• What JGIG Is:

    Joyfully Growing In Grace engages in an examination of beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related sects.

    The term “Messianic” is generally understood to describe Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah. Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish/Hebrew Christians or simply, Christians.

    Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish Christians. Most aren’t Jewish at all, but are Gentile Christians who have chosen to pursue Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics. Some will even try to avoid that label and say that they are followers of "The Way".

    These Gentiles (and to be fair, some Messianic Jews) preach Torah observance/pursuance for Christians, persuading many believers that the Christianity of the Bible is a false religion and that we must return to the faith of the first century sect of Judaism that they say Yeshua (Jesus Christ) embraced. According to them, once you become aware that you should be 'keeping' the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law, if you do not, you are then in willful disobedience to God.

    It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism than they do with the tenets of Christianity. Many reject the label of Christian altogether and some eventually even convert to Judaism.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

    Joyfully Growing in Grace examines the methods, claims, and fruits of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related, law-keeping sects.

    To borrow from a Forest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. 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.

    Be sure to click on the many embedded links within the posts here - there's lots of additional and related information for you to access that way, as well.

    Welcome, and may God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Hebrews 10, Willful Sin, No More Sacrifice, and Judgement, Oh My!

Those who pursue the observance of Old Covenant Law often tell Christians that once they become aware that they should be ‘keeping’ the Law (according to Law keeping teachings), that they are then accountable to that ‘truth’, and if they choose to not keep Feasts, Days, and dietary laws, that they are in willful disobedience to God, because sin is the transgression of the Law.  Then they will throw out Hebrews 10:26-27 as a passage to convince believers in Christ that willful sin, whether it be not keeping Feasts, days, or dietary laws or just run-of-the-mill regular sins  . . .  well, there is no sacrifice left for you, right?  They rarely will come right out and tell you that unless you keep Old Covenant Law that you’ll either lose your salvation or you’re not really saved, but that is the clear implication.  Let’s take a closer look . . .

From a forum posting by ‘armourbearer’, self-described as Torah-pursuant: 
“So before you ask…so are you saying we’re saved by the law?  I will say this:  Salvation is obtained through faith, not in the works of the law.   HOWEVER ‘works’ are a demonstration of faith/commitment to God’s covenant, and OBEDIENCE brings God’s blessing and protection upon His people.”

Here’s something a little more direct from a Law ‘keeper’ who doesn’t hold back what he really thinks:

From “Jeremiah Torah” on Facebook (his page has since been taken down), a self-proclaimed “Prophet at YHVH”: 
“Messy-anics say that you are save [sic] by faith and not by Torah. They like to use Israel being saved from Mitzraim and then given the law as proof. They say, you follow Torah being obedient and not to be saved. It shows your love for YHVH.

Here is some wisdom:

After you are saved and decide NOT to keep torah. Are you disobedient then?
… What is the penalty for disobedience?

If you are saved and decide NOT to keep torah. Do you then still love YHVH?
What is the outcome if you do not love YHVH with all of your heart?

Do you think YHVH is going to wave a magic wand and then every-body will automatically obey? If that is true, why did He not wave this magic wand in the time of Noah and saved [sic] all those miserable sinners?

You might be saved by faith, but you keep your place in the Kingdom by following torah. You can loose [sic] your salvation if you become wilfully disobedient.

If you think Y’shua is going to allow the disobedient into the Kingdom because he is full of grace, then the Kingdom is going to be a place full of disobedient people and we’ll be back to where we are today.

Do not be fooled! Do net [sic] allow your name to be wiped from the book of life, torah determines your end.”

Alrighty then, no mincing of words there!  You might be saved by faith, but you keep your place in the Kingdom by following torah. You can loose [sic] your salvation if you become wilfully disobedient.”

The Internal Conflict
I’ll get back to Hebrews 10 in a bit, but let’s look first at the internal conflict that exists for those who have come to believe that Torah observance is mandatory for those who have put their faith and trust in Christ (also called ‘One Law Theology‘).

Sometimes it’s hard to pin down those who pursue Torah observance about what they truly believe about salvation, though once in a while someone like ‘Jeremiah Torah’ in the example above makes his views perfectly clear.  This issue comes up regularly on forums and in discussion and the following is a summary of my observations of  what many who claim they are Torah Observant have come to believe about salvation:

The Law ‘keeper’ will swear up and down that they believe in Jesus/Yeshua for their salvation, and that there is nothing that they can do to earn that salvation.  They will tell you that salvation is by faith, and that the Law (Torah) cannot save.

However, those same people will also say that while they cannot earn their salvation, that once they believe, there are certain things they must do as proof of that salvation (see quote from ‘armourbearer’ above).  For them that proof becomes the keeping of Old Covenant Law.

That is a ‘Jesus +’ equation.

Conversely, the Christian believes that once we believe and put our faith and trust in Christ Jesus that we receive forgiveness for our sins provided by Christ’s sacrifice and we become a New Creation in Him.  Jesus changes us intrinsically, indwells us with His Holy Spirit, giving us the Gift of Eternal Life.  Our desires and actions change not because of some outward set of rules (law), but because He is remaking us in His image – to reflect His Character – from the inside out. He writes His laws on our hearts – love God, love others – becoming our Restrainer, our Reminder, our Conscience, our Guide.

Salvation is by grace, through faith in Christ alone; works having nothing to do with salvation.  Works flow from the New Creation that we become in Christ, yes, but those are not works of the observances of Law, but of works of service and love and the sharing of the Gospel with all peoples.  That kind of fruit stems from spiritual maturity and results in reproduction – that of passing on the LIFE that we have in Christ by sharing the Gospel:

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Ephesians 2:1-10
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 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.

Galatians 5:6
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Galatians 5:16-18
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Romans 1:16-17
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 3:21-28
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I think it’s important to note here that Torah folk are not focused on passing on the Life of Christ to the Lost; they are primarily focused on teaching Christians to become Torah observant.  You will not hear them tell of spreading the Gospel to the nations, but of spreading Torah to the nations.  The spreading of the Gospel, the message of the forgiveness of sins and the free gift of eternal life that the Apostles constantly risked and nearly all of them eventually lost their lives for, is not the Law keepers’ priority.

For the Law keeper, there is a symbiotic relationship between the Cross and the Law.  But not in the sense that the Law leads one to Christ; no, in the Law keeping paradigm, if you come to the Cross, then you must obey Old Covenant Law.  In the Law keeping paradigm, if you don’t obey Old Covenant Law, then the Cross means nothing - they proclaim this while trying to hold onto some version of the Gospel, which is really no Gospel at all. 

Gospel means ‘Good News’, and if our salvation depends on our performance of Old Covenant Laws in addition to the work of Christ, then we’re in real trouble, and the news is really not good!  The Bible states that

Galatians 3:10-14
10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

James 2:8-11
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a law-breaker.

What Law ‘keepers’ in effect are doing is posting a ‘One Way’ sign pointing in opposite directions.  They say that Jesus is the Only Way - only if pressed - and then they hope that you don’t notice the great big ‘but then you have to follow Old Covenant practices’, and further hope that you don’t realize that keeping the Law is an impossibility.  When you do bring up that point, they will usually come back with something like,  “Well    we    should
at least try!”  Yet the Scriptures make no provision for trying:

Exodus 23:13
13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you.

Deuteronomy 5:28-33
28 The Lord heard you when you spoke to me and the Lord said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

30 “Go, tell them to return to their tents. 31 But you stay here with me so that I may give you all the commands, decrees and laws you are to teach them to follow in the land I am giving them to possess.”

32 So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

Deuteronomy 8:1
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers.

Deuteronomy 12:27-28
27 Present your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat the meat. 28 Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

Jeremiah 7:21-26
21 “‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! 22 For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers.’

Joshua 1:6-9
6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous.Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Jesus reinforces the requirement of total obedience to the Law in Matthew 5, making the Law clearly un-keepable by adding requirements of heart motives into the mix.  Jesus absolutely buries us under Law in order to lead us to Himself.

Please forgive me for belaboring the point, but it’s important to grasp this reality:  The vast majority of Law keepers are not ministering the Gospel of Christ to the LOST, using the Law to lead them to Christ; they are trying to put the Body of Christ under the Law.  Their mandate and motivation is governed by Matthew 5:19:

19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

I’ve actually seen a Law keeper post that they wanted to avoid being a slave in the kingdom and that “Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is going to be a slave-beating MASTER in the kingdom to come…” 

Yet they are misusing and abusing the Law, using fear and manipulation to try to put those who are righteous in Christ back under the Law:

1 Timothy 1:8-17
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Christians who disagree with the Law-keeping view are called Antinomians – against God’s Law – when that’s not at all the case.  Biblical Christians understand that we are under New Covenant Law – the Law of Christ - love God, love others.  The Law in Christ is fulfilled by love and that we are to behave decently, as we clothe ourselves with Christ, not clothe ourselves with Old Covenant Law:

Romans 13:8-14
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Notice that the paragraph that exhorts us to behave decently points us not to the Law, but to Christ!

So a Law keeper may tell you with a straight face that they rely on the Cross for salvation, but they only tell you half of the story, for they also believe that without the keeping of the Law there is no salvation. In reality they do believe in salvation by works in a round-about-way, for while the keeping of the Law for them does not EARN them their salvation, the keeping of the Law,  in their world, undeniably MAINTAINS their salvation and according to their belief garners them position/reward in the kingdom.

Notice how a Law-centered paradigm results in an attitude concerned with self, while a Christ-centered paradigm results in an attitude concerned with others? 

So what do we do with Hebrews 10:26-27?
Hebrews 10:26 is one of the verses Law keepers use very effectively to convince Christians that once they become aware that they must still be keeping Mosaic Covenant Law (again, according to Law keeping doctrine), they become accountable to that knowledge, and, well, if they don’t obey Old Covenant Law then they are in willful disobedience and there is no more sacrifice left for them!  What does that equal?  Keep the Law or you’re not really saved.  Or don’t keep the Law and lose the salvation that you have.  Then of course there is judgement.

Some Law keepers won’t go so far as to say that you’re not really saved or that you’ll lose your salvation, but that you will be the ‘least’ in the Kingdom.  Others say that the curses described in Deuteronomy 30 will apply.  The concept of curses for the Body of Christ is a whole ‘nother post . . .   If your curious, just try to find where the Bible describes curses for those in Christ.  (The only time it mentions curses for those in Christ is if they put themselves back under Law!)

Here’s the text in Hebrews 10:

Hebrews 10:26-27
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Taking that passage out of context, it almost looks like Jesus’ sacrifice can ‘run out’ if you sin enough.

These questions arise:

  • How does one measure when the Sacrifice of Christ has ‘run out’? 
  • How many sins do you have in your allotment before you’re in trouble?
  • What about habitual sins?
  • Every day little sins?
  • Sins of omission?
  • And then there is the whole wages of sin issue . . . God very clearly states that the wages of sin is death!

It’s a very serious matter, sin, and not to be treated lightly!

Under the Old Covenant, both intentional and unintentional sins were punishable by death; either by the death of the sinner or by the death of an animal sacrificed on the sinner’s behalf.

God’s Law is clear.

So if you’re going to count someone’s sin against them, who’s gonna die?  Sin requires payment by death, yes?

Jesus took the penalty for sin, you say?

Right!

When you really think about it, it’s a silly, subjective exercise and we can clearly see from other Scriptures that God has put a reality in place which is much more reliable and reasonable when we understand that it’s not in our performance of any law where we find security but when we understand who we are in Christ and rest in His completed Work where we find security:

Ephesians 1:11-14
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

2 Corinthians 3
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Hebrews 7:18-25
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Hebrews 10:11-12
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

So we know that when we repent and put our faith in trust in Christ, receiving the forgiveness for sins that He provided at the Cross, we are marked, sealed with the Holy Spirit, which guarantees our redemption.  There is no caveat there that says, “unless you sin again of course”!  And when Scripture says that Jesus died for our sins – there is no specification or caveat stating that some sins, or certain sins, or sins after/before such a time will no longer be forgiven!

Jesus is the perfect High Priest Who has offered for all time one sacrifice for all sins . . . 

If you hold to the belief that if you sin after you come to Christ that you have to ask for forgiveness – are you not reducing the seriousness of sin?

Let me clarify:  If you think that asking for God to forgive you for a transgression that you commit as a believer in Christ is going to garner you forgiveness or favor with God, you are making sin out to be not such a serious thing – a thing that required the horrific death of God in the Flesh, Jesus Christ, on the Cross in order for it to be forgiven.

Did the Death of Christ on the Cross provide for the forgiveness of all sins or didn’t it?

Do you think that Jesus will come and die that death again to forgive the sins you will commit after you put your faith and trust in Him?  Do you suppose that your request for forgiveness is a suitable substitute for or addition to the Blood of Christ?  That His Blood was not enough?  Can you think of any Scripture that supports that idea?  1 John 1:9, you say?  Let’s take a look:

1 John 1:8-10
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

When we come to Christ we repent, changing our mind and heart about our sinful condition, about Who Jesus is, and we believe – put our faith and trust in His Work – acknowledging our sin (confession) . . . and then what?

The Bible says that He is faithful and just and will forgive us only the sins that we commit that are not on purpose?

Just the sins committed up until we placed our faith and trust in Christ?

No!

He is faithful and just to forgive us all of our sinS!  And to purify us from ALL unrighteousness!

Does that negate what is stated in verses 8 and 10?  No!  All of it is true, and none of it supports repeated confession and asking for forgiveness from God for sins already Bled and Died for!

We will see in Hebrews 10:10 where God says very clearly that He died once for all, and that through that sacrifice we have been made holy.  No caveats.  It’s done.  Finished.

This question was recently asked on a forum:

Originally Posted by alexeyhurricane:
where does it say in the Bible that there will be 3rd temple build by Jews???
just got into discussion with someone who says there wont be 3rd temple build???  where in the future temple will the Messiah seat where there is no throne in temples [sic] before???

That’s actually a really good question, and ties into explaining the proper interpretation of Hebrews 10:26.  Let’s take all of Hebrews 10 into account while remembering who we are in Christ, and of course, the question from ‘alexeyhurricane’, which was where would Jesus sit in a 3rd Temple scenario?

The short answer to the question is that in the past, the priest serving in the Temple NEVER SAT DOWN – it was prohibited because the work of the priest was never done – there was always a steady stream of sins from the people to be dealt with!

Let’s take a look at how things shape up after the Work of Christ according to the letter to the Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:1-12
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, O God.’”

8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

He sat down!  Something the earthly priests in the Temple were never permitted to do!  The sin issue has been dealt with once for all!

Hebrews 10:15-25
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he adds:

“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”

18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

So when the Scriptures say there is no longer any sacrifice for sin – it’s because the Perfect High Priest sat down. His Work is done. It is finished!  He’s not going to die again to become the propitiation for any sin you may commit in the future, nor is any other sacrifice required.  He’s already done the Work.  There is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

Looking at the balance of Hebrews 10:

Hebrews 10:26-39
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while,

“He who is coming will come and will not delay. 

38 But my righteous one will live by faith.

And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.”

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Some folks will say that vs. 26 says that we can ‘run out’ of sacrifice if we keep on sinning . . . as if the Blood of Christ really didn’t forgive all sin! That idea contradicts a whole bunch of other Scriptures – even within this passage (vs. 17, echoing Jer. 31). The key to understanding what vs. 26 says is in vs. 38-39: The righteous will live by faith and won’t shrink back.  We (believers) do not shrink back, but believe and are saved. The willful sin spoken of in verse 26 is the sin of unbelief – that is the ONLY sin that will not be forgiven. For all other sin, the sacrifice has been made, and will not be repeated, nor will it be revoked:

18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

What are ‘these’? Go back to vs. 17:

“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”

All that to say, no – there would be no place for sitting in the 3rd Temple - why would there be?  The whole design and purpose of the Temple was a completely different system of how God related to people under the Old Covenant via the Law vs. how He relates to people under the New Covenant in Christ!  Any future earthly Temple will not have the presence of God dwelling within.  God has chosen a New Covenant by which to relate to His people.  Anyone participating in future earthly temple rites will be spitting on the Work of Christ:

Hebrews 10:29
29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

The Temple was rendered obsolete by the Work of Christ.  The concept of God’s dwelling place shifts from a physical Temple to the spiritual Body of Christ according to the writings to the Body of Christ after Pentecost:

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Ephesians 2:19-22

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

1 Peter 2:4-5

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Okay.  Almost done now.  Let’s bring this full circle, shall we, continuing with these two passages:

Ephesians 3:10-12
10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Hebrews 4:14-16
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Back to the opening paragraph:  Those who pursue the observance of Old Covenant Law often tell Christians that once they become aware that they should be ‘keeping’ the Law (according to Law ‘keeping’ teachings), that they are then accountable to that ‘truth’, and if they choose to not keep Feasts, Days, and dietary laws, that they are in willful disobedience to God.  Then they will throw out Hebrews 10:26-27 as a passage to convince believers in Christ that willful sin  . . .  well, there is no sacrifice left for you, right?  They rarely will come right out and tell you that unless you keep Old Covenant Law that you’ll either lose your salvation or you’re not really saved, but that is the clear implication. 

That is a FALSE teaching.

The Life that God gives us in Christ is eternal.  It does not end; it cannot be revoked.  Our growth in Christ does not progress via the Law, it progresses via Grace and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at the framework for salvation and life in Christ beginning at repentance: 

The word repent as it is used in the New Testament has 2 related meanings – one having to do with a change of mind, the other having to do with regret:

metanoeō (repent)

1) to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent

2) to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins

“Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness.” (F. F. Bruce. The Acts of the Apostles [Greek Text Commentary], London: Tyndale, 1952, p. 97.)

and:

metamelomai (repent)

1) it is a care to one afterwards

a) it repents one, to repent one’s self

One place I looked used the word ‘regret’ to help describe repent/metamelomai.

For those of you who like to look at the etymology of a word, New Testament usage of repent traces back thus:

metanoeō (repent)

From μετά (G3326) and νοέω (G3539):

Strong’s G3326 – meta

1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3539 – noeō

1) to perceive with the mind, to understand, to have understanding

2) to think upon, heed, ponder, consider

and

metamelomai (repent)

From μετά (G3326) and the middle voice of μέλει (G3199)

Strong’s G3326 – meta

1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3199 – melei

1) to care about

Now those who adhere to a Law keeping paradigm will tell us that ‘repent‘ means to ‘return‘, and in the context of their belief system, that means to return to Law.  First, let me make clear, based on what we see above, that is NOT the meaning of the word repent used in the NT.

While Law keeping sects will tell you that repent means to ‘return’ to the Law, many mainstream Christians will simply say that repent means to turn away from your sins.

Here’s the thing:  If you say, ‘Repent and be saved’ and repent means turn, then you’re saying that you have to clean yourself up before you can come to Christ for His salvation. Is that what the Bible says?  No.  The Bible says that Christ does the cleansing:

John 13:6-9
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Peter realized that no matter how humbling it would be to bring his dirty, defiled, nasty feet to Christ for Christ to wash, that’s the way it had to be – we change our mind about who we are, who Christ is, and come to HIM to be cleansed.

At that point the Bible says this happens:

Ephesians 1:13-14
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

So one changes their mind (repents), believes, putting their faith and trust in Christ (Hebrews 10), receives the forgiveness that Christ provided for us at the Cross, is sealed with the Holy Spirit receiving eternal Life, and becomes a New Creation in Him.

Then what?

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Galatians 5:13-26
13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Romans 13:8-14
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Then Grace and the Holy Spirit teach us what to do/not do – we clothe ourselves with Christ Who teaches us to not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

It’s not that we have to strive to NOT NOT NOT sin, it’s that we need to let the Holy Spirit – clothing ourselves with Christ – let Him live through us!  Does that mean that we’ll never sin again?  No, as long as we’re in the flesh, we will sin.  But we rest in this:

Hebrews 10:19-23
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

What are the results of a focus on Law for those in Christ?

Law stirs up sin:

Romans 7:7-8
7 What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”  8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.  For apart from the law sin was dead.

Law produces death:

Romans 7:9-11
9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.  10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it [the commandment] killed me.

Law produces fruit unto death:

Romans 7:5
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

What are the results of a focus on Grace and the Spirit for those in Christ?

Grace teaches us godliness:

Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  12 It [grace] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

The Spirit produces life:

Romans 8:5-6
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

The Spirit produces the Fruits of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-25
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

For some the desire to sin instantly leaves them when they get saved – for others (as can be the case with some who have addictions or sexual sin, for example), it takes time as they learn to submit their will to the will of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.  2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Will we repent again in our walks?  Yes!  But does that mean to turn away from sin (works), or seek for forgiveness again (ALL of our sins were forgiven at the Cross)?

Or does that mean letting God remake, renew, our what?  Our minds - the birthplace of sin (see Matthew 5, James 1:13-15) – which leads us to change our minds – repent – about our sins and then our actions follow that RENEWAL – letting Grace teach us and the Holy Spirit lead us - apart from the Law:

Romans 3:21
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

Yay God!   \o/

So when a Law-keeper is trying to tell you that if you won’t put yourself back under Law that you are in willful disobedience to God, they are actually trying to get you to put yourself back under a system that the New Covenant Scriptures say produces death, not  life; a system that produces fruit unto death, not the Fruits of the Spirit; a system that actually stirs up sin, not a system that produces righteousness!  They are using fear and a misrepresentation of Scripture in an attempt to manipulate you into putting yourself under Law to secure for themselves and you ‘position’ in the kingdom, or so they think.

