This image is from ASBO Jesus.
This will be my short attempt to explain what I think about the Church. My ideas may be a bit different from many, but I would love to engage.
My introduction paragraph follows…. We are not under the Old Covenant but the New (Hebrews 8-9). Because of that, I don’t need to borrow anything, okay let me rephrase that, I shouldn’t borrow anything from the Old Covenant to shape my ecclesiology. There is radical discontinuity. Which simply means…. I don’t have to obey anything in the Old Testament unless it is transferred to the New, by Christ, the Apostles or other authors of the New Testament. Some may feel this is false, but I promise you, your theology drives you to that point, not the scriptures. In his book “All Old Testament Laws Canceled” Mr. Gibson says:
There is discontinuity in practice between the Old Testament vs the New Testament since they contain 2 separate laws (although many of the same commands are transferred). And, there is continuity in doctrine/faith between them since God never changes. (Also, there is continuity in God’s one, eternal plan in Christ which organizes all the covenants and the whole bible).
I believe this to be a key to interpreting the scriptures and what is to be practiced by the Church. We are not Jews, we have never been Jews and the Old Covenant was given to Israel and them alone. It has been abolished, it has ceased and has been replaced by the New Covenant Law of God (1 Corinthians 9:21).
Okay, with that out the way I want to bring up three points:
1. The Old Covenant had a mediating group.
To get to God you had to come through the Levites under the Old Covenant. Only they could light the lampstand, change the shew-bread, keep the incense burning, and offer sacrifices on behalf of the people. Today we are all priest (1 Peter 2) with one High Priest who is alive forever (Heb 9:11). Pastors and elders don’t replace or assume the responsibility of the levitical priest, THE ENTIRE Church does and our High Priest is Jesus. Not to mention Moses was the first mediator. A Senior Pastor doesn’t replace Moses. Jesus does, for he is a mediator of a “Better Covenant”. To try to use Moses instructions from Jethro to lead the Church today is a gross misinterpretation of those verses. We don’t see Jesus or the Apostles every condoning such a hierarchy as a matter of fact he tells us to stay away from such hierarchical structures (Matthew 23).
2. The Old Covenant Had a Place of Worship
The temple was the only authorized place to offer sacrifices and to hear from God. No one else was authorized to offer up sacrifices and no other place was authorized. Our church buildings do not replace the temple or tabernacle. The Church which is made up of every single building does. We now Worship the Father through the Son and that in spirit and in truth (John 4). We offer up sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:15) through Christ. And because He is always heard we don’t have to worry like they did in the Old Covenant if our sacrifice is accepted, because Jesus makes it acceptable by mediating for us perpetually (Hebrews 8).
3. The Need for a Professionalized Group
Finally the storehouse is gone, the need for a professionalized group is gone, and the need to pay that group is gone. Why? Because as New Covenant believers we are not under a Theocracy. That theocracy has been replaced with a gracious covenant where every nation, tongue and tribe is brought into relationship with God. The priest were commissioned by God to do a work and mediate on his behalf and they were commanded not to work, for they HAD TO be available for service to the people on behalf of God. Today we are priest and all hold the same mediating positions! Though we function differently due to our gifting doesn’t mean that there is a select class. The Church is not the storehouse, that is superimposing the Old, dead covenant unto the new living Church of God. There is no continuity between the two.
This is brief because I don’t want to lose you; however, we live under a New Covenant that is in opposition to what it is discontinued from. To take Old Covenant examples and superimpose them on the Church is to do a disservice to what Jesus purchased with His own blood. The Old Covenant was ratifed with the blood of bulls and goats “once Moses sprinkled the tablets he also sprinkled the people”. Today we are covered by the blood of the living God. He has created something new, and the last time I checked new really means new!