Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Biblical Use of Alcohol

Biblical perspective on Alcohol            

Many folk will tell you the Bible condemns the consumption of alcohol.  Many churches have taught for years that drinking is a sin.  Some teach that the wine in the Bible was really grape juice, not a fermented alcoholic drink.  Right up front, I tell you drinking is sinful – for some, but not for all.  And no, the wine in the New Testament is not grape juice, it’s wine.  Let’s see, in part, what the Bible tells us – as saints of God.

The English word "wine" occurs 37 times in the New Testament (KJV). 33 of those (scattered throughout the 4 Gospels, Romans, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, Revelation) are the Greek word oinos, which is a direct derivative of the Hebrew word for intoxicating wine, yayin. 2 more occurrences are found in Paul's pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus, wherein the qualifications of Bishop are given -a double use of a Greek word, paroinos, which is a compound word taken from para (to be near) and oinos. One of the other 2 occurrences of the English word is inferred by the scribes to make the sentence make sense in English - Luke 5:39 and the other is in Acts 2:13, where the term "new wine" refers to a more intoxicating wine (gleukos) than oinos. 

Note – all of the New Testament references to wine warn about being drunk and advise us not to abuse it nor our freedom to consume it.  These warnings are because our Maker knows our frailties.  How many people do you know who “can’t handle their liquor”?  Many people abuse alcohol and don’t think they do – just like folks who swear.  But that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

Note also that in John 2, where Jesus performed His first recorded miracle, people were getting drunk when the wine ran out. They weren't drinking grape juice. When He turned the water into wine, it was declared by the wine steward to be the best wine of the evening - whereas most hosts served cheap stuff once people were under the influence.

Thirdly, note that folks had no refrigeration and grape juice would ferment quickly if left in its natural juice state. Wine, fermented on purpose, would keep much longer.

Here are some scripture passages that reveal God's will on this topic, based on a review of the word, "drink":

Leviticus 10:8 - 11 God forbids priests who are performing ministry to drink wine or strong booze during the time they are ministering. The big unspoken implication is that they could drink these when not performing their ministerial duties; else the Word would not have made this specific prohibition.

Judges 13:1 - 7 God details the prohibition of drinking alcohol for Nazerites. Again, if the non-abusive drinking was prohibited to all God's people, He would not have made this specific prohibition.

Song of Solomon 8:1 - 3 In this love song, God shows the proper use of alcoholic wine. Note the Hebrew word for wine in this verse is yayin, which means "wine (as fermented); by impl. intoxication:--banqueting, wine" and not merely grape juice as some say.

Isaiah 5:21 - 22 and 29:9 - 14 God shows that drinking booze can be a trait of proud, arrogant men.

Amos 9:11 - 15 God promises to bless His people and one of the blessings bestowed upon them is the wine of the vineyards He will give them; and they will drink the wine.

Romans 14:19 - 23 God shows us to be careful in what we do - including drinking - as regards our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ. But this is not a general prohibition against drinking alcohol.

1 Timothy 5:23 This is the famous verse where Timothy is advised to drink a little wine (goes back to the same Hebrew word used in the Song) for his stomach.


Now here are some more scripture, based on the word, "wine" (always using yayin):

Genesis 9:20 - 24 God shows how wine can be abused and man suffers the consequence.

Genesis 14:17 - 20 The high priest Melchizedek set forth bread and wine (yayin) before weary travelers.

Exodus 29:38 - 41 God prescribes the use of wine (yayin) as part of a required sacrifice. He would not use something in this manner if the thing (wine) was sinful in all its use.

Leviticus 23:10 - 14 God again requires wine be a part of a sacrifice.

Numbers 6:18 - 21 Once a Nazerite has completed his service, he may drink wine.

Numbers 28:7 God requires wine and strong drink be used in sacrifice.

Psalms 104:14 - 15 God gives us wine to give us happiness.

Proverbs 20:1 Booze is to handled with great care, as many will be taken into excess.

Ecclesiastes 9:4 – 7 Wine is to be enjoyed as part of the fruit of our work.

John 2:1 - 10 Jesus creates wine for a wedding celebration. Why would He do this if the reasonable consumption of wine was sinful?

Ephesians 5:17 - 21 The famous verse tells us not to be drunk with wine, but filled with the Holy Spirit. This shows that it is being drunk that is sinful, rather than merely drinking a glass of wine.

1 Timothy 3 Qualifications for bishops and deacons - don't be a drunkard. Again - not a word about "do not drink".

There are many verses that warn about the dangers of excessive drinking. These ought to make every saint careful about drinking. But it's the heart - have a drink to enjoy life, don't drink to excess nor allow the alcohol to influence you or make a brother stumble.  See Romans 14:14 – 23.  And back up to Romans 14:1 – 13 to see how we should not look down on a brother who has a different view on eating or drinking.  A shorter view of this point is found in Colossians 2:16 – 17. 

