Judgments

by: Ronald L. Dart


There were a number of times when Israel was on the road going on their way to the promised land, and they were meeting challenges here and there, when they had to take a difficult question to God and a judgment was handed down.

Now I think you probably know that there are various and sundry categories of laws mentioned in the Old Testament. There are laws, commandments, statutes and there are judgments. It is this last, judgments, that is the cause for the basis of a lot of misunderstandings about Old Testament law.

A Man Gathering Sticks On The Sabbath Day

Take Numbers 15 as a case in point. This has often been cited. Numbers the fifteenth chapter and I'll start in verse 32, "While the children of Israel were in the wilderness they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath Day. {33} They that found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all of the congregation. {34} They put him in ward (the local brig) until it was shown as to what they should do. {35} And the LORD said to Moses, "This man shall surely be put to death. All of the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp. {36} So they all took him outside the camp and they all stoned him with stones so that he died, just like God commanded Moses."

Now more than one silly atheist in trying to ditch the Law of God for modern man, cites this kind of thing and asks "Now do you really think we should be stoning Sabbath breakers, adulterers and thieves?" This question is idle and ignorant, because whoever brings it up in that context is not acknowledging the fact that the law appears in a context. The context, going back to verse 29, this is immediately preceding what we just read.

The LORD said to Moses, "One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally."

Now how in the world can you sin unintentionally? You know what you're doing. I think what He means by this is, that it is not a deliberate high-handed sin, a person who falls out of weakness. You draw that conclusion by what you see in what follows.

Verse 29, "Anyone who sins unintentionally, whether he is a native-born Israelite or an alien. {30} 'But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from his people. {31} Because he has despised the LORD's word, broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.'"

Now that statement is immediately followed by a case. The law about the man gathering sticks is presented here as an illustration of a person who, not through weakness, not because of some circumstance, not the exigencies but just says, "Nuts to you, I'm going to gather sticks on the Sabbath Day if I jolly well please to do so." And so out he goes with a high hand and does it.

The reason I think that I understand unintentionally the way I do, is because it is set in contrast to defiant sin.

Every sin we do is certainly not defiant. We sin out of weaknesses, out of our problems, we do them out of compromise. We have all kinds of reasons why we sin, that don't take us to this place.

Case law

This is the case that is given to us here. It forms a part of what we would call today, Case Law. Case Law is a well understood principle in a legal system like ours. Case Law also known as decisional law is that body of reported judicial opinions in countries that have common law legal systems. Published court opinions include precedents, that is what courts before it have decided or rules governing future court decisions.

Whenever you have a guy in court and you are evaluating a case in front of you, you evaluate the statute law that you have and you also take a look at decisions made by courts before you.

In the future, other courts will look back on what your court has decided in developing common-law, that is, how we actually decide cases like that.

So what we have in the case of the man gathering sticks is a judgment as contrasted with a commandment or a statute and this is one of the most important distinctions to understand about Biblical law.

There is an important question though that follows on the heels of it, what you do when you don't have Moses to go straight to God with an issue that requires judgment? Now what? You know, Moses has gone to the mountain, God is not talking to anybody else, we are out here and we have a problem, how do we go about dealing with it?

Deuteronomy 17 verse 8. This is an important Scripture and you should make special note of it.

Deuteronomy 17 verse eight, "If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge, whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults, take them to the place that the LORD your God shall choose. {9} Go to the priests, who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict."

Listen to what He says following this.

Verse 10, "You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the LORD your God shall choose. Be careful to do everything they direct you to do. {11} Act according to the law they teach you and the decisions they give you. Don't turn aside from what they tell you, to the right hand or the left."

No games. You didn't have to come in the first place, but you did come and a decision was handed down and that decision for the time being at least, takes on all the force of law.

Verse 12, "The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. {13} All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contentious again."

So here we have a classic statement of how someone who has come to the court. The courts rendered a decision and he refuses to abide by it. And consequently, an example is made of him.

