The Pillar Laws of the New Testament
By Gary Amirault
Recently, I asked a number of Christians, most of whom were either Christian leaders or were in the church for a number of years, "What are the two main New Testament laws?" Almost all of the answers were, "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself." (See Matt. 22:37-40) Before you read any further, what would your answer be? The fact of the matter is that the above two commandments are the "pillars" on which rests the entire Old Testament, namely in the Ten Commandments.
Contrary to popular belief, these are not the pillar new covenant laws. The pillars of the New Testament are "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." (1 John 3:23,24, NKJV)
Jesus was summing up the entire Mosaic law, as especially embodied in the Ten Commandments, when He said that we were to, "love the Lord with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves." While the simplicity of these two great commandments still have relevancy for us today, we need to remember that Jesus was speaking as one under the law of Moses. The New Covenant had not yet been inaugurated.
While the reader may not at first see much difference between the two sets of Scriptures, the difference is as wide as life is from death. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of understanding these differences. By holding the summation of the Old Covenant Law as the pillar laws of the New Covenant, we have yoked ourselves to a dead covenant and are reaping the fruit thereof. We must get back to the foundations established by Jesus Christ. The church over the last two thousand years has strayed greatly being lead into the traditions of men and the doctrines of demons. The purpose of this article is to re-establish two pillars from which the majority of Christianity has strayed while returning to relics of the Old Covenant which Paul called the "ministry of condemnation" and the "ministry of death." (2 Cor. Chapter 3)
If we build upon a false foundation, will not the fire of God burn it all away? Will the storms not wash the sands away revealing an unstable foundation? And if the tree does not bear good fruit, will it not be brought to the ground by the ax of the Lord? Is it not better for us to repent while we can and spend the rest of our lives building upon a sure foundation rather than to continue in traditions we know will surely perish in the fire?
I personally believe an understanding of the differences between these two sets of pillars is absolutely crucial to Christian life. That fact that many Christian leaders and seasoned Christians all gave the wrong answer indicates how wide and deep we have fallen from grace. It is my hope that this article be instrumental in turning Christians back to our Sure Foundation. Perhaps if we get back on the foundation of Life, instead of death, we may rediscover the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. We may begin to manifest the reality of Christ instead of the hypocrisy we so often display.
(The first few pages explain a little about my background and what made me feel the need to write this article. If you wish to skip this section and get to the heart of the matter, skip to the heading "Mixing Law and Grace.")
A Search for Truth
Surely one of the most frustrating aspects of having become a Christian has been determining what God requires of me. Many Christians usually settle into one or two denominations, accept their tenents more or less and get on with their lives. When I got saved, I immediately found myself in several different denominations, each coming from very different directions. As a new believer, I had to wrestle with major issues which have split Christians into thousands of different sects such as: eternal security versus conditional salvation (Calvinist vs. Arminianist); gifts for today or not, water baptism necessary or not; which form of baptism is the right one; are there still apostles and prophets; what is the proper governmental form of the church; eternal torture vs. annihilation vs. the salvation of all mankind; works vs. law; can a Christian be demon possessed; what day is the Sabbath (Saturday or Sunday); and many other issues as controversial as the ones listed.
My conversion was a rather dramatic one. I relate to Paul’s Damascus Road experience very well. Because of the way God called me, I went from atheist to Christian zealot literally overnight. I had tremendous energy and a desire to learn. That desire has not been quenched in all these years. Being an independent businessman, by God’s grace, I could earn a living and still have plenty of time to dig into all of the above these subjects. Being in love with my Father, the Creator of the universe, I wanted to show Him respect by being obedient to His Word, whatever that might be.
During the first few years of being a Christian, I attended over 200 different Christian churches with all kinds of different beliefs. To one who has never had such a broad exposure to different belief systems, it is probably difficult to imagine the torment these varying beliefs caused me. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the experience was the fact that the church leaders who were trying to persuade me of their beliefs, would look at me without blinking an eye and tell me their beliefs were based strictly on the Bible itself! One pastor would tell me that Christians who speak in tongues today do it under the power of the devil and another would tell me if one doesn’t speak in tongues, they are really not born-again yet. Both would justify their positions from the same King James Bible.
For those of you who have not gone through such an ordeal, I highly encourage you to do so. How do you know your sect has rightly divided the Word of God? Go find a half dozen denominations quite different from your denomination and with sincerity try to understand why they believe what they believe. Remove the garment of tradition which you have received from your denomination and take on the garment of another and see what happens. Oh yes, each denomination has its own spiritual garment. We are slaves to tradition much more than we care to acknowledge. A trip into a few other denominations will reveal just how much you love your garment. They will try to remove it and give you another one. Then you will see whether you are wearing the garment of the righteousness of Jesus or the garment of man’s tradition.
After having gone into several denominations of vastly varying beliefs, I was quite astonished by the fact they all were convinced they were Biblically correct in their views. How could one denomination claim baptism was essential to salvation while another using the same Bible, say that it wasn’t essential? These varying beliefs caused me to cry out to my heavenly Father from the depths of my soul. I think most Christians who are content to just sit in a comfortable pew one or two days a week and just accept whatever is taught by their pastor and denomination do not have the opportunity to experience this heart-wrenching cry, perhaps to their detriment. All these differences from the same Bible caused me to press into seeking the Holy Spirit for guidance in a depth I’m sure I would not have entered into if I was content with receiving what one sect taught on all the issues of Christian doctrine. Because many of these church leaders used the fear of possibly losing my salvation if I didn’t believe according to their beliefs, I took studying very seriously. (Please remember, all these various church leaders, with their greatly varying beliefs were all quite convinced they were Scripturally correct while the other denominations were in error.)
After many years of this kind of struggling, I finally came across some simple truths which were right before my eyes all along, but kept getting buried under the "tradition of the elders." Spending much time studying the early church and doing word studies in the original languages was very helpful. Personally speaking with some of the translators of several of the leading English Bible translations also really opened my eyes to some of the shenanigans which go on in Bible translating. This allowed me to see why there are some clear contradictions in many English Bibles, while there is no contradiction in the Greek or Hebrew texts on which these translations are based. The "tradition of the elders" has penetrated much deeper than merely producing opposing sects of Christianity. The "tradition of the elders" has gone right into Bible translations themselves. (That’s for another article.) In this article I want to give the reader a key which I hope will bring great joy to your heart. I pray that it will set many of the readers free from all sorts of condemnation, guilt, and bondage to traditions of men and the doctrines of demons.
Trying to obey God in my walk while listening to all these "voices of religion" became impossible. These church leaders would present a voice of unity at the community Ministerial Alliance meetings, but in their offices when trying to get at what they really believed, they would acknowledge that the other pastors were in great deception. While these major differences among denominations and even differences between pastors of the same denomination caused me great grief and anguish (not knowing who to trust or believe), all of it actually worked to my good. This confusion among the various denominations caused me to pray more often and spend more time studying than I would have done If I had not been confronted with all these different views. In other words, this suffering, this confusion, their contradictions, the Bible contradictions among various translations—all these caused me to run to the place Jesus told me to go in the first place.
"If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:14-18, KJV)
"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears he will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12-14)
Some of you may not be able to comprehend the torment to the soul these differences among the denominations causes for someone sincerely just trying to obey His Maker. Some of these pastors actually maintained one’s eternal life was at stake if they were not baptized properly or into the right denomination. The two simplest rituals found in the New Testament, water baptism and communion, caused me great anguish due to the great variances of teachings among these teachers. The purpose of this article is not to discuss what I learned regarding all these variances. I just want to point out that even in the simplest and foundational doctrines, there are major differences of beliefs among the leading sects of Christianity. Furthermore, many of them teach that one’s eternal life is in jeopardy if one does not conform to their standards.
