“If it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served…or the gods…in whose land ye dwell.“(Joshua 24:14-15)Where are the gods revered in Mesopotamia and Rome? The God of the Bible is still worshipped, for a reason. He has proven that he can be trusted to remain consistently true to his word.
“The word of God…liveth and abideth for ever.” (I Peter 1:23)The Bible’s consistency throughout its entirety in the realms of spirituality, prophecy, science, and history provides reliability unparalleled by any other religion, ancient or new. For example, the biblical Flood story is often discredited as being simply copied from a supposedly earlier Mesopotamian flood myth, which is not a credible account, therefore the Biblical account is also deemed untrue. But unlike the Mesopotamian account, the Bible remains internally consistent with its report over thousands of years, providing reliability of its account, as well as external validation by the numerous world-wide accounts. as well as multiple sciences. The consistent message of the Bible is that God created mankind for relationship.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion.” (Genesis 1:26)Clearly, dominion must be shared with God, since as the account progresses the Adams are given instructions and God is still the ultimate ruler, because he alone has the power. This is the truth. Who but him can create and sustain a universe? The lie of the adversary is that mankind can achieve the same degree of power as the God of creation, and become independent of God.
“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?…For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods,” (Genesis 3:1-5)And defying God’s authority caused the loss of relationship with God.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:8-9)But God immediately promised a redeemer.
“the Lord God said unto the serpent…I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)Faith in God’s word, his promise of a redeemer is what is required both before and after his arrival to restore that relationship, where, as described in previous posts, the Father grants, in a form of adoption, the permanent relationship known as “son and heir”.
“as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13)And restored relationship is reflected in restored shared dominion.
“you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” (Colossians 1:21-22)
“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou…hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)Purposefully, the authorship of the Bible reflects the unity achieved in relationship between 1) God and prophet, and 2) multiple human writers all speaking for the same God.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Timothy 3:16)
the basis for our belief that the Bible is the true and inspired Word of God lies in this work of the Holy Spirit of God, not the personal knowledge of the human writers. The Bible is not just an ancient piece of human literature. Having said that, the question that remains is “Who were the human authors? How did they know what to write? How did the little historical details get preserved?”…The first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) are collectively called…the Torah, or the Books of Moses. Those last four books have many verses that attribute them directly to Moses. But he’s not even mentioned anywhere in the book of Genesis. Why is this? …there’s considerable internal evidence, and some archaeological evidence, that Genesis was actually first written in sections, most likely on clay tablets, by a number of different men who were eye-witnesses to the actions described…and later Moses compiled these tablets into what we call the “book of Genesis…” scholars and archaeologists have uncovered excellent proofs of the truth of the Bible’s historicity. There have been complete libraries [of tens of thousands of clay tablets] uncovered… P.J. Wiseman became interested in the…many ancient clay tablets that had been dated to long before the time of Abraham. He recognized that they held the key to the original writings of…the Book of Genesis… most of the old clay tablets had “colophon phrases” at the end; these named the writer or owner of the tablet; they had words to identify the subject, and often some sort of dating phrase…Many of these old records related to family histories and origins, which were evidently highly important to those ancient people… Wiseman…applied this idea to…Genesis, and found that in every case it suddenly made good sense. The text just before the phrase “These are the generations of …” contained information about events that the man named in that phrase would have known about. That person would have been the logical one to write that part. In other words…the book of Genesis consists of a set of tablets, each of which was written by an actual eye-witness to the events described therein. These tablets were finally compiled by Moses…Undoubtedly Noah brought records onto the ark for safe keeping, but as baked clay, these and many of the thousands found in archeological digs would also have survived immersion in water. It makes one contemplate the possibility that the use of baked clay for record keeping instead of papyrus or vellum was a deliberate choice in response to believing Noah’s preaching of the coming flood, but also believing in the power of their gods to survive it.
Exodus 1:6, “And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.”…added by Moses, after he inherited all the tablets, and…compiled all these tablets into one long record…[most likely] during the 40-year wilderness experience…
Tablet Starting Verse Ending Verse Owner or Writer 1 Genesis 1:1 Genesis 2:4a God Himself (?) 2 Genesis 2:4b Genesis 5:1a Adam 3 Genesis 5:1b Genesis 6:9a Noah 4 Genesis 6:9b Genesis 10:1a Shem, Ham & Japheth 5 Genesis 10:1b Genesis 11:10a Shem 6 Genesis 11:10b Genesis 11:27a Terah 7 Genesis 11:27b Genesis 25:19a Isaac 8 Genesis 25:12 Genesis 25:18 Ishmael, through Isaac 9 Genesis 25:19b Genesis 37:2a Jacob 10 Genesis 36:1 Genesis 36:43 Esau, through Jacob 11 Genesis 37:2b Exodus 1:6 Jacob’s 12 sons
ConclusionThe book of Genesis is an historical account, not an allegory. Its accuracy is assured by the inspirational guidance of the Holy Spirit…this modified tablet theory…offers a more satisfactory explanation of all the details, and doesn’t violate any known fact. It’s in good accord with Scripture, and adds the authenticity that Genesis was composed of eye-witness accounts.
MosesAs the composer of the first five books of humanity’s history, it stands to reason that Moses is God’s foundational spokesman. It is on Moses’ writings that the reliability of the entirety of the literary work of the Bible is based, the plot of which is restoration of the Kingdom of God lost by the Adams. This logical deduction is confirmed by God’s acknowledgement that he has a uniquely foundational relationship with Moses.
“And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (Deuteronomy 34:10)
“And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD / Jehovah: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” (Exodus 6:2-3)The internal testimony of God’s control over these documents is that God put his words in Moses’ mouth. This gives these documents, the foundation for all the rest of the Bible, the highest religious authority.
“And Moses said unto the LORD, O my LORD, I am not eloquent…And the LORD said unto him…I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” (Exodus 4:10-12)Additionally, the unity between Moses and the LORD / Jehovah, apparent in that both the “law” and the “voice” of God is interchangeable with that of Moses, gives Moses the utmost religious authority. The following passage is but one example.
“I Daniel…prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O LORD…We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled
- by departing from THY precepts and from THY judgments:
- Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in HIS laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
- Yea, all Israel have transgressed THY law,
- that they might not obey THY voice;
therefore the curse is poured upon us,
- that is written in the law OF MOSES the servant of God,
- because we have sinned against HIM.
- And HE hath confirmed HIS words, which HE spake against us…by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
- As it is written in the law OF MOSES, all this evil is come upon us:
- Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us…for we obeyed not HIS voice.” (Daniel 9:2-14)
“Moses commanded the Levites…Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee…
Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.
For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days…And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel…” (Deuteronomy 31:25-30)For the purpose of our discussion, what does God tell humanity through Moses?
“And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend…
And Moses said unto the LORD…thou hast said, I know thee by name [relationship], and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
Now therefore, I pray thee…shew me now thy way, that I may know thee [be united with]…
And he said, MY presence shall go with thee…I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name / way of the LORD before thee...
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name / way of the LORD…
- The LORD, The LORD God,
- merciful and gracious, longsuffering
- abundant in goodness and truth
- forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
- and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 33-34)
- desire for unification / oneness with humanity motivating
- God’s forgiveness of sin and
- judgment for unredeemed sin.
The Septuagint rendered the Hebrew torah by the Greek nomos (“law”), probably in the sense of a living network of traditions and customs of a people. The designation of the Torah by nomos, and by its Latin successor lex (whence, “the Law”), has historically given rise to the misunderstanding that Torah means legalism…
“And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house[hold of all nationalities, the Hebrews] of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel [Israelites]; if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant / constitution, then ye shall be…unto me a kingdom…” (Exodus 19:3-6)As described more thoroughly in the post on Moses, at this point in time God offered kingdom leadership to all the nationalities of the world. This makes Moses the human author of the constitution of God’s spiritual kingdom for all mankind. Even Judaism acknowledges this.
The message of the Torah is for all mankind. Before giving the Torah to Israel, God offered it to the other nations, but they refused it; and when He did give the Torah to Israel, He revealed it in the extraterritorial desert and simultaneously in all the 70 languages, so that men of all nations would have a right to it.What? Never heard this in Sunday School so immediately rejecting this as a Jewish invention? This account utterly makes sense in view of God’s desire to see all humanity saved, and is consistent with the next occasion of offering priestly status to all humanity, when the message was also preached in many languages on the Day of Pentecost.
Shavuot is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the single most important event in Israel’s history: the giving of the Torah (the first five books in the Hebrew Bible) to Moses at Mount Sinai….it is one of the three major festivals often called “pilgrim” festivals because all Jewish males were required to observe them at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem…Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after the first day of Passover, it is sometimes known as Pentecost, which is a Greek word that means “fifty.” Jesus’ followers were in Jerusalem celebrating Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to them.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come…there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven…
the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language…how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:1-11)
“Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; AND – AND – AND thou – another entity –, Jesurun / upright one, whom I have chosen.” (Isaiah 44:2)Jesurun is assumed to be another name for Israel because the text identifies this nation as the one over which Melchizedek Moses was king for forty years in the wilderness. However, as proven in the preceding posts, this is the Hebrew nation formed as God’s United Nations at the Tower of Babel then led out of Egypt in the Exodus.
“And Pharaoh…called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people…And the children of Israel journeyed…And a mixed multitude went up also with them;” (Exodus 12:30-38)
“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Isra-el.Although at this point in my studies I don’t know the significance, it is very interesting that the record states that exactly 70 genetic descendants of Jacob/Israel entered Egypt and that exactly 70 different nations are listed in Genesis 10.
For the LORD‘s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance [acknowledging the Hebrew nation does not deny the Israelite nation]. He found him in a desert land [AFTER the Exodus of the Hebrews], and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
But Jeshurun [translates exactly as “Upright Ones” the entire community of Hebrews, preceding and including Noah, Shem, Abraham, Etc. not just the children of Israel]...forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.Review the post on Moses for an in depth proof that Jeshurun = Saints of all time rather than a nickname for Israel. A quick proof of this is that the idolatrous incident referenced in this same passage happened before the nation of Israel was formed under the Mosaic covenant, while they were still identified as Hebrews with the other international believers in the God of Creation, judgment on sin through the flood, grace to Noah, and faith of Abraham.
They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
And when the LORD saw it, he…said…They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God…I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people…(Deuteronomy 32)The continuation of the passage in Isaiah naming Jeshurun confirms that after the creation of the nation of Israel for God’s leadership in the kingdom of heaven and earth, the preceding ancient nation of Hebrews called Jeshurun / the Upright Ones continued to exist and grow.
Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not…Jesurun / upright one, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall [future tense] spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
- One shall say, I am the LORD‘s; [the pre-flood ancients and Hebrews]
- and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; [Israelites]
- and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel. [post Redemption]
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people…” (Isaiah 44)Internally, the Law of Moses expressly states it is given to all peoples, not just Israel.
“And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying…thou shalt read this law before
- all Israel in their hearing…
- and thy stranger that is within thy gates,
that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:” (Deuteronomy 31:9-12)“This law” goes back to the one rule in the Garden of Eden.
“Now the serpent…said unto the woman…God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden…For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof…ye shall be as gods…” (Genesis 3:1-5)
“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God…Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3)
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love [prefer above self] the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself [treat as equal to self]. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)Job’s account is acknowledged to be the oldest document in the Bible, predating Moses’ writings. His stated faith in God’s promise of restoration to the original Adamic sinless immortal state is the same as that documented by Moses in the book of Genesis. Apparently both Job and Moses drew their information about God from the same clay tablet eye-witness family histories going back to the Adams.
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself.” (Job 19:14-16)The book of Job was undoubtedly one of Paul’s documentary sources for proving that the law of Moses, given to Moses by God about 2,500 years after God gave the promise of salvation to all humanity through identification with the Seed of the Woman, was never an alternative means of salvation for a select group of people which was replaced when Jesus died on the cross. The means for obtaining forgiveness instead of judgment in order to restore the oneness God experienced with the first Adam in his image and likeness is found to be the same process from beginning to end of the narrative. By believing in the veracity of the one making a promise, then putting our faith for our uncertain future in his promise to battle and defeat evil and death for us, we join him. His death’s redemption for evil thereby unites us with him in his full identity, including his spirit’s resurrection power to new life.
How awful that this concept is better understood and deeply expressed by Satan’s fans in the final episode ‘The Wrath of the Lamb” of the top rated TV show Hannibal, than by followers of the actual Lamb.
Shocking to equate God’s plan of salvation with a ghastly TV show? Are you forgetting that the Antichrist mirrors the Christ? This shows how tepid the current Christian church experience has become. The Bible is packed full of his heroic people experiencing torture and gruesome death while battling monsters and cannibals. If this is news to you, read the previous posts on Noah, Nimrod, Abraham and Moses. Moving chronologically from Moses’ passing, the Bible states categorically that, as with Moses, God will put his words in the mouths of his successor prophets.
“Going my way?” What a loaded question. It’s…delivered to Will with rakish charm by Hannibal…Is Will going Hannibal’s way? Is he finally becoming like Hannibal…or is he sacrificing himself to save the world from Hannibal? And in the end, is there a difference?…Will bends Hannibal to his will by saying the words he wants to hear: “I need you, Hannibal. Please…” a truly glorious fight sequence…Hannibal and Will killing together…
...their blood-soaked embrace was payoff galore…with Hannibal getting everything he has ever wanted…and in that moment I think he was perfectly content to die…Will is the one who pushes them off the cliff, but Hannibal allows himself to be backed up onto the ledge…
“the LORD said unto me…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-18)Although Christianity acknowledges that Jesus Christ is identified by his likeness to Moses, Christianity ignores the importance of Moses and his successors by downplaying their roles as being nothing more than just “types” of Christ. This results in an intrinsic “unhitching” of the significance of the Old Testament to the following New Testament, even by those who deplore the open “unhitching” of the Old from the New. We are discarding a massive part of our own identity in Christ if we consider that Moses and his immediate successor were just place holders until the ultimate Christ showed up over a thousand years later. Joshua and his successors was each a true Promised Deliverer at that time and in those circumstances by FOLLOWING THE COURSE SET BY MOSES.
“And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for THOU must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and THOU shalt cause them to inherit it.
And the LORD, he it is that doth go before THEE; he will be with THEE, he will not fail THEE, neither forsake THEE: fear not, neither be dismayed. ” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)
“he hath said, I will never leave THEE, nor forsake THEE. So that WE may boldly say, The Lord is MY helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto ME.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
“the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee…
Only [human responsibility in this partnership] be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee?” (Joshua 1:1-9)In another passage, mainstream Christianity treats an Old Testament prophecy as applying to the New Testament Church. because of the world-wide viewpoint. But instead of taking a blind flying leap forward into the future, serious students who continue to stick with the hermeneutical and historical approach will recognize the world-wide perspective of the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments.
“My people [which we have proven aforetime in the post Moses, at this point in time, are the Hebrews] went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause…they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed…
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” (Isaiah 52:4-6, 54:5)The passage is written to encourage people being oppressed at the time of writing to trust in the promised deliverer. For that objective to work, the promise must have been fulfilled in the past. Like unbiased archeologists, let’s sift through the levels to discover what it is, starting with the historical context in which Isaiah wrote these encouraging words.
“Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defensed cities of Judah, and took them. And the king of Assyria [predatory precursor to Nazi ideology and possibly even genetically to some Germans] sent…a great army…to Hezekiah, saying…Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed…?
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him…Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel…Because thy rage against me…I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” (Isaiah 36-37)The next level to analyze is the historic circumstances equivalent to those currently being experienced c. 700 by people “howling under oppression.” This is what provides valid encouragement to have faith in the same previous experience of deliverance. For example, the basis for faith in being delivered by God from their enemies by the individuals Isaac, then Jacob, then Joseph, then ultimately by a horde of Hebrews was knowledge of past miraculous deliverances of their ancient fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the only basis for faith in ANYTHING – Sennacherib’s promise of leniency for those who surrender or utter destruction for those who resist, a COVID vaccine, the utterly contradictory self-evolution of selfish humanity despite the bedrock basis of evolution as being “the survival of the fittest” into self-sacrificing Superman able to save a world clearly set on self-destruct, a presidential candidate… Even God himself.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.“ (Romans 10:17)So, placing the meaning of this message in proper historical context, especially with the significant words, we find that this is not a prophecy of a future new religion of Christianity at all, but solidly establishes our saving faith in events that occurred and relationships that were established before the world began. This passage can then apply to future believers, just as the relationship between God and the Adams, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc. applies also to us. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking it is only about us. It is about all mankind from the beginning of time.
- Maker – foundational relationship of God towards humanity. “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion.” (Genesis 1:26)
- Husband – Partner in a union where two become one. And the LORD God…took one of his ribs…and made he a woman…And Adam said…she shall be called Wo-man, because she was taken out of Man…they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-23)
- LORD of hosts / armies – Dominion requires defense against enemies. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.“ (Genesis 2:1)
- Redeemer / kinsman Since the champion of his people represents all his nation / family he must be “one flesh” with them. “The LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this…her seed…shall bruise / crush thy head.” (Genesis 3:14-15) “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them…“ (Hebrews 2:14-15)
- Holy / consecrated, set apart one of Isra / He who struggles with – not against – El / God. The perennially popular movie The Karate Kid exemplifies this nicely. In both Jacob and Daniel’s cases, persistence in submitting to the sensei’s / master’s instructions and methods, through crippling difficulties, results in character transformation and reflexive modeling of the master’s behavior, turning oppression to victory. According to Hosea, the title Isra-El applied to Jacob before God officially bestowed it on him.
- “Jacob…took his brother by the heel in the womb and by his strength he had power with God.” Are you catching that? We could rephrase “by his strength he had power with God” as “He who struggles with God.” Even in the womb infants respond to God’s Spirit, and Jacob was one of them, fighting to make God’s plan come to pass.
- “Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed.” Again, do you catch the figure of two matched wrestlers? Like David’s choice of Joab and his mighty men, God chooses dogged fighters who are willing to give their lives for the cause. So much for Calvinism.
- “he found him in Bethel…Even the LORD God of hosts/armies”…every time Jacob needed supernatural power.
- when fleeing from Esau where he bargains with God
- when oppressed by Laban
- when returning to face Esau’s wrath
- when fleeing from the Canaanites revenging the massacre at Shechem.
- And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel [functioning as God’s Fighter although not yet officially designated as such] served for a wife [since Isaac did not give him a bride price like Abraham had given, but Jacob clung determinedly to faith in God’s promise to his inheritance]…
- And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved...Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment and wait on thy God continually.” (Hosea 12)
- Don’t miss the point Hosea is making! Like Isaiah, Hosea encourages his audience to follow Jacob’s example of trust in God’s promises during their times of conflict: This title of Isra-El / God’s Fighter does not apply only to Jacob son of Isaac as a name. Like a Medal of Honor, is an award given in recognition of a character trait, developed through years of faithfulness despite adversity, and proven through exemplary behavior, designating anyone who God chooses to set apart as a partner in his service.
- “The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” This is a battle plan, not an afterthought, and it was not put into place on the Day of Pentecost with Christianity. It was the gauntlet thrown down in challenge to Nimrod’s 70 nations at Babel with the single Hebrew nation .
- “Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord.
- Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt?
- and the Philistines from Caphtor,
- and the [As]Syrians from Kir?
- I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, to serve their purpose of witnessing of God!
- “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore…the Gentiles are turned to God: For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (Acts 15:18-21)
- In that day will I raise up the tabernacle / destructible building of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.” (Amos 9:7-12)
“My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:11-12. Hebrews 12:5-6)
“Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts…I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and…I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him. (II Samuel 7:8-15)
Thy first father / chief priest, high priest hath sinned, and thy teachers / of religious studies have transgressed against me. Therefore I have profaned [ un-sanctified, stripped of appointed positions to serve God] the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.” (Isaiah 43)But this does not justify the opinion that God separated out a “Gentile Christian” Church. If we believe what the Bible says about the throne of the seed of David lasting for ever, then we have to also believe what the Bible says about the priesthood of the seed of Aaron lasting for ever, and therefore the Mosaic law is still in effect. Yes, the letter to the Hebrews states that Jesus was called of God to be a priest, and therefore “the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” (Hebrews 7:12) But we can’t interpret “a change also of the law” to mean the entire Mosaic code was tossed out when Jesus died on the cross. We certainly don’t believe that the Ten Commandments were discarded. Keep the distinction between individual laws and and the entirety of a testament. Most of all, remember that the Mosaic covenant was just the latest in a series of covenants to the Hebrews and included all the prior covenants to the Adams, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob etc. Read the post on Moses if this is a new concept.
“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood…For there is verily a disannulling of the [singular] commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the [singular] law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did [make perfect]; by the which we draw nigh unto God…by him that said unto him, The LORD sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:…because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.Apply hermeneutics. The commandment / law that was changed, even disannulled, has something to do with the Melchizedekian priesthood. This law is part of, was continued under, but not unique to, the Mosaic law. It goes back to the beginning of time, and applies to all of Adam’s race. As detailed in the post The Order of Melchizedek, this immutable law of nature causing death was given to the first Melchizedek, Adam.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 1:26, 2:16-17)This is not some arbitrary wrath of God. This is a law of nature over which mankind was put in charge, and therefore mankind has to deal with. All around us we see the consequences of death spreading from human failure to nurture life.
When the violation of the first law, like a trip wire, triggered the death knell throughout creation, merciful Creator God enacted another law, allowing the death sentence of the the first law to be transferred to another life.
“And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat…And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this…I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise / apply crushing blow to thy head…
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God [kill animals to] make coats of skins…And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain [Hey, I’ve got a better idea!] brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” (Genesis 3-4)The exchange of life for life should come as a logical observation, not as a spiritual mandate. We know that humans must sacrifice another life in order to maintain human life. Having our meat cut up into unrecognizable shapes and wrapped in cellophane allows us to overlook that fact, but it’s still a fact nonetheless.
YHVH allowed the use of animal blood, until the Redeemer came to earth in “the latter day”, “in the end of the world” to sacrifice his human blood. The change / disannulling of the first law was the one requiring regular animal sacrifices to atone for sin.
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself…
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you…without shedding of blood is no remission.
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
- For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world [not just since the founding of the nation of Israel]:
- but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
John 3:16 has been called “The Gospel in a nutshell” because it provides a stunningly succinct summary of the doctrine of the Christian faith.”Whoa Nellie! This verse provides a stunningly succinct summary of God’s plan for humanity for thousands of years before there was what was called – in the Greek language – “Christian”. Patching together desired pieces of the biblical message while repudiating the undesired parts, or even denying the validity of the whole book, is how there are Old-Testament-only religions like Judaism with its many denominations and New-Testament-only religions like Christianity with its many denominations, and post-Christianity cults like Islam, Mormonism and Rastafarianism following various self-proclaimed prophets and prophetesses. For example:
Islam began with Adam, and has evolved in accordance with the progressive revelations given by Allah to His various prophets… …Early on, among the descendants of Prophet Jacob, distortions of the basic message of Islam were codified and ritualized, giving rise to the religion of Judaism... Among those prophets, whose ministry was limited to the Israelites and Jews, was Jesus (the Messiah or Christ, and the son of the Virgin Mary). However, Jesus’ message and ministry were also distorted…Does it shock you to discover that the most fundamentalist Christians who believe in the inerrant word of God base their beliefs on progressive revelation as much as Islam? Don’t try to comprehend everything in these complex graphics, simply take note of the progression in revelation depicted.
Two of the more common hermeneutical and theological viewpoints within the world of Bible-believing Christianity are dispensationalism and covenant theology. Each position represents a version of Biblical orthodoxy. [Emphasis added.] Both perspectives generally affirm the major doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible… However, they disagree strongly on…how one views the expression of continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments…No one doubts the fact of the progress of revelation…. for covenant theologians, the church began either with Adam (presumably the first saved man) or Abraham… In contrast, dispensationalism sees the church as starting on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2…The church has a unique relationship to Christ, something that did not exist before.How is it possible for two such different theological groups, both believing in the inerrancy of scripture, to co-exist? The difference lies in how scripture is interpreted.
Systematic theology is a discipline which addresses theological topics one by one (e.g. God, Sin, Humanity) and attempts to summarize all the biblical teaching on each particular subject…the goal is to present the major themes (i.e. doctrines) of the Christian faith in an organized and ordered overview that remains faithful to the biblical witness… Systematic theology also has major implications in the area of interpreting scripture. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity is not gathered from one passage of the Bible. Instead, the Trinity is an …interpretation of…”a pattern of implicit and explicit judgments concerning the God of Israel and his relationship to the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth…To understand the connection between systematic theology and interpretation, we can compare it to simple systematic filing. Documents are organized into categories with file folders that allow you to develop meaningful patterns by combining information from multiple sources. The categories are developed separately from the content of the information, and are based on the ultimate use of the information. Often the same information can be filed into a number of different categories. For instance, the same receipt from a Chinese restaurant can be filed
- under “Meals” or
- under “Entertainment.”
- retrieving all your receipts as needed
- budgeting food expenses
- tracking tax deductions.
Covenant Theology…is a conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall structure of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of a covenant as an organizing principle [Emphasis added.]…The standard form of covenant theology views the history of God’s dealings with mankind…under the framework of three overarching theological covenants: those of redemption, of works, and of grace.. As a framework for biblical interpretation, covenant theology stands in contrast to dispensationalism in regard to the relationship between the Old Covenant (with national Israel) and the New Covenant (with the house of Israel [Jeremiah 31:31] in Christ’s blood)… Covenant theologians deny that God has abandoned his promises to Israel, but see the fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the person and the work of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who established the church in organic continuity with Israel, not as a separate replacement entity… A number of major 20th-century covenant theologians including Karl Barth, “the most important theologian of the twentieth century” ….departed from the traditional classical covenant theology to develop a monocovenantal scheme subsuming everything under one Covenant of Grace. The focus of all biblical covenants is then on grace and faith.So as Karl Barth developed his understanding of God’s message to mankind, he moved scriptures from the Covenant Theology filing system of various old covenants (as seen in the graphic above – Adam, Noah, Moses, etc.) and the new covenant in Jesus’ blood into just one combined old and new single covenantal theology – the grace of God received by faith of man. Notice, there are still differents covenants, but now they are placed into one single file with one heading, fitting one single pattern of – the relationship between a powerful God who saves mankind.
From beginning to end, Barth’s theology is decidedly Christocentric…In the incarnation, Christ takes on humanity’s sinfulness and lifts humanity up into restored fellowship with God [Emphasis added.]. On the cross, Christ suffers the rejection that sinful humanity deserves…judged in our place… the community of God exists in the twofold form of Israel and the Church…according to God’s eternal decree as the people of Israel (in the whole range of its history in past and future…and at the same time as the Church of Jews and Gentiles…” For Barth, God’s covenant with the nations is clearly an extension of God’s covenant with the Jews…“In tracing God’s election, providence, and covenant with the Jews, Barth affirmed the particularity of God’s election for the Jews ‘in whom there is fullness of salvation for all men of all nations.’ ”…So we see that Barth’s monocovenantal theology serves a purpose of understanding how the community of God’s people exists as Israel maintaining its national identity in the international Church. In stark contrast to Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology serves the purpose of understanding “the difference between the Jew, the Gentile, and Church of God.“
Before a child of God can move forward in serious Bible study, he must understand the different dispensations. Failure to understand the true teaching of dispensations has led many to make false applications of the Bible.Dispensationalism is “a teaching on which we cannot afford to be uniformed.” The best known purveyors of Dispensationalism are found among the most fundamentalist Christians such as the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, Fundamental Independent Baptist Churches, Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, Back to the Bible Broadcast. and the book series Left Behind by Tim LaHaye. Dispensationalists “consider themselves to be the only true champions of biblical orthodoxy. Departure from dispensationalism will result in the loss of the evangelical faith.” I grew up in one such ardently dispensationalist orthodox environment, described accurately I must say by a detractor who faith was completely broken. Mine was just crippled for many years. My father was a Fundamental Independent Baptist pastor whose faithful daily morning Bible study inspired me to teach myself to read at the age of four, in order to engage myself in what was obviously the most important activity in the world. As a female I could not obtain an academic degree in theology from the dispensationalist school my sisters attended. My theological training occurred in the course of routinely attending church at least three times a week, memorizing chapters at a time in AWANA Club, and studying the Bible in personal quiet time every morning and family devotions every night. One of our family devotions quite unexpectedly became the pivot point in my spiritual life when, while studying Matthew 24, in answer to a question to clarify something he said, my father stated that Jesus and his disciples were no longer Jewish, they were Christians, therefore the events in that passage describing the destruction of the temple, tribulation and second coming did not apply to them. I was only about 14 years old, but this interpretation was so inconsistent with
- the personal context in which Jesus was replying to questions posed by the disciples,
- the historical evidence that these events had occurred to the disciples, while also would repeat in the future, and
- the rules of biblical interpretation I had been taught, even as a teenager,
Of extreme prejudice against the reliability of Dispensationalism is that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (I Corinthians 14:33)
This year became in a sense a turning point in the history of contemporary dispensationalism as the Reference Bible made an immediate impact among evangelical believers. This Bible is now practically a textbook in many Bible colleges…The Scofield Bible creates a false sense of authority by continually referring to its explanatory notes, based on Darby’s interpretation of Scripture.
Champions of biblical orthodoxy…? Literal interpretation…? Darby’s teaching should raise alerts on many fronts.
Dispensationalism is a complex theological system and there are numerous shades of interpretation. The simplest definition is A system of Biblical interpretation adhering to literalism in interpretation and distinguishing a series of periods in God’s dealings with man in which God introduced a succession of tests of responsibilities….Most dispensationalists hold to seven dispensations…Some have only four. Others have as many as eight…
Darby taught that Israel and the church are separate entities…God governs his relationship to Israel and the church according to quite distinct principles. Israel and the church belong to different dispensations, that of law and that of grace…
- The claim that God inserted the exclusively Gentile Church into his plan after Israel did not accept Jesus Christ and demanded his death is patently false. As we shall see, all Israel did not reject Jesus Christ, only the corrupt Gentile-allied leaders. Paul himself, considered the founder of the Gentile Church, never stopped identifying himself as an Israelite, as did all the early believers of Jesus as the risen Lord and Savior. Even more important is that God’s plan had included the church since before time began, in eternity.
