Saturday, February 27, 2010

I will remember their sin no more

We have just looked at Hebrews 8:14-19. Let’s look into this in a little more depth. First, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Heb 8:10b) This is an explanation of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide our thoughts and behaviors if we but listen. This will not be in the form of conviction and accusation after sin….that is the accuser of the brethren, Satan. And, it is used by Satan to try to drive a false wedge between God and the believer. The Holy Spirit only convicts of the sin of unbelief (John 16:9). The accuser of the brethren tempts and then afterward accuses (Rev 12:10). It is explained that he accuses day and night…always accusing us before God.

When the believer says that the Holy Spirit convicted them of sin after they have sinned, is just not biblical. John clearly points out that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of the sin of unbelief and that is it. The truth is that under the New Covenant God is not remembering sin (Heb 8:19.) Now, before you blow an aorta, let me acknowledge that the believer still does have to deal with sin. However, they can work on it with the assurance that God is not holding it to their charge because of the blood of Jesus and the New Covenant. And, if they will but trust God and the Holy Spirit within them, they will develop godly sorrow for the times when they fall short of the mark. It will actually be a healthy mix of an incredible love for God based upon his glorious grace and, the godly sorrow/grief produced by the heightened awareness of God’s tender love and holiness.

This understanding of God’s grace, the purpose and action of the Holy Spirit and, abiding in the Sabbath Rest will work together to transform the saint into a far more godly behavioral pattern. Remember that one cannot tie this to salvation, proof of salvation or any such combination because it will immediately turn into a read and do law and, we see from the passage above that the law is not read and do but, is written in our minds and on our hearts. It is there by the work of the Holy Spirit and is brought to our attention as needed. Jesus said the following: Joh 16:13 ESV When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come…..and…..Joh 14:26 NKJV But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The Law of Christ will be in our hearts and minds via the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who is also referred to as the comforter, helper, (parakletos in the Greek.) It is vital that the saint understand this operation of the Spirit in conjunction with the declaration that God is not remembering sin under the New Covenant.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Obeying from the heart, the obedience of faith and the operation of love in the New Covenant

Paul spoke of obedience from the heart in Romans six. Rom 6:17-18 ESV But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (18) and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. So, what did he mean obedient from the heart and what did he mean by becoming slaves to righteousness?

First off, this is similar to the obedience of faith mentioned in Romans 1:5. Obedience from the heart and the obedience of faith speak to the motivation of obedience….the engine driving obedience….the catalyst or cause of obedience. It is very different in the new covenant than in the old covenant. My assumption is that we believers are really new covenant people.

Again, we need to turn to Hebrews the Rosetta stone of the New Covenant. Heb 8:8-12 ESV For he finds fault with them when he says: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, (9) not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. (10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (12) For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more."

Under the new covenant, God’s Law is written on the believer’s hearts and put in their minds. The driver…catalyst…is found in this statement “I will be merciful toward their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more.” The operating force in obedience from the heart is the Sabbath Rest! It is faith in God’s mercy that will ultimately, over time, bring about obedience from the heart….the obedience of faith.

This is precisely why faith and not works is the necessary ingredient. One has to rest in, rely on, cling too and have settled confidence in the fact that God is a God of mercy and that he is not keeping track of sin. In fact, God has forgotten sin under the new covenant. When one really believes this…and it is hard to believe this…. I want to address any who would cry easy believism but, when one really truly trusts God’s veracity in this proclamation it produces supernaturally a deep and abiding and genuine love for God. This deep abiding love for God is the catalyst for obedience….but, it can only work when one is completely resting in Jesus.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Need Rest and Reasonable Service; the flow of transformation in the life of a disciple of Jesus

Paul taught that the creation itself was groaning to be liberated. He also wrote that anyone in Christ Jesus is a new creation. He taught that believers are the righteousness of God in Christ. This is positional….it is a declaration that is our designation in Jesus. Peter explained that we become partakers of the divine nature and many New Testament writers explained that believers would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Further, Paul explained that God made Jesus, who knew no sin to be made sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God in him. We know that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus and, being in Christ Jesus is putting faith in him….it is trusting him and quite frankly, I like how the amplified bible explains it…trust, that is…it says when speaking of faith…trusting in, relying on and clinging too.

Now then, what is the flow of the transformation? How does it work practically in the believer? It can be summed up in three ideas; need, rest and, reasonable service. It flows in that sequence. What is the rest? Well we looked at the Sabbath Rest in Hebrews and found that it was believing (trusting in, relying on and clinging too Jesus) and, that it was holding fast our confidence at all times until the end. Holding fast our confidence no matter what; It is not measured by our successes or failures in sanctification. In fact, sanctification is the work of the process and is by the effort of the Holy Spirit working through need, rest and reasonable service.

