Atonement And Fellowship 8/8

The “Kingdom of God” is not only a future political entity to be established on earth; the term refers also to whatever God has Kingship over now. You can not have a Kingdom without having a king and his people. God’s people are His Kingdom, here and now.  It is by listening obediently to what God says and keeping His covenant, out of all peoples, we shall, next to the People of Israel, the Jews,  be able to be a special treasure for Jehovah. The whole earth is His to choose from, and we should respect God’s choice. He has chosen the Jews as a special nation: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, but He also provide a place in His Kingdom for the other sheep, like us.
By entry into the body of Christ by baptism, we are like Israel being declared as God’s Kingdom on earth after their Red Sea ‘baptism’. (Exodus 19:5,6)

Christ Pantocrator study

Christ Pantocrator study (Photo credit: Duckmarx)

Life in [the body of] Christ now, the Kingdom life now [as the Lord speaks of it in Matthew 5-7], the life to be eternally experienced in the future manifestation of the Kingdom of God on earth… it’s all about life in a community. It’s not about splendid isolation now, because it won’t be about that in the eternal future either.

This idea of salvation through belonging to a community is taught by Paul in Romans, where he speaks of two representative men- Christ and Adam. They were, as the early Christadelphians liked to say in the 19th century, “federal heads”. They headed up a ‘federation’ of millions of little people who were somehow “in” them. Everyone “in Adam” dies; but all those “in Christ” are made alive. Or as C.H. Dodd put it in the 20th century:

“…the corporate nature of salvation, realized through Christ as our Representative”. {C.H. Dodd, The Epistle Of Paul To The Romans (London: Fontana, 1959) p. 93}

We shouldn’t seek isolation from our brothers and sisters; we should seek to be with them and interact with them.

Think of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh. They didn’t want to go over Jordan and be with their brethren; they chose the good pasturelands East of Jordan to live in because it was good cattle country. But in later Scripture, every reference to the towns they settled in records those towns (Dibon, Ataroth, Heshbon etc.) as being in Gentile hands (Numeri 32:33-38); and it would seem from the 1 Chronicles 5 genealogies that they went off into Assyria and assimilated into the tribes there. By choosing separation from God’s people, they drifted off with the world. And notice how Gad asked for permission to build dwellings East of Jordan “for our cattle and for our children / little ones”, but God gave them permission to build such dwellings “for your little ones and for your cattle” (Numeri 32:16,24). Gad and co. put cattle before kids; God put kids before cattle. And how many times have we seen this come true- those who move away from fellowship with their brethren drift off to the world, they put cattle before kids, materialism before raising a Godly seed… And of course we can go far from our brethren in many ways other than geographically moving away from them; there can be a distance within us from them which is just the same.

Koinonos the Greek word beloved of Paul uses means ‘a sharer’ as in to share with one another in a possession held in common. He uses it to talk about the participation of the followers of Christ in a community. Holding “fellowship” should be gathering as contributive members,  allowing one to share in what others have. What is shared, received or given becomes the common ground through which Koinonia becomes real. A state of being “in fellowship” is therefore impossible without some active sharing in something which is held in common by the parties. “Fellowship” is therefore never an on-paper agreement which means nothing in practice.

Koinonia creates a brethren bond which builds trust and, in Greek thought, overcomes two of humanity’s deepest fears and insecurities: being betrayed and being demeaned. The misuse of “fellowship” to demean and exclude others is therefore very human, and never intended within the original concept of koinonia. To create a bond between comrades is the meaning of koinonia when people are recognized, share their joy and pains together, and are united because of their common experiences, interests and goals.

English: International Fellowship of Christian...

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Holding “Fellowship” is willing to accept the others to create a mutual bond which overrides each individual’s pride, vanity, and individualism, fulfilling the human yearning with fraternity, belonging, and companionship. This meaning of koinonia accounts for the ease by which sharing and generosity flow. When combined with the spiritual implications of koinonia, fellowship provides a joint participation in God’s graces and denotes that common possession of spiritual values. The more one surveys the richness and variety of meaning in the word koinonia , the more apparent it is that it is facile to draw a line of “in fellowship” and “out of fellowship” between Christian believers. And likewise, the more apparent it is that Paul’s statement that we are called to have koinonia in and with Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9), especially with His crucifixion sufferings (Phillipians 3:10), is a call to an ideal, which will only be fully realized at His return and our participation in the koinonia of His resurrection (Phillipians 3:10). It is as he says in 1 Corinthians 1:9 a “call” to that koinonia.

