All the various interpretations of prophecy. [I will make a serious point here. This website considers the "amillennial" interpretation
of prophecy to be in total error, because this interpretation
has created fertile ground for anti-Semitism throughout European
history from the 300's AD onward.
non-essential area, understand, no matter how you interpret
prophecy, it will not hinder your walk with Jesus or your
spiritual growth, just so long as you are majoring in the
majors of Christian growth.
will say this, there are two major divisions of the body of
Christ, both within the Gentile and Messianic branches, that
take a major stand between two pre-millennial interpretations
of prophecy, the Classic/Historic Pre-Millennial interpretation
and the Dispensational Pre-Millennial interpretation (pre-trib.
RAPTURE). By doing
this, they are making a NON-ESSENTIAL into an ESSENTIAL belief
within their churches and setting up an artificial barrier
that Satan just loves. This
is an area where Augustine and the apostle Paul said there
should be LIBERTY
and FREEDOM to believe as one chooses.
[see also http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/definitions.htm
.] Paul said it himself, that when we look into the prophecies
in the Bible, we are looking into a darkened glass. So many churches and denominations are setting
themselves up for some major hurts and potential collapse
by taking too dogmatic a stance on their pre-millennial interpretations
of prophecy. It would be far better for them to allow more
freedom in these areas, while sending their biblical scholars
to prophecy conferences set up for both groups of pre-millennial's
to attend. And there, with prayer and fasting, implore
the Lord to reveal to them a more accurate understanding that
will help unify all, while still allowing local members to
maintain their own interpretations, because, remember this
is a NON-ESSENTIAL. I
won't back down on this issue, because the churches and denominations
are being just plain stupid and pig-headed on this matter,
at the future spiritual expense of their local members when
they are forced to admit they were wrong on a particular interpretation
they were pounding the pulpit on, which turned out to be wrong.
I know what happens to a denomination
and churches within it that have come to admit doctrinal error
and have to teach a different and more valid interpretation
of what they were teaching before, and it wasn't pretty. Divided churches, a divided denomination (into
three separate ones), divided friends, divided families (divorces)
all were the nasty fruit that was borne of having to admit
"doctrinal error". Prophecy in these end-times will march on and
become fulfilled (as it always has and always will), and those
taking a dogmatic stance and then learn they are wrong about
what they have been teaching will cause major disruption and
division within their denomination and congregations.
I wouldn't be hammering so hard on this issue,
except that I lived in a denomination that had to admit doctrinal
error, and saw churches, the denomination, friendships, and
yes many marriages break up as either an indirect or a direct
result (mine included). So count this as a warning. I'm not taking sides in the Classic Pre-millennial/Dispensational
"argument". I want
to see this issue handled properly and responsibly through
neutral prophecy conferences, attended by all the biblical
scholars and teachers from each side of this "doctrinal fence." Nothing else, in my opinion, is acceptable.
Taking pot-shots from the pulpit at the "other side"
is totally unacceptable. This site is all about spiritual unity, not
Exercise of "spiritual gifts", such as "tongues"
or non-exercise of them (and there is way too much of pastor's
taking pulpit pot-shots at other congregations and denominations
that don't agree with their beliefs in this totally non-essential
area--on both sides of the fence.
It must stop.)
of church government (I will explain this later)
of Praise & Worship
customs associated with the Lord's supper, taking communion. [Again, two major styles for taking the Lord's
supper are held by the two major divisions within the body
of Christ, Jewish and Gentile (and a third type of custom
is held by the Sabbatarian Churches of God going back to the
early customs held by Polycarp, Policrates and the apostle
beliefs about heaven, hell, the Millennium and the "unsaved
dead". [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm
just to get an idea of how varied the secondary
beliefs can get in this area.
And every single denomination thinks they're right
and everybody else is wrong.
Somebody must be wrong-- but who?
When it comes to your salvation, it just doesn't matter
what you believe in this area--it's all NON-ESSENTIAL doctrine.
Chose the interpretation you think is most biblically
accurate and go with it! Have fun (your pastor might not), do some research.
list could go on and on.but Romans 14 basically touches on
all these non-essentials by showing us how we should deal
with them. If you're in a group that tends to believe one
way, and you believe another, "have faith to yourself" on
such a matter is what Paul says in verses 14-23 of Romans
14. Paul also brings
out the seriousness of going against one's Christian conscience
in verse 23. He's basically
addressing the issue of a Gentile Christian convincing a Torah-observant
Messianic Jewish believer it's ok to eat pork or break the
Sabbath command. He's
saying "Don't do it! You're causing that believer to sin."
in the "non-essential" area of prophecy, this site must soundly
reject the teaching of amillennialism which spiritualizes
Scripture and denies the literal 1000 year reign of Jesus
Christ on earth as described in Revelation 20 and numerous
Old Testament prophecies.
This site does so for two major reasons.
1) Amillennialism and Replacement theology are two
doctrines that have historically provided fertile ground from
which 1700 years worth of anti-Semitism have grown.
[see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/twodoctrines.htm .]
first reason is backed up by the recent work of the Holy Spirit,
Who has very effectively restored the Jewish branch of the
body of Christ--with some estimates placing the number of
Jewish believers in Yeshua being as high as half a million
people (while other more conservative estimates put the figure
somewhat smaller, the lowest being between 50,000 and 75,000,
which I believe it too low).
This is a very significant work of the Holy Spirit
that has gone almost totally unnoticed over the past 35 years.
But, nonetheless, Christians that do hold the amillennial/replacement
theology interpretation are still indeed Christians--if the
Spirit of God indwells them (cf. Romans 8:9,16). Remember, salvation is an act of God, where
He places his Holy Spirit within an individual who has come
to believe in Jesus and has called out to Jesus for salvation.
God the Father is the one who usually draws a person
to Jesus and this belief in Jesus as Messiah (John 6:44,65).
Then how that person is nourished depends on what spiritual
source (church denomination) he chooses to attend.
That church will then tend to mold or determine this
new-believer's secondary or non-essential beliefs.
Many Christian churches are right in their understanding
of the "essentials", but differ in one or another particular
non-essential belief (say a prophetic belief, for example,
or new-earth vs. old-earth creationism).
The biggest essential
for a church and its pastor, again, is that once a
person is born-again, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that church must nourish (disciple) the new-believer
in the Word of God until he or she starts bearing spiritual
fruit. Let's read about
these fruits and what good works they lead us to perform.
First turn to Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of
the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Against such things there is no law."
Now let's see what kind of lifestyle these fruits of
God's Holy Spirit lead
to. Matthew 25:31-40,
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels
with him, he will sit on his throne [cf. Zechariah 14:9] in
heavenly glory. All nations will be gathered before him, and
he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd
separates the sheep from the goats.
He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on
his left. Then the
king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed
by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared
for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a
stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed
me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and
you came to visit me.' Then
the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you
hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to
drink? When did we
see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and
clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go
to visit you?' The
king will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for
one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for
me.'" When a Christian
has the good works described in those passages of Scripture,
he or she is bearing spiritual fruit, no matter what their
secondary non-essential beliefs are.
That is the core of Christianity, and what all Christian
church denominations and congregations ought to be leading
their members toward, true spiritual maturity. The congregation or church you belong to should
be steadily nourishing you until you reach that level of spiritual
maturity. If you find
that's not happening, then you need to do something about it. Now let's look at another aspect of what might
make up our imaginary "perfect church", church government.
let's take a quick survey of the three major styles of government
found within the differing denominations.
And then we'll look at a form of church government
that may be even better.
The Congregational form of government: "The congregational
form of church government is an American invention and appeals
to our American sense of democracy.
Basically, the congregation as a whole makes all decisions
in these churches by voting on matters of importance and appointing
committees from its ranks to run the daily operation of the
church. Most Congregational,
Baptist, Pentecostal, Brethren, and non-denominational churches
are organized in this fashion. The congregation votes on hiring a pastor, votes
on how to spend the money, and on anything else of importance. Although democratic people like the idea, congregational
forms of church government often wind up at best causing the
pastor to be directed by the sheep he is supposed to lead,
and at worst reducing the pastor to a hireling." (excerpted
from the booklet "What Calvary
Chapel Teaches", p. 6, by Larry Taylor.)
The Episcopal form of church government: "The Episcopal
form of church government, used by Episcopal, Anglican, Catholic,
Orthodox, and Methodist churches (to name a few) is controlled
by a church hierarchy which may have differing names.
Basically, there is a bishop, or someone of similar
stature if called by a different name, who oversees the churches,
appoints pastors to pulpits, sets policy, and guides the vision
of the local congregations. Unfortunately, this style of government, which
grew out of European monarchies, leaves little freedom for
the local pastor or congregation to follow the leading of
the [Holy] Spirit." (ditto, p. 7)
The Presbyterian form of church government: "The Presbyterian
form of church government, which is typical in Presbyterian
and Reformed churches, puts the decisions of church polity
in the hands of a select group of elders (the "presbytery")
who are appointed in various different ways, depending on
the church. These elders
are over the pastor, who in turn is over the congregation. The problem here too is that this system puts
the God-appointed leader, the pastor, under some of those
he is supposed to lead." (ditto, p. 7)
Affiliated Semi-Autonomous church government: "This
is a very simple form of government, not a complex bureaucracy;
committees and sub-committees are essentially non-existent.
The pastor is responsible for the church, responsible
to hear from God, and responsible to feed and love God's people
faithfully. Elders are appointed in the larger churches
to help the pastor care for the spiritual needs of the congregation,
as are deacons to help the pastor care for material needs
of the church. [This is the biblical form of church government
that apparently the early Christian congregations followed,
although they did answer to a HQ church, located in Jerusalem, when questions of major church doctrine
and vision arose. That
is why I use the term "semi-autonomous" and not "autonomous"
to describe this form of government.]
