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As the Lord with the Father on top of the mountain that morning watched the Son return to the tomb to tell Mary to tell the brothers to go to Galilee … what do you think the Lord was thinking and feeling?

And as He watched again as Jesus set out for Jerusalem later in the early afternoon… sure a three days journey for mere mortals, but now Jesus is glorified… His body can pass through walls, much less translate from Galilee to intercept the two disciples on the road to Emmaus… what do you think the Lord was thinking and feeling?  What thoughts and feelings were arising in the Father that the Holy Spirit was also thinking and feeling, in particular the Holy Spirit?  He who has always been portrayed as a gentle Dove just as Jesus has always been portrayed as a gentle Shepherd holding a lamb when one of the first public appearances of Jesus was far from the gentle Shepherd, but as an angry Man armed with a whip made out of cords scattering the coins of the moneychangers and overturning their tables as well as driving out those who were selling cattle and sheep in the temple.  And these were the first words recorded of Jesus speaking in the temple, “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn My Father’s house into a market!”

In fact, this may well be the first time the Sanhedrin had ever tasted of Jesus… little wonder they held Him in such disdain even when He was doing miracles as He preached.  Jesus’ first words at His Father’s house, the temple, were not exactly what a Jew would expect a messiah to say.  However, we know this was not His first visit to the temple.  When He was 12 years old, He was there for three days in the temple courts.  He would have seen and heard the buying and selling and the money changing then… but wisely He abided His time and chose instead to sit among the teachers listening to them and asking them questions.  So by the age of 12, Jesus already saw for Himself the state of His Father’s house and the quality of the teachers.  And so He waited for His time to come when it would be His time to drive out the moneychangers and the sellers of God’s sacrifices out of His Father’s house.  Think, elect, and consider what you would have thought of Jesus if His anger in the temple was your first encounter with Him.  Eighteen or so years He waited, almost two decades, having seen the abuse before He spoke out in anger.

Now consider the Lord who watched the Lord and the Father amend Their plans and watched and listened as Peter could only phileo Jesus.  Watched and listened as they came to the mountain and yet some still doubted.  Watched as Peter and John went up to the temple to pray like a pair of devoted Jews who were not cut off from God by the law.  Listened and watched as James the Younger stood up with his recommendations and the council of Jerusalem agreed and approved of them, even daring to put them on paper.  It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:  You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.  You will do well to avoid these things.  It seemed good to the Holy Spirit to have gentiles practise these things that went contrary to what Jesus taught!  Really?  And just these four things are the gentiles to practise?  Really?  What about listening to Jesus?  What about obeying the words of Jesus and His commands?  What about drinking the blood of Jesus and eating His flesh, which caused so many early Jewish disciples to desert Jesus in John 6.66?  Watch and listen the face of your Lord and see His eyes change to blazing fire like two hot coals and hear the beat of His heart as the anger of the Lord began to arise.

The first time the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, He incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah,” so that after the fighting men were counted, God gave three choices of punishment so that by the plague chosen, 70,000 people perished.

However, there was no anger displayed by the Holy Spirit that day as the council erroneously approved James the Younger’s judgment and brought the gentiles under the curse of partial observance of the law and from there gave foundation to the teachings and practices of the disciples of James and Nicolas, which included the erroneous teaching of requiring circumcision of the flesh for salvation.  Why then was there no outbreak of plague that day amongst those gathered in the council?  Why was the angel not released that day?  Elijah was treated to a much more ferocious display of the Lord’s fury and anger at Horeb, the mountain of God, when he fled there because of Jezebel.  As Elijah stood outside on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, waiting for the Lord to pass by, He saw …a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord…  After the wind there was an earthquake…  After the earthquake came a fire… and after the Lord relented His anger …came a gentle whisper… 

It is not for nothing that the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord, as the Lord Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  But I will show you whom you should fear:  Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell.”  And in the next few verses, He warned, “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

