THE COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM & THE LAW OF MOSES I: A SCRIPTURAL CONTROVERSY

One of the most pressing issues to arise in the early church was whether the Gentile converts who had come to Christ were to observe the law of circumcision or not. It would also discuss the relation of these newborn followers of Christ who had little-to-no knowledge in regard to the law or it’s precepts. In Jerusalem, the birthplace of apostolic Christianity, a council of the apostles and elders gathered to consider the matter with the apostle James, bishop of Jerusalem, overseeing the discussions and giving sentence as to the general consensus of the brethren. You can read about this controversy in Acts 15; yet many are reading Acts 15 with an understanding that the church may define what is essential in regards to the law, and declaring it as non-essential for the observance of converts from the Gentiles to Christ. The implications of this are not inconsiderable, but that will not be the purpose of this study (For that study, go to the “I’m a Gentile, not a Jew” article here).
Rather, this study is for the purpose of understanding the early Christian church’a decision as it pertains to understanding the law of God, and whether or not it was decreed as non-essential to be observed. It is not the purpose of this study to arouse further controversy on a sensitive subject, but rather to bring us all into a unity of faith with respect to what Scripture teaches.
To bring out the matter completely, we will examine texts from the Bible, as well as what history said about these councils at Jerusalem. While the Bible is sufficient, historical witnesses supply a secondary testimony, shedding more light on the matter and the controversies erupting in the early church regarding the law of God which were not plainly brought to view directly from the Scripture itself.
Do we uphold the law by keeping the commandments as much of the Bible suggests we should? Or is this council the Achille’s heel to it’s observance? Or perhaps indeed, there is a Greco-Roman Achille’s heel that exists, but it’s in the understanding of those reading their ideas into the Jerusalem council. Scripture and history will bear this out as we bring this controversy back to the table for discussion.

There are two classes of Christians today.
(1) Those who believe they should keep the law of God because they are saved.
(2) Those who don’t keep the law because they believe they are saved, with no necessity of keeping it.

How often has this second class revisited that council in Jerusalem to resort to justifying their identity as Gentiles who need not keep the law of God! So without further delay, let’s look at pulse of the issue: the council itself.

“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
” (Acts 15:1-2)

And what was the issue? It was an issue and question of salvation, and how a man is saved from sin. “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.” (Acts 15:5-6) Jesus had taught the apostles to teach “whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20), and the Pharisees believed that the law of circumcision was to be kept [to command them to keep THE law- that law- this particular law- of Moses], and if it, that very law of Moses itself, was not kept, those who believed in Christ and were baptized were not truly saved at all. Thus salvation from sin was the fruit of their keeping of a law of Moses, and not of believing in Christ. The great problem that was not being factored in was that it was only believing in Christ’s power to save from sin who would circumcise the heart to love God wholly, as Moses also instructed (Deuteronomy 30:6); this a man could not do of himself for salvation, as it is wholly a work of God on his behalf.

So the matter was considered, and Peter couldn’t accept the charge upon the Gentiles that they were unsaved until they were circumcised because it is “God, which knows the hearts, and He testified, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did to us; And has put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8-9) Thus, Peter placed his finger upon the pulse of the issue of the Pharisees; an issue that they long struggled with even in the days of Christ; Peter recognized that they were also born of the Spirit of God, by which alone a man can see the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). It was this very instruction that Jesus gave to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, because it was the instruction so greatly lost sight of amongst that class of believers. The circumcision of the flesh was a sign upon the flesh of the newborn, but the circumcision of the heart was the work of the new birth: a work accomplished by the hand of God and not the hand of man.

The Gentiles constituted those who came from other faith traditions, who in part were unfamiliar with the laws, customs, and traditions of the Hebrew people. The Gentile manner of worship, practice, and things which they allowed were often in sharp variance to the precepts outlined in the laws given to Moses; so much so that the Gentiles were called the uncircumcised, being “without Christ” and “without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). It was not uncommon for Gentiles to sacrifice unclean animals (swine, eagles, lions, beasts of prey) to their gods; or else to consume them. Neither was it uncommon for them to practice sexual immorality, drink fermented wine, and in the case of governors, to oppress and persecute those whose ideas came into sharp conflict with their own; all of this was consistent with their beliefs, as it was the example set forth by many of their heathen gods.

“Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you [the Gentile converts] with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:…(Acts 15:28-29)
The law of circumcision is the portion of the law of Moses which they gave no such commandment as essential to salvation, believing only one circumcision as truly essential was the one performed by the Spirit of Christ. This circumcision that was truly essential was the one which “ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ…” (Col. 2:11)

THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL & THE LIMITATION OF AUTHORITY

In council of the apostles, James presided over the council to make the final decision based upon the consensus among them. “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
” (Acts 15:19-21)

The decision was what commands the apostles should enjoin to the Gentile converts as they were only beginning to learn of the things contained within the law. More specifically, these commands pertained to the individual believer’s own body. Paul the apostle speaks of fornication as sinning “against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). He further comments on these particular commands, saying: “…ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would incease more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God…that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
“(1 Thes. 4:1-4)
.
The decision pertaining to bodily commands as it pertained to the law came from the highest authority on earth, as the mind of God worked through His people in making a judgment. If the judgment was from God, this decision was always to speak in harmony with the law and testimony of Scripture (Isaiah 8:20). Yet many have gone to the extreme as to interpret that the church was given the authority to abrogate God’s law when they are minded together to do so. This sentence issued by James however was not to loose the obligation regarding what was not in those four commands. Those four commands were actually found in the law of Moses itself, thus showing the basis of their decision was guided by the law, so as to not overthrow it, but to maintain gospel order and soundness in their conclusion. It was the apostle’s judgment not to trouble the Gentiles who were coming to God, as overburdening them with more than they could bear. The reason is given, “For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him…”; or to put it simply, “They will learn to rest in time. Let the Sabbath reading of the law be a time for them to learn more.”

The Gentiles who came to the synagogues to learn of the God of the Hebrews had already been attending the assemblies every Sabbath day, as it was written: “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
” (Acts 13:42) The fact that the Gentiles were keeping the Sabbath after they were converted to Christ meant that the four laws were not meant to abbrogate the whole law of Moses, especially the Sabbath observance, but only to specify that the outward observances of the law, such as circumcision and tassle-wearing were not enjoined to the Gentiles; and that the rest of their duties in the keeping of the law would be unfolded as they learned more of the principles of the law of God.

The Sabbath was especially regarded by the Gentile converts in the early church just as it was prophesied would happen in Isaiah: “Also the sons of the heathen (Gentiles), that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant;
…for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. ” (Isaiah 56:6-8)

That the Gentiles who converted were expected to become established in the law, and not to disregard it a consistent principle laid out in the Scriptures (Rev. 14:12, Rev. 22:14, Rom. 7:7). The apostle Paul says that those who have the law of God, yet break it are actually teaching the Gentiles to blaspheme Him by their example.

“Behold, you are called a Jew, and rest in the law, and make your boast of God…An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, who has the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
You therefore which teach another, do you not teach yourself? You that preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You that say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you commit sacrilege? You that make your boast of the law, do you, through breaking the law, dishonour God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you…”
(Rom 2:20-24)

The apostle says that to break the law is in fact dishonoring God, while giving a bad example to the Gentile converts whom they are entrusted to teach. The elder is entrusted to teach the younger the way of life.

The fact that God would allow the Gentiles to come to the law of God, and give them His Spirit, while having time to learn His law is exactly as the parable of the prodigal son. The Gentiles lost sight of the law of God, having gone astray because of their fathers who left the way of the God of Noah. Yet they were to return, and God, as a Father to them, was to meet them a great way off, and provoke the other brother to jealousy who had never left the law of God but had no love in his heart for his repentant brother (Luke 15:20, 1 John 4:20, Deut. 32:21, Rom. 11:11).

***For the second witness, the Historical Account of the Council of Jerusalem and the Law of Moses, and to understand the controversy that erupted in the second century, causing the council to depart from the law of Moses entirely, click here.




“I’m a Gentile, not a Jew…”

“I’m only human…” says the man who has fallen on his face, endevouring to justify his frailties and sinfulness apart from God. A man who declares he has lost confidence in himself, having fallen back into the same entanglements of sin that have troubled him from his youth. His confession declares nothing of God, nothing of His might and power to save, and nothing more in faith than the athiest, because in confession he is practically athiest, although in profession he claims the name of Christ; thus placing him unawares into breaking the third commandment, “You shall not take My name in vain…”. What hope does such a man have? After all, is he only human?
Running through the same vein of thought is her sister confession: “We are Gentiles, and not Jews.” Generally, professed Christians will use this as a basis for not keeping the law of God as instructed in Moses, but even this confession, “We are Gentiles…” is a confession little short of athiesm in it’s end result. Are you following? Let’s explain this confession, and it will not take long to unfold the oft-sincere but misguided confession of placing confidence in a man’s humanity.

The argument sounds pretty good to some. “I’m a Gentile, not a Jew” seems like a great description of one’s identity. And that’s exactly right. Both confessions in the above are confessions regarding their identity. So what does it mean that you are a Gentile? Have you thought it very far through? Most who, by saying so, are suggesting by their words the apparently quick-fix to the plague of supposed-Judaism. He who makes such a confession only sees an annoyance to his faith and practice; he who makes such a confession hold the perspective that the laws given by God to the Jews will naturally resulting in the Pharisaical Judaism that plotted to crucify Christ. And understandably so, because it was the self-righteous religious class of that day who were the chief perpetrators of slaying the Lamb of God. Were they not given the law which made them so self-righteous? Why would someone want to be classed with a group of self-righteous men who claimed to love God so much that they hated Him? But as good as these arguments sound, we want to know what the Bible actually teaches, not just what “sounds good”- Are you “a Gentile”? What does that even mean according to the Bible?
Before looking briefly at this subject, it might be good to unsettle some prejudices from the outset. Let’s be fair to note that all of the authors of the Scriptures of the 66 books contained in the Biblical canon had Hebrew roots. More than this, most of the strong spiritual leaders and shining examples of the Bible were at least Israelites, and in a majority of cases, they were of the tribe of Judah (Jews). Therefore when claiming to uphold the Bible, we may definitely say the book is a Hebrew book.
It also would be well to remember that the law that was given to Moses was a law which God Himself both gave and wrote(Exodus 24:12), and that He did not give it for the purpose of crucifying His Son, but gave it rather to reveal the sins hidden in the heart of those which crucified His Son (Romans 5:20). That thought about the law, and that thought alone, should be given time to digest and settle in your mind; because the difference between the two is as far as east is from the west. The logical conclusion of one means the abolition of the law, while the conclusion of the other means the exalting of the law’s purpose in the plan of salvation.
So you are a Gentile. The main issue here is what was salvation of the Gentiles to mean? Was it to do away with the law of God so that the Gentiles could continue to practice the same way of life, while professing the salvation of God by grace through faith? Was grace to finally do away with that pestilence of a law that was faulty because man could not keep it, or else if he sought to bring his life in conformity to the precepts delivered by God to His people, he would become an enemy of God as a result? Interestingly enough, this was a strain of thinking that existed in the early church. This doctrine, called “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans…”, was not a doctrine of the apostles, but proceeded from a mingling of Alexandrian philosophy (Greek thinking) with the Christian term of salvation by grace [I say the “term” because the concept was wholly twisted to mean something the apostles or the Bible never actually taught]. This doctrine was reported by the apostles to have been “turning the grace of our God into filthiness” (Jude 1:4), “While promising them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption…For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2 Peter 2:18-21).
This grace which could do nothing for the Gentile, and had no association with the law of God whatsoever, was a base counterfeit which turned professed followers of Christ into the servants of Satan, and slaves of sin, while professing to be delivered. It should be good to note, that whenever this line of thinking was practiced by the professed people of God, God reproved them, saying, “Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered to do all these abominations”?”
(Jeremiah 7:9-10)

Were you saved from your old life without Christ only to continue living in your old life, under a Christian disguise? Christian rap, Christian death metal, Christian fashion, Christian entertainment, Christian competition, Christian homosexuality? Would a Christian Gentile fit in that description? It would surely depend on what is meant by a Gentile.
We are told of a class of people saved from among the Gentiles, but the actual word for “Gentiles” is “heathen” or “foreigner”. It means that they are foreigners of the government and citizenship of heaven, and of heaven’s God. Scripture clearly says that a convert has a reformation in heart and life, and the Gentiles “that were sometime alienated and enemies in [their] mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled”
(Col 1:21).
Did you notice that? The Gentiles were alienated, separated, and enemies in their thinking, by wicked works. Did God reconcile the wicked works that separated the Gentile from God? Or did God reconcile the Gentile by separating them from those wicked works, saving them “from their sins” (Matt. 1:21)? We are told that we are saved from our sins, and not in them. We are told of those who were Gentile converts to Christ, “Wherefore remember, that you in time past were Gentiles in the flesh…” (Eph. 2:11). So then what are you when you come to Christ if you are not a Gentile? The answer might surprise you.

