You know, the enemy is very subtle in how he operates, and out of being so subtle what he likes to do is, he likes to produce an identity for those who would believe in Scripture. He wants to produce and create an identity that is contrary to the identity that Yahweh would want us to have.
Our identity is very important. Many men, for instance, would identify themselves by the occupation that they do or their family or any other different kinds of things that they like spending time doing. But we all have an identity.
There is something I would call a "Christian" or a "Modern Day Christian" identity. And sometimes iconography-- like crosses, steeples, church pews, stained glass windows, Sunday morning and evening church gatherings, organs, the Wednesday night gatherings-- this is all a part of this identity.
All these pictures come to mind when many people think of "The Church" or going to church. Now a days the building has become so prominent that the church is viewed as the building when in reality it is supposed to be the people in the building.
But all these pictures, all these mental images, come to mind a lot of times when people think of churchgoers... maybe a suit and tie... maybe, if they are thinking of the Roman Catholic Church, there is Mass. All these images, all these thoughts, enter people's minds... preachers behind a pulpit... and all these things.
I am trying to get you to understand that there is a certain identity. Here in the "Bible Belt," people are impressed with the "Old-Time Christianity"-- the preachers with the southern accents, you know. They like that.
They like that, and out of that southern accent-- which to some people sounds unintelligent-- very wise, old-fashioned kind of wisdom comes out.
So, there is this identity. "Well, I'm goin' to that church." "That's my preacher." They have this whole thing going, and someone comes in like us and says, "Uh... hold the phone. Wait a minute. The identity that you have is not the identity that the Bible has His people ascribing to."
Part of the identity is Christmas, celebrating the birthday of Jesus. The name "Jesus" itself produces all kinds of thoughts-- maybe a figure with a beard and long hair and a toga and a little round disk behind His head and a fellow on a cross whose arms are stretched out like this, you know.
All these thoughts come to mind when you think of "church" and "Jesus" and all these things. And I bring this up because I shared a little bit last week about Christmas and the crucifix.
Some of the things that are wrapped up into the identity of what it means to be a follower of the Bible does not even come from the Bible. It comes from pagan sources, in some cases, or just traditions that are nowhere found or nowhere rooted or nowhere proclaimed in Scriptures.
Even 75 years ago, there was a tremendous amount of anti-Semitism in the United States, and it is still going on today, but less so. If you were a Christian, the idea of doing something Jewish would be considered to be socially unacceptable, and people may even make fun of you for doing this (anything that would make you look Jewish).
So, imagine now. Rewind to the first century. These Greek gentile people that worshiped different gods and goddesses in the first century, for them to receive a Jewish Messiah would have been something that would be socially unacceptable.
You can even see some of the writings going back and forth between Greeks and new believers, new converts in the Messiah, and the Greeks and the Romans mocking, saying that the Hebrew is a "barbarian tongue," saying that they worship a "dead man on a stick" or that some "dead Jew on a stick" is who they are worshiping.
And so, there was a lot of pressure in society to not ascribe to anything Jewish. To them that was like... look, the Romans dominated and ruled over and defeated the Jews, so in their mind, the Roman gods are superior than the ones the Jews would worship.
So, there was this pressure to avoid anything that would look Jewish. And so, the Jewishness of the Messiah was either ignored or set aside. The fact that we are grafted into the people of Israel was set aside or ignored.
One of the things that those who ascribe to saying the Law has been abolished now-- there is a "new people of God" they would say that is the focus of the Heavenly Father now. It is the Church, you know. "The Church."
And when you say "The Church," all kinds of things come to mind. You know, again-- the pews, the stained glass windows, the Jesus figure, the crosses, the steeples-- and all these things come to mind.
And so, I want to cover a chapter of Scripture that is commonly used by those in mainstream Christian circles to cause a division to occur in the body of the Messiah-- a Jewish camp and a Gentile camp. There are two different camps. I have even heard some theologians claim there are two completely separate people of "G-O-D." And I want to address this.
One of the big things that they get this idea from is Acts chapter 15, the Jerusalem Council, where we see in this chapter (Acts 15) there was an influx of Gentile believers into the first century congregation.
And because of this influx, there was a question of: "On what terms do we accept them? I mean, they are not yet completely obedient to the Father's commands. Do we accept them now or do we wait until they have reach a certain pinnacle of obedience, then they would be accepted?"
And so, they had this thought behind them, some of them, that, no, you had to get to a certain level of obedience to the commands, and maybe even be circumcised, before you would be accepted into the brotherhood as being saved people, or at least people on the way toward salvation.
Then the other camp was saying, "Well, I think our Father is looking at the hearts and accepts them right where they are. Yes, there is an expectation they will learn and grow in obedience, but we are not going to reject them until they get to a certain point."
But there was never a question of: "Do we need to keep anything?" Everyone knew that there was a standard somewhere that they were expected to follow.
Now, looking at Acts chapter 15 from a modern day Churchianity kind of mindset, you might be inclined to think, "Well, they were just giving guidelines for Gentiles. There were only four commands that Gentiles were expected to follow, and I am a Gentile, so it is just the four that I need to be concerned about."
But we want to look at that in detail and try to discern what is really going on in Acts 15. We are going to go over this verse-by-verse, line-by-line.
So, let's take a look here in Acts chapter 15, verse 1. It says:
Acts 15:1 - And certain [men] came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."
Alright, what is being said here? It is impossible to be saved, it is impossible for a person to have salvation, unless this happens right here-- circumcision.
So, this verse (this verse 1, right here) I believe is the key to the rest of the chapter. This sets the context for the entire chapter.
And notice that these men, it says where they came from. It says they came down from Judea, probably the Pharisees, and they were teaching, "Brothers, listen, you cannot even be saved unless you are circumcised according to Moshe's custom.
Now, at that time, there were a multitude of Jewish people that, apparently, (maybe it was even just a segment)... but there were Jews who believed that it is when you are circumcised that you actually become a son of Abraham. That is when you become a Jew.
And so, only through circumcision, in their mind, could a person actually become an Israelite, become Jewish, and therefore be an inheritor of the covenants, to be a named party in the covenants. They said that you had to look at the Old Covenant. Who is it with?
