Sunday, October 7, 2018
Don't tell me you are the Church of Jesus Christ while still living for yourselves . . . you who offer your time and resources to the god of this world while claiming the name of Christ!!! You lovers of this ungodly, wicked, and adulterous generation who live to satisfy fleshly lusts, lusts of the eyes, and live for the pride of your vain and mortal life. You have yet to be crucified, washed, renewed, transformed, resurrected, and recreated!!! You are still the old man if you still live like the old man and desire the lusts of the old man. Have you tasted the grace of God? Have you been healed? Has your broken inner man been made whole by the power of Christ? Was your burden nailed to the cross of Christ? If you don't get real with God now God will be very real to you later!!! Don't think that because you have sound doctrine that you are a new creature in Christ. Many folks are born into families which have sound doctrine. Some believe that divorce and remarriage is adultery (and it is) but still live a life that declares they are dead in their sins. Many believe war is evil and that Jesus commanded His disciples to love their enemies though they kill the poor through their selfishness and greed. Many believe that women should not uncover their heads, though they bow their knees to Mammon while calling on Jesus Christ. Wake up!! If ALL of your desires, ALL of your thoughts, ALL of your plans, ALL of your affections, ALL of your time and ALL of your resources are not focused, fixed, and centered on Jesus Christ and His holy will then YOU ARE LOST!!! Don't be deceived! Don't say within yourself, "where does it say that in Scripture" when you are commanded to love God with ALL of your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself, and your enemies!!! Don't say within yourself, 'The spirit is not leading me to do that". IF YOU ARE NOT LED TO TOTALLY, FINALLY, ENTIRELY, FULLY AND COMPLETELY DEVOTE ALL THAT YOU ARE AND HAVE.... YOUR FAMILY, YOUR TIME, YOUR FRIENDS, AND YOUR RESOURCES TO GOD THEN YOU NEED TO STOP LISTENING TO WHATEVER VOICE YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING AND OPEN YOUR EARS TO THE VOICE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD WHO BIDS ALL TO COME AND DIE WITH HIM, THAT ALL MAY BE GLORIFIED TOGETHER AND ON THAT APPOINTED DAY TO DINE WITH HIM IN HIS KINGDOM!! Have you read the Scriptures dear friends? Is it a dead book to you or have these life giving words raised you out of your nothingness, emptiness, hopelessness and filled you with a holy purpose to WALK WITH GOD AND TO FIGHT IN HIS HOLY WAR, AND TO LIVE THE LIFE OF CHRIST? Does your life make sense in the light of the Gospel, eternity, heaven, hell, and all of the desires of God, the coming wrath, and the fulfillment of things to come? Does your life make sense after having read the Bible and believing that it is true? What are you living for? Are you still wallowing in the mire of spiritual darkness, deadness, failure, weakness? Have you forsaken all? Have you taken up your cross? Don't claim you have done any of these things if you still pursue the entertainments, amusements, and delicacies of this present evil world!!! Movies and games filled with adulteries, fornications, killing, greed and all manner of uncleanness!!! Are you still living for the innocent and lawful pleasures of this temporal life? Have you heard the Gospel crying, "TIME IS SHORT"? Does your life primarily revolve around your family, your neighbors, your work, your house and your fellowship? What about the Gospel? What about Jesus? What about His death and resurrection? What about His holy will? What about His family? What about His spiritual house? What about His holy desires and will? What about Him friends??? Truly, if the trumpet sounded, then what would you do differently than what you are doing now???? WE SHOULD BE LIVING NOW, THE WAY THAT WE OUGHT, SO THAT NO CHANGES WOULD BE NECESSARY THEN!!! Presume not upon the mercy and long-suffering of God!!!! Repent!!! Don't justify yourselves!!! Stop it!!! Repent!!!! Christ is worthy!!! May the Lamb that was slain REALLY receive the reward His sufferings dear friends!!! If your life does not reflect the preciousness of the blood of Christ then you have not been washed by that precious blood! If your life has not ended in Christ then you have not been saved by His life! If your relationship with God has not turned your world upside down and transformed you from the inside out then what you have is not a relationship with God!
Sunday, July 29, 2018
And he continues: “What is the meaning of such a descent upon the part of God?” not observing that, according to our teaching, the meaning of the descent is pre-eminently to convert what are called in the Gospel the lost “sheep of the house of Israel;” and secondly, to take away from them, on account of their disobedience, what is called the “kingdom of God,” and to give to other husbandmen than the ancient Jews, viz. to the Christians, who will render to God the fruits of His kingdom in due season (each action being a “fruit of the kingdom”). We shall therefore, out of a greater number, select a few remarks by way of answer to the question of Celsus, when he says, “What is the meaning of such a descent upon the part of God?” And Celsus here returns to himself an answer which would have been given neither by Jews nor by us, when he asks, “Was it in order to learn what goes on amongst men?” For not one of us asserts that it was in order to learn what goes on amongst men that Christ entered into this life. Immediately after, however, as if some would reply that it was “in order to learn what goes on among men,” he makes this objection to his own statement: “Does he not know all things?” Then, as if we were to answer that He does know all things, he raises a new question, saying, “Then he does know, but does not make (men) better, nor is it possible for him by means of his divine power to make (men) better.” Now all this on his part is silly talk; for God, by means of His word, which is continually passing from generation to generation into holy souls, and constituting them friends of God and prophets, does improve those who listen to His words; and by the coming of Christ He improves, through the doctrine of Christianity, not those who are unwilling, but those who have chosen the better life, and that which is pleasing to God. I do not know, moreover, what kind of improvement Celsus wished to take place when he raised the objection, asking, “Is it then not possible for him, by means of his divine power, to make (men) better, unless he send some one for that special purpose?” Would he then have the improvement to take place by God’s filling the minds of men with new ideas, removing at once the (inherent) wickedness, and implanting virtue (in its stead)? Another person now would inquire whether this was not inconsistent or impossible in the very nature of things; we, however, would say, “Grant it to be so, and let it be possible.” Where, then, is our free will? and what credit is there in assenting to the truth? or how is the rejection of what is false praiseworthy? But even if it were once granted that such a course was not only possible, but could be accomplished with propriety (by God), why would not one rather inquire (asking a question like that of Celsus) why it was not possible for God, by means of His divine power, to create men who needed no improvement, but who were of themselves virtuous and perfect, evil being altogether non-existent? These questions may perplex ignorant and foolish individuals, but not him who sees into the nature of things; for if you take away the spontaneity of virtue, you destroy its essence. But it would need an entire treatise to discuss these matters; and on this subject the Greeks have expressed themselves at great length in their works on providence. They truly would not say what Celsus has expressed in words, that “God knows (all things) indeed, but does not make (men) better, nor is able to do so by His divine power.” We ourselves have spoken in many parts of our writings on these points to the best of our ability, and the Holy Scriptures have established the same to those who are able to understand them. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 3)
The argument which Celsus employs against us and the Jews will be turned against himself thus: My good sir, does the God who is over all things know what takes place among men, or does He not know? Now if you admit the existence of a God and of providence, as your treatise indicates, He must of necessity know. And if He does know, why does He not make (men) better? Is it obligatory, then, on us to defend God’s procedure in not making men better, although He knows their state, but not equally binding on you, who do not distinctly show by your treatise that you are an Epicurean, but pretend to recognise a providence, to explain why God, although knowing all that takes place among men, does not make them better, nor by divine power liberate all men from evil? We are not ashamed, however, to say that God is constantly sending (instructors) in order to make men better; for there are to be found amongst men reasons given by God which exhort them to enter on a better life. But there are many diversities amongst those who serve God, and they are few in number who are perfect and pure ambassadors of the truth, and who produce a complete reformation, as did Moses and the prophets. But above all these, great was the reformation effected by Jesus, who desired to heal not only those who lived in one corner of the world, but as far as in Him lay, men in every country, for He came as the Saviour of all men. (Origen against celsus, Book 4 chapter 4)
The illustrious Celsus, taking occasion I know not from what, next raises an additional objection against us, as if we asserted that “God Himself will come down to men.” He imagines also that it follows from this, that “He has left His own abode;” for he does not know the power of God, and that “the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world, and that which upholdeth all things hath knowledge of the voice.” Nor is he able to understand the words, “Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.” Nor does he see that, according to the doctrine of Christianity, we all “in Him live, and move, and have our being,” as Paul also taught in his address to the Athenians; and therefore, although the God of the universe should through His own power descend with Jesus into the life of men, and although the Word which was in the beginning with God, which is also God Himself, should come to us, He does not give His place or vacate His own seat, so that one place should be empty of Him, and another which did not formerly contain Him be filled. But the power and divinity of God comes through him whom God chooses, and resides in him in whom it finds a place, not changing its situation, nor leaving its own place empty and filling another: for, in speaking of His quitting one place and occupying another, we do not mean such expressions to be taken topically; but we say that the soul of the bad man, and of him who is overwhelmed in wickedness, is abandoned by God, while we mean that the soul of him who wishes to live virtuously, or of him who is making progress (in a virtuous life), or who is already living conformably thereto, is filled with or becomes a partaker of the Divine Spirit. It is not necessary, then, for the descent of Christ, or for the coming of God to men, that He should abandon a greater seat, and that things on earth should be changed, as Celsus imagines when he says, “If you were to change a single one, even the least, of things on earth, all things would be overturned and disappear.” And if we must speak of a change in any one by the appearing of the power of God, and by the entrance of the word among men, we shall not be reluctant to speak of changing from a wicked to a virtuous, from a dissolute to a temperate, and from a superstitious to a religious life, the person who has allowed the word of God to find entrance into his soul. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 5)
But if you will have us to meet the most ridiculous among the charges of Celsus, listen to him when he says: “Now God, being unknown amongst men, and deeming himself on that account to have less than his due, would desire to make himself known, and to make trial both of those who believe upon him and of those who do not, like those of mankind who have recently come into the possession of riches, and who make a display of their wealth; and thus they testify to an excessive but very mortal ambition on the part of God.” We answer, then, that God, not being known by wicked men, would desire to make Himself known, not because He thinks that He meets with less than His due, but because the knowledge of Him will free the possessor from unhappiness. Nay, not even with the desire to try those who do or who do not believe upon Him, does He, by His unspeakable and divine power, Himself take up His abode in certain individuals, or send His Christ; but He does this in order to liberate from all their wretchedness those who do believe upon Him, and who accept His divinity, and that those who do not believe may no longer have this as a ground of excuse, viz., that their unbelief is the consequence of their not having heard the word of instruction. What argument, then, proves that it follows from our views that God, according to our representations, is “like those of mankind who have recently come into the possession of riches, and who make a display of their wealth?” For God makes no display towards us, from a desire that we should understand and consider His pre-eminence; but desiring that the blessedness which results from His being known by us should be implanted in our souls, He brings it to pass through Christ, and His ever-indwelling word, that we come to an intimate fellowship with Him. No mortal ambition, then, does the Christian doctrine testify as existing on the part of God. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 6)
I do not know how it is, that after the foolish remarks which he has made upon the subject which we have just been discussing, he should add the following, that “God does not desire to make himself known for his own sake, but because he wishes to bestow upon us the knowledge of himself for the sake of our salvation, in order that those who accept it may become virtuous and be saved, while those who do not accept may be shown to be wicked and be punished.” And yet, after making such a statement, he raises a new objection, saying: “After so long a period of time, then, did God now bethink himself of making men live righteous lives, but neglect to do so before?” To which we answer, that there never was a time when God did not wish to make men live righteous lives; but He continually evinced His care for the improvement of the rational animal, by affording him occasions for the exercise of virtue. For in every generation the wisdom of God, passing into those souls which it ascertains to be holy, converts them into friends and prophets of God. And there may be found in the sacred book (the names of) those who in each generation were holy, and were recipients of the Divine Spirit, and who strove to convert their contemporaries so far as in their power. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 7)