We are told much regarding the grace we receive by faith in Christ from the Scriptures. Nothing in the Scriptures, when read aright, would cause the law to work at war with grace, as though the Jew has only law, and the Gentile has only grace; both of these are extremes which men who have not known the truth have a tendency to take. Regarding the grace that saves, we’re told that it is an effectual grace, that works righteousness in them that believe. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus TO good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
” (Eph 2:8-10) While salvation is not by works, salvation produces the fruit of good works that “we should walk in”. And what does this walking by grace look like? It looks like Christ. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him…He that saith he abides in Him [Christ] ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.
(1 John 2:3-6)
We are not Gentiles, we are Christians. We do not look like Gentiles, separated and alienated from God, we are to look like Christ, connected to Him as a branch to the vine, growing up and revealing His image and likeness.
The old metaphor of the cart and the horse is actually a very suitable one to better illustrate law and grace, and the extreme positions many are taking on one side or the other. Perhaps you have heard it said, “You’ve put the cart before the horse!” Many have put the cart before the horse when it comes to works. The horse is named Grace, and the cart is named Works. The cart, Works, is carried by the horse, Grace. Some have made the mistake of putting the cart before the horse, and wonder why they get nowhere in their Christian experience. It is because they need grace! Grace! But many today are sitting in the cart (glued to the seat, because a man will always work something, whether good or evil), and saying, “No cart thank you very much, only this horse…only grace”; this also gets them nowhere, because they are no further along in their Christian experience because they fail to grow in grace that produces the fruit of good works. Could you imagine sending your horse off without first strapping it to your cart? The horse runs away, and you are left sitting in your cart. You get nowhere. Both extremes lead to the same conclusion, and is it any wonder there are so many spiritual cripples professing Christ today? We are Gentiles they say, but in actuality, they are saying, “We don’t keep the law because we are foreigners of the law.” But if you are foreigners of the law, then you are foreigners to the kingdom to which that law pertains to also.

Yet still the old argument lingers, “I’m a Gentile, not a Jew” because you just feel it’s dangerous to associate youself with that law because of the Jews. After all, the Jews that have the law don’t have the gospel, do they? Yet the tribe of Judah had the gospel foremost amongst the people of the earth, and it is their faith that the Gentile converts become part of. The Gentiles were expected to give up their sins for the gospel, not the Jews give up their law for it. The Scripture doesn’t teach that the Jews were to forsake their law, but rather, to understand their law in a right relation to the gospel.
So what was the issue of the Jewish people if they had the gospel all along? It was unbelief. Speaking of the Jews as branches of the tree, we are told: “If some of the branches are broken off, and you [A Gentile], being from a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them (the tree which God planted- The faith committed to the Hebrews), and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
(Being fed and nourished by what the Hebrews were fed and nourished with), Boast not against the branches…” (Romans 11:17) Did God cast away His olive tree, the faith which He established and He planted, and plant a different wild olive tree instead? Did God give a new faith based on grace, because the first one he planted, based on law, was faulty? No. For that tree always had law and grace (Gen. 6:8, Exodus 33:13, Zech. 4:7).
He took the branches of a wild olive tree, a completely different faith, and planted them into His olive tree, and the fruitless branches that were dead and failing to receive the nourishment from the tree “because of unbelief were broken off”. The nourishment they were to receive is now the vitalizing force of those branches that are grafted in- the branches from the wild olive tree have a new foundation. Therefore you are founded on the faith which God delivered to the Hebrews; Christianity was not a new religion based on Gentiles who disregarded the Scriptural law and foundation of Israel, but rather, Christianity is an old religion dating back to Adam and Eve, the first believers in the Messianic hope of salvation (Genesis 1:15).
But now because I say this, many are you conjure up pictures in your minds of draddles, stars of David, sacrificing animals, and waving palm branches in your hands, but this was not, and never has been, what constituted living faith in Christ; living faith in Christ was pure worship and honor of the law of God in the order and manner revealed in the law. It consisted not in sacrificing animals, but “spiritual sacrifices”; not in outward observances of the flesh, but the inner-workings of the Spirit of Christ in the heart, producing an outward change of life; to say with David, “O how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day!” So you are not in fact a Gentile, but a spiritual Jew, which keeps the law from the heart [This includes the actual keeping of the Sabbath day- See the article The Jerusalem Council & the Law of Moses for more details].
If Christ came to do away with the law, then salvation would not require any change of life, but Christ Himself says, “Do not THINK that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets; I’ve come not to destroy, but to fulfill…whosoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so shall be bidden very little into the kingdom of heaven…” (Matt. 5:19).
Many are thinking that Christ came to replace to religion instituted by God, simply because there is not the same outward ritualistic observances any longer, as were instituted by God to shadow forth the good things to come in Christ. I remember when discussing this issue with a sincere brother of mine about the issue. He said that regarding times of worship, God was insulted to be worshipped according to the times outlined in the law. When I cited the fact that the apostles were observing all the times of worship outlined in Scripture, he responded that I needed to remember that they were also Jews and did not fully understand what happened at the cross. He then said that unlike the Jewish apostles, we can see more clearly their error today. This confused me, so I asked him if he realized that the whole new testament basis for his arguments were written by the ones he said had a faulty understanding, thus making them teach something contrary to their profession and practice. He didn’t respond. How could he? While this brother was sincere, there are many who I believe are sincerely reading into the Scriptures the idea that they are Gentiles, and have nothing to do with the law of God any longer.
So Christ says not to think He came to destroy but to fulfill the law. What is the argument used by those who want to do away with the law, when Christ says those words? They say, “He fulfilled the law, so we do not have to, because we can’t.” They say, “We’re only human…”… remember? This idea they are promoting actually teaches men that Christ does not have any more power to save men from their sins than they have to stop committing them. Thankfully nothing could be further from the truth for the Christian who is in close connection with Christ. Christ has all power in heaven and earth, and those in living connection with Him through faith in the gospel will find Him as the source of strength, and divine might to walk in a way that, in their own human strength, would be impossible. Christ came to fulfill, not just in the days of His flesh on earth, but He came to fulfill the law to the uttermost in all those He came to save. Through His Divine Spirit, He will do what divinity did in the days of His flesh, except it shall be in my flesh, “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…For to be fleshly minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the fleshly mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” His divinity meets my humanity, and thus in co-operation by His Spirit, man cannot say, “I’m only human” as an excuse to sin, but rather, “By Christ, I am a son of God.” It is the privilege of Christians in deep connection with Christ to say, “When you’ve seen me, you’ve beheld Christ.” Even as Christ said to Philip, “When you’ve seen Me, you have seen the Father. Believest not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” The Divine Son of God who bound Himself to flesh, will through His Spirit, make His abode in our hearts, and so identify Himself with us that we may be called the sons of God (1 John 3:1); He calls us His brethren (Heb. 2:11-13), and calls His God our God, and His Father our Father (John 20:17).
Those who teach that Christ fulfilled the law because we can’t have not tasted of Christ fulfilling the law in us; they have not tasted of divine power indwelling the human vessel to enable us to walk in obedience to all of God’s commandments.
The Hebrews who held the word of God, His law, and His promises, also knew in part of His promise of salvation from sin. They knew what it meant to be saved by grace through faith and to believe in Christ for salvation; it was the Gentiles who “were without Christ, being aliens from the citizenship of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world;” (Eph. 2:12). They were WITHOUT CHRIST, and WITHOUT GOD, because they were ALIENS from the citizenship of Israel, but Israel were not without God or Christ, so long as they did not lose sight of the gospel.
Speaking of Israel, we are told that the gospel was given to them also, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Hebrews 4:2) It was unbelief in the gospel which cut them off from the tree, but having the gospel committed to them is what it meant to be part of the tree which God planted. Yet without faith in the gospel, they did not receive the Spirit which was to prepare them to receive Christ; all of their lawkeeping was filled with self, and all of their righteousness was human and tainted with sin. It did not meet the divine standard brought to view by the gospel, and for this cause they crucified Christ. The Jews, contrary to popular opinion, was not to be caught up in a round of Christless Jewish traditions and ceremonies. Christless as they were because of unbelief is actually the definition of what a Gentile is. And no wonder professed Christians don’t want to be associated with such Jews- they were Jews outwardly, but inwardly, they were Gentiles without faith, and thus without God and Christ.
Nevertheless, the tree which God planted was rooted firmly in the soil foundations of the God’s Word (and still is), Christ Himself being the the root and Tree from which the branches ever received nourishment (John 15:1, Isaiah 11:10, Rom. 15:12). Those Hebrew branches who fought against Christ, and sought to keep the law apart from the grace of Christ were able to do no good thing, for Christ says, “Without Me, ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5) It is little wonder that they sought to kill Christ if they were not cleansed inwardly from sin through faith in Him. They still had hatred and murder in their hearts- the gospel had not done it’s work. The law of God which they observed outwardly had not traced His righteousness upon their hearts by the divine finger!
The cart therefore, without the horse, was nothing, and the horse without the cart profits nothing. Those who claim either are without Christ as Gentiles indeed, stuck within a cart that will move no further until it recognizes the work of Christ in relation to both the law and grace. Whether it is the outward Jew (who is a Gentile in their heart), or the Gentile separated from the divine enabling of keeping the law, the results are the same. Separation from Christ one way or the other. The only true thing to say is “By grace, I’m a Jew inwardly, delighting in the law of God by Jesus Christ my Savior, who works in me both to will and to do of the Father’s good pleasure.” Amen.




THE COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM & THE LAW OF MOSES II: A HISTORICAL CONTROVERSY

*This historical account of the council of Jerusalem, mentioned specifically in Acts 15, is a continuation of the second portion of the article regarding the Council of Jerusalem and the Law of God that deals with the Scriptural context. This historical account is the second witness. It is recommended to read the first part to have a clearer understanding of the subject being dealt with. You can find it here.*

History records many similar gatherings as the council of Acts 15 at Jerusalem where a single individual bishop oversaw the meetings as the brethren assembled in conference together. The bishop issued the sentence according to the judgment of the brethren when unity prevailed amongst them. The first recorded bishop overseeing affairs at Jerusalem was the apostle James, and the first recorded sentence was given by him regarding the controversy of the circumcision of Gentile converts. Until the siege of the Jews many years later, which took place under Emperor Hadrian, there were fifteen bishops in succession there, all of whom are said to have been of Hebrew descent, and to have received the knowledge of Christ in purity. And being from Hebrew descent, and having faithfully passed down the knowledge of Christ and the law, they were approved of to be bishops by those who were considered competent in judging of such matters. These continued from the days of the apostles until the siege which took place at that time; in which siege the Jews, having again rebelled against the Romans, were conquered after severe battles.

Critical events happened from that time to after the seige which add witness to the observance of the law of God by the bishops in Jerusalem, far from abolishing the law by the sentences in their councils, they guided their judgments according to the law and not independant of it. The bishops overseeing Jerusalem are historically maintained, leading up to the controversy regarding the law of God under Hadrian’s reign over Jerusalem. They are as follows: (1) The apostle James (2) Symeon (3) Justus (4) Zacchæus (5) Tobias (6) Benjamin (7) John (8) Matthias (9) Philip (10) Seneca (11) Justus (12) Levi (13) Ephres (14) Joseph (15) Judah

At the time of the fifteenth bishop, Judas, Jerusalem was beseiged and a change took place amongst the Christians after the Hebrews were driven from the land. At this time, a new bishop took the office of overseeing affairs in the Christian church at Jerusalem, who made great breaches within the Christian faith with the Roman Emperor.