Jesus Christ spoke of suffering with Him. The gates into the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation are pearls. Pearls are produced when sand enters an oyster which irritates the flesh. It produces a secretion around the object of irritation which eventually becomes the pearl. Perhaps that is what all this turmoil was all about. I don’t know, but there was great suffering, much rejection, often I know my heart was misunderstood. There were times I was labeled a heretic, divisive or unsubmissive simply because I asked too many questions or could not accept a particular denomination’s whole package of beliefs.
Mixing Law and Grace
After being set free in a great measure from the "fear of man," I discovered that one of the greatest sources of confusion among all these sects was "What were the commandments or laws of the New Covenant?" In questioning these leaders, their answers varied greatly. Some believed it was actually the entire Mosaic Law except the animal sacrifices. Others believed it was portions of the dietary and moral laws of Moses. Some believed it was the Ten Commandments plus those laws to which Jesus referred in the New Testament, especially His statements in the "Sermon on the Mount." Trying to nail down specifically which laws were binding upon a Christian and determining what the consequences were for breaking them became a futile undertaking. When push came to shove, these pastors and teachers couldn’t or didn’t want to sort out the confusion. They seemed to like keeping their standards nebulous, cloudy, and unclear. I see now that keeping the laws unclear served to their advantage. Being the "spiritual" authority in their church, this gave them the opportunity to use or create laws as the occasion required.
For example, I heard one pastor tell a new convert he must shave off his mustache or he would go to hell. The pastor quoted a Scripture which implied that Paul taught that nature tells us men should have short hair. Then told him that those Christian who do not obey their elders are in rebellion. He then proceeded to take a few passages from the Old and New Testaments which intimated that rebellious people don’t get to heaven, Christian or otherwise.
All of these systems have one thing in common—they all mix portions of the Mosaic Law and Grace. Of course, they have their Scriptures to justify this mixture. Below are a few of their favorites:
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil." (Matt. 5:17)
"Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4)
"But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully." (1 Tim. 1:8)
These references and others are cited to tell us that the portion of the Mosiac Law they claim is still binding upon New Testament believers will ultimately judge us at the Great White Throne judgment. Violation of these commandments can cause us to receive punishments ranging from losing our rewards, being beaten with many stripes, spending time in purgatory (in some denominations) or everlasting torture in Hell. Having sat through countless sessions with church leaders trying to explain their concoction, their mixture of Mosaic Law and Grace, I am sure their motives were mixed with sincerity, lack of knowledge, and sometimes corrupt motives like greed or the desire to control people.
The confusion is done away with when we break down the components of the Old Covenant and the New. We will discover that the Law portion of the Old Covenant is not the same as the Law portion of the New Covenant. The symbol / divides the Old Covenant "shadow" from the New Covenant "reality."
A God—Yahweh / A God—Yahweh (I change not)
Shekinah Glory / Presence of God, Holy Spirit, Jesus (John 1:7-9,14)
A Two party covenant between God and man with blessings and cursings in this life time with two pillars / Two party covenant between God the Father and His Son on behalf of man with two pillars (Gen. 15:1-18; Gal. 4:21-31)
A Mediator—Moses / Jesus (1 Tim.2:5)
A High Priest—descendants from Aaron a Levite / Jesus from Judah, after the order of Melchizedek and no ancestry or blood line (Heb. 10:21)
A Priesthood—Levites / Christians (1 Pet. 2:5, 9)
A Place of meeting (Tabernacle or Temple)—wherever the Ark of the Covenant was / wherever believers are or abiding in Christ (1 Cor.6:19, Matt. 18:20)
An Altar sprinkled with animal blood / heavens sprinkled with Jesus Christ’s blood (Heb. 13:10)
Jerusalem, a divinely appointed earthly city / New Jerusalem, a Spiritual City (Rev. 21:2)
Laver for washing / the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5)
Sacrifices of lambs, goats, bulls, birds, grain, etc. / Committed life of believers (Rom. 12:1-2)
Pascal lamb / Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 5:7)
Passover Meal / Bread and Wine (body and blood) of Christ (John 6)
Feast of Tabernacles (In gathering) / Christ’s life poured out to gather in the multitudes (John 7:1,2,37-39; John 12:32)
Incense / Heartfelt prayers of believers (Rev. 5:8)
Lampstand in Temple / Lord God, Christ and His body (Rev. 22:5; John 1:7-9; John 8:12; Matt. 5:14)
Sabbath day of rest (Once a week) / Rest or peace of Christ (Every day) (Matt. 11:28-30)
Sabbaths, New Moons, Holy days / All days in Christ are holy (Rom. 14:1-12, Col. 2:16f)
A written binding agreement—Mosaic Law, 613 fixed ordinances, statutes, rituals, etc. binding on all / Living Word and epistles of men (2 Cor. 3:6; John 10:27; 2 Cor. 3:2,3)
Blood and ritual forgiveness / Christ’s blood and complete forgiveness (Rom 5:1, 8:1-4)
Veil / Flesh of Christ split (Rev. 23:23,4)
Prophets / Christ and His body (Heb. 1:1-3; Eph. 4:11)
Kings and a Kingdom which God did not want / Christ and His body, a Kingdom He did want (1 Pet. 2:5-10)
Old Covenant / New Covenant (Jer. 31:31,34, Heb. 8:5-13)
Two pillar laws (Matt. 22:36-40 / Two pillar laws (1 John 3:23,24)
The above list is not meant to be exhaustive. Surely, most Christians can readily see certain portions of the Old Covenant are no longer in effect. However, many sects of Christianity feel that certain portions of the Old Testament have become a part of the New Covenant. There are even a few groups that feel the New Covenant is not in effect at the present moment and that it will only affect the Jews in the future. I will not address that belief system other than to say I believe it is also wrong.
All of the components of the types and shadows found in the Old Covenant have been replaced by the reality found in the kingdom of God in Christ Jesus. The present article will only deal with the "two pillars." Once we see how far off we have gone in even the most basic components of the New Covenant, perhaps we will then be able take an honest look to see if we have not strayed in the other areas as well. We only want to concentrate on the "two pillars" However, should the reader wish to do a little studying on the matter at this time, I’ve given you some Scripture references to help you get started. As you read these passages try to find the shadow in the Old Covenant and then look for the fulfillment in Jesus Christ and His body. I believe this study will remove many scales off many eyes allowing more of the True Light of Jesus Christ to shine in our hearts.
While almost all Christian denominations still hold to many portions of the Old Covenant, all of them have abandoned some portions of it. Even modern Jews have abandoned large portions of the Mosaic Law because it is physically impossible for them to perform certain portions of it. For example, I don’t know of any denominations still killing bulls, goats, lambs, etc., as offerings to Yahweh. Most church leaders can’t get Christians to go to Jerusalem three times a year as required by the Mosaic Law, so that’s out. With perhaps the exception of the Mormons, most sects do not believe there is still a Levitical Priesthood with authority from God. Hebrews tells us, as well as Peter, that the Levites are no longer the Priesthood, that there is a new Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. Peter tells us that we (Christians) are the new "Royal Priesthood," and that we are the "people of God," not physical Israel. The book of Revelation tells us that this New Kingdom, this new city, New Jerusalem, is not the Jerusalem in physical Israel. It is a kingdom, a city, composed of saints. Most of us realize that Moses is no longer our mediator, that Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant. Most Christians do not have a problem with what I have said so far. However, there are many sects which would take issue with some of the above. In addition, many would find the dietary laws still helpful or in effect as well as other portions of the 613 laws of the Mosaic Law. Few of those sects who do these things take James’ words seriously when he says, "Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:13) Of course the penalty for breaking the Law of Moses is death. Let us now get to the main crux of this article. Let us bring the Mosaic Law to its simplest form. Perhaps this will unravel some of the confusion Christians have been trapped in for many centuries.
