The following Scripture passages are offered to aid beginning fellowships. The readings and commentary for this week are more in line with what has become usual; for the following will most likely be familiar observations. The concept behind this Sabbath’s selection,  the Spirit of God, continues.

 

Clickable hymns on this page require RealPlayer to be installed on your computer. The download is free.

Possible songs include the following hymns:
Ah, Holy Jesus
We Are God's People
Fools Have Said That There Is No God
Oh That Men Would Praise Their God
Take Time To Be Holy

Weekly Readings

For the Sabbath of January 13, 2007

 

The person conducting the Sabbath service should open services with two or three hymns, or psalms, followed by an opening prayer acknowledging that two or three (or more) are gathered together in Christ Jesus’ name, and inviting the Lord to be with them.

 

 

This Sabbath’s reading is a continuation from the previous two Sabbaths.

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The person conducting the service should read or assign to be read 1 Timothy chapter 1, verses 3 though chapter 2, verse 15.

Commentary: The problem of false teachers, false apostles, false prophets within Christendom has caused Christians to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach for nearly two millennia—as ancient Israel would not listen to the prophets God sent but listened to self-proclaimed prophets who promised blessings upon a lawless nation (Jer 29:15-19), endtime Israel does not and will not listen to those whom God has sent, but instead, listens to those who promise physical prosperity for lawlessness and physical entrance into heaven through a bodily rapture. Or even worse, endtime Israel listens to false prophets haranguing about myths: British Israelism, Unitarianism, the sacred name of God, a final revival of the Holy Roman Empire. These disciples devote themselves to endless genealogies about who really is “Israel,” when the Apostle Paul gives a clear and decisive answer to the question: “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter” (Rom 2:28-29). Endtime Israel consists of all drawn by the Father from this world through receipt of the Holy Spirit. The Father and Christ Jesus are the God of the living Abraham, the living Isaac, and the living Jacob (Matt 22:32). The Apostle Paul identified disciples as the living Isaac (Gal 4:21-31), from whom will come two sons that today struggle in the womb with no sin imputed to either, but one hated and one loved (Rom 9:10-13). Thus, although now covered by grace, Israel is a divided house, one portion hated for its lawlessness, one portion loved but deceitful. And this hated portion or spiritual son seeks out false teachers that justify this son’s lack of faith.

Meaning or linguistic objects must be assigned to all words or linguistic icons. Words mean what reading communities say they mean. The well intentioned Bible student who strives to recover the “precise” meaning of a historically-used word is doomed to frustration and failure. This Bible student may, at midlife, decide to return to the university to take a degree in theology, or in Christian ministry, or in any number of related majors—and this student will read late 1st-Century CE and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Century writings by the so-called pillars or fathers of Christendom. But this student will miss what is truly important: when the Apostle Paul wrote his first canonized epistle to Timothy, the repudiation of the foundation Paul laid had already begun. When Paul wrote his second canonized epistle to Timothy, this repudiation affected all of Asia. Paul wrote, “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogneses” (1:15). And in his epistle to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (3:17-19). So what is seen is that those early writers whose works have survived because they were valued by disciples who had turned away from Paul were false teachers. It is to these false teachers that “Christian” scholarship looks for spiritual understanding.

Paul gives endtime disciples the criteria to determine false from genuine:

·         False teachers and false prophets have their minds set on earthly things, and earthly fulfillment of endtime prophecies.

·         False teachers glory in their shame, transforming lawlessness into grace and keeping the precepts of the law into legalism.

·         False teachers, false apostles, false prophets work for money and the acquisition of the things of this world; they work for their bellies, and they have appetites that are never satisfied.

Pause for a moment and look out over Christendom and see how many prophets or prophecy pundits have their minds set on earthly things and earthly fulfillments of prophecies about the endtime recovery of Israel from the North Country. Some of today’s false prophets—Perry Stone is a prime example—teach that the return of Russian Jews to the modern nation of Israel is the fulfillment of these prophecies. Others have even more fanciful teachings—the Armstrong splinters—claiming that the United States and Britain [all of the English speaking peoples] are endtime Israel and that these peoples will go into national captivity and will be recovered from this captivity when Christ Jesus returns … is it possible to have one’s mind set on earthly things to a greater extent than is the mind of the prophecy pundit who claims that the fulfillment of an endtime recovery of Israel requires that, first, a United Europe take captive the English speaking peoples? What book are these false pundits reading? Certainly not the Bible, which nowhere mentions Rome in conjunction with endtime events. At least Perry Stone, though utterly wrong, has a basis in logic for his falsity. The Armstrongites teach the type of speculation that the Apostle Paul condemned in his first epistle to Timothy.

