Monday, October 22, 2012
Welcome to Day 295 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
Job 11:5, [Zophar] “Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you 6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides.
Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.”
Job 12:1, “Then Job replied:2 ‘Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!'”
Acts 15:1, “Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.'”
19, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 “We should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.”
39 “They [Paul and Barnabas] had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.”
Acts 16:3, “Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”
Funny how in chapter 16 they wrestled with the issue of Gentile believers and circumcision, then in the next chapter, Paul circumcised Timothy.
Paul understood that this issue wasn’t an issue of righteousness or a fulfilling of the Law of Moses. It was to make their lives easier… actually, to make their message more able to be received by the hearers.
One of my favorite statements from Paul is from 1 Corinthians 9.
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel.”
Paul knew he wasn’t under the Law, but under grace. That in order for some to be able to hear the message (the Jewish believers) that it would be better for Timothy to be circumcised.
This is not “compromising” their beliefs, but removing a stumbling block so that others may receive their message. “To the Jews I became like a Jew.”
(What I wonder is how Timothy’s father felt about him being circumcised… without his knowledge or permission?) (His father’s reaction is not recorded in scripture.) His father was Greek (and uncircumcised) but his mother and grandmother were God-fearing Jewish believers.
Some may call this compromise… especially after the letter that was written in response to the question about the Gentile believers, whether they should be circumcised or not.
My other question is what about eating meat with blood? Isn’t that just as much a part of the Law of Moses as circumcision? My guess is they held very tightly to the verse that says,
“I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.'” Leviticus 17:10-12
That is a pretty powerful statement… especially when you also consider that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness or remission of sin, Hebrews 9:22.
I wonder how God feels about Outback Steakhouse? (Not being facetious…)
Remember Peter’s vision of the sheet with all the animals and creatures, and that he had never eaten anything impure. God’s response was, “What I have called pure, don’t you call it impure.” (This was in preparation for Peter’s meeting with the Cornelius the Gentile Centurion…) That God gave the gifts of repentance and the Holy Spirit, even to the Gentiles!
That’s good news for us!
Thank you Lord that you offered the gifts of repentance and the Holy Spirit to Gentiles… like me!