And it is not matter of surprise that in certain generations there have existed prophets who, in the reception of divine influence, surpassed, by means of their stronger and more powerful (religious) life, other prophets who were their contemporaries, and others also who lived before and after them. And so it is not at all wonderful that there should also have been a time when something of surpassing excellence took up its abode among the human race, and which was distinguished above all that preceded or even that followed. But there is an element of profound mystery in the account of these things, and one which is incapable of being received by the popular understanding. And in order that these difficulties should be made to disappear, and that the objections raised against the advent of Christ should be answered—viz., that, “after so long a period of time, then, did God now bethink himself of making men live righteous lives, but neglect to do so before?”—it is necessary to touch upon the narrative of the divisions (of the nations), and to make it evident why it was, that “when the Most High divided the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God, and the portion of the LORD was His people Jacob, Israel the cord of His inheritance;” and it will be necessary to state the reason why the birth of each man took place within each particular boundary, under him who obtained the boundary by lot, and how it rightly happened that “the portion of the LORD was His people Jacob, and Israel the cord of His inheritance,” and why formerly the portion of the LORD was His people Jacob, and Israel the cord of His inheritance. But with respect to those who come after, it is said to the Saviour by the Father, “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” For there are certain connected and related reasons, bearing upon the different treatment of human souls, which are difficult to state and to investigate. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 8)
But we defend our own procedure, when we say that our object is to reform the human race, either by the threats of punishments which we are persuaded are necessary for the whole world, and which perhaps are not without use to those who are to endure them; or by the promises made to those who have lived virtuous lives, and in which are contained the statements regarding the blessed termination which is to be found in the kingdom of God, reserved for those who are worthy of becoming His subjects. (Origen against celsus, Book 4 chapter 10)
But let us look at what Celsus next with great ostentation announces in the following fashion: “And again,” he says, “let us resume the subject from the beginning, with a larger array of proofs. And I make no new statement, but say what has been long settled. God is good, and beautiful, and blessed, and that in the best and most beautiful degree. But if he come down among men, he must undergo a change, and a change from good to evil, from virtue to vice, from happiness to misery, and from best to worst. Who, then, would make choice of such a change? It is the nature of a mortal, indeed, to undergo change and remoulding, but of an immortal to remain the same and unaltered. God, then, could not admit of such a change.” Now it appears to me that the fitting answer has been returned to these objections, when I have related what is called in Scripture the “condescension” of God to human affairs; for which purpose He did not need to undergo a transformation, as Celsus thinks we assert, nor a change from good to evil, nor from virtue to vice, nor from happiness to misery, nor from best to worst. For, continuing unchangeable in His essence, He condescends to human affairs by the economy of His providence. We show, accordingly, that the holy Scriptures represent God as unchangeable, both by such words as “Thou art the same,” and” I change not;” whereas the gods of Epicurus, being composed of atoms, and, so far as their structure is concerned, capable of dissolution, endeavour to throw off the atoms which contain the elements of destruction. Nay, even the god of the Stoics, as being corporeal, at one time has his whole essence composed of the guiding principle when the conflagration (of the world) takes place; and at another, when a rearrangement of things occurs, he again becomes partly material. For even the Stoics were unable distinctly to comprehend the natural idea of God, as of a being altogether incorruptible and simple, and uncompounded and indivisible. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 14)
And with respect to His having descended among men, He was “previously in the form of God;” and through benevolence, divested Himself (of His glory), that He might be capable of being received by men. But He did not, I imagine, undergo any change from “good to evil,” for “He did no sin;” nor from “virtue to vice,” for “He knew no sin.” Nor did He pass from “happiness to misery,” but He humbled Himself, and nevertheless was blessed, even when His humiliation was undergone in order to benefit our race. Nor was there any change in Him from “best to worst,” for how can goodness and benevolence be of “the worst?” Is it befitting to say of the physician, who looks on dreadful sights and handles unsightly objects in order to cure the sufferers, that he passes from “good to evil,” or from “virtue to vice,” or from “happiness to misery?” And yet the physician, in looking on dreadful sights and handling unsightly objects, does not wholly escape the possibility of being involved in the same fate. But He who heals the wounds of our souls, through the word of God that is in Him, is Himself incapable of admitting any wickedness. But if the immortal God—the Word—by assuming a mortal body and a human soul, appears to Celsus to undergo a change and transformation, let him learn that the Word, still remaining essentially the Word, suffers none of those things which are suffered by the body or the soul; but, condescending occasionally to (the weakness of) him who is unable to look upon the splendours and brilliancy of Deity, He becomes as it were flesh, speaking with a literal voice, until he who has received Him in such a form is able, through being elevated in some slight degree by the teaching of the Word, to gaze upon what is, so to speak, His real and pre-eminent appearance. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 15)
And yet they who care to attend to the connection and truth of all our records, will endeavour to establish not only the antiquity of the writers, but the venerable nature of their writings, and the consistency of their several parts. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 20)
But since, as we have said in the preceding pages, the prophets, in uttering many predictions regarding future events, show that they have spoken the truth concerning many things that are past, and thus give evidence of the indwelling of the Divine Spirit, it is manifest that, with respect to things still future, we should repose faith in them, or rather in the Divine Spirit that is in them. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 21)
But, according to Celsus, “the Christians, making certain additional statements to those of the Jews, assert that the Son of God has been already sent on account of the sins of the Jews; and that the Jews having chastised Jesus, and given him gall to drink, have brought upon themselves the divine wrath.” And any one who likes may convict this statement of falsehood, if it be not the case that the whole Jewish nation was overthrown within one single generation after Jesus had undergone these sufferings at their hands. For forty and two years, I think, after the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, did the destruction of Jerusalem take place. Now it has never been recorded, since the Jewish nation began to exist, that they have been expelled for so long a period from their venerable temple-worship and service, and enslaved by more powerful nations; for if at any time they appeared to be abandoned because of their sins, they were notwithstanding visited (by God), and returned to their own country, and recovered their possessions, and performed unhindered the observances of their law. One fact, then, which proves that Jesus was something divine and sacred, is this, that Jews should have suffered on His account now for a lengthened time calamities of such severity. And we say with confidence that they will never be restored to their former condition. For they committed a crime of the most unhallowed kind, in conspiring against the Saviour of the human race in that city where they offered up to God a worship containing the symbols of mighty mysteries. It accordingly behoved that city where Jesus underwent these sufferings to perish utterly, and the Jewish nation to be overthrown, and the invitation to happiness offered them by God to pass to others,—the Christians, I mean, to whom has come the doctrine of a pure and holy worship, and who have obtained new laws, in harmony with the established constitution in all countries; seeing those which were formerly imposed, as on a single nation which was ruled by princes of its own race and of similar manners, could not now be observed in all their entireness. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 22)
And I have not yet spoken of the other evils which prevail amongst men, from which even those who have the appearance of philosophers are not speedily freed, for in philosophy there are many pretenders. Nor do I say anything on the point that many such evils are found to exist among those who are neither Jews nor Christians. Of a truth, such evil practices do not at all prevail among Christians, if you properly examine what constitutes a Christian. Or, if any persons of that kind should be discovered, they are at least not to be found among those who frequent the assemblies, and come to the public prayers, without their being excluded from them, unless it should happen, and that rarely, that some one individual of such a character escapes notice in the crowd. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 27)
But since he has represented those whom he regards as worms, viz., the Christians, as saying that “God, having abandoned the heavenly regions, and despising this great earth, takes up His abode amongst us alone, and to us alone makes His announcements, and ceases not His messages and inquiries as to how we may become His associates for ever,” we have to answer that he attributes to us words which we never uttered, seeing we both read and know that GOD loves all existing things, and loathes nothing which He has made, for He would not have created anything in hatred. We have, moreover, read the declaration: “And Thou sparest all things, because they are Thine, O lover of souls. For Thine incorruptible Spirit is in all. And therefore those also who have fallen away for a little time Thou rebukest, and admonishest, reminding them of their sins.” How can we assert that “God, leaving the regions of heaven, and the whole world, and despising this great earth, takes up His abode amongst us only,” when we have found that all thoughtful persons must say in their prayers, that “the earth is full of the mercy of the LORD,” and that “the mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh;” and that God, being good, “maketh His sun to arise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth His rain upon the just and the unjust;” and that He encourages us to a similar course of action, in order that we may become His sons, and teaches us to extend the benefits which we enjoy, so far as in our power, to all men? For He Himself is said to be the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe; and His Christ to be the “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” And this, then, is our answer to the allegations of Celsus. Certain other statements, in keeping with the character of the Jews, might be made by some of that nation, but certainly not by the Christians, who have been taught that “God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us;” and although “scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” But now is Jesus declared to have come for the sake of sinners in all parts of the world (that they may forsake their sin, and entrust themselves to God), being called also, agreeably to an ancient custom of these Scriptures, the “Christ of God.” (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 28)
We know, too, that in the arrangement of the universe there are certain beings termed “thrones,” and others “dominions,” and others “powers,” and others “principalities;” and we see that we men, who are far inferior to these, may entertain the hope that by a virtuous life, and by acting in all things agreeably to reason, we may rise to a likeness with all these. And, lastly, because “it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like God, and shall see Him as He is.” (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 29)
But since nothing belonging to human nature is permanent, this polity also must gradually be corrupted and changed. And Providence, having remodelled their venerable system where it needed to be changed, so as to adapt it to men of all countries, gave to believers of all nations, in place of the Jews, the venerable religion of Jesus, who, being adorned not only with understanding, but also with a share of divinity, and having overthrown the doctrine regarding earthly demons, who delight in frankincense, and blood, and in the exhalations of sacrificial odours, and who, like the fabled Titans or Giants, drag down men from thoughts of God; and having Himself disregarded their plots, directed chiefly against the better class of men, enacted laws which ensure happiness to those who live according to them, and who do not flatter the demons by means of sacrifices, but altogether despise them, through help of the word of God, which aids those who look upwards to Him. And as it was the will of God that the doctrine of Jesus should prevail amongst men, the demons could effect nothing, although straining every nerve to accomplish the destruction of Christians; for they stirred up both princes, and senates, and rulers in every place,—nay, even nations themselves, who did not perceive the irrational and wicked procedure of the demons,—against the word, and those who believed in it; yet, notwithstanding, the word of God, which is more powerful than all other things, even when meeting with opposition, deriving from the opposition, as it were, a means of increase, advanced onwards, and won many souls, such being the will of God. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 32)
