Blessed Bloody Barbecue

I always find it ironic when one of the Ashkenazi repeat the mantra of doubt, “The Christian Bible isn’t my Bible.” There is a lot of of finagling on the part of Jewish teachers to arrive at that conclusion, which is then taken to heart by the uninformed congregant and repeated with the eye-watering fervor of a child wishing for a precious toy. I can certainly empathize with this position. Having argued with certain individuals who use fallacy and polemic to twist scripture so that it says whatever currently suits them, I know what it feels like to argue a known obvious truth with someone who simply changes the meaning to suit their conclusions. It’s like wrestling atop a pile of sand draining through a hopper. The domain of the topic can completely shift from one clause to the next, in a single statement by a deceitful polemicist.

This is the feeling they bring to the discussion, partly because the Mishnah is such a mishmash of opposing opinion all presented as divine prophetic revelation of the Almighty (bless his name). Partly such suspicion is bread by the mixed up mess of fad doctrines and movements that have left the western Church as churned up and unstable as a battlefield. One group will say that the deceased family and companions of Yeshua can hear and answer your prayers like half-gods. Another will tell you that you are a God in training and if you wish hard enough, sacrifice hard enough and block all niggling voices of reason, you can create the wealth, fame and power that your soul longs for. Yet another will tell you that once you have converted to Christ and been genuinely initiated into the process of molding and growth into his image, you can never be sad, depressed or grief stricken because the sacrifice of the cross means new life and to prove it your must always be “Happy, so very happy…”

Anyone, having been raised to revere the Torah and the Prophets would balk at such “off-scouring of pigs.” This hogwash distracts from the real work of negotiating your salvation in fear (yes Joel, fear means being afraid) and trembling. But the bigger issue is just how unlike the God of the Bible, the father of Christ, such teachings really are.

In the Torah, the Old Covenant if you prefer, the word of the day was restitution. When a man stole an object of chattel property, he had to return it and pay interest. If it was grazing or mineral rights, he gave from his own. If it was livestock likewise. If it was livestock or goods that had already been consumed then the finest equivalent available had to be returned in multiples. Throughout the lot, there were fines, monetary damages that had to be paid. And all of it put you in wrong relationship with God. This was the scariest part, because all the blessings of God, all the love he sheds on his people, is conditional on having that right relationship.

Then–in the times of the Torah and the Writings–as now, people would be indifferent or ashamed of the harm they had caused. They would seek to cover up their crimes, their sins, and ignore the pleas and suffering of their victims. They may even have blamed the victim for being whiny, for not showing the presence of God in their lives, by moving on and simply accepting the loss. For the cynic there is ample ammunition for the bazookas needed to blast such people. One can call on the whining of the Hipiru, the Israeli refugees, during the 40 years nomad. For the Christian there’s plenty of ammo in Paul’s letters about enduring to the end, “pressing on,” “taking victory,” etc. And never forget Peter and the asp! “Just shake it off!” Such beautiful stoicism, just waiting–so long as you are willing to lift passages out of context, trample wholesale on the meaning the author intended by them and allegorize them into the witchcraft of the modern psychologist. Simple, make everyone responsible for their own wounds and exonerate the guilty from any responsibility. After all, it’s for your own good and anything else would just be–vengeance!

That leads into “Vengeance is mine,” and castigating the victim for wanting justice. And don’t forget the cynic’s favorite cherry, “You don’t want justice! Look at what would happen to you if God took Justice on you!” There is context where all of these things have their place, but that place is not in dealing with the injury done to a victim of the sins we call deuteronomical or the ten commandments.

In fairness, Christ was a perfect man and died for crimes he didn’t commit, so we could be forgiven for the ones we have. The Ashkenazi polemicist will argue that the common word for “sacrifice” in the Torah is Korbanah, offering, and point out that even the Hebrew root points to offerings being things that draw together or repair. Thus a sacrifice is a precious thing offered to repair relationship with God. Ironically, this is intended to refute the Messianic sacrifice of Yeshua. But as a believer we recognize that this was the core concept of Christ’s prophetic ministry.

And as such, how can we demand more? How can a victim, of adultery or the murder of a child reject the perfect sacrifice. God took the initiative, gave his own child, so that like the lamb that took Isaac’s rightful place, we could live as he died. The entire purpose was to draw us closer and repair the breach in the relationship with our creator and King. Just as we pointed out at the beginning, the Offering, is a Blood Sacrifice, a meal where we eat the roasted meat to take the death of innocence in and we give the blood and fat to God through the fire, so that in sharing the meal we are drawn together in good relationship with God our father. How can we presume to reject that Zevach/Zebach, blood sacrifice, as sufficient to bring the offender into relationship with God and therefore with us?

