Jesus and His Eternal Rest

Hebrews 4:1-10

May 14, 2017

Did you know that the word “rest” shows up over 300 times in the English Bible? And your response, I am sure, is to say, “yippie!” Okay, maybe not… You know, what amazes me is that while I can do things like this with a couple keystrokes on a computer, in times past, people would count these things up manually, making a record of instances of words throughout the scriptures. That, to me, is Amazing.

What is most important, though, is that of the many uses of the word, “rest,” in most cases, I don’t think that the word is used in the way that most often we think of the word being used. Let me explain…

When I think of resting, the first thing that comes to my mind is a nap, or sitting with a good book, or perhaps watching a movie or playing a game with my family. Yet, when we encounter a word like “rest,” our first question should be to ask, “rest from what?” For example, a number of you have commented about seeing me out splitting firewood in the evenings. When splitting firewood, there are different tools for different size logs. For the larger ones, I use a sledgehammer and wedges; smaller ones, I use an axe. Swinging a sledgehammer wears me out but I can swing an axe almost all day long. So, when splitting wood, and working with large pieces, I often take a rest…which means I break from splitting big pieces and work on smaller pieces with an axe. Rest from what? Rest from swinging the sledge by swinging something lighter.

So, what happens when you ask the question, “from what” when you see the language of “rest” in the Bible? And that is where things get interesting, for while “rest” sometimes means from one’s physical labors, most commonly, it refers to rest from the effects of sin (war, idolatry, etc…).

Now I want you to hold onto that idea, because there are many Christians who take this passage to imply that the Sabbath command has been done away with and replaced by an anticipation of an eternal sabbath to come. But, that is not what this passage is stating. We will get to that idea more when we arrive at those verses, but for now, let me clarify just for the record that the Law is a unified law and thus the Fourth Commandment is an eternal and immovable aspect of that law. It is binding in this life as it always was and it is such for our benefit.

Now, before we get to the text, there is one more idea that I want to remind you of. And that is the idea of Typology of which we spoke last week — of things in the Old Testament foreshadowing things in the New (typically with a greater fulfillment in Christ). And thus, like Israel in the wilderness, we the church are in a wilderness of this world — an in-between time where there is a redemption that has already been purchased but that is not yet realized in full. As I described it last week — we are in the “In-Between-land” or as CS Lewis would call it, “The Shadowlands.” We are between what is already and what is not yet.

A clear understanding of these concepts is helpful in understanding our passage this morning. So, let’s go to the text…

It begins in verses 1-2:

“Therefore, let us be fearful, lest you consider it probable to fall short, forsaking the promise to enter his rest, for the good news came likewise to them also, but the word they heard did not benefit them because they were not united in faith to the ones who heard.”

First, there is a comparison being made: Old Testament Israel had the word of the Good news preached and taught to them by Moses, but it did not benefit them as they died in the wilderness. That’s the type.

The application of the type, then is found in the Christian church and therefore, as the author says, we must be “fearful”… we must tread with caution lest one of us in the church fall short of faith, forsaking the promises of God and not enter into his rest.

This sets before us an unpleasant truth. Just as all of national Israel was led out of Egypt and entered into the covenant community of God through Moses….and many were not believers and died in the wilderness under God’s judgment…we should not be surprised to see that the same is true in the Christian Church.

In other words, just because someone is a member of our covenant body does not mean that they will go to heaven when they die. We’ve heard that, but sometimes we are tempted to think, “well, pastor is speaking about someone else than me…” do not be content in your personal state of affairs; the scriptures may be speaking of you.

We do not earn the salvation that is offered in Christ and we do not deserve it when given. Yet, having received salvation, we demonstrate our gratitude to God as we live out our lives — our outward lives being a testimony of an inward reality.

And just as the litmus paper does not make a solution acidic or alkaline, but indicates that it is acidic or alkaline, our lifestyles do the same thing. They simply reflect what is our inner nature.

So, what does one say of the inward reality if the outward life does not truly reflect a life of gratitude, obedience, and faith?

This is why the author said in the previous chapter that we are to examine ourselves and here he is telling us to be fearful. In my words…”to tread carefully.”

George Whitefield, the great 18th century evangelist observed that the disciples at the last meal, when Jesus stated, “One of you will betray me” did not respond initially by pointing fingers at Judas or at each other. They asked themselves, “is it I?”

So, if it was the first instinct of these men of faith to ask, “could it be me?” should that not be our first response as well when the Scriptures give us warnings?

This does not deny the doctrine of Assurance, but I believe bolsters our assurance when we ask questions such as this and spend time in introspection and repentance of indwelling sin. Paul tells us in Romans 8:16 that the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are sons of God. So, I charge you this morning to ask yourself this question…”Is it I, Lord? Am I rebelling in the wilderness against you?” And then look to your life for the evidence of the work of faith.

Yet, if we stop there, we miss a critical aspect of these two verses: “But the word they heard did not benefit them because they were not united in faith to the ones who heard.”

Paul writes in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ. Yet, to have hears to hear, the Holy Spirit must give you spiritual rebirth. Without that work of the Spirit, you will remain deaf to the things of the Word and faith will not be a reality. You will hear with earthly ears, not spiritual ones.

There is also a communal aspect mentioned. They did not hear because they were not united in faith to the ones who did hear. When you are born again and brought to faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, you become part of the body of Christ. There is no such thing as a “Lone-Ranger-Christian,” — we are not out on our own — but we are part of one body and as such we are called to gather at God’s command as one body for worship — united in faith.

Verse 3

“For we who believe” (insert here: those united in faith, who hear) “will enter into the rest, in the same way as he said , “As I swore in my wrath, they will never enter my rest.” We covered this language last week, but notice what is added: “Yet the work was done from the foundation of the cosmos.”

But wait, wasn’t this work completed on the cross? Indeed, the work was fulfilled or consummated on the cross, but the sending of the Son to redeem the elect was part of an inter-Trinitarian Covenant of Life made between the Father and the Son before Time began. This is language that can only be understood in the light of election, foreordination, and predestination. No other explanation makes sense.

Verses 4-7

“For he spoke somewhere about the seventh” (‘day’ is inserted here for context) “in this way, And God rested on the seventh day from all his work. And in the same way again, ‘They will never enter my rest. Therefore, because it remains in place for some to enter into it and those who formerly received the Good News but did not enter because of disobedience, again, one sets apart a day, ‘Today,” he says by David so great a time after, it was foretold, ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart’

— Why? Those whose hearts are hardened are those who fall away and do not enter into God’s rest.

That leads us into verse 8…

“For if Joshua gave them rest, he would never have spoken about a day after this.”

If some of you are reading the older King James version, you may be scratching your head at this translation because your Bible reads, “Jesus” not “Joshua.” Is this a contradiction? No.

The Hebrew name, “Joshua,” or “Yeshua” in Hebrew, is translated into Greek, it is written as Iasus…or Jesus. Jesus and Joshua are the same name, in other words and where you see the word written, the context tells you which of these men it is referring to. In this case, Joshua led the people into the Promised Land so most modern translations, including the NKJV, choose to translate it as Joshua.

But don’t go discarding your King James all at once. For, let me remind you that in Jude 5, Jude states that Jesus led the people out of Egypt and destroyed those who did not believe. So, the KJV translators are trying to capture this truth and create a link between these two passages in our minds.