Now, this Scripture, along with a lot of body of Biblical law presumes an administrative and judicial structure. We are not told very much about how they got done or exactly how it came to be. We know there were priests. We know there were Levites and we know what their jobs were. How did a person apart from being a priest or Levite become a judge in Israel? The answer seems to be, he was probably an elder but there was some form of civil structure that appointed men as judges and their job was to hear cases and make decisions which were binding on all the people. It was case law.

Now, what if, at another time and another place, a man gathers sticks for a fire on the Sabbath Day, not in defiance, but out of necessity. Here we are, we have an unexpected cold front, Noah, (who knew about the weather, rain and floods,) did not tell us anything about what was coming down. They didn't have a Noah in those days to forecast cold fronts, so bang, here comes a very cold front that is roaring through and it was not expected and we have this poor guy here whose wife is pregnant, starting into labor and is in definite need for a fire, some warmth and some hot water.

Judgments With Mercy

Judgments are authoritative, but they are also circumstantial and by that I mean, they focus on the circumstances that you're dealing with. In the case where the guy was stoned, he had no special need. There were no circumstances. There was no mitigation. He was in defiance. The word in the Hebrew is 'high-handed.' It was a high-handed sin.

Now we have a situation now, where case law said, "That guy had to be stoned," but the circumstances are different, and thus the judges that are in this case, can look back at that case and say, "No this is different. This is why it was different in our judgment, this is what we are going to do."

Now consider in comparison with this, as another illustration of it, Jesus and His disciples are walking through a field on the Sabbath Day. The boys are hungry, and without even thinking, they reached down and pulled off a head of grain, rubbed it between their hands and as they walked along, popped it in their mouth and ate it.

Well this was not good, the Pharisees condemned it, and wanted to know "Why did your disciples do that on the Sabbath Day." Well, Jesus' answer was more than one word, but He said this, "If you had known what this means, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless" (Matthew12:1-7).

Jesus is saying, "The judges can decide to have mercy on a person, when technically speaking, he has violated the law." That should not really be any surprise to us. It happens all the time in our court system. You have a thing called jury nullification, where the jury decides that in this particular circumstance, this guy is guilty according to the law, but he shouldn't die for it or he shouldn't go to jail for it in this circumstance. It may or may not be a good thing but you have to evaluate that, but that's our court system. We have a set of judges and juries who make these decisions and if they decide he is not guilty, he is free and you cannot try him again under our system, which I'm glad that that can't happen.

Where Do You Draw The Line?

Now what was wrong with what the disciples did on this occasion where Jesus got the criticism? Well, you couldn't harvest a whole field, everyone knew that. You wouldn't get out there with all of your servants and bring your whole crop in on the Sabbath Day. Everybody knew that. Could you harvest one handful? Yes, you should be able to harvest one handful. What about two? Why not three? Why not four? If four, why not a peck? If a peck, why not a bushel. You know this is what happens. Most legislation, lawmaking and so forth is line drawing. You draw a line somewhere that you can live with and you can enforce it if it's broken.

There was a long time in California and I think some other states where they had no speed limit, they had a reasonable and prudent law. If there was a situation where you were driving was deemed by the courts or the officers to be reasonable and prudent speed you could drive 90 miles an hour way back in the middle of nowhere on a California Road. It was pretty well impossible to enforce and so they drew a line. Some of us may remember back when they drew this line at 55 miles an hour and not many of us liked that and many us did not pay much attention to it and eventually the government backed down on that one and moved it back up to 70 and enforcement loosened up to where most people on freeways these days are running 80. So line drawing is what happened.

Now I hear all kinds of questions that people ask about situations like this. The Pharisees' judgment was, this is what they judged and what they decided. You can't even start with a handful. Don't do it at all and they made it substantively the law of the land.

