Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
A three part series on the land/state of Israel and what Christians should make of it.
The news of the recent Israel-Hamas war has put the region, and its complex civil and religious questions, back into the international spotlight again. What should a Christian response be? While this three part blog will give a basic overview it’s interest is primarily theological and not social or political. It must be stated, this is a complex issue and many have devoted their entire lives to its study. However, we can ascertain some basics.
A Brief History of the Land to 1917
The Canaanites are the earliest known residents of the Levant; the region at the crossroads of two continents. They were descended from Ham who was the father of the ancient Egyptians, Canaanites and Arabs (Gen 10:6, 19). Because of Ham’s sin (and perhaps foreseeing Canaan’s evil), Noah cursed Canaan.
c. 2166 BC. God promised Abraham the land of Canaan (“the Promised Land”) as part of his wider promise (Gen 12, 15, 17). Abraham, however, died only owning a grave in Canaan.
C. 1446/or 1260. Moses and then Joshua led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. The nations there were so godless and so evil God used Israel to bring judgement on them.
C. 1051 BC. Saul/David formed the Israelite monarchy. It later split between the northern Kingdom (Israel) and the southern Kingdom (Judah). In 725 BC Israel was taken into exile by the Assyrians, their land resettled with other peoples who mixed with the Israelite lower classes (the Samaritans). In 586 BC Judah was taken into exile by the Babylonians. Likewise, many others came to dwell in the land with the lower class Jews.
Under the Persians they were permitted to return to Judea and be semi-autonomous.
Though many Jews returned to Judea many remained abroad to build their lives across the Ancient Near East. This is called the Diaspora or dispersion.
The Persians were conquered by the Greeks. The Jews rebelled against the Greeks and formed the Maccabean Kingdom (167–63 BC).
In 63 BC the Romans intervened in the Maccabean civil war and came to incorporate Judea as a province within the Empire.
4 BC–30/33 AD. The time of Jesus.
During this time a tense relationship existed between the Romans and the Jews until the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 and the Jews were finally expelled from the land in AD 139; leaving only a small number. The Romans re-named Judea Palestinia, after the Jews old Phoenician enemies the Philistines, as a slight against them. This resulted in a second Jewish dispersion.
As Christianity grew Palestine had a minority of Jews and a majority of, primarily, Roman/Greek Christians.
*Islam is founded by Mohammed. Jerusalem is claimed as a holy site.
In 636 the new Muslim Arabs conquered Palestine. It became part of a Calaphate that existed until the Crusades (1100–1291) when it was controlled by European Christians. Christians saw it as the “holy land” because of holy events, saints, etc. After its fall to the Arabs there always remained a minority of Jews and Christians.
A group of Muslims called the Mamluks then occupied Palestine until conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1516. Palestine would be part of the Ottoman Empire for the next 400 years.
To be continued...
What did Paul mean when he wrote to the Galatians about the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2)?
For starters he was contrasting it with the Law of Moses, which because of the New Covenant, was no longer binding (Gal 3:15–29; 1 Cor 9:20). We never were saved by the Law (as many Jews had confused) but anticipating the Messiah, just as today one is justified through retroactive faith in Him. Was he or the Christian without a moral compass then if the Law of Moses had been fulfilled—certainly not (i.e. Gal 5:18 is not saying we can do whatever we’d like). Because the Mosaic Covenant is no more, how then shall we live?
In the Bible “law” can mean a number of things (which can make it confusing). It can mean: The Bible, God’s commands, the Mosaic Covenant or Law of Moses or the moral law.
Some have suggested antinomianism (there is no law) while others have opted for the other extreme of legalism (try to be saved by keeping the law). In the middle there are those who no longer see the Law of Moses as binding (Calvin- it is useful for wisdom) and those who see only those laws reinforced in the New Testament as binding (but some obviously sinful practices found in the OT are not found in the NT, like necromancy). Others see the moral law found in the Law of Moses still binding.
Enter the Law of Christ, or the royal law (Ja 2:8).
In 1 Cor 9:21b Paul said, “not being outside of the law of God but under the law of Christ.” Though the Law of Moses is no more that does not mean the New Covenant believer (Jew or Gentile) is left without a guide to pleasing God through obedient and right living.