What does God say to those who are in Christ?

Galatians 5:16-18
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Resources for further study:

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Other articles of interest:

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.   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.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – “Prove to Me That God Does Not Want Us to Keep ALL of His Word”

Invited to participate on a couple of forums where Hebrew Roots folks have taken up residence, I’ve learned a lot.  Following is a post I wrote earlier, and I thought that the readers here might find it to be helpful in their discussions with HR folks they know.

One thing I want you to notice is the nature of the title statement.  If you frame it as a question (which it, in reality is), “Does not God want us to keep ALL of His Word?”, recognize that the question has no acceptable answer, much like the classic catch-22 query, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”  All we can do in a case like that is to present the truths of the Gospel and who we are in Christ and our relationship to the Law because we are in Christ, pray pray pray and leave the rest to God. 

Oh – one more thing:  this is a bluntness alert.  If you do not like straightforward bluntness, you might want to skip this one  .

Does God not want us to keep ALL of His Word???

From ‘whiteangel’:
As we enter the last days, things are gonna get pretty rough, I would rather being doing what the Bible teaches and not what man wants it to say. So help me out, please, prove to me that Yahweh does not expect us to keep ALL of his word. I know that Jesus fulfilled a part of the law with his death for our sins.

I gave my life to Jesus at the very young age of 6 (yes, I knew what I was doing), I was filled with the Holy spirit when I was 13. Haven’t always lived a great life but try and have asked for forgiveness for my sins almost nightly. This isn’t my question.

JGIG’s response:
I wish I could give more attention to this, but simply do not have the time today.

To answer the bolded in red above, on a practical level, God allowed the Temple and the Levitical priesthood to pass. He has not allowed them to be rebuilt/re-established.

The New Temple is Christ and His Body:

John 2:19-22
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Ephesians 2:19-22
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

1 Peter 2:4-5
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

And the sacrifices are now living ones:

Romans 12:1-2
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Hebrews 13:15
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

The Mosaic Covenant Law may not be picked apart as modern Torah folk do; they walk in either ignorance or rebellion to the Law as it is written and clothe themselves in Law when the Word says they are to clothe themselves in Christ:

Romans 13:8-14
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

If we were supposed to “put on the Law”, this would have been a really good place for God to tell us.

And if you are serious about the jots and tittles, are you out there working toward a new Temple and gathering up the Levitical priesthood?

If you offer sacrifices on an altar – you commit great heresy against the Cross and our God. Yet sacrifices are an inextricable part of the Law as it is written, and their absence is indeed proof that the Law is obsolete. God’s commandments? Not obsolete. His instructions to mankind throughout history have changed from time to time. The instructions to the Body of Christ are found in the epistles. Some of those things are found in Mosaic Covenant Law, some not; obviously the things God expects of His Body are not inclusive of Mosaic Covenant Law.

But you all go ahead and tell yourselves how since the heavens and the earth are still here so NONE of the jots and tittles have passed.

And then go on to DISOBEY and DISHONOR God and the completed work of Jesus Christ by playing ‘keep the Law’, and then go on to IGNORE major parts of the Law that you say you ‘keep’, also IGNORING the clear teachings of the apostles to the Body of Christ about the believer’s relationship to the Law in Christ.

The Law keeping community is a walking contradiction, people.

Romans 3:21-31
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29 Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Did you catch that?  Not only justification, but also righteousness come through faith in Christ

How do we uphold the Law?

By using it properly:

1 Timothy 1:8-11
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Who are you in Christ?

What does Romans 3 say?

Who does Timothy say that the Law is for?

Can we learn from the Law?

Yes.

Are we who are in Christ and clothed in Him and His righteousness bound to keep the Law?

No.

Nor is it possible, as God has removed vital components with which to keep it.  There is a reason for that, and it is found in the completed work of Christ. To keep the Law, one cannot just play at it. It’s like Law ‘keepers’ are in a flight simulator, thinking they’re flying around, seeing the world from on high, when in reality they are putting themselves in a box of isolation and submitting themselves to these:

1 Timothy 1:3-7
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

6 Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

Step out of the simulator and see the contraption that you have stepped into and have been deceived by.  It is elaborate and it is fascinating, yet it is a counterfeit, and not at all what God has for the believer in Christ, nor can one who is in that box go out and actually DO what Christ did command: love God, love others, go out into all the world and preach Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.  Mosaic Covenant Law cannot do that.  The Law of Christ can.

Love goes where Law cannot.

-JGIG

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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 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.

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Other articles of interest:

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12 Undeniable Truths That Drive Law ‘Keepers’ Crazy

Having debated with those in Law-keeping sects for the last couple of  years, the following are some truths that I’ve found to be of particular frustration and annoyance to them as they try to convince me that those in Christ are mandated to ‘keep’ Torah:

1. Yes, it is the NEW Covenant, not the RENEWED Covenant.  To get to the idea of a ‘Renewed’ Covenant, one must play fast and loose with the language of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament. (See also Hebrew Roots Movement – New Covenant or “Renewed” Covenant?)

2. Paul’s letters, read as written, really do teach that the Body of Christ is no longer under the Law.  (See most of New Testament.)  Paul was given revelation directly from Christ (2 Corinthians 12, Galatians 1, Ephesians 3) and his writings were recognized by the other Apostles as Scripture (2 Peter 3:16).  Christ foretold of greater revelation concerning the Church, making it understood that there was more to come, that the Holy Spirit would reveal much to the Body of Christ through His Apostles (John 16:12-16), making it clear that Torah was not the end all and be all to what God wanted to communicate to His people.  What Christ did matters.

I so tire of Law ‘keepers’ who say things like,

“If there is one person most MIS-understood and most MIS-quoted it is the Apostle Paul. Almost as soon as Paul penned his words, the church began twisting them to say the complete opposite of what he had intended.” (source)

The above is a common mantra throughout the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism/Law ‘keeping’ sects. They accuse the Body of Christ of, at best, misinterpreting Paul’s writings to Her, at worst, outright lying about the words Paul penned to Her.  What is really amazing is that everyone but those in the contemporary HRM/MJ movements and their sects have had it wrong for nearly 2000 years?  How is it that God would allow such a thing?!  Only now He’s allowing His Truth to be known?  Are we really to believe that?

When I heard the Law-keeping rendition of Paul’s letter to the Galatians (one of my first exposures to the HRM), it was almost comical to see how Paul had been turned on his head by those who assert that he advocates Torah observance for Gentiles.  And it was not because I am so steeped in ‘church tradition’ that I say that what I heard from these Law ‘keepers’ was error.  A simple reading of the writings of Paul reveal his intent, and Torah is not central to his writings, but Jesus Christ, His work, and His absolute authority are repeatedly established and hailed as paramount.

Paul centered EVERYTHING he taught on the completed work and authority of Christ.  Torah is a part of what Paul taught, but Jesus Christ – Who He is and what He did - is central to what Paul taught the Body of Christ:

1 Corinthians 2:2
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Ephesians 1:15-22
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
 

Then there are those who realize that for them personally to retain any credibility the Scriptures that Paul penned cannot be twisted to such a point where they support their theology and so they choose instead to throw Paul under the bus altogether.

3. God is eternal, Torah is not. Torah is created, not eternal.  There is an attempt in the Law keeping community to attach godly attributes to Torah, when in reality Torah is representative of God’s character and expectations, not an embodiment of them. You may hear the Law ‘keeper’ say things like,

“Torah was before time”, “God spoke creation into being, and what did He use to do that? His Word! What is His Word? Torah! What does John 1:1 say? The Word was with God in the beginning . . . therefore Torah is eternal!”

They will also take that train of thought (right off a cliff!) and say that the Word in John 1:1 is Torah and turn that into “Yeshua is the Living Torah”, totally misusing the Greek word logos John uses for the word, Word.  I used to think this was more of a fringe belief in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism and Law ‘keeping’ sects, but the belief that Yeshua is the Living Torah is a fairly widespread belief.  They are undoubtedly preaching a different Jesus.

2 Corinthians 11:4-6
4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”  6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.

4. The catch-22 problem with the ‘Yeshua is the Living Torah’ doctrine:  If Yeshua is the Living Torah, then the Law DID die.  If the Law died, then it is no longer in effect.  If you are a Law ‘keeper’, are you going to come back and say that the Law rose from the dead?  Are you going to pick the Law apart like you do to ‘keep’ it?  Can you pick Yeshua apart and say that only ‘parts’ of the Word were put to death?  Was the Law resurrected?

 Game over.  Law ‘keepers’ shred their own theology with such an unscriptural doctrine.  Not only is it unscriptural, it’s just plain silly.

Sound doctrine elevates Yeshua to the fullness of God as the Scriptures say He is (Colossians 2:9-17).  The doctrine Law ‘keepers’ believe diminishes Yeshua to a written code.  If you hold to the ‘Yeshua is the Living Torah’ doctrine, the Law died.

The Bible says that Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe (Romans 10:4).  That indicates a change in relationship to the Law for the believer.  It seems that sound doctrine has more respect for God’s Law than does ‘Yeshua is the Living Torah’ doctrine does.  (See also The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended to explore the believer’s relationship to Law in Christ.)

5. It was our SIN that was nailed to the Cross, not just man’s additions to or the curses of the Law. What was blotted out and nailed to the cross? What stood against us?  Convicting us in the sight of God?  That which the Law defines – SIN.  Law Keepers assert that Christ merely nailed human traditions added to the Law or just the curse of the Law to the Cross.  Jesus accomplished so much more than that.

**This entry has been edited after a fellow contender for the faith corrected me.  They say it best, so I’ll post what they wrote to me here (Many thanks CIAN!):

“The LOM did NOT die on the cross, Jesus did, and through HIS death on our behalf, all believers have DIED as well — The LOM is NOT dead, but WE are DEAD to IT (a crucial distinction) … It is our SINS which Jesus took upon His own head on the cross when He became SIN for us (He did NOT become the LOM) — I think that is a pivotal point to keep in the forefront of our thinking as we read this passage & others relating to it … WHAT is REMOVED in Col.2:11 ??? NOT the LOM (!!!) but our body of flesh, our body of dead works, our body of SIN … The decrees certified against us in verse 14 have been CANCELLED out and taken away (Because our Transgressions were forgiven, having been Nailed to the Cross in HIS Body) and the charges have been dropped against US since they were levied upon Jesus (in our stead) who PAID our DEBT BOND, He Himself being the Surety Forfeited because of our DEFAULT.”

Seeing that human tradition carries no authority to convict man in God’s sight and sin does, that it was merely human tradition or just the curse of the Law that  Law ‘keepers’ assert was nailed to the cross  simply fails in light of the facts and the context.  Once sin is washed away, the Law is done with us . . . it has led us to the Cross – and there we become a New Creation!  We no longer have the same relationship with the Law as we did before the work of Christ in our lives!

Colossians 2:9-15
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

6.  The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of sanctifying the believer apart from observing Mosaic Covenant Law.  The Holy Spirit works righteousness from the inside out, where the Law merely restrains sin from the outside.  Where the Law instructs man regarding his sinful condition, the Gospel transforms man regarding his sinful condition!  The believer walking in submission to the Holy Spirit will not be led into sin.  The believer walking in rebellion to the Holy Spirit will be miserable!

Galatians 5:16-18
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 6:11-15
11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

Does that mean that we as believers cannot learn from the Law?  Of course not!  ALL Scripture is profitable . . .

2 Timothy 3:14-17
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

7.  Law is not law unless it is enforced.  Those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism streams of thought pick and choose what laws they follow. They call it being ‘Torah pursuant’ – doing what they can as they are ‘led’. God’s Law does not allow for this practice! To follow that way of thinking is to cheapen both the Law and the Holiness of God Almighty!

Those who are Torah ‘pursuant’ completely ignore the very important enforcement aspects of Mosaic Covenant Law.  It would seem that the judgement aspects of the Law are part of the jots and tittles, if you know what I mean.  If you want to see some Torah-pursuant back-pedaling, see how your Law ‘keeping’ friends respond when you ask them why they don’t obey Deuteronomy 16 and 17.   (See also Is Law Really Law Without Enforcement?)

8.  The fruit of the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism belief systems and related sects is not good.  While attempting to sway you to a Torah-pursuant lifestyle one may appear to be sweet and nice at the outset, but consistently challenge them on their beliefs with contextual Scripture and look out for the teeth and claws!  (Edited to add:  An example of what I’m talking about can be found in a run of comments from ‘Brandon’ found HERE at JGIG.)  There are several who have lined up to be ‘witnesses against me’ at the judgement because I disagree with mandatory Torah observance for those in Christ.  Apparently I am not alone as one who has witnesses lining up against me . . .

This came to a fellow believer/friend of mine who had a civil discourse with such a person. Then this, after my friend clearly was rejecting Law keeping doctrine (bolding, color, spelling, and exclamation points all by original author):

“According to Heb 10:26 you are headed for the fire!! and this direction you are on will lead to destruction!!! and I am one witness who will testify of your disobedience in front of Yahushua (Jes*s), I pray you will obey YHWH (GOD) before there comes another witness!

And according to 1 Jon [sic] you are a liar so, dream what you will regarding your understanding… but don’t let your dreams keep you from experiencing everlasting life with the Creator of the universe! REPENT NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! 

My last post to you!

R~

GO AND SIN (LAWLESSNESS) NO MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…….eversasting [sic] “

Other Christians who contend for the Faith on debate forums have had similar threats leveled at them.  Beyond the obvious problems with the above, I’ve had false witness borne against me by Law ‘keepers’ countless times, one has threatened me with legal action for content on this blog, and I’ve received veiled threats because I stand by the completed work of Christ at the cross!

Galatians 5:22-26
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

9. Torah is not our access to God and His Character or His promises.  Faith in Jesus and belonging to Him is. There is relationship with God that is available to us that was not available to those under the Law.

Ephesians 3:2-6
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 11:39-40
39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

10. The hermeneutic (a method or principle of interpretation) used by those teaching HRM/MJ doctrines is fluid. There is no stable underlying framework from which those in Law ‘keeping’ sects interpret and teach Scripture. They make use of eisegesis over exegesis, transliteration, Midrash, proof texting, and shift back and forth between ‘Hebraic’ thought and Western thought when it suits their purposes. 

Some will even go so far as to use ‘re-translated Scriptures’ - those translated from what they claim is the original Hebrew or Aramaic New Testament writings.  In other words, they reject the Greek Primacy of the New Testament Scriptures, opening up all kinds of new interpretations of the writings to the Body of Christ as they purpose to substitute specific Greek language that the Apostles actually used in their writings with what HRM/MJ teachers consider to be Hebrew or Aramaic ‘equivalents’.  Key Biblical doctrines affected by this practice are those hinging on words such as justification, repent/repentance, Word, commandment, fulfill, etc.

If it (HR/MJism) were indeed truth, the belief system would be able to stand on a plain reading of Scripture and not have to build all kinds of theological interpretive contraptions to get Scripture to mold to their way of thinking.

11.  Those in Law-keeping sects seek to make the simple complicated.   Notice when someone like me comes along with a simple New Covenant concept like the realities of grafting or the Law of Love how some Law ‘keepers’ go on and on about how I “just don’t understand – here – let me throw 30 different Old Testament passages and a couple of out-of-context and/or misapplied New Testament passages at you to show you how you’re wrong”.

12.  Law ‘keepers’ cannot deal with contextual writings written to the Body of Christ, or their theology falls apart.  It is on the core issues of the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that belief systems stand or fall. Who Jesus Christ is, what He did, and that He instituted the New Covenant in His Blood, making a way for all men, through faith in Him, to have relationship with God – these are core issues that are muddied by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism streams of thought.  Some key results from those muddied issues:

  • Jesus for them becomes the Living Torah, not the Living God.
  • The New Covenant becomes the Renewed Covenant, a complete misuse of the language of both the OT and the NT, and indicating a turning back to Mosaic Covenant Law when the Gospel requires nothing of the sort.
  • A perversion of the word repentance, again saying that it is a turning back to God in the form of turning back to Mosaic Covenant Law, not in a turning away from sin and to the Cross and the New Creation that God desires us to become in Christ!
  • It’s always a Jesus + equation for the Law ‘keeper’ . . . for them it is believe on Jesus (Yeshua or however they choose to spell the sacred name at any particular moment), and then there are things you MUST do.  If you don’t you at best will be called least in the kingdom, at worst, be utterly cast out.
  • They are Torah-centric, not Christ-centric, resulting in obvious idolatry, rectified in their minds by the first point noted above.
  • Some resort to mystical interpretations of the Scriptures, using Talmudic sources and methods, not realizing where those things are rooted.  If they do become aware of the mystical roots of such sources and methods, by that point they no longer care, as they are so tied to the Law.  The veil is by then firmly in place (2 Corinthians 3).

truth like a lion

There are more points I could raise here, but a dozen is a nice round number and I thought it would be nice to have a post that comes in under 3000 words for a change!

(Full disclosure . . . added a few more Scriptures.  Clocked in at 3112, 3138, 3401+ words.  Oh well.)

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Other articles of interest:

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.   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.

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From 8thDay4Life: My New Sabbath

Used by permission from 8thDay4Life.  You can read 8thDay’s blog HERE.  Highly recommended!

My New Sabbath
By 8thday4life

This Saturday morning, as we were rushing out of the house earlier than we ever did to attend church on Sabbath (Saturday) morning, I realized how much joy I would be missing if I were still there – or if I was lying around in my P.J.’s till 2 p.m. like we did in the Hebrew Roots Movement.  We had Sabbath-keeping down to a science – just as the Israelites were told to stay in their tents and not cook, we managed to follow those guidelines pretty well.  We really did REST, and only met for fellowship in the evening.  We were pretty righteous.

Today, I can’t tell you what we did, because then I’d lose my reward, but I have to say, nothing in life has given me more joy than what I am doing now, nor have I ever seen God move in more amazing ways.  We are back to meeting on Saturday evenings like we used to, with our present ministry fellowship group, after a long day of …. work.  God provided more today for what we do, than we have room to even store, or time to sort. In one day!  What a waste it was to sit around and pride ourselves on how right we were.  This was not the obedience God desired, or blessed.  We were left spiritually dying, in agony – cold, hard, without compassion.  Now we are like trees planted by the water and He is with us and sustaining us.  People can argue all day in words about what obedience is, what God wants from us, and how wrong Christians are for not observing the Torah as given to Moses.  But I have walked in Torah, and I have walked with Jesus, and there is such a big difference, words become pointless.  It’s like having had McDonalds all your life, then being invited to a steak dinner.  Some people are addicted to the junk and don’t want the steak.  But I say… pass me the garlic butter and a knife.  I’m too busy to even proof read this so my apologies.  Praying for more time to share.

The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended

(Edited and expanded 7/9/13)  In the last several months the Law of Christ has become clearer for me.  Not that I haven’t necessarily understood what is the Law of Christ, but expressing that understanding has been challenging, especially when in a discussion with those who believe that we, as believers in Christ, are commanded by God to keep Mosaic Covenant Law.

In those discussions, I’ve been privileged to contend alongside some wonderful brothers and sisters in the Lord and have learned much from their perspectives.  A few are just Christians like me, some are learned students of the Word, a few are former adherents to the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism belief system(s), and a few are Jewish Christians, whose concise use of and perspective from the Scriptures I’ve found to be a real blessing.  None of those above distinctions are mutually exclusive, by the way . . . as all of the above have a wonderful love for the simplicity of the Gospel while understanding and being able to communicate the more intricate aspects of the Word.

This post by no means contains an exhaustive listing of the Scriptures referring to the Law of Christ, but rather a compilation of those Scriptures that have kind of tied it all together for me as I and others have engaged in discussions with Law keepers and with each other.

The words of Christ, coupled with His revelations to the Apostles and the Apostles’ instructions to and teaching of the early Body of Christ regarding Grace and Law, clearly describe what our relationship with Mosaic Covenant Law is in Christ, after the Cross.

The Law of Christ Defined
Understand that when a Law keeper refers to God’s commandments they are referring to Mosaic Covenant Law.  Those who adhere to the keeping of that Law believe that when Jesus says, “If you love me, keep My commandments”, that means keeping  Mosaic Covenant Law.  And we’re not just talkin’ the ‘Big Ten’, but also the ‘Jots and Tittles’.  Why they pick that covenant law over, say Noahide Covenant law I’m not sure, but it may have to do with their view of believers actually becoming Israel and as such being subject to all of the the Laws given to Her, but that’s another post entirely.

If conversing with a Law keeper about Law and Grace, one is likely to hear, So those who are born again can just do as they please?  I wonder why Jesus said we have to obey God’s commandments?”   This is a valid question and often rooted in the idea that many in the Body of Christ hold to what some term a ‘Greasy Grace’, thinking that if they place their faith in Jesus Christ, whatever they do is ‘covered’ by the Grace of God.  (See also Grace or Law?  How Then, Shall We Live? and Hebrew Roots Movement – Man’s Righteousness or God’s Righteousness?)

Is the Body of Christ commanded to keep edicts, regulations, and days, or are issues of morality and spiritual fruits and service - those things which are fulfilled by love, which is a Fruit of the Spirit, not a performance of the Law - instructed to the Body of Christ?  Can you think of any commands to the Body of Christ about Feast keeping or the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath or dietary laws in the New Testament?  Are edicts and regulations and ceremonial laws really commanded to the Body of Christ?