I am now going to touch the Christian Golden Cow; the cornerstone of all the abominations and misguided works the church has manifested on this earth since Jesus’ accession over 1900 years ago. This Golden Cow has been the culprit which has plunged Christendom into an idolatry unmatched by any religion known to man. It is the leading cause of the hypocrisy shown by the church to the world for the last two thousand years. What is that Golden Cow? It is the Ten Commandments, part of which is the "Golden Rule."
Now those who cling to those rules as if they were life themselves will immediately quote the Scripture which tells us that He will write those Ten Commandments upon our hearts instead of stone. The difference between the New Covenant and the Old (they say) is where those laws are written. I hope to show the reader that this view is totally false. Furthermore, I want to prove that the above view will actually cause a believer to become a transgressor, not only of the Mosaic Law, but the New Covenant as well. (By the way, even the fact there were "Ten" commandments is a myth. See how the Jews, Roman Catholics, and Protestants break up those words written in stone. They do not agree with each other how to divide those words to get "Ten" Commandments. In other words, there are three different versions of the Ten Commandments. It is not even clear how they should be broken up. God never gave ten, He just spoke words. I use the term "Ten Commandments" because it has been so ingrained into the Jewish and Christian mind that to try to use another term would be near impossible.)
I want to show the reader a similar situation on the Old Testament to stress the importance of the subject at hand. I bring this story out only to illustrate how the importance of the subject we are looking into. During their 40 year journeying in the wilderness, Israel came into a situation where many of them were dying of snake bites. God commanded Moses to make a bronze image of a snake on a pole. Any time an Israelite was bitten by a snake, they were to merely look upon the snake and they would be healed. We find the account of this in Numbers 21:9. After Israel left the wilderness and entered the Promised Land, God changed things. The Manna stopped dropping. They now had to grow their own food, and the snake on the pole no longer served its former purpose.
It’s quite natural for man, being a creature of habit, to live in the past—to rely on what worked in the past. Israel was no exception to the rule. Several hundred years after their entry into the Promised Land, we find Israelites bowing down to Moses’ snake on the pole. We find this account in 2 King 18:4. The principle here is vitally important for us to understand. God’s word to Israel regarding looking at the snake in the wilderness gave them life at one time. But that same word and that same image in another time and place became death to them! Idolatry was punishable by death in the Old Testament.
In the same way idolatry was punishable by death in the Old Testament, Spiritual idolatry under the New Covenant produces spiritual death. Those who embrace the Ten Commandments and try to force them upon others, whether they be Christians or not, are committing spiritual idolatry and even worse. They are actually committing spiritual adultery! The consequences of this idolatry and adultery have been devastating. Now that I have sounded a loud warning of the seriousness of what we are dealing with, I hope that the reader will give me a real heart-to-heart hearing. I am not over-exaggerating regarding the seriousness of this blight in Christianity.
I’m sure it has not been too difficult for most of you to see that most of the components of the Old Covenant were in fact replaced with the reality of what the original rituals and ordinances pointed to. They merely acted as shadows, as pointers to the reality found in the New Covenant and in Jesus Christ. The shadows are not the present reality! Equally, the Laws of the Old Covenant were merely shadows of the Laws of the New Covenant. Let us see how they differ. Let us also see that mixing the two together is like mixing the blood of a lamb with swine’s blood or mixing wool with linen, both of these were forbidden in the Old Covenant. I believe the above Mosaic illustrations pointed to the unlawfulness of mixing Mosaic Law (works/wool which causes sweat) with Grace (gift/linen which absorbs sweat, no works of men).
May I bring Paul the apostle into the courtroom as my first witness in defense of what I am saying? I can already feel the heat coming from the nostrils of some great zealot defenders of the faith. I’m sure the stones are not far behind. But perhaps Paul, the apostle to the gentiles (that’s you and I), can cause the zealots to hold back their stones for a few more minutes. He was stoned several times for speaking the following words. Those who "hear" Paul today also suffer with him when they make plain his teachings to modern Pharisees and Christian zealots. He speaks of those sacred words written in stone in the following manner:
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their hearts. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Cor. 3:5-17)
Here we clearly see that the laws written in stone, (the Ten Commandments), were a ministry of death, a ministry of condemnation. One might ask "How can condemnation be glorious?" Very simple: when we put someone else down or think we are closer to God than they are based upon our law-keeping, we exalt ourselves at that other person’s expense. We inwardly begin to think we are better than they are because we keep the law better than they do. The problem is, we all use the Law of Moses deceitfully. We hold others to standards and condemn them while we do the very same thing and pardon ourselves. Why do I say this? When we use any of the Law of Moses, we use them unlawfully. Actually the Law of Moses says that if one is guilty on one part of the Law (all 613 laws) one is guilty of it all. (James 2:10) As I said, under Moses, the penalty for breaking the Law was death. That is why Paul called it the ministry of death. Its purpose was never to justify us. Its purpose has always been to "kill" us. Having been brought to death by the Mosaic Law, we then have need for a Savior, someone who would deliver us from the sentence of death.
Another purpose of the Mosaic Law was to keep the Seed preserved until the fullness of time. The Law was a guardian, a custodian of Israel, until the times of refreshing were appointed. Some translations in translating "paidagogos" as "schoolmaster" in Galatians 3:24, have done the body of Christ great disservice. This word "paidagogos," in no way implies one who teaches. It was used as a title for one who escorted a child to school to keep him safe from possible harm by devious persons.
The Mosaic Law also served as a tool for those whose eyes have been spiritually enlightened to be able to test their spiritual senses and grow in the knowledge of Christ. The Law is full of types and shadows pointing to spiritual realities. When one enters those realities, the types and shadows in the Mosaic Law testify to those realities.
Finally, the Law of Moses was written in such a way that only Jesus the Messiah could fulfill all the requirements of it as well as the prophecies found in the Prophets and the Writings. Yahweh printed a perfect blueprint which would help us identify all counterfeit messiahs and counterfeit structures posing themselves as the kingdom of Yahweh. The laws dealing with "seeds" of men were carefully constructed to reveal to those who have been given spiritual eyes that Yeshua (Jesus) was, in fact, the Seed Who would crush the serpent’s head. We see then, that the Mosaic Law was Holy, indeed. But it was never meant to be an instrument to justify individuals nor to glorify them. Yet religious men and women, both Jew and Christian, have used the Mosaic Law (or portions of it) for many purposes for which it was never designed.
I am now coming to the most important part of this article. The subtle differences between the next two Scriptures are the difference between life and death. The difference is ever so slight, yet to understand the difference one must be able to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus replied,
"’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’" And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang the Law and the Prophets."
Please understand the "Law" in this passage refers to the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law is not the New Covenant. Please look at these two commandments. Have you not heard them a thousand times in the context of the Christian message? And yet, as we just saw, the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that no one will be justified according to the Law of Moses. Striving to meet these two single commandments, the summary of the Mosaic Law will not justify one, yet we continue to stand upon these two commandments as being the foundation of the New Covenant. Please understand, these two commandments could only be fulfilled by one man, the Man, Christ Jesus. Please hear this. This is vitally important. One cannot deeply love someone unless they know them intimately. Of all the men and women born into this world since Adam, only Jesus Christ could lay claim to this intimacy. He was the only Man who came down from the Father. Jesus could say He loved the Father because He intimately knew Him as Father. Moses, not born of God, could not make that claim. No one born under the Law of Moses, except Jeus the Messiah, could make that claim.
So then, it was quite impossible for Israel or anyone for that matter to even think they fulfilled this requirement, yet prideful men and women of all ages have felt they met the requirements. There are countless millions of Christians who have deluded themselves that they meet these two commandments or at least, they say, they are trying to meet them. This is a great error.
