Sunday: Naming the Sacred Rites
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During the early stages of the Christian church, believers in the eastern part of the church, where Greek was the common language, used the word mysterion, ‘mystery’, to describe Christian sacred rites.

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

In the West, where Latin predominated, the term employed was sacrament (Latin, ‘sacramentum”). A sacramentum was an oath that a Roman soldier swore, declaring his obedience to the commander’s order. Those who employed this word felt that it described accurately the nature of the sacred rites. With time, however, the idea came to represent an act with an inward invisible power. The church of the Middle Ages identified seven such acts, called ‘sacraments’, which were seen as means of infusing grace into a person’s soul.

During the Reformation, the sacraments came under scrutiny and criticism. In the minds of many, the term sacramentappeared tainted. A different term was felt to be in order, and that was ordinance. The word ordinance comes from the verb ‘to ordain’, which makes an ordinance a special act that Christ Himself instituted or ordained. To prefer the termordinance to sacrament is to say that one participates in the acts because they are the divinely ordained means for us to show our obedience and loyalty to Jesus as Lord. Seventh-day Adventists see baptism, foot-washing, and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances-acts that reveal our loyalty to Christ. They are symbolic ways of expressing our faith.

Read Matthew 28:19-20John 13:14; and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. To what extent do these passages support the idea that the sacred acts should be described as ‘ordinances’?

However much importance we place on the ‘ordinances’, we must always remember that these are not conduits of grace or acts by which we earn salvation or gain merit before God. Sin, and what it has done to us, is way too serious a matter for rituals, even those instituted by Christ Himself, to be able to redeem us. Only the death of Jesus on the cross was sufficient to accomplish the salvation of beings as deeply fallen as we are. As we understand them, the ordinances are outward symbols of our acknowledgment of what Christ has done for us and of our union with Him (and all that this union entails), and they serve their purpose well. They are a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves.

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Sunday: Naming the Sacred Rites — 19 Comments

  1. Ordinances are symbolical. The influence of these symbolical practices is spiritual re-awakening of the Christain mind. The desired influence can only manifest where a Christain mind in condition its significance with eye clearing and directly set on Jesus.

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  2. I believe that the ordinances are also powerful reminders of the plan of Salvation, like the Sanctuary Service was intended to be for the Children of Israel.

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    • Its true that these ordinances are very powerful especially when taken seriously( in spirit) and its interesting that they are never the end in them selves but they ushers us to Jesus who is omega.

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  3. We can clearly see that Christ participated and approved of certain ordinances of the church, such as baptism, foot washing and the Lord's supper. Jesus, personally, said go teach, baptise, wash each others feet and participate in the Lord's supper. Whenever the opportunity to participate in these rites and rituals is presented, we should have no hesitation to get involved because they offer renewal and restoration also we are being obedient to God's command.

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  4. We need to be careful of jumping from the belief that these symbolic actions are ordinances and not sacraments to the conclusion that nothing actually happens during these ordinances. The Holy Spirit is still at work during any of these ordinances, so there is more than just a symbolic remembering, or a symbolic pledge of loyalty. When we take part in faith, we are actually changed. But it is the Holy Spirit who effects the change, not the acts themselves.

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  5. Jesus has commanded us all to do these in rememberance of Him. A strong similarity of the Sabbath command, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. We must always bare in mind, when God commands us to do and obey any thing, it is perfectly safe and beneficial for our salvation unto life eternal, for God is perfect in all His ways, and our finite mind dare to question and attempt to revise it. By faith we trust and obey. These symbolic ordinances serve as a refreshing tool for us and our childrens of what Jesus accomplished in our behalf to redeem mankind from eternal death to Eternal life only through Jesus. So by obeying and a continually practicing these ordinances is a demonstration of our faith and a total trust in Jesus as the only Way The Truth and Life. The church must provide these services in obedience to God's command and will bring divine blessings and benefits to our childrens and new believers in Christ. As we as a church continue these rituals, the Power of the Holy Spirit will greatly impact each ones hearts who participate and learn the significants that entails and the uncomprehensible love of God for mankind. For Gods love endures forever and it's renewed every morning. Jesus did not leave us as Orphans but with an Armor of God and His mighty power by the Holy Spirit that will retard any wilds of Satan. Have faith alway in Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Cheers!!!