Anyway, the thrust of the verse has to do with this idea of rest. And again, most often in scripture, the rest is from the effects of sin in the land and amongst the people (see for example, Deuteronomy 3:20, 12:10; 25:19; Joshua 1:13; 22:4). Yet the author is pointing out that there is “another” rest after this — a more permanent one.

Notice how this works itself out in the scriptures…

For example, Isaiah writes (30:15)

“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, in repenting and rest, you shall be saved; quietness and trust shall be your strength, but you were unwilling.”

And in Jeremiah 6:16

“Thus says the Lord: stand by the roads and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk in it.

But it has its culmination in Matthew 11:28-29, when Jesus says,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. 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.”

Notice, none of this is about physical rest, it is a matter of spiritual rest and the rest that Jesus was offering was spiritual and notice the parallel between rest and walking in the paths of God. We find rest in Christ but that requires our obedience amongst other things. This is the only place we will find rest for our sin weary souls.

And thus, we say with the author of Hebrews (verse 9),

“Therefore there remains in place a Sabbath for the people of God.”

And this is where people sometimes go astray. They say, “Look, the Old Testament Sabbath anticipates this later, eternal Sabbath for the people of God which is in heaven  (and the new Creation).”

So far, so good…but their conclusion is erroneous: “so the 4th commandment is no longer binding on us; we await that Sabbath in the time to come.”

And no. While it is true, we await a full and eternal Sabbath, we who are in the “in-between” still practice the 4th Commandment for it anticipates that eternal Sabbath to come  — a Sabbath where our souls will find perfect rest and freedom from the effects of sin.

We should also note that the 10 Commandments are not a bunch of individual parts, but a singular whole with ten different aspects. When one breaks an aspect, one breaks the whole, that at least is the language of James.

But notice the parallel. The Israelites did not wait until they were in the promised land to practice worship and thankfulness to God for their deliverance; neither should we wait.

I want to take you back to Deuteronomy 12:8-9 — part of a section of scripture that is entirely directed toward the worship of God’s people:

“You shall not do according to do all we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you…”

Do you see the connection? God is saying through Moses that the people’s worship in the wilderness was a mess. And the people need to straighten up and get it right before they enter the Promised Land. This is the regulative principle of worship (we only include what God prescribes for worship, not whatever we want) but it also is a reminder of the connection between the inheritance, rest, and worship — that our worship is governed by God so that it can anticipate heaven — an eternal Rest or Sabbath for the people of God.

Verse 10.

“For the one entering into His rest has also rested from his work in the same way as God.”

Have you ever considered how God rested in Genesis 2:2? What God did to rest on the Sabbath? It wasn’t to take a nap, though there is nothing wrong with physical rest, but God is Spirit and without a physical body. What we are told that God did was to cease from his work of creation and to set the day apart as holy, a Sabbath to the Lord and a day for our whole being to worship. The day is set apart to focus on God’s purposes, not man’s.

And then, in the new Creation, all earthly work will turn toward worship, an ongoing Sabbath, free from sin and the distractions of its effects — eternally.

Mark Twain wrote a little book entitled Letters from Mother Earth. One of the observations that he makes in the book is of Christians who claim to be looking forward to eternal worship in heaven but who dread to spend an hour or two in worship here on earth. Or if they do not dread it, it is not their passion or priority. How odd a contrast, is it not? But it speaks to us, does it not?

One more thing before I close this morning. Whenever I teach on the Sabbath day, one of the questions I almost always get afterwards is, “can I do this in the Sabbath?”

My conviction, though, is that if you are inclined to ask, you probably already know the answer to the question on that one. More importantly, when we find ourselves embroiled in the “do’s” and “don’t’s” of the Sabbath, we become legalistic and create a hierarchy within the church. Plus we rub ourselves of the delight the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Instead, I simply prefer to ask the question, does this activity glorify God or man? If it glorifies God, then by all means, do it. If it glorifies man, then there are six other days of the week; use them.

But I will remind you of one more thing. The things of God will last forever; the things of man will pass away swiftly. So, which are your works? What do you dedicate yourself toward?

18 Comments

  1. amyleebell

    Your explanation is so clear. I might reblog it sometime, if that’s okay with you. I am meeting more and more people all the time who are questioning traditional Sunday-worship, folks who are beginning to realize that God’s Way has not changed throughout the ages. Something that I will mention, since it looks like you enjoy languages, is that the Hebrew word for “seven” and “sabbath” seem to be closely related. It’s like God is preventing people from being able to successfully twist scripture into saying that the sabbath is now on Sunday. (Not that those arguments hold water anyway.) Another thing that has inspired me lately is that the rest comes at the END of the week, AFTER the troubles and tribulations of this life are over.

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    1. preacherwin

      AmyLee, thank you for the kind words and please feel free to reblog anything that others might find useful. And sadly, you are right, people are drifting away from the church for a lot of reasons, but none of them good. We need the body and we need to worship as part of the body. It is commanded and it is also needed for the wellbeing of our souls.

      As to the languages; yes I do spend a good bit of time with the original languages as I prepare sermons and as I write. I find them both useful and fascinating…devotional even, at times. Anyway, you are right that a lot of people make a lot more than they should about the change from Saturday to Sunday worship. To start with, Hebrew is essentially a “trip-consonantal” language, meaning that most words have a three-consonant root (and the vowels are indicated through a system of accents invented in the 7th century AD. The consonants for Sabbath are Sh-B-T. The consonants for seven are Sh-B-‘ the final consonant being an “Ayin” which is a place-holder for a vowel sound and carries with it (at least some scholars argue) a guttural “g” sound in the back of the throat — for example, “Gaza” begins with the letter “Ayin.”

      While to our western eyes, they do look similar, the one letter does make a major difference and so, they are not as closely connected as some would like to suggest. I mean, think how many words in English can have entirely different meanings if just one letter is changed. The change, of course, is based on the day of Jesus’ resurrection and since we see the Apostle Paul meeting with the Gentile church on Sunday to collect the offering, I think it can safely be presented that this change from Sabbath to Lord’s Day was an apostolic change, not something made later by the church.

      Our problem as a society is that we debate the day so much that we lose sight of what it is meant to be — that rest at the end of the week we need, to look back and give God thanks for the things that were able to be accomplished during that week’s time.

      Thanks for the kind words! God bless you,

      win

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  2. amyleebell

    I am so intrigued by your answer! It seems that when I initially read your blog post, I misunderstood your intent. I had pegged you for a Torah-observant believer because I am one, and I agree with almost every single word in your original post. You talk about God’s permanent Law, you speak about obedience, and you insist that the Sabbath should still be kept because it foreshadows the rest that remains for us. I agree whole-heartedly with each of these ideas!

    The funny thing is, you may have misunderstood my response as well. I think we SHOULD make a big deal out of the fact that the Catholic church “changed” the day of worship to Sunday, lol. They don’t even deny it;
    you can search their literature and see that they take full credit for the switch. The apologetics for Sunday sabbath that we see today, such as the one you mentioned, were put in place to justify the change. (There are many more instances of the apostles meeting on the Sabbath day than on Sunday, and if God were going to change one of His perfect laws, I believe He would have told us, instead of allowing us to infer it.)

    I think we should worship Him in the way He prescribed, and I believe you mentioned that too. Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:28-32 (one of the best arguments against “sun”-day worship), and Jeremiah 6:16 begs us to do things God’s way. The old way. The only good way. Just as you quoted above:

    “Thus says the Lord: stand by the roads and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk in it.”

