Ecclesiology 0011 Corinthians 10:32 • Dr. Andy Woods • October 22, 2017 • Ecclesiology
Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for this morning and we’re grateful for Your church, grateful for the weather and thank You for all the folks that You have brought this morning. I do, Father, ask for your hand of blessing on our classes at all different age levels that are being taught this morning and I just ask for Your hand of blessing on our worship service. I particularly ask for this morning, Father, something You promised to give us, the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit that can help us understand Your Word and I just ask that that ministry would be present and You would be helping us to grow in the things You’d have us to understand because we know that obedience starts with understanding, you can’t obey something unless you understand what Your Word says. So give us understanding and I pray this week that You would help people, help all of us to follow through and obey the things that You have illuminated to us. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.
Good morning everybody. If you could take your Bibles and open them to the Book of 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 32. Thank you to Jim for making those handouts, you must have gotten here at 5:00 in the morning or last night about 11:00 at night because I didn’t get my power point to him until LATE. So receiving a handout seems like a small thing but Jim had to put in some sweat to get that done in time, so thank you Jim. Thank you Alex also for teaching last week. Did you all enjoy Alex’s teaching. Okay good.
Well, no more Protestant Reformation, right. You guys are way ahead of the learning curve, in fact you guys are so far ahead of the learning curve that we completed a 14 week teaching on it two weeks or three weeks before the Protestant Reformation celebration.
1 Corinthians 10:32, we are starting this morning a brand new class and the class that we’re studying is Ecclesiology. You say what is that? Let me just do a fast review, if I could, of the major areas of systematic theology. The Bible was not written as a systematic theology textbook; the reason for that is the Bible, the way God inspired it is it’s what you call crisis literature. What does that mean? Well, it basically means that behind every biblical book there’s some kind of crisis being addressed that the human author is trying to resolve. And we know from dual authorship that the Bible was written by men but it was also inspired by God. So as these men addressed the crisis actually it was the Holy Spirit at work carrying them along and they, in the process of these various crises ended up penning for us the canon of Scripture.
So the Book of Galatians was written to resolve the crisis of legalism that was very real in Southern Galatia. You can go right down the Books of the Bible and you can see a crisis behind each book. Corinthians was written to deal with the crisis of immorality amongst God’s people. Colossians was written to refute the Colossian heresy which was coming there into Colossae. 1 John, 2 John, 3 John were written to combat the crisis of Gnosticism. We can go right on down the list and you can see behind every biblical book a crisis.
So when the biblical writers wrote they didn’t say hey, thus saith the Lord, I’m going to write a book on angels today because they weren’t thinking in those categories. So if I want to get the mind of God on angels, for example, I have to go through the whole canon, don’t I, because there’s no angel book. Right? There’s crises books and I have to assemble the data together much like you would put together pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. And that’s the work of systematic theologians and once they put the various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together it makes a beautiful Mosaic and you can kind of step back and say aha, there’s the mind of God on angels. I’ve got all of the data on angels from the Bible, Genesis through Revelation, organized in a way that you can capture the mind of God on angels.
So what we believe is there’s probably about ten, maybe eleven areas of systematic theology where we need to do this. We need to go through the whole Bible and get the whole mind of God on these ten subjects. And the first one is prolegomena, and these all come from Greek words.; pro means first, legomena means word, so prolegomena literally means first word. And first word means introduction so the first area of systematic theology is figuring out how do you do systematic theology? What is systematic theology? And you get kind of explanations like the one I just gave regarding putting together pieces of the puzzle, like a jigsaw puzzle.
And there are certain things you have to believe in order to do systematic theology. You have to believe that the Bible is God’s Word; you have to believe that the Holy Spirit has spoken in His Word and wants to reveal subjects. God wrote in a way that’s understandable. And so you cover those basic categories is prolegomena.
And then the first major area of systematic theology beyond that is theology, “Theo” means God, so theology is what does the whole Bible reveal about God. And you can’t find that information in one book; you’ve got to go through all 66 books to get the data. Then we have the subject of Christology which is the study of Christ, the Second Member of the Eternal Triune Godhead. And then you have a wonderful study called pneumatology, pneuma is the Greek word for Spirit, so pneumatology is what does the Bible reveal about the Spirit.
