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Sermons & Study Guides

National Church Establishments Pt. 12 - (The National Church Way as God’s Way 1 — The Jewish Church)

James Dodson

National Church Establishments

(The National Church Way as God’s Way 1 — The Jewish Church)

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clayis in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent  of  the  evil  that  I  thought  to  do  unto  them.  And at what  instant  I  shall  speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. (Jer. 18:6-10)

Question.—Is a dependent National Church way or an independent Congregational Church way most in accord with Scripture? Answer.—By a dependent National Church is meant a multitude of people professing Christianity (i.e., saving faith in Christ), inhabiting one nation, withone  civil  government  wherein  the  governors  are  Christian  and  one  church government  established  by  law  over  particular  congregations  with  all  bound together in one national covenant; by an independent Congregational Church is meant  a  particular  body  of  people  professing  Christianity,  knit  into  one congregation by way of church-covenant, together with a pastor of their own choosing disclaiming any higher authority in either church or state over them.  The  former  appears  because  the  Church  of  the  Jews,  which  was  God’s  own institution,  Deut.  10:14-16;  and  it  was  a  National  Church  in  a  formal  proper political sense, Ex. 19:3-6.  In point of fact, the particular worshipping churches all over Judea, meeting in their synagogues, are called by the Psalmist houses of God, Ps. 83:12; yet it is well known that all were subject to the Great Sanhedrim at  Jerusalem,  Num.  11:16.    It  was  before  this  body  that  Christ  was  formally rejected by the Jewish Church, Matt. 26:57; John 18:15, 28.  It is mentioned several times  in  the  New  Testament  (τὸ  συνέδριον),  Acts  5:21.    That  this  agrees  with Scripture is cleared: First, When it stood with God to form a Church to the best advantage of His own glory and the good of His people, Isa. 43:7, 21; when the people increased from a few souls to a multitude, even a nation, He chose this way of uniting the whole into one society, Ex. 18:16, 25, 26; with a governing church power over the whole, Num. 17:1-5.  This, standing in matters of common reason, has never been repealed and, therefore, stands under the New Testament, as well as under the Old, Matt. 5:17, 18.  It does not stand with Christ to alter the frame of the Church from  national  and  dependent  to  congregational  independency,  nor  does Scripture hint at such a change, Matt. 21:43; Acts 15:2. Second, Jesus Christ was the Head, King and Husband of the Church under the Old as well as under the New Testament, Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42; Ps. 68:18; Eph. 4:8.  Therefore, He could not lack affection to the Church then, no more than
He lacked wisdom to form the Church in the best way imaginable for God’s glory and the common good of His people, 1 Cor. 1:24; John 10:11. Third, Uniting the whole of the Jewish nation into one body, with a common church-power to govern the whole, was no part of the ceremonial law, Eph. 2:15, 16; Acts 15:4, 6.  It did not belong to any temple-ordinance, and therefore was not typical of anything, as the high priest and sacrifices were, but it was a thing of common right and general equity, not of particular right of the Jews, Lev. 25:2, 3; Deut. 25:5-7; Rom. 2:15; 3:31.  Neither was there anything in the subordination of the country synagogues to the Sanhedrim, of any particular of their state, in the land of promise given to them, Acts 15:22, 23. Fourth, The dangers and difficulties, for the prevention and ease whereof, God had the whole Church of the Jews stand thus united, are the same under the Gospel that they were then, 1 Cor. 10:4-11.  This appears most clearly in: 1.) The governing church-power under the Old Testament had a power first to provoke, and not only so, but to require negligent persons to do their duty, whether they were ministers or people, 2 Chron. 24:6.  2.) The governing church-power also retained the right to sit in judgment upon transgressors, Deut. 17:9, 12; Zech. 3:7.  3.) The governing church-power had the right to suspend from the exercise of the ministry,  Ezra  2:62.    4.)  The  governing  church-power  had  the  right  to excommunicate if they found cause, Ezra 10:8. In short, it would appear that if Christian nations, under the New Testament, should  by  Christ’s  order  have  no  national  governing  church-power  over particular congregations, they would be far worse in this respect than that under the Old Testament, 2 Cor. 3:6-11.  It would imply that the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head, King and Husband of His Church has less care for the Church now than under the Old Testament dispensation, Heb. 8:6, 7.  The apostle teaches us that all communities of the whole are concerned with the weal or woe of every part of the body, 1 Cor. 12:21-26.