Time to reblog my evergreen article, The Heart of the Christmas Controversy.
This is the original post from 2016:
I posted the following article to my FaceBook page the other day. I had a request to post it here as well.
It is here for your consideration only, not as an encouragement to argue, not as a judgment, not out of bitterness, nor an effort to try to make anyone look silly, etc. However, please do feel free to comment, because I am ever seeking for a greater understanding of the truth. I am still learning, so what may look like a pompous thesis is merely a collection of my current conclusions. Our God is eternal, and we will eternally be discovering His awesomeness, so I am under no delusion to have discovered everything about Him, His personality, His revelation, His great big wonderful plan of redemption, or even His will for my small role in the grand scheme of things. I am constantly studying, constantly learning, constantly facing my own misconceptions, constantly being broken down and built back up by the Word of God. And my efforts have not gone unrewarded. Our household is currently in a state of revival. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1 “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6
Feel free to say anything you like here, even if you do not believe in my God (Yahweh) at all. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165. I am not offended that we are different people and have different values and ideologies. And I believe that most, if not all of us, are striving to find universal Truth. This is my journey.
A note: This discussion started over whether it was appropriate to worship Yahweh in the same ways that the pagans have worshipped their gods over the course of history. I have determined that the root of the matter has more to do with whether New Testament Christians should be keeping the Old Testament Laws, and that is what I will attempt to answer here. Once that conclusion is drawn, everything else falls easily into place. If more discussion is needed, we can talk about that at a later date.
In case there is anyone here who is seeking answers (anyone else will probably shy away from the length of this article, lol), I thought I would offer some support of the unpopular perspective. That way, when you are adhering to the following verse, you will have more to think about rather than a few chosen scriptures that seem to support the popular opinion. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15
Be careful: Even the scriptures I quote here should not be enough to convince you. I may have inadvertantly taken some out of context. In order to reach a proper conclusion, you need to read every chapter and verse and beg God for clarity. (Good timing: the New Year is coming up, and you can commit to reading it all the way through.) The WHOLE Word of God must agree with itself, and that only happens when you understand that the Law has not been abolished, as Paul makes very clear. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31
If the law were void, would anyone need saving? Consider the following passages, and try to follow my logic here: Sin is still defined as transgression of the Law. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4 “…but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Romans 5:13 “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, ‘thou shalt not covet.’” Romans 7:7 You would not be able to tell “sinners” that they need to repent and be washed in the blood of the Lamb if the Law was no longer in effect. If His death did away with the Law, then sin would not be imputed to anyone, and there is no longer any need to have our sins covered. However, sin is still very real, and the consequences are real as well. “…and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15
The writings of Paul are confusing if you’ve been taught that the Law is void. In one place he says that circumcision doesn’t mean anything, and in another he says, “we establish the Law.” His seeming contradictions become perfectly clear when you understand that Paul was talking about the inability of the Law to save us. He isn’t saying it’s okay to sin as much as you want. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1&2 (Remember the definition of sin in this verse by again looking at I John 3:4.) He is just saying that the blood of Christ covers our sins. “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might about. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” Romans 5:20 One of the contributors to the original argument summed it up perfectly when he said, “The fulfillment of the law means we don’t go to hell for those things.” (In referral to keeping the whole law, unless I misunderstood his point.) But consider this: we don’t go to hell for theft, murder, or anything else once we are under the blood of Christ. Nobody argues that these things are still sins. But Christians are no longer under the curse of the Law: in that sin brings forth death. We are covered under the spotless blood of the perfect Lamb. More on that later.
If you have time, read the book of Galatians. (Please make the time.) The problem Paul was facing was that the Jews were telling the Gentile converts that they couldn’t be saved unless they were physically circumcised (converted to the Jewish nation). The good news of the gospel is that you don’t have to be Jewish to be part of God’s covenant people. Paul knew that every Jewish person had failed to keep the Law. They were saved through the grace of God, and not by any action they had done. How could they, being disobedient Jews, then require the Gentiles to be obedient to the Law? “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Galatians 2:14
Salvation does not hinge on works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8&9. We all understand this – and that is the point Paul was making. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 5:1-6.
