Biblical Oxymorons

What many see as textual conflicts are in fact basic to the Biblical message.

The world of contradiction, or at least what seems to be out of the ordinary, is fascinating to us humans. If you have ever been to an amusement park fun house and seen water defy gravity by running uphill, or watched a science demonstration where “lightning” shoots out of a man’s hands and he is unhurt, you know the intrigue. It often takes some explanation to understand what at first seems impossible. News reports of burning rivers stretch the limits of credulity, until we learn that its the pollution floating on the water that is actually burning.

Incongruities are common in our social customs as well. Seeing men of the Scottish highlands wearing skirts called kilts looks odd every time. So does the bearded lady in carnival sideshows.

Not even our language is free of contradictory concepts. Consider the following couplets from everyday speech: how do you “act naturally”?; or how can you be “almost exact”?; what about “new classic”; “definite maybe”; “pretty ugly”; “exact estimate”; “one-man crew”; or  the phrase “include me out”? These word combinations may not at first seem to oppose each other until one stops to consider what is actually being said. A figure of speech where opposites are combined is called oxymoron. Literally oxymoron means “pointedly foolish”(from the Greek oxus meaning “sharp” and moras meaning “foolish”).

 Skimming the Surface

Like self-contradictory expressions, the danger with erroneous teachings and beliefs is that habitual exposure to them has a way of numbing us to the literal truth. Take the expression, “conspicuous by its absence.” This tired cliche is totally irrationa1. How can something be obvious yet absent? Conflicting ideas are seemingly everywhere.

Yahweh’s Word presents problems to many who have only a surface understanding of it. Because of false preconceptions solidified over centuries, right and proper Biblical understanding commonly taught in the first century is seen today as incongruous. Sadly, centuries-old error derails many before they even have a chance to get on the pathway of right teaching.

This writer once asked a clerk at a religious bookstore for a book entitled, The Jewish New Testament. Her incredulous expression betrayed her thoughts: how could the New Testament possibly be “Jewish”? Why, everyone knows Jews don’t belong in the New Testament!

She apparently forgot that the first converts in the New Testament were all Jews. Yahshua commanded His disciples inMatthew 10:5: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter you not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The house of Israel included the Jews.

The Savior Was No Greek or Even Roman

A tradition said that Yahshua told the disciples to wait 12 years before going to the Gentiles. He Himself came first to Israel. Paul explains in Romans 11:25-30 that because of spiritual blindness within Israel, Gentiles were allowed into the Covenant. Still, Israel has not been excluded, either.

Why did not Yahshua come as a Greek or a Roman? Or at least why didn’t He take His ministry to Greece or Rome? After all, nominal worship today is as much Greco-Roman as it is Hebraic.

If the New Testament era is only for Gentile salvation, then why did the Son of Yahweh come in the lineage of the Hebrews? The answer is that Yahshua came to the Israelites because the promises were given to them first. John 1:11 tells us He came unto his own, and his own  received  him  not. As a Jew He came to His people with His message of Truth and they rejected Him.

Let’s say you make an agreement with person A (a good friend) to buy your car, but over time he is clearly dragging his feet. Along comes person B who is very interested in buying your car. What do you do? You go back to person A and tell him to “get with it” because you have person B who is also interested.

Yahshua went to the lost sheep of the house of Israel first. They didn’t have the heart to obey. Because they did not follow through with their commitment to keep the Covenant, He said that to their shame that salvation would now be open to all people who could partake inIsrael’s promises. But unless the Savior came as one of them they would never have believed Him. Therefore, He came as a Jew because the promises were given to them as part of Israel. Others could join in after Israel dropped the ball.

Mistaken Oxymorons

For Yahweh’s people to keep Old Testament Feasts in the New Testament is for many a huge contradiction — an oxymoron. “Those days are Jewish and are not for us,” they say. What they stumble over is that the Savior, Himself a Jew (Heb. 7: 14), kept the seventh-day Sabbath and Feasts of Leviticus 23.

Are we not told to follow His example? Is not Yahshua the Messiah our pattern in all righteousness? Read what He said: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

Misunderstood by many, the Sabbath and Feast days were given to all 12 tribes of Israel, not just to the tribe of Judah. Today’s True Worshipers are either physical or spiritual Israelites. They are not in a new religion completely separate from Old Testament Israel. They are grafted into the same promise made with Israel at Sinai. This fact is no oxymoron, but one of the central truths of the Scriptures.

Paul asks today’s worshiper, “Who are Israelites?” And then he answers his own question: “To whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Elohim, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, Elohim blessed for ever. Not as though the word of Elohim has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall your seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of Elohim: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9:4-8).

Here in this passage we find the following key facts:

 • Israelites through the Covenants are given the promise of everlasting life.

 • Others can be a part of Israel and receive the same promises by adoption and by following the same precepts Israel was commanded to keep.

 • Those who are spiritually of Yahweh are counted as part of Israel.

Paul compares to branches those of Israel who were rejected, adding, “And if some of the branches be 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. Boast not against the branches.But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root you” (Rom. 11:17-18).

Clearly, what Israel was commanded and observing is for today’s Believer, too. Today’s True Worshiper is grafted into the same promise of Yahweh’s Kingdom given to Israel.

Yahweh promised never to abandon His chosen people. Not even in this New Testament era. Notice the prophecy In Ezekiel of bringing Israel back:

“Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My People, and I will be their Elohim,” 37:20-23.

Is this a contradiction? Only for those who believe that the New Testament is exclusively for Christianity.

Graceful Obedience

The Bible’s teaching that obedience in an age of grace is necessary for all True Worshipers is yet another oxymoron for many who don’t understand Biblical grace.

In the following passage Paul defines how grace operates: “For the grace of Elohim that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying unrighteousness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and devoutly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). Also in Romans 5:21 Paul says that grace reigns through righteousness. Righteousness here is holiness, meaning to be set apart from sin or lawlessness, l John 3:4.

Grace, then, teaches us to conform to a righteous standard — that is — Yahweh’s laws. This fundamental truth is explained by the very one who many believe was the champion of “lawless-ness,” Paul himself!

Notice what else Paul writes about grace, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Yahweh forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2). Known as Antinomianism (“against law”) the teaching said that the more one sins the more grace one gets. Therefore let us continue in sin and we will get even more grace.  Paul addresses this twisted concept in his letter to the Romans.

In truth, by living in His grace we are dead to sin. This means we do not transgress the Bible’s laws when under grace. A teaching in Paul’s day perverted the concept even as today. If truth seekers would be willing to take a close look at what first seems to be contradictory,they would soon find that the real problem lies in false preconceptions.

 Layers of Crusty Fallacy

Misinformation and outright error is often difficult to overcome. Unlearning false teaching is much more difficult than learning what’s right to begin with.

When it comes to the Bible, erroneous beliefs become firmly embedded through reinforced teaching and practice. To get to the truth, one has to chip through layers of crusty fallacy built up over the centuries.

It has been said that a cult gains increasing respectability the longer it survives. The same goes for error. Bad habits die hard, especially when firmly entrenched for centuries.

by Alan Mansager

Speaking in tongues

Tongues of Fire

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Since the beginning of the New Testament, the gift of tongues has been an intriguing topic for Bible scholars and students alike. Many questions surround this gift, including: What does it mean to speak in tongues? Do the modern examples of “tongues” correspond to what we find in Scripture? How is this gift used? Do we see signs of this gift today?