But we invite him who peruses this reply of ours to the charges of Celsus to have patience, and to listen to our sacred writings themselves, and, as far as possible, to form an opinion from their contents of the purpose of the writers, and of their consciences and disposition of mind; for he will discover that they are men who strenuously contend for what they uphold, and that some of them show that the history which they narrate is one which they have both seen and experienced, which was miraculous, and worthy of being recorded for the advantage of their future hearers. Will any one indeed venture to say that it is not the source and fountain of all blessing (to men) to believe in the God of all things, and to perform all our actions with the view of pleasing Him in everything whatever, and not to entertain even a thought unpleasing to Him, seeing that not only our words and deeds, but our very thoughts, will be the subject of future judgment? And what other arguments would more effectually lead human nature to adopt a virtuous life, than the belief or opinion that the supreme God beholds all things, not only what is said and done, but even what is thought by us? And let any one who likes compare any other system which at the same time converts and ameliorates, not merely one or two individuals, but, as far as in it lies, countless numbers, that by the comparison of both methods he may form a correct idea of the arguments which dispose to a virtuous life. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 53)
No one, moreover, who has not heard what is related of him who is called “devil,” and of his “angels,” and what he was before he became a devil, and how he became such, and what was the cause of the simultaneous apostasy of those who are termed his angels, will be able to ascertain the origin of evils. But he who would attain to this knowledge must learn more accurately the nature of demons, and know that they are not the work of God so far as respects their demoniacal nature, but only in so far as they are possessed of reason; and also what their origin was, so that they became beings of such a nature, that while converted into demons, the powers of their mind remain. And if there be any topic of human investigation which is difficult for our nature to grasp, certainly the origin of evils may be considered to be such. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 65)
Celsus in the next place, as if he were able to tell certain secrets regarding the origin of evils, but chose rather to keep silence, and say only what was suitable to the multitude, continues as follows: “It is sufficient to say to the multitude regarding the origin of evils, that they do not proceed from God, but cleave to matter, and dwell among mortal things.” It is true, certainly, that evils do not proceed from God; for according to Jeremiah, one of our prophets, it is certain that “out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good.” But to maintain that matter, dwelling among mortal things, is the cause of evils, is in our opinion not true. For it is the mind of each individual which is the cause of the evil which arises in him, and this is evil (in the abstract); while the actions which proceed from it are wicked, and there is, to speak with accuracy, nothing else in our view that is evil. I am aware, however, that this topic requires very elaborate treatment, which (by the grace of God enlightening the mind) may be successfully attempted by him who is deemed by God worthy to attain the necessary knowledge on this subject. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 66)
He continues to say that “neither have visible things been given to man (by God), but each individual thing comes into existence and perishes for the sake of the safety of the whole passing agreeably to the change, which I have already mentioned, from one thing to another.” It is unnecessary, however, to linger over the refutation of these statements, which have been already refuted to the best of my ability. And the following, too, has been answered, viz., that “there will neither be more nor less good and evil among mortals.” This point also has been referred to, viz., that “God does not need to amend His work afresh.” But it is not as a man who has imperfectly designed some piece of workmanship, and executed it unskilfully, that God administers correction to the world, in purifying it by a flood or by a conflagration, but in order to prevent the tide of evil from rising to a greater height; and, moreover, I am of opinion that it is at periods which are precisely determined beforehand that He sweeps wickedness away, so as to contribute to the good of the whole world. If, however, he should assert that, after the disappearance of evil, it again comes into existence, such questions will have to be examined in a special treatise. It is, then, always in order to repair what has become faulty that God desires to amend His work afresh. For although, in the creation of the world, all things had been arranged by Him in the most beautiful and stable manner, He nevertheless needed to exercise some healing power upon those who were labouring under the disease of wickedness, and upon a whole world, which was polluted as it were thereby. But nothing has been neglected by God, or will be neglected by Him; for He does at each particular juncture what it becomes Him to do in a perverted and changed world. And as a husbandman performs different acts of husbandry upon the soil and its productions, according to the varying seasons of the year, so God administers entire ages of time, as if they were, so to speak, so many individual years, performing during each one of them what is requisite with a reasonable regard to the care of the world; and this, as it is truly understood by God alone, so also is it accomplished by Him. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 69)
Celsus has made a statement regarding evils of the following nature, viz., that “although a thing may seem to you to be evil, it is by no means certain that it is so; for you do not know what is of advantage to yourself, or to another, or to the whole world.” Now this assertion is made with a certain degree of caution; and it hints that the nature of evil is not wholly wicked, because that which may be considered so in individual cases, may contain something which is of advantage to the whole community. However, lest any one should mistake my words, and find a pretence of wrongdoing, as if his wickedness were profitable to the world, or at least might be so, we have to say, that although God, who preserves the free-will of each individual, may make use of the evil of the wicked for the administration of the world, so disposing them as to conduce to the benefit of the whole; yet, notwithstanding, such an individual is deserving of censure, and as such has been appointed for a use, which is a subject of loathing to each separate individual, although of advantage to the whole community. It is as if one were to say that in the case of a city, a man who had committed certain crimes, and on account of these had been condemned to serve in public works that were useful to the community, did something that was of advantage to the entire city, while he himself was engaged in an abominable task, in which no one possessed of moderate understanding would wish to be engaged. Paul also, the apostle of Jesus, teaches us that even the very wicked will contribute to the good of the whole, while in themselves they will be amongst the vile, but that the most virtuous men, too, will be of the greatest advantage to the world, and will therefore on that account occupy the noblest position. His words are: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work.” These remarks I have thought it necessary to make in reply to the assertion, that “although a thing may seem to you to be evil, it is by no means certain that it is so, for you do not know what is of advantage either to yourself or to another,” in order that no one may take occasion from what has been said on the subject to commit sin, on the pretext that he will thus be useful to the world. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 70)
We speak, indeed, of the “wrath” of God. We do not, however, assert that it indicates any “passion” on His part, but that it is something which is assumed in order to discipline by stern means those sinners who have committed many and grievous sins. For that which is called God’s “wrath,” and “anger,” is a means of discipline; and that such a view is agreeable to Scripture, is evident from what is said in the sixth Psalm, “O LORD, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure;” and also in Jeremiah. “O LORD, correct me, but with judgment: not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing.” Any one, moreover, who reads in the second book of Kings of the “wrath” of God, inducing David to number the people, and finds from the first book of Chronicles that it was the devil who suggested this measure, will, on comparing together the two statements, easily see for what purpose the “wrath” is mentioned, of which “wrath,” as the Apostle Paul declares, all men are children: “We were by nature children of wrath, even as others.” Moreover, that “wrath” is no passion on the part of God, but that each one brings it upon himself by his sins, will be clear from the further statement of Paul: “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” How, then, can any one treasure up for himself “wrath” against a “day of wrath,” if “wrath” be understood in the sense of “passion?” or how can the “passion of wrath” be a help to discipline? Besides, the Scripture, which tells us not to be angry at all, and which says in the thirty-seventh Psalm, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath,” and which commands us by the mouth of Paul to “put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication,” would not involve God in the same passion from which it would have us to be altogether free. It is manifest, further, that the language used regarding the wrath of God is to be understood figuratively from what is related of His “sleep,” from which, as if awaking Him, the prophet says: “Awake, why sleepest Thou, Lord?” and again: “Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.” If, then, “sleep” must mean something else, and not what the first acceptation of the word conveys, why should not “wrath” also be understood in a similar way? The “threatenings,” again, are intimations of the (punishments) which are to befall the wicked: for it is as if one were to call the words of a physician “threats,” when he tells his patients, “I will have to use the knife, and apply cauteries, if you do not obey my prescriptions, and regulate your diet and mode of life in such a way as I direct you.” It is no human passions, then, which we ascribe to God, nor impious opinions which we entertain of Him; nor do we err when we present the various narratives concerning Him, drawn from the Scriptures themselves, after careful comparison one with another. For those who are wise ambassadors of the “word” have no other object in view than to free as far as they can their hearers from weak opinions, and to endue them with intelligence. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 72)
For, in the first place, he is of opinion that “thunders, and lightnings, and rains are not the works of God,”—thus showing more clearly at last his Epicurean leanings; and in the second place, that “even if one were to grant that these were the works of God, they are brought into existence not more for the support of us who are human beings, than for that of plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns,”—maintaining, like a true Epicurean, that these things are the product of chance, and not the work of Providence. For if these things are of no more use to us than to plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns, it is evident either that they do not proceed from Providence at all, or from a providence which does not provide for us in a greater degree than for trees, and herbs, and thorns. Now, either of these suppositions is impious in itself, and it would be foolish to refute such statements by answering any one who brought against us the charge of impiety; for it is manifest to every one, from what has been said, who is the person guilty of impiety. In the next place, he adds: “Although you may say that these things, viz., plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns, grow for the use of men, why will you maintain that they grow for the use of men rather than for that of the most savage of irrational animals?” Let Celsus then say distinctly that the great diversity among the products of the earth is not the work of Providence, but that a certain fortuitous concurrence of atoms gave birth to qualities so diverse, and that it was owing to chance that so many kinds of plants, and trees, and herbs resemble one another, and that no disposing reason gave existence to them, and that they do not derive their origin from an understanding that is beyond all admiration. We Christians, however, who are devoted to the worship of the only God, who created these things, feel grateful for them to Him who made them, because not only for us, but also (on our account) for the animals which are subject to us, He has prepared such a home, seeing “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man, that He may bring forth food out of the earth, and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.” But that He should have provided food even for the most savage animals is not matter of surprise, for these very animals are said by some who have philosophized (upon the subject) to have been created for the purpose of affording exercise to the rational creature. And one of our own wise men says somewhere: “Do not say, What is this? Or Wherefore is that? for all things have been made for their uses. And do not say, What is this? Or Wherefore is that? for everything shall be sought out in its season.” (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 75)
He is not ashamed, moreover, to say, in addition to these statements (that the unseemly character of his opinions may be manifest to those who will live after him): “Come now, if one were to look down from heaven upon earth, in what respect would our actions appear to differ from those of ants and bees?” Now does he who, according to his own supposition, looks from heaven upon the proceedings of men and ants, look upon their bodies alone, and not rather have regard to the controlling reason which is called into action by reflection; while, on the other hand, the guiding principle of the latter is irrational, and set in motion irrationally by impulse and fancy, in conjunction with a certain natural apparatus? But it is absurd to suppose that he who looks from heaven upon earthly things would desire to look from such a distance upon the bodies of men and ants, and would not rather consider the nature of the guiding principles, and the source of impulses, whether that be rational or irrational. And if he once look upon the source of all impulses, it is manifest that he would behold also the difference which exists, and the superiority of man, not only over ants, but even over elephants. For he who looks from heaven will see among irrational creatures, however large their bodies, no other principle than, so to speak, irrationality; while amongst rational beings he will discover reason, the common possession of men, and of divine and heavenly beings, and perhaps of the Supreme God Himself, on account of which man is said to have been created in the image of God, for the image of the Supreme God is his reason. (Origen against Celsus, Book 4 chapter 85)
Saturday, July 22, 2017
QUOTES FROM AN EARLY (3RD CENTURY) CHRISTIAN NAMED ORIGEN REGARDING NOT RESISTING EVIL, WAR, LOVING YOUR ENEMIES, MILITARY SERVICE, CHURCH AND STATE. WRITTEN APPROXIMATELY 250 A.D.