“And thus, when the city had been emptied of the Jewish nation and had suffered the total destruction of its ancient inhabitants, it was colonized by a different race, and the Roman city which subsequently arose changed its name and was called Ælia, in honor of the emperor Ælius Adrian. And as the church there was now composed of Gentiles, the first one to assume the government of it after the bishops of the circumcision was Marcus.” (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book IV, Chapter VI)

“The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews; and the congregation over which they presided united the law of Moses with the doctrine of Christ. It was natural that the primitive tradition of a church which was founded only forty days after the death of Christ, and was governed almost as many years under the immediate inspection of his apostle, should be received as the standard of orthodoxy. The distant churches very frequently appealed to the authority of their venerable Parent, and relieved her distresses by a liberal contribution of alms…

The Nazarenes retired from the ruins of Jerusalem to the little town of Pella beyond the Jordan, where that ancient church languished above sixty years in solitude and obscurity…under the reign of Hadrian, the desperate fanaticism of the Jews filled up the measure of their calamities; and the Romans, exasperated by their repeated rebellions, exercised the rights of victory with unusual rigour. The emperor founded, under the name of Alia Capitolina, a new city on Mount Sion, to which he gave the privileges of a colony; and denouncing the severest penalties against any of the Jewish people who should dare to approach its precincts, he fixed a vigilant garrison of a Roman cohort to enforce the execution of his orders…

They elected Marcus for their bishop, a prelate of the race of the Gentiles, and most probably a native either of Italy or of some of the Latin provinces. At his persuasion the most considerable part of the congregation renounced the Mosaic law, in the practice of which they had persevered above a century. By this sacrifice of their habits and prejudices they purchased a free admission into the colony of Hadrian…

When the name and honours of the church of Jerusalem had been restored to Mount Sion, the crimes of heresy and schism were imputed to the obscure remnant of the Nazarenes which refused to accompany their Latin bishop [Marcus]…

It has been remarked with more ingenuity than truth that the virgin purity of the church was never violated by schism or heresy before the reign of Trajan or Hadrian, about one hundred years after the death of Christ (Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I, Chapter XV, Section I. ca. 1776-1788)

“According to rabbinic sources, he [Hadrian] prohibited public gatherings for instruction in Jewish law, forbade the proper observance of the Sabbath and holidays and outlawed many important rituals.” (Barron SW.  Social and Religious History of the Jews, Volume 2: Christian Era: the First Five Centuries. 1952, p. 107).

Feeling it was the first importance to their well-being, to procure for themselves the liberty of removing their effects into the city of Ælia, and to be admitted in the rights of citizenship there, a considerable number of the Christians came to the resolution of formally renouncing all obedience to the law of Moses. The immediate author of this measure was, in all likelihood, that very Marcus whom they appointed as their bishop: a man whose name evidently speaks him to have been a Roman, and who doubtless was not unknown in his nation that had been the chief command in Palestine and might possibly have been related to some officer of eminence there. Perceiving, therefore, one of their own nation placed at the head of Christendom, the Roman prefects dismissed at once all apprehension of their exciting disturbance in the newly-established colony, and from this time ceased to regard them as Jews.

In consequence in this favourable alteration of the sentiments of the Romans towards them…Marcus, at whose insistence, they were prevailed on to renounce the law of Moses… Nothing, in fact, can be better attested than that there existed in Palestine two Christian churches, by the one of which an observance of the Mosaic law was retained, and by the other disregarded. This division amongst the Christians of Jewish origins did not take place before the time of Hadrian, for it can be ascertained, that previously to his reign the Christians of Palestine were unanimous in an adherence to the ceremonial observances of their forefathers. There can be no doubt, therefore, that this separation originated in major part of them being prevailed upon by Marcus to renounce Mosaic ritual, by way of getting rid of the numerous inconveniences to which they were exposed, and procuring for themselves a reception, as citizens, in the newly formed colony of Ælia Capitolina(Mosheim JL. Commentaries on the affairs of the Christians before the time of Constantine the Great: or, An enlarged view of the ecclesiastical history of the first three centuries, Volume 2, 1813, p. 196-197)

Hadrian’s proclamations sought to root out the nationalistic features within Judea’s Jewish communities,[5] which he saw as the cause of continuous rebellions. He prohibited the Torah law and the Hebrew calendar, and executed Judaic scholars. The sacred scroll was ceremonially burned on the Temple Mount. At the former Temple sanctuary, he installed two statues, one of Jupiter, another of himself. In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea or Ancient Israel, he wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina.[16][17][18] By destroying the association of Jews to Judea and forbidding the practice of Jewish faith, Hadrian aimed to root out a nation that inflicted heavy casualties on the Roman Empire. Similarly, he re-established Jerusalem, but now as the Roman pagan polis of Aelia Capitolina, and Jews were forbidden from entering it, except on the day of Tisha B’Av.[56]

Originally written by an Arabic Muslim around the tenth century named Abd al-Jabbar and called Tathbit Dala’il Nubuwwat Sayyidina Mahammad. One chapter of it is believed to be an Islamic interpretation of a lot of “Judeo-Christian” writings (some probably from true Nazarenes, others from Essenes, etc.). Shlomo Pines translated much of the one chapter of it into English, that discussed Arabic Judeo-Christians.

Here is the translation of one section of it that may have additional insight related to Marcus’ supporters:

(71a) ‘After him’, his disciples (axhab) were with the Jews and the Children of Israel in the latter’s synagogues and observed the prayers and the feasts of (the Jews) in the same place as the latter. (However) there was a disagreement between them and the Jews with regard to Christ.

The Romans (al-Rum) reigned over them. The Christians (used to) complain to the Romans about the Jews, showed them their own weakness and appealed to their pity. And the Romans did pity them. This (used) to happen frequendy. And the Romans said to the Christians: “Between us and the Jews there is a pact which (obliges us) not to change their religious laws (adyan). But if you would abandon their laws and separate yourselves from them, praying as we do (while facing) the East, eating (the things) we eat, and regarding as permissible that which we consider as such, we should help you and make you powerful, and the Jews would find no way (to harm you). On the contrary, you would be more powerful than they.”

The Christians answered:”We will do this.”

(And the Romans) said: “Go, fetch your companions, and bring your Book (kitab).” (The Christians) went to their companions, informed them of (what had taken place) between them and the Romans and said to them: “Bring the Gospel (al-injil), and stand up so that we should go to them.”

But these (companions) said to them: “You have done ill. We are not permitted (to let) the Romans pollute the Gospel. In giving a favourable answer to the Romans, you have accordingly departed from the religion. We are (therefore) no longer permitted to associate with you; on the contrary, we are obliged to declare that there is nothing in common between us and you;” and they prevented their (taking possession of) the Gospel or gaining access to it. In consequence a violent quarrel (broke out) between (the two groups). Those (mentioned in the first place) went back to the Romans and said to them: “Help us against these companions of ours before (helping us) against the Jews, and take away from them on our behalf our Book (kitab).” Thereupon (the companions of whom they had spoken) fled the country. And the Romans wrote concerning them to their governors in the districts of Mosul and in the Jazirat al-‘Arab. Accordingly, a search was made for them; some (qawm) were caught and burned, others (qawm) were killed.

(As for) those who had given a favorable answer to the Romans they came together and took counsel as to how to replace the Gospel, seeing it was lost to them. (Thus) the opinion that a Gospel should be composed (yunshi`u) was established among them…a certain number of Gospels were written. (Pines S. The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Volume II, No.13; 1966. Jerusalem, pp. 14-15).

The 19th century scholar J.B. Lightfoot wrote:

The Church of Ælia Capitolina was very differently constituted from the Church of Pella and the Church of Jerusalem…not a few doubtless accepted the conqueror’s terms, content to live henceforth as Gentiles…in the new city of Hadrian.  But there were others who hung to the law of their forefathers…(Lightfoot, Joseph Barber.  Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians: A Revised Text with Introduction, Notes and Dissertations. Published by Macmillan, 1881. p. 317, 331)

The consensus speaks of Marcus as one who cast off the law of God. It was not the apostle James, or any other succeeding bishop who had done this until that time from Jerusalem. However, because of this compromise, the succeeding bishops eventually came to be regarded as the orthodoxy among those ignorant of the historical events. This led to many other breaches in the observance of the law much further than in Jerusalem, affecting the observance of the law from those early professed followers of Christ, such as Justin Martyr, the first century Barnabas (not the companion of Paul), and the bishops of Rome. This led to the development of the Russian Orthodox church where the Jerusalem Patriarchates, claiming to be the successors of the apostle James, found their beginning. Yet these do not succeed James in their works, any more than the Popes have followed after the example of the apostle Peter. Rather, they cast aside the law of God, and observe, as the Papacy does, Sunday sacredness as the legacy of Marcus, the bishop of Aelia Capitolina, while deeply disregarding much of the other principles of the laws contained in Moses.

WHAT OF THE LAW WAS NOT REGARDED ANY LONGER

So then, historically we see the consensus that the law of God was upheld until the time of Marcus, who made concessions with the Romans. By this means, Marcus had effectively severed Christian ties with their Jewish roots with no Scriptural basis for doing so, and in so doing, by disassociating themselves with the law of God, had severed themselves from the religion which Christ established. Then what was it about law of circumcision that made it so disagreeable to the early church? It was the outward nature of it’s observance, which could not profit the man in his relationship with God, nor affect righteousness or salvation from sin; no practical holiness could result from fleshly circumcision, anymore than removing the leaven from the home at the time of the feast of Unleavened bread could purge out sin from the soul.

“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
(Rom. 2:28-29)

All the law is to be upheld, yet the outward carnal elements were not what God regards as essential to salvation or of true religion which springs forth from a pure and undefiled heart. It was for this reason that the early church saw circumcision as unessential as it pertains to salvation.

If we go as far as to say that the apostles would have had the authority to do away with the law of God, they would be going against the very Scripture and instruction which was the test of the prophets and the Messiah: “To the law (Torah) and to the testimony, if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20); if the Messiah came to do away with the law, there is no light in such a Messiah; thus it would have to make such a Christ a false Christ. If His apostles came and spoke of doing away with the law, the same is also true, being false apostles. God be thanked, Christ came to “magnify the law (Torah), and make it honourable” (Isaiah 42:21) and not to destroy it, and His true apostles are to teach whatsoever He commanded, thus they also speak according to the law, magnifying it, showing it as honourable in Christ. So do we do away with the law of God? “God forbid, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31)




Historical Revelations: History and the Lunar Sabbaths

HISTORICAL REVELATIONS

It is written in the law of Moses how to deal with a matter.

Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Throughout the New Testament, this law is reaffirmed over five times. Christ Himself endorsed the very Scripture, and said it was how the brethren ought to conduct themselves amongst each other.

What is the charge that needs witnesses? It is claiming that weekly cycle changes were made in history. However, to sustain that theory using only a few critical scholarly quotes from the last 150 years is the only basis which the Lunar Sabbatarian has. This study will not go into any particular depth regarding what the Lunar Sabbath theory is, but rather the historical objections that are clearly raised in the matter. We want to go deeper and further than 150 years and prove the truth of these matters for everyone to see. Before we go into the ancient history that shows the truth regarding the Seventh day Sabbath, let’s look at one of their quotes they use to prove their “history” of the week.

The 1943 Universal Jewish Encyclopedia volume 10 page 482, under the article “Week”, describing how they believe the seven day weekly cycle began, we read:

“WEEK” (in Hebrew shavua). The idea of the week, as a subdivision of the month, seems to have arisen in Babylonia, where each lunar month was divided into four parts, corresponding to the four phases of the moon. The first week of each month began with the new moon, so that, as the lunar month was one or two days more than four periods of seven days, these additional days were not reckoned at all. Every seventh day (sabbatum) was regarded as an unlucky day. This method of reckoning time spread westward through Syria and Palestine, and was adopted by the Israelites, probably after they settled in Palestine. With the development of the importance of the Sabbath as a day of consecration and emphasis laid upon the significant number seven, the week became more and more divorced from its lunar connection, so that by the time of the second Temple it was merely a period of seven days and no longer depended on the new moon. From Judaism the week passed over to Christianity, and through the influence of the later was generally adopted throughout the Roman empire;”
There are too many problems with the above statement to address them all, but it is a statement of history that comes from the very heart of Babylonian confusion. It is true that Babylon did have a reckoning of the week that was just like this, but regarding truth, that is about all that is true in the above quote. They say it is from Babylon that the Israelites adopted the weekly cycle, and then, even before the time Christ came (who observed and recognized the Sabbath as the other Jews did in the second Temple, see Luke 13:10-16), they forsook that method of reckoning the Sabbath. Thus when Christ came, He observed THE WRONG SABBATH. Wrong piece of “history” to use. We could look at their other claims to history and similar contradictions will appear, but instead, let’s not look to the false, but look to what history testifies they were observing. If it was a lunar Sabbath, surely there is history to sustain it, but if otherwise, there should be sufficient evidence to sustain that position also.

Now, these are historical sources, and while we do not necessarily uphold the particular writings or views surrounding these quotes as authoritative for doctrine, but they will suffice to sustain an accuracy of ancient history that may speak volumes against the lunar Sabbatarian viewpoint.

Since we know that Christ was in harmony with the 1st century Sabbathkeepers, let us look at what the Jewish people themselves said. First we will look at the Talmud, which was written around 200CE. It is often cited by Jews as a historical reference for beliefs held by the Jewish nation before the destruction of the temple in 70CE.

