I’m here to stir the Church — the sainthood of Jesus Christ — back to its holy senses. In my considerable number of years on my Christian journey, I have been an integral part of mini-churches, medium churches, and mega churches. They all have one thing in common, the need for refreshing — a total re-immersion in truth. With rare exception, their spiritual virility has been stunted from gross materialism, traditionalism, paganism, commercialism, political correctness, a general spiritual malaise, and an epic spiritual identity crisis. I want to serve as a fulcrum for returning to what we are called by God to be, “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, [and] a peculiar people” (1Peter 2:9). My express desire is to bring God to people, to bring people to God, and to bring God’s people together. If you feel the same way, then I invite you to follow me as I journey onward in my quest to please, model, and glorify Jesus Christ. I’ll give you my name soon. But for now, you may refer to me as newjudah, or JEDi, an acronym which has special meaning to me.
Posts tagged ‘God’
By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2014 by Joseph Diop
We, the Church, are the people of the New Covenant. Sunday after Sunday, and Wednesday after Wednesday, and some days in between, we gather at our houses of worship to study the Bible. And yet, from church to church and steeple to steeple, we are making the exact same errors and committing the exact same sins as our counterparts of the Old Testament. It seems, we never learn. And God, whom our Bible tells us is no “respecter of persons” (2Chr 19:7; Eph 6:9), is going to have to judge us the same way he judged our old covenant forebears – the nations of Israel and Judah. And what is our sin? Idolatry. It is the sin of attempting to adapt practices offered to pagan gods, and adopt them for our use toward the holy God of Israel, our Father and Savior. Our traditions and Christian calendar are replete with this. But here, I will only look at one case in point, the holiday we call Christmas. It is a hodgepodge of unholy pagan traditions. We have simply slapped Christ’s name on them, and repackaged them for Christian consumption. And shall we be guiltless for this? Not on your life. The word plainly says to us,
“20 Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches [Israel and Judah of old], take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Rom 11:20-22, brackets mine).
I will first cite a few passages of scripture that address the subject, so that you can read them for yourselves. Then, I’ll give my commentary on them.
The Biblical Commandments: What Do the Scriptures Say?
10 Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles… 3 For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. 5 They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves…” (Jeremiah 10:1- 5)
29 “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (Deuteronomy 12:29-32)
20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1Thess 5:20-21)
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. 15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:21-24; 15)
But, it’s for the children, right?
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6)
14 So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.” … 11 Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”… 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: 29 The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. … 31 But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. 32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. (Numbers 14)
Clearly, God will not allow us to use the idea of our children’s welfare as an excuse to disobey him. Instead, he expects us to diligently teach our children what the will of God is every day, from morning until night. Then, they will know and do it themselves.
God has not changed.
Jesus said, 17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 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.” (Matt 5:17-18)
For I am the Lord, I change not. (Mal 3:6)
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Heb 13:8)
Babylon is a State of Mind
Babylon is spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18. It is the mixture of the truth of Christianity with the popular world views, ungodly kingdoms, and religions of the day. God says in Revelation 18 that he will utterly destroy Babylon. The prophetess of Babylon is Jezebel — the conglomeration of false teachers — whom God says does “teach and… seduce my servants to commit fornication, and eat things sacrificed to idols” (Rev 2:20). This is a way of saying that they are taught to be unfaithful and compromising, which equates to idolatry. Babylon is the state of mind for all who see God as simply a “good ole boy,” who doesn’t really care how he is worshipped. After all, it doesn’t really matter, does it? I mean, he wouldn’t kill us all, would he? And after all, “everybody’s doing it,” right? Well, according to the first commandment in the Bible, it does matter who you are listening to. It says, “29 And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; [that is, LISTEN TO], The Lord our God… one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength…” (Mark 12:29-30). Simply put, “If you love God, you will listen to him and obey.” But for Babylonians, he says, “16 But unto the wicked God says, “What have you to do to declare my statutes, or that you should take my covenant in your mouth? 17 Seeing you hate instruction, and cast my words behind thee…. 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. 22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver: 23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:16-23)
Man-Made Holidays are “Folly Days”
According to Merriam-Webster’s etymology, the word ‘holiday’ comes from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”). In other words, holiday is a natural secularization of the original term “holy day.” And as well, it might be secularized (which means, to be “adapted for the world”), because we couldn’t otherwise have millions of ungodly, unsaved, non-believers observing days that we celebrate Jesus Christ, now could we? And so, what once meant holy days, now have become nothing more than holidays, or “folly days.” The term ‘folly’ in the Bible denotes “fool’s play,” or that to which fools have accustomed themselves. And fools have no concept of those things which are truly holy. They cannot declare the meaning of God’s feasts or festivals, and cannot relate to God’s plans or purpose. This is because they lack the necessary root within themselves of knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, they simply can’t connect the dots, nor explain why or how a holy day should remain holy. But, in fact and in truth, God meant for his holy days to remain holy forever, and for idolatry to forever be viewed as a desecration. Woe to those who try to sanctify what is worldly or trample on what is holy.
