Broken Branches

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Revelation 3:15-19

Just as starting to watch a three hour movie at the beginning of the third hour will cause confusion, starting to read and understand a book two-thirds of the way through the book will be equally confusing. This is no less true with the Bible. Often people are told to read the New Testament and not get bogged down in the so-called Old Testament. Although a person can start out with New Testament concepts, complete immersion in the whole Bible is the only way to understand the writings of the New Testament and the teachings therein. We must remember that the warning in the opening scripture is from Jesus to those in the church.

Paul was a Pharisee who was “educated at the feet of Gamaliel”. He very likely memorized the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah. Once he had his literal “coming to Jesus” moment on the road to Damascus, he had to revisit all that he had learned.

Gal 1:13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.
Gal 1:14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.
Gal 1:15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,
Gal 1:16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;
Gal 1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Gal 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.
Gal 1:19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.

Paul spent three years unlearning errors he picked up being zealous in Judaism, also trying to apply all his learning of scripture to what he witnessed during his encounter with the Messiah on the road to Damascus and the days after. A large amount of what we consider scripture today comes from Paul’s work, and with him having such a broad understanding of the Torah, writings and prophets, Paul was an excellent choice to explain all that was contained in scripture to the future generations in light of the Messiah. However, the future generations, including those of us today, failed to do our part.

2Pe 3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
2Pe 3:15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
2Pe 3:16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
2Pe 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
2Pe 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Peter knew that Paul was deep and people would pervert his teachings to promote their own way of life. To “be found without spot or blemish” is Peter’s way of saying to walk righteous before the Lord, just as the parents of John the Baptist did, as described in Luke. Keep the commandments.

Luk 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.

When Peter warned not to be carried away by the error of lawless people who twist Paul’s writings, he was speaking of those who break the commandments of Yahweh, and use Paul’s writings to justify it. A large portion of Christian doctrine today is based on the twisting of Paul’s words in order to justify lawlessness, or the breaking of Yahweh’s commandments. Jesus prophesied about this very thing:

Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

What has always been the will of the Father other than for His people to be obedient to His instructions? So how do we determine what Paul is trying to say in all of his letters to the various churches without falling into the trap of twisting the scriptures? Peter tells us in his warning that ignorant and unstable people will twist Paul’s writings. The first step is not to be ignorant of the scriptures, then second, do not be an unstable person. Also, do not listen to ignorant and unstable people that try to teach what Paul says. The only way to discern this is to have the Holy Spirit of truth, and study like Paul did. How do you get the Spirit of Truth that Jesus speaks of? It is a bit of a catch twenty-two.

Joh 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Joh 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
Joh 14:17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Joh 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Joh 14:19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
Joh 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Joh 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Joh 14:22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Joh 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Joh 14:24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

Jesus tells us the those who keep His commandments will receive the Spirit of Truth. Some will try to say that the commandments of Jesus are different than those of the Father, calling it the “law of Christ”, a term found in Paul’s writings. Jesus plainly tells us the words that He speaks are not His, but those of His Father. There is an old heresy called Marcionism, that hides in the doctrine of dispensationalism today. This belief system of Marcionism make Jesus’s ways different than Yahweh by claiming Jesus’s father was a different God than Yahweh. Dispensationalism achieves the same result by claiming Yahweh changed the way He does things in the so-called “age of grace”, when Yahweh doesn’t change.

Where then does a person start studying scripture? The beginning is a good place. Do you have faith to believe Yahweh created the world as described in Genesis, or do you think you can blend humanistic theories with creation? Do you know why Yahweh had to destroy the Earth with a flood, what Jeroboam did that the church still does today, the blessings Jacob gave His children and how they are still relevant, and what the great sin of Israel was to cause Yahweh to say “they are not my people”? All of these events are paramount to understanding what is being said in the New Testament. There are many more resources available today than ever before. A person can have access to every resource that exists today from their laptop or tablet. It takes a lot of work to “seek the Lord with all your heart”.

Psa 119:1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of Yahweh.
Psa 119:2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies; they seek him with a whole heart.
Psa 119:3 They also do no wrong; they walk in his ways.
Psa 119:4 You have commanded your precepts, that we should keep them diligently.
Psa 119:5 Oh that my ways were steadfast, to keep your statutes!
Psa 119:6 Then I would not be ashamed when I look to all your commands.
Psa 119:7 I will give you thanks with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous laws.
Psa 119:8 I will heed your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

The big sin of Israel was to forsake the commandments of Yahweh. A person must understand Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and Daniel, which is not a small task. The books are easier to understand if they are viewed within the history of what is taking place at the time of their writing. The prophetic warnings are there for the people of God not to make the same mistakes if given another chance. That other chance was given when Yahweh sent His son Jesus, or actually Yeshua, in Hebrew. Jesus made a way for the people of Yahweh, who were cut off, to come back into covenant again. This is one of the concepts that Paul explains in his letter to the Romans.

Rom 11:16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
Rom 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,
Rom 11:18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.
Rom 11:19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
Rom 11:20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.
Rom 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
Rom 11:22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
Rom 11:23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
Rom 11:24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

In verse 22, Paul speaks of kindness, and that if we don’t continue in His kindness, we will be cut off. Kindness is a misleading translation. It is Strong’s G5544. It could say “provided you continue in God’s usefulness or moral excellence”. What is God’s usefulness or moral excellence if not the Ten Commandments?