    Anyway, as far as the Hebrew language goes, I didn’t want you to think that I was basing my reasoning on the letter construction alone. In English, I agree that it would be foolish to believe that “cat” and “car” had anything to do with each other, merely because the first two letters are the same. I already believe that the Sabbath day is the seventh day, and I believe that the written language merely supports that belief.

    I think it’s a very good support though, and here’s why: the Hebrew letters aren’t like our Roman letters, in that, the Roman letters themselves don’t have meanings, or at least they have not retained a meaning that carries over into the words spelled by them. But the ancient Hebrew letters are both phonetic and pictographic. You seem to know a lot more about the language than I do, so please correct me if I’m wrong. Every once in a while I get led astray by something silly, just because I am not educated enough to know the difference. I am blogging about these ideas today. (I had written the post last night, before hearing from you, otherwise I might have reworded a few things.) I don’t think I’m wrong about it though. Check out Jeff A. Benner’s website, specifically this page: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/alphabet_early.html to see what I’m talking about, and please let me know your input.

    Thanks for taking time to converse with me! I want to learn as much as possible, and I just can’t do that if no one ever challenges my beliefs.

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    1. preacherwin

      Amylee, Thanks for the dialogue and for opening up some rabbit trails to follow. I live for that. So, here are a few thoughts.

      First of all, I do believe that the Moral Law (Ten Commandments) still remains in place and is binding. This is what Jesus is speaking about by not an iota or a keraia will fall away from the Law until the heavens and earth pass away…or, as some suggest, if Jesus were preaching in Aramaic…a yodh or a seraph. The ceremonial law is obviously fulfilled by Christ (Hebrews 10:10) and thus the sacrifices are done away with — in fact, God had the Romans destroy the Temple in 70 AD to ensure that there would be no more sacrifices made and now has permitted a Mosque on the temple mount for just the same reason. The civil law (which would include punishments for breaking the moral law) is open to a lot of debate. Some would say it still should be in place (Theonomy). I am not a theonomist and would argue that the civil law was for a time and for a season while national Israel was more or less synonymous with God’s covenantal people. I can defend that position sometime if you want to explore that rabbit trail as well.

      As to the Sabbath, then, from the decalogue teaches the principle of setting apart one day in seven as holy for rest and reverence as modeled by God in the creation week. Thus, the principle becomes the setting apart of one day in seven; the application would be the exact day itself. Remember Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and insists that it was made for man’s benefit and not the other way around. So, I would posit that the principle is more important than the day itself. An example of this from Jewish priestly practice was that when Priests were required to do service in the Temple on Sabbath, they had the following day granted to them as a day of rest…just as many pastors (myself included) tend to take a “day off” during the week as our Sunday duties make the day a very full day.

      I will grant that it is true that Paul did present himself in the Synagogue to reason with the Jews in his travels, but he also met with the Gentile church on the Lord’s day…something we clearly see in the book of Acts. After the fall of Jerusalem, history records the two groups taking very different paths. And, while I have heard the arguments that Rome created the change (and takes credit for it), it is a big stretch to argue that from historical texts. Rome takes credit for a lot of things that do not and did not belong to it and feels free to make up lots of things to serve its own ends…if you haven’t figured it out, I’m not much a fan of Rome and would argue along with many of the Reformers that Rome is one of the beasts described in Revelation 13.

      If you go back to the late first century church (Rome does not rise to power really until closer to Constantine), you still find references to them worshipping on the Lord’s Day as commanded and practiced by the Apostles…remembering that some of these guys actually knew the Apostles firsthand — can you imagine what that must have been like! My point is that history and practice of a Sunday Sabbath is far more reliable than some would like to make it sound.

      As to Hebrew and Greek; I do believe that the languages are worthwhile and have even taught introductions to both as part of a pastor’s Sunday-evening Bible study (to brave but hungry folks in the congregation). A basic knowledge of the language and grammar along with a good interlinear can get someone very close to the original text, which is a wonderful thing. I also like what the Lexham Bible has done (online versions only) by making a fairly close to literal translation to work with. Again, the tools abound.

      I had the blessing of studying Hebrew under a gentleman whose dad was Jewish but whose mom was a Christian, so he grew up with both, eventually professing faith in Jesus Christ. My professors words were one of caution when it comes to the pictographic insights. While, yes, Hebrew (as did many languages) began as a kind of cuneiform where the shapes of the letters reflected sounds that were made by the letters (not unlike the way we learned the alphabet — “a is for apple”, etc…

      The thing is that Hebrew is a really, really old language. Well, it is the oldest language, and goes back to creation (yes, I agree with your assessment that seven-ordinary-day Creationism is a really important doctrine — fundamental to Christian doctrine, actually). That said, as language is used, meanings change and nuances are lost. So, even if the pictographs contained important roots behind words, by the time that Hebrew moved to the block script and especially by Jesus’ day, these nuances would have fallen away. So, just because a word is made up of various constituent parts does not mean that is how the word was being used.

      There is another danger. Like in areas of Christianity, there are also mystics within Judaism along with Kabbalah. They insert all sorts of fantastic sounding things into the text that are supposed to be there — ultimately they are gnostic in nature: “if you really want the inside scoop, follow our teachings.” These folks are really persuasive sometimes, but always add to God’s Word and confound the text. They are just as dangerous as the Pharisees you spoke of in your blog this morning, who create a legalistic structure of extra-Biblical rules. Jewish Rabbinic writing already has a way of adding stories, myths, proverbs, etc… into their larger understanding — their theology is progressive (like Rome’s!), and so these gnostics find their way in pretty readily with all sorts of notions that draw people away from the church. So, be wise and prudent…wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove, I should perhaps say.

      So, the connection between Sh-B-T and Sh-B-‘ still is not as close (I think) as you are trying to make it. Interestingly, (back to Sabbath) the move within Christian circles to argue back to a Saturday Sabbath seems to be relatively recent and somewhat connected with Seventh Day Adventism, which is considered by many to be a cult. There are several SDA people in our community with whom I have interacted and in each case there is an utter close-minded attitude to conversation and these folks (at least those whom I have interacted with) have become militantly against the church and end up practicing a weird combination of Christianity along with Jewish rite. Paul seems to take a pretty strong stance against this in Galatians, where similar things were taking place. Please know that I haven’t seen the close-mindedness with you, so don’t take that as a criticism, I’m just saying, beware of some of the influences that are out there.

      One more thought, I love the language you use when you state that you are tired of basically being told what Christians should think and do, but want to see it in the Scriptures. Amen and Amen. Dig into the word of God! I wish more of God’s people would be more faithful in doing that and I wish more people would be like the Bereans and check everything they hear according to scripture. Yes! At the same time, don’t discard and throw to the wind some of the gifts that God has given to the church over the ages. Men like Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, etc… were committed to the Word as well and God used them to bring about revival and Truth in the lives of His people through their ages. We cannot rely solely on these teachers, but if we ignore them, we ignore one of God’s great gifts to us.

      Blessings, win

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      1. amyleebell

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I’m sure it took quite a bit of your time to pen it, and I really appreciate that!

        Again, I agree with almost everything you have to say. I just want to point out that using the phrase “The Lord’s Day” to prove that they were meeting on Sunday is circular reasoning. Sunday is only the Lord’s Day if He did change His day to Sunday. Otherwise, the Lord’s Day refers to Jehovah’s day, Saturday. (And I am under the distinct impression that His Law is perfect, and that He does not change, nor does His righteousness – Psalm 119:142, 172).

