Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Is the claim of a “Hollow Earth” just fantastical mythical lore?

1 Samuel 28: 11-12a
Then the woman said, Whom shall I bring up for you? And he (King Saul) said, Bring up Sh’muel (Sh'muEl/Samuel) for me. When the woman saw Sh’muel, she cried out with a loud voice;

1 Samuel 28: 13
The king said to her, Do not be afraid; but what do you see? And the woman said to Shaul, I see [an??] elohim being coming up out of the earth.

NOTE: This is very curious, and not what one envisions coming up from the grave or dreaded Sheol??

1 Samuel 28: 14
He said to her, What is his form? And she said, An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe. And Shaul knew that it was Sh’muel...

NOTE: Saul wanted proof that this was not some kind of deceitful magical or demonic trick, and it was authenticated by the robe that the departed Samuel wore before he died.

1 Samuel 28: 15
Then Sh’muel said to Shaul, Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up? And Shaul said, I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and Elohim has departed from me and has not answered me any more, neither by the hand of prophets nor by dreams; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.

NOTE: Since Elohim (God) had departed from Saul, why would a desperate king break the law and risk death by using a medium (witch) to summon the spirit of a dead and departed prophet to help him in the “land of the living,” or did he know something that we do not?

1 Samuel 28: 16
Sh’muel said, Why then do you ask me, since YHVH has departed from you and has become your adversary?

NOTE: Why the switch here? Is YHVH one of the Elohim?

Job 2: 1-2
Again there was a day when the sons of the Elohim came to present themselves before YHVH, and the satan also came among them to present himself before YHVH. YHVH said to the satan, Where have you come from? Then the satan answered YHVH and said, “From roaming about [on] the earth and from walking around [on] it.” SEE also Job 1: 6-7.

NOTE: The Hebrew tries to be faithful to the correct translation, but in this case I think the words should be [through] and [in].

Genesis 6: 4
The Nephilim (Heb. haN’philim) were on the earth “in those days,” and also afterward, when the sons of the Elohim came in to the daughters of the man, and they bore to them. They were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Genesis 10: 25
Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided (Heb. niph’l’gah) ; and his brother’s name was Jothan.

NOTE: In Genesis 6 and 10 the same Hebrew root (“niphl”) has to do with some kind of “division” (separation (gulf, chasm, impassable region, barrier) between types of unique 'kinds' of people. There could very well have been surface dwellers and those semi-divine beings that lived “inner Earth” or “Hollow Earth' or Middle Earth after the Tolkien series. "Middle-earth", or Endor in Quenya (Ennor in  Sindarin) - and inThe Book of Lost Tales the Great Lands -are the names used for the habitable parts of Arda after the final ruin of Beleriand, east across the Belegaer from Aman.

Genesis 2: 8a, 10-14
And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

NOTE: Havilah is associated with southern Egypt and Gihon is thought to be in Ethiopia. That one river for these other 4 must have been one powerful flow of water, and what was it's source, anyway?

Matthew 17: 1-3
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

John 3: 13
No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. ESV

NOTE: Since no one who died was translated or ascended to heaven, where are they in the meantime?

1 Peter 3: 18-20
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive in the spirit, in which He also went and preached to the spirits (Heb. ruchoth) in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, while the ark was being built. In the ark a few people, only eight souls (Heb. n'phasoth), were saved through water.…

NOTE: The particular people were part of the inbreeding with the sons of God and daughters of men (Cp. Genesis 6: 1-7a). Everything on the “surface” of the earth was going to be destroyed but what about those who lived “in” the earth?? This does not pertain to those of us who die because when we do we are asleep (Cp. Daniel 12: 2; Matthew 27: 52; John 11: 11). Hebrew root words taken from bayithamashiyach.com

The legendary garden of Eden might very well have not been on the Earth, but “in” it or perhaps Cain's punishment to be a restless wanderer “on” the earth and worrying about someone (??) finding him and slaying him (Cp. Genesis 4: 12-16). In that same chapter Cain not only finds a wife in the land of Nod, east of Eden but instead, builds a city; quite a feat I would say. Not only that, but I would think he met some people in the land of Nod where he found a wife. This is before Adam had other sons and daughters (Cp. Genesis 5: 4-5) and when men began to increase “on” [ not “in”] the earth and daughters were born to them (Cp. Genesis 6: 1-2). The land of Uz of the prophet Job, which seems like quite an ancient text, at least in it's deep and profound perspective on God (Elohim) could be an 'inner/Middle-earth)” literary work. The land of U could be on the Earth's surface but the conversation between the Lord and the satan and the meeting with the sons of God at an appointed time could have taken place in the “Hollow Earth..”

