I have mused about this before. The Bible is too often, most often, ‘understood’ outside of its context: the 1st century, Jewish frame of mind. But, my topic today is PERSONAL context.
Yeshua is often quoted out of context, and whole doctrines are built around those quotes. Is it any wonder that WE are done the same way?
I have said that one is saved BY FAITH ALONE. And ‘torah-keepers’ then accuse me of not having works. I have also said that one must observe the Torah, and anti-law people accuse me of hinging my salvation on MY works, because of ONE statement. It is difficult for me to assess which ‘offender’ is worse: the one who ‘thinks’ that I do not ‘truly’ observe Torah, because I put my trust in His blood ALONE for my salvation, or the one who ‘thinks’ that I am not saved at all, because I have CHOSEN to obey and follow the MESSIAH, and walk the way that He walked, which is contrary to many people’s ‘walk of faith.’
The TRUTH is, and I find this true of “The Truth” most of the time, and that is that the TRUTH is truly RIGHT UP THE MIDDLE, that very NARROW ‘strait’ that so few people find.
I personally believe that the Word of God is very plain and simple. For years, I strove to understand it, by listening to those who taught it, and then reading His Word. And I did indeed keep finding inconsistencies. NOT in the WORD itself, but in interpretations of His Word. As a young, baptist boy, I grew up next to two young pentecostal boys, and my brother and I would debate the two of them over very foundational doctrines, at 10 and 12 years old. Turns out, both of those doctrines were developed WAY OUTSIDE of complete BIBLICAL CONTEXT.
Twelve years later, when I was on a submarine, 400 feet below the ocean’s surface, off in the north Pacific somewhere, and I felt betrayed by everyone: my family, who very seldom wrote; my friends from back home, who did likewise; the girl who had just broken up with me before we pulled out to sea; and the one friend on the boat who’d just turned his back on me for no apparent reason; after stewing in all of that for some few days, I finally got on my face in my upper bunk in bunk room five, and prayed: “Father, I want to know what Jesus would say to me if he were standing here.” As soon as I prayed those words, I saw in my ‘mind’s eye’, the Messiah standing beside my bunk; I opened the Bible my [jewish] grandmother had given me at 14 years old to the book of Mattew, and I read Mat 5. I was already a believer in the Messiah; I had already confessed trust in His blood for salvation. I had already been immersed in His Name. I had already confessed that trust to the Congregation. But, I had not been living a life ‘worthy of the CALLING of Messiah Yeshua,’ and I knew it. That day, He showed me by Matai’s words that I was not being OBEDIENT to HIM. I knew, as a 22 year old young man, that my life HAD to change. NOT to ‘add works to my salvation,’ but to SHOW FORTH the FRUIT of salvation. That day is now thirty-four years behind me, and I still understand that.
But, because I went SO LONG looking for “HOW” to obey Him, and finding so MANY contradictory ways of doing it, by visiting every kind of ‘church’ one could imagine, each one rife with a new set of contradictions, when I finally employed the VERY METHOD Yeshua declared in Mat 5:17-19, removing the contradiction between faith and ‘the law’ expressed by all these various doctrines of men, I have striven to get people who are in a similar boat to the same point that I am: FREE! Free of contradictions, free of misunderstanding. But, because so many people ONLY see the scriptures through the lens their denomination and/or preacher/priest give them, I am now very often quoted out of context, and misunderstood, OUT OF CONTEXT. That’s corn-text.
I am saved by TRUST ALONE. Have been since I was eleven years old, when I first understood that I had sinned against God by breaking His Law, and that I needed to put my trust in HIS SON because of that infraction against His Word, and begin to live a life WORTHY of that calling. I began to ‘try’ to obey Him, even then, as an eleven year old boy; and I really did ‘change’. But, eleven years later, after having been DISOBEDIENT, I was lovingly rebuked by Messiah Himself, when I read His words, that I should have been during those 11 years, “meek,” “poor in spirit”, “mournful”, “merciful”, “pure in heart,” “hungry and thirsty for righteousness”, “persecuted for His Name’s sake;” I knew immediately that, even though I BELIEVED, I was NONE of those things. And I knew I then had to “DO”.
What He then said. He then said that He came to ‘confirm the law’. Some people think ‘fulfill’ is the proper understanding, and that His ‘fulfilling’ of it is actually the abolishment/abrogation of it, which He expressly said He did NOT come to do, and I understood that. Then He said this:
19Whoever therefore tries to nullify even one of these smallest commandments, and teaches men so, he shall be regarded as small in The Kingdom of Heaven; but anyone who observes and teaches them, he shall be regarded as great in The Kingdom of Heaven. 20For I say to you that unless your tzedaka exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter The Kingdom of Heaven.”