Law keepers will tell you that Mosaic Covenant Law was assumed to be adhered to by early believers.  According to them, that was never a question for first century believers, and that in fact, early believers were really ‘a Judaism’ that functioned largely as they did for hundreds of years under Mosaic Covenant Law.  In the Law-keeping paradigm, anything that Jesus did via the work of the Cross and the obvious differences in the practices and customs of the Body of Christ is minimized, though Jesus’ teachings to those under the Law and before the Work of the Cross is maximized.

A  favorite reference that Law keepers use in regard to the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law is:

Matthew 5:17-20
17″Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Taking that passage in isolation, one could make a case for the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law for believers, because, as anyone in a Law keeping sect worth their salt will tell you, you can plainly see that the earth is still here, isn’t it?  And looking around Shifty, you would have to agree, that yes indeed, the earth has not disappeared.  Well that settles it then!  The Law is for believers today!  And to be called great in the kingdom of heaven, you must teach these commands to others.

That conclusion, however, takes leaps over information about events that had not yet happened (the Cross, Resurrection and Ascension, implementing the New Covenant in Christ, and the consequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit for those in Christ) and inspired Scriptures written to the Body of Christ which did not yet exist.

From a thread on the Messianic Judaism forum at CARM:

Originally Posted by ‘Ben David’ (A Jewish believer who believes that all are bound by Mosaic Covenant Law, aka ‘One Law Theology’):

Why is it achoti, that all you christian [sic] when you want to make a point of the Torah go straight to Paul? why not go to yeshua, as I pointed to you? (Matt. 5:17-20). Where did Yeshua say that anybody, Jew or gentile have died to the Torah? Yet you want us to believe that Paul, who in everyone of his Epistles started with “I Paul, an Apostle and a bond servant of Yeshua….” was teaching against his Master? In your interpretation of the teachings of Paul, you are making him a lier [sic], and a renegade…you need to learn how to reconcile Paul’s writing to Yeshua’s teaching. so far, unfortunately, You are failing miserably…

You are also illogical, but that is for later….

Blessings
Dan

And a response from ‘CIAN’, a Jewish Christian who believes that believers are not mandated as believers to keep Mosaic Covenant Law:

Dan,
Here’s what Yeshua said to His Israeli talmudim shortly before the cross, “I have many more things to tell you, but YOU CANNOT BEAR THEM NOW.  But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine & will disclose it to you.” John 16:12-14…

Sadly, there are yet those among us Jewish disciples who STILL CANNOT BEAR to hear the teachings of Messiah revealed by Ruach HaKodesh through His Apostles which He did NOT DISCLOSE BEFORE the crucifixion <:-(

– CIAN

Indeed the Holy Spirit would reveal much to the Body of Christ through the Apostles, and Jesus Himself began preparing the way for the Law of Christ in John 15.  Let’s break it down:

John 15:9-17
9″As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my [God the Son's] commands , you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s [God the Father's] commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

12My [God the Son's]  command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my [God the Son's] command: Love each other.

Jesus’ command is what?  Let’s look at it in the King James Version:

John 15:12 “This is my [God the Son's] commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Keep the Law as I have kept the Law.”  Jesus’ command is Love, not Law.

Reinforced again in verse 17:

John 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

That is the Law of Christ!  Clarity is such a wonderful thing .  You’re looking at the beautiful simplicity that is in Christ.

The Law of Christ Defended
“But wait!”
those in the Law keeping sects will wail, “Jesus would NEVER preach against the Law or He would be a false prophet and could not be the Messiah!”  Wow.  I guess they got us there . . . or do they?  Why is it that Jesus would have to ‘preach against the Law’ to establish the Law of Christ?  Does the Law of Christ in any way contradict Mosaic Covenant Law?  Are there not different covenants established by God throughout history?  The Law keeper will say, “God never changes!”   Agreed!  But clearly God’s covenants DO.

And what about that ‘until the heavens and earth pass away’ bit?  If the earth is still here, the Law must be too, right?  Right.  How can it be that the Law hasn’t passed away, and yet we who are the Body of Christ are no longer ‘under the Law’?

Also from CIAN:

Achi, Jews who DIE are no longer obligated to perform the binding mitzvot of Torah — The Law of Moses does NOT die, but those under its mandatory requirements DO die, and are thereby released from their bounden duty to fulfill its deeds…

Zephania [another poster at CARM] asked me if Scripture says that believers (Jewish and/or Goyish [Gentiles]) are to walk as Messiah did — In regard to Judeo-specific Torah observance, the answer is NO because although Yeshua was born a Jew under the Law, He DIED to its obligations on the cross & through our spiritual union with Him in His DEATH and resurrection, so have ALL believers been released from any “til death do us part” burden of bar mitzvah in Him as well, whether we were born Jews OR Gentiles in the flesh:

“For while we WERE in the FLESH, the sinful passions which were aroused by the LAW were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for DEATH … However, you are NOT in the FLESH but in the Spirit” (Romans 7:5 & Rom.8:9)

I never teach against endeavoring to walk in a Torah observant lifestyle (!!!) but I always point out that G-d no longer mandates such for believing Jews, let alone for Gentiles IN Messiah Yeshua <:-)

– CIAN 

 Dead people are no longer under Law.

Romans 6:1-7
1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Romans 7:4-6
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

We die to sin, and live in Christ:

Romans 6:8-14
8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.   

Yes!

There is no instruction there about observing Mosaic Covenant Law . . . because sin is no longer our master, we are dead to sin in Christ!  And if we are dead to sin, then we are no longer under law.  And our spirit has been made “alive to God in Christ Jesus”!  Jesus didn’t come to make Law breakers into Law keepers, He came to make spiritually dead people into spiritually alive people!

Romans 10:1-4
1Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
   

Does the Law still exist?  Absolutely.  Is it still upheld?  Yes.  The Law shows the unbeliever their sin and points them to Christ. That is the proper use of the Law.  Once one believes, Christ is the end of the Law for the believer.

Romans 3:21-25
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. 

This next part almost seems to contradict itself if you don’t remember that those who are in Christ have a different relationship with the Law than those who are not in Christ:

Romans 3:27-31
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

And for those who are in Christ love fulfills the Law:

Romans 13:8-10
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

(For more on this, see Grace or Law?  How Then, Shall We Live?)

Like in so many other places instructing the Body of Christ, it seems that if the edicts and regulations of the Law given at Sinai were to be ‘kept’, Romans 13 would have been a really good place to mention it.  Instead we see yet another reinforcement that love is what we are commanded, and that love is the fulfillment of the law.

It is in Christ, not the Law, in Whom we move forward after the Cross. That fact is abundantly evident all throughout the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ.  I’ve had a hard time narrowing down the passages to share in this post because there are so many, praise God, but here’s one really good one:

Colossians 2:6-7
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.   

Law keepers will try to tell you that it is by the keeping of the Law that we are sanctified.  It is not true.  They cannot produce contextual Scriptures to support that view.  To get to that place of belief one has to build complicated theological contraptions that in the end diminish the completed work of Jesus Christ and hold the Law in a place of reverence and function for which it was never intended

Please don’t misunderstand me here:  I am NOT saying that the Law is not to be revered or looked to as a standard of righteousness.

What I am saying is that relative to the person and work of Jesus Christ and who believers are in Him, the Law is but a shadow, a fading glory, a weak, useless, and obsolete covenantal system (2 Corinthians 3, Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8Hebrews 10).

We must be careful to not elevate Law to a place in our hearts and minds that Christ alone should occupy.

What Jesus did matters.

References to being ‘clothed in Christ’, ‘putting on Christ’, knowing what is right and wrong ‘by the Spirit He gave us’, etc. . . . it is IN HIM that we live and move and have our being – not in the Law.

The Law of Christ is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit for those in Christ
A commenter at JGIG’s Facebook page asked this excellent question out of frustration:

Andrea wrote, “But I can’t love because it is a command – Because I am under grace [and not under law]. Do see how you guys make absolutely NO SENSE?!”

Andrea was referring to the quoting of this passage:

1 John 3:21-24 21
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

It’s a great question!  If we’re not under Law, but after the Cross God commands us to love – sometimes referred to as the Law of Christ – what’s up with that?!

Here’s the really cool thing:

Love is a Fruit of the Spirit as well as a command. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Though love is a command, it’s also a Fruit.

Do fruit-producing plants strive to produce fruit?  No . . . the branches bear fruit because they are attached to the vine/tree/plant which nourishes them.  Fruit is the by-product of LIFE, and it takes time for fruit to be produced.  If you are in Christ and are led by His Spirit, love will be a fruit produced in you.  If you are alive in Christ, abiding in Him, allowing His Holy Spirit to live through you, love is an unavoidable by-product of that relationship, fulfilling God’s command to love!

The Purpose of the Law After the Cross

The Law is useful when it is used properly.

1 Timothy 1:3-11
3As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. 5The goal of this command [parraggelia] is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law [nomodidaskalos] , but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

8We know that the law [nomos] is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law [nomos] is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Mosaic Covenant Law has become the center of the HRM/MJ belief systems, making Christ a means by which to keep the Law instead of the Law leading us to Christ and us living in Him. Do you see how backwards and out of whack that is?

Some take it a heretical step further, and say that Jesus Christ is the ‘Living Torah’ (scroll to the bottom of this page for an explanation).  Making Christ the living Torah is how some in Law keeping streams of thought get around the fact that they place Mosaic Covenant Law in the center of their belief system.  By making Torah =  Jesus (God), they think they avoid making Torah an idol.  Click on the link above to see how they twist Scripture to attempt this.  These things are a gross misuse of the Law and that for which it was intended.

Purifications, Feasts, observance of days, new moons, dietary laws . . . those things served the purpose of separating Israel from the nations so that the Messiah would be recognized when He came. Beyond that, the sacrificial system gave Israel a temporary solution to the problem of sin. The whole of the Law is to show man his sin and to point us to Christ!     

He has come!

Jesus fulfilled the shadows and types of the Feasts and days found in Mosaic Covenant Law, the sacrificial requirements for both sin and purification, has become our Sabbath rest, and our Perfect High Priest (Hebrews 7-10). What remains? Those parts of the Law that can be fulfilled by walking as Jesus walked – in LOVE (1 John 4, especially vs. 17).

Again, that is the Law of Christ!  John 15:12 -  This is my [God the Son's] commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  

And remember that though love is a command, it’s also a Fruit of the Spirit.

Those in the Law keeping community will try to convince you that keeping Mosaic Covenant Law is how we ‘act on’ or ‘walk out’ our faith.  That the better we become at ‘keeping’ Mosaic Covenant Law, the more like Yeshua we’ll be.  While that may be partially true on a fleshly level, we can NEVER keep Mosaic Covenant Law as Jesus did because HE IS GOD and WE ARE NOT GOD.  Whenever I hear an adherent to Mosaic Covenant Law say that we need to keep the Law as Jesus (God in the flesh) did, following His example,  I hear whispers of the Great Lie in Genesis 3:5b: “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (See also Identifying False Teaching for more on this issue.)

The Law was never intended to be the means by which redeemed believers in Christ are sanctified.  We are still here in the flesh, and make choices about our behavior every day.  Sin is destructive and a distraction from the will of God in our lives, and has real, earthly consequenses.  The fledgling Body of Christ struggled with the same sins that we struggle with today – and the Apostles dealt with those specific issues all throughout the New Testament Scriptures.  But they didn’t write to the Body of Christ about keeping edicts and regulations of Old Covenant Law, they wrote about issues of the heart and character and service to others and who they were in Christ.  What it all boils down to is what Jesus had to say in John 15:17 - “These things I command you, that ye love one another.”  Jesus’ command is Love, not Law.

Romans 8:1-4
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-25
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.   

19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Based on the above, the Law keeper will say, “See, the Holy Spirit enables us to keep the Law!”  But I’ve not been able to find anywhere in the writings to the Body of Christ that says that the Holy Spirit enables us to keep Mosaic Covenant Law.  I see where the Scriptures tell us that the sinful mind does not submit to God’s law, but nowhere do I see where the mind submitted to/controlled by the Holy Spirit is given the wherewithall to keep Mosaic Covenant Law.  I see where those who live according to the Spirit desire what the Spirit desires . . . to bear the Fruit of Love that fulfills the Law . . . where the mind controlled by the Holy Spirit is life and peace . . .

Romans 8:5-11
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  

Reading on through Romans 8 there is no indication that if we are controlled by the Spirit we will be enabled to keep Mosaic Covenant Law.  Nor need we be concerned with the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law.  Let’s go back to Romans 13:

Romans 13:8-10
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 
  

If we are loving others, we are not murdering them, stealing from them, committing adultery with them/their spouse, bearing false witness against them, coveting their stuff, or dis-honoring parents.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.   If we are loving God, we are not worshipping any other god but Him, we are not making a graven image, we are not taking the name of God in vain, and we are resting in Jesus, our Sabbath rest.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Another favorite passage that those who advocate the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law for believers is 1 John 2.  If you read the writings of John with John 15 and the above and other passages in Romans in mind, the message is clearly one of Love, not Law; Fruit, not performance. 

 1 John 2:3-6
1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.  3And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep [tereo] his commandments [entole] .

4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth [tereo] not his commandments [entole] , is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoso keepeth [tereo] his word [logos] , in him verily is the love [agape] of God perfected [teleioo]: hereby know we that we are in him. 6He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

“See,  it says if we know Him, we’ll keep His commands!”, the Law keeper will assert.  Remember that ‘command’ to the Law keeper means Mosaic Covenant Law.  Is Mosaic Covenant Law that which is referred to in the above passage?  Why would John refer specifically to the work of the Cross and its result - the propitiation of our sins - and though not directly referenced here, the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood, if he were going to steer us back to the Old Covenant,  Mosaic Covenant Law?   And what about the word, ‘keep’ used in that passage?  Does ‘keep’ mean to ‘observe’ as in perform the actions that Mosaic Covenant Law requires?

Let’s take a look:  the Greek word used for ‘command’ here is entole, which is used in a general sense when it comes to command, as in a precept/principle.  When Mosaic Covenant Law is meant, nomos is the Greek word that is usually used.  Click on the embedded links for the definitions to get a sense of the differences in entole and nomos.

 Now let’s take a look at the word, ‘keep’.  The Greek word used here is tereo, which means to to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard, as opposed to the Greek word, prasso, which means to exercise, practice, to be busy with, carry on, to undertake, to do, to accomplish, perform, to commit, perpetrate (as used for example in Romans 2:25 – 25Circumcision has value if you observe [prasso] the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised.).  There are 31 different Greek words used for ‘keep’ in the New Testament, so it makes perfect sense for us to look closely at the one that John chose to use in this passage and how that affects the meaning of the passage.

Are we really being told by John to keep (observe, perform) Mosaic Covenant Law (nomos), or rather to keep (attend to carefully, guard) the Law of Christ (entole)?   

1 John 2:7-11
7Brethren, I write no new commandment [entole] unto you, but an old commandment [entole] which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment [entole] is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8Again, a new commandment [entole] I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

Love, not Law; Fruit, not performance.  And that part about “I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment” and “The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning” . . . I sense that it has to do with the Promise given at the Fall.  What do I base that on?  “The old commandment is the word [logos] which you have heard from the beginning [arkha].”  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Promise given at the Fall – He is the logos of God – God in the flesh (John 1:1) , and John 3:16-21 come to mind as the fulfillment of that promise in the completed work of Christ:

John 3:16-21
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

I see this echoed here:

1 John 2:8
Again, a new commandment
 I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

The concept of sacrificial love is reinforced and commanded to us here: 

John 15:12-14
12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command.

And Jesus is the Light of the world:

John 8:12
12Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

One other verse from John’s writings that is a staple in the Law keeping cache:

Revelation 14:12
Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

“See!  Faith in Yeshua and observing Mosaic Covenant Law!  That’s what we’re supposed to be doing!” will assert the Law keeper.  Let’s break it down and see if John is talking about performing the actions that Mosaic Covenant Law requires:

Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep [tereo] the commandments [entole] of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Again, tereo, not prasso, and entole, not nomos.

John is very consistent in that his focus is on Jesus and on love (which is a Fruit of the Spirit), not on the performance of Mosaic Covenant Law.

Examine the Scriptures carefully when someone advocating that believers are commanded to keep Mosaic Covenant Law goes to John’s writings to prove their point, because whether or not they know it, they’re forcing a meaning into the text that John never intended.

I could cite more examples of Scripture passages that those who advocate the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law use to attempt to make their case, but the passages above are what tied it all together for me.  Dear believer, when someone is trying to convince you that you are bound by the edicts and regulations of a law Scripture says you are no longer under, examine those passages and their contexts carefully.

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Other articles of interest:

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If you or someone you know is in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect and are 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 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.

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Confessions of A Former Sabbath Keeper

The following is the testimony of one Christian who was convinced that Sabbath keeping was the right thing to do, and came to an understanding, based on Scripture, that obligatory keeping of the Sabbath is no longer required under the New Covenant.  While this article is primarily from a Seventh Day Baptist perspective, as you read you will find several relevant parallels with the issues dealt with here at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements.  And don’t skip over the endnotes . . .  good stuff there!

As with other articles posted here at JGIG, the posting of an article does not mean that I agree with or endorse everything from a given source, but find the core issues of the faith to be intact and the value of an article to outweigh any “secondary issue” disagreements I may have with a given source.   A link to this article will also be posted at the Articles Page here at JGIG for your reference.

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.  -JGIG

Confessions of A Former Sabbath Keeper
by Tom Warner

ONCE UPON a time, I became a Sabbath-keeper. A few years later, I came to see that keeping a day wasn’t a requirement for New Covenant saints, so I eventually went back to meeting with and ministering to a first-day congregation. I’ve known many wonderful seventh-day Christians. What I write here should not be taken as an attack on brothers and sisters whom I love, but merely an explanation for how my mind was changed.

A Day of Rest Did Not Mix With a Day at Church

In the late 1980s, while pastoring a loving congregation of first-day Christians in Ashland, Maine, I read Making Sunday Special, by Karen Mains. She argued that the Ten Commandments are perpetually binding, and that the Sabbath obligation had been transferred to Sunday. I was impressed, but wondered, “Where does the New Testament clearly teach that the Sabbath obligation applies to Sunday?”

That question led me to books by seventh-day scholars: The Forgotten Day by Desmond Ford (1) and From Sabbath to Sunday by Samuele Bacchiocchi.(2) Eventually, I was convinced by their arguments. So, Shelley and I and our two children began to observe the seventh-day Sabbath, while I continued serving our Sunday congregation.

Our early Sabbath-keeping proved to be a good experience in many ways. We would have a Sabbath-welcoming meal after sunset Friday, with opportunity for each of us, and sometimes guests, to tell what God had been doing in our lives that week. Then we tried our best to unplug from stress until Saturday sunset. I felt free to do visitation on Saturday – after all, Jesus ministered on the Sabbath. But we generally aimed to have a restful day that would be spiritually refreshing.

In order to accomplish that, we avoided things such as shopping, television (other than a good nature show, or a Christian video), physical labor, and intense mental labor such as sermon preparation. In place of these, we enjoyed relaxing Christian music, reading, prayer, picnics (northern Maine weather permitting), playing with the kids, and fellowship with Christian friends.

Some days we struggled about a particular activity, wondering if it violated the Sabbath; however, most of the time, we truly enjoyed our day of rest. The next day, we’d go to church and I’d work hard at preaching, etc., for our Sunday congregation.

Finally, I became convinced that I needed to be in a seventh-day church in order to be free to proclaim what I had come to believe. After three and a half years of a wonderful relationship with the church in Ashland, we decided to accept a call to a Seventh Day Baptist Church (3) in Lakewood, Colorado. Thankfully, God gave us grace to part ways with our first-day Christian brothers and sisters in a peaceful, mutually respectful way. We hated to say goodbye, but thought it was the necessary price we had to pay in order to “be true to the Sabbath.”

Our new church family accepted us warmly, and we enjoyed living in Colorado. Ironically, though, becoming the pastor of a seventh-day church ruined the restful day we had discovered. As a Seventh Day Baptist pastor, I worked hard each Sabbath, and I was not alone. Many of our members drove 20-30 minutes to church in Denver Saturday traffic. Choir members had to arrive an hour early for practice. Various people prepared refreshments, set up and took down tables and chairs, staffed a full Sabbath School program, ran off copies of the worship folder, and cleaned up the building after we finished, so it would be ready for he Sunday congregation who rented from us. Such was “church” – and normally well worth the effort – but, it did not feel like a Sabbath-rest. The “romance” of the Sabbath was gone for me.

Seeing Sabbath-keeping’s Negative Side Effects

I soon learned that seventh-day Christians (like all others) have their share of problems – and maybe a few more. We sometimes found it difficult to relate to first-day Christians without awkwardness. After all, they disagreed with our major distinctive, and more than a few of them regarded us as legalists. Feeling cut off from the larger body of Christ is not universal among seventh-day Christians; but neither is it uncommon.

I saw some “lone Sabbath-keepers” struggle along, worshiping by themselves or with only their family, because they felt there was no acceptable seventh-day church near them – even though there were good Sunday congregations nearby. One such lady from a rural area in Kansas visited our church and told me it was the first time in years that she had taken Communion! A few others I met attended a seventh-day church, but were unhappy with it. Yet, because other churches near them worshipped on “the wrong day,” they did not feel free to attend a more uplifting fellowship.

