Jesus Christ

Catholicism.

 

I was raised Catholic. Being from an Italian/Irish lineage, I was given ample opportunity to be submerged into the culture and doctrine of The Roman Catholic Church. The traditions, the expectations, the habits, the components of religious duty, all surrounded me…but was never explained to me. I was about 17 or 18 when I begin thinking about god in some fashion. It would not be until I was twenty-one that I was seized by God with His truth being face to face with His Word, the Bible and what it teaches. I then heard about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I remember sitting in that church building, being invited by my neighbor from the dorm, listening, knowing, and affirming that I deserved Hell, I was a sinner, and that Jesus died. I absorbed all of that during my short years in cognitive interaction with The Roman Catholic Church. However, that day I visited that little Bible church in Bozeman, Montana was the day that the pastor mentioned the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The reality of that, and its significant implications, hit me deeply (to put it mildly), and immediately I was given faith to believe and submit to that Lord of Glory. I remember it well.

However, the years prior to that, I was struggling. In so many ways I was lost-angry, frustrated, hopeless. I remember thinking one particular question over and over again, “If Jesus was such a nice guy, then why did the people kill Him?” I could never get an answer to that nagging question from any Mass I attended, any discussion I heard, or any ritual I observed. There was never any sense in which you could really understand what Jesus did in my time attending the Roman Catholic Church, only that He did it. He died, gave His body, laid to rest in a tomb, held by his mother, conferred religion to mankind…all of which was enshrouded in absolute impregnable mystery. That is not for us to know, only accept. The life, death, and resurrection is not for people to understand only accept. The Jesus of the Catholic Church I attended in Kansas City, MO. and the variety of feasts as well was simply acts of response to our religion. Why? I didn’t know. It was never explained. I am convinced that if I were to ask the average Catholic “Why did Jesus die on a cross? Why was He raised from the dead? Who benefits from His death? What does the Bible say about all of these things?” they would not know either.

Pagan religions have one stick to beat people with-mystery. It is mystery that keeps you attending. It is mystery that keeps you giving. It is mystery that keeps you fearful about ever questioning, or simply understanding, the purposes behind the religion. I am convinced that The Roman Catholic Church is a Pagan religion, primarily for that fact. The leadership of Catholicism does not divulge the purposes for its decrees, nor is it compelled to. They cannot tell you why they do what they do. They cannot tell you where they can find Jesus’ words concerning the Mass, Indulgences, or the Rosary. They cannot demonstrate, exegetically, how Peter was the “Papa” and head of the church. They cannot explain how ex Cathedra can be supported in light of Scripture. Thus, like the life of the church itself, it is all a mystery. And that is the way they like it. Furthermore, this is the foundational component to its “unity.” The reality is that the Catholic church is a shell, a crust. The so-called unity found there, that they say Protestants don’t have because we have so many denominations as if proof of our erroneous doctrines, is only external unity because most Catholics cannot explain Jesus Christ or what He has accomplished. So, in order to keep order, they enshroud the Church with mystery and thereby maintain their idea of unity. It is not unity. It is utter chaos. The Apostle Paul taught that the means of unity is the knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:11-13). Those who do not believe, and thus teach against, what the Scriptures teach about Jesus Christ cannot remain in fellowship with God’s people (Romans 16:17-18). When a church says the same things about Christ, the kingdom, and all that Christ taught, it is unified. That demands extensive knowledge of those things, the very thing Rome despises.

I want to address a few typical considerations that I have heard over the years from Catholics concerning the differences between them and us, those who are termed “Protestants.” Martin Luther and his actions drove a wedge between us that needed to be driven. I praise God for his conscience that led him to stand alone that day in the face of the anger and tyranny of the leadership of the Catholic Church. What a man. But, just what were the teachings that made up that wedge? What was it that compelled this scholarly monk to renounce The Roman Catholic Church in such stark terms? I believe it comes down to a few teachings (although, admittedly, volumes could be, and have been, written):

  1. THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF JESUS CHRIST.
  2. THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
  3. THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN.

The Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Rome cannot understand the kingdom of Jesus Christ. If we can know a tree by its fruit, then we can surely see this in Rome. Rome seeks to introduce the kingdom to the world by means of subduing people to the Mother Church. Or, to say it another way, Rome wants everyone to “come home.” That is not the announcement of the kingdom. We, those truly born from above, may have to enter eternity by means of a sword. Jesus said,

Matthew 10:34–36

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

35  “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

36  and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

Jesus never gave the illusion that somehow the world would be subdued by His church. He never indicated that the church is the vehicle by which the world is made peaceful. That was not His goal in coming to this earth. By His own words He came to this earth to divide the earth. Jesus purposefully initialized the animosity that would arise between family members because some would believe in Him and some would not. What is the good news in that? It is this: when division does happen, a person can be in the family of the One who will ultimately rule. Compared to the alternative, which is to be judged by Him, it is good news. To be reconciled to Jesus Christ, the Judge (John 5:25-27) is the announcement that true Christians have and Rome does not. The gospel that Jesus Christ preached is the announcement of the kingdom. Indeed, it is often referred to as “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Luke 16:16). It is the announcement that Jesus Christ has received a kingdom and He is inviting the world into it (see Matthew 22:1-14). That is not to say that everyone will, or can, enter into it. Jesus Himself said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). The gospel demands the call to the world to repent from its sins (Matthew 4:17; Acts 17:30-31). The world, which loves darkness (John 3:19), is the recipient of this announcement and is obligated to obey (2 Thessalonians 1:5-8). The heart of the gospel, and the provision for men to enter into Christ’s kingdom is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This provision, and this alone, is what “merits” man’s entrance into the kingdom. Catholic theology teaches that our works also merit our entrance (Council of Trent, Session VI, Justification, Canons 4, 7, 32). They condemned those who teach that the requirement for entrance into the kingdom was met by Jesus Christ alone, without cooperation from manas heretical (Ibid, Canon 12). In doing so, they condemned Christ Himself because Jesus taught, in context, that man cannot even know how to justify himself nor accomplish it, even by the cooperation of Christ (John 3:1-8). If a man could birth himself physically, then sure, he could cooperate with Jesus Christ for good works that produce eternal life and more of it. But, no man ever cooperated in his physical birth, and no man can cooperate in his spiritual one either.

The Authority of the Scriptures.

The written Word of God has the same authority as the spoken Word of God from His throne (which is not in Rome, by the way). That is to say, God has spoken through His prophets and they recorded what was to be recorded into books and letters and those have been preserved and collected into a mini-library called the Scriptures. The writer of Hebrews wrote that God spoke in many portions and in many ways to His prophets, and ultimately in His Son Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1). This speaking of the Father is what we are after. His speaking was recorded by “men moved by the Holy Spirit [who] spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). The office of prophet is no longer in the church (1 Corinthians 13:8). Thus, for the Pope to speak a new form of doctrine or liturgy, and to ascribe the same level of authority upon it as Scripture is simply not possible. Thus, in the same vein of Deuteronomy 13:1ff. that person who says that they now speak on behalf of God as if God Himself is speaking in him, or recognizing his own words as His, then that person is to be rejected. God has closed the canon. Surely, if there was ongoing revelation through a prophet, of which the Pope would have to be labeled, then we have the right to test all that he writes and says against the Word of God (all 66 books-see 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; cf. Deuteronomy 13:1ff.). However, Catholicism admits that, in a very real sense, the canon is not closed. By that I mean that they believe that they have unbroken succession of traditions from the Apostles down to this very day (Trent, session IV, ‘Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures’). Not only do they accept the Apocrypha, which has been proven non-canonical internally, but they list them as authoritative and binding. So, the authority of Scripture, which is unique to the Scriptures alone, is now shared with spoken tradition and the Apocrypha (as well as the early church fathers, as they call them). Yet, the Apostle Paul wrote,

2 Timothy 3:16–17

16  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

17  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

What is validated as Scripture, not by council but by the Scriptures themselves, is Scripture. Human tradition and extra-canonical writings cannot, and should never be, placed upon the same level as the written Word of God.

The Depravity of Man

Finally, Rome does not believe in the teaching of Scripture regarding the depravity of man. If they did, they would not anathematize those who teach the mercy of God (Justification, Canons 4, 9, 12). Rome says,

It is furthermore declared that in adults the beginning of that justification must proceed from the predisposing grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits on their part, they are called; that they who by sin had been cut off from God, may be disposed through His quickening and helping grace to convert themselves to their own justification by freely assenting to and cooperating with that grace; so that, while God touches the heart of man through the illumination of the Holy Ghost, man himself neither does absolutely nothing while receiving that inspiration, since he can also reject it, nor yet is he able by his own free will and without the grace of God to move himself to justice in His sight (Ibid, Chapter 5, emphasis mine).

