60 Seconds with the General Director Feb/Mar 1975
Dear Heir of Glory,
The world is replete with private elite organizations. For some of these, the password for entrance is wealth, pedigree, influence or specialization. But there is one group that towers above all other institutions. Though exclusive, membership is not based on any human advantage. Its singular, universal requirement is a simple, conscious affirmation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour.
God calls the institution the Church, and strictly speaking it is not an organization, but rather an organism — it is the Body over which Christ is the Head. It is not a building, but a people — a called out assembly, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
The Church is a unique entity. It began at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Spirit of God and wifi terminate at the Rapture of the Church. It must be clearly distinguished from the Old Testament which preceded it and the Tribulation and Millennium which will succeed it. But to divorce the Church from the Old Testament Scripture — to sever the umbilical cord from the Jewish people who gave the Church birth ~ to ignore Judaism’s ancient religious ceremonies and customs is a tragic mistake. Nonetheless, Church History testifies that this is what Christendom has repeatedly done. Quite frankly, one wonders how much good it does to remind some Christians to their indebtedness to Israel, and if that indebtedness had been paid, no reminder would be necessary. But, at the risk of being repetitive, let’s restate a few of the basic facts.
First The Bible, which we believe to be the inspired Word of God and the final authority for doctrine and duty, was penned by men who had Jewish blood flowing through their veins (with the possible exception of the books of Luke).
Secondly It was a Jewish Saviour, born of a Jewish maiden, of the Jewish Tribe of Judah and the Jewish Family of David, who died for the world’s sin.
Thirdly The real-life drama of redemption was acted out on the stage of a Jewish state, in places like Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, Tiberias, Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee.
Fourthly It was courageous Jewish men like Peter, John and Paul who went forth as the first great missionaries, heralding to Jew and Gentile alike the message of life in Christ.
Fifthly It is the New Testament made with Israel which makes provision for the Church with all of its attendant blessing.
The attempts throughout Church History (and there have been many) to divorce biblical Christianity from its Jewish heritage has on the one hand created an atmosphere unpalatable to potential Jewish converts to Messiah while on the other hand has only served to hinder the Christian’s understanding of the Word of God.
Consider some obvious examples. The New Testament opens with the assertion,
“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” Matt. 1:1.
it is impossible to understand fully and properly the person and work of Jesus without an understanding of the ‘ground’ from which He sprang. Beginning with the Fall of Man and the promise of the Redeemer in Genesis 3:15, the entire Old Testament pointed toward His incarnation.
Or consider the doctrine of Christian liberty. It is only as Paul in Galatians compares it with the Mosaic Law (which must be understood) that we comprehend our full freedom in Christ and understand John’s words,
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” John 8:36.
And what of our Saviour’s present priestly ministry as Advocate and Intercessor? One book, alone, addressed “To the Hebrews”, tells of His present ministry on our behalf in the presence of God the Father, and that, by way of attempting to show the superiority of the Melchisedecian priesthood of Christ to that of the Aaronic priesthood of the Old Testament.
Or consider the concluding book in the canon of Scripture. Revelation with its figurative language has been for multitudes a closed book. But in point of fact, John, himself a Jew, used many terms which would be immediately familiar to anyone versed in the Old Testament Scriptures, and an understanding of those terms is essential for interpreting the prophetic truth revealed in the Book of Revelation.
In most evangelical churches the Lord’s Table is partaken of at least once a month. But how much more light would be shed on that solemn occasion were considered in the light of the Jewish Passover, out of which our Lord instituted it. The distortions in observing the Communion that would have been avoided through the centuries is incalculable.
Perhaps the clearest and sublimest illustration of the inter-relationship of the two Testaments is seen in the statement of John,
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29.
In that simple sentence we are forced back to the entire Levitical system of sacrifice if we would understand John’s affirmation properly.
The feature article in this issue of ISRAEL MY GLORY is, “BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM COMES”, its author, Dr. Renald Showers, describes with substantial documentation the ingredients of ancient Jewish weddings and then shows the New Testament analogy between the Church, which is the Bride, and Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom.
While it is always true that no New Testament doctrine should be based upon an Old Testament type or illustration alone, it is true that New Testament theology is amplified and clarified through Old Testament types and illustrations. “BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM COMES” will serve to substantiate the position of a pretribulation return of Christ for the Church.
Christianity has been Gentile-ized through the centuries ••– and that to its immeasurable loss. Indeed, the Church is a unique entity, but it’s roots run deep into the soil of the Old Testament and Jewish religion and custom. Only from that point of reference can we “rightly divide the Word of truth.”
Augustine was correct when he wrote, “The Old Testament is in the New revealed and the New Testament is in the Old concealed.”
But only when the truth of that familiar cliche becomes experiential in our interpretation of the Word of God and attitude toward the Jewish people will it aid the cause of Christ in the Twentieth Century Church.