The Book of Romans spells out this process. Romans 1:1 through 3:20 explains the need…and the need is great. Romans 3:21 through 11:36 explains all of the reasons for the rest (resting in Jesus) and, Romans 12:1 through Romans 16:20 focuses on our reasonable service. The reasonable service is last. It is only efficacious from a place of rest which is trusting in, relying on and clinging too Jesus with a settled confidence that perseverses.

Unfortunately, the bulk of evangelical doctrine teaches that one must do the reasonable service to be considered really converted. That is a very harmful teaching and is responsible for multitudes of saints striving to please God, striving to control sin, striving to love each other and, striving to be obedient.

This is especially sad when the writer of Hebrews told his audience that they should strive to enter the rest. What does it mean to strive to enter the rest? Well it meant for that author to hold the confidence until the end…no matter what. It meant to persevere; to go boldly to the throne of grace whenever necessary; it meant that faith had great reward; it meant that without faith (persevering faith –trusting in, relying on and, clinging to faith) it was impossible to please God. Sabbath Rest, is a most necessary ingredient to properly do reasonable service.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Obedience of Faith – holding your confidence until the end; Sin equaled unbelief to the writer of Hebrews and, grace is preeminent

Paul speaks of the obedience of faith in Romans. Rom 1:5 ESV through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, The obedience of faith is a very important concept in the gospel, justification by faith and, the grace of God that saves. Paul explains in Ephesians chapter one that God created the world, knowing that the fall was necessary, choosing to redeem through Christ (the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world) to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph 1:4-6). In God’s program, his plan from before the foundation of the world…. grace was preeminent.

In studying Hebrews, chapters three and four, it becomes evident that faith in God’s grace is the absolute driving factor in obedience. The writer equates unequivocally that faith is obedience and sin is unbelief and disobedience. Further, the author of Hebrews warns the Jewish believers that it is important that they hold their original confidence through to the end.

Hebrews three and four makes several points. First, by the use of midrash, in Hebrews 3:3-7, the writer overthrows the specularia of the rabbis and establishes the concept that Jesus, not the Torah, is the final word for faith a practice Secondly, the writer compares the ..Rest.. offered in Exodus that the Israelites missed because of unbelief, with the possibility of entering the Sabbath Rest of faith and confidence in the grace of God through Christ Jesus. Third, the writer equates sin and unbelief in an overwhelming way.

Heb 3:14-19 ESV For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (15) As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." (16) For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? (17) And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? (18) And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? (19) So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

First notice that I have emphasized the statement showing that one of the prerequisites for salvation is to hold the original confidence firm to the end. He is using the example of the Israelites that sinned in the wilderness…they did not believe the report of Joshua and Caleb…rather, they believed the other ten spies that claimed that there were giants in the land. They trusted what they saw and did not trust God…man oh man, isn’t there a lesson for us in that situation. We must trust God, what he has declared about us and, not necessarily what we see in ourselves. The writer goes on to explain that the reason God was angry with them was that they sinned…were disobedient and, that the sin and disobedience was unbelief…i.e, not believing God’s promise.

We enjoy the Sabbath Rest when we believe God, what he says about us…we are his righteousness in Christ… Holding this confidence to the end is the prime directive. This is the meaning of perseverance of the saints. The …rest… is the catalyst for getting on to our reasonable service (Rom 12:1-2).

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Gospel according to Jesus, the Didache, the Sermon on the Mount and Acts 15

There is a large segment of the evangelical community that could be described as the Lordshippers. Essentially, they believe that the necessary evidence of true salvation is a saint who walks according to the principals of the Sermon on the Mount and, the other points of the Didache. If you are not familiar with the Didache I would suggest that you click on the link and read it. It is considered to be one of the oldest writings of the early church fathers and, is a creed of sorts, describing the proper life and attitude of a disciple of Christ. It is amazing to me that while there are many Christians who have never heard of the Didache, most all churches have a basic doctrine that is similar in nature to the Didache.

What I also find interesting, is that within the body of the Didache, there is no mention or explanation of the gospel, salvation and, justification by faith, etc. There was only one mention of grace in the entire document and, it was in a prayer that was to be prayed after taking communion. This mention did not explain or thank God for the grace that he poured out on the saints in Christ Jesus. There is no mention of the Lord’s death, burial and, resurrection but, there is a mention of the hope of resurrection at the very end.

Now, while I believe that the Sermon on the Mount has instruction that is very valuable, obedience to it is still not evidence of salvation and, it is not the Law of Christ. I side with those who believe that Jesus was amplifying the Law of Moses to the Jews. After all, the SOM was spoken to Jews who were under the Old Covenant and, he was trying to show them that they were not obeying the Law blamelessly. We know that they thought they were from Paul’s statement in Phil 3:5-6. Paul said that as a Pharisee and the righteousness that is in the Law he was blameless. So then, Jesus amplified the Law by showing them (the Jews) that lust was adultery and anger was murder.

