Christianity vs. the Bible
Is everything that Christianity teaches “biblical”? Believe it or not, I have come across several things that may be “Christian tradition,” things that are the result of a mistranslation, misunderstanding, things taken out of context, or things not taught anywhere in the Bible. For example, one is the name Adam gave his wife. Before “the Fall,” he named her “woman,” a name which still indicates that there was a connection between the two of them even though they were separated, but AFTER “the Fall,” he gave her the name Chavah, which clearly suggests that the connection between the two of them were broken. Sin not only separated us from God, but it also separated the man and the woman from one another. She was now a completely independent being apart from him. The name “Eve” is derived from the Greek and Latins translations of the book of Genesis – not from the original Hebrew text. Have you ever wondered, “Why haven’t any pastor, Bible teacher, or evangelist that I have heard ever mentioned this?” And another thing that Christians have not mentioned deals with the “First Gospel.” According to Christian teaching, the proto-evangelion (or “First Gospel”) was given as part of God’s curse to the serpent. In Genesis 3, Christians teach that the following is the very first mention of the gospel in the Bible:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15)
I was taught this throughout my growing up years, and even as as adult. But I was completely shocked when I was studying the New Testament, and I discovered that this is not even true. Yes, God said this to the serpent in the book of Genesis, but it is not true that this was the “first gospel.” It may be “Christian tradition,” but it is not part of “the gospel,” according to the New Testament.
The Subject Matter or a Subtheme?
Christianity as a religion teaches us that the subject matter of the Bible is about “Salvation,” but it is not. It is about “the Kingdom of God.” “Sin and Redemption” (or “Salvation”) and “Covenant and blessings” are two subthemes that run concurrently throughout the Scriptures. Interestingly, Judaism focuses on one subtheme: “Covenant and Blessing,” while Christianity focuses on the other subtheme, “Sin and Redemption” (or “Salvation”). But neither of these subthemes is the overall subject matter.
And because they call this “subtheme” the “subject matter,” they believe that the Bible is about “Salvation,” and as a result, they interpret everything in the Bible from that perspective. Therefore, there are things that are part of their “tradition,” but when we explore the Scriptures, we discover they are not found in the Bible, or certain Christians have taken things in the Bible out of context, and then misrepresented them to us.
We Need To Be Modern Bereans!
When I realized this, it was quite the shock to me. It made me realize that I cannot just take the word of a minister, regardless who they are, but I need to be like the ancient Bereans:
The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)
Just as the “ancient Bereans,” we need to “[receive] the word with great eagerness,” but then we need to confirm everything what we have been taught by “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” We cannot believe things just because “a minister said so,” but we need to confirm their messages with the Bible, the Word of God. If we don’t take this extra step, we are opening the door for us to be taught “tradition” – rather than Bible.
The Problem with Christianity’ “First Gospel”
And this is certainly the case when speaking about the “First Gospel.” Throughout the whole New Testament, there is not one single verse, which calls this reference in Genesis 3, the “gospel;” in fact, this verse – Genesis 3:15 – is not quoted anywhere in the New Testament – NOT even one single time!
What is the “Biblical First Gospel”?
However, there is another verse quoted in the New Testament that is called “the gospel:”
The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached THE GOSPEL beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:8-9)
We can see that Paul says here that Abraham was taught “the gospel” in advance (or translated as “beforehand”). And what was the proto-euangelion (“first gospel”) that he was taught, according to the Bible? “All the nations will be blessed in you (Abraham).”
Where Is He Getting This Quote?
The question that I began to wonder is, “What verse is he quoting here?” For a long time, I thought that he is quoting an altered form of Genesis 12:3,
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And IN YOU ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH WILL BE BLESSED.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
I thought what Paul had done was substitute the word “nations” for the phrase “the families,” but since that time, I have found a much more valid candidate. It is located – not in Genesis 12 – but in Genesis 18. In this passage, there are three strangers that Abraham sees coming towards his tent, and he runs to meet them, and he
bowed himself to the earth, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread , that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” (Genesis 18:2c-5)
So after “addressing the strangers,” Abraham “hurried” to “the tent to Sarah” and told her to quickly, “prepare three measures of fine flour, kneed it and make bread cakes” (Genesis 18:6). Abraham then runs to the herd, and he takes “a tender and choice calf,” and he gives it to one of his servants, who hurries to prepare it for a meal (Genesis 18:7). And once prepared, Abraham took “curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them” to eat. And the verse goes on to say that “he was standing by them under the tree as they ate” (Genesis 18:8).
Mixing Milk and Meat?
Now Orthodox Jews do not believe in mixing milk and meat at the same meals. They base this belief on something that is taught in the Torah, God’s Law: “Do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21). They interpret this to mean, “Don’t mix meat and milk together.” In fact, they have two different cooking and eating utensils to make sure that they are not mixed. However, here we have Abraham being a good host, offering a calf (meat) and milk to drink together to these three strangers, an One of them is the Lord and the other two are angels. However, we have a reason to question their interpretation, because the next verse begins, “While they are eating…” If the Lord ate it, as well as the angels, they can’t be opposed to it.