“God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Yahshua the Messiah our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9 KJBPNV)

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;” (Philippians 3:10 KJBPNV)

It’s apparent from a look around any Christian community that koinonia  therefore refers to an ideal. It’s never really achieved in totality; to speak of our being “in fellowship” is therefore at best a description of how God graciously perceives the body of His Son. There’s therefore no point in assuming that all within a human group defined by certain theological and practical propositions are “in fellowship”; this is a myth. But because it is believed, those within the groups claiming to have “fellowship” within them maintain very hard boundaries against those outside the group, fearing that their “fellowship” will be spoilt or compromised. But we can never be completely certain who believes what in their hearts, and how many closet moral failures there are in the human lives of those within “our” group. And there will always be some who for whatever reason are technical members of the group, but fail to contribute to it in the sense which koinonia requires. The body of Christ in which koinonia is experienced is in fact indivisible; this is a major Pauline teaching. The net into which the fish of humanity fall cannot in fact be severed, like the garment of Jesus at the crucifixion. We need not fear, therefore, that we may break His body by fellowship practices. It is indivisible. Only human denominations can fracture and break up.

The Jewish, especially Pharisaic, misunderstandings of “fellowship” appear to be repeated in many exclusive “fellowships” today. “In Jewish literature, koinonos took the place of Hebrew haber” (G.V. Jourdan, “Koinonia in 1 Cor. 10:16”, JBL 57 (1948) 111,112). The Pharisees spoke of their fellowship with each other as the haberim, thus marking themselves off from the “people of the land” (amme ha-ares) with whom the Lord Jesus so insistently identified Himself. Paul therefore speaks of koinonia as being experienced by all of us by reason of being human (Heb. 2:14), and as the great characteristic of the entire body of Christ. The highly exclusive Qumran community styled itself the koinonia in a similar way to which many exclusive Christian fellowships do today.

Paul’s emphasis is that koinonia is in and with Christ. It always has a collective sense; the focus of our koinonia is in a person, the Lord Jesus. It never refers to a set of theological propositions, a “statement of faith”, as a basis for koinonia. Acts 2:42 speaks of the experience of koinonia in the breaking of bread, praying together, and the apostles’ teaching about Christ. But these are not the only aspects of koinonia; and these things are all centred around the person of Jesus.

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Preceding:

 Atonement And Fellowship 1/8

 Atonement And Fellowship 2/8

 Atonement And Fellowship 3/8

 Atonement And Fellowship 4/8

Atonement And Fellowship 5/8

Atonement And Fellowship 6/8

Atonement And Fellowship 7/8

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Additional reading:

  1. Eternity depends upon this short time on earth
  2. Learn how to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News of the coming Kingdom
  3. He may found a kingdom and empire which shall be literally ‘universal’
  4. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #10 Prayer #8 Condition
  5. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #14 Prayer #12 The other name
  6. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #15 Exposition before the Creator
  7. A promise given in the Garden of Eden
  8. Miracles of revelation and of providence 1 Golden Thread and Revelation
  9. A visible organisation on earth
  10. The one who set the standard
  11. Many forgot how Christ should be our anchor and our focus
  12. Yahushua, Yehoshua, Yeshua, Jehoshua of Jeshua
  13. Jesus spitting image of his father
  14. Jesus and his God
  15. He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
  16. Missional hermeneutics 4/5
  17. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  18. This is an amazing thing
  19. His Life for the Sheep
  20. The builder of the Kingdom
  21. A Living Faith #9 Our Manner of Life
  22. A Living Faith #12 The Love for Jesus
  23. Together tasting a great promise
  24. A participation in the body of Christ
  25. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  26. Walking in the Light of Life
  27. Breathing to teach
  28. Breathing and growing with no heir
  29. Slave for people and God
  30. Commemorating the escape from slavery
  31. People Seeking for God 2 Human interpretations
  32. Science, belief, denial and visibility 2
  33. Looking for True Spirituality 3 Mind of Christ
  34. One Mind, One Accord
  35. Deliverance and establishment of a theocracy
  36. Modesty: The Reason Why
  37. Looking for True Spirituality 7 Preaching of the Good News
  38. Being Religious and Spiritual 8 Spiritual, Mystic and not or well religious
  39. How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice
  40. Look for your Refuge by God
  41. Finding God amid all the religious externals
  42. God’s wisdom for the believer brings peace
  43. Salvation, trust and action in Jesus #3 as a Christian
  44. Not words of any organisation should bind you, but the Word of God
  45. Called Christian
  46. Are Christians prepared to Rejoice in the Lord
  47. Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity
  48. Church sent into the world
  49. Christadelphians or Messianic Christians or Messianic Jews
  50. Intentions of an Ecclesia
  51. Companionship
  52. Integrity of the fellowship
  53. Bread and Wine
  54. The Ecclesia

