A Whole Bible Look At: Romans 5 through 8

Did you know there are seven different laws listed in Romans? Did you know the English word law is used 78 times from chapter 2 to chapter 8? Did you also know that love is mentioned 15 times, not counting “beloved?” The most important are the 13 in 5:5, 8; 8:28, 35, 37, 39; 12:9, 10; 13:8, 9, 10; 14:15; and 15:30. Did you know Paul’s main subject is living the Law with love and the Spirit rather than in a self-seeking attempt to earn our own salvation righteousness?

That information with much else is covered in our Romans video series. Got the second video up now. It took a while to start posting these mostly because I was learning how to do multi-camera editing. Plus I have to do about 40 slides, place them in the video, edit the sound, add titles and make sure everything is ready to go.


This series is mostly to help the whole Bible believer explain Paul’s writings in context with the rest of Scripture (including the Law). Many (many, many) people calling themselves believers use this book along with Galatians and selected other sections of Paul’s writings to remove the Law from a believer’s life. Not only does this not do justice to Paul’s writings, but removing the Law is like removing the most nutritious parts of food, then wondering why we still seem to be starving to death.

And the church IS starving. We started starving when we began sitting in judgment on His living oracles, approving behavior that is specifically listed for us as harmful. Paul specifically says that the law is good, righteous, holy and spiritual. He “delights in the Law of God” but “I see in my members another law waging war.” This law is the law of sin, not the Law of God. The law of sin is the one where we try to earn salvation righteousness from God by following some rules (without the heart or the Spirit). View the video to see how this is explained by Paul.

Shalom
Bruce

Freedom from Sabbath Keeping

Hey All,

Just spent a few days writing a new article which is a point-by-point response to an article by Ray Comfort that he titled Freedom From Sabbath Keeping. It took a while, because the article is filled with a lot of, shall we say, less than biblical information.

Ray is a good guy as far as I know, and has a lot of good teaching. I have quoted from him, and use some of his material in my conversations with atheists. However, there are a number of areas where he falls short of biblical truth, and a bunch of them are in this article. So I went through it and inserted my comments directly into his text. I included Bible verses and commentary all with a whole Bible perspective. You’ll find a nicely organized selection of responses to what are also typical Christian arguments against observing the Sabbath. Why people would reject a day off from God is beyond me, but they do. So this article should help you with standard Christian objections to observing the whole of the Word, not just the Sabbath.

An excerpt from Point by Point through the Ray Comfort article Freedom from Sabbath Keeping. His words are in red, my comments are in square brackets and in blue (on the web page they are just in a different font).

Let’s briefly look at their arguments. First, nowhere does the Fourth Commandment say that we are to “worship” on the Sabbath Day. [True. Worship was every day. The act of resting on the Sabbath is worship. Worship has taken on an inadequate meaning in the intervening centuries, and it used to be that worship included sacrifices. But worship has always been obedience at its root.] It commands that we rest on that day: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11). [Notice that he does not answer the issue he raises: why does the church not “rest” on the Sabbath?] Sabbath-keepers worship on the Saturday. [No. Sabbath keepers might MEET on Saturday, but worship is obedience and for every day.] Do they know where the word “Saturday” comes from? It’s from the Latin word “Saturnus–Saturn + Old English dæg day.” Obviously Saturday is from the pagan day of worship of the planet Saturn (astrology). [In spite of the attempt at sarcasm, I can agree here. However, Saturday is also the seventh day, and therefore the Sabbath. The name of the day is not important. But the Sabbath is.

And another excerpt.

The Scriptures tell us that at one point, the Apostles especially gathered to discuss the attitude of the Christian to the Law of Moses. [This is biblically incorrect. The council in Acts 15 met mainly to discuss salvation by circumcision (verse 1). This was proved to be wrong. Salvation was coming to Gentiles without circumcision and by grace through faith just as Abraham and JUST AS THE JEWS (who had the Law). Verse 5 also asks a question about following the Law, which was answered in verse 21 (Moses is read in the synagogue every Sabbath.) This meant 1) Moses is read. 2) Moses is read in the synagogue where all believers met at the time. 3) They met every Sabbath.] Acts 15:10-11, 24-29 was God’s opportunity to make His will clear to His children. [Biblically incorrect. God had been making His will clear to His children for a long, long time.] All He had to do to save millions from damnation was say, “Remember to keep the Sabbath holy,” and millions of Christ-centered, God-loving, Bible-believing Christians would have gladly kept it. [Not so. He already said many times to remember the Sabbath, and just about as many times was ignored. He is still being ignored today as is evidenced by this article by Ray. Many Christians do not want to obey God’s commands. Mostly because we do not want an objective, absolute standard. We want to give ourselves permission to sin.