They looked at the Bible and it said Israel. They looked at the New Covenant. The New Covenant, Jeremiah 31-- it says, "'This is the covenant I will make with them in those days,' says Yahweh." Who is "them"? He is talking about the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
And so, their theology was: "You are not really a part to even the covenants until you become one of us." And in their mind, the way to become "one of us" was you be circumcised because that was the sign given to Abraham and his children.
And so, there was almost a ring of logic to it. I mean, for something to be deceptive, there has to be a little bit of logic to it.
So, in their mind, the crowning achievement that made a man an Israelite was that they would get circumcised, and you are not saved-- that means you cannot be a partaker of the New Covenant that brings salvation-- until you are circumcised.
But it was not true. It was not true for anybody. That is not the Good News.
There is a Good News of the Messiah has come, and if we repent and we receive Him, we can receive salvation. And then there is a different Good News that was being promoted by those who were, I would call, "of the circumcision." They were of the circumcision.
And so, there was a Good News of the circumcision, and I shared this in the Galatians study. The Good News "of the circumcision" was: "Okay, yeah, repent and accept Yahushua, but you are not done, yet. You can't be received, yet."
First, after you have received Messiah (you repent, turn away from walking the wrong way), the next step, in the Gospel according to the circumcision, was learn all the Torah and obey it. THEN you get circumcised, because they would not allow you to get circumcised until you got this part done (learn all the Torah and obey it).
And THEN, because you have learned the Torah and have been obedient to it, THEN you are actually a son of Abraham. You would be Abraham's seed and you would be declared righteous and you would be a partaker of the covenants given to Israel. That was the Good News "of the circumcision."
Major problem. And this is the main thing that Paul was talking about in his letters because it was this Good News of the circumcision that he had to battle against so often when he was dealing with Gentiles.
And that is this: If we add to the Good News this requirement to learn all the Torah and obey it before you are considered to be a believer, then what we have is a works based salvation, a salvation that says, "No, Messiah is not enough. You also need to do "a, b, c, d, e, f, g," whatever-- then cut your foreskin off and then we will accept you.
So, this right here (learn all of the Torah and obey it, then get circumcised) is a works based salvation-- the works of the Law-- as if you could be saved by the works of the Law.
This right here (repent and accept Yahushua) is not works of the Law. This is a work of the heart. Repentance is a work of the heart that, yes, we participate in, but only because Yahweh called us. You know, no one can come to the Father except the Father draw him.
So, this repentance, because we heard the call and we responded to it, we turned away. Repent means to turn away from what you know is wrong and turn toward the things that are right. And then receive Messiah. Nothing added. That is the true Good News.
The true Good News is: Repent and accept Yahushua, THEN (forget all the other stuff for now) you are Abraham's seed and you are declared righteous. Right then and there. On the spot. Instant response from the throne of Yahweh because the thing that Yahweh wants, our hearts, we are giving to Him.
And we are saying, "I know my heart is not perfect. Clean it, and teach me Your way. Show me the way that I ought to live." That is the true Good News. And, yes, that is going to include Torah.
But what we have today is this mindset that, "Oh, if you start learning the Torah and try to be obedient to it, then you are skipping Step 1, here (repent and accept Yahushua)."
But if you really think about it, even they are not following that because every church has something that they expect of you-- either that you don't commit murder or that you at least try your best to try to do what is right. The question is: What is the standard?
But among the Pharisees, and those that went along with Pharisaical ways of thinking, everything was about being a son of Abraham and national pride that went along with that.
We see this in Matthew 3, verse 7. This is John here, John the Baptist.
Matthew 3:7 - But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
He is calling these men, who are all about being the son of Abraham, children of serpents. A nest of snakes. And he says, "Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Therefore, what does he want from them? He wants works.
Matthew 3:8 - "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
That is what he wants. In other words, their repentance is not genuine. And he goes on to say:
Matthew 3:9 - "and do not think to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as [our] father.' For I say to you that Elohim is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
See, they were putting confidence in the fact that their daddy was Abraham. And he is saying, "You need to repent. Forget about putting confidence in the fact that you have Abraham as your father. You need to repent."
Matthew 3:10 - "And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
He is expecting the fruits of repentance to come out of that repentant heart. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Do you think that has changed now? Do you think that we can receive Messiah and not be repentant? If you think that, you are very wrong because we are supposed to bear fruits worthy of repentance, and Paul did teach the Gentiles to do this.
Another example here in John chapter eight. Yahushua said to the Jews (now look here closely), the Jews who... they actually believed in Him. They did. They believed in the Messiah it says here.
John 8:31 - Then Yahushua said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
32 - "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
What is He saying to them who believe in Him? He is saying, "Abide in My word." In other words, be obedient to it. Live in it. Walk in it. Follow it. Follow My word, then you are My disciples. And then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
Many people say, "Oh, when you know the truth, the truth will make you free." Ah, but you won't even know the truth unless you abide in Messiah's word. Then you will be taught ones, ones who are taught-- disciples. That is what the word "disciple" means-- taught one. "Then you are My disciples indeed." But we have to abide in the Word.
Now, Yahushua's word wasn't just in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He is the Word that became flesh and dwelled among us, so He is Genesis to Revelation.
Well, they answered Him, "Argh! There You are, just like John the Baptist, huh? Always demanding that we be obedient." They said:
John 8:33 - They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How [can] you say, `You will be made free'?"
"Why? Why do you say that? You can't make us free. We are not in bondage." They think they are okay because they are Abraham's children.
Now, I want to bring out something here. There are people who call themselves believers in Messiah, call themselves Christians, and they will say, "Oh, no! I'm a Christian. I don't need to be made free. He already set me free." But they don't abide in His word.
So, Yahushua's response to the one who claims to be free, claims to be one who is set free by the truth of Messiah, He says to these people:
John 8:34 - Yahushua answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
So, they are not set free. Not set free at all. So, we need to walk out, abide in His word, to be His disciple.
John 8:35 - "And a slave does not abide in the house forever, [but] a son abides forever.
