Ecclesiology 50, Romans 16:17
Let us pray. Father, we’re thankful for today and thankful for Your church, Your truth, personally I’m thankful for traveling mercies and I just pray that Your Spirit will be with us as we seek to study Your Word this morning. We pray for the Sunday School class this morning and with the main service that follows and 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!
It’s good to be back you all. Right now it’s about the middle of the night for my body so I can’t guarantee the quality of the teaching today. But we did have a wonderful trip and we got in yesterday afternoon I think it was. So it was basically going, going, going dawn till dusk for about two weeks, going all over the land of Israel. And David Hocking, it was his trip and he did a lot of the teaching and I did a lot of the teaching and so there’s so much to tell you about I can’t even process it all right now because the days are kind of running together. So I thought what we would do is just finish Ecclesiology. What do you think about that?
Let’s open our Bibles to John 8:58-59 and we’re kind of at the end of our Ecclesiology study, the doctrine of the church. And the reason we’re at 50 lessons is I’m dealing with some subjects here that most people in Ecclesiology don’t really tackle. And it has to do with the purity of the church so the issue here is how does the church keep itself pure in an impure world? And the Holy Spirit has given to the church two basic techniques or tools: ecclesiastical separation would be one tool, and church discipline would be another.
So we’ve been talking about the first of those, ecclesiastical separation and it’s been a little while since I’ve taught you on this so you may not remember we’re dealing with this. Of course, I want to thank Jim and Gabe and Tommy and everybody that filled in while I was gone. Did you guys enjoy Tommy? It’s sort of like you haven’t had a whole experience in the Spirit until you’ve listened to Tommy. He’s a very interesting guy, wouldn’t you say. When God made Tommy He definitely threw away the mold; he is one of a kind.
But we’re dealing with ecclesiastical separation and under this we’ve been talking about a few things. Number one, why separate. Well, the issue is if you yoke yourself to a group of people that aren’t biblically faithful and you don’t separate what that does is it robs the church of the distinctiveness and its power, and we’ve talked about that.
Number two, or letter B is there a biblical basis for separation and we went through many, many verses in the epistles indicating that there are times that it’s appropriate for separation, not the least of which is 2 John 7-11 which says concerning deceivers, do not receive them into your household, and I think there it’s speaking of the local church. [2 John 7-11, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.  Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;]
 “for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” So there are many, many passages that indicate it’s appropriate to separate under some circumstances. And then we were dealing with number 3 or letter C here, what exactly do you separate yourself from? And first and foremost you have to separate yourself from groups that teach false doctrine. As you go through the qualifications for pastors and elders and you go through what pastors and elders are supposed to be doing, particularly in the pastoral letters, there is a huge emphasis on pure doctrine or correct doctrine. So therefore you shouldn’t yoke yourself to groups or to people that are teaching impure doctrine.
So that requires and understanding of what correct doctrine is and here is a short list that we have been working our way through dealing with the fundamentals of the faith. You have to separate at least bare minimum on these issues. I have a list of ten things that I think are appropriate here. The first is if someone denies creation and the fall you have to separate yourself from them because if there was no creation and fall there is no reason as to why Jesus came into the world. Right? See, Jesus is the solution and you’ll never reach out for the solution until you understand what the problem is. So what’s the problem? God created man a certain way and man fell in Genesis 3. And if those doctrines are not literally held to then there’s no reasons to reach out to Christ as the solution. So I’m sort of one of those that’s very defensive about what people are doing with early Genesis.
Psalm 11, and by the way, on the bus rides in the morning on our two week trip we started each day with a Psalm so I taught through Psalms 1-13 so the Psalms are sort of fresh in my mind. Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do? So there’s a reason that Satan has launched an attack on early Genesis because if he can obscure in the minds of people early Genesis which is the original design of God and the fall, then he can obscure in the minds of people the need to reach out to Christ as the solution.
So people that start to play games with early Genesis and say it’s just poetry or we’ve got to come up with some interpretation of it that allows us to slip Darwin in somewhere, or it’s nonfictional or it’s not historical, it’s just an allegory, you have to separate yourself from such a mindset because Christian quickly falls.
The second issue that you always separate over if it’s compromised is the inspiration and the inerrancy of the Scripture. Inspiration refers to the recording of Scripture in its original manuscripts and inerrancy is basically the idea that the Scripture is without error in the original manuscripts.