People say well, that’s the Book of Acts. Well, the Book of Acts has a lot to say about the Spirit but the doctrine of the Holy Spirit begins in Genesis 1:2 where it talks about the Spirit of God brooding or hovering on the waters. [Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”]
And then you would go from there over to the Book of Exodus where the Spirit of God came upon the tabernacle workers. So the Holy Spirit came upon them to help them with tabernacle construction and you eventually go all the way through the Old Testament, you come to passages like in Zechariah, “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” You would come to Zechariah 12:10 where the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of supplication.
[Zechariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”]
And by the way, Charles Lee Feinberg, who was a great scholar from a previous era, was asked at a Bible conference, is the Holy Spirit found in the Old Testament. And this was a Q & A session and so he started from memory with Genesis 1:2 and then he went from there to the tabernacle workers, and from there by memory, with no Bible open, he went through every single reference to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and the longer he talked the more silent and stunned everybody was because they couldn’t believe that this man had committed so many things to memory. And as the story goes, I wish that was in the days Wi-Fi and You-tube and recordings because I would have loved to hear that, but it took him maybe two to three hours to answer this single question. And so you learn from that wow, the Holy Spirit is all over the Bible. The Book of Acts being an important contribution but you can’t understand the Holy Spirit just from the Book of Acts. You’ve got to go through all 66 Books. So that’s what you’re doing in pneumatology.
And then anthropology, you recognize the word anthropos, right, it’s the Greek word for man, so anthropology is the study of man. What does God say about man? And our views on it are very different than what they’re teaching in public school today because they teach that we’re just naked apes, evolved monkeys or whatever and that’s not what you see in Genesis. It teaches that man is higher than the animals because he’s made in God’s image.
Then there’s a study called hamartiology, the Greek word for sin is hamartia, “ology” means study of, so hamartiology is the study of sin, because you’ve got to get a man lost before you can get him saved.
And then you guys probably know something about this next one since we spent 58 lessons on it, soteriology, soterios is the doctrine of salvation, or the word for salvation so soteriology is what does the Bible say about salvation.
And then angelology is the study of the angels, so that would include the good angels, the fallen angels. Part of that would include a study of Satan who was once a high ranking angel. And so you can add subcategories, demonology and Satanology to the study of the good angels and all of that makes up the great subject of angelology, a really important issue.
A lot of people on YouTube today are making all kinds of speculations about Genesis 6, thinking that the angelic eruption in Genesis 6 is going to happen in the last days because there’s a verse that says “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” [NIV] I have a little experience with this because I just got back from a conference where a lot of people were teaching this kind of thing and I wish they had taken my angelology class because some of the things they were saying… you know, angelology, a study of angelology saves you from some of the errors that were, in my opinion, being made, but I won’t go there.
Jumping to the last one there, eschatology, eschatos is the Greek word for last or end, so eschatology is the study of the end. And you say oh great, that’s the Book of Revelation. No, the Book of Revelation has a lot to say about it but actually the study of eschatology begins as early as Genesis 3:15 where there’s a prophecy that the serpent’s head is one day going to be crushed. [Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”] That’s an eschatological statement. And the rest of the Scripture just sort of fills out in very detail how that’s going to happen.
And then there’s ecclesiology, which as I’ll be sharing with you in a minute, is the study of the church. So for many, many years at the College of Biblical Studies when I was there, I was there seven years, I would teach this class, I think every single semester, and it’s angels, church, prophecy. It was actually angelology, ecclesiology and eschatology. And in our sessions on Sunday morning we’re just going to be focused on the middle part of that, ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church. At some point we’ll get to the others.
So here is the road map of the things that we’re going to be looking at in ecclesiology, at least twelve areas. We’re going to define what ecclesiology is, we’ll probably do that today. We’ll study the differences between the universal church and the local church, because those are two different things. We will look at the six or so word pictures of the church. And we hit this a little bit on Wednesday night, we’ll be coming back to it, we’ll be getting into a subject that’s become an issue of great debate today, when did the church start? What was its birthday? What was its origin? Did the church start with Abraham? Did the church start with Jesus? Did the church start with Paul? And the answer to those is all no, the Holy Spirit started doing something really unique in Acts 2 which He continues to do. But we’ll be able to think through that.