To answer these questions we will review (1) the modern history of tongues, (2) the Biblical definition of tongues, (3) the gift of tongues, (4) the benefits of tongues, and (5) how this gift was used in the New Testament.

 Modern Tongues Movement

According to most Pentecostal references, the modern Pentecostal Movement can be traced back to a Charles Fox Parham. Parham was born on June 4, 1873 in Iowa. Through personal tragedy Parham at the age of seven made a commitment to follow his Heavenly Father.

In 1898 Parham opened his divine healing home in Topeka, Kan., which he named “Bethel.” It was Parham’s goal to provide for those seeking healing and spiritual enlightenment. Later, he was encouraged to open a Bible School. Parham believed that missionaries to other lands should be able to preach in the native tongue or language. To receive additional insight on this subject, he gave a special assignment to his students to determine the Biblical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

According to Pentecostal reports, although the students found that different gifts were given at the outpouring of the Spirit, the gift of speaking in tongues occurred in each. In a prayer service that followed, the first alleged occurrence of “tongues” was reported.

One of Parham’s students, Agnes Ozman, asked that hands be laid upon her to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At first Parham refused, as he never experienced the gift of tongues himself. Nevertheless, she persisted and Parham agreed. As hands were laid upon Ozman, it is reported that she spoke and wrote in the Chinese language. This one episode is regarded by many as the beginning of the modern Pentecostal-Holiness movement.

It is most fascinating that the first alleged modern example of tongues was from a woman who spoke in Chinese, a known language! This is precisely what we find in Scripture. Most examples of tongues that we hear today are utterances of gibberish. This is not what Parham taught nor is it what we find in the first occurrence. Parham believed that it was important to be able to evangelize in the native language and for him, tongues meant speaking in a native language. With this background let us now consider what we find within the Word about speaking in tongues.

First Account in the New Testament

We find the first recorded instance of this gift in the second chapter of Acts: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).

There are several points to explore within this account. First, the occasion was the day of Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Weeks. Significantly, the outpouring of Yahweh’s Spirit happened on a Feast day. According to Jewish tradition, it was also on this same Feast day that Yahweh’s Law was given to Israel in the Old Testament, as Scripture also indicates in Exodus 19:1. If true, Yahweh’s law and Holy Spirit were both given on a day that Yahweh marked as holy or sacred.

Second, we find that this gift was through the Holy Spirit and that it was manifested as a rushing wind and fire. So we find that when this gift was given that there were physical signs that were seen and heard by those present.

Third, we find that this gift allowed those in attendance to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This third point is most important. What does it mean to speak in other tongues?

The word “tongues” comes from the Greek glossa, meaning “a language” (specially, one naturally unacquired) (Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary). Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as, “The language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.”

A third witness states: “(1) the “tongues… like as of fire” which appeared at Pentecost; (2) “the tongue,” as an organ of speech, e. g.,Mark 7:33; Rom 3:13; 14:11; 1 Cor 14:9; Phil 2:11; James 1:26; 3:5, 6, 8; 1Peter 3:10; 1John 3:18; Rev 16:10; (3) (a) “a language,” coupled with phule, “a tribe,” laos, “a people,” ethnos, “a nation,” seven times in the Apocalypse, 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15; (b) “the supernatural gift of speaking in another language without its having been learnt” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).

Based on these references, speaking in other tongues refers to speaking in known languages not naturally acquired and different from one’s own. It should also be noted that the word “other” in verse 4 comes from the Greek heteros, which literally means, “another of a different kind” (Companion Bible). So from this instance we find that when the people spoke in different languages, they were all known languages; a point that is paramount. This again is very different from what is considered speaking in tongues or glossa today.

As we read on, we continue to see evidence of glossa referring to known languages. “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of Elohim. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?” (Acts 2:5-12).

In this passage we find that all those gathered heard others speaking in their native tongue or language. There were visitors from 15 nations. After they heard one another speak in different languages, followed by Peter’s dynamic sermon (Acts 2:14-36), about 3,000 were pricked in their hearts and gave their lives over to the Messiah through repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38, 41).

If not for the outpouring of the Spirit and the gift of tongues, this great awaking may have never happened. This gift was for a purpose and that purpose was to increase the growth and strength of the assembly.

So from this passage we find what it means to speak in tongues or glossa—speaking in other languages acquired through Yahweh’s Spirit and different from your own. As seen, this gift is not gibberish but known languages used in the New Testament to convert nonbelievers.

A Variety of Gifts Given

We find within the Word that speaking in tongues is one gift of many. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as you were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of Elohim calleth Yahshua accursed: and that no man can say that Yahshua is the Master, but by the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Master. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same Elohim which works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” (1Cor. 12:1-10).

In this account, Paul lists the gifts of Yahweh’s Spirit. It is crucial to note that not everyone receives the same gift. Paul says that there are diversities or differences in gifts. We also find that all gifts are from the same Spirit. No matter what gifts we receive, they are all from the same source, Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Paul also says that there are differences of ministries or administrations. In other words, different gifts serve different purposes or functions.

Paul in verse 7 says that all these gifts are to be used for the profit of all and not just for the profit of one, as is often seen. Notice how some of the gifts are allocated. For example, instead of receiving both the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, a person may receive only the gift of wisdom. Proverbs speaks of wisdom and knowledge separately. We find here the same concept with the gift of tongues. Paul says that there is a gift of tongues and a gift of interpreting tongues. In other words, we find that some may have the ability to speak in other languages, while others may have the ability to interpret what is said.

As we find in this passage, Yahweh’s gifts build and benefit one another. This is precisely how the assembly functions. It is not a single person who makes a ministry successful, but the gifts of the collective body working together in harmony.

The Underlying Purpose

From Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians we find that the gift of tongues was used as a tool to evangelize the good news of the Messiah to the unbelieving or unconverted.

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy. 2 For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto Elohim: for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the assembly. 5 I would that you all spake with tongues, but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the assembly may receive edifying” (1Cor. 14:1-5).

In verse 2, Paul explains that when we speak in unknown tongues that we do not speak to man, but in mysteries. What exactly does he mean? As we learned, the word “tongues” comes from the Greek word glossa meaning languages.

This passage confirms that when we speak in a tongue or language that is unknown the words cannot be understood and are therefore considered a mystery. An example would be if we traveled to Kenya and heard a man preaching in Swahili. For the average American his language would be a mystery or unknown. This is why Paul says he who speaks in tongues edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the assembly.

Now what does it mean to prophesy? The word “prophesies” comes from the Greek propheteuo, meaning “…to foretell events, speak under inspiration, or to exercise the prophetic office” (Strong’s Concordance). In this passage Paul was likely referring to teaching under the inspiration of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Prophecy or teaching is what is most valuable to the assembly. This is the reason Paul said that he would rather prophesy than to speak in tongues. A tongue or language serves no value if those who hear are unfamiliar with that glossa or language, unless one can interpret (v.5).

A Great Way to Teach

To understand the purpose of this gift, let us continue reading: “Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? 7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9 So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for you shall speak into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks shall be a barbarian unto me. 12 Even so you, forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church. 13 Wherefore let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1Cor. 14:6-15).