In scripture, God originally gave seven (7) holy days, which he also referred to as feast days. Christmas is NOT one of them. God’s holy days are outlined in Leviticus 23, and are introduced by these words; “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts” (Lev 23:1-2). The days given here are: 1) Passover, 2) Unleavened Bread, 3) Firstfruits, 4) Pentecost, 5) Trumpets, 6) Atonement, and 7) Tabernacles. Later in the passage, the Lord adds, “These are the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations…, everything upon its day…, Beside the Sabbaths of the LORD…” (Lev 23:37,38). We’ll not expound upon these feasts herein, but only affirm them.
Now, that which God has not ordered CANNOT be made holy. We see this principle in the very first offering of the very first book of the Bible, Genesis. In Genesis 4, Cain tried to offer a sacrifice which God had not ordered, and it was rejected. His brother Abel, however, offered the sacrifice God ordered and was accepted. Cain’s irrational jealousy over the incident is what led to the first murder (Gen 4:1-15). Again, more severe consequences for trying to offer God something which he had not ordered are shown in the story of Nadab and Abihu, two priests who were sons of Aaron. Their tragic story is related in Leviticus 10:1-7.
1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. 2 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spoke, saying, ‘I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ And Aaron held his peace. 4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. 5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled. 7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.
Here are two examples of an eternal principle: God is NOT inclined to accept anything which He himself has not designated as holy, for He is the only expert on holiness. Therefore, great care must always be exercised in offering to God anything, including so-called holidays, if he himself has not designated them as holy. There are few exceptions to this rule. One is Purim. The other is the more modern Thanksgiving. Purim is a feast started by God’s people in the days of Esther the Queen, to commemorate the dramatic deliverance of the people of God from their enemies. And Thanksgiving, rightly understood, is not just a day for being thankful for any and everything. It is a day for God’s people to give thanks to God for the survival of the original North American church planting mission. The harsh winter had decimated their ranks, but the feast was instituted to recognize that it was the Lord God who had enabled them to survive and establish the first “colony of heaven” from Europe to the Americas. And as such, those who are not Christians and who have no sense of mission do not understand the enterprise embarked upon by those early Pilgrim settlers. As such, they could never appreciate what the day is all about. These days are offered to God by God’s people as commemorations of his divine providence in preserving them from forces that would have surely annihilated them. As purely collective acts of thanksgiving then, these days are acceptable to God.
Christmas, on the other hand, is a sheer bastardization of everything it reputes to be holy. And as such, it is not to be thought of as acceptable to the Lord. First of all, it is widely acknowledged that Jesus was not born on December 25. The date of his birth is not given in scripture. So, no lie can be accepted as the foundation of worship to the God of truth. Look up Christmas using any encyclopedia or online resource, and what you find may shock you. It is widely acknowledged that Christmas Day, December 25th, is an adaptation of the pagan holidays celebrated on that date — Saturnalia and Brumalia. It has nothing to do originally with the birth of Christ. To take a pagan holiday and try to adopt that to worship our holy God is the chief of all no-no’s. Remember, God said;
29 “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 YOU SHALL NOT WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD IN THAT WAY; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods… (Deut 12:29-31)
The early Catholic Church, in all its infinite wisdom, took December 25th, because it was already widely observed by the masses of pagans, and thought to Christianize it. They dubbed it, “the mass of Christ,” or more popularly “Christ’s mass,” known nowadays as Christmas. This misadventure of adapting paganism and trying to cover it over with the offering of worship to God is not new. Aaron tried it in the story of Exodus 32, with nearly catastrophic consequences.