The second commandment of this duo is quite easy for anyone to fulfill in one sense. Love your neighbor as yourself. Most people are self-condemned. Self-condemned people will often find strange ways to punish themselves. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, contains a host of pilgrimages, indulgences, various forms of penance, etc., to "pay" for or to receive as punishment for sins believers feel they have committed. They punish themselves and then subconsciously feel they have the right to hold others to the same standards and punishments. Some are quite masochistic. Many monks in ages past used to "flagellate" themselves for their sins (whip themselves). People who severely punish themselves usually punish others as hard or harder. They may just use forms of punishment which will not cause one to end up in prison. They are condemned by the law as transgressors of the law and so they judge others as transgressors also. They are loving their neighbor as themselves. They are self-condemned and so they condemn others.
Oh, if we could just remember, the purpose of the Mosaic Law was to kill us, not make us righteous! It was to bring to the conscience what was latent (hidden) in our members…sin. Its purpose was to show us we need a savior. We were incapable of solving this problem through any effort on our part, regardless of how good the system was. Paul expressed this thought in Romans 7:4-13:
"Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not? On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.
I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore, the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not. But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
I realize this is a difficult passage of Scripture to understand. Some of Paul’s writing, especially in the Book of Romans requires more than surface reading. The purpose of the law, according to Paul, was to reveal sin in the body. The Israelites would not have known sin unless God created a magnifying glass. The Mosaic Law was that magnifying glass. But the magnifying glass could not cure the problem, it could only magnify it so that it could be seen. The remedy for sin is not the Mosaic Law. The remedy is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I would like to bring out another point regarding what Paul called the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of death. It’s quite easy to fulfill the ministry of condemnation in one sense. It’s easy to condemn people. It is very natural to us. But Moses demanded that it must be perfectly administered. When we practice condemnation, we generally are more favorable to ourselves than to our neighbor. Therefore we do not usually give equally "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life." We are quick to plead for mercy for our own transgressions toward others, but we are not usually so quick to plead for mercy for those who transgress against us. When it comes to storing up offenses in our hearts, we are more likely to remember a sin against us, than we are to remember one of our own transgressions against another. We do not practice the law fairly. We use one set of stones to measure out transgressions against us and then bring out a different set of stones when measuring out justice against those we have offended. The Law of Moses demanded perfect equality, an eye for an eye. We, as well as Israel, are quite incapable of judging righteously using the Mosaic Law system.
The last thing I want to say about the ministry of condemnation, the Mosaic Law, is this: This Covenant, this Law was given only to a specific people. It was not given to the Romans, Greeks, American Indians, Chinese, or any other people. It was given to the nation of Israel alone! When the genealogical records, the Temple, the Priesthood, etc. were destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, that system was buried, never to be resurrected again. The Judaism practiced by modern Jews is not what Moses commanded. It is quite removed from the Mosaic Law found in the Bible.
The Pillar Laws of the New Testament
Well then, you might ask, if these two commandments to love God and your neighbor, which have been published throughout the denominations of Christendom as the commandments of the New Covenant, are not the Laws of the New Testament, then what are? Are they in the Bible? The answer is yes, they are plainly written in the Bible. Understanding the difference between the two sets of Laws is a matter of spiritual life and spiritual death. I will first give you the two laws of the New Testament. Then I will explain how vital it is to understand the difference between these and the two pillars of the Mosaic Law.
"And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His son Jesus Christ and love one another, as he gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." (1 John 3:23,24; NKJV)
So then, just as the Mosaic Covenant (also called Old Covenant, seen most clearly through the Ten Commandments), hinged upon two pillars, the New Covenant, otherwise known as the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2) also has two pillars. As we examine them carefully, we will discover they are quite different from each other.
The first commandment we see is to "believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." While this may appear to be a simple commandment, the fact of the matter is, that it is just as impossible to perform as the "You shall love the Lord your God" was in the Old Covenant. Many evangelists have given the invitation to simply "believe in the name of Jesus Christ and you will be saved." The potential convert repeats a simple prayer, invites Jesus to come into their heart, is instructed to go to a "Bible-believing" church, and then spends the rest of his life pretty much as it has always been. They are told to believe what is written and that they are now "saved" according to the Bible. Yet they basically often feel the same as before. Then they are reminded that we must not go by our feelings, but by blind faith in the Bible. For most people who come forward during the typical Christian revival, a true awakening by God does not happen nearly as often as we are led to think. Why? Because most of these people merely followed men’s traditions, parroted men’s formulas, and responded to men’s words of fear and guilt and not the words of the Anointing of the Holy Spirit. Belief in the head and belief in the heart are two entirely different things. Paul tells us:
"’The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’; (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom. 10:8-10)
As we can see, in this passage of Scripture that this belief must be in one’s heart, in the very center of one’s being. Furthermore, Paul brings up something called the "word of faith." This immediately brings up a host of other Scriptures such as "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." (Heb. 11:6) Romans 3:27 speaks of a "law of faith:" "Where is the boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." The writer of Hebrews tells us that "Faith is the substance (realization or confidence) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Through faith, "we understand that the ages were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." (Heb. 11:1-3)
One might immediately ask, "What is this faith?" How does one know whether they have it or not? If mental understanding and agreement to an evangelist’s invitation is not necessarily faith, then where does faith come from? How can one receive it?
Jesus asked the apostle Peter, "’Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." (Mat. 16:15-17) I cannot overemphasize Jesus’ statement here. Peter had heard his own brother declare Jesus to be the Messiah. (John 1:41) He saw many others follow Him because they felt He was the Messiah. Peter had witnessed many miracles which according to Jewish tradition could only be performed by the Messiah, but none of these things planted "faith" into his heart. Peter also knew the Scriptures which prophesied of the coming of the Messiah. But none of these gave him faith. Peter’s faith came by way of revelation from the Father. (John 1:41) What Peter saw with his eyes and what he heard with his natural ears did not produce faith. Faith is an inner word, it is revelation which comes from the Spirit of God, not from any man, system, or tradition. The preaching of the gospel is certainly important in the process. However, it is the spirit of revelation which comes only from the Holy Spirit which brings about a new birth from above. Responding to an altar call, memorizing the Bible, or sitting in the right pew in the right denomination does not necessarily bring about faith.
The Origin of Faith
The writer of the Book of Hebrews declares Jesus Christ the "author and finisher of our faith." (Heb. 12:2) This is vitally important to understand. There are many Christians who sing the song, "I have decided to follow Jesus" who do not realize they are not following Jesus. They are following the traditions of men. No one can really "decide" to follow Jesus. You don’t believe me? Well then, let us look to the Scriptures and see what they have to say on the subject.
"Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48,NKJV) Other translations use the word "ordained" in the place of "appointed." Please note the ones appointed or ordained believed. God gave them something in advance which caused them to believe when they heard the word.
Speaking to His apostles, Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." (John 15:16) Who chose who?
Looking at the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who would become the apostle to the nations, he tells us that his conversion is the example of how others would come into the kingdom of God. Seriously, do you think Saul, who was in the process of killing the church, "decided" to follow Jesus? Or was he captured? Here is the condition in which we find Saul, just prior to his "conversion." You decide whether he was in a condition of "godly sorrow" or repentance just before his conversion or if, in fact, just the opposite was the case.
"Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. (Acts 9:1-6, NKJV) At the same time The Lord spoke to Ananias, a part of the body of believers. Here’s what the Lord told Ananias concerning Saul, who would become Paul:
"Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him many things he must suffer for My name’s sake." (Acts 9:15, 16) We see here quite clearly, that God had already planned to save Saul and knew in advance what Saul would do for His name’s sake. We do not find a trace of "free-will" here. We find the sovereignty of God acting to bring Saul into a work preplanned by God. We see in this passage of Scripture God Sovereignly exercising His right to "elect" someone He has predestined to a specific "calling." We do not see Saul "deciding" anything. Later Paul tells us his conversion is the example for others who would come into the body of Christ through the preaching of the gospel. Paul says,
"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting (aionian) life." (1 Tim 1:15,16) The chiefest of sinners merely heard the voice of God and was changed. He was predestined to a work and spent the rest of his life fulfilling that work until the day he could say that he accomplished that work. This is how people are "saved" by the True and Living God.
Why do we have a difficult time believing the Scriptures when they plainly declare, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) We don’t believe because we have been seduced by the traditions of men. Equally, why don’t we believe that every single person drawn by the Father will come to Jesus; that Jesus will not lose a single soul? Because today’s traditions teach the opposite. We do we not believe Jesus when He said, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. (John 6:37-40) Yes, sadly, most Christians do not believe the plain words of Christ. These words are too wonderful for them to believe. Surely they must perform works of some kind to enter into the life promised by Jesus. It cannot be this simple. But it is. Entrance into the abundant life produces the works of God. We do not produce "works" in our own strength that we might have the abundant life.
While many Christians have memorized Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast," truly few Christians really believe this Scripture and are able to walk out their Christian lives in this assurance.
If most Christians cannot and will not believe these simple wonderful truths, how can they possibly accept the plain simple words of Jesus Christ when He openly and plainly declared, when speaking of what manner of death He would die, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." (John 12:32) This passage has been twisted by tradition into all sorts of lies. Tradition cannot accept it as stated. They must interpret it. Why? Because in its simple form, it conflicts with the creeds and articles of faith of most denominations. Therefore, they must color it in accord with their doctrines, rather than allow the blood of Christ to speak for itself. The Scriptures declare we all put Christ on the cross. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) "There is none righteous, nay, not one." (Rom. 3:10) "The wages of sin is death." (Rom. 6:23) We all have need of a savior, every single one of us. Here is Jesus’ request to the Father on behalf of every person on this earth who has need of forgiveness, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) Jesus said he only did and speak what He saw His Father doing and speaking. He came to fulfill His Father’s words and works. Do you think perhaps God the Father honored His Son’s words by accepting them…by bringing them to pass? "Father, forgive them…." Do you find any conditions in this statement? I don’t.
Let’s return to the subject at hand. There are many passages of Scripture which the Calvinists love because they speak of the absolute Sovereignty of God, election, and predestination. Arminianists, those who believe in "free-will," have a tendency to blind themselves to these Scriptures because they find Calvinism quite repugnant. I, too, find Calvinism in its broadest expression, a very repugnant system. However, we cannot throw out Scriptures merely because they agree with Calvinism and not the "free-will" camp (nor vice-a-versa). Christians who have aligned themselves into either one of these two branches of Protestantism have forced themselves into favoring a certain set of Scriptures above another set when dealing with the subject of God’s Sovereignty versus mankind’s "free-will." Each camp has certain truths. Each camp, also, has certain errors caused by their rejection of Scriptures which do not agree with their foundational teachings. I have found that one must leave both of these groups if one is to be able to rightly divide the Word of God. Each group is too loyal to their pet Scriptures at the expense of other Scriptures which seem to contradict their beliefs. It is possible to reconcile all the Scriptures with each other. But it is not easy to see the way to do this while being blinded by the sectarian teachings of either camp. For example, most Arminianists (free-willers) cannot truly grasp the power of Scriptures like this one:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he predestinated, these He also called, whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with him also freely give us all things. Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Rom. 8:28-33) It would behoove those of us raised on the "free-will" Scriptures to read this chapter to the end several times. Prayerfully ask allow the Holy Spirit to shed some light on the subject of Sovereignty, election, and predestination.
When I was in the "free-will" camp, when reading a Scripture like this one, my preconditioned mind would automatically go to one of those "Arminianist" Scriptures like "Many are called but few are chosen." Another favorite Scripture which would come to mind would be, "Not everyone who says to Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and done many wonders in Your Name?’ ‘And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" (Matt. 7:21-23) As a result of these "free-will" type of Scriptures coming to my mind, I was unable to read the Sovereignty, election, and predestination type of Scriptures for what they literally said. I had to "interpret" them in light of the "free-will" set of Scriptures. This method of Bible reading is not rightly dividing the Word of Truth. It will not reveal the fullness of His truth. As I said before, the only way one can rightly divide the word is to get out of all these camps, traditions, sects, and mindsets so that you can read the Scriptures without trying to defend your sect’s foundational teachings. We all like to be on the winning team. When we have chosen a team to be on, we will automatically become prejudiced in our ways of doing things, including how to interpret Scriptures. We become biased in our reading. We develop blind spots without realizing it.
The right frame of mind when reading the Bible will allow one to open-mindedly read Scriptures which seem to contradict each other without favoring one set over another. The Holy Spirit will eventually sort everything out if we do not come to premature conclusions on our own or with the help of our sect’s interpretations.
Looking at Roman Chapter eight, we clearly see that it is God who starts the process and does what is needed to bring salvation to completion. It is all God, from start to finish! Man’s most difficult labor is ceasing from his labor and receiving unmerited favor. The Scriptures boldly declare that one is saved by "grace through faith." Jesus Christ is the "author and finisher" of our faith. Even faith is a gift which we cannot receive apart from God giving it. We are quite incapable of coming to God apart from this faith. Once this faith is received, it is Jesus Christ who finishes the work in us, not ourselves, lest we boast. There are many Scriptures which make this quite clear. However, there appear to be Scriptures which contradict this understanding. Only the Holy Spirit will be able to sort out the confusion for a believer. It is not the purpose of this paper to show how all these two seemingly contradictory sets of Scriptures can be harmonized, but they can be.
I felt I had to touch on this subject merely to give the "free-will" type of Christian the understanding that it is not our faith that saves us, it is the faith of Jesus Christ which we receive as an unmerited gift that saves us, not our faith in Him. So where do many Christians (the majority actually) get the idea that salvation begins by our putting our faith or trust in Jesus Christ instead of receiving faith from Jesus Christ? There are hundreds of thousands of church leaders who teach this. Christian literature is overflowing with this teaching. We find this teaching in some of the leading selling Bible translations. I don’t really want to get into the subject of the differences among Bible translations, but the Scriptures we are presently looking at are so important, we must make sure we are truly receiving the actual meaning which the original writers wanted to convey.
In these Scriptures, we will see that changing a single word from "of" to "in" changes the whole meaning of a sentence and even more, changes the whole understanding regarding how a person becomes "saved." I am first going to quote three Scriptures from the New King James Version dealing with faith. The NKJV claims to remain true to the original meaning of the text found in the original King James Bible of 1611. We will see this is not the case at all. How they rendered the following three Scriptures will show how easy it is to dramatically change key doctrinal passages by simply changing a two-letter word. We will see that the substitution of the little word "of" for the word "in" can change the very foundation of Christianity itself! Let us first compare the KJV with the NKJV. Then we will see if we can determine which rendering is the correct one.
"…A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Gal. 2:16, NKJV) "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." (Gal. 3:22, NKJV) "That I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith…" (Phil. 3:9)
The original 1611 King James reads:
"…A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the law shall no flesh be justified." (Gal. 2:16, KJV) "But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (Gal. 3:22, KJV) "And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:" (Phil. 3:9, KJV)
I pray that the reader sees the dramatic difference these two little words make. If a person "decided" to put their faith in Christ and as a result receive righteousness, then the first step was taken by man and not God. A person who has made a "decision" for God can have a right to boast is his decision. He can pat himself on the back, so to speak, that he was smart enough to give his life to God. Evangelists often count how many "decisions" for Christ they were able to secure during their services so they can say they were successful.
