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Friday, January 6 2012

Where Righteousness Begins

The English word "righteous" is used to translate the Hebrew word, pronounced tsed-aw-kaw, which means doing what is right, while not doing what is wrong, according to what God commands. As emphasized, righteousness, in God's eyes (rather than the self-righteousness of people who claim to be righteous no matter what they do, or fail to do) is based on actually living a life in obedience to God.

In the time just after the Messiah's Sacrifice, a controversy erupted when some proclaimed that circumcision was required for salvation i.e. "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."

The High Priest's House

"15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 15:3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them." (Acts 15:1-4 KJV)

The controversy was further inflamed by "certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed" (notice that some of the Pharisees had become Christians; among the first of them was Nicodemus who received the famous teachings of "born again" and John 3:16 - see What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?) who added to the contention that, regarding "gentiles," "it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses" (it doesn't say that Nicodemus was among them, only that "certain" (i.e. some) "of the sect of the Pharisees which believed").

"15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." (Acts 15:5 KJV)

The meeting was one of the few recorded times when the apostles Paul and Peter were together. Both were circumcised Jews, both were personally called by Jesus Christ (see The Rock Of The Church), but in this case, the fisherman, Peter, had been given the answer to the controversy before the Pharisee, Paul. Although Paul became the "apostle to the Gentiles," it was actually Peter who first became an apostle to the gentiles (see The Joppa Lessons Of Jonah And Peter) by means of the lesson that he then proclaimed to everyone.

"15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe [note also that one of the four "Gospel" books, and the Book of Acts itself from which we are reading this, was written by a gentile, Luke; see The Gospel By The Gentile]. 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." (Acts 15:6-11 KJV)

"Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My Commandments, my Statutes, and my Laws ... Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the Commandments of God"

With that full understanding (keeping in mind that, as we read in the verses above, Barnabas and Paul went there to get the answer), Barnabas and Paul then confirmed the answer by their own experience that they had been given before they arrived, "declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them." The apostle James then declared a reality that the people of Judah then, as many still do today, overlook or ignore: "God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name." It all began with "uncircumcised Gentiles" who obeyed God.

Earth

"15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

15:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,

15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

"15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day." (Acts 15:12-21 KJV)

A delegation was then sent to deliver the letter to the "gentiles."

"15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner;

The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:

15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 15:26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15:27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.

Fare ye well." (Acts 15:22-29 KJV)

So it was the Paul's ministry to the world began.

Abraham's Journey

"15:30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 15:31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 15:32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. 15:33 And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. 15:34 Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. 15:35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also." (Acts 15:30-35 KJV)

Some have used the verses above to promote the abominable Satanic doctrine that "God's Law is done away," but it says no such thing. Quite the contrary, it teaches that righteousness has always been based upon obeying God, not merely on a sign that was given, to some, to identify a particular people from whom the Saviour of all of humanity would come. Humanity began again after the Flood from the line of righteous Noah, who was never circumcised, and then further through righteous Abraham, who the LORD declared to be righteous before he was circumcised, because Abraham obeyed the LORD i.e. "26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws" (Genesis 26:5 KJV).

"4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 4:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 4:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised." (Romans 4:9-12 KJV)

Paul's teaching of what defines righteousness thereafter was in accordance with what it has always been: "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God."

"7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. 7:18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 7:21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 7:22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the LORD freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 7:24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God." (1 Corinthians 7:17-24 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) Where do we find the true meaning of righteousness? (b) How do we learn to be truly righteous?

(a) Holy Bible Reading Plan
(b) The Way To Salvation: Step 1
The Way To Salvation: Step 2
The Way To Salvation: Step 3
The Way To Salvation: Step 4
The Way To Salvation: Step 5
The Way To Salvation: Step 6
The Way To Salvation: Step 7
The Way To Salvation: Step 8
The Way To Salvation: Step 9
The Way To Salvation: Step 10


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Bible Study: Aramaic: The Syrian Tongue Of Jesus


This Day In History, January 6

871: The Battle of Ashdown between the Danes and the West Saxons under Ethelred and Alfred the Great.

1066: Harold, England's last Anglo-Saxon king, was coronated. He succeeded his deceased brother-in-law, Edward the Confessor.

1099: Henry V, second son of Henry IV and his first wife Bertha of Turin, was crowned king of Germany.

1169: England and France agreed to peace when Louis VII and Henry II met at Montmirail.

1540: King Henry VIII of England married his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.

1558: The French seized the British-held port of Calais.

1838: Samuel Morse made the first public demonstration of the telegraph.

1848: Pope Pius IX, in his encyclical letter "In Suprema Petri Apostoli Sede" ("On The Supreme Throne Of Peter The Apostle"; see also Papal Bull) invited the Orthodox Church to reunite with the Church of Rome.

1884: Austrian monk Gregor Mendel died. He made many scientific discoveries involving genetics.

1912: German geophysicist Alfred Wegener published his (correct) theory of continental drift.

1929: King Alexander of Yugoslavia abolished the constitution, dissolved the government and established a royal dictatorship.

1959: The British jet Lightning P-1 flew twice the speed of sound.

1969: President Charles de Gaulle of France banned French arms sales to Israel.

1989: Emperor Hirohito of Japan died at age 87. He reigned 62 years.

1990: Poland's Communist Party leaders agreed to its dissolution and replacement by a non-Marxist party.


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