Who brings a charge

Paul’s “who will bring a charge?” is defined by several instances of accusations in the legal sense. It is a severe and conclusive challenge, like the one we hear at weddings, “If anyone knows why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, let him now speak or forever hold his peace”.  The madness of charging God’s people with liability in the Divine Court will appear as we look further into the meaning of bringing a charge against the elect.

The madness of justice

The disciples appear in their life experience in the court of Roman justice all over Asia. Luke’s witness included repeated hounding by Jewish people of the disciples all along their missionary journeys OUTSIDE OF PALESTINE/JUDEA.

Acts 16:16ff, 17:6ff, 18:11ff, 19:23ff, Acts 19:40, Acts 23:28, Acts 23:29Acts 26:2, Acts 26:7

That they appeared in the Jewish court is no surprise (Acts 4, 5 6, 22 and 23). That the High Priest has a court official punch Paul in the mouth rips the figleaf off the proceedings. Anyone who had so much as spoke kindly about Yeshua of Nazareth when he was here in the flesh  used to be shunned and excluded from synagogue attendance. There is even a word for Jewish person barred from attending synagogue: aposunagogos.

The relevance of charges

The heritage of the sons of Israel is called “law” with good reason. While the written work of Moses is properly instruction, the name Torah means just that, teaching and instruction, it comes with prescriptions for addressing cases brought to the attention of the Levites and priests.  Prescription and proscription are the tools of a prosecutor.  In other words, where the law says “You shall” and “You shall not” there we will find the necessary defence and prosecution.

The terms related to “bring a charge” that we find in Acts are 

  • accuse
  • bring accusation
  • bring charges 

A judicious Messiah

In the Gospels we find Jewish people seeking rulings from Yeshua on common problems and even some hypothetical ones.  While he always had an answer that brings a divine perspective on human affairs the Lord Christ refused to assign punishments to offenders.  He is on the record saying that he came to save people not condemn them.

Knowing that the scrolls of Moses (the book of the law) was an indictment against the sons of Israel, and were placed in close proximity to the ark of the covenant with the tables of stone as a part of the prosecution of the sons of Israel.

It is not extreme therefore for the Lord Christ to have identified Moses (John 5:45) as the one who accuses (katēgoreô, κατηγορεω), or for Paul to identify the law as the article for condemnation (katakrinô, κατακρινω) and to write  “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God;” (2 Corinthians 3:7, 9, 11 and Romans 3:19, NASB)

Law, crime, faith, and death

Two  important observations are necessary here. First, that is not because people violate the law that they become guilty before God in the first place, and secondly, the law enters only to magnify or to enlarge the fact of human violation of God’s will, which we will have to admit from antiquity is not the law but the violation of trust.  Let no one dance around the fact that a person is allowed to lie and steal in broad daylight in America if one is not talking to the FBI and is a corporate entity pushing product. Law helps crime and faith is the certain antidote to death.

That is to say, humans are liable to God for not trusting him.  We owe him and live in condemnation for not believing.

He who believes (present tense) in Him is not judged (present tense); he who does not believe has been judged (perfect tense) already, because he has not believed (perfect tense) in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18, NASB)

The significance of the present tense in this verse is that the action continues, and the significance of the perfect tense in this verse is that the action has an ongoing condition related to it.

“ὁ πιστεύων (present tense) εἰς αὐτὸν οὐ κρίνεται (present tense)· ὁ ⸀δὲ μὴ πιστεύων ἤδη κέκριται, ὅτι μὴ πεπίστευκεν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ.” (John 3:18, MorphGNT)

So we can conclude that Paul’s question “Who will bring a charge?” is a necessary Messianic perspective.  How dare anyone accuse the people who Christ has released from judgment and condemnation with law and prophet or visionary?  How dare they indeed? It is time to halt the assault with obedience to law on people who have come to God through Christ.

No nice girl in there

(Expanded May 31, 2021)

Ephraim is another name for the northern part of Canaan, the kingdom of Israel. The Israelite kingdom was the first to feel God’s chastening rod by means of deportation. The southern kingdom, Judah, soon followed Israel into exile. Hosea, one of the late prophets, had a message about the “Israelite” kingdoms that is bolder than shocking. Whores go whoring, and Hosea saw it up close in his personal life and in the kingdoms. There is not a nice girl in the resume presented by the people who were in the room.