It is interesting to note, the leading competing English Bible in the Seventeenth Century to the King James Bible was the Geneva Bible. This Bible, like the King James Version, used the word "of" instead of "in." You see, the King James Bible translating committee had quite a few Calvinists on the committee who would have been more proned to place salvation in the realm of predestination and election. The Geneva Bible, of course, is a Calvinist Bible.
The four leading selling English Bibles in recent years have been the NIV, NASB, KJV, and the NKJV. Only the KJV uses the word "of" in these passages. The other three have opted for "in." When looking at the makeup of the translating committees of these Bibles, it becomes evident that translators and editors seem to be unable to translate without their denominational biases being involved. Those of the Arminian persuasion (the majority), have chosen to translate these passages in such a manner to support the idea of a free-will which must be exercised towards God before one can begin to enter the salvation process.
Can we, as non-experts in Greek, determine which rendering most reflects the heart and intent of the original authors? I think we can. There are Scriptures which deal with the same subject in which it is much more difficult to twist the passage to conform to a theological bias. Let’s take a look at the leading selling English Bible, the New International Version, which has chosen to follow the Arminian bias (free-will) in its translation process. We noted in Gal. 3:22, this translation used "faith in Jesus Christ" as opposed to "faith of Jesus Christ." However, the very next verse is translated, Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law." (Gal. 3:23-25, NIV) We see here this faith was not available under the law to anyone! This faith came when Jesus Christ came! People believed in the coming Messiah under the Law of Moses. Their hope was in this Messiah. But this "faith" which we are talking about was not available in the ancient world except a handful of men and women God used to weave His marvelous story. Most of these men and women heard the audible voice of God. Some of them saw mighty visions which gave them the strength and vision to fulfill that which Yahweh required of them. It is difficult for most of us to image what happens to our perspective of things after hearing the audible voice of God. Obviously, for these men and women, it was life-changing.
On the day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago, this "faith" instead of dropping on a handful of men and women scattered over several thousand years, began to be poured out to many thousands at a time. Faith is the substance which allows one to see that which cannot be seen with the natural mind. It is not something we inherently possess, contrary to what most of the church believes and teaches.
Let us look at a text which should seal the coffin to this issue of whose faith is being exercised in the salvation process. In the NIV version, we read in Hebrews 12:2, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." It is quite clear here where our faith came from and Who is perfecting or completing it. It is the faith of Jesus Christ, deposited in a people who He is bringing into a fullness which the world will one day behold! Oh, yes, once it is deposited, we may claim this faith as our own, but we must never forget its source. Forgetting that it is a gift given from God which we did not earn will cause a Christian to travel the road which leads to self-righteousness and will surely end in spiritual death. This is the condition of too many Christians today. The churches of the world are filled with self-righteous, prideful, arrogant people who think they are better than the rest of the world. They have been deluded into thinking they play a part in their salvation. They have become so blind, they do not even know what salvation truly is. The Arminian concept of Christian salvation is false. (But that’s for another article.)
The churches of the world are filled with people who have listened to church leaders and read Bibles produced by their scholars, that told them to repeat a simple little prayer, put their faith in Christ and receive eternal life and avoid eternal torture in hell if they continue on the right road. This road varies greatly from one Arminian type Christian denomination to another. The differences between these denominations, as wide as they are, really don’t matter much. They all lead to spiritual death.
(Let the reader understand, I am not writing as a Calvinist. I am not a Calvinist! I abhor much of the theology of the Calvinist system. I want the truth! Period! I don’t like Calvinism, but the Calvinists are right regarding where faith comes from. I don’t like the King James Bible. Read some of my criticisms of it in other articles I have written if you don’t believe me. But in this case, the King James Bible has translated correctly, while the other leading selling Bibles have revealed the theological bias behind the committees which produced their translations.)
So then the beginning and end of salvation for a believer is all God. Man is incapable of offering anything to the process except the fruit of his lips…praise and thanksgiving.
In the Name of Jesus Christ
We are saved by grace through this media called faith. We receive it and then are able to believe in or on the name of Jesus Christ. The word "in" or "on" doesn’t appear in the Greek text. It is supplied by the translators to make for better English. "We should believe the name of the Son of Him Jesus Christ." Of course, the name Jesus Christ, to the Aramaic or Hebrew mind would bring up the meaning of Jesus’ name. Yeshua means "Yah saves or delivers." The word "Christ" is not a part of His birth day. It is a title. The Hebrew form is "ha Mashiach" which means "the Anointed One."
A Jewish name had much more importance and meaning in the Hebrew language than we place on our English names. Names often referred to the nature of things, especially when the names were placed in the Biblical record. It is difficult for Western democratic people who value their voice in government, equal rights, majority rule, etc., to understand what the absolute sovereignty of a ruler is really like. Our judicial system perhaps comes closest to it, but still falls short.
A man in a uniform with a badge on his or her shirt aims a gun at you and says, "Stop in the name of the law!" You probably would immediately freeze and do exactly what he tells you. In our society, this man has been given a authority, a uniform, and a power which you recognize as something which you must obey or face serious consequences. The gun, which the law-makers authorized the uniformed man to carry and use makes it quite clear we are dealing with a life and death situation regarding how we respond to his command.
The term Christ, Christos in Greek, and ha Mashiach in the Hebrew, had a meaning to that culture which we modern Westerners do not usually attach to the word "Christ." What did it mean to be called the Anointed One? The Anointed One was to sit on David’s throne and rule all of Israel. David was a king, anointed by a prophet of God, not elected by the people. How do we respond to Jesus’ sovereignty and power as king? Have we really come to grips with Jesus’ right to absolute rulership in our lives?
His Hebrew name is "Yeshua" (Yah saves or delivers). Do we really grasp the reality found in this name? Jesus is called the Savior. Yet Jesus’ name means "Yah saves." Yah, short for Yahweh was Jesus’ Father. "And He who sent me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (John 8:29) "For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father." (John 16:27) "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:19) "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32) We often forget that Jesus’ purpose was to reveal our Father in all His fullness. The fullness of God was in the Anointed One bodily. Jesus said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. (John 10:30) "He that has seen Me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) I will not list all the Scripture references but Jesus came to declare, manifest, and fulfill the Word, Work, and Will of the Father. They were one in purpose. Jesus did not sin (miss the mark) in this regard. I mention all this merely to say that too few Christians really know their Father. They do not know the nature, the power, nor the purpose in His name/nature. Many Christians have no problem loving Jesus, but they have a hard time relating to their Father. This was one of the main purposes of Jesus, that is, through Himself to draw them to the Father. Here, again, the traditions of men have intervened producing doctrines which have crippled Christians from being able to truly come to know the Creator of the Universe as their Father.
In summary, there is a great chasm between the first pillar of the New Testament as taught by Jesus Christ (and John the apostle) and what has been traditionally taught by much of the Church. The faith and belief which Jesus and John spoke of is quite removed from the systems of belief created by many organized Christian denominations.
The Second Pillar of the Law of the New Covenant
The second Commandment of the New Covenant is equally all God, and therefore equally impossible for man to do in his own strength…to love as Jesus loved. The only way this can come about is by Christ living through the individual. That is exactly what pure Christianity is all about...the Son of God living His life out in a many-membered body. It is not we who live, but Christ in us. Again, this eliminates the possibility of false religious pride coming in from laying down ones’ life for their neighbor. It is Christ in us who does the work.
As we carefully compare the two pillars of the Old Covenant with the New we must also acknowledge a great difference between the two: the Mosaic Law was between a people who did not want to hear God for themselves, they were afraid of Yahweh and selected Moses to be God’s spokesperson to them. It was clearly a covenant between man (Israel) and Yahweh. In this Covenant all those who agreed to it promised to do something in return for the blessings contained with the covenant. If Israel failed in these requirements, a variety of curses fell upon them, not only individually, but often corporately. The New Covenant, however, was based upon the law of faith. In order to look at this covenant carefully, we must look to the faith of Abraham.