Now, back to the Didache and the Sermon on the Mount. If it was the Law of Christ then why didn’t the apostles say so in Acts fifteen? When the question of Gentile obedience came up, the apostles via James wrote the following: Act 15:28-29 NKJV For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: (29) that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. If the SOM and the Didache were really the apostolic teaching…then wouldn’t the apostles have circulated the Didache? Of course they would have….Under the new covenant, obedience is the obedience of faith and the dynamic for obedience is completely different than the read and do of the Old Covenant.

Friday, February 19, 2010

There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; Hebrews the Rosetta Stone for understanding the New Covenant IV

What exactly is the Sabbath Rest? The answer is a rest from working for acceptability before God and, salvation at any time. One cannot work to achieve salvation and, one cannot work to maintain salvation. In other words, it is descriptive of one totally resting and relying, totally trusting and, totally confident of the redemption, salvation and, the forgiveness of sin brought about by the death, burial and, resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now you may be asking the question…So? Isn’t that what everyone believes?

My answer is no. That is really not what everyone believes. In fact, while most of evangelical doctrine states the above…it is obvious by actions and attitudes that most do not believe that grace alone is what keeps the saint. This is even true of those who claim to believe in the perseverance of the saints…i.e., that once a person is truly saved, that they will be kept saved, by the grace of God. Why do I say this? Because of the attitude that is reflected in Calvin’s statement….”faith alone saves but, faith that saves is never alone.” This idea renders salvation to be only evidenced by the reformed obedient life and, it puts the saint on a working contract with God.

The Sabbath Rest on the other hand, when properly understood and believed, becomes the catalyst for the reformed life and in some folks, especially those with addictive personalities it takes more patience than in others. Unfortunately, when the saint finds that they can easily conform to the behavioral standards set up by evangelical doctrine and dogma they are cheated of really understanding God’s grace. This quite frankly makes them judgmental and leads to sin…instead of loving their brother/sister, they become a judge condemning them. They are robbed of joy as they remain always concerned that their behavior is not good enough to really please God. This opens the door for the accuser of the brethren, Satan (Rev 12:10), to bring condemnation forcing them to work still harder. The reason for this is that like our first parents (Gen 3:8-10) we naturally hide our nakedness from God…our spiritual nakedness.

Heb 4:3 ESV For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. …..and…..Heb 4:9-10 ESV So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, (10) for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. I suggest that you carefully read the entire passage from Hebrews 3:7 thru 4:11 realizing that in 4:12 thru 4:16 the Word of God as used in the passage is Jesus and not the scriptures. The passage ends with the concept of going boldly to the throne of grace to find grace and mercy whenever it is needed.

The dynamic of the Sabbath Rest is that grace alone is driving the train taking one to discipleship. It is the engine, if you will allow the metaphor that ultimately over time produces the transformation. Paul said in Romans three that one should realize that it is grace that leads to the repentant life. The Sabbath Rest is resting in Jesus period.

For those of you who follow the blog regularly, I will be blogging three to four times each week and not everyday from now on. I will certainly blog everyday if the need arises but, right now it seems to me that three or four posts a week will cover the material in a year….after that, we’ll see what direction the blog takes then.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; Hebrews the Rosetta Stone for understanding the New Covenant III

In the last post we began looking at the Sabbath Rest spoken of in Hebrews chapter four. This is one of the most important notions in the entire description of true discipleship. For one to be an effective disciple of Christ it is necessary that they are resting in Jesus and his accomplishments. The letter to the Hebrews explains very succinctly what those accomplishments were. Notice this verse: Hebrews 1:3b After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. And in another place it is written: Heb 9:14 ESV how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. This is precisely the point of the rest.

Did Jesus speak of the rest in the gospel accounts? The answer is yes; Mat 11:28-30 ESV Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." These words came upon the heels of upbraiding the towns that had rejected him. He was telling the Jews that they were working unnecessarily. What was the yoke? Well, Peter explained it in Acts fifteen. He asked the apostle’s why they should put a yoke on the gentile believers that neither we nor our fathers could bear? The yoke was law righteousness. Notice I did not say obedience…that is another matter that will be explained in this series at a later time. Law righteousness suggests that one gains righteousness or right standing from the works or, doing of the Law. Jesus said, “take my yoke upon you” and then…he goes on to say,,,”my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The easy yoke and the light burden is the Sabbath Rest, available after the death burial and resurrection and, the writer of Hebrews explains that in great detail. Jesus explained that he had finished/accomplished the work that he came to do (John 17:4).