So from Jesus we learn something very important, judgments can be unnecessarily strict. Even when they are rendered by the authority in this case. They can lack the quality of mercy. That's an important thing to throw into the balances on anything like this that you're thinking about.

Pharisees Had A Double Standard

The Pharisees had turned their own judgments into the Oral Law which in their mind carried all of the authority of the law God handed down to Moses from Mount Sinai. It didn't matter if they had decided on it only yesterday. It was a part of their tradition and they considered it the law of the land. BUT, they had a double standard.

Matthew 23 and verse 1, "Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: {2} "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. {3} So you must obey them and do everything they tell you.""

What is Jesus talking about? He is talking about Deuteronomy 17, that you have judges. You take cases to them and they make decisions. You obey it, that's the way it is.

Then Jesus goes on to say, "BUT, do not do what they do because they do not practice what they preach. {4} They tie up heavy loads and bind them on men's shoulders, and they will not lift them with one of their fingers to move them."

Now we've never heard of anything like that in our legal system, have we? With people passing laws that they will not obey themselves.

Tassels

Jesus continues in Matthew 23 verse 5, "Everything the Pharisees do is done for men to see. They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long."

Now it is of passing interest, by the way, that that law of tassels (Numbers 15:37-41) followed right on the heels of the judgment about a man carrying sticks on a Sabbath Day (Numbers 15:36). It was the very next item that followed.

So I think what you're finding here, is that the whole thing about tassels is circumstantial and it is a judgment. It had a special meeting in the society of that time, a meaning that it does not have now and to some degree didn't even have in the time when Jesus came on the scene. I have gone into this in my book on "Law and Covenants," and so I will not go into it here. As the circumstances change, the phylacteries and the tassels became a status symbol, by the time Jesus was there and that was not what was intended.

Bind and Loose

So, does this mean that we should accept the judgments of the Pharisees in all things? No, not really, but this is a necessary background to something Jesus told His disciples.

Matthew 16 verse 18, "I say unto you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell (the grave) shall not prevail against it, and {19} I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven that whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven."

Now this is not just said to Peter, later Jesus would deal with this again, but first of all, this is the thing that keeps coming up from time to time, "What do you mean bind? What do you mean loose?" This is really the New Testament statement for the church of what Deuteronomy 17 stated for Israel. You get a difficult matter, too hard for you, you get to the place where you go see the judge. In this case it is the church, which assigns the judges and people to hear these things.

Later in Matthew 18, this is the oft cited passage about "Go to your brother." If someone has something against your brother, you go talk to your brother, then take two witnesses if he will not listen to you.

In verse 17 "If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church, if he neglects to hear the church, let him be to you as a heathen man and a publiccan. {18} Verily I say unto you, "Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. {19} Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."

What you're reading here is the passing of administrative judgment from the Pharisees, who sat in Moses' seat historically, to the church and I think it is very important. When did the passing of this actually take place?

It is a rather interesting little event that took place in John chapter 20 verse 21, Jesus had been raised from the dead and He has come back to His disciples again.

Jesus said to His disciples, "Peace be unto you! As my Father has sent me I send you," {22} And when he said this he breathed on them and said to them "Receive you the Holy Spirit, whoever sins you remit, they are remitted, whoever's sins you retain, they are retained."

This is the moment, I think, when the authority to make decisions for the church past from the Jewish structure and establishment of the time, to the establishment and the administration of the Church as it would come to be after Pentecost.

All that said, there is an important thing for you to consider as an individual. You only ask for a judgment when you are incapable of making it for yourself or when it involves somebody other than yourself. In most cases you can weigh the circumstances and you can answer your own question. You can decide for yourself. It does not necessarily mean you are right, It just means you can do it and you alone bear the consequences of whether or not it's wrong for you to pluck a peach off of your tree on the Sabbath Day, that gorgeous, just beginning to get soft, color perfect peach, ripened on the tree, can you do it? Nobody can decide but you.

