Against this Christ-denying world
A statement of faith is often nothing other than something we ought to believe or claim to believe but it accomplishes no more than that. People often believe that they only have to repeat the declaration of their faith in order to be saved. This is contrary to what the Lord God Almighty says through the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31. A declaration of faith comes very close to having everything on tablets of stone and then relating to those words and not to the Living God Himself. We believe that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship bound in the covenant. That relationship must be fulfilled in what we are bound to by the living God as He makes His covenant with us.
“Lord we are no longer our own but Yours.
Do with us what You will; Rank us with whom You will;
put us to doing, put us to suffering;
let us be employed for You or laid aside for You,
exalted for You or brought low for You;
Let us be Full, let us have nothing;
We freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now O Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You are our God and we are your people.
So be it and the covenant which we have made on earth
let it be ratified in heaven.
The reason for not having a written statement, but rather a covenant, is that this binds us to God – God promises to make us His children, that He may be our God and we His children. Now the elements of this covenant, as given on page 1, indicate very clearly that God Himself is the aim and the goal of the covenant. The relationship is between persons – God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons, therefore we relate to them – we do not relate to an “it”. This is a personal and dynamic relationship where the Holy Spirit guides us in all our behaviour. All prayers, study of the Word of God, various lessons and programs, worship, singing, reading and expounding the Scriptures will have only one single aim or telos: to bring us to God and to prepare us for eternity. When God is not the single object, goal and purpose of our lives, then we are estranged from the main reason for our existence, which is to do the will of God and to be pleasing to God, to enjoy Him and to love Him. Whenever we lose sight of that mark, we become compromised, and we slip God into the position of being a means to some other goal than Himself. This is close to, if not in fact, idolatry.
To illustrate this, we need just go back to the Old Testament. When God called Israel out of Egypt, He made it very clear that it was not because they had been good, or deserving special favour. He had called them out of Egypt so that they might fulfil His purpose. They were to drive the Canaanites and those associated with them out of the land that He was going to give Israel – and not because Israel was good, but to fulfil His own purposes. This is lost in so much of what has become heresy in our time. Israel was created and drawn out of Egypt to fulfil the purposes of the Almighty God, and those purposes when fulfilled would render Israel as it were, a people that God had favoured, through whom God had worked and fulfilled His purposes.
Israel knew that their purpose was to obey God in all things and to worship God alone and carry out His commandments. God also said that if they became like the people they were driving out of the land, God Himself would see that they were treated like the Canaanites – the land would vomit them out. This is a sombre and serious reminder that whether we like this God or not is of no relevance. We must realise that God is Almighty and He commands us , not negotiates with us, to do His will. This is not the formation of a Republic or a Democracy, it is a Theocracy where God says and we do. That is what we bind ourselves to in this Church.
Israel enjoyed the privilege of being freed by God and so should we. It is the greatest privilege to fulfil the purposes of God. For that we will enjoy suffering and dying because it is in line with the reason for which we were born and the end to which we live. But eventually, we find that Israel enjoyed the privilege but forgot dismally the responsibility. The responsibility is clearly stated in Genesis 22: through Abraham and his seed, and through others from his offspring, God would make them a blessing to the nations of all the world. Simply put, Israel was there to create that crucible in which Jesus Christ would be born. Through the gospel, all the nations of the world would be blessed by being able, through the strength of the indwelling Christ, to live a fulfilled life in being God’s children and God’s instruments in this world. That responsibility Israel forgot and it wallowed in its privilege.
Sadly, when Jesus Christ was born into that world, there were few who were still of Israel. Because they only saw everything in the light of a privilege, the religious Jews were quick to crucify the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life. However, the ordinary humble Jews, as well as a Samaritan woman and other Gentiles recognised Jesus Christ as the Son of God and that He was the One He claimed to be. But even the disciples that followed Jesus could not quite grasp, because of all that they had been taught, that Israel as a nation was not the true Israel of God.
The true Israel of God emerges in the Scriptures. All through the Old Testament of the Bible, especially since the Prophets, you find emerging out of the nations those that were truly the Israel of God. Therefore Paul in Romans clearly says that not all are of Israel, and he makes it plain that only those who believe as Abraham believed are children of Abraham – they are children of the promise. The children of the promise are shown to be children that live in a relationship with the living God, and seek Him. Just as He promised to Abraham, God promises to them that He will be their shield and their exceedingly great reward (Gen15:1). For those that belong to the Israel of God, God is their reward and they seek no other. They do not see God as an instrument to other things: money, wealth, happiness, joy, gladness. No, they seek God, and God gives to them that do not seek it whatsoever He knows they require.
We also recognise that, as Paul clearly says, when we revert back to Judaism as many have done in these days although they call themselves Christian, then the veil covers them and they cannot understand what God is saying in the Scriptures – truly that veil is covering the eyes of many, who this day still expect a temple to be rebuilt. Jesus Christ made it so clear: You are the temple of God; destroy this temple and no one else will rebuild it but I will rebuild it in three days. So the temple is built wherever the living Christ enters a human soul and that human heart becomes His dwelling place: there is the temple of the living God. As a Church therefore, we totally reject anything to do with dispensational theology and the rebuilding of the temple, the rapture and the 1000 year reign. This doctrine degrades and downgrades the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He did on Calvary, making it not essential. Dispensationalists may accept Christ’s death on the Cross, they may plead the blood of Jesus Christ, but it is obvious that Israel becomes the target, the goal. This is just like the problem the disciples had when right up to the day Jesus ascended, they asked: ‘When are you going to restore the kingdom of David?’ This brought about the betrayal of Jesus because they could not see that His kingdom is not of this world. Anyone who is in a living relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, whether they be Jew or Gentile, Barbarian or Scythian, bond or free, male or female, is indeed a child of Abraham; they are the children and the Israel of God.
Once you make it clear that God is not a means but the very end, then nothing else can ever be the goal of the Christian church and Christian faith than being with God Himself – where He says ‘I am your God and you are my people’. That is the covenant made with Israel, and that is the covenant we have with the Almighty God now.
— Rev Fred Shaw