As you might imagine, there was a bit of a dust-up on the mom’s forum regarding Grace and the Law. I wish I could share posts from both the “Law moms” and the “Grace moms”, but I can’t, or I’d be violating the copyright rules of the forum. I’ll have to settle for sharing one mom’s main points here, and my responses to and questions about those points. I will do my best to be faithful to her points without being able to directly quote her.
This one mom in particular is one that has been progressively more vocal about Law-keeping on the mom’s forum and has stated that Torah observance is mandatory for all Christians. I’ll call her “Rose” and paraphrase her points for the purposes of this post, as much of the post below was a “conversation” between us as we discussed the issue of Torah observance for Christians.
I want to be clear about one thing: I really like “Rose”. “Rose” and her family have been in my home, we have met at one homeschooling field trip, and I’ve conversed with her on the phone a number of times. I find ”Rose” and her family to be very pleasant people. I think “Rose” is an intelligent woman and I really enjoy her wit and sense of humor. Another really important point about “Rose” and her family: They are not messing around when it comes to being Torah observant. They are going about their Torah observance with a lot more commitment and integrity than many Christians go about their faith. This post is not meant to slam “Rose” for what she believes. My intent in posting this is to point out what I believe to be error in how Law Keepers interpret Scripture in relation to the Law.
“Rose’s” portion of the conversation (paraphrased) will be in green below, my response as it was seen on the mom’s forum will be in blue.
Hello ladies and Rose, whom I also consider friend,
To you and the other families who are Torah observant: Let me be clear. Though my family and I find no reason to be Torah observant, and indeed find [Scriptural] reasons to not be Torah observant, it is absolutely your decision what you do in your family. I feel compelled to write my views on the subject here just as you do. One mom wrote that she’s tired of feeling like she has to defend herself for doing what they as a family feel God has led them to do in observing Torah.
On the flip side, I feel like I’ve had to defend the reasons why we do not observe Torah. The inference is that those of us that are not Torah observant love God less because we do not observe the Law. Do we obey His commandments because we love Him? You bet. We just don’t follow the set of laws/rules that God gave to Israel, God’s chosen people. Are we grafted into Israel when we believe on Jesus Christ? Yes. We share the same roots and receive life from the same source, but as Gentiles, we are different, and God made it clear that we were not required to abide by the Law. Jesus even summed up the Law into two requirements – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourselves. It’s funny, ’cause I’ve read mom’s here who have posted about how if you observe the Law, your doing those two things anyway. Kind of makes me wonder why some Torah observers try so hard to convince us “un-observers”, who abide by the commands of Jesus, to observe when in the end we’re both honoring God in the ways we feel He has asked us to!
That said, I feel compelled to respond to my friend Rose’s post.
Wow. Rose gave me a lot for me to respond to and some important questions for me to ask. I’ll take her points bit by bit.
Rose wrote [from here on I'll not quote "Rose", but distill the general ideas of what she was saying] that since the shed blood of Jesus and grace is preached in most churches we need not to speak much of that, as most Christians understand that.
I must strongly disagree! From the time that Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, everything God did pointed to Grace and the Shed Blood of Christ! These things are the ONLY things that bring mankind back into right relationship and fellowship with God and are absolutely foundational to the Gospel.
Rose continued that there was, however, more to the story, a rest of the gospel, things that had been erased, hidden, shunned, and despised.
WHAT rest of the story, WHAT rest of the Gospel, WHO erased it, hid it, etc.? WHERE does this teaching come from?
As for Rose’s response to my paragraph on indisputable core issues, [From "The Law - What About the Blood?!" which you can read here] one of which is the existence of God in three Persons, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, Rose responded that she would agree to that, but not limit the almighty to 3 parts. Rose, you did not elaborate on that point. What does that mean, exactly? Where does the teaching that God is more than 3 persons come from?
Rose’s response to my paragraph about secondary, disputable issues. There were three things we disagreed upon, two of which I’ll address here. 1) Regarding the Sabbath, I’ll save for another post. [You can read that post, "The Law - Thoughts on the Sabbath" here.]
2) Tithe. Rose stated that the tithe is a commandment and belongs in the indisputable issues category. Commanded, yes, though not required for salvation, so it should stay in the secondary issues category. I debated whether or not to include that in the disputable issues, as there is no clear direction in the NT on this, except where Jesus says, “When you tithe . . . ” It is understood that He is referring to the OT description of the Tithe, which is an assumption we also use as a guideline when it comes to our personal practice of giving to our local church.