Since Jesus was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) and, since God had purposed redemption to the praise of His glorious grace from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4-6) it becomes easy to see why one should be able to rest in Jesus and his accomplishments. In fact, this is what the Sabbath Rest is all about. The Sabbath Rest equals resting in Jesus. Next we will look at what the author of Hebrews has to say about the Sabbath Rest.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; Hebrews the Rosetta Stone for understanding the New Covenant II

In the last post we began to look at the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant that is found throughout the pages of the New Testament. We began to look at Hebrews. In this post we will look at an overview of Hebrews that explains the transition of the New Covenant which will culminate with the destruction of the temple. In other words, we will show that the Hebrew believers were suffering persecution at the hands of the non-believing Hebrews and, if that wasn’t enough, Nero was beginning to persecute Christians in general i.e., both the Jew and Gentile Christians. It is reasonable to believe that the non-believing Jews were telling the believing Jews that they should repent from their faith in Jesus and, go back to being good Jews…There were no doubt some that were saying that the persecution of the Christians was God’s punishment on the Christian Jews for following Jesus.
Therefore, the writer of Hebrews, set out to show the superiority of Jesus and the way in which the Old Testament scripture spoke of the New Covenant and, specifically how Jesus was the Messiah. He further went on to explain how Jesus and, faith in him as Messiah, was superior to the Judaism of the day and the Mosaic Covenant.

No doubt, there were some Jewish non believers who were telling the believers that Jesus was just an angel… that he performed good works among them but was not really the Messiah. The writer spends a lot of ink explaining that Jesus was in fact the son of God and, was far superior to the angels.
He goes on to show that Jesus was superior to Moses. In the gospels it becomes evident that many of the Jews, especially the Pharisees were claiming that because of their understanding of Moses Jesus could not be the Christ. Joh 7:47-49 ESV The Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived? (48) Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? (49) But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed." It is obvious from this passage that the Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah based upon their reading of the Law.

According to Jesus…the Pharisees and Jews were trusting in Moses. It is natural that they would do this with their view of specularia and Numbers 12:6-8. Jesus on the other hand was telling them that they received the Law and Prophets so that it could point to him so, that in believing in him, they could have and, find life. The gospel in the Old Testament was that Abraham’s seed would bring blessing to the whole world… the Jews thought that it meant them and, Jesus was showing them that it meant him… the suffering servant that would represent Israel. He told them in John’s gospel the following: Joh 5:45 NKJV Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. In reality Jesus explained that had they really believed Moses they would believe him because Moses wrote solely of Him.

The unbelieving Jews were still trusting Moses when the book of Hebrews was written and, they were still claiming that those who trusted in Jesus were accursed because they did not know the law.

Monday, February 15, 2010

There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; Hebrews the Rosetta Stone for understanding the New Covenant

This post will begin a series of posts looking at the New Covenant. We have acknowledged that the New Testament shows covenants in transition. We have looked at the Jew – Gentile distinction found in the book of Acts and other places and will look at it in greater depth as we explore the New Covenant. To recap this view it can be seen that the New Testament writings transitioned from John the Baptist the last Jewish Prophet through Jesus, Prophet, Priest and King… to the cross and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus… to the day of Pentecost and the birth of the Jewish church… to Cornelius’ house and the inclusion of the Gentiles… to Acts 15 where the elders made rulings on the Jew – Gentile distinction… to the letters of Paul and others that began to look at the New Creation, lively stones etc. All of this was looking forward to the point of total transition where the New Covenant alone would stand all by itself. Furthermore, they were anticipating a time when all of the Jewish prophecies would be fulfilled. And, they thought that it would be imminent. Audience relevance becomes ultra important in properly understanding this transition. The first question one should ask when looking at the New Testament writings is what would the audience that it was written to think?

It seems to me that so much of modern evangelical doctrine does not properly address and consider this all important audience relevance. This generation, the generation alive in the first century, the generation that had gained adult status during the ministry of Jesus is the audience that is being addressed. The old folks during this time might say that they would perhaps not live to see the fulfillment but, surely the young adults would. It was expected that they would view the fulfillment of all things; the passing of the one covenant and, the complete installation of the New Covenant; the end of the age and, the dawn of the age to come. This is what was considered to be the case when one looks at audience relevance and, there can be no other conclusion.
Personally, I think that the book of Hebrews sheds great light on the passing of the old covenant and the installation of the New. 