Let the Word of God be your guide about this – and every subject; not the word of any man.  Life is too important to rest on man’s opinion.  We have the word of God and the mind of Christ.  Let us live in such a way as to make this present world know we don’t belong to it – we belong to Jesus! 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

A Time of Transition

Transition

During His earthly ministry, Jesus was announcing the kingdom of God, showing it to be something different from the nation of Israel. Before the cross, He declared the kingdom was not discernable with the eye, but was in their midst as He stood with the Pharisees (Luke 17:20-21). A kingdom not of this world but present - in part - upon it. Scripture provides four clear statements about Jesus’ position regarding the Mosaic Covenant:

Matt 12:6 Jesus is greater than the temple

Matt 12:41-42 Jesus is greater than Jonah and Solomon

Matt 12:2, 5, 7, 8 Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

Heb 3:3 Jesus has greater glory than Moses

In this transition from Old Covenant to New Covenant, Jesus was unveiling His kingdom while on earth, revealing Himself as the Greater Prophet and Son of God. When He was crucified and raised from the dead, this kingdom was inaugurated and is extant in His people. It will be consummated when He returns to judge the nations, gather His people, and make all things new.

Let us now take a look at these transitionary passages, showing how Jesus revealed what was coming: a kingdom not of this world, under a new ruler with a new rule.

Luke 2:41-50 (HCSB) Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers. When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.” “Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand what He said to them.

The Mosaic Covenant commanded utmost respect for parents, with death required for those who went so far as to curse their parents (Lev 20:9). We see in Luke 2 the response of Jesus’ mother – shock at her son’s failure to treat them with respect, by staying behind without permission. This was based on the Mosaic law’s harsh stance against disobedience to parents. Jesus was at the cusp of being recognized as an adult and knew He had a higher calling from His heavenly Father, no longer a child under the guardianship of the Mosaic Law. His earthly parents did not understand this; it would appear many of His spiritual children have failed to look into this.

Luke 5:12-14 (HCSB) While He was in one of the towns, a man was there who had a serious skin disease all over him. He saw Jesus, fell facedown, and begged Him: “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Reaching out His hand, He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean,” and immediately the disease left him. Then He ordered him to tell no one: “But go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing as a testimony to them.”

Scripture moves quickly into the ministry of Jesus, 20 years after the first incident noted above. It was against the Mosaic Law for a healthy person to touch one with leprosy (Lev 5:3). By touching this man, Jesus was demonstrating that He was not bound by the Mosaic Covenant but answered to a higher calling. When Jesus began His kingdom ministry, He was no longer under the Mosaic Law as He was as a minor child, else He would not have touched the man. He was working to show the Jews that their Messiah was greater than Moses, bringing a new and better covenant founded on better promises to His spiritual people. True cleanliness is of the inner man, not the outer man.

Matt 17:24-27 (HCSB) When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the double-drachma tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the double-drachma tax?” “Yes,” he said. When he went into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, “What do you think, Simon? Who do earthly kings collect tariffs or taxes from? From their sons or from strangers?” “From strangers,” he said. “Then the sons are free,” Jesus told him. “But, so we won’t offend them, go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and take the first fish that you catch. When you open its mouth you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to them for Me and you.”

The clear meaning of this passage is that His disciples are sons of the King and not required to pay the temple tax. This is another demonstration that He and His people are not ruled by the Mosaic Covenant. Jesus explains why it will be paid this one time – to avoid giving offense. This is the same motive and method we hear from Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 where he acts like those under the law of Moses, though he is not under the law; he acts like those NOT under the law of Moses though he is not without law – he is under the law of Christ. No offense other than the cross. Christians, including redeemed Jews, are not under the law of Moses.

Several other passages of Scripture reinforce this idea. In Luke 8:19-56 Jesus touched a dead child and raised her to life; touching the dead was prohibited by the law (Num 19:11-12). The Mosaic Law forbade spitting on a person: Numbers 12:14 declares one unclean who has been spit-on; Deuteronomy 25:9 refers to spitting in in another's face as a curse on the person. Jesus spit on the ground, made clay to apply to a blind man's eyes to bring healing (John 9:6); He spit on a mute man's tongue to heal him (Mark 7:33); and He spit in a blind man's eyes to heal him (Mark 8:22-25), contrary to Mosaic Law. Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:15, 19), contrary to the Levitical law; He healed a paralytic on the Sabbath (John 5:7-10).

