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From Rome to Corinth, and Back Again: Reclaiming What Was Taken from Us

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10: 16, NASB Update)

When Paul wrote to the Roman church, its congregation was composed of Jews and Gentiles. It was no doubt Roman Jews in Jerusalem during Pentecost that carried the Gospel back to Rome and was a factor in starting this church. It would be nice if the Gospel message of unity was in full effect in the Roman church, but there was rivalry between Jews and Gentiles. The birth pangs of division were starting to sprout to be felt, so Paul had to remind the Roman church that “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him” (Rom 10: 12, NASB Update).

 
If the Roman church was experiencing the birth pangs of division, the Corinthian church had delivered the baby. Paul writes:

For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1: 11-13, NASB Update)

This persuasion did not come from the Lord or the word of God, but from man-made doctrines that cause division and contention. We still see this division today. If you visit a Baptist church, you find a congregation of Baptists. The same holds true for Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, etc. Most of the time, the only people who are not of the same persuasion are visitors. But let me ask you this, when was the last time you saw a Jewish believer in your congregation? In all of my days in church, I can honestly say I have never seen it, and this ought not to be.

 
Where are the Jews?

 
After the Holy Spirit filled believers on Pentecost and Peter gave his sermon, the believers returned home taking the word with them, but they only spoke to Jews. Later God gave Peter a revelation about the Gentiles; they were to be fellow heirs of salvation! This was confirmed when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles just like He did in Jerusalem with the Jews (Acts 10: 1-48). God’s will is to tear down the wall between Jew and Gentile and so create one flock, as His word said. Unity is something the Adversary doesn’t like, and soon he was fanning the flames of rivalry between believing Jews and Gentiles. The split became a chasm when church leadership argued that because the Jews rebelled against the Savior and had Him killed, therefore God transferred the covenants and promises from the Jews to the Church; they also changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday to make a clear distinction between Jews and Gentiles. This is part of replacement theology, and it is a sickness that still affects the Church today. It has a terrible legacy; Church leadership used this man-made doctrine to justify persecuting the Jews instead of loving them as the Lord commanded. Martin Luther did try to reconcile the Church with the Jews in his early writings, but later he became anti-Semitic and argued for synagogues to be destroyed and Jewish wealth to be confiscated. His latter writings were so poisonous that they were used by Hitler’s Third Reich to justify the “final solution,” which was the extermination of the Jews. Centuries of oppression and persecution by those who called themselves Christians has caused Jews to turn away the Gospel message. Even mentioning the name of Jesus can provoke a strong reaction with some people.

 
The word of God tells us that there will always be a believing remnant, and so there has always been a believing Jewish remnant: “The Messianic Jews.” I believe what God wants in these last days is to depart from the Corinthian church and its many divisions (Baptists, Pentecostals, Nazarenes, et al.) and again become one flock in which Jews and Gentiles worship the Savior together as they did in Rome (minus the rivalry, of course).

 
What you have been missing

 
Replacement theology has done a lot of damage, one of which was causing the Church to disregard the Feasts of the Lord. It’s been argued that since we are under grace, and not the Law, we don’t need to be concerned about such things. “That would be legalistic” is something I have heard. May I say to you friend, you’ve been misled and missed a great blessing. It’s premature to dismiss the feasts as something we don’t need to worry about anymore. Here’s what I mean.

 
It was written in the Torah that the men of Israel were to assemble in Jerusalem three times a year for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Two thousand years ago the Jews saw the Passover fulfilled when Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. On Pentecost the Jews saw Joel’s prophecy fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers. The Feast of Tabernacles has yet to be fulfilled, and one day when the people gather in Jerusalem, the Lord will fulfill it before their eyes just like He did on Passover and Pentecost. Wouldn’t you like to be on hand when that happens? Until the Lord returns, each time the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) is celebrated, it’s like a dress rehearsal for the real event. With that in mind, here is my recommendation.

 
You are invited!

 
I know this will be short notice for many of you, but I feel it strongly to make you aware of the upcoming holy days. Most of us have never been to these celebrations and they have passed unnoticed, but I hope that will be different after this year because I am inviting you. Rosh Hashanah (New Year) will begin at sundown October 2 and end on the evening of October 4. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) will begin at sundown on October 11 and end

the sukkah

Celebrating Tabernacles

on the evening of October 12, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) begins at sundown on October 16 and ends the evening of October 23. I would strongly encourage everyone to find a Messianic congregation and observe these events this year and see what you have been missing out on. These events are part of our heritage as believers, but replacement theology has caused the Church to disregard them. Let’s reclaim them and experience them first hand, and in so doing we help restore the unity of the one flock that the Lord established. If you are able to participate, please share your experience with others (and I would like to hear about it too!). Be blessed!

 

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Rewinding the Torah scroll

Elul 23, 5776

 
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3: 27-28, NASB Update)

 

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Deceptive cessation doctrine: A wise virgin’s guide to waiting for the Bridegroom 3.3

The book of Joel contains a prophecy about what the Lord would do in the last days. Once you see it, it should be instantly familiar:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Joel 2:28-32 (ESV)

Now let’s go to the book of Acts and the upper room. The disciples who obeyed Jesus’ command to go to Jerusalem and receive power from on high have been waiting in the upper room. Something happened that no one anticipated:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

No one knew what had happened. At this time, Jews from all over the world were present in Jerusalem for Pentecost. They were amazed to hear these Galileans speaking about God’s mighty works in the native language of their lands. When some accused the disciples of being drunk, Peter addressed the crowd. He told them that this was not drunkenness, but God pouring out His Spirit on the people as Joel had prophesied. The gifts of the Spirit are: Word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, working miracles, prophecy, discerning between spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12: 4-10). The Spirit administers these gifts and apportions them to us according to His will. It sounds good, so what exactly is the problem?

