The Oneness Model
The Corporate Solution
The Corporate Unit:
After dealing with the lifestyle and the family unit, we now move to the problems, purposes, and distinctions of the corporate, world-wide body of believers. That the church should end its mandate on earth, unified, holy, powerful and successful is assumed by this article. Jesus prayed for it in John 17, therefore, it is assured. Jesus' prayer cannot go unanswered, that's unthinkable, and also the prophetic end requires it.
First it's important to define just who is the corporate body of believers called the church? The debate over when the church started is academic. The important issue here is to track the various functions of the church. If one sees the church in terms of its member's eternal destiny, than it started at Adam. All believers, of all time, who exercise faith and receive super-natural bodies, will have their eternal destiny 'in Christ'. No one has eternal life of his own. It is eternal because Christ is eternal, and we are in him. There is no other option.
Alternatively, if one sees the church as individuals infused by the Holy Spirit into a corporate body with a commission to reach the world, than the church began at Pentecost. There are many functions of the church, therefore many definitions. The church is a very multifaceted entity. Like an elephant close up, there are the possibilities of many different views.
For our discussion here though, we will be talking about a prophetic, end day, entity that can best be described as a body. A single, but many membered, organism, with a single command system, a single concept of truth or faith, a single voice, a single mission. It is firstly spiritual, but it will be physically organized according to Biblical concept. Three separate lines of authority, the Prophetic, the Apostolic, and the Pastoral, will submit to each other. Each has its own divine mandate and sphere of influence for expressing its authority and fulfilling its mission. Jesus' inner three, Peter, James and John, represent this separate but united authority schema. The United States was apparently wisely designed from this model. This end day church will also have its own legal system with something similar to the 71 elders of Israel, the Sanhedrin.
But without getting into all the details, the main question remains, who are included into this body called the church. It may even have a new name, due to its radical new identity and composition. Most Christians realize that the Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Charismatic, etc., denominational organizations are less than divinely instituted. These have served there purposes. They have allowed a diversity of expression, faith and purity like no other structure would have. In a world where no one speaks for God, everyone may claim to speak for God. God has not chosen any of them as his spokesman, in spite of what they might claim. But God has spoken through any and all that have yielded to his Spirit. But the day of every man for himself, and false corporate voices in God's economy is about to end. God is about to incorporate the 'real' church, the final church, the prophetic church described above.
Paul says there will be 'unity in the faith'. Faith in this context means a single concept of God and his truth. Its the same state Jesus predicted when he said the Holy Spirit would lead us into 'all truth'. There is coming a single, consistent, view of reality. That is an astounding statement in light of today's conditions, but it's not inconceivable. Jesus had it. Jesus didn't know everything, as some would like to fantasize. Jesus walked by faith just as we must. Through his study of Torah and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he comprehended a 'truthful' view of history, the future, and his own ministry. We will do the same.
So, we will arrive at a single doctrine, or 'gospel of the kingdom'. But who's? Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran? Whose 'faith' will it be. The right answer, it would seem logical, is no one's. The doctrine will be so significantly new that no existing denomination one will be the inheritor. Every doctrine possess some truth, but the 'all truth doctrine' will require everyone to move sufficiently for it to be uncomfortable.
So, 'unity in the faith', or the 'new treasure' or the 'gospel of the kingdom' as Jesus labels it, will be outside of the current Christian sphere. This is the beginning of the whole truth about oneness. But there is more, much more. Left there one would be certainly be in a dilemma. How could God construct an entirely new gospel outside of Christianity in such a short time. (The newness is required because of Christianities slide into error). If this new doctrinal position were in some random direction, it might be impossible, but it is not in some random direction. It is in the direction of a body of truth much older and well established than even Christianity. It is towards the camp of God's very beloved and special people, Israel.
The truth is, that the end day church will not be the Gentile church as we know it today. It will look very Jewish, but it won't be Jewish either. Judaism is much like Christianity. It is also split into many factions, none of which possess the whole truth. Judaism too will have to journey far enough to be uncomfortable. God has a cure for arrogance in both of his people, they are both wrong enough that everyone must change. But they are also both right - half right to be exact. This might sound like some arbitrators recommendation -a compromise right down the middle. This isn't ecumenism or appeasement, this is prophetic beauty. God will sanctify his people with the truth.