Of course we can not. The repentant must make restitution, because without restitution there is no repentance. Without repentance, there is no remission of sins. As Yeshua said, “If you come-to the altar and remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your sacrifice waiting and go make reconciliation with your [victim]” so that God will accept rather than reject your sacrifice. Or, “If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven.” But that of course is limited to those who have never been “saved,” never been converted to Christ and partaken of his death.

As Paul said, when I told you not to judge I meant don’t judge the world who have the excuse of not knowing Yeshua. But, of course, I judge the church. Anyone who calls himself a brother and continues to live in error is excommunicate and don’t even eat with such a one. I am minded of the role eating takes in the Zebach of Christ, where we are instructed to consume the matzos and wine of Passover as a memorial allegory of his Offering.

In Hebrews, there is a lengthy passage the Stoic and the Gnostic will use to argue that once partaken, no further sacrifice is needed, therefore sin in the life of a believer is simply an inconvenience rather than separation. This ploy might almost work, were it not for the fact that the passage is framed before and after with almost identical passages that when taken together say simply, “If after anyone has partaken of the good Offering of salvation in Yeshua and returns to his former life of habitual sin, there is then no further sacrifice for him, for it would require that Yeshua be crucified a second time and cause public shame on the name of Yeshua.”

Does this mean that if a Christian ever commits sin or enters habitual sin he can not be forgiven? I submit to you that Jesus, who lived by the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Hachodesh, said we would be indwelt with that same spirit and be gifted beyond the list of accomplishments that Christ performed.

No, the cross does not cover the new transgression of the Believer. You cannot crucify him again and be saved again. You must work out your salvation with fear and trembling. You must use the supernatural gifting of the Holy Spirit. You must contrive to make restitution in your own flesh, by the power of God, and incidentally be allegorically and incrementally crucified to the will to sin. You must leave communion, go submit to and make reconciliation with your victim and comfort him, then return to full communion–together.

The cynic will say, “But I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of anyone responding to Christ–” No. Nor would any authentic Believer in Yeshua the Messiah. But count the cost. Repentance costs restitution and without repentance there is no drawing together with God, no remission of sins. This is not a game, and eternity is in the balance. But really, isn’t good relationship with God and with your victim worth the discomfort, even pain or suffering reconciliation might cost? Isn’t Good relationship and the blessings of the Lord of Creation well worth any cost or struggle? Open the door, let him in and have a meal. Barbecue is blessing.

Forget to Forgive

A sermon today included the following points:

  1. Woe to him that is offended for God shall not heal his life nor grant him a miracle.
  2. If you are offended you must forgive. In fact, you cannot be blessed by God unless you forgive everyone everything.
  3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, failing to hold a person accountable or free from punishment.
  4. [The pastor] believes in doing to them what they do to you. But that means forgive everyone cause Jesus forgives everyone.
  5. Forgiveness doesn’t mean [the pastor and his church] won’t track you down and beat you if you are doing something violent, never-the-less you can’t hold grudges.

This lead me to revisit the passages cited which were MAT 18:7 (kjv) and COL 3:13-14 (kjv). The pastor read the passage in Matthew as saying If you are offended then you have woe in your life and “you can’t have the miracles of God,” or the “healing” and “new life” God wants for you. It was the Stoic heressey that you must simply shake it off and go on. To quote Monty Python, “it’s only a flesh wound . . . come closer so I can bite your knee.” In more current parlance, “Just shake it off.” Scripture deals clearly with the proper way to deal with offenses but this was not only heretical, it used the Satanic technique of misquoting scripture, out of context, to teach a opposition to scripture in it’s context and canonical interpretation.

The proximate error was in that interpretation of Matt. Jesus tells us in Matthew that the one who has humbled himself, in a childlike acceptance of the word is to be cherished and accepted, while the one who offends that childlike devotee is cursed by God. Children themselves are to be welcomed into the service and the whiner who complains that children are disruptive and ought to be removed is in danger of hellfire. This passage doesn’t deal with forgiveness, with holding offense, with records of wrongs or with the means of achieving an overcoming life.

I would leave this alone except the doctrine that we are to forgive everyone whether they repent or not, That we cannot have blessings if we hold anyone accountable, and the victim is in fact a sinner for taking offense, have polluted the church to the point of apostasy. This counterfeit spirituality is presented as the new maturity and Christians are bound to a life of sin and condemnation while being taught to imagine themselves free while being bound by the chains of sinful behavior and rebellion in the name of grace.