Yeshua clearly told us that we should not only study and TEACH the Torah, but DO it as well! Yet, every theologian since Constantine [who was a politician and NOT a theologian in any way] has told us that He came to ABROGATE the Torah. They take Yeshua OUT OF CONTEXT, and change the meaning of many of HIS WORDS.
Yeshua IS a Jew. He still keeps the Torah. He will judge every soul BY the Torah. He will rule in Jerusalem and TEACH the Torah, for 1,000 years. THAT is a summary of the Biblical CONTEXT of Yeshua’s full ministry: to come to earth, teach Israel the Torah, return to His Father and have HIS ministers then teach the Torah to the whole world, and give them the GOOD NEWS of salvation, that He is going to give us the POWER to keep it; and then He will RETURN and show us ALL of its beauty, from Jerusalem, for 1,000 years; and after that, then He will FINALLY JUDGE EVERY SOUL.
But, He has been SO MISQUOTED, and thus so misunderstood. So, when I come along, and tell some “Messianic” people that I am saved by my trust ALONE, they immediately conclude that I think I do not ‘need’ to do the Torah, at all. Some of them are just innocently caught in another misunderstanding, and have picked up a judgmental spirit, throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to salvation and works. They are so afraid to sound like ‘christians’ that they will not ‘rest’ in the FREEDOM FROM CONDEMNATION that Messiah gives those of us who follow Him. They look for every minor infraction in the Torah in their ‘brothers’ and judge them accordingly. And this goes AGAINST what Yeshua taught: “do no judge, or you will be judged; and the measure you use to judge the other will be measured against YOU.”
And my christian brothers take me out of context, when I say that I must obey Torah, thinking that I am telling them that I am saved by that. NEVER ONCE have I ever said that. Deep down, they ‘know’ and ‘understand’ they are supposed to obey God. They cite the “Nine Commandments” all the time, even though that is a summary of His Whole Torah. But, when we try to express that our salvation is BORNE OUT in our OBEDIENCE, they rest on the laurels of theologians who say that ANY ADHERENCE to the Torah is “legalism”; then why go to church? Why get baptized [a Torah precept, btw], why eat ‘communion’, why celebrate easter, christmas’; why refrain from adultery, theft, or cursing? these are ALL forms of ‘how’ groups of people OBEY. Are they also legalism?
I am indeed utterly free NOT to obey ONE COMMAND of God. But, is that good for me? Does His Spirit inside of me WANT that for me? Is that the counsel that HIS WORD gives me? Does that do anyone who does not know Him any good? Or, am I supposed to bear the FRUIT of the righteousness I attest to, and show people what OBEDIENCE is, because HE IS my King, and one day will be EVERYONE’s King? I am now unequivocally CERTAIN it is the latter.
Many Messianic people do not understand that FREEDOM we have from MEN’s interpretations of scripture. Many Christian people do NOT understand that FREEDOM we enjoy of walking within the boundaries of HIS TORAH. His Sheep are indeed FREE; but they roam in HIS PASTURES, and Have ONE shepherd over them who KEEPS THEM IN HIS WAY. The Torah is indeed a set of boundaries, and is itself a fence. But, the religious Jewish community has created ANOTHER fence AROUND the Torah to keep His chosen People OUT of HIS pasture; and christian religious people have TORN DOWN the fence of His Torah and caused His people to roam in EVERY PASTURE in virtual anarchy, HAVING to have wolves in sheep’s clothing, if they want any ‘pastor’ [sheperd] at all.
But, HIS WAY is indeed within His boundaries, which are the principles spelled out in His Torah, which are indeed EASY TO KEEP. The ‘burden’ that is impossible to keep was that of the JEWISH RULES that were ADDED, which they now regard as commandments, [Mark 7] and obligatory for salvation. I have never once taught that. But, when I say we ‘must’ keep the Torah, it is because if we desire any proof on this earth that we truly belong to Him, that evidence has to be there! And it is an expression of our JOYOUS LOVE and appreciation for His Salvation!
4He who says “I know Him” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoever keeps His WORD [Gen-Rev], in Him truly is the love of Elohim perfected. Hereby we know that we are in Him: 6he who says “I am in Him” ought himself also to walk His halakha.” [halakha is even seen in the greek, and is a Jewish word that means basically how one’s Rabbi ‘walks’ the Torah]. 1 Jo 2
Keep me in context. Don’t be corny.