36 - "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
If the Son makes you free. Is the Son willing to make you free? Well, on what condition will the Son make you free? If you abide in His word. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free because the Son has set you free. He is the way, the truth and the life.
And so, we go back here to Acts 15, verse 1. And we have already seen that John the Baptist told them their doctrine is wrong. We also see Yahushua the Messiah telling them, "Your doctrine is wrong. You have to repent."
And so, these same men come along, a little bit edited. They are a little different. And they seem like they are repentant believers in Messiah and everything, but they are saying, "Uh, you have to get circumcised. Then you will be accepted."
Well, they are going to conclude, in Acts chapter 15, that their doctrine is consistently wrong. Just like John the Baptist proved it was wrong. Yahushua proved it was wrong. And these men here are going to show that their doctrine is wrong.
It is not being a son of Abraham through circumcision that makes us free. It is the Son of Elohim who makes us free when we choose to actively seek to abide in His word that we might be made free.
Now, they are going to corrupt that and say, "Until you do "x," you are not His. So, what happens here?
Acts 15:2 - Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
And where they went (to Jerusalem, there) is the reason why this chapter is defined as the "Jerusalem Council."
So, alright. They are going to ask them about this. So, being sent on their way by the assembly:
Acts 15:3 - So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.
4 - And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that Elohim had done with them.
They were received by the assembly. I don't like that word "church" too much because of all the images that come to my mind when I think of "church." "Assembly" would be a little better for me, I guess. Maybe it is just me.
I like this. They had reported the things not that they had done, but that Elohim had done with them. I just love how they give credit to Yahweh here. That is how we ought to be.
But, oh no!
Acts 15:5 - But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses."
And so, these same men, the Pharisees, are coming. And they're saying, "Well, no, they're not really fully accepted, yet, because they have to be circumcised and keep the Law before we can really accept them," is what the context here is because verse 1 was, "Unless you do these things here-- circumcise and keep the Law of Moses-- they can't be saved."
Acts 15:6 - Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.
7 - And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up [and] said to them: "Men [and] brethren, you know that a good while ago Elohim chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
This is Peter speaking here. The gospel is the Good News. So, Peter was initially the one (he was given the keys), he was the one to open the door of the ministry to the Jews in Acts chapter 2. And he opened the door of the ministry to the Gentiles later on. I think it is chapter 9 and 10... 10 and 11, actually.
Acts 15:8 - "So Elohim, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as [He did] to us,
Elohim, who knows the heart. He is focusing on the heart issues here, which is really the important thing. Elohim, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by doing what? "By giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us."
Acts 15:9 - "and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
So, what he is saying is, he is recalling to mind that back when Yahweh had chosen Peter to share the Good News with Gentiles, that Yahweh gave them the Holy Spirit even though they were not circumcised, even though they were not fully trained in Torah observance, and so on.
It says He gave them the Holy Spirit and "made no distinction between us and them."
So, let's go back to that time here in Acts chapter 10. He is speaking to Cornelius, and he is saying (talking about Messiah):
Acts 10:43 - "To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
44 - While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
They did not even confess anything. They didn't even confess with their mouth that they believed. They just listened and Yahweh saw their hearts. And the Holy Spirit fell upon them.
No one laid hands on them. No one said, "You need to go say the sinners' prayer." Nobody said, "Well, acknowledge with your mind and your heart and ask Jesus into your heart." No!
They heard the words about Yahushua, and the Holy Spirit came down to them and fell upon them. Awesome!
And so, what happens next?
Acts 10:45 - And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
They believed, "Oh, you have to be circumcised before you are saved." To them, it was beyond strange. That was unheard of-- that Yahweh would pour out His Holy Spirit on an uncircumcised Gentile. They could not fathom such a thing. And so, it contradicted their beliefs is why.
And then, later on in Acts chapter 11, he is recalling the story because people said, "Oh, you went to the Gentiles and ate with them." He says:
Acts 11:16 - "Then I remembered the word of the Master, how He said, `John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
17 - "If therefore Elohim gave them the same gift as [He gave] us when we believed on the Master Yahushua Messiah, who was I that I could withstand Elohim?"
And they said:
Acts 11:18 - When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified Elohim, saying, "Then Elohim has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."
Repentance to life. That was a new thing to them. They could not fathom that they would be received even though they had not yet been circumcised. And there was a tremendous amount of animosity between Jew and Gentile in that time period.
There were manmade laws the Jews had set up. They could not go to one of another nation or have anything to do with them. And so, Peter is referring back (in Acts 15) to what happened in an earlier time period in Acts chapter 11, where Yahweh had given Gentiles the Holy Spirit, even though they had not yet been circumcised.
And he says, "He made no distinction between us and them." But because of this animosity between Jew and Gentile, because of anti-Semitism and anti-Gentilism, the Pharisees had set up these laws and these rules to exclude Gentiles from fellowship or having anything to do with them.
They set up this wall of partition to prevent one from going to the other. And so, we see in Acts chapter 10, verse 28, Peter saying:
Acts 10:28 - Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But Elohim has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
In the Acts 10 vision with the sheet, that is what that sheet was all about-- the animals represented Gentiles, the four cornered sheet representing the earth, and to bring them into the body of Messiah, you should not stop yourselves from going to them.
I have a full explanation about that vision. Lines up completely with everything to do with Torah observance here.
But if you look in the Lexicon, this word which is translated "unlawful," you will find that what it means is something that is considered to be improper according to custom. It has nothing to do with something that is against Yahweh's Law. The Law never forbids a man from going with, to keep company with, a person from another nation.
In fact, He says, "Bring in those who are strangers into the land of Israel. He says:
Exodus 22:21 - "You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Leviticus 19:34 says:
Leviticus 19:34 - `The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I [am] YAHWEH your Elohim.
So, the thing that was considered to be unlawful among Jews in the first century was the opposite in the Scriptures. You should treat them just like anybody else. That is the principle here.
So, it was not against Yahweh's Law for one to keep company with or go to one of another nation. So, these ordinances were created by first century Judaism, not by the Law of Yahweh.
And so, with these things in mind, I hope we can get a theological perspective of what people were thinking in those days. But they couldn't fathom that Yahweh would give His Holy Spirit to one who was a Gentile and not yet gone through the (now I think it is a year long) conversion-proselytization process.