Certain Sabbath-keepers have a negative attitude toward Christian holidays, (4) such as Christmas and Easter, preferring Jewish holidays instead. Seventh Day Baptists are not generally known for this, but they sometimes draw in other seventh-day Christians who bring that sort of baggage with them. I met more than one Sabbath-keeper who seemed proud of his “stand for God’s eternal moral law” (especially, the fourth commandment), who then fell into very serious sin (cf. 1 Cor. 10:12). I counseled a Seventh-day Adventist man who was “well-established in the Sabbath truth” who eventually was exposed for an adulterous affair that had continued for years. It was tragic. From conversations with him and his wife, I gathered that part of his rationalization process was: “Why should I feel too badly about breaking the seventh commandment, when even famous Christians like Billy Graham and Chuck Swindoll go on breaking the fourth?” (5) It seemed that his self-righteous Sabbath mindset was partly to blame for his fall. I began to think Sabbath-keepers, especially Seventh Day Adventists (who are taught that they are the “true remnant church,” face a greater temptation toward spiritual pride.

Learning More About Church History

A year or so after becoming a Seventh Day Baptist pastor, I ran into a challenge to Bacchiocchi’s theory about how the vast majority of Christians could have been persuaded to abandon the Sabbath for Sunday. His theory was based on two discoveries: the Roman Empire had passed laws against Sabbath-keeping, which were aimed at persecuting the Jews; and, at the same time, certain early Christians in Rome were affected by anti-Jewish sentiments.

Bacchiocchi suggests that these factors led Christians at Rome to distance themselves from anything Jewish, and to forsake the Sabbath for Sunday. He believes they justified the change by saying it commemorated the first day of creation and Jesus’ resurrection; and, that Sunday was already respected, due to the popularity of sun-worship cults – therefore, the move would have been quite “politically correct.” Since the church at Rome enjoyed a certain prestige (perhaps because Paul and Peter had been martyred in Rome), Bacchiocchi suggested that almost all churches everywhere followed the lead of the bishops of Rome, who said Sabbath-keeping was not proper for Christians.

Originally, I thought this made good sense, partly because it fit with my “conspiracy view” of Church history, which tended to blame everything that I thought was wrong in Christendom on the Church of Rome. (6) Then in the providence of God, I met a Russian Orthodox priest in Denver. I found that I knew almost nothing about Eastern Orthodoxy, and was prompted to study its history and teachings. What I found made Bacchiocchi’s suggested scenario seem impossible.

Here was the problem: Orthodoxy has had a long line of metropolitan patriarchs (big city bishops), to whom they’ve looked for spiritual guidance. The eastern churches have had a great respect for these “metropolitans” as the guardians of true apostolic practice. They originally viewed the bishop of Rome on a par with those patriarchs. Later, though, when bishops at Rome claimed universal authority, that “power grab” caused a rift between east and west, and Rome went its own way.

For eastern churches to abandon the Sabbath, if it had been their original custom, would have been a very obvious, dramatic reversal of an apostolic practice (according to Bacchiocchi’s view). But how could church leaders at Rome succeed in persuading thousands of congregations in the east, as well as the west, to switch their primary day of assembly, if those churches had started out meeting every seventh day? If so-called “papal authority” was the result of a gradual historical process (as Protestant scholars, and even some liberal Catholic scholars, believe), it didn’t seem reasonable to think that early bishops of Rome would have had the power and influence to cause such a major shift in the practice of so many churches in the first three centuries of the church.

It seemed impossible to me that the Eastern Orthodox – many of whom had willingly suffered for their faith – would have been willing to change such a basic feature of their church life, merely because a distant bishop at Rome said they should do so. Of course my feeling about the impossibility of that happening did not disprove Bacchiocchi’s thesis. But it did motivate me to reexamine Biblical interpretations that had led me to adopt seventh-day Sabbath-keeping in the first place.

Reconsidering First Day Texts in a New/Old Light

Another thing I learned about Eastern Orthodoxy challenged me. Despite the differences between it and Roman Catholicism (e.g., the Orthodox generally practice triune immersion baptism, do not require belief in Mary’s supposed sinlessness, do not exactly believe in Purgatory, do not forbid priests to marry, etc.), there was one thing that was much the same: the highpoint of their worship is the Sunday celebration of Communion.

I granted that both Roman Catholic and Orthodox Communion liturgies seem to have added layers of elaborate ceremony to the original Lord’s Supper, as well as the belief that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. But, I couldn’t help but wonder if their common practice might date back to a first century Christian custom. That custom would have been the first-day meetings we find mentioned in the New Testament.

Three texts are generally thought to indicate a pattern of first-day meetings:

Acts 20:7 “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”

1 Corinthians 16:2 “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”

Revelation 1:10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet…”

These are viewed by seventh-day Christians as “proof texts” taken out of context. They contend that Acts 20:7, rather than indicating a practice of regular first-day meetings with Communion, was a one time special gathering of believers to share a meal with Paul before he left their region. 1 Corinthians 16:2, they say, instructed believers to set aside an offering at home each week, rather than telling them to bring it to church on Sunday. Finally, they believe that the “Lord’s day” of Revelation 1:10 is not a reference to Sunday at all, but refers instead to the seventh day, or to the eschatological Day of the Lord, i.e., the time connected with the glorious return of the Lord Jesus to the world.

By themselves, these three texts may not appear conclusive. However, when I considered them in the light of early Christian writings and practice, they were very difficult to dismiss. There is mention of a weekly first-day Communion service in Christian writings of the second, third, and fourth centuries, such as in those of Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Didache. (“From Sabbath” 221-298) Some of them refer to Sunday as “the Lord’s Day” (cf. Rev. 1:10); and some write against Sabbath-keeping.

In the light of those references, when I read Acts 20:7 concerning the believers coming together on “the first day of the week” in order to “break bread,” it wasn’t hard to see a link with that later practice of weekly Sunday Communion. And, if (as some seventh-day scholars argue) Christians in Troas usually gathered on the Sabbath, why was there no mention of Paul’s meeting with them on that day? The wording suggests that it was their regular custom to gather on the first day to “break bread,” i.e., have a fellowship meal/Communion service. It doesn’t sound like they called a special meeting to hear Paul, but that he joined with them at their customary Sunday gathering. That fit well with my suspicion that the custom of a Sunday Communion service in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches might have a first century origin.

The idea that most early Christians had a weekly Communion service also fits with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:20 where he remarks sarcastically, “When you come together in one place it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper …” Paul’s point is that they were doing it all wrong, refusing to share their food with late-comers, and even getting drunk (11:21-22). The wording of the passage implies, however, that when they came together for their weekly meeting, it was for the purpose of observing the Lord’s Supper. And on what day did they meet? A likely answer is found in the same epistle, where Paul instructs them to contribute a portion of their income on the first day of each week (1 Cor. 16:2).

Sabbath-keepers resist the idea that 1 Corinthians 16:2 indicates regular Sunday meetings. They contend that the Greek phrase par heauto literally means to set it aside “by oneself,” at home. But that makes little sense. Paul asked them to set aside something each Sunday so that “there be no collections” when he arrived (16:2c). However, a setting aside of funds at home would not eliminate the need for a collection of all funds when Paul came. Only weekly collections at church would seem to fulfill Paul’s wish.

And if, as seventh-day scholars argue, Paul were only commanding a setting aside of funds at home, why would he tell them to do it every Sunday? From a Sabbath-keeper’s viewpoint (seeing Sunday as a common day like any other), there is no apparent reason for that. They grope for reasons (e.g., suggesting that maybe everyone was paid on Sunday); but their reasoning sounds like rationalizing to me.

In the light of all the early references to first-day Christian meetings, 1 Corinthians 16:2 is more easily interpreted as another indication that the Gentile churches (if not also some Jewish Christian assemblies) were meeting on Sundays, at which time they would “break bread” (have a fellowship meal that included Communion) and receive an offering. The phrase par heauto (“by oneself”) need not be interpreted in a rigidly literalistic manner. It is more likely an odd expression that shouldn’t be translated “word for word” from Greek to English. After hearing all the arguments, I concluded that it seems to refer to a Sunday collection at church, rather than a private putting aside of funds at home.

It eventually became apparent to me that seventh-day writers often quickly dispensed with those New Testament texts that seem to indicate first-day Christian meetings. But, when pressed for an explanation of their meaning, they sometimes expended a lot of energy attempting to explain away their apparent significance.

Rather than viewing those texts in the light of references to Sunday meetings in the early post-apostolic writings, they come up with very strained interpretations that were no longer convincing to me.

Distinguishing Between the Covenants

Before I adopted Sabbath-keeping, I had come to see the Ten Commandments as “God’s unchanging moral law.” In that, I was influenced by Puritan writings, and by various Christian catechisms, which use the Decalogue as the chief summary of moral duty. Eventually, however, I came to believe that Christians create confusion when they say or imply that “the law” is a usually a reference to the Ten Commandments.

When the New Testament speaks of “the law,” it often means the whole Mosaic Law (the first five books of the Bible, believed to have been authored by Moses), with their hundreds of commands (e.g., Jn. 8:5, referring to Lev. 20:10). The Jews often referred to three basic sections of the Old Testament; and, we see this usage in our Lord’s statement, ” … all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Lk. 24:44). Sometimes “the law” can even refer to the entire Old Testament (cf. 1 Cor. 14:21 quoting Isa. 28:11-12; and 1 Cor. 14:34, perhaps alluding to Gen. 2; and Jn. 10:34 quoting Ps. 82:6).

According to a Jewish encyclopedia (which I happened to find in the Seventh Day Baptist denominational center’s library), there are actually 613 commandments in the Law or “Torah” (Genesis through Deuteronomy). Even before the time of Jesus, some rabbis debated which was the greatest, the second greatest, and on and on to the least important commandment. That explains why our Lord was asked, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?”

Jesus chose none of the Ten Commandments (in Ex. 20 and Deut.5) as the greatest; he chose specified Deuteronomy 6:5 – “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The second greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He went on to say, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:34-40), i.e., all the ethical demands of the Old Testament can be summed up in those.

Christ’s answer reveals that he regarded “the law” as including Deuteronomy and Leviticus; he did not see it as a reference to only the Ten Commandments. And, according to our Lord, the two greatest commandments are found outside of the Ten Commandments.

On another occasion, Jesus warned “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill… Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…” (cf. Matt. 5:17-20). In saying this, Jesus was upholding all the moral principles revealed in the entire Old Testament. He was not speaking of only the Decalogue’s ten commands. (I’ll say more in a moment about how Christians can “obey” commands “in the Spirit,” but be free from “the letter” of the law.)

What is the least important commandment in the law? I’ve heard some seventh-day Christians argue that Jesus’ warning was aimed at those who would come along later and say that the fourth commandment (keeping the Sabbath holy) as unimportant, and need not be obeyed. However, when we understand that “the law” includes the first five books of the Bible, it seems very unlikely that any Jew would have classified one of the Ten Commandments as least important, when compared with the other 603 commands in the Torah.

That Jewish encyclopedia said many rabbis agreed that the “least” of the commandments was Deuteronomy 22:6-7 – “If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.” (7)

I finally realized that to think only of the Ten Commandments as “God’s law” was inaccurate. To call them “the moral law” was also misleading. I found that there were many moral issues not addressed by the Decalogue, which were forbidden by other portions of the law (e.g., premarital sex, rape, sorcery, homosexual acts, incest, bestiality, mistreating the helpless, kidnapping, etc.).

We might have wished that God had divided the 613 commandments of the Law into neat categories (moral, civil, dietary and ceremonial); but he didn’t do that – even in the Decalogue. Though nine of its commandments plainly deal with moral issues, the fourth seems to be classified by Paul as ceremonial (cf. Col. 2:16-17). More about that later.

Certainly the Ten Commandments were central to God’s covenant with Israel, but not separate from the whole Law. The Sabbath was a peculiar sign of the Old Covenant, which God made with the nation (Ex. 31:12-18). In a sense, obedience to every commandment – even the ceremonial ones – was a moral issue for those who lived under the administration of the Mosaic Law. That law was in force from Sinai to Calvary (Gal. 3:16-25; 4:4-7; Eph. 2:14-16). But the New Testament informed me that certain laws were never intended to be forever binding on God’s people – at least, not binding “in the letter.” We “… have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6). Literal obedience to certain laws was no longer demanded of Christians.

For example, the Law required animal sacrifice. But Christians approach God through the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, thereby fulfilling the spirit of the Law. The Law required circumcision on the eighth day. We don’t obey that command literally, but have a “circumcision … of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter” (Rom. 2:29). Under the Law, it was forbidden to yoke an ox with a donkey. The application for New Covenant saints, is “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14). The Law required a seventh-day Sabbath-rest, but we find true spiritual rest in Christ himself (Matt. 11:28-30). These are the new applications for old commandments. This is how our righteousness can exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt.5:17-20).

I began to understand that Christians are under “the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21). He had sent forth his apostles to “make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20, NIV). Our Lord’s commands, addressed to and given through the apostles, constitute this new law. We find those commands spelled out in the four Gospels and the rest of the New Testament (cf. Jn. 16:12-13; 1 Cor. 14:37). Finally I came see clearly that the Lord Jesus is our New Covenant Mediator and Lawgiver, replacing Moses. (8) We are not to come to Christ for salvation, but then return to Moses to learn how to live. No! We are to follow Jesus’ law.

I came to believe that, when Paul said we are “not under the Law,” he intended more than what the Puritans might have thought he was saying. They thought he meant that we are freed from trying to be saved by law keeping, or liberated from the burden of trying to keep the law without the Holy Spirit’s help. Those things are true, of course; but Paul was saying more than that. He was saying we’re no longer under the Mosaic system with its 613 commandments and corresponding curses and penalties.

This is important to understand. In union with Christ, Christians are now regarded as having “died to the law, that [we] might live to God” (Gal. 2:19). In other words, the penalty of the broken law has fallen on Christ, our Substitute; so we are reckoned as having been legally executed: “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal.2:20). Our relationship to that Law is finished. We are God’s new creation, spiritually raised and enthroned with Christ, our Representative, in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3-4; 2:4-6).

The Law is done with us. We broke it and its curses have been poured out on us, in Christ, who “redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal.3:13-14). God now remembers our sins no more, and his Spirit writes the Law on our hearts (Jer.31:31-34), i.e., he motivates and empowers us to live a life of love for God and others – which is the essence of all the 613 Mosaic commandments (Matt.22:37-39; Jn.13:34-35; Rom.13:8-10; Gal.5:22-23).

Finally Facing Up to Colossians 2:16-17

Sabbath-keepers like to point out that Paul often went to the synagogue, or to some other Jewish meeting, on the Sabbath during his missionary journeys (e.g., Acts 13:14,42-44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4). “We should follow his example of Sabbath-observance,” they say. However, it became obvious to me that Paul was targeting Jewish meeting places as a missionary strategy, not because he felt bound to keep the day holy (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-20). There, on any Sabbath, Paul had a ready-made audience of people who were acquainted with the Old Testament Scriptures, which predicted Messiah’s coming, death and resurrection. If some really want to follow Paul’s example in this matter, they need to go to the nearest Jewish synagogue next Sabbath, and preach Jesus! (9)

But, what did Paul specifically teach about the Sabbath? He said, “ … let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Col. 2:16-17). In that statement, he covers three kinds of Jewish holy days: yearly religious festivals, monthly new moons, and the weekly Sabbaths. All these foreshadowed Christ, he says; therefore, we should not allow anyone to judge us in regard to these things. They are no longer an issue. Jesus is the great Reality; we need not be concerned about symbols – we have him!

Seventh-day scholars sometimes interpret the “sabbaths” of Colossians 2:16-17 as being yearly sabbaths, i.e., the annual religious festivals. However, Paul already mentioned those in the passage. It would be senseless repetition for him to mention them again. Obviously, by “sabbaths” (NKJ) or “a Sabbath day” (NIV) he means the weekly Sabbath. Bacchiocchi himself acknowledged that in From Sabbath to Sunday.

In a later book, The Sabbath in the New Testament, he reverted to the idea that the sabbaths Paul mentions are the yearly festivals. Evidently he realized that, if the weekly Sabbath was included in Colossians 2:16-17, then it has no more binding force for Christians than the monthly new moon celebrations or Jewish holy days. Oddly enough, Bacchiocchi eventually wrote God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, a book that recommends the keeping the annual holy days! It seems to me that Bacchiocchi’s rejection of the plain sense of Colossians2:16-17 put him into a rather unstable position, and so he continued to shift the other “pieces of the interpretive puzzle” for a while, until he felt more comfortable.

I know how that feels! I finally had to conclude that I had been wrong about the Sabbath being a moral obligation for Christians. It was an Old Covenant ceremonial practice (a “shadow”) that was no longer required. That explains why Sabbath-keeping is not spoken of as a duty for Christians to obey in the New Testament.

Bacchiocchi and others argue that since it was mentioned in the Gospels, it therefore must be regarded as a Christian duty. But, this overlooks the fact that the Gospels often record the common Jewish practices of our Lord and his disciples, who were under the Old Covenant Law. The binding force of that Law came to an end, legally, at the Cross, when the shedding of Jesus’ blood formally instituted the New Covenant (Eph.11-18; Luke 22:19-20); but, it took a while for Jewish disciples to realize that. So, for example, they continued to participate in Temple worship—which, like the Sabbath, foreshadowed Christ and was not a Christian duty (cf. Acts 2:46; 3:1; Heb.10:1-22). But, no Christian would argue that we ought to rebuild the Temple and reinstitute sacrifices!

Finding New Freedom to Rest and Worship

According to Hebrews 4, a “sabbath-rest” remains for the people of God (v. 9, NIV), but even as a Sabbath-keeper I could see that it was not a mere 24-hour day. After considering many explanations of that passage, here’s what I concluded: God’s rest, mentioned in Genesis 2:1-3 and Hebrews 4:10, began on the seventh day of creation week, but it continues even today. It was a rest of great satisfaction as he beheld the very good creation he had made. He ceased from his work and delighted in a job well done.

But since God knew the future, including how his perfect creation would be marred by sin and the curse (Gen. 3), we might have expected him to be troubled, rather than resting in the satisfaction of what he’d made. How could he rest, knowing what would happen to it? Presumably, because he had predetermined to redeem it from the consequences of sin (cf. Eph.1:3-4; Titus 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:18-20; Rev.13:8)! Thus it appears that the Father was resting in the saving work he would accomplish through his Son. (10)

This is the rest into which we too can enter. It is a true, lasting rest in Christ, by which we cease from our own works and rest in his finished work (Heb. 4:10). Salvation has been won by the doing and dying and rising again of the Son of God. We are assured that by coming to Christ and submitting to his “yoke” (his lordship), we will find rest for our souls (Matt. 11:28-30). That, I believe, is the spiritual reality that the Old Testament Sabbath beautifully foreshadowed.

There are also practical lessons in the fourth commandment, e.g., we need to regularly take a break from work, and we need to spend time worshiping the Lord. Under the Old Covenant, this time for rest and worship was to be strictly observed every seventh day. However, I learned that Christians have passed out of a kind of Old Testament “childhood” into a mature stage of New Testament “sonship” (cf. Gal. 3:23-4:7, NKJ or NIV), and are free to apply the principles of the Sabbath law, as we are guided by the Holy Spirit, without being bound to the “letter” of the Law (Gal. 4:9-10; Rom. 7:6).

One might compare this with strict bedtime rules that a mother may enforce for her three year old son. They are good for him; and yet, when he grows to maturity, he will be freed from the old rules of childhood related to bedtime. Naturally the mother hopes he will understand the principles behind the old rules, and will keep the “spirit” of them. For example, he shouldn’t abuse his health by staying up until 2:00 a.m. every night – even though she understands there may be a good reason to stay up that late, or later, at times. This is similar to the difference between the letter and the spirit of the Sabbath commandment, it seems to me.

We need regular rest and time for worship and Christian fellowship. However, we are not bound to use a particular day to meet these practical needs, nor are we required to fulfill them on the same day. For those who are working hard at church, that day may not be possible. While Sunday became known as “the Lord’s Day” among Christians, and became the common day for their primary worship services, nowhere does the New Testament tell us to keep Sunday as a “Sabbath.” It may be a very helpful practice to refrain from work on that day; but, it’s not a command. What, then, is our duty?

We are commanded to assemble regularly together with other Christians for worship and mutual encouragement (cf. Heb. 10:16-25), and to carry out Christ’s commission to make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey his commands (Matt. 28:18-20), and to gather frequently at his Table to give thanks and remember him, until he returns (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Which day we do those things is not the important issue. It’s more important that we learn to love God and one another and bear each other’s burdens, and reach people for Christ (Matt. 22:36-40; Gal. 6:1-2,10; Jn. 13:35; Acts 1:8). God wants us to be free to focus on the things that matter most!

Still Resting in God’s Grace

Thank God, becoming a Sabbath-keeper did not require that I abandon the Gospel. I never kept the day perfectly enough to become self-righteous. I have always fallen enough short of total sanctification that I’ve known it is only by grace that I could be accepted by a holy God, and that this grace is entirely based on the perfect obedience and atoning death of Jesus.

As a Sabbath-keeper, I reasoned that God sees the hearts of first-day Christians, and knows that they “walk in the light they have.” Through their faith in Christ, they are “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6), and are not condemned for their “unbiblical practice,” I thought. Now that I am a first-day Christian again, I hope my friends who remain committed to Sabbath-keeping will be able to regard me with that attitude. (11)

Please, let no one suppose that I intend to contradict the moral absolutes of God’s Word or deny the necessity of obedience and holiness. I believe that we are freed from certain Old Testament practices, but that we must obey the “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Any who call him “Lord,” but go on practicing lawlessness, are not saved (Matt. 7:21-23).