From G5543; usefulness, that is, moral excellence (in character or demeanor): – gentleness, good (-ness), kindness.

Paul tells us that if God didn’t spare the natural branches (divorce of the northern kingdom) then we that are grafted in can also be cut off. Yet in the previous chapter, Paul seemingly says to just confess Jesus and you will be saved. Forget about those commandments of Moses, all you need is Jesus.

Rom 10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.
Rom 10:6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down)
Rom 10:7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
Rom 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
Rom 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved

This is where ignorant and unstable people, as Peter explained, will cause people to err into lawlessness or iniquity. The word confess, Strong’s G3670 does not merely mean to proclaim or to say you believe in Jesus. It implies being the same as Jesus in thinking and actions, being in covenant, a changed heart, acknowledging and understanding your sin as Yahweh sees it. This is different than trying to follow the letter of the law to be saved. Just because it is different, doesn’t nullify the holy laws of Yahweh. It was always faith that brought obedience. Following commandments without faith isn’t loving God.

From a compound of the base of G3674 and G3056; to assent, that is, covenant, acknowledge: – con- (pro-) fess, confession is made, give thanks, promise.

Exo 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying,
Exo 20:2 “I am Yahweh, your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves.
Exo 20:3 “There shall be for you no other gods before me.
Exo 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a divine image with any form that is in the heavens above or that is in the earth below or that is in the water below the earth.
Exo 20:5 You will not bow down to them, and you will not serve them, because I am Yahweh your God, a jealous God, punishing the guilt of the parents on the children on the third and on the fourth generations of those hating me,
Exo 20:6 and showing loyal love to thousands of generations of those loving me and of those keeping my commandments.

Jesus also spoke of branches that would be cut off, gathered up and burned if they did not produce good fruit and stay grafted in. What is this good fruit? Is it defined by the individual? A denomination or pastor perhaps? Society norms? No, Jesus defines it for us; “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love”. Combine that with what we read earlier: John 14:24 “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” It seems crystal clear what is considered good fruit.

Joh 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Joh 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Joh 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Joh 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Joh 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
Joh 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

The metaphor of burning the branches that did not stay grafted into the vine is not good news for “eternal security” theology. It implies that it is possible to be grafted in and then cut off just as Paul spoke about in the passage of the letter to the Romans we looked at earlier. Do not take my word for this. It is the mission of the reader to study these things for themselves. Be like the people of Berea, not the Thessalonians.

Act 17:10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.
Act 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Act 17:12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
Act 17:13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.

I believe scripture is written so that it is not clear to the casual reader. This is the reason for “seek and you will find”. If you are happy to think that Yahweh’s commands are done away with by reading a few verses in Paul’s writings, ignoring the rest of scripture, you can close the book and go on your way “confessing” Jesus with your mouth but not your heart, inserting earplugs, having been led astray by ignorant and unstable people. There are many warnings to this type of person which I have tried to present in my blog posts. There are those Jesus tells to depart because He didn’t know them (even though they thought they were doing mighty works in His name), the foolish virgins, the person who built their house on sand, the rich man and Lazarus, the teachers of Balaam, and those who listen to Jezebel. The only way to understand this is to learn of Balaam, Jezebel and all the examples given of people who handled the commandments of Yahweh and Moses in a wrong manner.

Yeshua said, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

Luk 16:27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—
Luk 16:28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
Luk 16:29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
Luk 16:30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
Luk 16:31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Jannes and Jambres, the sons of Balaam, resisted Moses. This is Paul condensing the commandments for people who possibly never studied them.

2Ti 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
2Ti 3:2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
2Ti 3:4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
2Ti 3:5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2Ti 3:6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
2Ti 3:7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2Ti 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
2Ti 3:9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

My hope is to break through the years of deception and share the truth to those who may never have heard it, that is those in the church. There are many being cooked like a lobster as the heat is turned up and their minds sent into delusion.

2Th 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.
2Th 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
2Th 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,
2Th 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
2Th 2:11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,
2Th 2:12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

What is the truth shown by the Spirit of Truth? It is defined in scripture.

Psa 119:151 You are near, O Yahweh, and all your commands are truth.
Psa 119:152 Concerning your testimonies, I knew long ago that you have established them forever.
Psa 119:153 See my misery and rescue me, for I do not forget your law.
Psa 119:154 Plead my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your word.
Psa 119:155 Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek your statutes.
Psa 119:156 Your mercies are great, O Yahweh; preserve my life according to your ordinances.
Psa 119:157 My persecutors and enemies are many, yet I do not turn aside from your testimonies.
Psa 119:158 I see the treacherous and I feel disgust, because they do not heed your word.
Psa 119:159 Consider that I love your precepts; O Yahweh, according to your loyal love preserve my life.
Psa 119:160 The whole of your word is truth, and your every righteous judgment endures forever.

If studying the Bible only amounts to reading a cute story in a devotional with some possibly misapplied scripture to accompany it, the truth and “whole of the word“ will be extremely hard to find. It is up to you to search these matters out. What is the definition of being lukewarm if it is not caring enough to see what Yahweh is telling us for ourselves?

Rev 3:15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
Rev 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Rev 3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
Rev 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

“So be zealous and repent”. Zealous in what? Keeping the commandments. Repent from what? Breaking the commandments. This is a continuous theme through all of scripture.

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