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  • Evangelical’s Politicization of Atonement Theology (bloodstainedink.wordpress.com)
    The Penal Substitutionary theory of the atonement has been the center of controversy since the onset of the Enlightenment, coming to a climax during the Modernist-Fundamentalist debates of the early twentieth century, and Evangelicals continue to fight last century’s war. While Evangelicals have scriptural warrant for defending their conception of Penal Substitution, Evangelicals move beyond orthodoxy, as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils, when they insist that it is the or central nature of the atonement, and this insistence causes unnecessary divisions in the body of Christ. Also, Evangelicals deprive themselves of the mystery involved in Christ’s work when they believe that their language about the atonement is the same as the atonement in and of itself. This confusion about the function of language is part of the lingering effects of Evangelicals’ unwitting embrace of the Enlightenment paradigm, and this confusion about the function of language leads Evangelicals to use Penal Substitution as a “master-signifier” in their ideology. Lastly, Evangelical reduction of the atonement to a single theory leaves them ill-equipped for gospel mission in Postmodern America in the same way a golfer is ill-equipped for 18 holes with only a putter in her golf bag.
  • The Atonement and the Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 by Philip Nation (christianitytoday.com)
    The Savior bears sickness and pain. He is described as being beaten and pierced; and it happening centuries before the invention of crucifixion. We see Him “cut off from the land of the living” (v. 8) and buried among the wicked (v. 9). Isaiah gives us the portrait of anguish on the part of the Savior. The suffering is the “what” and, for our good, the passage offers the “why” as well. The Messiah does not appear in the flesh to simply give us a moral example or help us out by showing what sacrificial love looks like. Instead the “why” is so much greater. When the Savior bears sickness and pain, it is to carry it for us (v. 4, 11, 12). When we read that He is crushed and pierced, it is on behalf of how we have transgressed the Law of God (v. 5). All of the punishment that the Savior endures is on behalf of those who have actually committed iniquity (v.6).
  • Luther, Calvin, Arminius and I: Universality and Particularity of Atonement (withalliamgod.wordpress.com)
    The shed blood of Christ extends or is applied particularly to believers, the elected or the called, whom in God’s proper time are also given the gift of regeneration that spring forth faith to receive it (Acts 13:48). Through the shedding of His blood, Christ’s righteousness is thus given to all without distinction.  Christ’s righteousness is given to whomever believe (Rom. 3:22) in the person and work of Christ Jesus.
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    Dealing with 1 Timothy 4:10, Luther distinguished “all men” and “those who believe”. He then concluded that the latter is saved eternally but not so with the former. Luther, thus, calls us to conclude that the general salvation of this passage is teaching us that “God saves all the faithful, but He does not save the faithless in the same way”(LW 28:261). More clearly he states: “For in an absolute sense Christ did not die for all, because He says: ‘This is My blood which is poured out for you’ and ‘for many’—He does not say: for all—‘for the forgiveness of sins’ (Mark 14:24, Matt. 26:28).”(LW 25:376)
  • Gods Simple Plan of Salvation by Pastor Mike Paulson (thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com)
    (Hebrews 9:27 KJV). Those who have not been saved will spend eternity separated from God. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15 KJV). The penalty of sin that is passed on to all of mankind is death. Jesus Christ became the atonement for all sin. He took our place and died on a cross. Those who accept this plan, which is made possible only by Jesus, will receive forgiveness for their sins and obtain salvation.
  • Muslim Author’s ‘Zealot’ Book Riles Christian Critics With Claims Jesus Never Considered Himself God, Sometimes Promoted Violence (theblaze.com)
    As for the crucifixion, Aslan’s argument is that Jesus was put to death for violating the law and that his murder had nothing at all to do with saving humanity from its sins.
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    Jesus’s message was simple: the land didn’t belong to Rome but to God, and it was time for Caesar to concede power to Hossana, the real King of Jews. This was sedition and the punishment was crucifixion. The New Testament says Jesus’s crucifixion was a cruelly special punishment for a man who sacrificed himself for humanity’s sins, but history tells us that he was no different from “any other criminal who hangs on a cross.”