The focal point for this event is the destruction of the temple. The tabernacle/temple of the Old Covenant was a pattern for the temple of the New Covenant. The New Covenant temple would not be a stone and mortar building. The New Covenant temple would be made up of living stones that would actually be the arc of the covenant, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and the place whereby God would dwell with men forever. After all the purpose of the tabernacle was stated clearly in Exo 25:8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. The purpose of the Old Covenant and the tabernacle/temple was to foreshadow God’s desire to indwell humanity. In subsequent posts we will look at how Jesus then became the tabernacle/temple of God while here on earth and, how he merely became the firstborn of a living temple for God to dwell in on the earth.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wiping out the handwriting of commandments that was against us

What is the operation of the Law in the New Covenant? How does the Law of Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, differ from he Law of sin and death? How does one fulfill the Law of Christ? These are very important questions in understanding the paradigm shift to a more inclusive gospel and Christianity that reflects a God who is described as being equal with love, agape (1John 4:8). It is in this area that great confusion exists.
For example, in Colossians 2:14 alone, there is a plethora of interpretations as to what Paul meant by the handwriting that was against us. According to Gill, there were these various views. Some believe it was the covenant with Adam Gen 2:17; some believe it was the Mosaic Covenant, Exo 24:7; others say it was the book of conscience; and still others, the ceremonial law. Who is right?
I actually believe it was all of the above but, in a slightly different way. It is not that the Law in general is not a good thing and, even something that men should strive to obey. I believe it is. Rather, It is the process of read and do…with our acceptance before God at stake; it is being on a working contract with God that causes the problem that Jesus over came with the cross.
Col 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, (14) having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (15) Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Notice that forgiveness of trespasses is the result of wiping out the handwriting of the commandments…. taking it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. But, he also disarmed principalities and powers. This is primarily Satan the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10) but, he takes the form of the religious leaders. The principalities and powers is not just Satan and his minions, no, it is those who have disguised themselves as an angle of light. If indeed there is anything at all to the concept of demonic strong men, and I quite frankly believe there is then….the absolute strong man of strong men, is the demon of religion…..the harbinger of read and do.
This is precisely why the dynamics of the New Covenant is completely different than the Old Covenant. Under the Old Covenant there was a handwriting of commandments and ordinances that were often not kept and, never kept with a complete obedience and therefore there was a necessity for substitutionary sacrifices after the infractions. Under the New Covenant, one sacrifice….the cross of Jesus handled all infractions once for all time.
This understanding of the New Covenant results in a true love and true worship of God….from that place of love and worship we are set free to serve God by serving others in love.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Law written on hearts and mercy triumphing over judgment; A better covenant based upon better promises

What covenant is in force today? Is it the mixture of the old and new covenants, is there still efficacy for Jews in the old covenant or, is there only the new covenant? Well, we have looked at the imminent expectation through out the New Testament for the end of the age, the coming of the Son of Man and, we have seen that it was linked to the destruction of the temple. So then, when the temple was destroyed in 70CE it put an end to the sacrifices and there have not been sacrifices since. In actuality there is no provision for sin and thereby, the Mosaic covenant is rendered totally ineffective.

Add to this, the predictions in the book of Hebrews: Heb 8:10-13 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (12) For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (13) In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. And further… Heb 9:8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.

Now then, if the New Covenant is in full force and, I believe it is then we must make a couple of observations from the above text. God’s law is in our minds and written on our hearts and He (God) has forgotten our sin…it is truly in the sea of God’s forgetfulness. Still, we are human and still capable of missing the mark from time to time. Understand that missing the mark actually, is to not completely love God at all times and, to not always love our neighbor as ourselves. Our human faith is not that strong at all times. This is precisely the place where mercy continues to triumph over judgment.

The New Covenant should take the pressure off so that we can grow in the grace and the knowledge of God. What does that mean exactly? Well, to begin with it should propel the saint into resting, trusting and relying on the grace of God at all times. This actually begins with understanding God’s purpose in creation. Eph 1:4-7 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, (5) having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (6) to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (7) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” We see in this narrative that God chose redemption before the foundation of the world….that is…before creation and, he chose redemption to the praise of his glorious grace. Think about this….God created the world with redemption in mind so that his glorious grace would bring him praise.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Looking at Matthew 5:17-20 and redemptive historical hermeneutic

In the previous post we took a look at the prevailing hermeneutic of Christendom and discovered that it was driven by the hermeneutic of the rabbis. Often you hear the invoking of Matthew 5:17-20 to demonstrate that Jesus was totally on board with the rabbinical hermeneutic and, I do not think that this is the case.

Mat 5:17-20 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (18) For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (19) Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

First of all, there is a legitimate question about what he meant saying…until all is accomplished. Until what is accomplished? Is it really until the end? And further, what about the question of heaven and earth passing...what it really means? Does it mean the literal passing of the physical heaven and earth or, is it the passing of the one covenant for another?

First off, Acts fifteen, at least for Gentile believers, shows that the jots and tittles have been removed. While it is debatable whether or not they were removed for Jewish believers it is not debatable for the Gentiles so it cannot possibly be used in the way it is used by evangelical theologians today.