        The only other comment I have is that the ceremonial sacrifices will resume during the Millennial Reign. I think that all sacrifices point to Christ, past, present, and future. (Although I do agree with you that sacrifices are illegal today, for now. That is because they must be performed by the Levitical tribe in the temple.)

        Anyway, thanks again for the insight. I will really keep my eyes open for Kabbalistic teachings. I am aware that they exist, but I haven’t come across much of their material. In reference to the SDA folks, I have several casual friends, but I’ve only had one Bible study with one of them. It went okay, but I think I offended her in the end. That was an accident, because she has been a friend of my parents for a really long time. We agree on the doctrine of the Sabbath, but we differ in quite a few other areas.

        Thanks for the talk!

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      2. preacherwin

        Let me offer you one more challenge then…because I would argue that the position that the sacrifices resuming during the Millennial Kingdom is a teaching based in human ingenuity and not in the scriptures. I’m not aware of anywhere in the Bible where it would teach that and it presumes that Jesus’ sacrifice was not sufficient.

        Anyway, God’s law is perfect…I still hold that the application (i.e. the actual day of the week) is different from the principle itself established in the Law. Thus the day of rest stands, but the application to worship and rest on the day of the resurrection is the Christian application in contrast to the Jewish application.

        Blessings,

        win

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      3. amyleebell

        I’m afraid I may have misrepresented myself again, lol. That’s why I enjoyed reading your blog – you are so clear!

        Let me clarify what I believe: Jesus’ sacrifice was absolutely sufficient. It is the only sacrifice that has ever been sufficient. Sacrifices have never saved anyone from sin; they have only ever pointed to Christ. The sacrifices in the future will also point to Christ. They are a representation, not the thing itself.

        Communion is a good example of what I mean. The bread represents the body of Christ, and the wine represents His blood. Taking communion in no way nullifies the sacrifice He made for us – it serves as a reminder of it. The sacrifices during the Millennial Reign will serve that purpose as well. In addition, there were many types of sacrifices, not just sin offerings. A worship sacrifice would be incredibly legitimate in any age. However, we cannot offer anything right now because we do not have access to the temple and the Levitical ministration.

        The Levitical line will go on forever, and it will always serve the same purpose: “nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.” Jeremiah 33:18. (This is the verse immediately following a reminder of God’s promise to David, and we know that that verse is talking about the eternal reign of Christ.)

        Read Numbers 18:19 and 23 to see more of God’s unbreakable promises to the Levites.

        Moreover, Hebrews chapter 8 is Paul’s apology proving that it is legal (that it is not breaking God’s perfect Law) for Christ to be our high priest, even though He is not of the Levitical tribe. It would have been easier for Paul to say “the ceremonial law no longer applies,” but he couldn’t because that would be untrue. Everything that God ever said is true and has not changed (2 Timothy 3:16). The conclusion is that the Levites are the earthly ministers, but Melchizedek preceded them, and so did His office of High Priest. Again, the earthly priests are just a picture of the reality. But they are an eternal picture. The picture in no way takes away from the reality or makes it less valuable. It is an object lesson, a reminder. If Christ were still on the earth, He could not legally be our high priest, because the promise to the Levites is still in effect. A promise is a promise, and God’s promises are the most trustworthy of all things. “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:” Hebrews 8:4

        BTW, I believe that there is no difference between the believing Jew and the believing Gentile. We are one body, one congregation, one church. If God gave them perpetual ordinances, and if we have joined ourselves to them to serve the God of Abraham, then we are responsible to behave as any believing Jew would behave. That’s the way God established it in the nation of Israel. “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 24:22. And we know that all believers are the seed of Abraham – Galatians 3:29: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” That means His statutes apply equally to us.

        One final thought. Ten of the tribes are lost. If God instructed the Israelites (not just the Jews) to keep His holy days forever, why aren’t we doing that? How do we know if we are truly Gentile or a member of one of the lost tribes? Should there even be a difference?

        Sorry I have so much to say. I have been thinking about this topic and researching it for a couple of years now, and I’m afraid that I’m highly opinionated, lol.

        I just want to apologize to you because I didn’t come to your blog to argue with you, although I do enjoy a good debate! Thank you for giving me one! But in the beginning, I thought we shared almost the same exact viewpoint. I never intended to be so contrary, lol.

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      4. preacherwin

        No harm done and no disrespect taken. I trust that it is mutual. I enjoy thoughtful discussions even if we do not find common ground; what I do not like is when folks turn to personal attacks rather than discussing the facts themselves. I don’t feel at all that you have done so and have enjoyed the conversation back and forth.

        A couple brief notes. The testimony of the Christians meeting for the worship of Christ is uncontested in first and second century writings. The Didiche (a manual of preparation for communion), Ignatius of Antioch (a disciple of the Apostle John), Barnabus, and Justin Martyr (a second century Christian apologist) all testify that the Christians gathered on the first day of the week for rest and worship. We are agreed that Paul meets with the Jews on the Seventh day, but that is to engage with them in the synagogue when they would have been in the synagogue. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the division between the two groups becomes more cemented. Even the Roman author, Pliny the Younger (a first century Roman official) writes of these Christians who are meeting for their worship and rest on the first day of the week. There are no documents from history that contest that this was the practice of the early church at the end of the Apostolic age and in the beginning of the second-generation church leadership (i.e. those who were taught by the Apostles themselves).

        This is also long before Rome becomes an institutionalized power and long before the Edict of Gratian where the church officially pronounces that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath Day (and by then, they were pronouncing all sorts of things and institutionalizing it all) — but that’s the fourth century; I am focusing on the first and second centuries.

        Given that we have oodles of records and sermons from this era that reflect debates that were being had — many of them hard-fought debates — it is also hard to argue (as the Seventh Day Adventists like to) that all of the dissenting documents were destroyed. For all of Rome’s evils, that is largely not one of them from that era; they saved everything for their records (they were early hoarders! lol!).

        The point is that it is really hard to argue that the first century church practiced the Jewish Sabbath as there are not the historical records to support that view. Further, given the unanimity on the position in the first century, the only explanation is that the Apostles taught on it…remembering that the first time that Jesus gathered with his Apostles was also on the first day of the week.

        Of all the arguments, the one I am most sympathetic to is that God’s word never changes. That might lead one to believe that the Sabbath is meant to be understood exactly in the New Testament as it was in the Old Testament. But harmony is not always parity. Thus, there are numerous rules around the tithe and first fruits in the Old Testament, but when the New Testament speaks of giving, it is always in terms of giving cheerfully and generously…which implies a far greater degree than was practiced by the Old Testament Tithe. The emphasis is on what is done… Think of it not so much as a matter of the day being changed, but that which the Old Testament Sabbath pointed to found its fulfillment in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. So Sabbath is an everlasting covenant…seventh day is not.

        It’s okay if you don’t fully agree; my only purpose is to challenge your argument from history and offer another explanation from scripture to reflect what the early church actually practiced.

        As to the Millennium, I don’t think that your argument follows. First, where in scripture does it teach that Sacrifices will be restored at some future time. Yes, we all offer ourselves as living sacrifices and to make a sacrifice of praise, but I know that is not what you are speaking of. And since Jesus (in Hebrews as you noted above) is the greater High Priest who need not sacrifice daily, but who made a sacrifice once and for all time (ephapax — the Greek word in Hebrews 10:10, means “once and for all time” or “once, never to be repeated.” It refers to a matter of chronology. Second, as we are agreed that Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient, why would there ever be a need for sacrifice? Sacrifices are a product of the Fall, not something for a restored Kingdom.

