Posts Tagged ‘Covenant’

One Law theology – a review

August 16, 2010

As I have been involved in the Messianic Movement for several years mostly by reading blogs and chatting online, I’m now a bit familiar with the thoughts and the developments within the movement of the last decades and last years. For me as a Dutch person raised in  a tradition of reformed theology, the appearing Messianic community looks a bit confusing especially in the Netherlands. The only reliable represents for me were Da Costa and Capadose. Recent persons doesn’t make that sense. But now with a more international approach my view is much broader.

I think the recent Jew/Gentile matter is caused by the re-owning of the land of Israel as a fulfillment of the biblical prophecy and the reconsidering of the Jews as a covenant people. The consequence is: There are Jews in God’s plan and they differ from the (supposed) common true Christian Church/Ecclesia.

Afterwards interesting matters arise about the Law. Supported by new and good scholarly views on the historical Jesus and Paul in its proper context, new challenges arise to match the Torah of the Jews with the Law of the Christians.

One part amongst the the Messianics is the One Law theology movement. It shortly means one law for Jew and Gentile.

On the other hand there’s a dispensation theology just between Jew and Gentile which means the Torah applies to the Jew only, but the gentile Christians has an invitation to it, not an obligation. I can’t agree with the Torah for the Jews only. I think the Torah is for each and everyone. I firmly believe there’s one law for all. However there’s a difficulty to understand the Torah. How do we handle and interpret the Torah, that’s the question.

The Torah is a revelation and guidance from God. It’s a relationship between God and men. Another revelation is the Messiah Jeshua. It all depends on how we see this. Is this the Divine Logos? The last word, the perfect Torah? This second revelation completes it all with the claim that he is the Messiah.

It’s all about that claim: His Messiah-ship. Only that has authority to change things. That’s why Jews can’t see him as a mere prophet according to Deuteronomy 13, because he changed the practice of Torah. That’s why the elders and the scribes persecuted him because he said that the temple will be destroyed and the moral laws will be changed. (e.g. Acts6:14) They didn’t accept his Messiah-ship.

So, when you don’t accept his Messiah-ship you are obligated to fulfill the whole Torah as it is written. On the other hand when you accept his Messiah-ship you can walk in Messianic times. A halacha in the Messianic era. In that Messianic era the temple is build up with the Messiah in heaven. So a lot of Torah rules depending on the existence of the temple are changed. At least changed in practice. Now we don’t have to slaughter thousands of bulls and lambs anymore in order to forgive sins.

These Messianic times are yet began since Jesus’ crucifixion. But I also could call it pre-Messianic times meant for gentiles. For the common conversion of the Jews we are still waiting. After, or with that conversion the so longed kingdom of the Messiah would appear on earth. And who will enter that kingdom, that land? “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (ps.37:11) The people who received the Torah and the promise didn’t enter the land. God provided something better for them. (Hebr.11:40)

Most important is to get saved in the Messiah. Then you enter the covenant and the real Torah which all is summarized in one word: Love. It’s deeply expressed in following question and answer of our catechism (of Heidelberg): “What is thy only comfort in life and death? That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” (more)

They will get the promise and enter the land. When the Messiah comes. At that time we will see.


John and Yeshua the baptists

January 19, 2010

Last weeks my attention was at the baptism issue several times. I realized more and more that there’s being a twofold dimension in baptism. In short, John and Yeshua are to be distinguished, I think. John was doing the baptism with water which was merely a sign, or manifestation of a decision of the inner heart. What John was doing was the human part. As he said himself: [I do it with water but] He shall baptize you with the holy Ghost and with fire. (Mat.3:11) That gives clearly a second baptism, those of Yeshua.

The first baptism was not something new in the second temple period. It was a common practice to baptize. But with the baptism of Yeshua we see something very special, something very new. A miracle happened. The son of G-d was baptized with the baptism of Righteousness. (Mat.3:15) He was coming to be the Servant of G-d who bears his people through the baptism of dead. (Col.2:10-11) The Righteous One enabled with the Holy Spirit to wash all the sins away from his people. Then, with the baptism of His Spirit a newborn one is there, under the new covenant, manifesting itself in the inner heart and coming out with a new will and good deeds etc. This certainly is not due to a personal act of baptism, but divine. It differs from the first, the personal baptism of John. However, I would not say that it is not related to each other.