So we believe that the Scripture in its original manuscripts was both inspired and was completely without error. And it was interesting that one of the things we toured when we were there in Jerusalem was something in Jerusalem called the Shrine of the Book, which is a museum where they keep the Dead Sea scrolls. The Dead Sea scrolls were found in the Dead Sea area in 1947 in a cave called Qumran, and basically what happened in 1947, one year before the nation of Israel came back into existence in 1948 is was a shepherd was just sort of randomly doing his thing out there in that area and he threw a rock into cave and he heard some pottery breaking and what was discovered through that process and this poor shepherd had no idea what he discovered, was not just the discovery of the century but it was the discovery of the millennium, because what he found there were copies of many, many books, including a whole copy of Isaiah, not a partial copy of Isaiah but a whole copy of Isaiah, this particular copy goes back to 200 years before Christ.
And you see, that’s such a big deal because the copy of Isaiah that we have been using prior to 1947 that went to I think about 1000 A.D. somewhere in there. So we were sort of trusting that this 1000 A.D. copy of Isaiah was an accurate transmission of the original Book of Isaiah. Isaiah had his vision all the way back around the seventh century B.C. So we were using a 1000 A.D. copy of Isaiah. And this Dead Sea Scroll discovery gave us a copy of Isaiah that went back, it made a 1,200 year leap all the way back to 200 years before Christ. And so what do we do? We compared the 1000 A.D. copy of Isaiah that we had been using up to that point to this manuscript that was discovered at Qumran 1200 years earlier and we compared the two expecting to find a lot of mistakes, like the 1000 A.D. had was going to be inaccurate on some points.
And you know what they discovered? How many mistakes were there? How many differences were there? There were nine differences and the differences were so small they’re not even worth the cosmetic, they’re not even worth mentioning. So basically what the Lord allowed us to discover with this Qumran discovery is that the copy of Isaiah that we had been using is extremely accurate going back 1200 years. So of all of the things that we found in the land of Israel, all the different sites we saw, if you rank them in terms of importance what was discovered at Qumran is the most important thing. So this was found in the Dead Sea area in 1947 and then they took these manuscripts and they’re now housed in Jerusalem in a museum called The Shrine of the Book.
So all of that to say we believe that the Scriptures are inspired and inerrant when they were originally written in their original manuscripts. And the copies that we are using of the Scriptures, because we don’t have the original manuscripts, do we? The copes that we are using are about as accurate as they can be today. So this book here I’m holding, the New American Standard Bible, you know, I don’t look at this as… this is a copy, I don’t look at it as inspired. I look at it as a very accurate copy of an original manuscript which we no longer possess and I view the copy as extremely accurate. And that’s basically what was discovered there at the Dead Sea.
So what do we believe? We believe that the Scripture was inspired by God as the Holy Spirit came upon the writers of Scripture and they recorded God’s Word. We believe that when they recorded God’s Word there are absolutely no errors in it and we also believe that the copies that we possess today, particularly Isaiah and other books are extremely accurate copies. And if people won’t acknowledge that and they want to say the Bible has mistakes in it and errors in it or the copies that we possess aren’t accurate dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, then obviously that’s time to separate from such a group because they’re attacking this source of Christianity.
So you separate over denials of literal creation and fall. By the way, concerning creation and fall there is an unbroken genealogy in Luke 3:23-38 linking Jesus, whose Hebrew name is Yeshua, all the way back to Adam. So Luke gives us a genealogy linking Jesus back to Adam. So if you start playing games with the historical Adam and Jesus is linked on an unbroken chain to Adam then it’s not long until you start to play historical games with the existence of Jesus or Yeshua Himself. So creation and fall, literally interpreting that is a big deal. Inerrancy and inspiration of the Scriptures, interpreting that correctly, understanding the copies of the Bible that we’re using today are accurate is a big deal.
And then you also separate from people who deny salvation by faith alone. Religion will always say God did about 90% of the work and you’ve got to kick in the last 10%. Well what do you have to do? You’ve got to pay, pray and obey! So if you’re not praying, paying and obeying you haven’t done your 90% and therefore you’re not saved. That’s religion. Every religious system in the world will say that. Biblical Christianity comes along and says Jesus did 100%. What was Jesus’ final words on the cross? “It is finished!” He didn’t say it’s about 95% done and you kick in the final 5%, He says “It is finished,” and we rest completely on His grace for salvation. That’s what makes our system completely different than every other system in the world today.
