Biserica din Om

Biblical exegesis

 

Is the Church One or many? (Part I.)

 

 

Gabriel Baicu

07. 10.  2012

    

The unity of the True Church of God is not only a past or future event, it is a present, and actual reality. This is one of the best demonstrate teachings, in the New Testament, but also one of the most neglected. Why is so neglected? Because many see a possible threat to the stability of the religious institutions, and prefer not to speak at all about that. What are then the biblical foundations for the thesis that, in the present time, there is in fact One true Church of God, and many religious institutions? The whole development starts with the text existent in the gospel of John, chapter 17, where we learn that, before being crucified, Jesus prayed to the Father that all Christians to be one. I have to say that there are at least 15 years that I maintain that this is a very important set of teachings, which can make a lot of light in the hart of Christianity. Because, almost accidentally, I found that there are few other teachers who present the same thesis, I consider that detailed explanations of how the unity in the Body of Christ has to be understood are needed. I quote from the New Testament:

“And now I am coming to you; I am not longer in the world, but they are in the world, Holy Father keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one just as and I are one.” (John 17; 11)

Another quotation:

 “I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one. Just as you and I are one. I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me.” (John 17; 21-23) I am using for these quotes the “Good News Bible – New Testament, edition 2005” 

First of all, one can be able to see that the unity among the Christians is the condition of the viability of the Christian message to the world. “May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me” The unity of the Church is the most important message given by Christ, regarding the relations between his followers. In order that the world believes that Jesus was sent by the Father, the Christians must be one. In fact they are one, but their unity it is a spiritual unity not an institutional unity.

Secondly, speaking about unity, Jesus didn’t emphasis a natural, worldly unity, based on compromises but a perfect one. What is the pattern of this unity, requested by Jesus, in His prayer? It is the unity which is characteristic for the inner reality of the Trinity. “Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you.” Inside the Trinity there is a perfect unity, and we speak about ‘consubstantiality.’ Between the Father, the Son, and the Holly Spirit there is unity in essence, in ‘ousia,’ and the same unity is desired by Jesus to exist between the Christians, who are members of the true Church of God. In fact, this fundamental unity, this unity “in substance” exists between the members of The One Spiritual Church. It is not a unity in the future; it is a unity existing in the present times. It is a unity which binds together all Christians who are guided by the Holy Spirit, and of whom human nature is amended by their spiritual regeneration. It is not possible to be otherwise, because we don’t have, in the Bible, any example of prayer, made by Jesus, which was not answered by God. Let me quote again form the New Testament:

“They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and said, <<I thank you, Father, that you listen to me.  know that you always listen to me, but I say this for the sake of the people here, so that they will believe that you sent me.” (John 11; 41-42)

Why were then these words, between Jesus, and the Father, recorded, and noted? It is for our sake, that we can understand that all Jesus’ prayers were answered by the Father. The bound between Father and Son is perfect. The Son doesn’t need to plead to the Father, in order to persuade Him to do something. The Son, and the Father are one, and all that was done, and that was said, by the Son, was in perfect agreement with the will of the Father. In other words, not a single initiative was taken by the Son, before to be decided together with the Father. All the words said by Jesus, in His earthly life, were given to Him, by the Father. Let me take another quotation:

“Do you not believe, Philip that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I have spoken to you, Jesus said to the disciples, do not come from me. The Father, who remains in me, does his own work.” (John 14; 10)

We can safely affirm that all words uttered by Jesus were, in fact, said by the Father, through the Jesus’ mouth. The Father and the Son is one God, even if they are in two different ‘hypostasis.’ When Jesus prayed Father prayed, in the same time, because the Father was in Jesus. Not to answer to the Jesus’ prayer, concerning unity was equal with the situation in which Father would not listen to His own prayer, but that is an absurdity. Concerning the unity of the Christians, we can easily notice, at a first glance, that almost 2000 years melt away, and the prayer of unity was not positively answered. When then can we hope for unity, considering the fact that in the present there is more divisions, than in the past? More and more Christian denominations were added, in the history of Christianity, and the trend is an increase in their number. It seems like we are going in the opposite direction. Why were all the Jesus’ prayers answered positively, but not the unity prayer, which is essential for the Church?