Forgiveness is a sticky subject for most people and the problem is compounded by the prevalence of professional and amateur psychobabble. For the Christian, whether Jew or Goy, this is further muddied by the weight empty traditionalism. So let me deal with those issues by summarizing what other parts of scripture do say.

Some simple rules for how genuine forgiveness works:
  • When you forgive you forget, not necessarily the events but the emotional impact and the sense of caution associated with the offense.
  • Forgiveness is only available to those who are reformed, though that reformation begins with the decision to change course. It is not unforgiveness to shun the unrepentant, it is an act of love intended to encourage remorse and repentance.
  • Forgiveness for the believer is not optional, you were forgiven, therefore you have no room to hold vengeance. Unforegiveness toward your fellow believers is an unpardonable sin.
  • The unbeliever is completely outside the economy of grace and therefore cannot be held accountable to the Law of Grace or the moral Levrite Law.
  • False accusation is damnable and can separate the believer from grace as surely as a willful act of rebellion.

Jesus taught us that we can identify authentic believers by the fact that they love each other. And Paul shows us in 1CO 13:4 (nrsv), that love doesn’t think evil–by implication the evil that gossip attributes to others. This leaves no room for holding grudges, but also none for rumors, or false accusations. Such baseless slander will prevent you from reaching God’s reward in the new kingdom as we see from EPH 4:29-32, COL 3:8, ROM 1:29-32, and 2CO 12:20-21 (kjv) where slander is variously called backbiting, blasphemy and evil speaking.

Dead Camels Fill the Heavens with Midges

A young woman named V recently argued that old dead heresy of Calvin in the context of whether the Holy Spirit still baptised and conferred gifts. The greater questions have been dealt with previously, but she raised the following questions:

1) I suppose what i dont understand, then, is why does the bible say once we are saved, we are sealed? What can break the seal?
2) How do you believe one becomes saved?
3) Why do you believe that once salvation was offered to the gentiles, paul only preached salvation by grace through faith?

What follows was my response with expanded exposition on the scriptures:

First things first. Paul preaching grace offered through faith is not the same as preaching that grace is a magic wand that requires no participation, and cannot be lost through rebellion or disbelief. This is the fallacy of Grace Alone. I’ll touch on that later.

What can break the seal? Willful rebellion, slander of the Holy Spirit, return to one’s former life of habitual sin, converting to another religion, death while backslidden, suicide, preaching a new gospel that is not what the Apostles taught, or variations and combinations thereof. And no, these things do not necessarily mean the person was never born again. We have Jesus1 testimony in the parable of the sower to dispose of that cop-out. Also the previously mentioned passages in Hebrews.

Lastly and most critical how does one become saved. Salvation like sanctification is a process as well as an event. It is accomplished by being born again spiritually-receiving a new nature, changing behavior to obedience to the moral law not by pedantic adherence but as new instinct, part of a process of being reshaped in imitation of Jesus own character.

This process is begun by trusting Jesus as truthful and Son of God, Believing that he is sovereign over all creation, and believing & confessing that he is ruler and is resurrected by God. But salvation doesn’t end with these beliefs and confessions. Grace received gives us the power but free will to refuse to take the voluntary steps to become a son of God as the man Jesus was God’s son.

Some of the less popular elements of salvation include:
Baptism (mikvah)
Faith (trust not belief)

Luke 3:8; Acts 2:38 repent and be baptised.
Philippians 3:10,11 (completely overlooked in the furor of his passionate plea for grace)
John 1:12; 3:15-17,36; Romans 10:9,10
Matthew 16:27; John 14:11,12; Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians 4:11-6:10; 1Corinthians 5,6; Galatians 5:19-6:10

Repent and be baptised under the authority of Jesus. A mikvah is a ritual bath taken to cleanse one of spiritual and ritual uncleaness. A woman must be cleansed after her menses in order to renter the temple and receive sacrifice. A New Convert must receive a mikvah to show rebirth as a Jew. John the baptist was giving mikvot to the people of Israel to reconsecrate those who were secular or who felt they had compromised themselves so thoroughly that they were Jews in name only.

Repentance is a whole other kettle of fish. The word repento means retreat. Turn back and flee in the direction you’ve come. This is action taken not passive tolerance of something applied, and not simple regret or apology, but active participation in a change of behavior.