3) Dispensationalism. [I since have learned that the more accurate term for what I was describing is "cessationism".] From my post: “Spiritual gifts for the Church today or dispensationalism [cessationism]?” Rose responded that the word dispensationalism is not even found in scripture. Rose, you are correct, dispensationalism is not a word found in scripture. It’s a word describing a view of the Gifts of the Spirit. Some hold that the demonstrable gifts of the Spirit were for a season, “dispensed” as they were needed in the early Church (tongues, healing, words of knowledge, prophecy, etc.) and that those gifts are no longer active. This is a ‘dispensationalist’ view. Then there are others who hold that the Gifts of the Spirit are active in the Church today.” I classified that issue as a secondary , disputable issue because salvation does not hinge on someone holding to one view or the other.
Then Rose came out with something that really puzzled me. Saying that we needed to throw out all of our religious ideas and rhetoric and that the scriptures are clear about who YHWH’s people are. Then she said that YHWH’s people are not just the Jews or the Christians and that that fact can’t be disputed in scripture.
WHO exactly are you referring to and what Bible references confirm that view?
Rose then talked about how the only way the above 3 issues can be categorized into the “disputable matters” is if man’s definitions, theologies and ideas are interjected into YHWH’s word. She then talked about how she is not a god, does not set herself up as a god, and does not believe that any person, institution or religion should set itself up as a god. One religion, according to her, has set itself up as Elohim, and has changed the set apart day (the Sabbath) to the first day from the seventh. In addition, she takes this issue seriously enough that she states that in their home, they give allegiance not to man and his religious system (which she equates with Satan), but to YHWH.
Wow. So are you saying that Christians at large have submitted to Satan because they worship God on Sunday? Where does this idea that Bible-believing Christians have given their allegiance to Satan just because they worship on Sunday come from?
About the term “Judaisers” [my husband and I had been discussing the Torah-observance-for-Christians issue and he had made the comment that "Judaisers are alive and well in the Church today, resulting in a dilution of the Gospel." You can read "The Law - What About the Blood?!" to see this reference]: Rose stated that she had made an observation over time that those who speak the loudest about love often show hatred toward the ones who don’t believe the way they do, especially when it comes to those who choose to follow His Law. She also informed me that the term “Judaiser” shows hostility toward the Jews and is intended to put down those who choose, because of their love for God, to obey YHWH’s instructions. She then pointed out that it was “Christians” who exterminated Jews and their fellow believers for practicing what the “Christians” considered to be ”Jewish”. And that it would happen again.
Rose, to be clear, my husband’s use of the term “Judaisers” had neither malice nor hatred in intent. “Judaiser” was simply a word used to describe Jewish believers in the early Church trying to bring Gentile believers under the Law, just as a “painter” is one who paints a wall. Both he and I are ignorant of any connotation beyond the simple descriptive value of the word as I’ve explained here. [A brief description of the term "Judaisers" can be found here.]
In addition, the intent of my husband in using that term was to say that just as Jewish Believers in the early Church were trying to make Gentiles come under the Law, it appears that (some, not all) Torah observant Christians are attempting to do the same today. Paul told the Jewish Christians to stop. If they wanted to place themselves under the Law, that was their choice, but they were not to impose it on anyone else (Galatians 2:11-4:11, 5:1-26). Paul describes the freedom of life in
Christ and how we go from living under the law (as good and beneficial as it was, those relying on observing it were also under a curse – Galatians 3:10) to living by the Spirit of God. That God, because of what Jesus did on the Cross, nailing all of our iniquities there and putting them away forever, can now INDWELL us, as the Holy Spirit . . . “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18 ) . We are no longer dependent on the Law for a conditional relationship with God, but we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and have intimate, personal relationship with the Living God because of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified and Risen! How awesome is that?!
Rose relays that the Law that YHWH established was never to be done away with. That it was the penalty, not the Law, that Y’shua came to destroy. [This next part is difficult to paraphrase, because it is a unique interpretation of Ephesians 2:15.] She talks about the enmity referred to in Ephesians 2:15 being between Judah and Ephraim, not between Jew and Gentile, using Ezekiel 37 as one explanation for that deduction. She goes on to explain that the whole house of Israel includes Judah, Ephraim, and others that have been grafted in by faith, [she does throw in some Gentiles there] and that the enmity that was slain on the cross was the enmity between those houses. And further that that enmity between the houses is not the Law itself, but rather the man-made ordinances that had been added by the Jews, not YHWH’s laws.