ORIGEN HAD TRAVELLED MUCH THROUGHOUT THE THEN CHRISTIAN WORLD AND KNEW FIRST HAND OF THE UNIVERSAL FAITH HELD BY THE CHURCHES OF THAT TIME. SO WHAT HE WROTE REPRESENTED THE COMMON FAITH AND SENTIMENTS OF ALL FROM HIS PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE SCRIPTURES. THERE WERE NO WRITINGS BY OTHER CHRISTIANS AGAINST THE BELOW QUOTES FROM HIS BOOKS OR LATER THAT I AM AWARE WHICH SERVES TO STRENGTHEN THE CASE THAT THE BELOW QUOTES DID REPRESENT THE UNIVERSAL FAITH AND CHURCH OF THE 3RD CENTURY:
Now the existence of many kingdoms would have been a hindrance to the spread of the doctrine of Jesus throughout the entire world; not only for the reasons mentioned, but also on account of the necessity of men everywhere engaging in war, and fighting on behalf of their native country, which was the case before the times of Augustus, and in periods still more remote, when necessity arose, as when the Peloponnesians and Athenians warred against each other, and other nations in like manner. How, then, was it possible for the Gospel doctrine of peace, which does not permit men to take vengeance even upon enemies, to prevail throughout the world, unless at the advent of Jesus a milder spirit had been everywhere introduced into the conduct of things? (Chapter 30, Origen against Celsus)
In like manner, as the statement is false “that the Hebrews, being (originally) Egyptians, dated the commencement (of their political existence) from the time of their rebellion,” so also is this, “that in the days of Jesus others who were Jews rebelled against the Jewish state, and became His followers;” for neither Celsus nor they who think with him are able to point out any act on the part of Christians which savours of rebellion. And yet, if a revolt had led to the formation of the Christian commonwealth, so that it derived its existence in this way from that of the Jews, who were permitted to take up arms in defence of the members of their families, and to slay their enemies, the Christian Lawgiver would not have altogether forbidden the putting of men to death; and yet He nowhere teaches that it is right for His own disciples to offer violence to any one, however wicked. For He did not deem it in keeping with such laws as His, which were derived from a divine source, to allow the killing of any individual whatever. Nor would the Christians, had they owed their origin to a rebellion, have adopted laws of so exceedingly mild a character as not to allow them, when it was their fate to be slain as sheep, on any occasion to resist their persecutors. And truly, if we look a little deeper into things, we may say regarding the exodus from Egypt, that it is a miracle if a whole nation at once adopted the language called Hebrew, as if it had been a gift from heaven, when one of their own prophets said, “As they went forth from Egypt, they heard a language which they did not understand” (Book 3 Chapter 7, Origen against Celsus).
In the following way, also, we may conclude that they who came out of Egypt with Moses were not Egyptians; for if they had been Egyptians, their names also would be Egyptian, because in every language the designations (of persons and things) are kindred to the language. But if it is certain, from the names being Hebrew, that the people were not Egyptians,—and the Scriptures are full of Hebrew names, and these bestowed, too, upon their children while they were in Egypt,—it is clear that the Egyptian account is false, which asserts that they were Egyptians, and went forth from Egypt with Moses. Now it is absolutely certain that, being descended, as the Mosaic history records, from Hebrew ancestors, they employed a language from which they also took the names which they conferred upon their children. But with regard to the Christians, because they were taught not to avenge themselves upon their enemies (and have thus observed laws of a mild and philanthropic character); and because they would not, although able, have made war even if they had received authority to do so,—they have obtained this reward from God, that He has always warred in their behalf, and on certain occasions has restrained those who rose up against them and desired to destroy them. For in order to remind others, that by seeing a few engaged in a struggle for their religion, they also might be better fitted to despise death, some, on special occasions, and these individuals who can be easily numbered, have endured death for the sake of Christianity,—God not permitting the whole nation to be exterminated, but desiring that it should continue, and that the whole world should be filled with this salutary and religious doctrine. And again, on the other hand, that those who were of weaker minds might recover their courage and rise superior to the thought of death, God interposed His providence on behalf of believers, dispersing by an act of His will alone all the conspiracies formed against them; so that neither kings, nor rulers, nor the populace, might be able to rage against them beyond a certain point. Such, then, is our answer to the assertions of Celsus, “that a revolt was the original commencement of the ancient Jewish state, and subsequently of Christianity” (Book 3 Chapter 8, Origen against Celsus).
He next, in many words, blames us for asserting that God made all things for the sake of man. Because from the history of animals, and from the sagacity manifested by them, he would show that all things came into existence not more for the sake of man than of the irrational animals. And here he seems to me to speak in a similar manner to those who, through dislike of their enemies, accuse them of the same things for which their own friends are commended. For as, in the instance referred to, hatred blinds these persons from seeing that they are accusing their very dearest friends by the means through which they think they are slandering their enemies; so in the same way, Celsus also, becoming confused in his argument, does not see that he is bringing a charge against the philosophers of the Porch, who, not amiss, place man in the foremost rank, and rational nature in general before irrational animals, and who maintain that Providence created all things mainly on account of rational nature (Origen against Celsus).
If I must now explain how the just man “slays his enemies,” and prevails everywhere, it is to be observed that, when he says, “Every morning will I destroy the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all workers of iniquity from the city of Jehovah,” by “the land” he means the flesh whose lusts are at enmity with God; and by “the city of Jehovah” he designates his own soul, in which was the temple of God, containing the true idea and conception of God, which makes it to be admired by all who look upon it. As soon, then, as the rays of the Sun of righteousness shine into his soul, feeling strengthened and invigorated by their influence, he sets himself to destroy all the lusts of the flesh, which are called “the wicked of the land,” and drives out of that city of the Lord which is in his soul all thoughts which work iniquity, and all suggestions which are opposed to the truth. And in this way also the just give up to destruction all their enemies, which are their vices, so that they do not spare even the children, that is, the early beginnings and promptings of evil. In this sense also we understand the language of the 137th Psalm: “O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us: happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” For “the little ones” of Babylon (which signifies confusion) are those troublesome sinful thoughts which arise in the soul and he who subdues them by striking, as it were, their heads against the firm and solid strength of reason and truth, is the man who “dasheth the little ones against the stones;” and he is therefore truly blessed. God may therefore have commanded men to destroy all their vices utterly, even at their birth, without having enjoined anything contrary to the teaching of Christ; and He may Himself have destroyed before the eyes of those who were “Jews inwardly” all the offspring of evil as His enemies. And, in like manner, those who disobey the law and word of God may well be compared to His enemies led astray by sin; and they may well be said to suffer the same fate as they deserve who have proved traitors to the truth of God (Book, 7 Chapter 22, Origen against Celsus)
However, if we must refer briefly to the difference between the constitution which was given to the Jews of old by Moses, and that which the Christians, under the direction of Christ’s teaching, wish now to establish, we would observe that it must be impossible for the legislation of Moses, taken literally, to harmonize with the calling of the Gentiles, and with their subjection to the Roman government; and on the other hand, it would be impossible for the Jews to preserve their civil economy unchanged, supposing that they should embrace the Gospel. For Christians could not slay their enemies, or condemn to be burned or stoned, as Moses commands, those who had broken the law, and were therefore condemned as deserving of these punishments; since the Jews themselves, however desirous of carrying out their law, are not able to inflict these punishments. But in the case of the ancient Jews, who had a land and a form of government of their own, to take from them the right of making war upon their enemies, of fighting for their country, of putting to death or otherwise punishing adulterers, murderers, or others who were guilty of similar crimes, would be to subject them to sudden and utter destruction whenever the enemy fell upon them; for their very laws would in that case restrain them, and prevent them from resisting the enemy. And that same providence which of old gave the law, and has now given the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not wishing the Jewish state to continue longer, has destroyed their city and their temple: it has abolished the worship which was offered to God in that temple by the sacrifice of victims, and other ceremonies which He had prescribed. And as it has destroyed these things, not wishing that they should longer continue, in like manner it has extended day by day the Christian religion, so that it is now preached everywhere with boldness, and that in spite of the numerous obstacles which oppose the spread of Christ’s teaching in the world. But since it was the purpose of God that the nations should receive the benefits of Christ’s teaching, all the devices of men against Christians have been brought to nought; for the more that kings, and rulers, and peoples have persecuted them everywhere, the more have they increased in number and grown in strength (Book 7, Chapter 26, Origen against Celsus).