So, with these things in mind, let's go back to Acts 15:7.
So, they are already accepted.
Everyone of us is saved by grace. Jew or Gentile. Not by circumcision. Not by keeping laws. The manner in which we become saved is strictly by grace.
So, he is saying to them in light of that, "Why would you test Elohim to see whether He really did save them by putting this yoke on their neck which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?"
What is that yoke? It is an unbiblical yoke. It is not from the Scriptures. The yoke is that Yahweh will not accept you until you do ____ (fill in the blank)-- circumcision, until you kept your first Sabbath, until you kept a Feast Day, until you did Passover the right way.
Acts 15:7 - And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up [and] said to them: "Men [and] brethren, you know that a good while ago Elohim chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
Or the modern equivalent of that would be, until you learn all of our church doctrines and sign on the dotted line that you are a member of the church and get baptized into our church. Then you are a believer.
8 - "So Elohim, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as [He did] to us,
9 - "and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Acts 15:10 - "Now therefore, why do you test Elohim by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 - "But we believe that through the grace of the Master Yahushua Messiah we shall be saved in the same manner as they."
You see, the same thing is going on today. It is just repackaged. It comes in a different package, but it is the same thing.
In the first century, the package was: circumcision, Law keeping. In the twenty first century it is: follow our understanding, learn our doctrines, then you can get baptized into our church, and then you will be a saved member of the church.
Both are unbiblical and wrong. Both are attempts to add something onto the already simplistic "easy to understand a child can get it" Good News of Yahushua the Messiah, and that is: turn away from what you know is wrong. And you are not going to know everything, yet.
In fact, you could be a believer for 30 years and still not know everything there is to do that Yahweh wants us to do. And He will receive you, as long as you receive Messiah, through whom we receive grace.
So, I could give this same statement, right here (Acts 15:10), in a lot of churches today, particular denominational ones, and say to them, "Why do you put a yoke on the neck of new converts which no one can bear, and that is, 'Until you follow our church doctrines, until you do 'a, b, c, d, x, y, z,' you are not saved'"?
The same false Good News is being taught today.
The true Good News is this: I don't care if you are a biker that has the most rotten past in the world, you get on your face in repentance, and you say to the Father that you are committing your life, just even if in your heart you think this, you are going to commit your life toward walking and doing the right thing.
And you receive Yahushua the Messiah to be the one through whom you receive salvation, through whom you get your sins cleansed. And that's it!
If you were to die in five minutes after that point, you would be every bit a believer as the most perfectly obedient disciple in the entire planet. You are both going to the same place.
You see that happening with Cornelius, a man who was already pretty much repentant. He just didn't hear about Messiah, yet. When he heard about Messiah and he believed in his heart, the Holy Spirit came down.
You don't have to go to one of my festivals. You don't have to attend a service that I happen to be officiating at. You don't have to go to a church. You don't have to go to a synagogue. You just have to go to your knees... and your heart. Or just in your mind.
Kneel before the Father. Yield your will to His will. He can teach you from there. No added requirements.
And because you are a repentant believer, you will begin the journey that we have all begun, which is: learning His will for our lives; recognizing that His ideas, His ways, are far superior to our own; in humbleness, submitting ourselves to Him.
And eventually, as time goes on, you will learn and grow and build on which you have learned and done and continue, through maybe a slower process than some are happy with. But if your heart is completely sold out to Him and you want to do His will, He will meet you right there. That is the Good News! That is really Good News!
No religion thing. Just a relationship thing. And so, that is what is being proclaimed here in Acts 15.
And this yoke was, "Oh no, you have to get your foreskin cut off. Men have to come along with these knives and cut your foreskin off." They have the Bible in one hand and a scalpel in another. No, that is not the way it is done. That is not Yahweh's way of doing things.
The basic message is this:
Acts 2:38 - Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Yahushua Messiah for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Now, those men in Cornelius' group never got baptized, but with their heart they believed. And of course, after that they did get baptized because they did believe.
And baptism does have a way of separating the pretenders from those who are just really serious.
If you are too ashamed to get baptized, then you really haven't given your heart to Him. So, repent. "Repent!" he says. "Repent!" That is the message.
Same message John the Baptist gave those of the Pharisees. Same message Yahushua gave to the ones who claimed to believe in Him, but were not abiding in His word. Same message in Acts chapter 2. And the same message to all. It is the heart issues.
So, we are trying to keep His Word to the best of our understanding. Our repentance is an inner decision to change direction. It is not a thing where He is going to throw the entire weight of learning and keeping all of Yahweh's Law at once.
Matthew 11:28 - "Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 - "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 - "For My yoke [is] easy and My burden is light."
The Pharisees were always trying to put a yoke on men, but it is Yahushua's yoke that we truly need.
Pharisees, Yahushua said:
Matthew 23:4 - "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.
That is the Pharisees' yoke. Yahushua's yoke is not that you have to be perfectly obedient to the Torah before you He will accept you. Yahushua's yoke is that you just turn away from what you know is wrong and begin the journey of walking and living by faith in obedience.
So, we continue to read here in Acts chapter 15. And after declaring that the way to salvation is through Yahushua, not through Law keeping, it says:
Acts 15:12 - Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders Elohim had worked through them among the Gentiles.
So, Barnabas and Paul, they hear the thing that Peter was saying and-- "Yeah, yeah. Absolutely! Sure! Because look at all these things that Elohim was doing."
Once again, who is doing the work? Was Paul saying, "Well, because of Paul of Tarsus Ministries, Paul did this and Paul did that"? No. Elohim had worked through them among the Gentiles. It is all about what Yahweh is doing. I like that.
Acts 15:13 - And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men [and] brethren, listen to me:
I think James recognizes here that, "Okay, yes, it is repentance, that what is going on in the heart is what really matters. But he has an idea. He says:
Acts 15:14 - "Simon has declared how Elohim at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.
What is His name? Yahweh.
Acts 15:15 - "And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
16 - `After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;
17 - So that the rest of mankind may seek YAHWEH, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says YAHWEH who does all these things.'
