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Monday, November 16, 2015

Semper Reformanda; Fulfilled & Always Fulfilling

How many Protestant Christians do you know ( not to mention Roman Catholics ) that believe that theirs is the One, True Religion? How many of these Christians seem to be stuck in a theological rut; acting ( believing ) as if what they ( usually, their pastors ) found is the whole truth & nothing but the truth; that their special gospel is the end-all, that they are theologically at their destination?! These Christians, Reformed Christians in particular, seem to have forgotten the motto of the Reformation, which in effect, or theory anyway, is 'Reformed and always reforming'!

In the Institutional Church today, especially maybe in evangelical ( Protestant Churches, but in Reformed circles as well, there seems to be an alarming trend; a growing number of teens & young adults are leaving the IC in droves! This trend might be attributed to any number of issues, one of which is their eschatology of defeat ( in this life anyway ). In Reformed Churches, this eschatology may be a bit better in regards to the present, but it has much the same outcome; Jesus comes back at the end of Time to rescue us from our own 'misfortunes' and burn up everything bad!

As believers in Fulfilled  Eschatology, we say ( to different extents ) that all ( Scripture ) has been fulfilled!  In fact, Jesus Himself said, 'all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and [ the ] Prophets and [ the ] Psalms concerning Me'. Now, to be honest, most believes in Fulfilled Eschatology tend to look at at that word 'fulfilled' & see only or mostly that Jesus was Himself the End, the Goal or Fulfillment of all that was prophesied. This IS true, He was the Fulfillment of all that was written concerning the Messiah of Israel, but if that is all, then in truth, the Scriptures no longer apply except as a 'lesson plan' for our lives!

Most Christians look forward to the return of Jesus, whether at the End of Time or what, as the time when 'the lion will lay down with the lamb' ( correctly 'The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb'-Isaiah 11:6 ), when there will be world-wide peace & all will be set to rights. In some Christian circles, there is talk of a future utopia, a 'heaven on earth', but again, this will be brought about only through the Return of Jesus! There seems to be no hope for this world apart from the ( re ) Appearance of the Christ!

The full & glorious impact of the fact that we are the Body of Christ seems to have been lost on many Christians! Realizing that the apostle ( Paul ) was speaking metaphorically here ( ? ) doesn't change Our Purpose for being HERE ( on earth ); WE are here for the same purpose that the Christ came, to bring heaven to earth; the difference of course being that He was God Himself, though it could be well-argued that we have inherited His Divinity, being 'the temple of the Holy Spirit' ( I Corinthians 6:19 )! As the case may be, We are, in Effect the Christ ( the Anointed One to the World ); WE, the Body of Christ are to continue His Work ( John 14:12 ), effecting in our 'world' what He has already done!

In us is ( being ) fulfilled the purpose for which the Christ came! Although this was specifically to redeem His People from the bondage of that first ( Old ) covenant & it condemning Law, the effect that His once-for-all sacrifice had was universal in scope, effecting the salvation of all who would believe & trust in ( obey ) the Messiah of Israel. Over Time, as Scripture says, 'Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God' ( Romans 14:11 ( Isaiah 45:23 ); this was, in the Scriptural sense, fulfilled through the Christ in Reality, but in actually, it is being fulfilled through us, through our ministrations ( not discounting the important & necessary work of the Spirit ) every day!

Though these many Christians have not realized yet within themselves this glorious fact. maybe, the Purpose of our Heavenly Father IS being realized every blessed day! While droves are leaving the Institutional Church, most are not leaving the Faith ( of Christ ); many Christians are beginning to realize that the Institutional Church and the Body of Christ are not One & the same! Although doubtless many within the IC belong to the Body of Christ, there are probably as many or more that are the Body of Christ, although they do not belong to any Institutional Church!

We may look forward to the 'day', not a false hope of the Return of the Christ, but the 'day ( continuing & eternal ) when all men & women will realize that their Creator has made His Presence known to His Creation, that He wants to bless them with His Presence & that WE ARE His Hands & Feet through Whom He chooses to broadcast those blessings! As His Body, may we ever choose to fulfill His Purpose, bringing the blessings of His Presence to the 'world' around us, in whatever we say & do! This IS our prayer & our purpose!

Charles Haddon Shank


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