Church Re-Crucifies Christ and Puts Him to an Open Shame
My original salvation experience was very powerful and full of joy as I sought to add to my faith with much zeal. Initially, a lot of sin that formally enslaved me seemed powerless, and many of the former sinful desires had disappeared. Then church happened.
While seeking for the “right” church to “worship” in, my interim experience between saving faith and seeking out a place of worship, as aforementioned, was marked by joy, zeal, and power. As I invested more and more in church; more and more confusion, doubt, and fear ensued. Church made me a pathetic, joyless, and broken person. And by the way, most churches will tell you that is a good thing! In fact, most churches are clear in regard to that being their very goal! This makes you see your need for more salvation. They say it plainly all of the time.
As I read my Bible more and more…more and more of my church experience failed to add up; particularly, the incessant weekly re-visitation of the gospel. And keep in mind this was well prior to the Neo-Calvinist movement. “Why are we always talking about the gospel at church? Aren’t we already saved?” I would often ask myself. If I would have only known way back then that the answer to that question is, “NO.”
Yes, according to orthodoxy, Protestants aren’t saved. Church is a “race of faith” and the prize for winning the race is salvation. And, the race only takes place at church. Sure, sure, they will tell you that you are already saved according to the Protestant doctrine of, “already—not yet.” What’s that? IF you are entered into the race by being faithful to church, you have hope that you are already saved, but not yet because you have not finished the race of faith alone in which the prize for winning the race is “final justification.”
If you are a freewill churchian, you earn your salvation by “continuing in the gospel” by faith alone. If you are a Calvinist churchian, you do the same for some measure of comfort, but you will only persevere in faith alone if you are God’s elect. Those in the church who do not persevere are only “the called” who do not persevere in faith alone. So, sure, churchians are “already” saved, but “not yet”: one must wait for the final judgement to obtain “complete salvation.”
This, in and of itself would be humorous if not so sad, but it gets better. Pastors, and this according to their own precious orthodoxy; in black and white, and in no uncertain terms, have authority to proclaim you an alreadian. Yep, this is the “power of the keys” doctrine that will bind in heaven whatever the church binds on earth, and the same for the loosing stuff as well. Do adults really fall for this stuff? Yep. Is this why pastors are so revered in the church and placed on a pedestal? Ya think? Ultimately, they decide where you spend eternity, and they are your wildcard that bypasses the uncertainty of Protestantism’s “already not yet.” Supposedly, there are two things standing between you and a wrathful God that hates humanity: Christ and His “undershepherds.”
Well, this is nothing new. Church is a mirror image of every foul thing that God’s prophets fought against as documented in the Scriptures. Before we go on, what is “church”? Church is the institutionalization of Christ’s assembly that occurred in the 4th century. Simply stated, it moved the temple of God from the bodies of believers to brick and mortar temples making worship a place, not a practice of truth wherever a believer is breathing. The fellowship of Christ’s body was replaced with authorities other than Christ operating in corporate temples. Authority replaced leadership, and membership replaced fellowship. “Follow me as I follow Christ” was replaced with “Obey God’s anointed or we will take your salvation away.”
So, there is a reason why you go to church and hear about the same gospel that saved you week, after week, after week. Whatever you might be instructed to do is “by grace” or in truth minus the nuance, “by salvation.” There is a reason why the Lord’s Table is a solemn ceremony marked by self-denigration. There is a reason for alter calls. There is a reason why the pastor speaks from a fancy podium on an alter raised above where the congregants sit. I like the alters where the other important dictators of the church sit in gaudy chairs behind the podium. It’s crazy; this stuff does not cause people to ask what in the heck is really going on.
Scriptural examples abound, but this post is about Hebrews 6. Let’s set the table. As Christ’s assemblies meeting in private homes (because we are God’s family not members of a corporate temple named Salvation Inc.) moved forward in true discipleship, they endured persecution from the pagan-state and Judaism. In essence, they were getting flak from every angle in regard to the culture of that time, but primarily from Judaism which was clearly salvation by temple ritual. And by the way, most of the persecution from the pagan-state was instigated by the Jews politically.
Hence, many Christ followers were hedging their bets and playing both sides of the fence. Like today’s institutional church, excommunication meant the loss of salvation, and in many cases, difficulty in obtaining financial income. Be sure of this; likewise, as the economy weakens in the U.S., many cling to the institutional church for career connections, viz, financial security. There is absolutely no new thing under the sun.
This is what the Hebrew writer was addressing specifically: the continued sacrifices for maintaining salvation versus the sacrifice of one’s own holy body in love (Rom 12:1). A return to the same gospel that saved us denies the new birth and the holiness of the believer. The holiness of the believer is part and parcel with “moving on to maturity” (HEB 6:1). A return to the basic, or elementary principles of salvation harkens back to the shame of the cross which Christ despised (Heb 12:2) and denies the purpose for which he endured it: the glory which was set before; ie., bringing many sons to glory. By striving for maturity and adding love to our faith, we fulfill the purpose for which Christ endured the cross. But, returning to the cross…
“seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”*
Shockingly, in spite of Scriptural clarity on this issue, many Protestant scholars brazenly endorse a return to what Christ despised, and make that the replacement of the very purpose for which He endured the cross; to make many holy for purposes of offering themselves in love many times as opposed to worshiping what Christ despised. Offering our own holy bodies in love is our worship, or our “logical service.”
Hence, worship is redefined by returning to the basic principles of salvation in a temple, rather than the worship of offering ourselves as holy sacrifices in sanctification wherever we are found breathing. We then meet together to encourage each other in this worship (Heb 10:25). The Hebrew writer addressed those who ratcheted back from meeting in the home fellowships because of persecution from the temple worshipers.
And that’s church. And that’s what you do every time you go there: you sing praises to what Christ despised, and disparage the purpose for which He endured the shame.
And for some insane reason, you pay 10% of your income for the privilege.
*”Those who cannot be restored to repentance” pertain to that time when they witnessed the power of the Spirit being manifested firsthand. Being exposed to the full light of the truth in such dramatic fashion and then afterward returning to a ritual of re-justification made it doubtful that they would ever be fully persuaded.