Gentiles are called by Yahweh's name, also. The word "Yahweh" is not anywhere inside this word "goyim." It is all about when they call upon Yahweh, people will recognize them as the people of Yahweh, also. So, anyway, the tabernacle of David is Yahushua being the King.
Acts 15:18 - "Known to Elohim from eternity are all His works.
19 - "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to Elohim,
So, don't cause them to be discouraged and say, "Well, we don't accept you until you do these things." But the key here is new converts, Gentiles who are turning to Elohim. Key thing here because what he is about to say is not for someone who has been in the faith fifty years. It is someone who is turning to Elohim.
The study of the Greek here, saying that it does mean those who are turning to Elohim, those who are being converted, means... yeah, one who is being converted.
So, the same word is used in James 5:19 where it says:
James 5:19 - Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,
That "turning him back"-- turning a sinner from the error of his way-- is talking about one who is undergoing conversion. And so, he is going to give them four things to get them started. And these four things to get them started are to get them started.
He did not include circumcision in those four things. And I think he had a biblical basis for doing so, because if you look in Joshua chapter 5, we see, here:
Joshua 5:2 - At that time YAHWEH said to Joshua, "Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time."
3 - So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
Joshua 5:4 - And this [is] the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt [who were] males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt.
5 - For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised.
That is a very curious thing. Why weren't they circumcising their children? Why didn't Yahweh send fiery serpents, plagues... something? Here they were. They had already crossed the Jordan, and they were not even circumcised yet. Yahweh let them in even though they were not circumcised.
Now, He did expect them to be circumcised, as we will see. But apparently, in the mind of Yahweh, circumcision really wasn't the very first thing on His agenda. No brimstone. No plagues.
What did He judge them for? He judged them for idolatry. They ate food offered to idols. He judged them for eating blood. He judged them for sexual immorality. Those are the things He judged Israel in the wilderness for.
He never sent any fiery serpent down because they were not circumcised. He never sent any plagues or anything.
Just down the road a little ways... same thing with Abraham. Yahweh didn't say, "Cut your foreskin off, and then go to the place I will show you."
No, Abraham entered the land, walked around it for awhile, demonstrated faithfulness to Yahweh, and then Yahweh gave him the circumcision covenant.
So, you are not going to get many converts with a Bible in one hand and a scalpel in the next, but that is what they were doing. That is not Yahweh's main priority. His main priority is that we purify our hearts and that we make the weightier things a priority at first. Then down the road, if you feel Yahweh's Spirit leading you, then get circumcised.
But it wasn't Yahweh's first item on His agenda for Abraham or for the children of Israel as they came out of the land of the wilderness.
So, on the basis of what James himself saw in the Torah, he says this:
Acts 15:19 - "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to Elohim,
20 - "but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, [from] sexual immorality, [from] things strangled, and [from] blood.
21 - "For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."
So, the point here was: Here are some things to get them started. And of course, they are going to be observing Sabbath, so they will hear from the Law the things that they ought to do. Not from the Pharisees, but from the Law, the things they ought to do.
And Yahweh's Spirit, because He has given them His Spirit, Yahweh's Spirit will lead them from there.
Now, some have this idea that, you know, "Well, we are Gentiles. The only four requirements from the Law of Moses that were given Gentiles are found in the book of Acts chapter 15. All the other Laws of Moses we can just set aside. I am a Gentile. I only have to keep these four things."
Well, problem number one: These things are not from the Law of Moses. Although they are in the Law of Moses, they are not from the Law of Moses.
Before Moses came along, did Yahweh say, "Oh, it's okay. Go ahead and eat food offered to idols. It is alright. Go have a fellowship meal with an idol"? Before Moshe came along, did He say, "Oh, it's okay. You can be sexual immoral"?
If that were true, then He would never have judged Sodom and Gomorrah. And what about this-- "from things strangled and from blood"? What about those things? That is not from the Law of Moses, although it is in the Law of Moses.
These forbidden practices here: 1) Pollutions of Idols 2) Fornication 3) Things strangled and 4) Blood-- right here in Genesis 9:4:
Genesis 9:4 - "But you shall not eat flesh with its life, [that is], its blood.
This is Yahweh's commandment to Noah long before there was ever a Jewish man.
So, this is not a new thing. Abstaining from pollutions of idols, obviously, is not a new thing, and from sexual immorality. These things were always wrong from the very beginning.
And so, why do we often hear, "Well, these are the only ones we have to follow from Moses"? Because they don't read the Old Testament enough or think through this thoroughly.
But these four practices here were commonly seen in temple worship and false religions. The pollutions of idols, obviously, is in the temple happening. There are the prostitutes and drinking blood from strangled animals, and so on.
These were all pagan elements of faith. Interestingly here, I was just thinking "pollutions of idols" may not only be from food. I mean, there are certain pagan elements that we make sure that our faith is not being polluted by.
I shared this last week about how this celebration of Christmas is the result of men trying to inject pagan-polluted philosophies and ideas into the image and character traits of the Messiah. And so, that is an attempt to pollute the Messiah.
And so, the pollutions of idols, obviously, would be one thing to consider that we certainly should not be doing.
But this idea that, "Oh, well, those are the only four things that was ever required of any believer," is simply wrong.
First of all, we have Acts 15:21.
Acts 15:21 - "For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."
Now, if the Gentiles were not going to be going into the synagogue every Sabbath, then the entire basis for his ruling would have been moot.
For him to say that, what good would it be? Because of this word right here: "for." "For Moshe has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city." Giving these four things "because" or "for" Moshe has had throughout many generations those who preach him every Sabbath."
In other words, "Yes, they are going to learn more. Of course, they are going to learn more than those four things. Of course, they are going to apply more than just those four things because Moshe is preached every week." And of course, the Gentiles are there.
In fact, all you have to do is read the book of Acts and see that where Paul actually found many of the Gentiles was in the synagogues. And so, it is not like they are foreign to the idea of going to synagogue. And when he is recounting to King Agrippa what happened when he became converted to the faith, he tells King Agrippa:
Acts 26:19 - "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
20 - "but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and [then] to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to Elohim, and do works befitting repentance.