So Paul says [Romans 4:4] “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.  But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Romans 4:4-5. So the only thing that God will accept which is not a work, according to this verse, because it says “to the one who does not work, but believes” the only thing that God will receive from us in terms of our justification which is nonmeritorious is faith. “For without faith it is” what? “impossible to please” God. [Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”]
And you see, this is an attack on the pride of man because we all think we can add something to the finished work of Christ to somehow get God to like us more. And the fact of the matter is you can’t do anything to justify yourself before God other than to rest in His grace by way of faith. And anybody who adds any kind of work to that, whether it be saying a prayer, giving money, walking an aisle, showing contrition, resolving to do better, I mean, the list is endless. That becomes a work which Paul, the apostle, condemns as an anathema in Galatians 1:6-9.
[Galatians 1:6-9, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;  which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”]
So there are many, many people that will add a little tidbit here and there and that tantalizes sinful man because we’re all prideful by nature and we all think we can contribute something to our justification. And so a works based gospel is always appealing to people and many people to appeal to a larger group will add a little work here or a little work there and we at Sugar Land Bible Church say NO WAY! The Spanish version is “No way Hosea.” In other words, if you won’t believe that Jesus did it all and we receive what He has done as a gift by way of faith then we have to part fellowship, part company, which includes scrutinizing gospel tracts that compromise this and many other things. So that would be another place where I think ecclesiastical separation would be appropriate.
And then of course there are those that deny the eternal existence of heaven and hell and I went through, I think, the last time I was with you, my memory is kind of faded, it’s been a while, why the doctrine of eternal retribution is very real. In fact, the same Greek and Hebrew words used to describe an eternality of heaven or the kingdom and the eternality of God Himself is also used to describe the eternality of hell. So there are many voices today within evangelicalism that are compromising that and teaching a doctrine called annihilationism which is sort of what the modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses teach where they say well, you’re really not destroyed forever in hell, you just sort of poof and you go out of existence.
Well the reality of the situation is this; as we talk about being saved but there’s something that we’re saved from. What are we saved from? Eternal retribution. And if someone compromises eternal retribution then all of a sudden the solution of the gospel doesn’t seem as important. It loses its urgency. I mean, the reason we try to translate the Bible into foreign dialects to get it to groups that have no Bible, the reason we evangelize, the reason we send out missionaries is because we think there’s something to be afraid of here. There’s something to be saved from. And if somebody comes along and says well, hell really isn’t that much of a hell, or really doesn’t last forever we just part company and say you go your way and we’ll go our way.
You also separate from groups that deny that the Triunity of God. We believe that God is one, we believe in monotheism, but He has expressed Himself in three personages, God the Son, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit. The Son shares the same essence of deity with the Father, the Holy Spirit shares the same essence of deity with the Father and the Son, the Father shares the same essence of deity with the Son and the Holy Spirit, etc. But the Son and the Father and the Holy Spirit at the same time are separate personages. The Son maintains His uniqueness in His Sonness, despite the fact that He shares the essence of deity with God the Father. See that?
And it’s a complicated issue for our finite minds to wrap ourselves around but there are many groups that will deny the Trinity. Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses will teach you that Jesus really was a created being; they don’t teach that He is the eternally existent second member of the Godhead. So if someone compromises that we have to part company and say sorry, what you’re believing sounds like something but it isn’t historic essential Christianity.
We also separate from groups that deny the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. If you deny the fact that the virgin birth was a historic fact, as many are doing today, I gave you some quotes I think the last time I was with you, of evangelicals that are kind of soft on this issue, then Christianity collapses like a house of cards. I did a sermon on this, I think the Sunday before Christmas, which you can find in our sermon archives, showing all of the doctrines that begin to be compromised once you deny the virgin birth of Christ.
And where we left off last time is number 7, you separate from groups that deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Take a look if you could at John 8:58-59, this is sort of personal with me because my own mother was deceived about this for many years because she was raised in a highly educated home where her mother, my grandmother, taught her that Jesus was a good philosopher and a good moralist and a good teacher but He was never God, in fact, He never claimed to be God. And I’m happy to say that my own mother is now saved and has moved away from what she was taught as a very little girl in her household. But the fact of the matter is it’s hard to get through the Bible without recognizing that the Bible teaches over and over again that Jesus, or Yeshua in Hebrew claimed to be God.