Christ is the King (or Lord). The King has a law. His law is binding on His citizens and non-citizens, though only His citizens fully seek to keep it with the help of the Holy Spirit. There are some elements to this law that are unique to this Covenant (e.g. baptism), however, most of it is an encapsulation of the moral law.
Classically, Christians have understood the tri-partite (threefold) division of the Law of Moses: ceremonial (pointed to and fulfilled in Christ and useful in understanding the Gospel), legal (again, fulfilled in Christ, useful for wisdom and principles for civil governments—like Western society) and the moral law, which is universally binding on all people in all times. Christ fulfilled the whole law, ceremonially, legally and morally, and yet the moral law remains.
We get a sense of this before and after the Law of Moses. In Gen 26:5 it says, “Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes and my laws”—in other words the moral law. In Galatians Paul upholds the second half of the Great Commandment (Gal 5:14a), itself a summation of the 10 Commandments, which the New Testament cites in its entirety.
The Law of Christ are those commands unique to the New Covenant + the moral law.
May we seek to be obedient to the Law of Christ for our good and Christ’s glory.
To read more about the moral law see the 1689 Baptist Confession ch.19 and the New Hampshire Baptist Confession 1833.12.
28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Ro 2:28–29)
Transitioning from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant can be disorientating, especially when it comes to language. Take for example “Jew.” This word can be very confusing to understand as it has multiple meanings and ways in which it is used.
Most [ethnic/religious] Jews in Jesus’ day were nominal, i.e. they were outwardly conforming to the Old Covenant (+ their added traditions, Mk 7:7). However, they were not inwardly hoping in the Messiah or abiding by the Old Covenant in faith. Though many sat under John’s preparatory ministry it is difficult to know the depth of their repentance and faith; especially when Jesus often called them “an evil generation.” The Mosaic Covenant was a mixed covenant of the visible and invisible, unbelievers and believers. In Jesus day there were few true Jews. Yet during His ministry, slowly, many began to believe in Him as the promised Messiah/King (or be positively inclined toward Him). Some overtly followed Him (11/12 disciples) and some secretly (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea). The best phrase to describe this group would be “the faithful remnant.” (Mal 3:16–18).
As the New Covenant was fully inaugurated through Jesus’ life/death/resurrection/ascension/Pentecost the Jews of the faithful remnant were the ones who embraced Jesus as their Messiah/King. It began with the 120, grew by 3000 at Pentecost, then by others (Acts 2:47), five thousand (Acts 4:4), etc (this continues with the later missionary journeys). Until Acts 8–11:19 the New Covenant community was exclusively ethnically Jewish. It was made up of ethnic Jews who were true Jews through faith.
As time progressed, and as Gentiles were added to this body, various names developed: disciples, believers, followers of the Way, Christians, etc. It was becoming clear that the New Covenant community was different from that of the Old Covenant community. The linguistic challenge is Paul was a Jew ethnically but not a Jew [in the old covenant sens] religiously or spiritually, yet was a true Jew because he believed! He was a Jew but not an “unbelieving Jew” (Acts 14:2).
In Ro 2, to show the ethnic-religious Jews were lost and in need of saving, Paul said those who trust in Jesus, Jew and Gentile, are the true Jews. Thus, while we may speak of ethnic or religious Jews or members of Judaism today the true Jews are all those who follow Jesus and are part of the people of God, the New Covenant community.
A similar article is titled, Galatians & Israel
 Jew can mean: of the tribe of Judah, resident of Judea, a synonymn for Israel, ethnic descendants of Abraham, those who practice Judaism or God’s people.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.
(Matthew 5:17, Sermon on the Mount)
What did Jesus mean here? How did Christ fulfil the Law? What does that mean for the Law itself?
Christ Fulfilled the Law
The Law can mean: a) God’s decrees, b) Scripture, c) a Covenant, d) the Mosaic Covenant (or Covenant with Israel at Sinai), or e) God’s moral law. Given the context in the Sermon on the Mount it is almost certainly “d,” the Mosaic Law; yet with a twist.
To abolish means to unyoke, as in unyoking an animal from a cart. As such it means to break or destroy what was.
To fulfil means is to be full or to meet.
The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day feared He was a religious revolutionary who would upset their cherished possession, or rather their misinterpretations and additions (Mt 23:4; Mk 7:7), for Jesus, being perfect, never broke God’s Law. He would be much more radical and still more conservative than they thought.
