Is NCCG "Élitist"?
NCW 75, April-June 2002
Q. If we are all joint-heirs in the grace of Christ, how come there are hierarchies amongst believers, and that some will be more sanctified and rewarded? Isn't that a spirit of élitism?
A. The Kingdom of Heaven is not some sort of idealist communist paradise where everyone is forced down to the same level and are restrained there. The scriptures speak of a special élite called the 144,000 who are specifically rulers, and who have earned that honour because they have kept themselves undefiled from the world system ('women', meaning the Whore of Babylon - Rev.14:1-5) and are the firstfruits of Yah'shua's (Jesus') salvation. If there are firstfruits, then there are secondfruits and thirdfruits. Indeed, Paul teaches that there are four types of resurrection - three resurrections of glory and one of condemnation (1 Cor.15:39ff) - which clearly means we attain different rewards according to our works. Whilst repentance and alpha/alef-salvation levels us all to the point of equal abasement, meaning we all start on the same footing, it is up to us thereafter what we do with our initial salvation - whether we bring it to completion (and attain a resurrection like the brightness of the sun) or neglect it (and attain a lesser one like the brightness of the night stars). Yes, we are all join-recipients of the same grace through faith in Christ, but it is entirely up to us whether we allow Him to leaven the whole of our souls or only part. There is no instant sanctification in the literal spiritual sense, as many churches falsely teach, though it would be accurate to say that there is an instant jurisdictional (legal) sanctification which is Christ's covering over us which deflects the Father's wrath and judgement away.
The word "élite" can have positive, neutral or negative implications depending what spirit you invest in it. In its widest sense, an élite is the most powerful, rich, or gifted members of a group or a community. Inasmuch as power and wealth are not regarded as positive traits in the Gospel unless they are being used to bless selflessly, then the only instance where it may be viewed positively in the Church or Assembly is in its meaning as spiritual giftedness. However, the gifts we receive are not for self-glorification but service, and those who are given positions of leadership are not to abuse them but regard them as positions of responsibility. It is an incontrovertible fact that the Church of God/Assembly of Yahweh is governed by those who have been gifted for that purpose and who therefore may be said to be Yahweh's "élite". Where élitism becomes a sin is where those in positions of authority are conscious of it, are proud of it, and exercise unrighteous dominion because of it. Christian élitism, if such a term may be said to exist at all (for it is more likely to be understood in its negative aspect than its positive), is in essence a servant ministry. Though the source of our gifts is likely the result of the sovereign will of God and not something we have earned, the parable of the talents (Mt.25:14ff) does strongly suggest that the way we multiply these gifts is a work that we ultimately are responsible for, and for which we are either rewarded or condemned. There is therefore a very real sense in which we are rewarded according to the way we have used and multiplied our gifts.
Taking these and other scriptures together, there can be no doubt that heaven is a hierarchy, not of tyrants but of servant-leaders who are kings and priests (Rev.1:6; 5:10). And obviously there are no kings without subjects, nor priests without those they minister to. Every believer is given the opportunity to make use of his or her gifts as he sees fit, and to aspire to a full (omega/tav) salvation or not. He or she can qualify to be one of the 144,000 by overcoming and attain a solar resurrection, or he can neglect the fullness and qualify as a part of the remainder who were too numerous to be counted and attain a lunar or stellar one. This does not mean that we are in any sense supposed to be competing spiritually with one another, which is a sinful attitude, but rather forgetting self, serving with all our might, and letting Yahweh take care of the final result and reward. Our fear should be that we do not sin. At the same time we do need to be aware that heaven is not a uniform place, that there are many mansions in the Father's Kingdom (Jn.14:2), and that the lazy "one saved, always saved" doctrine isn't an option but a delusion. Not only do we have a battle ahead, but we have a full salvation to actively work out (Phil.2:12; Eph.6:5; Col.4:12; 2 Tim.3:13; Jas.1:4). It is therefore in our own best interests, quite apart from being in the will of the Father, that we aim to be obedient through love in all things.
This page was created on 16 June 2004
Last updated on 16 June 2004
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