Prostitution in the Pentateuch was not a talking point about potential filth in the people’s psyche. God warned Israel about prostituting herself with the abominable practices of the Canaanite people, and he predicted that they would do so repeatedly.

Fleeting Goodness, Prophets and Priests

We can go only so far if we are satisfied with a wooly-eyed look at the popular story. God’s mercy does extend into eternity and we are aware that even a proverbial seven decades for us get our act together is more than adequate. We would be caught in a web of the spider who catches the unwary with a narrative of infinite cycles of apostasy and return (repentance). The popular line is that Israel-Judah has been through the cycle of estrangement, chastisement, and restoration. What is left can in no way be called a kingdom. When the judgments so often include death (as in the wilderness journeys, the enabling of enemy assaults and invasions, and hundreds of individuals executed by the government) there is not much to attach to infinite cycles of sin and restoration.

On one occasion Yahweh offered David options for punishment. David chose to be chastised by God rather than humans. This question – “what shall I do to you?” – is something different.

O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goes away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and your judgments are as the light that goes forth.

Hosea 6:4

Here the prophet reports that Yahweh has a case to make about the value of his repeated corrective measures. It is obvious that there is no such thing as an endless cycle of spurn and return. One day the piper’s hand comes out, waiting for his pay. “What shall I do to you?” from Yahweh signals that the prescribed measures have not brought about the wellbeing everyone craved. The cutting down of the people by prophetic declarations and by His own decrees is the divine response to momentary goodness. Goodness in a prayer in the morning is like the dew. Goodness in a multitude of offerings is fleeting.

Prophets and priests transgress like humans

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.

Hosea 6:6-7

Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood. (Hosea 6:8) And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness. (Hosea 6:9)

Hosea 6:8-9

Two places of opportunity were provided for the covenant to become at least expedient if not fulfilled: the sacrificial services and the medical practices of Gilead. There is supposed to a balm in Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22, 46:11, 51:8). Rather rather than burnt offerings there might have been mercy. We know who made the decisions about the worshipper’s expenses for sacrifices. Every sin by a priest (reported) required a bull. A ram might do, or two doves and two pigeons might suffice for a person with less means (Lev. 5:7). We can see how the practice of selling animals as a part of the temple service was vulnerable to filthy captialism.

Prostitition sinks the ship

Horrific things were happening elsewhere too. In Judah the effect of a broken down marriage, due to partner defilement, was in full view in New Testament times.

I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.

Hosea 6:10

There is a tacit resignation to Judah’s stiffneck after end of the exile. When the Persian returned the captivity (reversed the exile) one might have expected the Gentile uncleanness and desire for foreign gods would have ended. It is not surprising that the resistance to God and the sleeping around continued in New Testament times, even as the temple compound became an even more colossal monumental testimony to the people keeping up the marriage appearance. The king was Herod. The king was Caesar.

Also, O Judah, he hath set a harvest for you, when I returned the captivity of my people.

Hosea 6:11

What happens to a defiled wife or even a betrothed partner is assigned in the Law. It is highly unlikely that a couple will want to stay together in such situations. Even though a familiarity with God’s ways and words reveals that we should only say “never” when He says “never” fixing broken things a relationship with a defiled spouse is not happening without a crisis.

“If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 3:1

Supporting the state of Israel to defy the solution of the Palestinian Problem only goes the affirm that finding a nice girl in the ancient picture of Israel, Judah, or any of the nations is unlikely and improbable. One would have to zoom in in a few seconds of antiquity to find the nice girl. We still believe that where we see shut doors God sees open doors. Where the law depends on prisions the Son of Man imposes liberty. In the modern picture of Judah and the nations it is equally unlikely and improbable to find a nice girl.

Finding the Fight Fit is Easy

Revisiting the idea that the word of truth needs to be measured and fit together is neither tiring nor monotonous. Popular as rightly dividing among people who have neither interest nor ability to work with the Biblical text, the actual work is missing in action.

