Last time we went over some very general truths that help the believer understand who he or she is in Christ. We are not the “new Israel.” We are like Israel in that we are also set aside by God, but we have very different purposes for our calling. Again, I will be pulling heavily from Clarence Larkin’s book, The Greatest Book of Dispensational Truth in the World.
What the Church Is Not
The church is not an organization, but a living organism. An organization can be rearranged, added to or subtracted from or otherwise. But an organism cannot be without causing mutilation or permanently destroying the integrity of the body as a whole. This is why no one who is truly born-again can become unsaved. Salvation has always come by God’s grace through our faith. The Law never saved anyone, but was the standard in which everyone would be measured by. Nationally speaking, Israel remained in fellowship with God when they kept the tenants of the law, until Israel/Jews got to the point where the Religion became more important than the relationship. (See Psalm 51:16-17; Jeremiah 31:31-34; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Romans 12:5.)
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch theout of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
For those of us in this dispensation our eternal salvation is a onetime event. Once you become “saved” you cannot become “unsaved” because it is God who does the changing in us, not us changing ourselves. But we, like Israel, can also step out of fellowship with God, and although the relationship suffers, our eternal standing in the family of God does not. In this Dispensation (Church Age) once you are truly born again, you become:
1. A new creation-something new means having never existed before and can’t become un-new (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).
2. Sealed by the Holy Spirit until the Day of Redemption, which is the Rapture (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:5).
3. Jesus promises that those who are given to Him (a new believer) He will not lose, nor can he or she be taken from Him or God the Father (John 6:39; 10:28-30).
So to teach that you can “lose” your salvation means that you can: A) undo what God has created B) Unseal the Holy Spirit’s permanent sealing, C) Overpower Christ by removing yourself from Him and His Father’s hand.
As previously discussed, we understand that the body of Christ is not an organization, but a living organism. But there is symbolism found in the New Testament that alludes to the individual believer as a building. Jesus first compared His body to the Temple (although misunderstood by the Pharisees) in that it could be destroyed (killed) and raised up again in three days (John 2:19). Paul and Peter later use similar symbolism to the Christian as individuals as both a building and tent in relation to the residency of the Holy Spirit. (See 2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 2:20-22; 2 Peter 1:13-14.)
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon the believing righteous as a sovereign act of God, not because of what the believer did, as was the case with Samson, David, and John the Baptist. But the Holy Spirit could also depart from someone, as it did with King Saul, and later on King David feared this because of his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah.
In the Old Testament, the presence of God the Holy Spirit resided in the Jewish Tabernacle and later in the Temple as the Shekinah Glory dwelling over the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Holy of Holies. It is here that I believe God stayed until John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ initiating the beginning of His three-year ministry. (See Judges 13:24-25; 1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Chronicles 5:2,7; Luke 1:15.)
I believe that when Christ began His ministry and was baptized by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit had already departed the Temple and was then manifested “as a dove” which filled Christ the Man in His three year ministry.
Upon Christ’s death, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn in two, signifying that God’s covenant with Israel via the Temple was temporarily, finished. Both Jesus and Paul stated that a future temple would exist, and it would be at that time again that the covenant God had with the nation of Israel (Daniel 9:27) would continue on to finish that last seven years. (See Matthew 24:15; 27:51; 2 Thessalonians 2:4.)
Not the “Kingdom”
The church is not the kingdom. Many denominations within Christendom claim that Israel forfeited her inheritance and that it was passed on to Christian’s. This is incorrect and heretical, and is known either as Supercessionism or Replacement Theology. Both John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13) and Jesus (Matthew 4:12) came preaching “repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus likewise sent out the 12 and 70 disciples preaching the same message of repentance because the ‘kingdom of heaven” was near (Matthew 10:5-7; Luke 10:1-12).