But if all the Romans, according to the supposition of Celsus, embrace the Christian faith, they will, when they pray, overcome their enemies; or rather, they will not war at all, being guarded by that divine power which promised to save five entire cities for the sake of fifty just persons. For men of God are assuredly the salt of the earth: they preserve the order of the world;4969 and society is held together as long as the salt is uncorrupted: for “if the salt have lost its savour, it is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill; but it shall be cast out, and trodden under foot of men. He that hath ears, let him hear” the meaning of these words. When God gives to the tempter permission to persecute us, then we suffer persecution; and when God wishes us to be free from suffering, even in the midst of a world that hates us, we enjoy a wonderful peace, trusting in the protection of Him who said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And truly He has overcome the world. Wherefore the world prevails only so long as it is the pleasure of Him who received from the Father power to overcome the world; and from His victory we take courage. Should He even wish us again to contend and struggle for our religion, let the enemy come against us, and we will say to them, “I can do all things, through Christ Jesus our Lord, which strengtheneth me.” For of “two sparrows which are sold for a farthing,” as the Scripture says, “not one of them falls on the ground without our Father in heaven.” And so completely does the Divine Providence embrace all things, that not even the hairs of our head fail to be numbered by Him” (Book 8, Chapter 70, Origen against Celsus).
Celsus again, as is usual with him, gets confused, and attributes to us things which none of us have ever written. His words are: “Surely it is intolerable for you to say, that if our present rulers, on embracing your opinions, are taken by the enemy, you will still be able to persuade those who rule after them; and after these have been taken you will persuade their successors and so on, until at length, when all who have yielded to your persuasion have been taken, some prudent ruler shall arise, with a foresight of what is impending, and he will destroy you all utterly before he himself perishes.” There is no need of any answer to these allegations: for none of us says of our present rulers, that if they embrace our opinions, and are taken by the enemy, we shall be able to persuade their successors; and when these are taken, those who come after them, and so on in succession. But on what does he ground the assertion, that when a succession of those who have yielded to our persuasion have been taken because they did not drive back the enemy, some prudent ruler shall arise, with a foresight of what is impending, who shall utterly destroy us? But here he seems to me to delight in inventing and uttering the wildest nonsense” (Book 8, Chapter 71, Origen against Celsus).
In the next place, Celsus urges us “to help the king with all our might, and to labour with him in the maintenance of justice, to fight for him; and if he requires it, to fight under him, or lead an army along with him.” To this our answer is, that we do, when occasion requires, give help to kings, and that, so to say, a divine help, “putting on the whole armour of God.” And this we do in obedience to the injunction of the apostle, “I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority;” and the more any one excels in piety, the more effective help does he render to kings, even more than is given by soldiers, who go forth to fight and slay as many of the enemy as they can. And to those enemies of our faith who require us to bear arms for the commonwealth, and to slay men, we can reply: “Do not those who are priests at certain shrines, and those who attend on certain gods, as you account them, keep their hands free from blood, that they may with hands unstained and free from human blood offer the appointed sacrifices to your gods; and even when war is upon you, you never enlist the priests in the army. If that, then, is a laudable custom, how much more so, that while others are engaged in battle, these too should engage as the priests and ministers of God, keeping their hands pure, and wrestling in prayers to God on behalf of those who are fighting in a righteous cause, and for the king who reigns righteously, that whatever is opposed to those who act righteously may be destroyed!” And as we by our prayers vanquish all demons who stir up war, and lead to the violation of oaths, and disturb the peace, we in this way are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them. And we do take our part in public affairs, when along with righteous prayers we join self-denying exercises and meditations, which teach us to despise pleasures, and not to be led away by them. And none fight better for the king than we do. We do not indeed fight under him, although he require it; but we fight on his behalf, forming a special army—an army of piety—by offering our prayers to God” (Book 8, Chapter 73, Origen against Celsus).
And if Celsus would have us to lead armies in defence of our country, let him know that we do this too, and that not for the purpose of being seen by men, or of vainglory. For “in secret,” and in our own hearts, there are prayers which ascend as from priests in behalf of our fellow-citizens. And Christians are benefactors of their country more than others. For they train up citizens, and inculcate piety to the Supreme Being; and they promote those whose lives in the smallest cities have been good and worthy, to a divine and heavenly city, to whom it may be said, “Thou hast been faithful in the smallest city, come into a great one,” where “God standeth in the assembly of the gods, and judgeth the gods in the midst;” and He reckons thee among them, if thou no more “die as a man, or fall as one of the princes” (Book 8, Chapter 74, Origen against Celsus).
Celsus also urges us to “take office in the government of the country, if that is required for the maintenance of the laws and the support of religion.” But we recognise in each state the existence of another national organization, founded by the Word of God, and we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over Churches. Those who are ambitious of ruling we reject; but we constrain those who, through excess of modesty, are not easily induced to take a public charge in the Church of God. And those who rule over us well are under the constraining influence of the great King, whom we believe to be the Son of God, God the Word. And if those who govern in the Church, and are called rulers of the divine nation—that is, the Church—rule well, they rule in accordance with the divine commands, and never suffer themselves to be led astray by worldly policy. And it is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God—for the salvation of men. And this service is at once necessary and right. They take charge of all—of those that are within, that they may day by day lead better lives, and of those that are without, that they may come to abound in holy words and in deeds of piety; and that, while thus worshipping God truly, and training up as many as they can in the same way, they may be filled with the word of God and the law of God, and thus be united with the Supreme God through His Son the Word, Wisdom, Truth, and Righteousness, who unites to God all who are resolved to conform their lives in all things to the law of God” (Book 8, Chapter 75, Origen against Celsus).
Saturday, March 18, 2017
“And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:23-30).
Apparently, the Jews were commanded to bake and to boil all that they would need for the Sabbath Day so that no baking or boiling would be done on the Sabbath. One might then conclude that cooking and perhaps gardening, harvesting, and hunting would be considered work seeing that gathering manna on the Sabbath was disallowed.
The Sabbath Day is the seventh, not the first day of the week. Though the early Christians continued DAILY with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house (Acts 2:46), it appears that perhaps those who lived together in separate dwellings came together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2).
The LORD said in reference to the Jewish men who went out on the seventh day to gather manna after the LORD told them not to, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” I am not sure if gathering the manna was considered work in the sight of God. However, the command was they must not gather manna on the Sabbath Day. This is perhaps the reason the Pharisees chided Yeshua’s disciples saying, “Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day” (Matthew 12), because they gathered grain on the Sabbath.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).
The LORD commanded the Jews to keep the seventh day holy. The way to keep it holy, according to the letter of the above Scripture, is to do all your work in 6 days and to rest on the seventh day. What all is considered work in the above passage is unclear. However, it would be safe to conclude that working to build your little kingdom and working for profit would be considered work. That building your barns, fences, etc., would be considered impermissible work, and that selling and trading for gain would likewise be impermissible.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:12-18).
The above Scripture makes it clear that the Sabbath was a sign between Yahveh and the Jewish nation throughout their generations. The Sabbath and the laws pertaining thereto were spoken to the children of Israel. Those Jews who would defile the Sabbath were to be put to death and those who did any work on the Sabbath were to be cut off from among the people.
It is again repeated that the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL should keep the Sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant.
Now when the Scripture says, “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed”, is this saying that God was weary, faint, or needing to rest? For the prophet said, “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding” (Isaiah 40:28). Perhaps the word refreshed in context means rejoiced or was well pleased. The Hebrew word translated as rested in Genesis 2:2 “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made”, is translated as cease, ceased, or ceaseth 47 times of the 71 times this Hebrew word is used; only 11 times is it translated as rest or rested. Genesis 2:2 could be translated as, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he ceased on the seventh day from all his work which he had made”. And perhaps Exodus 31:17, “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed”, could mean that He ceased from all His work on the seventh day, and that He was well pleased with all his work.
“And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day” (Exodus 35:1-3).
In context, Yahveh commanded: 6 days shall work be done, but the 7th day should be a day of rest and that whoever works on the Sabbath day should be put to death. He then proceeds to tell them that they should kindle no fire on the Sabbath throughout their dwellings. Kindling a fire would involve the gathering of wood. Perhaps, gathering sticks and keeping a fire going would be considered work.
“It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses” (Leviticus 16:31-34).
I have cited this passage to explain how other statutes were considered everlasting, eternal, or perpetual. The priest was to make atonement for the people once a year, and this was to be an everlasting statute. Did Yahveh forget about His plan to redeem man? The Scripture says, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:24-26). The LORD did not forget about His plan. He knew that He made this covenant with the Jewish nation and that this priestly duty was to be performed perpetually until this covenant was fulfilled. The Old Covenant was fulfilled and brought to an end when Israel crucified their Head, for the Lord said, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44) Trying to keep the Mosaic Law is the same as trying to please a dead husband, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Romans 7:4). However, there are laws in the Old Covenant that are eternal and this is explained towards the end of this work. All this is said to make it clear that simply because something was commanded to be done perpetually, or that something was considered an everlasting statute, does not mean that it is eternal in the sense of eternity itself. Though the LORD said, “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever,” this does not mean that the laws of the Sabbath were eternal in the sense of eternity itself. For the laws of the Sabbath have changed and therefore are not eternal as will be demonstrated. Furthermore, the Levitical priesthood was ordained by God to offer the sacrifices, but a few centuries later God sent a message to Eli the priest saying, “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:29-30).
Apparently, the work of the priest was not a transgression of the Sabbath (Leviticus 24:1-8, Numbers 28:1-10, John 7:21-24).
“And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD. Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute” (Leviticus 24:7-9).
I have cited the above passage to again show that simply because something was said to be an everlasting covenant or a perpetual statute, that this does not mean that it is eternal in the sense of eternity itself.
Furthermore, this Scripture shows that the way the Sabbath should be kept has changed. For, where were the priests in the New Testament and where are the priests in Christendom today which put pure frankincense upon bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire to the LORD every Sabbath day? “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Hebrews 7:12).
“And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses” (Numbers 15:32-36).
The LORD clearly commanded Moses that none should kindle a fire throughout their habitations on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:1-3). Perhaps it was understood that if you cannot kindle a fire nor gather manna on the Sabbath, then you most certainly could not gather sticks. Perhaps this man tested the LORD.
“Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
This Scripture clearly says that God wanted Israel to rest on the Sabbath and to remember how He delivered them from slavery, Egypt, and Pharaoh. Yahveh cried, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29)
This passage furthermore shows the Sabbath to apply to the Jewish nation when it says, “Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work . . . nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Christians are spread throughout the world. There is no Christian nation on earth where we could uphold such a law. I am persuaded that we are not to go around punishing or putting to death the strangers who violate the Sabbath.
