Thursday, August 8, 2013

Church Update

Got into a One Law discussion last night at church...and I didn't hold back at all.

Had it not been for the extremely small--even intimate--size of the class I wouldn't have done this.  Here's how it went down (more or less):

Teacher:  commentaries are helpful--we have all sorts of commentaries [he mentioned several commentators including David Stern]...but it's important to become thoroughly acquainted with the book first and develop inductive skills...

Me:  You have David Stern commentaries?

Teacher:  Oh, yes

Me:  What prompted you to study from a Messianic commentary?

Teacher:  Christianity was originally a Jewish faith.

NOTE:  it might be helpful to mention a little background at this point.  When my wife and I first met this gentleman, I was under the strong impression that he was Jewish even though he didn't identify that way.  On another evening, I mustered up the audacity to ask him what ethnicity he was (his name sounded very Jewish to me).  So he explained that he's not Jewish but that his ancestors fled Poland (I think it was Poland) and that his name is the name of a little Jewish village there and that the Jews there are identified by that name.  

Then the teacher went on to reference Acts 15, specifically the fourfold decree as being the only things that Gentiles are obligated to do...

Well, if you put enough candy in front of a Messianic...   

Me:  (paraphrasing)  The fourfold decree is specifically about avoiding the pollutions of idols and the elements related to cultic idolatry.  The hope was that the Gentiles would stop practicing idolatry and begin to learn the Torah of Moses as it indicates in verse 21.  What do you think of verse 21?

So he and his wife flipped there and studied it for a few moments...

Teacher:  [paraphrased] this part is written to Jews...

Me:  Notice how James quotes from multiple prophecies.  These prophecies foretell that the Gentiles will all go to Zion to learn the Torah of Moses.  Isaiah says the Gentiles will take hold of the covenant, even the Shabbat, so that the Temple will be a House of Prayer for all peoples.  But the point is that they--the Gentiles--have to start learning the Torah somewhere...

Teacher:  Jesus fulfilled the law

Me:  Let's look at that for a second.  "Abolish" and "fulfill" cannot be synonymous or else it would read:  "Don't think I've come to abolish the law, I've not come to abolish but to...abolish" and that wouldn't make any sense.

Teacher:  But...

Me:  And then he says that the universe would be destroyed before a single jot or tittle of the law would be abolished.  Lastly, he says to do and teach the law.  He tells us to practice the Law.  You have to consider all three verses there.

Teacher:  But I think what you're talking about is a kind of legalism...

Me:  How do you define legalism?

Teacher:  Thinking that one can earn salvation...the certificate of debt has been nailed to the cross...

Me: Paul says that even though we have grace we do not nullify the law.  "Heaven forbid".  And that "certificate of debt" is a record of sin.  The Law is not a record of sin but rather instructions for righteous living--these are two completely different things.

Teacher:  So what parts of the Law do you think continue under the New Covenant?

Me:  All of them.  Ezekiel 36 references both categories of law in the New Covenant...He writes the Torah in the heart.  It's a new agreement but the Law remains the same.  The point of the New Covenant was to give permanent forgiveness, not to abolish the Law.

Teacher:  But we don't need the Temple and sacrifices anymore...

Me:  Yet Ezekiel says that there will be blood sacrifices in the Temple

Teacher:  No, I don't think it says sacrifices...

Me:  It says there will be blood sacrifices.  And these commemorate the atonement that Jesus made.

Teacher:  I'll have to look at that... But what you're talking about may deal more with the Messianic Age than right now.  We might be doing some of those things but not until Jesus returns...

Me:  So you don't believe you should be keeping Shabbat or the Moedim now?

Teacher:  No because those things were given only to Israel.

Me:  The Shabbat is for everyone.  It's older than Israel.  Look at the rationale for it in Deuteronomy.  One rests because G-d rested on the seventh day.  This is a universally applicable rationale.  All men need rest;  all of humanity needs the rest of the Messiah.  Furthermore, the Prophets attest that the Gentiles will take hold of Shabbat.  And, let's keep in mind, Shabbat is an exclusive covenantal sign between G-d and Israel.  This indicates that Gentiles are brought into Israel through Yeshua.  For example, look at Ephesians 2 which is loaded with covenantal language.  It says that Gentiles are made citizens in Israel via the blood of Yeshua.

Teacher:  These are some interesting points you've brought up.  Good stuff for future conversations.



So then we had an amazing class.  At the end of it, as I was walking out, he said:

Teacher:  I'm going to do some more studying about the things you brought up about the Law.

So, dear reader, pray for our brother.  He is on the journey that mirrors so many of our own journeys.  I remember how I was changed after reading David Stern's "Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel."  He knows the Scripture; he knows hermeneutics.  He just needs our prayer right now.  Please pray for him.  He desires to go into ministry, perhaps starting a congregation in the next few years.

Shalom,

Peter






8 comments:

  1. Good deal brother, keep going, we have to be open to be used, another great thing to consider depending how far along you are in this group, is to offer to host feast day celebrations, it really helps to get the ball rolling. Offer to host Rosh Hashannah and invite them all to come to your house or do it at the Church. I will pray that God will continue to move among your group and awaken the truth of the Torah to them.


    I think you made solid points across the board, concerning what the teacher said below, I would comment a little differently, just from my understanding:

    Teacher: No because those things were given only to Israel.

    I agree these things were only given to Israel, I don't believe there is a case for the Sabbath for the whole world. As Paul clearly tells us in Romans 9:4-5... Plus we have the most simple understanding of covenant responsibility, you cannot hold people to a covenant they are not party to... in this case, and in this day and age, those among the gentile world who do not accept Yeshua as the Messiah, are not in a covenant relationship and thus are not responsible to the requirements.

    who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

    God only gave it to the Israelites, but this does not mean we cannot be part, in fact, it was/is the purpose of Israel to be a light to the nations in order to bring them (the nations) to the God of Israel(Deut 4) and into covenant relationship with God seen in the promise to Abraham.

    Thus we (gentiles) have nothing outside of covenant relationship to God, which for us in this present age, comes specifically through Yeshua the Messiah. In Him, we are are brought in, we are now considered sons of Abraham (adopted), heirs to the covenants of promise, part of the commonwealth of Israel, son's of the Kingdom... etc. And in Messiah, we hold fast to His covenant. So while Israel is the chosen for the task or the vessel selected and the nations are not, the purpose is to bring in all He calls.

    So the Sabbath is not for the nations, it is for only those who are in covenant with God, and that is seen in the Israelites and gentiles standing at Mount Sinai as party members to the covenant.

    So going back to his point, if "those things were only given to Israel", and are not for gentiles who trust in the Messiah, then we have a hypocritical approach to scripture, we can't claim that we are party to the covenant and not responsible to its requirements, whether that be understood to be what is promised and required of by Abrahamic or New Covenant... either way, the moment you start to say that is only for Israel, you have disqualified yourself as any member of God's household, because so are the promises. Catch-22... :D

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    1. Zion,

      We're agreed. I probably just explained it very poorly...

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    2. When I wrote the above, it was not to be critical of you, only sharing a different perspective, I did not want it to come across in a negative way. :D

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    3. Zion,

      It sounded positive to me. No worries.

      Shabbat Shalom!

      Peter

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  2. I definitely do not think that you explained anything poorly from what I read. Your points were well-made, lucid, cogent and pertinent. Your language was clear and while done with a debate in mind, was non-confrontational. All that's left is tone and timing, which is impossible to determine online.

    Good job brother. Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, brother. : )

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