So, Paul was very works based in his expectations. All we need to do is read some of his letters, and you find he is giving them all kinds of expectations, things that they ought to be doing. And so, it is not some foreign thing that he is expecting them to be walking out works.
In fact, if we read many of his letters, it is very obvious. You know, neither fornicators nor idolaters nor... he gives a long list of people who will not be saved because they are practicing these sins.
Alright, back to Acts 15.
Acts 15:22 - Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, [namely], Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.
23 - They wrote this [letter] by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings.
And he says (Now, I am reading from the New King James Version, here):
Acts 15:24 - Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "[You must] be circumcised and keep the law" -- to whom we gave no [such] commandment --
Now verse 24, here. These words found in verse 24-- "saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law'"-- I want to point out a very interesting note, here.
The New American Standard reads differently. (NAS) Acts 15:24 - "Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling you souls." That is it.
There is nothing in that New American Standard with this phrase-- "saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law.'" That is not found in the NAS.
It is also not found in the New International Version. (NIV) Acts 15:24 - "We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said." Nothing about like what they have here-- "saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law.'"
Why did they delete this particular phrase in the NIV and the New American Standard and also the Revised Standard Version? It says: (RSV) Acts 15:24 - "Since we have heard that some persons from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions."
Why did they delete that part? There is a really good reason why they deleted that part, and that is-- that particular phrase is not found in the best and most reliable manuscripts. That particular phrase, Acts 15:24.
So, this phrase, right here-- "saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law'"-- if you have a New King James Version, particularly a study version, they will tell you at the very bottom (they will put this little asterisk, here): * NU Omits "saying, You must be circumcised and keep the law."
"NU" is the Nestle's 26th Edition, where they went in and tried to find the most reliable manuscripts they could, and they determined, even though these men are not necessarily Torah observant men, they acknowledged that the most accurate, ancient Greek manuscripts do not have this phrase. The oldest and most reliable.
Now, normally the NIV, if you have a copy of the NIV, they will tell you (textural notes, variants and different things), but they don't even include a textural note or variant in this. They are so confident that it is not in the original.
So, if you have a New King James, or a King James, make a note of this because this particular phrase is not found in other translations, and neither is it found in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts.
So, what he is really saying here is, if you delete that (let's pretend like that is not there)-- "Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, to whom we gave no such commandment."
What was the real thing that was being said? Remember? Back in Acts chapter 15, verse 1, what was being said? What was being said was, "Unless you do these things, you cannot be saved." In other words, "We can't even accept you because you are not saved, yet, until you do this."
So, that is a false doctrine, as we have thoroughly covered.
Continuing to read here:
Acts 15:25 - it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 - men who have risked their lives for the name of our Master Yahushua Messiah.
Acts 15:27 - We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.
28 - For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
Acts 15:29 - that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.
Now, the King James has "pollutions of idols."
Now, why didn't they mention anything to them, "Oh, by the way, make sure you go to the synagogue every Sabbath"? He never mentions it. Why? Because they were already going to the synagogue every Sabbath.
That is the only logical reason I can think to exclude that. That was the basis of the ruling-- "For Moshe has had... every Sabbath there in the synagogue."
So, the point is, you see, they did not have the printing press back then. The only way you could get a copy of the Scriptures was someone had to handwrite the whole thing. And so, they couldn't just go to the local bookstore and pick up a Bible. They had to go to the synagogue to hear what the Word of Yahweh said.
And so, that was the reason that he gave the ruling, so that they would learn. And so, they never mention this anywhere in the actual letter.
Acts 15:30 - So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter.
31 - When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.
Encouragement-- "We accept you. We don't reject you."
And if you go on to read Galatians 2 (and I have a study on the book of Galatians on the video archives and also on the website) they continue to have this problem even after this letter was sent out, which is some attitudes. Peter had some attitude issues with this.
It is all about accepting them even though they are not completely on board with obedience, yet. And we have to be careful about that ourselves. A new person that comes into the faith-- be patient with them. Don't unload. I mean, no one can sit down and have an 85-course meal in one sitting.
You have to little by little, day by day, learn and grow and do. And we have the grace available to do that through Yahushua. That is the point of Acts 15.
Now, James, I want to mention here, there was no mention of the word "synagogue" here. But in James chapter 2, and verse 2, we see there is this word here translated "assembly." Now, he says:
James 2:2 - For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,
It is not what he is about to say that is my point. He is talking about people who are going into their assembly. Now this word translated "assembly," right here, is the Greek word "synagogue" (sunagoge).
So, when he is writing to the believers (in the book of James), he is saying to them, "If they come into your synagogue and one man has gold rings, one has poor clothes, don't be partial to the one and the other."
So, I find that interesting that, you know, this is actually the only place where this Greek word "synagogue" is translated ""assembly." Everywhere else it is-- "Oh, synagogue, synagogue, synagogue."
But in this one place in James, "Oh, that is assembly, not synagogue," because the translators can't fathom that believers would be going to a synagogue. One other place it is translated, I think, assembly or something, but the assembly that is being spoken of there is a synagogue.
Anyway, my point is that sometimes it does help to kind of look beneath the English translations that we have and try to understand what is really going on.
Now, just in case you think, "Well no, Tom, EliYah, only those four things. That is it. Nothing more," let me give you some of Paul's words here.
Okay, those are the four necessary things listed here. Idolaters, sexual immoral, okay. Well, he is also adding some things.
Thieves. That's number five now. We are up to five things that will be required. Oh, here is another one-- covetous. Alright. Oh wait! There is more. Drunkardness is also a requirement.
And an interesting one here. You can't be a reviler. And you can't be an extortioner. If you are these things, he says, you will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim. You cannot be saved. Now, whom is he writing to?
He is not writing to a brand new group of people that just turned to Yahweh. He is writing to the Corinthians whom he stayed with for a year and a half and should know a few things by now.
And so, he is telling them, and he is saying, "You can't be a thief and a covetous man and a drunkard or reviler and extortioner and expect to inherit the Kingdom. You guys know better now."
So, he is giving them more than the four necessary things, is he not? He absolutely is.