The Talmud speaks of two different schools of thought in the Jewish culture that generally opposed one another in their manner of observances, holding upwards to 300 differences of opinion recorded in the Talmud alone. One was called “Beth Hillel” (The most prevalent in the Jewish nation) and the other “Beth Shammai”. These “Bethels” or houses were prevalent from 50 BCE to 50 CE, which takes in the time of Christ’s ministry while upon the earth.

talmud1

The Talmud is not a reputable source of doctrine, but remains a valuable resource for historical documentation.

TWO OPPOSING HOUSES AGREE

Now the first example of what we find in the Talmud speaks of what should happen if ” a new moon falls on a Sabbath.” This is in sharp contradiction to the lunar Sabbatarian theory, who teach that any part of the weekly cycle and the new moon day cannot exist at the same period of time:

“R. Zera replied: The New Moon is different from a festival – Since its mention is included in the benediction on the sanctity of the day in the morning and evening prayers it is also included in that of the additional prayer. But do Beth Shammai uphold the view that the mention of the New Moon is to be included? Was it not in fact taught: If a New Moon falls on a Sabbath, Beth Shammai ruled: One recites in his additional prayer eight benedictions and Beth Hillel ruled: Seven? This is indeed a difficulty.” Talmud – Mas. Eiruvin 40b

It’s interesting that both houses did not find a controversy of if the new moon and Sabbath day can fall in the same place, but rather, IF IT DOES, how is it to be observed.

THE SIXTEENTH DAY SABBATH

In the Mishnah, a fundamental part of the Talmud, it speaks of what happened to the Passover lambs if the day after Unleavened Bread (which was the day the remaining portion of the lamb was to be burnt outside the camp) fell on a Sabbath day:

“Mishnah. The bones, and the sinews, and the nothar of the paschal lamb are to be burnt on the sixteenth. If the sixteenth falls on the Sabbath, they are to be burnt on the seventeenth, because they do not override either the Sabbath or the festival.” Talmud – Pesachim 83a

What is the issue here?

1) The Lunar Sabbatarians teach that it is impossible for the Sabbath to fall on any day other than the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 28th. Thus Sabbath would always fall on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread. Therefore the Sabbath falling on the sixteenth would have been IMPOSSIBLE.

2) It was the priesthood of the temple responsible for taking care of the remains of the lamb. So the early temple and priesthood observed the principle historically recorded above.

The same principle issue we find regarding the meal offerings recorded in the Talmud:

“Mishnah. A man may offer a meal-offering consisting of sixty tenths and bring them in one vessel if a man said, I take upon myself to offer sixty tenths, he may bring them in one vessel. But if he said, I take upon myself to offer sixty-one tenths, he must bring sixty in one vessel and the one in another vessel; for since the congregation bring on the first day of the feast of tabernacles when it falls on a Sabbath sixty-one tenths as a meal-offering, it is enough for an individual that his meal-offering be less by one tenth than that of the congregation.” Talmud – Menachoth 103b

With a Lunar Sabbath, there is never a time when the first day of the feast of Tabernacles falls on any day other than the Sabbath (15th day of the seventh month). So to say “when it falls on a Sabbath” would never need to be mentioned, for according to the Lunar Sabbatarians it ALWAYS FALLS ON A SABBATH.
The Talmud records so many historical points of interest, especially the arguments of various schools of thought in the Jewish nation, including controversial points. Yet never, not once, at all, is mentioned ANY CONTROVERSY regarding a difference of calculating the weekly cycle.

That is one witness of the Jewish nation historically. Let’s look at one or two more to establish the matter from the Jewish historical perspective.

2. The Dead Sea Scrolls and Josephus

The dead sea scrolls are considered some of the earliest dated and preserved extra-biblical scolls to ever be discovered. Much of this includes the history of both the Jewish nation, various Biblical books from the prophets, as well as some eyewitness accounts of the Messiah. Some of the books found among the extra-biblical scrolls were the Calendrical Scroll. This was written by the Essenes.

The dead sea scrolls are some of the oldest and best preserved texts in the world. Even though the older documents show signs of aging, they themselves are a testament to the history of the time.

The dead sea scrolls are some of the oldest and best preserved texts in the world. Even though the older documents show signs of aging, they themselves are a testament to the history of the time.

The Essenes were a sect from the time of the era of the second temple Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE, and some histories regard them as the priesthood which succeeded the line of Zadok. They were one of three major sects that existed at that time, along with the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Now what are the Calendrical scrolls that the Essenes wrote? They were the execution of priestly duties that the various houses would perform at the temple as priests in their appointed season. An example of the Calendrical scroll’s schedule order can be found in the Bible:

Luke 1:8-9 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, (9) According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
If ever there were a document to prove something for or against a lunar Sabbath, it would certainly be the Calendrical scroll. And far from being a modified Calendrical scroll, the “mishmarot” (the courses contained in the Calendrical scroll) are believed to be as old as second century BCE. Now, what do these courses say regarding the Sabbath? It states many, many things, but here is an example:

“[.. on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month] is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On the fou[rth day of the week is a holy assembly. On the twenty-fifth of the month is] a Sabbath. On the twenty-sixth of the month is the B[arley] Festival…” (4Q326)

Notice that it says on this particular course that on “the twenty-fifth of the month is a Sabbath”. But this is impossible according the the Lunar Sabbatarian’s weekly cycle. Many Lunar Sabbatarians know this, and claim that the Essenes kept a different Sabbath, independent of the lunar Sabbath, but can any historical records further substantiate this claim to prove whether that itself is true history?

In fact, an ancient Jewish historian by the name of Josephus, who wrote regarding the history of the Jews extensively, both living in the time of and writing about the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem in 70CE, also wrote extensively about the particular practices of the Essenes.

So did Josephus mention that the Essenes kept the Sabbath on a day that was different than the rest of Judaism?

Wars of the Jews 2:147 … Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day; for they not only get their food ready the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle a fire on that day, but they will not move any vessel out of its place, nor go to stool thereon.

It is clear that the Essenes, who Josephus was here writing about, rested on the same seventh day as the rest of mainstream Judaism of that time, and on that very same time, were emphasized as being much stricter than their Sabbath-keeping contemporaries. If it was not so, he would not have said “on the seventh day” to mix up terms. He might have said “they are stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the day they suppose to be the seventh day”, but not even this is intimated. How is it that the Essenes can keep a different Sabbath than Lunar Sabbatarians, but yet there are no Lunar Sabbatarians to be found at all anywhere in ancient history? Josephus wrote a great deal on the history of the Jews, but never was such a point touched upon, or even whispered about. Could it be becoming apparent that the Lunar Sabbath “history” is merely a fable that has been fabricated over the last two centuries?

In fact the dead sea scrolls are in agreement regarding when the Sabbath was observed, and that there was no historical record ever found that there was any dissension as to the weekly cycle, or a difference in calculating the seventh day Sabbath, not even amongst the various Jewish sects. While not all these scrolls are good for doctrine, these ancient writings are truly historical gems preserved by God.

Another point of interest is how often the seventh day should come. In the Scriptures, there is a command from God that His people were to sound a trumpet throughout the land when the Sabbath was to begin:

Numbers 10:2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.

josephus1

Josephus faithfully recorded much of the ancient Jewish history, both significant and minor details.

Josephus recounting a tower where the trumpet was to be sounded by one of the priests at the beginning of “every seventh day”:
Wars of the Jews 4:582 and the last was erected above the top of the Pastophoria, where one of the priests stood of course, and gave a signal beforehand with a trumpet, at the beginning of every seventh day, in the evening twilight, as also at the evening when that day was finished, as giving notice to the people when they were to stop work, and when they were to go to work again.
Now, if he says that it is every seventh day, are we to think that to mean that he means every seventh day from the day after the new moon and ending at the translation day or next new moon? Or does it mean just what it says, “EVERY seventh day”? Doubtless, just as it reads.

But so that we may know further the historical facts of what “every seventh day” means, we will now not leave ourselves with only two or three Jewish historical witnesses to establish the matter, but now we will also take two or three secular historical accounts that the matter may be established. That we can truly say we have two solid historical witnesses:

1) The Ancient Jewish Historical Witnesses
2) The Ancient Secular Historical Witnesses

Ptolemy was the General of Alexander the Great, who took over Jerusalem in 332 BCE. Now, Agatharchides, a 2nd century BCE Greek historian wrote about Ptolemy’s defeat of Jerusalem. From a strictly secular perspective, the Greek historian writes about the Jews resting “on every seventh day”:

“There are a people called Jews, and dwell in a city the strongest of all other cities, which the inhabitants call Jerusalem, and are accustomed to rest on every seventh day; on which times they make no use of their arms, nor meddle with husbandry, nor take care of any affairs of life, but spread out their hands in their holy places, and pray till the evening.
210
Now it came to pass, that when Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, came into this city with his army, that these men, in observing this mad custom of theirs, instead of guarding the city, suffered their country to submit itself to a bitter lord; and their law was openly proven to have commanded a foolish practice

Now, if both Josephus, a Jewish historian, and Agatharchides, a Greek historian, both use the words “every seventh day”, it becomes an impossibly difficult task for the Lunar Sabbatarian to defend his history, since they cannot sustain what they are teaching from a secular historical perspective as being “every seventh day”, because the Lunar Sabbath count isn’t EVERY seventh day, but has interruptions by both the new moon and the “translation day”.

What a beautiful thing to consider though, that God rested on the seventh day, and every seventh day is a memorial of our wonderful Creator, and His creative and sanctifying power.

Now that we have looked at this point of every seventh day being the Sabbath from both a Jewish and secular perspective, let’s bridge from there to more secular perspectives regarding how the secular world regarded the Sabbath-keeping Jewish people.

3. Roman Historians and Writers

Before launching more fully into the secular historical accounts, we need to address a very common argument from Lunar Sabbatarians upon Sabbath-keepers who observe the seventh day Sabbath “every seventh day”, which would fall on Friday evening to Saturday evening on the Gregorian calendar, that they are worshipping on the day of Saturn, an ancient pagan god associated with star worship. They make the charge that the Jews adopted the ancient Roman week. The argument may sound good on the surface, but when examining the matter more closely, it falls apart.

From Ham came Nimrod. From Nimrod came all the pagan religious of the world.

From Ham came Nimrod. From Nimrod came all the pagan religious of the world.

The truth is that “every seventh day” since creation, man kept the Sabbath. From Adam to Noah, the truth faith was passed on. Then Noah passed on the true faith to Shem, Japheth, and Ham. Some may realize that from Shem came Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and his seed, from which Christ came. These kept the Sabbath. Now Ham’s descendants included Nimrod, Canaan, Gog, and Magog, and a number of other famous pagan kings; from him came the kingdoms of Canaan, Sodom, Gomorrah, and Babylon, and all the great pagan nations of the earth. Yet Ham had inherited the truth faith, but all of these nations that came from Ham had evidently departed from that inheritance.

That almost all old pagan beliefs seemed to hold a traditional account of a flood is evidence that they had a common lineage, and even certain common features of the true faith, yet despite any resemblance some of these nations have whether more of less to the true faith, they did not worship the same God.

There is no historical evidence that the Jews adopted the practices of the worshippers of Saturn, but on the contrary, it speaks all the more of something different and more definitely consistent with history. Simply because the Sabbath falls on in the same period of time does not make Lunar Sabbatarian arguments conclusive. Either the worshippers of Saturn adopted the Jewish practice (which there is historical evidence for), which we will speak more on shortly, or else, they inherited that point of faith from Ham that they never fully departed from, even though the knowledge of God was wholly perverted into the worship of the creature rather than the Creator, if not altogether lost. Therefore the charge either way is not upon the people from which the Messiah arose from, but rather upon the worshippers of Saturn.

Does that mean that they all forsook the time period of the Sabbath as set apart? Not necessarily. Consider that there are Sabbath-keeping Trinitarian groups, as well as Sabbath-keeping non-Trinitarian groups. You can most certainly worship a different god on the same day. Now, regarding those who worshipped the god Saturn on the Saturn day, or Saturday, is not evidence at all that God’s people are worshipping anything less than the true God on the seventh day Sabbath.

More than this, that the seventh day Sabbath falls on the day which was called Saturday does not mean at all that the Jewish people called the seventh day “Saturday”, or taught that Saturday was the origin of the Sabbath. The truth is that the Jewish people never associated Sabbath with the word Saturday at all, but called every seventh day “Sabbath” and kept the line clear and distinct from any connection to false gods.