“And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the LORD, and shewed them the king's son. And he commanded them, saying, This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king's house; And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down. And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath, even they shall keep the watch of the house of the LORD about the king. And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in. And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest” (2 Kings 11:4-9).
In this passage Jehoiada was protecting Joash, son of the deceased King Ahaziah from his grandmother Athaliah who destroyed his brethren, even all of the royal seed but him (2 Kings 11:1). Jehoiada set men to watch the house of the LORD where Joash was being hid with weapons in their hands to kill any who sought to harm Joash. This they performed on the Sabbath. The Scripture does not say God approved or condemned this.
“And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every Sabbath” (1 Chronicles 9:32).
Apparently, preparing the showbread every Sabbath was a work not condemned.
“In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.” (Nehemiah 13:15-21).
It is clear that selling and making merchandise on the Sabbath was condemned. Nehemiah called it an evil, a profanity, and worthy of wrath. The Children of Israel were to rest from their own works to remember God and to do His work. God gave them 6 days in the week to labor for their own causes, but on the 7th day they were to remember the salvation of God and to do His works.
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:14-17).
The heart of God is not to be idle for one day, but to cease from evil and to learn to do good.
“Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:1-7).
Keeping the true Sabbath involves keeping judgment, and doing justly; to avoid polluting the Sabbath and refraining from doing any evil. Even if Gentiles would do this they would be brought to God’s holy mountain and made joyful in His house of prayer.
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:13-14).
Again, to keep the true Sabbath we are to turn away our foot from doing our own pleasure, and call this a delight, holy and honorable; if we honor God, neither doing our own ways, nor finding our own pleasure . . . this is keeping the true Sabbath.
“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh” (Isaiah 66:22-24).
This Scripture does not say that all flesh shall worship on one new moon and on the next new moon, nor on one Sabbath and on the next Sabbath, but from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another. That is 30 days a month, every day of the week. This Scripture speaks of a perpetual Sabbath where all flesh worships God in spirit and in truth perpetually.
“Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction. And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever” (Jeremiah 17:19-25).
The prophet was calling them to cease from their own work on the Sabbath day.
“At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:1-8).
The Pharisees found fault with Yeshua’s disciples because according to the Law of Moses the Jews were not to gather food on the Sabbath day. Rather they were instructed to have food prepared beforehand. Yeshua doesn’t seem to deny that it was unlawful for His disciples to do this. To justify His disciples He used the instance of King David and his men eating the showbread which was unlawful. He used one unlawful act to justify another. This would mean the laws of the Sabbath and showbread were not moral laws. For example: If His disciples were looking upon women with lust He would not use the instance of King David committing adultery with Bathsheba to justify them. He would not use one immoral act to justify another immoral act.
Furthermore, Yeshua says, “Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?” This He says because the priests are working and are guiltless. However, they were performing the Lord’s work.
“And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).
The Sabbath was made for man: for his good and not for his hurt; to help, not to injure. Therefore, works of necessity are not forbidden on this day, such as are necessary for the preservation of life; for then it would be injurious to man.
“And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:1-6).
Have you ever wondered why Yeshua asked the Pharisees, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?" (Mark 3:4). This He said, because the Jews had decided a little over one and a half centuries earlier that it was okay to "do evil" & to "kill" on the Sabbath day, that is, to "resist evil" using force. For the enemies of Israel knew the Jews would not fight on the Sabbath so they went out to one of the camps of the Jews to compel them to come out and fight, but the Jews replied, “We will not come forth, neither will we do the king's commandment, to profane the sabbath day. So then they gave them the battle with all speed. Howbeit they answered them not, neither cast they a stone at them, nor stopped the places where they lay hid; But said, Let us die all in our innocency: heaven and earth will testify for us, that ye put us to death wrongfully. So they rose up against them in battle on the sabbath, and they slew them, with their wives and children and their cattle, to the number of a thousand people. Now when Mattathias and his friends understood hereof, they mourned for them right sore. And one of them said to another, If we all do as our brethren have done, and fight not for our lives and laws against the heathen, they will now quickly root us out of the earth. At that time therefore they decreed, saying, Whosoever shall come to make battle with us on the sabbath day, we will fight against him; neither will we die all, as our brethren that were murdered in the secret places” (1 Maccabees 2:34-41 [This quote was from the Authorized King James Version, but the "Maccabees 1 & 2" were taken out in 1885.]).
Yeshua healed a man on the Sabbath. The Jews of His day called this work. A Rabbi was an actual occupation.
“And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?” (Mark 6:2)
Yeshua was about His Father’s business 7 days a week.
“And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him” (Luke 13:10-17).
Yeshua did not seem to find fault with the Pharisees for caring for their animals on the Sabbath, but for them finding fault with Him for caring for the people on the Sabbath.
“Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:8-18).
The Lord of the Sabbath told the man to carry his bed. What did the Jews have to say about this? They said, “It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.” Perhaps they concluded this because of what Moses said in Exodus 16:29, “Abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”
Yeshua worked seven days a week. He came not to do His own work but His Father’s work. He said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work”, and, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 4:34, 17:4). On the Sabbath He said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”
“They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them” (John 9:13-16).
The 1st century Jews again accused Yeshua of not keeping the Sabbath day.
THE TRUE SABBATH
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:24-25, 33).
How many are really living by this teaching? How many excuses do men use to justify their disobedience to these words of Yeshua? How many are willing to humble themselves and let these words change them rather than them seeking to change the meaning of these words?
Yeshua commanded the multitudes, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:27-29).
Is it ever unlawful to do the work of God? Yeshua worked seven days a week. He is our example and if we are going to follow in His steps we must work even as He did, anything else is idleness.
To keep the true Sabbath Christ must be our education and His work our occupation. If we are seeking another education or to be employed in another work then we violate the true Sabbath and the command to labor not for the meat which perishes. Thus, all we learn and labor for must have His glory and will as our goal. As Israel had failed to keep their Sabbaths holy so do the Christians today fail to keep the true Sabbath holy. As Israel justified working on the Sabbath day so Christians today maintain they are serving God while they’re serving mammon and their own interests.
Some say that their family has been blessed by taking one day out of the week to study the Bible, pray, and to fellowship. This blessing however, will always be experienced regardless of whatever day you set aside to do these things. The early Christians were together daily, and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and they became the kingdom that turned the world upside down, as the Scripture says, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). What if all who professed Christ today took His words seriously and decided to live as the early Christians laboring for the same end as they? How did the Lord add to the church daily such as should be saved? Was it merely through the work of the apostles, evangelists, and teachers? Or was every member doing their part faithfully whether they were working with their hands for their necessities and the necessities of the church and the poor, and witnessing on the streets, to their families, friends, and neighbors?
We are to love God with all of the heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, anything else is idleness. We are to do this seven days a week, whether it is praying, studying, preaching, ministering to the necessities of the saints, working to provide for our basic necessities and the needs of others, caring for orphans and widows, comforting the feeble minded, supporting the weak, whatever we are laboring for must involve the meat which endures unto everlasting life.
The Old Covenant commanded saying, “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work”. However, the New Covenant commands us to not labor for the meat that perishes, but for that which is eternal. This should come as no surprise when the Old Covenant taught that Israel should not covet anything that is their neighbors (Exodus 20:17), but the New Covenant that you cannot even covet your life (Mark 8:34-38, Luke 14:26) or anything you think is yours (1 Corinthians 7:30, Acts 4:32, Luke 14:33); and that the Old Covenant allowed divorce and to marry the divorced (Deuteronomy 24:1-3) but the New Covenant forbids these (Luke 16:18). The Old Covenant allowed swearing oaths (Psalm 15:4), but the New Covenant forbids it (Matthew 5:33-37, James 5:12), the Old Covenant allowed eye for eye and tooth for tooth (Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21), but the New Covenant says to resist not evil and turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-48, Luke 6). If you profess Christ do not be like the unfaithful in Israel who profaned the Sabbath day, but let us all work the works of God every day, ceasing from sin and from pursuing our own happiness, laboring only for what is eternal and for what is in sweet accord with loving God with all the heart and our neighbors as ourselves. The Sabbath was partly given so Israel would muse upon the LORD and His gracious deliverance from Egypt, but let us not be as stiff-necked they and let us circumcise our hearts and as the Psalmist declared, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD” (Psalm 150:6).
“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks” (Romans 14:5-6).
If Paul was persuaded that violating the Jewish Sabbath was still a sin worthy of death it would make no sense that he would say to the Roman church, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” He warned the churches to repent from many evil deeds, taught against the works of the flesh making it clear that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God, and gave no admonition, warnings, exhortations, or encouragements to keep the Sabbath or for not keeping it.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Colossians 2:14-17).
Again, this is not language of one who is persuaded that not keeping the Jewish Sabbath is a sin worthy of death or of one who believes it is something that pleases God. For the apostle nowhere encourages, exhorts, rebukes, warns, or teaches that men should observe the Jewish Sabbath.