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  6. As christian sometime we forget what we should be rembering And rember what we should be forgetting . The LORD told His disciples to do it in remberence of Him. The Lord super. washing feet eating bread and drinking wine. To remind us of Him and what He did for YOU AND ME. We were purchase with a price that we could not pay. Jesus WAS ; IS ; and Will; be our Redeemer when we accept HIM.As Lord and SAVOIR.

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  7. It truly is a new covenant , started by a new covenant man, the man called the second Adam, Jesus ! But, with this new covenant or testament came a new gospel given by revelation to Paul, Galatians 1:11,12. This gospel, Paul even calls it "...My gospel."Romans 2:16. Why ? because it was given to him alone and he was caretaker of it, as he had the scares to prove it, 2Corinthians 11:23-29 ! So, you rightly say we should keep the ordinances, but what ordinances? Paul tells us plainly 1 Corinthians 11:2 "...keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." What ordinances ? Ordering of public assembles (forsake not the assembling...), about comely apparel of men and women, order of the Lords Supper and right use of spiritual gifts . Never did Paul have any other ordinances, on the contrary, he spoke against them Colossians 2:14. These having been so 'nailed to the cross'! In verse 16 He even speaks of the sabbath days, in particular, as being nailed to the cross. No were in the gospel, according to Paul, does he ever mention the sabbath except here in verse 16, not even when he speaks of ordinances that he wants us to keep ! He only leaves it as an open warning of "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together..." Hebrews 10:25. Remember we are under a new covenant, Jere.31:32 "Not according to the covenant I made with their fathers..."
    If one keeps the Jews Sabbath as his holy day , then let him keep it as unto the Lord , but not judge man "in respect to an holy day, ...or of the sabbath days."Colossians 2:16 . Others in the body have chosen 'The Lords day' as fitting . We are both, thus "assembling ourselves together. "
    But know this; that "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law:" Galatians 5:4 . I believe the better of my Adventist brothers !

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    • Tom, you raise many interesting points that can't be dealt with in a single comment so I will only address a few of the more important ones.

      First, I think you are trying to separate Paul from the rest of the Bible which to me is an impossible task. Paul uses way too many references to other parts of the Bible for something like that to be done. I think what we must remember about Paul's letters is that they were written to address specific problems in the churches he presided over. Because of that there are many things he does not get into especially when there is no problem concerning most things.

      One of the strongest arguments for the Sabbath is the total absence of any real argument against it in the entire Bible. Nowhere do we find heated discussion over another day we are to worship on other than the Sabbath which would have not been the case had anyone attempted to change the "Jewish Sabbath" (which really isn't Jewish but given to man Mk 2:27; Gen 2:2-3). That silence could only happen if everyone was on the same page so to speak and worshipping on the same day. Furthermore there is no command to be found anywhere in the New Testament regarding a different day to worship on.

      Second, you use Colossians 2 in an attempt to say that Paul did away with ordinances and the Sabbath. What you have overlooked is the bracketing comments that Paul has in that chapter.

      Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, ACCORDING TO THE TRADITION OF MEN, according to the basic principles of the world, and NOT ACCORDING TO CHRIST. (Col. 2:8 NKJV)

      Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--"Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using-- ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENTS AND DOCTRINES OF MEN? (Col. 2:20-22 NKJV) (emphasis mine)

      Therefore Paul is not talking about what God has commanded but about what men have commanded as an addition to or a replacement of what God commanded (Mat 15:3-9).

      To me Paul was in no way undoing what others in the New Testament said but only addressing problems associated with those doctrines. It was the Jews from the church of James that couldn't adhere to the decision of the Jerusalem council or what the Old Testament taught rather than Paul who based his whole argument on Justification by faith in Romans on the Old Testament.

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    • I hope we all remember what ordinances are. They are symbles ordained by Christ given to us to remember Him till He comes in the air to call us home. Now I don't see any Biblical evidence of nailing them to the Cross. The ceremonial laws were nailed to the Cross. Lets not get the two confused. We can't lump them together and say Paul was instructed to be condtrary to what Christ instituted. Praise God for the whole Bible