1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” 5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. … 15 And Moses turned and went down from the mountain… 19 So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.
25 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’” 28 So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29 Then Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.” 30 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin… 33 And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34 Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.” 35 So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.
LESSON: YOU CAN’T BORROW FROM PAGANISM AND TURN IT INTO A HOLY DAY FOR THE LORD. God is holy, and paganism is not. The two don’t mix, like oil and water. That’s exactly what Israel attempted to do here. It outraged God and Moses. A holy civil war erupted; or rather, a holy slaughter ensued. God sent a plague among the people, and as if that weren’t enough, he promised also future punishment, as well. Read the passage in its entirety, and you’ll see that God threatened to destroy the whole nation, and to start fresh with Moses. And, had not Moses talked God down from that plan, that would have been the end of Israel.
So now, here we are centuries later, attempting to do this same foolish thing with this folly day we call Christmas. And, it is a hot mess of pagan rituals. I’ll not bore you with the details, but I’ll leave it to your own industry of research to discover how that the Christmas tree, the greenery, the mistletoe, and various other traditions, are all right out of the pagan playbook. But this is Babylon for you, and we know God’s wrath is on Babylon. Read Revelation 18 and you’ll see just how God plans to make an example out of Babylon — an example, that is, of utter doom.
Now, we are saved by grace. As the word assures us, “For we are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:12). That’s very comforting to most of us, seeing that our Christian ancestors have been celebrating Christmas for generations, being totally unaware of its pagan underpinnings. Breathe easy for them, for I am not proposing that celebrating Christmas will keep any believer out of heaven. And I trust that you will know, likewise, that not celebrating it will get no one into heaven. But, once we learn better, we are expected to do better. Right? And the season has come when even sins committed in ignorance have to be repented of and corrected. We must ask forgiveness for our sins — even sin committed that we have been previously unaware of. In Numbers 15:22-31, God outlined the atonement for his community when they sinned without their knowledge. It had to be atoned for by blood sacrifice, just like any other sin. Now we know that Jesus shed his blood once and for all for us. He is our sacrifice, but we have to appeal to him, and ask for forgiveness when we find out we have sinned without our knowledge. For, Jesus had to suffer and die for all sin — sins we know about, as well as sins we are not aware of. And after we learn better, if we continue in that sinful thing, then the Bible says we sinned ‘presumptuously,’ and have “reproached the LORD,” because we have “despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment.” God says of that individual, “that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Num 15:30, 31).
Again, God said, “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deut 12:29-32). And God said, “And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them” (Deut 28:14). Do you think that this is only an Old Testament injunction? Listen to this: the very last words from the last three verses from the last New Testament book of the Bible, Revelation. They express God’s intention in both Old and New Testament, from the first book of the Bible to the last:
18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18, 19 Amen.
Take the Google Challenge
Look up ‘Christmas’ using any popular online search engine and see what you find. Or, just use any standard encyclopedia and see what you come up with. The facts of Christmas are not hidden, just largely ignored by church officials. Here’s a few extracts from popular websites to get you started.
Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia
Under “Christmas” and “History,” it says…
While the birth year of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to have been between 7 and 2 BC, the exact month and day of his birth are unknown…. In 245, Origen of Alexandria, writing about Leviticus 12:1–8, commented that Scripture mentions only sinners as celebrating their birthdays, namely Pharaoh, who then had his chief baker hanged (Genesis 40:20–22), and Herod, who then had John the Baptist beheaded (Mark 6:21–27), and mentions saints as cursing the day of their birth, namely Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14–15) and Job (Job 3:1–16). In 303, Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration.