Christ fulfilled the Law by doing what Adam, doing what the descendants of Abraham, and of Israel and the Kings could not do—be that perfect covenant partner. No human can by their works “fulfil the Laws demands” (“Rock of Ages”).
Christ could fulfil the Law, as Matthew is keen to point out, because He was the lawgiver greater than Moses.
The New Covenant
In fulfilling, or meeting, the demands of previous covenants, Jesus inaugurated the promised New Covenant (Jer 31:31; Ezk 36; Heb 8 et al).Jesus’ life and ministry marked a watershed or transition period between the covenants (it was inter-covenantal). When He died the veil was torn. After He ascended the Spirit was given. There is a newness in the New Covenant. New (kainos) means something new in kind, like a new invention; it isn’t new (neos) as in a new type of car but a new form of travel like a teleporter. (The NC doesn’t abolish, replace or succeed the Old, it fulfils the promises of the Law and Prophets. It is the direct continuation of God’s plans).
According to Gal 3:15–29 the Law of Moses was temporary and served the purpose of exposing our sin and making the promise to Abraham essential. It also has a guiding quality.
As such certain aspects of the Law of Moses were no longer necessary. Since Christ was the sacrifice for sin and the Holy Spirit now made believers the living temple of His presence the Temple was obsolete and hence the ceremonial system. The dietary laws (an external sign of holiness) were no longer necessary for Christ taught that holiness flowed from Christ’s imputation and through a new heart cleansed from within by the Spirit. (Scripture emphatically declares this in Mk 7:19b, “Thus He declared all foods clean,” c.f. Acts 10). Circumcision as the covenant sign gave way to baptism, the Passover to the Lord’s Supper (Lk 22:20), and so the list could go on.
A Law Remains (The Law of Christ or Moral Law)
How then could Jesus say in Mt 5:18, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Likewise, how could he commend the “scribes and Pharisees” pursuit of righteousness, or holiness, (v. 19), and state this legal righteousness was needed to enter the Kingdom? (Truly, Christ is our righteousness and the Spirit enables us to live righteously, thus guaranteeing our place in the Kingdom, both present and eternal).
In saying that He would fulfil the Law of Moses and yet the law would never pass away Jesus is commending to us the Law of Christ, or the Moral Law (Gal 5:14, 6:2). While the Law of Moses as a whole has been fulfilled in Christ, a law remains which is the moral law found within it (see 2nd London Baptist Confession, ch. 19, for the classic Christian understanding of the threefold division of the Law). This is binding upon all believers to follow as our guide to holiness by the Spirit.
, …The Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)
Who did Paul have in view in his benediction? After all the Galatians were comprised of both believing ethnic Jews and believing ethnic Gentiles.
The NLT says, “May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.”
The NIV says, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.”
The ESV says, “And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and [which can translate ‘even’] upon the Israel of God.”
It is clear from the context of Galatians that Paul is referring to the Galatian believers as “the Israel of God.” The term Israel can mean a number of things in the Bible: a definition (one who struggled with God), a man (Jacob), a nation, the Old Covenant community, a political entity or generally God’s people. Here it is in the last sense that Paul is using “Israel.”
In fact, this is a great sub-theme of Galatians, especially, chs. 3–4. Contrary to the Judaizer’s false gospel, one doesn’t have to become Jewish (i.e. the Old Covenant community, which ethnic Israel had embodied) to be saved or be part of God’s family. God’s people are those who relate to God through faith in Christ/Gospel/NC. There is a newness in the NC. It is not merely a reforming of the OC. Christ had fulfilled the Old Covenant and ushered in the New Covenant governed by His 12 Apostles (think 12 tribes of Israel). We become Abraham’s offspring through faith (3:7) and there is no saving or meritorious distinction between “Jew and Gentile” (3:28), we are all “one in Christ Jesus.” Together we form God’s “new creation.” (Gal 6:15). Just as the word ‘church’ was used in the Greek Old Testament to speak of Israel (OC people of God) so today we can speak of Israel as referring to the Church (NC people God). From a NC perspective these are interchangeable words. Throughout Galatians Paul has been arguing that the Gospel produces a new multi-ethnic people of God who are justified by faith in the Messiah/Christ and live in accordance with the Law of Christ (moral law) by His Spirit. To enjoy the benefits of this Covenant one did not have to go backward in salvation history but forward. (Yet understandably transitions are not always the easiest to perceive when we are in the midst of them, Lk 5:3739, Acts 15).