It is true that if we look around us and see the divisions among the religious institutions we can be tempted to conclude that Jesus’ prayer was not answered, in a positive manner. But may be we don’t look where it should. If we look carefully, we can se that behind the institutional Churches there is a spiritual reality, the Christ’s Bride, constituted by spiritually regenerated Christian, who don’t always know each other, personally, and who are spread amongst many Christian denominations, and some of them are outside all such denominations. Some Christians are totally independent in their faith, and are not members to any institution or Christian organized religion. The perfect unity among Christians existed in the past, exists in our days, and will exist in the future, but this is a spiritual unity, not an institutional unity. In the midst of obvious tensions, and visible divisions among institutional Churches, The One Spiritual Church enlightens the paths toward eternity of those who believe in God.

The unity between the Christians, born from God, is a unity “in Christ.” I will try to clarify this aspect. The Church of the elect is the Body of Christ. I quote:

“God put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. The church is Christ’s body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere.” (Ephesians 1; 22-23)

The place of the born again Christian is “in Christ,” and this situation can happen only when He dwells, through the Holy Spirit, in the human beings. Another quotation:

“In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2; 6-7)

In order to be able to understand the unity of the Church of God, as a present, not a future reality, we have to start we the fact that Christ is not divided. (1 Corinthians 13) In the same time, we have to see the complexity of the Christian phenomenon, and the inherent polarity of the Church of God. On the one side we have, the high spirituality taught by Christ, and on the other we have, the organized religion. The true Church of God is constituted by those known by Christ, before the foundation of the world. (Romans 8; 29) All the members of the true Church of God will be saved, because their salvation is prepared by God, in Christ, beforehand. What I am saying is that the true Church of God is made by the elect, and it is not an institution or another, but it is a spiritual reality. On the other side, we have many religious institutions, and organizations, which we call them Church. In this type of institutions one can find many types of people, spiritual, and carnal, and many type of interests. What is the relationship between them? In fact, many members of the true Church of God are members in one or in another religious institution, and that is the connection between the One Spiritual Church of God, and the many institutional Churches.

Is the Church of God, in the same time, one, and many, or is it one in essence, and many in manifestations? I reckon that what divides The Body of Christ are the doctrines, the human understanding, which is by nature limited, and finite, and what unite the One Spiritual Church is the presence of God in the human persons. When God is present in us, our relationship with Him is not based on the acceptance of a doctrine or another, but is based on His Holly Spirit, that is, it is based on real, vivid experience with Him. God doesn’t communicate to us any particular dogma or doctrine of faith, but He makes us feel His presence. If you know God in you, and experience His presence, you don’t need any doctrine to confirm or contradict that kind of spiritual experience. For this reason we can find authentic people of God in any Christian confession. With Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxies, Protestants, Baptists, Pentecostals, and so an, we find everywhere great experiences with God, and great people of faith. God doesn’t make any difference between Christian confessions when He gives tremendous spiritual experiences to people of faith.

God doesn’t make any difference amongst His people, and He doesn’t condition His relationship with one person or with another, by the appurtenance of that person to a certain Christian confession or to another. Only humans make this difference. Why is that? Because is humanly to do it. God saves persons, individuals, and not religious institutions. We have to understand that. The affiliation to a certain Christian confession or to another it is not a guarantee for our salvation, and on the other side the formal attachment to a certain Christian denomination or to another, it is not a handicap for our spiritual trajectory. There are not institutional Churches saved as such. That is, there are not institutions which are saved, but persons, and each, one by one, that means, in a personal manner. God didn’t embody Himself, in a certain religious institution or another, but in a Person, in Jesus Christ. Salvation is for humans, who understands God, and feels how God feels, and thinks, how God thinks. Religious institutions don’t have feelings, they have rules, they don’t love us, they organize us, never forgetting their own interests, and their survival. Religious institutions have their own agenda, sometimes very different from God’s agenda. For example, a humble, unnoticed person, for a religious institution can be very precious for God. Why is that? Because the institutional Churches function manly on the basis of the theatrical spectacle, and silence, and contemplation, doesn’t find there any place.

