Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
The article this month follows on from an earlier article I wrote titled “Christ and Messiah.” In that earlier article I showed that those who do not believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Jews, which is the meaning of the term “Christ,” do not truly understand what the Old Testament promises are all about. Those promises cannot be realized without Jesus being the Messiah. Sometimes the reasons for unbelief come from “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4–5). Sometimes unbelief comes from the blindness of the human heart (Matthew 13:15; Ephesians 4:18). And sometimes unbelief comes from God Himself who blinds people and even entire nations, as in the case of Israel (John 12:40; Romans 11:7, 25).
Whatever the situation, God is ultimately responsible for the unbelief of any person. This is because faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Faith not rooted in the resurrected Messiah is vain (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17). Everything related to salvation, including faith, comes through Jesus the Messiah. Faith in the resurrected Messiah is a gift (Acts 24:24; Galatians 2:16). 1 In fact we are justified by the Messiah’s faith:
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ [Messiah], even we have believed in Jesus Christ [Messiah], that we might be justified by the faith of Christ [Messiah], and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
The faith of the Messiah comes through us hearing about Messiah.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ [Messiah].”
Romans 10:17, New American Standard 2
Those who do not have the faith of Christ must, by necessity, depend on the works of the law, according to the apostle Paul (Galatians 2:16). They must wear certain clothes, observe days, eat with diet restrictions, restrict travel at certain times, control their use of God’s name, and generally perform a host of “works” intended for young children of faith. Go to any kindergarten and see how children are regimented (as they should be) to perform “works” so they can learn the basics of life in the world around them through routine and repetition. You are not a child. The Mystery of God has set you free from such childish things.
This month’s article “The Gospel of Messiah” shows clearly that the apostles, including the apostle Paul, preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (as did Jesus), but went beyond what Jesus taught (as He instructed them to do: Mark 13:16, 16:14–18; John 20:21; Acts 1:8), which included the fact that Jesus was the Messiah of God, the Christ. The faith of Christ inside Paul results in the fact that, “Christ[Messiah] lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
The apostle Paul was instructed to “preach the Gospel” of Messiah (Acts 16:9; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 9:14–18; Colossians 1:23). 3 He preached the Gospel of Messiah based on his own eyewitness of the resurrected and living Messiah Jesus. But how can we know what the apostle Paul preached is true? Paul directly addresses that question:
“Since you seek a proof of Christ [Messiah] speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
For though he [Messiah] was crucified through weakness, yet he [Messiah] lives by the power of God.
For we also are weak in him [Messiah], but we shall live with him [Messiah] by the power of God toward you.
Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ [Messiah] is in you, except you be reprobates?”
2 Corinthians 13:3–5
The resurrected and living Messiah is the living proof of Paul’s Gospel. See Dr. Martin’s article “A Major Proof of the Bible” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d740101.htm.
We greatly appreciate your prayers, your communications, and your financial support. The apostle Paul explained the true basis of giving to the Corinthian ekklesia (within the context of their generosity toward the poor Jewish saints in Jerusalem). We all at ASK (and that includes you also) are sowing seeds that God will produce fruit from, so that He will gain the increase and the glory. Paul’s words express our sentiments of your support of our work at ASK, knowing full well that ultimately that all such things come from God:
“Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. …
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; While by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
2 Corinthians 9:7–8, 11–15
Thank you all so much, and may God bless you so that you “may abound to every good work.”
David W. Sielaff
1 The Jewish leaders and the Sanhedrin knew about the significance of Jesus. The Jews knew that Jesus was a remarkarkable man who they looked at carefully, but they rejected Him because of God’s blinding of their hearts and minds. See the detailed but excellent account by Dr. Martin of Jewish remarks about Jesus in his article “The Strange Ending to Sotah” at http://www.askelm.com/prophecy/p950801.htm.
2 The KJV has: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” According to Professor Bruce Metzger very early and diverse Greek manuscripts (and most modern translations) have a text like that of the New American Standard. See “Letter of Paul to the Romans,” 10:17, in Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (D-Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994).
3 A nonbiblical historical text by the apostolic father, Clement (c. 90–100 C.E.) said precisely this about the Gospel, that it was commanded by Christ. The apostles, who were convinced by their own eyewitness to the resurrection, obeyed and proclaimed the Gospel of Christ about the Kingdom of God.
“The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ has done so from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles [were sent] by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand.”
1 Clement 42:1–3
Clement wrote this passage only a decade or so after the death of the apostle John. The title of “Christ” still had its identification with, and meant the same as, the term “Messiah.”
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