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  8. "Paul who based his whole argument on Justification by faith in Romans on the Old Testament." Are you speaking of Romans 6:14 "...:for you are not under the law, but under grace." The law is old testament. Grace is new testament. John 1:17 "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
    How did it come? By His death! Heb. 9:16,17 "For where a testament is there must also be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead:..." The new testament did not start until A.D.33 at our Lords death. A great change occurred, so much so that Paul had to go away for years, but returned with a new gospel, for a new testament. Gal. 1:11,12 "...,that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ." Remember that Paul was taught of Gamaliel all about the old testament, but this he received was revealed and not taught. It was so new that even "...the angels desired to look into." 1 Peter 1:12.
    You share Col. 2:8 about philosophy and we are to be separate from the world ,This being true, but right after that he is talking about being circumcised with the "...circumcision made 'without hands',..."Col. 2:11. This has nothing to do with philosophy or the world ,but also This is not what God commanded in Genesis 17:10 . His command was circumcision 'with hands' . Isn't this part of "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances..."Col. 2:14. Then goes on to Col. 2:16 about "...the sabbath days;", "Which are a shadow of things to come;..."Were did we hear about shadows? Heb.10:1 "For the law having a shadow of good things to come and not the very image...". Christ is that good 'thing' which was to come and He is the very image of all the shadows. The true substance and not a shadow . Col. 2:10 "..You are complete in him,...". Less you think not of Christ as a thing; Luke 1:35 "...that holy thing..." speaking of Jesus !
    There is no confusion here, if we were to keep circumcision he would have told us here and if we were to keep the sabbath, this is the place to be specific with that and not relate it to 'shadows'. Paul was speaking of things God commanded .
    I leave with 'Matthew Henry' comment on these verses "Cursed is every one who continues not in every thing. This was a hand-writing which was against us, and contrary to us; for it threatened our eternal ruin. This was removed when he redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Gal. 3:13. He cancelled the obligation for all who repent and believe. He vacated and disannulled the judgment which was against us. When he was nailed to the cross, the curse was as it were nailed to the cross. And our indwelling corruption is crucified with Christ, and by virtue of his cross. When we remember the dying of the Lord Jesus, and see him nailed to the cross, we should see the hand-writing against us taken out of the way. Or rather, 2. It must be understood of the ceremonial law, the hand-writing of ordinances, the ceremonial institutions or the law of commandments contained in ordinances (Eph. 2:15), which was a yoke to the Jews and a partition-wall to the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus took it out of the way, nailed it to his cross; that is, disannulled the obligation of it, that all might see and be satisfied that it was no more binding. When the substance came, the shadows fled away. It is abolished (2 Co. 3:13), and that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away, Heb. 8:13. The expressions are in allusion to the ancient methods of cancelling a bond, either by crossing the writing or striking it through with a nail."
    Praise God for the new Testament bought and paid for by the blood of the Lamb .

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    • Tom, once again you raise important questions so I appreciate your comments. I have to admit, however, that I am a bit troubled with what appears to be your understanding of the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. I hope I am wrong in my understanding of your position but to be honest I don't think I am.

      Your understanding seems to be that of a good many churches within Christianity that see very little value in the Old Testament outside of devotional readings from places like Psalms and that everything was changed and replaced with the New Testament. What is overlooked is the enormous number of references the New Testament makes to the Old and the fact that the only "Bible" they had during the first century was the Old Testament, mostly the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament.

      So, what was new? The death of Christ and a New Covenant? No more sacrifices in the temple along with circumcision? Faith rather than works?

      If a person is truly under the new covenant then he is still involved with the law (Heb 8:10) only he is not the one doing righteousness as Israel promised under the old covenant (Heb 8:6) but doing it through God's promise of power to do what man on his own cannot do (Jn 15:5). That covenant is essentially the everlasting covenant or what is called the Abrahamic covenant, the one that Paul speaks about in Romans 4. Faith is the basis of that covenant (Gen 15) not works; in fact, works was never the basis of any ones salvation from Adam on. It was always by faith, for them in the sacrifice of the coming Messiah, for us in the past crucifixion of our Lord.

      The point that Paul makes is not that the law is done away with (Rom 3:31) but the fact that the law cannot save anyone (Gal 3:21; Rom 8:3-4) which is the reason why Paul puts so much emphasis on justification as the means of salvation. Only a free gift as a matter of God's grace that we obtain through faith in God's promises can save us (Eph 2:8). It was that free gift that all the ceremonial aspects of the sanctuary looked forward to. Because it looked forward to the gift, when the gift came they were no longer necessary but rather became a denial of the gift itself.

