John 13:34 "A new commandment I give you that you love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another."
John 16:7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
Yeshua promised that the Holy Spirit would be present with us in this age. Therefore, we are able to “make truth our own” by prayerful reading of the Scriptures. My purpose in this writing is to bring together some conventional thoughts and attitudes that I have been uneasy about and to seek Biblical answers. The item by item presentation results in some repetition but the aim is to encourage the reader to deal with issues in their own time and by their own prayerful research. So, dear reader, be like the Bereans, prove all things for yourself.
God is Faithful
1 John 2:26 "These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
Today we are assailed on all sides by those who would catch our attention, we spend wasted hours peering at TV commercials “informing” us, often by insane characterisation, that we need more materialism. Not to be outdone, preachers and teachers join the throng and all too often get caught up in the trend of the unusual or the mysterious as “attention getters” in their ministries. The Gospel of the Kingdom that Yeshua preached to the ordinary people, and was gladly received by them, has become cluttered with “fad doctrines” and “private interpretations” that to be understood, are said to require either much learning and scholarship, or just taken in “faith”, usually faith in the preacher. I hope to address a few of those fads and errors in this writing.
Teachers spend much time explaining the meanings of words and trying to make verses sound as confirmations of our own ideas. Recently we heard a well known “Torah Teacher” declare that “disease was disobedience to the Torah”. This is an unwarranted distortion of the Biblical fact that disobedience to the Torah will expose us to disease. The laws of hygiene were given so that Israel would contract “none of these diseases” that had afflicted the Egyptians and other pagan peoples. To use and “interpret” Scripture in this way, amounts to “adding to” the words of YHWH. Deut.4:2 "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of YHWH your God which I command you."
This same teacher quoting from Colossians inserts the Name YHWH ahead of Yeshua (it is not in the text) but it supports his theology that Yeshua is actually the manifestation of YHWH throughout the Old Testament. This doctrine teaches that these appearances were a ‘theophany’ - actually Yeshua in a pre-incarnation (?) form, who, according to the doctrine, created heaven and earth, accompanied the Exodus and revealed Himself to Israel and the Prophets. If you believe this, some passages can be made to appear in support but at the same time, one must ignore a far greater witness that clearly defines both the Father and the Son, the Father’s seniority and their respective relationship with Creation and Salvation History. Again, one must take the overview of Scripture as there can be no contradiction. see 1 Tim.2:3-6 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." Then compare that to (1 Cor.15:24-28) v.28 "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, (Yeshua) then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him (YHWH) that put all things under him (Yeshua), that God may be all in all." Read the whole passage, vs.24-28. [See "Is Yeshua Yahweh", below]
All Scriptures must be understood contextually and in relation to all other Scripture - “comparing Scripture with Scripture”. It is too easy to “cash in” on human nature’s enjoyment of a mystery. Isaac Newton said: "Tis the temper of the hot and superstitious part of mankind in matters of religion ever to be fond of mysteries and for that reason to like best what they understand least."
Another well known Messianic Torah Teacher forcefully maintained that when YHWH urgently called “Abraham, Abraham” at the intended offering of Isaac it revealed that there were two persons (both calling one after the other) of the Godhead. Further defending his proposition this teacher declared several times that “God does not stutter” therefore it had to be two persons speaking. The very normal idea of repetition in urgency didn’t seem to occur to our brother. I hope the next time you repeat someone’s name when calling them urgently, you don’t look around for the “other” person.
It is not my purpose to discredit those who labour for the Kingdom but it is important that we do not uncritically believe all that is said because some folk have good public relations. Even when the apostle Paul preached to the Bereans (Acts 17:11) they “ . . . searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” They didn’t just swallow what Paul said. We often sit happily listening uncritically to those of much lesser credentials than Paul and if something sounds ‘iffy’ we attribute that to our own ignorance or “lack of faith”. Or, we engage in some torturous mental (and theological) gymnastics to somehow make it all hang together. In fellowship, we are frequently reluctant to even tentatively raise a question, as we instinctively seem to value unity over truth and we are constantly under the world’s pressure to be “positive” and “affirming” or at least “tolerant”.