But we will be looking at quotes that are speaking from a strictly secular perspective of the Jewish nation, coming from those who knew nothing much at all of the God of Israel, but are, in a general sense, much more acquainted with the pagan practices of the surrounding nations. Now Lunar Sabbatarians are correct on this point: the Roman week was not based upon the cycle of the moon. But each day of the week was generally devoted to a different god. The secular sources here cited are not to cast a Day of Saturn reflection upon the Jews, but to show clearly that their day of Sabbath observance did indeed fall at the same period of time, and that there is undeniable secular historical evidence for this fact.

70 – 84 CE (AD)

Frontinus, a Roman Soldier who lived from c. 40 CE to 103 CE, wrote book on military strategy called Strategematicon in 84 A.D. In it, he writes:

“The deified Augustus Vespasian attacked the Jews on the day of Saturn, a day on which it is sinful for them to do any business.” Frontinus Stratagem 2.1.17.

In Latin, the book by Frontinus has “the day of Saturn” translated into “Saturnis”, from which comes the word “Saturday”. And this book was written only 14 years after Titus’ destruction of Jerusalem, which makes it a considerable piece of historical evidence from a first century eyewitness, connecting “the Jews…day on which it is sinful for them to do any business” with “the day of Saturn”, or modern Saturday.

63 BCE – 229 CE

Cassius Dio, a Roman Historian who lived from ca. 155 to 229 CE, using the historical annals of the Roman empire, wrote concerning three wars that the Romans and the Jews were engaged in with one another.

The first battle was during a time when Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II, two brothers who were the offspring of the Maccabees, were engaged in a dispute over who would rule. The Romans, through the actions of Pompey, came in and settled the dispute, siding with Hyrcanus. While speaking of Pompey’s battle, the Sabbath is mentioned.

The setting is 63 BCE:

“Most of the city, to be sure, he took without any trouble, as he was received by the party of Hyrcanus; but the temple itself, which the other party had occupied, he captured only with difficulty.
For it was on high ground and was fortified by a wall of its own, and if they had continued defending it on all days alike, he could not have got possession of it.
As it was, they made an excavation of what are called the days of Saturn, and by doing no work at all on those days afforded the Romans an opportunity in this interval to batter down the wall
.

The latter, on learning of this superstitious awe of theirs, made no serious attempts the rest of the time, but on those days, when they came round in succession, assaulted most vigorously.
Thus the defenders were captured on the day of Saturn, without making any defense
, and all the wealth was plundered.

The kingdom was given to Hyrcanus, and Aristobulus was carried away.” Cassius Dio Roman History 37.16.1-4

It is very clear that the Romans had taken advantage of the fact that the Jews would not work on the Sabbath by making advancements upon them. And was this time called Sabbath? Again, the weekly Sabbath coincides with the Roman “days of Saturn.”

The second battle listed by Cassius Dio occurred in 36 BCE, is the one that resulted in the very first King Herod coming to power:

Cassius dio“The Jews, indeed, had done much injury to the Romans, but they suffered far more themselves.
The first of them to be captured were those who were fighting for the precinct of their god, and then the rest on the day even then called the day of Saturn.
And so excessive were they in their devotion to religion that the first set of prisoners, those who had been captured along with the temple, obtained leave from Sosius, when the day of Saturn came round again, and went up into the temple and there performed all the customary rites, together with the rest of the people.
These people Antony entrusted to a certain Herod to govern; but Antigonus he bound to a cross and flogged,— a punishment no other king had suffered at the hands of the Romans,— and afterwards slew him.” Cassius Dio Roman History 49.22.4-6

Notice that Cassius Dio reports the Jews as being in devotion to religion that they observed “customary rites” at the temple on “the day even then called Day of Saturn.” This indicates that the time period coinciding with Sabbath wasn’t only called the “Day of Saturn” during his lifetime, but it was called the “Day of Saturn” back in 36 BCE, even before Christ came. The time that the Jews themselves kept the Sabbath both before Christ and after Christ fell on that very same Day of Saturn.

Next, another experience related by him is in 70 CE, when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. This fell on the Sabbath, which again is called the “day of Saturn.”

70 – 229 CE

“Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, the day which even now the Jews reverence most.
From that time forth it was ordered that the Jews who continued to observe their ancestral customs should pay an annual tribute of two denarii to Jupiter Capitoline.”
Cassius Dio Roman History 65.7.2

So when we look at Cassius Dio’s historical account, he relates that the Jews kept the same Sabbath on the same “day of Saturn” from 63 BCE up until his day, no later than 229 CE. His report also agrees with Frontinus’ account of the 70 CE battle. This is two witnesses from a secular perspective, but we will continue to relate more history from this perspective.

  1. 100 CE

The Historian Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56CE – ca. 117CE), suggested that Jews kept the Sabbath out of laziness, and also associated the Sabbath with the Roman idol, Saturn, showing that the historian did not have much understanding regarding the faith and practice of the Jewish people:

They are said to have devoted the seventh day to rest, because that day brought an end to their troubles. Later, finding idleness alluring, they gave up the seventh year as well to sloth. tacitus
Others maintain that they do this in honor of Saturn
; either because their religious principles are derived from the Idaei, who are supposed to have been driven out with Saturn and become the ancestors of the Jewish people; or else because, of the seven constellations which govern the lives of men, the star of Saturn moves in the topmost orbit and exercises peculiar influence, and also because most of the heavenly bodies move round their courses in multiples of seven. From The Histories, Book V

The historian flips things upside down. Suggesting the possibility that the Jews inherited their religious principles of rest from those that honored Saturn. Yet the reverse is more likely to be true given the history of the descendants of Noah, that those who had inherited the principles of truth joined themselves to idols while maintaining the same day of worship.
Again, the fact that a pagan associated Sabbath keeping with Saturn demonstrates that the Roman week’s day of Saturn (Saturday) was the same period of time as what God gave His people as Sabbath day. Tacitus is an eyewitness from the first century and wrote this a mere 30 years after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.

THE JEWISH INFLUENCE OF THE SABBATH ON ROMAN CULTURE

Now that we’ve seen these, let’s turn our attention to how the Sabbath influenced the surrounding cultures. The Lunar Sabbatarian’s charge that the Roman week influenced the Jewish people, but Josephus writes that the opposite was the fact of the matter.


The masses have long since shown a keen desire to adopt our religious observances; and there is not one city, Greek or barbarian, nor a single nation, to which our custom of abstaining from work on the seventh day has not spread and where our fasts and the lighting of lamps and many of our prohibitions in the matter of food are not observed. Apion 2:282-283

Eviatar Zerubavel, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University, suggested the following regarding the seven day weekly cycle:

“. . . The planetary week [the week we presently found on the Gregorian calendar], however, was a relative newcomer compared with the Jewish week. . . [and] may have evolved from [it], and was undoubtedly influenced by it. Presumably the seven-day structure of the Jewish week came first, and later people began to call the days of the week after the names of the planets. Our modern week is a blend of both traditions.”

Eviatar Zerubavel, by study of the week in his respective field, came to the conclusion that the Jewish people had it first, and the Romans as Lunar Sabbatarians have asserted. These points suggest that the Jewish influence not only affected their contemporary culture, but even the world, and that should be even less a surprise considering how quickly the work of Christ spread with His first apostles to nearly the whole world in less than century.

119 CE

Even among secular historians, there is cause to believe that the Sabbath is closely entwined to the weekly cycle of the first century Romans. This is evidenced by the writings of a Roman historian by the name of Suetonius. Suetonius (ca. 69CE – 130CE) was the Roman Emperor’s secretary for a time. While describing the life of Tiberius Caesar (14 – 37 CE), he wrote:

“The grammarian Diogenes, who used to lecture every Sabbath at Rhodes, would not admit Tiberius when he came to hear him on a different day, but sent a message by a common slave of his, putting him off to the seventh day. When this man waited before the Emperor’s door at Rome to pay his respects, Tiberius took no further revenge than to bid him return seven years later.” Suetonius The Life of Tiberius 32.2

This reference from Suetonius is a strong indication that the influence of the seventh day Sabbath over the Roman week may well have been linked more than people have thought, just as Josephus said, but not as the Lunar Sabbatarians are teaching.

28 BCE to 1 BCE

Lastly, we’ll share a quote from a Poet named Ovid, (43 BCE to 17CE), referenced by J. Hugh Michael in his writing “The Jewish Sabbath in the Latin Classical Writers”:

Still more impressive is the witness of Ovid. In the Ars Amatoria he instructs the young Roman who is desirous of finding an object for his affections how he should set about his search.
The quest need not take him far a field: there is no lack of suitable damsels in Rome.
The poet even specifies the parts of Rome where the quest of the amorous youth is most likely to be crowned with success: he should not neglect ‘(Adonis lamented of Venus, or the seventh day observed as holy by the Syrian Jew.”
The first part of this direction can only mean that the youth should visit the Temple of Venus when her grief for Adonis was commemorated on the anniversary of his death.
Similarly the second part must mean that he should attend the Sabbath services held in the Jewish synagogues.
Is it possible to attach any other meaning to the advice that the youth should not avoid the seventh day observed by the Syrian Jew?
And what meaning is there in the counsel unless Roman maidens were wont to attend those services?
It is not easy to think that it was the poet’s intention that the young Roman should become enamored of a Jewess! The Jewish Sabbath in the Latin Classical Writers. J. Hugh Michael Victoria College, Toronto, Canada. The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 40, No. 2. (Jan., 1924), pp. 117-124

The work of the Poet Ovid which is referenced above is “Ars Amatoria” (The Art of Love), which was written in approximately 1 BCE. We’ve seen that the Romans were already observing the seven day week, but the Poet Ovid, who was a Scythian of the Roman Empire, was not of the Jewish faith, yet his poem does not fail to mention the seventh day kept holy by the Jews. Thus, we can see that the Roman culture was in fact being influenced in some manner in their association with the weekly cycle and the seventh day of the week.

CONCLUSION

These historical witnesses shut the door to any possibility to the Lunar Sabbath theory being historically true. Our Father has wonderfully preserved enough ancient history so that we needn’t be in darkness over the matter. Now that the light has shone, will you also walk in it?




The Law in Christ

And took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross . . . !”
Colossians 2:14

“The words ‘abolish,’ ‘take away,’ ‘destroy,’ and ‘change’ have been so persistently connected with the law by some public teachers that there exists in the minds of many people the honest conviction that all which is expressed by these words was done to the law by Christ.

It is true that He came to “abolish” something, and to “take away” something, and to “destroy” something, and to “change” something; but it is important that we-should know just what it was that He abolished, and what it was that He took away, and what it was that He destroyed, and what it was that He intended to change by His work in behalf of man. This we can easily learn from the Scriptures.

WHAT WAS ABOLISHED.

It is said of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, that He “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Tim. 1:10. Death is the result of sin. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

James 1:15. But “sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. Christ, therefore, came to abolish that which is the result of being out of harmony with the law (which is but the written transcript of the self-sacrificing character of God), and He did it, not by abolishing the law, but by bringing us into harmony with the law.

WHAT WAS TAKEN AWAY.

We read that Christ “was manifested to take away our sins.” 1 John 3:5. He is the sin-bearer, “Who His own self carried up our sins in His body to the tree, that we having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24, R.V., margin. Sin is lawlessness, and Christ was manifested to take away, not the law, but lawless-ness.

Note: In Jeremiah 4:4, the LORD tells us, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem . . .” And then in Colossians 2:11-13, this promise is fulfilled in Christ . . . “In Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ !”

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; but the Last Adam was made a quickening (Life-giving) Spirit !” “For in that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God !”

I Corinthians 15:45 & Romans 6:10

WHAT HE CAME TO DESTROY.

The attitude of Christ toward the law is set forth in the prophecy which says: “He will magnify the law and make it honourable.” Isa. 42:21. In His sermon on the mount, which is itself but the interpretation of the princ-iples contained in the Words spoken from Mount Sinai, Christ said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am, not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matt. 5:17. He “came to explain the relation of the law of God to man, and to illustrate its precepts by His Own example of obedience.” [Desire of Ages (DA), p. 308]

But we are taught that “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8. The works of the devil are those which are contrary to God’s law. “The devil sinneth from the beginning,” and in every case “sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4-8

Furthermore, Christ came to destroy the devil himself. Satan had introduced into this world rebellion against God and His law, and Christ’s mission and work were to put an end to that rebellion and the instigator of it. In order to do that, He took our flesh, “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil.” Heb. 2:14.

For in that He died, He died unto sin once; but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God . . . !”     Romans 6:10

WHAT HE CAME TO CHANGE.

It is a blessed thing to know that a change was wrought by Christ in giving Himself for man. There was certainly need that a change should be made. Men were far from righteousness, “being alienated from the Life of

God through the ignorance that is in them” (Eph. 4:18), “having no hope and without God in the world.” Eph. 2:12. “But God, Who is rich in mercy, … hath quickened us together with Christ, … and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:4-6. And thus “we all … are changed into the same imagefrom glory to glory.” 2 Cor. 3:18.