Although the Council of Trent affirms what seems to be a sound understanding of human depravity, by definition of other doctrines, namely sanctification, they deny it. That is, as Paul said, the righteousness that makes one holy is only by faith in Jesus Christ, worked out in us by God who generates obedience in us by His power alone, not with our cooperation (Philippians 3:7-11; 2:12-13; See Romans 1:5 & 16:26). God certainly works in us for righteousness, not to aid our flesh, but to live out the regeneration which comes by His Holy Spirit through His Word by faith (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The depravity of man is not that his innocence is lost by Adam. It is that he hates God, is His enemy and despises righteousness with his whole heart (John 3:19-20; cf. Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 8:6-8). This is why millions run to the Catholic churches, as well as a multitude of other cults, because of their refusal to submit to the righteousness of God which is by faith (Romans 10:1-4). They build their own set of righteousness, all by the imitation of the righteousness of God, which is in the Scripture, and they do what they think Scripture says (John 5:39-40), but they do it by means of their own depravity. The righteousness to which they attain is not from heaven, but earth, and is therefore condemning, not meritorious.

The most righteous act imaginable is to believe God. The Bible teaches that this act is not possible, either by man, nor in a mixture of his will and God’s (John 1:12-13), nor in any other fashion. The faith that must be in man as proof of eternal life (John 3:15) must be given to man, as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), and is not earned. If it were earned, the death of Jesus Christ would not have been necessary. Besides, the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant, which has come to the Gentiles, is only by faith, and not by the fruit of faith which is righteous behavior (Galatians 3; esp. vv. 8-9). Catholic doctrine demands that the sinner must cooperate with God in the regeneration that is required to enter the Kingdom of Christ. However, if that were the case, then the Apostle Paul was wrong when he taught that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor the perishable the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50). That is why the Lord taught that a man must die in order to follow Him (Matthew 10:37-39) and then must be born from above, from God (John 3:3-8; cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27). What could possibly make a Catholic think that he could assist God in this endeavor? God does not remodel a sinner-the sinner must die and be reborn. He must be a “new creation” in order to be acceptable to God and enter God’s kingdom (see Matthew 5:48).

For any person who believes Catholic doctrine, and has believed in the teaching of the Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and Popes, of centuries past or today, read and re-read what I have written. I am not asking you to become a Protestant. I, as a pastor of Christ’s flock, am instructing you to submit to Jesus Christ by means of repentance from erroneous doctrine and dead works and believing in what He actually did teach-you must be born from God, not man, in order to enter His kingdom.

Challenging Covenantalism: The True Covenantal Structure of God’s Redemptive Plan

At this point in the series, we must move to the offensive. We have been challenging Covenant Theology (CT) and attempting to show its invalidity. However, what I want to do at this point is to explain, in positive terms, what the Scripture does present as a covenantal structure of history and redemption.

I must say, first, that Scripture is not silent on these things. It is not as though the Bible does not specify clearly the covenants that it does contain. On the contrary, God has revealed them, and done so sufficiently for us to understand and appreciate. It is a falsehood to say that you must have any kind of theological structure, Covenantal or Dispensational or anything else, in order to understand the Scripture. If that were the case, how would Jesus and the apostles have handled the Prophets apart from that framework?

In the interest of maintaining this topic in one post, I will only review with the true biblical covenants with comments explaining them and their pertinence to history and/or Scripture in general. This is also a series that we are conducting at our church, Berean Bible Church of Kalispell, Montana (www.bbckalispell.org). It has been a very wonderful series that has opened our eyes to the plan for the history of the world and God’s eternal plan of redemption.

From the beginning I will say that history does not make sense unless a correct understanding of the covenants to Israel has been gleaned from Scripture. In one sense, we must be covenantal in our understanding of Scripture. However, we must get our understanding of the covenants from the Scripture itself, plainly spoken, and not our own philosophical dispositions:

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. 1 Corinthians 4:6 (NASB95)

Paul and Apollos, two major preachers in the life of the Corinthian church, took the posture of slaves of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1-5). They spoke to the Corinthians in such a way that the Corinthians were capable of passing judgment upon them. However, in taking the posture of a slave and steward, Paul and Apollos (who were both capable orators and teachers), exampled the posture we should all take-we are only managers of another man’s possessions. It is not our word that we are preaching, but God’s. He has entrusted His truth to us and we dare not go beyond what has been written in it. Otherwise, if we do, we WILL become proud and boastful against one another. The church, then, will be divided into the ‘have’s and the have-not’s.’ The Corinthians are a perfect example of that kind of schism.

Therefore, by not adding nor taking away from God’s Word, we can, and must, arrive at an accurate conclusion about the truth, which CT has not done concerning the covenants.

Let’s begin with an overview of each covenant, and then we will demonstrate how they coincide.

THE COVENANTS:

The Noahic Covenant:

Genesis 9:9–11

9 “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;

10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.

11 “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”

This covenant is the first covenant that God made with any man. This “covenant” actually reads like a promise. However, because of Noah’s sacrifice on the altar after coming after the ark, God spoke within Himself that He would never again curse the ground for man’s sake. We still live in light of this “everlasting covenant” (cf. Genesis 9:16) that God made between Himself and “every living creature” that came out of the ark “for all successive generations” (Genesis 9:12).

 

The Abrahamic Covenant:

Genesis 15:17–18 

17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.

18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,

From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

This next covenant is a focal point for the rest of the covenants. This covenant that God initiated and promised to fulfill is the foundational covenant for redemption. Its extent is vast and eternal. Further, it is built upon the promise of Genesis 12:1-3, which itself is and extension of the promise of Genesis 3:15. For our purposes, it is critical to understand that the nature of this covenant was the inheritance of the world (Romans 4:13), a world in which righteousness dwells (Hebrews 11:8-16). This covenant secured an eternal dwelling-place for the descendants of Abraham in the land outlines above. There are further components of this covenant given in the chapters following Genesis 15. However, the heart of that covenant is here. The sign of the covenant, that God would give them the land, was circumcision, which was given while Abraham was uncircumcised (Romans 4:11), thus identifying the faith that he had apart from circumcision as more “creditable” than the works of covenant-keeping (Romans 4:16-25). In this covenant, the seed of Abraham would “possess the gates of his enemies” (Genesis 22:17), which teaches us that this singular seed (Galatians 3:16) would conquer all who oppose Abraham and his descendants. By the way, the seed of Abraham would include believing biological Jews as well as believing Gentiles (Galatians 3:28-29; cf. Romans 4:16). However, that does not nullify a covenant previously ratified, e.g. the covenant of the land. Biological descendants of Abraham will receive the land which was covenanted to them. Being “in Christ” does not make that covenant based upon a promise null and void. It only secures its possibility.

 

The Mosaic Covenant:

Exodus 24:3–8

3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!”

4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.

5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord.

6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”

8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

God introduced Himself to the newly-formed Israel on Mt. Sinai as recorded in Exodus 19:16-19. Israel trembled, and rightly so. Holy God took up residence upon that mountain and would then reside in a soon-to-be-constructed Tabernacle. Because of the righteousness of God, these people needed the Law in order to live righteously before Him (Genesis 20:2). The commandments of Almighty God were given and a covenant ceremony secured this agreement between God and Israel. That day Israel, national Israel, made a covenant with God to obey all that God had commanded (Exodus 24:1-8; cf. Ex 19:8; Deuteronomy 5:27). This covenant ritual included the blood of an animal that instructed the people that if either party, God or Israel, should renege on this covenant, may what happened to this heifer happen to them. It needs to be understood that this is a binding covenant dependent upon the obedience of Israel. Just because Israel never truly accomplished this agreement, does not mean that God will simply throw it out. Otherwise, God’s integrity is at risk because not only did Israel make a covenant to God, but God made a covenant to Israel!  Further, as part of the Law, the day that Israel repents from her sins and confesses their iniquity and the iniquities of their fathers, is the day that God will enact the covenant based upon the promise to Abraham (Leviticus 26:40-46). This is why Jesus came preaching repentance (Matthew 4:17). Until Israel repents and submits to God, that they might be God’s people and He their God in reconciliation, none of the covenanted promises which were given to Abraham will occur. So, we wait for God’s nation (Deuteronomy 7:6-9) to repent. However, since they can’t repent and “circumcise their hearts",” God must do it, and He will (see Deuteronomy 30:6).

 

Priestly Covenant:

Numbers 25:10–13

The Zeal of Phinehas

10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy.

12 “Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace;

13 and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.’ ”

Phinehas, a grandson of Aaron, checked God’s wrath against sinning Israel by killing two people in the midst of their sin (Numbers 25:6-9). This zeal was commendable. In fact, because of this zeal, God made a covenant with Phinehas to have one of his descendants serve Him in the Temple forever (Number 25:10-13). God also confirms this in the Millennial Temple with a descendent of Zadok, himself a descendant of Phinehas (1 Chronicles 6:48-53), serving as High Priest (Ezekiel 40:46; 43:19; 48:11) and will be eternally fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:3).