The true Church of God it is not One and many, it is One, but the manifestations of Christianity are very diverse. What I am saying is that while there is only One true Church there are, in the same time, many institutional Churches, with doctrines, which contradict each other. I cannot maintain that the Church of God is One in essence, and many in manifestations, because not all the manifestations of the institutional Churches are real exterior manifestations of the true Church of God. Rather, I should say that the true Church of God’s manifestations are not identical with all the manifestations of the Christian institutional Churches. For example, when people were burned to the stake by the official Christian institution, the true Church of God was not there. When seek persons were considered witches that was not an authentic manifestation of the true Church of God. The antifeminism, the hostility to the development of modern sciences are not the manifestations of the true Church of God, which is The One Spiritual Church. All of the above are manifestations of an organized religion, named Christianity, which was not intended to become a powerful institution or many, by Christ. Jesus was in conflict with institutionalized religion, with its incapacity to understand the human personal aspirations. Why then do we introduce the same religious institutions, and we empower them, on the back of Jesus’ teachings? It is probably because sometimes we don’t have access to the authentic, the spiritual teachings of Christ. They cannot be understood but only by people who are spiritually regenerated, who are born again. Jesus said that unless we are born again, we cannot see or enter in the Kingdom of God. (John 3; 3-6)  In other words, if we are not born again, meaning, spiritual regenerated, transformed, becoming a new creation, we cannot understand or ‘see’ God. With natural human minds, it is impossible to understand God.

The One Spiritual Church is not another Christian denomination, it is the spiritual status and unity of Christianity. Jesus prayer was answered positively by the Father because the true Church of God is in perfect and complete unity despite so many divisions of the visible Churches or rather of the Christian religious institutions.

 

 

 