But more even than a change of character has been provided for us, for “we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.” Phil. 3:20, 21. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.” 1 Cor. 15:51, 52.

Glorious change! A renewed character and a renewed body! This is the fulness of the Salvation provided for us in Jesus Christ. It thus becomes evident from the teaching of the Scriptures that Christ came to abolish, not, the law, but death; to take away, not the law, but our sins; to destroy, not the law, but the devil and his works; to change, not the law, but us. And He did all this “by the sacrifice of Himself !”   Heb. 9:26.

For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, hath made me _______ (your name) free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do (give new life), in that it was weak through the flesh . . . . God sending His Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and in exchange for sin, condemned sin in the flesh . . .

     That the righteousness of the Law might be filled full in us, who walk not by the flesh, but by the Spirit !”
Romans 8:2-4 & Zechariah 4:6

Undated Armadale Campmeetings, 1895, “The Law in Christ; Or, the Relation Between the Law and the Gospel,”




The Day That Was Forgotten: The Change of the Sabbath to Sunday

On this page you can find sources from each of the various churches, groups, and historical references of the world regarding the origin of Sunday, how it was changed, and how it has no true basis in the Bible for it’s observance:

the-fourth

Spoken in different ways, amongst different church affiliations and people, but the testimony leads to the same conclusion: There is no command to observe Sunday, the first day of the week; but only to observe the seventh-day Sabbath.

Anglican/Church of England
Baptist
Catholic
Congregationalist
Evangelical
Church of Christ
Episcopalian
Historical
Infidel/Athiest
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Lutheran
Methodist
Miscellaneous
Moody Bible Institute
Presbyterian




God or Caesar, Which?

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.” (Matthew 22:15-22.)

The Pharisees and Herodians were completely answered in these words. A sharp distinction was drawn between the things of God and the things of Caesar; that is, the things which pertain to God,-religion, and the things which pertain to Caesar,-civil government. There was not one of those Pharisees or Herodians that had any ground to stand upon after He had made that answer. There was not one of them that thought it was any use to say, “That general principle is good, but you see there are some things in which God and Caesar are in partnership. What about that?” They did not dare to say a word. When He said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s,” they marvelled and went their way, because in those few words He had laid down those eternal principles of right, and had so completely answered them that there was nothing more to be said.

It was announced that we would consider this evening something of the evils of religious legislation; God or Caesar, Which? or the evils which result from religious legislation, in mixing up God and Caesar.

A PLAIN DISTINCTION

As a foundation, I want first to draw a distinction between the things of God and the things of Caesar. “Caesar” stands for civil government. The things of Caesar are those which have to do with civil government. The things of God are those which have to do with God, our relation to God, our duty to God, everything that pertains to God as a personal matter between us and God. I want to lay down for our consideration the contrast between the things of God and the things of Caesar; the contrast between the realms in which they rule, their subjects, and their manner of ruling. To make it plain we will draw a simple diagram:-

God. Caesar.
Mind. Body.
Thought. Action.
Sin. Crime.
Moral. Civil.
Forgiveness. Penalty.
Love. Force.
Eternal. Temporal.
THE TWO REALMS

First as to the realms in which they rule. God in Jesus Christ rules the mind; Caesar the body. Let us stop on this a moment. When Jesus Christ came to set up His kingdom, He came to set up a different sort of a kingdom than had existed. Human power and the kingdom of this world-Caesar- had ruled the body, they had ruled the outward conduct, but here comes Jesus Christ to set up a kingdom within a kingdom, to have a kingdom, to have subjects, and to have that right in this world, where Caesar’s kingdom is.

But while men had been-shall I say satisfied-not always that, and yet it was all Caesar could do to rule the body,-Jesus Christ comes to set up His kingdom in the mind; that is, to rule the thoughts, while Caesar has his kingdom over the body, and rules actions. This is not to say that Jesus Christ does not rule actions, but He gets behind actions, and controls actions through thought. They had had laws in the world, they had God’s law in the world, but Jesus Christ came to show what that law meant, to live it Himself, and to teach it as it meant to God. And so He explained it as we read Matthew 5, where Christ Himself, the very one who spoke the law from Sinai, now, with His divinity veiled in humanity, comes on the mount, and speaks that law over again, and gives it a spiritual meaning.

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment; but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” This is further expressed in 1 John 3:15: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” “Ye have heard how it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” He further explains that covetousness is idolatry, and this is set forth in Ephesians 5:2-5: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints. Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

This is Christ’s interpretation of how the law of God applies. This does not apply simply to the outward act. Caesar rules the outward conduct. I may stand before a man, I may hate him with a perfect hatred, and I may tell him so to his face, but Caesar says nothing to me. Caesar has nothing to do with it. But suppose my hatred grows into action, and I proceed to do the man violence. Caesar says, “You must keep your hate within yourself, or I shall come in and interfere.” But I am just as much in God’s sight a murderer when I hate my brother as though I had taken his life. It is better for civil society that there are laws to restrain the outward manifestation of that hate, but in God’s sight I am a murderer when I hate.

But suppose Caesar should attempt to enforce this law as God explains it, will you tell me how many would be left outside the prison walls to guard those within? Suppose he should come into this tent, and, taking the law as God explains it, should say, “I am here for every man who has ever been a murderer.” How many, do you think, would be left to listen to the sermon? God in Christ rules the hearts, and Christ came to do that which it is impossible for man to do,-to rule the very thoughts of the heart. And He explains that no service is acceptable to Him unless it is heart-service.

The Pharisees had plenty of religion of their kind. They liked to display it, and they kept bringing it forth. They had come to Christ to display it. They came to Him asking why His disciples ate with unwashen hands. I will not read the record, but Christ answered them, saying, “Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man.” “Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Declare unto us this parable.” “And Jesus said, Do ye not yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly and is cast out into the draught. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matthew 15:10, 11, 15-20.

THOUGHT PRECEDES ACTION

Every overt act is preceded by thought. No man ever does a thing he has not thought of. Now many are thinking, I suppose, “I question that, because I have done things I did not intend to do. And I did them because I did not think.” I tell you the very reason you did them without thinking was because you had done them so many times before that by thinking it had become habit. I say that every act is preceded by the thought, and that thought is the very character of your being. It is in the inmost thought, the inner self, where character dwells. Man may be restrained by outward forms from expressing himself; he may be but a whited sepulchre. And if the sepulchre is whitewashed outside, Caesar has nothing to say; he cannot enter into the temple of the heart and control thought. Jesus Christ sets up His kingdom in the mind; His subjects are the thoughts of the heart, and no one is pure in God’s sight unless his very thought is pure; no one is free from transgression unless his very thoughts are in harmony with God. Says the Scripture, “Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. That is religion and Jesus Christ can do that for us. But when Caesar has attempted to invade the realm of the mind, when he has stepped out of his place and tried to control what only Jesus Christ can control,-the inmost thoughts of the heart,-then we have had written in blood some of the darkest pages of human history.

SIN AND CRIME

God in Jesus Christ deals with sin; Caesar deals with crime. The Scripture says, “The thought of foolishness is sin;” but it is not crime. Therefore as Jesus Christ dwells in the mind, ruling the thoughts, anything contrary to His thought is sin, and He deals with sin. Sin is defined in the Scripture to be the “transgression of the law,” and Jesus Christ in His kingdom deals with sin. Caesar has nothing to do with sin; it is crime that he deals with. Sin is the transgression of God’s law in the thought of the heart. Sin is a lapse from holiness, and holiness dwells in the inmost heart. Anything different to that is sin; but Caesar cannot inquire about that. He waits till the thought becomes an overt act contrary to his law; because while God has a law to rule the heart, Caesar has a law to rule the action. When one transgresses Caesar’s law he may or may not have sinned against God, but it is crime. There should be a very careful distinction drawn between sin and crime. Crime is transgression of human law; sin is transgression of God’s law as interpreted by Jesus Christ. Sin may or may not be crime. A man may be a murderer of the blackest type before God, and not be guilty of a crime. I may be an idolater, breaking God’s law every day, and not have committed a single crime. I may be dark and deep-stained with sin, and not commit any crime.

MORALITY AND CIVILITY

God’s government is moral; Caesar’s government is civil. Christ deals with morality. But we must understand what morality is. There is an accommodated sense of the word, in which we say, “He is not a Christian, but he is a moral man.” When we come to the strict sense of the word, it means “One that is in harmony with God’s law.” The word “civil” has to do with the relations between man and man; the word “moral” has to do with the relations between man and God. The truly moral man will be civil, you may be sure of that, and the only purpose of civil government is to make those men civil who would not be otherwise, who are not governed by the higher law of morality, the law of God in the heart.

The object, and the only object, of Caesar’s government is,-not to give men rights, God does that,-but to protect men in their God-given rights. No company of men can confer rights upon any other company of men, but they can protect them in the proper use of those rights which they already have. Those rights belong to them, they are given them of God. Men will not be moral; then Caesar comes in with his power, and compels, and properly too, those men who will not be moral, to be civil. Outward conduct is civility; inward conduct is morality. God lives in the heart, making men moral by conferring upon them His own moral character. But Caesar cannot do this; he cannot get into the mind and see when men are committing sin. All he can do is to look at the body, see whether men are committing crime or not, and make them civil if they will not be moral.

FORGIVENESS v. PENALTY

Further, God in Christ exercises forgiveness in His government; Caesar knows no forgiveness, he knows nothing but the penalty. A man commits a sin against God, he has been a sinner all his life, but he sees Christ lifted up, and hears the promise, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” and he accepts that promise; and right there his sins are forgiven; his load of crime is entirely removed; and he stands before God as though he had never committed a sin in his life. But if a man commits a crime, he may he ever so sorry, and he may confess to Caesar, but Caesar says, “Settle that with your Maker; I know nothing but the penalty.”

If we should introduce into civil government the principles God uses in His kingdom, we should have perfect confusion. Look at these principles: “Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times, but, Until seventy times seven.” “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Matthew 18:21, 22; Luke 17:3, 4

Suppose we should apply this principle to civil government. Here is a man arrested for horse stealing. He is brought up before the judge, and says, “I am very sorry, and the Bible says you must forgive.” The judge says, “You are forgiven.” He goes out and steals another horse, is brought back, and again forgiven. He does that seven times over. How do you think the judge would feel? I think that by the time he had reached the seventh experience he would think that there was some mistake about the law. These principles, which are the very glory of God’s moral government, the very glory of His character, we cannot apply to Caesar’s government. God does forgive, even to seventy times seven, and He does it for us, thank God, but these principles do not belong here; they are for a different realm, and God, by the gift of His Son, has so provided that He can exercise forgiveness and still maintain the character of His law. By the sacrifice of Jesus Christ God has upheld the character of His government, keeps His law where it belongs, and yet holds out forgiveness to all that believe on His Son. Because of His wonderful provision for the stability of His government, God’s law is not brought into disrepute when the man who has broken it again and again turns about and says, “I repent.”

By forgiving, civil government would break down the whole system of government; but God keeps His law where it belongs, and yet forgives everyone who repents.

November 5, 1895 Armadale Camp-meeting Talk




The Lost Time Question

 time keeping

“Here are several important declarations: 1. We have the preparation day, which was the sixth day. Ex. 16:5. 2. Following this, we have the next day, ‘the Sabbath day according to the commandment.’ 3. And the next day was the first day of the, week.’ This is the language of Inspiration, hence there is no discount upon it; therefore that day was the first day of the week.’ Hence, we are still on the right track, and know that we have not lost the days of the week. This fact is made doubly sure by the inspired declaration that the day before the first day of the week was ‘the Sabbath day according to the commandment.’ Here, again, we know that we have the correct Sabbath day, the one enjoined in the commandment; for Inspiration says so.
The Sabbath day ‘according to the commandment’ could be no other day than the one which that commandment enjoined, which we have shown is none other than the very day upon which God rested. After this, the Sabbath is frequently mentioned in Acts. (See chapters 13:15; 15:21 ; 16:13; 17:2; 18:3.) The last time it is named is in Revelation 1:10, 96 AD., which brings us to the close of the Bible and of the first century. Now we have spanned 4,100 years of the world’s history, and found no place for the Sabbath to be lost yet.

