Lately, I've been leaning more and more towards Nathan Pitchford's position on separation in When Will All the Fighting End?. His basic premise is that we are called many times to be unified around the gospel, but we are rarely told to separate from other believers. The times we are told to separate are very specific. His basic premise, then, is that we should not seek to divide up into different denominations over trivial matters, but we should rally around the gospel, and express the unity and love for each other that is essential for letting our light shine before men. The question, then, is what should be considered important enough to break this unity?
There are some principles given in the New Testament, but we are still left with a lot of room to interpret where we must draw the line.Eschatology has typically been listed towards the bottom of issues to separate over. However, I have been wondering if we are putting to little emphasis on at least some aspects of eschatology.For example, dispensational premillennialists believe that there will be a physical kingdom for Israel, after the church age, where the temple will be rebuilt and sacrifices will be re-instituted. The more I think about this position, the more I say, “can this really be considered consistent with orthodox Christianity?”The book of Hebrews was very instrumental in my departure from dispensationalism. Hebrews is very clear in relation to the purpose and abolishment of sacrifices, and it is beginning to seem to me more and more of an affront to the work of Christ to claim that sacrifices will be re-instituted with God's approval.I will include here a beautiful passage from Hebrews that speaks very clearly to how the sacrifice of Christ abolished the Old Testament sacrificial system. To claim that sacrifices will be re-instituted is to claim that Christ's once-for-all sacrifice is insufficient, and to cheapen the blood of Christ!At the very least, I hope reading this passages prompts you to praise our loving God for the sacrifice of Christ. The more I read Hebrews, the more I am overcome by what God has done for us! Praise the Lord!
Heb. 9:23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.>>Heb. 10:1For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Heb. 10:5 Consequently, when Christ* came into the world, he said, Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
Heb. 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Heb. 10:7 Then I said, Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.
Heb. 10:8 When he said above, You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, Behold, I have come to do your will. He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Heb. 10:11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ* had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,
Heb. 10:17 then he adds, I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.
Heb. 10:18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Heb. 10:19 Therefore, brothers,* since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
February 14, 2006