Still More As I See It -- Questions and Answers -- 3
by Dr. Roy Blizzard
from Various Issues of Yavo Digest
Q.: What is your view on "doctrinal error" and the questioning of doctrine? And why is TBN so against it?
A.: Not only are we to question what we perceive to be error, we are obligated; obligated first of all to "Study to show ourselves approved--a workman who needs not to be ashamed--" because we know how to correctly interpret the Word of God (II Timothy 2:15). Again, Paul urges in Romans 12:2 that we renew our minds so that we might "prove [through text or examination] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
In I Thessalonians 5:21, we are exhorted to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." James 5:19-20 says that "...if any of you do err from the truth" and is brought back, the one who brings him back from error shall "save a soul from death..."
Unfortunately, because of such passages as Matthew 7:1, "Judge not, that you be not judged..." and I Chronicles 16:22, "Touch not my anointed," we have the mistaken idea that we are not to question or challenge the pastor, teacher, evangelist, or otherwise-too-often self-appointed "man of God."
However, these passages have nothing to do with challenging doctrine. There are numerous passages where we are instructed to judge doctrine and actions. As a matter of fact, in I Corinthians 2:15, it says, "But he, the one who is spiritual, judges all things..." In I Corinthians 14:29, we are commanded to judge tongues and/or prophecy. Check in any good concordance, such as Strong's or Young's, and look at the many passages that enjoin the child of God to judge doctrine and actions.
Where we make the mistake in all of this is that we are enjoined not to judge the individual's heart, to judge the person in the sense of assigning that person either to heaven or hell. That is a judgment that belongs only to God and the one who presumes to judge another individual in the sense of looking into the individual's heart and declaring that person to be unrighteous, wicked, alienated from God, is usurping a place or position that belongs only to God.
This is dramatically demonstrated in the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:21-24, a passage seldom understood by Christians who have no background or understanding of Hebrew thought. In this passage, we see an ascending order of severity in punishment, the one who is "angry at his brother without cause" is liable to be brought before the local congregational court known as the Bet din, or house of judgment, and "the one who says to his brother Raca [empty-headed]," who libels or slanders a brother, is liable to be brought before the Sanhedrin: but "whosoever calls his brother, Thou fool," shall be liable for the fire of Gehenna.
In Hebrew, the word fool is naval, and we read in Psalm 53 that the naval is the one who deals corruptly and only does abominable iniquity, one that is impure and, therefore, separated from God. For us to pronounce this kind of judgment upon another person places us in danger of judgment itself. In all of the many passages that speak of touching not God's anointed, one is warned against doing them harm; do not lay hold on God's anointed with the intent of doing harm.
Keep one thing in mind, however. We are all God's anointed. Every child of God is one who is anointed. Usually, all of the whining and crying over not judging or not touching God's anointed is nothing more than a religious cop-out, an attempt to keep from being brought under judgment for one's own error or the promulgation of the error of others.
One of the manifestations of the spirit mentioned in I Corinthians 12 is the discernment of spirits. Of all of the manifestations, it is perhaps both the most important and the most misused. It is obvious that it was given for a purpose--to enable us to judge between truth and error, even in situations or under conditions in which we would not be able to make judgment because of a lack of knowledge or information. At such times, the spirit of discernment is there to either confirm or condemn. The child of God would be well-served to develop this manifestation of the spirit by listening to it, by following it, and then by checking and judging. The more you see, through judging and testing, that you were right, then the more confidence you will have in your discernment.
YD, 5-2, 1991
Q.: In reference to Luke 4:20, please refresh my memory about the part where "Jesus sat down." It seems I've heard somewhere there is great significance to the fact that "He sat," maybe an empty chair the Jews reserved for "their" Messiah?
Also, could you recommend books on Jewish customs that a lay person could understand?
A.: Many scholars believe this passage is a clear reference to a seat mentioned in Matthew 23:2 as "Moses' seat." Remember the passage? Jesus says to the multitude and to His disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."
In Jesus' day, most synagogues had a special seat called "Moses' seat." As a matter of fact, in archaeological excavations a Moses' Seat has been found in the most ancient synagogues excavated in Israel. One of the most beautiful and best preserved was found at Chorazim. It was an armchair made of black basalt in the form of a square block. A dedicatory inscription was engraved on the chair that was designed to serve as a seat for the Sages.