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St Apt 701
Tacoma, WA 98402
January 23, 2018

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The nakedness of Adam and Eve

Genesis 2: 25
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. ESV

NOTE: Why is this part referencing being naked mentioned? It seems a bit early for some kind of moral qualification, and what was shame, anyway? Did a priestly redactor include this part??

Genesis 3: 5
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3: 7a
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness NLT

NOTE: The opening of Adam and Eve's eyes caused them to feel shame about being naked, which led to becoming like “gods” in the knowing Good and Evil-why??

Genesis 3: 8
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3: 9
The LORD God called to the man and asked him, "Where are you?"

NOTE: Why did the Lord God call out to just the man (Adam), and not both Adam and his wife?

Genesis 3: 10
He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

NOTE: Adam hid because he was naked, and not from disobeying God's command (Cp. Genesis 2: 16-17).

Genesis 3: 11
"Who told you that you were naked?" the LORD God asked. "Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?" NLT

NOTE: What did eating from the tree have to do with being “naked” regarding the 'knowledge of Good and Evil”? There seems to be an overemphasis on “naked' and not so much on disobedience; which seems puzzling??

Genesis 3: 27
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. NIV

NOTE: What were those garments of “skin” that the Lord God clothed Adam and Eve? The narrative does not say they were clothed with animal hair or fur but skin; meaning that whatever their appearance (epidermis and dermis), it was not as we humans have now.

Genesis 2: 17b; 3: 19b; 22
...for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” ESV
For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return." NLT
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— NAS 1977

Adam and Eve were not immortal at the Beginning, but even in their so-called “fallen” state, there was still concern from deity (the Godhead) that the couple could still partake from the 'Tree of Life” and live forever. It would seem at first glance, that the effects were irreversible and they were prevented from doing so and banished from the garden. Not only that, but so important was this matter that a celestial guardian or sentry was sent to protect this secret source to the way of obtaining immortality (Cp. Genesis 3: 24b). Also, Adam and Eve might be long-lived like the mythical Asgardians, and in fact, the Nordic lore is taken from this story?? The Golden Apples of Idunn grow only in Asgard, and can only be picked by the goddess Idunn. They are what grants the Asgardians their youth, vigor, and virtual immortality. They grew on a tree in a garden on the east side Hall of Valhalla in Asgard. The cherubim (not cherub, singular) was placed on the east side of the Garden with a flaming sword... Lastly, Adam lived 930 years and then he died but there is no mention about Eve (Cp. Genesis 5: 5). If Adam and Eve continued to eat the fruit of immortality, none of us would be here; so everything happened as it was planned beforehand (predestined or preordained).

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St Apt 701
Tacoma, WA 98402
January 21, 2018

What the Serpent originally wasn't in the Beginning

Genesis 1: 24
God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals, each according to its kind." It was so. NET Bible

Genesis 1: 25
And God made the beasts of the earth after their kinds, and cattle after their kinds, and every thing that creeps upon the earth after its kind: and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 2: 19
Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.

NOTE: The man (Adam), not the Lord God, named the serpent, and it was associated with the 'kinds” of beasts of the earth and not creeping or crawling things (such as reptiles are)..

Genesis 3: 1
Now the serpent (Heb. nachash) was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden? ERV

NOTE: The word “subtil” is different from subtle in that some of the various meanings are these: mysterious; rarefied; nebulous; refined; arcane' veiled; or insubstantial (ethereal??).

Genesis 3: 14
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

Micah 7: 7a
They will lick the dust like a serpent, Like reptiles of the earth.

NOTE: Is this passage to be taken literally, too?