This legitimately draws to light the question about what the phrase all is fulfilled means. Then we move on to the book of Hebrews and what it says about the New Covenant. Look at this passage; Heb 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. We see obviously another example of imminent expectation with the Greek word eggus which is translated as ready to vanish away. This word means nigh, at hand soon. We get an additional clue just a few verses down the letter; Heb 9:8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. All being fulfilled with respect to the Old Covenant is linked here to the destruction of the temple.

What this suggests is that the Old Covenant has vanished with the passing of the temple. The sacrifices could no longer be offered and while Judaism adjusted to accommodate this, they really have no way to practice the Law because they can no longer sacrifice and they have not been able to for almost two thousand years.

You can find posts that explain various positions of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In shifting the paradigm why not shift the hermeneutic?

I find it perplexing that we have held on to the same hermeneutic for 2000+ years. Was it Albert Einstein that reasoned that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? I think it was. Now I ask, why you would use the hermeneutic arrived at in the Old Covenant to understand and translate the New Covenant? Yet, that is precisely what has happened. The fact is that historically, church doctrine concerning the scripture has not varied that much from the scripture doctrine of the Pharisees…..Hmnnn.

The Pharisees adopted a bottom up hermeneutic that saw Moses and the Torah as the foundation of all doctrine. It was based upon the concept of specularia and the Rabbis said and I quote: “Of the Hebrew prophets, Moses was pre-eminent and stands in a class by himself. ‘What was the distinction between Moses and the other prophets? The latter looked through nine specularia, cloudy specularia, whereas Moses looked only through one that was clear’ (Everyman’s Talmud, Abraham Cohen, page 123)

This was based upon Numbers 12:6-8; And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. (7) Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. (8) With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" Notice the words he is faithful in all my house and file that for later. The Jews used this passage to prove that Moses and the Torah was clearer revelation from God than any other prophet and for the old covenant, the mosaic covenant, I agree. As a result, all of the scripture had to be interpreted in view of this concept of the clearest specularia.

We have shown in several posts that Jesus and his apostles define the phrase the word of God as either Jesus or the gospel and often it was the gospel. I have suggested that this gives the scripture a solely redemptive focus. But, what about this specularia situation? ….Is there a place in the New Testament writings that suggests that this idea of specularia has changed? The answer is yes. I think that it was overthrown in Hebrews chapter three.
Heb 3:1-7 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, (2) who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. (3) For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses--as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (4) (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) (5) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, (6) but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. (7) Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice,

I have underlined some parts of the above passage to make a point. It is obvious that the writer of Hebrews is using midrash to refer back to Numbers 12:6-8. He is referring to the exact place that the rabbis have used to develop their bottom up specularia and, he is suggesting that Today, they should hear the voice of Jesus….in other words, they should look at scripture the same way that Jesus and his diciples looked at it…redemptively, with a top down interpretation model that changes the specularia from Moses to Jesus. Will take up Matthew 5:17-20 in the next post.
You can find posts that explain various positions of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Matthew 25:31:46; the kingdom and, the social justice mandate

In yesterday’s post we took a look at the condition of the fall and the effect of human pathology, sin and…how it promotes greed and the justification of greed through death and the knowledge of good and evil and, how it is the source of all sin. Further we described how redemption and faith in our eternal connection with the divine alleviates this problem. We become free to do the work of the kingdom which is social justice.

If you go to your electronic bible program and search on the word poor, you will soon find out God’s heart and thoughts on social justice. Using the ESV Bible on my e-sword I keyed in the word poor and found 170 verses with 178 hits of the word. It begins in the Torah/Pentateuch and runs through the Prophets and into the New Testament. Israel is warned not to cheat, take advantage or malign the poor in any way and on the positive side they are told to actually help them out. Exo 23:6 "You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. And….Exo 23:11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard. There are so many more that you really need to do the exercise and search it for yourselves.

Now, let’s look at what the Psalmist says about the poor. Here is a verse that shows the thrust but there are so many that you really should look for yourself Psa 41:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him; there are all kinds of promises to those who consider the poor and the word translated consider is sakal which means to prosper or treat prudently. There is ample evidence that God’s heart is compassionate to the poor and that it only makes sense that the body of Christ should be preoccupied with social justice on a regular and ongoing basis.

Read Amos chapter five or Isaiah three through five; Martin Luther King Jr. quoted Amos five in his famous …I have a dream speech. I believe that he was trying to draw a prophetic comparison between the religious white people of the south and Israel. God was telling Israel that he hated their songs and celebrations….He was tired of their feasts…their rituals….then He said to them “let justice run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” This is a quote from Amos five. Look at Isaiah three: Isa 3:14-15 The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: "It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. (15) What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?" declares the Lord GOD of hosts. It is very easy for me to see the application of this passage into today’s society. There is really a need for the kingdom of God to operate on principles of social justice.