The Jews believed that the Law had been given by God to Moses at Sinai (Avot 1:1) and further, that that law had been handed down in a chain of oral tradition from Moses to Joshua, Joshua to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, the Prophets to the men of the Great Assembly, and from then to the great teachers and sages of Israel. This law was communicated orally in such a way that when the teacher, or man of God, spoke, he was sharing the Law that had been given to Moses from Sinai.
When Sages, or the teachers, in the synagogue sat in Moses' Seat, it was as if they were speaking for Moses and expected what they said to be accepted as such. Some scholars believe that Jesus, when he finished reading, sat in Moses' Seat and continued with His discourse to reinforce His claim as The Anointed One of God.
Your question raises many others on the subject of inspiration and Oral Law, among others. If you have not listened to it before, you might enjoy our tape series, "Jesus the Rabbi and His Rabbinic Method of Teaching." I think you would find it very informative and it might perhaps answer other questions which this brief response might raise.
Now, regarding books for the lay person on Jewish customs, or the life and customs in Jesus' day, I can recommend Everyday Life in Bible Times by the National Geographic Society; Jesus and His Times, published by The Readers Digest, Pleasantville, New York; Handbook of Life in Bible Times, by J.A. Thompson. Of course, there are many others, but this should be sufficient to give you a running start.
YD, 5-4, 1991
Q.: Can you please clarify the misconception that the Jews crucified Christ?
A.: Just this past week, I received from another reader a photocopy of an outline to the New Testament, taken from a modern version of the Bible that included a number of study aids. The outline for the New Testament was more than interesting in that it was a clear reflection of the misconceptions that have led to misunderstanding and anti-Semitic feelings occurring all too frequently in Christian circles.
The outline mentioned, point by point, that (1) the Jews rejected Jesus; (2) the Jews crucified Jesus; (3) the Jews were cut off from God; (4) the Jews were replaced by the Church; and (5) the Church remains as the true Israel.
All five of these statements are in error and represent grave misunderstandings that have led to serious misconceptions about the Jews and their relationship to God.
Let me take these points again briefly, step by step, though this material has been treated before in previous issues of the Yavo Digest as well as in various tape series. When we reconstruct historical events in the first century, we see that the real actors on the stage of the historical drama revolving around the story of Jesus of Nazareth are all Jews--the "good guys" and the "bad guys." Both are Jews, but the vast majority followed Jesus. It was only a small minority composed largely of the Sadducees, the luxury-loving members of the Temple aristocracy, that together conspired for His death.
However, the ultimate act of crucifixion could be carried out only by the Romans. Pilate had it within his power to say to those conspiring for His death, "Shut up and go home," but he bowed to their wishes and the final act was carried out by the Romans.
Crucifixion was not one of the four means of capital punishment practiced by the Jews; namely, (1) stoning; (2) burning; (3) beheading; or (4) strangling.
After the resurrection, who was it that followed Jesus, who comprised the early fellowship of believers? Jews. As a matter of fact, there were no non-Jews admitted into the fellowship for at least ten years after its inception. We can trace the existence of the Jewish church into the tenth century, or up until the time of the Crusades.
To say that the Jews were cut off is a gross misconception. To say that the Sadducees were cut off would be quite another matter, for after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., the Sadducees ceased to exist!
For further study, I might recommend to you the tape series, "Jesus the Rabbi," "Who Was Jesus?", and "The Organizational Structure of the Early Church."
YD, 5-5, 1991
Q.: Is the Amplified version the most correct translation that we have at the present time? What sin did Adam and Eve commit?
A.: All of our English Bibles are translated from Hebrew into English in the Old Testament. The New Testament is Translated from Greek.
Although scholars are working on it in Israel, there presently exists no Hebrew original of the Gospels at this point. However, so much of the syntax and the expressions of thought patterns in the Gospels are Hebraic in form and structure that archaeologists and scholars continue the study and the search. Historical reference has been found to a Gospel to the Hebrews by Matthew, and we can provide Xerox copies of commentaries on this subject for the cost of time, paper, and xeroxing, if interested.
Regarding "good" translations or "bad," there is no version or translation that is any more accurate than another, regardless of what the translation might say in the foreword, or what anyone else might say about the translation. All have their own individual strengths and weaknesses in translation. It is best not to stick with any one particular translation, but to use several for serious study. There are Parallel Bibles available that have four or more different translations side by side, verse by verse, which are very helpful.