“For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined you,—namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your hearts… (Justin Martyr dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 18)
This is why an early Christian told a Jewish man, “You perceive that God by Moses laid all such ordinances upon you on account of the hardness of your people’s hearts, in order that, by the large number of them, you might keep God continually, and in every action, before your eyes, and never begin to act unjustly or impiously… (Justin Martyr dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 45)
“The new law requires you to keep perpetual Sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true Sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure”. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.200
“Do you see that the elements are not idle, and keep no Sabbaths? Remain as you were born. For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now”. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.206
“But again their scruples concerning meats, and their superstition relating to the Sabbath and the vanity of their circumcision and the dissimulation of their fasting and new moons, I do [not] suppose you need to learn from me, are ridiculous and unworthy of any consideration… And again to lie against God, as if He forbad us to do any good thing on the Sabbath day, is not this profane?” Letter to Diognetus (A.D. 125-200) ch. 4
"You hypocrites, does not each one of you on the Sabbath-days loose his ox or his ass, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath-days?" It is clear therefore, that He loosed and vivified those who believe in Him as Abraham did, doing nothing contrary to the law when He healed upon the Sabbath-day. For the law did not prohibit men from being healed upon the Sabbaths; [on the contrary,] it even circumcised them upon that day, and gave command that the offices should be performed by the priests for the people; yea, it did not disallow the healing even of dumb animals. Both at Siloam and on frequent subsequent occasions, did He perform cures upon the Sabbath; and for this reason many used to resort to Him on the Sabbath-days. For the law commanded them to abstain from every servile work, that is, from all grasping after wealth which is procured by trading and by other worldly business; but it exhorted them to attend to the exercises of the soul, which consist in reflection, and to addresses of a beneficial kind for their neighbors’ benefit. And therefore the Lord reproved those who unjustly blamed Him for having healed upon the Sabbath-days. For He did not make void, but fulfilled the law, by performing the offices of the high priest, propitiating God for men, and cleansing the lepers, healing the sick, and Himself suffering death, that exiled man might go forth from condemnation, and might return without fear to his own inheritance”. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 471
“To His disciples He said, who had a priesthood of the Lord, to whom it was lawful when hungry to eat the ears of corn, "For the workman is worthy of his meat." And the priests in the temple profaned the Sabbath, and were blameless. Wherefore, then, were they blameless? Because when in the temple they were not engaged in secular affairs, but in the service of the Lord, fulfilling the law, but not going beyond it, as that man did, who of his own accord carded dry wood into the camp of God, and was justly stoned to death”. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.471
“And in Exodus, God says to Moses: "And you shall observe My Sabbaths; for it shall be a sign between Me and you for your generations."… But the Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God's service. "For we have been counted," says the Apostle Paul, "all the day long as sheep for the slaughter;" that is, consecrated [to God], and ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth”. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 481
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20)
The Law Yeshua is referring to is not the Mosaic Law but the Eternal Law, for when He said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven”, we know that He was not referring to the Law of Moses for this would make Him least in the kingdom of heaven (a thing most absurd and contrary to right reason) as is demonstrated below and it is important to understand this because some suggest that Yeshua was implying that we needed to keep the Sabbath when He mentioned “these least commandments”:
“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” (Luke 16:16-18)
Here are mentioned two laws, of which two, one was temporal and the other eternal:
The Law of Moses, which permitted divorce and another marriage (Deut. 24:1-3), was temporal, “until John” (the Baptist). “It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” (Galatians 3:19)
The Law of Christ, of which it is said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail,” this is the Eternal Law, which teaches, that not only those who divorce their wives and marry another commit adultery, but also men who have never been married, if they should marry a divorced woman, that they too are guilty of adultery.
Men have invented all kinds of “irrationalizations” to explain that if God’s morals changed for the better, then His character was originally flawed. They cannot reconcile God’s unchanging (eternal) nature and character as revealed by Yeshua with the Old Covenant moral laws. They think “If a new moral law replaced the old, then God’s character has improved over time and that He is, therefore, no different than man, making Him not God at all”.
If that was reality their reasoning would be right. But any sincere Bible reader cannot avoid noticing the differences between the morals of the Old and the New, so theologians have established a school of “systematic irrationalizations” to explain that there are no differences.
Now whether they are sincerely confused, adamantly ignorant, or have an evil eye concerning this following statement (God knows): That the Law of Moses contained both eternal truths from the Law of Christ (consistent with God’s unchanging character) AND (according to Yeshua) temporal precepts given by Moses for the hardness of people’s hearts.
The early Christians however, (who learned from Christ, His apostles, and their disciples), understood what Yeshua meant when He said, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so…” (Matthew 19:8) What Moses said was temporary…not eternal. Moses gave Israel the precept of divorce and remarriage. (Mark 10:5) This temporal law he prescribed was not consistent with the Eternal Law of Christ.
Yeshua asked, “What did Moses command you?” [Mark 10:3] What did he say? I am going to tell you what was from the beginning, and I Who am speaking to you now, even I, am He that spoke to Moses in the burning bush, who was before Moses, Abraham, and even before the beginning! “For, before Abraham was, I AM.” [John 8:58]
Sound Conclusion: What Moses permitted does not need to be reconciled with God’s unchanging (eternal) nature and character, when Yeshua said, “From the beginning it was not so.”
Below are some quotes from Justin, an early Christian commonly known as “Justin Martyr”. Justin lived during a time when Christianity was against the law of the land and punishable by cruel tortures and death. He began his pilgrimage as a philosopher, phileo meaning “to love” and Sophia meaning “wisdom”. Justin was searching for truth. He studied philosophy under different scholars and schools of theology, but saw the emptiness, contradictions, and worthlessness of the doctrines and teachers. “And while I was thus disposed, when I wished at one period to be filled with great quietness, and to shun the path of men, I used to go into a certain field not far from the sea,” says Justin, (Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew) as he explains his conversion to Christianity. It was during that time that an “Old Man” conversed with Justin and turned him to the Scriptures; and Justin (being a lover of truth), investigated into those things which he heard, and found the Pearl of great price, which he joyfully bought with his life, (having endured to the end) and was finally flogged and beheaded with six other Christians around 165 A.D. for being a Christian:
“For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined you,—namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your hearts… (Chapter 18)
“You perceive that God by Moses laid all such ordinances upon you on account of the hardness of your people’s hearts, in order that, by the large number of them, you might keep God continually, and in every action, before your eyes, and never begin to act unjustly or impiously… (Chapter 45)
“For what in the Law of Moses is naturally good, and pious, and righteous, and has been prescribed to be done by those who obey it; and what was appointed to be performed by reason of the hardness of the people’s hearts; was similarly recorded, and done also by those who were under the law. Since those who did that which is universally, naturally, and eternally good are pleasing to God, they shall be saved through this Christ in the resurrection… (Chapter 46)
“God promised that there would be another covenant, not like that old one (and said that it would be laid on them without fear, and trembling, and lightning’s, and that it would be such as to show what kind of commands and deeds God knows to be eternal and suited to every nation, and what commandments He has given) suiting them to the hardness of your people’s hearts, as He exclaims also by the prophets.” (Chapter 67)
The New Covenant Law given by Christ was not “suited to the hardness of people’s hearts,” as were many of the Old Covenant Laws given by Moses. Only those commands and deeds contained in the OT which “God knew to be eternal” were given by Christ.
Concerning the subject at hand: Marriage, Divorce, and Adultery, the only OT laws that were eternal according to the words of the New Covenant are these: Thou shalt not commit adultery…Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife. (Exodus 20:14, 17; Deut. 5:18, 21) These two laws would be an example of what Justin meant, when he said, “For what in the Law of Moses is naturally good, and pious, and righteous… universally, naturally, and eternally good,” these two commands are “suited to every nation”. [A “law suited to the hardness of people’s hearts” permits a man to retain unforgiveness, to strike the man who struck him first, to curse those who curse him, to hate those who hate him, to divorce and to marry another]
Justin furthermore declared, “For [God] sets before every race of mankind that which is always (eternal) and universally just, as well as all righteousness; and every race knows that adultery, and fornication, and homicide, and such like, are sinful; and though they all commit such practices, yet they do not escape from the knowledge that they act unrighteously whenever they so do, with the exception of those who are possessed with an unclean spirit, and who have been debased by education, by wicked customs, and by sinful institutions, and who have lost, or rather quenched and put under, their natural ideas.” (Chapter 93)
To further illustrate this point, a dialogue has been created between “Sincerely Confused” and “Clarity” as though these two were a part of everything already shared. And rather than addressing all of the doctrines that Yeshua did not fulfill in the Law of Moses, the doctrine at hand will be attended to: Marriage, Divorce, and Adultery:
Sincerely Confused: I can see what you are saying about the temporal and eternal laws, because that is what the scriptures reveal…but didn’t Yeshua fulfill the Law?
Clarity: Scriptures are clear that Yeshua did not fulfill the Law of Moses, but only those laws which were eternal, and the prophecies concerning Him.
Sincerely Confused: But Yeshua said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17) How do you judge between the temporary laws of Moses and the eternal laws of Christ?
Clarity: In the Matthew 5 account the words are "The Law, or the Prophets", everywhere else it is recorded as the Law and the Prophets, because the Law Yeshua was referring to in Matthew 5 was the Eternal Law not the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses commanded, “The man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death,” (Leviticus 20:10) and, “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.” (Deuteronomy 22:22) What did Yeshua do when those zealous for the Law of Moses brought to Him a woman caught in the very act of adultery? Did He condemn either the adulterer or adulteress to death as the Law of Moses demanded?
Sincerely Confused: No.
Clarity: Then He didn’t fulfill the law did He?
Sincerely Confused: Not that law.
Clarity: So was that law temporary or eternal?
Sincerely Confused: It must have been the temporal Law of Moses.
Clarity: Exactly! Some say that the putting to death of the adulterer and adulteress was only a civil law, but it is was to put away the evil from Israel which is a moral law. "Bad company" the apostle said "corrupts good morals", and in 1 Corinthians 5 the same apostle taught to put away (not to even eat with) the evil person (one named a brother). Yeshua taught, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” (Luke 16:16-18) Was Yeshua enforcing the law (of Moses) by immediately teaching that to divorce your spouse and marry another is adultery?
Sincerely Confused: No! The written law of the Old Testament permitted divorce and another marriage: “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-3)
Clarity: If Yeshua was not enforcing the Old Testament law (of Moses) by what He said about divorce and remarriage, then what law was He referring to in these words “And it is easier for HEAVEN and EARTH to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail”?
Sincerely Confused: Well…He could not have been referring to the Law of Moses because Moses CLEARLY allowed divorce and remarriage. He must have been referring to a law that is as ancient as HEAVEN and EARTH.
Clarity: You mean to say an eternal or unchanging law?
Sincerely Confused: Yes! That must be it.
Clarity: Yeshua clearly, as the previous scriptures prove, did not fulfill the Law of Moses. He did however, fulfill the eternal law—the law of God which existed before Moses—as Yeshua taught when asked about divorce, “And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Yeshua answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he (Moses) wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:2-9)
Sincerely Confused: Hmmm. I understand that clearly…but…uh…not to be contentious, what about when Yeshua told the multitudes, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not”? (Matthew 23:2-3)
Clarity: Yeshua told many people to do many things that the Pharisees told many people not to do (which is a major reason why they crucified Him). Are they to obey the Pharisees or Yeshua? The rulers of the people “commanded them (Peter and John) not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus,” and they replied, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” (Acts 4:1-23) And Saul (whose name was changed to Paul) received authority from the rulers to persecute the Christians, and compel them to blaspheme… (Acts 26:10-11) were they to obey him and reject Christ because he was a Pharisee? Or, was Yeshua exposing the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees?
Sincerely Confused: Hmmm. That they were not to obey all things commanded by the Pharisees you have made obvious. He was definitely exposing them. And only that which is eternal in the Law of Moses is what men must keep is made evident by all that you have said previously. I see it CLEARLY for what it is now, Clarity!
Clarity: Any sincere person will see these things. However, to further your understanding, hear the Gospel of Matthew: “And, behold, one (a rich ruler) came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:16-24; Mark 10; Luke 18) What laws did Yeshua…
Sincerely Confused: Clarity! Clarity! Ohhh, I know what you are going to ask. May I interrupt for a moment?