In verse 6 we find again that speaking in a tongue is of no profit unless we speak to convey a teaching or doctrine. The word doctrine is derived from the Greek word didache, meaning “instruction.” This is again one of those gifts that most benefits the assembly. When we teach Yahweh’s Word we come to a deeper knowledge of Him and through that instruction we become better disciples. Speaking in a language that is unknown, or worse yet, uttering sounds without meaning or purpose, does not edify.

Paul here uses the analogy of musical instruments and states that unless the instrument makes an identifiable sound it serves no value. In the Old Testament the trumpet was often the main method of communication for Israel, including the calling to war (Num. 10:9). If the sound of the trumpet were incorrect, confusion would have erupted. This same concept holds true when we speak in tongues or languages that are unknown to our audience.

Paul in verse 10 said that there were many kinds of languages and that none were without significance. The word “significance,” is from the Greek word aphonos, meaning to be “voiceless, i.e. mute or without meaning.” This Greek word confirms that Paul was not referring to meaningless babble, but to recognized languages. Even the angels themselves possess a tongue or known language (1Cor. 13:1), likely the Hebrew language (Acts 26:14).

Paul goes on here to say that if the tongue or language is unknown, “he that speaks shall be a barbarian….” In Greek the word “barbarian” literally means, “a foreigner.” Therefore, those who speak in different or unknown languages are as a foreigner or alien. Unless the language is understood it is of no benefit. It is for this reason that Paul states in verse 16, “Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupies the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks, seeing he understands not what you say?” In this passage Paul reiterates that if we speak in a tongue or language given by the Holy Spirit that is unknown to the audience that it is unfruitful to our natural mind.

In verse 22 we find a truth that many overlook. “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serves not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1Cor. 14:22).

A Different Gift for Believers

Paul verifies that the gift of tongues is not a sign to believers, but to those who disbelieve. With this in mind it seems odd that many assemblies would base their main source of validation on a sign specifically meant for unbelievers.

However, this is precisely what we find with many charismatic assemblies today. Some believe that a person is never completely converted unless he or she speaks in tongues. This is not only unfounded scripturally, but contradicts the purpose of this gift.

If the gift of tongues is for the unbeliever, what then is for the believer? Prophecy or inspired teaching is for the believer. It provides the knowledge and instruction allowing us to become better disciples of our Father in heaven and Savior.

In verse 23 Paul asks, “If therefore the whole assembly be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?”

The word “mad” comes from the Greek word mainomai, meaning “one who so speaks that he seems not to be in his right mind” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). This would be no different from visiting an assembly with members speaking Spanish, German, and Chinese simultaneously. They would be viewed as mad or senseless. This is why prophecy or inspired teaching is preferred or greater than tongues. As Paul states in verse 24, “But if all prophesy [teach by inspiration], and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all….” He confirms here that if we prophesy or teach, all are profited, even the new visitor, that might be new.

Examples of Tongues

Let’s now consider some of the instances of tongues we find in the Word. One of the first passages where we find this gift being used is Acts 10:44-48, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify Elohim. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Master [Yahshua]. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” When the gentiles heard the Word they received the Holy Spirit. Immediately they spoke in tongues or languages and magnified Yahweh. When it was evident that the gentiles had received the Spirit, they were then baptized into the Name of Yahshua the Messiah. Interestingly, in this example we find that the gentiles received the Spirit prior to baptism. Receiving the Spirit prior to baptism was not uncommon. In almost all other instances, the reverse occurred.

The gift of tongues here served a two-fold purpose. It was a sign of conversion to those who were filled with the Spirit and a confirmation to those circumcised Jews that witnessed this miraculous event. The gift of tongues was a sign to show that Yahweh was calling out the gentiles who prior to it were considered unbelievers or barbarians.

A second example of this gift is in Acts 19:1-8, “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit. And he said unto them, Unto what then were you baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Messiah Yahshua. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Master Yahshua. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of Yahweh.”

This account speaks of two baptisms, a baptism of repentance and a baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is the only instance of this difference. While John’s baptism offered opportunity for repentance, it did not offer the remission from sins and receiving of the Holy Spirit, as with Yahshua’s baptism.

In addition, a connection is also found between the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues. Immediately upon baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, we find that these twelve new converts spoke in tongues or languages as a sign or validation of their conversion. As with all of Yahweh’s gifts, glossa served an important purpose. It was partly owing to this gift that 3,000 were converted at Pentecost and many other examples found in Acts.

As we have seen, Scripture does not corroborate the common understanding of tongues. This gift was not meaningless babble, but an effective tool that served a multifaceted purpose. It is a demonstration of Yahweh’s great power and confirmation of one’s conversion.

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The new Testament for Christians or Jews

Is the New Testament Really Christian?

Most Bible professing people think that the teachings of New Testament Christianity replace virtually everything prescribed in the Old Testament. In this article’s second half we examine more evidence that what we typically see in teaching and practice today hardly resembles what we find in the New Testament Scriptures.

Someone asked, if Christianity is the true faith, what about all the millions who lived prior to its inception? Are they lost? The question speaks directly to an important issue: was the New Testament faith a brand-new religion started 2,000 years ago, or was it a continuation of what Yahweh began in Genesis, with some key modifications? Should not the authentic faith taught and practiced by Yahshua and the apostles in the New Testament be evident among today’s believers?

We invite you to look beneath the veneer of today’s worship and compare it, teaching-by-teaching and act-for-act with the New Testament. We believe you will be shocked by what you discover, even in the most basic of doctrines.

First, we look at the name itself. Is “Christian” a legitimate label for believers in the New Testament? Fifteen years following the impalement of Yahshua, New Testament believers were identified by three terms, only one of which was employed by the early believers for themselves. These designations were:

• “Nazarenes,” a name used by Jews for the converted believers, Acts 24:5.

• “Christian,” a label concocted by Greek Gentiles for the early Assembly: “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,”Acts 11:26. Believers in Yahshua did not routinely call themselves Christians until the third century and by then it was a totally different group from the group in Acts.

• Followers of “the Way,” a term the believers sometimes used for themselves. “And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of Elohim. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus” (Acts 19.8-9).

“And about that time there arose no small disturbance concerning the Way (Acts 19:23). But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off…” (Acts 24:22).

Those who followed “the Way” are the earliest group of True Believers of which we have record in the Scriptures.

“Church” derives from the Greek goddess Circe, which then morphed into the Dutch Kirk and German Kirche. We avoid using it in reference to the true Body of Messiah because of its heathen origin.

From its earliest usage the word “church” has been understood in pagan environments, then later in Roman Catholicism and now in this present day as a building, but never has the word “church” in Scripture represented the Greek word ekklesia. Church was a pagan concept and not a Christian one.

Kuriakon, kirche, and church all meant simply a religious building, originally used that way by pagans and later by Christians following pagan customs. Christians originally didn’t use buildings, which distinguished them from the pagans whose focus was on buildings, statues, rank ritual and physical objects (Fausset’s Bible Dictionary).

Significantly, Yahshua did not create or authorize any specific designation for His followers. He refers to them as disciples and believers, followers and friends. But He never employed any official name for the body of Messiah.

Sources Verify ‘Nazarenes’

Prophecy said that Yahshua of Nazareth would be called a Nazarene. “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene,”Matthew 2:23. From that association Yahshua’s followers would unofficially take on the identity of “Nazarenes.”

