Monday, 16 December 2013

How Free Are We?

Some modern ways of keeping the Law, such as modern Judaism, and by Jewish-roots believers, though they don't try to literally follow the whole of Moses' Law, still I think fall short of the freedom which Paul asserted.

Matthew 5:18 can't be used as a basis for the belief that we must keep Moses' Law today, because Matthew 5:18 didn't allow for a non-literal adherence to the Law and yet Moses' Law can't be followed today except in a non-literal way.

If Jesus' statement in Matthew 5:18 meant that Jesus allowed for a non-literal adherence to Moses' Law, the Jewish rulers would have had something to accuse Him of. But despite their insistence on a literal adherence to Moses' Law, they had nothing to accuse Jesus of, either in word or in deed.

Jesus didn't mean, "For vaguely I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot and one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law unless of course you're considering the Law literally, till all be fulfilled, though of course much of the Law need be fulfilled only in this wise: only in some different way which you can figure out later how best to do". 

Had He allowed a non-literal adherence to Moses' Law, 
what further witness would His critics have needed against Him. They would have hauled Him off to the council or to the judgement a lot sooner than they did!

Had His statement in Matthew 5 allowed a non-literal adherence to Moses' Law, it couldn't have countered the misconception which He was addressing as effectively as it did - the misconception that His ministry was somehow in wilful ignorance of the Law, of the Old Testament Scriptures.

But the case is that His answer was understood in such a way that even His staunchest critics, who insisted on the most literal interpretation of the Law and the Prophets, were left unable to accuse Him.

In Matthew 5 Jesus asserted that His ministry and life was not in breach of the Law but in fact He was teaching, explaining, illustrating, doing, establishing and bringing to pass - perfectly - the literal and full meaning and purpose of the Law and the Prophets - the entirety of Old Testament Scripture - literally on every point.

Therefore He said:

"For VERILY I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, ONE jot and ONE tittle shall in NO WISE pass from the law, TILL ALL be fulfilled".

Literally. Not one jot. Nor tittle...


And He added that anyone who did break one of the least commandments and taught men so, would be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

It isn't possible to take Jesus' words as He intended them to be understood in that situation, and use it as a basis for modern Judaism or for modern Jewish-roots ways of keeping the Law. 


Words like "verily", "no jot"; "no tittle"; "in no wise"; "all" and "one of these least" described nothing less than an utter insistence on a literal adherence to the whole Law - or Jesus' statement could not have had the observed outcome that it had on His critics. It left them speechless!  

Those terms certainly doesn't describe the modern versions of "keeping the Law" that we see in modern Judaism or by Jewish-roots believers.

Jesus literally obeyed every point of the Law and the Prophets - throughout His childhood, His ministry and His teachings.

Then when the time came for Him to die and rise again and inaugurate the New Covenant - this also was done not in breach of the Old Testament but in literal fulfilment of it. 

In literal fulfilment! Not some adjusted way of doing it. He literally did it. All of it.   

The Old Testament speaks of a New Covenant. Therefore Jesus' work under the Old Covenant was not only to obey and uphold Moses' Law but also to inaugurate that New Covenant which the Old Testament promised. By inaugurating the New Covenant He was bringing to pass the promises written in the Old Testament. And He did so perfectly according to what was written.  

In Matthew 5 Jesus asserted that neither His life, His teaching nor His future actions were condemned by any requirement in the Old Testament, and He asserted that no part of the Old Testament Scriptures would ever fail in their God-given purpose.

He warned His disciples and the Jewish teachers of His day against the attitude that said it was okay to disdain even a small part of the Old Testament Scriptures. Such an attitude, He said, would result in a person being called least in the kingdom of heaven.

But by that statement Jesus could not have meant that believers everywhere, in all times, should always adhere to and teach Moses' Laws. Because the terms of His statement didn't make any room for any form of non-literal adherence to Moses' Law, such as can only be possible today, and such as we see in modern Judaism and by Jewish-roots believers, now that the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom and the altar and Levitical priesthood have ceased to exist. 

