By Jan Lilleby
A Bible Scholar back in the 18th Century once wrote:
“It shall greatly help to understand scripture
if thou mark, not only what is spoken
or written, but of whom, to whom, with what
words, at what time, where, to what intent, and with
what circumstances, considering what goes
before and what follows.”
This saying still holds water!
It is a very good advice to all who wants to assure themselves of getting their Bible understanding correctly. And thus avoid to committing grave error and misunderstanding the Holy Bible.
For better make my teaching efforts here come clear to the reader, please allow me to use a few simple examples from real life. By comparing with believers way back – who started sects based on totally wrong Bible understanding – we can better learn how these things really were meant from God’s side. He did not want us to end up in dead-end streets when thinking of Bible understanding. He wanted us to fully comprehend what He was talking of in every single verse in His Holy Writ.
It is fully possible to avoid grave error when reading the Bible.
I think that one of the most obvious matters in the Bible comes to light when we make comparison to what God had Moses write down in his time with what God had Paul write down 1500 years later, regarding the very same matter.
I am thinking of the food ordinances found in Lev. 11:7 on abstaining from eating pork, for not to mention the much controversial ordinance of the keeping of Sabbaths. The latter found in Exo. 16:23-26. For if a poor Bible student stopped there, in what God told Moses 1500 years before the apostle Paul came on the scene, he would surely end up in a spiritual dead-end street.
Such misfortune has happened to some known sect-leaders way back in time; which I shall come to shortly.
Paul simply, on God’s command, nullified and made out of effect the Mosaic ordinances regarding food and Sabbath, as well as keeping certain holidays/feast days and even New Moon days, quoting Col. 2:16, 17,
“Therefore let no one sit in judgment on you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath. - - Such things are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value, but the reality (the substance, the solid fact of what is foreshadowed, the body of it) belongs to Christ.” (Amplified Bible).
This doctrinal statement from Paul thus confirms to us, that neither food ordinances nor feast days as well as Sabbaths, are valid for believers of our time.
We do no longer, as it was with Israel under God, have to obey and live by keeping the Law of Moses with its commandments and ordinances, thinking that we would please God by doing so. It is totally obvious that Paul on behalf of God dismissed these rules, so that no one can sit in judgment on believers who don’t keep any of them.
Unjustified critique against a believer that does not stay off pork, or do not keep the Sabbath, most often comes from the Adventist-camp in Christianity. Since these so openly demonstrate that they do keep Sabbath and they do keep certain food ordinances.
But God has never laid such specific rules upon the Church dispensation. That is why Paul so clearly makes a point of this in his epistle to the Ephesians and the Colossians.
The prophet of God, Moses, introduced the Sabbath, but the apostle of God and Christ, Paul, dismissed and entirely called off the ordinance, yes – all the ordinances as a matter of fact.
The Law of Moses was abolished as we can learn from Eph. 2:14, 15,
“For He (Christ) is our peace. He has made us both (Jew and Gentile) one (body), and has broken down the hostile dividing wall between us. - - By abolishing in His (own crucified) flesh the enmity (caused by) the Law with its decrees and ordinances (which He annulled); that He from the two might create in Himself one new man (one new quality of humanity out of the two), so making peace.”
This strong and true apostolic statement from Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, proves to all of us that if Christ had not annulled the Law and the ordinances, there would NOT have been a Church, the Body of Christ, also called “One new man”.
In other words: The Church would not have existed at all if God in Christ had not taken away the Law. Because the Church has this unique foundation in regards to its believers: It consists and exists on the basis of God having made into ONE BODY both the believing Jew and the believing Gentile, by having torn down/removed the wall of partition which actually was the Law of Moses! The Law had to go before there was any Church established. The Bible proves this beyond any doubt, and in a non-negotiable manner.
And so we learn that all sects, Adventists being just one of them, are totally in opposition to the arrangement made by God to have the Church established. They want to keep Sabbath and to keep food ordinances etc. – which is out of the question regarding the very nature of the Church. The Church has nothing to do with the Mosaic Law!
Paul wrote this doctrine of the Law abolished, 1500 years after Moses wrote the Law. So here we are reminded, as I mentioned in my quote above of the Biblical guide – we must check out what was written before, and then also check out what was written after.
In so doing we find that Moses had done the right thing in his time, and Paul abolishing that Law 1500 years later did the right thing in his time! They both followed God’s instructions and therefore there exist no controversy in this.
Why? What was the intention behind it?
Paul explained this in Col. 2 as I quoted above: These things within the Law were only shadows of what was to come with Christ. The Law was never the main thing. But Christ and His taking away all sin were. Paul said in another epistle, that the Law was a schoolmaster for Christ. It pointed into the future, when Christ should come and take all sin upon Himself.