If there is a historical group with whom believers today can identify as being closest to the original teachings, it would be these Nazarenes who followed the Way. From the evidence, the Nazarenes were true to the teachings of Yahshua and the apostolic Assembly, making them likely the true Assembly of His day. (There is no connection between those ancient Nazarenes and today’s Church of the Nazarene.)

According to the early “church father” Epiphanius (7,2), Nazarenes used both the Old and New testaments. He writes, “For they use not only the New Testament but also the Old, like the Jews. For the Legislation and the Prophets and the Scriptures, which are called the Bible by the Jews, are not rejected by them as they are by those mentioned above” (Manicheans, Marcionites, Gnostics).

He also writes that they know Hebrew and read the Old Testament and at least one Evangel in that language (7,4; 9,4): “They have a good mastery of the Hebrew language. For the entire Law and the Prophets and what is called the Scriptures, I mention the poetical books, Kings, Chronicles and Esther and all the others, are read by them in Hebrew as in the case with the Jews, of course. They have the entire Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew. It is carefully preserved by them in Hebrew letters.”

Latin Vulgate translator Jerome is another authenticator, especially because he quotes from Nazarene-written works. The third century scholar wrote, “The most important conclusion of this chapter is that the Nazarenes were not mentioned by earlier fathers not because they did not exist but rather because they were still generally considered to be acceptably orthodox.”

Here in a nutshell are the significant beliefs of the Nazarenes or earliest followers of Yahshua:

• They believed the Old Testament as well as the New.

• They believed in and accepted the Messiah, His resurrection, angels, spirits, haSatan, and the supernatural.

• They attended the synagogue, and kept the Feasts of Leviticus 23.

• They obeyed the laws of Moses (Acts 6:14, 21:21).

Circumcision and the Believers

In about the year 50 CE a crisis developed that Paul had to deal with by consulting the other elders at Jerusalem. It was instigated by those who thought new converts had to convert to Judaism and adopt Jewish customs before they could enter the New Covenant body.

The significant question we must ask is, why was this even an issue and why did Paul and the other leaders of the New Testament assembly have such a difficult time dealing with it? Clearly it arose because of the Jewish roots of the New Testament assembly. Early New Testament believers were Jews converted to messiahship and Yahshua’s message. Paul’s ministry changed the dynamics when he began to convert those of non-Jewish ancestry – known collectively as Gentiles.

These Gentile converts had a dilemma. They were joining a “Jewish” sect, and to be Jewish involved circumcision – an unappealing rite of initiation for any adult male. Their impasse posed a crucial doctrinal complication: if the New Testament faith is for everyone, how does one become part of it? Was physical circumcision still required? The Apostles Paul and Barnabas and others did not have complete understanding of how to proceed on this issue, having never encountered it before.

We read about the deadlock in Acts 15:1-2; 6-9: “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren [and said], Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.”

(Keep in mind, the issue was over the specific rite of physical circumcision and not whether to obey the law generally. Abolishing the law was never an option with Yahshua or Paul or any other apostle.)

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men [and] brethren, you know how that a good while ago Elohim made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the evangel, and believe. And Elohim, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

Going from classic Judaism to the New Testament faith of Yahshua did not involve the complete transformation that many think. According to Eusebius’ History the first 15 bishops of Jerusalem were “of the circumcision.” The big issues in the New Testament were accepting Yahshua as the Messiah as well as His sacrifice, eliminating man-made laws and traditions, and understanding the higher, spiritual intent and purpose of Yahweh’s laws.

These changes were significant, but were not anything close to a complete overhaul or replacement of the Old Testament faith—a bogus notion taught by many today. Yahshua did not come to start a whole new religion, but to make some necessary changes to what was already there in order to deal effectively with man’s sin.

Off on the Wrong Foot

The toxic upheaval that derailed most of the early movement arose from the doctrinal chaos that became Christianity. Christianity has always been a highly eclectic belief system. A potpourri of teachings and practices not found anywhere in Yahweh’s Word. How could such a thing have happened?

One historian observed, “The church of our [Savior] was established in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of [Messiah].

In it practices that are common in the religious world today were not found. Before the death of the apostles they gave such admonitions and exhortations as were necessary to keep the church pure…The failure of those who professed to be the people of [Yahweh], to accept the scriptures as the only safe guide, allowed pagan ceremonies and Jewish practices to be brought into the worship of the church” (History of the Church Through the Ages, Robert H. Brumback, p. 19).

For example, in the second and third centuries there were Christians who worshiped a single mighty one. But others insisted that there were two. Some said there were thirty. Others claimed there were 365. Note what one writer observed, “As long as the gospel remained on the Jewish ground, there were mainly Jewish assemblies and, therefore, no discussions about the [Majesty] were known. At this stage, Roman and Greek thoughts and pagan thinking over gods and goddesses were brought into the discussions” (Traditional Christianity, Truth or Deception?, Ewald Frank, p. 27).

Also in the second century began a movement away from “Jewish Christians.”

“The Christians were declared to be [Yahweh’s] Israel and the Jews to be renegades who had fallen away. The Apostle Paul looked upon this matter in a totally different way, ‘For in Messiah Yahshua neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them and mercy, and upon Israel of Elohim.’ The Apostle Peter also made an important statement in this regard ‘…of a truth I perceive that Elohim is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him’ Acts 10:34-35.” Ibid, p. 30.

Amalgamation with pagan beliefs, which became another hallmark of Christianity, led to doctrinal heresies and profane practices. “In regard to doctrine, Christendom was slowly taken step by step from the Jewish foundation and placed upon heathen thinking,” (Brumback) . He notes, “In the beginning the church was pure. The divine plan of the church as revealed in the New Testament, was followed. Now the apostasy of which the apostles warned, began to develop,” History, p. 31.

Early on, disagreement reigned over such basics as which day to worship on. Most adhered to the seventh day of the week or Saturday, as was established by Yahweh’s Fourth Commandment and observed for thousands of years. Those who sought to distance themselves from the Hebraic roots of the early movement argued for Sunday, the first day of the week. The wrangling went on for centuries until Roman Emperor Constantine forced Sunday rest upon the realm by imperial edict: “In the year 321 A.D., Constantine decreed, ‘On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed’” (Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1).

Heathen converts did not just bequeath their Sun-day worship, either. “Many of our religious ideas, festivals and ceremonies, as witness Easter and Christmas, may be traced back to an origin in the practice and belief of our heathen ancestors,” Medieval and Modern History, Philip Van Ness Myers, p. 42. (Request or read online our booklets, December 25 – Birthday of the Sun and alsoEaster – the Fertility of It All.)

Constantine, arguably a convert to the new movement, took advantage of the doctrinal chaos to mold Christianity to his own liking. “He availed himself of the apostate Christendom and at the same time he did not break totally with heathenism. He supported the building of heathen temples and also the erection of Christian churches,” Frank, p. 27.

Paul: A Law-keeping Apostle

One characteristic common in the earliest Assemblies of the New Testament was explicit fidelity to the Law and the Prophets, which had pointed prophetically to Yahshua’s coming. Yahshua understood Himself in an Old Testament context. In Luke 24:44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” His followers were to be true to the fundamentals found in the Old Testament, the ONLY Scriptures in existence in His day.

Churchianity today says that it follows Paul’s lead, contending that Paul taught against the law. Is this true? Surprisingly to many, we find Paul affirming in Acts that he was also a believer and follower of the Old Testament and its laws. “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the Elohim of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets,” Acts 24:14.