      What Paul was continually battling against was the concept that we can be righteous by adhering to any law or matter of works. That was the problem of the Pharisees and the reason why they added so many regulations prescribing just how the law was to be kept. All of that became a tremendous burden on God's people, the "'Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all concern things which perish with the using-- according to the commandments and doctrines of men" (Col. 2:21-22 NKJV). But to the real Christian, "this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 Jn. 5:3 NKJV). Not as a matter of obtaining salvation but because that is the basis of God's government and all those who want to be part of it will abide by it rules and regulations in the same way that we abide by the laws of the country we live in.

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  9. That is typical to think that those who give more attention to the New Testament and believe we are not under the law, have no regard to the Old Testament. But the Old Testament is not all law, but is all faith. Our faith that father Abraham handed down to us which the N.T. speaks plainly of. We should all hold in high regard the Hebrew for bringing us the oracles of God! Romans 3:2. Without the Old Testament we would be at a loss of the wonderful story of Joseph (Isaac's son) who best exemplifies Jesus. No other parallels Jesus life as does Joseph! I could go on and on with types, no I have not 'overlooked' the Torah.
    Yes, I am involved very much with the law, in that I keep the law by loving my neighbor as myself, Gal.5:14. I like the way Peter speaks of such things, 1 Peter 1:22. We should all do as such. I speak of myself!
    No, you are correct in the way we are to receive the gift, of justification, and that by faith. I like the way you shared that, very clear. But, the best way to show what Paul was speaking of in Gal.3:6-14, that Abraham was just as righteous then, as we are now, is to compare him with us. We were both Gentile, and he was made righteous before both circumcision and the law (the law, which came over 400 years later). Paul speaks of the 'frustrating' the grace of God, Gal.2:21, such frustration did not exist in Abraham's day, as neither circumcision nor the law existed. What does this mean for us today? If Abraham could be righteous in Gods eyes being a Gentile, why is it such a hard thing to see the Gentile being righteous today, without the law!
    The best place to go to see the relationship between the law and those who are in the same place (shoes) as Abraham, is Acts 15:23-29. Here the apostles dealt with the Gentile specifically. It tells us that in no way did the Apostles tell the Gentile to be circumcised or keep the law, but only to do a few things to help the two nations to socially except each other. Mainly at the table! After all, they were now 'one new man' in Christ, (Ephesians 2:15) This straight forward decree, which is mentioned 'twice' in this same chapter of Acts, goes a long with everything Paul spoke of in Gal., Col., Romans and Hebrews. Not surprising.

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    • Tom, I'll just comment on some of your points, beginning with the end of your comment and working forward.

      To me the issues of the Jerusalem council is stated in Acts 15:1-2, "And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.' Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question" (NKJV). Notice that the question was not over whether the law existed or should be kept but whether we must keep it in order to be saved. That is the same thing that Paul argues in his epistles that we are justified by grace not works, especially in Romans and Galatians.

      Now regarding the question of when the law came to be known, you wrote, "Paul speaks of the ‘frustrating’ the grace of God, Gal.2:21, such frustration did not exist in Abraham’s day, as neither circumcision nor the law existed."

      It is true that circumcision didn't exist until more than half way through Abraham's life but not so with the law, "because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (Gen. 26:5 NKJV).

      It is also evident that the law as stated on Sinai existed prior to that time through God's gift of the manna. That episode is three chapters (Ex 16) before Israel camped at the foot of the mountain (Ex19). The command given to Israel through Moses was, "Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none" (Exod. 16:25-26 NKJV) - the Sabbath, before Sinai? And as usual, they disobeyed and God told Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?" (Exod. 16:28 NKJV). We also must not forget that the Sabbath was for us established at creation and that the commandment references that event.

      There are other implications in Scripture that also suggest the same thing. For instance, how could it be said that Adam sinned when Paul states, "For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law" (Rom. 5:13 NKJV), in other words no law - no sin. And how did Joseph know, long before Sinai, that it was a sin to commit adultery (Gen 39:9)? To me all these things can be explained if the law commanded on Sinai was a restatement of what was already given to man in the beginning.

      So it seems to me that if the law did not exist before Sinai, then how could it be true that, "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23 NKJV; also see Rom 5:12) when, "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 Jn. 3:4 NKJV).