I am confident that if the people of God would busy themselves with social justice issues…they would soon find out… that they were too tired to spend time missing the mark. That is why God’s kingdom is called a kingdom…it is different than the world’s kingdom and the principles that guide the kingdom are love and faith which is manifested in social justice.

You can find posts that explain various positions of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Justification by faith and Matthew 25:31-46; the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of salvation

Was Luther and Augustine right? Are humans born in sin? If the answer is yes and, yes, I believe it is yes, what is original sin? How is it connected with birth? These are questions that must be answered if we are to understand sin and redemption. I really would like to call it human pathology….the reason being….that evangelical Christianity has developed connotations about the word sin that are exaggerated and distorting.
The Hebrew word translated sin is chata and, it means missing the way. The Greek word for sin is hamartia and it means missing the mark…it is an archery term which means missing the bull’s-eye. There is a big difference between missing the mark and what evangelical doctrine has put on the word sin. The reality is that missing the mark is in fact a human trait. However, in the sense of the fall, missing the mark means being born into a world in which death is inevitable and the knowledge of good and evil is attainable. Facing mortality, being aware of mortality coupled with the survival instinct promotes selfishness and greed. Selfishness and greed is the source of all sin/pathology. Selfishness and greed is exacerbated by the knowledge of good and evil because we develop judgment and we then seek justification for our actions. I can see that this condition could easily be described as total depravity as it was used and meant by Luther and Calvin.
What is the cure for our condition? The answer is absolute faith in our eternal connection and acceptance with the divine. This is the reason that the resurrection and faith are important and, are an intricate part of redemption. On the other hand, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless and, visiting the sick and prisoners is the opposite of selfishness and it becomes a fair standard to judge by.
This in a nutshell is the gospel. The kingdom of God is available now and, faith in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ brings a settled faith in our eternal connection to the divine. The settled faith comes from the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that God is love, Jesus is the redeemer and we are eternally God’s children. The justification that we need is not our self justification. That is the source of wars and crimes and hate. We need to be certain that we are justified by God, by the source of all that is and that we are eternal and eternally connected to him. It is not merely a means for entering the covenant although it is that….but, it is also the way in which people can be certain of their divine connection.
People who are truly convinced of their eternal life can then be unselfish. They can feed the hungry, clothe the naked and provide shelter for the homeless. OK, I realize that there are many who have not believed in Jesus per se that are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and sheltering the homeless but, I would wager that there are few if any, who do not have an abiding faith in the eternal and, in the goodness of their expression of the divine no matter what that is to them. Jesus is the one by which God became incarnate to show us how God would be as a man. He demonstrated perfect faith in the father by being willing to die so that we could be convinced of the resurrection. The sin that he died for is unbelief. That is why faith is obedience. The writer of Hebrews explained that without faith it is impossible to please God because one must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who diligently seek him as God.
This is precisely why the community of faith should be living out these social justice principles so that people everywhere will inquire about such love and kindness and we can then explain that is the result of Jesus and the gospel. While we miss the mark all the time, we can do the works called for in Matthew 25:31-46 and, if we are busy with that task we will often be too busy to miss the mark in other ways. That is why Jesus hit the mark for all of humanity.
You can find posts that explain various positions of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another Look at Matthew 25:31-46; What Jesus tells us about the judgment

We have finished up our look at James and Paul but, I would feel that I was remiss if I did not reinforce the mandate for social justice. There are several passages that speak of a final judgment but, Matthew 25:31-46 is the only one that spells out the criteria.
Mat 25:34-40 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (35) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' (37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' (40) And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
This explicitly explains the standard that the saints will be judged by….and, repeating myself to make sure that it is really understood….this is the only place that clarifies the conditions of the judgment. And yet, this is not generally the main focus of evangelical Christianity. In fact, I grew up in a main stream denomination…I am not going to tell you exactly when….let’s just say it was a while back and, to my knowledge, I never heard a sermon on this passage. Likely, it was because my pastor was a strong proponent of the Scofield Bible and in the Scofield notes it is explained that this is a special judgment for the Jewish believers at the end of the great tribulation. Let me say that most commentators do not share this view….almost all see it as the final judgment.
So then, why is the church hung up on sexuality, alcohol, drugs and language conventions? Now before you get all riled up….I believe that one should live a chaste and sober life…but what I challenge you to think about is why the evangelical church has NOT shined a spotlight on this behavioral mandate. I also realize that there are many ministries that have but, again, this is not the focus one would expect if we really believed the message of Matthew 25.
Isn’t this just another sign that the evangelical church and evangelical doctrine is off the mark? Jesus said that tax collectors and prostitutes would go into the kingdom of God before the children and today, wouldn’t he say that prostitutes, drunks, homosexuals and aides patients will go into the kingdom before televangelists, preachers deacons and, theologians?
You ask, doesn’t Matthew 25;31-46 promote a works salvation mentality? I will ask right back at you….doesn’t current evangelical theology in reality have a work based salvation? I think it does, especially in view of the Calvin’s statement…”faith alone saves but, faith that saves is not alone.”
We have some ground to cover in the immediate future….I think that there is a way in which justification by faith and the faith works of Matt 25:31-46, James 2:15-16 and Isaiah 58:3-12 can be comfortably reconciled…Jesus gospel of the kingdom and Paul’s gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1Cor 15:1-4) are of one cloth and hopefully if you read on we will address this in future posts.
You can find posts that explain various positionss of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Covenants in transition – a fresh look at James and Paul – the Jew, Gentile distinction Part V; the church is off the mark

