Did Paul Do Away With the “Red Letters”?

One Feast of Tabernacles sermon I listened to was “The Red Letter Torah”.  It was brought out how often what Jesus said (you know, the red letters in some Bibles) was actually a quote from the OT.

The speaker started out by asking if Jesus really meant what He said.  Did Jesus speak the truth, or was He just throwing out a bunch of quotes?

 4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4, King James Version)

Really?  EVERY word?  Surely, Jesus didn’t mean that!  After all, all those “Jewish” laws were done away, right?

Red Letters

I wrote a little about this in “The Physical or the Spiritual?”  There are many ways to try to do away with the Law.  One of those ways is to claim you are a “Red Letter Christian”.  Somehow, the words Jesus spoke are more important to those who claim this, even though it contradicts Jesus’ own words quoted above.  It also ignores:

 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16, King James Version)

The word “inspiration” is from Strong’s G2315, theopneustos.  This is a compound word from G2316, theos, and G4154, pneo.  Theos is the word used in the NT for God.  Pneo means breath or wind.  Literally, it means:

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

~ 2Ti 3:16 (NIV)

So, which words were spoken or “breathed” by God?  All Scripture!

And, that’s not all.

How about some “red letters” explaining the role of the Law?

 17-18"Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures— either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

 19-20"Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

~ Mt 5:17-19 (The Message)

Don’t like The Message?  How about the ESV?

 17A)’>A)’>A)’>A)’>A)’>(A) "Do not think that I have come to abolishB)’>B)’>B)’>B)’>B)’>(B) the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them butC)’>C)’>C)’>C)’>C)’>(C) to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you,D)’>D)’>D)’>D)’>D)’>(D) until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19E)’>E)’>E)’>E)’>E)’>(E) Therefore whoever relaxesF)’>F)’>F)’>F)’>F)’>(F) one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called leastG)’>G)’>G)’>G)’>G)’>(G) in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Or, how about the NLT?

 17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Still no good?  How about the CEV?

 17Don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. a]’>a]’>a]’>a]’>a]’>[a] I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. 18Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen. 19If you reject even the least important command in the Law and teach others to do the same, you will be the least important person in the kingdom of heaven. But if you obey and teach others its commands, you will have an important place in the kingdom.

Do I really need to keep going?

How About Some More Red Letters?

 3But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

 4For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

 5But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; (Matthew 15:3-5, King James Version)

 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9, King James Version)

 17And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (Matthew 19:17, King James Version)

 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you [such as keeping the Passover with new symbols]: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20, King James Version)

 50And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:50, King James Version)

 15If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15, King James Version)

Now, in reference to the last two, is Jesus God?  Did Jesus not pass on what the Father commanded?  Wasn’t it God Who spoke the Ten Commandments to Israel on Mt Sinai?  Does it matter in this context if it was God the Father or Jesus (it may matter for other things, but does it matter for this)?

I ask this because some would act as though it makes a difference.  Yet, again, what did Jesus say?

 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. (John 15:10, King James Version)

What Was Nailed To the Cross?

It should be obvious by now that the Law was not made obsolete.  Certain ceremonial items, such as animal sacrifices, were explicitly changed for different symbols.  However, the Law still stands!

Yet, some would argue, flying in the face of all reason and even much scholarly commentary, that the Law itself was nailed to the cross.

 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (Colossians 2:14, King James Version)

“Aha!” the antinomian will cry.  “’The handwriting of ordinances’ is the Law!”

OK, can we please engage our brains here?  Even the NLT, one of the worst translations out there, won’t take it that far!

14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.

Notice the “charges” were nailed to the cross, not the Law!  When charges are dismissed against a defendant in a court case, it doesn’t mean the law itself is dismissed.  It doesn’t mean that in this case either.

As I explain in “The Lie of Dispensationalism, Part 4: The Law Was not ‘Nailed to the Cross’”, there was actually something physically nailed to Jesus’ cross.  It was symbolic of our sins being covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ Who died in our stead.  Our sins, our transgressions against God’s Law (1Jn 3:4), that we are charged with have been paid for.

If a murderer is set free, he isn’t free to murder again.  If a sinner is set free, he isn’t free to sin again.  That’s not just illogical, it’s downright unjust.  If God were that type of God, then He would not be a righteous judge.

Notice what the Institute for Creation Research says about this:

When a criminal was crucified, the charges against him were specified, being nailed to his cross. In this case, the charges against Christ encompassed the whole law of God, because Christ was dying for all the sins of all the world. Note Galatians 3:10,13.

Wikipedia in the article “INRI” states:

Each of the other accounts of Jesus’ death has a slightly different version for the inscription on Jesus’ cross: Matthew (27:37), "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews"; Mark (15:26), "The King of the Jews"; and Luke (23:38), "This is the King of the Jews." John and Luke state it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, while Matthew and Mark describe it as the charge for crucifying Jesus.

Sabbaths and Holy Days

Let’s get down to brass tacks here: The entire point of people claiming the Law was nailed to the cross was so they could live however they want to.  They don’t want to worship a God Who changes them.  Instead, they want a God in their own image.  It has been that way since the time of Adam and Eve.

If the Law was nailed to the cross, then the subsequent verses conveniently do away with the Sabbath, holy days and food laws.  If the Law was not nailed to the cross, then it means something completely different.

Of course, logic would tell you that since Paul was writing a Gentile congregation, the only way they could be judged in keeping the Sabbath is if they were actually keeping the Sabbath (cf Ac 15:19, 21)!  A Gentile living in a Gentile country wouldn’t be judged in how they are eating unless they are keeping “Jewish” food laws!

We are told these things are a “shadow”.  A shadow of what?  What is a shadow?  Strong’s G4639 is skia.  It literally means shadow, a “shade caused by the interception of light”.  It also means “an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object”.

Holy days, Sabbaths, etc., represent “things to come”!  HWA taught that the holy days show us God’s plan.  They are symbolic of what Christ has done and will do!  They are cast by the shadow of the body of Christ!  If we follow the shade, we will run into Christ Himself, Who is projecting that shadow.

People make all sorts of idols to be visual aids in their worship.  They may be carvings, drawings or statues.  However, the representations God uses are words and actions.  God wants us to build our character and our minds.  In order to do this, we must hear or read, understand and do.  We must obey, or we will miss out on the vital messages He has in store for us!

Now, what is the rule about “therefore”?  Whenever you see a “therefore”, see what it is there for.

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.

~ Col 2:16 (NIV)

Why “therefore”?  Because you were previously dead in your sins but now raised up to a new life (v 13), forgiven of breaking God’s commandments (vv 13 – 14), covered by the sacrifice and blood of Jesus on the stake (v 14), who has triumphed over Satan and his dominion (v 15).  So, now you can enjoy life!  You are righteous in God’s sight because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ!  You can celebrate in the holy days and keep God’s Law with a clear conscience.  Therefore, do not let others judge you for keeping the Law.

After all, you’ve been forgiven.  Do you really want to fall back under the penalty of breaking God’s Law any more than an accused prisoner has been forgiven of a debt to society?

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