Confession is also a voluntary participation, obedience that can cause heartbreaking consequences when friends family or nation reject your confession. Here’s an interesting seeming contradiction. John 1 tells us we need only accept Jesus and his claims, John 3 tells us we must believe in and trust him. Romans 10:9 tells us that we must confess. But 10:10 takes it a step further and says belief brings justification but confession brings Salvation. So it’s not faith alone but Faith, Belief, & Confession.

Then we turn to Ephesians. Eph. 2:10 tells us that God ordained good works and we were “created” in Christ to do them. We were reborn a new creation in Christ so we could do Godly works? So works don’t cause Salvation but they are the whole purpose of it. What works would these be, for ordained by God? 1Corithians tells us it’s compassion, without which we are meaningless noise.

What then are the works that Salvation brings? Continued sin and a doglike gratitude? Oh woe is me I’m apoor sinner–still bound to live an unrighteous and sinful life–but saved by Grace? In Luke 16 Jesus tells us that if you area child of Abrham you will do Abrahams works. We’re also told that we are grafted in as a scion on the vine of Israel and the Mosaic Covenant. If we are children of Moses then we must do Moses works.

John 11 tells us that we will do Jesus works. On the surface this is pointing to his miracles and surely a genuine Body of Christ *will* do his miracles and not by science, technology and psychology. Jesus tells us that all men–even believers–will be judged by their works. However, Jesus also said I am not come to destroy the Law but to *fulfill* it.

What then are the works of Christ? We know that Jesus fulfilled the law in every point. But the really telling thing is a collection of dos and don’ts in the *New Testament*. First off, when asked, “what must I do to be saved?” Jesus replies with basically a summary of the ten commandments. When the seeker replies that he’s done this from his childhood, Jesus tells him to sell everything and follow asa disciple. This discipleship is the critical factor. Imitating Christ.

Now in Fist Corinthians 5 we get a set of criteria for excommunication. The first is incest, found in verses 3-5, followed by a number of others in 8 through the end of the chapter. Jesus tells us every liar has his part in the lake of fire, yes that every means every, not just those who never believed on Christ. In Ephesians we have another list of nots and instructions on what to be and do.

Lastly, because my comments are fare to long as is, There is Galatians 5:19-6:10. These are the Law of Grace and in fulfilling them one will of necessity fulfill the old testament moral Law. I’ve differentiated the Moral LAw from the ceremonial Law, which are the symbols and accouterments that tie one to both the OT Law and the OT Promises. One necessitates the other and neither can be had alone.

1. The *name* Jesus or Yeshua as it would appear in the original Aramaic is a translation of Yah Hashuah (Joshua) or “The restless Almighty is the savior.”

Wickly Burning?

There is a traditional Jewish teaching involving a candle. If you take a candle from a cupboard and examine it, it gives no light, it has potential but no life. one could easily say that it is no more than a lump of wax with a string though it. But when you touch a flame to it light shines and the candle expresses it purpose for being. The question is when do wax and string become a candle? The answer: When fire is applied. When does a beast become a man? When the fire or light of Torah is applied.

In the first century, Jesus–Yehoshua HaNazari¹–taught the new covenant as an extension and completion of the Torah and the prophets. As they took that last Seder he connected himself to the paschal lamb, his blood was to painted on wood and his flesh consumed so the messenger of death–the second death– should pass over the believer. Then he ascended to heaven leaving the disciples and the 11 remaining missionaries with the task of spreading the gospel into the whole world.

This should have been to point where they went off to accomplished the great things that lead to the rise of the church. But it wasn’t. He gave them another assignment a prerequisite to qualify for the first. First, they were to tarry in Jerusalem until the feast of Pentecost. These Christian men, whose faith was rocked by Jesus death, who had seen him rise into the sky and vanish, were like the lump of wax taken down from the cupboard.

That’s not to say they lacked the Torah. They were well versed in the Torah and prophets. They had been with Yeshua as he debated the Sectarian Sephards and Chiefs among the Rabbis, Scribes and Kohenim. But with regard to the new covenant and the Law of Grace, the new Torah Rachem, written in the blood of Meshiach–they were unlit and unprepared.

But on the day of Pentecost, tongues of fire fell on them, severally. They received a supernatural presence of the Ruach haKodesh and the power to become sons of God. The power and presence to share the gospel with boldness and world transforming results.

The question: When does a lump of wax and string become a candle? The answer: When the fire is applied.

When does a believer become a minister? When haEsh haRuach Elohim² ignites him, and never before.

¹ יהוֹשעַ הנזרי

² האשא הרוח אלהים