The Hebrew Calendar

Now there is another interesting sidebar that illustrates and illuminates an ongoing problem. The Holy Days, we all know, are written law (Statutes Leviticus 23:14, 21, 31, 41). They are right there written on the page, Leviticus 23, and they are there forever. The calendar is not!

Now I will have to explain. Some fellow years ago published a booklet titled "The Calendar God Gave to Moses." I never bothered to read the book, because I knew that God never gave the calendar to Moses. The reason I said I know that is because Scripture tells us that God told Moses all kinds of stuff and Moses wrote down everything God told him (Exodus 24:4) and you can go all the way through the Scriptures and not find any instructions for a calendar. It just is not there.

You do find that there is a calendar. You get indirect references to the existence thereof. You get illustrations as to what people at the time did relative to it, but instructions to do it, how to do it, it's just not there.

Now here's the problem with that. As I said, Moses wrote down everything that God told him, therefore there is no calendar in the written law. There is reference to it in history of the existence of some sort of calendar. The calendar then falls in one of two categories. It either falls under customs or it falls under judgments. Who made the judgments? Who gets to make that decision? We know next to nothing about a calendar system from Moses himself. It is just not there. We know that there was one because the festivals are placed into it, but as for rules, there aren't any.

For example, there is absolutely nothing to describe what constitutes a 'New Moon' beyond the name 'New Moon.' In some cases they kept a New Moon festival for two or three days which doesn't tell us anything about the New Moon really itself and of course you canít arrive at hard things just based upon what somebody out there did. They might have been wrong for all we know. We just know what they did.

Okay, now as I said, there is nothing in the Bible that describes what a New Moon is. There is out there among Holy Day keepers today, one group that renders a judgment that the moon is new immediately upon the conjunction.

Do you know what the conjunction is? That's the moment when the moon coming across the sky passes the sun and so consequently after that, the moon begins to show the little crescent and then progresses to the full moon of so forth.

Another group out there renders a judgment that the New Moon can only be proclaimed upon the observed new crescent. Now I have had both of those groups on my forum for years and neither one of them has managed to make a dent in the other one in all that period of time. I have not found any of them changing their opinion on this.

So the net result of it is, if you're going to have this as an issue, you will split the church immediately, because some of them will decide it is the conjunction, others will decide it is the new crescent.

There is another group that feels that the observed new crescent must be in Jerusalem. And there is nothing in the Bible that says that either.

Another example revolves around the adjustment of the lunar year. Why does the lunar year need adjustment? You have probably noticed this yourself, there aren't exactly 30 or 31 days in the month between one full moon to another. There is 29.531 days in a month. Ever so often the 12 month calendar starts walking the Holy Days back away from that season of the year when they are supposed to take place, so you know there are a few places in the Bible where it is clear when counted off that they were inserting a 13th month. We know that's what they did. We also have Jewish tradition down through time that that's what was done and still is done on the Hebrew calendar to this day.

What do we do about this? One group renders a judgment that the new year can only begin after the equinox. Nevermind the word 'equinox' is not in the Bible. Another group rules it can only begin when green ears of barley are seen in Jerusalem. Why in Jerusalem only? Well you have a latitude consideration, because if you go very far north, the green ears show up much later. If you go very far south, Egypt for example, they will show up earlier. And when were they told that was the beginning of months? Where were they? They were in Egypt, not Jerusalem. That is neither here nor there.

The equinox is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. Nor are there any instructions about green ears, after all, as I said, it was called green ears in Egypt and that was earlier.

Now people string together their proof texts and make some assumptions and they render a judgment as to what they are going to do about the calendar. It is not however binding upon the church as a whole, if an individual decides he wants to do that, we may wonder why he didn't show up on Pentecost and he will be back the next week and we have no idea where he was or what he did. It turns out that he made his own decision about what to do there.