For these things they wanted to kill Him (John 5:18), for He not only violated their Sabbath, He made Himself equal with God. John did not write that the Jews claimed Jesus breaking their Sabbath; he wrote that Jesus broke the Sabbath. In Matthew 12, Jesus defended His disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath, positioning Himself as greater than David (who had eaten bread meant only for priests) and greater than (Lord of/over) the Sabbath. David was not prosecuted for violating this law because he was king of Israel; Jesus is King of kings! In this instance, He cites Hosea 6:6, "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice." The law was not full of mercy, it provided no specific exceptions to the weekly Sabbath for acts of mercy. Healing was required in the law but no provision for doing so on the Sabbath was given. Circumcision was required on the 8th day, which sometimes happened on a Sabbath. Jesus pointed out the priests recognized that the law of circumcision must not be broken, even if it was performed on the Sabbath (John 7:22-23). The Sabbath law gave no exception for circumcision, just like it gave no exception for baking the bread that was required by the law. I think these points of tension were there to lead the Jews to seek guidance from YHWH, but they built up a system of rules that they thought they keep and be pleasing to God. Of old He told them, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice."

All of these incidents reveal the tension between the covenant that was growing old and nearing its end and the New Covenant that was being revealed and would soon be in place. Jesus was showing by word and deed how His people were to live – not bound by the letter of the law, but guided by the Spirit of God.

The Latin phrase, “Ex Lex,” is sometimes used to describe God as being “without law” or “not under law.” We see this in the Old Testament when the One Who declared the taking of man’s life was forbidden (Gen 9:5-6; Ex 20:13; Deut 5:17) killed many (Ex 4:12, 29; Deut 4:3; 1 Sam 6:19). There are other examples, but the idea is established: God is not bound by the laws He gives man; He is bound by His character and will. He makes alive and He kills. He cannot lie nor can He sin. Note this: One who is not bound by a law cannot break it. This is why when Jesus “broke the Sabbath” He did not break any law – He had removed Himself from being “under the law” as part of His bringing His kingdom into being.

Many teach, as I used to, that Jesus came to keep the Mosaic Law perfectly. I taught that the law-giver became the law-keeper to save the law-breakers. But the Bible does not teach this. Jesus said “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34); He further stated “I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30) He came to do the will of the Father – but what is this? The answer is also in John’s gospel: "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38-40) This is the will of the Father regarding the Son, not law-keeping but soul-saving; to redeem every lost sheep, to lose none of those the Father has given Him.

In each of the instances cited, Jesus is acting and speaking as one who is not under the law of Moses, but above it; just as Paul said he was not under the Law of Moses but under the Law of Christ (1 Cor 9:19-22). Jesus was teaching His people that life in the New Covenant, the kingdom which is not of this world, does not require devotion to the Mosaic Law but devotion to the Son of Man.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 – 8, Jesus was explaining to the Jews this new kingdom, which was not what most of them were expecting. He reviewed commands from the Old Covenant and contrasted them with instructions and commands from the kingdom. One saying which most claim was not in the Mosaic Covenant is in verse 43, “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” That is not found verbatim in the Old Covenant. But go read: Deut 7:1-2 “When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess, and He drives out many nations before you — the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and powerful than you — and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you and you defeat them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.” And Psalms 139:19-22 God, if only You would kill the wicked — you bloodthirsty men, stay away from me — who invoke You deceitfully. Your enemies swear by You falsely. LORD, don’t I hate those who hate You, and detest those who rebel against You? I hate them with extreme hatred; I consider them my enemies. Kind of sheds new light on what Jesus said. Indeed, they had heard that they should hate their enemies.

Another thing that Jesus said needs explanation: Matt 5:17 “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” All throughout Matthew’s gospel the word “fulfill” has an eschatological meaning; he is telling us the Law and the Prophets (the entire Old Testament as we call it) had by Jesus been brought to its intended end point or culmination. At no point in this gospel does “fulfill” mean “to keep” or “obey.” As we read in 1 Corinthians, the Law and the Prophets were written for our edification; in Luke 24 we read that they testify about Jesus. But their role as the guardian for national Israel is over (Galatians 3:23-24 Speaking to those who wanted to live as Jews, Paul said: Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith.). Luke 16:16 tells us the law and the prophets were proclaimed or in force until John (the baptizer); since then (a new thing), the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed and all are urged to enter in. The law and prophets were for a time, but since Christ came, the gospel is proclaimed to every person. The Law and Prophets remain as revelation even as their role of regulation came to its intended, planned end.