There are thousands of poorly translated Bible expressions which lead to disastrous interpretations. There are scores of popular sayings that pollute the word-working environment which we have thought were Christ-centered.

Investigating those expressions closely from the source and with Christ as the axis is still our best shield against silly slogans and shallow beliefs.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Peter got it right when he said to Yeshua “Where can we go? You have the words of life“. He would be a mega hypocrite if he was thinking that some other person also had the words of life. What would it make us if we say what Peter said and keep a convenient back up or alternate source handy?

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

Matthew 7:26

To propose that our Lord had a scroll in his hand when he uttered these words is evidence that the influence of demonic hypnosis is more important than biblical fact. Who else would turn you down a useless sideroad?

The Threat of Falsehood

Separating the facts from the fantasy is a fairly regular routine. No special skills are needed and one does not need a “How to” list from experts. Virtual reality, cosplay and slogans are the main tools of the false forces. No-one should think that a list of ingredients, fine print, very small print, and huge billboards are unrelated to the proliferation of alternate ideas about the real and the false. We have no choice but to put into these categories much of what passes for intelligent and effective Christian doctrine.

There are far too many people opining about things they have not seen. One can watch a lot of videos and read a lot of books, but let us be sure that it is not the quantity of material one consumes but the quality of one’s sources. Real knowledge is arrived at through inquiry. Merely repeating what we have heard does not make something factual or reliable.

Filtering out the false

Critical cautions can come in a dream, from reading the text, or from the behaviour of a beetle. Instruction in the truth is a matter of being alive and eligible. Truth has a destination to which we travel and we do so with our own truth. Incorrect or corroborated statements have no place at all in our growth arrangements.

Source and Sources

Our security comes down to – not walls – openness and deliberate testing of what people are saying. If we have to consider who is speaking before we give yourselves permission to ask the diagnostic questions then we are enmeshed in the deception network.
Dead people are locked in on food and drink, dedicated to Moses and any prophet of their choosing, and we will find them repeating catchy phrases, intimidating converts, and making the same claim as the desolate house Israel-Judah.

The Old Testament is still informative but it is not an authority since John the Baptist. It is pure laziness on the part of interpreters of the gospel to keep slamming audiences and readers with the same old tired mantras of the law and the prophets. Yeshua on the scene meant an urgent and dramatic change was in the making, and with the exception of the disciples as his remnant the Jewish economy became rubbish.

We have lost our credibility when we teach people that the new covenant has the old covenant at its centre. If a person is distracted by the number of pieces of literature they are expected to read in addition to the bible then the answer is to get back the Bible.

No two ways to interpret

The terms of the new covenant says that the new covenant will exclude the words of the old. That there is a new arrangement: no confusion.

For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Hebrews 8:8

That new arrangement veers away: no confusion. The old and the new, the ex and my new spouse, cannot occupy the same space.

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. Hebrews 8:9

Useless Teachers

How many times since becoming an adult have you been told what to think and what to do by someone with no authority over you? It is happening every time someone spouts off about the moral law of God.

And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. Hebrews 8:11

Why do people cling to nonsense like “the Law of His shows God’s character”? Why do we find people who still try to pretend that they are teaching people about the Kingdom of God and His great message of salvation? They have, just like the Hebrews at Sinai, refused to hear the divine voice, and they have refused to accept the death of Christ as the end of the “marriage” to sin, death and the law.

If we are unable to introduce people to Jesus, and if we all unable to find what it was that Jesus taught so that we can teach people to observe, then we understand because people are not looking at Jesus, but looking at Moses and God knows who else. They are probably not even reading the words of Yeshua. Now that’s the place to begin to settle one’s house on the foundation: the very words of Jesus.

The vast majority of teaching experiences that we have seen in the modern era are mere window-dressing: there’s nothing there. No one is really asking any hard questions so no one is really trying to answer them. Those teachers who seem thrilled to keep reciting things that their ancestors have said over the centuries since the apostles died may likely be dead (unsaved and without a calling).