The Abrahamic Covenant, A Promise of a New Covenant
I cannot go into complete detail regarding the methods of covenanting in the early Biblical period. This would require a lengthy book. I just want to point out that in the blood covenant made in Gen. 15:17,18, in which Yahweh participated, Abraham was asleep during its ratification process. The two parties of the covenant, as they walked between the pieces of animals were to say something to the effect, "If either of us break this covenant, may what happened to these animals, happen to the one who breaks the covenant. In other words, this kind of covenant was a life-long covenant unto death. The life of each partner in the covenant was to be at the disposal of the other party should the need ever arise. It is vitally important to understand that the flesh man, Abram, was unable to meet his part of the requirement of this covenant. The covenant was between the "Seed" which would come forth from Abraham and Yahweh. That is why Abraham fell asleep during the ratification process. This covenant was a covenant between God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ in which Abraham and all his descendents would be blessed.
"It came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram…" (Gen. 15:17,18) The two fires represented God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Abraham fell asleep. This is the nature of us all. We are not capable of keeping covenants with God. When Jesus was about to spill His blood to inaugurate the New Covenant, He asked His disciples to pray with Him. What did they do? They fell asleep. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Paul, the apostle spends a great deal of time in his epistles trying to explain the difference between grace and law, promise and law, man’s efforts versus God’s power. In Galatians he compares the Abrahamic Covenant with the Mosaic covenant and calls them allegories. Read very slowly and prayerfully Galatians 4:21-31. See the difference between the promise of God and the efforts of man. I will list some comparisons between the two covenants which I hope will make clear the radical differences between the two. The words to the left of the / refer to the Old Covenant while the words to the right of the / refer to the New Covenant: Bondwoman/Freewoman; Hagar/Sarah; Ishmael/Isaac; Human effort/Sabbath rest; Sweat (dust)/No Sweat; Born of the flesh/Born of the Spirit; Son of the flesh/Son of promise; Not the heir/The heir, God’s chosen; From Mount Sinai/From Mount Zion; Earthly Jerusalem/Heavenly Jerusalem; Natural Jew/Spiritual Jew; Natural Israel/Spiritual Israel; Natural Land/Spiritual Land; Natural temple/Spiritual temple; From beneath/From above; In bondage/Free. (The above list was taken from The More Excellent Ministry by Kelley Varner.)
We see then, that the New Covenant was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." (Gal. 3:8,9)
Getting Back To Glory
Since eating from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, man has been constantly trying to get back into the place of glory he had then. He has built many towers, created all kinds of offerings, organized various religions and sects which promised to bring us back to the rest man once had when in talking relationship with his Creator. Man has beaten off the birds of the air, has cut much flesh asunder in the name of his religion (Christianity not excluded). Yet we will never be able to enter our true rest with these kinds of offerings. The religious works of man all speak of utter futility and meaninglessness.
While man is in his pride, he is certainly incapable of seeing his nakedness—incapable of seeing the worthlessness of his works, of his offerings unto his Creator.
The New Covenant puts an absolute end to man’s works. His pride is brought to nothingness. Israel was required to do much to maintain the blessings of its covenant through Moses. Israel failed on all accounts. That is why God established this Mosaic covenant with Israel—to show mankind that no people can make a covenant with God and keep it.
And yet religious man still attempts to do the impossible. Christians, the people who were to lead the world away from such activity, have fallen away from the teachings of the New Covenant and returned back to chasing away birds and cutting up flesh. We boast in our religious works of the flesh and parade them around just like the Baal prophets did on Mount Carmel in front of Elijah’s altar. We have fallen asleep like Abraham did. We need to awake from its stupor, cease from our carnal labor, enter into our rest and bring peace to the world. But we must first return to our first love. We must again come to know our redeemer intimately, personally. We must cease our idolatry and adultery with types and shadows, with useless rituals, laws, ordinances, creeds, articles of faith, denominational confessions, etc. We must cease from works of unrighteousness!!
Due to the false concepts of salvation perpetuated in Christianity, we have forgotten why God called us in the first place. Israel was to be a nation of priests to the world on behalf of Yahweh. They were to make intercession for them and offer sacrifices on their behalf. Most Christians believe salvation is simply a deliverance from being eternally tortured. This reveals how far Christianity has fallen from its purposes in Christ Jesus. We have forgotten that we have been called to be a Royal Priesthood, a holy nation and ambassadors of Christ. When? On the other side of the grave? No! No!! Oh, Christian we need to wake up and enter into Christ’s work prepared for each of us. To do this we must cease from working up a bunch of religious sweat by working on our favorite denomination’s programs. Ask Him for your daily work and your daily bread.
Do you know what the work of a Christian consists of? Before you continue this article to see my answer, please stop right here, close your eyes, and try to describe the work of a Christian. Most Christians will be as wrong with their answers as they were with first part of this article. Here is what the Bible tells us is the work of a Christian:
"Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." (John 6:29)
Of course, Christians do not really believe it is this simple. That is why they have added thousands of other works which have served no other purpose but to puff up our pride so high that we have completely forgotten what the true work is. The work of God totally destroys the pride of man. It brings man and his efforts to nothing. There is something in all of us which insists we, in some way, earn our way. Oh yes, we love to sing about how we "cling to the Old Rugged Cross," but our words and our spirit give us away. We love to sing about how we "decided" to follow Jesus, and tell our fellow brothers and sisters about all that we have left behind so that one day we can rule and reign with Him. We do not see the subtle "works" mentality behind our words.
In some circles of Christianity the word "overcomer" is a very popular one. Those who will reign with Christ are those who overcome the lusts and temptations which beset us. They are pressing into the kingdom while others, less loyal to the King, are indulging in the flesh. Many of these "overcomers" have been overcome with religious pride and do not even know it. It saddens me to know that this article will not steer most in these camps from their courses, or should I say their intercourse with death.
A person who thinks he can offer something up to God in exchange for some glory will usually not be persuaded otherwise by the words of another brother or sister. An article like this will probably not knock the wind out of their sail. The wind will have to come from God in the form of a storm which will carry them where they would otherwise not go in their own strength.
Those who seek to find things to do to earn their place in the kingdom have over 700, 000 thousand words in the Bible which can be pieced together to create a system of works with which to justify their Babylonian tower. Most usually go into the Old Covenant, dig up a past word of God, Christianize it, and declare it the Word of God for today just like Israel did with the snake on the pole.
Would you like to be an overcomer? Would you like to overcome the darkness of this world? Would you like to gain victory over the lusts of the eyes, lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life? The Bible tells us the definition of an overcomer. Now I must warn you. This definition is God’s definition. It does not come from the creeds, articles of faith, confessions, membership statements, etc. of various sects of Christendom. Here is God’s definition of an "overcomer:"
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (1 John 5:3-5)
As we can see, here is another Scripture to destroy our religious pride, this is if one realizes "their" faith is actually Jesus’ faith. Of course, even this Scripture will not bring down all that dark religious reasoning in those who have gone down the road of "I have decided to follow Jesus." Only a rude awakening like Saul had on the road to Damascus will really deal with the matter. Saul was absolutely convinced he was doing the work of God until he met the Work of God! Saul needed new eyes before he could become Paul (meaning small), the apostle to the nations.