We’re not to look down on brothers and sisters who consider one day more sacred than another (Rom. 14:1-10). If we feel differently and have opportunity to share our views with them, we should speak the truth in love. Most of them keep the Sabbath in order to please God, and I believe he understand their intent, even though he no longer requires his children to keep a day. Indeed, “the Lord looks upon the heart.” I’m glad he does.

Seventh-day and first-day Christians belong to the same Lord and have no other hope but his free grace. May we rest in him and be gracious to one another.

END NOTES

1. Dr. Ford came to the U.S. from Australia, and was a popular Seventh-day Adventist preacher and college professor. But, because he dared to disagree with their unique “Investigative Judgment” doctrine, his ministerial credentials were withdrawn. He then founded an independent ministry, Good News Unlimited, 11710 Education Street, Auburn, CA 95602, which still carries his books and taped sermons. In 2001, Dr. Ford moved back to Australia.

2. Dr. Bacchiocchi and some of his books about the Sabbath have been well received by various seventh-day Christians. He himself is Seventh-day Adventist.

3. There are about 100 Seventh Day Baptist churches in the U.S., some of which are quite small. Their denominational center is in Janesville, Wisconsin. When I visited there, it was staffed by some of the nicest Christians I’ve ever met. SDBs seem to be more grace-oriented than most other Sabbath-keepers I’ve met. Though not nearly as well known as Seventh-day Adventists, their movement dates back to the 1650s in England, and to 1671 in this country. SDAs didn’t appear until after the Adventual Awakening of the 1840s.

4. Evangelist Ralph Woodrow, a former Sabbath-keeper, has written helpful books in which he recants his former Saturday resurrection, anti-Christmas and anti-Easter positions. For years his book “Babylon Mystery Religion” was popular with Sabbath-keepers and others who regarded the Roman Church as more pagan than Christian. He wrote that book as a young man, basing it mostly on Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons.” Years later, after much research, he withdrew it from publication and published “The Babylon Connection?” which exposes the many errors of Hislop. Ralph Woodrow has not converted to Roman Catholicism; but his protestant views are based on the Bible, not on Hislop’s sloppy scholarship. Contact him at: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, P.O. Box 21, Palm Springs, CA 92263-0021, 760-323-9882.

5. It is significant that Sabbath breaking never appears in New Testament warning passages which say that those who persist in sins such as adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, idolatry, drunkenness, sorcery, thievery, etc., will not inherit the kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). Under the Old Covenant, Sabbath breaking was a very serious sin. After Christ’s death and resurrection, it was not an issue.

6. One of the things that made me susceptible to Seventh-day Adventist arguments for the Sabbath was that I, like them, held a historicist view of prophecy, believing that the Roman Catholic papal office was the ultimate fulfillment of the Antichrist predictions. SDA’s teach that Daniel 7:25’s “little horn” who would “intend to change times and law” are the popes who attained great political power, and boasted of their authority to change the Sabbath to Sunday. I no longer believe that is correct. According to Bacchiocchi, the change of day happened early in the second century, before there were any “popes” around. The official Catechism of the Catholic Church (recommended by John Paul II) states that, “The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life…This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age” (sections 2177-2178). Even if later bishops of Rome made statements about the papacy having authority to change the day of worship, I don’t believe they were necessarily claiming it was a post-apostolic change. From the Catholic viewpoint, if a pope made the change, it would have been Peter, whom they regard as the first pope—not some later pope who’d gained so much political power that he could be regarded as a fulfillment of the little horn prophecy of Daniel 7.

7. Deuteronomy 22:6-7 may carry a message of ecological concern, i.e., be careful not to kill off the species by eating the mother birds that produce the eggs. And/or, it may have been intended to teach respect for elders, through a simple object lesson. Or, it’s possible the prohibition may relate to some pagan religious practice that we do not know about. Since there is no New Testament application of that command, we don’t have an inspired guideline for understanding its relevance for Christians. At any rate, it was regarded as “the least” important of the commandments in the Law by many rabbis.

8. We see a parallel between Moses and Jesus suggested by “event-matching” in Matthew’s Gospel: Jesus comes out of Egypt (cf. Matthew 2:15 with the nation of Israel coming out of Egypt in the Exodus). Jesus goes through a baptism (cf. Matthew 3:16 with how Israel was, in effect, “baptized into Moses” in crossing the Red Sea, according to Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:2). Jesus ascends a mountain to give his Law (cf. Matthew 5:1ff with Moses’ ascent to receive the Law on Mt. Sinai). According to some interpreters, the concept behind these parallels seems to be the idea that Jesus replaces Moses as the covenant Mediator/Prophet for God’s people (cf. Acts 3:22-23).

9. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 explains Paul’s willingness to adapt to Jewish or Gentile cultural norms in order to more effectively share the gospel with whatever group he was among at any given time. “…I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law….” This principle has led some Jewish Christians to avoid “unclean meats” and to observe the Sabbath, and the annual holy days – not because they are bound to do so, but because it provides greater opportunity to witness to their Jewish neighbors that Jesus is the fulfillment of those things. This may be a good strategy. But, they need to remind their people that they are not under the Old Covenant law.

10. This idea was suggested to me by the late E.W. Johnson, a Baptist pastor in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who published The Sovereign Grace Message; and by Rodney Nelson’s “Entering God’s Rest.” Mr. Nelson can be reached at 509-946-9588, or 1107 Cottonwood, Richland, WA 99352.

11. Unfortunately, Seventh Day Adventists have the idea that a “final crisis” will come when observing Sunday, rather than the Sabbath, will actually be the “mark of the beast” (Revelation 13:16-18). This makes them less sure, even now, about the spiritual status of believers who do not keep the Sabbath. More tragically, other things in the traditional SDA belief system make it hard for even conscientious SDAs to be sure of salvation. Some of their authors have become aware of this, and are writing helpful things about grace and assurance.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated.

Bacchiocchi, Samuele, From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investgation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity (Rome: Pontifical Gregorian University Press; distributed in the USA by the author, 1977).

Ford, Desmond, The Forgotten Day (Newcastle, CA: Desmond Ford Publications, 1981).

Carson, D.A., editor, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981).

Zens, Jon. “This is My Beloved Son: Hear Him,” Searching Together, n.d. My interaction with Jon Zens played a significant role in my theological pilgrimage on this issue. For subscription information, or to obtain back issues, contact Searching Together, Box 377, Taylor Falls, MN 55084, phone: 651-465-6516. http://www.searchingtogether.org

This article first appeared in the Advent Christian journal Henceforth, 22:1. (Spring 1995):27-40.

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Used with permission from UK Apologetics.

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Other Sabbath Articles

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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 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.

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Other articles of interest:

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101

Salesmanship 101 you say??  Whatever does that have to do with the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Movements?  Let’s go through some steps that a salesperson goes through as they try to get you, the consumer, to buy what they’re selling to see how those steps parallel the persuasive methodology in the HRM:

1) Identify the Target Pool
The first thing a good salesperson will do is to identify a target pool for what they’re selling.  I’m sorry to say that modern church culture is a prime hunting ground for the Hebrew Roots Movement.  There are the “health and wealthers”,  the “word of faithers” , the “signs and wonderers” , the “reformers”, the “dispensers”, the “shepherders”, the “mega churchers”, the“feel gooders”, the “patriocentrists”, the “dominionists”, the “reconstructionists” . . . not to mention all the different denominations and sects.  Sorry if I left anyone out . . . but I think you get the general idea.

Though the Gospel can be found in the above categories, the focus of each “system” of belief can stray from biblical Christianity in such a way that the belief system becomes the focus of each group, and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the maturity of the believer in Him.

Agendas outweigh foundational teaching.  Financial and/or growth goals outweigh growing the local body in Scriptural grace and truth and maturity.  Programs are governed by perceived cultural “needs” instead of the commands of Jesus to love God and love others.  Our modern “drive thru” mentality leaves little room for waiting on God to show individuals or bodies of believers where He would have them serve in his Body.  Having a “successful” ministry becomes the goal (measured in many cases by church wealth and growth) instead of a solid foundation in sound, contextual, Scriptural doctrine and obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

target-practiceThe result is an anemic Church, more steeped in church “culture” than in sound biblical doctrine.  We have Christian bookstores stuffed full of books spanning every topic imaginable.  The Internet opens up all kinds of avenues for information gathering not previously available.  The “post-modern” believer is subject to information overload, and where they seek enlightenment and enhancement of biblical teachings, they often end up instead with a dilution of Scripture, giving them a spiritual diet of watery gruel instead of nourishing, hearty meals that provide opportunity for genuine spiritual growth and maturity.

The Homeschooling Pool
There is another group of Christians that I’ve observed that are susceptible to the errors in the Hebrew Roots Movement – that is the Homeschooling community.  We (and I include my family in that community) tend to be an independent lot, overall.  We tend question the status quo, question things more than the average bear, and have a tendency to be a bit counter-cultural and open to new concepts and ideas, while at the same time holding to basic traditional ideals.  We are not afraid to embrace “unique” ways of doing things – if something isn’t working the way it’s being done, we are willing to try doing it differently.  Those qualities in and of themselves are good things, providing the flexibility that those of us who homeschool tend to build in to our daily lives of educating our children at home.

However those qualities can be a double edged sword if a family is in a place of discontent, woundedness, or rebellion in their place of worship or feels like they can’t find any place with “like-minded” believers with whom to worship.  Some prefer to “home-church”, while others find a “home fellowship” in which to worship.   I want to be careful in how I couch this, because I don’t want to lump all home fellowships together, but understand that some home fellowships are perfect venues in which those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements can (and do) introduce and promote their ideas.  Depending on how the leadership is set up (assuming there is any leadership structure or shared accountability at all), there is the potential for the teaching or “sharing” of false doctrine to slip through from families or leadership who are on “the ancient path”.

A recent discourse with one who has come out of the HRM states the case better than I can, in relation to both traditional churches and home fellowships:

I’ve seen a growing trend of well-known pastors embracing and promoting teachings of the HRM. These are pastors that are widely respected in the body of Christ for their opinions, biblical interpretations, scholarship, and spiritual discernment. So I think the church as a whole is at risk for being influenced by the HRM, because we tend to trust and embrace the teachings of those we look up to for guidance. I want to say that house churches are less susceptible to encountering false doctrine, but the truth is that even the house churches of the New Testament had to deal with it, including the false teachings of the Torah observant/HRM. The major lesson I learned in my experience with the HRM is that the yeast of the Pharisees is still alive and well, and that the teachings should be avoided, because a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Jesus’ warning to avoid their teachings is relevant for all believers, whether they fellowship within larger church settings or house churches. Since it only takes a little leaven to affect the whole lump, we all have to stand firm against it and be on guard.

In addition to the above, homeschooling families are, in their quest for good curriculum, exposed to Torah observant families on internet forums, in support groups, and even through suppliers of curriculum.  One such supplier is Heart of Wisdom, which stresses a “Hebraic approach” to educating children vs. the “Greek approach”.  While Heart of Wisdom does have some good resources to offer, as with any entity offering false spiritual teaching, where there is good, there is always that “little leaven”, as the writer quoted above notes, that you need to look for and to stand firm against.

Heart of Wisdom is very subtle in its initial presentation of the “Hebraic mindset”, but like anything, if you investigate the Heart of Wisdom website and ALL of its sister websites and forum, it is clear that it promotes the “Hebrew Roots of our faith” through and through.  One book in particular that HOW Publishing offers to homeschoolers as curriculum (and which has become very popular in the homeschooling community) is “The Family Guide to Biblical Holidays.”a-family-guide

From one of the critical reviews of “The Family Guide to Biblical Holidays” at Amazon:

I was extremely disappointed with this particular item. The cost of the book is not worth it. The authors claim to make efforts to educate people on the biblical feasts, but have included an immense amount of information that is rooted in cabala [Kabbalah] without addressing it as such. As a parent who purchased this book in order to supplement the teaching of Truth, I was dumbfounded by the authors lack of research concerning the roots of certain celebration practices. My own elementary school children were able to pick apart the errors in teaching and doctrinal half truths. This book should come with a warning label. If you are pursuing information on practicing biblical feasts the Jewish way: Buy. If you are interested in information on Biblical feasts: Walk! Just as there are many pagan traditions in “Christian” holidays, there are just as many pagan traditions in the “Jewish” holidays. Buyer be aware.

There is a subtle yet consistent undertone of the use of Kabbalah and its related practice of Gematria in the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism as the reviewer refers to above.  [More can be learned about this connection at "Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement - The Use of Kabbalah and Gematria".  Highly Recommended.]

One mom relayed to me that in the homeschooling support group her family belongs to her family is the only family who is not Torah observant.  The families that have taken on Torah observance all have the “Family Guide to Biblical Holidays” in common.  The really interesting thing is that these families bought the book as curriculum to learn about Biblical Feasts and came away feeling commanded to keep not only the Feasts, but to become completely Torah observant.  There is no such command to the Body of Christ to keep the Law or the Feasts.

Conclusions
The realities of the shortcomings in the Church today prime many for the “getting back to the way early believers worshipped” and the “getting back to the Hebrew/Jewish roots of our faith” that the HRM claims to offer.  Teachers in the HRM systematically dismantle elements of both the modern and traditional Church (not without justification in some cases), replacing what they have torn down with a house of contradictions and doctrine woven in such a way that it can be difficult to discern its error.  Those in the Church who are unsatisfied, immature in their faith, disgruntled, wounded, or rebellious are bit by bit led from the error they may be experiencing in their current circumstance into compounded error in the HRM which has been dressed up in the seeming “authenticity” of Messianic Christianity.

NOTE:
I think the point needs to be made here that there are healthy churches out there!  It may take patient searching and lots of visiting, but they do exist!  I can say this with confidence, as our family is blessed to be in a healthy church.  Whether one finds a healthy church or home fellowship is partly determined by the attitude of one’s heart.  If you’re looking for the “perfect” church with “like-minded” believers, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and discontent.  There is no such place, as the Church is made up of imperfect believers – us.  Look for a healthy church, not a perfect one.  Focus on the Gospel being of primary importance, along with the core, indisputable matters of the faith.  Measure any church or home fellowship by those standards and by the commands of Jesus to love God and love others, and within those parameters you will find a healthy place in which to gather, worship, and serve with fellow Christians.

2) Establish the Need
In part, because of some real and deserved discontent in much of the modern Church today, the Hebrew Roots Movement makes use of that discontent in such a way as to establish something that has the appearance of authenticity.  In effect, they validate one’s discontent (and/or immaturity, woundedness, or rebellion – whether or not it is justified) and provides a possible explanation for one’s unhappiness in Christianity – that one is in fact being “drawn back to the Hebraic Roots of one’s faith”.

The HRM systematically tears down the orthodox (small ‘o’) tenets of biblical Christianity as being “Hellenized” , then systematically rebuilds an entirely new perspective on Scripture, based on “Hebraic” systems of thought, language, and customs.  [You can read more information about about the true influences of Hellenism on both Judaism (both BCE and CE) and the early Church at "Hebrew Roots Movement - The Issue of "Hellenization" here at JGIG.  Highly Recommended.]  The result of HRM teachings regarding Hellenistic vs. Hebraic thought and perspective is the 800px-raphael_school_of_athenssignificant minimizing of the Gospel and an inappropriate elevation of the Torah and “being a part of” Israel.  The simplicity of the Gospel for all tongues, tribes, and nations fades and eventually disappears under the weight of the Laws and traditions required by the “Hebraic mindset.”

The HRM establishes a further need for their belief system by framing the Church of the last 2000 years as being rooted in paganism.    No facet of the Church is exempt – from Catholicism (which is indeed steeped in extra-biblical doctrine and practices) to Protestantism to Evangelicism to Fundamentalism, etc. - all are indicted by the HRM as at least being influenced by and at worst practicing paganism in one form or another throughout the ages.  In Sheep Wrecked’s Testimony, one portion in her story brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it:

That first yesod class broke my heart.  I truly believed that I “had missed it”. I completely fell apart in the car on the way home, weeping non-stop for two days in repentance for the “error” that I had been taught my whole life in “church/babylon”.  I totally believed I had found the “truth” I had been searching for.  I was elated, but very misled, as I immersed myself in a new life style and new theology which systematically worked against me.  It eventually became a burden and a yoke that I could not bear.  I was absorbing another Gospel and it weighed so heavily on me that I could physically feel it.  I did not comprehend then why there was an underlying feeling of weariness and oppression that I could not shake. 

A  number of books feed into the Hebrew Roots Movement’s cycle of paranoia, including “Fossilized Customs” by Lew White, “Come Out of Her My People” by CJ Koster, “Too Long in the Sun” by Richard Rives, and the grand-daddy of them all, “The Two Babylons”, by Alexander Hislop – the book which is the basis for many modern books on paganism in the Church.  While there is some truth to some of their charges, the points on paganism found in these books and books like them are taken way too far by the HRM.  They inflate the influence of pagan practices  and Hellenistic culture as well as exercise poor scholarship in research [on purpose?], linking historical events (where their historical accuracy is tenuous at best in many cases) to practices in the Church that really have no basis in reality at all.  A good resource examining the claims of the above titles is the book, The Babylon Connection? by Ralph Woodrow, who came out of a Law-keeping lifestyle many years ago.

Some in the HRM leadership even see themselves as being the completion of the Reformation!  One Hebrew Roots leader wrote me an email (which I may post someday, just for fun) part of which stated:

“What about those of us who see our Messianic faith as continuing the work of a John Calvin or a John Wesley?”

My response:

I would say that some serious re-evaluation of your belief system on your part is in order.  Calvin and Wesley sought to bring the Gospel back to the simplicity that God intended for it to have.  In my opinion, the HRM, wherever you place yourself on that spectrum, seeks to complicate the Gospel, removing or minimizing the completed work of the Cross and adding the works of man.  Calvin and Wesley, I dare say, would not approve.” 

3)  Fill that need
Once you establish a need, you need to fill that need, or provide a solution.  Once someone had been convinced that Christianity has been in error – indeed that it is a false religion according to some in the HRM, false teachers can swoop in with their “secret knowledge” and “hidden insight”.  This goes for ALL false belief systems, by the way, not just the Hebrew Roots Movement.

The Hebrew Roots/Messianic movement determines to fill that  need with the efforts of man to keep a Covenant we, in Christ, are no longer under.  And Christians who become convinced that they’ve been “doing it all wrong” for so long are perfect targets.  They feel a need to “make up” for their error.  It’s a perfect set-up for the introduction to a works-based belief system.

Yep, everything will fall into place when you start to keep Torah.  Special insight, hidden knowledge, fascinating culture and a systematic re-working of the doctrines that that those in the HRM have convinced you are false, needing replacement from the context of the “Hebraic mindset”.

There are some consistent, key ways that I’ve observed how the HRM pulls this off:

* They systematically tear down the cultural Church, not without some cause, but deftly mix valid criticisms with invalid ones, bringing about the idea that the entire Church has been in error for all but the first century.  Not only that, but they will try to convince you that the “true” religion of the early believers in Christ is a perpetuation of the practice of Torah observance, and not “Christianity” at all!  To pull this off, they do one or all of three things:

1.) They will try to convince you that the belief system that you have been subjected to since the first century has been “Hellenized”, stripping “true first century beliefs” from their origins.  They will tell you that you engage in pagan sun worship and idolatry, not to mention blatant disobedience to God’s Law.  For an in-depth study dealing with these accusations by the HRM, refer to the post, “Hebrew Roots Movement – The Issue of ‘Hellenization’ “.

2.) They will re-define the New Covenant, changing it into a “renewed” Covenant, which is clearly communicated in the New Testament to be a NEW Covenant.  Refer to the post, “Hebrew Roots Movement – New Covenant or ‘Renewed’ Covenant” for an overview of the HRM position and an in-depth word study proving the “renewed” position to be false.

3.) They will try to convince you that though a “New Covenant” exists, we are not yet under that New Covenant, and as as such, we must still “keep” Old Covenant Law.  They will mis-use prophecy and the words of Jesus to support their position – always taken out of context and/or will mis-use the original language of a text in effort to support their error.

* They distort the biblical concept of repentance.  For the redeemed believer in Christ, when we repent, we recognize our sin and Who Jesus is, and turn to the Grace of God and the completed work of Christ Jesus at the Cross for our salvation.  To one in the HRM, repentance means to turn away from their sin and toward the Law of God, turning back to the keeping of Law with Jesus as the “Safety Net” for when they fail.  The Biblical definition of repentance is to have a change of mind and heart, recognizing our sin, recognizing God’s Provision in Christ, and letting the Holy Spirit renew us, resulting in the changing of our behavior.  For articles exploring this issue more, see “Hebrew Roots Movement – The Perversion of Repentance“, “Repentance For Those In Christ: A One Time Thing or an Every-Time-We-Sin Thing?“, and “Hebrew Roots Movement – Hebrews 10, Willful Sin, No More Sacrifice, and Judgement, Oh My!

* Sanctification and the maintaining of their “salvation” is not in the hands of God, but in their own hands, dependant on their keeping of the Laws of the Old Covenant.  Most in the HRM will try to deny this reality in their belief system, but if you systematically take each of their beliefs and see where they take you, there is no denying that their system of belief is upheld not by the Grace of God, but by the works of man.  I posed the following questions to some HRMers on a forum recently:

Under the Old Covenant, certain laws applied to certain people (encompassing all Israelites, then sub-groups such as male, female, priests, for example). These laws were not optional. If there were laws that applied to you, you had to do ALL of them. To not do them was punishable by expulsion from the community of Israel or death, as was called for in the Law.