Is Paul saying that my son, Ian, who was circumcised when he was eight days old, is a debtor to do the whole law? Is he saying it’s bad to follow God’s law in the rite of circumcision? No, he makes it crystal clear that if you are trying to justify yourself through circumcision (as some of the Jews were demanding), that you would have to keep the entire Law to earn that justification. Read it again. It’s all or nothing. Only Christ was able to keep the entire Law. Only He was worthy to pay our sin debt, freeing us from the curse of the Law (death). If He is our example, let’s follow Him as closely as possible, even though it’s impossible to be perfect. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15 If Christ and Yahweh are one and the same, then Christ is telling us to keep Yahweh’s commandments. I have many verses proving the deity of Christ, if that is a hang-up for anyone. There isn’t an Old Testament God and a New Testament God. There is one God, and He doesn’t change, and His definition of sin doesn’t change.
In Colossians, which is another book that many people have difficulty with, Paul was giving people permission to keep the Holy Days if they wanted. They lived in a culture that emphasized neglect of the body and diet, etc. He’s not saying it’s okay to break God’s Law. It should go without saying that he isn’t making God’s Law void. When I tell my son that he can do whatever he wants after dinner, I’m not including murder, theft, and rape. Goes without saying. God tells us over and over again that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I wanted to say that only the penalty for sin has changed, but that’s not really true either. If you are not under the blood of Christ, the penalty is still very much the same. And the penalty for our sins was paid for us, by the perfect Lamb of God. God’s Law has not changed. He also told them that they couldn’t take away or add to His Law: Deuteronomy 4:2 Why do we think this verse is meaningless, but hold so tightly to the almost identical one given in Revelation?
Psalm 19:7 says “The Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul…” Did it then become imperfect? “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law…” Galatians 3:13. The curse of the Law is not the Law itself, as made clear by the Psalms and countless other passages. The curse comes through disobedience. Deuteronomy 27:26. “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them…” That is the curse that the blood of Christ saves us from. The only thing “wrong” with the Law was its inability to save: “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” Galatians 3:21
I would like to specifically respond to this statement: “If your problem is in applying Old Testament law statements given clearly to the nation of Israel, then I do not know how to answer you.” This comment was made on FaceBook in response to my husband who posted the reference to this passage: “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God. When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” Deuteronomy 12:28-32 (Notice He isn’t concerning Himself here with the nation worshiping other gods, merely how they worship Him.)
Yes, God was speaking to the nation of Israel. They were the ones listening, writing down His Law, making an effort to keep His law (even though it had no power to save, not even then). However, the Law was for everyone: “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 24:22
If a stranger wanted to partake in the Passover, for instance, he had to be circumcised (become part of the Jewish nation). Read Exodus 12. Today, those who are spiritual Jews undergo a circumcision of the heart. (A physical circumcision for eating the physical Passover, and a spiritual circumcision for partaking in the spiritual Passover.) I am every bit as much a Jew in God’s eyes as Abraham’s natural children. Therefore, the Law applies to me. There has only ever been one Law for those who follow God, whether natural Jews or spiritual.
Also, all this talk about being New Testament Christians: It’s the same problem the Jews have. The Jews maintain that they are clinging to the Torah and prophets. Modern Christianity clings to the New. The fact is, once the preconceptions are cleared away, the entire Word of God is in harmony with itself. The entire Word of God is for all people of all times. Jesus is the Word, and He does not change. He is not a fickle, man-made God. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 There’s one you can look up in the Old and New Testaments both because Jesus is quoting the Old Testament here.
The Bereans were commended because they searched the Old Testament to confirm the gospel: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11
Some closing verses to consider: Matthew 5:17-19 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
The Law is a blessing to those who follow it: Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
Psalm 1 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his seaon: his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
I am tempted to also copy and paste Psalm 119 in its entirety, but you can look it up if you are so inclined.
In two previous posts (“The Law Is Not an Example of Planned Obsolescence” and “What Do I Really Believe?”), I talk about some of these things more in-depth, if you can believe that. Sorry for the thought-vomit, but I have been meaning to collect my research on this topic for a very long time, so here it is. I have many more verses to support these ideas, if there are any specific questions or responses.
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