This isn’t replacement or supersessionist theology but fulfilment and continuationist theology. Jesus was Jewish. The earliest New Covenant believers (until Acts 11:19) were Jewish. Though many Gentiles believed and joined Israel under the OC under the NC this became a fuller ingathering (c.f. Isa 49). Since Abraham/Moses there had always been a mixture of ethnic Jews and Gentiles in the OC community (Israel), because God’s plan of salvation had always been to redeem a people for Himself from every tribe and tongue and nation (Gen 12; classic view 1689.26.1). This he did progressively through Covenants, of which the New Covenant is most expansive.
What then of ethnic Israel? Paul addressed this in Romans 9–11 (Romans very much being an expansion of Galatians). You can see a brief visual depiction of this here. In short, the faithful remnant of ethnic Israel under the OC believed in the NC (the early Jewish believers, Acts 1–9). While some ethnic Jews presently believe many do not. Yet at the end of the age Paul envisions a great revival of ethnic Jews and their ingathering into the Body.
As a church we believe in and practice church discipline (henceforth CD) (Handbook 10.0). This is because we are a believers’ church comprised of members who have made and continue to make a credible profession of faith (Statement of Faith-The Church; Church Covenant; Handbook 7.0). We not only believe in the Gospel but a Gospel order, which includes CD. These are flip sides of the same coin.
[Corrective] Discipline, in a worldly sense, may simply be defined as “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience” (Oxford). Biblically, the word discipline (paideia) means to train a child to reach maturity.
In Christian theology and ethics all precepts ultimately flow from principles and these from the person of God. A study of CD at the level of precept (especially in our culture) can lead to an emotional knee jerk reactions (intolerance, unaccepting, etc) but understanding the heart of what CD flows from reinforces our understanding and informs our practice.
Person: The Character of God
God is both a God of mercy and justice, grace/love and truth (e.g. Ex 34:6–7; Jn 1:17; 1 Jn 4:12).
It may be said that His discipline is directed against unbelievers in His wrath and wayward believers in His correction. Speaking of the latter Heb 12:7b–12 says:
“God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
God is the perfect disciplinarian.
Principles from the Bible
A Believer’s Church- A Christian is one who has believed the Gospel and been added to the church through baptism. We can see the believing nature early in Acts, such as Acts 2:41. Unlike the Old Covenant people and many systems of Christianity today that uphold a mixed nature of God’s visible people (i.e. believers and unbelievers), the New Covenant people are a believing community. While it is true false professors creep in and that the Lord knows those who are His, we have an obligation to ensure membership is based upon a credible profession.
Perseverance of the Saints- The Bible teaches that those who are truly the Lord will ultimately not fail in the faith but persevere to the end. This means that the Church holds members accountable in the Lord. Only those who give a credible profession of faith and practice may be counted as part of it. If assurance is persistently and unrepentantly removed, the assurance of membership must likewise be withdrawn.
The church is a believing community that is given shape through regenerate membership (baptism and discipline).
Precepts: What the Bible says.
There are a number of related Bible verses/passages that speak to the subject of Church discipline. Some of the most noteworthy are:
I.The Correct Spirit: The Lost Sheep precedes Mt 18; Gal 6:1; Lk 17:3
II.As A General Command: 1 Cor 5:9–13; 2 Thes 3:6
III.A Typical Threefold Process: Mt 18:15–20; Tit 3:10
IV.The Authority to Bind (bring into membership) and Loose (exclude from membership): Mt 16:16; Mt 18:19
V.The Example of the Man Excluded and then Restored because of Incest, 1 Cor 5:1 ; 2 Cor 2:5–11
VI.The Example of the Judgement of Ananias and Sapphira: Acts 5:1–11
Those professing believers who persist in unrepentant sin, whether in faith or practice, must be excluded.
Ultimately CD is for the glory of God (doing what God has said); the purity of the church (ensuring it remains a believers’ church); the good of the sinner (not allowing them to walk in false assurance) and the fear of the church (a renewed call for us to confirm our calling and election). (See Five Minute Moment, June 13, 2021, here).