Many, many people today are very confused on the differences between Israel and the church. When it comes to fund raising everybody, all these preachers open up to Malachi 3:8-11 and it says bring to the storehouse the whole tithe and it talks about how if you do this test me and see if this is true, God says, you’re going to be blessed and I’ll pour out so great a blessing on you that you won’t be able to contain it. I will rebuke the devourer. [Malachi 3:8, “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.  Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts.”]
And so many, many churches, when they want to raise funds they begin to go to Malachi 3. Well, the problem with that is that is a passage when God is governing Israel under the suzerain vassal covenant called the Mosaic Covenant. In other words, that passage teaches us a lot of truths about God but it doesn’t directly bind or govern the church. And if you want to go under part of the Law you’ve to go under all of the Law. So you need to bring your tithe to the storehouse, which is what? The temple in the Middle East. Well, there’s a problem there because there’s no temple standing there right now. And by the way, don’t show up on Sunday, you’d better show up on Saturday.
So what people do is they willy-nilly take passages that are aimed at the nation of Israel and they just sort of act like it’s part of God’s plan and program for the church. If you want to understand the principles of giving and finance for the church age you don’t go to Malachi; that’s Israel. You go to 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 where several adverbs, which modify verbs, are used to describe giving. So I just throw that in because that’s how foundational the Israel/church distinction is. It shows you what passages to teach and which ones not to teach. Which ones directly govern God’s people; which ones don’t, because a lot of people think that they’re going to be blessed by God financially because they gave a tithe and the reality of the situation is if you gave just a tithe that’s not going to work because the Old Testament had three tithes, two annually and one every three years. So to get the blessing under Malachi 3:8-10 you need to bring to the Lord twenty-three and a third percent of your income. There’s so little teaching today on Israel and the church; people are very confused about what passages apply, which ones don’t. So we’ll cover that. We’ll cover the idea of what the church is; many, many theologians think the church is the new Israel, that the church is fulfilling Israel’s purposes and nothing could be further from the truth; the church is an intercalation, Roman numeral VI, or an interruption in God’s past and future program with Israel.
Then we’ll look at Roman numeral VII, and don’t panic, we’re not going to do all these today, I’m just giving you the lay of the land here. Under Roman numeral VII we’re going to talk about the purposes of the church. Why do we exist? And what a foundational question to ask, I mean, why are we here? Why do we come here on a Sunday morning when we could have slept in. I was sleeping very soundly and my wife woke me up; I’d probably be asleep right now if she hadn’t done that. So why come out here in the rain on a Sunday morning when we could be at home comfortable. Why are we here, what is the church? So we’ll deal with the purposes of the church.
And then once we understand its basic purposes we’ll understand the activities that are to take place in a church and we’ll be using Acts 2:41-47 to help us with that because that’s the first church meeting. [Acts 2:41-47, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’  Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know  this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.  But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.  For David says of Him, ‘I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope;  because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.”]
And then Roman numeral IX we’re going to talk about the government of the church. How do you govern a church. Is it one man or one woman one vote? Is it congregational rule? Does the majority always win? To me that sounds more like mobocracy than governing the church. That’s kind of like letting the inmates run the asylum, isn’t it?
So we’re going to see specifically that the New Testament lays out governing principles; it’s called elder rule, I’ll show you exactly where those passages are and why God set it up that way. What is an elder, we’ll look at officers. How do you become an elder? What is God looking for in an elder? This is kind of practical, isn’t it, because we vote on elders, don’t we? Or nominate them. And what’s the difference, looking at officers there, what’s the difference between elders and deacons. I mean, what does a deacon do versus what does an elder do? Do you have to be a deacon first to become an elder, or if you get kicked off being an elder do you get demoted to being a deacon. Or is deacon an demotion? And I’ll give you specifically when the office of deacon was raised up in the middle of a difficult time in the church, Acts 6, and how their functions are different than elders.
