In This Issue
LORD OF THE SABBATH
In Mark 2:23-24, Mark tells us that Jesus "went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, 'Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?'"
First, let it be noted that Jesus did not violate God's Sabbath law, nor encourage His followers to do so. Jesus never sinned, Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22. God's law did indeed forbid all normal work on the Sabbath, Ex. 20:10. But God apparently intended to leave it up to each individual Israelite to use common sense in applying that law. Certain necessary activities were not disallowed. Even the Pharisees with their minute man-made restrictions allowed for the circumcision of eight-day- old babies on the Sabbath, and allowed a person to do what was necessary to care for farm animals on that day. See John 7:22; Luke 13:15.
Now, let us look briefly at Jesus' answer to the Pharisees' accusation in Mark 2. In verses 25-26, Jesus points to the inconsistency of the Pharisees. They tended to defend David's actions in 1 Samuel 21, which were an actual violation of law, while they charged Jesus disciples with sin when they had not violated God's law. The disciples were not harvesting a crop, but simply relieving their hunger. This was no more than the Pharisees would have done for their farm animals.
In Matthew's parallel account, Jesus pointed out in Matt. 12:5 that it was the duty of the priests in the temple to work twice as hard on the Sabbath as on other days. See Num. 28:9-10. If Jesus' disciples violated the Sabbath by pulling and eating grain, surely the priests must be guilty of profaning the Sabbath by offering sacrifices. (Note, Jesus was not accusing the priests of sin, but was simply showing the inconsistency of the rules the Pharisees were trying to enforce on all men.)
In Mark 2:27, Jesus shows that God intended the Sabbath to be a blessing to man, not a burden.
Finally, in verse 28, Jesus claimed Himself to be "Lord of the Sabbath." He was not claiming the right to ignore the Sabbath, but He was claiming to be in a better position to know and determine what was lawful or unlawful on that day than were the Pharisees who were accusing Him. In Matthew's account, Matt. 12:6, He also stated, "In this place there is One greater than the temple."
Now, in closing, let us note that these questions regarding the observance of the Sabbath ended after the crucifixion of Jesus. Beginning with the establishment of the New Testament church in the book of Acts, Jesus' followers met regularly on the first day of the week (Sunday) instead of the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) and Paul admonishes us to let no one judge us with regard to Sabbath-keeping and other observances of the Old Testament law, Col. 2:12-14.
--Clarence R. Johnson
ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL
The Roman Catholic Church has spoken and the Jews no longer need Jesus. What a relief that must be!
Building on 35 years of growing political correctness, the Pope has declared that the Mosaic covenant was an eternal compact between God and Israel, and therefore, Hebrews can be saved without the blood of Jesus or his new covenant. Protestants have been edging in the same direction for years, because of Premillennialism and political correctness. They believe the Jews will be universally saved when the Messiah returns and convinces them of his identity. Premillennial protestants believe Jesus failed the first time around, but will surely succeed the second.
The truth is that Jews need Jesus precisely as much as you and I do. Buying religious peace with them by pushing Jesus into a closet does them no favor and places your own soul in jeopardy.
Hear the Holy Spirit! "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). Political correctness, ignorance and cowardice will save no one.
Jesus even told a small Jewish audience, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except though me" (John 14:6). The pope, however, disagrees with Jesus and insists that every Hebrew can come to the Father without him. Step aside, Lord!
Peter, a Jew and wrongly accused of being the first Catholic pope, told a Jewish audience, "Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, by him this man stands here before you whole .... Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12).
The Mosaic covenant is no longer operational today and no one can adhere to it. Israel failed to keep its end and so God exercised his right to abandon it and create a new covenant to replace it (Heb. 8:13). The better covenant of Christ has taken force (Heb. 8:1-6). In him, there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal. 3:28). Outside of him, there is only perdition.
It has become politically correct to recognize most, if not all, religions as equal. Even Islam, which fuels hatred, has gained that degree of public acceptance. When we pretend, however, that one can be saved without Jesus, just to get along with those who believe that, we tie our Savior's hands and limit the scope of his blood.
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge .... For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Rom. 10:1-2, 4).
--J.S. Smith, Woodmont Beacon, Ft. Worth, Texas
TRYING TO SAVE THE CHURCH
It seems a great number of people these days are "trying to save the church." The zeal and efforts of these hardworking brethren are commendable, even when, in some cases, they seem more intent on "saving" the church for their own pet projects than for the Lord. Somehow I have more respect for those who will try to save the church for something than for those who do not care what happens to the church.
There have been times when I felt I wanted to save the church. In my hour of triumph I could see myself on a great white charger, banners flying into the heavenly castle with the church safe beside me . . . or something to the effect. In more sober moments, however, I noticed that those who were then trying to save the church were having difficulty finding a church to save. There are lots of riders, and great white chargers, but few maiden churches that are in distress - or, that will admit it. The picture is all wrong.
And then I remember that Christ is the Saviour of the church (Eph. 5:23), and He is ful1y capable of handling the job. As I reflect upon His "modus operandi," several facts are outstanding.
Christ saves the people, one at the time. The message which Christ preached, though taught to great crowds at times and "shouted from the house-tops," is of such a nature as to demand self-denial and humble obedience from each individual who would receive it. It is by this process that the church exists. Christ is "Saviour of the body" by saving each "member"-bringing souls, separately, under subjection.
Christ does not "try to save the church," He IS Saviour of the church. The members, one or many, who are faithful unto death will be given a crown of life. In a sense, the members who, in great throngs, go "marching on" in digression and apostasy are not the church of which Christ is Saviour. They more nearly correspond to the virgins who lacked oil for their lamps or to the man at the feast without a wedding garment. Christ is author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him. (Heb. 5:9).
It is altogether possible that in "trying to save the church" today we have confused the "party" -whose pride must be maintained, and whose "place" in the world must be upheld-with saving "a soul from death" that we might "hide a multitude of sins." (Jas. 5:19-20). When we obey the gospel the Lord "adds" us to His body (the "called-out" people), but we must "join ourselves" to the disciples of the local church. (Acts 9:26-28). We select as our associates in the Lord's work those whom we believe to be "walking in the light," in fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, hence our brothers and sisters in the family of God. But we must remember that we have fellowship with these people as a result of our fellowship with God. We do not have fellowship with God because we associate with these people. (I Jn. 1:3-7).
Sometimes a person joins a certain political party because he believes that this party stands for the truth and right. Perhaps it does, at the time. But it is possible for allegiance to the party to become so strong that finally one will defend the party, thinking that in so doing he is defending the truth. TRUTH does-not change, but unfortunately people - and parties - do.
Our allegiance must be, first, last, and always, to God and to God's TRUTH. In our desire to "save the church" we must realize that the party (the people) may go astray but that God's truth does not waver. Our efforts must be spent on prayerful study of God's Word - to know his truth - and then on turning or keeping the people faithful to this truth. In restoration, even as in the salvation of alien sinners, each soul must be treated individually. It is well to exhort brethren to be ONE (I Cor. 1:10f) but unless this unity can be obtained upon the divinely delivered faith, it is a hollow mockery. What has been gained if we "save" the oneness of the people but "lose" the souls of the people? This article is not written to make light of "oneness" among brethren, nor of efforts made to "hold the church together" in times of trial It is written to remind us that there are right and wrong ways of "saving the church." The "end" is salvation in heaven, not a "glorious party" on earth.
--Robert F. Turner, Truth Magazine, Nov. 1958
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