Now that Christ have come, and even ascended to God His Father after being raised from the dead, the Law is out of effect. It has no purpose anymore, thus it is not a part of the faith-doctrine for the Church, which we find in Paul’s two epistles Ephesians and Colossians.
Notice carefully how Paul so explicitly links together that the establishing of the Church is made by abolishing the Law FIRST. The Law had to go, so that the Church, the “One new man” in Christ could come forth – and it is now Jews and Gentiles on same level in the faith making up the Body of Christ. But if the Law had still been in effect, it would have been ‘Jews first, then Gentile – like Paul wrote in Rom. 1:16. At which time the Law had not yet been abolished (Romans was written in 58 A.D. – but Ephesians/Colossians in 62-63 A.D. AFTER Israel first had fallen away from God as a nation.
We can only find the Church after Acts Book has been closed.
There have been hundreds, yes thousands of believers up through history who have said and preached that they were elected by God through visions, dreams and even visits from angels, and meant that they had been personally established as God’s prophets.
But they all have in common that they were false and did not keep to the Biblical truth. And they have managed to establish sects and cults, and a known prophetess was Ellen Gould White (1827-1915) when speaking of the Seventh Day Adventists. Her understanding of the Bible was in full opposition to what Paul taught in Colossians and Ephesians. So we cannot defend her doctrine, however – she might still have been a Christian in the sense of having been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Only God can judge in that. But she did not conform to Paul’s teaching, when we lay up the Church faith doctrine.
All sects have such instigators, believing of themselves as personally elected by God.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses follows Charles Taze Russel’s system of doctrine, and we find that the Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) follow Joseph Smith and his angelic revelations by a false ‘Holy book’, the book of Mormon. Supposedly given to Smith by an angel called Moroni.
It should be mentioned that Charles Taze Russell in his teenage years came out of the fresh Adventist denomination in USA, and ended up with creating a sect himself. It was called Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society in the early days, which we now call Jehovah’s Witnesses. Russell died one year after Mrs. White, in 1916 in Texas.
Joseph Smith’s ‘revelations’ was of course a full bluff – judge for yourselves: He taught his followers that an angel, Moroni, had lead him to a place where the Book of Mormon was hidden in the ground. It was made of pages in pure gold, and the book told of Jewish-Christian believers in America’s ancient times. He ‘translated’ the book and published it in 1830, calling it for ‘The Book of Mormon’.
If you wish you may check it out in Wikipedia, as well as many other websites.
It is quite astounding and fantastic that any intelligent normal human being can go on believing such fairy tales which Joseph Smith presented.
Smith was killed by a raging mob when he was jailed in Carthage, Illinois in 1844. He was accused of treason. When Smith was asked to deliver proof of the existence of the gold book which was dug up, he simply explained that the angel Moroni had taken the book with him. (The gold book has of course never existed – it is a pure hoax and a fairy tale at best).
Paul’s words in Col. 2 quoted above are in full agreement with his word written in Eph. 2:14, 15 of the Law of Moses having been abolished. The two epistles were written at the same time around 62-63 A.D. as Paul was in jail for the second and final time.
The Law of Moses was never given to Gentiles. It was only presented to the Hebrews in the wilderness, which later on became the nation of Israel. Rom. 2:14 say,
“….Gentiles who have NOT the Law…”
The Greek text has the meaning of ALL Gentiles – and not just a few Gentiles not having the Law, while other Gentiles had the Law. It is in a definite form and telling of all the Gentiles being without the Law.
We cannot find Moses in Scriptures as a prophet who was sent by God out to the Gentile nations, to have them obey the Law. Has anyone of you thought of that?
On the contrary, the Law was given to make a concise separation between Jews and Gentiles, keeping them apart. This is the very reason for why we cannot find Moses as a missionary. The Law worked as a wall of partition, and the Jews was on the inside of it, but the Gentiles were on the outside, Eph. 2:12,
“Remember that you (Gentiles, see v. 11) were at that time separated (living apart) from Christ, utterly estranged and outlawed (being without the Law of Moses) from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the promise, and you had no hope; you were in the world without God.”
The fact that Israel always has had proselytes from Gentile nations with them did not mean that they had the Law – the entire Gentile world. Only those few singular proselytes was presented the Law and had to take circumcision. The wall of partition was standing, even if a few were proselytes.
But as God had the free Grace Gospel revealed to the world by Paul – an international Gospel – this separating wall was torn down. Since God had Christ taking all the sin upon Himself, thus making the Law irrelevant.
This Grace revelation is found in Eph. 3:1-9 where Paul explains everything and that the revelation was a former Mystery hidden in God before Paul was given this Grace ministry. You should read this for yourself!