Endtime Israel is the portion of the Christian Church that has been born of Spirit, and spiritually circumcised through making a journey of faith equivalent to the physical journey Abraham made from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan. Two attributes are needed: as a Hebrew male infant was first born alive then circumcised on the eighth day, an endtime Israelite is first born of Spirit then spiritually circumcised when this disciple mentally journeys by faith from the landscape of his nativity to spiritual Judea, God’s rest, represented by Sabbath observance. Thus, endtime Israel is not all of the greater Christian Church. Endtime Israel is not everyone who has been born of Spirit. Rather, endtime Israel is that portion of Christendom born of Spirit that has mentally journeyed by faith a distance far enough to cleanse hearts. So the journey is peculiar to the individual. The mental terrain traveled depends upon the journey’s starting point. As a result, each person need not end up in the same place, but each will by faith make a journey of comparable distance. Therefore, within a generation or two all will arrive in the heavenly city of Jerusalem, or will have returned to spiritual Babylon, the single kingdom of the world, where another generation will begin anew the mental journey equivalent of ancient Israel’s trek from Babylon across the deserts of the modern nations of Iraq, Syria, and/or Jordan.

Yes, the journey made by each spiritually circumcised Israelite is mental or philosophical or theological: it is a journey of the mind that causes the born of Spirit disciple to leave the beliefs and traditions of his or her biological father and mother and to begin living by every word God has uttered (Matt 4:4). The disciple who, by faith, keeps the precepts of the law (Rom 2:26), thereby causing his or her uncircumcision to be counted as circumcision, will stand on the same theological ground as the Observant Jew who, by faith, professes that Jesus is Lord and believes that the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 10:6-9). Each will have arrived by a differing path, but both will have the promise of salvation. Both will be firstfruits and will be part of the resurrection when Jesus returns.

Without faith, no person can please God. Thus, every Israelite will have to make a mental journey by faith that is comparable to the physical journey Abraham made; for it is the faith of Abraham while yet uncircumcised (Rom 4:11-12) that is the benchmark for every disciple’s faith. The profession of faith by the person who journeys nowhere is dead and worthless rhetoric that has less value than yesterday’s wind. And this concept of “journey” would end denominationalism as it presently exists, for a denomination is merely a roadhouse on the way into or out of spiritual Babylon, with most of these roadhouses being mental constructs on the Babylonian side of the river Jordan. Only a few—the Seven Day Adventists being the largest—have been built in the mental Land beyond the River. And none of these roadhouses are constructed on the foundation the Apostle Paul laid in the heavenly city of Jerusalem (1 Cor 3:10-11); none form the house of God in which Philadelphia stands as pillars (Rev 3:12).

Returning to Paul’s epistle to Timothy, Paul writes, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murders, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurer, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” (1 Tim 1:8-11) … the previous is quite a list that when reduced to basics has humankind divided into two camps, the first being all those who are bondservants to disobedience, consigned to sin (Rom 11:32), owned by the prince of this world. It is this camp or division of humankind for which the law was laid down. This camp is that of the lawless and disobedient.

The other camp or division of humankind has no need for the old written code, for this second camp has been spiritually circumcised. The law of God is written on the hearts and placed in the minds of this portion of humankind (Heb 8:10; Jer 31:33). This portion has been liberated from mental bondage to disobedience; therefore, sin has no dominion over this portion (Rom 6:14) unless, of course, a person from this portion voluntarily returns to sin and surrenders him or herself to the prince of this world to again be a bondservant to sin. No more sacrifice remains for the spiritually circumcised person who surrenders to Satan and willfully breaks the commandments of God—and the commandment most often broken by Christendom is the Sabbath commandment.

Worshiping on the 8th day is contrary to sound doctrine, and an evil not even anticipated by Paul.

The lawless—those who are still consigned to disobedience—need the law of God in an external form; thus, the lawful use of the law of God is as a yardstick or guideline for that portion of humankind that does not have circumcised hearts. The portion with circumcised hearts has this same law within each person, inscribed on the heart and mind by the soft Breath of God. So the problem arises when false teachers of Israel tell newly born disciples to ignore or erase these inscribed laws from the tablets of flesh. These false teachers cause the infants sons of God to commit spiritual suicide … as ancient Israel passed their firstborns through fire, offering their firstborns to Molech, false teachers in endtime Israel cause the firstfruits of God to spurn keeping the precepts of the law, thereby sending these spiritual firstborns into the lake of fire. It is, then, very understandable why all teachers of lawlessness will be denied in their resurrection (Matt 7:21-23). They are murderers. But then, their spiritual father is Satan the devil, a murderer from the beginning.

Yes, the teacher of Israel who would have a newly born of Spirit disciple return to sin—attempting to enter God’s rest on the following day is sin—is the servant of Satan regardless of how righteous he or she might appear. This teacher has disguised him or herself as a servant of righteousness (2 Cor 11:15), but make no mistake, he or she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf intent upon devouring as many spiritual firstborns as possible.

The old written code does not pertain to those Israelites who are spiritually circumcised. The old written code is for those consigned to disobedience. But this does not mean that anyone who is of Israel can transgress the commandments of God. It means that these commandments have been internalized and remain in the same relative position to the new creature born of Spirit as the old written code is to the physically circumcised Israelite who awaits spiritual birth.

