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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Winter Edition 1993

The Christian Church As A Messianic Community

    Jesus' acknowledgment of Peter's confession of Himself as the revealed Messiah of all Israel constitutes the Christian Church a new messianic community. "Thou art the Christ (i.e., the Messiah) the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16), exclaimed the big fisherman with bold assertion. No ambiguity or equivocation marred this spokesperson for that first band of Christian believers'  apprehension of who the man from Nazareth really was.

"Thou art, Jesus, right now, just as you are, in all its fullness, the Christ of God!"  What a loaded statement! What tremendous implications for defining personal faith and total life's commitment!

Now notice carefully with me, if you will,  what Peter did not say. He did not say: "Jesus, you may some day pan out and prove to be the promised Messiah of the Jews." Peter, I repeat, did not say, "Jesus, when you launch your political agenda by delivering us from the domination of Rome, when you meet our expectations for the restoration of the glory of our sovereign national kingdom, then I will believe you are the promised Messiah that should come."

So mused the masses in their hearts as they watched the Man of miracles perform, and as they heard his proclamation "the kingdom is at hand." But not so Peter. There was no mere wishful musing about it. "Thou art, Jesus, the Christ!"--with a crescendo period! All the implication of what that meant, Peter, at that moment, implicitly accepted. He was not looking for the Messiah any longer. He had found Him.

Now this confession of Jesus as the PRESENT Messiah of the Jews brought Jesus' followers at once into the boundaries of Israel's promised messianic kingdom. Why? Because Jesus did not merely "offer to become" the promised Messiah of the Jews; He was, in fact, just as he was, in all its fullness, that promised Messiah of the Jews! Nor did the unbelieving Jews merely reject an "offer" on Jesus' part to become their messianic King (as if their rejection of that offer might somehow disqualify Jesus from his ability to fulfill His messianic office and discharge His kingly role!) No!  No! No! They rejected their Messiah and their King, flat out, period!

Thus it was that unbelieving Jews, who rejected their Messiah and their King, were not able to entered Israel's promised messianic kingdom! But not all First Century Jews rejected Him! The disciples were First Century Jews, and one of them, namely Peter, confessed that Jesus WAS (not might become someday!) the promised Messiah of the Jews. And on that confession of Jesus as the present, promised Messiah of all Israel, the Lord declared that he would build his Church!

The Christian Church is built on the confession that Jesus is now (not will become--in at least seven years from now after He has returned to set up his imagined "millennial kingdom") the promised Messiah and the King of Israel!

Friend do you get the point? Dispensationalism teaches that the Jews merely rejected an "offer" on the part of Jesus to become their Messiah and their King--the implication of that being that because some of them chose to reject Him, then,  his reign and kingdom (His "messiahship," if you will,) might then somehow be imagined to have been "postponed."  This is a stab and a tear at the unity of the person of Christ: a far cry from  what Peter confessed, what Jesus really did, and what happened to those First Century Christ-rejecters who forfeited the kingdom.

There is a clear difference between the "setting up" of Christ messianic kingdom, and the glorious "manifesting," or universal vindication, of that kingdom. Darbyites teach that Christ will set up His kingdom when He returns. This teaching obstructs and obscures the truth that Jesus has already established His messianic kingdom of redemption at the time of His first advent. What this theory really does, in terms of logic, friends, is to make the messiahship of Jesus contingent on human acceptance or rejection.  Merely by rejecting Him, certain Jews, or a "nation" of people, can prevent Him from being the Messiah and establishing His kingdom.  This, in effect, makes God plans and purposes beholden to the will of sinful man, and that, my friend, to go full circle in logic, is pure theological humanism.

The fact that some Jews rejected Jesus in the First Century did not mean that He was not the Christ, or that He failed to establish His kingdom. The conception of the kingdom of those who rejected Him was wrong. And that same mistaken conception of the messianic kingdom is being taught today by dispensational  premillennialism!  At the bottom of this heresy is a problem over the very personhood of Christ Himself. Two very different Jesus are being served. The one is not yet the Christ, but will become the Christ and set up a  kingdom of racial Jewish aggrandizement when He returns. The other is the true Christ, who has always been the Christ, and who is coming at the last day to judge every man according to the revelation of His person and kingdom that has already been made. 

The implications of the above difference, when logically and practically pressed out, are staggering.  It is not as easy as it sounds to confess that Jesus is the Christ! No one can really do this apart from divine revelation, and the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Many today are not willing to identify the  Jesus they profess to serve with the "kingdom" hope, which they imagine. They have the same carnal conceptions, and want the same carnal  kingdom, that Judaism wanted when Judaism rejected the real Christ at the time of His First Advent. The same carnal mind controls them all, and it is still antagonistic to the only "messianic kingdom" that the Bible ever promised—the "heavenly" (II Timothy 4:18) and "everlasting" (II Peter 1:11) kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ--yea, even the  spiritual kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and joy wrought by Messiah's baptism of the blessed Holy Spirit!

In the world of objective reality, Jesus is the Messiah now. On this "messianic confession," and this alone, Jesus is building the Christian Church.

Dear reader, let us get "the Christ" (i.e., the Messiah) back into our conception of the Christian faith! A present reigning Christ, a pure heart, a messianic community--these are the terms that make our profession of Christianity real, and our gospel message once again dynamic.

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