Often times, when speaking to someone who doesn’t follow Torah, they get confused as to why some of us would want to keep it. “The Law is bondage,” they say. “Jesus died to fulfill it, which means we don’t have to do it anymore,” is a very common response. Then they quote Paul who, let’s face it, wrote some very difficult and confusing writings. Usually it’s a quote from Romans or Galatians, saying we’re “under grace and not law.” But what is perhaps the most common response of all is, “Christ nailed the law to His cross, so it isn’t in effect anymore.” But how do they arrive at this conclusion?
Israel. The one word that sums it all up. It’s kind of a buzzword, like 'Salvation' or 'Heaven.' I will state now that this writing does not address the “Two Houses” or the “One House” or even British Israelism. The purpose of this article is to hopefully establish a foundation as to who “Israel” was and is.
It seems simple. It seems self-explanatory. But why then is there a large amount of disagreement among denominations and sects and factions? The simplistic, non-theological answer would be, “Church is a building that Christians meet together in.” For all intents and purposes, that is correct. Yet the term “church” as it appears in most of our Bibles is so much more than that. The common Christian response is “Church is the people, not the building.” To be sure, there is a great deal of study that needs to be put into this matter. But where to begin? In this writing, I hope to shed some light or, at the very least, provoke you (the reader) to study this on your own.
Acts chapter 15 is debated in many circles today. Protestant Christianity points to it as proof of the authority of the 12 Apostles to “change the rules.” Messianic Judaism (note: ‘Messianic Judaism’ is separate from the ‘Messianic’ belief for the purpose of this writing) uses Acts 15 as its “gentile flagship.” That is, that the four laws given to “gentiles” (lit. ‘nations’) in verse 20 (and repeated in verse 29) are the only ones required of the converts. These four laws are: to refrain from the “pollution” of idols (this is commonly viewed as being food sacrificed to idols), to refrain from eating anything strangled, to refrain from eating blood, and to refrain from whoring (sexual immorality).
Let’s explore these four laws a little further. Then we’ll consider the logic behind the decision of these four laws. Lastly, we’ll examine, in FULL context, the entire encounter of Acts 15.