And then under Roman numeral XI we’re going to look at the ordinances of the church and these are basic practices that the Lord wants consistently applied in His church. And we’re going to discover that there are two of them; one of them is communion, which we do here the first of every month, and the next one is baptism. Now my wife was raised in a denomination, a very good denomination, the Brethren Assembly where they practiced foot-washing. And so people want to know is foot-washing something to be practiced in the church, that’s there in John 13. I mean, why aren’t we practicing foot washing. Have you guys ever been to a foot washing service, a literal foot washing? And everybody sort of cleans their feet up before they go to the service I notice. I’ve been through several of those, it’s a wonderful experience. Is it wrong to do foot washing? Or are we all supposed to be practicing foot washing. So you get into that kind of subject under ordinances.
And then here is the church, the body of Christ, functioning in the devil’s world so how in the world does the church keep itself pure? We know that we are positionally pure because of our relationship to Christ but practically how does the church keep itself pure. I mean, what do you do when someone in the church is involved in a perpetual sin? What do you do then? Because the Bible says, “A little leaven leavens the whole loaf of dough.” [Galatians 5:9]
And actually the New Testament has some very practical commands related to purity and things that are to happen in a church in order for the church to keep itself pure. And part of the discussion of purity we’re going to talk about the ecumenical movement. The ecumenical movement is the urge to merge. There’s a mindset out there that says let’s get together and there are key Christian leaders that say this, let’s get together, let’s forget theology, let’s forget differences between Christians and lest’ join with Roman Catholics, let’s join with Mormons, and let’s save America. So let’s solve the abortion issue, let’s solve the pornography issue, let’s fight against humanism in the public schools, and let’s all… it’s what called the cobelligerent movement. Let’s become cobelligerents against the evil of the day, whether it be abortion, pornography, humanism. And in order to win this battle we’ve got to stop this theology stuff. And once we save America then we’ll get back to theology.
So is it ever acceptable to become a cobelligerent with a group like Mormonism that is totally outside our theological boundaries? And so I would say no, I’ll try to make a case that the answer to that is no because the church loses its purity at that point. And there is a doctrine called separation which is clearly taught in the New Testament. Paul and others over and over again say separate, separate, separate for the purpose of what? Keeping the church pure. So church discipline, the doctrine of separation, those are things we talk about under purity of the church. So anyway, that’s the road map as to where we’re going. And at least you can kind of see what we’re trying to do in terms of the big picture.
We’re going to start this morning with the definition of the church. The Greek word for church is ekklēsía (ἐκκλησία) it’s a compound word. You know what a compound word is? Two words make up one word. So ek is a Greek preposition and it literally means out of. So when Jesus said take the log out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of your brother’s eye, He was using in Matthew 7 the Greek preposition ek. [Matthew 7:5, “”You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”] So ek means “out of” or removal. And that word in ekklēsía is combined with the Greek verb kaleo (καλέω) which means to call. So ekklesia or the church literally means the called out ones. That’s the church, those that are “called out.” Called out from what? Called out from Satan’s turf, Satan’s world, loyalty to Satan.
Probably one of the best statements in the Bible about the church is found in the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:14 and here I think James is talking, if I’m not mistaken. This is the same James that wrote the Book of James; this would be James, the half-brother of Christ. You might want to double check me on that. I think this statement comes from James. But anyway, the statement is, “Simeon” that’s Peter, “has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.”
Simeon has related how God first concerns Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His own name. That’s the church. What is the Lord doing in this present age of grace? He is… not that Jews don’t get saved, many do, but they’re certainly not in the majority. The general pattern of God is He is looking out at the great mass of humanity that’s out there, what, seven billion people on planet earth, and He is taking out from amongst that people a people for His own name. This is something He’s doing worldwide. This is a global movement of God and that’s a wonderful description of the ekklēsía. Now logos, don’t think computers here, logos means word and so from the word logos we get the word ology, which means the study of.
So you take ekklēsía the called out ones, and you combine it with ology, the study of and you have ecclesiology which is the study of the church. What does the Bible say about the church? And I can’t think of a more fundamental thing to discuss other than soteriology because ecclesiology is the explanation of what we, as members of Christ’s body, are supposed to be doing in the present.