Makes one wonder . . . most in the HRM say that keeping the Law is not required for salvation and that we should keep the Law because we love God and want to please Him . . . yet if Israel did not keep the Law, there was punishment – either expulsion from Israel or death. In that context, does that mean that we can “lose” our salvation for not obeying Mosaic Law? If we “become Israel”, and we fail to “keep” the Law are we then expelled from the community of Israel or worse yet, is the second death re-imposed on us as “law-breakers”? HRMers will say that “oh no, your salvation is not dependent on keeping the Law”, yet the Law itself does not support that claim. You can’t have Law without enforcement. The two go hand in hand.

One needs to first determine what law one is under before one determines to “do” it.

In the era after the completed work of Christ, are we under the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses given at Sinai, or the New Covenant, the Law of Christ, the Law of Love, forged in the blood of Christ?

4)  Overcoming objections
The people I’ve come across that were once involved with but are now out of the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism or its sects are not unintelligent people.  As a rule, I have found that their number one goal is to worship God in a manner pleasing to Him, unencumbered by human traditions. (For an ironic twist regarding this desire, see “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria”. )

Questions proselytes have had have been addressed with “special knowledge” and “hidden insights” as those in the leadership and laity of the HRM rattle on about linguistics, church history, and the re-working of pivotal doctrines.  Following is a glossary definition I put together to describe one method used by those in the HRM to establish superiority as they endeavor to answer questions/objections:  

Hebrew-ismsOkay, I made that one up.  “Hebrew-isms” is a word I’m putting here to describe how those in the Hebrew Roots Movement choose to speak and communicate matters of theological thought.  Using the Sacred Name(s) exclusively (YHWH/Yeshua), would be one example,  using the Hebrew “Ruach HaKodesh” instead of using English to refer to the Holy Spirit, another. 

Leadership will also use Hebrew instead of English when referencing Bible passages from their own “translations” (see “Hebrew Roots Movement - Messin’ With the Word”) as will laity when exposed long enough to their new paradigm.  The book of “Matthew” becomes “Matityahu”, “John” becomes “Jochanan”, etc.  “Brit Hadashah” is a big one, which means “Renewed Covenant”, not “New Covenant”. [Great article detailing the language errors the HRM engages in to "prove" that the Covenant is "renewed" not "new" can be found HERE.]   “Renewed Covenant” has the sense of going back to the Law, a renewing of the Old Covenant – not entering into the newness of life that the New Covenant brings.  The vernacular of the details of the Feasts is also an element, not a bad thing in itself, as the Feasts paint a powerful picture of the reality that is in Christ. 

However, all that astute language usage becomes a platform of superiority on which HRM leadership can stand upon above their “students” and on which HRM laity can stand upon above their potential “converts” as they lead them into a Hebrew Roots mindset.  The platform delivers in a couple of ways: 

1) It’s very impressive and gives one the air of superior knowledge and wisdom, enticing the hearer to place unearned and untested respect and weight in the speaker’s words.

2) It can be a diversionary tactic, distracting the hearer from the false doctrine being delivered amidst the flurry of unfamiliar language.

There comes with Hebrew-isms’ platform of superiority the prospect that the speaker does have special insight, secret knowledge, or hidden revelation, that before now, you, Joe Christian, were not privy to in the Church (Body of Christ).  Not only that, but the “truth” was purposefully hidden from you by the Church, corrupted through the ages, and you must rely on your new teachers to enlighten you.

And on all those “Hebrew-isms” they build their false doctrine.  Straight answers are hard to come by. Questions are met with questions.  While they are not prepared with a ready defense of what they believe, they are more often prepared to tear down what you believe, and then replace it with their false doctrine, leaving you nothing but a pile ofachildsview1 rubble to look back on if you question them again. 

You end up becoming so busy looking at the doctrinal rubble that’s been spread on the ground around you, and are so overwhelmed with the possibility that you’ve had it all wrong for so long, that you are exhausted from it all and don’t have the energy to really investigate where this “special knowledge” and “hidden insight” is truly coming from.  To the believer subjected to these techniques, they are unknowingly being beaten down, only to be “rescued” by the lies of the Enemy.

 

5)  Closing the “sale”
One person I know who came out of the Messianic Christian movement put it this way:  “Once you’re in ‘Messy’ “, as she affectionately calls it, “you become convinced that if you don’t keep the Law, you’ll lose your salvation.”

 

That’s it.  That is the close of the “sale”.  Taking it beyond “If you love God, you’ll keep His commandments”, the Hebrew Roots Movement is reduced to a fear-based belief system:  If you don’t hold up your end, you will die an eternal death.  If you don’t believe me, press those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements on this issue.  If your salvation is not dependant on your keeping of the Law, then “keeping” the Law would be optional.  As conversation progresses, you’ll find that in their belief system, the “keeping” of Old Covenant Law is not optional.  And if it’s not optional, where there is law, there must be enforcement and punishment.

It’s a pretty effective close.

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Dear Believer,

If you find yourself in a discourse with a Law Keeper of any persuasion, investigate fully where their beliefs come from before discarding the completed work of Christ at the Cross.  Don’t be afraid to question your own beliefs . . . that’s a healthy thing to do on occasion, to reinforce why we believe what we believe.  While doing so, NEVER lose sight of the Cross, the Grace of God, the truths of the New Covenant, and the whole, contextual use of Scripture.

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:3-11)

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At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:3-11)

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I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!  (Galatians 1:6-9)

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In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

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The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

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Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:1-6)

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Other articles of interest:

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 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.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Issue of “Hellenization”

Those who advocate the Hebrew Roots Movement erroneously equate Greek language with the Greek culture, even to the point of claiming that New Testament itself was Hellenized, rendering the text unfit for discerning doctrine without first sifting the concepts found there through the sieve of Hebrew language and Hebrew thought.

The standard grafted_in_lgassertion in the Hebrew Roots Movement regarding Greek influence on Scripture and the Church is two-fold: 
1)
 That the New Testament was written about Hebrews, by Hebrews, and for Hebrews and
2) That the Church and the New Testament that she uses has been “Hellenized” or influenced heavily by “Greek thought”, detrimentally affecting the doctrines and practices of the Church.
I understand the points they’re trying to make, but find flaws in how far they take those points.

Let’s take an objective look at the above assertions espoused by the HRM – first regarding language, then regarding culture - and measure them against the realities of the New Testament Scriptures and New Testament Church as God has established them.

Regarding Language

Granted, most of the early converts to Christianity were Jewish.  Yes, they came with a Hebraic mindset – to a degree.  To say that they came with Hebrew culture and religion would be more accurate.  Some did know Biblical Hebrew, but the majority spoke Aramaic, similar to but different from Hebrew (see “Languages Used in Ancient Palestine” below).  It is debatable whether or not Aramaic was their primary language or rather that it was one of two or more languages common to the era, culture and geography in which they lived.  Those in the HRM would have you believe that the Hebrew religion, culture and language at the time of Jesus’ ministry was pure and unadulterated by the languages and cultures in which it found itself.  An objective inspection of history does not, however, prove that opinion to be true.

One thing that the HRM fails to do is to delineate the difference between language and culture.  The common Greek language in use during the time of Christ crossed many cultural boundaries.  That God intended for the New Testament to be written in Greek makes sense.  It was the dominant language of the world at the time, used in trade, politics, and culture.  Not only that, the Koine Greek language of the New Testament has broad descriptive ability and vocabulary with which to communicate the spiritual truths that God intended to impart to mankind under the New Covenant.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Read on . . .

A brief description of Koine Greek from Wikipedia:

Koine Greek (Greek: Κοινὴ Ἑλληνική IPA[kɔɪnɛ̝^], Mod.Gk. IPA[kʲiˈni e̞liniˈkʲi], “common Greek”, or ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος, Mod.Gk. [i kʲiˈni ðiˈale̞kto̞s], “the common dialect”) is the popular form of Greek which emerged in post-Classical antiquity (c.300 BC – AD 300). Other names are Alexandrian, Hellenistic, Common, or New Testament Greek. Koine was the first common supra-regional dialect in Greece and came to serve as a lingua franca for the eastern Mediterranean and ancient Near East throughout the Roman period.  It was also the original language of the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

From the  School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania regarding how Koine Greek differs from Classical Greek:

Robertson characterizes Koinê Greek as a later development of Classical Greek, that is, the dialect spoken in Attica (the region around Athens) during the classical period.

“To all intents and purposes the vernacular Koinh is the later vernacular Attic with normal development under historical environment created by Alexander’s conquests. On this base then were deposited varied influences from the other dialects, but not enough to change the essential Attic character of the language.” (Robertson 71)

If the Koinê is an outgrowth of Classical Greek, what are the differences between the two? Robertson states the basic differences succinctly.  Koinê was more practical than academic, putting the stress on clarity rather than eloquence. Its grammar was simplified, exceptions were decreased and generalized, inflections were dropped or harmonized, and sentence-construction made easier. Koinê was the language of life and not of books.

From “Greek Primacy”, also at Wikipedia, an article describing the evidence supporting the deduction that the original language of the New Testament is Koine Greek:

Greek Primacy
Greek Primacy is the view that the Christian New Testament and/or its sources were originally written in Koine Greek. It is generally accepted by most scholars today that the New Testament of the Bible was written primarily, if not completely, in Koine or common Greek. Greek Primacy is asserted over and against Aramaic primacy and Hebrew Primacy.

Background on Koine Greek
Whereas the Classical Greek city states used different dialects of Greek, a common standard called Koine (κοινή “common”) developed gradually in the 5th and 4th centuries BC as a consequence of the formation of larger political structures (like the Athenian Empire and the Macedonian Empire) and a more intense cultural exchange in the Aegean area.

In the Dark Ages and the Archaic Period, Greek colonies were founded all over Mediterranean basin. However, even though Greek goods were popular in the East, the cultural influence were more heavy the other way around. Yet, with the conquests of Alexander the Great (333-323 BC) and the subsequent establishment of Hellenistic kingdoms (above all, the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Kingdom), Koine Greek became the dominant language in politics, culture and commerce in the Near East.

hellenisticworldmap

During the following centuries, Rome conquered Greece and the Macedonian kingdoms piece for piece until, with the conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, she held all land around the Mediterranean. However, as Horace gently puts it: “Conquered Greece has conquered the brute victor and brought her arts into rustic Latium” (Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes intulit agresti Latio). Roman art and literature were calqued upon Hellenistic models. Koine Greek remained the dominant language in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. In the city of Rome, Koine Greek was in widespread use among ordinary people, and the elite spoke and wrote Greek as fluently as Latin.

Languages Used in Ancient Palestine
After the Babylonian captivity, Aramaic replaced Biblical Hebrew as the everyday language in Palestine. The two languages were as similar as two Romance languages or two Germanic languages today. Thus, Biblical Hebrew, which was still used for religious purposes, was not totally unfamiliar, but still a somewhat strange norm that demanded a certain degree of training to be understood properly.

After Alexander, Palestine was ruled by the Ptolemies and the Seleucids for almost two hundred years [See Map Above].  Thus, Jewish culture was heavily influenced by Hellenistic culture, and Koine Greek was used not only for international communication, but also as the first language for many Jews. This development was furthered by the fact that the largest Jewish community of the world lived in Ptolemaic Alexandria. Many of these diaspora Jews would have Greek as their first language, and the Tanakh (Old Testament) was therefore translated into Greek, i.e. the Septuagint.

Currently, 1,600 Jewish epitaphs (funerary inscriptions) are extant from ancient Palestine dating from 300 B.C. to 500 A.D. Approximately 70 percent are in Greek, about 12 percent are in Latin, and only 18 percent are in Hebrew or Aramaic. In Jerusalem itself about 40 percent of the Jewish inscriptions from the first century period (before 70 C.E.) are in Greek.We may assume that most Jewish Jerusalemites who saw the inscriptions in situ were able to read them.

 

Jesus and the disciples spoke Greek?
Most scholars acknowledge that Jesus used Aramaic as his everyday language. Occasionally, the Greek text of the gospels quote Aramaic phrases uttered by Jesus (cf. Aramaic of Jesus). Since Jesus and the disciples belonged to a lower stratum of the population being carpenters, fishermen and the like, it is generally assumed that they would have known little or no Greek. Yet, some scholars challenge this view and point to a number of passages in the New Testament, where Greek conversation is presupposed:

  • Jesus speaks to a Syro-Phoenician woman who is described as a Hellēnis, “a Greek” (Mark 7:26).
  • Jesus journeys in the Phoenician cities Tyre and Sidon and the Greek Decapolis (Mark 7:31-37)
  • A Roman centurion approaches Jesus for the sake of his boy or slave (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10)
  • Some Hellēnes, “Greeks”, want to see Jesus (John 12:20-36)
  • Pontius Pilate questions Jesus (Mark 15;2-5; Matthew 27:11-14; Luke 23:3; John 18:33-38)
  • The early Church included a group called Hellēnistai, probably Greek-speaking Jews (Acts 6.1-6)

In none of these cases an interpreter is mentioned. Even though it is impossible to estimate how fluent or eloquent Jesus and the disciples would be in their Greek, it is likely that they would be able to communicate in Greek when it was needed.

 

The Language of the New Testamentbiblicalgreek20manuscript20of201st20corinthians2013
Most biblical scholars adhere to the view that the Greek text of the New Testament is the original version. The opposite view, that it is a translation from an Aramaic original (see Aramaic primacy), has not gained popularity. At any rate, since most of the texts are written by the two diaspora Jews and companions Luke and Paul and to a large extent addressed directly to Christian communities in Greek-speaking cities, and since the style of their Greek is impeccable, a Greek original is more probable than a translation.

Even Mark, whose Greek is heavily influenced by his Semitic substratum, seems to presuppose a non-Hebrew audience.Thus, he explains Jewish customs (e.g. Mark 7:3-4), and he translates Aramaic phrases into the Greek (Mark 7:34: ephphatha). In the Aramaic Syriac version of the Bible, these translations are preserved, resulting in odd texts like Mark 15:34 :

  • Greek text
    καὶ τῇ ἐνάτῃ ὥρᾳ ἐβόησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς φωνῇ μεγάλῃ· ελωι ελωι λεμα σαβαχθανι; ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Ὁ θεός μου ὁ θεός μου, εἰς τί ἐγκατέλιπές με;
  • Syriac text (with rough transliteration)
    ܘܒ݂ܰܬ݂ܫܰܥ ܫܳܥܺܝܢ ܩܥܳܐ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܒ݁ܩܳܠܳܐ ܪܳܡܳܐ ܘܶܐܡܰܪ ܐܺܝܠ ܐܺܝܠ ܠܡܳܢܳܐ ܫܒ݂ܰܩܬ݁ܳܢܝ ܕ݁ܺܐܝܬ݂ܶܝܗ ܐܰܠܳܗܝ ܐܰܠܳܗܝ ܠܡܳܢܳܐ ܫܒ݂ܰܩܬ݁ܳܢܝ܂
    wbatša‘ šā‘yin: q‘ā’ yešua‘ bqālā’ rāmā’ we’mar, ’ēl ’ēl lmānā’ šbaqtāni di’aiteyh ’elāhi ’elāhi lmānā’ šbaqtāni
  • King James
    “And at the ninthhour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Observations made by Neil Booth at Pass the Toast, from the post, “This Was The Moment”  regarding historical, cultural and linguistic circumstances present in the era in which God chose to send Jesus:

And it happened, says Paul, “when the fullness of time had come”. The expression is found nowhere else in the New Testament and, literally translated, it would be “when the filling-up of the time came”. The picture it suggests to my mind is a measuring beaker into which the stream of history has been pouring like water. In 6 BC (or thereabouts — we do not know with certainty the year of Jesus’ birth), the mark that God had set on the beaker was reached and the time for the incarnation had arrived.

But why then? The only answer that we can give is that God knew it to be “the right time” (Good News Bible). Perhaps it was because then the world had become more or less one world under Rome. The Pax Romana meant a virtual absence of war at this point in history. The system of Roman roads and Roman colonies and Roman trade routes had made travel swift and relatively easy and safe. Greek had become an almost universal language thus facilitating world-wide communication. Jews had become dispersed throughout Europe and Asia, spreading a knowledge of the one true God and preparing a context for the Gospel. And paganism had proved itself bankrupt and degenerate and had led to widespread spiritual hunger. But that is all just “perhaps”. Only God knows why that particular moment of history and no other was the right time. But we can be glad that it was.


From Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, III, p. 870, G. L. Archer has noted that:

Greek was the most ideally adapted linguistic medium for the world-wide communication of the Gospel in the entire region of the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and the Near East. Accurate in expression, beautiful in sound, and capable of great rhetorical force, it furnished an ideal vehicle for the proclamation of God’s message to man, transcending Semitic barriers and reaching out to all the Gentile races. It is highly significant that the ‘fulness of times,’ the first advent of Christ, was deferred until such time as Greek opened up channels of communication to all the Gentile nations east of Italy and Libya on a level not previously possible under the multilingual situation that previously prevailed.

The reality that common Greek “furnished an ideal vehicle for the proclamation of God’s message to man, transcending Semitic barriers and reaching out to all the Gentile races”, poses quite a dilema for the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Where does Hebraic superiority in communicating spiritual things land if Semitic barriers were alpha_omega1transcended – that God determined that those barriers needed to be transcended - with the coming of the Gospel (the New Covenant) to all mankind? 

Jesus sought consistently throughout His ministry to transition religious Jews from their Hebraic paradigm in preparation for the New Covenant.  More on that below.  And it should be made clear that it wasn’t from a Hebraic paradigm to a Greek paradigm that he was shifting focus to.  Jesus was shifting the focus from the Law-based system of the Old Covenant – while retaining its foundational value - to the faith-based transformative power of the Gospel (the New Covenant) to all men!  The Greek language used to communicate the New Covenant Scriptures was merely a tool used by God.    

Nowhere in Scripture does God require that to know and please Him we have to come with the Hebrew language or a Hebrew perspective.  Psalm 51 comes to mind, where David, even under the Old Covenant, with the Hebrew language and the Hebrew perspective, understood that God’s grace and mercy were the source for his redemption and cleansing from sin – not the Law.  Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,  O God, you will not despise.”  And David’s faith, along with the faith of many others, not his adherance to the Law (which is a good thing, because David didn’t do so well with adhering to the Law), was what he was commended for according to Hebrews 11.  Those whose names are listed in Hebrews 11, as the King James Version puts it, became heirs of righteousness through . . . the Law?  The language or mindset that they had?  No!  They became heirs of righteousness through faith!

And we, as believers under the New Covenant, understand from the New Testament that the Gospel – the completed work of Christ at the Cross - is grace and mercy and the very Spirit of God indwelling us to bring about not just the covering of sin, as the Old Covenant provided for, but the cleansing of sin and for our sanctification.  The letter of Paul to the Romans in particular discusses the transformative power of the Gospel and how it changes mankind’s relationship to sin, to the Law, and ultimately to God.  Indeed, most of the New Testament communicates the realities of the Gospel to mankind.  

This simple illustration frames the tendencies of the languages used in the Bible well:  

Hebrew language tends to be concrete
——> Law makes sense <——

Greek language tends to be abstract/conceptual
——> Grace makes sense <——

Remember . . .
The common Greek language that God chose to communicate the concepts and truths of the New Covenant was merely a tool. Used because it was the best way to communicate the Gospel to the world at the time, both in its linguistic ability and in its scope.  That the Koine Greek plays a part in the plan of God need not be targeted unless another agenda is afoot.

We transistion now from language to culture . . .

Regarding Culture

A typical view of Hebrew vs. Greek “lenses” in the HRM from Hebraic Eyes Ministry:

Welcome to Hebraic Eyes.  We are excited you are visiting our website.  We hope that you can put on your Hebraic lenses taking off the Greek lens that governs our whole world system and thoughts.  The Scripture is a different culture than ours, it is like going to a different country where the people look different and talk different.  Different is not bad, it is just not what we are used to. 

So step back in time with us.  Where do we start?  First we need to look at the foundation of the Scripture.  Where is that you say?  It is the Torah or you may know it as the Law or Pentateuch.  We will use the term Torah because remember we are in a Hebraic mindset not Greek.  You ask what is the Torah? Good question, let’s explore it…

Torah . . .

Before we continue, I want say we are not seeking to be Jewish or educate you on the practices of Judaism. We are followers of our Messiah, Yashua, who is the Torah (Word) made flesh (John 1:14) [Fodder for a whole 'nother post!  The language and theology-twisting in that statement alone is amazing!]  and came to dwell among us.  He was calling people back to the Torah instead of following after the man-made traditions that were burdening the people.  However, it is necessary to know the culture and the background of the culture so we can have a true Hebraic focus.  We can gather a lot of information from Judaism.

But “we are not seeking to be Jewish or educate you on the practices of Judaism”?  Then why would they “gather a lot of information from Judaism”, a religious system that is steeped in the Talmud, is influenced by Jewish mysticism mystical-torah(Kaballah), and denies the Deity of Jesus Christ?  Oh, wait, they already did that by saying that Messiah is Torah incarnate, not God incarnate!  Not a universal belief in the Hebrew Roots Movement, but more widespread than you might think.  As with most teaching resources in the HRM offering a “Hebraic lens”, this site minimizes (or in this case outright denies the deity of) the rightful place of Jesus Christ and the Gospel and elevates Torah to a place of superiority and centrality in their belief system.

