God’s Plan for Reaching the Nations
On God’s Plan for Reaching the Nations....
"These communities that were founded on faith in Christ were the essence of what God was establishing in the NT. These communities were “freely gathered” because they were built on a response to the message of Christ (Col 1:24–29). As such they were founded on faith in the resurrected Christ (Rom 10:8–10; 1 Cor 15). Key points regarding the establishment of these communities are:
(1) Jesus was proclaimed as Lord and Messiah (2 Cor 4:5; Rom 10:8–15; Acts 2:36); (2) repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ was proclaimed (Acts 20:20–21); (3) open communication of the truth was used to persuade others to believe (2 Cor 4:2; 2 Cor 5:10–11); (4) those who believed were baptized in water and added to the community of faith (Acts 2:38–41; 8:12; 16:31–34); (5) the reception and empowerment of the Spirit also established the fact that the Spirit of God was now with the followers of Christ, and these communities became known as the temple of God (Acts 2:1–17; 1 Cor 3:16–17); (6) faith was foundational for the new temple God was building. Being saved by grace through faith is a foundational statement (Eph 2:8–9), and Paul goes on in the same passage to describe the Gentiles being added to the temple along with the Jewish believers (Eph 2:10–22); (7) believing resulted in salvation, as well as fellowship within the body of believers (Acts 16:29–33; 2:38–42). It was above all a spiritual movement, yet it had many practical and social ramifications as well. Although there was conflict for a time regarding the inclusion of the Gentiles, eventually it became clear that both Jews and Gentiles could be added to these communities based on faith in Jesus as Messiah and Lord (Acts 10:1–11:18; 15:1–31; Rom 10:5–13)..." (M. A. Erickson, p. 104)
"NT communities of faith in Christ were to enter into a unity of the Holy Spirit that transcended major social barriers in the ancient world: barriers between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, male and female, rich and poor. (Gal 3:25–28; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 3:11; Rom 10:12–13; Jas 2:1–9)..." (p. 108).
"The change from the OT nation of Israel to the NT communities of faith had a crucial pragmatic dimension when viewed as the development of God’s plan for reaching the nations. The NT communities of faith were the new strategy, the new societal unit that would become the vehicle for the message of Christ and the work of spiritual transformation for God’s people as accomplished by the Spirit of God among the nations. The physical realities of land and sword, circumcision, food laws, ceremonial laws, and enforced civil laws, while necessary for God’s purposes in protecting the integrity of Israel as a nation over many centuries, are set aside for the next stage in God’s plan..." (p. 113)
Freely Gathered Communities of Faith and the Changes between the Testaments by M. A. Erickson (Wipf & Stock 2019). The book is available in print or Kindle formats at:
Painting Above: Christ wearing the crown of thorns, supported by Angels, by Annibale Carracci, 1585 a.d.