Another concern today is the verbosity of many teachers, ignoring all experience and research concerning the average human attention span. Particularly from American sources, serious theology is presented, entertainment style and peppered with humour and anecdote so that a truth that Scripture declares in a few minutes can be padded out to fill a CD, that is later sold. Consider and compare the length of Yeshua’s various discourses with his disciples or large public followings, like the Sermon on the Mount. It is all too easy to become a spiritual “junky” and be entertained by the showman-like expounding of spiritual truths without any life-changing result. Preachers and teachers are more often judged by their delivery and personality than by the content of what they are saying. I once heard a well known visiting English preacher, before a full very large assembly, read a couple of chapters from Isaiah then humbly say “what can I add to that?” and sat down. Few today are that modest. Paul was not such a good preacher, we would do well to read 1 Corinthians 2.
Having said that, I’ll move on to more directly address the title of this paper. "A Biblical Understanding", really means having God’s mind on matters and that is something we must discover for ourselves with the aid of the Holy Spirit, promised by Yeshua specifically for that purpose. We are often warned that, in these days, many will come in Yeshua’s name, even declaring him to be Messiah and still leading many astray - but we inevitably think , “present company excepted”. We must not forget that we "battle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers . . ." who are well able to enthuse us to follow some obscure line of "truth" that will put us down a blind alley, so that we miss the main game. You must test all teaching and pray for the sensitivity to detect the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Learn to respect those times when you feel a ‘check’ but can’t at that moment put your finger on it. We must not try and rationalise everything (Greek thinking) but be prepared to await the “jury’s verdict” in God’s time. See Isaiah 50:10 "Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the Yehovah, and stay upon his God." This word tells us there will be times when we don’t have “light”, when we don’t have all the answers on some matter but we should remain faithful.
One of the great errors of the once God breathed Charismatic movement was to demand, ever more convincing “signs” and experiences, which over the years, with “leaders” vying for a following went from believable to bizarre as they espoused “new revelations” and claimed supernatural power and authority. Before long devotees were rolling on the floor and barking like dogs and eventually, tragedy of scandal was not just the bane of the Catholic Priesthood. Notice the next verse Isaiah 50:11 "Behold, all you that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that you have kindled. This shall you have of mine hand; you shall lie down in sorrow." Remember what happened (See Lev.10) Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron when they offered false fire before the Lord - they were consumed by fire. See also (Mat.12:29 and 16:4).
Similarly, we need to be cautious that we are not caught beneath a “yoke of bondage” by well intentioned “interpretations” of Torah. A device of the enemy has always been to encourage true believers to “go the extra mile” and act or believe to excess. It may well have been something of this “zeal” that caused Nadab and Abihu’s impetuous rush into Yehovah’s presence.
It is important how we read Scripture. As already mentioned, I believe in the “overview” method that takes into account not only context but overall consistency, “comparing Scripture with Scripture.” All that is written was originally transcribed by human beings who, mostly understood only part of what they were writing and used their, now ancient knowledge and vocabulary to describe those things they saw and heard. Things they did not understand, they described by likening them to objects they knew. While some understanding of the Hebraic (and to a lesser degree Greek) manner of thinking and expression is essential, there are many ways in which we share similarities. Much language is like paint that an artist uses to create a picture. Words usually only have meaning in context or their exact meaning in a particular text is established by the context. One fairly graphic example of what I mean here is the use of hyperbole. [Dict. A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in “I could sleep for a year” or “This book weighs a ton.”] God may not stutter but He does use hyperbole as do the Bible writers. Here are a few of many examples:
Mar 1:37 “When they found Him, they said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You."”
Deut. 1:10,11 “The LORD your God has multiplied you, . . . as the stars of heaven in multitude.”
1Ki 4:20 “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, . . . ”
Jer.18:16 “To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; . . . ”
Eze.17:21 “And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds:” - Obviously “all” is not always all.