Ephesians-- he is writing to the group at Ephesus here. He tells them in Ephesians 5:5:
Ephesians 5:5 - For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Messiah and Elohim.
He says you can't be a fornicator. Okay. Oh, he also adds "unclean person." He goes back to covetous here again... or "who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Messiah and Elohim."
So, he adds to the Ephesian group here "unclean person." Interesting. I thought that we read earlier that you are not supposed to call any man common or unclean. What is he talking about here?
There are two different contexts. The one is whether or not you go to a person and tell them about Messiah even though they are common or unclean. Do not act like, "Oh, they are unclean. I can't touch them. I can't go around them." Whereas here he is saying if you become unclean, do something about it.
There is also an uncleanness of mind. Uncleanness of spirit, as well.
Here we go! It is a big one. Galatians 5:19-- he has a whole slew of things here.
Galatians 5:19 - Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
Once again, we see uncleanness. We go that earlier, didn't we? Idolatry. He also adds sorcery, hatred, contentions. Then he adds jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, (and we got drunkardness already), revelries, and the like. That means things that are like those things.
Galatians 5:20 - idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21 - envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim.
Those who do what? Practice such things. If you fail and you make a mistake, if you sin in some capacity, okay. But when you practice it, and if you keep getting better and better at it every time, that is where you cross the line.
What are these things? A lot of this has to do with fighting and arguing-- contentions, outbursts of wrath, dissensions. Those are not of Yahweh's spirit. Sorcery, hatred, heresies, selfish ambitions. If that is our practice, look out! There are more than just the four requirements in the book of Acts chapter 15, obviously. More is being given here.
And so, now he is writing to groups that have matured some. And so, he does give them more than just four things. In 1 John chapter 3, and verse 4, we can see very clearly that sin is the transgression of the Law.
And we also see in Romans 3:31:
Romans 3:31 - Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
The word "establish" means "to cause to stand." And so, the Law still stands. By our faith, we establish that it stands. We don't, as is commonly taught today, make it null and void because we believe in Messiah.
Since the Law is not null and void, since the Law is supposed to be established, then we ought to be keeping it. Very clearly, we ought to be keeping it.
At the same time, because we live by faith and we walk in the grace of Elohim and we recognize our salvation comes not because we have obeyed certain commandments successfully, but because we have turned our hearts to Him and we have chosen to walk this journey of learning His will and applying it to our life.
Because we have done those things, there will be works that will follow the repentance that has occurred inside the heart. If there are not any works of repentance at all, the repentance is simply not genuine.
But it is not for us to say, "Oh, well, you need to keep this way this way, that way that way, and then you will be saved." Because Yahweh can reach down and see a man's heart and save them right at that spot right there. He can accept them at that spot right there.
Now, later in Acts 21:
Acts 21:19 - When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which Elohim had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
He is talking to James, once again.
Acts 21:20 - And when they heard [it], they glorified YAHWEH. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;
Why would they be zealous for the Law if the Law has been abolished? They are all zealous for the Law. Alright.
Acts 21:21 - "but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise [their] children nor to walk according to the customs.
Who? All the Jews. The Jews pretty much know about the Law already.
Acts 21:22 - "What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come.
They heard a false report. It wasn't true.
Acts 21:23 - "Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow.
24 - "Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave [their] heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but [that] you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.
So, what he is saying here is, "The things which they are claiming about you are not true, and that is forsake Moshe."
Now, if the Law were abolished, then what Paul would be doing here is not being honest with the Gospel, if the Gospel included forsaking Moshe, if the Gospel included no longer do you have to circumcise, if the Gospel included forsaking the Biblical customs, such as Feast keeping, and so on.
Alright, but look what happens here. What is the next statement? He says (reading from the New King James):
Acts 21:25 - "But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written [and] decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from [things] offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality."
Now, before you fall out of your chair, why does verse 25 say, "We have written and decided that they should observe no such thing"? Why would it say that? Once again, that is added. It is the same text, the Textus Receptus, that has this phrase which is not in the oldest and most reliable manuscripts.
And this phrase is also not found in the NAS, NIV, Revised Standard, and so on-- any modern translation, with the exception of King James, which follows the Textus Receptus, but had marginal notes telling you this is not in the original.
What it really says is: "But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written (take that phrase out) that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality."
So, the minimum requirement here still stands. He is not going to demand that they would get circumcised. He would not demand that of them. The minimum requirement still stands. I should also add, remember the original ruling was for the Gentiles who were turning to Elohim. Okay?
So, in one way there are two different standards, and it is true among us, too, even among church goers today.
If a new believer who just joined the church (signed on the dotted line), and he fell into some kind of sin somewhere because of ignorance, because he didn't know about it being wrong, or because he is trying to adjust to his lifestyle and needs some time to get that junk out of his life, there would be grace given to him, I would hope.
And the same is true for the Gentiles, but they can't be going along with the temple prostitutes, drinking blood and all these other things. That would be wrong. And so, these are major sins they need to turn away from.
Alright, so my point is this: The context here is the upholding of the Torah for the Jews, and because they grew up knowing it, because they grew up following it their whole life, of course that would be required of them, because they know better. But Gentiles, they are just learning. So, give them a break.
And so, that same mentality is being repeated here that, yes, they need to do these four things. But these are not from the Law of Moses. These are things that have long transcended. It is not new ideas that Moshe brought in. Alright.
So, this phrase here, you have to watch, has been added to the King James and the New King James. Alright, so what he is telling Paul is, "Look, you yourself walk orderly and keep the Law. You have to prove that you are not against it."
Alright, this is how it should read: "But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality."
He is just repeating that original ruling, which was given to Gentiles who are turning to Elohim. And if James was saying that is all the four required, then you know what? Paul is really messing up because we just read through a whole bunch more requirements he laid on them, didn't we?
See, these are four requirements that get them started, four things that Yahweh Himself judged Israel for as they were learning the Law in the wilderness.
So, the bottom line is, the apostles agree with Messiah. Yahushua did not come to destroy the Law. He came to fulfill it. That means do it. If I said, "Get me a glass of water, Michelle," and she brought me a glass of water, she fulfilled my command.