What is man’s part, in the New Covenant? Many teach that the Mosaic Law, in part, is to be our rule of life. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” (John 14:15) Further, “The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” (John 14:19) Does Jesus lead us to the Mosaic Law, is that where His commands are found? In part, yes – but not as presented in the Mosaic Covenant. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39) He observed that “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matt 22:40) To properly love God and those made in His image is higher than the entire collection of teaching in the Old Testament. And to understand how to love God we must look unto and hear Christ rightly.

Hear ye Him: “This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:12-14) We do not look to the Tablets of Stone to discover how to love, we look to the completed canon to see how Christ and His Apostles taught and lived. All of the “one another” passages shed light on this idea. We are not ruled by a list of “do this” and “don’t do that” commands; we are ruled by the Law of Christ, which is the fulfillment of the two greatest commands. We have the New Covenant Scriptures which show and instruct us how to love, including Galatians 6:2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. In many of the epistles we see practical instructions for how to live: Romans 14, all of 1 Corinthians, James, etc. In none of them are we told to return to Moses and read and apply the Law and the Prophets as national Israel was commanded. In fact, we are told NOT to do so in Galatians 3:1-3 “You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” The Mosaic Law was fit for a people living in the flesh. The Law of Christ is fit for a people walking in the Spirit.

The Spirit of God will illuminate our understanding of Scripture and by His willing and equipping (Philippians 2:13) we will to do what is pleasing to our heavenly Father. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Why Deacons?

We are familiar (I hope) with Acts 6 and the appointing of the proto-deacons. But do we pay attention to the problem these seven men were to address and the outcome of their service? This, I think, is critical to our having a right view of what deacons should be doing.
The problem statement: Acts 6:1 “In those days, as the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.”
The people of God were squabbling over material things. Go figure! The Apostles saw that their focus was to be on prayer and the ministry of the Word (v 4) and that other godly men should handle the temporal matters (vs 2 & 3). The squabblers were happy about this and seven men were chosen for this duty (vs 5 & 6).
What was the outcome? Verse 7 reveals what happens when godly men keep the peace among the saints: “So the preaching about God flourished, the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.”
When our focus is on the temporal, we tend to get selfish and squabble over these things. The color of carpet, what instruments should be used, what is the dress code, etc. When people are dealt with gently and temporal matters are resolved, our focus will be inclined to the spiritual and the preaching and teaching will flourish and evangelism will take place, and the Spirit of God will bring lost sheep into His sheepfold – maybe even some priests of a pagan cult.

Trust God, fix your eyes on the heavenlies, do not squabble over stuff. This is good and pleasing in the sight of our Lord. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

As in the Days of Noah, Genesis 18:16-33

People will scoff at the idea that there is a God, deny that He is returning as the Bible declares. No matter what trouble comes, including the end of the world, God will not allow any of His children to perish. Knowing this, we should be known by our holy conduct and godliness as we live at peace with Him and one another; in our families and in our local assembly. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matt 24:37)


 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Accidental Similarities?

Stuart L. Brogden, March 2008

This is the tale of two organizations with eerie similarities in how they evolved through the years. One is fictional, the other quite real. As far as we know, these similarities are not intentional, though this author believes in a Sovereign God – meaning there are no coincidences.

Nobody knows for certain the origin of either organization. Both entities appeared in time and “history” was filled in after the fact to varying degrees. They gave rise to charismatic, authoritarian leaders whose power was rarely challenged. Each leader provides communications to the respective “collective”, insuring each “drone” has the official message, disregarding any information that may contradict it regardless of veracity.

The first encounter locals had with either resulted in the same outcome: death or being assimilated. With each assimilation, the conquering organization was changed, having taken on various characteristics of the culture it conquered. As time went by, the original culture of each organization resulted in something that was not true to either their beginnings or the cultures from which they assimilated new converts.

They each proclaimed that they, alone, represented the best hope for civilization – claiming to be the only legitimate culture into which all would be assimilated or disposed of. Each left a path of wreckage and death in their wake, blind to the needs of outsiders and blind to the errors of their ways and beliefs.

Here now, is a concise comparison between these two cultures. My goal is to make clear the old truism: truth is stranger than fiction.

 

Characteristic

The Borg

Roman Catholic Church

Rule

The Borg Queen is the focal point within the Borg collective consciousness and a unique drone within the collective, originating from Species 125 –which brings "order to chaos".

A pope takes the place of Christ, allegedly tracing his authority back to the Apostle Peter and demands unquestioning obedience to “ex cathedra” statements and dogma, redeeming cultures and ruling the world.

Order

Drones have no individual identity, taking orders for life and work from the hive. The collective is the highest priority.