The reasoning behind this remarkable scheme will reveal why it is so powerful and so right. Each of these great nations possess half the truth. Each comprehends God through different eyes. One with the eyes of the mind the other with eyes of the heart. This truth is unlocked by observing the action of God at the beginning of the millennium. Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16 repeats an OT prophesy about the new covenant God will make with Israel (and probably all Kingdom citizens).
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Heb. 8:10
Here God discloses a secret truth. The problem of Israel was that they did not maintain a complete revelation of God. (This is not just Israels problem however, the church has done the same thing.) The law, as given, was a complete revelation of God and his kingdom. Over and over again God admonishes Israel to 'fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds'. The Word of God is dividing a very important prophetic truth here. He is saying that to truly 'know' something, one must comprehend it with the mind and the heart. There is two views of God - the view from the mind and the view from the heart. This is so dramatic that there actually appears to be two Gods. And we must see them both. He will make sure of that in the future 'day' of rest, the millenium. That is why it will be the millenium, because everyone will comprehend God fully. That is not hard to relate to. All of us know 'mind' people and 'heart' people. Don't we all know someone on one side of the equasion and have secretly thought how nice they could be if they were balanced with the complementing quality. The truth of the end time will reveal a single, but complete God, that is precisely his plan.
Looking back through history with a prophetic eye, we see Israel struggling with their first revelation of God. God repaetedly warned them about manitainig their full revelation. After the division of the Kingdom, the 10 northern tribes forsook entirely God and this covenant. Judah struggled to remain faithful to God. But as their hearts hardened the inner vitality of their Torah centered lifestyle diminished. In God's soverign will, Israel would keep her sacrifices and Sabbaths, her study of Torah and Mitzvahs (good works) but as beautiful and engrossing as these are, they are only the patterns of perfection, not perfection itself. They became entised by the objects and forgot the true object of their worship. In their sin they hardened their hearts. They became lovers of knowledge, not lovers of truth.
The record shows their tragic mistake (for them) as their Messiah visited them at the appointed time. In their blindnes and hardness of heart, their leaders created a false Messiah. A Messiah that fit comfortably within their wishful reality. A powerful king who would come to reaffirm their kingdom, to reaffirm their positions of authority. We all know the outcome. National Israel, the Royal House of David, was left desolate, and the Kindom of God was given to another 'nation'. The Spirit of grace would blow accross the face of the earth softening all the hearts of manking. Forigners and strangers would now be welcomed into God's expanded kiingdom. Whosoever will, would come. A new corporate body was incorporated and commissioned, the church as we know it today was instituted.
History shows that the early church was entirly Jewish. The foundations of the church, the Apostles, were all Jewish. Jesus said they were 'clean' because they had been with him. There was a single 'faith', and a single voice coming forth from Jerusalem at that time. Through Paul the revelation of the true God spread to the Gentiles. The requirments for membership in the houshold of faith were temprarilly suspended. The gospel spred to the world. But soon the church was filled with Gentiles, and the Apostles and their disciples died. By now Israel had been conquered and destroyed. The membership and leadership began to shift to the Gentiles. The Gentiles did not see beauty in the ashes of Israel. Through misconceptions they did not perceive the perfection in the law of the Torah. They had the example of failed Israel, and associated the lifestyle and their ritual form of religion with emptiness of spirit and heart. Christianity rediscovered the inner spiritual vitality of true worship. They loved God. They would never make the mistake Israel had made - sustitute form for true faith in God. But Gentile Christianites power and success was accompanied by an equal arrogance, even as Paul had warned them about.
Slowly at first but with incresing zeal, Christianities leaders also recreated their Messiah. They rewrote their doctrine removing all evidences of their Jewish heritage. They knew a God of love and grace. They knew a Spirit that comforted and guided them with a new inner compass. They gathered the writings of the Apostles and created new Scriptures. They moved the day of worship and the redefined the cerimonial year. They redesigned Christianity to express the God of love that they knew. They redifined God as a God of the heart. And so, they completed the 'correction' of one error with an equally limiting error. Christianity would, for almost 2000 years, absorb themselves with the heart of God.