I think they belong to each other; baptism has two parts in it. What we see and what we can’t see.

I would like to say something more on the covenantal view here.

The great emphasize on the covenant which is given by the Reformed tradition (following the Roman Catholics) diminished inevitably the personal character of baptism. And with the covenant a promise is introduced with respect to infant baptism. This covenant and promise theology inevitably resulted in a twofold dimension of the covenant: the outward in inward covenant (as is said) which correlates with the circumcision of the flesh and the heart.

Why does the Reformed tradition give such a great emphasize to the covenant issue with respect to baptism? I think the theology of Paul gives the building blocks for it. His bold statement in Col.2:10-13 (having been buried with him in baptism) put the whole issue of baptism into the Paschal redemption which is the covenant relationship.

It’s a difficult topic but interesting, because Yeshua said: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark16:16)

How do you practice baptism?

January 5, 2010

Recently I spoke to a good (messianic) friend of mine about water baptism. 
He said baptism was a common ritual to purify yourself to be able to be holy and e.g. to enter the holy temple at Pesach or other feasts. In its original Jewish meaning it is quite different as in the Christian tradition. I would like to write down some of my thoughts about baptism. 

First I will distinguish two parts of the view on baptism.

1. the personal repentance view
2. the covenant view

Most interesting for me is to find out what the original meaning of baptism is. It was not a covenant matter, although it was not wholly apart from it. The covenant sign was definitely the circumcision. Also a bar mitzvah and other things like that belonged to entering or a renewal of the covenant. But baptism is a personal expression of purifying the body and soul for G-d in a most honestly repentance before G-d’s face. Baptism in the Jewish way is a private act. Three witnesses are there to watch. John 1:35-36 shows two disciples, besides John the Baptist, which makes three. Such a personal act is hardly comparable with the common church tradition. John was applying the baptism of water for faithful people to let them do a personal repentance. Then they were able to enter the covenant and the Messianic age, what was expected.

But there was more to say about that. It was a sign of the great Baptizer who was to come and would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. (Mat.3:11) To enable his people to enter the renewed temple. So there is a twofold dimension in it. A personal repentance and baptism which is showed to the public, and a personal baptism of fire which is mysterious for the public. So we can take a personal baptism or mikveh everytime we want or we think we need it, but a baptism of fire from Yeshua is once and forever. And hence, I think, the covenantal aspect comes in picture.

Along with the church tradition of (infant) water baptism, the covenant view came more and more in picture. This was given so much emphasis that infants were being baptized and hence baptism was merely a covenant matter. Presbyterian and Reformed Christians developed the Covenant Theology to base their case for infant baptism. This has put the church in such a difficult position, that, I can tell you, even only in the Netherlands it resulted in tens of divisions from the 19e century until now. And the end isn’t yet there. A men made church would be left because of it. Because men will let the true church appear, rather than G-d will do that. It’s true, we couldn’t keep the covenant. Even as the old people of Israel couldn’t do that. We always will fail. How sad! It’s true, only grace, grace from the G-d of the covenant of Israel will renew the covenant, the faith and the true love. When He is going to establish, then a new thing will be created which will glorify HaSjem and his Messiah Yeshua. That was done by John the baptist and it will be done in our days. A new covenant will be made personal. But that’s another thing then water baptism. It’s difficult for me to connect the covenant to water baptism.

My own Reformed Christian heritage gives me along the personal also the covenant view. Without that it wouldn’t be so difficult. Maybe you would say just let your covenant view go, it’s just church tradition and never taught by Yeshua or the disciples. Yes, that could be true. But it isn’t as easy as it seems. Because the covenant view has biblical support as well. Baptism fits perfectly in the model of Pesach. I showed that in my other post: we are baptized into Christ’s dead. In the New Testament however, there is no mention about the covenant but related to eucharist or the festival of commemorating Pesach. There Yeshua said “This is my blood of the New Testament (new covenant) which I shed for many”. So the connection of Pesach with Baptism will make the covenant view. But to say that every newborn child is automatically into the covenant, isn’t that too much said?

In the Reformed churches often is spoken of an inward part of the covenant and an outward part. The outward part means that you are baptized but not reborn. When an inward covenant belongs to you, you are saved. That distinction is seen both in baptism and eucharism.