Enjoy the article.
Shalom,
Bruce

Passover 2014

We are getting ready for our lamb barbecue tomorrow night, looking forward to spending time showing love for God by doing as He commands His people to do. We touch God and touch each other in an intimate fellowship that goes way past the physical markers and deep into a spiritual connection. His love flows to us, and our love flows back and between. We remember what God has done for His people, is doing, and will do. Remember means to speak or act on behalf of someone, which is why we can “remember” the future promises of God.

Some are speaking of the “blood moons” that will appear on this Passover and the Tabernacles celebration this year, as well as the same two holidays next year. I’m not big into that stuff, but it probably has some significance. Coupled with the increase in earthquakes, volcanic activity, and cultural degradation, we can definitely see that labor pains for the world are increasing. Maintaining our love for God through His commands is coming under attack at a greater intensity, but He said a “falling away” would happen before the end. Therefore be encouraged and keep your faith strong, standing on the Rock of His Word and our Savior Jesus the Christ.

I feel sorry for those who do not participate in God’s holidays, either because they just don’t follow God or because they classify His living oracles as “old” or “outdated” or for another group besides believers. Paradise awaits a change from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, sensitive and trembling at His Word. All it takes is humble obedience to find out the nature of real love and spiritual renewal and refreshment. I feel sorry for those who choose their own way, like Cain, substituting their own understanding for God’s Word and offering slovenly disobedience through physical symbols such as ham and bunnies. The symbols show the disobedience in the balance of their lives, corrupt and unclean and spurning the love that is waiting. Compromise shows its fruit in sexual immorality and unfruitfulness through acceptance of behavior God said would cause death. No wonder they are known for hypocrisy. One cannot practice hate for God in trashing His commands and expect God to accept the resulting uncleanness using the cosmic eraser of Jesus. If we harbor iniquity in our hearts, our offerings mean nothing. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

Rejoice, children of God. Look up for our redemption draweth nigh. Stand strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Pursue righteousness through humble submission to every word of His glorious instructions. Hold fast to the hope He has given, practicing as best we can every tiny utterance from our loving God and Savior Jesus our Messiah. Eat His body and drink His blood, taking in every breath from God through His Word and breathing it back to Him. Rejoice as our meager offerings of obedience gain His regard and we find acceptance in Him because of our love and practice of His Word.

Shalom
Bruce

In Peter’s Place, What Would I Say?

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21–23, ESV)

I was thinking about this event today, and I wondered what I would say had I been in Peter’s place. Pete was motivated by a desire to protect Jesus from the authorities, not quite realizing yet the full extent of who Jesus was and why He was going to have to suffer. Peter’s motives were perhaps “good,” but they were wrong. So wrong in fact that Jesus rebuked the person behind the statement (Satan) who had motivated the response of “This shall never happen to you.” Not only does this show that motives, even if we would classify them as “good,” can still be wrong, but it shows us that motive alone is not enough. We need to be in line with God’s will in order for even “good” motives to be actually good.

The thing that really got me with this situation though is that, knowing what I know now, what would I have said? Could I have looked into the eyes of the most humble, loving man ever and said, “If you don’t die I cannot live?” Would I have been able to say to God almighty that, “We need to get you to Jerusalem when it is time so that your miserable death can save the whole world?” Knowing that He is my Lord and Savior, God in the flesh, perfect and without shadow of turning in every way, could I have encouraged Him to suffer a vastly painful, torturous and ignominious death at the hands of murderers in exchange for my ugly, pitiful, sin-filled life? Would I have had the faith to trust and obey God’s will in this matter?

I don’t know. Jesus had to die, but woe to the people who did it, and woe to those who refuse to accept what He did. I thank Him every day and in every way I can think of for His sacrifice by reading every Word from Him and putting it everywhere in my life. He asks so little of me. Living the whole of His Word is such a small thing to do for a God who died such a huge death for me.

Shalom

Draw Near

If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. (Exodus 12:48, ESV)

If any one term is the closest to the reason I follow the whole Bible, this is it. The term I’m speaking of is “come near.” In my view this is what Torah is all about. The term can be used for simply getting together (if we are talking about a pair or group of people), but when one of the parties is God it takes on a whole different character. We can “come near” God for judgment as in Malachi 3:5, or we can come near in love and intimacy. A similar term is “draw near.”