THE JEWS BEAR UNANSWERABLE TESTIMONY

“But has not time been lost since ‘the year 96 AD., perhaps during the Dark Ages? Let us see. At the time of Christ, and ever since, the Jews were and have been great sticklers for the Sabbath-very careful in observing it. In 70 AD., about forty years after the resurrection of Christ, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, and the Jews were led away captive into all nations, thus fulfilling Luke 21:20-24; Deuteronomy 28:25, 37, 64. Though eighteen hundred years have passed, the Jews are still a scattered nation, and yet a distinct people. In every country, in every clime, in every nation, and in almost every city, today may be found the Jew. During these eighteen long centuries, under every vicissitude, they have still tenaciously clung to the Sabbath. Every person of intelligence knows that the Jews all keep the Sabbath on Saturday. Thus Webster, under the word ‘Sabbath,’ says: ‘The Sabbath of the Jews is on Saturday.’ M. A. Berk, in his ‘History of the Jews,’ page 335, says: ‘According to the Jewish computation of time, the day commences at sunset. On Friday evening, and about an hour before sunset on this evening, all business transactions and secular occupations cease, and the twenty-four hours following are devoted to the celebration of the holy Sabbath.’
“Now that they have not lost the Sabbath day, but have kept the days of the week correctly, is easily demonstrated. Scattered as widely apart as they have been all this time, had they lost the correct numbering of the days of the week, they would now be found to disagree among themselves as to which was the true Sabbath day. Some would claim that it was Saturday; others, that it was Monday; still others, that it was Thursday, etc., etc. But there is no such disagreement among them, as every one knows. In Asia and in Europe, in Africa and in America, all agree on the same day, namely, Saturday. Now any one can readily see that the Jews, being for eighteen hundred years so widely scattered, even on opposite sides of the globe, could not lose the correct Sabbath, and yet all continue to keep the same day. It would be ‘the very height of absurdity to suppose that all the millions of the Jews so far separated should lose just the same number days, and at the same time, and in the same direction, that by adding to, or dropping out, a day or more.
“Take a simple illustration: Seven men go out into the wilderness, hunting. At a certain point they all separate, going a different direction. After several weeks, maybe months, they all meet again. Now the question arises, Have you kept the days of the week correctly, or have they lost the Sunday so that they cannot positively tell when it does come? They begin to compare reckonings. A says, Today is Monday. No, says B, today is Thursday. Both wrong, replies C, today is Sunday. And you are mistaken, too, exclaims D, today is Friday. And thus, to the end, they all differ. This would prove that they certainly had lost the day. No one would question that. But, on the contrary, suppose all unanimously agreed on the daythat it was Monday, for instance. It would be as sure as a mathematical demonstration that none had lost the day.
“So of the Jews. Their unanimous agreement on the day shows that they have kept it correctly. None who are not willingly blind can fail the see this. We shall, then, put down the five millions of Jews now in the world as so many living witnesses that Saturday is the true seventh-day Sabbath. Indeed, I believe, and it is evident, that the leading object of the Lord in scattering the Jews among all nations and yet preserving them a distinct people, was to make them witnesses of the truth of His word, and to preserve the knowledge of His holy Sabbath among all nations. Their strict and continued observance of the Sabbath in all ages and among all nations, forms an insurmountable argument which cap never be set aside by those who assert that the Sabbath has been lost. God has preserved a whole nation of witnesses, and sent them into all parts of the world to bear testimony to the existence and correct preservation of the knowledge of His holy Sabbath day.

CANRIGHT QUOTES RABBI WISE

“In response to an inquiry on this point, addressed to Isaac M. Wise, of Cincinnati, Ohio, probably the most learned Jewish Rabbi in this country, he returned to me the following communication:

Rev. D. M. Canright.

DEAR SIR:

“ ‘There is no century in authentic history not covered by Jewish tradition. Hence, one might just as well argue, Sunday is not the first day of the week or the third after the crucifixion, or the Hebrew Bible is not the literature of the ancient Jews, or any other fact or facts, as to maintain that the Jews forgot the order of the days, when the Sabbath was so holy to them. . . .

“The Jews, having no names of days, called them first, second, etc., to Sabbath. If they had forgotten to count in any one locality where they were dispersed since 800 B. C, some would have done it in another locality, and a dispute among themselves about the right Sabbath must have occurred.’

“With these facts well considered, the reader will agree with the learned rabbi that it is an absurdity to claim that the Sabbath has ever been lost.

ENTIRE WORLD AGREEMENT ON DAYS OF WEEK

“Some two or three centuries after Christ, Christians began to regard the first day of the week as a sacred day. In a short time, this practice became almost universal among Christians. Christendom is now divided into three great branches; viz., the Greek Church, numbering 66,000,000, the Catholic Church, numbering 170,000,000, and the Protestant churches, numbering 88,000,000, making a total number of 324,000,000.
“All these have always been, and are now, unanimous in teaching that Sunday is the first day of the week, the resurrection day, and that Saturday is the old, original, seventh day Sabbath. No one ever thought of disputing this fact till of late, when it is found that there is no proof for first-day sacredness. But here are 324,000,000 witnesses who, by their hymns, their prayers, their sermons, their books, their customs, and all their traditions, teach that Sunday is the first, and Saturday the seventh, day of the week.
“The Mohammedans, and long before them the Saracens, adopted the sixth day for their Sabbath. Numbering 160,000,000, they all still keep Friday. Gilfillan, in ‘The Sabbath,’ p. 359, says: ‘Before Mohammed’s time, the Saracens kept their Sabbath on Friday, and from them, he and his followers adopted the custom.’ Rev. Robert Morris, who has traveled in Palestine, and written so extensively concerning the Holy Land, also confirms the same fact. (See The Holy Land for January, 1871.) Here, again, we have 160,000,000 more witnesses that the days of the week have been correctly kept.
“All the laws of Christendom recognize the fact that Sunday is the first day of the week, and Saturday the seventh. Thus, the Sunday law of Iowa reads: ‘If any person be found on the first day of the week…. engaged in any riot, fighting,’ etc. – ‘Statute Law of Iowa, ‘Revision of 1860, chap. 175, art. 2, sec. 1, P. 751. The venerable old family Bible, in its time-table, teaches the same thing. It reads thus…

“DAYS OF THE WEEK
“lst day of the week Sunday
“2d day of the week Monday
“3d day of the week Tuesday
“4th day of the week Wednesday
“5th day of the week Thursday
“6th day of the week Friday
“7th day of the week,  or Sabbath, Saturday.

“Turn to your large family Bible, and see if it does not so read. So far, then, as we can rely upon this it corroborates the fact that Saturday is the old Sabbath, the original seventh day. Could we ask a better witness?
“Webster’s great dictionary bears its testimony to the same undoubted fact. Thus: ‘Sunday, n. First day of the week.’ ‘Monday, n. The second day of the week.’ ‘Saturday, n. The last day of the week. . . . the Jewish Sabbath.’ Do all these great authors have no authority for what they say? Have they all conspired to tell a lie?
“Take up a family almanac, and it will teach us the same undoubted and universally acknowledged truth, that Saturday is the original Sabbath day. Look at your almanac and see Sunday marked first day of the week, and Saturday the seventh or last day.

ASTRONOMY BEARS TESTIMONY THAT NO TIME HAS BEEN LOST
“But now the science of astronomy comes in and settles this whole matter beyond the shadow of a doubt. Every one is familiar with the fact that eclipses of the sun or moon can be so exactly calculated as to tell to a minute just when they will occur, long beforehand. Indeed, they can be calculated a thousand years ahead as well as one year. So they can be calculated backward just as easily. Before the Christian era, and all along at different times since, eclipses have occurred and have been recorded. By calculating back, it would soon appear if even one day had been lost, as the recorded eclipse would not have come when it ought to. Such calculations have been made, and no such loss of time appears.

“In answer to a question upon this point which I addressed to a celebrated astronomer, I received the following:
—OGDEN, UTAH, Sept. 24, 1873.
“’ELDER D. M. CANRIGHT: Back computations of eclipses of the sun give the year right. Since Ptolemaeus (about 500 B. C.) there cannot be one day lost, because his equinoctiums and those composed now back to that time agree. A change or loss of one minute would be found out in. this way.
“(Signed) ‘DR. F. KAMPF,
‘Astronomer of the U. 8. Corps of Engineers.’ “This is good testimony from the highest authority. It shows that we have positive scientific proof that not a day has been lost at least since 500 years before Christ.

“Indeed, when we come to the real matter of fact, it is simply impossible to lose the days of the week, even though we had no almanacs, no records, no histories. Look at the facts in the case. Take our own nation, for example. How could we lose the days of the week? Suppose one family in town should forget and lose the days of the week. Sun comes and they go to work, plowing, washing, etc. How would it be before their neighbors would come along and tell them their mistake? Such instances do occur; but seldom does a person get through the day without discovering his error.
“Again, suppose a whole village should make the same, mistake at the same time, which of course is impossible, and all lose the day of the week. Sunday they all go to work , as usual; stores are opened, shops run, etc. Soon, people from the country come in to meeting and find them all at work. The result would be that they would compare reckonings and count back and see what they had done on each of the last six days. In this way the error would be immediately discovered. And so we might go on with the illustration. If one family loses the day, the whole town is against them, and will correct them; if a whole town makes the mistake, the rest of the country is against them, and would soon correct – them. In short, the established rest day in each week coming so often and being kept by all the people, it is absolutely impossible to lose it. No candid person who will look at the facts can believe that the Sabbath day has ever been lost. . . .
“Was not the Sabbath day thrown out of its order, was not a day lost, when Joshua commanded the sun to stand still? No. The record says: ‘The sun stood still in the midst of the heaven, and basted not to go down about a whole day.’ Joshua 10:12-14. . . . That day was about as long as two ordinary days, but yet it was only one day, the sun set only once. The Lord required us to keep only the seventh day, not the seventh part of time. The day is to be reckoned from sunset to sunset. Gen. 1:5; Lev. 23:32; Deut. 16:6; Mark 1:32. Hence this was to be counted only one day, and in no manner affects the reckoning of the week. The same principle holds good in the case where the sun turned back ten degrees in the time of Hezekiah. Isa. 38:8. It appears that this day also was longer than usual. Yet it was only one day, as in the case of Joshua.

CHANGE TO THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR

“Was not the Sabbath lost in changing from the Old Style to the New Style of reckoning time? No. It did not affect the Sabbath in the least, one way or the other. But what is Old Style and New Style? Let us see.
“The Julian Calendar, so called, or that which was established by Julius Caesar, by which every fourth year was made to consist of 366 days, and the other years of 365 days, is called Old Style. By this mode of computation, the years were made to average something over eleven minutes too much; so that in the course of a few centuries there would be a perceptible disarrangement of the equinoxes; i.e., the sun would actually arrive at an equinoctial point several days, perhaps, before the time indicated by the day of the month on which it should annually recur. It will be seen that if such a mode of computation were to be continued, a complete displacement of the seasons of the year would eventually be wrought. Pope Gregory XIII, 1582 A. D., in order to correct the equinoxes at that time, or bring back the vernal equinox to the same day as at the Council of Nice, 325 A. D., found it necessary to retrench ten days. He accordingly retrenched that number of days in October, 1582 A. D., which was done by simply calling the fifth day of the month the fifteenth.
“This reformation of the Julian Calendar by Pope Gregory was adopted in Great Britain by act of Parliament, 1751 A. D., at which time it was necessary to retrench eleven days. Accordingly eleven days were retrenched in the month of September in the following year, simply by reckoning the third day as the fourteenth. This method (by which every year divisible by four, unless it be divisible by 100 without being divisible by 400, has 366 days, and all other years 365 days) is what is called New Style. By reckoning according to this ingenious mode, there can never occur any perceptible disarrangement of the equinoxes, as would continually occur under the former calendar, or Old Style. (See Thompson’s Higher Arithmetic, p. 157.)
“It may be readily seen that this did not in the least affect the reckoning of the days of the week. October 5 was simply called October 15. Suppose that before the change that day was Friday; what day of the week would it be after the change? Would it not be Friday still? Most certainly. The regular succession of the days of the week and of the Sabbath continues to come just the same, whatever change may be made in the reckoning of the year or month.
“But why talk about lost time on that occasion? How was it lost? Do we not know just when it occurred? Yes. Do we not know just how it happened? Yes. Do we not know just how many days were dropped? Yes. Is there not an authentic record of the whole thing? Yes. In the name of common sense, then, how was any time lost?
“Suppose I have just one hundred dollars in my pocket. I go into my bedroom, carefully count out ten dollars and put it into the drawer. Then I come out and tell my family that I have lost some money. They ask, When? I say, Today. Where? In the bureau drawer in the bedroom. How much? just ten dollars. Would they not say I was jesting or insane? just so about lost time at the change from Old Style to New Style. When was it lost? October 5, 1582. How much was lost? Ten days. Strange loss this! …