Now take a look at 1 Corinthians 10:32. Paul says here, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;” and in the process he identifies the three major divisions of the human race. The first people he identifies are the Greeks and I think here he’s using Greeks as a synonym for the Gentiles. So the very first people group that ever existed are a group of people that we would call Gentiles. And you read about them all the way through Genesis 1-11. That’s the only people group that exists. Genesis 3:15, the first Messianic and eschatological statement in the whole Bible says, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman,” who’s the woman? Eve. “And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, but you shall bruise him on the heel.”
So we know that there is coming one into the human race who is coming from the seed of the woman who is going to crush the devil’s head. So this is called the protoevangelium which means first gospel. It’s the first formal proclamation of the gospel in the entire Bible.
Now the issue becomes through which nation is God going to bring forth His promise? And the short answer to that is He can’t use any nation. Why is that? Because every single nation on planet earth can trace it’s origins back to the tower of Babel. And according to Alexander Hislop in his book, The Two Babylons, and that’s the authority I’m basing this on, and he gets his conclusions by studying Babylonian tradition, it’s a classic book. He describes the religious system that was taking place at the tower of Babel. There was how many languages at the tower of Babel, before God scattered them? One language. So the tower of Babel is a lot like taking a rock and throwing it into a pond and it reverberates outward in every direction.
Whatever sin was taking place at the tower of Babel was taken into every single culture originating at the tower of Babel. So what was happening at the tower of Babel? Well, Hislop describes that there was something going on called the Mother-Child Cult, the worship of the mother and the worship of the child. And the man that was bringing the tower of Babel into existence was a man named Nimrod. Nimrod’s name is mentioned in the Bible; he’s the first leader of world government. He would be a great leader of the United Nations today, this guy, Nimrod, because he was all about globalism. And his name means rebellion or revolt in Hebrew; he was married to a woman named Semiramis, who is not mentioned in the Bible but is referenced in extra-biblical Babylonian tradition. The two of them had a child by the name of Tammuz. Tammuz, according to this legend, was killed by a wild animal and was satanically brought back to life, much like the devil in the end times will resurrect, I take it as a literal resurrection, the antichrist.
So when this resurrection happens to this child named Tammuz everybody started worshipping the mother and the child. And that was a very real religious system that was taking place at the tower of Babel. So when God did what He did and you know the story from Sunday School, He confused the languages. Everybody took with them into their own culture this mother-child system. And Hislop, in The Two Babylons says you can find this mother child system in every single culture. It’s just the names change from place to place because they all originally got this religious idea from what was happening at the tower of Babel when there was just one group and one language.
In Assyria the mother is called Ishtar, and the child is called Tammuz. And by the way, what word do we use today that sounds a lot like Ishtar? Easter, a lot of us celebrate Easter; the problem with that is the Bible never uses the word “Easter.” If you want to celebrate the resurrection of Christ the proper name for it is Resurrection Sunday. And by the way, when people celebrate Easter today they have all these, like peculiar eggs and bunnies and things, and where did all of that stuff come from? Well, that comes from the Babylonian tradition; the Babylonian cult a symbol of pagan fertility. And people, well-intentioned people bring all of this stuff into their houses, sadly they bring it into the church and they don’t really understand its origin of Babylonian nature.
Then you go down to Phoenicia the mother is called Astarte, the child is called Baal. You go down to Egypt and the mother is called Isis, the child is called Osirus or Horus, then you go down to Greece and the mother is called Aphrodite, see, it’s the same system just different names; the child is called Eros. Then you go to Rome and the mother is called Venus and the child is called Cupid. Now I’ve already wrecked Easter for everybody, might as well ruin Valentine’s day too, right? I mean, this idea where you shoot an arrow into someone and they madly fall in love with you, is that found in the Bible. No, that’s tradition, it’s pagan tradition.