Clarity: Yes. Go ahead.
Sincerely Confused: You were going to ask what laws did Yeshua tell this man to keep if he wanted eternal life…am I right?
Clarity: Yes…you are right. But go ahead and tell those laws to me.
Sincerely Confused: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. If you seek eternal life, you must obey the eternal law.
Clarity: Very good. Now pray, tell me, did Yeshua say that you must be perfect to enter into the kingdom of heaven? And was what the ruler lacked a law or a proper understanding of a law?
Sincerely Confused: Hmmm…uh…well, Yeshua did not say in exact words that you need to be perfect to enter into the kingdom of heaven; but after the ruler refused the Lord’s counsel, the Lord said in relation to the rich man and his response, “That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven,” implying to be perfect was necessary. Because, even though the ruler had kept all of the eternal laws Yeshua named, which were contained in the Law of Moses (from his youth up), it was this one thing (Yeshua said to His disciples) that would keep that ruler from the kingdom of heaven. I see this much, but I am still confused as to what you meant when you asked, “Was what the ruler lacked a law or a proper understanding of a law?”
Clarity: The one thing Yeshua told the ruler that he lacked was, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” The rich ruler testified of himself that he kept all of the laws Yeshua mentioned from his youth up. The wealth this man possessed must have been obvious (he was a ruler), for Yeshua knew He had riches, and yet, this ruler testified that he loved his neighbor AS HIMSELF. When Yeshua told the ruler to, “go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor,” He was not giving a new law, but was defining what the eternal law to love your neighbor as yourself means. If a man is living beyond need (in luxury) then how can he love his neighbor as himself?
Sincerely Confused: Ah! I see…I see.
Clarity: One reason why people remain in confusion is because they are not sincerely confused. Through deceit they refuse to know the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:6) They are content with being confused, from having deceived themselves that (because of the confusion) God will be merciful to them. However, this confusion is akin to obstinacy. And because of these sins (presumption and obstinacy) God would send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
Sincerely Confused: Those who hold onto their sins, God will give them a delusion to believe into, (that though they will be damned), they think themselves safe. However, the pleasure they have in unrighteousness already shows forth their belief in a lie. But what is so powerful enough, as to make a man think himself saved, or that he is a Christian, when he is living in sin, and not obeying the Christ?
Clarity: The strong delusion is a theology suited to the hardness of people’s hearts. *3
Sincerely Confused: I recognize what you are saying, because, concerning Yeshua’s teaching on marriage, divorce, and adultery it is often said, “I just cannot believe that God isn’t more merciful than that,” meaning that He is too merciful to punish those living in adultery and that He is too merciful than to forbid a second marriage. But to believe that God is more merciful than He really is, is to say that He is not merciful enough. By teaching this they exalt the power of sin, and accuse God of being merciless, imputing to Him (their Maker) the sin of their own hardness of heart. And while they speak of a Judgment to come, and a punishment of sinners, they excuse themselves from all contradiction through their belief (in a lie) that God is too merciful to punish this sin i.e. adultery, while believing that He will punish other sin i.e. fornication & homosexuality, which is beyond contradiction…it is a strong delusion.
Clarity: Exactly! Mercy would not be an attribute of God, of Goodness, of Righteousness, of Love if it allowed divorce and remarriage for the hardness of people’s hearts…in fact, it would be an attribute of malevolence. Adultery is, therefore, an apostasy from God, from Goodness, from Righteousness, from Love, and from your lawful spouse. For, “Love worketh no ill towards his neighbor.” (Romans 13:10) Many, upon the words of Yeshua pertaining to marriage, divorce, and adultery tend to only feel the pain of the two who are living in adultery when imagining the two having to separate. But there is often a third party involved who desires to have his/her lawful and God joined spouse back. The pain of this person is rarely considered. You see, if everyone lived by Yeshua’s teaching then no one would marry a divorced person. The divorced person would be forced to remain alone or be reconciled. The two, though there may be strife, would possibly learn to work things out. The law of Yeshua is the law of love, but not how the world understands love. Yeshua taught us to love until it hurts and this is what each one of us needs to learn in order to be His disciple. The third party I spoke of earlier whose pain is rarely considered, if he remains faithful to God and to his spouse, will remain alone his entire life, and there are often many both women and men who are choosing to be faithful: to endure all things, hope all things, trust all things, verily, in this matter, their love is unfailing. Should God then have a law to accommodate adultery? Certainly not! Rather He will bless the faithful and punish the adultery. For those who marry those divorced from a lawful marriage work ill to their neighbors.
Sincerely Confused: I think the reason why some are confused, is because of things Paul said.
Clarity: It is, perhaps, the most common mistake. The apostle Peter said, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16)
Sincerely Confused: Which scriptures do you suppose the ignorant and double-minded most commonly twist to their own damnation?
Clarity: Any scripture to do with law.
Sincerely Confused: Such as this: “That a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified”? (Galatians 2:16) The theologians and pastors I’ve heard interpret this to mean “That no matter how perfectly you obey Yeshua you are not justified by that…only faith in Yeshua can justify you.”
Clarity: I have heard it dozens of times, and only very few have been sincerely confused enough to seek for clarity. In fact, it was after hearing the scripture you just shared taught by a pastor, and then reading the teachings of Yeshua that these became sincerely confused. They think because the thief on the cross didn’t obey anything, that he was justified by faith alone…but an honest and single eye can easily see that his faith was no small thing, and that he did obey some commands. For he obeyed the commands to repent, believe on Yeshua, reprove the works of darkness, fear not him who can kill the body but fear God, confess Yeshua before men; he worshiped the Father in spirit and in truth, and more than all of this…he risked being hated, reviled, taken down from his cross only to be tortured then crucified again by those who tortured Yeshua, which were standing there mocking, and reviling Him, as He was in agony. Yea, what that thief did on the cross (in perhaps a few moments) is more than what many [who profess Christ] will do in a lifetime.
Sincerely Confused: Hmmm…I never thought about that. But was Paul telling the Galatians that obeying the Law of Moses cannot justify you, or that obeying any law cannot justify you?
Clarity: It is certain that obeying the Law of Moses cannot justify you, because Yeshua said, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) Paul specifically said, “That a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” To understand this better proceed to verse twenty of the same chapter and you will see a picture of what the faith of Yeshua looks like: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Paul didn’t live after the Law of Moses, but by the faith of the Son of God, meaning, that he lived according to what Yeshua believed, taught, and demonstrated: what was important to Yeshua was important to Paul; what was unlawful to Yeshua was unlawful for Paul; what was righteous to Yeshua was righteous to Paul.
Sincerely Confused: So if a man divorces his lawful wife and marries another woman he is not living by the faith of the Son of God.
Clarity: True. Paul, who was “justified by the faith of Jesus Christ” said, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife… the wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 7:10-11, 39) This doctrine was to Paul, an aspect of the faith of the Son of God by which men are either justified or condemned.
Sincerely Confused: Marriage was important to Christ, so marriage was important to Paul. Divorce and remarriage was unlawful according to Christ, so the same was unlawful to Paul. Paul simply lived by the faith of Yeshua. In this light the scriptures are clear. I only need to follow Yeshua. I can think of many scriptures now that make sense, whereas before I was confused. And there are other scriptures that come to my mind that still appear a little hazy but I am sure that if I walk in this light, I will figure out the rest.
Clarity: Living by faith, justified by the faith of Yeshua the Christ, the righteousness of faith, believing in Yeshua, is harmonizing your life with every word of the Christ: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” (John 12)
Sincerely Confused: That is exactly what Moses predicted: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” And the prophets too declared: “And thou, Bethleem, house of Ephratha, art few in number to be reckoned among the thousands of Juda; yet out of thee shall one come forth to me, to be a ruler of Israel; and his goings forth were from the BEGINNING, even from ETERNITY.” (Deuteronomy 8:15-19; Acts 7:37) (Jeremiah 38:31 and Micah 5:2; Septuagint)
Clarity: Ah…the beloved prophet Micah. Men today are quite ignorant of this prophecy though they quote it during their winter celebration on December 25th every year. Micah foretold of a Ruler, whose beginnings were even from eternity; yet, the notion of Christ as a Ruler is foreign to them, for only His sacrifice seems to enter into their minds. However the prophet also declared, “And many nations shall go, and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and they shall shew us his way, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Sion shall go forth a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:2)
Sincerely Confused: YESHUA IS A RULER AND HE GAVE US A LAW! THIS WAS A FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY! It is strange how nearly everyone I know thinks that the New Covenant has no law or that the new covenant has freed men entirely from law. But perhaps they are not sincerely ignorant of this, they are just ignoring. For the Law of Moses was indeed until Christ came, which law was added because of transgressions; but Christ came and gave us a law for a guide and to be a lamp unto our feet, to teach the will of God, true worship, wisdom to avoid wrath, and how to love and serve Him with the whole heart and soul and mind; to show us the way to the Father.
Clarity: Well said. But He did teach it in such a way, as to cause men to exceedingly fear God, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” (Matthew 10:28) and, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death,” (John 8:51) [that is, eternal death] and the word “saying” in this passage is from the Greek word “LOGOS” which is translated throughout the Bible as “Words”.
Sincerely Confused: Good point Clarity…the word “saying” seems to take away from the significance and force of the original Greek word. Many take the word “saying” as a singular, and not as a plural, thinking he was referring to a particular saying in that chapter, when He was really referring to the keeping of all His words…and He didn’t mean to keep them in your pocket, on the coffee table, or the book shelf, or even only in your “heart”, but to actually “do” them, as Matthew told us. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Clarity: Amen…Faith is hearing and obeying God…this is why a man is justified by faith.
Sincerely Confused: That’s right! By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed. (Hebrews 11)
Clarity: You have been a blessing, and from now on you will be called Sincerity: Your sincere desire for truth has been made manifest by your delight in it…for when confronted, you neither rejected it nor were indifferent; but more than that, you sought it with all your heart…for I am aware that you spurned that which the world seeks because of your love for truth, and how you determined to give all that you have for it.
Sincerity: Yes! The Pearl of great price is worth more than we can afford; however, God is merciful to give us that Pearl in exchange for ALL that we have!
Clarity: “Ask and ye shall receive,” Yeshua said. However many pretend to ask for clarity, which is evidenced by sins they hold on to; therefore, all they receive from Him is a strong delusion. (Ezekiel 14:7-9)
Sincerity: Thank you for your patience Clarity. May the Lord prosper your labors.Clarity: Godspeed.