Now, the Bible is full of this sort of language and we use it ourselves every day, yet so many Bible teachers try to make every phrase "run on four legs", taking words out of context to prove their doctrine. Beloved, "it just ain't so".
Less obvious examples like the use of the words “for ever” can sometimes trip us up and we end up with wrong thinking. The words “for ever” often means an age, or era and is frequently misused to bring legalistic condemnation on the saints by applying it out of context in Torah teaching. Let us see an example.
Passover: Exodus 12:24 "And you shall observe this thing for an ordinance to you and to your sons for ever." This is a command concerning the placing of blood on the door posts in Egypt and as part of the Passover remembrance and particularly applicable to the first Exodus. 22 "And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning." Now without going into dispensationalism, from the context we can safely assume that this command belonged to “when you (the Exodus descendants) come into the Land” - see v.25 “And it shall come to pass, when you be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he has promised, that you shall keep this service.” Go back and look at v.24. There is no Biblical record of the Passover being observed outside Ha Eretz (The Land). Only when we realise this can we understand the message of the passage and wonder if some attempts to “keep this feast” in the Diaspora do not in fact transgress the commandment. There are many “traditions of men” that provide justification for what is done but - what saith the Lord?
Then the Scriptures clearly says that a time will come when “ . . . it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, . . .” Jer.16:14,15 Even if, as some argue, that same act of “remembrance” will be adopted and kept by the second or third returning Diaspora the command “for ever”, clearly does not define eternity.
Succoth: Here we have the instructions to build a succa; Lev.23:40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. Also in Neh.8:15 . . . fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. 16 So the people went forth, and brought them and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, . . .” It is pretty clear that the specifications for a Succa were intended for a different climate, but how do we understand that on the other side of the world? In fact the whole calendar started with the ripening of the Barley and is contained within the agricultural year. There are some incongruities hard to explain for those where everything is reversed, even in some cases in the extreme. I wonder if some Torah was specific to Ha Eretz?
Assumptions: Another "trap" we easily fall into is the selective use of assumption. The Bible has many instances where background or detail seems to be missing and if we think about it we usually make an assumption based on what we think led to the situation. Abel’s offerings are an example, or Noah, choosing the clean and unclean animals. Nowhere are we told how the knowledge for the proper performance of these acts was imparted, so we simply and rightly, I believe, say that 'God must have told them' - an assumption. Yet if we run into a situation where New Testament practice regarding Torah observance does not appear to match our teaching or understanding, we try to re-structure it, argue the intricacies of language or make statements of certainty, not based on the obvious, (as with Able or Noah) but laboured to fit what we think it should say.
Great importance is placed on scholarship and “much learning”. Solomon said in Ecc.2:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. I suspect we do God an injustice for I am sure that any “instruction” He desired us to follow, He would not cloak in mystery and at least the average person should be capable of understanding it. The very justice of God demands that. Indeed that is exactly what Yeshua promised to “this dispensation” that had not been available to earlier generations. The ability to know God’s will without need of human intermediaries was implicit in the promise of the Holy Spirit, prophesied by Joel and fulfilled at the Pentecost of Acts 2. Yeshua said: John 14:26 "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. And, to show this did not just apply to the disciples, in 1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
If we take a look at the promise of a New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, . . . I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and . . . Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers . . . 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; . . . I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; . . . 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, . . . , saying, Know YHWH: for they shall all know me,. . . for . . . I will remember their sin no more. Also quoted in full Hebrews 8:8-12. This passage has been interpreted to refer to the Millennial reign but the Hebrews quote infers the present tense and if we recognise that the words “every man” are hyperbole and "know the Lord" is a euphemism for knowing what the Lord has said. Then, as we have read what Yeshua promised concerning the Holy Spirit, which was consummated in the the Acts 2 fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, we see that, without doubt, we are living in a different dispensation from that in which the Torah was given to Moses. We already have access to the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant.