One other point:  The Hebrew Roots Movement – across the board – espouses this in regard to their insistence that we must look at all Scripture with a Hebraic mindset: The Scripture is a different culture than ours, it is like going to a different country where the people look different and talk different.  Different is not bad, it is just not what we are used to”.  While that is true on one level, the primary purpose of the Scriptures is to deal with the spiritual condition of mankind’s heart in relation to God.  The truths communicated throughout the whole of Scripture transcend culture and language.  While we can benefit from knowing about linguistic nuances and about cultural differences and how they influenced certain people in particular times and circumstances in their response to or rejection of God, the spiritual truths themselves delve into the heart issues everyone shares, our common human-ness, no matter our cultural or linguistic background.  Only if you are seeking to be placed under (or place others under) the practices of the Old Covenant do the issues of learning to think and speak “like a Hebrew” come into play.      

In one Hebrew Roots Movement article by Brian Knowles, one of the ways in which the differences between the Hebraic mindset and the Greek (Hellenized) mindset are characterized is by using the concepts of doing vs. knowing:   

William Barrett . . . explains that one of the most fundamental differences between the Western, Hellenistic mind and the Hebrew mind is found in the area of knowing vs. doing.  Says Barrett, “The distinction…arises from the difference between doing and knowing. The Hebrew is concerned with practice, the Greek with knowledge. Right conduct is the ultimate concern of the Hebrew, right thinking that of the Greek. Duty and strictness of conscience are the paramount things in life for the Hebrew; for the Greek, the spontaneous and luminous play of the intelligence. The Hebrew thus extols the moral virtues as the substance and meaning of life; the Greek subordinates them to the intellectual virtues…the contrast is between practice and theory, between the moral man and the theoretical or intellectual man.”

This is where the HRM begins to assert Hebraic primacy, in both language and culture indivisibly, as well as assert Greek inferiority, linking the Greek language and culture indivisibly, in communicating the things of God. 

What strikes me about their premise is not that it elevates one “mindset” above another, but that it limits God in its assumption that the only way Heis able to communicate His purposes, His righteousness, and His heart to mankind effectively is through a particular mindset and language!  What becomes evident as one learns more about the Hebrew Roots Movement is that it is not capable of supporting the truth that the Gospel transcends linguistic and cultural barriers.  

Knowles continues: 

This helps explain why so many Christian churches are focused on the issues of doctrinal orthodoxy (however they may define it) — often at the expense of godly living. In many Christian circles, what one believes or espouses is treated as more important than how one lives – i.e. how one treats his or her neighbor.

In Biblical Judaism, it is precisely the opposite. Christians are inclined to subject each other to litmus tests of orthodoxy, while Jews are concerned mainly with behavior. As Dennis Prager writes, “…belief in God and acting ethically must be inextricably linked…God demands right behavior more than anything else, including right ritual and right belief.”

Like fudge-swirl ice cream, there is truth mixed in with error in the above statements, making an appealing argument for the Hebraic “way”.  The author makes the assumption that Christian orthodoxy (small ‘o’) and godly living tend to be mutually lawexclusive.  At the same time, they ignore the whole “white-washed tomb” concept that Jesus tried to communicate to the consummate Law-keepers of the day, the Pharisees. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)  

Actually, the entire 23rd chapter of Matthew is an indictment on how the Hebraic “mindset” had become more concerned with outward appearance and had neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (vs. 23)  Right before He revs up to the “whitewashed tombs” statement, Jesus says, “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (vs. 25b-26)     

As is their tendancy, those in the HRM evade the truths constituted in the whole of Scripture in regard to faith and works and water those truths down to concepts of “doing vs. knowing”.  While in the HRM world the “Renewed” Covenant that they put themselves under requires their dutiful attention, in the world of the Redeemed, if one is truly submitted to the Holy Spirit, the Law of Christ (love God, love others) is a natural outpouring in one’s life as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”  In both cases there is a matter of obedience – in one case obedience to an obsolete system (Hebrews 8:13), in the other case obedience to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender to the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit of the Living God! (Acts 16:31, John 3:15-16, Romans 10:9-13Romans 12:1-22Corinthians 5:17, the book of Hebrews1 John 1:9 . . . and many more)   

Again . . . as Jesus sought to transition those in the religious “Hebraic mindset” – which had become more focused on the Law of Moses than on the faith of Abraham (doing vs. knowing/believing), He sought to re-focus people on the new-creationcoming provision of redemptive sacrifice and forgiveness - to focus them on a mindset full of grace and mercy, love of God and love of neighbor.  Notice that it’s not a transition from Hebraic thought to Greek thought, but a transition to Godly perspective on the Law and its proper place in relation to the coming New Covenant.  

And the New Covenant brought new life, not just a “renewed” covenental system.  All through the Gospels Jesus Christ repeatedly demonstrated and administered grace and mercy, love and forgiveness, even life itself, with His authority as God in the flesh as He walked among mankind before the work of the Cross.  Jesus spoke in parables to shake loose those Hebraic minds from the confines of the Law of Moses and the Old Covenant.  He never denied the foundation or the purpose of the Law – He was fulfilling it.  Luke 16:16 says, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John.  Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”   In effect, Jesus was overriding edicts of the Mosaic Law, administering grace, mercy, forgiveness, and life for things for which the Law required separation, punishment, sacrifices – even death!  Jesus was preparing the hearts of men for the Law of Christ, the New Covenant forged in His blood! 

Lest you question that Jesus was operating with Godly Authority, look at Mark 9.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain, and something amazing happened.  It’s called the transfiguration, where Jesus’ clothes became a dazzling white and Elijah and Moses showed up and were talking with Jesus.  Mark 9:7 tells us, “Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”  So there stood Moses, Elijah, and Jesus all together and God said, “Listen to Jesus!”  All three appeared together, then Moses and Elijah were gone.  Jesus remained.  Mark 9:8 says, “Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.”  The time of Moses and Elijah under the Old Covenant was passing and the time for the New Covenant under Jesus was dawning.  And God said, “This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to Him!” 

Back to the cultural issue of Hellenism.  Excerpts from the following article beautifully communicate the historical/cultural realities prior to and at the time of Christ.  There are a number of cults and sects that attempt to use the “Hellenization” (Greek lens) argument to direct Christians into a Law-keeping mindset.  From “Was Early Christianity Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”  [complete article with endnotes available at the link] by Dr. Paul R. Eddy, Assistant Professor of Theology, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN:

A common criticism of historic orthodox Christianity is the claim that early Christianity was corrupted by the intellectual forces of ‘Hellenism.’ (Hellenism, of course, refers to the influence of ancient Greek philosophy and culture, which spread throughout the Mediterranean world after the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC.) Specifically, the doctrines of Trinity and the deity of Christ have been rejected as unbiblical ideas that were introduced into Christianity through the corrupting influence of Greek philosophy, particularly the ideas of Plato. As long ago as 1531, in his book, On the Errors of the Trinity, Michael Servetus criticized the ‘Hellenistic’ terms used by Trinitarian Christians to explain their understanding of God. More recently, various critics of orthodox Christianity–including Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, New Age adherents, and theological liberals–have argued that the true biblical understandings of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit were corrupted in the third, fourth, and fifth centuries by Greek philosophy and pagan polytheism, which led to the development of the doctrines of the Trinity and the deity of Christ . . .

What are we to make of this criticism? Is there evidence of wide-spread ‘Hellenism’ within the early church? If so, does this mean that central doctrines of the Christian faith were corrupted in the process?

greek-templesWhat we do know is this: ‘Hellenism’ was a cultural force that touched most areas in the ancient Mediterranean world. Thus, since Christianity arose in the Mediterranean world, it is not surprising that early Christians had to deal with its effects. We know that there were various reactions to Hellenistic philosophy among early Christians. For example, Tertullianclaimed that Christianity and Greek philosophy have nothing in common at all. On the other hand, Justin Martyr felt quite comfortable making comparisons between Christianity and Greek philosophy in order to attract Hellenistic pagans to the Gospel. Justin was not alone in trying to create bridges from Greek philosophy to Christianity. Like Justin, many early Christians were willing to borrow certain terms and ideas from the cultural world of their day in order to communicate the Gospel to those around them. Does this mean that, in the process, Hellenistic ideas were allowed to creep into the Gospel message and distort its true meaning? Although this is a common criticism of orthodox Christianity, it can be shown that, in fact, it is an argument with no real foundation. The following four points will serve to reveal the weaknesses of this view.

1.) The Jewish world, from which Christianity arose, had already been touched by Hellenism prior to the birth of Christ.
Critics who use this argument often make it sound as if the life and culture of Jesus and the first disciples was untouched by Hellenism, and that only in later centuries was it allowed to ‘infect’ the church. However, we know from history that this is simply not the case. In his groundbreaking study, Judaism and Hellenism, Martin Hengel has shown that, from the middle of the third century BC, Jewish Palestine had already experienced the effects of Hellenism in various ways.

For example:
(1) under Ptolemaic rule, the Jews were forced to deal with Hellenistic forms of government and administration
(2) as inhabitants of an important coastal land, Palestine served as a crossroads for international trade, which brought many Hellenized merchants through the area
(3) the Greek language–the common language of the Roman Empire–became a part of Jewish culture (and became the language of the New Testament!)
(4) Greek educational techniques were adopted, in part, by the Jews. Thus, the idea of a pristine Judaism, untouched by Hellenism, giving rise to an equally untouched early Christianity that was later ‘corrupted’ by Hellenism is simply a false historical picture.

2.) Recent studies have shown that the influence of Hellenism on various peoples in the ancient world was largely superficial, and primarily attracted the ruling class and those with political and administrative hopes.
In his massive study of the Hellenistic period, Peter Green demonstrates that the effects of Hellenism on local cultures in the ancient world operated like a forced cultural veneer over an otherwise healthy and distinct traditional worldview. G. W. Bowersock has come to similar conclusions:

The persistence of all these local traditions has suggested that there was no more than a superficial Hellenization of much of Asia Minor, the Near East, and Egypt . . . . [Hellenism] was a medium not necessarily antithetical to local or indigenous traditions. On the contrary, it provided a new and more eloquent way of giving voice to them.

These observations point to the fact that Hellenism did not tend to infiltrate and ‘corrupt’ the local religious traditions of the ancient world. Rather, people maintained their religious traditions in spite of Hellenistic influence in other areas of their lives. This leads to our third observation.

3.) Although Judaism and early Christianity were affected by the surrounding culture in certain ways, they diligently guarded their religious beliefs and practices from Hellenistic pagan influences, even to the point of martyrdom.
We now come to the heart of the issue. The historical and archaeological evidence shows that bothJudaism and early Christianity carefully guarded their religious views from the surrounding Hellenistic culture. For example, with regard to Judaism, the archaeological work of Eric Meyers on the city of Sepphoris in first-century Upper Galilee reveals that, in spite of wise-spread Hellenistic influence on various cultural levels, the Jewish people maintained a strict observance of the Torah.

When it comes to early Christianity, it is clear that the religious influences are Jewish rather than Hellenistic paganism. The essence of the Christian Gospel is nothing more nor less than the fulfillment of all the Old Testament covenantalpromises through the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. It is the climax of the history of Yahweh-God’s dealings with the Jewish people through a series of covenants, culminating in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. It is a Jewish worldview that dominates the Gospel, not that of paganism. Gregory Dix’s conclusions on the question of the Hellenization of the Gospel confirm this claim: the central core of the Gospel consists of “a Jewish Monotheism and a Jewish Messianismand a Jewish Eschatology; which is expressed in a particular pattern of worship and morality.”

This conclusion does conflict with what used to be a popular view of Christian origins in the early twentieth-century. This view, held by a group of critical scholars known as the ‘History of Religions School,’ claimed that many early Christian beliefs and practices were actually borrowed from Hellenistic pagan ‘mystery cults.’ In recent years, however, this view has largely been abandoned by the scholarly world. The evidence now demonstrates that early Christianity is best understood as arising from the Jewish thought world. In his book, Christianity and the Hellenistic World, philosopher Ronald Nash wrestles with the claims of the History of Religions School. His findings are worth noting:

Was early Christianity a syncretistic faith? Did it borrow any of its essential beliefs and practices either from Hellenistic philosophy or religion or from Gnosticism? The evidence requires that this question be answered in the negative.

Nash’s conclusion fits with the findings of many others. The work of historians and biblical scholars such N. T. Wright and David Flusserconfirm that first-century Judaism is the proper context within which to understand the rise of early Christianity. It is true that Christianity eventually broke with Judaism. Unlike Judaism, it understood God as a TriuneBeing, and the Messiah as both divine and human. However, these theological perspectives were rooted in the experience of the early Jewish Christians as recorded in the New Testament. As Dix has noted:

Christianity ceased to be Jewish, but it did not thereby become Greek. It became itself–Christianity.

4.) Many of the central elements of the Gospel are diametrically opposed to the Hellenistic mind-set.
This claim can be demonstrated by offering the following examples: First, like Judaism, the Christian Gospel proclaims that God created all things ‘out of nothing’ (‘ex nihilo’). This is contrary to the Greek view of pre-existing eternal matter. Second, since God created all things, including matter, Christianity (withJudaism) understands matter in general, and the human body in particular, as ‘very good’ (Gen 1:31). The Hellenistic worldview understood matter as questionable at best–if not down-right evil. The body was seen as something like an unnatural tomb, within which the eternal human soul was temporarily trapped until releasedby death. Whereas, with Judaism, Christianity proclaimed that to be human was to have a body, and thus that we would experience resurrection of the body (an uncorruptible body!) in the after-life, the Greek view of the after-life was freedom from the body.

Some have noted similarities between certain Greek systems of ethics and New Testament teachings on morality. However, even here there are significant differences. While one can identify certain common features, such as literary styles and basic moral codes, there are prominent differences in the motivation (Christians are motivated by regard for God and His call to holiness; the Greeks by self-evident ‘reason’) and means for living a moral life (Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit; Greeks rely upon their own innate wisdom and ability). Finally, unlike the Greek philosophical view, the hope of heaven provides the foundation for Christians to persevere under moral pressure.

Finally, we must address the claim that the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity are later Hellenistic pagan corruptions of the early and ‘pure’ Christianity. Two responses will suffice to show the weaknesses of these claims.

First, the claims of those like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses that New Testament Christianity was corrupted by later Hellenistic influence fail to account for the fact that it is the New Testament data itself which led the early Christian fathers to confess the deity of Christ and the Trinity of God. While space considerations do not allow for a detailed biblical defense of these doctrines, reference can be made to a number of significant studies demonstrating that these doctrines are rooted in the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ (see endnote for suggested resources).

Second, recent research has forcefully shown that the early Christian idea of Christ’s deity developed not in a Hellenistic context but in a distinctly Jewish thought-world. Richard Bauckham, a contributor to this relatively new scholarly movement (sometimes known as the ‘New History of Religions School’) states these conclusions succinctly:

When New Testament Christology is read with this Jewish theological context in mind, it becomes clear that, from the earliest post-Easter beginnings of Christology onwards, early Christians included Jesus, precisely and unambiguously, within the unique identity of the one God of Israel . . . . The earliest Christology was already the highest Christology . . . .


In conclusion, although the claim that early Christian belief and practice was corrupted by Hellenistic influence is commonly argued by critics of orthodox Christianity, the historical evidence does not support this claim. Rather, like the Judaism from which it arose, the Christian faith rigorously guarded its unique religious identity in the midst of the religious and philosophical diversity of the ancient Mediterranean world.

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Conclusions

While on Earth, did Jesus think like a Hebrew?  Like a Greek?

I would submit to you that He did neither. 

Jesus thought like God, because He IS God. 

God’s plan for mankind predates anything Hebrew or Greek, linguistically or culturally.  God’s redemptive plan, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restores us to relationship with Him, with faith rooted in Jesus Christ, not in a culture or in a particular language or “mindset”!

The Hebrew culture and journey throughout history bears testimony to God’s faithfulness, bears witness to God’s plan, the sketch of what was to come for the redemption of all tribes, tongues and nations through the completed Masterpiece, the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  To tie the world’s tribes, tongues, and nations to the Hebrew culture and language to fully understand the things of God is not a reasonable leap.  Furthermore, that leap is never required by God!

One has to consider, based on the same observations that Neil from Pass the Toast and commentator G.L. Archer made, that God indeed used a time in history where a language different from Hebrew, that HE ALLOWED to be in place, would be used to communicate His Gospel to the majority of the world as it existed at the time.   Yes, Jesus came first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.  That truth is not negated by the primary language or the cultural conditions of the era in which He came. And now God has allowed for His Word to be translated into many tongues in order to reach all tribes and nations.  Indeed, He mandated it with the command from Jesus to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

language

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Holy Hebrew!

This article was posted March 3, 2009 at fortheloveoftruth.  Good information and insight.  Thanks to Sheepwrecked at fortheloveoftruth for sharing =o).  This article will also be made available on the Articles Page.   

Guest article – posted with permission from author.

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Holy Hebrew!

Is Hebrew a special Holy language (leshon ha Kodesh) that is special and different than all of the other languages? Some Hebrew roots teachers have stated that Hebrew is a language so Holy, that it is impossible to even curse in it.

Some have also stated that because of its Holiness, it was the language used to create the world, and most assuredly will be the language of Heaven.

 Here is one of the Hebrew roots teachers, who state that Hebrew was the language of creation.

Quote:

Hebrew: Restoring the Pure Language
Brad takes a fascinating journey into the history of Hebrew, the pure language of Adonai (Tz’fanyah 3:9), the language that created all things. Brad proves through the dynamics of the Hebrew language that this heavenly tongue is the Mother Tongue and is being restored in these last days. This series covers the use of gematria, equidistant letter sequencing, and many other fascinating aspects of Hebrew to show that this language is revived today to be the foundation of bringing Adonai’s people back together to serve Him in one consent. Through the restoration of Hebrew, many long-held, erroneous, religious doctrines are being exposed. The true followers of Y’shua are being revealed and unity is being re-established in the latter days. Brad concludes this series with a lesson on how to research and discover the wonderful truths of Adonai contained in the Hebrew text.
(http://www.wildbranch.org/Marketplace/index.htm)

Let’s first take a look at where all the languages originated from, so that we can better understand the origins of the Hebrew language:

Genesis 11
6 And The LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and the lip one to all of them, and this they are beginning to do, and now all which they have purposed to do will not be restrained from them.
7 Come, let Us go down and confuse their language so that they cannot understand one another’s speech.
8 And the LORD scattered them from there, over the face of all the earth. And they stopped building the city.
9 On account of this its name is called Babel, because the LORD confused the language of all the earth there. And the LORD scattered them abroad from there on the face of all the earth.

Hebrew is a language that evolved historically from proto Canaanite/ancient Hebrew, into paleo, middle, and late Hebrew, which finally ended up becoming the Biblical Hebrew (with vowels) that we have today in the Masoretic text. From there modern words were added, which again evolved into the modern Hebrew that is spoken in Israel today.

Because of the history of Hebrew, clearly the Original Ten Declarations were not written in what we consider Hebrew, because of the time frame that they were written. The Ten Declarations were written before the Torah, which is dated approximately 1500-1400 BCE. The language of that time was proto Canaanite which has been established through archaeological finds. Proto Canaanite did evolve into what we know as Hebrew, but other languages also evolved from it as well.

If the Ten Declarations had been written in Hebrew as we know it, Moses and the children of Israel would have not been able to understand what they said as it is a different alefbet, because Hebrew script, which is a derivative of Proto Canaanite, has been only used since the 9th century BCE.

It should be noted that proto Canaanite was used by idol worshipping pagan cultures.

Here is how it developed over time:

Phonecian:
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/phoenician.htm

Proto Hebrew/Aramaic:
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/aramaic.htm

Hebrew:
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/hebrew.htm

A recent archaeological find in King David’s time:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103091035.htm

If you take a look at Dead Sea Scrolls Hebrew, it looks different than today’s Masoretic text (1000 years difference). Hebrew didn’t really develop until 900 BCE. The Torah was written in 1500-1400 BCE.  Moses was raised in the court of Pharaoh, and also spoke Akkadian. Moses could read and write proto Canaanite as well, so I am sure he knew what the tablets said.

Also, the difference in writing style and refinement between the oldest Masoretic text known as the Aleppo codex, and the DSS style:
http://tmcdaniel.palmerseminary.edu/aleppo-isa9.gif

And the Dead Sea Scrolls:
http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/cave/1QPHAB6.GIF

and the Leningrad codex:
http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/wsrp/educational_site/biblical_manuscripts/LeningradCodex2_e.shtml

Those changes occurred in only 1000 years after Hebrew was established.

Let’s take a quick look at Biblical Hebrew so that we can examine the “Holy” status of it during Biblical times:

Isaiah 6 (written approx700 BCE)
5 Then I said, Woe is me! For I am cut off; for I am a man of unclean lips (H8193), and I live amongst a people of unclean lips (H8193); for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts.
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, snatched with tongs from the altar.
7 And he touched it on my mouth, and said, See, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is covered.

