Are YOU a Follower of the Master? chag Pesach sameach

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    Bruce reminded me that Passover begins at sundown of 22 of April 2016 where ever a follower of the Master happens to be living and continues until the 30 of April.  Are YOU a follower of the Master?

    John 17:18-24 New International Version (NIV) “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

    Jesus Prays for All Believers – “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

    Jesus considered himself to be a Jew.  He never intended to start a new religion any more than Martin Luther did.  Martin’s followers were called Lutheran to make fun of them.  Jesus the Christ’s followers came to be called Christians for that same reason.  But read again what Jesus wanted YOU to be.

    I am currently reading a book by James D. Tabor called “Paul and Jesus”.  I have not finished reading it yet but the following from the Introduction caught my eye, since I have just read a book by Robin R. Meyers called “Saving Jesus From The Church – How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus”

    The following are several paragraphs I am quoting but without quotes so that they do not interfere with the original punctuation of the book. As an English Major, I was taught to read the Introduction, especially the first part to find out what the author hopes to prove. Use of the [around information] is my own explanation and was not found in the book. Also, I put the first four words in Bold for emphasis. I am indicating places where parts of sentences or whole sentences are omitted using the standard three or four periods:

    Paul never met Jesus. This book is an exploration of the startling implications of those four words….Jesus of Nazareth was crucified during the reign of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor or prefect of Judea, in April, A.D. 30. As best we can determine it was not until seven years after Jesus’ death, around A.D. 37, that [Saul who came to be known as] Paul reported his initial apparition of “Christ,” whom he identified with Jesus raised from the dead. When challenged for his credentials he asks his followers: “Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” equating his visionary experience with that of those who had known Jesus face-to-face (1 Corinthians 9:1)….These “revelations” were not a one-time experience of “conversion,” but a phenomenon that continued over the course of Paul’s life, involving verbal exchanges with Jesus as well as extraordinary revelations of a nature Paul was convinced no other human in history had received. Paul confesses that he does not comprehend the nature of these ecstatic spiritual experiences, whether they were “in the body, or out of the body,” but he believed that the voice he heard, the figure he saw, and the messages he received, were encounters with the heavenly Christ (2 Corinthians 12:2-3).

    It was a full decade [10 years] after Jesus’ death that Paul first met Peter in Jerusalem (he calls Peter Cephas, his Aramaic name) and had a brief audience with James the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jesus movement (Galatians 1:18-23. Paul subsequently operated independently of the original apostles, preaching and teaching what he calls his “Gospel,” in Asia Minor fro another ten years before making a return trip to Jerusalem around A.D. 50. It was only then. twenty years after Jesus’ death, that he encountered James and Peter again in Jerusalem and met for the first time the rest of the original apostles of Jesus (Galatians 2:1-9). This rather extraordinary chronological gap is a surprise to many. It is one of the key factors in understanding Paul and his message. [Bold mine]

    What this chronology means is that we must imagine a “Christianity Before Paul,” which existed independently of his influence or ideas for over twenty years, as well as a Christianity preached and developed by Paul, which developed independently of Jesus’ original apostles and followers and with minimal contact with anyone who had known Jesus.

    ….The differences between these two “Christianities” are considerable and we shall explore both in the some detail. in the following chapters…..

    The obvious place to begin is with Paul himself. His early letters are the first Christian documents of any kind in existence, written in the decade of the 50’s A.D., and they are firsthand accounts. They are our best witnesses to the true state of affairs between Paul and the original apostles chosen by Jesus. For Paul this separation and independence, both from the “earthly” Jesus, as he calls him, and the apostles, was a point of pride and authenticity. He boasts that he has not derived the message he preaches “from men or through men”, referring to James and the original apostles Jesus had directly chosen and instructed. Paul claimed that his access to Jesus has come through a revelation of the heavenly Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)….He refers to the three leaders of the Jerusalem church, James, Peter, and John, sarcastically as the “so-called pillars of the church” and “those of repute,” but adds “what they are means nothing to me” (Galatians 2:6,9).

    ….It is generally agreed that Jesus, who lived and died as a Jew, as well as his earliest followers, nearly all of whom were Jewish, continued to consider themselves as Jews, even with their conviction that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

    What about Paul? Did he merely adapt his Jewish faith to his new faith in Christ or did he leave Judaism behind for what he saw as an entirely new revelation, given to him alone, that made the Torah of Moses obsolete?

    ….Paul, in preaching to Gentiles, would have to tailor his message to fit the non-Jewish culture.

    I go much further. Not only do I believe Paul should be seen as the “founder” of the Christianity that we know today, rather then Jesus and his original apostles, but I argue he [Paul] made a decisive bitter break with those first apostles, promoting and preaching views they found to be utterly reprehensible. And conversely, I think the evidence sows that James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church, as well as Peter and the other apostles, held to a Jewish version of the Christian faith that faded away and was forgotten due to the total triumph of Paul’s version of Christianity. Paul’s own letters contain bitterly sarcastic language directed even against the Jerusalem apostles. He puts forth a starkly different under-standing of the message of Jesus — including a complete break from Judaism.

    How did this … come to prevail? The answer seems as clear as it is surprising. Paul’s triumph is almost wholly a literary victory, reinforced by an emerging theological orthodoxy hacked by Roman political power after the time of the emperor Constantine (A.D. 306-37). This consolidation was not achieved in Paul’s lifetime but it emerged by the dominance of pro-Pauline writings within the New Testament canon that became the standard of Christian orthodoxy.

    These few paragraphs taken from all those found on pages 1-7 of the 21 making up the Introduction are what fascinated me to see if this book will tell me where or why certain passages often quoted as being against the homosexual segment came to be included when they definitely do not reflect what I see as God’s teaching as found in Isaiah 56:3-5 or Matthew 19:11-12.  In both of these passages the old word used to mean homosexual is indicated to be someone special to God.

    I acknowledge that modern dictionaries have changed the meaning of eunuch to only mean a castrated male rather than a male with no interest in the opposite gender like Jesus said (men not interested in marriage to a female for the right to have Torah authorized sex with her).

    I plan to post a reply after I have finished reading the book.  In the meantime, we can discuss these books at HOT TOPICS any time anyone would like to do so.

    May you have a Blessed Passover. The most usual greeting (by English speakers) would be “good yontif.” The word yontif is the Yiddish variation of the original Hebrew yom tov, meaning literally good day, but meaning holiday. OR In yiddish it is zeesa pesach which translates to have a sweet passover.  Others say “chag Pesach sameach” which is Hebrew and means “happy Passover.”

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