The Time Of Reformation

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Hi V____,
Thank you for your question. Your question is of an ‘in depth’ type and gives me the opportunity to emphasize the point I was making in my talk in Dallas. That point being that we “must live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” We do not live every word l iterally, but we must acknowledge doing so spiritually. As an example of what I mean by that, we need not take Uriah’s wife and kill him in order to be guilty of adultery or murder. Christ has raised the bar so high that now all we need to do is to “look on a woman to lust after her,” and we have “committed adultery already in our hearts,” and all we need do now to be counted as guilty of murder is to hate our brother.

Mat 5:27  Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
Mat 5:28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

1Jn 3:15  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

So it is with the subject of your question. You point out to me that the law does not allow us to eat the blood with the flesh. That is a physical, “carnal commandment” which carries with it a spiritual message. It was Christ Himself who told us:

Mat 15:11  Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

And this is what the New Testament teaches concerning the laws of the offerings:

Heb 7:11  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
Heb 7:16  Who [ Christ our high priest] is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

You point to “these necessary things” mentioned in Act 15, and you conclude: “So it seems that we are not to eat or drink blood even today.” That is a classic example of comparing physical with spiritual and thinking it is comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But that is not how the holy spirit teaches:

1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I am not advocating drinking physical blood. The physical realm is totally irrelevant to the point being made. As I referenced above, it was Christ Himself who told us that it was not what went into the mouth that defiled a man. Drinking physical blood is not the point of drinking Christ’s blood, and you fail to take into account the fact that the holy spirit itself tells us that the days of Christ and His apostles, was “the time of reformation” and that the disciples, of Christ were still at that time “not able to bear… many things Christ had to tell them.”

Heb 9:10  Which [ law of the offerings, including the prohibition against drinking blood] stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Christ’s message of reformation was not for the multitudes, but for those who had ears to hear:

Mat 11:14  And if ye will receive it, this [ John the baptist] is Elias, which was for to come.

Mat 11:15  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

John was not really Elijah, and the coming of Elijah before the coming of the Messiah, was about as literal as the drinking of Christ’s blood, in order to have life.
But James and the church at Jerusalem were still making animal sacrifices according to the law, long after Act 15. They still failed to understand the spiritual message being conveyed by not allowing ancient Israel to eat the blood of the sacrifices. He was still “not able to bear” the fact that Christ had fulfilled all those sacrifices. The holy spirit was well aware of where each apostle was and was patiently working with each “as they could receive it.”

Act 21:21  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.
Act 21:22  What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
Act 21:23  Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
Act 21:24  Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave [ their] heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but [ that] thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Act 21:25  As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written [ and] concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from [ things] offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
Act 21:26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

That offering was an animal sacrifice, which Paul knew was now irrelevant and unnecessary. The Jewish disciples at Jerusalem were just where Paul tells us the Corinthian church was at this time.

1Co 3:2  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

We tend to think that these words apply only to ‘those carnal Corinthian, babes in Christ.’ We fail to realize that even though the different apostles were given many of the gifts of the spirit, and healed the sick and cast out demons, both before and after the beginning of their conversion, they too, were “neither yet now able to bear… MANY things which Christ had to tell them.” This was especially true for James and the multitudes of disciples in the very Jewish city of Jerusalem. Look at the parallel between Paul’s words many years after the resurrection of Christ and Christ’s words the night before His apprehension by the Jews.

Joh 16:12  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

That is right, these words proceeded out of our Lord’s mouth just before he was apprehended by the Jews to be crucified, and yes, this was still true at the time of Act 15. The Jewish apostles and disciples were still unable to receive the fact that Gentiles were now also the seed of Abraham. It was the equivalent of telling them to drink blood.

Joh 6:53  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

Christ knew full well that these words would come into the minds of those to whom He spoke:

Lev 17:10  And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
Lev 17:11  For the life of the flesh [ is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Lev 17:12  Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.
Lev 17:13  And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.

That covering of the blood with dust is the dust of our flesh.  There is a progression of revelation in God’s Word. Before the flood of Noah, neither meat nor blood were eaten; after the flood meat was eaten, but not the blood with the life. After Christ came then the blood with the life was to be eaten.
While it is true that clean and unclean meats were made known to man before the flood, it is also true that man did not even eat meat before the flood. Obviously clean meat had nothing to do with the spiritual message being given us by meats which weren’t even being consumed at the time Cain and Abel were sacrificing to God.

Gen 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gen 1:27  So God created man in his [ own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Gen 1:28  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Gen 1:29  And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the eart h, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
Gen 1:30  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

Peter tells us that the flood represents our baptism:

1Pe 3:20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
1Pe 3:21  The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

And this is what the new man is told after the flood and baptism:

Gen 9:3  Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

Not one word of this is to be taken literally or physically. “All things are lawful but all things are not expedient.” Christ knew very well how the words He spoke would be perceived by his very carnal Jewish disciples.

Joh 6:52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Joh 6:53  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Joh 6:54  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

These are words of spirit. They are not meant to be taken literally. But Christ was a reformer, and these words were intended to make the point that He was a reformer, just as much as were these words:

Mat 5:43  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

The natural man cannot receive these words.
The same letter you reference there in Act 15, told those to whom it was sent that they should refrain from eating meat offered to idols. You referenced that verse. That was what those disciples in Jerusalem at that time could bear, and that was what the Gentiles at that time could bear.  Yet the holy spirit later revealed, for those who can now receive it, that “the idol is nothing at all,” and that the only reason we would need to abstain, is for the sake of a weak brother whose conscience would be defiled if we just went along with the crowd and sat in an idol’s temple and ate meat offered to an idol.