There are so many places He does this it’s hard to keep track of them all but one of the most obvious is at the end of John 8:58, He’s interacting with the Pharisees. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’” Now in Greek “I am” is Ἐγώ εἰμι [egō eimi] and He’s claiming a divine title. Now this divine title is first disclosed where? Exodus 3:14, [God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”] It was what God said to Moses there in Arabia I think it was, Moses was saying well, who shall I say sent me? I guess it wasn’t Arabia but where was that, Exodus 3:14, Midian, thank you, Midian, “Who shall I say sent me” because he was tasked with going to the Egyptians and declaring to Pharaoh to “let My people go.” And God said to Moses, Exodus 3:14, you tell Pharaoh “I AM” sent you.” “I AM” is the self existent one.
So Jesus, in His interaction with the Pharisees John 8:58, says, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”’ In other words, before Abraham even existed I was there as the self-existent one, and when He says “I am” He just claimed His divine title that you find in Exodus 3:14. And there is no ambiguity here in the minds of Christ’s hearers because look at verse 59. “Therefore they picked up stones to” what? And by the way, in Israel there’s a lot of stones, everywhere, so I kind of realized why these people stoned everybody to death. Verse 58, “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him,” it wasn’t His time to die yet so it says, “but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”
So they knew exactly what He was doing. They thought He was blaspheming and they were following Leviticus 24:16 which says that if a mere man claims to be God he’s to be stoned to death immediately. Leviticus 24:16, “’Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.”]
So if you think Jesus somehow ambiguous here He’s obviously not being ambiguous because His Jewish peers knew exactly what He was saying—He as a mere man was claiming to be God! So Jesus is not just a “good Joe,” He’s not a CEO, He’s not there to give us leadership manuals on how to have good leadership practices. I mean, maybe you can use things in the life of Christ indirectly that way in some sense but that whole idea Jesus CEO mentality completely undersells who He claimed to be. I mean He claimed to God in the flesh.
And over in the Book of Titus, chapter 2, verse 13, you have another statement related to the deity of Christ. If we started drilling down on this we may never finish this series because there are so many verses that clearly show Jesus was God. It says in Titus 2:13, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Now there is something in Geek called the Granville Sharp rule. The Granville Sharpe rule is a law of grammar which says when you have a definite article and a noun, actually two nouns joined by a conjunction with the definite article before the first noun then the two nouns are equal. And it doesn’t show up real well in the English translation that I’m using but in the Greek it’s very clear that you have a definite article before God. So who is Jesus Christ? He is (Granville Sharpe rule, definite article) “great God” conjunction “and” followed by “Savior, Jesus Christ.” Who exactly is Jesus Christ? He is not just Savior according to the Granville Sharpe rule but He is God and Savior. So it’s a very strong proof there of the full deity of Christ. And if you run into groups that get fuzzy on this or deny this or marginalize this then you separate.
Another major doctrine to separate over is the atoning death of Jesus Christ. Notice Isaiah 53:3-6. Isaiah 53 is part of that completed Isaiah scroll that I was talking about a little earlier found at Qumran. It says, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” now people say well how do you know this refers to Christ? Well, because in Acts 8 Philip, the deacon, used this passage of Scripture to lead who to Christ? The Ethiopian Eunuch. And this is how the gospel once the Ethiopian Eunuch was saved made its way into Ethiopia because the assumption is that he left Judea and Samaria and he went back to Ethiopia and started a church there. So it’s very clear that Philip, the deacon, believed that Isaiah 53 written 700 years before Christ ever walked the face of the earth referred to Christ.
Isaiah 53 is a tremendous statement of what we would call the atoning death of Jesus or Yeshua in Hebrew. “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely our griefs He Himself bore,” see that? “And our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for” whose transgressions, “ our transgressions.”
Do you realize how amazing that statement is there in verse 5, that “He was pierced”? How did the Jews kill people, as we just talked about? Stoned them to death. And here Isaiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says that when the Messiah comes He’s going to be pierced. So what did God allow to happen? He allowed the Romans to come into the land of Israel under General Pompeii, about 63 B.C. and that’s why you have the Herodian dynasty in place when you get into the New Testament, the Herod’s were sort of a puppet regime really working for Rome over the land of Israel.
And the Romans came in and do you know what they did to the Jews? They took away from the Jews the right to execute their own criminals. This is why when the Jewish leadership determined that Christ was a blasphemer they turned Him over to Rome for execution. Why didn’t they just kill him themselves? Because of what happened in the land of Israel around 63 B.C. and following, the Roman occupation and the Romans taking away from the Jews or the Hebrews the right to execute their own criminals. Now how did Rome execute people? Via stoning? No, via what? Crucifixion. Now the Romans never invented crucifixion, that’s what’s interesting. The crucifixion idea was a grizzly practice, practiced by the Assyrians. I mean, it’s a horrible way to die and when they crucified someone they hung you out there in public as a common criminal, as a statement that nobody else better act up and defy Rome because look what can happen to you.