Now I don’t recommend you going home and saying to your significant other or your spouse we’re not celebrating Valentine’s day anymore because it’s Babylonian. You got to, in life, pick your battles and it’s the same with the Easter eggs. Do you bring Easter eggs into your home? I’ve taken a stand at this church that we shouldn’t have Easter eggs and bunnies and things like that in the church. How you handle that in your home is really on the basis of grace. I’m not trying to be a legalist on you, I’m just trying to show you where some of these things come from. If you want to accommodate a celebration like that I think it’s important that you at least tell your children where the stuff comes from and the important thing is what’s in the Bible. So how you handle this in your family is just a matter of conscience.
We have Rome, Venus and Cupid, and we go down to Asia and the mother is called Cybele and the child is called Desius. Then you go to India, the mother is called Isi, the child is called Aswara, and oh no, look at this one down here, this is what Hislop says, you go into Roman Catholicism and the mother is called Mary and the child is called what? Jesus. Now by this time, since we’ve done four lessons in the Protestant Reformation you know that the mother and the child in Roman Catholicism is not the mother and child of the Bible. Do we all know that? That’s why there was a Protestant Reformation. The Mary in the Roman Catholic system may have the same name as the Mary in the Bible but it’s not the same Mary.
How do I know that? Because in Roman Catholicism Mary is someone that you pray to; she is looked at as sort of a co-Redemptress, co-mediator. Now that goes right against the Word of God and my mindset is to respect Mary in the Bible, she was obviously a woman used of God. I want to give her her proper place, I don’t want in any way to be disrespectful towards her but at the same time I don’t want to elevate her beyond what the Scripture says, which is what you have in Roman Catholicism. She’s like a co-Redemptress co-mediator. That’s a big problem because 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Now notice in 1 Timothy 2:5 the emphasis on “God and men.” How can you be a mediator or a go-between between “God and men.”
And when you go to Job 9, which was the earliest or first book of the Bible… did you all know that Job was the first book of the Bible? That’s Job’s complaint, I have no mediator, I have no umpire he says, I have no one to stand between us. [Job 9:33, “If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together,” NASB] If I could just get into heaven and make my case to God He would listen to me but I can’t do that because I’m just a man and not God, what I need is a mediator. So the rest of the Bible is answering the plea of Job, in a sense, that there is a mediator coming. The mediator is who? Jesus, who 100% God and 100% man. Only somebody who has two natures, God AND man, what we call in Christology the hypostatic union, only such a person or being could represent man to God and God to man. That’s why the Bible is very clear there’s only one mediator because a mediator must be God and man to represent both. Do you see that?
And the last time I checked the only person that’s ever walked this earth that’s God and man is Jesus. Mary, as wonderful as she is, or was and is, continues to be, you know, in heaven, she was never fully God; she was just a human being. So this explains the folly of the Roman Catholic system or any system where you pray to a saint. We had a student at the college I was working for, CBS, I’m not exactly sure how he got in, this student, but he was very Roman Catholic in his beliefs and when he graduated the sent out an e-mail to all of his professors and he says I want to thank the Lord for my professors, I want to thank Jesus Christ, my Savior, and I’m reading and it sounds good so far, and then he started saying I want to thank Thomas Aquinas who’s interceded for me, I want to thank Mary… and it’s like WOW, this goes right against 1 Timothy 2:5, “for there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Mary doesn’t qualify.
Beyond that in the Roman Catholic system what you’ll discover is Mary remained a virgin her whole life. This is the doctrine called the perpetual virginity of Mary. The problem with that again is the Bible. Matthew 13:55 says, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers…” Now the Roman Catholic Church at this point says those are just the spiritual brothers. Well, that’s not what the passage says, because they’re trying to protect the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. It says, “and His brothers,” literal brothers, “James and Joseph and Simon and” it says “Judas.” Judas actually was a common name back in this time. It’s not today for obvious reasons; how many kids do you know named Judas, if a kid’s named Judas I’d be a little worried about that kid. But it’s better translated Jude. So “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers called James and Joseph and Simon and Judas” or “Jude.”
