Paul wrote those words, the activity of those people calling themselves Christian, has been a declining flurry of furthering the interests of a plethora of movements, the insistent propagation of diverse teachings, and, with natural cunning, the connivance with humanistic means, of the interests of an institution. 
Far too many, who call themselves “Christian”, believe that strong adherence to a form of systematized doctrine, which many call “a testimony”,is the mark of what they profess.

The “testimony” is often proudly declared by loyalty to a group of people who have a denominational, or theological name (Presbyterian, Methodist, Reformed, Arminian,Calvinist, etc.). 
I could not count the number of times I have heard it called by the euphemism "the work". Attendance at pastors/church conferences conversations are liberally peppered with comments regarding "the work", or, “our mission”. 
Nowhere, in Scripture, are we called to develop, nor to convince people to become followers, adherents, members, or support of such institutionalized activity, which becomes known as "the work". 
The Church, the Body of Christ, is not an institution, even though we, by the propagating of the above means, have made it appear to be so. 
The Scriptures clearly show that the Church has no being, in God's mind, apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and His New Covenant inaugurating, finished work. Any assessment of the Church, from a Biblical point of view, is according to the measure in which the fruit of the indwelling Spirit of Christ is in evidence. 
The Scriptures clearly reveal that the testimony of a genuine Christian is not some arrangement of truth, couched in a certain phraseology acceptable to, and formalised by a denominational institution. 
Why do we get the idea that there is such a diversity of movements and teachings?

Where does the competitive spirit, which is so patently obvious, as groups, both within and without denominational entities, vie to be seen as “the true church”?

Apart from Paul's call as an apostle, is not the responsibility of every one who claims to have Christ revealed in them, exactly the same as that given to Paul?

Look at Paul's words above: Jesus Christ, and all that pertains to Him, is the central message! "...That I might preach Him."

Without question, and despite the many protestations, Jesus Christ has not remained central and pre-eminent, in the function of that which professes to be “church”, and, as evidenced worldwide,the matter of prime importance has become that of maintaining, the denominational, or, the systematic theological status quo.

Right at this time, in the USA, there is a battle going on amongst those of a very large evangelistic denomination, where humanistic attitudes and jealousies, the unworthy, pitiable mess that exists in the organization of Christianity today has become the norm, and the distinctives of each group has become the ground of fellowship, instead of our relationship with our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Whether or not we confess the truth of the matter, it IS true, that in the day in which we live, the majority of what passes itself of as a “Christian ministry” has only a name dropping relevance to that to which Paul, and every other genuine Christian, is called.

Christ IS our work, as Paul understood in Col.1:18, And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 
Why is that so important?

Because as we see in Hebrews 9:15, as Saviour, “.....he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” 
The Lord, Jesus Christ, not church leaders, not movements, diverse teachings, nor institutions, stand between God and man, who naturally are at variance, and ONLY He did, and continues to do the work of mediation and reconciliation.


Anonymous said...

Hello Ausie John,

This is my very first blog comment ever. There you are in Australia and here I am on the outer banks of NC. Weird! Even more strange is that it's Sunday there and Saturday here.

I'm getting ready to teach 1 Cor 3. It's interesting how this passage is usually applied at the local church level, i.e. live in unity with one another. However, I was sharing with my wife the other day that the factional groups in Corinth are really no different than the denominations we have today--I'm of Paul, Apollos, Peter, or Christ. Hmmm! Every one of those groups represented the gospel in some way. But just like you said, they got away from what (or Who) is preeminent. It's no wonder why the church lacks Spiritual vitality today--the cross of Christ (aka the wisdom of God) has lost it's central location. Get em' saved then let's get on with some vision casting. There may be a million "visions" but only one cross of Christ--the power and wisdom of God.

Thanks for the post. It was very edifying and a good reminder of how all believers can live in love and unity under the preeminence of Christ. I appreciate the Spirt's work in your life to speak to us today. God bless!

Craig Schmidt said...

I know of whom you speak of toward the end of your insightful article. I have given up that system because, as I looked down the road to where "they" were heading, I saw nothing of lasting importance for myself in service to Christ.

It is of ultimate sadness to me that during this recent debate in the SBC between the two factions, that the pre-eminence is not Christ, as I have read comments on it, but how erudite and winsome and loving and truthful the responses are from the opposing side (Calvinists), not how God is being honored or dishonored by even giving voice to the debate.

If there wasn't so much at stake, so much to lose by either side (billions of dollars in wealth!) one side would merely ignore those who are throwing stones and continue their lives in Christ. Maybe this is wrong thinking on my part, but I can't fully develop all the avenues here in a response. Thanks for this insight and keeping me pointed toward Christ!

Aussie John said...


How I wish you were not "Anonymous"!

Never-the-less, thank you for your comment.

I have written elsewhere on this blog, offering the same opinion about "the factional groups in Corinth" being "no different than the denominations we have today", and their loyalties.


Thank you also for dropping by. Aside from your mention of the "much to lose",in dollar terms, by the antagonists and protagonists in these unedifying battles,sinful pride(1John 2:16) is very much to the fore.

Vintage Living said...

Hey John,

Since yours was the one and only blog I have responded to, I have very little experience in blogging. Actually, I didn't want to be anonymous. I tried to figure it out based on the other options given i.e. open ID, Name/URL , but couldn't. Not very blog savvy. It's probably a lot simpler than I was making it. For what it's worth, my name is Jay.

(No Longer )Anonymous

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Excellent post!You, my friend, have nailed it down...again.

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