Messiah came to fulfill, or do, the Law. That is what He came for, because we didn't. And so, through Him we can say, "We have kept Torah because He cleanses us from all of our Torah breaking."
So, we don't make the Law void through our faith. We establish the Law through our faith as we begin to look into the commands and begin to apply them to our lives.
And so, I have to agree with Messiah, who also taught circumcision and Law keeping is not your ticket to salvation. It is a repentant heart that yearns after the will of Elohim in your life and receives Messiah for the remission of sins.
And if we truly love Messiah, we will want to walk in His precepts, as He says.
John 14:15 - "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
16 - "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever --
So, when we choose to abide in the truth, we will receive the Holy Spirit, and we will be free indeed.
Throughout the New Testament, unlike the common identity of a Christian today, a follower of Jesus Christ today, the identity that has been built in churches through years and years of tradition in the history of the Catholic Church that has been handed down to our generation has been one of forsaking Torah.
And only cleaving to some non-Jewish looking commands.
Unlike that, the expectation in Scripture is that we would not sin, and sin is the transgression of the Law. So, the real identity that we have is that we are Israel because it is no longer we who live. It is Messiah who lives in us. He is our identity now, and believe it or not, He was Jewish.
And so, if we are a follower of Him, and if we are a follower of Paul the Apostle, and Paul the Apostle was one who kept the Torah, what did Paul say to the Corinthians?
Was Paul keeping Torah? Was he keeping the Law? In fact, he had to prove he was keeping the Law to James and to the rest of the apostles who were there, and the Jews who were zealous for the Law. He proved he kept the Law. And here he is saying, "Imitate me like I imitate Messiah."
Did Messiah keep the Law? Absolutely! In fact, when we keep Yahweh's Law, that is demonstrating the work of the Spirit in us because we are subjecting ourselves to what the Spirit has inspired in the Scriptures.
Romans 8:5 says:
Romans 8:5 - For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those [who live] according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6 - For to be carnally minded [is] death, but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.
7 - Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against Elohim; for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, nor indeed can be.
If we refuse to be subject, that means "subordinate to," the Law of Elohim, then we are still walking with a carnal mind. But if we choose to be subject to the Law of Elohim, then we are spiritually minded. Does it get any clearer than this?
So, what we really need to do is, we need to forsake the Christian identity that we have in our modern culture today and receive an identity that is more like the Messiah Himself, who did keep Feast Days, who did keep the Sabbath day, who did eat clean foods only. That is all part of Him.
And if He lives in you, He will do in you what He did on the earth and what He wants to do for all of us. I am not saying, "Until you measure up to the fullness of what Messiah is, you cannot be saved." I am not saying that. That is false doctrine because even I myself have yet to measure up to His example.
If I condemn you, I condemn myself. What I am saying is, our heart needs to be turned toward wanting, truly yearning, desiring to be just like Messiah and that we don't use our liberty to grow and learn and do to be an excuse to continue in sin.
Galatians 5:13 - For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not [use] liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
An opportunity for the flesh would be, as we see here (Romans 8:5-7), to be carnally minded, to set our minds on the things of the flesh, rather than the things of the spirit.
Do you know that the Law is holy, just and good? And so, if we are seeking to be holy, just and good, then we need to subject ourselves to the Law, not because it is what saves us, but because we desire to walk as Messiah did out of our repentant heart.
So, we can't use liberty as an excuse to intentionally go on walking in the flesh and go on breaking the Torah.
So, what is happening here is the Apostles are giving the Gentiles a break. They are not forcing everything on them at once. And they are giving them some things to get them started with the expectation that more will be expected as they learn and grow and do.
So, that is what we are supposed to be doing, every single one of us, whether you are a new believer in Messiah or one who has been keeping this way for a long time.
You know, I never want to become like a retiree believer, you know-- "Alright, I have done my obedience part now. I am going to relax and kick back and just watch the world go by." There are too many retired believers in Messiah today.
I want to maintain, Yahweh help me, the same level of zeal I have always taught to maintain, continually learning and growing and doing and building on what I have already learned, and along the way I don't mind sharing with you some things I have learned also.
But we have to have the right goals in front of us. And the goal in front of us is that we would learn the Torah and that we would apply it to our lives. Every word given in the Torah, every word given in His Law, has one thing in common, and that is love-- love for our fellow man and love for our heavenly Father, who gave His Son for us.
And so, it is all about learning how to love. Everything given in the Law has that in its heart.
And so, what is our identity?
Revelation 14:12 - Here is the patience of the saints; here [are] those who keep the commandments of Elohim and the faith of Yahushua.
The Christian identity is-- "The Law has been abolished. You don't have to keep the commandments, except certain ones that we tell you. We will let you know what they are. You can skip the ones that look Jewish, by the way, because you are not Jewish." Ah, but you have to have faith in Messiah.
And Judaism says, "Oh, we have to keep the commandments." But they do not have the faith of Messiah.
What does the Bible say? Here is the patience of the saints. Here is our identity: We are ones who are seeking to keep the commandments and have faith of Yahushua.
Revelation 22:14 says:
Revelation 22:14 - Blessed [are] those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
And so, brothers, let's be found faithful to cleave to both the faith of Yahushua the Messiah and to a heartfelt, true and holy desire to keep Yahweh's commandments because we love Him.
Not because some man throws a yoke on us, but because we, out of the conviction and sincerity of our heart, want to follow the pattern Yahushua set for us and live as He did, walking as He walked, and also, recognizing that it is the longsuffering of Yahushua that is our salvation.
It is He who brings us to the place of being able to enter into a relationship with Yahweh, one that is reconciled, one that is of peace. That is what we are supposed to be doing as believers. It is a consistent message throughout, from Genesis to Revelation.
And so, whether you are a Jewish man or a Gentile man or whatever you think you are, it is no longer we who live. It is Yahushua who lives in us. And if He lives in us, we want to walk as He walked. And that is the bottom line-- that we might manifest the life of Yahushua ha Mashiach, a Jewish Messiah dwelling in us doing the works.
And as we do so, my brothers and sisters, may Yahweh bless you, and may Yahweh truly have mercy on all of us.
!dan 5 30
| E-mail list
| Request printed copy of this page | Search |