Much has been said, and rightly so concerning unity in the Church. But what does unity look like? Is it really about setting doctrine aside and accepting professions of faith at face value when there is no fruit behind the confession?
Years ago, Catholics and Evangelicals Together came on the scene declaring we’re all together. Attempts were made to show both sides had resolved doctrinal disagreements, but a close examination of documents shows that things were merely redefined or swept under the rug. We cannot have true unity with this type of approach.
Doctrine and theology matter, and the truth is, the reformation isn’t over. The reformation didn’t go far enough. God in His wisdom used men to begin bringing understanding back to the body of Christ. However, all truth was not restored in 1517, nor was it restored with Azusa Street in 1908.
To have true unity, we cannot define it in any way that suits us; we must define truth Biblically, we must express unity, Biblically.
Ephesians 2:11-19 TLV “Therefore, keep in mind that once you—Gentiles in the flesh—were called “uncircumcision” by those called “circumcision” (which is performed on flesh by hand). At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. Within His flesh He made powerless the hostility— the law code of mitzvot contained in regulations. He did this in order to create within Himself one new man from the two groups, making shalom, and to reconcile both to God in one body through the cross—by which He put the hostility to death. And He came and proclaimed shalom to you who were far away and shalom to those who were near— for through Him we both have access to the Father by the same Ruach. So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”
No matter how many protestant denominations get together, even if Catholics and Protestants rightly deal with theological issues, that will not solve the problem of disunity. The Catholic and Protestant divide didn’t breach our unity. Instead, the enemy of God broke agreement in the body when Christians separated from the Jewish people. When we turned our face from Jerusalem to Rome, the devil began building up the wall of separation that Jesus tore down.
I have been privileged to be a part of many different expressions of the Church, from Baptist, Holiness, Pentecostal, Calvinist, and Charismatic. When I began seeing issues within the Charismatic movement were not being dealt with, I gravitated back towards a Calvinistic view. As I began studying some things I grew up with in the charismatic movement, many reformed accounts I followed took exception to my premillennialism. I also took exception to replacement theology (the belief God is done with Jews and the nation of Israel because the Church now exists). While I never embraced replacement theology, I did begin backing off the revelation of the Jewish roots of Christianity.
Whether you’ve heard teachings about the last days outpouring, are Baptist, Reformed, or Wesleyan, they all have something in common. As a whole, each of these groups believes in some way that God is done with the Jews and the nation of Israel. However, while Pentecostals and Charismatics emphasize Israel for eschatological purposes, some believe in a different salvation for the Jews, and/or they see no revival among the Jews but signs and wonders for the Church in the last days.
As much as I want to see unity in the Church, I cannot get away from the fact that Scripture continually speaks of Jews and Gentiles coming together. That is biblical unity. If every Christian denomination came together overnight, but there was still Christian indifference or hostility to the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, the unity would mean nothing in the eyes of God.
Take some time to read Romans nine through eleven. Read Ezekiel, Amos, and Zechariah. The Scripture is clear; unity is when Jews and Christians are together. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different Christian doctrinal views? It’s because we left a Hebraic understanding of Scripture for a Roman one. We went from Passover to Easter, missing the connection between the Old Testament (Shavuot) and the New Testament (Pentecost), Tabernacles to Thanksgiving, and started celebrating Jesus’s birth in December instead of making the connection to Tabernacles.
In Daniel chapter seven, it is prophesied that the enemy will attempt to change seasons and laws. In Revelation, the new Jerusalem comes out of Heaven. In Zechariah fourteen, it says all who are left that came against Jerusalem will go up from year to year and worship the King and keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
There is division amongst denominations, but the critical division the enemy wants to keep us blind to is the division between Jews and Christians. The enemy will continually propagate replacement theology. The enemy will bring to your mind what he brought to me; the Rabbis are against Jesus, don’t study them. But, of course, the enemy doesn’t want me to study the rabbis; Paul said they were entrusted with the Word of God. We will better understand Scripture learning from a Hebrew perspective than a Greek, Roman, or American one any day.
Paul said in Romans 11:28 “Concerning the Good News, they are hostile for your sake; but concerning chosenness, they are loved on account of the fathers—” The jews are enemies for the sake of our salvation. But Paul also says in Romans 11:13-18, “But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Insofar as I am an emissary to the Gentiles, I spotlight my ministry 14 if somehow I might provoke to jealousy my own flesh and blood and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection leads to the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the firstfruit is holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off and you—being a wild olive—were grafted in among them and became a partaker of the root of the olive tree with its richness, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, it is not you who support the root but the root supports you.”
Read Our Hands Are Stained with Blood by Michael Brown, use the Jewish New Testament Commentary as you read and study, and go to a bookstore and get some Jewish books on the Scripture. Begin reading the Bible with a Jewish lens; Jesus, Paul, the Apostles, were all Jewish. Support ministries like FIRM that bring the gospel and humanitarian aid to Jewish people and the nation of Israel, and “pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.”
Resources for understanding the Jewish roots of Christianity and reading the Bible with a Hebraic lens:
The Ways of The Way: Restoring the Jewish Roots of the Modern Church by Raymond Fischer
Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by Marvin R. Wilson
Getzel: The Teaching Ministry of Rabbi Greg Hershberg