- Dispensationalism itself is split into many factions teaching different things. So which faction is correct? During his career, John Darby himself was a fractious man. “Perhaps he should be described as a petty tyrant, for he was most tyrannical about petty things…All who did not agree with his interpretations of the Bible were characterized as “not having the truth,”…and therefore as somewhat “apostate”..” Darby’s overbearing personality caused much friction. The early history of the Plymouth Brethren movement was dominated by rivalry and strife. Even within Darby’s lifetime several divisions within the Brethren movement took place.
- A forensic psychiatric review of his case file reveals common manic behaviors, leading to a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. “…a man with magnetic, electric personal qualities…he often demonstrated as much zeal in destroying a work of his own…He left a massive set of Collected Writings which are almost uniformly unintelligible.”
- A “false” application of scripture wrests straightforward statements in the Bible when it isn’t interpreted according to the dispensational system in verses like:
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way…” (Romans 3:1-2)
“a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:28-31)
- The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 by pro-slavery churches splitting from the northern Baptist Abolitionists.
- Neoslavery, like Neo-nazism, and widespread violence against Blacks, Jews, and Catholics in particular and anyone who supported social equality for Blacks, not only by White Supremacist elements like the Klu Klux Klan but society-wide, during Reconstruction and continuing through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s-60’s to present day Black Lives Matter raising social awareness of police prejudice against young Black males.
- The Eugenics Movement was born in early 20th century America “demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos…Elitists, utopians and so-called “progressives” fused their smoldering race fears and class bias in coordinated action intended to subtract emancipated Negroes, immigrant Asian laborers, Indians, Hispanics, East Europeans, and Jews. The Nazi Holocaust of the 1930’s-40’s was not Hitler’s brainchild. “Hitler studied American eugenics laws. He…was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side…the intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were made in America” which had demonstrated successful implementation of segregation, marriage laws, forced sterilization, and “many mental institutions and doctors practiced improvised medical lethality and passive euthanasia on their own..In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “It is better for all the world, if…society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes’s words in their own defense…”
Theologically hidden though it may be, historically it is of supreme significance that the biblical interpretation of the relationship between the Jews and Gentiles figures prominently in the two major Christian theological viewpoints developed at the turn of the 20th Century.
Karl Barth’s theology was developed in close and dynamic dialogue with the society and circumstances in which he found himself... Barth’s practice of…constructing theology with the Bible on the one hand and the newspaper on the other, as he put it—buttresses both the logic and the delivery of his theological system. His development as a theologian was deeply connected with the historical setting that encircled him… His life spanned both world wars, and he was one of the Church’s most vehement voices against Hitler and Nazism. Living in Germany at the time, Barth served as a primary author of the Confessing Church’s defining document, the Barmen Declaration. The goal of this declaration was to connect Christian truths with necessary action against the Nazi regime. In 1934, Barth refused to give an unconditional oath to Hitler and was…expelled from Germany. Barth returned to Basle where he continued to denounce Nazism and exhort the Church to actively respond to the atrocities and injustices being committed. He joined the Swiss Armed Forces as a declaration of his passion for the cause. According to Barth, the anti-Semitism of the National Socialist regime precluded it from being considered under the Romans 13 umbrella of God-established authority. In Barth’s words, “he who rejects and persecutes the Jews rejects and persecutes Him who died for the sins of the Jews—and then, and only thereby for our sins as well. He who is a radical enemy of the Jews, were he in every other regard an angel of light, shows himself, as such, to be a radical enemy of Jesus Christ. Anti-Semitism is sin against the Holy Ghost. For anti-Semitism means rejection of the grace of God…”And racism is still a big part of Christianity today.
The fact remains that the Eugenics movement in the United States is alive and well…Over $300 million of taxpayer money goes to family planning programs that are intentionally used suppress the birthrate in low-income, minority families…much of it ends up at Planned Parenthood, America’s number one abortion chain. It is no secret that Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a self-proclaimed eugenicist.Racism among white Christians is higher than among the nonreligious. That’s no coincidence…The relationship between holding racist views and white Christian identity is actually stronger among more frequent church attenders than among less frequent church attenders. Seven symptoms of racism in church. If you dare, take a free on-line test to gauge your implicit racism. Antisemetic racism, blatant or so ingrained as to be utterly oblivious to the holder, is the icing that makes the delightful Dispensationalist attitude “let them eat cake” utterly irresistible.
Why is this influence of dispensational theology so great? In view of the fact that we are living in dramatic, apocalyptic, pessimistic and uncertain times, dispensational theology becomes very attractive to those Christians who see no way out of a seemingly hopeless situation apart from God’s direct intervention in history to take away (rapture) His true church out of this wicked and very perverse world… The hope of the church is the rapture, the “first” second coming of Christ. Before the great tribulation, which will last for seven years, the true church is to be taken from the earth secretly and then, at a later time, Christ will return in a public “second” second coming. As Darby put it, “The church’s joining Christ has nothing to do with Christ’s appearing or coming to earth.” Christ at the public second public coming will establish…the millennial kingdom on earth and Christ will offer the Kingdom to Israel again, David’s throne will again be occupied, the temple restored, and sacrifices reinstituted. Judaism will be completely restored and there will be a division between Jew and Gentile.This teaching on The Rapture of the Gentile Church is not in the Bible and contradicts the clear biblical timing of occurring at “the last trump“. In order to account for this, Dispensationalists invent another series of trumpets that are not mentioned at all in the Bible, and twist and take out of context many scriptures to make a square interpretation fit into the circular eternal plan of God. In my experience talking with people whose faith is based on preaching from dispensationalist’s pulpits rather than personally studying the Bible, they have no idea where the rapture teaching came from. “It comes from the ecstatic utterances of Margaret MacDonald in 1830…that were picked up by John Darby.”
Proof of LifeThere are two ways to determine if Margaret MacDonald, John Darby, Muhammed, Ellen White, Joseph Smith, and all the rest of the hordes of prophets claiming to report God’s revelation through them are in fact God’s messengers. First, external validation of prophecies that the claimant has made. If a single prophecy fails, then the person is a false prophet.
“if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
This article looks back over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then...we Christians should be intelligent as to events in the world, and also know what will happen here after the rapture of the church. Of course we will not be here!
- France, not the USA, becomes the dominant Western power instead of England.
- The USA does not become a world power.
- Russia dominates Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon.
- Islam is of no importance.
When William Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors and authors published his collected plays in 1623, 7 years after the Bard shuffled off this mortal coil, that book, now known as the First Folio, established what was and was not to be officially “Shakespeare.” Yet, as with any other great artist, Shakespeare left us wanting more. The search for “lost” Shakespeare has spanned centuries…William Shakespeare & Others: Collaborative Plays, edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, uses the latest computer technology paired with old school critical connoisseurship…to coolly lay out all the arguments…beside the very texts in question… fellow playwright Ben Jonson...calls Shakespeare “not of an age, but for all time,”…the publication of the plays would win Will…a lasting legacy.Anyone who contradicts internal reliability make him / herself the authority to redefine the authorship, credibility and meaning of parts of any ancient piece of literature is patently a deceiver. He / she doesn’t have enough data about the circumstances in the time and place of the writing to corroborate their claims. And, frankly, that is true about every individual who forms uninformed opinions about the nature of God and his revelation in the Bible. I drop the topic Dispensationalism, which claims to take the Bible literally but is actually based on the claim that God doesn’t remain true to his word.
“Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Romans 11:1-2)Is it possible to approach the New Testament with an open mind, not prejudiced one way or another from previous assertions you heard but didn’t take the time to prove from the supposed source text? Let’s proceed in an organized way through the biblical account.
The New Testament Believers in The Christ
As bizarre as it may seem, Christianity as a movement or trend may have existed before Jesus came to the scene. The key to this gripping hypothesis is that Jesus obviously didn’t arrive on earth in an intellectual vacuum, and the intellectual element of his ministry was grafted on existing theological models. Nobody will deny that his general theology was Jewish, and Judaism obviously existed long before Jesus was born. Judaism at the time of Jesus was highly fractured…Everybody knows about the Pharisees and Sadducees, but there were many more. Some forms of Judaism were militant movements (such as that of the Zealots)… Some of these movements were incompatible with the gospel (the Sadducees, for instance, rejected resurrection and thus the core concept of the gospel; MATTHEW 22:23) but others were just a few cheers short of it and could be easily completed…Nicodemus, Gamaliel and even Paul came from the Pharisaic school of thought… This means that the movement around Jesus the Nazarene was not a entirely new thing but was largely grafted upon existing ideas… …the school of John the Baptist, with its distinct message and disciples (the original Baptists)…were in time absorbed by the movement headed by Jesus (JOHN 1:35-37, ACTS 19:3). When Paul went after the disciples in Damascus, he searched for people “belonging to the Way” (ACTS 9:2) which is obviously a designation of a particular sect. Jesus called himself the Way (JOHN 14:6), but it isn’t clear whether he coined this epithet then and there, or whether he addressed the members of an existing sect called such by telling them that he was what they were after… The “town” of Nazareth where Jesus was from was probably not a geographical town (read our article on that name for reasons why not) and was most probably an existing Jewish school of thought (the Nazarenes), which we propose had to do with…the blessings of the Lord of Life being scattered among pagan nations…(Peter’s Great Sheet vision is a clear demonstration of that particular belief, which obviously is one of the main elements of the gospel message; ACTS 10:15)… Since the discoveries at Qumran we know that the phrase “Sons of Light” was not a general title for virtuous men, but rather a military nickname for Israel (see the War Scroll). Jesus called these militant Sons of Light shrewd (LUKE 16:8), and explained that he was the Light (JOHN 8:12, 9:5) and that his followers are the real Sons of Light (JOHN 12:36, 1 THESSALONIANS 5:5).
John the Baptist is an Old Testament ProphetI think we can all agree that John the Baptist introduced Jesus and validated his ministry. He was the fulfillment of Old Testament promises.
“I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6)
“those things which are most surely believed among us...which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word…write unto thee in order…That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed…
a certain priest named Zacharias…and his wife…were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless…there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord…thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John…
he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb…And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:1-17)John’s preaching was meaningful and accepted by the people only because it was based on previous scripture. I’ve rearranged the phrases in John’s record to demonstrate the match with Isaiah’s.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith,
B) Behold! the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. “(John 1:29-34)
“For unto us…
B) a Son / of God, Ruler is given by God: and the government shall be upon his shoulder…the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever…
A) But [first]…the chastisement of our peace was upon him…All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter…” (Isaiah 9:6-7, 53:1-7)The Pharisees, fundamentalists steeped in the scriptures, would have been the first to understand, and believe, John’s announcement that “The kingdom of heaven is at hand!” And in fact we know that there were “certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed.” (Act 15:5) John was without question an Old Testament prophet. Like Elisha, he inherited Elijah’s spirit and power, but since he died before Jesus’ redemption he did not receive the fulness of the Spirit available to believers after that action.
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant...
he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi…that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years…
For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed…
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” (Malachi 3:1-6, 4:4)
“And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see?…A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he…For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” (Matthew 11:7-14)
YHVH’s Savior / Yeshua / JesusNo believer questions that Jesus is the Redeemer promised to the Adams and all humanity following.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).What then must logically follow is that faith in Jesus is the means of salvation throughout the Old as well as the New Testament. This becomes more clear when we use the Hebrew translation “YHVH’s Savior” instead of the Greek translation “Jesus” which, because it is applied to one single person in time and used only in the New Testament, skews our understanding of his role in history. While we believe on his actions in time and place, the individual carrying out those actions transcends time and space.
“God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling [to share dominion over creation] according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus / YHVH’s Designated Seed of the Woman Savior from sin and death before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”(II Timothy 1:8-10)YHVH’s Savior is the fulfillment of the law of Moses and the Old Testament prophecies of salvation,
“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:26-27)This is the reason the fundamentalist Pharisees could believe that Jesus was the Prophet who Moses said to obey. As did the rulers of the Jews. This becomes clear when we focus our attention on Jesus’ acid duel of words with the Jewish leadership rather than his feel-good miracles. Jesus spent so much of his time disputing with them because that was a big part of his ministry – to sift and purify the Levites.
“I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
They answered and said unto him, Abraham the Hebrew is our father.
Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham [note how they continue the argument started with John the Baptist]. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham…Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning…
Then took they up stones to cast at him…” publicly proving his point (John 8:29-53)
“And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders…said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? Clearly because THEY hadn’t!
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John [for repentance – especially by these rulers who usurped Mosaic authority – in preparation for accepting the Messiah’s rule], whence was it? from heaven, or of men?
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him [when he announced his identity as the Christ?] But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.Don’t miss the absolute defiance and deliberate provocation as Jesus continues facing off against his declared enemy.
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons;
- and he came to the first, [The Hebrew nation at Mount Sinai as described in the post Moses] and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
- He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
- And he came to the second [Levitical priests and rulers of Israel], and said likewise.
- And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first.
Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots [the commoners, from the Greek hoi-poloi literally meaning “the many”, i.e. the Hebrew nation] go into the kingdom of God before you. – Note, not instead of you!
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness [the faith of Abraham], and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him:
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, [expressly stated to be the nation of Israel] and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen [the rulers of the nation of Israel], and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it…last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance [both ruler- and land owner- ship]…When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”(Matthew 21)In the context of the second parable, the nation of Israel is the vineyard, which is not replaced. Only the husbandmen – the caretakers of Israel, i.e. the rulers, are replaced. Like “Washington”, the “Kingdom” that is taken away is idiomatic for “the rulers in the government”.
“rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine.” (I Samuel 15:22-28)The nation that Jesus replaced was one of Antichrist’s Anti-governments, wolves in sheep’s clothing.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them as the husbandmen, not the nation of Israel! But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude – the “many” in the nation of Israel, because they took him for a prophet.” (Matthew 21:23-46)
“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation [brotherhood of leaders].
And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us [the brotherhood of priestly rulers], that one man should die for the people – plebs, commoners, those ruled in a constantly shifting ethnic population, and that the whole nation perish not.
And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation of Judea; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one – the Hebrew nation – the children of God [not just of Israel] that were scattered abroad.
Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” (John 11:47-52)In contrast to these rebellious rulers, the scribes and Pharisees pretty much walked as Jesus walked. They were intimately familiar with the law and were scrupulous about keeping the commandments. They were good candidates for a new government. Jesus himself recognized and applauded their teaching – “all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do.” (Mat 23:3) You could say they were the 1st century equivalent of fundamental independent Baptists – politically and spiritually conservative, basing their beliefs and behaviors on what is written in scripture, intent on righteous living so avoiding contamination with worldly society.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till ALL be fulfilled.Wait, what! Heaven and earth did not pass away at the crucifixion and resurrection. They still haven’t passed away. According to scripture, they don’t pass away until after Jesus Christ’s last faceoff with Antichrist. Dispensationalists get around this by inserting an invented file folder of a “parenthesis” of Church Age while Israel is out of commission. But is that scripturally justified?
