Well, part one is what it is. Not much response to it so either it wasn’t response worthy, wasn’t written well enough to make sense, not interesting, or didn’t get enough traction. It is what it is. From the blog-o-sphere-graph-whatsamajigger-thingy I know that the articles usually find some traction and the readership has grown, so, I’ll take whatever that may mean, with “quiet, dignity and grace”. (Kudos to the readers who get the “quiet, dignity and grace” reference!)
Calvin Coolidge is quoted as having said,
“Nothing can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
And in the spirit of that particular quote, which is always visible at my work desk, I will finish this blog post and dive in to reasons the fourth and fifth regarding that age-old question: Why do people turn back to the Old Covenant?
In the first part, I gave five answers. For the sake of saving time flipping back to the previous post, and just to fill up space here, I present to you, dear reader, the answers I gave to the title question of Parts 1 and 2.
- It’s easy, or, it seems easier to follow.
- They don’t know any better.
- It is all that they know.
- They don’t understand Grace.
- Modern churches could not function or work without it.
In Part 1, I dove into answers 1, 2 and 3. As you can guess, we are going to hit numbers 4 and 5 today! So lets take a deeper look into answer number four.
#4 – They don’t understand Grace.
Paul had this same problem, time and time again. This is one of the reasons, I believe, we have so many of Paul’s writings compared to the other apostles/disciples. Look no further than the letter written to the Galatians, Paul makes his case very clear here. In it, Paul confesses how he took Peter to task for reverting back to the old ways. Man to man, face to face, and it would seem very publicly Paul confronts Peter on the matter. Not very “honoring” according to the current trends of today’s churches. Paul straightforward and plainly calls him on the carpet. He records a small synopsis of his history with the Gospel in the book of Galatians for the benefit of those in Galatia who were being led back to observing the Law. In God’s wisdom and love, the letter has been preserved for our benefit too, so that we may read and understand that there is a better way!
In the letter, sternly but I think lovingly (like a father dealing with a child who is growing up into adulthood) he takes the Galatians to task and reasons with them. Paul, mind you, is the Pharisee of Pharisees, the disciples if you recall were considered ignorant and unlearned men. So, if Paul is saying there is a better way… shouldn’t we pay attention? Here, read a few excerpts pulled from the NKJV version of Chapter 3 in the letter to the Galatians, emphasis is mine:
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth,before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Now, I know that none of the books in the Bible were originally written with chapters and verses attached to them. I personally hate seeing them, but understand that they are good for referencing things quickly. The main problem I have seen with chapters and verses is that they poorly break up things which cause many average believers to not see the continuance in trains of thought, ideas, narratives, etc., this is furthered by many pastors doing a poor job of explaining the scriptures as well. I say this here because the above referenced scriptures just don’t do enough justice to the topic. You really should go and read the entire letter to not just understand the context in which Paul is talking, but also to savor the way in which Paul deals with this issue.
Paul is in the middle of building his case when he pens these words and he isn’t even done yet! He continues his train of thought and his case for not going back to the Law by drawing a similarity between the children of Sarah and Hagar and compares them with the Old Covenant and the New Covenant near the end of chapter four, and continuing into the next chapter, he drives his point home with a very startling statement regarding the definition of what falling from grace really is. After his Sarah/Hagar analogy (in which by the way, he encourages the Galatians to do away with “Hagar” who represents the Old Covenant in order to embrace the New), Paul starts out encouraging the Galatians to stand fast in the liberty they have in Christ and to not go back to the old ways, which Paul clearly states is bondage. And then he continues regarding those who attempt to follow the law, emphasis again is mine:
And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Verse four should give us all pause enough to consider what is going on here. Paul has made it clear that to go back to the Old Covenant is bondage. Why? Because you have to obey everything in it if you do. Complete slavery. He pushes it further by saying that if you do so, you fall from grace.
Sin doesn’t cause a fall from the Grace of God. Trying to follow the Law, to be justified in the Law instead of Christ is what causes the fall from Grace.
The old covenant has been fulfilled, stop trying to observe it and follow the rules in it. Pastor’s stop preaching all the time from the Old Testament and the Old Covenant with seven steps to this or eight ways for that. Yes, yes, yes “All scripture is good for….” blah blah blah. Sorry, but I dislike the usage that scripture gets a lot of the time. Yes, the Old Testament is good for teaching, encouraging, rebuking, etc.,… in its proper context on this side of the Cross! Use it for what it is meant to be used for. It is history, it is an example and it points forward to Christ!
This leads me to point number five.
# 5 – Modern Churches couldn’t function without it.
Let’s draw some similarities shall we?