        Clearly we have different Millennial views…lots of folks do. Personally, I would argue that we are in the Millennium, but that takes us in a totally different direction. I am only hoping to show you that your Millennial view is causing you to make some assumptions about Biblical interpretation that are based more in the ideas of men than in scripture…something that you have been admittedly seeking to get away from in your own studies. Also, know that the view of the restoration of national Israel that usually goes along with the notion of a restored temple and sacrifices, is a pretty modern view (mid 19th century) and again is not witnessed in the early church. And the early church is the one who received the book of Revelation and was encouraged by it. Like you said above, I try and put my mind into the sandals of the original readers of the text as I wrestle with it; I just cannot imagine the first century church appealing to a restored temple, sacrifices, etc…

        Finally, how do we know that the ten tribes were truly lost? Dispersed yes, but not truly lost. The Danites maybe, but that is a different beast. A lot of the “Lost Ten Tribes” stuff is the stuff of legend, not so much of history as best as I understand it.

        So, my point is not to be a thorn in your side nor is it to drive you to consternation. It is just perhaps to make you rethink a few things…and for the joy of the conversation over matters of importance.

        God bless you!

        win

        Liked by 1 person

      5. amyleebell

        Thank you so much for keeping the conversation going, and for your pleasant attitude. I am always on the lookout for good conversations, but they generally never last this long without someone getting bent out of shape, lol.

        Some more thoughts on the Sabbath Day: God told us that He would never do anything without revealing it first to His prophets. Amos 3:7. I believe that includes changing the sabbath day or any of His laws. He tells us ahead of time so that we will know the difference between fulfilled prophecies and man-made propaganda.

        If God can change His laws on a whim, and without telling us about it ahead of time, how will we ever know the difference between man-made religions and God’s instructions? If He changes His Laws, then how are we sure that the Catholics are wrong, or the Muslims? No, but God is always true to Himself. If anyone ever comes to us with a new revelation, all we have to do is search and see if it’s in the scriptures. We can rely on it because He changes not at all. In Him there is no shadow of turning.

        His Words are the only reliable thing in existence. We need to get away from questioning them because it’s the oldest trick in the book: “Hath God truly said…”

        As you mentioned, the Bereans searched the scriptures daily to make sure Paul was preaching the truth. If he wasn’t above doubt, can anybody be? Even the early church? They must align with the Word of God.

        Jesus Christ, who is our perfect example, kept every single law that God ever gave. In fact, He is the bodily representation of God’s Law. He is the Word made flesh. I think it’s strange that we call Him our example, yet have no problems diverging so much from the way He lived.

        When Paul was speaking to Agrippa, he said that He never preached anything other than what was written in Moses and the prophets. The claim against him that he was promoting lawlessness was a false claim.

        As far as history goes, I found these:”The primitive Christians did keep the Sabbath of the Jews;.therefore the Christians for a long time together, did keep their conventions on the Sabbath, in which some portion of the Law were read: and this continued till the time of the Laodicean council.” The Whole Works of Jeremey Taylor, Vol. IX, p416 (R. Heber’s Edition, Vol.XII, p.416)

        “The ancient Christians were very careful in the observation of Saturday, or the seventh day..It is plain that all the Oriental churches, and the greatest part of the world, observed the Sabbath as a festival…Athanasius likewise tells us that they held religious assemblies on the Sabbath, not because they were infected with Judaism, but to worship [Yahushua], the [Master] of the Sabbath, Epiphanius says the same.” Antiquities of the Christian Church, Vol. II, Book XX, chap. 3, Sec. 1, 66.1137, 1138

        “Ambrose, the celebrated bishop of Milan, said that when he was in Milan he observed Saturday, but when in Rome observed Sunday. This gave rise to the proverb ‘When you are in Rome, do as Rome does,’ ” Heylyn, The History of the Sabbath, 1613.”

        In addition, Paul kept the 7th-day sabbath day over and over again in the NT, even when he was dealing with Gentiles: Acts 17:3-4, Acts 13:42-44.

        So even if the early Christians did keep sabbath on the first day of the week, I cannot see that as proof of God changing His Law. Man changing it, yes. How long did it take Peter to stop eating with the Gentiles? Not very. Paul had to correct him when he arrived. Paul’s letters are full of corrections because the church immediately began to incorporate pagan rituals and otherwise err from the true path.

        In the NT, the first day of the week is always referred to as such, never as the sabbath. We know what they mean when they do refer to the sabbath, and that is the 7th day.

        I have so much more to say about the ten tribes, sacrifices, and the Millennial Reign, but I don’t want to chase too many rabbit trails. However, to answer your question about sacrifices during the Millennial Reign, here is something I wrote a while back that directly applies to what we have been talking about: “It seems to me that the entirety of Hebrews 7 is a defense to the Hebrews of how in the world Jesus could be our high priest since He wasn’t in the Levitical priesthood. Because God is righteous and His Law is righteousness (Psalm 119:72), the Hebrews were well aware that God wouldn’t break His own righteous commandments. (That would make Him unrighteous.) They wanted to know why Paul claimed that a member of the tribe of Judah could suddenly be our high priest. Do you see how they were testing what he taught against the OT, to see if his doctrine was true? If he had been teaching something not in accordance with scripture, they would have had to throw out his doctrine (as would we). Turns out, there’s an easy explanation: Paul’s answer is not that the Law was annulled. He argues that Jesus can be our high priest without breaking the Law. In fact, he says in Hebrews 8:4 that if Christ had stayed on earth, He could not legally be our high priest. In order to be an earthly priest, you must be of the Levitical line. In the Millennial Reign, I believe that the sacrificial system (Zech 14, Isaiah 56) will be reinstated and ministered by the Levites: “For thus says the LORD, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’” Jeremiah 33:18

        Now why would Paul need to prove that Jesus could legally be our high priest? Because the Law is very much still in effect (righteousness is still righteousness) and obviously applies to Christ, who is the embodiment of righteousness. Christ, being the Word made flesh, never broke Torah in His existence, and He’s not about to start now. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Instead, Paul’s argument is that the order of Melchizedek precedes the Levitical order, and that Melchizedek’s order is the true order in heaven, the Levitical order being only a shadow of the reality. Both orders can co-exist, the perfect one in heaven and the figure of the heavenly one on earth.”

        Let me know if you have any more thoughts. I am truly enjoying discussing this with you!

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      6. preacherwin

        Amylee,

        Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’m sure that you can appreciate that my life gets busy for me when it comes toward the end of the week. Plus, it is ordinarily my practice to rest and not continue matters of discussion and debate on the Sabbath…and out of respect for our different practices of the Sabbath, in the case of this discussion, both Saturday and Sunday.

        I think that at the heart of our point of difference is the question of the essential nature of the day. To borrow from Aristotle’s “Categories,” there is a difference between elements that are essentials and non-essentials (what he calls, “accidentals). For example, my office desk is made out of wood, but wood is not an essential characteristic of desks…desks can be made of metal, fiber-board, or other materials. My desk also has 8 drawers, but all desks don’t have 8 drawers…my son’s computer desk doesn’t have any drawers at all. The wood and the drawers do not make it a desk; its function makes it a desk.