In Acts 21 Paul comes to Jerusalem and sits down with the other elders, including James, and gives a report of his ministry. He is then told that some people believed he taught against the law. Here is their accusation:

“And they are informed of you, that you teach all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise [their] children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to you: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify yourself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave [their] heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but [that] you yourself also walk orderly, and keep the law” Acts 21:21-24.

And so Paul proceeded to demonstrate that he was a law-keeper, not a law-abolisher.

Roots of the true Assembly are planted firmly in the beliefs and practices of the early New Testament believers who held true to fundamental teachings of Yahshua and the apostles. By harmonizing the entire Scriptures the believer can be assured of keeping faith of Yahshua and His disciples just as those who adhered to the Way did from the start.

We note the changes that Yahshua’s coming mandated in the New Testament and we adjust our beliefs and practices accordingly. Man’s traditions must never set the standard for our worship today.

The pre-tribulation rapture

A Big Problem with the Rapture

When Yahshua returns the final trumpet will sound and He will gather His elect. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,”Matthew 24:30-33. Was Yahshua speaking of a rapture of the elect from the earth? Note that first the “tribes” of the earth will mourn at the sight of His coming. Why?

He said earth’s final events will be just like those in Noah’s day. “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be,” Matthew 24:37-39. Were righteous Noah and his family raptured from the planet to be saved from the devastating floodwaters? No. Yahweh had guided Noah to prepare a place of earthly protection — a giant ark of safety floating on destructive flood waters.

Note what happened to the wicked. We read that Yahweh “took them all away.” They were taken and destroyed in the waters and only Noah and his family remained.

Yahshua said it will be the same way at the end of the age: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” In the same manner at Yahshua’s coming the wicked will be removed first and the righteous will remain.

Another account is Matthew 13:24-30 where Yahshua said, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, did not you sow good seed in your field? from whence then has it tares? He said unto them, An enemy has done this. The servants said unto him, Will you then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:24-30). The wicked will be taken first and burned.

A parallel account of the Second Coming is in Luke 17:35-37, where Yahshua said, “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered, Where, Master? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”

What did He mean by “body” and “eagles”? This verse is a mistranslation in the KJV which, when cleared up, makes understanding crystal clear. Let’s go back to Matthew 24 for clarification of the same account in Luke 17:35-37. In verses 27-28 of Matthew 24 we find: “For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”

were the translators used the more correct “carcase” in translating the word ptoma, which in Greek means “ruin, lifeless body, corpse.” The word for “eagles” refers more accurately to vultures. Eagles are not carrion eaters as are vultures.

Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament says about the word eagles in this passage, “Eagles. Rev. puts vultures in margin. The griffon vulture is meant, which surpasses the eagle in size and power.” Millions will die when the angel comes to separate and destroy the wicked first.

The New English Bible translates Matthew 24:28: “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Goodspeed reads, “Wherever there is a dead body, the vultures will flock.” The New International Version reads, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.”

Does this sound like a glorious place of safety to which the saints will be taken in a rapture? On the contrary, Yahshua told His disciples that those taken first, meaning the wicked, will be taken and destroyed just as they were in the flood. The righteous Noah and family remained.

With the wicked gone and the chosen remaining, the earth can be remade into the paradise it was meant to be in Yahshua’s millennial kingdom.

Just as Noah was protected on earth during the catastrophic flood, and Israel was protected in Egypt during the passing over of the death angel, Yahweh promises the same kind of earthly protection for His people during the tribulation preceding Yahshua’s coming:

“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:-16).

What was done in the past is a pattern for the future.

Grace in the Bible

You Can Fall from Grace

“Guilty” was the jury’s verdict. The judge’s sentence: death by lethal injection. For Sam Smith, a convicted murderer, the nightmare of that January day seven years ago had played endlessly through his mind. In a jealous rage he had taken a man’s life. He realized that he deserved the death penalty for what he had done. No amount of agonizing or remorse could change that.

Regardless of how many times he pleaded for forgiveness from the victim’s family, no matter how much he wished he could relive events, one persistent fact remained: Sam deserved to die. The law was the law. He was guilty of a capital crime and he would pay the utmost price for his sin. With nowhere else to turn, he begged mercy from the governor.

 ‘You Have Been Pardoned’

Just minutes before his scheduled execution, Sam heard the most wonderful words ever spoken to a condemned man: “By the grace of the governor of this state, you have been pardoned.”

“I can’t believe it,” he said to himself.

“He pardoned me! I can live!”

Humbly thankful for the gracious pardon, Sam vowed from that point on that he would be a model citizen. And he never was in trouble with the law again.

The foregoing illustrates the concept of scriptural grace and how it works in the believer’s life.

Paraphrasing the words of Nathan the prophet to King David, “We are that man.” We all deserve to die because we are all sinners,Romans 5:12; 1John 1:10. We earned our fate and nothing we can do can change that fact. Only the mercy of Yahweh and the sacrificial death of Yahshua can save us.

Being sinless, our Savior was the only one who could pay the death penalty in our stead. Yahweh’s grace in sending His Son to die for us is our only hope for salvation. Like the governor in Sam Smith’s case, only Yahweh can release us from the spiritual death sentence our sins earned through the sacrifice of His Son.

From Sin to Obedience

In Romans 6 Paul explains the operation of Yahweh’s grace in the lives of human beings. The chapter is a profound study in the transformation that takes place in a True Worshiper under Yahweh’s grace.

In the last verse of chapter 5 Paul writes, “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Yahshua the Messiah our Master.”

Perhaps no other concept is so misunderstood as the subject of Yahweh’s grace. What does Paul mean in Ephesians 2:8 that we are saved by grace? Is he saying that the statutes of Yahweh are no longer binding in this New Testament era? If so, what of the many passages warning us of disobedience and the necessity to watch carefully lest we fall again into the condemnation of the unrighteous?

Now suppose the condemned man went right out and repeated the crime for which he was pardoned. Wouldn’t his actions violate the spirit of the pardon? Certainly! The governor didn’t save him so that he would go out and commit serious crime all over again. Would not the courts and the governor deal with the man much more harshly the next time? Absolutely!

Yahweh’s grace is no different. The crux of the matter is, what’s the point of Yahweh’s grace—His favor on sinful human beings—if once pardoned we deliberately return to sinful ways?

The words, “grace reign through righteousness,” are key. The New Testament in Modern English translates the phrase, “Now grace is the ruling factor, with righteousness as its purpose and its end.” Grace is not static. It is active and it must work daily in the believer’s life.

Yahweh’s grace has an objective: that we will turn from sin to live uprightly as we follow in Yahshua’s footsteps. Obedience is the avenue allowing that to take place. That means to obey His laws, since sin is clearly defined as the transgression of the law, lJohn 3:4.

Paul explains further in chapter 6 how grace works in the life of the repentant sinner. “What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Yahweh forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”(vv. 1-2)

To accept Yahweh’s grace—His pardon for our sins—and then to turn back or continue our sinful ways as if nothing had happened is to pervert the whole purpose of grace. We make Yahweh’s grace a big mistake if we accept His pardon only to repeat the sin.

