Paul vs. James (Pt. 5)

By William Handschumacher

A Special Rock of Offence Bible Study





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This is Part 5 of a fourteen-part Bible study.
The other parts of this study are available
below.

Part 1 ----- Part 2 ----- Part 3 ----- Part 4
Part 6 ----- Part 7 ----- Part 8 ----- Part 9
Part 10 ----- Part 11 ----- Part 12 ----- Part 13
Part 14

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Exposing Another Popular
Way Law And Grace are
Illegally Mixed




The New Covenant is not an extension or a continuation of Old Covenant Law--as many wrongly teach. The New Covenant is a totally "new program" which is based on better promises that make the Old Covenant program obsolete (See Hebrews 8:6-13). This is how the cross of Christ changed everything that existed previously. There are now new rules that govern sin, salvation and the way God relates to the sinner. Through the Gospel, God becomes our Heavenly Father and we (as believers in Christ) become His sons (1 John 3:1-2, John 1:11-13, Romans 8:15-19 and Hebrews 2:9-10 ). As a result, God relates with people living after the cross in an entirely different way that wasn't available under Old Testament Law (the old program).


Why wasn't it available?

Jesus had not yet purchased this
Grace-based relationship (called
"God’s unmerited favor") with
His sacrificial blood.

"For the Law of the Spirit of
life in Christ Jesus (or the New
Covenant) has made me free from
the Law of sin and death
(speaking of Old Covenant Law)."
(Romans 8:2)




Respecting the Bible's
Context




This section deals with one of the most dangerous threats to the Gospel of Christ. Throughout church history, this practice has caused massive division, confusion - and even life-threatening persecution among God's people - not to mention the eternal consequences involved. The influence we're talking about is the abuse or total disregard for Biblical context and how it corrupts our interpretation of God's Word.


A growing number of Bible scholars
are now warning the Church that
the popularity of some false forms
of Christianity is based on a
dangerous misconception.

For any theology, doctrine or
teaching to be considered 'Divine
truth'...

It must satisfy at least two
qualifications - not just one.



FIRST:
It must be recorded in the
official 'canon' of Scripture.

SECOND:
It must be taught and kept
within the original context
where God placed it. Saint
Paul referred to this respect
for the Bible's context as...

'Rightly dividing the Word.'
(2 Timothy 2:15)


Many of us are aware of dishonest journalists - and even major network news outlets - who are caught quoting politicians and other information sources 'out-of-context'. Most of their audience fails to notice the distortion, which is why it's so effective. As a result, the strategy has been used (and despised) throughout human history as an effective way to manipulate public opinion. The problem here is obvious.

If anyone is quoted 'out-of-context'
...then they didn't really say what
was reported.


The same is true of God's Word.
You can use it to quote what God
says about any Biblical topic.

However, if you lift His words
from their intended context, and
reinsert them into a context of
your own design (in order to
defend your doctrine) - you are
not quoting what God actually
said. You're attempting to make
God say what you want Him to say
as a way to persuade your
listening audience to agree with
your teaching.

When Scripture is removed from
its Divine context, it ceases
to be God's Word and becomes a
false religious teaching that
sounds like God's Word.



As a result, God's words and commands (along with those--such as the prophets who speak for God) are often quoted 'out-of-context' to validate a teaching that's contrary to His intentions. Yet, most Christians lack the skills to discern the danger with this popular way of handling the Scriptures. Unfortunately, these practices have existed within the Christian Church since the first century. In this study readers may be shocked to discover that many church leaders (but thankfully not all) who teach mainstream denominational doctrine - use this same method as a way to make it appear that God says things ... that He does not say.



Various systems of Bible interpretation exist within the Christian Church. Yet, "coming to a knowledge of the truth" depends on using the method God accepts. Contrary to popular opinion, many methods of interpretation (but thankfully not all) contain dangerous flaws and unbiblical conclusions that lead us astray in our faith. This internal doctrinal war started in the first century and continues to sharply divide the Christian Church today. By closely examining this conflict, we discover that it involves two primary methods of interpreting the Scriptures ... where each is embraced by a devoted group of church leaders and their followers. Both sides passionately believe they are right, which creates an irreconcilable environment. However, one side in this spiritual war is right ... but one is wrong. To make matters worse each primary group (Note: our discussion is limited to two primary groups for simplicity) actually consists of countless variants and off-shoots that cross all denominational lines and have different names and titles. Since the conflict has continued unabated for nearly 2000 years, we have little hope that anything said in this study will bring a permanent end to the problem.

In order to add more clarity,
the two groups in this
doctrinal war consist of;


Those who mix Old Testament Law
(and its various 'works') - with
faith in Christ to obtain
salvation.

And...

Those who believe that salvation
is only obtained by Grace through
'faith apart from works' - as
taught in the Epistles of Saint
Paul.




The First Jerusalem Apostolic Council




In Acts chapter 15, the entire early church leadership came together in an official capacity as; The First Jerusalem Apostolic Council. Their job was to examine the argument previously stated and decide who was right.

In these days of transition, there were two "systems of faith" that governed how salvation is received - where each one was connected to a specific group of people. The believing Jews or Israelites embraced the "gospel of the kingdom", which required both obedience to the Law plus faith in the Messiah who is Christ. However, the New Covenant (also known as "the new and living way of Christ") came through Saint Paul and was designed for the Church; or Body of Christ. The New covenant provides eternal life (salvation) by Grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) - which eliminates the need to keep the Law in order to be saved (See Romans 3:20, Romans 6:14, Romans 7:4-6, Galatians 2:20-21, Galatians 3:1-4, Galatians 3:10-12, Galatians 5:4).

During this time of transition
from the Old Covenant - to the
New Covenant of Christ, it was
correct to preach the 'Law plus
faith in Christ gospel' (also
known as the "gospel of the
Kingdom") to Jewish people as
members of "the House of Israel".

But it was illegal to preach
this same gospel to the Church
that was mostly Gentile
(non-Jewish and uncircimcised)


The argument presented to the First Jerusalem Apostolic Council came from certain "believing Pharisees" who wanted to add the Law to Paul's Grace-based gospel for the "Gentile" Church. However, this is an act that invalidates Grace (also known as the unmerited and undeserved favor of God). Since Gentile believers in the Church are now only "saved by Grace through faith" - invalidating Grace also voids salvation and Christ's finished work at the cross - as described in the Scriptures quoted below.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: For if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain (Note: The word "vain" means that Christ's death becomes meaningless)." (Galatians 2:20-21 Emphasis Added)

"And if by Grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." (Romans 11:6)

"You have become estranged (separated or cut-off) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from Grace." (Galatians 5:4)


This is why the Jerusalem council
condemned the doctrine of the
believing Pharisees and wrote
a letter to all the Gentile
churches warning that their
teaching did not originate from
them--and should be rejected.





Important Note: The Bible refers to the Jews or Israelites as "the circumcision" - while referring to the mostly Gentile church as "the uncircumcision". Jews were given this title because they were part of the Abrahamic covenant that required all males to be "circumcised" ... which then proved that they were children of Abraham and authentic Jews. However, the New Covenant of Christ gave the "Gentile Church" no such requirement to keep, which is why the Bible refers to all its members as "the uncircumcision".






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This is Part 5 of a fourteen-part Bible study.
The other parts of this study are available
below.

Part 1 ----- Part 2 ----- Part 3 ----- Part 4
Part 6 ----- Part 7 ----- Part 8 ----- Part 9
Part 10 ----- Part 11 ----- Part 12 ----- Part 13
Part 14

*****************************************************




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