Prior to Christ’s ascension, His disciples asked Him a pivotal question that often gets taken out of context. They asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” You see, the kingdom was that Old Testament offering by God to Israel of a physical, earthly kingdom, in which peace would be the law of the land, the lamb would lie down with the lion; swords would be bent into plowshares and so on. They would be the top nation on the planet, led by their Messiah.
But as we know and as history has borne out, the Jews rejected Jesus’ offer and they crucified Him, thereby postponing the kingdom. The disciples were asking about the kingdom, because it had not yet been revealed to them that God had other plans in place.
While it is true that the Jews rejected this offer of the kingdom and ultimately had their Messiah murdered, the offer itself was one Israel didn’t have the authority to forfeit.
Genesis 15 records that Abraham was asked to kill the animals and array them for this blood-oath to happen, but then God puts him in a deep sleep. Then God speaks this Promise and Prophecy over him as he slept. The oath was meant to symbolize that by the walking through the slaughtered animals together, whoever broke their end of the oath would end up like those slaughtered animals that were strewn apart. But they couldn’t break this covenant, because they didn’t enter into that contract; God did, with Himself on their behalf.
“And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces” (Genesis 15:17).
This was not the case with the Mosaic Covenant (or the Law) in which representatives from all the 12 tribes willingly entered into at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:1-8). So when they failed to live up to their end of the agreement, God allowed their enemies to overcome them. In both instances, the church was neither bound by or inheriting either blessings or curses because the church did not yet exist, because Christ had not yet come to earth as a Man. Jesus Himself stated…
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:12-13).
So the church could not be the kingdom, and neither was it ever promised an earthly kingdom. To which city does the church pray toward? To which land did God promise to give to the church? The Roman Catholic Church would like you to think its Rome, but it is not, neither is it Jerusalem. Paul states that are citizenship is not here, but in heaven. We are to be like Abraham, who was looking toward that city whose Builder and Maker was God. (See Philippians 3:20-21; Hebrews 11:10.)
What the Church Is
A mystery, as explained by Jesus (in a parable) and then as first revealed to the apostle Paul. The apostle Peter would also later come to this understanding. (See Matthew 13; 1 Corinthians. 2:7; Ephesians 3:3-11, 5:32; Colossians 1:26; 1 Peter 1:9-12.)
The bride of Christ: (2 Corinthians 11:2).
Adam and Eve were a type of Christ and the church.
§ Eve was taken from out of Adam’s side. Genesis 2:21; Ephesians 5:29-33.
§ The church was born (symbolically) out of the side of Christ (John 19:34).
§ Eve was created and presented to Adam (Genesis 2:22).
§ Christ presents the church to Himself (Ephesians 5:27).
§ Eve was married to Adam (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-5; Ephesians 5:31)
§ Christ will be married to the church (Revelation 19:7-9).
§ The Kingdom of Heaven is the “mystery form” of the church (Luke 17:20-21; Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 15:50).
§ Abraham was a type of God the Father.
§ Sarah was a type of Israel (laughed at the promise of a son).
§ Isaac was a type of Jesus (Genesis 22:1-19).
§ Eliezer is a type of the Holy Spirit (Genesis 24).
§ Rebekah is a type of the church (She was a gentile bride (Genesis 25:20).
§ Keturah is a type of restored Israel (Genesis 25:1-6).
We see this played out in the Old Testament in type. Israel was called the “wife of God.” (See Isaiah 54:5-8; Jeremiah 3:1-18; Ezekiel 16:1-63; Hosea 2:1-23, 3:1-5), whereas the church is seen as the: “chaste virgin” to be wed to Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 11:2; John 3:29; Matthew 22:1-14.). The church cannot be both the “unfaithful wife” and the “chaste virgin.”
“See the gospel church secure, and founded on a Rock! All her promises are sure, her bulwarks who can shock? Count her every precious shrine; tell, to after-ages tell, fortified by power divine, the church can never fail.” (CHARLES WESLEY, Scriptural, Psalm XLVIII)