Overview: We should not glibly quote verses without considering them in context. We must compare Scripture with Scripture and acquire an "Overview" of all Scripture - only that way will you understand individual statements in context with the whole revelation of truth. Only when mankind was able to see this planet from the distance of outer space were we able to truly appreciate the complexity and detail of the marvellous interconnected masses and structures, the oceans and the intricate cloud patterns affecting our weather. So it is with God's Holy Word. Rightly dividing the Word of Truth requires that we know the text and the context. Don't worry about your "world view", get God's overview.
Deception: All "new moves of God" have been attacked from within and usually ended up in apostasy as we are frequently reminded concerning the excesses of the Pentecostal movement. There is nothing different about the current "Restoration" movement - if the deceiver wants to throw us off track, he will have to do it from within, not with persons so much as subtle small deceptions that good persons eager to "make a name" will grasp and sincerely promote as truth. It is not without reason that the Holy Spirit had the wisdom of the Bereans recorded "for our admonition" in Acts 17:11, that even after the teaching of the Apostle Paul, the Bereans checked him out with the Scriptures. We must do likewise with the many "teachers" available to us through persuasive and effective media that Paul never dreamed of.
Dispensations: Before going further down that path we need to also consider another theme that gets misinterpreted and rejected. Some preachers are very good at putting up "straw men" and then demolishing them to impress us with their theological ability. It is true that much error has resulted from some forms of “dispensational” teaching. Nevertheless, the Bible reveals distinct dispensations. It is men who have made doctrines and wrested the truth to support their own teachings. We must discern the "meat from the bones" and not throw out "the baby with the bath-water". Frequently, we get to hear a common call of earnest Torah teachers who declare "the Torah is eternal" - true! but it's application is dispensational and although they don't admit to it, the suspension of Law concerning the Temple service is a glaring example.
We have also seen that some Law was specific to the Land and only effective after the people had entered the land. It is also clear that the time before the Torah was given to Moses, a different, or lesser Law (also a part of Torah) was acceptable to YHWH. We read of Paul preaching to the Greeks in Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent. When we keep Passover, do we kill a lamb and put the blood on our door posts? When we celebrate Succoth do we sleep outdoors in a Succa with the roof open to the sky? Those are commandments for "all generations". Now think again about Jeremiah 31:31 - Is not the "New Covenant" different and better than the Old Covenant, does it not mark a new dispensation or age or era? Otherwise what prompted the writer to Hebrews to say in Hebrews 8:13 “In that he says, new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.
God does not change: Another argument brought against a "dispensational" understanding of Scripture and strict Torah adherence are statements like "God does not change", true! God is eternally the same but it is confusing the facts to suggest that He does not change His requirements, even His judgements, to suit His purposes in the current circumstances. The Bible has a number of instances of God changing His course of action as a result of human intercession. The passage from Acts (17:30) quoted above is one simple illustration of this. Some other examples are the change in Noah's diet after the flood (Gen.9:3) and a broadening of the laws of inheritance in response to an appeal to Moses by Zelophead’s daughters. (Num.27:1-7). Then there is the meeting at mount Sinai where God determined to destroy Israel but with Moses' intervention God granted mercy. Deut.9:25 Thus I fell down before YHWH forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first ; because YHWH had said he would destroy you. Read all of Exodus 32 for the background of this verse. We could also reflect on the story of Jonah.
Sour Grapes: We could take, for example, the principle of the father’s sins being visited upon children as set forth in the Torah in Exodus 20:5 “. . . for I YHWH your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” (also Num.14:18; Deut.5:9) This principle was to be changed in the promised New Covenant in the words of Jeremiah 31:29 “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children' teeth are set on edge. 30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eats the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Also Ez.18:2) We learn from this that the Torah can be and is changed in both micro and macro ways. We might safely assume that if there was ever a time when laws were “fulfilled” - ceased, to be relevant or when “new commandments” might come into effect, that time was after the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. That, indeed was the case as we shall see shortly.
Now if on the other hand, we blindly insist that every word of Torah stands then we have to embark upon a difficult and torturous exegesis of the New Testament. We have to explain away the many clear statements and assumptions we can legitimately make from the Apostolic record, that some “law” was fulfilled at Calvary. Matthew 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
New Covenant Torah: This may bring us to a very controversial subject as we consider whether, as many believe, certain parts of the Torah were no longer applicable in New Testament times. We have already mentioned the Temple service, although that did continue until Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 AD.
