Monday, May 21, 2012

Holy Handgrenades. Part 1 I guess.

Like trying to open a can of worms with a hand grenade, is taking a stance on biblical precepts.

I knew that when I shared what, and why I believe what I believe, that it would be met with skepticism, opposition, contention, conviction, an impending sense of doom, curiosity and a wide range of things prompting further discussion.

I know that this subject is going to have to outline further definition such as:
What is the Law?
What is it for?
What exactly does it mean to be under the law.?
Which will not be in this post, but I will get to it.

In fielding questions from people with a deep rooted preconception, I appreciate the patience and understanding that comes with pouring over this text, and searching out what I come to believe to be the truth. Though we may disagree, it is my sincerest hope that we be resolute that we are all brothers and sisters in the Savior who gave us the gift of life. All parts of the body.

Now more to the point. In the comments on facebook a person asked about the Disciples making a case for the observance to the commands of God. They have requested an exposition of  the text found in Acts 15 .

Lets see the text in question:

15  Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”
The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.
12 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

13 After they had stopped speaking,  James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. 14  Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
17  So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’
18  Says the Lord, who  makes these things known from long ago.
19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from  things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

So what we see here is that there is a new division that arises, and states that in order to be saved, you have to be circumcised and follow all of the law of  Moses ( often a hebrew idiom for the commands of God)
The sin here isn't the act of is the idea that something we have done has brought us into the covenant of God. This is something that isn't biblical. Circumcision was NEVER EVER for salvation, but rather, it was a symbol OF that salvation. I'm not saved because some sensitive areas were encountered by some sharp stuff. I am not saved because of an action of mine, or my parents. I am not saved by my adherence to the commands... I don't save myself.

Peter starts talking about this point when he stands before everyone and proclaimed "Why should we make the gentiles bear a yoke we didn't have to bear, nor did our ancestors bear? " Pointing back to the fact that it isn't the commands that save you. The command to be circumcised doesn't save you. God does. That is the way it has always been.

I want you to think about when you were saved.  Take a minute and think about it.  Did someone come to you and give you a list of every transgression you have ever done against God and his ways and order that you give up all of them now, then you will be clean enough or holy enough to be saved?
No?  that would be insane!!! who among us could stand to that? NOT any of us.  No, people were patient with you as you were turning your life over to God.  They probably waited with you and listened to you swearing, knowing that eventually God was going to take root in even that part of your life.  They didn't want to make it burdensome to turn to God... small steps.  Maybe they gave you a few steps to get you started like, Hey, you need to stop drinking. Stop fighting people. Listen....   as you do these things, you won't get kicked out of church and you can hear the word of God taught, and take it to heart.

That is exactly what is going on here.
They decide on a few rules that will keep the gentiles from being kicked out of the synagog on the sabbath ( there is a little plug for gentile sabbath keeping btw)  so that they can hear the commands of God preached and take them to heart.  Patience.

What about the commands you might ask?

abstain from  things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood

Are we to believe that these are the Only commands for gentile believers? It would make sense that they were preliminary ordinances as someone is turning to the faith, but these are not the full embodiment of the faith itself.

If these were the only commands for gentile beleivers, then why does Paul, the apostles to the gentiles  say this?

14  Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“ I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 “ Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18 “ And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.
- 2 corinthians 6

He is speaking to Gentiles, and adds a command to not be bound together with unbelievers?  Is this an addendum to the previous outlined commands only for gentiles?  And what is this part about Gentiles shouldn't touch things that are unclean?
Well... where do we get the definition of what is unclean? The commands of God, or as it is commonly being taught every sabbath, the Law of Moses.

Is that part of the commands of the council? To hear the commands preached every sabbath? One could make that case... but I wont...not today.

I believe that Paul was expounding on what they were learning as they were coming in to the full knowledge of God.

There is grace  reflected in Deut. 31:10-31 for the "non-jewish" Israel.

Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths,  when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

Follow God, keep His feasts, and you learn His words as you go.

So yeah... pray about all this. I'll be back with more posts when I am back with more posts.

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