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “(Matthew 5:17-19)According to this passage, Dispensationalists will be saved “but so as by fire”, while Pharisees should rank highly in the kingdom of Heaven.
“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;” (Matthew 23:1)There was just one problem. Too many of the scribes and Pharisees sitting in Moses seat refused to relinquish it to Jesus.
Salvation does not require the Jews giving up a righteous way of life.
It requires giving up control.The great change from the old to the new covenant is not the practice of the law, but the permanent presence of God’s Spirit who indwells and empowers humans to obey laws they are otherwise incapable of obeying. The whole point of the new covenant is to enable believers to keep God’s laws,,, whichever ones apply to them. Do we really believe Paul’s statement that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Tim 3:16)? Consider what could have happened if the Jewish rulers had accepted Jesus as their Messiah and King. The Roman rulers would have arrested and executed him as a threat to their authority. Jesus would still have risen and ascended into heaven to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat. His prophecies in Matthew 24-25 would have not just “come to pass” but would have been “fulfilled” as Daniel’s 4th empire brought great tribulation. Jesus would have returned, brought deliverance and instituted the millennial reign with the royal family, loyal priests, elders and apostles in the government. However, we know it didn’t work out that way. The religious leaders well knew that Jesus was “that prophet” who they should receive, but they “received him not” (John 1:11) and actively rebelled, not only against him, but the law of Moses.
“Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts…
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 3-4)The responsibility for bringing in the kingdom of God was re-assigned. But not to the Gentile Christian Church. It didn’t even exist.
The PentecostalsThe process by which the Jewish apostles were designated leaders in the kingdom was absolutely consistent with Jewish culture.
“Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him…because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance…the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy…and shalt be turned into another man…for God is with thee.” (I Samuel 10:1-7)
“Jesus…through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen...that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me…ye shall be baptized [merged with] with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.The apostles’ eager anticipation for appointments to leadership in the kingdom reflects their awareness of exactly what had been put into play.
“therefore…they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
But…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:1-8)The apostles, in fact, had anticipated government positions during their entire time with the Jesus because the believed he was the Christ, the promised son of God / ruler.
“the mother of Zebedees children with her sons…She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom…And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.” (Matthew 20:20-24)The problem was that they were still focused on Israel’s political condition rather than Israel’s spiritual calling.
“teach all nations…to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always [as he was was Moses and Joshua], even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:19-20)
“And when the day of Pentecost [harvest celebration like Boaz had after winnowing his grain] was fully come,..suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and…they were all filled / to the greatest extent, accomplished with the Holy Ghost And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled,As devout Jews, the international crowd who gathered to watch this wild exhibition were able to believe Peter’s explanation because they believed the Jewish prophets’ predictions and recognized the standard sign of God Spirit speaking through his chosen representatives. This was the only way they were able to believe in Jesus as the Christ. This exhibition would have meant nothing to scripturally illiterate Gentiles.
Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…and they shall prophesy…And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know…ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up…
For David speaketh concerning him…being a prophet…He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of The Anointed Seed of the Woman / Messiah / Christ…This Jesus / Yeshua / YHVH’s Savior hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore…[he, Christ] having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he [Christ] hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear…
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.It was only because these listeners knew and believed the Old Testament prophets that they could understand, and therefore believe, Peter’s report that Jesus’ death was not the end, but rather the fulfillment of his ministry.
Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ [as John had predicted would come after him] for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off…” (Act 2:1-11, 37-41)Peter and the other apostles did not even use Jesus’ teaching as the basis of their preaching. They based their faith and their preaching on the Old Testament prophets – as did Jesus himself, even after his death ushered in the new testament.
“Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…the chief priests and our rulers…have crucified…But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel…
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:19-27)Following the trail of events recorded in the book of the Acts of the apostles, we find that for at least the first 20-30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection the good news of the arrival of the Messiah / Christ and the coming of the kingdom of God was disseminated throughout the world only by preaching from the “Old Testament” Jewish writings. Until the apostles wrote their sermons and memoires of Jesus, there was no “John 3:16” or “Romans Road” with which to lead people to salvation. During the years prior to publishing the New Testament writings, the apostles couldn’t evangelize without the Old Testament scriptures, because faith can only be based on the word of God, found at that time only in Old Testament writings. For another, the writings of Moses and the prophets are essential for even
- bringing up the subject of a Savior/Messiah/Christ,
- then for delineating his characteristics,
- then for proving that Jesus of Nazareth is he.
- Act 3:12-24 …Peter…answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel…those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled…For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me…Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after…have likewise foretold of these days.
- Act 4:8-12 Then Peter…said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel…by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. (quoting from Psa 118:22) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
- Act 5:29-32 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said…The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, [quoting Isa 9:1-7] for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
- Act 6:9-11 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men…And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law…Then said the high priest, Are these things so? And he said, Men, brethren , and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham…[reviews history of Israel through the son of David, Solomon] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears [quoting Jeremiah 9:26], ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and the murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven…and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [quoting from Dan 7:12-14] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him…
- Act 8:27-35 …An eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians…had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet…And Philip ran thither to him…and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
- Act 10:22-43, 11:18 …Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee…Then Peter opened his mouth, and said…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth…To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
“them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God…For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (Acts 15:19-21)(You just have to wonder if this was the centurion who presided over Jesus’ crucifixion.)
And as Peter went in, and found many that were come together…he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.Notice how Peter continues to define himself as a law-abiding Jew. While he had Jesus’ last words to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” (Mark 16:15-16), this was being done in the synagogues where Gentiles, while present, were segregated from full participation with the Jews. Peter needed the special vision to understand that, as a Jew, he was allowed to assemble with – church with Gentile believers.
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)…To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on / baptised all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished [that they received the Holy Spirit without converting, through circumcision, to Judaism]…For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized / merged into one body with the other believers, up to now all Jewish, which have received / been baptized / merged into one with the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10)
“And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them…As a leading Jewish apostle, he was also the first to understand that Gentiles did not need to covert to Judaism to be saved. The proof of new life was the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as we see in the progression of this account.
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord [finally!], how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (Acts 11:1-18)This clearly demonstrates at the first followers of Jesus were all law-abiding Jews and expected all followers of Jesus to be the same as them. As Gentiles began joining the the Jewish believers in Jesus as the Jewish promised Deliverer, there was ongoing church arguments as to whether the Gentiles needed to convert to Judaism.
“there rose up certain of the [Jewish] sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them [the Gentile believers], and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. (Acts 15:5-6)Aha! Here is the group / brotherhood / nation that, like King David’s response to the coup against his throne, replaced the illegitimate rulers of the Jews by order of King Jesus. And it is all, still, Jewish.
The ancient Jewish court system was called the Sanhedrin…Hellenistic sources generally depict the Sanhedrin as a political and judicial council headed by the country’s ruler…It was the final authority on Jewish law and any scholar who went against its decisions was put to death as a zaken mamre (rebellious elder)…The Great Sanhedrin dealt with religious and ritualistic Temple matters…and the solving of difficulties relating to ritual law…
“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them…God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], purifying their hearts by faith…
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them [as proof of Spirit indwelling].
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets…
Wherefore my sentence is…” (Act 15:5-20)Here we can see that Peter was not the Chief Executive, the first Pope / Papa / Father of the nation as declared by the Roman Christian Church. We see that role was delegated to King Jesus’ brother James as head of King Jesus’ newly appointed Sanhedrin. This totally makes sense in the order of the Melchizedekian royal priesthood. One other thing screams out at us by its silence. James’ failure to credit Barnabas and Paul as credible witnesses. And yet by this time they had multitudes of Gentiles saved under their full-time Gentile ministry against Peter’s one and only episode with Cornelius and his family and friends. Clearly the Gentile ministry was a sketchy business. As we track the growth of the New Testament church chronologically through the account of the Acts of the Apostles, we realize that, up to chapter 10, all believers in Jesus were Jewish and remained so. They were called Jews of the sect of the Nazarene, AKA The Way, to distinguish them from the other Jewish sects, each with shared but also distinctive beliefs. As long as it was standing, the temple at Jerusalem was the physical assembly place for the “church which was in Jerusalem.” Note, this church was exclusively Jewish. No Gentiles could join this assembly.
- Matthew 18:15-17 if they brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone…But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more…And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
- Acts 5:11-25 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things…(and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch…And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)…the angel of the Lord…said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught.
- Acts 8:1-2, 10: And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. As for Saul, he made havock of the church , Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution which arose about Stephen travelled…preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
- Acts 7:35-38 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer…Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me….he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina.
|15-34||Acts 22:3||Paul, a Pharisee, studies the Law under Gamaliel, opposes Jesus & denounces His sect|
|29||Acts 2-8:1||Crucifixion, Holy Spirit given at Pentecost, apostles and believers continue meeting in the temple|
|32||Acts 6-8||Stephen stoned, persecution of Messianic Jewish sect by Jewish religious rulers including the Pharisee Saul / Paul|
|32-42||Acts 8, 11:19||Persecution in Jerusalem scatter believers in this Jewish sect who at first continue to witness to Jews only|
|34-37||Acts 9||Saul / Paul joins Messianic sect, smuggled out of Judea when his previous colleagues target him for death, indicating how great a threat he poses to their authority|
|37-47||Galatians 1:17-21||Paul spends 14 years in isolation from Messianic headquarters at Jerusalem, restudying Law and matching to Jesus’ teaching|
|40||Acts 10-11||Cornelius first uncircumcised Gentile accepted into fellowship with Jewish believers, by Peter|
|43||Acts 11:20-26||Gentiles converted in numbers & called Christians at Antioch in Syria prior to Paul’s involvement|
|43||Acts 12||Herod Agrippa I (d. 44) kills James son of Zebedee at Jerusalem, James bro of Jesus assumes leadership|
|45 – 62||James 1:1-3||Epistle of James written by brother of Jesus, to encourage “the twelve tribes” under tribulation|
|47||Acts 11:26||Barnabas brings Paul from Tarsus (Turkey) to Antioch (Syria) to help in growing ministry to Gentiles|
|47-48||Acts 13-14||Paul’s 1st missionary journey thru cities in Galatia (Turkey), meets at synagogues, evangelize Jews & Gentiles|
|49||Acts 15||Enough Gentiles have joined the Jewish sect in Antioch that a Church Council meets to settle question of whether or not Gentile believers required to follow Mosaic Law|
|49-53||Acts 16-18||Paul’s 2nd journey delivers decrees to existing churches in Galatia, crosses over to Europe at Macedonia & Greece|
|52||Acts 18:4-8||Paul leaves Corinth synagogue when they blaspheme, meets in the first house church mentioned in the Bible, with Jewish and Gentile believers|
|52-53||Acts 18:1-18||Letter to Galatians to strongly counter persistent Judaizers, 1st & 2nd letters to Thessalonians to encourage during tribulation, written by Paul from Corinth|
|54-59||Acts 18:23-21||Paul’s 3rd missionary journey|
|50-55||I Peter 5:13||Mark’s biography of Jesus written from Rome in collaboration with Peter to present Jesus as Messiah|
|55-56||Acts 19:1-10||Paul leaves Ephesus (Turkey) synagogue, meets daily in schoolhouse, great church growth|
|56||Acts 20:1-2||1st letter to Corinthians written from Macedonia by founder Paul in response to church problems|
|58||Acts 20:2||Romans is written from Corinth|
|58||Acts 20:3-4||2nd letter to Corinthians followup on previous instructions, references great tribulation, Paul meets personally with Ephesus elders|
|58||I Peter 5:13||1st letter from Peter backs up Paul’s ministry to his Gentile churches, and supports them in their fiery trial of tribulation|
|58||Acts 21||Paul at Jerusalem denies the charge that he teaches Jews to forsake Mosaic Law|
|58-60||Acts 22-24||Paul imprisoned at Caesarea by Romans to protect from illegal Jewish plot against his life, witnesses to Roman governors Felix and Festus, Jewish King Herod Agrippa II, appeals to Caesar|
|55-60||Mathew 1:1||Matthew writes biography of Jesus to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. Such biographies were “a genre of Greco-Roman literature interested in describing the goals, achievements, failures, and character of ancient historical persons and whether or not they should be imitated.”|
|60-63||Acts 28:16-31||Paul imprisoned at Rome, reaches out first to Jewish leadership and only to Gentiles after Jews unaccepting|
|60||Luke 1:1-4||Luke’s biography of Jesus is written in collaboration with Paul, possibly for evidence in trial before Caesar|
|62-63||Philippians, Colossians, Philemon written by Paul from prison in Rome.|
|62-63||Act 1:1||Acts by Luke at this time or later. James stoned to death by High Priest at Jerusalem as Jewish nationalistic aspirations heighten.|
|63||Letter to Ephesian Gentiles is written by Paul from Rome to encourage picking up their qualified leadership roles after his outreach to Jewish leadership is repulsed. Paul is aware of gathering storm in Judea from insight into current events as fulfillment of Jesus’ warning to “this generation”, predicting Jerusalem doomsday by 70 AD.|
|63||Hebrews written to Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus as Messiah explaining overrriding identity, and leadership rights, as Hebrew priests under High Priest Melchizedek, in preparation for transition of leadership from Jews to Gentiles.|
|63||Paul is acquitted and released, leaves Rome|
|64||I Timothy 1:3||1st letter to Timothy, Titus is Written from Macedonia|
|64||The Great Fire of Rome triggers a seven year great tribulation by the Roman Empire of followers of Jewish Messiah|
|64||II Peter 1:1, 2:1-3||2nd letter by Peter written from Rome prior to Paul’s death, supporting Paul’s transfer of leadership from Jews to Gentiles.|
|64-67||Peter is martyred under Nero,|
|65||II Timothy 4:6||2nd letter to Timothy written when Paul is imprisoned for 2nd and last time, mourning that the response to his letter to the Ephesians, the leading church of Asia was that “All in Asia be turned away from me“. Now who will pick up church leadership?|
|66||Paul martyred at Rome under Nero as the anticipated revolt by Judean Jews explodes, Messianic Jew flee across the Jordan river to Pella, Jerusalem church and Jewish leadership in shambles.|
|70||Jerusalem besieged, temple destroyed and Jews are deported|
|~80||Jude||Jude, brother of Jesus, exhorts believers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” which he references as pre-Judaism believers.|
|~80||John, I, II, III John||John’s biography of Jesus written to Gentiles unfamiliar with Jewish customs, three letters.|
|~89||Revelation is Written by last surviving apostle, John, to Paul’s Gentile churches in Turkey|
- Galatians 3:15-23 When it pleased God…that I might preach him among the heathen; I came into the regions of Syria [Antioch, first Gentile congregation] and Cilicia [first missionary journey]; And was unknown by face unto the [exclusively Jewish] churches of Judaea which were in Christ…
- Galatians 3:15-23 When it pleased God…that I might preach him among the heathen; I came into the regions of Syria [Antioch, first Gentile congregation] and Cilicia [first missionary journey]; And was unknown by face unto the [exclusively Jewish] churches of Judaea which were in Christ…
- Galatians 3:13-14 ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
“And some…when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians…and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
Then…the church which was in Jerusalem [composed strictly of Jews]…sent forth Barnabas…and much people was added unto the Lord. Then Barnabas…brought [Saul / Paul] unto Antioch. And...a whole year they assembled themselves with the church [which included Gentiles], and taught much people.” (Acts 11)
Paul the Apostle to the GentilesThe text clearly connects the significant Gentile teaching ministry at Antioch to Paul’s missionary work to the Gentiles.