A Little Modern History

Now I want to give you a little modern history. Sometime in the 1930s, a man named Herbert Armstrong began observing God's Festivals of Leviticus 23. There may have been others who were doing that at the time but he was unaware of them. Making his best judgment he decided to follow the Hebrew calendar which was the oldest known calendar authority. He based his decision in part on something Paul wrote to the Romans.

Romans 3 verse 1, "What advantage has the Jew? What profit is there of circumcision? {2} Much in every way! Chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. {3} For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?"

The word 'oracles' is interesting because the Greek word for it only shows up four times in the New Testament and there are other words that are used having to do with the law, the commandments and so forth and so consequently Mr. Armstrong took it to include issues like the calendar, and that was given to them to take care of it and the Jews have done it, however imperfectly, but the key element involved in the whole thing is that there is agreement, not so much whether they are perfectly right on everything that comes along.

Now as far as we know, Mr. Armstrong actually took it to include issues like the calendar and we have no record of Jesus or the apostles ever having an issue with the Temple calendar of their day. When I say we have no record, I mean we have no record in the New Testament that they ever had a problem and if they did, trust me, it would've been recorded there.

So as far as any of us know, the Hebrew calendar was the authority.

Now back in those early days there was an annual ministerial conference and all of the elders came together once a year, and we all kicked around every kind of thing that there was. The first one I ever attended, I was not ordained yet, and I was fascinated because it was a knock down drag out at some points. They would argue about this and discuss that and I remember seeing Mr. Armstrong nail a couple of hides to the wall, but in the end of it, they all came to the place where they said, "This is what we're going to do." It was not about the calendar, it was about something else of which has been lost in the mists of time and probably should have been lost in time.

Some time, back in the earlier days, this calendar issue was raised and it was decided by the ministry of the church as a whole agreed to.

When the Church of God International formed in 1978 at one of the first ministerial conferences we ever had, we had every elder of the church present. We all sat around a couple tables and we talked this over and one of the issues on the agenda was whether or not we would change the calendar. After a short discussion, the decision was made unanimously that we would not take upon ourselves the authority of the calendar, we would continue to follow the Hebrew calendar as the church had done since somewhere back in the 1930s, before I was born.

The only real differences the Church of God International had with the old church were really administrative and this was an administrative matter and concluding that we had the right to decide it, we decided in a way not to decide it. The Church acted within its authority in making the decision about the calendar, as much as anybody would. We assumed that it was bound in heaven, that is to say, it was accepted by God as the authority for our community. That is the authority.

Judgment About Pentecost

Another interesting example is in the day of Pentecost. A change which occurred around 1977, up until then we had always observed Pentecost on Monday. I will not go into the arguments for it, they were kind of fun all by themselves, but we observed Pentecost on Monday, at that point, finally all the arguments began to gel and come together and the decision was made, that we would begin to observe it on Sunday. It had always been a bone of contention during all those years and we had struggled with it and struggled with it and once we got that done, it more or less disappeared as an issue.

Now here's what I think is important about this. It was not so much a matter of hard core right and wrong, it was a matter of judgment and the authority to make a decision for the community on a doubtful matter. And I'll guarantee you, it was a doubtful matter. It was a political football for a very long time.

I think God accepted our judgment, believe it or not, in both cases, not because it was right or rather it was wrong, but because it was made by those in authority in the church and made in good faith. I think God accepted that decision and I can't tell one wit's worth of difference in the way we were blessed before it, because we were, and the way we were blessed after it, because we were, although we had other problems that came on the scene that had to do with other things.

Judgment On Passover

Now there is one other bone of contention that bears on this issue as well, that's when the church should observe Passover and why should it be observed when we do? Someone mentioned to me, it had come in an email to me, that the Passover is the one Holy Day that can be moved because of circumstances. This is not true of any other Holy Day. It is in the book of Numbers.

