Commentary on "Community"
Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, June 13, 2009
“Throughout the Bible, God has had a chosen people. In the Old Testament, it was the Israelites. In the New Testament, it was the early church. Today, we are God’s chosen people. And we have the responsibility of being good stewards of God’s church. How are we living up to that responsibility?” (From Teacher Comments, “The Lesson in Brief” section.)
The quarterly itself offers a good start. Excellent texts were chosen to be read in this first section. Although it might seem a bit obtuse to include Genesis 11 as a starting point for a study of church, the author does a nice job of contrasting it with Abram’s call in Genesis 12 (see Sunday’s lesson).
The problem comes in the section I quoted from the Teacher Comments. Clearly, the teacher is not to allow a discussion of what it means to be the body of Christ, but to steer the class towards the Adventist position – “Today, we are God’s chosen people.” In the context of this quarterly, “we” can mean only the Seventh-day Adventist church. Therefore, “they” (all other church goers who are not members of the Adventist church) cannot be God’s chosen people. Without saying it directly, the author has equated salvation with membership in a specific church.
The tragedy of this view—denominational exclusivity—is that it prevents rather than encourages the very things this week’s lesson purports to teach. Worse, it has absolutely no support Biblically.
A person is a member of the Body of Christ solely as a result of his or her acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13 NASB). Note that the baptism referred to is not water baptism, which is a wonderful public metaphor for an internal reality, but baptism by the Holy Spirit, which is the internal reality.
In answer to similar false claims by Judaizers in Ephesus, Paul wrote the following: “…to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel…” (Ephesians 3:6 NASB). In short, there is not a Jewish body and a Gentile body, or an Adventist body and a non-Adventist body, but only one body, the church (the ecclesia, or “called out ones”).
Therefore, the Body of Christ has nothing to do with denominations. Every child of God, regardless of denomination, is a member of His Body. This is the true church and the source of true community.
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