Now there were in the church / assembly which included many Gentiles] that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as 1) Barnabas, and 2) Simeon that was called Niger, and 3) Lucius of Cyrene, and 4) Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and 5) Saul…
the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:1-3)The early church’s extensive teaching ministry to unscriptural Gentiles contrasts sharply with the Pentacostal believers who were so grounded in the Old Testament prophets that they could immediately accept the Jewish religion of YHVH’s Savior’s redemptive death and proof by resurrection as related by his righteous witnesses. Gentiles? Not so. They needed to start with the Old Testament background leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. As we proceed, we will see that Paul always started his Gentile ministry with those proselytes who assembled with the Jews in the synagogues, therefore knew what on earth he was talking about from the Old Testament. This need for this strategy is obvious when we consider that the bulk of Christian doctrine is found in Paul’s epistles, and realize that they were not available until after his first missionary journey, when he follows up with his first Gentile converts. Then, when we examine them, we find that they are essentially commentaries on the Old Testament. This is plain to see in Paul’s pervasive citing of Old Testament scripture to prove his arguments, a sampling of which is provided below.
|New Testament||Old Testament|
|I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Ro 1:15-16||I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame. Psa 119:46|
|For therein is the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Ro 1:17||Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Hab 2:4|
|For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. Ro 1:18-19||They spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out…can he give bread also? Can he provide flesh for his people? Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth…because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: though he had …rained down manna upon them to eat…He rained flesh also upon them as dust… But while their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them. Psa 78:19-31|
|For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Ro 1:20||The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Psa 19:1-3|
|Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Ro 1:21||The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psa 14:1|
|But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. Ro 2:2||….he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. Psa 96:13|
|Who will render to every man according to his deeds. Ro 2:6||…thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jer 32:19|
|Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: Ro 2:9-10||…Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation…Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet:…I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth. Isa 28:16-17,22|
|For there is no respect of persons with God. Ro 2:11||Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor. Lev 19:15|
|For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.) Ro 2:12-13||Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you… Deut 5:32-33|
|For when the Gentile, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. Ro 2:14-15||And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelechin a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? And she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. Gen 2); 2-5|
|In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. Ro 2:16||The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool….The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek…He shall judge among the heathen…Psa 110:1-6|
|Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God…through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. Ro 2:17-24||Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? They that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord, and my name continually every day is blasphemed. Isa 52:5|
|For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Ro 2:25||Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart. Jer 9:25-26|
|Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? Ro 2:26||And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. Josh 5:3 (because that generation had not been circumcised throughout the 40 years they had foregone the promised land.)|
|For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.||Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Jer 4:4|
|What advantage then has the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much in every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. Ro 3:1-2||For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the first, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. Deu 4:32-36|
|What then? Are we better than they? No in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Ro 3:9-11||The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Psa 14:2-3|
|Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Ro 3:27 For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9||And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron…And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be ere they believe me…I will smite them…And Moses said unto the Lord…The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression…Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles…and have not hearkened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers… Nu 14:1-23|
|Conviction of sin|
|And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid…And he said…Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said…I did eat. Gen 3:9-12||For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Ro 3:23|
|Notice that death would follow sin|
|And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gen 2:16-17||For the wages of sin is death… Ro 6:23|
|Announcement that another life, in the blood, could substitute for the sinner’s|
|Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Gen 3:21 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering. Gen 4:4||But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Ro 5:8|
|And the Lord God said unto the serpent…I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Gen 3:15||Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. Ro 3:24-25|
|The heir to David’s throne would save all humanity from their sin|
|Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David…I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom…for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him… I Chr 17:7-14 …I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. See ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way…and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isa 55:3-7||Then Paul stood up, and…said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience…God…said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus…And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou are my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David…Be it know unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Act 13:16-39|
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Titus 1:1-2)
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning [quoted in his writings], that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures [accepted and internalized by the reader] might have hope / confidence [of eternal life].” (Romans 15:4)Entire books in the Old Testament are devoted to the doctrine that all nations – Gentiles – are saved by grace through faith.
“the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.Bear in mind, Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, a vicious nation comparable to Nazi Germany. It had dispersed and obliterated the identity of many nations including the northern ten tribes of Israel, and Judah had narrowly escaped the same fate under King Hezekiah. As we know, initially Jonah refused this mission in the conviction that they didn’t deserve to be saved from a Sodom and Gomorrah fate. Not to mention his likely fate at Ninevah’s hands. It took awhile with the whale incident, but eventually Jonah did go to Ninevah.
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh…and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown…
word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh…neither man nor beast…feed, nor drink water: be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God…turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry…I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil…
said the LORD…should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah)This is exactly what John the Baptist preached.
“when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” (Matthew 3:7-8)This is exactly what Jesus preached.
“the Pharisees…said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?…Jesus said unto them…go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10-13)And this is exactly what Paul preached.
“Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, [the Jews] and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” (Acts 26:19-21)If we pay attention to the details of the accounts of Paul’s missionary journeys, we discover that he spearheaded all his new Gentile mission fields at the synagogues. By now we should know why. There is where he would find Old Testament literate Jews and Gentiles prepped to accept Jesus as the prophesied Savior.
“So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed
- And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews:
- they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day…many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas…the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” (Acts 13)
- in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed….Long time therefore abode they. (Acts 14)
“I continue unto this day…saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people / Jews, and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26)As was noted at the church in Antioch, it takes time for new converts to mature in the faith. It also takes time, attention, and interest by the new converts. Until that could happen, Paul gathered leaders of his mission churches from the scripturally literate Jews at the synagogues.
“[Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered…
every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:9-14)So it wasn’t until much later in Paul’s ministry that there were Gentile proselytes who Paul could begin to coach into leadership positions within the entire body of believers in Jesus as the Christ.
“Paul…came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila…with his wife Priscilla…he abode with them…And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks…and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles [in this city]. And he departed [from the synagogue] and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” (Acts 18:1-8)Notice – Paul’s curse on the blasphemous Jews applied only to those in Corinth. At his next pit stop he again followed his standard procedure of starting a new work with the Jews.
“Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus...And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus…by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 19:1-10)Yes, but Paul did say he received special revelation from Jesus about his gospel to the Gentiles, didn’t he? Let’s examine that passage in Galatians 1 hermeneutically.
- “the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it”
- This accords with Paul receiving the gospel message from the Old Testament, as “the holy scriptures…are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ…Preach the word;” (II Timothy 3:15-17, 4:
- “but by the revelation of Jesus Christ…when it pleased God…To reveal his Son in me…that I might preach him among the heathen;
- Three times Paul gives a detailed account of Jesus revealing himself to him. He consistently reports that Jesus’ message was not doctrinal, what we call the gospel of salvation, but strictly marching orders.
- Acts 9 he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? I am Jesus…And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?…bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:“
- Acts 22 I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?…I am Jesus…And I said, What shall I do, Lord?…The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard…I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
- Three times Paul gives a detailed account of Jesus revealing himself to him. He consistently reports that Jesus’ message was not doctrinal, what we call the gospel of salvation, but strictly marching orders.
- Acts 26 fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me…Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?…I am Jesus…I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen [in the past], and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee [in the future,]; Delivering thee from the people [Jews], and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
- Acts 9 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues…And the Jews took counsel to kill him:
- Act 9 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem…he disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
- Acts 14 in Iconium…there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use despitefully, and to stone them.
- Acts 14 they fled unto Lystra and Derbe…And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
“when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in / through me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately
- I conferred not with…them which were apostles before me…
- after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter [clearly lobbying for the Gentiles against the Judaizer faction]…
- other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother…
- Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
- these who seemed to be somewhat…in conference added nothing to me…must be referring to the Acts 15 conference, as we saw his testimony was brushed aside.]
James, Cephas / Hebrew translation for Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars…gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship;
- that we should go unto the heathen,
- and they unto the circumcision.” (Galatians 1:15-20, 2:9)
“I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also...and communicated unto them [the Jewish leaders of the church at Jerusalem] that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain [be over-ruled by the majority rule].
because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our [Gentile] liberty [from this practice] which we [associating himself with his Gentile converts] have in Christ Jesus, that they [Jewish believers] might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you…
“when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself…And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him [pretended they never ate with Gentiles].
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all [not only embarrassing him but disrespecting his high status in the group], If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:1-16
“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ [by the Jews insisting on Jewish purity in that sect]…
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:12-16)
Paul’s ostracism proves that there was no “Gentile” church throughout years of church history recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.There was only a Jewish sect that, reluctantly and hesitantly, associated somewhat with Gentile believers in the Jewish Savior. It is highly significant that, while encouraging Gentiles to identify with God’s people without full conversion to Judaism, Paul himself never relinquished his Israelite identity.
“I also am [present tense] an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” (Romans 11:1)
“Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;” (Philippians 3:4-5)
“among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.” (Acts 26)Paul himself never claimed to found a new religion. He states multiple times that he was a follower of Jesus of Nazareth because he was the fulfillment of Judaism’s Old Testament prophecy.
“Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul…we have found this man a pestilent fellow…a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes…
Then Paul…answered, after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing [present tense!] all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust…I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings...certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple…” (Acts 24:1-18)Paul clearly articulates that the law of Moses, which did not institute but rather affirmed the earlier practice of the identifying mark of circumcision, was never an element of salvation for the Jews but a code of righteous conduct for a select leadership who are already in a faith-based relationship with the LORD God.
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness…And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised…being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus / YHVH’s Savior our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:1-25)
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.” (Romans 3:19-29)
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning [quoted in his writings], that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures [accepted and internalized by the reader] might have hope / confidence…of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Romans 15:4, Titus 1:1-2)
It is precisely because the Jewish national heritage has NOTHING to do with the MEANS of salvation by faith that the reverse is likewise true. Accepting salvation by faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t change Jewish national heritage. They are two separate gifts of God.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)
“Timotheus, the son of a…Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek…Paul…took and circumcised.” (Acts 16:1-3)
“But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:” (Galatians 2:3)
“And when we were come to Jerusalem…Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present…and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs…
Do therefore this that we say to thee. We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them…that all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also…keepest the law.”And Paul agreed. He absolutely believed that Jewish believers should continue to practice the ritual law of Moses.
Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.” (Acts 21:17-26)Paul was never made welcome at the home New Testament Church, led by James, in Jerusalem. His base was in Gentile Asia.
“all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks…So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed…And the same time there arose no small stir about that way [one of the designations of the Jewish sect of the Nazarenes]…almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:” (Acts 19)And even Paul’s Gentile base rejected his unification message when he pushed too hard for equality, reflecting either Gentile antisemitism or reluctance to assume responsibility.
“all they which are in Asia be turned away from me;” (II Timothy 1:8-15)
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time
- ye were without Christ, being
- aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and
- strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances [requiring quarantine of Jews from pagans]; for to make in himself of twain one new man so making peace…
And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” (Ephesians 2:11-19)AHA! you say. There you have it. Christians are the “new man”. No more Judaism. Not so fast. What does the text mean by “one new man”? Clearly it equates the new condition of with Christ as
- no longer being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel which must therefore logically still be in existence
- no longer strangers from the covenants of promise to Abraham
- but instead fellowcitizens with the saints, i.e. those humans who have achieved sanctification in the past prior to not only Jesus’ death but even before the establishment of Judaism.
“The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words. Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 33:2-4)
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; [which occurred before the world, i.e. time-space, began] One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all…
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind…
- put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…
- put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
- putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4)
“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have
- put off the old man with his deeds; And have
- put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge / unity after the image of him that created him:
- Where there is neither
- Greek nor Jew,
- circumcision nor uncircumcision,
- Barbarian, Scythian,
- bond nor free:
but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3)
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
- There is neither Jew nor Greek,
- there is neither bond nor free,
- there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27-19)Trust me, Christian churches still recognize the difference between male and female identities and roles. So therefore they have to recognize that there are still differences between Jewish believers’ and Gentile believers’ identities and roles on earth at this time. The text clarifies that we are “heirs” to the promise which hasn’t been completely delivered yet. We’re caught between two worlds of the physical and spiritual.
“if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall [future] also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you…
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God…The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified [future] together…
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God…ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body”(Romans 8)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a [spiritually] new creature:
- old things [physical drives and exploitive pursuits] are passed away; behold,
- all things [drives, interests and activities] are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:16-17)
“He came unto his own [the priest-rulers], and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (Joh 1:11-12).But what about that verse that says that “Christ is the end of the law?” Put it in context! This is written to those who ignorantly thought that salvation could come through following the law.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law [requiring blood sacrifices] for [establishing God’s] righteousness to every one that believeth…
For the scripture saith…there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:1-13)Judaism was not established for the purpose of salvation. It was established for leadership in the kingdom of God.
“And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying…tell the children of Israel;…if ye will…keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:3-6)And we see that throughout the first century the Jewish apostles in the peculiar Jewish Messianic sect did indeed provide leadership in the kingdom of God. Only in desperation, at the end of Paul’s ministry, knowing from Jesus’ prediction that Jerusalem and the temple would shortly be destroyed during “this generation”, and the refusal of the alternate base of Jewish leadership at Rome to pick up “salvation is of the Jews”, did he transition leadership in the kingdom of God from the Jewish leaders to the Gentiles.
“And when we came to Rome…Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him…Paul called the chief of the Jews together…there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear [respond to] it” (Acts 28:16-31)The phrase “the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles” can’t be interpreted as meaning only Gentiles and no Jews can be saved. Hermeneutically, that interpretation is antithetical to the essence of the message of the entire Bible. This phrase is the follow through from a statement made by Jesus during his ministry to a Gentile, where “salvation is of the Jews” means that they carry the message, the way, for Jews and Gentiles.
“a woman of Samaria…saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews…
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” (John 4)And this is the same meaning that Paul expresses during his mission trips to Jews and Gentiles.
“God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus...Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent [by me].
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet [heard, responded to] the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him [rather than presenting him as salvation]” (Acts 13:23-27)It wasn’t until the end of Jerusalem’s Jewish Church loomed that Paul writes the letter to the Ephesians.
The the Great Revolt of 66-70, followed some sixty years later by the Bar Kokhba revolt, were the greatest calamities in Jewish history prior to the Holocaust. In addition to the more than one million Jews killed, these failed rebellions led to the total loss of Jewish political authority in Israel until 1948. This loss in itself exacerbated the magnitude of later Jewish catastrophes, since it precluded Israel from being used as a refuge for the large numbers of Jews fleeing persecutions elsewhere.