Numbers chapter 9 verse 6, "There were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, so they couldn't keep the Passover on that day and when they came before Moses and Aaron. {7} They said, "We are defiled by the dead body of a man, wherefore are we kept back so that we can not make an offering to the LORD in his appointed season among Israel?"

Why is it that we can't do this just because of this?

Moses said, "Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you." (Here comes a judgment.) {9} "The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {10} "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, "If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off," (They didn't ask God about that. That got tossed in in addition) "yet he shall keep the Passover to the LORD. {11} The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs."

So Passover is the one Holy Day that can because of circumstances be shifted, the judgment was given. It can be shifted one month later and you do it exactly the same as you would've done it before.

Now what makes this of special interest to us is called the synoptic problem. John, in his gospel, shows the Jews eating the Passover at the end of the 15th. while Jesus kept it with His disciples at the evening beginning the 14th. In other words, 24 hours before the Jews did. What I think happened here is, that Jesus, acting on His authority, as a judge, moved it backward one day on the beginning of the 14th. instead of a month later as it was done in the Old Testament. Jesus rendered a judgment.

Luke 22 and verse 15, "And Jesus said to them, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.""

I think Jesus had the authority to do that and I think that's precisely what He did. But then comes another question on the heels of that? Should the Church then revert back to the position of the Pharisees, in other words, to the position of the written law that the Passover is sacrificed late on the afternoon on the 14th., roasted with fire and eaten on the 15th. There are a lot of different opinions about this that I will not go into today.

As it happens, we have Paul's judgment on this issue. it is not as if nobody told us. Paul did.

1 Corinthians 11 verse 18, "First of all, when you come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions (Greek schisms) among you; and I partly believe it. {19} For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."

The Greek word for 'heresy,' actually heresy is a Greek word by itself. What the word means is "the cause of division or schism." Paul is saying, it has to happen, so that "they who are approved may be made manifest among you."

Verse 20, "When you come together therefore into one place, it is not to eat the Lord's supper." (You are not doing it that way, you are eating your own supper.) {21} "For as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. {22} What? Don't you have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God, and shame them that have not? Shall I praise you in this? No way! {23} For I have received of the Lord, what I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: {24} And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me."

What Paul wrote to the Corinthians was very simple and very straightforward. "What I got from Christ I delivered to you, we do this from now on in the night in which Jesus was betrayed."

As far as I know, we have near universal agreement, that the night time portion of the 14th day of the first month on the calendar is when the Passover is to be observed. There may be somebody around that differs with that but I'm just not sure. Now that I think about it, there are those who believe that Jesus was crucified on the 15th. but that really doesn't hold up for me with a careful exegesis of the gospel accounts.

Thus the considered judgment of the Church for as long as I have been involved is that we observed the Christian Passover in the night in which Jesus was betrayed in perpetuity, once a year.

Now to underline one important thing in all this, I want to take you back to a very old passage.

What's Missing?

Genesis chapter 26 verse 2, "The LORD appeared to Isaac, and said, "Don't go down into Egypt;" (He was tempted to go because of the famine in the land), {3} You sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for unto you, and unto your seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware to Abraham your father; {4} And I will make your seed multiply as the stars of heaven, and I will give unto your seed all these countries; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; {5} Because Abraham obeyed my voice, kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."

Notice anything interesting there? What's missing? Judgments! Why are there no judgments here? The answer is really very simple! There was no administration as there was in Israel. Abraham was a clan chief. He had his household and his own servants. I think there were probably 1000 people at one time, men, women and children that was part of his overall household, but his word was law. Whatever Abraham said was what went. So he made judgments for himself and his family.

Judgments lack the permanence of statutes, commandments and laws. They just do, they sometimes have to be changed.

In the case of Israel, you had to have an administration. Everyone had to follow the same laws and the same precedents or you wind up with total chaos. So where there is no administration you are free to render your own judgments and you are free to bear the consequences. It doesn't mean your judgments are right, it just means that it is yours, but when there is an administration, God seems to say He backs it up. When it is wrong He will correct it. If you know it's wrong relative to God's law, you have a personal obligation not to obey.

