CHRISTianity, Not CHURCHianity Or PASTORianity (first 8.2.12)
Hebrews 8,6: "But now He [Jesus our resurrected High Priest] has obtained a more excellent ministry [than any earthly ministry], inasmuch as He is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises."
Hebrews 8,10-11: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put MY laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. v11 None of them shall teach his his neighbor, and none his brother, saying 'Know the Lord', for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them."
One of the pastoring lessons I keep learning again and again is that even when friends bring the stuff of their lives to me, it's not about friendship.
It's about their need to be pointed to Jesus, our one mediator, and their need for prayer.
We all know how it is- some brother or sister in the Lord (or perhaps someone who doesn't even know him) will unload his or her problems on us, and will immediatly feel better for having done so.
And after fifteen minutes or half an hour, Praise God, we are the best of chums. But hey wait, has either of us remembered to take the matter directly to the Lord, or pray?
Has either of us remembered that the whole point of the new covenant is that now we all are to go directly to him, and even first.
Hebrews makes this point at great length and in various ways in that it is an extensive sermon about Jesus as our one new high priest, with a heaven based ministry, better than the earth based ministry of the priests and Levites of the Jerusalem temple, some of whom came enthusiastically to faith in Jesus. Acts 6,7: "Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith."
But later (as Hebrews suggests) these now exiled priests were understandably nostalgic for their old temple (destroyed in 70AD) and the cultic roles back home and started to misremember (sic) the essence of the whole new Jesus deal.
Mayby they felt a bit uneeded in that folks could go right to Jesus to get their sins forgiven when they used to have to come to them!
Now I'm not advocating that pastors aren't necessary. Of course they are.
And we read Hebrews in this particular context and also with Ephesians 4,11 that lays out the whole pastoral team of Christianity- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers, unto the edifying and full equipping of the whole body.
Christianity has no JV team!
Yes Praise God, the essence of the new covenant of Christianity is that all of us can go directly and even first to Jesus, and if we do so acting on the promises of God, He will fill us with the Holy Ghost, and make us capable of living close to Him without any more physical sacrifices, or any other mediator.
That sounds simple enough- but all faith history demonstrates that we human beings often prefer to let other folks do what we are all called to do by our own faith.
For example, Exodus 16,1-3 says that only seventy five days after God parted the Red Sea and Israel was delivered out of Egyptian slavery, the whole congregation preferred death in Egypt, rather than to continue journeying to the promised land.
Exodus 19,10-11 makes the same point: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. v.11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai."
In the sight of all the people!
But because of fear, says Exodus 19,16, the people didn't respond to the third blast of the trump.
And so God had to suspend his plan that his whole people, his already delivered people (Psalm 105,37), would then and there be priestly and thus capable of coming close and even directly into his presence (Exodus 19,6).
So only Moses and Aaron went up.
Likewise Deuteronomy 1,21ff v.21 "Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord your God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged."
But v.22 says the whole people begged God to send twelve representatives instead, because they were afraid. And then (you know the story) only two had the faith courage to press into the promised land!
It's amazaing the lengths that we human beings will go to avoid acting in faith for ourselves.
But, what's different and great about Christianity is that when we are born again (by water and the Spirit John 3,5) our superstitious fear of approaching God directly, and our need for earthly mediators ends. And our confusion about spiritual matters ends too.
How can we go on fearing to approach someone, that is Jesus, who already lives inside us?
Why would we, more often than not, run after the advice of another human being, no matter how compassionate and kind, when Jesus and his word are so close to us already? (see intro above.)
Of course there are times in our lives, perhaps even several or many times, when we will need the help and insight of a blessed and capable servant of the Lord. But the new norm and template for the faithful, even for difficult matters of conscience, is Romans 14,22-23, which teaches that our personal faith is paramount:
"Do you have faith [about a particular matter]? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts [after his own personal faith commands a decision] is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin."
This new covenant norm of faith is a real challenge. It is a hear-it-from-Jesus-Himself- type of personal faith. This faith takes personal wisdom, and searching the norms and the principles of Scripture, and specific prayer to a specific God, and then the courage to act on the faith after it settles in our individual spirits.
It's also takes, from the outset, not giving over the responsibility and power of our own personal faith lives to anybody else, like say to a church or a pastor (call no man "father"). It takes going to Jesus with all that matters in our life.
And while this new norm is a challenge, it fits with Mark 8,29 and the searching and personal way Jesus called his first disciples: "But who do you say that I am?
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...