It appears that all was not "cut and dried" doctrinally for some time after Yeshua ascended as we learn from the various "councils" that were held and also that the Apostles were human and did not always agree. One example is Paul called Peter to order over an inconsistent testimony (Gal.2:14). Also Paul and Barnabas had a difference (Acts 15:37).
As we seek to return to our roots, often in our zeal we overlook some obvious facts. In attempting to keep the Feasts, to which great prophetic importance is attached, we stray far from the actual commandment. There is a word in Exodus 20:25 that we should take note of, it says “And if you will make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone: for if you lift up your tool upon it, you have polluted it”. Now notice, this is not a commandment to build an altar, one may presume from the text that it is a matter of choice “if you will make me an altar” but then follow some rules about what sort of altar is acceptable to YHWH. Concerning our relationship with God, He requires that we “do it His way”. There is an order, even for a free-will sacrifice. Lev.22:29 “And when you will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto YHWH, offer it at your own will. 30 On the same day it shall be eaten up; you shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am YHWH.” We may also consider the oath of a Nazarite, not a lot is known about the origins of this practice, except that it appears also to be a free-will choice, something “done unto the Lord”, (another instance where we make some assumptions) however, once one decides to fulfil this form of devotion, YHWH lays down strict rules as to how the oath will be kept. (Num.6:2-5)
When, in our zeal we decide we should “keep the feasts” it may be good that we take notice of the “seder”, the order and the manner in which YHWH commanded them to be kept and indeed, even where they were to be kept and perhaps, even who was to keep them.
Torah Today: It is a purpose of this writing to seriously ask the question “What Torah is applicable to us today?”. Some will answer “Whatever you can do”, which sounds reasonable enough, except if in maintaining “the shadow” we diminish the fact. It is therefore a reasonable assumption that if the Law pointed to Messiah, when that to which the Law pointed is come, the purpose of that Law has been fulfilled. When YHWH told the deceiver in Eden that “the seed of the woman would crush” his head, that mighty promise was fulfilled after Yeshua cried out “It is finished”. God’s purposes are eternal but His means are often temporal or temporary.
Defending the permanence of the law Matt.5:17,18 is often quoted. “17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 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.” Now it is clear that “all” is not yet fulfilled, so it is reasoned that all the Law is still in force. But that is not logical and is proved false by the existing situation. True the Torah will not pass away, but some individual laws will become redundant, otherwise the work of redemption was lacking and we should still stone adulterers. All Law is not fulfilled in one instant, some has been, some is yet to be.
The writer of Hebrews is concerned with a “dispensational divide” and to properly respect holy things. Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Here we see “Moses’ Law” as a distinct legal entity with it’s penalties, as compared to “the blood of the Covenant”, a much more serious contract that we must take great care not to diminish, in our zeal for Torah.
Yeshua said: Matt.11:13 “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John”. or according to Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” Here Yeshua draws a clear dispensational “line in the sand” at the ministry of John the Baptist. He speaks of the Law as prophetic and that the smallest part of it cannot fail. To be fulfilled is success and that is what Yeshua died and rose again for. Redemption and “Restoration” goes far beyond the re-establishment of the kingdom of David. Colossians 1:20 “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled.” and Philippians 2:10 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” All creation must be brought back into harmony.