Tradition or myth is a powerful shaper of concepts, but the Old Testament of the Bible clearly associates the 'serpent' as one of the animals or beasts; and not reptilian, originally. It is difficult to get a mental picture of what sort of creature it was, and as we know from evolution there are many species and types of creatures that once existed back in the dawn of time, but did not survive to the present era, or their fossil remains have yet to be discovered by scientists. The curse of the serpent might have been an evolutionary process over millennia and not necessarily an immediate event. Whatever the creature called the “serpent” at the beginning, be it shapeshifter or whatever, must have had the ability to communicate with the Adam and Eve, somehow; which would indeed have made it unique among all the “other” beasts of the field. Also, since God created “kinds” or pairs of every creature on the earth (Cp. Genesis 6: 19-20), why only one serpent, or was there more than the one in the narrative?

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St Apt 701
Tacoma, WA 98402
January 21, 2018

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Should a Christian be elected to serve in secular human government?

One of the things that is most striking in American politics is that a prospective civil servant has to have a religious ideology. Since it requires significant funding to organize a campaign and to get your message out to the voting public, the resources marshaled by the faithful are of significant value. This support however, doesn’t come without a price. The issues that will be advocated by a particular official carry with it, the religious ideology and legislative agenda from constituents desiring to implement their brand of morality and family values on the rest of society. The thing is, though, are the followers of Jesus Christ to be so invested with the ways of the world. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about this matter.

John 17: 6a, 9a, 14-16
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

NOTE: Jesus said that He was not praying for the world and emphasizes twice that His disciples are “not of this world.”

John 18: 36a
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.

1 John 2: 15-16
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

NOTE: Not only is this an admonition not to become attached to the world but Satan is called the god of this world (Cp. John 16: 11a; 2 Corinthians 4: 4), and the ways of the world are under the influence of Satan (Cp. Ephesians 2: 2). Since this is the case, why would or should a person of faith think that their involvement in the human government of this Age is going to make a difference, or for that matter, is pleasing to God? There is a good principle of “separateness” found in 2 Corinthians 6: 17. Besides, according to 1 Corinthians 6: 1a, 2a, believers will judge the world as well as angels, so why not be content to wait for God’s government to be inaugurated when Jesus returns?

Let’s take a step back and look at things from a Constitutional perspective. The last sentence in Article VI says: “but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The First Amendment which stipulates government ‘neutrality’ in matters of religion, prohibits as a practical matter of governance, any entanglement between elected officials and religious groups, organizations, affiliates or PAC’s representing a particular religious ideology. This also means that someone who is a person of faith taking an oath to obey the U.S. Constitution cannot exercise the duties of their elected or appointed office, authority invested in them to endorse or enact public policy resulting from a religious motivation or agenda; which offends the Constitution.

CONCLUSION: So, how are believers to conduct themselves in this present world system? I mentioned earlier about the notion of being “separate” from the world [in a sense] because its form is passing away (Cp. 1 Corinthians 7: 31), and to reiterate, Jesus said that He and His followers were “not of this world.” I think perhaps Jehovah’s Witnesses have the right idea; at least, in principle. So, what are we supposed to do? Some helpful guidelines are found below in the following:

Romans 13: 1-8a
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right; but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.

Titus 2: 12
. . . teaching us, that denying the impiety and the worldly desires, soberly and righteously and piously we may live in the present age, Young’s Literal Translation.

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St Apt 701
Tacoma, WA
August 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The abortion issue and where or when Life begins

The biggest issue in the debate over abortion is not just about women’s health, the right to choose, family planning, access to contraceptives, or even ‘privacy’ but rather, defining when or where does human life begin. To many, if not most Christians, the answer is obvious; but is it, really? I am not taking sides on the abortion issue between those camps of the PRO-LIFE or PRO-CHOICE; the reader will have to decide that for themselves. In this brief study I will start with the bedrock passage from the Bible on where all of this is centered, as below in the following:

Jeremiah 1: 5a
Before I formed you in the womb I knew
you, before you were born I set you apart;

NOTE: Sound pretty convincing, does it not? However, there is a little problem here that is often overlooked, the word “before.” It does not say I knew you at the moment of conception in the womb, or as you were being formed in the womb, but pre-existent to that. If indeed, Life begins “at” conception then clearly this verse cannot be used to support that position. This is a knowing that exists on a level that exists in the mind of God (??) prior to human existence or biological conception.

The prophet Job seems to have some interesting things to say about being born while suffering in his despair and trial of afflictions.