Davidic Covenant:

2 Samuel 7:16

16 “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” ’ ”

The line of the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) continues and includes David of Bethlehem. David, replacing the enigmatic Saul, as king of Israel, had it in his heart to build a permanent dwelling place for God (2 Samuel 7:1-2; cf. 1 Chronicles 17:1). However, God’s plan did not include that kind of Temple, which is made with human hands (cf. 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Isaiah 66:1). Instead, God communicated to David, through the prophet Nathan, that He, Himself, would establish a “house” for David. this house would include the eternal lineage of the name of David, as well as the Davidic Dynasty, including his throne and nation (kingdom-2 Samuel 7:13, 16). That is to say, the place of rulership over a nation called Israel would be secured for eternity (see Genesis 35:10-12). So, this establishes forever the nation of Israel, as well as a “throne” which God Himself will establish. That indicates that the rulership of a Son of David will continue eternally upon a throne over the nation of Israel, and they themselves would possess all the gates of their enemies (Genesis 22:17-18). Further, that Son, being also the seed of Abraham, will rule over not only Israel, but also the world (see Romans 4:13). Again, God made a covenant with Israel to be their God, and they His people forever. Their dwelling-place is secure, regardless of the turmoil in the Middle East. God is righteous and has promised and covenanted that the nation of Israel will dwell before Him forever and He will not change (Psalm 89:30-37). Jesus Christ Himself is that Son of David who will reign upon that throne from Jerusalem forever (Luke 1:32-33; cf. Revelation 21:10-22:5).

New Covenant:

Jeremiah 31:31–34 

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.

33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Finally, God’s redemptive plans are consummated by the promise of a New Covenant to the house of Israel. Remember, all these covenants are interwoven, not separate. That is, they build upon one another. However, all of them depend upon this New Covenant to begin their fulfillment. Why? Because, in order for the Abrahamic Covenant based upon the promise of restored Edenic conditions, which itself is the reversal of the curse upon the earth (Genesis 3:17; see esp. Romans 8:19-22), Israel must repent and have their hearts circumcised. Then, they will obey God’s statutes and ordinances (see Ezekiel 36:27). However, since they are not able to regenerate themselves, it would seem impossible for these blessings to come to fruition. To God’s glory, though, God Himself will institute a New Covenant that will accomplish a new heart and new spirit for the house of Israel. The Lamb slaughtered to inaugurate this covenant is none other than God’s own Son (Luke 22:19-20). Israel’s greatest need is what God will provide, and thus will bless the families of the earth (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:8). They will look upon Him whom they have pierced (Acts 2:22-23) and will have the Spirit of supplication poured out upon them and thus all biological, national, Israel will be saved (see Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:26). This will display the power of God and thus God’s name will be vindicated among the nations for His work with the salvation of the entire nation of Israel (see Ezekiel 36:21-32). To deny the forgiveness of sins of the entire nation of biological Jews is to serious defame the power of God and to blaspheme His righteous character. He will do it, whether we believe it or not.

I will leave us to review this information from the Scripture. All that I ask is that the Word of God be examined to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11).

Challenging Covenantalism: Type/Antitype

As I mentioned before the Types and Shadows (T/S) hermeneutic has devastated the church landscape because of its over-spiritualization and incessant allegorization of biblical truth. The indication of this hermeneutic is that few passages in the Old Testament actually mean what they say. We looked last time at the example of the temple in Ezekiel 40-48. In that section, God explicitly tells Ezekiel to write these things down, in detail, and communicate/teach them to Israel (43:10-11). Because God had said this, it would appear that God did not want these things to be allegory for a future, immaterial, spiritual reality. I wonder if Israel would have considered these measurements such?

In order to rightly understand the types of the Scripture, we must get our information from the Scriptures. The idea of “shadow” is indeed in Scripture. However, it has a very different meaning than what is assumed by CT. To begin, I want to look at a passage of Scripture that is the foundation for a proper understanding of this issue, Exodus 25:8-9. It has to do with the tabernacle which Moses was to build. A cursory study of these things will instruct us, to a large degree, how to properly understand what is meant by types and shadows.

In the Exodus 24, the people confirmed their covenant with God and they affirmed that they were willing and able to keep the covenant brought to them from God through Moses. In chapter 25, God is speaking and says to Moses,

Exodus 25:8–9 (NASB95)

Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.

It is a magnificent thought that God would dwell in a sanctuary among the people of Israel. The sanctuary of which God speaks is the Tabernacle which dimensions and construction is covered in chapters 25-32 and picked up again in chapters 35-40 where it is ultimately erected (Exodus 40:17-33). Much could be said about this Tabernacle, but what needs to be pointed out is that this Tabernacle, and eventually the Temple itself (1 Chronicles 28:19), was a “pattern.” This Hebrew word for “pattern” has a general definition of a model, or image, or detailed schematic. However, it also has the more basic definition, and is used as such, of “likeness.”  It is used often when the word “likeness” is used in the OT (however not in Genesis 1:26). The twenty times this particular word is used, it more often than not refers to the replication of something that already exists. For example, Moses uses this word in Deuteronomy 4:16-18 in this manner. The children of Israel were not supposed to make a “likeness” of any animal on the earth to be a graven image such that they worship it. The likeness does not refer to actually making a living animal. It means that they are not to make a copy of something that exists in actuality. Their graven images would have been a replica, a type, a picture, or a likeness of actual animals. It is also used in this manner in 2 Kings 16:10-18 in reference to the model altar built by Urijah patterned after the actual one in Damascus.

local to the Pentateuch, Moses uses this word five times. Three of the five times it refers to the replicas of the animals that the children of Israel were not to copy. The other two times it refers to the construction of the Tabernacle. Joshua also uses the word in the sense of the replica of something that exists (Joshua 22:28). This section speaks of the altar that the sons of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built by the Jordan River away from Shiloh, where the Tabernacle was. They constructed this altar not for worshipping, but simply as a pointer back to the true altar in the Tabernacle (vv. 21-29). Thus, the altar in Gilead was a copy, replica, or scaled model of the true altar in the Tabernacle.

What does this mean? This means that the Tabernacle, and the Temple, were both patterns, or replicas of the true Temple in heaven, from where Moses and David received their detailed drawings. They were not original designs and they were not, in actuality, the true temple. The true temple is in heaven in some form. The Tabernacle and Temple that was constructed by the sons of Israel were simply copies, or “shadows,” of that Temple in heaven.

The shadow understanding is preeminent in the mind of the writer of Hebrews. It is here that we are taught the correct understanding of what the Bible actually means about types and shadows.

Hebrews 8:4–5 (NASB95)

Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.”

The priest in the OT Tabernacle served a literal, physical dwelling. This is not a literary picture conjured up to teach us a moral lesson. The Tabernacle, as defined by inspired Scripture, was a “copy and shadow of heavenly things…for, ‘See,’ He says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” Thus, we are told that the Tabernacle/Temple were both made as replicas of a heavenly Temple in some way. Again, this is not a literary figure, or allegory or allusion. This was an actual building with real people ministering in it and God actually dwelt there. The point that I think needs to be understood is that the shadow aspect of this scenario demands one-for-one correspondence. That is, the Tabernacle was the resemblance or “shadow” of the actual, or “true temple” (cf. Hebrews 8:2; 9:11, 24). The earthly Tabernacle was not simply an allegory or literary figure of a greater truth about heaven. It was an exact replica of a heavenly Temple.

Further, the pattern of the earthly Tabernacle was for the purpose of teaching something about God, Christ, atonement, justice, grace, etc.… To simply look at this as literary tools glosses over their real intent, which is instruction. For example, the death of bulls and goats surely teaches us that one day a final substitute will come. However, the greater instruction is that a substitute is needed. The fact that He will come is taught in comprehensive fashion through other Scriptures, not simply in a “figure.”

It appears that CT takes “types and shadows” to refer to existential philosophy that may be literarily represented in Scripture, but is now replaced by the antitype. It is interesting that the New Testament uses the word “type” (tupos), fifteen times. Some examples of “type” include:

  • Acts 7:43-44; Stephen indicates that Israel took “types” of false gods along with them. Moses also was told that he was to build a “type” of the Tabernacle as told by God.
  • Acts 23:25; the body of the letter from Claudius had a “type.”
  • Romans 5:14; Adam was a “type” of Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:6; Israel was a “type” for us to follow.
  • Philippians 3:17; godly men are to be “types” for us to follow (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7).
  • 1 Peter 5:3; elders are to be “types” to the flock.

The use of this word indicates a “pattern,” or “model,” or “an example that was, or is to be, followed.” In each case, however, there is an actual person at the heart of the type, and not simply a figure.