      It also seems to me that if God could do away with the law, Christ need not have died. As I understand it, Jesus died to redeem us from the condemnation of a broken law not from the law itself - He paid our sentence of death. Jesus Himself said the law would last (Mat 5:18; Lk 16:17).

      While "love" is a general principle it is also a summation of the Ten Commandments, "For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Rom. 13:9 NKJV) for, "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom.13:10 NKJV). The Ten Commandments specify what that love is and that law of love defined in the Ten Commandments is still in force to the depth that Jesus explained it (Mat 5:21-28), and we will keep it, if we love the Lord, as the beloved Apostle John said in John 14:15.

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  10. Tyler , You said,”… the question was not over whether the law existed or should be kept but whether we must keep it in order to be saved.”That’s true , but whats the difference? “To be kept “ or “To keep”, whats the difference . This is just semantics. The question is still, do we keep it or no ! The bottom line is Acts 15: 24,”…to whom we gave no such commandment.”Not only did they not give such commandment, but they went further to tell them what they ‘should obey’.These were 4 of the 7 Noahide laws. Which also goes along with explaining Gen.26:5. Abraham lived only a little over 400 years after the flood, so that the laws that were given to men were faithfully handed down through Noah and his children. Abraham obyed the Lord according to these and his heart was fully committed to God.
    You also asked how did did Joseph know not to commit adultery? Well , the better question would be how did Abimelech know not to commit adultery? Abimelech lived at the same time of Abraham, which was a lot earlier than Joseph time. So its obvious that Abimelech heard of Noah, and Joseph heard of Abimelech ! Gen.20
    So, back to Acts 15:28, it tells us that, with authority, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…” which list 4 of the 7 noahide laws. “ From which if you keep yourselves, you shall do well.” Not that you will be saved, as we are saved by grace! Now the Noahide laws were not presented on a nice tablet of stone as was the ten commandments, but were never the less given to mankind. The two laws were very similar to each other and why not? Why would God deal with the Jews any differently than with mankind, after all Jews are part of mankind!
    Why these ‘necessary things’? Acts 15:10,11 tells us “Now therefore why tempt you God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.” They could not keep the law and they knew it. Why should they put the same burden on the Gentile believer’s. Only Jesus could keep all the 613 laws. That’s what He meant when He said I came to ‘fulfill the law’, and it is by vicarious or substitutionary work that allows us to be partakers of His righteousness. By believing, not keeping! Though after we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we then have the power to live a life pleasing to God, by overcoming the flesh. Titus 3:5,6. One has to view the word of God in view that there are two nations up to the time of the new testament, but after that, ”For there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile(Greek)” Romans 10:2. But now there is only two kinds of people, Those who are born again and those who are not! Keeping this in mind makes all the difference in the world . The world of the Bible!
    Romans 5:13 is just the beginning of showing a comparison between Adam and Christ. All these verses are saying is that one brought death, the other brought life. Romans 5:19, “For as by one mans disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Romans 5:13”… but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” This is true, but Paul is trying to make a great point! It is this, that, yet sin must have been in the world from the time of Adam until the law of Moses, because death, which is due to sin, reigned. The very prevalence of death proved the existence of sin! So, by this Paul shows that all must have sinned in Adam. It was not imputed, but is there never the less.
    See, if there is nothing you have done to get you in the death grip, then there is nothing you can do to get you out of it, either. The first Adam provided that death, the second Adam (Christ) provided life. This is what the length of Romans 5 is all about, a constant repeat of the same theme, so as to show that without a doubt, sin reigns unto death, but grace regains unto righteousness and life! We have nothing to do with it, from start to finish! It is all substitutionary work! This was the sad state of man, without hope, Romans 5:6. But, thanks to God Romans 5:8 “…, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It tells us why Christ died for us, more importantly, why He came in the first place! To fulfill the law! As you and I could not. Here is a good recap of it all, “As the sin of Adam (without the sins which we afterwards committed), brought us death; so the righteousness of Christ (without the good works which we afterwards perform), brings us life.”

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    • Hi, Tom. this seems rather far afield from the topic it is posted under, but I appreciate what I believe you are alluding to. We often hear "sin is the transgression of the law," which is fine. This begs the question "What is the law?" However, at that point assumptions begin that may or may not be warranted. Some would readily respond "The Ten Commandments." Others would say that the law is contained in Deuteronomy 6:5 and that the Decalogue is only a list of examples of how that might look. If I understand you aright, this is what you are saying. I am in complete agreement with that viewpoint. Too often we create a false dichotomy that pits the Decalogue against the simple but complete foundation of our relationship with God and by implication all of His creation found in the verse in Deuteronomy. It does not negate the ten. It magnifies it beyond those ten examples to encompass so much more.