  • The Gospel Project Reflections: Session 11 Atonement Thread (kingdombranches.com)
    For Israel the point of the manna was not to satisfy, but to sustain them until they made it to the promise land that would satisfy them. For these people in Jesus’ day the point of this meal he gave them was to point them to their need for Jesus who is the eternal Bread from Heaven.
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    Jesus points out that no one can come to the Father unless He draws them. This is a reminder that it is God who takes the first steps in initiating salvation, and as people we are commanded to respond and repent.
  • Thank YOU for the cross! (livingmoreabundantly4christ.com)
    Without His enduring the scourgings, false accusations, and crucifixion there would be no way for us to enter into fellowship with the Father. He provided The Way. If He at any point in His suffering lashed back and refused to endure, we would still be living a life without hope, without true joy and without the assurance of our salvation. For many of us who are gentiles, we would be outside the family of God with no way in. Thankfully, He did endure the cross and when He did, He willingly took upon Himself my sin and yours! Praise God!
  • P.T. Forsyth On The Atonement (reformedforhisglory.wordpress.com)
    Had the apostles held the humanist view that what mattered was but the life, character and teaching of Christ, would they have given the hand of fellowship to Paul when he came to them with the view that biography mattered little compared with Christ’s death? Would Paul have taken their hand, with that gulf between them? And what a gulf! It is at bottom all the gulf between the genial Judaism of Hillel which let Christ go to His death as a fanatic and the Christianity which found in His death His deity. The whole history of the Church shows that there can be no standing unity of faith, spirit, or fellowship between those to whom Christ’s death is but a great martyrdom and those to whom it is the one atonement of the world and God, the one final treatment of sin, the one compendious work of grace, and the one hinge of human destiny.
  • The Symbolism of the Lord’s Supper by A. H. Strong (ilyston.wordpress.com)
    Alex. McLaren: “The suggestion of a violent death, implied in the doubling of the symbols, by which the body is separated from that of the blood, and still further implied in the breaking of the bread, is made prominent in the words in reference to the cup. It symbolizes the blood of Jesus which is ‘shed.’ That shed blood is covenant blood. By it the New Covenant, of which Jeremiah had prophesied, one article of which was, “Their sins and iniquities I win remember no more,” is sealed and ratified, not for Israel only but for an indefinite ‘many,’ which is really equivalent to all. Could words more plainly declare that Christ’s death was a sacrifice? Can we understand it, according to his own interpretation of it, unless we see in his words here a reference to his previous words (Mat_20:28) and recognize that in shedding his blood ‘for many,’ he ‘gave his life a ransom for many’? The Lord’s Supper is the standing witness, voiced by Jesus himself, that he regarded his death as the very centre of his work, and that he regarded it not merely as a martyrdom, but as a sacrifice by which he put away sins forever. Those who reject that view of that death are sorely puzzled what to make of the Lord’s Supper.”
  • The Atonement in the Tabernacle: Exodus and Leviticus by Dr. Scot McKnight (christianitytoday.com)

    Atonement theories, in spite of the many claims that some of these theories did not arise until the patristic era or the medieval era or during the Reformation, derive from biblical exegesis. There are then biblical groundings for each theory—from the classical theory sometimes called Christus Victor to the satisfaction of God’s honor theory with Anselm or with the more substitutionary theory of the Reformers—so it is historically inaccurate to pretend that atonement theories belong to specific eras and, the earlier one is, the better the theory.

    Furthermore, we diminish the glory of the cross of Christ when we are forced to choose which theory is ours. Over coffee one day a pastor told me he had chosen the Abelardian theory and, as he put it, “You can have only one.” So I did my best to provide a case for a multi-metaphor theory of the atonement.

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7 thoughts on “Atonement And Fellowship 8/8

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