The people of the Church in Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given by revelation before the war to those in the city who were worthy of it to depart and dwell in one of the cities of Perea which they called Pella. To it those who believed on Christ traveled from Jerusalem…”This is the first, and only, letter to a Gentile Church urging them to take charge, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that prior to this, there was a clear separation between Jewish believers – the leaders – and Gentile believers – the led.— Eusebius, Church History 3, 5, 3
The majestic chapters of Ephesians emphasize the unity in the church of Christ that has come about for both Jews and Gentiles within God’s household / administration (Eph 1:15–2:22, especially Eph 2:11–22) and indeed the “seven unities” of church, Spirit, hope; one Lord, faith, and baptism; and the one God (Eph 4:4–6). Yet the concern is not with the church for its own sake but rather as the means for mission in the world (Eph 3:1–4:24). The gifts Christ gives its members are to lead.Notice how he’s rather circumstantial in the delivery of this assertion. He lays out rationale after rationale why they should believe him, then finally spits it out. This – the inclusion of Gentiles into leadership and not simply membership within the kingdom of God – is THE supreme revelation given by Jesus to Paul. And he knows it’s a shocker.
“we are…created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
- Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles…without Christ
- aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,
- and strangers from the covenants of promise…
- But now in Christ Jesus…are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
- For he…hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
- Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints,
- and [more than just faceless, nameless citizens] – of the household of God; [remember the household are the ministers, not an insult, but closest to the king, known personally to the king, highly valued in a king’s entourage]
- And [even more – unity in relationship!] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone…ye also are builded together [with them] for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
For this cause I Paul,
- the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles [appealing to their sentiment],
- If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [appealing to shared history]
- How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; [appealing to spiritual authority]
- (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [not sure what this is, maybe a previous letter they simply threw away]
- Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [appealing to rule of two or more witnesses, and Peter steps up as seen in the above chart of writings]
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs / rulers, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,
- that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [beyond simply salvation]
- And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
- To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
- According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord…
- For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
- That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man…
- May be able to comprehend…
- And to know the love [unity] of Christ, which passeth knowledge
- that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
- Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity [of the long-standing conflict between Jews and Gentiles] of the Spirit in the bond of peace.“ (Ephesians 2-4)Sure enough, this letter resulted in all in Asia – Ephesus’ sphere of influence – abandoning Paul’s leadership. And this is when Paul writes the pastoral manuals to his spiritual sons and sucessors, Timothy and Titus.
“Titus, mine own son after the common faith…For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly…as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers…Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” (Titus 1:4-14)
“Timothy, my own son in the faith…As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine…
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless…the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Timothy 1,3)Continuing chronologically with Paul’s letters, we find that when the churches in Asia (Turkey) rejected Paul, they also repudiated his disciple Timothy.
“This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me…Thou therefore, my son…do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (II Timothy 1:15, 4:5)However! Peter, the supremely respected Apostle to the Jews and special envoy to the Gentiles, backed him up.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia...it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded...unto them which be disobedient…a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also THEY [the Jewish leaders at the time] were appointed. [Referencing a specific incident with Jesus.]
But YE Gentiles are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:” (I Peter 1:1, 2:7-10, Exodus 19:5-6)We can also induce from Jesus’ message through John to the Ephesians some 15 years later after the destruction of Jerusalem, that they had indeed picked up the reins and taken charge.
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels [God’s messenger, pastor] of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his [first, central, leading] place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 1:10-11, 20-2:5)Finally! Gentile Christianity reigns! Right?
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26:27-28)Paul’s answer to Agrippa is extremely interesting. He does not apply Agrippa’s use of the label “Christian” to himself. He diplomatically dances around it by responding instead that he would like Agrippa, who was a Gentile, and the rest of his audience to be “as I am.”
“And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” (Acts 26)Paul never called himself a Christian. Why is that? Biblically, the label is only applied to Gentile believers in Jesus Christ. Logically, therefore, the reason would be because he was not a Gentile.
“Now they which were scattered abroad…when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians..a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11)Both Replacement Theology and Dispensationalism consider this to be a clear sign of God eliminating Israel as his chosen people in favor of the Gentile “Christian Church”. But what does the Bible say?
“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Romans 11:1-5)
“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:
- Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar…if those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
- Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done.” (Jeremiah 31:35-37)
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (I Peter 1:1)“Christ-ian” is the Greek word for “Messia-nic”. It does not indicate a transfer of power, it is the translation of Hebrew to the Greek by the Greek-speaking Gentiles. But the alert reader will consider that, since this term is only used three times in the Bible, there is something more going on. Peter only uses the term once, and that in a questionable context.
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (I Peter 4:14-16)It is assumed that being reproached for the name of Christ and suffering as a Christian are equivalent experiences. However, a more grammatical reading is to treat “reproached for the name of Christ” as a contrary experience from “suffer as a Christian”. Look at the separation of the two terms by the phrasing following “But”, and the association of “suffer as”. A straightforward parsing of this paragraph indicates that Christians were murdering, thieving, doing evil things, and busybodying into social activism. And this impression, and Peter’s recommended response to it, is supported by Paul.
“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife…contention, not sincerely…What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice.” (Philippians 1:15-18)Most telling of all, Paul never using the term “Christian” in any of his voluminous writings.
We must therefore conclude that Paul did not construct a new Gentile religion called Christianity on the rubble of Judaism.WHAT! Stay with me. Do you recognize now how important it is to put historical writings into their historical context? Let’s go back to the turning point in history – the the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“And they crucified him…And set up over his head his accusation written, This Is Jesus The King Of The Jews….
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold,
- the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;
- and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
- And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Now when the [Roman] centurion, and they [other Romans] that were with him [managing the crucifixion], watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:37-39)Based on their different religious educations, the Gentiles and the Jews had very different concepts of “Son of God.” The text is very clear that the basis for the Roman observers’ conviction / faith that Jesus was the Son of God was based on the associated signs of hyperdimensional power over the natural order at his death. This is not acceptable to God. The end game of biblical saving faith is not power for power’s sake. It is power for righteousness’ sake. It is no surprise that Paul’s greatest concentration of teaching on faith was addressed to the Romans.
“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
- How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
- and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
- and how shall they hear without a preacher?
- And how shall they preach, except they be sent?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:6-17)As discussed fully in a previous post, for pagan Gentiles, a “son of god” was any human ruler who incarnated that nation’s god to allow that god’s will to be voiced and executed on earth. In the Gentile paradigm, religion was inseparable from earthly government, and for many of them, believing in Jesus meant believing in his immediate earthly kingship. One of the reasons, probably the main reason, that it took years to bring Gentiles into the church was that it takes time to lay a stable foundation of teaching. You can’t teach Geometry to elementary school children, can you? The Jews were grounded in “Moses and the prophets”. The Gentiles had to start from square one and learn things like
- Jesus’ teaching that at that time, “My kingdom is not of this world” and “The kingdom of God is within you“, and
- Paul’s commands to “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
A fervent popular cult to divus Julius followed…the Senate soon succumbed to Caesarian pressure and confirmed Caesar as a divus of the Roman state. Caesar’s young heir, his great-nephew Octavian, held ceremonial apotheosis / deification for his adoptive father…Provincial cult centres (caesarea) to the divus Julius were founded… The Imperial cult of ancient Rome…was rapidly established throughout the Empire and its provinces…A deceased emperor held worthy of the honor could be voted a state divinity (divus, plural divi) by the Senate... The granting of apotheosis…allowed living Emperors to associate themselves with a well-regarded lineage of Imperial divi…As the founding god-ruler of Rome, Caesar established the legitimacy of successive rulers as his dynastic heirs. Interestingly, there were no naturally begotten sons. This was not a problem in Roman society. They simply went through a legal process of adoption as the son of god Julius Caesar, including, as is still the same today, taking their adoptive family name as their new name. In their case, that was “Caesar”. Additionally, in Roman society, an intrinsic element of their political legitimacy was worshiping the god Caesar as a form of ancestor worship.
And this is how the immature Gentile converts from the multitude of nationalities within the Roman empire perceived themselves in the teachings of the apostles.
“God…hath blessed us…unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:1-5)
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…ye are…a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the people of God.” (I Peter 1:1-3, 2:9-10)Those who allied themselves with the resurrected therefore deified Hero Savior of the Jews, by Roman convention renamed themselves as his sons, using their own empire-wide language for ease of communication among the polyglot nations. And here is the origin of the word Christ-ians. Of course, they also, by convention, worshipped him. But as pagans who believed in multiple gods, many didn’t accord this Jesus from Nazareth any special status, other than as Caesar’s competition. Now that we have the Roman cultural background in place, we can, as in a Shakespearean play, catch the meaning in the oblique messages passed between the Paul and the Romans during his court hearing.
“I am sick when I do look on thee.” Lovesick, or repulsed sick?
“Now when [the Roman governor] Festus was come into the province…the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul…and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all…I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. I appeal unto Caesar.”
In imperial times, any Roman citizen from any part of the Empire facing trial could express their desire to appeal directly to Caesar. The most famous example of a citizen invoking this right is the apostle Paul. Born a Jew in 4 B.C. in Tarsus in modern-day Turkey, Paul—a Latinized form of his Hebrew name, Saul—was a Roman citizen. Following his arrest by the Romans in A.D. 59, Paul used his status to dramatically halt his trial before Porcius Festus, the governor of Judaea: “Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, ‘You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!’“ (Acts: 25:12).
“And after certain days king [of the Jews] Agrippa [II] and [his sister] Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. And…Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by [the previous governor] Felix: About whom…the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him…Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive…when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth…specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.” (Acts 25)
Once again, we need more historical background to understand what was common knowledge at the time this account was written, about 60 A.D. The reason the recently appointed Roman governor Festus was “especially” glad to have king Agrippa assist in his legal examination of a Jew is because Agrippa understood those confusing politico-religious wranglings of the chief priests and elders of the Jews, while firmly allied with Rome’s interests, and could keep Festus safe on this tightrope examination, avoiding anything the would cause a problem with either Rome or the Jews.
King Agrippa II, who had been ruling Judea for about 5 years at the time of Paul’s examination, was very much the son of Agrippa I (ruled 41-44) who was “devout in his Judaism, which made him popular with his Jewish subjects.…This desire to please the Jewish people is also seen in his persecution of the early Christian leaders, as described in the book of Acts [where Agrippa I is called by one of his other names, Herod]…Agrippa was a skilled diplomat who knew how to appease both the Roman Emperor and the Jewish populace, staying in the good graces of both.”
King Agrippa II was likewise a skilled diplomat who benefited from good relations with three Roman emperors in succession, in part because he inherited his father’s goodwill with the restless Jewish populace. His Roman benefactors entrusted him with the supervision of the Temple in Jerusalem and the right to appoint the high priest. When the Jews revolted against Rome in 66, he personally went to hot spot Jerusalem to try to negotiate an end to the rebellion, and although his effort was in vain he was a big help to Vespasian when the inevitable war broke out, and during The Year of Four Emperors, as Vespasian clawed his way to the top. He had the means to do so because he had been granted rule [translate taxation] over so many territories during the previous reigns of Claudius and Nero that he was one of the most important rulers in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. In return for his support, Vespasian granted Agrippa even more territory.
What do we know about the Jewish-Roman relations? Was Judea content with Rome’s supervision, like Puerto Rico or the Philipines with America? What we learn is that Judea had been fomenting revolution for at least fifty years, and was a tinderbox needing just one last strike to blow, which if allowed to happen, would result in Festus’ disgrace and demotion by Rome, or even his death by a mob.
Except for the short period of the reign of Herod Agrippa I over all of Palestine from 41-44 C.E., Samaria and Judea fell under the authority of procurators appointed directly from Rome… Life for the Jews under the procurators was exceedingly difficult. For example, Pontius Pilate was described by Agrippa I as unbending and severe with the stubborn, and was accused of bribery, cruelty, and countless murders…There thus emerged within Judaism groups of revolutionaries who looked back to the militaristic Maccabees and their zeal for the Law as great heroes. These “Zealots”…attempted to arouse the people to revolt… Self-styled prophets and messiahs appeared from time to time…Paul was not so heavenly minded as to be no earthly good. Like Karl Barth, he operated in close connection to his social environment. Previous to the courtroom hearing we are reviewing, Paul had used his insight to his benefit.
“But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council…of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.” (Acts 23:6-10)
Let’s also look at Paul’s next courtroom exchange from this same social perspective. In any examination of a person by a lawyer, psychiatrist, psychologist, police detective, teacher, pastor, etc. the background of all persons involved in the incident and the relationships influencing the individual’s answer to questions are of great significance.
Festus –inherited and greatly inflamed the social unrest problems of his predecessor Felix. “He valued peace with the Jews more than justice and, despite determining his prisoner was innocent“ refused to release Paul. In his quest for a political alliance with the Jewish rulers, Festus publicly dismissed their clear homicidal intentions towards Paul as a simple religious dispute. He actually tried to give up Paul to the Jewish rulers by encouraging him to go back to Jerusalem to be judged by them, knowing it would result in his death. Paul’s only safety net was Festus’ sensible greater fear of Roman over Jewish reprisal if he didn’t treat Paul as the Roman citizen that he was when he appealed to Caesar. You can imagine the efforts of the Jews to get Festus to turn a blind eye on that one. So to ingratiate himself as best he could with the Jews, as a judge, he breaks legal procedure by interrupted Paul’s defense with loud “ruling” that he was insane. This a prior decision would of course dishearten the defendant and would have been designed to disturb his emotional and cognitive ability to defend himself.
Agrippa II – as noted above, the most politically savvy player on stage. All eyes and all ears are on him. They didn’t have Twitter back then, but the bush telegraph would very effectively transmit every word back to Rome, especially to his rivals, in Rome’s toxic political environment.
Berenice – Agrippa’s sister. “Agrippa and Berenice’s childhood was filled with instability and they inherited the “bad blood” seen in all of Herod the Great’s (73—4 BC) descendants...Berenice (left) and Agrippa lived together in Rome and soon it was rumored they were incestuous. Not much shocked the Romans, but this was prohibited in all the laws of the ancient world…Agrippa’s contemporary, the Roman Juvenal (c. 55-130 AD) in his Satire 6, made open fun of Agrippa and Berenice… ” You can’t possibly expect that anyone hearing Agrippa’s statement believed that on the basis of this first and only sermon from Paul that he was seriously considering “repent, and be baptized, for the remission of sin” publicly, among individuals well acquainted with his illicit relationship to his sister, and in doing so humiliating his sister/lover. There is a reason that Luke included her name in his account of the proceedings. So that we can factor this piece of information into the context of the bland written words.
Paul – clearly stirring up way too much trouble among the troublesome Jews for no earthly benefit to the profit-motivated Roman rulers. No Roman ruler is going to support him.
So with this backdrop, can we not pick up the supremely political overtones of a gifted diplomat?
“Agrippa: Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.
Paul: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
My manner of life from my youth…know all the Jews; Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?…This is a rhetorical question. Obviously, Agrippa’s benefactors, the Caesars, were all believed to become immortal after death.
At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven…I heard a voice speaking unto me…I am Jesus…I have appeared unto thee…to make thee a minister and a witness… [that] the Gentiles…may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
Obviously that would be the JEWS! When we place this statement in its social setting, we realize that Paul just grossly insulted his Roman judges! They despised the Jewish population, which for the most part had been ground into abject poverty by Roman rule. The only prosperous Jews were the Hellenized, non-religious Jews.