Hebrews 10:26-27 warns of practicing intentional sin: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

Further in the chapter we find this solemn warning: “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of Elohim, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29). The word “despite” means, “to insult.” If we continue in sin after receiving Yahweh’s grace we show contempt for Yahweh and His grace.

Slipping up and making a mistake is one thing, willfully returning to sin is another entirely. In Galatians 6 Paul explains the difference. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you be tempted.” “Overtaken” is the Greek prolambano and means, “to be taken off-guard in a trespass.” “Fault” is the word paraptoma and signifies a slip or lapse, rather than a deliberate act.

We have only this option: obey the law, which is righteousness, or don’t obey, which is sin. If we obey, we can’t be blamed.

The next part of the verse reads, “For you are not under the law but under grace.” How clear! Through Yahweh’s grace (His pardon) our former sins will not be held against us. The penalty for breaking the law has been paid. By trusting in His grace we will not need to pay the penalty ourselves, which the law exacts for our thoughtless sins.

Under grace the penalty we earned is wiped away because the debt was paid through the shed blood of Yahshua. The wages of sin is death, Paul wrote in Romans 6:23. In our case it is Yahshua’s death in exchange for our own. Can this passage mean that we are free from the law now and can go out and sin again, as some seem to think? The Greek word for grace is charis and is defined as the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in one’s life.

 The Upright Not Condemnable

Simply put, under Yahweh’s grace we now emulate His righteous nature. We begin to think and act as He does. That means refraining from sin, which is the same as adhering to His standard, His laws.

When we come in line with His law by righteous living, the law with its incrimination and penalties for the disobedient has no claim on us. In Romans 8:1-2 Paul explains this concept:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Yahshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yahshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

The critical word is “condemnation,” which results from lawbreaking. When we live according to Yahweh’s statutes we are innocent of sin and therefore free from condemnation and punishment.

An unintentional slip is certainly covered by grace for the repentant. But if you continue to repeat the sin you are mocking the spirit of grace and are subject to Yahweh’s wrath.

Paul continues in verses 3-12 of Romans 6, asking, how can we who have followed Yahshua into the waters of baptism and have buried our old carnal life, continue in our old ways? Particularly since baptism means a putting to death of the “old man.” We must become dead to sin, he tells us in verse 11.

A person who has yielded his life to Yahweh, having put to death his sinful nature, must now live a new life of obedience, Paul explains in verse 13. As he puts it, we become “instruments of righteousness.”

Righteousness derives from a Greek word meaning right or just. The opposite is wrong or sin, which is lawbreaking.

 Law’s Penalty of No Effect

Moving on in verse 14 Paul writes, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law but under grace.” Does he mean that after all that he has just said about giving up sin that we are no longer under any obligation to obey Yahweh’s law? How is that possible when the law itself defines what sin is? (‘‘For where no law is, there is no transgression,” Rom. 4: 15.) Let’s examine the verse by segments.

First, for sin not to have dominion over us we have to be out from under it. The only way to accomplish that is by obedience to the law because sin by definition is lawbreaking.

As we have demonstrated, to be free of sin is to be obedient to His law. The same concept is found in Galatians 5: 16, where Paul writes, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”

If grace means we are not under obligation to keep Yahweh’s laws, then grace grants permission to sin! To this the prophet Jeremiah speaks for Yahweh in 7:9-10: “Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other deities whom you know not; And come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My Name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?” Yahweh answers that because of these sins and that kind of attitude, “I will cast you out of my sight,” verse 15.

“But does that mean that I am not free to do anything I please under grace?” you may be asking. Let’s let Paul answer that question. The very next verse of this chapter, Romans 6: 15, reads, “What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? Yahweh forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

Under Yahweh’s grace we are expected to live obedient lives, giving honor and worship to Him alone, doing what He commands of us as His special people. Verse 18 reads, “Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.” To be servants of righteousness is the opposite of being servants of sinfulness (lawlessness). This is shown in verse 20: “For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness.”

 What ‘Under the Law’ Means

The converse is just as true: to be righteous is to be free from sin. No one can be legally arrested for doing good. No sheriff will arrest me for saving a drowning man. There is no law against it!

When you do good you are not under the condemnation of any law. The demands of the law are already met, therefore, and you have no debt to the law. This is what Paul means by not being under the law. It does not mean the law is no longer in effect, as we will now show.

We’ve seen that grace is a pardon for sin. Sin results when a law of Yahweh is broken. Therefore, the need to pardon us for sin exists because the law is in operation.

A murderer would not be condemned to die if there were no law against murder. And he would not need a pardon or grace.

Yahweh offers His grace and sent Yahshua to die for our sins for the plain and simple fact that the law is still in effect. Because the law is in force the penalty for breaking it is also real, or else we would have no need to fear sin’s consequences.

Some will argue that Yahshua came to do away with the law and thus we are put under grace. This idea falls flat if we can find grace in the Old Testament. Sure enough, in Genesis 6:8 we find, “Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh.” Because of grace Yahweh saved him from the penalty of death by drowning. Exodus 34:5-7 reads like something out of the book of Galatians. It speaks of Yahweh’s mercy, grace, longsuffering, and abundance in goodness and truth.

If grace existed in the days of ancient Israel, then why does Yahweh command Israel to keep the Ten Commandments? Why should it be any different with us?

We are under grace so long as we do not continue to break the law. Grace is not a permanent condition of the believer but a gift granted by Almighty Yahweh. That gift can be rejected through our own attitude of rebellion and acts of disobedience and Yahweh can remove it as well.

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of Elohim; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled,” Hebrews 12: 15.

Salvation Is Not Earned

Being law observant has nothing to do with “earning” salvation. I don’t get any special reward for paying my taxes on time, for keeping the peace, for not robbing my neighbor or mugging a stranger. I’m simply obeying laws. I’m not earning a thing by being law abiding, except the right not to be troubled by the authorities.

Paul writes in the book of Ephesians, “For by grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Yahweh: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” 2:8- 9.

Nothing we humans can do earns us a place in the Kingdom because Yahweh has not defined obedience that way. Obedience simply engenders Yahweh’s favor and demonstrates our faith in and love for Him.

Obedience to His way of life also shows our gratitude for His pardoning of our past sins. Disobedience, contrarily, reveals an indifference toward what He has done for us and, more seriously, a contempt for Him and His Savior.

Now if I fail to pay my taxes, if I rob a bank, disturb the peace or mug someone, I will come under the law. Yahweh says inGalatians 5:19-21 that those who practice sin are also lawbreakers.

Yahweh Rewards Obedience

Unrepentant lawbreakers will not inherit the Kingdom.

Yahweh’s people love Him and want above all else to please Him. In several Scriptures we find that the love of Yahweh is defined as the keeping of His commandments. (See John 14: 15, 21; lJohn 2:5; 5:3; 2John 6.)

Rest assured, only Yahweh can grant salvation and at His own pleasure. Therefore, we want to be sure we have His favor by being obedient to what He commands. “And being made perfect He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him,” we read in Hebrews 5:9.

Lawkeeping is not salvation by works. Rather, it is salvation by obedience. Obedience can’t guarantee me a position in the Kingdom, but disobedience surely will keep me out of it!

Now note verse 10 of Ephesians 2, a continuation of Paul’s thought: “For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yahshua UNTO GOOD WORKS, which Elohim has before ordained that WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM.”

