If you are a child whose parents have come out of ‘churchianity’ and embraced the Hebrew Roots Movement or another similar Law-keeping view of the Scriptures, what is your view of the Gospel? Following is the testimony of one young man whose family spent several years pursuing Torah observance. Many thanks to Sondra (8thDay4Life) and her now 18-year-old son Jesse for allowing this post to be shared here at JGIG. When you go to Sondra’s site, be sure to scroll down through the Recent Posts section in the sidebar . . . there’s lots of good stuff there written with a tender spirit and a humble heart.
As with other testimonies at JGIG, this post will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.
If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), please email me at joyfullygrowingingrace@gmail dot com. From talking to those who have come out of Law-keeping sects, I understand that it can be a difficult thing to write about the experience. Many thanks to those who have taken the time and effort to contribute here.
Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving! I have so many things to be thankful for this year, more than ever. And no material blessing can come close to watching my children learn to know and trust God, to see His Spirit working in them.
Below my 18 year old son graciously agreed to share his perspective of what the HRM environment was like for a young heart and mind. He saw this world through a completely different lens, one without the filters of denial that protected us as adults.
As a parent, I was heartbroken to learn this is what I put my older children through, and that I could not see I was continuing the cycle of how I was raised in a legalistic environment. Only recently have they both begun to share with me the effect the atmosphere and teaching had on them. This post is the fruit of a heart-to-heart talk my son and I had that went till 2:00 a.m. The Law did its job.. exactly as it was intended to do. But the Remedy was seldom mentioned, and if it ever was, heavily qualified with conditions, both in words and our attitudes we projected. I grieve not only for my own kids, but the several others that we had direct influence on. I pray God can also bring good out of this in their lives, as He has for Jesse.
I saw a marked change in Jesse when God brought him to Grace. He was already an amazing son, with a naturally compliant, loving temperament, but he went from “good” to ALIVE.. and that was visibly evident.
Christians today are taught to be more tolerant of different beliefs, sometimes they don’t see the harm in what appears to be a slight doctrinal difference. Yet people are living in bondage not only to sin, but to their own beliefs as well. Another thing that is often overlooked is how alternate beliefs or perspectives can affect children; how they view God, themselves, and the rest of the world. I’m sharing my testimony in hopes that someone will see the danger of the Hebrew Roots Movement.
It started when I was about nine years old. My parents were under the impression that if they did more to please God, that God would bless the family more. The basic idea was that if we kept the law of Moses, and observed all the feasts (old covenant holidays), God would be pleased with us. When we made this change, my mother told me it was just an observation, more like adopting a new culture. We were gaining a new insight into what life and religion was like back in Bible times.
Soon after, we started attending a study group (or as they say in the Hebrew Roots, ‘Congregation’) based at a facility where children with disabilities could ride horses. My friends and I would play out there for hours while our parents would sit together and study the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).
A few years went by, we had been to a few different groups by that time, and eventually had started our own with friends we had made the whole time. I was a little older by this time, and I was listening to what the adults were saying. My mother still believed in Jesus, and the sacrifice he had made for our sins, and she thought I believed the same way, but it wasn’t exactly the case.
I believed Jesus died and rose again for my sins, but the obsession with the Law that everyone had gave me the impression I had to keep all 613 commandments to be saved. None of it made sense to me. How could Jesus die for me and still expect me to live a perfect life? I knew I wasn’t able to do it, and as hard as I tried to be perfect, I believed I was headed straight for Hell. I remember crying out to God on several occasions, pleading for mercy, and thinking to myself , “You don’t deserve it, He won’t listen to you”.
Not long after I turned 14, God led my parents out of the Hebrew Roots Movement, and we started going to a Baptist church. I was relieved to know at this point that I didn’t have to follow the Law of Moses to be saved, and that I just had to let Christ into my heart. But it wasn’t until I went with that Baptist church on a week long mission trip to Kansas that I actually got saved. The mission trip I went on to reach others, was really meant for me, so I could be saved. I remember sitting in the church building, my pastor giving us a sermon after dinner, and seeing the pulpit had a cross on the front. While I was listening, I started focusing on the cross. Being the 14 year old boy that I was, I started to think about how the cross looked like a sword, and how Jesus defeated sin on the cross. The image was simple, but it was powerful to me, and God changed my heart right there. I was free!
I know people go through much worse than I have, in a sense, I’m very blessed to have suffered very little, though when I look back now, I don’t so much see myself as I do another 10 year old boy, in torment, feeling unworthy of God’s presence, of His mercy. I hope that in writing this, someone will spare themselves, and their children of the bondage that is in the Hebrew Roots movement.
But until today, when Moses is being read, a veil lies on their heart. But whenever it turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:15-18
(Jesse said when he wrote this out, he opened his Bible for a reference, and his bookmark was on this Scripture! God’s exclamation point!)
Again, many thanks to Sondra and Jesse for sharing their story. The following diagram came to mind as I read Jesse’s story . . . one much like the one I saw when I was eight years old and which made it so clear to me that the Way to God is found only in Christ:
One thing that I’d like you to take notice of in the above illustration is that Jesus paid the penalty for SIN, not just for the penalty of the LAW. In discourse with those who pursue Torah I have found this to be a distinction – how do they view (and communicate) the work of Christ?
Was the work of the Cross meant to
- pay for the penalty parts of Mosaic Covenant Law, making just those parts and the sacrificial portion of the Law obsolete, keeping every other part of the Law in place (if you think this is the case, then please provide contextual Scripture to support that view), or
- pay the penalty for sin in a primary sense, restoring the spiritual life lost at the Fall when Adam sinned?
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It’s all about Jesus!
Having faith in
Who He is.
What He did.
Walking in Him.
Edited to add 8/14/13 – I wasn’t quite sure where to add this link, so I’ll just pop it in here. I hope it does not go unnoticed. This is part 3 of a testimony from a man who was brought up under the legalistic teachings of Bill Gothard during his childhood. I include this here because many of the families I got to know through the Momys Digest were faithful followers of Gothard’s IBLP and ATI courses/camps/conferences. Many of those families ’progressed’ into Torah observance; it really was a natural progression, and for them brought an ‘authenticity’ to stuff they were already doing, as Gothard incorporates many OT laws in his teachings. The following is available from a site called, Recovering Grace – A Gothard generation sheds light on the teachings of IBLP and ATI. I found that Part 3 of the following testimony fit in really well with Jesse’s story above, going into more of the transformation that the author experienced and continues to experience in Grace as an adult.
Two more pages that you may find interesting, as they cover a lot of ground regarding legalism:
- Editor’s Picks
- 20 Most Popular - this link includes a link to parts 1-3 of the ’My Childhood in ATI’ testimony
If you’re someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE. For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page. General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE. Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE. Be sure to check out the other testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable. May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.
Other related articles available at JGIG:
- Millennial Prophecy – Measuring Unrevealed Prophecies in Light of Revealed Truths
- Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement – An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley
- Tzit Tzit For the Believer In Christ?
- 12 Undeniable Truths That Drive Law ‘Keepers’ Crazy
- How I Became Aware of the Hebrew Roots Movement
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