Local churches and parishioners must follow the catechism, dogma, and liturgy issued by Rome. The papacy and its priesthood is the highest priority.

 

Growth

The Borg expands to myriad worlds. Inferior life forms are assimilated or destroyed, as the Borg seeks to expand its reach and purify the collective.

The RCC expands to myriad countries, assimilating bits of each local culture into its religious practices, destroying that which does not submit to Rome.

Perspective – toward others

The Borg consider themselves as the highest evolved life form, advancing toward their ultimate goal of perfection, as they see it.

The RCC sees its doctrine as the only correct religion, evolving with each new pope’s personal proclamations. Those who disagree are “anathema”.

Key Doctrine

We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

If any one saith, that Christ, given in the Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really; let him be anathema.

Self Image

As part machine, ever increasing in machine content, the Borg tend to be very envious of certain human characteristics, yet unable to admit it.

Roman Catholics, ever bound up in man-made religious traditions, branch out by worshiping various images of people precious to them, whose visages are unknown. Tortillas are a common media for this phenomenon.

Nemesis

The Borg find themselves repeatedly unable to soundly and with finality defeat Earthlings, whose individual ingenuity seems to be the unbreakable biological element. The Borg ridicule the humans who refuse to submit, but cannot subdue them.

Despite centuries of tireless effort, the RCC has been unable to squelch or destroy the Word of God or the true church founded on and by the Lord Jesus Christ. The RCC slanders those who hold to what is commonly known as the five solas, who refuse to allow the rule of man to supersede the Word of God.

The end

As far as we know, the Borg Queen was destroyed by Commander Data in Star Trek: First Contact.

We know full well that all who oppose the true Christ are defeated and He will save the elect and cast His enemies into Hell.

Note: No sources are listed, as fans of the Borg know their stuff and likely are not put off by this little article and Roman Catholics have their own sources and would not condescend to read anything I might suggest. So this document stands on its own, as my personal perspective, not needing to be defended against the Romans nor explained to the Reformed.

With the Pope's latest visit to the US, I've begun to notice certain similarities between him, and Batman...

1. Both use an assumed identity.

2. Both costumes include headwear.

3. Both costumes include a cape.

4. Both assisted by young boys.

5. Batmobile/Popemobile

6. Both control vast economic empires, handed down to them by a previous "father figure."

7. Both live in huge mansions.

8. Both have dark events in their pasts, which they would rather not discuss.

9. Both have an aging English butler, who's been in the family for decades.

10. Batsignal in the sky over City Hall summons Batman. White smoke in the sky over the Vatican summons a new Pope.

11. The Batplane/Popeplane

12. The Batcave/Underground Tunnels at the vatican

 Let it be known that I do not hate Roman Catholics. I hate false doctrine that denies essential Christian Truths whether it is proclaimed by Catholics, Hindus, Episcopalians, Southern Baptists, or my own self. For this a Truth – God (by this I mean the Great I AM of the Bible) alone is without false ways.

All blessing and glory and honor and power be unto the Lamb of God! Christ is risen – He has conquered sin and death and saved His chosen ones by His grace, lest anyone boast in the flesh. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

What do we learn from Acts 15?

The problem addressed by the council in Acts 15 was two-fold. Converted Jews had began teaching everyone that 1.) salvation and 2.) life was according to the custom and law of Moses.

Vs 1 Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved!

Vs 5 But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!”

The matter of salvation dealt with primarily by Peter, a converted Jew himself. In verse 9 he noted, “He (God) made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.” No circumcision or any other religious rite – faith in the Son of God is what saves sinners, whether Jew or Gentile.

The matter of life lived before God in the New Covenant was dealt with by the letter sent out, which was previewed in verses 19 & 20.

Acts 15:19-20 “Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God, but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood.

The apostolic instructions for life in the New Covenant were not commands for them to keep the law of Moses. They gave instruction on everyday things that they encountered in life. The dietary restrictions reflect what God told Noah. When Jesus was unveiling His kingdom, He taught a new ethic, life based on having a humble heart, loving God and neighbor, seeking heavenly rather than earthly wealth. When the Apostles later wrote about this topic (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians, James, 1 & 2 Peter, etc.), the teaching has roots in the Old Testament but is interpreted and applied differently. Rather than a sexual pervert being killed, he is thrown out of the assembly of saints until he repents. Rather than being forced by the sword to carry another’s burden, the Christian seeks to serve his fellow man by bearing his burdens – and in so doing, fulfilling the Law of Christ. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

No Substitutions - Genesis 17:15-24

When man tries to follow his own wisdom instead of God's in the conduct of God's plan, he is sitting in judgment on the Judge of all. God allows no substitutions in His providential or redemptive plans.