So obviously what happened is Mary was a virgin at the time of she received the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ. But that child, the Savior of the world, was born into the world and Joseph and Mary had a normal marital relationship, a normal sexual relationship and from that normal sexual relationship came these other brothers of Christ, better referred to as the half-brothers of Christ. They’re called the half-brothers of Christ because these brothers shared the same womb, the same common mother, Mary, but they didn’t share the same father. So these brothers had the biological father Joseph; not so with Jesus. And praise God for that because if Jesus biological father was Joseph what would have been passed down to him? The sin nature, and He would not have been qualified to be the sinless sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
So you can see right here just by looking at this verse that the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary is an incorrect do. And beyond that part of Roman Catholic dogma is the sinless perfection of Mary. Well, that’s a problem because the Bible keeps interrupting these doctrines, doesn’t it? Luke 1:46-47 it says this: “And Mary said:” of Jesus, ‘“My soul exalts the Lord,  And my spirit has rejoiced in God” what’s the word in front of “Savior”? “my Savior.” So Mary is acknowledging here that she’s a sinner just like anybody else, that she needs to be saved just like anybody else. Right? That make sense, because Romans 3:23 says, “For” what? “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “All” is a big category; would that not include Mary?
So Mary is not a perpetual virgin; Mary is not a co-Redemptress, Mary is not a mediator, and Mary did not achieve sinless perfection. So where in the world did the Roman Catholic Church get all of these false ideas of Mary. They got it because the Mother-child cult, according to Alexander Hislop, gained influence over time in Roman Catholicism and if you mention Alexander Hislop around Roman Catholics who are knowledgeable you’re like to get a very visceral, angry reaction because he’s saying their whole system of thought… and I’ve just given you a little bit of it) does not come from the Bible, it comes from the Mother-child cult. So here’s what going on here. This Mother-child system that’s part of the tower of Babel, that all nations owe its origin to, spread into every single culture. The names just changed from place to place.
So the issue becomes well then who is God going to use to bring forth His promise of Genesis 3:15? All of this is described in Genesis 11 and what follows Genesis 11? Genesis 12. Genesis 11 is the crisis, God can’t use any existing Gentile nation because of her idolatry and connection to the Mother-child system. So what does God do? He raises up a second people group, sometimes called the Jews, or the Hebrew nation.
So Paul says, going back to 1 Corinthians 10:32, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;” we’ve talked about the Greeks or the Gentiles, the only people group that existed in Genesis 1-11, and why none of those nations are qualified to bring forth the Messiah. So now God raises up a second people group in Genesis 12 called the Jews. Abraham, who was called Abram, was also personally affected by the Mother-child cult. How do I know this? I know this because in Joshua 24:2 it says this: “…Abraham, the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.” Abraham, at that time called Abram, in the Ur of the Chaldeans was an idolater just like the rest of the world.
So what does God do? He puts a calling on this man, Abram’s life. He tells him to walk by faith, to leave his country, to leave his land, to go somewhere where he doesn’t even know where he’s going and what is God doing? He is separating Abram from the mother-child cult; He is sanctifying Abram and in the process He is creating a new nation. Why does God want a new nation? Because He wants a nation through which the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 can be mediated to the world. [Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”]
And that’s the origin of the nation of Israel. Genesis 11 gives you the crisis, the universal impact of the mother-child system all over the world; Genesis 12 gives you the solution. Aha, there’s a solution here, God is beginning to work with this man, Abram, He’s sanctifying him, He’s separating him and he’s starting a brand new nation through which Genesis 3:15 will be fulfilled. And that’s the significance of the nation of Israel. That’s why Israel is such a big deal, because she is the only nation in the history of the world that was started independently of the mother-child system. All the other cultures have been corrupted by it.
Tragically what happened to Israel? She lost her vision and why she was to exist because in time the nation of Israel wanted a king (and they picked a really bad one by the way, in Saul). Why did they want a king and why did they want Saul so badly? Because we want to be like all the nations; everybody else, God, has a king, we want a king. And the Lord is slapping His forehead when they say this because they’ve lost sight of why they exist. They’re not in existence to be like everybody else; they’re supposed to be different. They were started independently of all of these other nations.