        But, were I to bring my chainsaw into the office, and saw my desk into splinters…it would cease to be a desk, even though it was still wood.

        And while Aristotle was a pagan, in the light of common grace (God rains on the just and on the unjust), he put together some basic principles of logic that help us to communicate clearly with one another. And, as Christians, while we know the Truth that pagans like Plato and Aristotle did not know, God also did not give us a logic textbook as part of our sacred scriptures. Yet, as the invisible characteristics of God are clearly visible in the world around us, I believe that what they saw (especially Plato and Aristotle) in the logic of the world around us is God’s logical expression of himself…thus, when Paul writes that presenting our bodies as living sacrifices is our “reason-filled worship” and then follows that with the instruction to renew the mind, I believe that logical argumentation is the only useful and Biblical tool to use toward that end.

        Anyway, getting back to the Sabbath. As I look to the Sabbath command, which we agree is a perpetual command, I would argue that those elements that are essentials are rest, gathering with God’s people (holy convocation), remembering the works of God, public prayer, etc… are the essentials. The day is a non-essential attribute. I will base this on several things, but the most pressing (apart from early Christian practice) is that there are many instances where the Levites were called upon to work on the Sabbath, thus breaking the Sabbath. One example that I already mentioned was that of Temple service…where the Levitical practice was to rest on the subsequent day if one had to serve in the Temple on the Sabbath. Another instance was circumcision — which had to be on the 8th day even though circumcising a baby was considered labor.

        This is where Jesus takes the Pharisees to task. For example, Jesus mentioned the donkey in a ditch (we today call that a work of necessity), but that really was a matter of debate in Jesus’ day. The famous and esteemed Pharisee Hillel allowed his donkey to die in one instance because he felt it would be a sin to unpack and unburden his donkey on the Sabbath day…and many considered Hillel’s action an act of piety. Jesus himself is appealing for wisdom in the use of the Sabbath (as it is meant as a blessing) because the people find themselves bound by it.

        Another example of the notion of the day of Sabbath being a not-essential attribute, has to do with how the Sabbath is profaned. I cannot think of one occasion in the scriptures where God condemns the people for practicing the Sabbath on the wrong day. The people defile the sabbath by either not practicing it at all or by practicing it as if it were a meritorious work. So, for example, in Isaiah 1, we find God condemning the people for their practice because in their practice their hearts were far from him.

        With this in mind, I don’t see the move from Saturday to Sunday (or the sunset to sunset becoming the roman midnight to midnight) as a change so much as a matter of fulfillment and focus on Christ’s Resurrection. It only looks to be a change if one takes it superficially. Let me offer another example…

        Circumcision is also spoken of as an eternal covenant, yet Paul speaks clearly that for the Christian, circumcision nor non-circumcision is of any value, but a circumcision of the heart is what is focused on. Further, I would argue that Baptism is the New Testament equivalent (or replacement) for covenant circumcision. So, the eternal covenant sign is put in place (essential) but the form has been altered (non-essential).

        In Genesis 9, God gives all living animals to Noah for food (noting that there is already a distinguishing between clean and unclean animals), but the food restrictions are later established in Leviticus, stating that God’s people could not eat of these foods. Then later, in the New Testament, Jesus, Peter, and Paul all teach that we may eat anything with thanks to God and it is what comes out of our mouths, not what we put in them that defiles us. So again, there are alterations in the food restrictions. Originally, no flesh. Then all flesh…then only certain kinds of flesh, then once again, all flesh with the restriction against eating food that still had blood in it or food knowingly sacrificed to idols. Is that a change? I don’t think so, only a progression in the march of covenantal redemptive history.

        In the Old Testament there were all sorts of rules as to clothing. There is nothing in the New Testament that would suggest that those laws have been abrogated, but I don’t know too many people outside of Orthodox Judaism that practice the clothing ways. Only modestly is advocated in the New Testament.

        Another example is Communion, with is a fulfillment of the Passover meal. In Jewish tradition, Passover was held only once annually (the 14th of Nissan). Yet, Jesus said to his disciples, “as often as you do this in my name.” The early Christians took this to mean it was celebrated every week. I still would say that this was not a change so much as a fulfilled application — Jesus is the Passover Lamb.

        I could go on, but I am hoping that you are seeing that I have never been suggesting for a moment that this is a matter of “whim” as you stated in your last post, but that this is a matter of fulfillment because of the Work of Christ. Further, God is not changing his mind — essential elements are still present in all cases…we simply sometimes think there is a change because we do not see with God’s eternal perspective. And there is nothing fickle; God has given us his Word. It is complete and fixed and it is in perfect harmony with itself, we just struggle because we are not infinite in our ability to understand.

        And that brings us back to where we are in absolute agreement…God’s Word is the only reliable thing in existence and we must pursue it with all of our strength…and where the church gets it wrong, we reform the church. But here is not one of those areas that I think that the church is getting it wrong, but instead there has been a Judaizing movement (much like what Paul dealt with in Galatians) which is insisting on the practicing of Jewish ceremonies and sacrifices toward salvation — which in itself would be arguing for a merit-based justification…and that denies grace.

        As to some of your references, you caused me to go back to my history books as well. It seems that there is a great deal of difference on this matter. Schaff, for example, argues that post 70AD the Christians worshiped almost exclusively on Sundays. Sheldon argues similarly, though he recognizes that some celebrated both. What is clear, for example, in the Didache (late 1st, early 2nd century document) is that Christians were all commended to practice their worship of Christ on the Sunday that followed the Sabbath if they practiced it — this arguably fits your distinction between Sabbath and Lord’s Day. Pliny, the Roman leader who investigated the Christians for the Emperor, said that it was his observation that the Christians worshipped on Sundays. Justin Martyr, in his Letters to Trypho, makes similar argument.

        This is getting long, but let me briefly tackle your two final comments… First, with respect to Hebrews and Jesus’ priesthood in the Order of Melchizedek. Yes, I am in agreement, he is working to help his Jewish audience understand how Jesus can be a priest even though he is from the line of Judah, not Levi. At the same time, though, as Priest and King, Jesus fulfills Jeremiah 33:18. But, Jeremiah says, “Levites.” Yes, he does, but look also at Isaiah 66:21, where the people are being brought in from the nations (implying the gentiles) and from them God states that he will make Priests and Levites. I would argue that this is what Peter is speaking of in 1 Peter 2:9-10. The emphasis here on function, not bloodline because in Christ, bloodline becomes irrelevant.

        More importantly (back to sacrifices), the message of Hebrews if you continue down that passage is that Jesus offered a sacrifice that is sufficient and complete for all time…never to be repeated. With that sacrifice complete, the notion of any further sacrifice becomes contrary to scripture.

        My last thought, I have noticed (based on a recent article) that you are reading a number of articles from the United Church of God. You might want to be careful with some of their influence given that they have Adventist roots and a lot of their teachings are akin to the Ebionites and other Judaizers (which is who Paul was addressing in Galatians).

        I too have enjoyed the dialogue,

        Blessings,

        win

        Liked by 1 person

      7. amyleebell

        No problems for the delay!

        Re: Aristotle: I don’t think that God ever uttered a single word that was non-essential. Matthew 4:4, which is quoting Deuteronomy – every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

        If there were non-essentials, who gets to decide what they are? Culture? The early church fathers? No, I trust God Himself. I do not trust the early church fathers to redefine God’s Law.