James tells us that faith without works is dead, being alone (2:17). Our works perfect our faith, James writes in verses 21-22. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Do you see how faith wrought with his works, and by his works was faith made perfect?”

We complete our faith by following through with action. A faith that is sincere is proved by what we do about it. When we obey Yahweh’s commandments and other laws in our daily life we prove our faith in Him while pleasing Him at the same time.

Paul’s letter to Titus sums up the issue. “For the grace of Elohim that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Teaching us that denying unrighteousness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and devoutly in this present world.”

Law Stands Firm

An aging king was out riding his horse one day and recognized his nephew about to be hanged on the gallows at a local village. “Cut him down!” the monarch ordered.

When he inquired of the man’s crime he was told that his relative had defected to a rival kingdom and had been sentenced to die as a traitor.

“I just can’t let him die,” the king said to himself. “He is my sister’s son!” As he was about to order the man released, his chief aide interrupted, “The only way this man can be set free is if you offer the ransom of your own son. It’s the law.”

“But how could I do that?” the king responded. “I have only one son!”

“Aren’t you the supreme monarch?” asked a guard standing nearby. “Just rescind the law and the man can go free!”

But the aide again cautioned, “If you do that, your dominion will fall and end in ruin. Everyone will know that your kingdom’s laws are just relative. What kingdom could stand under those conditions?”

Our King, Almighty Yahweh, paid the penalty for our sins with His Son’s life. The very fact that He did so proves that He loved us. He could have just eliminated the law and saved Yahshua horrible suffering and death. But by not doing that He also demonstrated a key truth: Law is not to be altered or eliminated. The only way we can be pardoned from sin’s death penalty is through a substitute sacrifice of One far greater than ourselves. Through Yahshua’s payment of our sins with His own life, Yahweh’s grace saves us from the law’s penalty, which stands firm and unalterable against all violators.

Yahweh’s grace is a wonderful gift. May we never forfeit that grace through willful disobedience

Bible mystery

Uncovering a Great Mystery

The typical theologian’s dodge to a difficult question is, “That certainly is a mystery!” This is a buffered reply intended to protect one from further embarrassing ques­tions. This response is simpler than a clumsy attempt to justify a doctrine not based upon Bible teachings. We find this answer in response to a query to explain the concept of the trinity out of Scripture, for instance.

The Apostle Paul, however, was given deeper understanding of spiri­tual truth and from time to time re­vealed this wisdom through what he called “mysteries.” Biblical mysteries are part of a grand program that Yahweh is working out with those He has chosen, but remain hidden to the majority. In general, churchianity does not fully comprehend Yahweh’s plan.

According to Paul, Yahweh has a special program destined for Israel, which He promised to Abram when He called him out of Ur of the Chaldees. The Bible contains Yahweh’s grand design for redeem­ing mankind through Israel, which He is working out even today. You and I have been called to have a part in this program.

Gentiles Put Into Prior Covenant

Most Bible believers have a distorted view of Yahweh’s plan. They think the “church” is now the focus of Yahshuas atoning work after Israel failed in fulfilling its mission in the Old Testament.

Popular teaching erroneously says that the New Testament reveals that Israel has been set aside. Favor has now been extended to the “church,” the “ekklesia,” the called-out ones who believe in the Savior. All the promises made to Israel are now transferred to the “church.”

They teach that the “church,” which is composed of those who have “accepted the Messiah as Savior,” has now replaced the Jews and all Israel as the favored people. The truth is, Yahweh is still work­ing with Israel and the only way one can have any part in His plan for the faithful is to become a part of Israel. It is through Yahshua that the uniting of Jew and Gentile into one Body is to take place. That is the thrust of the New Testa­ment, the New Covenant.

Not only is Yahweh calling out a people now to replace the rebellious of Israel, but He will also bring a spirit of repentance to Israel, who at the end of the age will accept Yahshua as the promised Messiah.

Yahweh’s calling requires a softening of the heart and turning to Him by both Jew and Israelite. At the same time He is also calling out a dedicated people from the Gentiles for His Name.

Musterion Means Mystery

The Apostle Paul wrote much about the Bible’s hidden knowledge, reveal­ing deeper truths by what he refers to as “mysteries.” Calledmusterion in ­Greek, a mystery refers to a secret or knowledge that is impossible for hu­mans to penetrate. Each of Paul’s mysteries is closely related to the coming Kingdom and Yahshua’s return. Man can only know as Elohim has chosen to make it known. Man could never have discovered this had Yahweh not revealed it.

Nominal understanding in general is a smooth message of love and grace or health and wealth. Discipline, faith­fulness, obedience to Yahweh’s laws, and working out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) are cast taboo. Smooth, bland, soft messages that ignore Bible truth are in vogue today.

An emphasis on dedication, disci­pline, and high moral integrity as described in Yahwehs Word is not popular anymore. The Bibleitself is con­tinually being replaced in sermons with cute little human interest sto­ries designed to tickle the ears.  Paul’s prophecy about this has come to pass in the last 40 years: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears,” 2Timothy 4:3.

Instead of teaching the Bible as a way of life, that the Ten Command­ments are to mold us and our character, the vast majority ofchurches contend that keeping Yahweh’s law puts one under bondage. They say they are free from the law.

Churchianity has far removed it­self from the Savior’s lessons of disci­plined obedience to Yahwehs way of life. The Savior was born a Jew and obeyed Yahwehs laws all His life even so far as observing Passover with His disciples on the very day died. He never gavelicense to anyone to ignore or flout any of the Ten Commandments. He plainly said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17).

Nowhere does the Apostle Paul teach that the mysteries or the Savior did away with Yahweh’s law or His commandments, nor did Paul himself teach such. In fact he plainly said that the sacred treasures given to Israel included the law: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertain the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Yah­weh, and the promises” (Rom.9:4).

The only way we can obtain the adoption, the promised glory or the promises is to become a spiritual Is­raelite.

Paul’s Mystery

Paul’s first mention of a mystery is found in Romans 11:25: “For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant 0/ this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of  the Gentiles be come in.”

Paul reveals that blindness fell upon those Israelites who refused to see Yahweh’s plan in Yahshua (Rom. 11:7-8). They rejected the Messiah and continue in slumber even to this day. However, the elect (those who are called out) have obtained the bless­ing by becoming spiritual Israelites.

Even now, Yahweh is grafting Gentiles who are not physical Is­raelites into the Abrahamic olive tree. Paul says not all Israel are fleshly Israelites: “... they [are] not all Israel, which are 0/ Israel… That is, they which are the children 0/ the flesh, these[are] not the children of Yahweh: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9: 6, 8).

The true Israelite today is one who obeys Yahweh’ s laws from the heart. To Paul it was revealed that the Gen­tiles would be given the same oppor­tunities through Yahshua: “Which 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; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Messiah by the evangel” (Eph.3:5-6).

Because of their miracles and won­ders among the Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas joined those going to Jerusalem to ask about what to do with Gentile converts. Peter ex­plained that Yahweh had already shown that He put no difference be­tween Jew and Gentile, having given both of them the Holy Spirit, Acts 15:7-9. James agreed, stating that Yah­weh choose from the Gentiles a people for His Name, Acts 15:1417 (quot­ingAmos9:11-12), emphasizing, “That the residue of men might seek after Yah­weh, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my Name is called, says Yahweh Who does all these things” (Acts 15:17).