The real key is to learn Hebrew, if possible--at least a working knowledge of Hebrew, as well as Greek, that would allow you to use a Hebrew-Greek-English lexicon, as well as Young's or Strong's concordances for biblical study. Write our office and any of the staff can give you information about an excellent Hebrew course for beginners.
Our tape series, "How to Study the Bible," would be a very worthwhile source of assistance regarding the Bible and the important lexical aids available, especially as it defines and explains each and the best methods of use.
Now, what sin, indeed, did Adam and Eve commit?
As you probably know, in the fifth century, a man by the name of Augustine proposed the Doctrine of Original Sin, in which he stated that it was the act of sex that was the original sin of Adam and eve. But beyond this, he stated further that sin is thereby transmitted from one generation to another in the conjugal act, so that all people are not just born in sin but actually conceived in sin.
Therefore, from the moment of conception, the fetus is in need of redemption. This doctrine found its way into Christian theology, was developed in Catholicism, and from there found its way into the mainstream of Protestant theology.
Unfortunately, this concept has no foundation in biblical fact. The biblical text simply states that the sin of Adam and Eve was that of eating from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil--whatever that means. What exactly was that? Why was it a sin? I do not know. If anyone tells you they do know, I would advise you to give them no heed. However, one thing we can say of a certainty: whatever the sin of Adam and Eve was, it had nothing to do with sex or the conjugal act.
YD, 5-5, 1991
Q.: I am enclosing a letter to the editor that I cut out of our local newspaper. You will note that the writer states that, "As a Jew, I have been taught that life begins at birth. According to Jewish teachings, a fetus is not an independent entity until it takes the first breath on its own." Is this really what Jews believe?
A.: Not exactly. Actually, the rabbis believed, and it remains a basic view in Judaism today, that life begins at the moment of conception. For the first forty days, the embryo is considered as nothing more than an extension of the mother, a growth or mass of tissue, potentially malignant or potentially benign.
After forty days, however, the embryo takes on an independent status but is still considered to be only potential life. As long as it is within the mother's womb, regardless of the extent of development, it is considered only potential life. At any time during fetal development that the fetus poses a threat to the mental or physical well-being of the mother, then abortion would not only be allowed but, in some cases, might be mandated. Only when the fetus takes its first breath outside of the womb is it considered to be on a par with human life.
That perspective is not just the contemporary Jewish perspective on the subject but was most certainly the perspective in biblical times, both well before and during the time of Jesus.
YD, 6-2, 1991
Q.: Is it necessary to have a witness when one is baptized? Can we baptize ourselves?
A.: According to Jewish law, all that was necessary was a witness. In Judaism, there was, of course, no such thing as what we know today in Christianity as the pastor. It very soon developed in Christianity, however, as the Church moved to the West, as an official designation between clergy and laity, and soon became a teaching of the Church that only the priests had the authority to baptize.
Again, this is a late development in the history of the western Church. By the time of Tertullian, circa 220, and his contemporaries, it represented the general consensus of opinion among the Church fathers. The practice in Judaism, however, remains basically unchanged for two thousand years.
YD, 6-2, 1991
Q.: Can you give a verification of where I can find information that a rope was tied around the ankle of the priest in the event he was unclean when entering the Holy of Holies and would have to be dragged out by the people? What happened when the high priest went into the Temple?
A.: There is a tractate in Mishnah Yoma that tells us about the service of the high priest of the Temple on the Day of Atonement. The corresponding commentary in the Babylonian Talmud in Yoma further elaborates on the service. Nowhere in either source does it mention a rope being tied around the priest's leg.
To be honest with you, I personally had heard that story and began to check my own sources. In nothing I read could I find verification of that practice. So I called Dr. Brad Young, who is, as you perhaps know, one of the top rabbinical scholars in this country. Dr. Young also mentioned that he had heard this popular story but could not give me a reference either.
I did read that the priests had a row of bells around the hem of their garments so that, when they walked through the Temple ara, they could be heard by the people outside. However, to date, I have not been able to find any authoritative reference of a rope around the leg. Again, to be honest with you, I looked only in my own library which, although being extensive, is far from being exhaustive.
After spending several hours in research, I gave up and will present the question to our readers. Perhaps we can find someone out there who has the answers and is smarter than we are. Can anybody help?
YD, 6-2, 1991
Q.: When will the truth about Christmas and Easter be expounded upon?