“Today, many professing Christians see church discipline as unloving, and many church leaders are afraid to practice it for fear of appearing merciless. Yet refusing to apply church discipline in careful obedience to Scripture is the most unloving and merciless thing the church can do. When the church does not call out impenitent people, it gives them false assurance that they are in a state of salvation.” - Ligioner
A Short Survey of Church Discipline from Church History
The church has tended to oscillate in this area [CD] between extreme severity (disciplining members for the most trivial offences) and extreme laxity (exercising no discipline at all, even for serious offences). John Stott, "The Message of Acts," p. 112.
 There is also formative discipline (e.g. training in godliness) and restorative discipline (reconciliation).
If you ever pay attention to church names as you drive around you’ll find some interesting ones for sure! A church name tells us a lot about what they believe. One such name is “Full Gospel Church.” The implication in their name is that there are other churches that do not preach the “Full Gospel” but only half (or not at all). Another similar is that of a whole denomination, the Four Square Gospel Church. Like Full Gospel this is another reference to completeness. The FSGC was founded by Grey Co. native Amy Semple-McPherson in the 1920s. The four squares? Christ as Saviour, Healer, Baptized of the Holy Spirit and Coming King. Any evangelical would agree with the first and the last along with the second if it was defined but not the third.
This is the key difference between Evangelicals and Pentecostals: baptism in the Holy Spirit as an event subsequent to salvation. Concisely worded, the Elam Ministries (UK) Statement of Faith may be a fair representative of the Pentecostal World:
“We believe in the deity of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son and the necessity of His work in conviction of sin, repentance, regeneration and sanctification, and that the believer is also promised an enduement of power as the gift of Christ through the baptism in the Holy Spirit with signs following. Through this enduement, the believer is empowered for fuller participation in the ministry of the Church, its worship, evangelism and service.”
The words italics speak of this secondary experience that is to be sought and the underlined words that this is experience is necessary for effective ministry.
Is this what the Gospel (or New Covenant) is, a two staged offer of good news? Absolutely not for the Holy Spirit is given to everyone who trusts in Jesus from the outset. A subsequent baptism in the Holy Spirit is to confuse certain Biblical passages with the clear teaching. In Scripture we see the pattern of believing and receiving (c.f. Acts 2:38 and 40):
Rather that promising a second experience the Gospel offers new life, new creation, a helper to be empowered for sanctification, spiritual growth and maturity, holiness and ministry.
Though guised Pentecostalism really does border upon, or fully enter into, the danger of presenting another Gospel for they add to the Good News/New Covenant as laid down in the New Testament (Gal 1:8; 2 Cor 11:4).
Let’s not only critique those who go beyond but those who stop short.
Many evangelicals preached Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins with a heavy emphasis on the atoning death of Christ (and the atonement is vital). They then offer a Gospel for the forgiveness of sins—full stop. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved [from the penalty of sin]. Because this is part of the Gospel it can evade our radar but we must stand alarmed at this too!
1 Cor 15:1–4 says:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
Jesus died so sinners might be forgiven (the penalty of sin) yet He rose so that they might be given the gift of new life by the Spirit (the power over sin).
When Peter issued the Gospel in Acts 2:38 the Good News not only included forgiveness of sin but the gift of the Holy Spirit. Not only that, in baptism is also included obedience; not an obedience that saves but one the Holy Spirit promises to help us live out. Faith without works is a dead (Ja 2:26); and how many evangelicals neglect to bear the fruit of faith! The Gospel not only offers forgiveness for our failure to keep God’s commands, it offers us the promise of new life and the power to live it out! As Jesus said, I came that they may have life and life to the full (Jn 10:10).
Both halves of 1 Cor 15 1–4 are needed for a full Gospel, Crucifixion and Resurrection, forgiveness and new life.
Let us not go beyond or stop short of the true Gospel in all its fullness.