With this veiw of history it becomes apparent what God's prophetic purposes for Israel and the church are. Two distinctly different 'nations' who claim the same God, a God of order and unity. A God who removed the barrier between Jew and Gentile 2000 years ago. But a God who has permitted his two peoples to remain estranged, antagonistic, and often enemies for nearly 2000 years. The head people and the heart people. God's explosive formula for truth. But what exactly does that mean? How must Christianity change? How must the Jews change?
First one thing must be made clear. If history is any indication, only a portion, and likely a minority portion, of Judaism or Christianity will respond to this sanctifying truth (setting apart). It is frankly hard to see any of the 'named' groups making such radical change so quickly. It will be a time of tearing and pain for many as the division required for full consecration proceeds. The new church will likely be composed of individuals from all groups, both Jewish and Gentile. We see what appears to be a formal, and perhaps final separation of the 'church in name only' from the 'true church' in a pattern in the first chapter of Esther. That pattern is explained in more detail in #6.
So, in our search for the corporate oneness we are finally ready to diagram the two sides of this truth. It will not be hard to see the symmetry in this list. It seems the tendency of immature man to allways pick a side when confronted with such diverse concepts. But a mature man, with the help of the Holy Spirit, struggles to comprehend, and contain them both. The easy way is to settle on one, and devise arguments why the other is wrong. Isn't that the story of mankind in so many ways. There is probably a larger truth here - that most of mankinds honest debates are over opposing views of a single truth. This truth will force us to be bigger than we've been.
The two scriptures below help to define the two different God's, the God of Israel and the God of the church. Any one reading this for the first time would certainly conceive two separate God's. The first God:
THE GOD OF ISRAEL
On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets. As an aroma pleasing to the LORD, prepare a burnt offering of one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With the bull prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. These are in addition to the monthly and daily burnt offerings with their grain offerings and drink offerings as specified. They are offerings made to the LORD by fire--a pleasing aroma.
Most Christian's cannot conceive of a God like this. Their theology has no place for him (it is erroneous theology). This is a technical God - concerned about dates, ceremony, numbers, mesurments, recipes, animals, aromas, etc. How can this have anything to do with love, compassion, relationship? And twice it said directly how much this God enjoys the pleasing aroma of these sacrifices. This God really enjoys this stuff! Who is this God, they would ask? Even when Christians force themselves to recognize the past existance of this law stuff, they know it was just a shallow ritual that God would just as soon put behind him. He had to do it to bring us to the truth we have today, they would reason. But this isn't just ritual for this God - he seems very serious, and takes great plasure in it. This is the God that Israel knows, and serves even to this day. They are not wrong in refusing to abandon this God.
Next we see the Christian God. He is not a technical God. He is a God of love, forgiveness, grace.
THE GOD OF THE CHURCH
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
This God did all the sacrificing for us, we are just asked to believe. No demands, no rituals, just mother love. This God is not complex, he does not make our eternal relationship with him complex. He just invites the world come and receive.
Clearly two different God's - seemingly unreconcilable. And their are two distinct peoples in the earth to prove it. Could God actually have a middle ground? Could he actually have planed it this way from the beginning? The answer to both is - yes. The truth of the oneness of the body of Christ is somewhere in the middle - assuming the doctrinal issues can be resulved. And they can. This is what Paul meant by 'unity in the faith'. One of the biggest issues, is covered in more detail in the lifestyle section (#4).
This has great repurcussions for both sides. It breaks a prophetic impass. It humbles both sides of their arrogance, they will both have to say we were wrong. It fulfills Scripture. It says to Christianity that they were wrong insisting that the Jews leave their Biblical/Jewish lifestyle. To Judaism it says, they were wrong rejecting the Messiah.
We see a flood of cross-pollenization.
What is God up to here, and how is he going to create unity of the faith? A single unified world-wide body of believers.
Only a unified body could realistically hope to say to the world 'I speak with the voice and authority of God'. Christianity tries, Judaism tries, but the world isn't buying it. God is not speaking clearly yet. He cannot deliver the final ultimatum, God would have no right to end the age in judgment today, as he did with Israel 1900 years ago. God has a fractured messenger service, speaking a fractured message. But here again it is just as it is supposed to be, God is not behind in his game plan, he has no catching up to do.