We have taken a fresh look at James chapter two and, specifically the clause faith without works is dead being alone. We have shown that James was speaking to Jewish believers before the temple was destroyed….we have shown that the works that James used as an illustration were faith works promoting social justice linked to the judgment passage that Jesus put forth in Matthew 25:51-46….we have shown that James stressed the idea that mercy triumphs over judgment…and now, we will look at the New Covenant prophecy in Isaiah 58:5-12. Here is a portion of that passage:
Isa 58:7-9 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (8) Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. (9) Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
There are a lot of great promises in this passage…directed at the fulfillment of the New Covenant (Matt 26:28). In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said that they should let their light so shine before men that others might see their good works….what works?.....feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, visiting the sick and those in prison.
If you look at the evangelical agenda today it appears that they have very little of this focus. Actually, I should say that they have very little tolerance for his focus. They are focused on electing so called Christian senators and congressmen. Many are focused on running this country on the Ten Commandments. They are focused on right wing politics and making sure that big corporations have no restrictions. And in most cases, that is the majority of cases, they are NOT focused on social justice and they are NOT focused on allowing mercy to triumph over judgment.
The bible has two consistent threads, one is redemption and the other is social justice. Many evangelicals have become so attentive to seeing the bible as the word of God rather than taking Jesus focus and seeing the gospel as the word of God and they have lost the prevailing redemptive and social justice theme. Look at what Paul said in Galatians:
Gal 2:9-10 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (10) Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
After Paul explained the gospel that Jesus had revealed to him via the Holy Spirit, the apostles agreed and only added the important reminder for social justice. One of the reasons that the light of the church is not shining brighter today is its neglecting of the gospel…the unmixed redemptive focus of the love of God…and the demonstration of his love in the earth through feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless and visiting the sick and prisoners.
You can find posts that explain various positionss of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Covenants in transition – a fresh look at James and Paul – the Jew, Gentile distinction Part IV

In yesterday’s post we saw that James was concerned with social justice when he penned the words faith without works is dead being alone. Now we will look at what he was not saying. He was not saying that faith without works is dead unless you conform to a certain code of behavioral rules. Even though this was true in Judaism and, especially with the Pharisees which James most likely was (Gal 2:12 & Acts 15:5), James is actually trying to show the difference between the non-believing Pharisees and believers who were of that sect.

It makes perfect sense that this was the reason for James insisting on tying this concept to social justice and acts of love for humanity. And, we must once again reiterate that he has acknowledged the law of Christ as the law of liberty and has made the statement that mercy triumphs over judgment. This is declarative statement that allows the saint to realize that God has mercy for their circumstances and that they should show the same mercy to their fellow men.

To bring this forward into the 21st century, we must acknowledge that there are many people who’s life circumstances make it difficult to come up to the behavioral principles set by the high ethical standards of Christianity and, there is a whole different group of people who suffer from addictive type personalities and are in fact in bondage to substances, people and behaviors. James definitely is not supporting what I call the Nike slogan Christians….just do it! I see this as the teaching that states that once you have read and understand you must simply do it. I believe that there are some conditions that people find themselves in that may not be resolved in an entire lifetime and it must be remembered that mercy triumphs over judgment in this case every time. God’s mercies triumphs and guess what….our mercy should be just like his.

If and when a person or community really begins rolling their sleeves up and, practicing the love that James describes in James 2:15-16…providing real sustainable social justice for the poor and disadvantaged they would find that perhaps they would become so busy and preoccupied with love that they would automatically shed some of their propensity toward sin and, would find that their ethical behavior raised automatically over time.

Tomorrow we can wrap this particular thread up by looking at the New Covenant mandate found in Isaiah 58 and see the promises that are made to bless the people of God.

You can find posts that explain various positionss of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology, Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

The two overriding messages of the scripture

While this blog is dedicated to my paradigm shift it is also about the way in which evangelical Christianity is off the mark in doctrine and...