This is an article that I wrote for my Fresh Brewed Theology column in The Choteau Acantha. It was published in January of this year. I am posting it here because it pertains to a comment by Tabatha in a recent post, Biblically Defining Eternal Life.
There is a great debate within Christianity about how an individual "get's saved." (Calvinism vs. Arminianism) I have come to the conclusion that both were working from faulty a pre-supossition. They both ignored the Covenantal context of the Bible, and rather imposed their westernized framework upon the text. Hopefully, this article will stimulate fresh thinking in these areas.
Fresh Brewed Theology, January 2012.
"Alter calls," "the sinners prayer," and "inviting Jesus into my heart" are all phrases that dominate modern Christianity. It is not uncommon for Christianity to be summed up as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In other words, it’s He and I. This is amplified by the influence of the westernized rugged individualism of our culture.
However, Biblically speaking this may be putting the cart before the horse. Throughout the Bible, God always deals first and foremost with corporate bodies of individuals, and then with the individuals within that corporate body.
Imagine the Hebrews of the Old Testament as a student body. God brought them into His University when He brought them out of Egypt. Over time though, that student body failed to graduate because they could not collectively pass the test of the law. There were some individuals who followed God, but they could not bring the whole student body to graduation, because all sinned. In fact, there are many places in the Old Testament that refer to this corporate body as “dead” even though it was made up of living and breathing human beings.
Now let’s take a closer look at one of the more well known phrases found in the New Testament.
John chapter 3 records Nicodemus as a ruler of this Old Testament student body when Jesus comes on the scene. During this now famous interview, conducted under the cover of darkness, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”
The original King James version gets the “you” of this passage correct when it renders it “ye.” This very small, yet foundational variance should be recognized. The “you” is plural and is speaking about a collection of individuals. The greek language makes this variance clear, but modern english does not differentiate unless you grew up in the south where “you all” is squished together to make “ya’ll.”
Jesus is telling Nicodemus that ya’ll, the failing Hebrew student body, must be born again. In order to graduate from God’s University there needed to be a new student body.
Jesus was the first to perfectly pass the final exam. Yet, the law, still put him to death unjustly. Through that sacrifice, and vindicated by his resurrection, He became a new spiritually reborn student body that the law could no longer condemn. Those who were trapped in the fleshly body of Adam that only brought death could now be released to join the reborn spiritual body of Christ wherein eternal life was found.
Abandoning our own test score and putting our faith in Jesus’ test score is all that’s required to become a member of the class of Jesus. However, it is not a one person class. When one joins the body of Christ one is joining a corporate body that transcends time, race, tradition, denomination, culture and creed. Together, the ya’ll is a New Creation.