Jesus rejected the decisions of the Pharisees while He accepted their administration for the time being. No argument with that.

Personal Judgments

In the history of the Church, those authorized to judge matters like these have heard them from time immemorial. I think we had, in years gone by, made judgments in areas where we really shouldn't have. There was just no point in it. Sitting in a Friday night Bible study and someone sends up a question that says, "Is it all right to wash dishes on the Sabbath day?" The minister did not have to read that question. I don't think I would. I would just toss it back in the basket and go on, because once you step into that, then the question is "Can I rinse out my coffee cup?" "If I can rinse out my coffee cup, can I rinse out my saucer, and can I do mine and my husband's cup and saucer?" You do know where you go with that type of thing. Next thing you know you have a whole list of do's and don'ts. You just don't want to do that. Those things are for you to decide. The decisions that those in authority are authorized to judge are the decisions that have to do with the Church acting together. Now it is not easy to turn around decades and centuries of tradition and it should not be easy to turn them around.

What Should You Do?

Ephesians chapter 4 which has an interesting thought on this. Paul is talking to those who are in authority in the church: (verse 11) evangelists, pastors and teachers.

Ephesians chapter 4 verse 14, Paul says, "We are no longer children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming whereby they lie in wait to deceive. {15} By speaking the truth in love may grow up in him in all things which he is the head even Christ. {16} From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies according to the effectual working in the measure of every part makes increase of the body and the edifying of itself in love."

Okay, so what should you do if you feel your church is wrong about something? Well in this church and it is probably true in many churches, depending on the size of the church, there are two bodies of judgment here. One is the Council and the other is the Elders. If you can't get something changed in one of these two bodies, and presented it to the church for the church to decide it then it probably shouldn't be changed at all.

What we have to do is go on down the road and try our best to be faithful to God.

In Conclusion:

John 7 verse 21, in conclusion, Jesus had performed a miracle and the Jews said they were going to kill Him for it, He knew that and said "I have done one work, and you all marvel. {22} Moses gave you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and you on the Sabbath Day circumcise a man. {23} If a man on the Sabbath Day receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses should not be broken . . . . ."

What Jesus is doing is pointing out the fact, you are inevitably going to come across situations where one law will conflict with another. There is an idea some people have that that's not possible, that God would never let that happen. Hey, the Law is about Human Beings, Human Life, and there are times when circumcision, which is considered an act the work, takes place on the Sabbath Day. They made that decision. The priests profane the Sabbath in the Temple and Jesus said that they are blameless (Matthew 12:5).

Jesus continues in John 7 verse 23, "Are you angry at me, because I healed a man and made him whole on the Sabbath Day? {24} Judge not according to the appearance, judge righteous judgment."

Judgments are an absolute essential for any church or church organization and those decisions have to be consistently applied or else you will not be able to do anything together. You'll be all over the landscape and we have seen enough examples of that in our lifetime.

Judge righteous judgment. It is a challenge that rings down through the ages and it is the principle that enables us to act together instead of being blown about all over the landscape.

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This article was transcribed with minor editing from a

Sermon by Ronald L. Dart Titled: Judgments 5-31-08 0822C

Transcribed by: bb 8/28/19

You can contact

Christian Educational Ministries

P.O. Box 560 Whitehouse, Texas

75791 - Phone: (888) BIBLE44

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Ronald L. Dart is an evangelist and is heard daily and weekly on his Born to Win radio program. 
The program can be heard on over one hundred radio stations across the nation.

In the Portsmouth, Ohio area you can listen to the Born to Win radio program on Sundays at 7:30 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. on WNXT 1260.

You can contact Christian Educational Ministries, P.O. Box 560 Whitehouse, Texas 75791 - Phone: (903) 509-2999 - 1-888-BIBLE-44

Web page: borntowin.net


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