Another example refers to topics like the one covered in the previous post. Ezekiel 40-48 is the description of a Temple given in actual dimensions with actual land divisions and actual sacrifices being offered. As stated in the previous post, the perspective of the CT scheme is that of “Types and Shadows” (T/S). That is, the “Temple” found in Ezekiel 40-48 is merely a literary type or shadow of the antitype of the non-physical Temple structure on the New Earth. Dr. Riddlebarger writes,

“In other words, I believe Ezekiel is giving us a picture of the new earth in the prophetic terms with which his readers were familiar (Hoekema, The Bible and Future, 205). This is a picture of the new earth as the dwelling of God. Ezekiel prophesies it in earthly terms (complete with all the temple utensils), while John describes its fulfilled version (in eschatological terms)”

(http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2008/1/16/eschatology-q-a-what-about-ezekiels-vision-of-the-temple-eze.html#comment1556909 accessed 10/29/2012).

The statement made here is classical T/S interpretation. A passage in the OT does not mean what a straight-forward reading of the passage indicates. It, thus, holds a greater antitypical meaning foreign to the reader (since the words do not mean what they appear to mean). This is not sound Bible interpretation.

It would be better, and more in line with the sense of Scripture that we understand “type” as a “pattern” or “model/example,” depending upon the context, than a license to change the meaning of one text to fit the allegorized spiritual-meaning of another text contrived by the imagination of the interpreter.

Paul gives us a clear understanding in the locus classicus Colossians 2:17. Here he writes that food, drink, in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day are all “shadows” of that which is coming. This word “shadow” is exactly what it sounds like. It is an outline cast by a solid form once light hits the form. Thus, these components of Temple activity, regulation, and worship are all the shadow cast by the “substance,” the Lord Jesus Christ. What does this mean? It means that access to God was allowed by these activities, but they did not truly allow for the atonement that was required. Only Jesus Christ truly atones for sins such that access to the Father can be made. Or, to put it another way,

Hebrews 9:8–14 (NASB95)

The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol (παραβολή, ‘parabole’: a teaching tool) for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come (they were still “to come” at the time of the writer), He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

That which is coming is absolute, permanent, unhindered access to the Father in His Temple (which He is-Revelation 21:22. However, the personal dwelling of God on the New Earth does not contradict a rebuilt Temple in the Millennium, as per Ezekiel40-48) because of the efficacy of the obedience of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Thus, the foods, drinks, sacrifices, and even the Sabbath-Day taught us concerning the need for atonement as well as the work that God would accomplish through the Messiah.

In future posts, we will be examining further the reality of Jesus Christ and His work in light of a true interpretation of Scripture. We will see that the program for the future is not simply a spiritual anti-type for the “typical” language of shadowy references in the OT. If were such, we would not have a perspicuous Scripture. We would have a kind of literature that carries a meaning beyond the words on the page that only the learned elite can figure out.

The Lordship of Jesus Christ

What does it mean that apostate teachers deny our “only Master and Lord Jesus Christ”? This phrase, which is a participial phrase connected to the previous phrase “while turning grace into licentiousness”, is a dominant consideration in the entire epistle.

  • It was the Lord who destroyed those Israelites who did not believe in Him after delivering them from Egypt-v.5.
  • It was the Lord who has kept demons in bonds under darkness until judgment-v.6
  • It was the Lord who had the power to rebuke Satan while Michael was contending with him-v.9.
  • It was the Lord whom Enoch prophesied concerning His return-v.14.
  • It was the Lord from Whom came the apostles-v.17.
  • It was the Lord for Whom we are waiting-v.21.
  • It is the Lord Who is able to keep us from stumbling-v.24.
  • It is the Lord before Whom we will stand in evaluation-v.24.
  • It is to the Lord Jesus Christ which belong the glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Thus, Jude is an epistle written to affirm the lordship of Jesus Christ against those apostates who refuse to submit to Him. Not only will they not submit to Him as Lord, but they secretly infiltrate the church and teach the disciples also to rebel. Remember, they do this “unnoticed.”

The verse says that apostates “deny” the Lord Jesus Christ (v.4). This word “deny” (arneomai/arneisthai) is used often in the New Testament. It means, “to disown, renounce,” or, “repudiate.” (Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller, vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 74-75.) In fact, it can indicate the action of one who at one time confessed Jesus as Lord, but in time disowned and denied Him as such:

b. ἀρνεῖσθαι implies a previous relationship of obedience and fidelity. It can take place only where there has first been acknowledgment and commitment (Gerhard Schlier, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol.1, Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, eds. electronic ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-], 470.)

This kind of denial is seen in Peter himself when he denied the Lord three times (Matthew 26:69-75). However, in that case, Peter was restored because of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he disowned. Apostates, remember, fall away from the faith. They don’t outright reject it, they remove themselves from it. They once confessed it, but they turn around to reject it.

However, there is another kind of denial that it prevalent in Jude that is especially appropriate to our day. There is a kind of denial that is more than a denial of a person, such as Peter with Christ. There is a denial of the truth about that person. Again, TDNT gives us insight into this reality:

This leads us to the third form of denial, namely, the failure to acknowledge Jesus Christ in sound doctrine. Particularly when a statement about Christ has consequences for the practical decisions of life, it must be made correctly and cautiously. Nor is it merely the inner connection between teaching and practice which makes of heresy a denial of Christ (cf. 2 Pt. 2:1 ff.). In itself a false statement concerning Christ is a denial of Christ. For the claim of Christ extends to thinking, and where there is a false statement it implies that this claim is heard but not acknowledged” (ibid, p. 470)

This is a fascinating statement. “The failure to acknowledge Jesus Christ in sound doctrine…particularly when a statement about Christ has consequences for the practical decisions of life.” That is, it is not so much the philosophical and theological that is a true denial. It is the philosophical and theological bent toward a repudiation of sound doctrine which leads to a lifestyle of denial. In other words, a person may at one time say, “Jesus is Lord,” however, in time they live as if He weren’t. They may at one time confess Jesus as Lord with their mouth, but they live as if it didn’t matter. Paul is very clear on this point:

 

Titus 1:16

16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

In fact, an entire range of theology teaches that the lordship of Jesus Christ is inconsequential to salvation. “Jesus may in fact be Lord, we don’t deny that,” they say. It just does not have to be something that is included in the gospel presentation to the prospective convert. So, it seems, we teach people to deny who Christ is from the very beginning of their introduction into Christianity.

When a person “den[ies] our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ,” what exactly are they denying? When an apostate turns from sound doctrine and announces that the mastery of Jesus Christ is unnecessary, what is he saying?

The clearest and most direct teaching on the lordship (i.e. absolute authority as a result of an office held, or position attained, over and above any other authority) comes from the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:22-36. The depth and rich expanse of Peter’s sermon here is not something that can be covered in a blog. It deserves the honor of a book or series in order to be understood. However, the teaching here is particularly important in light of the issue of the lordship of Jesus Christ and so needs to be explained.

Peter is preaching to Jews who, fifty days earlier (Leviticus 23:15; Acts 2:1), had crucified Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-23). He is preaching in light of the sound of the coming of the Holy Spirit, which sounded like “a violent rushing wind” (Acts 2:2). This is the coming of the Holy Spirit prophesied of in Joel 2:28-32, which itself is a component of the New Covenant (Ezekiel 36:27), the giving of the Holy Spirit as a promise (Acts 2:33; Galatians 3:14). Peter begins his sermon to the crowd which had gathered with reference to Joel 2:28-32. Beginning in verse 22, he expounds upon Joel’s prophecy. The evidence of the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit indicates that the “great and glorious day of the Lord” is coming (v.20). Before that day, which culminates in eternal judgment, everyone who calls upon the name of the lord will be saved (i.e. from that day of judgment which is to come). Paul also taught the same thing in Romans 10:8-13. The key to understanding Peter’s sermon is this very reference.

Acts 2:21 

21 ‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

 

Peter then goes on to introduce Jesus, the Man from Nazareth (v.22). He performed the very signs and wonders about which Joel prophesied (v.19). These signs and wonders authenticated the coming of the Holy Spirit both in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, as well as the ministry of His apostles. Further, Peter reminds the people that they crucified this Man days earlier by the hands of Romans (see Matthew 26:15-31). However, the death blow that they dealt Him could not hold Him. Why? Because the prophet David had prophesied that the Christ will neither be abandoned to Hades, nor will the Father allow His Holy One to undergo decay (Acts 2:25-31; Psalm 16:8-11). God had promised that a seed of David would sit upon David’s throne. Thus, David knew that the Christ could not be held by death but had to come back to life so that He could reign. Jesus did in fact rise and thus He will one day complete this prophecy by sitting upon David’s throne. Then Peter tells us that that same Lord who would reign on David’s throne, would be killed and yet not held by Hades or death, and Who is coming in judgment, and yet upon Whose name we can call for salvation, is the very Lord who was given the right and authority to share the throne of the Father. Psalm 110:1 explodes on the scene to complete the picture.