The History Channel
Pay special attention to the section entitled “An Outlaw Christmas.” Following is a brief quote.
From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings… In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.
Britannica Encyclopedia Online
Under “Origin and Development,” it says…
One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer.
Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Diop
It is widely believed that Old Testament belongs to the study of history, and so often we treat it as such. If we are to believe the words of Romans 15:4 and 1Corinthaians 10:6-11, then our thinking has to be dramatically reoriented. Listen:
4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for OUR learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4 And,
6Now these things were OUR EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 1Corinthaians 10:6-11
The fact is that their experiences – those of Isreal and Judah of old – were very real and very personal, but what is also just as true is that God was using them to speak directly and presently to us. Using historical characters as object lessons, He was teaching us and driving home points to us in a living and powerful way. There’s no other mode of teaching so real. So, yes; God was speaking to you and to me, through the scriptures of the Old Testament.
Therefore, we should no longer say things like, “This passage is speaking to Israel, and therefore has an application not directly bearing on us, but we can take something from this.” Instead, with new understanding and firm resolve, we should say, “The lessons in this passage are directed to us today, and we must either learn them, or face the same fate as the people whom we are studying.” It is said, “Those who don’t learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
The Word records that God delivered the words of the Law (and all subsequent scripture too, for that matter) to His people, and that “…[they] received the living oracles to give unto us” (Acts 7:38). Both Old Testament history, as well as the prophecies they contain, are meant for us in the church age. This truth is contained in the sermons of the apostles and their epistles. For example, consider this sermon Peter preached at the Temple when the lame man was healed.
24Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Acts 3:24-26
Peter here says unequivocally that Samuel and all the prophets foretold of these days. Which days? These days—the days right now. These are the days of the apostles and onwards, the days since Pentecost, the days called the “church age.” Furthermore he says, “Ye are the children of the prophets.” Who? “Ye are.” Again, to whom is he speaking? Peter is addressing a generation of believers and potential disciples of Jesus Christ. We are believers and active disciples of Jesus Christ. Peter was talking to them and to all who would follow, until the end of time. And he tells us that we are “children of the prophets.” How so? We are their children, because like the prophets, we also believe in God. Like the prophets, we have the Holy Spirit. Like the prophets, we also are inheriting the kingdom of God. Like the prophets, we also are subject to persecution, because of our faith (Mt 5:11-12). And like the prophets, the words which they believe, “belong unto [us] and to our children” (Dt 29:29). When the prophets spoke about the children — God’s children — their words were spoken to us and about us. For we are God’s children — without differentiation, without distinction, and without prejudice. That’s why the scripture says:
27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:27-27 It also says,
10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Col 3:10-11
This is true, because being children of Abraham is not about race, but about grace. It was never about flesh, but about faith. We are Abraham’s children, because we have the same believing, faithful spirit as Abraham. He was “the father of many nations” (Rom 4:17). Since the spirit is supreme, that makes us both children of Abraham and also of the prophets. Peter said,
39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:39
For sure, we are a generation “afar off,” but we too have been called through the gospel. So, as the apostle declared in his preaching, “the promise is unto [us] and to [our] children.” What promise? The promise of the gospel. And whatever promises were spoken to the prophets, or to the priests, or to bygone righteous souls, or to their kings, belong to us. The promise of the indwelling Holy Ghost, and every word that has proceeded out of the mouth of God from the beginning of the world until now, belong squarely to us.
Now then, we are faced with a great identity crisis in the church today. We are confused. We know that we are children of God. What we don’t know is that we are the selfsame children that the prophets were speaking to and speaking about in the Old Testament. We think somehow that we are a different group. The Jews are “God’s chosen people.” And we are not Jews, so we think. Well then, who are we? Let’s define ‘Jews’ the way Apostle Paul defined Jews.
28For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Roman 2:28,29
So then, true Jewishness is not at all about the flesh, but about the spirit. Our old Gentile hearts were circumcised by faith in Christ Jesus (Col 2:11). When that happened, we became new creatures (2Cor 5:17), who are children of God. And the children of God are referred to as “God’s chosen people” — chosen through the election of grace (Rom 9:11). Listen to Peter again.
