Sunday, January 10, 2021

789. Paul Persecuted - for Teaching Against the Law and the Temple

It’s often assumed Paul was persecuted because he believed in Jesus. But the bulk of Paul’s persecution came from Jews who opposed his teachings about salvation and righteousness coming by faith alone, apart from works, and that Jews had been freed and redeemed from the Mosaic law through the finished work of Jesus. Even the early church leadership (James and others) believed there was a different gospel for Jew and Gentile, and many believing Jews still assumed Gentiles were considered unclean—as the law declared. Keep them away from the temple so it wouldn’t be defiled!

During the early decades after the resurrection, when the church was still growing in their knowledge of the truth, even the apostles didn’t completely understand the fullness of the gospel, although God’s Spirit would reveal things to them … often from what we call the Old Testament—the only Scriptures they could reference. Paul and some of his companions were a major force in sharing the more complete truth of what was accomplished through the blood of the cross—for both Jew and Gentile.

The church today continues to struggle with a mixed message of faith and religious rules, while trying to establish theology and doctrine based upon their own assumptions about the Bible writings. Just as in the early years of the church, we’re not growing in the knowledge of “the Bible,” but we’re all growing in the knowledge of the truth found in the Person of Jesus Christ, as we receive it from the Holy Spirit.



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Sunday, January 03, 2021

788. James and the Elders Encourage Paul to Deny What He Was Teaching

The Apostle Paul declared over and over again that the law which came through Moses was something Gentiles had no part of and Jews had also been freed from its impossible demands. It could not bring life, but had a purpose of death and condemnation, having been replaced by a more glorious ministry of the Spirit. James and the elders from the Jerusalem church had very little problem with Gentiles not being required to try to keep most of the law—because they had never been under it. But James and his council viewed Jews differently and with an attitude of superiority, even after the cross, which resulted in believing they had a different gospel with a different set of rules which were rooted in that law for justification.

They rejoiced that Gentiles were coming to Jesus, but stumbled over Paul’s teachings that the Jews who lived among the Gentiles should also “forsake Moses.” James and the elders ordered Paul to publicly denounce the accusations against him by saying he believes in keeping the law … and to do this by participating in an old covenant purification ceremony—as if the blood of Jesus was not enough. In other words, they wanted Paul to deny what he had been teaching about grace through faith, apart from works of the law.



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Sunday, December 27, 2020

787. The Evidence Mounts: James Touted Law - 30 Years After the Cross

While continuing our series on Paul and James, and faith compared to works, we spend some time this week summarizing what we’ve been covering. Since our short weekly programs are chopped up, we wanted to review some of what has been covered so far in order to help connect the dots on the tremendous struggle that is revealed in New Testament writings during those early years of the church. And what was that struggle? Most of the early church leadership—including James—believed the law was still meant to be a part of the equation for Jewish believers … and many were perverting the gospel by trying to burden believing Gentiles with portions of the law.

We also take a look at more evidence where James and the elders in Jerusalem convince Paul to participate in an old covenant exercise where ceremony and sacrifice would occur in order to show the Jews that Paul was also a law keeper and had not forsaken Moses. This event from Acts 21 would have been nearly 3 decades after the cross, and about 20 years after James wrote his Bible letter. More to come!



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Sunday, December 20, 2020

786. Christmas: Just Exactly What Are We Celebrating?

The birth of Jesus is perhaps the most celebrated event in the history of the world. When we think of the Christmas holiday, we probably picture the baby Jesus and a manger scene with angels communicating with shepherds. And yet the birth would mean nothing without the death that would occur a few decades later. Jesus was born at a time when the Mosaic law and Old Covenant with Israel was still in place. It would be with His death and the shedding of blood that would bring a better covenant to replace the first one … for all of mankind.

The real celebration with God entering the world as a human is that He would do a work resulting in justification, forgiveness, redemption, righteousness and so much more—which He extended through perfect love by grace. This is why believers have peace with God. The Savior brought faith and life—and it’s much more excellent than a religious system of works which falls short. When it comes to your celebration this year, don’t keep hanging out at the manger, but remember the ultimate result of what it brought.



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Sunday, December 13, 2020

785. Growing in Knowledge (Bible Authors Didn’t Know Everything)

In Acts Chapter 10, when Peter had his vision from God directing him to reach out to Gentiles, historians estimate it occurred anywhere from 5 to 15 years after the resurrection of Jesus. Although Peter was being used mightily by God in multiple ways, there was much he didn’t understand when it came to the gospel. The apostles were not all seeing and all knowing – they were humans who were growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Up until this time, Peter thought he and other Jews were still under the requirement to follow the law of Moses, even though he was preaching Jesus for people to be saved. Through this experience, he came to realize the gospel was meant not only for Jews, but for Gentiles who had no relationship with the law.

Things like food and Gentiles, which had been considered unclean or unacceptable under law, God now had declared to be clean. But imagine if Peter had written letters to believers and church folks which ended up in the Bible before he had this revelation about freedom from law. Undoubtedly, his writings would have looked much different and inconsistent with what the Apostle Paul was communicating in his letters. The book of James is considered to likely be the oldest New Testament writing (or the first) after Jesus rose. Like most Jews, James had a similar assumption about the law when he wrote his letter – much like Peter did. And this continues our series about the subject of Paul, James and justification.



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Sunday, December 06, 2020

784. Paul and James: The Abraham Chronicles

How is it possible that both Paul and James quote the same passage from Genesis 15 – referring to Abraham – and come to different conclusions on how Abraham was declared justified? It might be for the same reason we often see today … in an effort to prove an assumed mindset, one of them attempts to apply the “verse” out of context. We break it down on this week’s program.

And what about those “Judaizers” who came from James to bewitch Gentile believers in Christ with requirements from the law and Jewish ceremonial customs? It caused even Peter to play the hypocrite as he feared the peer pressure, which led to “not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” Ultimately, Paul’s message was that justification was purely by grace through faith, apart from works. But this would be a battle he would fight even with those who were considered of high reputation and pillars of the church.



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Sunday, November 29, 2020

783. Opposing Views from Paul and James: What Now?

As our series continues regarding the apparent differences between Paul and James on the subject of justification, this week's program results in a spontaneous conversation which discusses what it means if they did actually view some things in an opposing fashion. As we've personally concluded in recent weeks, Paul and James were not in perfect harmony with their statements and we review some possible reasons why this could have been the case.

The letter James wrote to Jews who were scattered throughout the region is believed to be the earliest book written in the New Testament after the resurrection. During this period of time, James believed the Mosaic law was still in place and that individual works played a factor in being justified. We've seen evidence of this in the book of Acts, Galatians, and his own letter. Bible teachers will panic if this is true and will fear it invalidates the entire Bible. That’s why they feel the need to corroborate their preconceived assumptions that P&J couldn’t have possibly been in disagreement. But maybe we've just been inaccurately assuming some things about these written pages that have us missing a bigger point.



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