And by the way, when you understand what the Assyrians did with crucifixion you start to understand why Jonah, remember Jonah in the Bible, he went to Joppa, he was told to preach to Nineveh in the east, he got on a boat at Joppa (we were in Joppa by the way) and he went west to Tarshish, which is modern day Spain. And Jonah chapter 1 is the fleeing prophet; Jonah 2 is Jonah in the belly of the fish, the praying prophet, get me out of here Lord. Jonah 3 is Jonah getting his act together and doing what God said to begin with, the preaching prophet. And then what does God do? He shows grace to the Assyrians in Nineveh and now in chapter 4 you have the what? The pouting prophet. Fleeing prophet—chapter 1. Praying prophet—chapter 2. Preaching prophet—chapter 3, pouting prophet—chapter 4.
Jonah is the only prophet that we have in all of our prophets that we would call today successful. I mean, every other prophet basically had no success, people didn’t repent and lost their lives in the process. Jonah was successful with the Assyrian Empire. The name City of the Syrian Empire anyway in the east, a place called Nineveh, and Jonah didn’t want to see the grace of God till there and when it came he was upset that God sent it. Now why was he upset? Because of the diabolical nature of the Assyrians. I mean, the Assyrians were the ones that invented the crucifixion after all. I mean, it was a grizzly form of execution among many other grizzly practices of the Assyrian Empire.
So when you understand that the Assyrians are the ones that invented the crucifixion you totally understand the reluctance of Jonah to see the grace of God go to those people. So when the Romans came to power over the land of Israel all the Romans did was reach back into history and say you know, this crucifixion practice looks pretty good, it’s pretty effective. So the Romans never invented crucifixion, they just popularized it; they brought it back from the Assyrian days. And this is how Yeshua or Jesus or the Messiah died and you see what’s happening here is Isaiah is seeing that process happen centuries before Rome came to power. He’s seeing the piercing of the Messiah.
And so this is how it’s hard to deny that this is the Word of God. I mean, how could Isaiah centuries in advance see the Romans coming to power, removing from the Jews the right to execute their own criminals, and the reinstitution of the crucifixion? How could Isaiah have known all of this all the way back in the seventh century B.C. ? And by the way, Zechariah 12:10 also talks about the piercing of the Messiah. [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.”] If this had been written by a mere person it wouldn’t have said Yeshua or the Messiah is going to die via piercing; it would have said He was going to die via stoning.
[Isaiah 53:4 ] “And our sorrows He carried away, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” [53:5] “Yet He was pierced,” you should underline that word in your Bible, “pierced” because it’s astounding what Isaiah is seeing under the inspiration of the Spirit. “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon” who? “Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” I think that’s talking primarily about our spiritual healing although once you receive your resurrected body, which is part of the grace package that God offers to you, you won’t have any more physical diseases in your body. Did you know that? Did you know you’re destined for a body that won’t get sick or old or get cancer or anything? Now we can’t guarantee that this side of eternity but we can certainly guarantee it once you’re in your resurrected body. “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him. And by His scourging we are healed.” See the idea of substitution here? “All of us like sheep have gone astray,” by the way, that’s some of the dumbest animals in human history, sheep, I mean, they’ll follow each other right off a cliff if you let them. That’s why sheep need a shepherd.
[Isaiah 53:6] “All of us like sheep have gone astray,” when we’re compared to sheep here it’s not a compliment. You think oh, that’s so cute, they’re so cuddly and fuzzy and I’ll put them on all my Christmas cards… NO, it’s basically an insult how misled we get as people without a shepherd. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD his caused the iniquity of us all To fall on” who? “Him.” So that passage there is a wonderful treatment of what we call the atoning death of Jesus Christ which involves substitution. The whole point of the atonement is substitution. That’s why I kept emphasizing certain words here. It should have been me on that cross dying and receiving those punishments but Jesus stepped into the line of fire and absorbed the wrath of God in my place.
Some illustrations that I’ve used to communicate this is the Secret Service men in the movies, a bullet is fired at the President of the United States and the Secret Service man jumps in front of the bullet and absorbs the bullet in the place of the President. That’s what Christ did for us. He stepped into the line of fire and absorbed the wrath of a Holy God in our place.