THE EVIDENCE SUMMED UP
“To sum up the evidence: The Sabbath was given to the head of the human family at creation; it was observed by the patriarchs. Three of whose lives cover the period from Eden to Abraham’s old age, and hence the knowledge of the Sabbath was easily handed from father to son. The Sabbath was again miraculously pointed out by God, in the falling of the manna at the Exodus. Strictly guarded by law and kept by the whole Jewish nation for eight hundred years; best of evidence is given that it was not lost in Babylon. It was strictly kept for five hundred years till Christ. He gave no intimation of any loss up to His time. Taught that it was the correct Sabbath; positive statement is made by Inspiration that the Jews had the days of the week and the old Sabbath day correct at the death of Jesus; often mentioned in the New Testament till 95 AD. 5,000,000 Jews today bear witness that it has not been lost. 60,000,000 Greek Christians, 170,000,000 Catholics, and 88,000,000 Protestants all agree that Saturday is the old seventh day. 160,000,000 Mohammedans agree to the same fact; the laws of the land, the old Family Bible, Webster, the almanac and astronomy, all unanimously agree that no time has been lost, but that Saturday is the old Sabbath day.
“What proof do they bring against all this mass of evidence? None whatever. They want it so. They hope it is so, and hence assert that it is so. Time is lost. Why? Because. How do you know? Because it has been lost. This is the evidence, and the only evidence I ever heard. A man’s mere assertion against the evidence of the world!!
“In conclusion, reader, are you weekly violating God’s holy Sabbath under the vain plea that you cannot tell when it does come? Is not this a mere excuse adopted to evade the cross? Are you willing to risk your soul upon such a sandy foundation? Are not the preceding evidences overwhelming that Saturday is the original seventh day? Even granting, which, however, we do not believe is the case, that it is not positive proof beyond any doubt, yet you must admit that, so far as there is any evidence, it all goes to show that Saturday is. the original Sabbath day. Shall we reject all this mass of testimony and retain a day for which there is not a particle of evidence? Will such a course stand ‘the test of the judgment?”

D.M. Canright, “The Lost-Time Question”, (1873)D. M. Canright




NEW BOOKLET: Unveiling the Lunar Sabbaths- A Scriptural & Historical record against the Lunar Sabbaths

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The Revelation of Jesus Christ: The Seal of the Living God

In the Bible, we find the breadth of what we are to become brought to view. The Word of God is to give us an experience that causes us to view the world, not as man sees it, because “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not”, but it gives us a much different perspective. A different perspective not only causing us to behold who God is, but in beholding who God is, to see the world in a most startling condition: to see the worldwith new eyes.

This experience of seeing with new eyes is to see what is not presently seen, because it is seen through the eyes of faith. This is only possible by being born again.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
(Joh 3:3)

Are we seeing through the eyes of God's kingdom?

Are we seeing through the eyes of God’s kingdom?

A man cannot “see” the things of God unless he is “born again”. Even then, we do not “see” them with fleshly eyes, but with spiritual eyes we behold the things that God has prepared for those that love Him.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Notice that although it hasn’t entered into the heart of man, it has been seen by the Spirit. That which is born of the flesh is fleshly, and cannot see nor discern spiritual things. Thankfully, those born of the Spirit can see spiritual realities. Many today claim that it hasn’t entered into our hearts what God has prepared for us, but neglect to share the very next passage, that He has revealed it to His Spirit-born children, yet it is abundantly evident from the apostle Paul’s next words that “the heart of man” refers to the carnal heart:

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”
(1Co 2:9-12)

The Scripture tells us if we receive the Spirit of God, the things of God’s kingdom He “hath revealed…unto us by His Spirit.” Therefore we behold the beauties of the things unseen by faith, for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

It is the things not seen that the children of God are to steadfastly behold, and this is the principle of the Kingdom of God.

Walking by faith in the word of the living God and not by the apparent contradictions of present sight are essential to learning how to see life as a Christian

Walking by faith in the word of the living God and not by the apparent contradictions of present sight are essential to learning how to see life as a Christian

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
(2Co 4:18)

More than the eternal principle of God’s kingdom, it is the very principle God has desired for His people to always have, which is faith. By faith, we may clearly see the eternal God, who is invisible to mortal sight, even as Moses, who “endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27)

Now, what about this faith that causes us to see with the world with new eyes. This is nothing short of being born of the Kingdom of God. Now what does the Scripture say about how to receive this faith? “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) This same faith that comes by the Word of God is the very thing which brings us to a new birth experience, giving us this spiritual eyesight:

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
(1Pe 1:23)

The Word of God is incorruptible, and that incorruptible seed contains all that we need to bring to full growth our spiritual maturity if we continue growing by that same spiritual seed, but the world is functioning on a different level. It is not the eyes of faith, nor is it able to perceive or know the things of the heavenly kingdom, and just the same, they cannot have a true conception of the invisible God unless they look to His revelation as revealed in Christ, and by us.

A NEW NAME

When we are born again though, just as we are given a new eyes to behold God’s character, we are given a new name. However, as we will see, those two things are intimately connected in our birth experience as children of God.

Moses made a request of the living God, and God said He would declare His name to Moses:

“And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; …And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD…and proclaimed, Yahuwah, Yahuwah God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty;…”
(Exo 33:18-19…34:5-7)

The name of God has everything to do with His character. And the name which is given to us in the new birth experience is the very formation of His character in us. He takes from us that perverse character, like Jacob (who was a deceiver) and gives us the new name, like Israel (which means overcomer):

“And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name:… rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.”
(Isa 65:15-18)

It is evident that to be born again by the creative Word of God, that we must see something of God’s love for us, and to be turned from our sins. We must necessarily, to be born again, see something of God’s character: this is when we begin to see something of God’s heart, and when this something is more readily seen, we ourselves begin to see even as He sees the perfect wisdom of His ways, the vileness of sin, and the affairs of the world, and will walk in the ways of His Spirit.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down…and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower…: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
(Isa 55:8-11)

Only by God’s Word can we share in His thoughts, His ways, and that Word alone can be the seed of the Spirit, because His Words “are Spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) Moreover, the Bible likens the same verse of “Spirit” and “mind” to be the very same. In the book of Isaiah, it asks the question: “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord? Or being His counsellor has taught Him?” (40:13) Paul quoting this, it states “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counsellor?” (Romans 11:34) For this reason, His thoughts and ways are expressly said to be found in this same word which ministers to us His Spirit (His mind/thoughts), and is described as rain that comes, and which when that rain comes in contact with us, will cause us to prosper and grow. God refers to His own presence by the Holy Spirit as that rain that we might grow in the knowledge of the invisible God:

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
(Hos 6:3)

Now having a new name, which is God’s character, and new eyes, and a new Spirit, by that incorrupible seed which God waters with the revelation of His own presence, we are now “a new creation” in heart and mind in Christ Jesus as we walk upon this earth. By faith, we are the children of God, and in having the mind of the Spirit of God, those things not revealed to the hearts of men are now revealed to us more and still more, so fully that we will reveal the very things that are revealed to us:

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
(2Co 3:18)

TRUE LOVE REVEALED

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”
(1Co 15:50)

The flesh cannot ever inherit the incorruptible character of God, and for good reason. The flesh can produce no love for souls. It cannot possibly produce the fruit of the Spirit that permeates the Kingdom of God in us.

The flesh is corrupt “because of sin” (Romans 8:10), but “the fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Gal. 5:22). The Scripture shows that the flesh and the Spirit “are contrary to one another” (Gal. 5:17) “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
(Rom 8:13) And if we claim to be born of God, having inherited His character, which is His name, we must clearly manifest love, for “God is love”.

The principles of love are to be so fully be manifested in us that we are to reveal this revelation of God’s glory, that Moses asked to see, to the whole world (See Rev. 18:1). What is love? The Scripture says love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but it rejoices in truth”. Neither does love “seek it’s own”, not

Are we seeing things as Christ Himself sees them in Spirit and truth?

Are we seeing things as Christ Himself sees them in Spirit and truth?

being selfish, and “thinks no evil”, but sees the true nature of sin, that instead of thinking evil of another soul, it sees that they are victims of sin, holding the very same perspective between the soul and the sin that holds it’s victim captive that is found in the heart-wrenching cry of Christ at the cross, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing!”

This is the love we are to reveal to the world: it’s the Father’s character of love. We are told that this Spirit of love that causes us to have the mind of God toward mankind is nothing less than the thing “whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30), and when that day of redemption approaches, a special work is given to the ensure this seal is full and complete with the Father’s character impressed upon us before Christ returns to take all of the redeemed home.
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”
(Rev 7:2-4)

The plea of the intercession of Christ is to hold back the judgments from coming upon the earth until the number of His kingdom is made up: 144,000 being “sealed…in their foreheads”.

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”
(Rev 14:1)

Now, what is the seal? It is the Spirit. More expressly, what is the seal? It is the Father’s name, His character, impressed upon our hearts. Moreover, it is the law of God which the Spirit writes upon the heart of the redeemed child of God who stands with Christ upon Mt. Zion:

“Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples…Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.”
(Isa 8:16-18)

And how is this character of the love of God manifested in our lives? “And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”

If the seal is the Father’s character, it is also true that it is the mark which is placed upon those that sigh and cry by reason of the abominations that are being done amongst God’s professed people. The character of God is to hate sin but love the sinner, and love “rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.” These souls that are living in their abominations we are to recognize as not having “received the love of the truth that they might be saved” (2 Thes. 2:10) and how can we rejoice if they are not in a saved condition? Do we sense the magnitude of the sin whose fruit brings forth death? The angels are to see the Father’s character in us, just as it was in Christ, hating iniquity as He hates it. It testifies that His thoughts towards both sin and the sinner are our thoughts, and that His ways are our ways. Truly to love the sinner but abhor the sin for which the sinner will inevitably die if he

The light of the cross brings to view the punishment of the transgressor in the justice of God, and the gift of life in the perfect love and mercy of God.

The light of the cross brings to view the punishment of the transgressor in the justice of God, and the gift of life in the perfect love and mercy of God.

does not repent. “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11) Anything other than this character must be carefully examined in the light of the law of sin and death at the cross of Calvary and left “as a curse for My Chosen” that we “might be made the righteousness of God” in Christ.

“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”
(Rev 22:3-4)

Yet the terrible fate of the professed people of God who had not this love in their heart was judgment. They did not have the seal of God’s Spirit, and that special mark of God’s character was not impressed upon them, so that angels of God passed them by, and they were left to the inevitable judgments brought upon by neglecting so great a salvation.

“And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity…”
(Eze 9:4-5)

“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
(Heb 10:29)

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
(2Co 5:10-11)

Ezekiel, in seeing the slaughter that was happening by vision in Jerusalem, manifested that very same character of Christ at the cross, and should we expect to manifest anything less in these last days when considering the fearful danger of sin and it’s consequences of shutting it’s victims out of heaven?

“And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.”
(Eze 9:8-9)

THE CLOSING SCENE

That judgment is long deferred by the intercession of the High Priestly ministry of Christ. Whether pleading at the conception of sin with Adam & Eve, to the intercession at the cross, to the cry to hold the four winds until the servants of God are completely sealed with the character of God, Christ desires to see souls saved from sin at last, “not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9) Anciently, the Levitical high priest wore a golden crown, inscribed “Holiness unto Yahuwah”. This was nothing less than the Father’s name inscribed upon that crown which he wore, and if this was the forehead of the high priest upon the earth, how much more the High Priest from heaven whose priesthood has no end? Moreover, the sons of the high priest served as priests in the temple, yet we are “the children that are with” our High Priest, “a royal priesthood” “after the Order of Melchizedek”. Should the character of our intercession and pleadings be anything less than reflecting the holiness we’ve inherited in connection with Christ’s priestly ministry? And when this glorious sealing of God’s character has crowned us, then the intercession will have served it’s purpose and be finished.

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book…”
(Dan 12:1-2)

When the work is done. We see Christ taking the kingdom as a Lion to the wicked, but as a Lamb to the redeemed, standing upon Mount Zion and ruling with a rod of iron:

When the number of the redeemed of Christ’s kingdom is made up, then Christ will return to take His children home.

“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed…Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion…You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
(Psa 2:2-9)

Every case has now been decided. The decisions made are ratified in heaven and in every soul made firmly fixed and definitely fixed; the numbering of the redeemed among men is final and there are no second chances. Every character is firmly impressed upon the soul, either for blessing or cursing, life or death. It is at this time the decree of Christ the priestly King declares at the ceasing of His intercession for man: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
(Rev 22:11)

Therefore, may the living God, whose name is love, mercy, justice, and truth, sanctify us wholly with His Spirit and cause us to stand faithful and true with the Lamb on Mt. Zion.