Acts 2:34–35 (NASB95)

34 “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:

‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand,

35 Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” ’

David, speaking of the Christ, said that the LORD (i.e. the Father) said to his Lord (i.e. the Son) that He is to sit with Him on His throne, after death, resurrection, and ascension, until He makes His enemies subject to Him (a direct reference to the Abrahamic promise that the Seed of Abraham would “possess the gate of their (literally, “his”) enemies” [Genesis 22:17; cf. Galatians 3:15-16]). Thus, David referring to this One as His “Lord”, is none other than the Man from Nazareth, Jesus. What is the conclusion then?

Acts 2:36 

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

If God has made Jesus Christ Lord, then why don’t we bow before Him? Why do we think that His lordship is something that we can play around with? God has made Him Lord! What does this mean? It means:

  • He has been given a kingdom-Daniel 7:9-14 (Matthew 19:28).
  • He is the King of Israel-Acts 2:30 (Ps. 132:11; 2 Sam. 7:12f; Ps. 89:3f).
  • He is the Ruler of the earth, thus the Last Adam-1 Corinthians 15:45 (Genesis 1:26).
  • He is the Seed of the woman to crush Satan and his works-Genesis 3:15 (Hebrews 2:14.; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 20:1-10).
  • He is the Seed of Abraham who would defeat His enemies and bless the world-Genesis 22:17-18 (Genesis 12:1-3).
  • He is King of all the earth and thus He is Lord, whose name everyone will confess eventually-Philippians 2:9-11 (cf. Is 45:23; Rom 14:11).
  • He alone will inherit the kingdoms of this world and make them His kingdom-Revelation 11:15.
  • He has commanded that all nations repent from their sins and bow to Him alone-Matthew 4:17 (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is characterized by the realization that a person is a rebel against the Lord, he is of his true father the Devil, he has offended this One who will come to reign forever, and unless he is regenerated by the grace afforded him by the Lord, he will perish in his sins. Truly, whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

The church cannot budge on this truth-the lordship of Jesus Christ. She cannot throw away, or negotiate this reality. If she does, upon whom will men call for deliverance from the wrath to come? Will their philosophy save them? Will their theological bent save them? Will a Man who portrayed as the Lamb of God, and yet denied as the Seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, as well as God Himself really save them? Will a person deny the right and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not be considered a rebel? Can a person resist authority and be called a friend of that authority?

Let us affirm, along with God Himself, that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Apostates deny this magnificent truth…and they have come into the church unnoticed.

How Do They Do It?

When a person reads the epistle of Jude, or Second Peter, you begin to wonder, “How is it that a person can be so contrary to what the Bible says in their teaching and their lives, and yet “creep in unnoticed”?” How is it that the church does not spot them immediately? Consider the description of apostate teachers:

· They are deceptive-v.3
· They resist greater authorities, including church leadership-vv.4, 8, 11, 16.
· They are fleshly-vv. 4, 8,
· They prey on the saints-vv.12,16.
· They don’t care for doctrine-vv. 4,10, 16.
· They complain and criticize-v.16.
· They are a law unto themselves-v.18.

Peter has even more to say concerning their lifestyle, including fleshly indulgence, adultery, and slavery to corruption. The question then becomes, “How can they be ‘unnoticed’?” Jude, along with Peter, tell us how they do it and this modus operandi is very important for the church to consider if it is going to be successful in contending for the truth.

Jude wrote,

         3      Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
         4      For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

The brother of the Lord, Jude, had the desire to write to the the churches of the dispersion concerning the glories of their salvation. But, he had learned that apostates had entered the fellowship of the saints and with that reality, he was compelled to write to the church to appeal to them to fight hard against the error that would emanate from these men. How he had heard about them, who they were, how he identified them, and were they known in other churches as leading them astray, is impossible to tell. However, Jude is not writing to name the imposters, but to describe them. This is far better so that they, and their kind, can be identified and removed. Further, it serves us better because we can also identify their kind and take steps to deal with it.

The Lord Jesus Christ taught about this. In the Old Testament, if a false prophet would arise, according to Deuteronomy 13:1-11, and counseled rebellion within the context of signs and wonders (which came true or actually happened, by the way) he would be killed. The death penalty was the result for the man who would come in and define God in a way that was not according to the Law of Moses. The death penalty would have the affect of curbing others from following suit.

Yet, we are not under those regulations. So, what are we to do with those who counsel rebellion? The big picture is found in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. This parable, told by the Lord Himself, teaches us how to handle the “sons of the evil one.”

   24      Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
         25      “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.
         26      “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
         27      “The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
         28      “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
         29      “But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
         30      ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”

This is a parable meant to teach of the character and economy of the kingdom of heaven. The difficulty of understanding these things demands that Jesus teach in a parable. This parable covers a lot of ground in teaching us how the kingdom of heaven will exist and does now exist. The entire parable is the comparison. In summary, a man sowed good seed in his field, another man, an enemy, came along undercover (unnoticed), and sowed bad seed in the man’s good field. This is a very evil and malicious thing to do. As the crop bore grain, the workers of the field saw the tares alongside of it and went and told the owner that the field has both weeds and wheat. The loyal workers were willing to enter the field and begin pulling up the tares amidst the wheat. The owner, concerned for his wheat, said, “No. You can’t do that without affecting the wheat also. When harvest comes, we will gather the tares and burn them at that time.”

Later, in private, Jesus explains the parable:

         36      Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
         37      And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
         38      and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;
         39      and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.
         40      “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
         41      “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
         42      and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
         43      “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

The Son of Man sows the seed of the sons of the kingdom of heaven in the field of the world. The tares, planted by the devil, are the sons of the evil one. The enemy has placed evil alongside righteousness. Both are allowed to co-exist for a time in the kingdom of heaven. However, at the end of this age, the reapers (the angels of God) will be called to separate the wheat from the tares. The evil ones will the judged by eternal fire, and the righteous children of God will enter into the “kingdom of their Father” and will reign in brilliance forever.

Those evil workers are allowed to exist alongside the righteous. We are not called to kill them or anything of the sort. We are only called to wait until harvest and let the Lord separate them out and fulfill that instruction. In the church, we are to identify them, call attention to their teaching, and warn the saints. Pastors are tasked with the burden of protecting the flock of God from these deceptive workers and their leavenous teaching. The saints are to build themselves up on the their holy faith and not spend their days identifying error. There is much more to learning of Christ than there is to learning of Satan. The influence will be felt in the world, and that can, and does, bleed into the church.

But, the question remains, “How?” The brilliance of Satan becomes clear at this point. Notice Jude 4,

…ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Here is their tactic. They are ungodly persons. They are immoral, irreverent, and opposing to God. Their craft is found in the skills of deception. Jude says that these ungodly persons creep in unnoticed by the church because they change the meaning of grace into its antithesis. That is, apostates are skilled at changing definitions of key truths.

The word that Jude uses for “turn” is the Greek word, μετατιθέντες . This word is a very descriptive and clear word. It means, in the temporal or spatial sense, to place and object from one location to another location. In the ideological sense, it means to change, pervert, or transfer meaning from one thing to another. It is the idea of transformation of ideas or truth into something other than its actual meaning. Putting this into the verse, we see that these teachers come in and change/alter the meaning of ‘grace’ from the accomplished righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:15-21) given to those who believe in Jesus Christ which leads to righteous living (Titus 2:11-14), to then mean the freedom to indulge in licentiousness and pleasure. You see, if they can convince the church that true Christian living is self-indulgence and pleasure-seeking, then their sensual lives will blend right in with the things they assert. If a person can call grace “freedom,” then their so-called freedoms will define grace and thus they sneak in unnoticed. Brilliant!

Consider this, grace reigns in righteousness and leads to eternal life in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:21). Grace is given by God and is necessary for justification (Ephesians 2:8-10). Grace is from the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 15:11). Grace allows God to forgive trespasses (Ephesians 1:7). Grace defines the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16). Finally, grace, the provision of the righteousness that satisfies the holiness of God which sinners have offended (Matthew 5:48), instructs us

…to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, –Titus 2:12

Nowhere do we find that grace provides for our indulgences, desires, and dreams. Grace, in fact, does not allow for that. Rather, it comes at the expense of denying ourselves. The Lord Jesus told the crowd of disciples on a number of occasions that if they want to have life, they must deny themselves, take their cross, and follow Him (Matthew 10:37-39; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23; 14:27f.). To follow Jesus Christ is a life of the denial of the flesh, not an exercise of the flesh. The cost is more than most want to consider, but that does not change the demand. Grace is grace precisely because it is the provision of the righteousness that we could never generate, but is required in order to approach God. Thus, true grace leads to the practice of this righteousness…through Christ.