9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 1Peter 2:9-10 Hallelujah. Amen.
So then, we now are “chosen.” And we enjoy all the same privileges and promises of God as do all of his chosen people. There’s no segregation is God’s house. There’s no Jim Crow among his chosen. There are no second class citizens in God’s kingdom. There is no “back of the bus” with regards to the covenants and promises of God. Neither does being a fully-enfranchised American make any difference or give any special privileges, where the things of God and His kingdom are concerned. You are either a saint, or you ain’t. It’s just that cut-and-dried. We are all one in Christ Jesus. And we ‘chosen’ are without distinction or racialism—no Jew and Gentile here. Therefore, we must stop thinking of ourselves as ‘Gentiles.’ For there are no Gentiles in Christ, the Word says. Neither are there Jews in Christ, ethnically speaking; for in Christ there is only “One New Man” (Eph 2:15). This is a vast subject, and all-encompassing. Let us bring here the all-encompassing knowledge of Apostle Paul to bear on the subject.
11Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Eph 2:11-21
Let me recapitulate what the apostle has just said. We used to be called Gentiles, but no more. Now we are considered “fellow citizens with the saints” (vs 19b),1 and of the “commonwealth of Israel” (vs 14b), and of all who were before us, including all the prophets, priests, and kings. We are now genuine members of “the household of God” (vs 19c). And along with every believer who has ever lived, we are “built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit— [the Holy Spirit]” (vs 22). Jesus has ‘abolished’ (vs 15a) all former distinctions in his own body. The apostle says, Christ “hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (vs 14a). And now, we are one people—a very fortunate people— who “have obtained mercy” (1Pet 2:10c).
(1The letters a,b,c designate the relative positions of the phrases of the verses from Ephesians 2:11-21)
And Paul declared that this was a great mystery in times past, which he endeavored to expound with all the gifts and power of the Spirit of God working in and with him.
3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Eph 3:3-6
Now, children, we can begin anew to study and to learn from the books of the Old Testament. We can listen with fresh ears and fully attentive minds. Now, we will find the messages contained therein real, relevant, and crucial for our own days and times, because they are indeed aimed at our days and times. These messages are, in fact, speaking expressly to us. They are only using the experiences and lives of historical figures and times as a medium. Let me here reiterate the main point of this all by citing once again the main scripture.
4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for OUR learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4 And,
6Now these things were OUR EXAMPLES, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them… 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed… 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them… 11Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 1Corinthaians 10:6-11
We, the Church, the people of the New Testament – including all Jewish believers – ARE the people “upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1Cor 10:11). Essentially, this then is a great ‘Gotcha!’ moment. This is like Nathan the prophet, sent to finger David for his dastardly deed concerning Uriah the Hittite, using a story about a third party to illustrate the heinousness of the offence. Seeing that we have convicted the people of old for their habitual sin and rebellion, God is now saying to this generation, “Thou art the man!” Thou art that “disobedient and contrary people” (Rom 10:21 NKJV). Or, concerning the word that is good and the promise that is desirable, know now that when God says, “They… are my people” (Eze 34:30), the ‘they’ is US.
Therefore, however and by whatever name God refers to or addresses his covenant people, we are included. As it is metaphorically explained to all gentiles in the New Testament, “You were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree… some of the branches [were] broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11:24, 17). So, we who were gentiles ethnically, have been grafted into God’s covenant people. And, God addresses us by a number of covenant names, including but not limited to: Israel, Judah, Zion, Jerusalem, children of Isreal, my people, daughter of Zion, Jacob, and etc. GOD is the God of Israel then, now, and always (Ex 3:15). And, if the Lord is now your God, it is only because you have now been “grafted into” his covenant people through Jesus Christ.
God’s Word remains unchanged throughout all ages. And now, with fresh mind and understanding, let us hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. For this generation – you and me today – are the target audience of all the scritptures are saying. So yes, children, God is talkin’ to us.