A.: Many, many articles have been written about Christmas and Easter. The real question is not when will the truth be expounded upon, but when will it be acted upon? The fact of the matter is that, for most Christians, these feasts and festivals become such an ingrained part of the mythos, or tradition, that the answer is certainly, never--except for those few enlightened souls who are trying to return to the true, historical foundations of their faith.
YD, 6-3, 1992
Q.: I am concerned about how one receives eternal life. We have all been taught Romans 10, John 1:12, John 3, etc., as a basis. Now I wonder, do any of those deal also with Gentiles? I have long wondered about the books of Hebrews, Peter, James (1:1)--if those were written to the Jews. Then, there are the seven laws of Noah. I see I have to check a lot of things out that I thought I understood. Mostly, though, I am concerned about Gentile salvation, and I do not want to be misinformed on that!
A.: Unfortunately, very little of what we thought the New Testament says is correct. It is not that the information contained therein is wrong; it is just that in order to correctly interpret we must view it from its proper language, historical, and cultural perspective--something that has been very difficult for the Western mind to do.
According to the biblical text, those who were non-Jews, or Gentiles, received their part in the world to come according to the seven laws of Noah. And don't feel bad; very few other Christians have heard of them either. However, it has always been a part of Jewish theology from earliest times that the righteous of all nations would have their part in the world to come according to the laws of Noah.
To the Gentiles who were not prepared to convert to Judaism, the moral code known as the Seven Laws of Noah was offered. It consisted of these precepts: the practice of equity, and prohibitions against blaspheming the Name, idolatry, immorality, bloodshed, robbery, and cruelty to animals (Sanhedrin 56a). By righteous conduct, based upon these fundamental laws, non-Jews would earn divine approval and have their part in the world to come.
For the nation of Israel, their part in the world to come was based upon the observance of the laws of Moses. It may be startling to some, but the fact is that Jesus did not come so much to tell people what they must do in order to have their part in the world to come, but rather how to live among their fellow man and before God in this world. In Judaism, the emphasis is not upon obtaining eternal life but upon living in the world today.
What must one do to obtain their part in the world to come? Really, to be honest with you, very little. The real problem is, "How do I live in this world, before man and before God, in a way that would ensure me happiness, assurance, peace of mind, and would be pleasing to God?"
YD, 6-6, 1992
Q.: My question deals with spiritual gifts. I read in the Hebrew-Greek Study Bible that the Corinthian gift of tongues is just a reproduction of an ecstatic utterance practiced by the "oracles" of that time. My question is: Are the spiritual gifts practiced today alien to first-century Christianity? I know this question has caused division for years, but I feel that a proper first-century understanding might put many questions to rest.
A.: I would have to answer in the affirmative that much of what we see practiced in the local congregation today is, indeed, alien to first-century Christianity. Much of this is due to a basic misunderstanding of the whole subject of spiritual gifts. There is no such thing as a gift of tongues, or a gift of faith, or a gift of wisdom, or knowledge, or healing, etc. The problem arises in mistranslation.
In First Corinthians 12:1, in many English translations, it reads, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you to be ignorant." Unfortunately, however, we sure have been ignorant. The word gift is not in the Greek text. The Greek text reads, "Now concerning the pneumatikon Peri de ton pneumatikon, delphoi,. "Now concerning the spirituals, or spiritual things, brothers..."
In verse 4, we read, "There are diversities of charismaton. The word here is gift, a gracious gift. In verse 5, "There are diversities of diakonion, servings, or ministries," and in verse 6, "diversities of the workings, the energematon. In verse 7 it continues, "The manifestation, or phanerosis, of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." That is, the workings of the Spirit become the manifestation of the ways in which the Spirit works.
Those truly gracious gifts given by God to man are enumerated in Romans 12, verse 4 and following. What many have taught as being the spiritual gifts from First Corinthians 12:8ff are, in reality, the ways in which the Spirit manifests itself in the life of every child of God.
First Corinthians 28ff and Ephesians 4:11 enumerate the ways in which one serves, or functions, in the body. I do have a series of studies on this subject entitled "Understanding the Holy Spirit," a set of five tapes, along with complete descriptions of the motivational gifts in printed form for a small extra fee, which can be helpful in determining your strongest area. Just give our office a call at 512-327-7408 for information. If you have not heard this series, I would recommend it to you as I think it would clear up a lot of misunderstanding.
YD, 7-1, 1992
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