So, the next time someone wants to come to you and redefine grace as freedom from rules, laws, and the burden of righteous living, consider the possibility that they might be attempting to redefine grace to provide for their own licentiousness.

Jude-The Epistle of the Search and Rescue

 

The activity of Satan  in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is significant. The real heart and mind of Satan is revealed in his efforts to destroy Christ, whether by murder, or by deception and trickery, or by temptation. From the beginning of Satan’s fall to now, Satan has feverishly attempted to thwart God’s work, receive His worship, and ravage God’s people. He is busy. He is active. He is real. Yet, he is limited and under God’s omnipotent authority.

What is Satan doing now? Because Satan’s attempt to destroy God’s work by destroying His Son was turned on its head, Satan has now begun to hear the ticking of the clock. The time for his judgment is nearer than ever before. He has known since Genesis 3:15 that he would be ultimately destroyed by another Ruler, One who would deliver the crushing blow to Satan and all his works and inaugurate His kingdom. He now knows that Jesus Christ has been handed the kingdom of God by the Father, and the time is coming for Him to come and claim His realm. Satan will have no room in that kingdom. Satan knows that. Thus, now, he is doing what Satan does best-he destroys by deception. He will continue until the Lord banishes him.

Here is a very small sampling of Satan’s work in the church:

1. He is deceiving the church’s minds by introducing another gospel and thus clouding their sincere devotion to Jesus Christ – "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." -2 Corinthians 11:3
2. He tempts believers to immorality – "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:5.
3. He hinders the spread of the gospel – "For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us." 1 Thessalonians 2:18.
4. However, his greatest activity is the work of infiltration. He is the master of infiltrating error into truth. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” 1 Corinthians 11:13-14

It is that last point that most concerns Jude. It is the fact that certain false teachers have infiltrated the church and have begun to introduce destructive heresies leading to lasciviousness and licentious living. Whereas the bride of Christ is to be pure and holy, Satan has as his target and goal to make her defiled and profane. And we know that he appears to be successful in our day as we see church after church adopt a profoundly worldly behavior that makes the beautiful bride of Christ violated and impure. We see, often, the influence of Satan by the lives of the leadership of the church. They exude impropriety and filthy living. They glory in their shame, and they call the church to follow their fables. These are men who are denying the lordship of Jesus Christ, who is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15), calling their denial “grace".” They refuse to call Him Master and bow their stubborn knees in order to acknowledge His right to rule over them. They are confined in their condition as rebellious subjects and will be treated as such when the Lord returns. Instead of bearing the image and likeness of a righteous God, who is orderly and beautiful, they bear the image and likeness of a world that is on the broad way to destruction. And what is their motive? What motivates these false leaders, whom God has not sent? Money. They seek the gain that comes from declaring themselves God’s man. And their victims are lulled into their scheme because they are, by-and-large, unsuspecting.


This is the tone of Jude. This little letter is polemical and contentious. It is a call to arms and is meant to stir the church to action and teach her how to maintain her post, until the Lord returns. Instead of being a soft and unsuspecting assembly of the redeemed, the church is to wise as a serpent and militant in her defense of the truth about her Husband. She is to be jealous for His glory and the good of His name. She is to contend for the truth, defend the gospel, and expose those who lead the church away from simple devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Peter wrote to us that in the last days, which began when Christ died and rose again and ascended to the Father, there would be false teachers just as there were false prophets among Israel. Israel was warned that there would be those who would enter into the life of the nation and introduce themselves as God’s spokesman. How would they know? What should they do with men like that? Moses told Israel very clearly how to identify these scam-artists and how to deal with them.

Israel is on the plains of Moab and they are poised to enter the land promised to them by God through the promise and covenant made to Abraham. It is the second generation of Israelites, and in order to keep the Law of their God preeminent, Moses expounds the Law to this new generation (Deuteronomy 1:5). Within that Law, he warns Israel about the false prophets.

        1      “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,
         2      and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’
         3      you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Dt 13:1–3.

 

This is a very interesting thing for Moses to say. In short, Moses is teaching that there will be men who will come and perform signs and wonders which may well come true. And, if that prophet, by virtue of his tricks, entices you to adhere to a God other than the One revealed in Moses’ teaching, then that prophet is to be rejected and his words are to be ignored. In our day, we see a supposed miracle or hear stories of great crusades of miracles happening in another country, and we think surely God is in that. And yet, when you listen to the teaching of these men (and women) you quickly realize that their description of God simply does not square with Scripture. Thus, signs and wonders are subject to Scripture.

Even if that prophet is a dear family member, or your beloved spouse, they are to be rejected and identified for all to see. What would be their punishment? Death. Like a cancer that is removed from the body with radical surgery, so this man or woman should also be removed. The issue is separation. Thus, we are not to kill false teachers in the church, otherwise we might pull up the wheat with the tares (Matthew 13:24-20). Better to let the Lord deal with that at the final judgment.


In the church, we also have those who say they are from God and yet their teaching and their lives simply do not conform to sound doctrine and godliness. This is not difficult to comprehend. They preach another Jesus and another gospel. Notice I did not say, “They do not preach Jesus.” I said, “They preach another Jesus.” That is, they preach what they imagine in their minds and call that “Jesus.” They ascribe Christian language to their own thoughts, and we think that they are okay. There would be no deception if a man would deny the deity of Christ. However, to redefine deity is the goal. To flatly deny that Jesus Christ is Lord is clearly heresy. But, to redefine His lordship is the method of Satan. To deny the gospel is easy to spot. However, to use gospel terms and give it a different meaning is the modus operandi of teachers God has not sent. Paul warned Timothy in this way, “

   3      If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,
         4      he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,
         5      and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 1 Timothy 6:3-5

Did you notice that Paul said that a true teacher teaches sound words? And what are those sound words? Sound words are the teachings of Jesus Christ. A pastor is to teach the words of Jesus Christ. It is true that the epistles are built on the foundation of the words of Jesus Christ. The epistles are a collection of expositions of truth from Christ. Thus, we do not make up our own doctrines, and we do not detract from these sound words either. Those who do are conceited and ignorant. Their minds are argumentative, morbid, and full of mischief. They generate envy, fighting, and promote profanity, and evil suspicions. They indulge the flesh and train others to do so as well, making them twice the “son of hell” as they are (Matthew 23:15).

But, we have the Word of God. This is why we must study it. This is why we must know it. This is why we must proclaim it. This is why we must suffer for it. For the glory of Jesus Christ, the safety of the saints, and the promotion of the kingdom of God, we must maintain sound words in the church, and thus rescue the unsuspecting from false teachers.

The Sufficiency and Finality of Jesus Christ.

If I had to identify one of the more deadly, and yet more popular, confusions in the church today, it would have to be the issue of what to do with the Mosaic Law. There are some who express the need to continue using the Law for everyday structure of their lives, or for use in the government, or their church. They would say that the Mosaic Law is a binding document and would generate a righteousness that is sorely needed in those arenas. Then there are others who have turned to Jesus Christ and therefore repudiate not only the Mosaic Law, but even Christ’s Law. In fact, they would rather have no commandment ruling over them whatsoever. They are free in Christ, and they plan to live that way. Those who believe that makes you wonder in which Christ did they believe?

However, both of these perspectives are erroneous and deadly. The one is an affront to Jesus Christ’s sufficiency, and the other to Jesus Christ’s authority. Either one will misrepresent Christ, destroy true holiness and godliness, and grieve the Holy Spirit.

What, then, would be the right way to perceive the use of the Law? What is that relationship between Jesus Christ and the Mosaic Law? Are there any clear-cut Scripture passages that teach us these things? Yes, there are.

Paul has a very clear teaching in the letter he wrote to the Colossians that will serve as a comprehensive passage for us. Paul wrote in chapter 2 verses 16-17,

         16      Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—
         17      things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

This particular verse is comprehensive and powerful in what it states. Let’s remember of whom we are speaking. This is the Apostle Paul. His credentials were impressive, at least before man. He was a circumcised Jew at eight days old, according to Mosaic Law, of the nation of Israel, of the Tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, and a Ph.D.-level Pharisee. He despised the church and persecuted it with vehemence. This was Paul. If anyone understood the Law and its demands, he would have. If anyone would have been deluded by “Pharisaism”, it would have been Paul (and he was). He knew and strictly followed the Mosaic Law. When he became a disciple, he then became a scribe who, like the head of the household, brings out of his treasure things new and old (see Matthew 13:52). Thus, when Paul speaks of the food, drink, festivals, or Sabbath observances, he is very capable of comprehending the import of those things. Yet, he still says, “They are shadows.”

