“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 27, NO. 7&8 – THE COUNCIL AT ANTIOCH
In a recently discovered document found in an ancient Greek church, there is a record of a council meeting among early church leaders concerning wrinkles in doctrine.
It appears to have taken place after the death of Paul and most, if not all, of the original twelve apostles. The date may have been near the end of the first century. The issue is the authentic message of Christianity. In a word: What was the gospel?
The first issue (at least in what was left of the original document) appears to be the introduction of Luke and Acts. A man named Festus is recorded as saying: “Does anyone know anything about this fellow named, “Luke”? He also recorded the writings called The Acts of The Apostles. Reading it makes one think he was influenced by both Peter and Paul. The problem is, he never once, in either writing, has Jesus or any preacher say Jesus died for our sins.”
Someone named Justus asked, “What about the place where Luke recorded the last supper? It says Jesus said about the Passover bread, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ And again with the cup; ‘This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ What do you do with that?”
“Jesus said the bread was his body, given for them. If he meant for their sins, why not say so? And the cup was to bind a new covenant. Nothing was said about his blood and sin. The covenant was like any other covenant ratified with a blood offering.
“When God made covenant with Abraham, the blood sacrifice had nothing to do with Abraham’s sin or lack there of. It was God’s promise to bless him and his decedents. Even the offering of Isaac was not about sin.
“The Passover lamb was not a sacrifice for Israel’s sins. It was the final sign of deliverance from Egypt.
“Even the blood sprinkled on the people by Moses to ratify the covenant at Sinai had nothing to do with their sin. It was about their promise to keep the law of God. So why are we to believe Jesus was talking about sin, but didn’t say it? ”
Justus interjected, “What about Matthew? He says Jesus said it was for the forgiveness of sins.”
“That’s right. But what about those who haven’t read Matthew? How many people died without connecting Jesus death to their sins? So, what about the Acts of the Apostles?”
“It covers about thirty years, and not once does it mention Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sin. Twice he says that through Jesus forgiveness of sins comes, but nothing about through his blood.
“Even when Paul was in Athens, his sermon on Mars Hill said nothing about Jesus death and sin. He said Jesus was the one God had sent as judge of the world, and the proof of that was that God raised him from the dead.”
A third fellow named Petros asked, “What about Peter’s sermon to that Gentile named Cornelius? He never mentions death on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. He tells Cornelius that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and appointed him to judge the living and the dead. He never says his death on the cross was a sacrifice for sin, even though he does say belief in Jesus brings forgiveness of sin, but does not say it was because of Jesus being a sacrifice.
“Then there’s the issue of God honoring Cornelius’ prayers and gifts to the poor. Does God honor anyone’s righteous prayers and gifts to the poor, or just Cornelius? If it’s just Cornelius, doesn’t that make God a respecter of persons, as Peter said he realized God was not, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right? And when he talks about the forgiveness of sins, he says the prophets said it would be through his name, not his blood.”
“What about the letters of Paul?’ , said Justus. “He mentions that Jesus’ death was a ransom from death. He also says salvation comes through Jesus. In some letters he does speak of the sacrificial blood of Jesus. And most of the churches that are growing are those beyond the boarders of Judaism. Even we are Gentile converts. So it might be safely said that Paul’s teaching is accepted as authoritative for the church.”
“True, “said Petros. “I’m not worried about the teaching of atonement. My concern is being sure when we can get all these writings together, that the atoning act of Jesus does not become the definition of all Jesus was and did.
“The writings of Mark, Luke, Matthew and John tell the story of Jesus, and none of them center the story on Jesus’ as a sacrifice for sin.
“As I see it, They saw his death as the way God would fulfill the promise of the kingdom of God on earth, just as all the prophets had predicted. Of course, the prophets, and just about everyone else who spoke from the Spirit of God, said the Messiah would redeem Israel. They envisioned a society where the Messiah would bring about Justice and the end of oppression for the poor and all people. Even Jesus, in his first sermon, said he was the one Isaiah was talking about when he wrote, ‘The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind and to release the oppressed.’ That was his purpose for coming.”
“But it didn’t happen”, said Festus.
“Yes it did,” said Petros. “He gave his life to bring about the kingdom of God, here on earth, as it is in Heaven. And if we look at the church we can see how it is to be done. It is a community where no one goes hungry or without clothing, and all are seen as equals. That’s the good news. And as I see it, we have to be sure, as the years pass, that Christians not forget Jesus’ purpose and end up throwing him out with the baptismal water.”
CONCERNS: Bill Albert’s son, David, is near death due to kidney and liver failure. He lives in New Jersey. Bill is dealing with a detached retina. Remember those who have lost loved ones recently. T. J. Hall is dealing with some heart issues. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas has leukemia. Teryn Gaynor’s sister’s tests came out well. Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Kim Hall’s friend, Mary has MS. Remember also Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, Rich Crites, Jim Hunter’s toe is getting much better. Deana McRoy, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs. Mataro, and Todd Baumgardner.
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 16-21
Monday: Acts 17:16-34
Tuesday: Colossians 3:1-17
Wednesday: John 11:17-44
Thursday: Romans 4:1-8;5:1-11
Friday: I Thess. 5:12-28
Saturday: Psalm 118:1-29
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 23-28
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 23
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17
IT’S IN THE WORKS
Erma has the list and she’s checking it twice. She will be asking small groups of us to meet with her to verify the directory information you placed on the cards. Things like addresses, phone numbers and email can change in a matter of days. So we want to be sure we have the very latest information as we start the directory.
You will soon be asked to have your picture taken. The outdoors has been used, but due to the weather an alternate place is being sought. Have any ideas? See Erma.
This Sunday, Feb. 15, is Super Sunday. At this moment, it looks to be the coldest Sunday of the year. So you can be sure a nice roaring fire will be built in the fireplace, as well as good warm food on the table. Plan to stay and enjoy a warm place with warmhearted folks.
For a number of years we have been talking about having someone justify and verify our accounting system. Susan Jordan has been doing that, and has agreed to continue to do so. Thanks Susan.
WORK TO START SOON
As soon as we can be worked into the schedule, our heating and cooling and maintenance folks will start the improvement of the air flow in the large basement classroom. As it is, the noise from the air flow vent makes it very hard to hear during a class. It will be enclosed and vented into the hallway. This will not only stop the noise, but do a much better job circulating the air.
THE COMMUNITY BIBLE STUDY
It is nice to see an increased number of folks attending Sunday School and getting involved in reading the New Testament as if it were written like a book. The discussions have been both interesting and beneficial.
Remember, 9:15 is a coffee/tea time. The class will start at 9:30.
If you enjoy inspirational movies, you might enjoy “McFarland USA”. It’s the true story of coach Jim White. Jim and his family are members of the Church of Christ.