Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The obviously cultural aspects of the scripture; Paul the Rabbi/Paul the Mystic Part 2

This post is turning into a series. I am building on the theme that the scripture has cultural bias in it. Further, and more to the point, God did not mean for these biases to be legislated into belief and practice in perpetuity. After reading this, I would suggest you read the first post in the series here if you have not already done so. There are sound, biblical reasons for this. They center on what Jesus taught his followers about scripture interpretation, and what they in turn passed on in the writings that form the New Testament scripture. Jesus' focus was two fold. It was for the immediate future, his death, burial and resurrection, but also, it was more timeless, meant for a time, when the true meaning of his death burial and resurrection would be revealed. Paul referred to it as a mystery.

Likewise, Paul's mission was two fold. 1) He was to take his extensive Rabbi training, and make sense out of the gospel from a Jewish perspective and Jewish tradition. 2) He was a mystic, and given revelation that even he did not completely understand. That is why he called the gospel a mystery. The evidence of his rabbinical training is obvious. He was a student of Gamaliel; He continued, "I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law. Being zealous for God, just as all of you are today," (Acts 22:3 HCSB) Here is the other side of Paul, Paul the Mystic, "Boasting is necessary. It is not profitable, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven 14 years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don't know, God knows. I know that this man--whether in the body or out of the body I don't know, God knows-- was caught up into paradise. He heard inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak." (2 Corinthians 12:1-4 HCSB)

I will expand on Paul the Rabbi - Paul the Mystic as time goes on but for this purpose, I want to make sure that it is obvious that God used Paul the Rabbi to explain how the Jewish Messiah, was actually, the Spiritual Messiah of all humanity, and He accomplished that through Paul the Mystic. Paul the Rabbi was for the first century. Paul the Mystic was for the future. The message that is timeless is Paul's mystical visions. The cultural aspects written about by Paul the Rabbi were for the first century and quite frankly need to be left there.

One of the more important mystical discoveries of Paul was the relationship of Law and Grace. As a rabbi he had been trained in the Law in great detail. He learned that even though God had commanded Law righteousness, it could not be attained. "For Moses writes about the righteousness that is from the law: The one who does these things will live by them." (Romans 10:5 HCSB) However, God had promised in Deuteronomy 30 a new covenant outcome, and Paul is given the actual meaning of Deu 30:14. It was never the plain sense simple meaning. Rather it was ALWAYS the redemptive meaning... the meaning that was given it before the foundation of the world (Ephesians chapter 1.) "On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim(Romans 10:8 HCSB)" This is a quote from Deu 30. Paul explains the message they are preaching.  And what precisely is that message? "If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9-13 HCSB)

So, it is clear that we have Paul the rabbi, dealing with the cultural aspects of Judaism, and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the family of God and His Kingdom, and we have Paul the mystic receiving timeless messages that explain the relationship God desires with all people. The legal aspect is the cultural, and the redemptive aspect is the mystical. Since Jesus taught a hermeneutic that was heavily redemptive in focus, and Paul did as well, that should be the ONLY focus of Christ followers. Whether you call them Christians, the church, the way, the believers by any name, should be taught a solely redemptive focus, and the cultural aspects should be left for the culture and occasion they were written too.  While the cultural can have timeless application, the problem comes in when the scripture is viewed as a legal-constitutional document.

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