We’ve also used the illustration of the bee sting, when I was younger in a youth group, we were traveling in a car and a bee got loose in the car and everybody was screaming, especially the girls, and the youth pastor reaches… how many times can a bee sting by the way? One time. He reached out and he grabbed this bee and then he opened up his hand and the bee flew out of his hand and you could see in his hand the stinger. He says you all don’t have to worry about this bee anymore because I’ve absorbed the sting in your place. See that? In that sense is what the bodily atonement of Christ is about.
So we refer to it as the vicarious substitutionary bodily atonement of Jesus Christ. You know the word “vicarious.” Right? There’s a concept in the legal system called vicarious liability, it basically means in the place of somebody else. If you say someone is living vicariously through me you’re saying they don’t have a life and they’re expressing their life through me. It’s kind of an insult. But vicarious means in the place of another. Substitute means in our place. Bodily means He absorbed these things in His body. And atonement means he bore the wrath of God in our place. So Jesus did not die on the cross to show us how to be good servants. Now can you learn lessons of servanthood from what Jesus did for us? Yes. But that’s not the crux of the matter. Jesus did not die on a cross to show us how to be loving or to even show God’s love for us. Now did He show God’s love for us on the cross? Yes He did, Romans 5:10. [Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”]
But I still don’t think that’s the whole crux of the matter. If you don’t have substitution in your concepts of death of Christ for us, i.e. Christ died in my place, as we read Isaiah 53:3-6 the punishment should be on me was borne by Him; if substitution is not part of your concept of what Jesus did then we’ve missed the point, we’ve missed the point of Isaiah 53 and you might want to jot down 1 Peter 2:24 which also expresses this same idea down in Isaiah 53.
So what do you do with people that come along as the early church was wrestling with this and trying to make it sound like Jesus died just to be a good servant, Jesus died to teach us how to be selfless. So don’t get me wrong, you can learn all kinds of truths about selflessness and servant-hood by studying the atoning death of Jesus Christ. But what do you do with people that say the death of Christ is something less than our substitute? Well you have a zero tolerance policy for that because they’ve missed the whole point of Christianity. And you separate yourself from such people.
Who else do you separate yourself from? You separate yourself from people that deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in a physical body. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 15 and notice verse 14. This was Paul’s resurrection chapter.  “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” Now on the trip to Israel we went to the Garden Tomb and there’s a lot of debate on whether the Garden Tomb is actually the exact place where Christ was buried. There’s pros and cons to that and so the actual place I don’t think the Garden Tomb is something you can be dogmatic on. But I know this much, Jesus did die and was buried.
And I think it would have been a very, very easy thing for the enemies of Christianity, as Christianity began to spread, and there were many enemies of Christianity, the unbelieving Jews hated Christianity, hated the church, as did the Romans. Josephus, who was somebody who was originally Israeli or Jewish, when the events of A.D. 70 happened he kind of was a traitor, the Jews look at him as a traitor, and gave in to the Romans without any resistance whatsoever, and he became what we would call a Roman historian. So they gave him, I think the first name, Flavius, if I remember right, is his Roman name that they gave him, Flavius Josephus and he writes many, many books about the historicity of that time period. He wrote something called The Wars of the Jews, The Antiquities of the Jews, and in his historical treatment he even makes a reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So the resurrection of Jesus Christ can be found not only in the Scripture, which we consider reliable, but it can also be found in other documents outside of the Scripture, like the writings of Flavius Josephus. And in all of that writing that he does he never gives any hint that the Jews or the Romans went into the tomb and reproduced the body of Christ, here I’m talking about the literal body of Christ, to stop Christianity.
I mean, to my mind that would be a very simple thing to do; if you’re an unbelieving Jew or an unbelieving Roman and you hate the spread of Christianity why not just dispel the whole thing by going into the tomb and getting the body, and bringing it out in the public and saying look, He never rose from the dead, here it is! Well how come nobody ever did that? There’s a very simple answer, there was no body in the tomb to get because Jesus had risen on the third day, just like He said. And so Christianity will collapse like a deck of cards once you start fiddling around with the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
In fact, if you go back to 1 Corinthians 15 and look at verse 6, Paul the apostle, says, “After that” speaking of the post resurrection appearances of Christ, “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time,” now watch this, “most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;” or died. Paul stands up in front of the Corinthians, who were denying the resurrection and he says Christ, not only did He rise from the dead, not only did He appear to the apostles, not only did He appear to me, He appeared to five hundred other people and most of them are still alive. So check out the story with them. Now think about this for a minute. If what Paul said wasn’t true and the resurrection of Christ could not have been validated or verified by these other a little under five hundred people then Christianity would have been discredited right out of the gate. And this book, called 1 Corinthians, would have never been respected and embraced, and passed down from one generation to the next.