What does “shadow” mean? Simply speaking, it is the image cast by an object. So, if the sun is to my front, behind me is my shadow. But is that the sense in Colossians 2:16-17? Some would argue that this shadow/substance, or type/antitype, are merely terms used to accommodate us literarily. That is, in their minds they do not see that the shadow/substance terminology goes beyond a nice way for the writer to refer to something. They do not see it as actual. But for Paul to call the festivals and new moons shadows is no literary figure.

In order to understand this we need to go to Exodus 25:8-9. This is the origination of the truth about shadow/substance. Understanding this clears the air, I think.

Both Moses and David were given instructions from the Lord concerning the construction of the Tabernacle and Temple respectively (Exodus 25:9; 1 Chronicles 28:19). Moses is given these instructions in our passage and it appears that Moses, when given these instructions, understood that he was not building the real Tabernacle. The verse states,

         8      “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.
         9      “According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.

The key word here is “pattern.” This term is used Deuteronomy 4:16 to refer to an image of anything for the purpose of worship and veneration. It is also used in 2 Kings 16:10 to refer to a model of a idolatrous altar, but not the actual altar. It is used in Ezekiel 8:10 to refer to pictures carved on a wall. Finally, and more significantly, it is used in 1 Chronicles 28:19 in reference to the “pattern” of the Temple that David received from God. It was something of an architectural drawing of the Temple which God gave to David to give to Solomon to build. None of these instances indicate literary convenience. In other words, it is not simply for convenient literary accommodation that the writers refer to a pattern, or image, or plan. These things actually referred to something with mass; something real.

What is my point? My point is this. Moses was given the pattern of the Tabernacle and he understood, because his was only a pattern, that he was not actually building the actual Tabernacle of God. “There must, (I am sure he concluded), be an actual Tabernacle after which design I am building.” Thus, when God said, “I am showing you a pattern”, Moses comprehended that his was only that, a pattern. It was not the true Tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-2; 9:11,12; 10:1). Therefore, all the regulations of divine worship accompanying the Tabernacle were also not the true regulations. That is, they were simply patterns as well. Therefore, the sacrifices, the cleansing, the offerings, the ritual, are all “shadows” cast by the true “substance” in heaven. This is how to conclude then, also, that the regulations of the Mosaic Law are also “shadows” in that they cannot commend us to God because the true Tabernacle has come (and is coming, to sound Johannine). The strictures of Mosaic economy serve their purpose, the revelation of sin. But, they cannot make us righteous. The Law of Moses can demonstrate to us the need for repentance and salvation, but it cannot give us eternal life. They are only shadows. They do not contradict the true Tabernacle and the true Law, the Law of Christ. However, they are not efficacious, that is they cannot do anything for us in actuality. It may be useful for regulating life in the church, as is demonstrated by Paul’s consistent use of the Mosaic regulations in church life (i.e. 1 Corinthians 5:13; 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18; not to mention the myriad of allusions to the teachings of Mosaic Law as in the use of Numbers 30 in 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 and 1 Timothy 5:11-12). But they cannot actually make us members of Christ.

So, when Paul says that the food, drink, festivals, new moon, and Sabbath day regulations are mere shadows, he means that according to Exodus 25:9, those regulations do not actually reach into heaven, where the true Tabernacle is. But, Christ did. His death, resurrection, His life, His priestly work, His prayers, etc. all are performed efficaciously and He has entered into the true Tabernacle and has sat down, not at the doorway of the Tabernacle, but at the actual right hand of the Father. Further, in fact, God the Father and the Lamb are the Temple (Revelation 21:22)!

So, please, don’t let anyone steal your devotion and love for the Lord Jesus Christ by putting you back in the shadows. Worship in the light, as He is in the light.

The Initial Components of the Father’s Plan are Inaugurated.

The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is that sinners are made into sons. That may sound simple enough, however it most certainly is not a simple matter. This is not because God somehow has to work extra hard to do this. It is not because Satan is such an enemy that God is being outwitted by him. It is not because we are already so acceptable to God that He has a hard time choosing whom to redeem. To make sinners into sons demands the satisfaction of a reality that is insurmountable…at least by mankind.

God’s justice, motivated by His holy nature, is no small thing. God must punish sins and those who perpetrate them. He must destroy all that offends Him, not because He is Himself sinfully proud for then He would have to punish Himself. He has to destroy all that offends Him because of His purity, righteousness, and holiness. These things coupled with His sovereignty require the vanquishing of all that does not respond to Him in like manner. In fact, to do this is right for God alone.

Therefore, in order for God’s plan to make sinners into sons to take place, God has to do something with the sins of the eventual sons. He cannot overlook them, pardon them, nor can He punish the sinners He has elected because once a sinner dies, there awaits judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, the elect cannot die in their sins, yet they cannot atone for their own sins either. God must remedy the problem, and He most certainly did.

In order to initiate the remedy, the sinner needs to comprehend his illness. It does no good to present the remedy to someone who cannot accept that he is ill. That is more than an illustration, it is true. Jesus said, “

         29      And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.
         30      The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”
         31      And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.
         32      “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:29–32).

People who are sick know their need. They need to be made well, so they trek to the local doctor and submit to his suggestions. The main point is that the healthy usually do not endure the examinations and suggestions of the physician. In the same way, unless a person sees the illness of his offense toward holy God, he will not seek a cure. He must know he is ill. He must understand that he is in a very precarious condition and is at death’s door. Therefore, God will, without exception, demonstrate to the sinner his illness. How does He do that? He shows mankind the picture of the perfect man. He demonstrates to the sinner, via the Law, his illness as compared to the holy, righteous, and good nature of the Law of God (Romans 7:12). Unless a sinner agrees that he has broken God’s holy Law, he will not be convinced that he is ill.

Romans is a profound book in so many respects. But, one way in which its profundity is demonstrated is Paul’s comments in chapter 7 concerning the Law and its role in his life. Whether this chapter is dealing with Paul and his pre-conversion days, or Paul and his immediately post-conversion days, the truth is the same, Paul would not have seen his sin if it were not for the external Law of God, the Ten Commandments, and their objective standards, which contradicted his nature. In short, Paul states that he would not have seen the impulse to covet as wrong and offensive to God had he not read in the Law the holy prohibition of God to not covet. In verses 7-13 Paul relates this action of the Law in him in a very candid way. He says that he would not have come to know sin except through the Law (v.7). Why not? Because, unless there is a standard, a law from God, we will compare ourselves to ourselves and think that we are not sick. If we are all sneezing and coughing, then my sneezing and coughing won’t seem so bad. However, when someone comes along and tells you, “Sneezing and coughing is abnormal,” I will see the truth of my condition. Paul read in the Law that coveting is sin against the God of Israel (Exodus 20:17). However, his condition is so severe (and so is yours), that his covetousness did not die down simply because it was revealed. It increased. Sin, being the condition that it is, was exacerbated by the commandment of God. It is so contrary to God’s nature that to tell it what God loves is to cause it to rail against that very thing. This is why Paul says that “through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful” (v.13). In a condition like that, you can see that we are worse off than we imagined. It is like being allergic to antivenom.

But, this is the plan of God. Our utterly sinful condition, for which there is no human cure, is profound and desperate. We could not, nor do we want to, cure ourselves. We love our illness. It is sweet to our palate. We love its impulses and what it provides. We love its allurements. And when we are punished for it, we complain against a God who is ruining our fun. Again, our illness is worse than we imagined. God must demonstrate all this to us, and He does so in the Law.

Many years after Romans, Paul wrote to Timothy, “

    8       But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

1 Timothy 1:8

The use of the Law is like a sword, you must use it the way it is meant to be used. What is the use of the Law? It is to reveal sin. It is made for

   9     …those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 
   10      and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

1 Timothy 1:9–10.

 

The Law is the sounding board against which every person is measured. It is holy, righteous, and good, not simply to reveal sins, but their root cause-our own hearts.

Thus, God has to show us our condition. After all, when Christ said that He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance, He was most certainly speaking about the entire world. Once the condition is believed, by God’s grace, the remedy may be taken and applied. That remedy being Jesus Christ, who never sinned, never wavered in His love for the Father, and maintained perfect obedience to the Law of God. What is more, He died so that He might satisfy that insurmountable reality-God’s justice.

Preaching Christ From the Old Testament-Jesus And The Law of Moses-pt.5

There are other questions as well that need to be addressed when speaking about the Sabbath and the Christian. Because the Sabbath represents such a foundational and substantial part of Moses’ Law, what you do with the Sabbath regulation, built upon the actual seventh day of creation week, determines how you handle the rest of the Law. It is no easy task to wade through all the issues that are raised when speaking of the Sabbath. Some of the questions that come to mind are: “What about the rest of the Law. Should we obey that too? If we ignore the Sabbath, which God sanctified, do we also ignore the rest of the creation work, e.g. the creation of the man and woman and their respective responsibilities? Did God truly supersede the day that He sanctified? As Christians, are we to ignore the Law completely?”