Much of the difficulty we (Christians) have had with our spiritual walks stems from the fact that we have not been able to sort out the Bible, that is, we have not "rightly divided" the Bible. For example, most Bibles contain two pages which should not be in any Bible. Almost all Christian Bibles contain two titles pages, one introducing what the publishers of these Bibles entitle "The Old Covenant or Testament" and another page introducing what they call "The New Covenant or Testament. This is quite misleading, actually false. There is not a Scripture in the entire Bible authorizing anyone to call Genesis to Malachi "The Old Covenant." Nor are there instructions which tell modern Bible publishers to entitle Matthew to Revelation "The New Covenant." This is merely a Bible publishing tradition which does not add to an understanding of the Bible, but actually hinders it. The New Covenant must not be understood as a set of gospels and letters from the apostles. If a typical pastor of an average church would say, "Let us turn to the New Testament," I feel certain probably all the congregation would be heading towards that last one quarter of the Bible. This reveals how deep our conditioning has been.
The letters and gospels of what is commonly called the New Testament were written during an intermittal period of time during which the physical nation and people of Israel were being weaned from the Mosaic Covenant and being introduced to the New Covenant of the Law of the Life in Christ Jesus. When we read of the events in their lives, including the instructions they received from the apostles and others, we must remember that while Paul was preaching "grace through faith," the other apostles had not yet completely understood what was happening. There was a great mixture during this period (which unfortunately still exists today). We forget that the Temple had been recently restored. The Levitical Priesthood with all its rituals was still functioning during while the writings which we incorrectly call the New Testament were written. The apostles to the circumcision were still zealous for the Law of Moses and commanded Jews to continue to keep it! (Acts 21:20) While believing that Jesus was the Messiah and while the Temple was still standing, Jewish Christians, including the apostles, were still offering sacrifices at the Temple! (Acts 21:23,24)
We must understand that Jesus was born under the Mosaic Law and that He had to live a life which perfectly fulfilled it. We do ourselves and others a great harm if we try to pattern our own lives after His life in the flesh. He was called to do what no man on earth could possibly do, perfectly fulfill the Law of Moses. That is why you do not find Jesus speaking against the Law of Moses, or the ten commandments, yet Paul spoke many things against those who sought to keep believers under the Mosaic Law. Paul was commissioned the "Apostle of the Uncircumcision." His Gospel was one of pure grace. He wrote most of his letters 20 to 30 years after Jesus’ accession. He was shown by the Holy Spirit that the whole Mosaic structure, Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple, the Levitical Priesthood, the whole Mosaic Law would soon be rolled away like a scroll. Jesus prophesied this would take place within the generation to whom He preached. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD perfectly fulfilled Jesus’ words.
To prevent future believers from trying to "copy" Jesus’ life in the flesh, Paul wrote,
"Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him thus no longer." (2 Cor. 5:16)
Our pattern is not Jesus Christ in the flesh; our pattern is the life He prepared for us individually in Him in the spirit. I have seen many young Christian zealots (I was one of them) get burned out trying to copy the Jesus they saw recorded in the gospels. Our pattern is not in thegospels. Our pattern is in Him according to the Spirit. Oh, I pray you can hear this!
So then, to truly understand what the kingdom of God is all about, what the New Covenant entails, we must cast off some very heavy chains of Christian traditions which have held us captive to earthly shadows, types, and deceptions. This article serves only as an introduction to the subject of casting off the robes of traditions which hold back the glory our Lord and Savior wants to display to the world through His people. (Other writings and audio tapes will deal with the various other counterfeits we have swallowed as substitutes for the life found in the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.)
So what does all this mean to me, you might ask? Well, that depends upon who is reading. If you have been raised on a heavy "free-will" diet (which is most of the church), and still insist you decided to follow Jesus and that you are "working" out your salvation meaning the fear of flaming fires of Hell are still producing torment in your soul, if this is you, there is nothing I can say to you to steer you away from your deception, your futile works and your vain boasting. Just dust off your grave stone before you go back into your coffin and forgive me for having tried to wake you up from your sleep.
But if there was a place in your heart for the words you just read, then repent, turn, leave behind those walls of religion which puff up the pride, which divide brother from brother through man-made systems based upon the works of the flesh. If you have the assurance that you have been born from above, get out of your tomb and seek your mother, the New Jerusalem, and your Father, the Creator of all mankind. Don’t be surprised if He tells you to get out of that denomination which is strangling the life right out of you. Don’t go back unless your Father from above clearly calls you back.
If you have been sitting on the pews of Christendom because they scared you there through fear of their eternal torturing hell which they promised to deliver you from if you joined their church, their propped up cardboard structure is a farce. It will not save you from anything. Walk away from it and go to your true Father.
Some of you have never received this faith we have been talking about. It is not something I can give, nor any church. It comes from Jesus Christ Himself. How and when a person receives this faith is a mystery to me. I know I have it. I know I am not a better person or more loved by God because I have this gift. I am grateful I have it. I used to think I saw things pretty clearly before I received this gift. Now I know I was blind.
Please understand this article is about the two Pillars of the Law of the New Covenant. I purposely did not get into the subject of salvation. This is another key doctrine on which there is great confusion. Suffice it to say, much of what has been taught by the church on this subject is at best nonsense and at worst so blasphemous to the precious Name/Nature of the Creator that Satan would be embarrassed to speak such blasphemies. (That subject is for another article.)
Some of you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God because you believe the Bible is the Word of God. Some of you believe because you have been raised a Christian all your life and so you just believe. Some of you believe because the majority of Americans are Christians and so you joined the majority. You believe, but you don’t have faith. You don’t have assurance. You don’t have a relationship with the author of this faith, Jesus Christ. To you, I point to a simple story in Mark:
"And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, ‘What are you discussing with them?’
Then one of the crowd answered and said, ‘Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down: he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not." He answered him and said, ‘O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.’ Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ and he said,’ From childhood. ‘And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears. ‘Lord, I believe: help my unbelief!;
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: ‘Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!’ Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose." (Mark 9:14-27)
To the traditionalist Christian without faith and assurance, I suggest the prayer of this father, "I believe, help thou my unbelief." Of course, the Helper is the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. Of course, His timing, His divine appointments with His children are in His Hands. We have the right to cry out. It is His to answer the cry.
To those of you who are absolutely certain His Spirit has been deposited in you, that you have been born of the "spermata" (Word) of God because you "chose" God, I say to you repent. Whether you have been born from above or not, in your case it doesn’t matter because whether you have truly had a new birth or not, you are still on the road to spiritual death. Pride stinks whether it comes from a heathen or a Christian.
To those of you who are hearing me by the Spirit and your heart is saying "amen" to the message of this article, there is so much more to talk about. But then you know that. The hearts of children without fear are full of the desire to love, to learn, to grow, to explore, to mature, to enjoy the rich life found in Christ Jesus, our Lord, Savior, and King. To you I say, "Rejoice, for the kingdom of heaven is near!"
In summary, the two pillar laws of the New Covenant are the Faith and Love of Jesus Christ. The Law of the Life in Christ Jesus excludes any system devised by man, including much of christendom, from providing the quality of life which the Creator of the universe purposed for mankind. The way to this Life and the Life itself resides in a person, Jesus (Yahshua, Yah saves, Ya delivers). It is through the person of Jesus the Messiah that mankind will ultimately be restored to fellowship with our Maker, our Father, and Creator of all things. Jesus is the end to all of man’s attempts to glorify himself. Our Father’s desire has always been for man to have an intimate relationship with Him and to reconcile human beings with each other. Systems of religion, including even those that may use His name, will never be able to accomplish this. Ultimately, every religion, including the denominations of Christianity, will be destroyed and be replaced with the True Faith and Love of the Anointed One. Abundant Life is found only in the person of the Son of the Living God, Jesus.
I thank my lovely wife, Michelle, for spending many hours proofing and editing this work even though she is not a professional proofer. Her attention to detail and her love for our Messiah is hidden behind every page. Most of all, I thank our Father and Jesus for loving us so much and sending the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us into all Truth that we may richly know them.