[This blog is a specific response to a question that was fielded by someone beyond MBC, however, it helpfully speaks into a between-the-testaments mini-series I had been publishing in our C2C series]
When I visited Jerusalem a number of years ago, one of the men in my group caught ‘Jewish Fever,’ an unusual fixation with Judaism and the desire to become Jewish. It was the most bizarre thing. He started wearing a kippah (hat), eating Kosher and observing other Jewish rituals. He completely broke off from the group of Christians he had come with for the duration of his stay. What made this all very strange was he professed to be a convert to Christianity and had originally come from a Hindu background in India! Jewish Fever can make people do some strange things.
Yet this ‘Fever’ has another manifestation outside of Israel, among those professing Christians who take a fancy to all things Jewish, as if being Jewish, was a superior form of spirituality and practice to that found in the Christian faith: they come to meet on the Jewish Sabbath rather than the Lord’s Day, begin to observe Jewish customs and festivals and food laws, etc.
I want to contend why, in part, for ethnic Jewish-Christians, a continuation of aspects of their culture is appropriate, and why Jewish Fever is generally misguided and unhelpful for Jewish/Gentile-Christians.
This is founded upon the believer’s new identity in Jesus Christ under the New Covenant, as the fulfilment of past Biblical promises and covenants. The new has come, the old has passed (Mt 9:17; Isa 42:9). The Gospel is for the Jew first and then the Gentile (Ro 1:17). There is now no distinction between [the believing] Jew or Gentile, we’re all one in Jesus Christ (Gal 3:28). In fact, Paul says, a Christian (whether ethnically Jew or Gentile) is a true Jew in a spiritual sense and child of Abraham (Gal 3:7).
The Christian (ethnic Jew/Gentile) is in fact part of the New Covenant community of faith, which fulfils the former visible community of faith (the Jewish nation, see Ro 9–11). The Church is the realization of promises from Jer and Ezk of a New Covenant (Jer 31; Ezk 36).
The Law of Moses was the guardian (Gal 3:24); but Christ has come and it has passed (Mt 5:17–18; Lk 24:27; 2 Cor 1:20; Heb 8:13) and the believer (Jew/Gentile) is now part of a far better Covenant (Heb 8:6). The Old Covenant had certain practices associated with it; these were fulfilled in Christ. Those that were morally universal are now what the NT describes as the Royal Law. As for others, Sabbath gave way to the Lord’s Day; food laws to distinctive holy lifestyle (Col 2:16; Mk 7:19; Acts 15:20–21); covenant signs and festivals to worshipping in Spirit and truth and embracing New Covenant practices and principles and signs (i.e. the Great Commandment; Great Commission; Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, etc).
There is of course great continuity between the Covenants (e.g. grace through faith), however, there is great discontinuity (e.g. the essence of the Covenant and its sign—baptism).
In all this it must be remembered that the early Church was: first exclusively Jewish (Acts 11:19); then largely Jewish (Acts 9:20 [Paul’s strategy of synagogue preaching]; Gospel of Matthew, Epistle to the Hebrews, etc); and yet it—in varying degrees of speed—embraced its New Covenant image; it ceased to be religiously or visibly Jewish as it understood Christ.
So, a new identity, a new community and new community markers.
For Ethnic Jews
Now what happens if you are ethnically Jewish and you come to Christ? Do you give up all of your cultural-religious heritage? Religious, yes; but not your cultural, where appropriate.
Consider this. You’re culturally-Canadian and come to Christ. You get to keep your God honouring cultural practices (hockey as a sport) but not those that dishonour Him (hockey as an idol). Or you are a tribal African. You get to keep your love of hunting, but you give up its associations with animism. It is similar to how I would view Judaism, the Jewish-believers keeps those practices that align with the New Covenant/Christ/Christianity and jettison or modify those that do not.
Anything that is retained must be upon cultural grounds and not religious, for now they are in Christ.
What about those who have “Jewish Fever”?
It really is as odd as someone who is Japanese trying to pretend they are German; a Zulu a Russian; an American a Brit!
Jewish Fever, for reasons already mentioned, is religious nostalgia, spiritual backwardness, regressive, counter-productive, misguided. At its worst it can be divisive or elitist (as seen in the NT). It is pretending to be something you are not (if you are a Christian), and placing stock in something that Christ doesn’t commend. The heart of Paul’s letter to the Galatians addressed these matters: we are justified by faith in the Gospel and from the Gospel flows Christian practice. To be obedient to an obsolete law is not Gospel centric, at best it is foolish, at worst it is another Gospel.
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