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8, ESV)

We “draw near” to God as we do what He says. The more we do, the closer we get. In humility we use His living oracles to wash the parts of us that get dirty. Though He has cleansed us wholly, we still need to wash occasionally.

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” (John 13:10, ESV)

We are clean, but we still need to wash some in order to continue “drawing near.” Notice that Jesus did the foot washing during the Passover meal. Jesus continues to wash our feet by the washing of the Word as we “draw near” to Him through His commands. There is a continual cleansing by His Law because we are in a dirty world and sometimes we step in something odoriferous that needs to be removed. If we judge (cleanse) ourselves and wash our hands (or feet) then Jesus doesn’t have to judge us. His eye is on us for good and not for evil.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. (Psalm 32:8–9, ESV)

Shalom

God Approaches

It’s morning, Yom Kippur, otherwise known as the Day of Atonement. I wake up thinking about the approach of God. He comes in clouds and thick darkness with lightning and flame of fire to judge the earth. I get up to meet Him.

I shower, but I still don’t think I’m clean enough. My clothes are some of my best, but they are not adequate to cover me. I am naked beneath His searching gaze. The earth shakes; the sky reels. Is this what they call a vision, or have I been transported to a mountain? The very air is heavy with the edge of His holiness and white with the light of His glory. I seem to see a flaming sword in one hand and stars in the other as He approaches from on high. I am terrified. I fall to my knees in supplication hoping that His judgment passes over me. As he comes closer my strength fails and I fall prostrate and blind before the majesty and might of my creator.

His voice is like a shout, like the blast of a thousand trumpets. A mighty noise, and then sudden quiet. There is a touch on my shoulder. Strength flows from that light contact. Still fearful, I open my eyes to see the dirt, and without moving look to the sides to see if I can see who touched me. The touch on my shoulder again. More strength flows in. A regular voice says, “Be not afraid. Rise and speak.” He uses a name for me that I recognize but have not heard before. I get to my feet to see a man standing. He is a little shorter than I, brown skinned and barefoot dressed in a white robe.

His darker skin is the canvas for the white scars on his forehead, light brush strokes on a smooth brow. He looks young, but his eyes are very still and I sense ancient depths. He holds up a hand in peace. His sleeve falls a little and I can clearly see a scar in his wrist.

“My lord and my God,” I say. “You sent for me?”

“I sent an invitation to everyone to meet me on this Day” He says. “I am glad you accepted.”

“But when,” I ask, “did you invite me here?”

He replies, “The invitation was in the book I gave you. You read it and agreed to meet with me here. Walk with me now, and let us talk.”

“As you wish,” I say. He speaks a word that makes me blink, and when I open my eyes I am at my house. But I can still hear Him talking.

“I am with you always,” He says, “though you may not be able to see me the same way all the time. We are together, you in me and I in you. Each word of mine that you take to heart will make your vision clearer, your hearing sharper. Soon you will see me in all my glory. Tell me what is on your mind. Share with me your fears and sorrows. Speak of your concerns for your family, your friends, your country. Let me hear what moves you. Let us walk together like this always whether I am seen or unseen.”

“Your will is my will,” I answer.

“It is enough,” He says.

Day of Wrath

Saturday is the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur. On this day, and this day only, when we had a temple the high priest would go into the holy of holies and apply the blood of the sacrifice to the mercy seat of the Aron Khodesh, also known as the Ark of the Covenant. He had to do it in a very specific way, with no deviation, or he would die. There was a time far back in history when the high priest had to go in with a rope tied around his ankle for fear he wouldn’t do things right and would die. If he did then others could drag him out without going in themselves and risking the same death.

 

The Day of Atonement was a day associated with wrath, smoke and burning. There are two facets to the smoke and burning. Either there was a sufficient sacrifice for sin, or there wasn’t. One type of smoke and burning was from the acceptable sacrifice, and God’s wrath was turned away. The other facet of smoke and burning was the wrath of God directed at people who did not have an acceptable sacrifice.

 

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. (Zephaniah 1:14–17, ESV)

 

Before the death and resurrection of Jesus the Yom Kippur sacrifice looked forward to the offering of His own blood on our behalf. Now we remember that work in humility, but we still look forward to that final day of judgment and fast and pray for those who aren’t prepared. Those of us who believe have accepted His sacrifice and God’s wrath on this day is turned away. Those who haven’t accepted Jesus are risking the burning anger of God. This is why we “afflict ourselves” (fast) as it says in Leviticus 16:29 and other places. We bow our heads in humility remembering the sacrifice, and the cost of that sacrifice for our sins. We also fast and pray for repentance that everyone would likewise accept God’s Word and humble themselves.

