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Are Biblical Examples Binding on Believers?

Are Biblical Examples Binding on Believers?

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Published by Patricia Backora
Many Biblical practices are JEWISH TRADITIONS which are NOT commanded to the church of Jesus Christ. If you MUST do something to earn or keep God's favor, you're back under law, not grace.
Many Biblical practices are JEWISH TRADITIONS which are NOT commanded to the church of Jesus Christ. If you MUST do something to earn or keep God's favor, you're back under law, not grace.

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Published by: Patricia Backora on Oct 08, 2013
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09/05/2014

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Are Biblical Examples Binding on Believers?
By Patricia BackoraI read examples of how Christian believers either became ill or diedtrying to imitate Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness. Thesebelievers reasoned that because Jesus fasted this long, this featwas also expected of them because they had to follow His examplein everything. Interestingly, no other period of fasting is attributedin Scripture to Christ. In fact, His own disciples drew criticism forNOT fasting, and He was accused of being a winebibber and aglutton. Exaggerated charges, but completely ridiculous to evenraise the accusation if Christ habitually ate like a sparrow and nevertouched wine. Jesus plainly said He came eating and drinking,while John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine(Luke 7:33-14). NO command to fast is found in the New Testamentepistles, the apostles’ doctrinal teachings to the churches. I believethat fasting is justifiable only as a byproduct of prolonged prayer. Ibelieve deliberately-done fasting is a religious act, not a spiritualact. Most fasting is done to help Christians enter into the ThroneRoom of God to get His attention and His pity as He sees thephysical suffering the fast is causing them. But we ALREADY haveGod’s approval as believers in Christ Jesus.Eph.1:6: To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hathmade us accepted in the beloved.* * * Christ has won usacceptance by God, not something WE do!There is NOT ONE WORD in the book of Hebrews about needing tofast in order to attain greater intimacy with God. The words “fasting” and “fasted” don’t appear at all in this book. The word “fast” does appear though.Heb.3:6: But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house arewe, if we hold FAST the confidence and the rejoicing of the hopefirm unto the end.HEB 4:14: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that ispassed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold FAST ourprofession.HEB 10:23: Let us hold FAST the profession of our faith withoutwavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)If you yank the word “fast” out of its context (being part of thephrase hold fast), maybe you could twist the word and “spiritualize” its meaning to say it just MIGHT point to physicalfasting. But these three verses teach us to HOLD FAST (hang onto)
 
our profession (testimony) about what CHRIST has ALREADY doneto reconcile us to God. I’ve read lots of stuff about how fastingallegedly unclogs your hotline to God because your meat wagon thebody is moved off center stage. Starving your body allegedly freesup your inner man to soar to greater heights to enable you to be “shut up with God in some secret place” in the heavenlies. Thebook of Hebrews has much to say about our privilege of enteringinto the holiest. But it’s BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS that this is madepossible, not through our fasting to deserve it (Heb.10:19). We areALREADY seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph.2:6).Hebrews is perhaps THE most spiritual of all the epistles, in that itpaints a beautiful picture of our intimate spiritual relationship withour Heavenly Father and our access to His Presence in heaven.Instead of teaching us to perform religious acts to make us moreholy, the Book of Hebrews does the opposite. Hebrews was writtenas a rebuke of Jewish Christians who desired to go back to therituals of Judaism (including religious fasting).In Galatians 4:9 Paul asks certain Christians (probably Jewishconverts to Christ) why they want to return to the “weak andbeggarly elements” of Judaism. It wasn’t just the Jews who hadthis problem, but Gentile believers who were being indoctrinated byJudaizers wishing to stir up trouble and put the Christians backunder bondage (Gal.2:4).Fasting was an old Jewish custom, not a practice most Gentileconverts grew up with and understood. Cornelius the centurion, whowas converted to Christ in Acts 10, was probably a Jewish proselyteor at least what was known in the Jewish community as a Gentile “God-fearer”. The KJV says that he fasted as well as prayed (Acts10:30). But many scholars insist that the word “fasting” is notadequately supported by ancient Greek manuscripts. Most Englishtranslations omit "fasting" from this verse. Wuest’s translationreads: “I was observing the afternoon prayer hour.” Isolated examples of religious fasting after Pentecost wereinstigated by JEWISH disciples from Antioch, the headquarters of the legalistic Judaizers (men who wanted to mix Judaism with thetrue Gospel). The first fast was done in Antioch (Acts 13:2-3). Thesecond fast, mentioned in Acts 14:23, again involved the Antiochbrethren (verse 21). These are the ONLY examples of religiousfasting mentioned after Pentecost, and they involved JEWISHbrethren, not Gentile converts. After the Book of Acts, the onlyexamples of fasting were FORCED fasts caused by lack of food. Thisnon-religious fasting is included in a long list of other miserable
 
afflictions Paul suffered as he was persecuted by unbelievers oruncared-for by other believers.Some Christians argue that since the Old Testament saints oftenfasted, we have to as well. But an example is not a command.Fasting is NOWHERE commanded in the Law of Moses, except that itis strongly implied as a Day of Atonement practice. Most of us areNOT Jews, and even if we were, to keep the Day of Atonement theBiblical way you’d have to offer animal sacrifices on a stone altarand completely abstain from work (Lev.23:27-32). Failure to keepALL these stipulations results in being DESTROYED from among thepeople of God. You can’t single out one Jewish custom as bindingwithout observing ALL the rest (Gal.5:3)!Many insist that we need to do our fair share of suffering todemonstrate our worthiness to be Christians, and that’s why wehave to fast. But ask any Christian who has gone through a heart-rending, protracted trial or has been severely persecuted. Even if they’re too saintly to complain about it, they’ve probably thoughtthey’ve ALREADY done their fair share of suffering! And who’s todecide how much suffering is enough to buy favor with God? Is Godso insecure in His people’s love that He needs them to starvethemselves to prove how much they love Him? Even the priests of Baal tortured their own bodies to try to gain enough approval fromtheir god to get a miracle (I Kings 18:28). But old Baal was hard of hearing. After a whole afternoon of yelling, jumping, screaming andcutting themselves, his priests never did get any fire to fall out of heaven to consume their offering. All Elijah did was to CALMLY praya very short prayer and fire fell out of the sky. Not only did Elijah’ssacrifice get nuked, the whole kitchen got vaporized!I’m reminded of one (unscriptural) clicoften spoken by awonderful man of God who was misled in this one area: The biggerthe sacrifice, the bigger the blessing. If that were true, thensacrificing a whole week’s meals might get you a brand new car,while giving up your Big Mac at lunch time will get you askateboard. Silly, isn’t it?Paul wrote the book of Galatians to fight against the influence of false brethren who tried to contaminate God’s Good News with thebad news of legalism. Even the Apostle Peter, who earlier receivedthe life-changing revelation that “he should not call any mancommon or unclean” and “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts10:28,34) caved in to legalistic peer pressure and refused to eatwith Gentile believers when the Judaizers of Antioch showed up(Gal.2:11).

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