Are you stealing?

God knows the answer and you who teach others to stop doing whatever the law says we should never do should either say what God says or do what the law requires. Plead guilty.

“Guilty as charged” suffices

Now we know that what things whatsoever the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Romans 3:19

Run sister! Run brother!

I can guarantee you that my great, great, grandfather’s loins were rocking with protest against the slavemaster and his assertion of property rights. If you are wondering, I am a descendant of African people, a part of the waves of westward transported labour to America and the Caribbean.

Since the 17th century, European powers (Spain, Portugal, France, England, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany) have been exploiting their own poor and people in far-flung lands with various justifications.

I would have been a runner: running off the slaveowners property to entrust my life to God. They would have had to chain me 24/7 or kill me.

Running is good for the believer.

  • When temptation seems to corner us we should run
  • When persecution closes in on us we can run
  • When Christ says follow me we should run

We live because Christ gave us life

We sing because Christ gave us a song

We conquer because Christ gave us the victory

We should run – live – for life’s sake and remember that our crown does not come from anyone overcoming sin.  Even with laws in our hearts and near countless constant recitations of God’s will we come to God with contrition or prove that we are still lost, having no Spirit to help because we did not really believe that God forgives sin all the time and powers our life moment by moment.

Remembering Christ’s Sacrifice

Idols litter the landscape while the majesty of the Risen Lord gets a passing mention. No repeated claim attends the memorial of Christ’s death for all human sin. We belittle and denigrate the covenant by inserting our desire for a miracle.

The cross must be accepted as full and effective payment for sin, not for financial, physical or mental wellbeing. People do not have to claim anything when the Church celebrates the Lord’s supper. No one needs to apply for what is theirs by virtue of their once-for-all confession and faith in the once-for-all propitiation in the Blood of the Lamb?

People can add whatever they wish to their celebration of Christ but only at great risk of showing how much shipwreck is part of their beliefs. One pastor proclaims that no physical death will touch our families when we partake of the Lord’s supper. We ought to know what the Scriptures authorize and quit making it up as we go. Remember does not mean request.

The snare of legalism

The definitions of legalism have not always been helpful. There is always a “but” in the explanation usually to fill the perceived void that liberation from death, sin, and law seemed to create. The pressure towards law is immense and wicked. Jews who decided to follow the were rightly assumed to have discarded the Law. Theologians, fully displaying their cowardice and laziness, have applied the term antinomian to anyone who dared to cling to life and not death. When we say we are Christians we do not need to confess anything about Moses, prophets, law, or Judaism, If you feel guilty about receiving Yeshua as God’s Anointed you are a fly in the spider’s web of legalism, snared and probably still dead.

Paul had said so much that puts the law into a unattractive framework that he asks the question that his readers were bound to ask.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

Rom. 7:7

Law is a hypocrite’s tool

  1. they believe in monogamy, but a man can yabam his way to as many wives as he has brothers who predecease their spouses
  2. the priests do the same work Sunday to Saturday and are guiltless
  3. people put patriarchal above the sabbath by performing circumcision
  4. they believe that gold and silver are currency for atonement
  5. they equate commandment keeping with righteousness even when it is clear that no-one gets saved by doing so
  6. they insist that saved people must commit adultery – remarrying the husband – the law – from whom they were set free by Christ
  7. they enrich themselves by devouring the money and property of God’s priestly people often by robbery and murder

We are pretty sure that law does not figure in Messianic lordship. He did not need it to save us and he does not need it to keep us safe and to enable our growth. By the time Yeshua is into his first tour of Israel the law and the prophets had been certified as weak, ineffective, and without authority.

What did Paul say? He said (ii) Jews were unfaithful/unbelieving even though God entrusted the oracles to them (ii) Jews were convicted of sin – did not keep the law (iii) Abraham was not in any position to brag about his performance of duty but rather his faith (iv) People (Romans or Jews) are not under law but under grace and (v) there was no fruit but death from the things they cherished.

Liberated

To be sure about what our behaviour should be the place to look is the Cross. To be sure about who is our authority the person to look to is Yeshua. To be sure about our identity we must believe and confess Yeshua’s death and resurrection.

Kill the Dreamers

Dreams and visions have enlightened and comforted humans, and even charted the path for families, and one might say the entire human race. At the end of Stephen’s cutting defence in his case before the Sanhedrin, he had a vision which consoled him, but his defence had unvelied a pattern of behaviour which I would like to call “kill the dreamer”.

Killing the dreamer was the consistent response of a stiffnecked and resistant people to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Dreams and visions can characterize the deeper levels of divine instruction which often come into conflict with the written instructions, hence the resistance of those who thought that the Law was the last word in divine intervention. Christians are called to dream: dream against the grain, swim upstream and in the face of contradiction and hopelessness. Stephen was a dreamer. He was appointed to take care of daily distribution of life’s necessities but he was granted to follow his master in accurate tteaching of the truth and dying for the cause.

Have you stopped dreaming?

More tomorrow

Now this!

The stories of the Old Testament are full of wandering and incomplete spirituality. The hope was that one day the journey would end and the knowledge of God and His guidance would be the joy and security of all, but we are left asking “What happened?”

Then there are predictions like Isaiah 40:1.

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

This tender care is for everyone. I think shepherd and my mind cannot stray from the Lord and Saviour Anointed Yeshua.

Getting to the Core

An introduction to Jesus is not an introduction to Judaism. If that sticks in our throat we cannot be expected to always pick a winner. Not even a radically transformed Mosaic economy does any justice to Abraham’s historic faith and justification without law and works.

Our centre stage is the cross

We have no law, prophets and writings. All we have is gospel whose beginning and end is Christ. The law, through the thousands of years it was Israel’s pride, produced no children of God, but the gospel, on the first day in the life of the church, made 3000 persons heirs of the kingdom, complete with a downpayment.

Let’s get the main objection to the Cross out of the way. James (see 1:25 and 2:8), an avowed Pharisee and disciple of Moses calls the decalogue royal and liberating, turns out to be the only witness in the New Testament who lends lip service to Christ as Saviour, and is out on a limb as surely as Esau was hated (not chosen). He is silent on the saving grace of God to which John, Peter, and Paul have consistently pointed us.

James would be the kind of person one would eexpect in modern times to insist that one learns everything about the law before one can become a disciple of Jesus. That is a pathway that the church soundly rejected.

If someone is saying that he wants to introduce you to Christ why would that person try to teach you everything about the Christ (and God in the Bible!) when in fact you are safer when you are in Jesus’ care and have the Holy Spirit as Helper who alone is able to guide us into all truth?

Maybe the rationale is that there is nothing to learn after one meets Jesus. That falls through the cracks. Could it be that one is complete and mature upon meeting Christ and there is no growth possible neither in grace nor knowledge? Of course not! These two scenarios are classic brainwashing techniques.

Beware of the Pharisee. His convert-making has one result: more kids for hell-fire. Hear Yeshua in Matthew 23:15 making it clear what pretenders do to their disciples.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.