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    • Tom, I am not going to try to answer everything because doing so would make my response too long rather I will deal with a few things instead. Maybe I will get the others later, we’ll see.

      When I wrote, regarding the Jerusalem counsel that ”… the question was not over whether the law existed or should be kept but whether we must keep it in order to be saved,” you wrote that it was a matter of semantics.

      I respectfully disagree. I realize that you and probably a lot of other people will look at it as insignificant but it really is not. It is a matter of why we keep the law. If we keep the law in order to be saved, we would be flying in the face of Paul’s view of the process of salvation and by trying to be saved by our works.

      If, on the other hand, we keep God's Law as a response to being saved and a desire to fit into what is done in Heaven then we are saved by faith rather than works because we keep the Law as the result of our saving relationship with Christ. It is because of this that Paul could say, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Rom 3:31 NKJV)- not before salvation but after it. There is a big difference here.

      The problem at the Jerusalem council was that the Jews felt that a person had to keep the law in order to be saved and were trying to make it a requirement for the Gentiles to first become Jews before they became Christians. In other words, to them keeping the law was a prerequisite to salvation. They simply didn’t understand on what basis our salvation rests. This whole question of how a person is saved was the one major question Paul had to deal with throughout his entire ministry.

      Now concerning the noahide laws and the decision of the Jerusalem council. I am puzzled as to why you are using the term noahide law that is a product of the Jewish Talmud (rabbinical writings) written from 200 AD on (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noahide_laws). The Talmud was nothing more than uninspired commentary on the Old Testament much like any Bible commentary is and carries no more weight than the writings of any other theologians. On top of that, it is obviously removed from the apostolic church by 200 yrs. So I don’t understand why you are using it as an authority to explain the origin of the law.

      James refers to the decision of the council when he writes, “Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law ‘-- to whom we gave no such commandment—“ (Act 15:24 NKJV).

      Tom, I think what James wrote in that letter was the truth - that he never gave anyone that command, that those people who were spreading such things were acting on their own without his consent. In spite of that, I don’t think that he or anyone else in the apostolic church was teaching that the law shouldn’t be kept. James and the church at Jerusalem were not anarchists, not in a state of anomos (without law). If anything they were over-zealous for the law (Acts 21:20) and didn’t properly understand where the law fits into the Christian’s life. They had trouble viewing law as a lifestyle but thought of it more as the means to salvation.

      To the Jew the concept of the cross and its relation to the law was a problem, “but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone” (Rom 9:31-32 NKJ) see also 1 Cor 1:23). Many of the Christianized Jews were of the same mindset and that was the problem that existed in the first century Christian churches and why Paul had continual problems from the Jews over the law, both inside and outside the church.

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  11. That’s right, Stephen, so much more than we could do ! Tyler, That’s why Christ came on Christmas Day. As we could not do for ourselves. All our righteousness is as filthy rags! Deuteronomy 6:25 “And it shall be for our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments…”. But, they could not, so Christ came to be a perfect sacrifice by keeping all the law, so as to be theirs and ours, righteousness!
    Both Jew and gentile, only the apostles keep the law from the Gentile and gave only a few commandments to obey,so as to be’ well’. These were Noahide laws for gentile, as they had nothing to do with the Jews law given by Moses(though similar).Probably should not call them by Noah's name, just they were given at his time period.
    If we go back to the law in Deuteronomy and be like the Jew, so that “…it shall be for our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments…”, then what did Christ accomplish ? We, would then be like the Galatians, starting off in faith , but then ending up in the works of the law, which they had no business doing! Christ did not suffer the cross to have us then keeping the law. That would be for ‘our righteousness’ then and not Christ’s. ” For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness…”Romans 10:4
    The Jews had a hard time getting that understanding, “….that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:2,3. Even the apostels had a hard time getting over self righteousness!
    The only thing that got between the believing Jews and the believing Gentiles, was fear! And we see this in the account of Peter verses Paul in Gal. 2: 11, 12. Peter feared the circumcision, as he knew what they could do! Paul had shared with Peter, his previous troubles with them .The main verse is 14, were Paul says “…they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel,…”. Peter should have not told the believing Gentiles to be like the Jew. This is what ticked Paul off. He could care less if Peter ran from the circumcision, he should not have tried to bring the Gentile with him. This was the height of hypocrisy. This was dissimulation, which means, concealing the truth.
    God had changed the way he dealt with man, and the Jews, even to this day are “ignorant of God’s righteousness”. Of coarse they had 1500 years of the law, but that’s no excuse. They must submit to faith in Christ or else. But, as for me and my house, we will keep Christ in our hearts! He is my righteousness! I submit to Him ! He is the end of the law for righteousness. Can’t get any higher!
    The ten commandments are good and are a great tool today in evangelism, as it convinces those, that know not Christ, their need for a savior. It shows them, they are sinners, in need of a savior.” Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners,…” 1 Tim. 1:9. We that are in Christ are not lawless, but lawful. As Christ is the fulfillment of the law. We are complete in Him. Colossians 2:10. That means nothing else to do ,but abide.