So according to this (Rose’s stated) interpretation, she concludes that 1) the Law was never to be abolished, 2) the part that WAS abolished was the “man made” laws of the Jews, not YHWH’s laws, and 3) that the removal of the man made laws made peace between the “houses” possible.
Ladies, please take a few moments to read all of Ephesians 2 to get the full context of what is being said. Yes, I agree with Rose that Jesus came to destroy the penalty for our sins, the second death that we all deserve. But He came to do SO MUCH MORE! Verses 1-10 chronicle the miracle of salvation. Verses 11-13 talk about the separation of the Gentiles from God but how they have been brought near to God through the Blood of Christ. Verses 14-18 bring Jew and Gentile together because of what Christ did on the cross.
In Ephesians 2:15 it states ” . . . by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations” and it more likely refers to the ceremonial rituals that rendered nonobservant Gentiles ritually unclean. That the verse says “the law WITH ITS commandments and regulations” (caps mine) says to me that those are parts IN the law and not parts ADDED to the law by man. There’s a lot there . . . please take time to read it. The chapter wraps up with how Jesus made us (Gentiles) fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household . . . Jesus is the chief cornerstone. In HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. The imagery of the reality of the indwelling of God in us through Jesus Christ is so beautiful. The whole book of Ephesians is such an encouraging place in the Word!
I posted “Why did Jesus do what He did if the Law is still to be observed” The tearing of the curtain . . . restoring fellowship with God . . . the atonement of sin . . .” Rose asked which curtain was torn, and referred to two curtains: one being the one behind which lies the Holy of Holies and the other one being one which Jews had put up to keep Gentiles out of the holiest place. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, where accounts are given of the temple curtain being torn in two, the curtain referred to is the one beyond which lies the Holy of Holies. The symbolism here is that we have access to the Father in a new way through Christ. HE is our High Priest, and by the Blood of Christ we have full fellowship with and access to God. Hebrews 10:19-21 also describes the “confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.”
Rose asks what it is about the Law, something that our Creator gave to His bride as a marriage covenant that was so beautiful that He promised to write that Law on our hearts (the law written on hearts of flesh instead of on stone) that is such a burden to follow?
God gave His Law to His people, the Jews. As I see it, in my limited capacity at this point writing this into the wee hours, 1) The Law was to point God’s people to their need for Messiah by showing them their inherent inability for righteousness before God. 2) The Law was a protection for God’s people spiritually and physically. 3) The Law was a way for God’s people to be set apart from the world. There are maybe some more points to be made here, but again, wee hours, so . . .
As a repentant believer in Jesus Christ, point 1) is fulfilled because of the Blood of the Lamb. Through Christ I am righteous before God (Romans 3:22, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2Corinthians 5:21, and my favorite, Philippians 3:8-9 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”). Point 2) still applies in some respects, as in the area of diet. Again, the spiritual aspect of the Law was completed in Christ. And under Grace, dietary laws are not mandated, though if you choose to practice the guidelines, that’s fine. Point 3) I consider this to be a very important point. Where the Law majors on rules and the externals, the Gospel majors on principles and the internals. The Law says, “Be set apart from the world by your outward actions.” The Gospel says, “Be in the world but not of it . . . be more concerned with the condition of your heart and relationship with God rather than if you’re following a set of rules . . . Go out in to all the world and make disciples of all nations!”
Also, the Law’s reach is limited culturally. The Gospel reaches into all cultures and welcomes all who believe on the Blood of Christ into the Kingdom of God. I write more about this in another post coming soon to a digest near you. First, I sleep =o). [That post is "Law Keepers - Part 3 - Thoughts on the Sabbath".]
My dear Rose, I love you still through our disagreements and discussions =o).
I love you, ladies, and my prayer for you all is “that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
During the time of these discussions on the mom’s forum, I started researching where these teachings could be coming from. I found out a lot. My next post will be an overview of some of the basic beliefs of Torah observant Christians, with subsequent posts on this topic detailing websites, teachers, and some of the doctrines from this Law keeping movement. I say “some of the doctrines” because there are some doctrines in the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name Movements that have one jump through so many scriptural hoops, I don’t know that I totally understand them (nor do I necessarily want to) enough to try to explain them! Stay tuned . . . I’ll try to get the next “Law” post up a little more quickly =o).
“Law Keepers” Series
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