It’d be like this, let’s suppose I wrote a book and I denied the fact that JFK was assassinated. I wrote a book saying JFK died of natural causes. Other people would arise, wouldn’t they, and challenge the book? You could produce eyewitnesses who say I was there when he was assassinated and my book would never be embraced, it would never be passed down through the generations and it would be discredited right out of the gate. That’s the radical nature of Paul’s statement here that check it out through independent sources that Christ rose from the dead, He appeared to us apostles and five hundred other people, most of whom are still alive. Check out the story with them.
So we believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ and we believe that He came out of the grave, not as a spirit (as some say) but in a physical body. And this is the whole point of doubting Thomas, John 20:27-28, “Then He said to Thomas,’ “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”’ Now Thomas got the picture, got the message, because verse 28, “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” So what do you do with people that say well, maybe He rose from the dead and maybe He didn’t. And if He rose from the dead He just kind of came out of the grave in the spirit. That’s a denial of Christianity and so you would separate from such people.
And finally, the tenth doctrine that you have to separate over is the bodily Second Advent of Christ. Christ is coming back to this earth just as literally and just as bodily as He left. Now what is the oldest book in the Bible? The Book of Job, and Job, the oldest book of the Bible talks about at the end of time the Messiah, Yeshua, coming back in a physical body. I’m not here dealing with the rapture which is a separate event which precedes the seven year tribulation period, I’m talking about the manifestation of the Messiah at the end of the age and at the end of the tribulation period. He’s coming in a body.
Notice Job 19:25, Job, the oldest book of the Bible, Job says this: “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,” now the Hebrew for Redeemer here is the Goel, “As for me, I know that my” Goel, “my Redeemer lives,” it’s clearly a reference to the Messiah, so what’s He going to do, what’s this Goel going to do? “And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” He’s going to stand on the earth, the oldest book in the Bible says that. And you can’t stand on the earth unless you have legs and feet, right? And if you have legs and feet you’re probably in what kind of a body? A spiritual body? A physical body!
Notice Zechariah 14:4, this is speaking of the Mount of Olives. I had a chance to preach on the Mount of Olives on this trip and it was freezing cold that particular day so I gave a sermon that lasted ten minutes. And by the way, a lot of these sermons that we did you can find them on our You Tube channel, just go to your You Tube search engine and just type in my name and it should come right up. We also posted them on Sugar Land Bible Church Facebook page if you want proof that your pastor can preach for ten minutes only.
Notice Zechariah 14:4, “In that day His feet” you mean the Messiah had feet; if He’s got feet that means He’s got to have a body, right. Why do we think He’s in a body? Because He came out of the tomb in a body and He’s coming back in a body. “In that day His feet will stand on” where? “the Mount of Olives,” now that’s a literal physical geographical place on planet earth. I stood there myself a few days ago. “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which is in front of Jerusalem on the east;” that’s all true, “and the Mount of Olives will be split” look at that, “in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.” That sounds very physical to me. It’s talking about His feet standing on an actual geographical place on planet earth which will split the whole thing, from east to west.
This is the kind of thing Job is talking about when he says, “I know that” my Goel, “my Redeemer lives and in the last day, or at the end He will take His stand on the earth.” [Job19:25] Zechariah, who wrote later than Job, obviously is just giving us more details. But it’s obviously a physical bodily appearing of Jesus.
