Month 11:26, Week 4:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year 5935:313 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 18 February 2012
The Firstfruit and Perpetual Obligation
For the first century Judahite, the idea that a human being could possibly forgive sin was not only unthinkable but the worst imaginable heresy. So when Yah'shua (Jesus) came and claimed just that, the religious leaders knew that this meant only one thing: that Yah'shua (Jesus) claimed not only to be Messiah but was claiming to be Elohim (God) too.
Yahweh is always bringing forth fresh revelation, building on what went before, both to bless those with emunah (faith) as well as to shake the dogmatic out of their carnal sense of false security. The whole idea of the Divine Incarnation into human flesh rattled the theological cages of those who claimed to be both 'enlightened' as well as the true custodians of Israel's emet (truth).
To this day, those who follow the same Pharisaic religion of Judaism, and not a few unsaved Messianics, still refuse to make the quantum leap required from the Old to the New Covenant. Yet the evidence is there for those who care to look at it square in the eyes. I speak of the resurrection and the glory.
Accepting that Messiah was not just man but also Elohim (God) was a tough one for those Judahites. But there was more. If the same Ruach (Spirit) that fell upon Yah'shua (Jesus) at His baptism gave Him the demonstrable power that He could forgive sin, then when that Ruach (Jesus) is conferred upon born-again talmidim (disciples), then they too are given toqef or authority to forgive sin by proxy.
"Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Judeans, Yah'shua (Jesus) came and stood in the midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' Now when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Master. So Yah'shua (Jesus) said to them again, 'Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.' And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:19-23, NKJV).
No I am not preaching as the Roman Catholics that all born-again believers are given some mystic power to absolve souls of sin by the mere uttering of some rualistic words. But it's almost as radical. Rather, Yah'shua (Jesus) is saying that as there is no forgiveness for our sins by Messiah if we refuse to forgive others of their sins against us (as He taught in the 'Lord's Prayer' - Lk.11:14), so we are given the toqef (authority) to open a channel of forgiveness from Heaven to those who have sinned against us if they ask our forgiveness for the wrongs they have done to us. We have the power to remit or retain the sins of others depending whether we forgive or not.
The bikkurim (firstfruits) of the resurrection as it pertains to our spiritual life is the toqef (authority) to forgive because learning to forgive is both the bikkurim (firstfruits) of the new birth as well as the first arena of spiritual warfare. Without it we are spiritually impotent and powerless in the battle against darkness. The very first battle we must fight in our spiritual warfare as a newborn son or daughter of Messiah is a radical, revolutionary change in lifestyle that demands we overcome the fleshy tendency "to resent, to despise, to hold grudges, to own bitterness, to hate" .
Nothing else that we do after being born again matters until we have first embraced the obligation to forgive. In fact, we remain spiritually impotent until we do. And if we refuse, the Ruach (Spirit) will withdraw until we lose Her altogether .
Forgiveness is the primary ethic of the New Covenant. Without it, there is nothing. And without Messiah embedded in the lev (heart), we are powerless to do it anyway. It is the visible bikkur (firstfruit) and witness in a true believer, the mark of authenticity. It's also a radeical departure from anything else to be found in the world.
It is as hard to receive as it is dying to self. And it has to happen before we can own any true theology of salvation, before we start sticking lables like 'Christian', 'Messianic' or 'Evangelical' on ourselves. Just as Yah'shua (Jesus) is the bikkurim (firstfruits) of the resurrection, so forgiveness is the bikkurim (firstfruits) of one truly owned by Yahweh. Any other claimant to discipleship is a pretender.
For some of us who have been 'believers' for a long time, it may mean starting all over again.
 Barbara Richmond, Jewish Insights into the New Testament (1996), p.37
 See Once Saved, Always Saved