        Logic: The most logical thing I can conclude is that the Word of God is trustworthy, and that I cannot be dogmatic about anything that doesn’t originate there.

        I don’t believe that Jesus ever broke the sabbath day, nor encouraged others to. Sure, He was breaking the pharisaical definition, but not the Father’s. They were constantly in trouble with Him for placing unnecessary burdens on the people. “Fences,” I’ve heard them called, to keep people from getting anywhere near sinning. Fact is, there is no sin in picking corn to eat your lunch or helping your donkey out of a ditch. If Jesus ever broke any aspect of the Torah, then He is not the Word made flesh, and He is not the perfect sacrifice. Harsh, but true.

        I believe that circumcision is still part of the perpetual covenant. If the terms “eternal” and “perpetual” have lost their meanings, then how can we have any hope in the meaning of eternal life? Is God going to change the terms on us later? Paul was teaching the Jews that they couldn’t require circumcision as a matter of salvation. There is no work that can be done to earn it. That’s his entire point.

        According to my recollection, circumcision was only required for a foreigner if he wanted to partake of the Passover lamb. Physical circumcision for a physical lamb. If there were still sacrifices today, assuming there was a temple to make it legal, then a person would still need to be physically circumcised to partake in that particular meal.

        As it stands, we become spiritually circumcised to take part in the spiritual Passover meal. That is salvation through Christ.

        Baptism does not replace circumcision. I believe that baptism refers to the crossing of the Red Sea, a coming out of Egypt: repentance.

        Ah, clean and unclean animals! A whole other can of worms. Maybe we’ll discuss that at length one of these days. 🙂

        Our family does keep the laws that apply to clothing – as far as we know. We are still learning.

        I believe that Christians are wrong about how often we should be taking communion. I believe that it is a HUGE stretch to say we should be doing it once a week. In fact, when Christ said “as oft as ye do this…,” they were having their Passover meal (minus the lamb, of course). It is my belief that He was referring to the Passover meal itself. To this day, the Jews still break and share unleavened bread and have some wine. The acts of communion were part of the Passover ritual itself, and Jesus expected the disciples to continue to keep it in memory of Him. Of course He would expect this because the Father said to keep it throughout ALL their generations. If we read the NT, we can readily see that Paul continued to keep the feasts, post-crucifixion.

        I am sorry if I came across to say that I thought you were calling God whimsical or fickle. I know that you are not explicitly saying that. However, I do believe that you are accidentally implying it. But then, most of my brothers and sisters in Christ interpret God’s Law the same as you do (or only slightly differently).

        Bloodline becomes irrelevant because we are ALL part of the Hebrew nation if we are saved. Either we were born that way, or we were adopted, and in those days, an adopted son had as many rights as a natural-born one, if not more. (For instance, in Rome, you could not disown an adopted son.) That means that all of God’s Laws concerning Israel pertain to us personally as well.

        “With that sacrifice complete, the notion of any further sacrifice becomes contrary to scripture.” This is only true if one believes that an earthly sacrifice can purify us from sin. In fact, every sacrifice before the crucifixion pointed forward to Him. We know there will be sacrifices during the Millennial Reign. They will be done in memory of His sacrifice. None but His has ever cleansed us from sin.

        I know nothing about that denomination you mentioned. I didn’t read their whole site, merely an article or two, that I think I remember (almost) agreeing with. In fact, I have to “be careful” no matter what I read, because any man or denomination could be taking things out of context. I could also be taking things out of context, and not even realize it!! That’s why we have to test everything to the Word of God (the whole Word of God) to see what’s true and what isn’t.

        Sorry, I know it seems I am being short and not conversational. I figured I would try to comment on almost everything, but trim the fat, so to speak. I have greatly enjoyed this discussion. Thank you for engaging me!

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      8. preacherwin

        Amylee,

        But you are not reading what I wrote. Aristotle’s divisions between essential and non-essential is not stating that things in God’s Word are non-essential. It is a tool of logic by which we examine like things. See my analogy of the desk. The material a desk is made of is not unimportant, but it is not essential to a desk being a desk. What is essential is function.

        There are many things in scripture that fall into this category. The principle is given (an essential) and the application may vary from age to age and from culture to culture. Any missionary will tell you that when you evangelize in Africa or in Brazil or in China, you do so differently. The Gospel is still the same (essential) but the way one approaches it is different (non-essentials).

        I have spent time working with pastors in Eastern Europe as well as in Africa. I also spent 3.5 years doing homeless ministry in Jackson, MS. The problems, the culture, the challenges in each one of these contexts is different, so my approach is different (non-essential). I also teach in a Seminary while also teaching middle-school students in our church. Again, age and development is different, so while the theology is the same (essential) the approach to communicating those essentials varied (non-essentials).

        Jesus had the same message throughout his ministry (essentials), but to some he communicated it in parables, to others he communicated in propositions, and to others he just flatly condemned them as children of the devil. How he approached the message was different depending on the audience, but the message is still the same.

        Sabbath is about rest and worship of God. The day one practices it varies based on the time one happens to be in…pre-Christ or post-Resurrection. Pentecost even took place on a Sunday; we follow that model.

        Remember, Logic is not bad. Though the Bible is not a Logic textbook, we see the logic of God within it and within his world. When we think logically, we are thinking in the way that God designed us to think and are in fact imitating his pattern of thought…part of the Imago Dei. Aristotle simply systematized what is practiced.

        As to Jesus never disobeying the Sabbath. He did not. He is our righteousness as Christians, he had to. We imitate that righteousness imperfectly out of our gratitude to God. If one makes anything more out of our obedience to the law than gratitude and part of our sanctification, they make grace no longer grace and enter back into the works of the law. Neither of us want to go there.

        At the same time, by the Pharisaic application of the law, Jesus was a Sabbathbreaker. He healed on the Sabbath, that was a no-no in the Pharisees’ application. He let his disciples pick grain to eat and defended them for doing so. Such was considered work in that era…as it is still considered work by practicing Jews today (remember, they were not allowed to collect manna on the Sabbath).

        Eternal and perpetual mean the same thing…application is different. Eunuchs were perpetually forbidden from entering into the worship in the Temple in the Old Testament Law; surely you are not suggesting that we ban a eunuch from worship in church if they are a believer?

        As to Circumcision, Paul clearly tells the Galatians it is of no value — Jew or Greek. He even suggests that those who insist on circumcising emasculate themselves. Those are pretty strong words and he does not leave any opening for an idea that it may be re-introduced.

        Paul connects Baptism with Circumcision in Colossians 2:8-15.

        As to the fool laws, it is worth tackling because Acts 15 makes it very clear that our only restriction is food with blood. And for that matter, they go as far (in that text) to say that the only Jewish restrictions that are to be imposed are blood, immorality, and idolatry. Anything more read into the list of requirements falls into the category of Judaizing and robs grace of its grace.

        All believers are part of Abraham not part of the Hebrew Nation, you are confusing the state with the people. Remember, not all are children of Abraham just because they are his offspring.

        No need to apologize for being shorter and less conversational. Most of my notes above are more bullet point simply because our conversation is covering so many headings that it would take the whole of my day to answer and respond to each in depth. So again, please do not interpret the brevity of some of these answers as “shortness” if you will; just conserving some time.