 

Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. (Zephaniah 2:1–3, ESV)

 

Some misguided people make a big deal out of exactly which day to have the holy days of the Lord. There is no procedure outlined for us in the Word, but there are people who want to help God out by splitting hairs about the new moon (which indicates the start of the month). They are missing the point about the whole thing. Majoring in the minors. Forsaking unity and brotherhood to push their “holier than thou” agenda. This kind of quibbling is proof that the Word does not dwell in their hearts, because love dwells with the Law and love is not in these arguments. I’ve seen many who not only quibble about this kind of minor detail but other non-biblical issues such as head coverings while at the same time ignoring more salient and weightier issues such as love and honoring others. It’s not just me, either. Watch them yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Remember the Law in its entirety with love and the Spirit in a heart of flesh. Don’t get caught up in quibbling with the quibblers. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the seven churches. Repent. Love God. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.

 

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:1–6, ESV)

The Word of God Saves Us

Does the Law save us?

 

Lots of Christians say that the Law doesn’t save us. They hammer the point, mostly made plain by Paul, that salvation is by faith, not by works. Works, it is claimed, is doing something, including doing the Law. Therefore, according to this line of thinking, we shouldn’t follow Laws. The Law doesn’t save us. “It isn’t a salvation issue” as I’ve been told. A few modify this idea with the imaginary designations of civil, ceremonial, and moral and just say we don’t do the first two. Never mind that the Bible doesn’t do this, that everything God says is moral, and that they can’t tell you which commands are “only” civil or ceremonial. They are all linked together. There are other excuses too, but this summarizes the main points. But let’s go with their hammering for a moment.

 

It is true, of course, that salvation is by grace through faith. It is also true that it is a gift, and cannot be earned. It is received by accepting the finished work of Jesus in the crucifixion and resurrection. His blood pays the debt incurred by our sin. For our sake He who knew no sin was made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). We cannot work for this. We can’t follow some rules then demand salvation as wages. That is what Paul is talking about. Merit versus a gift. Wages versus unearned wealth. We are not saved because we behave so well that we deserve it. While we were yet sinners Jesus died for us.

 

But what would these people say if I asked instead, “Does the Word of God save us?”

 

That kind of changes the dynamic, doesn’t it? Because in fact it is the Word of God that saves us. “God said let there be light.” He speaks, we accept His Word, and we are saved. By His Word He creates a new heart of flesh in us, and engraves His Word on it through the Spirit. We respond by abiding in that Word, eating and drinking His body and blood (the Word of God) on a daily, minute by minute basis.

 

Before you get too uptight about my characterization, remember also that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” as John says in John 1:14. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). His Law and His Word are the same thing. The goal of the Law is the Christ (Romans 10:4). We cannot say we abide in His Word, that it is written on our heart of flesh, then get picky about which ones we’ll consent to follow, can we? Does such pickiness really go along with salvation?

 

The Word of God is life, it is moral, it is in civil laws and ceremonial laws, it is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. He does not separate His Word into a sections that we can dismiss on a whim. That attitude is certainly a “salvation issue” in the negative sense.

 

So answer me, you who say the Law doesn’t save. Does the Word of God save us?

Two Lambs

“Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. (Exodus 29:38–39, ESV)

 

A regular sacrifice was instituted by God at least by the time of Exodus 29:38 of two lambs, one in the morning and one in the evening. This probably was to keep the sacrifice of the Christ before the Lord on a consistent basis. But another intriguing possibility is it speaks of the way the Messiah will come two times, or come in two different ways. In the gospels He comes as a meek lamb to the slaughter, and takes on the sin of the world in the process. At the end of the Tribulation the lamb comes back as a triumphant conqueror and “takes on” the sin of the world in a different way.

 

While slaughter is still in view it’s not the Lamb that gets it this time. It’s His enemies. Two different Greek words are used (Strong’s 286 ἀμνὸς amnos John 1:29; Strong’s 721 ἀρνίου arnion Revelation 22:3) which both mean lamb but from the context one (amnos) seems to be the meek Lamb and the other (arnion) is the conquering Lamb.

 

The meek Lamb took on the sin of the word and offers forgiveness of that sin to anyone who believes. By His stripes they are healed. He will wipe away every tear of those and give them a place He has prepared for them in glory. The conquering Lamb will destroy the ones who reject His gracious offer. The blood will flow to the depth of a horse’s bridle and birds of the air will feast on the carcasses. At the end of a thousand years His enemies will be resurrected only to be thrown into the lake of fire.

 

Which Lamb do you want to meet?

Righteousness of God

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21–26, ESV)