Similarity # 1
In the Old Covenant, usually it was one man who spoke to the people on God’s behalf.
Modern Christians flock to church buildings to listen to one man relay what God has to say to them that week.
And the difference is….?
The reality of the New Covenant is that every single one of us has been made priests in the New Covenant. We are called to serve the world and each other. Yes, there are those whose specific calling is to help buildup the body of Christ, but at the same time, that position is not held over the rest. With the Old Covenant mindset churches, there is no room for a group of believers to share and minister to each other because the current system revolves completely around a worship pastor and his worship team “creating an atmosphere” of worship for the people (to be receptive) and for God (because apparently he won’t come unless he is satisfied with worship) and then the lead or associate pastor with a “word from God” for everyone. Forget that whole “each of you has a psalm, or a word, or an exhortation, or a prophecy” bit, it can’t work because the local congregations are just too big! There is no room for people to truly speak into each other’s lives because the modern church demands “faithfulness” in the form of attendance whenever the church doors are open.
In the Old Covenant, the House of the Lord was the Temple, the place where God’s Presence resided.
Modern Christians refer to their church building as the House of the Lord and claim to feel God’s presence in said House much more than elsewhere.
And the difference is….?
The reality of the New Covenant is so much better! God has chosen to no longer, for ever and ever, to dwell in houses made by men. Instead, he chooses to live in you! We, the believers, the regenerated ones, the church, the ekklesia, both individually and corporately become the Temple in which God now lives and he has no plans on leaving! By observing any worship service in modern evangelical christianity, you would deduce that Christians seem to forget this whole part of the New covenant, much less forgetting about his omnipresence! Wherever you go, God goes. Even David knew this, remember? Doesn’t “where can I go where I can escape your presence” sound a bit familiar? You could be in the deepest pit and God would be right there. Nothing can separate you!
In the Old Covenant, people brought their tithes and offerings (if they could, there actually were some awesome exceptions to that, but that’s a whole different topic altogether, bear with me) to the Lord’s storehouse (temple) and if they didn’t observe the commandments were under a curse.
Modern Pastors, Church Leaders and church-goers refer to the church building as the “Storehouse” and bring their tithes and offerings there by check, cash, credit and debit card and they even mail it in if they miss church. They believe that those who do not tithe are under a curse and the only way to break that curse, is to tithe. The whole redeemed from the curse thing? Yeah, God didn’t really mean that when he inspired Paul to write those words, right?
And the difference is….?
The reality of the New Covenant is that we are called to give according to who we are in Christ, not grudgingly, not out of pressure, but freely, openly, with no expectation of return. It is a hard pill to swallow, but you aren’t supposed to give out of a motivation to remove a curse (that no longer applies to you anyway). You aren’t supposed to give out of a motivation that others will then give back to you “pressed down, shaken together and running over”. That should be the farthest thing from your mind when giving! Like one of my family’s favorite computer animated movies says, “See a need, fill a need!”
Here is the problem, if you chose to give as you saw fit, wherever your heart and the Spirit of God wanted you to give, I would be willing to bet that it wouldn’t be used to keep the local church building going. Well, sir, you might say, “I’m just being a steward of God’s money, it’s all God’s anyways!” Really? I’m just going to shoot off of my hip here with a few things. Since when has God’s “economy” ever been ran with USD, GBP, Yen or any other form of earthly currency? Last time I checked, heaven was pretty self-sufficient with Christ being all and in all. Since when did God decide to “pay” his children with a constantly and rapidly devaluing currency? Yes, I would agree that God has “a hand” in blessing us with jobs, to what degree, I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to say I know. But even for the dogmatic old-testament Christians, you cannot ignore how hard work, by your own hand, was respected. Now, I would agree that God does “use” these earthly currencies to do His will, it does take money to do many things in this world, however it doesn’t take as much money as most pastors speaking behind their pulpits would have you believe.
Does it cost you $35,000 a month to welcome people into your home, get to know them, share your life with them? No? Then why does it cost that much to do that at most church buildings?
Do you ask for money every time your friends and family come to your home for the “upkeep”? No?
If there isn’t a “curse” to remove from giving…
If God doesn’t have a need to be entertained through worship for his presence to come because it’s already there…
If reaching the people around you really doesn’t cost that much…
If Pastors would stop teaching “sin management”, “seven steps to God hearing your prayers”, “12 steps to Holiness” and “morality” and just preach Christ and Him crucified and the beautiful realities of the New Covenant…
If God’s people were meeting in smaller, more intimate circles and using their time, money and talents for the good of their families, friends, and the communities around them…
Doesn’t that make the modern-day church building a bit irrelevant and rather unnecessary?
Take it for what it’s worth to you.