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  12. I would like to add, or be made clearer on the commandments that were given by the council at Antioch. They were four things of which two were very similar. Keep from blood and strangled animals. These two were speaking of the same, since a strangled animal is not properly killed, therefore its blood is now permeated throughout its body. By eating its flesh one would be consuming blood. This happens when an animal is not properly butchered. There could be more reasons, but it would not be self evident, nor would it matter. This was stated in Genesis 8:4, 1000 years before Moses! The blood is precious to God, animal or human, as’ life is in the blood’! The only blood we are to take internally is Christ blood, only symbolically of course. As His blood is our life ! We do not know any more about the reason why until were Leviticus 17:10,11,13 (1000 years later) God says ,”For it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.”This is what the Apostles and Holy Spirit were getting at.

    The only other two left are Idol worship and sexual sin. The Genesis account of creation takes care of the sexual sin, as it shows emphatically that God created one man for one woman. No confusion there. Though over time, did get out of hand, as Lamech was the first to break Gods plan, Genesis 4:19. Idols were not used by even Adam, the only one who saw God and walked with him (before the fall). Neither did Noah, as God was now the invisible God, who we worship from the inside out, not from outside in!These four commands by the council were very much early and evident for the Gentile. But, why did they go through such pains to just bring these few forth to the Gentile, when it could have been much easier to just say, keep the law? It was because these were common for both people and would help their fellowship in the future, but keep the burden of the law away from the Gentile.

    Well, It is found first in John 8:34 and 36, where Jesus is telling us what was then and what was coming! First John 8:34,” …I say unto you, whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” That’s us. But ,then He straight way brings the answer 36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”In Romans 6 and 8, Paul elaborates on Jesus words! Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under law, but under grace.” Why is that? Romans 6:17, “But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.”

    What form of doctrine? The new covenant, Paul’s gospel! Where we become “new creatures” 2 Corinthians 5:17. We now have “newness of life” Romans 6:4. In Romans 7:5 it states that, “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” Notice this is in past tense! Now verse 6 jumps us into present tense!”But, now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”Notice we come from the flesh, to the spirit! The crowning scripture for this is Romans 8:14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

    Where is the mention of being led by the law? It’s the Spirit that changed us and it is the Spirit that leads us! Not the law. This is what Paul is talking about and what the early Antioch council was about. It was to help bring two great nations together. One that had not he law and the other that had the law 1500 years at that time and was still under its dominance! So much so that they were zealous of the law. Romans 10:2,”… But not according to knowledge.” More into the law, than the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was making inroads to their heart,s but it was slow going . For the main difference between the the two people was the law and it did get in the way of faith. As was revealed by Jesus concerning faith while ministering to the people! The only one that Jesus stated that their ‘faith was great’, was that of a Gentile. Not a Jew. Luke 7:1-9.

    So, If the law was still so important why would they not insist that they (the Gentile)keep the law and be like the Jew? Because a new creation was being made and the law was being a stumbling block for them (Jews). Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it.” We are in a new time, a new covenant. A time of Grace ! I like this saying, “Its not our attainment, but His atonement”. I think this is the all time scripture that speaks for this and its John 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.”Summing up is Titus 3: 4,5,6,7. The key verse is verse 5. This is the born again experience! The starting point in walking in newness of life and holiness!

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