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Particulars of Christianity:
312 The Church Ethic

The Church Ethic: Introduction

The Church Ethic: Introduction
Church Ethic Scripture References
Being Like the Pharisees
Reason and Learning through Questions

We in the modern church often overlook a profound event that occurred during Jesus' life on earth 2000 years ago. This event was the tragic rejection of the Messiah by many of God's people.

I say "many of God's people" so as not to unfairly or inaccurately imply that all of the Jews or all of Israel rejected the Messiah. We must not forget that our faith is a Jewish faith, our Messiah, a Jewish Messiah, and that for several decades after Jesus' resurrection the church was proportionately more Jewish than Gentile. Indeed, if it weren't for the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah by so many faithful Jews in the decades after Jesus' resurrection the church would not be what it is today. Indeed, Jewish believers are still a vital part of the Body of Christ today. Now that I have made this disclaimer I will continue with the introduction to this section.

The reason that it is important for the Church to understand the nature of this rejection of the Messiah by so many Israelites so we can avoid being among those who will unfortunately repeat this tragedy. In the New Testament there are numerous warnings against false prophets and false teachers who will come to deceive the church. Some of them will be of the church while others will be outsiders attempting to lead us astray. In either case we are warned time and time again to guard against the heretical doctrine that they will introduce. In addition it is prophesied again and again in the New Testament that before Jesus' returns many believers will fall prey to the teachings of these false prophets and will fall away or depart from the faith. So there is little doubt that we in the church need to be watchful and diligently guard the sound doctrine taught by Jesus and the New Testament writers.

But what does all of this have to do with Israel's rejection of Jesus? To answer this question we must first answer another question, why or how did so many of God's people in Israel miss that Jesus was their Messiah? In retrospect we can see that Jesus clearly fulfills the Old Testament depiction of the Jewish Messiah to a tee. How is it that so many of those alive at the time could not see what was right in front of them?

Well, we don't need to look to far to answer these questions. The Gospels themselves provide them. There are many occasions in the Gospels in which we see Jesus in a dispute with the religious leaders of his time. It was these leaders who were responsible for educating the Jewish community with regard to the faith and scripture handed down from ancient times. Yet we see that in these disputes Jesus charges them with two errors over and over to which he attributes their misunderstanding and rejection of him as the Messiah.

What are these two reasons? The first is scriptural ignorance. The second is the traditions of men, which had replaced knowledge of the scriptures as guides for God's people.

Included in this section, entitled "the Church Ethic," will be a thorough listing of all the relevant scripture verses, (over 60 of them) which are pertinent to these issues. (To view this list in its entirety, please visit the article entitled "Church Ethic Scripture References.") There are too many passages, which bear witness to our position on this topic to mention here without breaking up the presentation of this argument. For now it should suffice to mention just a few prominent examples in support of our claims.

Matthew 22:23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 "Teacher," they said, "Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?" 29 Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead--have you not read what God said to you, 32 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob' (Exodus 3:6)? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

Matthew 15:6 Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

It should be easy to confirm from the above passages that our assertions are not unfounded. Clearly, scriptural ignorance (or biblical illiteracy) and the traditions of the Jewish religious leaders played no small role in the popular misunderstandings so many of God's people had concerning their Messiah. No doubt the religious leaders passed on this ignorance to the people and replaced the truth of God's Word with their own artificial traditions, which according to Jesus nullified the Word of God and consequently aided in so many of God's people of that time not attaining the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.

In fact, in Matthew 16, Jesus specifically and emphatically warns his disciples against allowing these devastating factors to creep in among them.

Matthew 16:11 How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

In 1 Timothy 4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (and elsewhere), we see that Paul prophesies clearly that the church will not be immune to this pattern by stating that there will be a great falling away of believers who depart from the faith before Jesus' comes back.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

When we consider these verses alongside one another and alongside the many commands to uphold and preserve sound doctrine we arrive at the unavoidable conclusion that before Christ comes back God's people will again fall victim to bad teaching, artificial traditions, and scriptural ignorance. These factors will result in some who profess to be Christians not attaining salvation.

In light of these verses and what we know about why so many of God's people missed Jesus' first coming we ought to be greatly concerned with the state of the church today. This is especially true since the consequences of being part of such a falling away are serious indeed according to Matthew 7 as well as Revelation 13 and 14.

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Revelation 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

These verses depict the sobering reality that many persons who consider themselves to be saved and who think of Jesus as their Lord will, in the end, not attain salvation. But how is this the case? As the scripture has shown it will no doubt be in no small measure due to the same biblical illiteracy and the traditions of men, which were the downfall of so many of God's people at Jesus' first coming. We in the modern church ought to be seriously alarmed and distressed to find these same two factors rampant among our fellow churchgoers and leadership today.

It is our contention that the traditions of men and ignorance of the Word of God are now, at a time when Christ's return is closer than ever raging unabated among the church community. The articles in this section are dedicated to demonstrating this trend, identifying issues where it is going on, and seeking to correct the bad teaching and practice that continue largely unchallenged among God's people and leaders today.

We have coined the term "the Church Ethic" in order to collectively refer to this phenomenon wherein the artificial traditions of men nullify God's word and where bad leadership has spawned biblical ignorance in the Body of Christ. There is much at stake here, we need to wake up, lest like so many Jews of Jesus' time, we find ourselves or our loved ones have, in the end, failed to attain to salvation in Christ Jesus.

To those who doubt our claims we leave this introduction to with another quote from Paul.

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

(This section is in no way complete and will be updated in the future as we attempt to undo the ongoing deception, unsound doctrine, and traditions of men that have arisen in the Body of Christ into the modern era.)