Job 10: 18-19
Why did you bring me out from the womb?
Would that I had died before any eye had seen me
 and were as though I had not been,
carried from the womb to the grave.

NOTE: Is Job saying in the underlined portion that it would be better if he had been aborted?

Job 34: 4
The Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Job 27: 3
As long as my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils

NOTE: It appears that “life” has to do with receiving the breath/spirit of God, so does this happen prenatally in the womb or after emerging from it?

Now, let’s look at the first man (Adam).

Genesis 2: 7
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

NOTE: This is consistent because it is only “after” the breath of life was received from the Creator does one become a “living person/being/ or soul.” Again, when does this happen?

Job 3: 16
Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?

Ecclesiastes 6: 5a
Though a stillborn child does not see the sun and is not conscious (Ref. Holman Christian Standard Bible).

NOTE: If a stillborn baby is not conscious, then it would also be logical or rational to conclude that the embryo never was, and an indication of life, being alive or having “liveness” is to have sentience or conscious awareness.

CONCLUSION: There certainly is no sanction in the Bible for an abortion but at the same time, there is no passage in the Bible that definitively mentions that life, at least in the sense that humans experience or understand it, begins at conception in the womb. This does not mean that there are not some places in the Bible that strongly suggest that the practice or the closest modern equivalent was known in times past. The term used was typically “ripping open the pregnant women” (Cp. 2 Kings 8: 12; 2 Kings 15: 16; Hosea 13: 16; Amos 1: 13).

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St Apt 701
Tacoma, WA 98402
August 15, 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Letter to the Churches of Christ

Dear beloved in Christ Jesus:

I just finished reading “Reclaiming a Heritage” (2002) by Richard T. Hughes, and this is one book that should be recommended reading by every church member; especially the leadership. The author grew up in the Church of Christ and is therefore eminently qualified to write this book, not only from a scholarly perspective but he has an insider perspective about the mindset and inner workings of this religious group. The first thing that has to be admitted is the influence of such men as Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, David Lipscomb, James Harding, and others in the Restoration Movement in general and Churches of Christ/Disciples of Christ (The Christian Church) in particular. Although Jesus Christ is the founder of our ‘Faith’ these reformers are the founders of our religious tradition. In this article I will use the author’s words mostly taken from his book to help better explain the Churches of Christ from a perspective that is seldom taught, or if at all, in the congregations.

The main point that Hughes wants to make is that the in the beginning the foundational principle behind the movement was that everyone had the right and privilege to search out the truth for themselves, and that such an endeavor may take a lifetime because humans are imperfect and our understanding of Scripture is constantly evolving. Since we are imperfect and infallible, no mere human person can fully capture, possess, comprehend, preserve, dispense or attempt to codify the full measure of God’s eternal truth. The central theme of the Restoration Movement was first, to return back to the ancient order as presented in the New Testament and secondly, Christian unity (p. 30). There are those among the Churches of Christ who believe and teach that they have already restored the foundation or structure of the ancient Church in all its purity and perfection. I suppose they think they have fulfilled what it says in Ephesians 4: 13:  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Barton Stone said: “View all children of God as your brother, whatever [religious] name they may bear” (p. 32).There seems to have been a seismic shift from that viewpoint where in modern times there is an overemphasis on being “the One True Church” as opposed to unifying all Christians on the basis of following the ancient faith as outlined in the New Testament, and not following sectarian creeds, dogma, ritual or ecumenical authorities. Churches of Christ claim not to be a denomination because they do not have a written creed or that each congregation is autonomous, but they follow an unwritten code where they exclude (dis-fellowship/withdraw) from their fellowship anyone or entire groups of people who disagree with the standard or accepted orthodoxy. On page 47, the author correctly opines that in our zeal to restore the primitive church in its purity we deny the history of the human founders of our faith tradition.

Churches of Christ claim to follow the Bible and the Bible alone and that our congregations are nothing more or less than those of the first Christian Age. The other Churches are a product of the powerful forces of history, culture and tradition; but not Churches of Christ. The thing is, though, what started out as a sincere movement to restore New Testament pattern of faith practice and teaching has instead, become a religious organization with our own particular ‘brand’ of Christianity as evidenced by our own distinct Churches, lectureships, publications, colleges, disciplinary measures, and theology- hence a denomination. Perhaps the one fatal flaw in all of this is that since we are so preoccupied or convinced of our restorative perfection then whenever the Gospel is preached among and out from us it has the seal of approval from God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The Plan of Salvation almost seems to lose some of its meaning because it is presented as a series of steps to do instead of as it pictured in Ephesians 2: 8-9, which says: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Richard Hughes, near the end of the book goes on to say that Churches of Christ are facing enormous challenges over forms and methods- worship, baptism, administering the Lord’s Supper (p. 121). 