The Lord’s anger did not arise and manifest that day in Acts 15 because His elect, Paul and Barnabas, said nothing and did not stand up to James the Younger’s judgment.  Paul, the Pharisee of Pharisees, that day failed to warn the council of the error, that adopting James’ judgment meant placing all the gentiles under the curse of the law, not its blessings, for as it is agreed… “Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.”  By eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking His blood, the gentiles are already cut off by the law and to go back to the law is to be cursed by the law only.  There is no blessing in the law for those who have practised the teachings of Jesus.  But Luke did not record for us that Paul and Barnabas spoke up when they heard James’ judgment.  In fact, they couriered the letter to Antioch.  Reading Acts 15, one gets the idea that the whole gathering was in agreement, in one accord, to the recommendations of James.

If His own elect, Paul and Barnabas, whom He had told the Antioch church, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them,” to represent Him, did not speak up against James’ judgment and went along with them, the Holy Spirit would not break forth, not yet.  But from Acts 15 onwards, Luke could no longer record for us miracles in the Jerusalem church.  In fact, from Acts 15 onwards, there was no longer accompanying reports of miracles with the work of the apostles.  It is as if the Holy Spirit withdrew His power, except for the ministry of Paul.

Paul, who in his letter to the Galatians would oppose the disciples of James finally, whilst Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy, would be the last apostle to have manifested any power in Acts 28.

So, elect, learn the lesson now.

The silence of Barnabas and Saul in Acts 15 to James’ judgment meant that the Holy Spirit Himself would say nothing as they used His Name in error.  They did not speak against the Holy Spirit, but rather, spoke on behalf of the Holy Spirit in error.  For the Lord did not send the Holy Spirit to help us observe and obey the law of Moses, but to remind and teach the words of Jesus and His commands.  So, silence… and the Holy Spirit withdrew the giving out of the power to the subsequent generations of disciples… although He continued to work with those who preach the Gospel of the Lord with signs accompanying.  However, those opportunities became less and less as the church drifted further into the teachings and practices of the Nicolaitans, Balaamites and Jezebelians, and the Gospel was no longer preached, but rather, the threat, “Convert or die,” became the ‘gospel’ of the church.  With some individuals who held to the preaching of the Gospel, He would continue to work with them with signs and wonders, but the instances would become so rare that such individuals would be revered as living saints or tortured and executed as heretics and practitioners of witchcraft, and so the martyring would continue.  Have no doubt, dear reader, that 500 years ago these pages would have earned the writer a place before an inquisitor.

When His elect are silent and do not stand up to testify for Jesus, the Holy Spirit remains silent and His anger does not break out.  Had Paul or Barnabas stood up to James that day, the Holy Spirit may well have broken out in anger and the case would have been settled so that the gentiles would have been kept from the error of returning to partial observance of the Mosaic law.  And perhaps, just perhaps, through Paul and Barnabas, the Holy Spirit may have been able to turn the whole church back to where it was meant to be… a light to the world, testifying for Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit, instead of becoming one of the great religions of the world.

What is amazing, and elect, learn and beware… Paul, who could write to the Corinthians:  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power,  and:  But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have  …remained silent at the words of James and his arrogant words at that, for James said, “It is my judgment, therefore…”  His judgment indeed… it was neither his place nor position, for James at best was a believer and certainly not an apostle, as he had no gospel of his own, and even though he grew up with Jesus, he did not believe in Him even as late as John 7.

And more amazingly, in Acts 21, decades later, having had to keep his churches free of the teachings from the disciples of James and perhaps Nicolas (see his letter to Galatia), Paul listened to the recommendations of James and the elders of the Jerusalem church and again Paul submitted the details of his ministry.

Now open your eyes and see the state of the Jerusalem church by Acts 21 as James and the elders told Paul, “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.”  A church filled with thousands who believed Jesus, but yet zealous for the law?  How can that be unless the one teaching of Jesus that drove away all but the twelve when He first taught it was no longer practised or taught?  For indeed, how can Jews who are zealous for the law fellowship with those who practise the commands of Jesus to eat His flesh and drink His blood through the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine?  If disciples who were with Jesus personally, who saw Jesus, who saw His miracles and signs and wonders, would leave Him, saying, “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?” so that… From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him …then how in Heaven’s name do you expect Jews who are zealous for the law to remain if this teaching of Jesus was taught and practiced… “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you”?