The Announcement of a Promised Son
While they are eating, they ask Abraham, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There in the tent.” (Genesis 18:9)
The LORD then tells Abraham, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him.” (Genesis 18:10)
Sarah then laughs in disbelief, … but then the Lord says to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:12a, 13-14)
Even though Sarah is laughing in disbelief to what she is hearing, and she even tries to cover up what she had done by denying it, the Lord did not take the promise of this miraculous birth away from her because “her confession” expressed doubt – not faith.
But then the Lord asks a question which includes the statement that Paul quotes and calls it “the gospel,” He asks,
The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham, what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and IN HIM ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH WILL BE BLESSED? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” (Genesis 18:18-19)
In this question, Paul substituted the word “you” for “him,” and presented it as a statement, rather than as a question. In this passage, God also said that the reason he chose him was so that he would “command his children and his household after him” to “keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice,” and by him doing this, it made it possible for the Lord to “bring upon Abraham what he has spoken about him.”
The Way of the Lord?
In addition, what is “the way of the Lord”? God’s Torah (trans. as “Law”) is called “the way of the Lord.” For example,
Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. (Deuteronomy 8:6)
For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you, to do it, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him.” (Deuteronomy 11:22)
if you carefully observe all this commandment, which I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in His ways always – when you shall add three more cities for yourself, besides these three. (Deuteronomy 19:9)
As we can see in all three of these verses, and there are more which could be given, but the Torah – the instruction of God – is called the “way of the Lord.” But Christians call God’s commandments, laws, statutes, ordinances, and judgments “legalism,” “dead works,” “slavery,” and ‘bondage,” but this in direct contradiction to what we read in Scripture. For example, in the book of Deuteronomy, we read,
You should diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it ay be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the LORD swore to give your father by driving out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken. (Deuteronomy 6:17-19)
Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, in order that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 12:28)
If you will listen to the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 13:18)
In all three of these passages, the LORD makes it quite clear that His Torah – His commandments, laws, statutes, ordinances, and judgments – are “good and right in the sight of the LORD.” So either Christians are wrong about “the Law” or God and Christians are speaking about two different “laws.” And what I show further down, they are – Christians just don’t realize it.
Did Abraham Have the Torah?
Now I know that some are going to say that “the Torah was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, but Abraham did not have it.” Really? I agree that he did not have it in the same form as Moses, but that doesn’t mean that he did not have any of it. For example, look at what was part of what God told Isaac:
And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My commandments, My statutes and My laws (Heb. תוֹרֹתָי; “Torotay“).” (Genesis 26:4-5)
If the Torah did not exist at all in any form before it was given to Moses, then how was it possible for Abraham to keep God’s “commandments,” His “statutes and” His “laws”? Obviously, then, for Abraham to keep these aspects of the Torah, they had to exist in some form before it was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
God’s Law vs. the Oral Law?
Also, the Oral Torah (or “Oral Law”) came into existence during the “intertestamental period,” and many Christians do not acknowledge this change. In the Hebrew Bible, when we read, “the law,” it refers to the first five books, but in the New Testament, when it says “the law,” it has a much wider spectrum of meaning: it means the written law, the oral law, and many of the Pharisaic interpretations that were being taught at the time. For example, when Peter goes to the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, he tells him,
You yourselves know how UNLAWFUL it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. (Acts 10:28)
There is no commandment given in the written Torah – the first five books of Moses – where God prohibits “a Jew” from associating “with a foreigner or to visit him,” so if this is not in the Bible, then where is to be found? This is probably a Pharisaic teachings that is based on the Oral Torah, or one of the man-made teachings that evolved during the intertestamental period. One of the problems that Christians have in properly interpreting the New Testament is that they do not acknowledge this change in the Torah.
Blessing Comes From Obedience – Not “Naming Them and Claiming Them”
But one thing we learn throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, is that it teaches us that the Lord’s blessing comes as a result of our obedience to His commandments. This is in contrast to what many now in Christianity are teaching, that people can “speak” or “confess their blessings into reality.” Blessings only come as we obey God’s word – not by “speaking them into existence.” This is why we need to study the Bible for ourselves, so that we can tell the truth of God’s Word from all these “false gospels” that are being circulated in the world today.
“The Biblical Gospel vs. the Christian Gospel”
The biblical gospel is not rooted in what happened in the Garden of Eden, that is another “Christian tradition.” The Bible tells us quite plainly that “the gospel” was “foretold,” or “told in advance” – not to the serpent, but to Abraham, and it is found in the statement, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” The biblical gospel is given in the context of blessing, but the “Christian gospel” was given in the context of a curse. Also, the biblical gospel is seen in the announcement of the coming of Isaac; whereas, the “Christian gospel” is found in the “crushing of the serpent’s head, and the wounding of the heel of the woman’s seed.” As we can see here, there are some obvious differences between what the Bible teaches and what Christianity teaches.