        My concern is this…while I love and appreciate your zeal for the word and for the Old Testament law (too many Christians could care less about said passages and they do so to their own harm), I am concerned that in your zeal for the law, you are neglecting grace. That (I think) is why I keep pointing you back to Galatians where Paul rebukes those who try and re-introduce the Jewish legal practice to those who converted to Christianity. And he does so with the strongest words because they are creating “another Gospel.” And there is only one. For example, seeking to practice the Jewish clothing ways is entering into a realm of Judaizing.

        Further, your insistence on the re-establishment of the Temple is not built on the scriptures, but built on an interpretation of the scriptures that comes out of the imaginations of men who would largely be loyal to the Jewish state and not to the King of the creation. I have known people who have gone down that path in the past and almost all of them (with a few notable exceptions) fall into a legalism that is cult-like in nature. The denomination that puts out the website you have cited, is one of those (they even go as far as to deny the Trinity if you read far enough). On one hand, you are rejecting Godly and gifted men through the ages who have written and taught faithfully on the scriptures, focusing on grace, and are going back to a law that is being endorsed by a few that come out of the recent generations and that often advocate ideas that are clearly contrary to the scriptures.

        While I am not your pastor, I have enjoyed our interaction and again, I am thrilled with your hunger to learn from the scriptures — wishing that more Christians would exhibit that same hunger. So, I would hate to see you fall into a kind of works-righteousness that is contrary to the Scriptures.

        Many blessings to you, in Christ,

        Win

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      9. amyleebell

        I do understand what you mean about essential and non-essential. I did read it, lol. It is all very well to say that your approach to the gospel can be different in different eras, cultures, even from person to person in the same household. You are right in that all of that would be non-essential. God gives us creativity and liberty and the ability to apply different methods and applications. However, what I am saying is that – anything that God explicitly commanded cannot be viewed as non-essential. If it could, who would decide what is essential or what is not? Only God decides that, and His Words stand forever. Every Word of His stands forever. Sorry, I know you agree with me about the authority of God’s Word. However, knowing and believing that it is 100% true (as you do) and applying that belief across the board are two different things.

        I guess maybe I presented my viewpoint poorly. I tend to do that when I get talking about the Law. I do believe in salvation by grace alone. The problem though, is not with the Law. It is in the fact that none of us can keep the Law perfectly. There is none righteous, no not one. We have all fallen short of the mark that is God’s righteousness. How do we know what His righteousness is? He told us very explicitly in the Law. No one can ever earn salvation because we cannot (however we may try) keep the Law perfectly. The reason I am still trying to keep the Law today is an effort to be as righteous as possible. Not because I am trying to earn my salvation. That’s impossible, and I know it. I don’t keep the Law in order to get saved, I keep it because I am saved. He has written it on my heart. I have a desire to please the Father and be holy, because He is holy. He gave us His Laws so we would know what that holiness is. They benefit us. They are the Way to live. I just want to quote the whole Bible, but read Psalm 119 again, Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, Deuteronomy.

        Peace to you!

        Like

      10. preacherwin

        Amylee,

        And here I think we are finally seeing eye to eye as we have been communicating ideas back and forth because I would agree and say Amen to about 95% of what you just said.

        -as Paul wrote, our works are but dung…even the best of them
        -none of us are righteous, but are wretches as the old John Newton Hymn goes
        -and we are desperate on our own, hopeless and in need of grace.
        -Grace that comes through Christ and his work alone. We cannot add to it or compliment it in any way, we are saved by Grace through faith and all to the glory of God. Amen!

        And, as a result of God’s marvelous grace, we should want to be obedient to the commands and precepts of God…it is the way we communicate our love to God. (John 14:15)

        And though we fall short, we should want to live out the law of God in our lives.

        I am paraphrasing some of our previous conversation, but I think I can safely say, up until this point, we are in complete agreement.

        Where we diverge is in two important areas. First, that law which is binding for all time and Second, how that law which is binding is to be applied.

        We have exhausted examples, and anyone wanting to explore further can read through this thread and ask either of us to explain aspects further. But allow me to summarize where we are differing (presuming I am understanding your position properly).

        1) You are arguing that all law contained in the Bible (in particular Old Testament Law) is meant to be perpetual. I argue that it is the Moral Law that is perpetual. The ceremonial law has been fulfilled and thus abrogated by Christ and the civil law was meant for a people in time and space and has passed. Thus, while laws like that of setting up parapets may give us some good principles to apply to a new era, we need not pursue or apply all of these rules and laws (and hence we don’t stone people anymore for various crimes).

        2) You are arguing that the application of the Old Testament Law is consistent and unchanging between the testaments and into the church age (thus worship should remain on Saturday and the food laws remain in effect)… I would argue that the application changes given the change in redemptive history (thus the shift from Saturday to Sunday in the Sabbath and Jesus’ teaching on the spirit behind the law in the Sermon on the Mount).

        I trust that is a fair assessment of our positions thus far. Correct me if I am mis-representing the position you are holding. My goal is not to set up a straw man.

        On some level, we could go on until Jesus returns debating these positions and may have to respect one another’s disagreement. My goal is simply to summarize to make sure we are understanding one another accurately. I do like precision. 😉

        Blessings,

        w

        Liked by 1 person

      11. amyleebell

        Yay, I’m glad we see mostly eye-to-eye. I really enjoyed your original post and agreed with it, almost without reservation. This has been an amazing and enlightening conversation, so I’m glad it turned out that we do have the important things in common, such as the doctrine of salvation. I never doubted yours, but again, when I get talking about the Law, I misrepresent myself and come across looking like an advocate for works-based-salvation. I apologize for not being more clear at the outset. Not that we have to agree – this would have been a good debate even if we had not.

        To quickly answer your last comments: moral, civil, and ceremonial are man-made divisions of the Law. Jesus said man should live by EVERY word that proceeds from the mouth of God. I know I’m repeating myself, but I think it’s important to understanding why I believe the way I do.

        I just have to comment on the stoning thing – any trial was to be done decently and in order, at the mouth of two or three witnesses. At no point in history were individuals ever supposed to take the act of capital punishment upon themselves. If we went around stoning people without a trial, it would be in opposition to God’s Law, not in accordance with it.

        I would say that your summaries are clear, with the exception of the issue of the church age. My beliefs about the church are a bit different than most people’s. We could talk about that – but on a different day, lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      12. preacherwin

        Absolutely, and I enjoy a lively dialogue as well…so long as it remains respectful, which ours has done. (yay!)

        As to stoning, it is absolutely true that a judgment with 2-3 witnesses was required. My point was that most Christians do not advocate stoning (Capital punishment) for the incorrigible child, adultery, witchcraft, or for sabbath breaking (presuming the sinner is properly convicted). There are some in the Christian Reconstruction and Theonomic movements that do advocate this, though I do not subscribe to either of their schools of thought. If you are not familiar with them you might appreciate the little book “Law and Liberty” by Rousas Rushdoony. It is a superb book, though I don’t happen to hold to the Theonomy he advocates.

        We will leave the notion of the “church age” until a different time perhaps … line that up with a discussion on food laws! But know that my position on this is built from Hebrews 1:1-2, which contrasts the eras of God’s revelation to that which is in part but leads up to Christ and then the fullness of the Revelation in Christ in this “eschaton.”

        Blessings in Christ,

        win

        Liked by 1 person

      13. preacherwin

        Oh, and one more note…you mentioned your affection for Psalm 119…probably my favorite psalm of all…I even wrote a book on it, you might want to check it out…

        Blessings,

        win

        Liked by 1 person

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