Yeshua And “The Minister Of Redemption”
One of the most common complaints we run into when trying to tell people about their need for salvation is that they don’t like or trust religion. You know what? Neither did Yeshua. He stood in complete contrast and opposition to the “religion” of His day.
I’m still reading in Matthew. I’ve just finished going through what is commonly referred to as the Sermon On The Mount. Chapters 5-7 thrill my soul every time I read through them. They truly give us a window into what the whole ministry of Yeshua will be like from that moment forward. It’s kind of like previews to next week’s episode.
During His delivery, Yeshua takes the top religious leaders to task. He knows they are in the audience absorbing every word He utters. He specifically names names: the scribes and Pharisees. I think we lose a little bit when it comes to envisioning mentally what it must have looked like and what the crowds would have been murmuring among themselves.
Who in the crowd but the scribes and Pharisees fit the descriptions of Yeshua’s examples? He confronts their teachings by saying: “but I say ….” He attacks their ostentation by drawing special attention to their actions and external religious accouterments. In essence, He unmasks them.
Everybody in the crowd would have known who was being focused upon. And you can be sure the scribes and Pharisees would have felt very exposed and embarrassed. Their vainglory was being dismantled as Yeshua drew attention to their sanctimonious self-righteousness.
Already by this point, it appears the religious leaders were trying to portray Yeshua in opposition to the Torah and the Prophets. This is why, I believe, He declared He hadn’t come to destroy but to fulfill the Torah and the prophets. So, interwoven in the Sermon is Yeshua’s vivid description of the real destroyers of the Torah … the Torah made flesh now standing in their presence.
If anyone had any misgivings as to whom Yeshua was referring to, total clarity comes in chapter 23. The very breath of God, Yeshua, rips them to shreds. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”
There is not one ounce of ambiguity about what He thought. I can just picture someone in the crowd saying, tongue-in-cheek: “Yeshua, tell us what you really think!” It was that obvious. No mistaking anything at that point.
So what was the main issue that irritated Yeshua in relation to the religious leaders? What was doing the most damage, eternally and (*)temporally, to the people? — It was the pollution and dissolution of the truth being filtered down to the people through the disingenuous religious leaders. Or said this way: Religious dishonesty and hypocrisy masked as truth.
Interestingly, Yeshua never once came down upon any one else like He did the religious crowd. The religious leaders were the ones that would “compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” That is quite an indictment. They were literally taking multitudes with them to Hell.
That’s why we must be wary of the religious/Evangelical landscape of our own times. Eternity is at stake. Souls of people will end up going to Hell because we are too afraid to speak up and confront.
What’s the religious issue of our day?
Evangelicals are snuggling up to some very strange bedfellows. There are those that insist on proclaiming that the Reformation is over. Some are going so far as to indicate it never should have happened in the first place. It was all over some sort of misunderstandings. And thankfully, (they say) we are rectifying these misunderstandings and can now come home again to the Mother Ship.
I contend that the Reformation is not over — the tactics used though, have changed.
I contend that Yeshua would never have had anything good to say to, or about, those that encourage a return to any institution or group that stands in direct opposition to His Truth.
I also contend that Yeshua, if He were here today, would lash out as firmly against what is going on in “Evangelicalism” as He did in relation to the scribes and Pharisees.
I want to sound a warning just like Yeshua did. He wasn’t taken in by the religious elite of His day. It was just the opposite, actually. He spoke a strong warning that should shake us today like it did then.
Here’s what He said:
“15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
There are many false prophets parading around as dispensers of the truth. Yeshua enjoined people to test any who claimed to speak in His name and authority. He didn’t want His people then, as well as now, bowing to any religious hierarchy that subjugates everyone to its authority over against that of Yeshua (the Word) Himself.
The Evangelical landscape has changed to where I hardly recognize it any longer. We once knew who the Whore of Babylon was in Revelation 17–18. These days it’s debated. How have we come so far that we don’t/can’t/won’t acknowledge the Whore for who and what it is? Instead of pleading with people to come out of her, some Evangelical leaders are going out of their way to encourage a return.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, we need to stand with the likes of Ian Paisley and other Reformers that dared to denounce the leader of the Whore as “The Vicar of Hell.” Can I get any Amens??
By the way, where have all the people gone that once would have resounded with a hearty AMEN!? Probably in the pews of those churches whose Pastors are leading the way in proclaiming the Reformation has ended. What will be next … (*)Indulgences!
For those that bristle against or take issue with such unloving harshness, perhaps it might be a good time to: “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Corinthians 13:5).
Test the teachings of the source you’re drinking from. Yeshua would expect nothing less from you. Your eternity might just depend upon it.
You don’t want to hear one day from the lips of Yeshua —
“I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”
(*) Here’s a good dictionary definition of temporally:
tem·po·ral·ly — ˈtemp(ə)rəlē/ adverb
1. with regard to time."habitat quality can vary temporally" 2. in a way that relates to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs."the Pope claimed not only to be our spiritual head, but also temporally to have preeminence”
(*) Definition of Indulgence
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes an indulgence as "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as The Minister of Redemption (emphasis mine), dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints"