The Salvation of the Christians: The Cross, Part 3 (What Changes with Christianity? Continued)

Bible and crossWe continue to consider how, if salvation by faith is based on the covenant with Abraham, Christianity is different. So far, we’ve covered two points:

1. Christianity is based on promises already fulfilled. Judaism is based on promises not yet fulfilled.

2. “Faith” in Christianity is faith in Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah and LORD. In Judaism, it’s faith in God and a Messiah not yet revealed.

To these we now add —

3. In Christianity, the nations are invited in, granted repentance unto salvation, and grafted into the Jewish root. This was promised to Abraham and appears occasionally in the prophets, but it was a radical change in God’s relationship with his people.

Before Jesus, much of the Torah was dedicated to separating the Jews from the Gentiles. Commands such as circumcision, the Sabbath, the food laws, and the annual festivals marked the Jews as a distinctive people. When the Gentiles were invited in, these commands were obsolesced and needed to be obeyed no longer. Gentiles did not have to become Jews to be saved. Rather, the intent in Christianity was to erase the distinction altogether.

(Eph 2:11-16 ESV) Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands–  12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 

In fact, not only did God intend to join Jew and Gentile into a single body, but this was a mystery kept hidden until the time of the apostles —

(Eph 3:1-6 ESV) For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles–  2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,  3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.  4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,  5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel

4. The Spirit was poured out on all flesh. In the OT, the Spirit was only given to the kings, prophets, and a few artists and composers. But in the new covenant, everyone receives the Spirit.

(Joe 2:28-32 ESV) 28 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.  …  32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

The Spirit will fulfill the promises of Deu 30:6, Eze 37, Jer 31:31 ff, to circumcise hearts, to change hearts from stone to flesh, to change dry bones to an army of flesh, and to write God’s laws on our hearts and minds.

The Spirit is involved in our atonement and marks us as God’s people and builds us into a temple for God to dwell in through his Spirit.

In a sense, then, we become kings. It was especially the OT kings who received the Spirit, and so the Spirit helps transform us into the image of God, restoring us to Gen 1:26-28 — which is not only God’s images but servants of God placed in dominion as rulers over the cosmos. This is the future toward which we are being transformed and moved.

5. Jesus becomes, for us, the image of God that we strive to imitate. Our ethics are no longer 613 commands but the image of the Messiah. With the help of the Spirit, we follow Jesus by learning to serve, submit, sacrifice, and even suffer as he did.

6. We are the light of the world. Isaiah called Israel to become a light to the nations, and Israel failed. Jesus then himself took on that role, and now assigns it back to Israel — the true, spiritual Israel made up of those who have faith in Jesus.

As we imitate Jesus individually and as a community, God is helped to draw the lost toward his Son. Hence, the Christian community is much more evangelistic than was Israel.

7. Baptism becomes the entry rite for Christianity. It’s hard to find baptism in the stories about Abraham. In Exodus, baptism parallels the Red Sea. And yet baptism is a highly individualized event, whereas the Red Sea was a national event.

Efforts to compare baptism to ceremonial washing under the Torah are never very convincing. Insofar as we can tell, baptism speaks to the Red Sea, to the outpoured Spirit, and to the fountain of forgiveness spoken of by the prophets. But nothing in the OT remotely requires baptism.

On the other hand, Paul is very explicit in Gal 3 and Rom 4 that we are saved by faith because of the covenant with Abraham. The blessings credited to faith — grace from God especially — are tied entirely to faith and not at all to baptism insofar as the First Testament is concerned. (We’ll consider the baptism implications in the next post.)

8. The Lord’s Supper is our Passover, our “blood of the covenant” (Exo 24), a preview of the marriage feast promised in Rev and Isaiah, a reminder of our freedom and the price at which it was bought.

9. The Kingdom is not of this world. Israel was a theocracy — a nation ruled by God through his king and his judges. Now, the Kingdom is ruled by God through Jesus, but it’s bigger and other than modern nation-states. We may legally be citizens of our own earthly nation, but we are ultimately and most importantly citizens of heaven, that is, the Kingdom. We serve Jesus as King. We serve anyone else only to the extent Jesus tells us to.

Our Kingdom has no military — not in the worldly sense of the word. But we are very much at war with the Prince of the Air, that is, Satan.

As a result, much of the Torah has become moot because it speaks of running Israel as a nation with civil courts and even an earthly, mortal king. Those parts of the Torah are no longer relevant.

10. Like the Jews of the First Century, we are, in a sense, in Exile. But the entire world will be our Promised Land. The meek will inherit the earth. But for a while, Satan remains ruler of much of this world. But Jesus will prevail in the end, and we will reign with him.

11. In Rom and Gal, Paul tells us what parts of the Torah survive —

(Gal 5:14 ESV)  14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

(Rom 13:8-10 ESV)  Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

There are a couple of ways to look at this. Part of this is this is what’s left of the Torah after we remove the moot, obsolesced pieces. After all, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus eliminates the Levitical sacrificial system. Many commands were designed to separate Israel from the surrounding pagan cultures. Now that the spiritual Israel — the church or the Kingdom — is separated by its ethics and the God it worships but not by physical boundaries, these commands no longer serve their intended purposes. “Love your neighbor” survives.

Or we can look at as Jesus taught us to —

(Joh 13:34-35 ESV)  34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

It’s not just that there’s this command we must obey. Rather, to be like the Messiah we follow, we must love as he loves — sacrificially. It’s about becoming like Jesus. And because Jesus is the image of God, it’s about being restored to God’s image — becoming new creations who are like the original creation. We are to be human in the way God always meant for us to be. And with some practice, the new way of being should fit comfortably enough, because it’s a return to our Manufacturer’s specs.

And that seems to be a pretty good place to stop. Perhaps the readers can add to the list.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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7 Responses to The Salvation of the Christians: The Cross, Part 3 (What Changes with Christianity? Continued)

  1. rich constant says:

    ithink the best way to put our obegation to the glory of god is to in like faithfulness of the Son,
    reciprocate the love that has been given to us that believe…
    rom.12:1-2 or3

  2. rich constant says:

    your first point
    better watch out jay
    what
    your coming close to alluding to
    what john mark mark speaks as Paul’s
    present
    those promises that have BEEN Christ Risen.GLORIFIED that are Paul / us present, and will be future.
    that which abides now FAITH…HOPE…LOVE

  3. rich constant says:

    that last commet

    OOPS..!!!!! SORRY

  4. rich constant says:

    ALBEIT TRUE
    KINIDA LIKE PRICE READ THIS AN HOUR HOUR AGO.
    SENIOR MOMENT!!!!!!
    🙂

  5. rich constant says:

    WISH u guys would hurry up… i want to see if were on the same page…
    it is not like i don’t have questions…i could use help with.

  6. Dwight says:

    The Jews and the Gentiles were indeed grafted together on the root of Judah, which is Christ. And yet they were not asked to give up their individuality either. The Jews could remain Jewish, as that this wasn’t sinful and what God had placed them into, but this Jewishness didn’t justify them before God. They had to come to Christ. They had to come to love thier enemies, who had been those who were gentiles, as brothers and in this way love Jesus. They had to show the grace that God had shown to them in all those early years. Abraham’s promise was fulfilled in Jesus through them, despite thier often turning away from God.

  7. Richard constant says:

    Ok I’m going back to my anime cartoon show

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