The problem is, some teachers have decided that these gifts were only intended for the days of the apostles. The gifts were intended to jump start the church and get it going, after which they would no longer be in effect. These people tell us that since the gifts are no longer in operation, we go to the doctor if we are sick, and we go to school if we need to learn a new language. I will call this doctrine which teaches that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer in effect today as Cessation Doctrine (CD). This doctrine has been around for a centuries, and it’s about time someone overturned this table. Let’s investigate these things: Do the gifts of the Spirit have an expiration date? If so, when is it? If not, are they still in operation today? Why do we need these gifts? What does this mean for the wise virgin?

Do the gifts of the Spirit have an expiration date?

Yes they do. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that these things will end one day: “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away” 1 Cor 13:8 (ESV). These gifts are to be in use during a specific time, after which they will cease.

When do the gifts of the Spirit cease?

To answer this question, we must think like Bereans (Acts 17:11) and use their strategy. CD tells us that the gifts of the Spirit ceased after the days of the Apostles, and Paul does tell us that they will end. The question remains when will they end? In the same letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us when the gifts of the Spirit will cease:

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Cor 13:9-12 (ESV)

Paul does not tell us a specific date, but he tells us the season in which the gifts will cease. Does he say “after the days of the Apostles”? No! It does appear that Paul means a day after the ministry of the Apostles, but refers to a day far removed in time from the day of the Apostles, not immediately after the days of the Apostles as CD alleges. Paul calls the season of the gifts a partial impartation, when the time of perfection comes, then these gifts will cease. If CD is correct, then we must be living in the days of perfection because the gifts have ceased. I must disagree with CD and overturn this table. When you listen to the news and you hear about nation rising against nation, famines, natural disasters, signs in the heavens, false prophets, lawlessness, love growing cold, and persecution of believers, I can safely say we are not living in times of perfection. Paul was obviously speaking of a date in the distant future since these things have been happening since his day. Since we know that man cannot perfect this world on his own efforts, I believe that this time of perfection could be when the Lord returns after the Tribulation and established His rule. This leads to the next points.

Are the gifts of the Spirit still in operation today? Why do we need them?

Since it is obvious that we have not reached the time of perfection, it means that the gifts are still in operation. There two additional arguments that support the operation of the gifts of the Spirit today. During the last supper, Jesus told His disciples that “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” John 14:12 (ESV). You may be curious why I would point to this as an argument against CD, but let me explain. First, if Jesus said we would do the works He did, then what were the works Jesus did? According to the gospels, He performed miracles, raised the dead, cured lepers, healed all manner of sicknesses and infirmities, prophesied about the future, He knew what was in people’s hearts, and He distinguished what was truly good from what only appeared to be good. Let’s ask ourselves this question next: If we are supposed to do the same works that He did (and even more), how can we do them without the gifts of the Spirit? Can we raise the dead without faith? Can we perform miracles without the gift of miracles? Can we cure disease without the gift of healing? Going to the doctor is not the same thing as having the gift of healing, is it? The list goes on, and the obvious answer is no. We cannot do all the works of Jesus without the gifts of the Spirit. If CD is true, then why would Jesus tell us we would do the same works He did if the gifts of the Spirit (which makes the works possible) ended operation after the days of the Apostles? The truth is we need the gifts of the Spirit to do the works He did.

The final apology comes from Jesus’ example of life. Without exception, we can all agree that He showed us how to live a life that pleases the Father. We are to pay close attention to His works and do the same things. In Matthew we read some of His first actions:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matt 3:13-17 (ESV)

In this early picture of Jesus’ life, He was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. If we are to do the same things He did, we must follow His example, which includes receiving the Holy Spirit. If Jesus needed to receive the Holy Spirit, how much more do we? It is good that we still stress water baptism, but it does not follow that we should neglect the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If CD is true, then we only need to get a water baptism. But that does not seem correct because Jesus gave us an example that was meant to be followed by all generations, which included receiving the Holy Spirit. Has anything changed?

 What does this mean for a wise virgin?

As the times get closer to the end, we need every gift that God gives us to endure the darkness that is coming. The gifts of the Spirit are just as important to a fully equipped saint as the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10-17). Neglecting these gifts and not seeking them puts a Christian at a serious disadvantage in the times to come. Although there are many more examples that could be given, I will close with this example of why we need the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus tells us that in the last days “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” Matt 24:24 (ESV).

What is Jesus saying here? He is telling His disciples that in the last days the lies that the enemy spins will be so convincing that even God’s own children would be deceived if it were possible. These deceivers will walk like us, talk like us, and in every way they will have the appearance of being authentic. Those virgins who are able to distinguish the authentic from the deceiver can do so because they have the gift of distinguishing spirits. Those virgins who do not have the gifts of the Spirit are much more at risk to be fall into the trap of the Adversary. Virgins who want to be wise take note! The Holy Spirit and oil go together in Scripture. God wants you to have enough oil for your lamp so that your light will shine brightly while waiting for the Bridegroom. What does that say about the virgins whose lamps were going out? Remember that Jesus did not face the devil until He had been baptized and received the Holy Spirit. We will also need the Spirit’s help to endure the coming darkness and Tribulation as we wait for the Bridegroom. Get your oil!!! The gifts of the Holy Spirit are available today for those who will ask for them. If you haven’t received them yet, it’s time to start praying.

Finally, I would like to end by recommending three DVDs that demonstrate the supernatural power of God in operation today. We need the power of God to do the works of Jesus, and these DVDs show actual examples of what God is doing in the world today. The DVD titles are “Finger of God,” “Furious Love,” and “Father of Lights.” I hope they provoke you to seek the Lord as never before. Be blessed, my beloved.

Finger of God DVDFurious Love DVDFather of Lights

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