He concludes by saying that we need to restore the passion of the former times by what is referred to as “radical discipleship,” which is similar to the commitment of the Anabaptists/Mennonite/Amish believers. Instead of withdrawing from society in separatist communities there should be a more proactive engagement in society and the world for the cause of social justice; which the Churches of Christ have been somewhat derelict in this area as opposed to other Christians. The Cross of Christ is more than facts, forms, methods and structures (p. 132), it must be engagement with or in the world where we shine as a beacon of light on a hill (Cp. Matthew 15: 14-16). Another Bible verses worth considering are found in Titus 2: 14: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; Colossians 1: 10: that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Further information regarding the Churches of Christ is suggested below in the following:

Sounding Brass and Clanging Cymbals by Choate/Woodson; Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement by Foster/Blowers/Dunnavant/Williams; Distant Voices: Uncovering a Forgotten past for a Changing Church by Leonard C. Allen; Evangelism & the Stone-Campbell Movement by William R. Baker; Radical Restoration by F. LaGard Smith

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St Apt 701
Tacoma, WA 98402
June 3, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Is being right more important than maintaining unity?

There are some Christian Churches or congregations who have withdrawn fellowship from one another based upon doctrinal differences, and decisions arrived at by a consensus of the membership and their congregational leaders; but is this the way it should be done? This brief study will examine whether the New Testament authorizes such an action as to ex-communicate entire faith communities over issues that may or may not be all that serious.

Acts 15: 1-2a, 12-13, 19-21, 28
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.  It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 

Acts 16: 1a, 4
Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived.  As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey.

1 Corinthians 8: 1, 4, 7-8
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.”  But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do.

Acts 21: 17-18, 25
 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

NOTE: The leadership of the Church in Jerusalem had heard some disturbing news about the Apostle Paul’s teachings and they wanted to know whether the things they heard were true; and they were which was in odds with the decrees that all who were present back in Acts chapter 15 agreed upon. So, should the believers separate or disassociate from the Apostle Paul and those he led to Christ because he no longer taught the same thing as they did in this matter?

Here’s another example:

Galatians 2: 15-16a
We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. 

Galatians 3: 11
Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”

James 2: 18, 21-24
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Now, what would the Apostle Paul’s reply be to James interpretation?

Romans 4: 1-3
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Romans 4: 18-24
Who (Abraham) against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, so shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

NOTE: Should the congregations that are taught justification by works separate from those who are taught justification by faith; I mean, who is right, Paul or James- can both of them be right?

Ok, one more point:

Acts 21: 17b, 20-21
Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

Well, what did the Apostle Paul teach and were these rumors true?

Galatians 5: 6a, 12
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.  As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

Galatians 6: 15
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

Colossians 2: 11, 6
In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ; therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 

The apostles and early leaders of the Christian movement didn’t always agree on everything, even after Paul admonished the believers in Corinth “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1: 10). There are examples of instructions to withdraw from any believer who lives in a manner contrary to the teachings of Christ or the indwelling Holy Spirit, but that is only as a measure to bring the individual to repentance and to be welcomed back into the fellowship and support of the local congregation. The practice of splitting and forming a separate group or church is without authorization in the New Testament and is counter to the injunction against divisions, factions, and violates the spirit of unity. You can be right but if the price is withdrawing from other believers over perhaps some small matter of Biblical interpretation, then that might be too high a price to pay. The thing that the Lord wants is, again, not to have division or cause a stumbling block for other believers (Cp. Romans 14: 13; 1 Corinthians 8: 9; 10: 23; Galatians 5: 19a; and Proverbs 6: 16, 19b). Even the Apostle Paul wrote that all things are lawful for him but all things are not expedient (Cp. 1 Corinthians 6: 12; 10: 23).

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St Apt 701
Tacoma, WA 98402
May 19, 2017