The offer to grant a Jewish inheritance to a wealthy Roman ruler was not merely laughable, it was utterly insane, as Festus did indeed point out.
And as for receiving forgiveness of sins – that was a public slap in the face to Agrippa and his sister Berenice. It could only be their long acclimation to public slurs and insinuations, and their social training, like the Brits’ stiff upper lip, that kept them from betraying their anger at this insult. But make no mistake, the audience got it.
And Paul was burned right there. So unlike incompetent Festus, Agrippa smoldered in silence, patiently allowing Paul to continue in the certain knowledge that, given enough rope, this rash Paul would hang himself.
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed…the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me…
I continue unto this day…saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come…
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.Way to go Paul! Put King Agrippa on the hot seat, in public. Politicians love that, don’t they?
(Blue dress? What blue dress?)Paul has just handed Agrippa a seriously problematic Yes / No question where either answer lands him in trouble. “Yes” appeases the Zealots among the Jews but earns outrage from the Romans battling these Zealots. “No” alienates the ultrasensitive Jews which worsens the difficult political position of the Romans who tactfully accepted every conquered nation’s gods. But as a highly skilled politician, Agrippa recognized that Paul had also just handed him his trump card, and he responds, of course with a wry smile,
Agrippa: Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.On the right hand we have the Romans and the elite Jews breaking the tension as they burst out in raucous laughter at Agrippa’s perfectly honed sarcastic response to Paul’s insults. This clever repartee will definitely make the rounds at the social gatherings in Palestine and back to the gossip in Rome, with its accompanying positive publicity more than compensating for Agrippa’s humiliation from Paul’s outrageous public condemnation. But there’s more. On the left [sinister] hand we have Paul, perceived to be a fish out of water, who has just been thrown a baited hook with which to reel him in as a ringleader in one of the Zealot factions revolting against Rome. For Rome, there were two problems with Christianity. Whereas the Roman emperor was declared to be the son of god, the prophets of this Christ proclaimed that any ordinary person from any nation on earth – Egypt, Greece, Persia, India, etc. – was eligible to become a spiritually empowered son of God! This certainly upped the ante of the opposition! Second, this Christ was an open challenge to Caesar’s political hegemony. Will Durant, famed author of the 11 volume History of Civilization, devotes an entire book entitled Caesar and Christ to this challenge, which concludes with “The Triumph of Christianity”. Bear in mind, Durant is a secular historian and his perspective is political. His perspective is also accurate in that secular society treats Christianity as a political force. But Paul is Spirit-led. He doesn’t take the bait.
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves; But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matthew 10:16-20)As skillfully as Agrippa he slips out of their grasp. He doesn’t identify as Christian. Instead, he replies, “I wish you were as I.” And what was Paul? Consistently throughout his ministry he stated “I am a Pharisee.” (Acts 23:6, Philippians 3:5) For Paul, Jesus’ legitimacy as “that Prophet” was finalized, but not based, on his resurrection, seen or reported. It was based on Jesus’ rigorous adherence to Moses and the Prophets who were all united in exhorting that spiritual renewal through repentance and identification with Christ’s death and resurrection preceded the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth.
“my beloved...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure…That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:12-15)
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:50, 58)God works through unity with sanctified humanity, whereas Gentile Christians looked to the Savior to do all the work of saving them from hell and life’s problems while they continued to live out their emotional and physical impulses.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would…Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:16-24
“henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind...alienated from the life of God…being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:” (Ephesians 4:17-21)Will Durant’s political perspective is proven accurate when we see what came to pass after a critical mass of membership and leadership shifted from the Jews to the Gentiles.
the Kingdom of God was established on earth by Jesus Christ in the year 33 AD, in the form of His Church, led by Peter.…And where is the Kingdom of God on earth? It would be in the Tabernacle at each and every Catholic Church, where Jesus Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist! He’s waiting for you to come see Him and talk to Him, right now! And the really good news is that everyone who is in the state of grace is a prince or princess of this Kingdom, right now!Why would anyone – the Jewish believers or previously pagan converts or the Roman rulers – believe such an incredulous claim offering to transform humans into superhuman sons of God, to the point of empire-wide attempts to snuff out this religion? Because of the credibility of the account of the supernaturally empowered people of this God from ages past – Adam, Noah, Abraham, the Exodus, King David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, etc. The only way that that the faith we call Christianity had any basis for acceptance in the first century, or continues to have any basis for acceptance in the 21st century, is the continuity of faith from the Old Testament saints of God, defined as the Hebrew nation since the division of people into nations.
The HebrewsSound heretical to lump New Testament Christians in with the ancient Hebrews? Yet there is a New Testament letter designated to “the Hebrews”.
The traditional title “To the Hebrews” is very old. Clement of Rome seems to know the letter by this title late in the first century…In one of our earliest manuscripts…Hebrews follows Romans, indicating the book was viewed as part of the Pauline collection. In the King James Version of the Bible (1611), the book was given the title, “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.”
The Council of Carthage (397) and also the Council of Carthage (419)…took place under the authority of St. Augustine (354–430)… Their decrees also declared by fiat that Epistle to the Hebrews was written by Paul, for a time ending all debate on the subject.The importance of this document is signified by the arguments raised against Paul’s authorship of it.
Was Paul the author? There are certainly some similarities between Paul’s theology and the theology of Hebrews…There are other bits of circumstantial evidence, such as the fact that the author of Hebrews, like Paul, was an associate of Timothy (Hebrews 13:23). Yet…the Greek writing style of Hebrews is very different from Paul’s other letters. Hebrews has some of the finest and most polished Greek in the New Testament. Paul’s style in the letters definitely written by him is much rougher, less refined, and more informal…The vocabulary of Hebrews is also very different from Paul’s, including 169 words not found elsewhere in the New Testament (NT)…When we place Paul’s epistles in chronological rather than canonical order, it becomes crystal clear why Paul, unlike in all his other letters, didn’t identify himself as the author. It may also explain the difference in style of Greek language style. Paul’s authority had just been soundly rejected by his base of support. If he was going to get his message across, they would have to read it first, and accept it on its own merits, rather than reject it out of hand from his name on page 1. The argument regarding the Greek writing style is easily answered by Paul’s reliance on his amanuensis Luke. These clerks were customarily used throughout the Roman empire, as much as an executive dictates to a secretary in our day. Paul additionally reports poor eyesight.
“Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And…I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me…Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.” (Galatians 4:13-16, 6:11)
It was the custom of St. Paul to add a few words of parting benedictory encouragement or admonition in his own handwriting, partly as a mark of his own personal interest in his readers, and partly as a precaution against forgery. (See especially Galatians 6:11, and 2 Thessalonians 3:17.) We have observed in the course of this Commentary how frequently the involved and broken style is to be accounted for by this habit of dictation, and, as it would seem, not very punctilious revision. We have the thoughts and words of the Apostle as they came warm from his own mind.It makes sense that at the end of his ministry, while imprisoned, Paul had more time, and relied more on his trusted assistant, to allow Luke to refine and polish this message to its utmost clarity.
Perhaps most significantly, the author of Hebrews claims to be a second generation Christian who received his gospel from those who came before him.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;” (Hebrews 2:3)Here we see one of those interpretations that fits a pre-conceived purpose, which in this case is to deny Paul’s authorship. While “at the first began to be spoken by the Lord” can with certainty be grammatically referenced back to Jesus from “God…Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2), the second phrase “confirmed unto us by them that heard him” does not rule out Paul as being among “us” who confirmed his personal salvation and understanding of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ with those who heard Jesus. See, for examples, Acts 9:10-17 and Galatians 1:13-18. Oddly, though, the word “Hebrew” is not found in the letter. How, then, is this letter assigned to Hebrew readers?
there are strong indications that the readers are Jewish Christians…The writer assumes his readers are familiar with OT stories,referring to them without elaboration with statements like, “as you know . . .” (12:17). The author presupposes knowledge of Jewish ritual, including the layout of the Jewish tabernacle and the functions of the sacrificial system. The recipients also seem to be aware of extra-biblical Jewish traditions, such as the role of angels in mediating the OT law (2:2; cf. acts 7:38; Galatians 3:19…Finally, throughout the book the author speaks of the superiority of the new covenant to the old and warns believers not to go back. The implication is that they are in danger of returning to their former faith, that is, to Judaism.And here is where we find the reason for the arguments against the historic record of Paul as the author. And that is to file this letter as being to the Jews, and not to Paul’s Hebrew Gentile congregations. Remember, while Jews belong to the Hebrew nation, not all Hebrews are Jews. See the post Father Abraham if this is news to you. The reason the letters is entitled Hebrews is because of the clear internal evidence for the identity of the intended recipients of this letter, not as Jews, but as the people of God drawn into one nation, reversing the scattering under Antichrist Nimrod at the tower of Babel.
- God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers [including pre-Israelite Abraham] by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1)
- “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; [as the Promised Seed of the Woman promised to all humanity in Genesis 3:15)…he took on him the seed of Abraham [the father of many nations]. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people… ” (Hebrews 2:14-17)
- Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus…the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews, 3:1, 5:9-1)
- Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens…Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest [acting as priests] by the blood of Jesus..And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: (Hebrews 8:1, 10:19, 12:28)
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus [Jewish and Gentile believers] and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
- According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
- Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, [i.e. to belong to his nation] according to the good pleasure of his will…
- having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ,
It is crucial for a correct understanding of Paul’s doctrine of the New Testament Church that we recognize its place in the doctrine of the letter to the Hebrews.
“Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the [historic] order of Melchisedec.Remember – “forever, eternity” is not an endless future starting with a point in time. It is the opposite of time. Like a circle it has no beginning as well as no end. Jesus didn’t become a priest in the order of Melchisedec at a point in time, he was always Melchisedec.
“the Apostle and High Priest of our profession [of faith], Christ Jesus…was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house / dynasty / family hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his household / Judaism, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be SPOKEN AFTER; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose household are we…” (Hebrews 3:1-6)Likewise, when we are transformed into the image of Christ we are translated into a different state of being.
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto ALL them [past, present and future to this writing] that obey him; called of God an high priest after the [historic] order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 4:14)Ergo, while in transition to becoming fully spiritual, sons of God from all time are united together in the existing United Nations / brotherhood of saints, AKA Hebrews since Father Abraham.
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” (Hebrews 5:14)OK, lets go back to the first principles of the oracles of God to the Hebrews.
AbrahamAbraham, the father of the original assembly of post-flood international believers before there was a nation of Israel, is stated in the New Testament to continue to be the father of the same assembly of believers after the establishment of the nation of Israel.
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?…what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness… faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness…the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was…through the righteousness of faith…of Abraham; who is the father of us all…
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4)Notice that Paul inserts a plug for his unique ministry of eliminating apartheid within the body of believers when he states that Abraham is the father “of us all.” More to the point here, notice exactly what it is that Abraham and his seed are promised – to be heirs of the world, not just a piece of it as given to Israel. Paul is claiming the inheritance lost to Satan in the garden of Eden.
“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. He shall choose our inheritance for us,
For God is the King of all the earth…God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.
The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham.” (Psalm 47)Those who are identified with The Promised Seed / Messiah / Christ through the faith of Abraham are granted fellow-citizenship with all the saints, including Abraham’s godly ancestors like Shem, Noah, Enoch, etc. back to Adam back in the day when there was only one language, ergo one nation. God is restoring his one world government.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. (Hebrews 11:1)The New Testament exhortation to the Hebrew nation states unequivocally that the way of salvation through faith was given to mankind at the beginning of time. Faith in what? That Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross to save us from our sin? How were people to know that in the 4,000 years prior to Jesus’ arrival on earth? Are people who have never heard about Jesus Christ just out of luck, “Oh well!”? It is commonly believed so, on the basis of Jesus’ statement that: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6), and However, if you read the post Moses, remember that Name = Way / Attributes. For a brief recap here:
And Moses said unto the LORD…if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee…And the LORD said unto Moses…I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee…LORD / YHVH / Creator, Lifegiver, merciful, gracious, longsuffering, goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; ” (Exodus 33-34)Can we not recognize that what YHVH said to Moses is exactly what YHVH’s Savior said to his disciples? Jesus makes absolutely no sense whatsoever without knowing Moses’ written account.
“ye believe in God, believe also in me…I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself…And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Thomas saith unto him, Lord…how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me..Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me:” (John 14:1-11)The disciples got it. It is only because YHVH was one with his promised savior that salvation can come through him.
“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of YHVH’s Promised Savior of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole…Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:1-12)If we take the word of God at face value, and avoid making anachronistic assumptions to fit a systematic theology, we understand that faith in YHVH’s Promised Savior is not a new religion. Faith in the name / way of YHVH is the same in both New and Old Testaments. And works are also required in both New and Old Testaments. If you don’t understand that the restoration of oneness with Almighty God is the objective of redemption and the means of salvation, read the post on Redemption. This is why God equates salvation with marriage, to enlighten us as to his expectations for his people.
“The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim;
- which conceived, and bare him a son. And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel [God sows – in this case vengeance]; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel, in the valley of Jezreel.
- And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
- she conceived, and bare a son. Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel [when God sows his Seed]…
she is not my wife, neither am I her husband…And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot…And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now…
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi my husband, two shall be one; and shalt call me no more Baali my master…And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD…
Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee…For the children of Israel shall…return, and seek…and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” (Hosea 1-3)We understand that sexual activity does not make a marriage, but sexual activity is a defining element of the legally acknowledged union between two people with all the benefits that accrue from taking on the identity of the marriage partner. Likewise, acts do not make oneness with God, but acts are required once a union with God is requested, or the hyperdimensional union – required for eternal life – doesn’t happen. This totally makes sense. We understand on a human level that marriage can be annulled if it is not not consummated by sexual activity. It can also be annulled if one of the parties entered into the arrangement by deceit or with the intention of defrauding the other, or if one of the parties was mentally incapacitated, including being too young to fully understand the terms of the contract. Infidelity and abandonment are grounds for divorce.
“a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:17-26)“The elders” referenced in the letter to the Hebrews, the ancestors of all humanity, were justified by acting on their faith in the word of YHVH – which is whatever God said to that recipient in his time and culture – and this remains the way of salvation for believers of all time.
“who shall stand when he appeareth?…I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against [those] that…fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. For I am YHVH, I change not; (Malachi 3:2-6)
“the gospel of Christ / Messiah / Promise of Redemption from sin and death is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: The just shall live [vs be condemned on the day of judgment] by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)Hebrews Chapter 11 tracks the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. It is the same righteousness, and the same faith. Not the faith of Judaism to the faith of Christianity.
- [Genesis 1-2] Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:16-20)
- [Genesis 4] By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh [in the present].
- the first of many men to be persecuted and killed for acting on God’s notice that “without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin. (Hebrews 9:22)
- [Genesis 5] By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death…for…he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is [in the present] a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
- Elijah was also translated, and we have Paul’s teaching on translation of believers. These three occurances allow us to establish a pattern and determine that translation occurs to believers during times of great tribulation of believers by followers of false, i.e. lying, gods. The following is a bare bones summary.