The physically circumcised Israelite, a bondservant to Pharaoh, dwelling in Egypt in a house of mud, is the copy and shadow of the spiritually circumcised Israelite dwelling in spiritual Babylon in a tent of flesh. Prior to the first Passover, only a few physically circumcised Israelites had escaped from Egyptian servitude, Moses being one of the few. Likewise, prior to the second Passover, only a few spiritually circumcised Israelites have escaped from spiritual Babylon and have trekked to the heavenly city of Jerusalem, those of Philadelphia being among the few. And the law had not been given when the first Passover occurred: the transgressions of the law committed by physically circumcised Israelites as bondservants to Pharaoh were the responsibility of Pharaoh. A person born into bondage is not responsible for the person’s lawlessness; hence, natural grace, under which all human beings were prior to the giving of the law at Sinai (Rom 5:12-14). So prior to Israel’s liberation from bondage to Pharaoh, no sin was reckoned against Israel even though the nation did not keep the Sabbath. Likewise, no sin is today reckoned against that portion of humankind not born of Spirit for this portion remains consigned to disobedience and remains bondservants of the prince of this world.

But once liberated, the Sabbath was revealed to ancient Israel through the giving of manna … Jesus said He was the true bread that came down from heaven; He is the spiritual reality foreshadowed by manna. And He revealed the Sabbath to spiritually circumcised Israel by when the speech-acts of the Father—sermons delivered by the Father that healed the lame and caused the blind to see—descended from heaven, thereby giving rest to the afflicted.

The Sabbath has been revealed to spiritually circumcised Israel. It was revealed through Jesus’ recorded miracles. But because most of Christendom remains in spiritual Babylon [as most of ancient Israel remained in physical Babylon when Sheshbazzar led a remnant back to Jerusalem to rebuild the house of God], God will in mercy again reveal the Sabbath to those disciples who presently worship on the 8th-day. This revealing will occur during the first 220 days of the seven endtime years, and most of Christendom will again rebel against God and return to the 8th-day when no more sacrifice remains for Israel. At the heart of the great falling away (2 Thess 2:3) that will occur when the lawless one is revealed is the attempted change of times and the law (Dan 7:25): the Sabbath is the sign that God has sanctified Israel (Exod 31:13). Sabbath observance will cause those who are of God to be known and recognized by the man of perdition, just as the tattoo of the Cross will mark those who are of the Antichrist during the second half of the Tribulation. No other sign will mark those who are of God during the first half of the seven endtime years.

This subject will be continued through next Sabbath’s reading, for rebellion against God by born of Spirit disciples seems too fantastic to be believed. But the people of Israel have been a rebellious lot from their beginning, both the physically and spiritually circumcised nations. And a simple test of today’s rebellion can be made: if disciples are to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), and if Jesus kept the Sabbath, even to delivering the Father’s speech-acts on the Sabbaths, then why does most of Christendom attempt to enter God’s rest on the following day as did the ancient nation of Israel in the wilderness of Paran if not to rebel against God? If a person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike (Rom 14:5), then why is the one day esteemed better than another the 8th day instead of the 7th if not as an expression of rebellion against God?

The Apostle Paul places two possibilities before Roman converts. One possibility is that one day is esteemed better than the other six days. The other possibility is that every day is esteemed equally. In the course of a Gentile trekking from the mental landscape of his or her nativity and journeying to spiritual Judea [God’s rest], it is possible and even likely that this Gentile has not yet been fully convinced to keep the Sabbath, a mindset that leaves this Gentile on the Babylonian side of the river Jordan. This Gentile will be as Abraham was when he settled with his father Terah in the land of Haran.

The other possibility is that the Jewish convert esteems the Sabbath better than the six other days. Paul tells Roman converts that each person should be fully convinced in his own mind (Rom 14:5), that the person who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. Indeed so. But if the day esteemed better is the 8th day, then the disciple has committed rebellion against God, whereas the disciple who judges each day alike will either work on all seven days, thereby never entering into God’s rest, or will come to esteeming the 7th day as the physical representation of God’s rest.

Can a person work seven days a week and still honor God? No, the person cannot even though Paul’s words can be twisted into permitting a disciple to work seven days a week. What will happen when working seven days a week is that the mind never rests, but always thinks about work, about the things of this world. Paul never worked seven days a week: as a Hebrew, he kept the Sabbath. He did not, as best as can be determined, work at his trade on the Sabbath, but worked to proclaim the kingdom of God on the Sabbath. His thoughts were on God, not on his next stitch—and this makes all the difference in the world.

The person who esteems every day alike needs to be working to proclaim the kingdom of God every day. This can well be the case. But alas, the rest of this awaits the coming of next Sabbath.

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The person conducting the Sabbath service should close services with two hymns, or psalms, followed by a prayer asking God’s dismissal.

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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

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