And tragically what happens is the Mother-child system, much later in biblical history, around the time of the 6th century, just before the Babylonian deportation, the Mother-child system eventually goes right into the borders of Israel. Now notice the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who prophesied around the same time, during the days of the Babylonian deportation. Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 7:18, “The children gather wood and the fathers kindle the fire and the women knead dough to make cakes for the Queen of heaven….” Who is that “Queen of heaven”? That would be Semiramis. In fact, when I was teaching this at the Bible College I had a student in class who at one time was studying to be a nun in the Roman Catholic Church but left that and is now Protestant born again evangelical Christian and when I mentioned this “Queen of Heaven” in Jeremiah 7:18 she raised her hand and she said that’s exactly what they call Mother Mary today, since Vatican II in Roman Catholicism. They call her the Queen of Heaven.
Jeremiah continues in chapter 44, verse 17, and says, “But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven [and pouring out drink offerings to her, just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food and were well off and saw no misfortune.”]
And then Ezekiel, written around the same time as Jeremiah gets into the act. It says, “Then He brought me to the entrance of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and behold, women were sitting there” this is in the land of Israel, they “were sitting there weeping for” who? “Tammuz.” See how the worship of Semiramis and Tammuz eventually made its way into the borders of Israel? And this explains the anger of God at His people. They were started to be different than the Mother/child system that spread all over the earth due to Nimrod and his system. And now just before the captivity they have become just like everybody else; they had fulfilled the desire of their own heart to be like all the other nations.
So that becomes the theological explanation for the Babylonian deportation. God sent the nation of Israel into the Babylonian deportation subsequent to the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel to purge Israel of the Mother-child system. And so when she came out of that Babylonian deportation, having gone through that season of discipline, Israel may have been a lot of things but she was not an idolater in that sense any longer. Idolatry, as I’m describing it here, was no longer a problem.
But tragically we know what happened is the nation of Israel rejected her own Messiah. Right? Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 10:32, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;” because Israel rejected her own Messiah and God never leaves the earth without a witness of Himself He created, beginning in Acts 2, the body of Christ. I’m part of the body of Christ, you’re part of the body of Christ, we are the people that have trusted in the very Messiah that national Israel rejected.
So now to one people group God adds another, the Jews, beginning in Genesis 12, or the Hebrews. Then He adds a third people group, the church beginning in Acts 2. Now God always knew what was going to happen, the church is not a reaction on the part of God, He knew that the nation would reject its own Savior or Messiah and so the church is part of the eternal purpose of God. Ephesians 3:11. [Ephesians 3:11, “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,”]
So don’t think of the church as plan B. God says oh no, My own nation rejected My own Son, what am I going to do? Oh, I know what I’ll do, I’ll create the church. See what’s happening is these various rejections and rebellions that are happening in history, God is actually using those to execute the next phase of His plan, the manifold multicolored multidimensional plan of God. The Book of Ephesians 3 talks about.
So then who is the church? The church consists of all people, both Jew and Gentile who have trusted in the very Messiah rejected by first century national Israel. That’s who the church is. That’s who we are. That’s how we fit into this whole picture. And what I just explained in an hour Paul explained in a verse, where he says, “Give no offence either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God.” What Paul is doing there is he’s describing the three people groups of humanity. All you have are Gentiles in Genesis 1-11, unqualified to bring forth the Messiah because of the universal influence of the mother-child cult. So the next phase of God’s plan is to bring forth the Hebrew nation, which He does in Genesis 12 by separating Abram from that idolatrous background or origin.
Sadly the mother-child system that Israel started to be different from comes right into the borders of Israel and Israel becomes just like all the other nations and it got so bad that she even rejected her own Messiah. So God took the nation of Israel and did not cancel her program but put her in time out. Ever put your kids in time out? Israel has been in time out for about 2,000 years. One of these days they’re going to come out of time out but in the interim God is working through a completely different man, a spiritual man, a spiritual organism called the church of God which begins in Acts 2. So it’s very important to understand who these three major people groups are and when they arose and if you start understanding that then you start saying aha, here’s where I fit as a Gentile Christian, into the outworking of God’s purposes. I have trusted in the Messiah that national Israel rejected and so I’m part of a new man called the body of Christ.
So that is the best I can do of a definition of the church and the next time we’re together we will look at the differences between the universal church and the local church.