Content of messages

Model of the first Christian communities (12. 03. 2013)  The distinction between institutional and non institutional Christianity, consists in the fact that, in the early Christian Church, the spiritual element was more present than the institutional one. It was a time when the institution was not there, it only started to be formed gradually. The Christians were persecuted and their communities were based on the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, rather than on the exegesis of the written texts of the canonic Bible. There was a risk being Christian. I refer to the risk of martyrdom. During the apostles’ era, only people truly called by God came to God. ... (read more!) Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up (12. 03. 2013)  Although the existence of a single Church of God is a fact well demonstrated in the Bible, we can not accept the principle of the uniqueness of the Church of God if we don’t accept the validity of the water baptism of the young children. Why? This is because, otherwise, we have to ask all Christians to be baptized at maturity, and where, most likely, that this does not happen, many Orthodox Christians and not only would remain on the outside. If our own salvation through faith is a gift from God, what right have anyone to judge whether a person is saved or not, regardless of the age when the water baptism took place, as long as that person has personal faith in God? ... (read more!) Faith without love is dead (12. 03. 2013)  Jesus died for us on the cross. What does this mean? He sacrificed Himself voluntarily for us and for our benefit. What for? This is the big question: What we gain from His sacrifice? We gain a justification, a grace, not depending on us, but which becomes effective for us when we believe in this grace. From this point of view, grace is universal in that it applies to all those who believe in God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." (John 3, 16 NRSV) In other words, we have access by faith to God, free and guaranteed full access. This access does not mean automatically that all they have it is using it correctly. The gift of God is dependent on our faith, but we have to receive correctly what we are given ... (read more!) It is more blessed to give than to receive (12. 03. 2013)  What kind of God do we have? It is one who believes that "giving" is more satisfying than “receiving.” (Acts 20: 35) From this we can draw many conclusions. Firstly, the image that God is an absolute master, requiring blind obedience from us, proves, once again, to be a false one. God does not expect us to give him anything, but he wants to give us its treasures of wisdom and knowledge. God needs people who know how to accept and appreciate what they get. The heavenly Father is not a selfish Person who expects us to give him glory, praise and other forms of recognition that they produce complacency. ... (read more!) Turning to Christ (12. 03. 2013)  I advocate a return to Christ, not only to the Bible, not just to the first Christian communities, the so-called apostolic Church. Why? I found that it takes a continuation of the Reformation, a New Reformation even, in order to deepen what others, in the past have started. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others reacted correctly to the development of Christianity in its almost one and a half millennia of history. The problem is not how far they went with their Reformation, but from where they started it. In the mean-time almost another half millennia passed away and many things have changed in the way that humanity perceives the possibility of the existence of God and the right approach to Him, but most importantly in the interpretation of the biblical texts ... (read more!) Born from above or sinners (12. 03. 2013)  No man on earth can stop sinning as long as it is still motivated by his human nature. Why? This is because every man is a sinner in God's sight precisely because of his human nature. Sin dwells in us, in our genes, in our most profound structure. I don’t refer here to facts considered criminal or offensive by the society, which are also sins in God’s eyes, because all this can be prevented by education. There are many citizens all over the world, who never performed any crimes or offences, in their entire life. Nevertheless, this time I want to speak about the interior movements of any human being and to the visible sins. Hard to be seen from the outside, some sins, such as: malice, hypocrisy, envy, greed, indifference, selfishness etc. ... (read more!) Looking for the true Church of God (07. 10. 2012)  In the context of the existence of so many Christian denominations the question about the true Church of God is entirely justified. Each and every Church presents us with the claim that it is the true Church of God and that its doctrine is the correct one and maintains that all other Christian doctrines are marred by mistakes. It is understandable that the universal spiritual experience of Christianity is mirrored by the cultural traditions of the receivers and that these traditions leave their marks on the particular mode of expression of faith. The forms of expression of Christianity in Brasilia, in Siberia, in Africa or in North Europe are not the same. The way I approach the subject is not so much influenced by this acknowledgement, because I am not concerned primarily by the modes of manifestation, individualised by cultural expressions, of the Christian movement. I am mostly concerned with the doctrinal differences of diverse Christian denominations, inscribed in their doctrines and dogmas and which differentiates them. The acceptance of certain specificities doesn’t affect the unity of Christianity if there is an accord on the principle of the imperfection of human knowledge, concerning the issues of faith. There are two kinds of unity, spiritual unity and institutional unity. ... (read more!) Is the Church One or many? (Part I.) (07. 10. 2012) The unity of the True Church of God is not only a past or future event, it is a present, and actual reality. This is one of the best demonstrate teachings, in the New Testament, but also one of the most neglected. Why is so neglected? Because many see a possible threat to the stability of the religious institutions, and prefer not to speak at all about that. What are then the biblical foundations for the thesis that, in the present time, there is in fact One true Church of God, and many religious institutions? The whole development starts with the text existent in the gospel of John, chapter 17, where we learn that, before being crucified, Jesus prayed to the Father that all Christians to be one. I have to say that there are at least 15 years that I maintain that this is a very important set of teachings, ... (read more!) Is the Church One or many? (Part II.) (03. 11. 2012) The relationships which binds together the born again Christians, from all over the world, and all times, it is not a conventional or organizational one, in the sense of the religious organizations or institutions, it is not even a connection based on the same cultural values. I will try to describe this relationship through an analogy. Let’s say that a very influent, and reach person organizes a party. The reach person knows many people, but the guests themselves don’t know each other, at least not all of them. All the guests will arrive at a certain point to know each other, when the party will be on, but this was possible by the initiative of the influent person, not by the actions or decisions taken by the guests themselves. Something similar happens with the Church of God. We don’t know each other, but Jesus knows every one of us. ... (read more!) Real Christianity and New Reformation (part 1) (11. 11. 2012) This reform involves replacing institutional authority with the principle of Christian love which is the exact opposite of this type of authority, enjoyed by institutional churches. In other words, religious institutions, as such, will not disappear but will be counted in, more and more, as a secondary factor for human salvation. The main factor is very God, direct and personal relationship with Him and He shall occupy the chief place in the life of the believer and not institutional churches. Church is not an intermediary between man and God. The true Church of God is constituted by all the saved and all individuals are firstly saved, than members of the true Church of God, and not the other way around. The path to salvation is Christ, but not only as a mean but also as a purpose. In order to be saved, one has to be like Christ, willing to live and to die for the ‘other.’ The church is not giving us salvation, but Christ, who lives in us, leads us to His only Church and gives us salvation. ... (read more!) Religious intolerance in Christianity (11. 11. 2012) I can not say, with absolute certainty that the best option for water baptism is the child or the adult, but I can safely say that we must respect the beliefs of everyone in this and in all other aspects of spiritual life. Christian faith is based on their beliefs and not "absolute truths." Certainly any Christian believes that Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life, for them, that is a truth with absolute value. But I do mean to relative doctrinal truths that claim to be "absolute truths." Latter does not exist and everyone who says that he or she has such "absolute truths" lies. In the Bible, in Mark 16 to 16, says that he who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the text does not exist in the first manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark and hence in the original manuscripts, after which, receive copies were made. The original text of the Gospel of Mark was lost. As there are no other NT texts to confirm that Jesus said these words, those in Mark 16 to 16 must be put in question. We know we have to go through water baptism, but to be honest, outside our inauthentic text of the Gospel of Mark 16; 16, we have no Biblical basis requiring firmly the principle that water baptism of adults is the norm. ... (read more!)

Navigare website

 

mobile version Biserica din Om

Mobile version!