In addition, this form of church government
on the local level has church boards as required by most states,
which vary in size depending on the size of the church, and
which usually are made up of mature Christian businessmen
who can advise the pastor with respect to the business operations
and decisions of the church, such as property management and
organization is de-emphasized, and only the organization that
is needed to run the church is instituted.
The pastor guides the church as he is led by the Holy
Spirit, and in this form of church government God is trusted
to put pastors where He wants them to be." (this description adapted from the form of government
described for Calvary Chapel's in Larry Taylor's booklet "What Calvary
Chapel Teaches", pp. 7-8.) In this form of church government, the HQ church
congregation maintains a watch over the major doctrinal integrity
of its affiliated congregations and lends a central "vision
and focus" (spiritual "cohesiveness") to the affiliated congregations. This form of church government is very simple,
not a complex bureaucracy, which places the local pastor at
the head of the congregation he leads, under God's direction
and guidance through the Holy Spirit.
This gives the local congregation flexibility in how
it can meet the spiritual needs and evangelistic outreaches
to the local community it finds itself in. This is something best handled on a local level,
which the other forms of church government don't really allow
Come Together and Celebrate a Birthday!
birthday of the Church is on the day of Pentecost. In the Old Testament book of Leviticus chapter
23, verses 15-17 we find the Holy Day of Pentecost described. There is a tremendous spiritual significance
to these Holy Days, as Messianic believers already understand
.] But in Leviticus
23:15-17 we find not only how to count to the day of Pentecost
[it always falls on a Sunday if you use the biblical method
of counting], we find a very interesting offering described. If you know anything about the law of offerings,
you know that no leavened bread was ever to be brought to
the temple or tabernacle for an offering at any other time
except Pentecost (the Feast of Weeks).
It always had to be unleavened. All the lambs, goats, birds that were sacrificed
pointed to Jesus, Yeshua, and his sinless life and sacrifice. So even the bread had to be unleavened, since
leaven in all places but one in the Bible represented sin. But here in verse 17 it says "From wherever
you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah
of fine flour, baked with yeast,
as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord." Now go to Acts 2:1-47 and see what God did on
that particular day of Pentecost.
He poured out his Holy Spirit on 120 people, and then
on 3,000 more, giving birth to the Church
of God [as its biblical name was in the early
days of the church]. The Church (during the Church Age [i.e. 31AD to Jesus' 2nd
the "firstfruits of God". Now if you study a good church history, such
as Oskar Skarsaune's In the Shadow of the Temple you will
find that there were essentially two major branches of the
Church, Messianic Jewish, and Gentile.
At one point, the Messianic Jewish was the only church,
then through the evangelism of Paul and Silas, the Gentile
branch of the church grew and grew. From the 60's AD to the early 300's AD, the
two branches could have been equal in size, since a lot of
Asia Minor under John, Polycarp and then Policrates, was clearly
Messianic Jewish in days of worship.
Now through a divine miracle of the Holy Spirit, the
Messianic Jewish branch has been restored, all within the
past 35 years in a massive growth spurt.
So now lets put the two passages together.
Leavened loaves cannot represent Jesus or Yeshua.
What else can they represent?
One of the few logical choices would be that they represent
the two branches of the body of Christ, the Jewish and Gentile
branches! So on the first Pentecost, God gave the Law
to Israel, and on the second major Pentecost, God wrote his
laws in the hearts and minds of his people, the church he
just gave birth to through the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:1-47;
So let me propose an idea. It would really be something if pastors from
the Gentile side of the body of Christ would each look up
a Messianic congregation near them and invite them to celebrate
the day of Pentecost with their congregation (say a service
accompanied with a meal). For an easy listing of Messianic congregations
that may be in your area, log onto http://www.yashanet.com/messcon1.htm
. It has a pretty complete
listing. Let me tell you, you will really shock and surprise
them in a very pleasant way if you do this. There ought to be one Holy Day, the birthday of the Church, when it's
two major sides come together and get to know each other. Jesus,
Yeshua, would simply be overjoyed to see this happen. Pentecost this year falls on Sunday, June 12, 2005.
nice expository study on the birth of the church, log onto
. If you are not a
pastor and are just looking for a church congregation to attend,
log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/choosingachurch.htm
, keeping in mind some of the things you've learned from this
article. And remember,
since there are no perfect people on earth (Jesus isn't back
yet), there are no perfect churches.
You just have to find the one that is the perfect church
for you. Don't be afraid
to shop around until you find that perfect match which emphasizes
and majors in the ESSENTIALS and minor's in the NON-ESSENTIALS.
© UNITYINCHRIST.COM 2005]