Calling Spiritual Israel

Clearly, Yahweh wants a people for His Name; a people who would honor His Name, be called by His Name, be obedient to Him and be known as His people. He had hoped that would be ancient Israel, but they failed in this calling.

Yahweh has no plans to jettison His promises made to Abraham, which He began to fulfill in earnest when He redeemed Israel with a stretched-out arm. In no way is He planning to abandon or reject them, turning His attention solely to the Gentile church.

He continues to replace rebellious Israelites with pious, commandment­ keeping Gentiles. Just as He replaced the rebellious Israelites redeemed from Egypt with the new generation 40 years later, He is today grafting Gentiles into the Israelite promise. He is bringing Jew (Israelite) and Gentile together in one fold. He is uniting them into one body, called “the Body of Messiah, “the Ekklesia.”

In Acts .1:6 His disciples asked Yahshua whether He would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel. His reply: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own power.”

Those who are called out now to be followers of the Savior will replace the stiff-necked Israelites who reject Yahweh’s Messiah. A spiritual Isra­elite is one that becomes a member of the Body of Messiah through bap­tism into His saving Name, and is then placed in the ranks of Israel.

We are to become spiritual Israel­ites, to learn of Yahwehs ways and become teachers of His laws and commandments the same way physical Israel did. The Apostle Peter re­fers to us as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [trea­sured, consecrated, acquired, pur­chased] people, to show forth His praises, 1Peter 2:5; 9. We are also called “kings and priests who will reign on earth,” Revelation 5:10.

Spiritual Marriage Anciently

Yahweh said He was married to Is­rael and pleaded with them to return to His way of living and admit they had transgressed: “Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against Yahweh your Elohim, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice, says Yah­weh. Turn, O backsliding children, says Yahweh; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” (Jer. 3:13-14)

Verse 15, which follows, pictures the restoration when new and faithful rulers will teach and guide a reunited Israel and Judah. Jerusalem will be the center of Yahweh’s rule, where all nations will come to learn obedi­ence and follow His ways, Isaiah 2:3. “And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem.”

We learn in the New Testament that the followers of Yahshua will also become His bride when He re­turns. The saints (those who are be­ing called) will have been obediently prepared for His coming and are re­ferred to as the bride:

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints”(Rev. 19:7-8).

Yahshua was the Yahweh of the Old Tes­tament (l Cor. 10:4), and He was put to death at Calvary. He was be­trothed to fleshly Israel, but they were the very ones who put Him to death, so His betrothal to them is no longer bind­ing: “But we speak the wisdom of elohim in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which Elohim ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known [it}, they would not have impaled the Sov­ereign of glory,” 1Corinthians 2:7-8.

Yahweh brought Yahshua back from the dead, and now He is free to marry whomsoever He will. He can legally marry Jew or Gentile, bond or free. He will marry His bride consist­ing of those who are given glorified bodies in the first resurrection. This will include the ancient worthies and the grafted-in spiritual Israelites.

A spirit of reconciliation will per­vade many humble hearts and turn many Israelites to accept the Savior as the promised Messiah,and many Gentiles will accept the role of an Israelite. It is then that the union of Jew and Gentile will be complete in Yahshua theMessiah.

Analysis of Ephesians 2:10-16

The following passage has been mis­understood by many and cited as doing away with the Ten Commandments. These verses are given us to show that through His death Yahshua has united both Isra­elite (Jew) and Gentile, making them one body.

Remember, this was written to the Gentile congregation at Ephesus. They were not of Israel, not Jews. They were not yet brought into fellowship with Israel. The passage is Ephesians 2:10-16: “For we are his workmanship, created in Messiah Yahshua unto good works, which Yahweh has before ordained that we should walk in them.”

We are being taught Yahweh’s law, which was given Israel in the Old Testament, that we should walk in obedience (unto good works) obey­ing the Commandments just as Yah­shua did. “Wherefore remember, that you 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.”

Are ignorant, just as the Eph­esians were Gentiles in the flesh, and unaware that we are to obey Yahweh’s laws now and learn of His ways so that we could teach them to others both here and in the Kingdom. “That at that time you were without Messiah, being aliens from the common­wealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without Yahweh in the world.”

When Yahweh called us to become His sons and daughters, we were aliens from Israel. Now we seek to learn of His ways and walk in His, which were given anciently to Israel and will again be taught in the Kingdom. As spiritual Israelites, we teach and help others along the way.

“But now in Messiah Yahshua you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah.” By accepting the sacrifice of Yah­shua, we are accounted worthy of His love, and we can now draw near and approach Yahweh at the throne of grace. For He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us.

When Israelites accept Yahshua as the Messiah, and Gentiles accept the Torah (Law), then we will both be one. The middle wall of partition is thought to be the waist-high wall in the court which divided the Jew and Gentile in Temple times. Now we are one, for we are united in Yahshua. “Having 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.”

The Knowing Guide the Unknowing

There is no longer any ani­mosity over the special handwritten ordinances that were given especially for the pagan Gentiles to abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornica­tion, and from things strangled, and from blood. (Acts 15:20)

And that he might reconcile both unto Yahweh in one body by the tree, having slain the enmity thereby.

By His death, the Savior paid the penalty for both the sins of Jew and Gentile, and both are now united in one body. No hatred or enmity exists because we are all known as the Israel of Yahweh.

Paul emphasizes in Galatians that we as the called-out Gentiles are con­sidered spiritual Israelites. Yahweh has given us a new heart, a new attitude, a broken and contrite spirit which is needed to develop into obe­dient new creatures as Yahweh’s Is­rael:

 “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace [be] on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of Yahweh” (Gal.6:16). Yahweh will yet gather all His people together at the end of the age through Yahshua’s working with Is­rael: “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Messiah, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth [even] in him” (Eph.l:10).

Through Yahshua the world will be reconciled to Yahweh. Yahshua will put down all rebellion and bring this earth to perfection, where every­thing will be under Yahweh’s perfect control. We are being called now to learn of Yahweh’s ways, and walk in His paths.

Perhaps it is the better understand­ing given to us through the New Tes­tament writers that strengthens our faith and clarifies some of the obscure sayings of the Old Testament. The writer of Hebrews says this knowl­edge gives us the opportunity to help perfect others.

 “[Elohim] had planned something bet­ter for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect,” Hebrews 11:40 (NIV).

Our minds collapse when we at­tempt to fathom the depth of the prom­ises given us in the Bible. Even what we understand fills us with awe. Yet there is much more we do not yet comprehend, for Paul writes:

“But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the hear of man, the things which Elohim has prepared for them that love him. But EIo­him has revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of Elohim” (l Cor.2:9-10).

The New Testament clearly teaches that Yahweh is calling out a people now to replace the rebellious Israelites. They failed to be the model nation that would receive all the bless­ings of Yahweh and be a wonder to the world. We can be grafted into the olive tree and become a kingdom of priests in the Kingdom. We will join other Israelites when Yahshua re­turns to help teach others Yahweh’s laws.

We are right now attending the school of life to test us to see whether we will seek Yahweh’s favor, call upon His Name, and be obedient to His word. Then all the world will know and understand the “myster­ies” that are revealed to us now.

Others from ages past will join us as we which have followed Yahshua, in the regeneration when the Son 0f man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28).

Our desire is that this truth will move you to make a commitment right now to join the growing number of spiritual Israelites!

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