 

Mesaje actualizate

 

Religia crestina in lumea de astazi

Pentru a clarifica afirmația că România este o țară creștină, afirmație trâmbițată de unii propagandiști care se pretind a fi vocea tradiției și apărători ai credinței creștine trebuie să pornim de la o anumită premisă...

uploaded: 29. 12. 2015

read more

 

Fanatismul religios

O credință religioasă foarte puternică poate duce la intoleranță atunci când întâlnește o altă credință religioasă la fel de puternică. Pentru un om care se angajează total într-o credință religioasă intoleranța față de alte religii este o tendință naturală...

uploaded: 15. 12. 2015

read more

 

Crestinii si Crestinismul divizat

Deseori, în ultima perioadă de timp, am fost întrebat de ce religie sunt și răspunsul a fost, cum este de la sine înțeles, mereu același, sunt Creștin. Din nefericire, aceasta a devenit o religie inacceptabilă pentru timpurile noastre.

uploaded: 26. 10. 2015

read more

 

Calea ingusta care duce la viata

Puritatea doctrinară și puritatea morală sunt două lucruri foarte diferite. Din nefericire mulți Creștini le confundă între ele și consideră că dacă este cineva mai fidel unei anumite doctrine creștine cu atât este mai pur din punct de vedere moral în ochii lui Dumnezeu...

uploaded: 21. 09. 2015

read more

Postul Crestin

Unele Biserici instituționale au denaturat practicarea Creștinismului așa cum a fost acesta indicat de Isus (Iisus). Ele au înlocuit învățăturile Mântuitorului cu tradiția lor adică cu tot felul de ritualuri care țin loc de o autentică practică creștină. Astfel postul a devenit un surogat prin care se înlocuiesc alte valori cum ar fi generozitatea, sacrificiul de sine, cinstea, interesul pentru aproapele nostru, dragostea creștină.

uploaded: 18. 07. 2015

read more

Chipul si asemanarea lui Dumnezeu

Toate doctrinele Bisericilor instituționale sunt imperfecte și mărginite în capacitatea lor de a îl cuprinde în înțelegerea lor pe Dumnezeu. Nici o organizație religioasă nu are capacitatea de a îl reflecta pe Dumnezeu în frumusețea caracterului Său...

uploaded: 05. 07. 2015

read more

Natura divina din om

Atunci când ne naștem nu suntem numai carne păcătoasă, avem în noi imaginea lui Dumnezeu, deoarece am fost făcuți după chipul și asemănarea Lui...

uploaded: 12. 06. 2015

read more

Libertatea de a il alege pe Dumnezeu si impietrirea inimii

Am scris eu oare, în articolul precedent, că Dumnezeu este nedrept și că salvează pe oricine dorește, în mod arbitrar, fără criterii, dar și că împietrește inima oricui dorește, și că astfel împiedică aceea persoană să fie salvată? Am afirmat cumva că Dumnezeu poate împietri inima unui om și astfel îl poate ține departe de credință, și că, după acest fapt, tot El îl azvârle apoi în iad, pentru a fi chinuit veșnic?...

uploaded: 10. 05. 2015

read more

Pacatul, vinovatia si responsabilitatea crestina

Religia creștină, la fel ca multe alte religiii, este un fenomen complex care nu se oferă cu ușurință celor credincioși, spre cunoaștere și spre înțelegere, în lipsa unor repere spirituale sigure. Reperele ne sunt necasare pentru a ne putea orienta și a da un sens credinței pe care o considerăm ca fiind și credința noastră. Să abordăm un prim reper...

uploaded: 21. 03. 2015

read more

Revolta lui Satana si necesitatea revelatiei

Este adevărat că Dumnezeu a iubit foarte mult lumea, a se înțelege toată creația Sa, încât a dat pe Fiul Său să moară pentru ea pe cruce. (Ioan 3; 16) Este la fel de adevărat că și omul, prin Omul Isus (Iisus) atât de mult l-a iubit pe Dumnezeu încât  s-a sacrificat pe Sine pentru El și a fost gata să își dea viața pe cruce pentru ca Dumnezeu să poată să guverneze în pace asupra universului și să poată să îl învingă pe Satana, dușmanul Său....

uploaded: 19. 02. 2015

read more

Fiul Omului

Cu alte cuvinte, dacă Dumnezeu le-ar fi arătat îngerilor dragostea pe care a dorit să o demonstreze la cruce, înainte de căderea în neascultare a lui Satana, ar fi spulberat dinainte orice îndoială a lor și nu ar mai fi fost nevoie de crucea Golgotei...

uploaded: 19. 01. 2015