Notice Acts 1:9-11, now Acts 1 is the ascension and notice what it says there in verses 9-11. “And after He had said these things,” now this is speaking of His forty day ministry in between His resurrection and ascension. It says, verse 9, Acts 1, “And after He had said these things He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” So here are the disciples being ministered to by Christ during this forty day interim and all of a sudden whoooo, He’s lifted up out of the earth into the sky. And what would you be doing if that happened and you were sitting there? You’d be looking up there wondering what in the world just happened. So they are rebuked by two men. Now some people don’t believe these are angels, these two men; I personally do believe they’re angels but whoever they are, verse 10 it says, “And as they were gazing intently into the sky” why were they gazing intently into the sky? How many times in your life have you seen someone standing right in front of you and all of a sudden they’re launched into the heavens. That would be something worth looking up into the atmosphere trying to figure out what just happened. “
“And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.  They also said, “Men of Galilee,” this is the disciples, “why do you stand looking into the sky?” I would have said well I’ve never seen someone depart into the sky. “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,” watch this, “will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
He’s making a statement here about the bodily appearing of Jesus Christ. This is not the rapture, the rapture is a different event. This is the Second Advent at the end of the seven year tribulation period. In other words, He’s coming back to this earth just like He left the earth. Well how did He leave? Physically! How’s He coming back? Physically! How did He leave? Visibly. How is He coming back? Visibly. He left bodily. How’s He coming back? Bodily. He left from the Mount of Olives. How is He coming back to the earth, to what geographical area? To the Mount of Olives.
Now Arnold Fruchtenbaum has a slightly different rendition of this; he thinks Christ is coming to rescue the Jews in Petra, Jordan, and then He’s going to make His way up to the Mount of Olives. That’s a possibility. But either scenario you have He’s coming back to the Mount of Olives in a body and His feet are going to touch the Mount of Olives. And if He has feet He has to have a body and the Mount of Olives is going to split in two. So it’s a physical tearing apart of an actual place of geography on planet earth. And it’s amazing the number of people that will deny this.
David Reagan here is criticizing Loraine Boettner as follows. David Reagan says, “Let me give you a classic example of spiritualization taken from the writings of a theologian by the name of Loraine Boettner. It has to do with his interpretation of Zechariah 14:1-9.” Which we just read. “That passage says that in the end times Jerusalem will be surrounded by enemy forces and will be ready to fall to them when the Lord will suddenly return to the Mount of Olives. When His feet touch the Mount, it will split down the middle. The Lord will then speak a supernatural word that will instantly destroy all the enemy forces. And on that day, the Lord will become King over all the earth.” So that’s the correct understanding of the passage.
David Reagan says, “In his commentary on this passage, Boettner completely spiritualized it. He argued that the Mount of Olives stands for the human … heart. The enemy forces symbolize the evil in this world that surrounds and attacks the heart. The Lord’s return represents what happens when a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior.” That’s a pretty creative interpretation, isn’t it? “Thus, when Jesus comes into a person’s heart, their heart” represented by “(the Mount of Olives) splits in contrition, and all the evil influences in the person’s life are defeated, and Jesus becomes king of that person’s heart.” David Reagan says correctly, “That’s what I call an exercise in imagination!” [“The Beginning and the Ending,” online: http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-beginning-and-the-ending/, accessed 19 April 2017, 1.]
I mean, you wouldn’t believe the games that are played by people to rewrite the Bible so that it sounds like Jesus Christ is not coming back physically in a body. So what do you do when you run into evangelicals or groups that deny the bodily appearance of Christ at the end of the age? If they deny that, if they marginalize it, if they play games with it, then you just say I’m sorry, we’re going to separate.
So we’re dealing with ecclesiastical separation and the first thing you have to separate over is doctrine and people say well what are some of the examples of doctrine that you would separate over. I would separate over a bare minimum of these ten things.
- Creation/Fall – Rom. 5:14
- Inspiration/inerrancy of the Scripture – Matt. 5:18; John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21
- Salvation by faith alone
- Eternal existence of heaven/hell – Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:46
- Virgin birth of Christ
- Deity of Christ
- Atoning death of Christ – Isa. 53:3-6; 1 Pet. 2:24
- Bodily Resurrection of Christ – John 20:27-28; 1 Cor. 15:14
- Bodily Second Advent of Christ – Job 19:25; Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:9-11
Now I would expand that list greatly but here are the bare minimum ten things that you separate from. People that deny Creation/fall, Inspiration/Inerrancy of Scripture, Salvation by faith alone, Eternal existence of heaven/hell, the Triunity of God, the Virgin birth of Christ, the Deity of Christ, the Atoning death of Christ, the Bodily Resurrection of Christ, and the Bodily Second Advent of Christ.
So the next time we’re together we’re going to finish this list and then get into church discipline and I’ll give you some other things that we separate from as well.
Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for this Sunday School class on Ecclesiology. Help us to be good custodians over the doctrine You’ve given us, knowing that doctrine is very important and so make us aware of these things so that we know who to fellowship with but who not to fellowship with because You’ve commanded separation in some circumstances. And 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! Happy intermission.