The Days of The Acts of the Apostles
by Ramona Cook
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We are in many ways reliving the days of the Acts accounts of Jewish and Gentile Christians. Please reference that I said, inclusively, “Christians.”
I am a frequent listener to Messianic Rabbis. I learn much from their knowledge of middle-Eastern understanding of the Scriptures. However, for the most part they offer me a trip back into the keeping of the Laws of Moses.
Let me be clear, those Laws proceeded from God and in no way do I perceive that the Laws are anything but good and that Jesus does in fact command us to encapsulate those Laws by the keeping of two Laws. Those two laws are: 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, body, mind and soul; and 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said that if we keep those two Laws that we will fulfill all the Law.
Some of the Messianic Rabbis make comments such as: “The reason God saves the Gentile is to make the Jew jealous.” My response is, “Huh?” No, I think that the Jew does get jealous in some cases, but God did not save me for the purpose to make a Jew jealous. God saved me because He loves me and does not want me to be lost from Him in Hell. If a Jew gets jealous, or offended by that fact then oh well, that is between the individual Jew and God.
God has always accepted into His family anyone of any Nation that turns to Him and practices those commands that He has given. Jesus did not do away with the Law, but He fulfilled the Law. I follow Jesus, and that is okay with God; in fact it is all God’s idea.
All the Law, given to us through Moses, is good and for our protection. None of us ever have license to violate those Ten Laws. However, all the “things” that the Israelites were commanded to do before Jesus died and Resurrected are not for me to continue to do. There is a New Covenant. A Covenant of Blood that now takes the practices of our faith to our inside, then emitting to the outside.
Some of the Messianic Rabbis never make statements that refer to Gentiles as “used” for the purpose of the Jew. They teach, and rightly so, that we are “One new man in Christ Jesus.” That is what Paul taught also. Jew and Gentile are ONE in Jesus. Since there is salvation by no other than Jesus, it is best that we agree with God, we are ONE in Jesus. Jew and Gentile each get to be changed into a NEW man, all connected by Jesus Himself.
It would be a mistake to expect that every child in a family will behave the same and do exactly the same things the same way. I have no problem with my Jewish brother or sister following the rules in the way they have learned. I have no problem that they celebrate all the Feast Days, and also perhaps cannot bring themselves to eat pork; it is the custom and culture under which they were raised and it is understandable that instructions which are ingrained by our culture are difficult to over-rule. Scripture does teach us to not violate our conscience.
I have a problem that they require me to get like them before I am acceptable in their sights. Jesus, nor any of the Apostles, who were all Jews, taught us as the Church to observe neither any such doctrine of observing special days nor the refusal of any food, except nothing with its blood still in it and nothing strangled, and no acts of fornication.
I am fully accepted by God because of Jesus, and I have been given no other restrictions on dietary laws or observances of the Feasts of the Jews, with the exception of Passover, which I observe when I take Communion.
I understand that there was a problem in the early Church regarding these same kinds of situations. The Church survived and has grown despite those differences. It might be good for all of us to read the Book of The Acts of the Apostles, thereby to gain a new appreciation and understanding of how we must allow each other some wiggle room on these issues that are a matter of culture, and not a matter of the Doctrine of The Church under Jesus, Who is The Head of The Church.
The issues to which we must all hold each other accountable are those of holy living and righteous words; of honoring God and revering Him, each one of us, by the pureness of our heart which we bring before Him. We, as New Testament believers, Christian Jew or Christian Gentile, are definitely instructed with instructions which we are commanded to follow, and those we find in the New Testament.
The First Testament is not without great value for our instruction, for according to Paul the First Testament is for teaching us how God deals with people.
It is my observance that the teachings of the First Testament are grossly neglected in much of the present day Christian Church. That neglect skews our understanding of the full and correct image of Who God is in fact, and about His full Personality.
Today’s Church, in large part, rejects the God Who is, “angry with the wicked every day;” they present only a God of Love, which He truly is in fact. The problem then becomes that God is not respected and honored as He deserves and also as He requires. Not having teaching on God’s full characteristics, the people tend to live unholy lives and cannot understand that there is Judgment ahead for their evil involvements.
Peter stayed with the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and Paul departed to take the message to the Gentiles; this was because many of the new Jewish believers were having some difficulty with issues such as circumcision requirements, and other such details. Peter, Paul and the Church Fathers believed the same things about the New Covenant, but they could not easily minister together effectively because of some issues of the Law that many Jews could not retire, which we are also encountering today. Cultural backgrounds were and are a hindrence.
Additionally, the Gentiles were steeped in their customs and morals and the problems for ministering to them required a very different approach. However, for both Jew and Gentile the same Gospel is the power to save.
Doesn’t it seem reasonable that we should have moved beyond these quibbles after so long a time? As “the Day” approaches we may find that those differences really don’t matter at all.
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Thank you Sir for calling this to my attention. I did make that comment, that they were agreed on Doctrine between themselves, but I see where I failed to make it clear that the "congregants" were having difficulty being able to move into the New Way. I so appreciate your comments and I will correct the faulty communication.
Ramona, This is a lovely article and you make some good points that believers should take heed of. I particularly like your soft plea for unity between Jew and Gentile and I so wish for this coming together. Just remember though that the reason Paul and Peter did not minister together was because Peter was the minister to the Jews and Paul was the minister to the Gentiles and so went in different directions and not because of theological differences. The first Council in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 15)shows that all the apostles were agreed on doctrine.Well done.