James indeed was the senior pastor of a church of thousands in Jerusalem in Acts 21 and it was a popular church drawing thousands.  Popular because the hard teachings and the offensive teachings were withheld, and things that might offend them were watered down to appease the congregation.  So they said to Paul, “They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.  What shall we do?  They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. … Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.”

Firstly, if the reports were true that Paul was teaching Jews not to circumcise their children and not to live according to Jewish customs, then Paul was wrong to do so.  For we do not teach Jews not to circumcise their children, but rather, we are to uphold the law for those who remain under the law.  That is, to a Jew who chooses not to believe in Jesus, he must continue to circumcise his children and live according to the law.  However, a Jew who has believed and is baptised is no longer a Jew, he is a new creation, a new person, and has nothing to do with the Mosaic Law, for such a person the law is obsolete.  So if the reports were true, Paul was in error.  However, it is unlikely that Paul would have ever made such a mistake, and what is more likely is that they were hearing reports of Paul teaching those who were no longer Jews to stop circumcising their children.  In other words, those were reports generated by those who objected to the conversion of Jews to the new life in Christ.  That being the case, James and the elders themselves have done Paul an injustice for believing those reports, and in believing those reports, James and the ‘elders’ demonstrated a lack of understanding of the consequence of the new life that the angel commanded Peter to preach all those years ago… “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life.”

And secondly, this ‘good’ advice meant they were telling Paul to be a deceiver… “Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.”  What nonsense!  No one who has eaten the flesh of Jesus and drunk the blood of Jesus is living in obedience to the law anymore!  In fact, they are living in disobedience to the law, for the law commands that no blood be eaten or drunk, and if it does not permit the eating of the flesh of certain animals, it will never permit the eating of the flesh of a man, even by faith.  Flesh eating among the Jews was practised when God punished them for their sins with severe famines and sieges.

But Paul listened and complied with the recommendations of James and the elders and found himself imprisoned from Acts 21 onwards, just as the Holy Spirit had warned him through Agabus… “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’   Is that what the Holy Spirit compelled Paul to go to Jerusalem to have happen to him?  (“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”)  Or was this the Spirit’s final attempt with His last elect to break the stronghold of James and the elders from the Jerusalem congregation with a clear demonstration of power and not an argument of doctrines and practices?  What happened to Barnabas and Paul are history lessons for you, elect, of what not to do.

In the words of Pastor Alwyn Grundy, “If you remember nothing, remember this:  Do nothing except what the Holy Spirit tells you.  In this way you will save yourself from a life of spiritual junkyards.”

Paul did not accomplish that which he was sent to Jerusalem for and so a few decades later, the church was scattered as the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70AD.  Unfortunately, its seeds had scattered and so when Jesus wrote to the seven churches, the Nicolaitans, Balaamites and Jezebelians were well established in the churches of Asia Minor.

Now after two millenniums, not two decades as it was with Jesus… two millenniums of watching what has been said and done in Jesus’ church by the Nicolaitans, Balaamites, Jezebelians, Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians… what do you really think the Holy Spirit is about to do now that He has once more His elect whom He has set aside for the work He has for them?

The Holy Spirit about whom the Lord Jesus said, “…He will testify about Me,” will testify once more as He did when He raised the body of Christ by His power.  So once more will He raise up the body of Christ, the church, with power as He once said, “Therefore wait for Me, for the day I will stand up to testify.  I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out My wrath on them— all My fierce anger.  The whole world will be consumed by the fire of My jealous anger.”

Elect, have you seen yet?  Have you heard yet?  The fire of the jealous anger of the Lord for the Father and the Son?  Fear Him, for He is to be feared.

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