 

These are just some of the questions that are raised. I would like to attempt a solution to these questions based upon a variety of Scriptures that deal with this subject. It will center around the Christian and the Law of Moses and, I think, will directly relate to this issue of the Sabbath. By the way, when I speak of “The Sabbath”, I am strictly speaking of that seventh day of creation, our Saturday, and never Sunday, the so-called ‘Christian Sabbath.’ It is clear from Scripture that the Lord’s Day, Sunday, has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath for the Christian. Most of the confessions born out of the Reformation (e.g. The Westminster Confession, chapter 21, VII, VIII) erroneously made that assertion and they are incorrect. Therefore, the Sabbath is strictly Saturday.

 

As we have seen before, the Law, and the Prophets, and the writings all prophesied that the Messiah was coming. Jesus, speaking with the two on the road to the town of Emmaus, said to them, “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. ” (Luke 24:27). Later in the chapter He said, “Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44–45). Jesus affirmed that the OT spoke of Him often and taught through those passages with these disciples. When Jesus did come, one of the first recorded sermons of His, one of the most grandiose, is the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew chapters 5-7. In it, Jesus exposits the Law in relation to Himself, as well as conduct in His kingdom. In fact, this reality of the Law is explained in the Sermon as the foundation of all that is said. Thus, you could say, this Sermon is Jesus’ explanation of the Law of Moses in light of His kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. Jesus’ ‘law’ is superior to Moses’, yet does not contradict it, but rather accomplishes the intent, or requirement of that law.

 

When Jesus begins this exposition, He begins it by assuring His listeners that He did not come to “destroy” the Law, but to fulfill it. In Matthew 5:17, the Lord Jesus gives us His teaching on the Law and it relationship to Himself, His teaching and His entire ministry. He said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. ”  What Jesus said here is paramount. It is a consummate and far-reaching statement that requires some attention. It may appear to the disciples, the twelve, that because of the impossibly high demands of Jesus’ teaching (i.e. Matthew 5:48), that Jesus was trying to remove the Law of Moses and make it useless, as if it never had meaning. In other words, they might think that Jesus was trying to contradict that law and thus completely destroy it. Why would they think that? Because of how far the Jews had gone in completely twisting and rearranging and reinterpreting Moses’ Law to their own gain. They had taken the Law and made it a tool of their own religion, and not, as it was, the Word from the Lord.

 

However, that is not the case. Jesus did not come to remove the Law as if He were contradicting it. He came to install the Law and to complete its requirements.

 

This reality is seen clearly in the writer to the Hebrews. This writer understood these realities and labored long in explaining them to the hard-to-reach Jews in his writing audience. He makes a statement in Hebrews chapter 7 verse 12 that condenses this reality into one statement. He writes: “For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. ” If we just pluck this verse out of the letter, it seems to be saying that there was a change in the priesthood of some sort and that change necessitated a change in the law as well. But, with the consideration of the context, we see that the writer is here speaking of the similarities of the high priest of God, Melchizedek, with that of Jesus Christ. In Genesis 14:17-24, we are introduced to this man, Melchizedek. In that passage, there are a couple components that are critical to understand in order to grasp what the Hebrews writer is saying. First, Melchizedek was a “priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). This is substantial. If he was a priest, who installed him? What was the origin of his priestly order? What family line was he from? Aaron came from Levi (Exodus 2:1; 6:20). Thus, the priestly line which was ordained through the Law of Moses came through the tribe of Levi (Numbers 18:1-7). But, we have no record in Holy Scripture of this man Melchizedek’s family line, or prodigy. So, who was he? We don’t know…and that is the point that God is making. Hebrews 7:3 indicates that the ‘mysterious’ reality surrounding this man is commensurate with the reality of Jesus Christ-he remains a priest forever. He was a priest in Genesis 14. There is no record of his beginning nor ending of his priestly service. Thus, his priestly order was different in quality from the Levitical priesthood through Aaron. The Law appointed the priest from Aaron on down. Further, that priesthood also had multiple priests, and not just one, because each generation saw the death of the previous priest (Hebrews 7:23). However, Christ, being similar in quality to the Melchizedekian priesthood, holds his priesthood for eternity (Hebrews 7:24).

 

Now, in this discussion is a very important concept. The issue in the priesthood is the fact that the priest existed to bring people to God and God to the people. That is, the priest was a kind of mediator who would approach God on God’s terms to perform a religious function, whether atonement, prayers or offerings. He would also represent God to the people in that he would bring to the people God’s Word and judgment on a matter. Further, it would seem incongruous of God to recognize multiple priesthoods. Even Melchizedek was before the Law. Therefore, since we are speaking of that priesthood which God recognizes and has ordained, it must be concluded that there is only one choice between the Levitical priesthood ordained through the Law of Moses, and the Melchizedek-like priesthood of Jesus Christ ordained through God’s own promise or ‘oath’ (Hebrews 7:20-21;cf. Psalm 110). The obvious point of Hebrews is that the ministry of Jesus is superior to the ministry of Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6), and Aaron and the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7:26-28).

 

Now, as it relates to the issues that we are talking about, i.e. the Sabbath, we find in this whole discussion the very important concept that when the approach to God has been changed, then the Law itself has been changed, since the priest in the likeness of Melchizedek was not appointed to that position by the Law. The writer states this in Hebrews 7:12. There he writes that the priesthood did in fact change and Jesus Christ has now assumed the role of a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, thus making the Aaronic priesthood obsolete, or better, completed. Remember, we are not talking about philosophical notions here. We are trying to understand how people are brought to God now in this economy on God’s own terms. He has installed His High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25; 9:24; Romans 9:27). And what was the result? What happened to the entire Law of Moses? It was set aside. What does this mean? Hebrews 7:18 says that the previous commandment was “set aside.” That word means that the previous commandment was made invalid in light of the present administration. That is, the present administration in Christ, i.e. His mysterious kingdom (Matthew 13; esp. 10-17), which is defined as that age of salvation (Mark 10:45), only allows for one priesthood and with it, one Law and the Law of Moses is inadequate for this kingdom. Therefore, the Law of Moses has been set aside because of its “weakness and uselessness.” Why? Because “the Law made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19), but on the other hand, Christ is able to offer eternal salvation to those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). This the Law could never do, although the problem was not with the Law, but with us (Romans 8:1-4).

 

The religious observance of the Sabbath was a part of Moses’ Law. It was observed encyclically, that is it kept coming around every week, month years and succeeding years. It was more than a simple seventh-day observance. It was the bookends to festivals (Leviticus 23:4-8). A kind of Sabbath was recognized during the seventh month (Leviticus 23:27, 32). It was also recognized for an entire year every seventh year (Leviticus 25:1-4), and every 50th year (Leviticus 25:8-22). Thus, the benefit of a Sabbath, or rest from labor, was regulated by the Mosaic Law as a regular observance to Israel. However, now in Christ, that regulation is annulled, rendered ineffective. In Christ’s kingdom, every day is alike (Romans 14:5-6, 14-17). In His kingdom, His Law does not contradict God’s Law given through Moses, it rather fulfills it and accomplishes it and we, in Christ and by the provision of the Holy Spirit, can live out the intent and requirements of the Law. That is, we are able now, by the Spirit of God, to accomplish the intention of the Law of God given to Moses, which is summed up in this: “And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Matthew 22:37–39). Jesus says, “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets ” (Matthew 22:40). That is, the Law of Moses is the regulation of love for the nation in relation to God and to man. However, it was unable to accomplish that goal of love because of the sinfulness of the people to whom it was given. However, that was the point. The Law is a proper tool to show people God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness (1 Timothy 1:8-10; cf. Romans 3:19-20; Galatians 3:19-22).

 

As was stated before, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it. He came to complete it and thus remove it since it was completed by somebody. However, He did not contradict it or treat it with contempt. He upheld it and obeyed it Himself. However, we, as Christians, find ourselves not in Moses’ administration, but in Christ’s. Christ is superior to Moses and Christ’s commandments superior to Moses’, although given by God (indeed, Christ Himself gave Moses the Law that day on the mountain!). But now, Christ has satisfied the sacrifice that propitiated God (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:10). Thus, there are no more religious observances for we who are in Christ. God accepted, once for all time, Christ’s sacrifice and thus accomplish the promise of death for sinners (Genesis 2:16-17; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 7:26-28; 9:12; 10:10). God now only recognizes the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ as well as His current priestly ministry of bringing the concerns and needs of men to God. God is not approached by the Law. God is only approached through Jesus Christ, His beloved Son (Hebrews 7:25).

 

One final word on this matter. For those who still have it in their hearts to observe the Sabbath out of love for Christ and cannot quite understand all that is written above, we who are strong should not condemn those dear saints. Rather, we are to bear with them in love and build them up in hopes that they come to full realization of the accomplishment of Christ (Romans 14).

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