1Co 8:8  But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

A modern example is the keeping of Pagan holidays, or for that matter Jewish holy days. There is nothing wrong with decorating a tree when it is expedient. All things are lawful, under the proper circumstances which have us “doing all things to the glory of God.” But all things are not expedient,” when they are not being done “to the glory of God.” It is expedient that we do everything we do, “whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do,” it is expedient that we “do it to the glory of God.” If we are not doing it to glorify God, then it is expedient that we stop doing it.

1Co 6:12  All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
1Co 6:13  Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

When we do anything and we are not doing it “as unto the Lord,” we are committing spiritual fornication, and “the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” There is no “neutral ground” with God. We are either for or against Him in all that we do.

1Co 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1Co 6:20  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1Co 10:19  What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
1Co 10:20  But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
1Co 10:21  Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.
1Co 10:22  Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
1Co 10:23  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

When we do anything simply to avoid persecution, it is a snare and a sin. Nevertheless, under the proper circumstance, “all things are lawful.” I myself decorated a tree at my eldest son’s wedding. He was married on Dec. 10th and there was a Christmas tree in the hall where we were to hold the reception. Therefore it was expedient that we disassemble the decorations and remove the tree until after the reception, at which time I helped to redecorate the tree. I had no compunctions at all decorating that tree. On the other hand, if I were to simply ignore God’s words in the “treasures” of the New Testament:

Gal 4:10  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Gal 4:11  I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

… and these words out of the “treasures of the Old Testament:”

Deu 12:29  When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;
Deu 12:30  Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
Deu 12:31  Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

… then I would have had compunctions about decorating that tree, or doing anything for any reason other than to glorify God and Christ.

1Co 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

There are many Christians today who observe days, months, times and years just to avoid being ostracized by society. They tell themselves, and they will tell you, “I keep Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, birthday’s etc. etc. but I’m not doing that to God. I do that simply because I love everyone, and I take those days as an opportunity to express that love. I am not using those pagan rituals to try to please God. Lighten up, Mike, try to enjoy life a little, and partake of my meat, and give up those herbs you are eating there in Deuteronomy.”
Such people do not even know what is the love of their brothers. Here is the only Biblical way to “love your brothers” in Christ:

1Jn 5:2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

They seldom even attempt to deal with Gal 4:10:

Gal 4:10  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Gal 4:11  I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

The letter you reference in Act 15, which “seemed good to the holy spirit and to us,” mentions the fact that “these necessary things” were all that were necessary, because “Moses is read every sabbath.” As mentioned above, James and the multitudes who believed in Jerusalem were still observing the weekly seventh day sabbath, simply because they did not yet understand that Christ is our sabbath, and He walked through the fields on the sabbath day, and ate the corn on the sabbath contrary to the law which commanded Israel to prepare twice as much on Friday, and not to gather manna or sticks or do any labor on the sabbath day.  As I noted above, James and the multitude of Christians at Jerusalem were so unable to receive the things of the spirit at that time that they were still offering animal sacrifices, and the apostle Paul was not permitted by the spirit to do so even though He, just like Peter who Paul himself had reproved for separating himself from the Gentiles in Antioch, was just about to act as if the death of Christ was not a sufficient sacrifice and needed the help of the blood of an animal.
“These necessary things” were part of “our schoolmaster” the law, and it is indeed “necessary… to bring us to Christ.”

Gal 3:23  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Gal 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Gal 3:25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

In its time and place it is beautiful and it is necessary. That is the lesson of Ecc 3:

Ecc 3:1  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Ecc 3:2  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [ that which is] planted;
Ecc 3:3  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Ecc 3:4  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecc 3:5  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
Ecc 3:6  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
Ecc 3:7  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Ecc 3:8  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecc 3:9  What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
Ecc 3:10  I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
Ecc 3:11  He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

But why was the meat of the sacrifice allowed to be eaten while the blood was to be “poured out as water?”
The answer is that in the New Testament both Christ’s body and His blood typify the life- giving words of Christ, while in the Old Testament type a very important distinction is made:

Deu 12:23  Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.
Deu 12:24  Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water

Why was Israel told not to eat the flesh with the life, the soul, while Christ’s disciples were told to eat both the flesh and blood of Christ? Here is why:

Joh 1:17  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Joh 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Christ alone has “the words of life.” There was no life promised anywhere in the law of Moses. Therefore they were told: “thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.” It is drinking Christ’s blood that quenches our thirst.
I hope this all helps you to see that the life of Christ, and the lives of the apostles, were “the time of reformation,” and “these necessary things” were quoted right out of the law of Moses and were necessary for the exact same reason that Moses had Israel to write a letter of divorcement to put away a wife:

Mar 10:5  And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

The same was true for the letter in Act 15. The holy spirit knew that the Jews at Jerusalem were still “hard of heart,” and not yet able to bear the many things Christ yet had to tell them.

Joh 16:12  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Those words are true to this very day for most Christians. They certainly applied to me for most of my adult life.
Your brother in Christ,
Mike

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