Other Issues: Unfortunately, in their zeal to uphold the Law some sincere folk often speak of Yeshua, The Word and The Torah as more or less equivalents. Apart from an exercise in semantics, this sort of thinking requires rather excessive spiritualisation and, I believe looses touch with a glorious reality. Hebrews 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Jerusalem Council: An assumption about the “whole Law”. Many more verses can be quoted in isolation, both for and against what we have said above, however, to this writer it is clear, in taking the overview of Scripture, that many of the Old Covenant Laws were fulfilled at Calvary or revised by Yeshua to express their deeper meaning. Otherwise we have some serious difficulty with the Apostolic writings and explaining the action of the Apostolic Councils. For example the discussion over the people from the Nations (Gentiles) who were coming to faith and were classified by Paul in Ephesians 2:19 “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
This was consistent with Paul’s teaching in Romans 11 of those “grafted in” and also in Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
In this understanding the Apostles deliberated. Acts 15:18 “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles (nations) are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollution's of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.” And, so the Apostles wrote to the Gentile converts, who, according to Paul are now “grafted in” (Rom.11:17) or as he described Ephesians, 2:19 “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” So the council sent this letter, Acts 15:28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. Fare you well.”
Some say that those were only “temporary instructions” but that does not stand up as the same council finding are confirmed by the apostles about seven years later in Acts 21:15. These instructions were in fact against conspicuous practices, which in the lifestyle of the time and place, would give great offence to devout Jews whose presence is acknowledged in verse 21. Remember these were the findings of an Apostolic Council, not just one apostle’s opinion. It is entirely consistent with Paul’s later teaching in 1 Cor.8:8-13 where he ends up saying “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world stands, lest I make my brother to offend." This is the Torah on the heart - not a rigid law anymore but an eternal principle bearing out not just “loving your neighbour as yourself” but loving one another as Yeshua loved us according to His own commandment. John 13:34 “A new commandment I give you that you love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” It is sometimes argued that only by strict Torah observance will Judah recognise Ephraim, I think there is a higher "law" here that Yeshua says will "show our colours" to Judah.
Walking “in the Light”. Keeping our Saviour’s commandments - not the traditions of men. 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Is Yeshua Yahweh? Abraham Lincoln said “Silence gives consent” and I fear all too often in our gathering we unwittingly give consent to things that may actually cause us concern. There is also a natural desire to avoid controversy, especially if one does not feel completely sure of their ground. However, even in this case we should ask questions.
It has become a common doctrine for some teachers to declare “Yeshua is Yahweh”. I believe this is an error and inconsistent with Scripture. It is not dissimilar with another common church doctrine that all ‘sightings’ of the God of Israel in the Old Testament were in fact, theophanies or pre-existent appearances of Yeshua. This is inconsistent with many passages but would require a separate study.
Most understand that in the Old Testament the Hebrew letters YHWH is rendered in most translations ‘LORD’ using small capitals. The word used and translated ‘Lord’ in the New Testament such as in 1Cor.12:3 is altogether different, it is the Greek word ‘kurios’ and as you will see from Strong’s definition, (next para), it simply means ‘Lord’ as is commonly used in English, as an ultimately respectful title. Some will say here that Paul wrote ‘Jesus is the Lord’ not simply ‘Jesus is Lord’ claiming implication that Yeshua is YHWH. However, the title ‘Lord’ was frequently used of Yeshua - just run through a concordance or a computer search. See Bible Gateway if you don’t have a suitable programme.
1Cor.12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, [2962 kurios koo'-ree-os from kuros (supremacy); supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by implication, Master (as a respectful title):-- God, Lord, master, Sir.] but by the Holy Ghost.
Letting Scripture interpret Scripture, see Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God (YHWH) hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” And, Paul says in 2Cor.11:31 “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . ” and again in Eph.1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . .” Also Peter confirms this in 1 Pe.1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . .” and there are many more references that make abundantly clear the district personality of the Father and the Son. If ‘Lord’ means YHWH in these verses, who then is the “God and Father”? Many Scriptures clearly declare that Yeshua is the “Son of God” and to confuse the persons smacks of the same reasoning that supports Trinitarianism. There are 115 references to “Lord Jesus” in the New Testament many of them demonstrate textually the clear distinction between Father and Son.
I believe that the Scripture quoted below is self explanatory. However, for more in-depth study of the subject go to http://return.2truth.com and see the item named “Virgin Birth”.
1 John 2:20 "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 26 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." See John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1John 4:6.
1 John 4:14 "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God."
1 John5:1 "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him."
1 John5:5 "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"
John 20:31 "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." [Return to Article]
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