Popular in Christianity
Perhaps the most widespread controversies about the teachings of Jesus concern His attitude toward the laws of God recorded in the Old Testament. The approach of most churches and denominations regarding Jesus is that He brought a new teaching differing considerably from the instructions of the Old Testament. The common view is that the teachings of Christ in the New Testament annulled and replaced the teachings of the Old Testament. But do they? The idea that Jesus departed from the Old Testament is also a common assumption within Judaism. Rabbis explains why Jews as a whole do not follow Jesus and reject any possibility that He could be the Messiah. “Jews believe in the Torah of Moses,” he explains, “… and that belief requires faithful Jews to enter a dissent at the teachings of Jesus, on the grounds that those teachings at important points contradict the Torah”. Here is a serious mistake both Christianity and Judaism make about the teachings of Jesus. Both hold the erroneous view that Jesus departed from the teachings of the Old Testament, especially with regard to law. As we will see, the record shows that while Jesus disagreed with the religious leaders, He didn’t disagree with Old Testament Scriptures.
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6, NIV). The death of Jesus Christ is the most famous in history. The state-sanctioned murder that took place almost 2,000 years ago is still in today’s news. No other crime against the innocent has remained so widespread in the consciousness of humanity for so long. This one lives on as a story that is told again and again. The injustice of the arrest, trial and death of Jesus Christ is profound in that no person was ever so innocent, so sinless, so blameless, so undeserving of such punishment. Peter testifies that He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). He was the most virtuous man who ever lived. Jesus challenged His enemies, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46). The centurion, the officer in charge of His execution, was convinced that He had executed a righteous man (Luke 23:47). One of the thieves crucified with Him understood that Jesus had done nothing wrong and didn’t deserve to die (Luke 23:41).
We’ve seen the facts, now we need to understand the implications behind them. We need to comprehend the significance of Christ’s crucifixion. If Jesus is exactly who He said He was, then everything He said is truth. Our entire future depends on whether we believe that. And whether we are going to believe what He taught, whether we are going to obey Him and follow in His steps in every respect, will depend on whether we are convicted on this issue. The real story of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and future return is too momentous for us to dismiss. Of course, it was planned this way so that we would sit up and take notice! No matter how long after the event, it was meant to have an impact on every one of us.
Misunderstanding Jesus’ expectations of His followers is one of the biggest tragedies of all. Mistakenly assuming that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so we can now do whatever we want, many have a mental picture of Jesus as a quiet, docile, loving Being handing out eternal life to anyone who will simply acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. Many believe there are many roads to God and a joyful afterlife. The Bible reveals that we each have a date with destiny when we will face Jesus and give account of our actions. Surprisingly, the way Jesus will appear when He returns and the criteria He will use in determining who will be in His Kingdom are quite different from what most people have been led to believe. Similar to the confusion surrounding Jesus’ first coming, misunderstanding is rampant regarding His return. What is the truth—the real story—about His return? Why will Christ come a second time? Jesus is pictured in the book of Revelation as the resurrected Savior, the Messiah who is preparing to return to earth a second time. “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore”(Revelation 1:18).
Many people are surprised to learn that God, in His Word, reveals seven annual festivals (Leviticus 23). These special times of the year have been set aside by the Creator God as “holy convocations” (verses 2-4), sacred meetings or gatherings at which God’s people are to assemble together. Like the weekly Sabbath, God set apart these festivals as sacred to Him. God shows us in His Word that these holy festivals are times dedicated for group worship and abstention from normal work. They serve to enlighten God’s people regarding His marvelous plan of salvation for all mankind.
Yes, in the sense that everyone who honors God by obeying His instructions does so on a voluntary basis. God never forces anyone to act against his or her will. At the same time, however, He expects us to tithe and equates failure to tithe with robbing Him, explaining that not tithing will bring a curse (Malachi 3:8). So tithing is not voluntary in the sense of something that is optional. Nor does God allow us to arbitrarily decide the minimum amount we should give Him. Through His tithing system He reveals the minimum amount we should return to Him from all He gives us.
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