A few weeks ago when my friend suggested she hoped I would get around to blogging about the challenges to our point of view regarding God's instructions, she probably didn't know she'd become the catalyst to finally push me into writing. We've been saying for months that we need to write down our thought process for ourselves and our children just so we could have some record of decisions we've made for when they need revisiting (as philosophical decisions often do).
As I've been writing these blogs and wrestling with how to lay out these thoughts, I've realized I need to address the idea of the witnesses that establish a matter. We believed we were asked to judge something - whether as Gentile Christians we should obey all, part or none of God's ancient instructions - and the only way to make a judgement is to call for witnesses.
The Testimony of Witnesses
It's a repeated Biblical concept that no truth should be established on the testimony of just one witness.
God told Moses, "On the evidence of two or three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness." (Det. 17:6).
Jesus describes how an offense between two believers is to be resolved by referring back to this scripture: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church [assembly]. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and tax collector. [Do not associate with that person]" (Matthew 18:15-17).
Paul advises Timothy and the churches in Corinth with the same principle: "Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses." (1 Tim 5:19) "Every charge is established on the evidence of two or three witnesses." (1 Cor 13:1)
We chose several witnesses to help make our judgement:
The first witness to the continued validity of God's Instructions is God's Unchanging Nature.
The second witness is Jesus' purpose on Earth: God RE-newing his Covenant rather than making something ALL-new. (Greek Thinking, Hebrew Thinking)
The third witness is what the believers who first received the Holy Spirit believed and taught.
That subject is much longer and more difficult to deal with than the other two. I've considered a lot of the New Testament in trying to pin down how to call this witness and I think the best place to begin is with a pivotal chapter in Acts: the meeting of the Jerusalem Council to consider the ramifications of Gentile Christians entering the formerly all-Jewish church. This is taking some time and may even need to be broken down into more than one blog post so that it becomes short enough to read!
In a nutshell, the Jerusalem Council was asked to decide which of two groups of believers was correct about how new Gentile converts should be expected to obey God's Instructions:
Group Number 1 stated that Gentiles couldn't receive Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit unless they'd been circumcised. The physical sign was the cause of salvation.
Group Number 2 stated that the only qualification for receiving Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit was faith in God. Following God's Law was an evidence of salvation rather than a cause of it.
Coming soon...the testimony of the Christians who first received the Holy Spirit.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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