People are afraid to teach what Yeshua taught because his teaching is still a call for radical thought, and we do not need not need to think if the pie-in-the-law and the law-is-the-pie doctrine is our treasure.

Life Maintenance as we Travel

While most Christians will tell us that the priority of life is its external character many have not distinguished endless life from divine life. The evangelical focus on going to heaven at death seems like more of a rug under which one can shove the immediate receipt of life than the confidence of a happy future. That we have passed from death to life is not in doubt but many prefer to see the Christian experience as partly our perfect position in Christ and partly a defining performance as less than stellar, which only a few dare try to defend. We are not now immortal, so eternal life, as a present possession, is not immortality.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:14-15

A complaining mindset complication

The details of the bronze serpent episode cannot go much further than the manner or timing. “As” ought to shape our extraction of truth from the Lord’s saying. He means “like this” in our wilderness journey.

The overarching reason for death in the wilderness was unbelief. As surely as God brought Israel to Canaan he will bring us to heavenly Zion despite snakebite and huge casualties.

And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Numbers 21:5-6

Imagine having to look at a snake for relief from its fatal venom that is coursing through your veins.

This episode from Numbers is the background for the famous passage John 3:14-16 and the experience as a paradigm for life maintenance has been poorly appreciated.

Evangelists and teachers of all stripes love to trot out John 3:16 as the salvation call. Salvation from snakebite however is not the same as life from the dead and 3:16 does not address anyone getting life.
The Bronze Serpent in the Wilderness episode does not adress anyone coming back from the dead. Israel was a saved people who were kept alive by unusual means the most arresting of which is right here in the Bronze Serpent episode.

God loved the world thus, he gave his only Son so that anyone who keeps believing in him may keep his grip on divine life.

Coming to Christ and getting salvation happens once, but relief for injuries along the way – the Saviour Raised as a Bronze Serpent – once saved, is a necessity

Hey Preacher! Decree This!

I’m sure you’ve seen some guy (usually male, young and of African descent) on TV abusing a perfectly incontrovertible fact.
Christ came to save from sin,
not to heal and terrorise people with the love of ease and the world.
You may have also seen the demeaning boot camp environment of military training that colours the so-called teaching sessions or Bible studies. It is distressing when young children are being taught to decree and declare instead of praying to a caring heavenly Father. Hopefully, there is not one in your church.

No pride

Parents ought to be ashamed of children who, for example, not knowing what the Bible says about life,
eternal or human, dare to teach others, and by children who rise no higher than following the crowd. Typically, this ambassador of humanity most likely skipped Bible school at Yeshua’s feet to learn to decree and declare (squat). This preacher-healer-apostle-bishop no doubt went to Baalist and hypocrite-trumpeting university to learn to pray.

Test the facts

So in the interest of genuine prayer and facts let’s see a quick end to harassment in the guise of blessing, prayer, and prophecy.

How many times can one decree all demons to flee (or go back to hell. Were they ever there?) How many people need to agree for God to approve and deliver our requests? I have felt like jumping in the fray with something like …

Hey preacher! Decree this!

Decree away the darkness that covers the mind. Please.

Decree away corrupt governments.

Decree away the ignorance that makes Christ saviour from everything but sin.

Decree away the influence of Islam and neo-Babylon from from our communities.

Decree away the African exodus to Europe

Oh yeah! While you are decreeing and declaring, decree a few dollars into the pockets of the poor you pass every day on your way to the set…

Not only can we do better than putting out trashy entertainment, our duty to feed and guard Christ’s flock comes with the equipment for producing excellence.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

Dig into New Testament Greek

An Introduction to New Testament Greek One

Coming this Fall Semester (September to December) to Rhema Studies of Theology Association’s East Campus

Instructor: Dr. Elbert Joseph

Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων. (Mark 1:16b)

As usual, affordable quality Christian education, scheduled conveniently for most busy schedules.

This course is highly recommend for pastors and everyone interested in more accurately accessing the precious truths in the New Testament.  By the end of this first course the student will be confidently translating Greek to English and English to Greek

 See RSOTA’s website (http://www.rsota.org) for more information or send me a message for registration  or questions.