The Essential/Non-Essential Doctrine Debacle
Unity between Jews and Gentiles assured by the New Covenant
In the previous chapter I demonstrated from the Scripture the ultimate reunification of a fractured Israel (that is, the two components of the ancient Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel). The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate biblically the unification of all true Jewish believers with all true Gentile believers.
There is ample evidence that there is exactly one Body of Christ throughout all time and cultures, a “body” composed of many members yet still regarded as a single, organic entity:
1 Cor 12.12-13
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Cor 12.27
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
As these representative texts show (and there are others), this is part of what was accomplished in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Christ for His people. The Lord unites His people, among themselves and with Himself, because His very nature is Unity.
There are also several explicit statements of the unity between true Jewish believers and true Gentile believers:
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, 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 Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
By referring to this [mystery], when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
In spite of this incredible, consistent, unambiguous and incontrovertible biblical evidence, there are still many so-called evangelical churches who insist that the Lord’s Unity with and between true believers can somehow be ignored by maintaining that there are “essential” and “non-essential” doctrines.
This is extraordinary and completely wretched, willful distortion of the Scriptures! You may be sure that the Lord is not pleased with the self-proclaimed “theological generosity, open-mindedness and progressive disposition” of these careless churches.
You may also be sure that they will be completely without defense in the Judgment.