- And then Enoch disappeared and none of the sons of men knew where he was hidden, where he was, or what had happened. And all his doings were with the Holy Ones, and with the [holy] Watchers, in his days…This book is the word of righteousness, and of reproof…He created and appointed me to reprove the [fallen] Watchers, the sons of Heaven. (p. 22, 26)
- Elijah the Tishbite…the word of the Lord came unto him, saying…hide thyself…when Jezebel cut off [got rid of by death or driving out of the country] the prophets of the Lord…the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab…ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim [false gods, fallen angels]. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table…and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” (II Kings 17-18)
- your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure…Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, WHEN the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.” (II Thessalonians 1:1-11) Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:51-52) For…the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:15-17)
- And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast…And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God…and them that dwell in heaven. [It’s not that they don’t believe in God and his followers, it’s that they claim they can overcome them – through death!] And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations…Here is the patience and the faith of the saints [remaining faithful through death to the one who defeated death]…” (Revelation 13) And the third angel [of woe, with the 7th and last trump] followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God…And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man (Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him…and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Revelation 1:7) having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle….And he…thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. (Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall…appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:29-31) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle…and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” (Revelation 14)
- Elijah was also translated, and we have Paul’s teaching on translation of believers. These three occurances allow us to establish a pattern and determine that translation occurs to believers during times of great tribulation of believers by followers of false, i.e. lying, gods. The following is a bare bones summary.
- [Genesis 6] By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
- great-grandson of Enoch and heir to his preaching ministry during a time when wickedness escalated to such a degree that by the time God brought judgment only 8 persons were left to save. This will be the same situation in the future for believers. “then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened…as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:21-22, 37)
- [Genesis 12] By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
- [Genesis 21] Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
- [Genesis 22] By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
- [All throughout history] Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth…But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
- I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven…Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And…there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said…Write: for these words are true and faithful…I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving…and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:1-8)
- Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers…were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and…did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (I Corinthians 10:1-11)Can we understand that becoming Abraham’s seed / children is a real national identity, based on established social principles, in effect during – and since – Abraham’s day? When we apply the full meaning of father as we’ve come to understand it in ancient culture (see post on Father Abraham if you don’t understand this), we understand the extent of Paul’s claim to Gentile Christians. He is not allegorizing a relationship. He is stating a fact that Gentiles have equal standing with the physical descendants because any, and all, children only qualify as legitimate children when they are acknowledged by the Father.
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father, for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham...” (Matthew 3)
The Mark of the New CovenantWhenever people from different ethnicities are amalgamated into a new nation they take on signs of their new common heritage and future, such as Social Security number, a new passport, or flying the flag of their new country. The new citizens of the Hebrew nation are also distinguished from their old ethnic association by taking on a characteristic trade mark. This has been commonly confused as being circumcision.
“And God said unto Abraham…This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised…And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant…And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.” (Gen 17:9-23)Ishmael provides us with the evidence that simply going through religious rituals like circumcision or baptism doesn’t qualify one to be a member of Abraham’s household of faith.
“And Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham…in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. (Gen 21:8-12)”
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage…and answereth to Jerusalem which now is [not true Mosaic Judaism but the 1st century legalistic demands on behaviors that had nothing to do with the heart of relationship], and is in bondage with her children.
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Now we, [Hebrew] brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
Behold, I Paul say unto you [former Gentiles now Hebrews], that if ye be circumcised [in order to be saved], The Promised Seed Savior / Messiah / Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised…Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” (Gal 4:21-5:6)As described in the post Moses, while circumcision was, and remains, a mark of membership in the nation of Israel with its specific covenant including land ownership, it does not apply to all the children of Abraham in the broader Hebrew United Nations. However, there are other marks besides circumcision indicating ownership.
“And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: [Do you catch the implications for your family in serving the Lord?] Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.” (Ex 21:5-6)Former-Gentiles who join Abraham’s household of faith don’t get “let off the hook” by not getting circumcised under the Israelite covenant of land ownership. The fact of the matter is that the New Covenant, by empowering believers so much more, demands so much more from the believer than the Old!
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48)Paul describes the mark which shows that one is a New Covenant believer. It is doing the will of the Father which is in heaven (Mat 7:21), which will show in changed likeness (behavior) and image (appearance) of God.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: [can’t you hear his exhaustion – from defending himself from fellow believers?] for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus...
- in stripes above measure,
- in prisons more frequent,
- in deaths oft.
- Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
- Thrice was I beaten with rods,
- once was I stoned,
- thrice I suffered shipwreck,
- a night and a day I have been in the deep;
- In journeyings often
- in perils of waters,
- in perils of robbers,
- in perils by mine own countrymen & in perils by the heathen,
- in perils in the city & in perils in the wilderness,
- in perils in the sea,
- in perils among false brethren;
- In weariness and painfulness,
- in watchings often,
- in hunger and thirst,
- in fastings often,
- in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (Gal 6:15-17, II Cor 11:23-28)This obviously comes at a much greater cost than men sacrificing a bit of flesh. Christianity costs doing one’s own will and is a very public testimony of one’s love for, and placing one’s trust for the future in, the Father, by following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ whose name we claim as Christians. It is also a very lonely experience that can only be managed by drawing closer to God our Father.
“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. (Matt 26:27-44)Wow. How many Christians do we know who live like this? We understand that many of us who were born as American citizens take our national privileges for granted and refuse to perform our responsibilities. Even worse, many of us who were born into Christian church-going families take our spiritual privileges for granted and refuse to perform our responsibilities. There is a casual attitude about sin among people who trust that the New Testament letters teaching that “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) has exempted us from being held responsible for our actions. Keep reading.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:11-14),Paul condemns a careless attitude in the strongest terms.
“Know ye not, that…we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life…Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Now if we be dead with Christ…Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him…Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ro 6:1-23)There is a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be “saved from sin”. It is not primarily being saved from the damnation of sin, i.e. eternity in hell; it is primarily being saved from the domination of sin controlling and destroying us and those whose lives we touch in this life, as well as our option for life in the next plane of existence.
“The LORD said unto Cain…sin lieth at the door…unto thee shall be his desire.” (Genesis 4:6-7)
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?…like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life…Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin…Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be…alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof…but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God…Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6)All too often Christianity is treated as fire insurance with no regard for the main objective of salvation – restoration of a relationship with a holy God.
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself…And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…”Colossians 1:20-22)I am not proposing that we can “lose our salvation,” because John assures us that
“My sheep…shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand,” (Joh 10:27-28)But John qualifies who are the Christ’s sheep!
“My sheep hear / respond to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life;” (John 10:27)John also sets really strict criteria for being a sheep that is granted eternal life.
“hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (I John 2:3-6)Peter commands believers in the Christ to live righteously, quoting from the Old Testament,
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness…For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (I Peter 2:24-25 from Isaiah 53)
“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:” (I Pet 1:16)Paul tag teams once again with Peter backing up what we should be fearful of, whether we are the sheep of his pasture like David, whose family was destroyed, and likely for eternity at that, by his willful sin, or a nominal Christian who was never actually was accepted into the sheepfold by the Shepherd of all souls.
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation…He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said…The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Hebrews 8:7-10
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire…
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Mat 7:13-23)Paul makes it clear that the “signs” – which can be faked – aren’t the works that Jesus demands of us for salvation or even to prove salvation. They are, however, the proof that the Jews, who “require a sign” need, to be convinced that the Gentiles are blessed with God’s presence and power like they are.
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying,
Men and brethren…the Gentiles are turned to God:” (Act 15:12-19)
“When the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings…Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries:
And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the LORD God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them;
and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord God, when…I will
- take you from among the heathen
- gather you out of all countries
- bring you into your own land
- sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols
- cleanse you.
- give you a new heart
- a new spirit will I put within you
- take away the stony heart and give you an heart of flesh
- put my spirit within you
- cause you to walk in my statutes
- ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God [Ruler / King].” (Ezekiel 36:17-28)Sidebar as here we see one of those balancing acts so often provided in scripture to keep us centered, as the works that Jesus rejects are the very works he also promised would prove Spirit indwelling. Which is it?
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mar 16:15-18)Paul explains this apparent contradiction. All of these signs aren’t manifested by every believer.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant…Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For
- to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
- to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
- To another faith by the same Spirit;
- to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
- To another the working of miracles;
- to another prophecy;
- to another discerning of spirits;
- to another divers kinds of tongues;
- to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit…But now are they many members, yet but one body…
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? Obviously his rather sarcastic answer is “No!” do all interpret?
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal…Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church…Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?…Brethren, be not children in understanding…
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not…
Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God…
What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (I Corinthians 12-14)
What Side Are You On?We’ve just read out of the Bible that
- salvation requires works proving our faith in God’s deliverance from sin during this lifetime and not just from hell in the hereafter,
- and becoming a son of God requires being accepted by the Father on his terms of reflecting his character,
- and God does annul or divorce partners who aren’t honestly committed to a relationship with him.
The “sinner’s prayer” is quite popular in contemporary American Christianity. Basically, it’s the concept that a preacher, usually at the end of his message, asks his audience to close their eyes, bow their heads, and repeat a prayer of salvation after him. Typically it goes something like this: “Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” Several concerns should be raised pertaining to its legitimacy… The fact that the “sinner’s prayer” has no biblical or historical support (at least for the first nineteen centuries in the history of the church) should cause us some concern. Second, the use of the “sinner’s prayer” tends to be an emotionally manipulative practice. I’ve sat through lessons in which the preacher, after pouring his heart out, asks everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. Cue the music. All around, emotions run high. With heartstrings firmly pulled, commence the prayer. And this is classic emotional manipulation. The preacher seeks to produce an emotional response in his audience such that they are induced to repeat the mantra after him. To produce the desired results, the preacher fixates all his efforts on the emotions (often in opposition to the minds) of those in his audience. This should raise serious concerns for Christians who genuinely want to disciple people to know the one true and living God. Third, the “sinner’s prayer” is a product of false ideas of what it means to “be saved.” There is no shortage of biblical and theological ignorance in our current cultural context. Ask ten professing Christians what it means to “be saved,” and you will receive ten different answers. In this climate the “sinner’s prayer” has flourished. Preachers who utilize the prayer frequently imply that saying it makes you saved: “Repeat this prayer after me, and you will be saved.” But this couldn’t really be any further from the truth…those who say the prayer typically rely on the fact that they said the prayer to know they’re saved: “How do I know I’m saved? I said the prayer!” But this is a very dangerous thing on which to stake your salvation…relying for our salvation on something that we have done (i.e., praying the prayer, walking the aisle, signing the card, etc.) rather than relying solely upon the perfectly sufficient and finished work of Christ in his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and present intercession seems to me to be a bit foolish in the end. Fourth…Paul says that there are those who “have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). How true is this in our day as well. Saying the “sinner’s prayer” does not actually save anyone, and therefore it is disingenuous at best to act as if it did. But this is exactly what we see happening, and this practice produces people who think they truly know God when they really don’t…But if a good theology of salvation was taught (namely, that a prayer never saved anyone; that the person and work of Jesus Christ is sufficient to save all who turn away from themselves, repent of their sin, and trust in Christ alone), these problems would be rectified to a great extent. Finally, the “sinner’s prayer” diminishes the sovereignty and glory of God in salvation…the prayer assumes that sinners have the ability in themselves to turn to God in faith and repentance. Not only does this assumption take away from the glory of God in salvation, but it directly contradicts what the Bible teaches: “You were dead in [your] trespasses and sins…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5). Sinners are spiritually dead (i.e., unable to turn to God) and need God to make them alive…Why, then, do we act like saying a prayer is what saves people?The answer is that, in stark contrast to the early church’s ministry to the Gentiles, the vast majority of Christian churches neglect the teaching ministry to scripturally illiterate people. In the following excerpt I’ve bolded certain phrases for emphasis.
The Christian Industrial Complex uses and abuses the key phrases of the Greatest Story ever told and turns it into the Greatest Story ever sold.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a philosophy or opinion that should be debated, or code of conduct that should be followed. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon, like sunrise…it’s going on in real time and real space and it can only be appreciated or denied but not ignored. It can not be provoked or stopped. It can not be claimed or coined. It’s nobody’s property or asset. It’s not limited to a hero’s bio but covers everything and all times (JOHN 1:1, COLOSSIANS 1:17). And we’re all in, whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, and whether we understand it or not. The birth, death, resurrection, message and wholesale profundity of Jesus Christ is a milestone…on a par with humanity’s very emergence on the earth (1 CORINTHIANS 15:45). We didn’t cause it; it happened to us. It wasn’t invented; it was discovered. It’s not a religious message or some work of art that could be lost forever if it were destroyed. It’s written into the very fabric of creation, and if we were to reject it, we would reject our very human nature… For many centuries, powerful people have used the gospel to scare people into submission (MATTHEW 11:12); the same people who made us believe that cigarettes are healthy, who started every war of the last two hundred years, who turned our cities into traffic jams, and who addicted humanity to the hydrocarbons that are now killing our planet. If there’s money in it, it’s probably getting lied about. The Christian Industrial Complex uses and abuses the key phrases of the Greatest Story ever told and turns it into the Greatest Story ever sold. And we’re dumb enough to have bought it for centuries. No more so. Now the Human Rights Revolution and the Planetary Boundaries Revolution must be joined by a Gospel Revolution that will stop the nonsense and start the liberating (LUKE 4:18). The Word we have today as the Bible wears the culture that conceived it like a robe, but the Word itself is among us today wearing a whole wardrobe of guises. The Body of Christ(s) is an active and living being that exists on earth today despite the Christian Industrial Complex. The Good News is not about an exceptional teacher or miracle man who lived in Judea two thousand years ago; it’s about the preservation of life. The sole function of the Bible at large is the preservation of life. Our duty as followers of Jesus is not to adhere to the right rituals, but to preserve life. Evangelizing is not about changing people’s religion, but about keeping them alive. It’s not us versus them; it’s us for them. The Lord himself will bring about what will be, and all we have to do is keep the people alive. Churches that do nothing but get together on Sunday morning and sing silly songs, aren’t churches, they’re self-congratulatory hobby-clubs. Churches should be foreshadows of the New Jerusalem described in REVELATION 21. Pastors should motivate people to be inquisitive, to be courageous enough to adhere to sound reasoning and careful review of data. The Bible is not something that has to be believed, it is something that has to be examined. Pastors should teach their people to dive into Scriptures like into an ocean while leaving their beliefs like garb on the shores. Small groups should discuss Scriptures freely, without the convoluting assistance of pamphlets and commentaries of people who aren’t there. Simply let God speak!… Humanity is inevitably headed towards either complete collapse or liberty…In the end, you choose what you want to believe and on whose word you put your faith for your eternal fate, but at least give yourself viable options. Examine the accuracy of what leaders who name the name of Christ are telling you about the Kingdom of God and how to enter into it for salvation on the day of judgment.
“Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
“Son of man, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to his multitude; Whom art thou like in thy greatness?…
the Assyrian…his height was exalted above all the trees of the field…All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs… I have made him fair…Therefore thus saith the LORD God; Because…his heart is lifted up in his height; I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness….they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit. They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.
To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord God.
“I Nebuchadnezzar saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great…and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof…
I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree…to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men…and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Daniel 4)
And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and…ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven…as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; Therefore let us keep the feast, not with…the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (I Corinthians 5)
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5)
Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. But he shall say…I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13)