In fact to fail to embrace the New Covenant once it was inaugurated would have been tantamount to a failure to properly embrace the God-given purpose of the Old Testament, seeing the Old Testament speaks of the New Covenant which was to come in its designated time.

Jesus Himself had said to the Samaritan woman by the well that the day would come, and now was, when the true worshippers would worship neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem. That is, they would worship in a new way - not at the place an in the way written in Moses' laws.

At the last Passover Jesus spoke of the feast transitioning into the New Covenant in His blood. And He instituted the lifestyle of remembering Him, not on set days of the year as the Passover had been remembered but rather as often as believers so happened to share bread together. 

Then at the cross He said, "It is finished".

So Jesus definitely spoke of a new way of living that would come after the inauguration of the New Covenant.

But during His ministry to those who were still at that time under the Law, He was challenged by those who were under the Law to give proof that He endorsed the Law's requirements literally - and He gave it.

He gave it so thoroughly that even His most vehement opponents could neither gainsay nor resist it, and eventually none of them dared ask Him any more questions.

His answer in Matthew 5 asserted nothing less than a literal adherence to the whole Law - and His critics who sought to catch Him out understood it. 

Everything Jesus did and taught was in accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures. Even the inauguration of the New Covenant was in keeping with the Old Testament.

Therefore until the end of the world the Old Testament Scriptures shall continue to bear witness - authorising and authenticating the life of Jesus and this New Covenant and its new lifestyle which He so lawfully, literally and perfectly inaugurated by His own precious blood.

Seeing Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law by inaugurating the New Covenant, we also perfectly fulfil the God-given intention that God had for every part of Old Testament Scripture, by embracing the New Covenant. 

Not by inventing alternative ways of keeping Moses laws and then labelling it as "keeping Moses' Law", as modern Judaism and Messianic Judaism seek to.

In explaining this New Covenant which Jesus inaugurated, Paul asserted that the churches were free from obligation to Moses' Laws. 

And he defended this freedom by proving from the Law - from the Old Testament Scriptures - that the New Covenant lifestyle which He endorsed is entirely consistent with what the Old Testament Scriptures were anticipating. 

But attempting to keep Moses' Law, with new protocols that Moses' Law didn't write about - such as the protocols invented by Judaism and Messianic Judaism - doesn't thereby fulfil Moses' Law nor the Prophets.

The Old Testament Scriptures are literally fulfilled in their God-given purpose only by embracing the New Covenant.

Christ is the end of all the Law for righteousness, for all who believe. 

We are complete in Him, without needing to adhere to Moses' instructions regarding things like the feasts, sabbaths, food laws, and circumcision.

This is the message of God's grace. The good news.

This is the message which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus.

Paul suffered much for this message, yet he was not ashamed, for this message is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe, to Jews first and to Gentiles.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ. God doesn't expect anything more from Jews today than He expects of Gentiles. We are all one in Christ Jesus.

Gentile Christianity is not an appendage of Judaism. Modern Judaism developed later.

Old Testament Biblical Judaism was a temporary covenant inserted between the promise to Abraham and the coming of his seed, which was Christ. Moses' temporary Law was for the physical descendants. 

But the promise, made to Abraham before Moses' laws were given, was for all nations.

Christianity - and not Biblical Judaism, nor modern Judaism, Messianic Judaism or Jewish-roots Judaism - is what God had in His mind before the world even began, before Moses' laws were even given.

Abraham saw Christ's day, and was glad.

In the designated time the promise given to Abraham came to pass in Christ - without one jot nor one tittle of the Old Testament Scriptures - the Law - being disobeyed or disdained in the process.

Christ is it. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Nevertheless, let all believers in Jesus be fully persuaded in their own conscience concerning food, feasts and sabbaths.

The believer whose conscience rules that one date of the calendar is higher, and the believer whose conscience rules that all days are equal - are both honouring the Lord.

let's respect one another's conscience and get on with each other.

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