H8193
שׂפת / שׂפה
śâphâh / śepheth
BDB Definition:
1) lip, language, speech, shore, bank, brink, brim, side, edge, border, binding
1a) lip (as body part)
1b) language
1c) edge, shore, bank (of cup, sea, river, etc)
Part of Speech: noun feminine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: probably from H5595 or H8192 through the idea of termination (compare H5490)
Same Word by TWOT Number: 2278a

Here is another example of how the same word lip or language is used:

Zephaniah 3 (approx 620 BCE)
9 For then will I restore to the people a pure (H1305) language (H8193), that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one accord.

H1305
בּרר
bârar
BDB Definition:
1) to purify, select, polish, choose, purge, cleanse or make bright, test or prove
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to purge, purge out, purify
1a2) to choose, select
1a3) to cleanse, make shining, polish
1a4) to test, prove
1b) (Niphal) to purify oneself
1c) (Piel) to purify
1d) (Hiphil)
1d1) to purify
1d2) to polish arrows
1e) (Hithpael)
1e1) to purify oneself
1e2) to show oneself pure, just, kind
Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root
Same Word by TWOT Number: 288

Since we know that Isaiah spoke and wrote in Hebrew, and he himself said that he is a man of unclean lips (speech), and since God stated in Zephaniah, which is a book that was written after Isaiah that he will restore a pure language, then it is obvious by the text that Biblical Hebrew is not a pure language currently, nor was it at the time of Isaiah.

Secondly, we need to examine the fact that there are parts of various books in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) that are written partially in Aramaic (Daniel, Ezra, Jeremiah, Genesis).

Aramaic is a language that came out of Canaan, where the people worshipped idols, and was also spoken in pagan Babylon during the captivity.

If Hebrew is a Holy language, then why would God mix the language used by a pagan cultures with Hebrew in the Scriptures? In the book of Daniel, in the portion where the Aramaic begins, it opens like this:

Daniel 2
4 And the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will reveal the meaning.

In the passages directly following the opening, we find Aramaic words such as Melecha (H4430), Shamaya (H8065), Elahh (H426), and others throughout the text. The Aramaic continues until to the end of chapter seven, spanning almost five chapters. It should be noted that Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees, and then in obedience he left his pagan culture, and crossed over into the land that God had promised him which became Israel.

Nehemiah 9
7 You are the LORD the God who chose Abram, and brought him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and appointed his name, Abraham.

Many Hebrew roots teachers have stated that the only way one can really effectively understand the Old Testament Scriptures, is by learning to read and understand them in the Hebrew language. Currently, English is spoken (sometimes as a second language) by a much larger percentage of the six billion people in the world today, than the five million people world wide who currently speak Hebrew. This works out statistically to be a negligable percentage of the worlds population that speaks and understands Hebrew.

Would God have been so short sighted as to write His word into Hebrew, which for the most part was a dead language until resurrected in the last half of the nineteenth century as modern Hebrew, if it could not be accurately translated and comprehended in other languages such as English? This should be something for us all to consider seriously.

Going forward into the NT, it should be noted that Jesus spoke Aramaic on the cross, and in some other passages found in the New Testament. He most likely conversed in Greek or even possibly Latin with Pilate at His trial. Jesus also spoke in a Hebraic language (some scholars say Aramaic) to Paul on the road to Damascus in the book of Acts.

Paul, who wrote thirteen or fourteen books of the New Testament spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin (Roman citizen), and because he lived in Tarsus at an early age, he possibly would have spoken a local dialect which would probably be related to modern Turkish, and possibly even a few more dialects of other languages that he learned in his travels.

Next, we should examine the use of languages in first century Judea. Listed below (parenthesis) are a few of the possible languages spoken in those regions at that time. Please keep in mind that the list is by no means comprehensive:

Acts 2 (written approx 63 CE)
1 And in the fulfilling of the day of Pentecost, they were all with one mind in the same place.
2 And suddenly a sound came out of the heaven, as being borne along by a violent wind! And it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And tongues as of fire appeared to them, being distributed, and it sat on each one of them.
4 And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave ability to them to speak.
5 And Jews were living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation of those under the heaven.
6 But this sound occurring, the multitude came together and were confounded, because they each heard them speaking in his own dialect.
7 And all were amazed and marveled, saying to one another, Behold, are not all these, those speaking, Galileans?
8 And how do we hear each in our own dialect in which we were born,
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites (Persian), and those living in Mesopotamia (Turkish dialect, Syrian, Persian, Akkadian), both Judea (Hebrew,Aramaic,Greek) and Cappadocia, Pontusand Asia (Turkish dialect, Greek)
10 both Phrygia and Pamphylia (Turkish dialect,Greek), Egypt (Arabic dialect, Greek), and the regions of Libya over against Cyrene (Latin,Greek,Aramaic), and the temporarily residing Romans (Latin,Greek), both Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretans (Greek, Aramaic) and Arabians (Arabic dialect, Greek); in our own languages we hear them speaking the great deeds of God?

Would God through His Holy Spirit allow the apostles to speak, in what some Hebrew roots teachers have claimed to be pagan languages, if they truly were according to Gods standards? If this was the case, wouldn’t it have been easier for the apostles to speak only in Hebrew, and then for God to miraculously have all of the different people who spoke the many other languages, be able to understand what the apostles said in the “Holy language” of Hebrew? Instead the apostles spoke and praised God in what some have taught are unclean pagan languages that they claim no self respecting Jew would ever speak.

Some Hebrew roots teachers have circulated the “myth” that the Jews of that day believed it was better to eat swine flesh, than to speak Greek.

I guess the apostles never got the memo on that, nor did the Holy Spirit, or maybe there was a shortage of swine flesh at that time, because as they were being led by the Holy Spirit, they spoke Greek as one of the many languages. This is detailed in the passage recorded in Acts. Keeping in mind, that since Greek was established as the common language, and the language of trade since the rule of Alexander almost four centuries before the time of Christ in 332 BCE, that many others throughout the Roman empire spoke and understood Greek as well.

Various Hebrew roots teachers have emphatically stated that the New Testament was definitely written in Hebrew or Aramaic, because no self respecting Jew would have written it in Greek. How does that stand up in light of what we have reviewed thus far? Also how could this statement have any validity, seeing as how the first five books of the Hebrew OT was translated into Greek two centuries before Christ by Jewish scribes?

In conclusion, it would appear that those striving to keep Hebrew as the pure, Holy Heavenly language that true followers of the Messiah need to read and speak, need to re-examine their teachings. The Hebrew posturing that is being touted as “truth” falls completely short of historical documentation and factual evidence. One more Hebrew Roots “myth” ………. busted (smile).

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Perversion of Repentance

Another one of the pillars in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related belief systems/sects, is their re-definition of the word “repent” or “repentance”.  They skew the meaning of repent in order to point the unsuspecting believer toward the Law of Moses and away from the Law of Christ.   If one forgets the transformative power and role of the Holy Spirit, along with the realities of the New Covenant, and fail to take an honest look at the language, one might be deceived and find themselves feeling “commanded” into wearing tzit tzit and and attempting to keep the laws of a covenant no longer in effect.

The following article from Pristine Faith Restoration Society makes many excellent points and observations about the HRM and does a really good job in taking on HRM assertions regarding the language and concepts of the word “repent”.  The author deals specifically with the teaching of Brad Scott, considered to be a “mainstream” teacher in the Hebrew Roots Movement. 

 As with other articles posted here at JGIG, the posting of an article does not mean that I agree with or endorse everything from a given website, but find the core issues of the faith to be intact and the value of an article to outweigh any “secondary issue” disagreements I may have with a given source.   This article will also be posted at the Articles Page here at JGIG.

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.  -JGIG

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The Perversion of Repentance
by Tim Warner

Criterion for Understanding the New Testament
According to many teachers in the Hebrew Roots movement, the Gentile mind is not equipped to properly comprehend Scripture. They draw a distinction between “Gentile thinking” and “Jewish thinking.” This distinction is alleged to be more than merely having different presuppositions, but rather a completely different thought process and basis for understanding. Consequently, Gentiles need a thorough education in “Jewish thinking” in order to understand the New Testament. This includes instruction in the Hebrew language. A converted Gentile cannot normally read the Old and New Testaments and arrive at a proper understanding without a Jewish teacher. Having been taught “at the feet” of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent “teachers” of the Hebrew Roots movement.  [See "Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement - The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria" for a better understanding of just what being taught "at the feet" of some Jewish scholar or rabbi means.]

Historically, Christians have always believed that the Old Testament is sufficient background material for the New Testament. Paul distinguished between those who are able to comprehend and those who are not. The criterion he gave has nothing to do with the Hebrew language or “Jewish thinking.”

11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. (1 Cor. 2:11-15 NKJV)

According to Paul, even “Jewish scholars” do not understand the things of God unless they have received the Spirit of God. Jesus Himself gave us a pretty good picture of the unconverted “Jewish Scholar” in Matthew 23. It is therefore critical that modern Hebrew Roots teachers fully disclose to their hearers the names of the “Jewish Scholars” under whose instruction they have learned. And those “scholars” should be carefully scrutinized to see whether they are true believers.

The New Testament was Primarily Written to Gentile Minds
With the exception of Matthew, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and James, the New Testament was written by the Apostles for Gentile minds. The New Testament contains almost no explanatory background information about Jewish thinking. The Apostles frequently quoted the Old Testament, without comment, as supporting material to the particular point they were making. References to Old Testament events were frequently given as illustrations and moral lessons in the language of the Greeks. More often than not, they quoted the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Greek speaking reader was expected to be familiar with the Septuagint, and this was deemed by the Apostles to be sufficient for understanding their own writings in the New Testament. The Apostles frequently quoted from the Greek translation of the Old Testament with which their readers were familiar. There was no appeal made by the Apostles to extra biblical Jewish sources for explanatory information. One wonders why modern Gentile Christians need such sources when the Apostles obviously did not think it beneficial for their Gentile audiences in the first century who knew little about Jewish thinking. In fact, Jesus Himself was antagonistic to such sources, claiming they perverted the Word of God (Matt. 15:2-14). The Jewish scholarly commentaries were characterized by Jesus as “the blind leading the blind” (v. 14).

Why would modern Christians, who have received the “Spirit of Truth,” want to be taught by “the Blind?” Yet, such is now the case in this movement.

Some might contend that in the context of the early Church, there was a great deal of oral teaching by the Jewish Apostles, and the Epistles were merely supplementary material. That is true in some cases. Paul spent three years in Ephesus before writing his epistle to this church. However, the major theological treatise on the Law (Romans) was written by Paul to a local church no Apostle had yet visited. His second Epistle on the Law and grace, Galatians, was written to the churches (plural) of Galatia, of which we have no direct record of his spending time in discipleship. Yet, Paul expected that the Greek Old Testament (LXX) would be adequate background material for the Gentile mind to comprehend his teaching on the covenants, the Law, and grace.

Is “Repentance” Turning Back to Moses?
In his website article series on “repentance,” Brad Scott made his real intentions clear in the closing paragraph of part I.

“The foundation of repentance is the return to where you came from. The root of repentance is to go back to something. Adam came from the dust, and that is where he will teshuvah, or return to. The root of repentance is to go back to something. It is what we are to go back to, that is critical.”1 [Bold mine]

Scott is intent on incorporating into the term “repentance” the idea of returning to a former condition. And as he stated in the above quote, the thing to which one is to return is the critical factor. In Scott’s theology, this is a return to God’s laws revealed through Moses, the ultimate destination for his followers. He made this point crystal clear.

“The very first words that we hear from Yochanan the immerser (John the Baptizer) is REPENT! Who was he speaking these words to? the Nations? Of course not. The nations would not have a clue as to what to go back to! He speaks this word to the local Jewish leadership. Yochanan is pleading in behalf of Yahshua for YHVH’s covenant people to go back to the covenant. Yahshua’s first words to the Jewish leaders is to REPENT! (Mattityahu 4:17). The two main religious systems in Judaism, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, had strayed away from the Word of YHVH. He certainly knew this in advance. Go Back! YHVH says. The common myth that Judaism was a law-keeping religion that YHVH came to denounce and change is a lie. Most of the Jewish leaders of that time were big time law breakers.”2

Was Jesus Simply Moses’ Revival Preacher or The New Lawgiver?
When Jesus and John the Baptist called Israel to “repentance,” Scott wants you to believe that he was calling them back to Moses. Hence, Scott makes John and Jesus missionaries and preachers of Moses by manipulating the word “repentance,” as we shall prove shortly. The Scripture, however, does not portray Jesus as Moses’ revival preacher, but as the new Lawgiver, proclaiming a new Law far superior to that of Moses. Jesus brought the “Law of Christ,” a higher Law, which superseded the Law of Moses. It did not supplement the Law of Moses. Consequently, the “household of Christ,” according to Scripture, is not the former “household of Moses,” but a completely new “household.”

1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward,  6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.  (Hebrews 3:1-6 NKJV)

Paul drew a clear distinction between the “house of Moses” and the “house of Christ.” Keep in mind that Paul wrote this to Jewish believers, implying that they were no longer of the “household of Moses” after joining the “household of Christ.” A few chapters later, the Apostle expands on this distinction.

1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”   6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: [from Jer. 31:31-34]

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—  

9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 

11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:1-13 NKJV)

The Meaning of “Repentance”
The Greek word translated “repent” in the NT is “metanoew” (me-ta-nah-eh-O), Strong’s #3340. As with a multitude of Greek verbs, it consists of a verb prefixed with a preposition. “Meta” (preposition) means “after.” And “noiew” means “understand” or “comprehend.” Hence, the basic sense of “metanoew” is “after-thought.” In modern English idiom we would say, “after second thought.” It indicates a change of mind after further contemplation. All Greek lexicons define this word as a “change of mind.” None suggest, as does Scott, that this change of mind is a return to a former place, condition, or state. In fact, it is usually a turning AWAY from a former way of thinking that is being stressed. We will list below a couple of examples of lexical definitions.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary:
Repentance
, There are three Greek words used in the New Testament to denote repentance.
(1.) The verb metamelomai is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas (Mat 27:3).
(2.) Metanoeo [metanoew], meaning to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge.
(3.) This verb [metanoew], with the cognate noun metanoia, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised. 3

Unger’s Bible Dictionary
REPENTANCE, a “change” of mind. In the theological and ethical sense a fundamental and thorough change in the hearts of men from sin and toward God. 4

The most comprehensive study of the koine Greek language from ancient Greek writings was done by the German scholar, Gerhard Kittle. His ten volume Greek lexicon (TDNT) far exceeds all other lexicons. While most Greek lexicons trace Greek word usage in the NT and the LXX, Kittle adds massive evidence from thousands of secular Greek manuscripts written in both classical and koine Greek of the period. There is no better source for understanding the “common” meanings of Greek words in every day life of the first century. According to Kittle’s TDNT, “metanoew” (repent) was used in secular Greek literature of the period to mean, “change one’s mind,” “adopt another view,” or “change one’s feelings.” He gives many examples of these in Greek literature. Kittle then adds, “…if the change of mind derives from recognition that the earlier view was foolish, improper or evil, there arises the sense ‘to regret,’ ‘to feel remorse’.” He cites many examples of this as well.5 In no case does Kittle suggest the idea of returning to a former place, state, or condition, as part of the Greek word “repent” in common Greek usage. Brad Scott is simply wrong.

In the face of massive contrary linguistic evidence, Scott alleges that Christianity has redefined “repentance” to suite its own ends. Yet, as we shall see, it is Scott who has done precisely what he alleges of Gentile Christians – twist the meaning to suite his own purpose.

Scott’s Manipulation of “Repentance”
Scott completely ignores the etymology of “metanoew” and all the lexical evidence, all the while pretending to offer a more nuanced definition which he claims is derived from the Hebrew equivalent. He claims that Jesus, John, and their hearers would have held his view of “repentance” because of their Hebrew background and alleged equivalent Hebrew term with which they would have been intimately familiar.

“When Yahshua and Yochanan (John the baptizer) said to the P’rushim (Pharisees), ‘repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ what did they mean by repent? Do you really believe the meaning of repent in the English or the Greek is what they meant? Do you believe that 23,214 verses of teaching in the Tenach (Old Testament) about this word is irrelevant?”6

Scott gives the impression, in the above quote, that there are over twenty-three thousand verses in the Old Testament that contain teaching on the word “repent,” and that all modern lexicons ignore this “teaching.” The fact is, there is only a handful of Old Testament verses that use the verb “repent,” or its noun form “repentance,” and not one of them supports Scott’s definition.

Scott’s “Shell Game” Exposed
Brad Scott plays a “shell game” with the Hebrew words. He declares by fiat that the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word “metanoew” (repent) is the Hebrew word, “shoov” (Strong’s #7725). He offers not one shred of linguistic or historical evidence in support of this claim, which is THE fundamental premise of his entire series of articles on repentance.

While it is true that “shoov” (or “shoob”) does mean “return” in many cases, it does not always. Strong’s Hebrew lexicon states this very clearly.

7725  שׁוּב      shûb  shoob  A primitive root; to turn back (hence, away) transitively or intransitively, literally or figuratively (not necessarily with the idea of return to the starting point); generally to retreat; often adverbially again:”7 [emphasis mine]

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia adds that “shoov” can either mean “return” or “turn away,” the latter having nothing to do with returning to a former place or state.8 Numerous examples of this meaning can be found, (Gen. 27:44-45 for example). 

Even IF “shoov” (shoob) was the Hebrew equivalent for the Greek “metanoew” (repent), which it is not, it would not prove Scott’s point. Even the Hebrew word “shoov” is used in Old Testament contexts where the idea of returning back to a former state, place, or condition is clearly not intended, as Strong’s lexicon and the ISBE point out. Consequently, the meaning Scott seeks to squeeze out of this word is NOT always essential to its basic meaning, and therefore not necessarily the sense even if it was the exact equivalent for the Greek word for “repent” in the New Testament. Had Scott been successful in establishing equivalence between the Hebrew, “shoov,” and the Greek “metanoew,” the most he would have accomplished would be to establish a possibility, but not a necessity. In other words, had Jesus and John the Baptist used the Hebrew word “shoov” instead of the Greek “metanoew” they might have meant “turn away” rather than “turn back” (to Moses) as Scott insists.

Earlier I used the term “shell game” to describe what Scott has done. The “shell game” is a classic swindle in which slight of hand is used to fool the target of the con. And slight of hand is what Scott has apparently done here. The way to determine equivalence between words of different languages is to examine ancient translations from one language to the other. There are two such sources for determining equivalence between Old Testament Hebrew words and New Testament Greek words. They are the Septuagint (LXX), and the Apostles’ quotes of the Old Testament in the New Testament. It is a simple thing to search the Septuagint (LXX) to verify Hebrew equivalents for Greek terms. There are no New Testament Apostolic quotes of the Old Testament that use the word “repent.” We are left with the Septuagint as our source.

One cannot accuse the LXX translators of “Gentile thinking” or any bias against Judaism, since they were themselves Jewish scholars living shortly before the appearance of Jesus Christ. They were far more fluent in the Hebrew of the Torah and ancient Greek than any modern Hebrew Roots teacher, including Brad Scott. They translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek, choosing the best Greek equivalents for the Hebrew words of the Old Testament. If Scott were correct in his claim that John and Jesus had the Jewish idea of “return” contained in the word “shoov” when they spoke of “repentance” in the Gospels, we would expect the LXX translators to render the Hebrew word “shoov” as “metanoew” (repent) in their Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. However, not once did those seventy Jewish scholars translate “shoov” as “metanoew” in their Greek translation of the Old Testament! So, not only does Scott’s view flow counter to all modern linguistic scholars, but also the Jewish scholars of the Septuagint!

The Jewish translators of the Septuagint used the Greek word “metanoew” (repent) in their translation. But, when it appears, it translates the Hebrew word, “nacham” (Strong’s #5162), not “shoov.” They used “metanoew” sixteen times in their Greek translation in the following verses: 1 Sam. 15:29, Prov. 20:25, Prov. 24:32, Jer. 4:28, Jer. 8:6, Jer. 18:8,10, Jer. 31:19 (38:19 in LXX), Joel 2:13,14, Am. 7:3,6, Jon. 3:9,10, Jon. 4:2, Zech. 8:14.

In each of these verses, “metanoew” translates the Hebrew word “nacham” (#5162), except in Prov. 20:25 & Prov. 24:32. And in neither of these exceptions do we find the Hebrew word “shoov.” In the former it translates a Hebrew term that means to “inquire,” and in the latter it translates two Hebrew words meaning to “make to understand.”

So, what is the meaning of the Hebrew word “nacham” which the LXX translators rendered as “metanoew?” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that nacham “implies difficulty in breathing, hence, ‘to pant,’ ‘to sigh,’ ‘to groan’ … Naturally it came to signify ‘to lament’ or ‘to grieve,’ and when the emotion was produced by the desire of good for others, it merged into compassion and sympathy, and when incited by a consideration of one’s own character and deeds it means ‘to rue,’ ‘to repent’.”9 In no case does “nacham” mean to return to a previous place, state, or condition.

Furthermore, there are a few verses in the Hebrew Bible where both Hebrew words “shoov” and “nacham” appear together in the same sentence, but are mutually exclusive! In other words, the context clearly shows that they are NOT the same thing, but were being contrasted with each other, or their diverse meanings were used to compliment each other. For example, Jer. 31:19 says this: “Surely after that I was turned (shoov) I repented (nacham).” That these two words are contrasted in this way proves their meanings are not the same. If “shoov” means “repent,” as Scott claims, then Jeremiah said, “After I repented I repented,” a rather nonsensical statement! The meaning is precisely as the NKJV renders it, “Surely after that I was turned (changed course), I repented (regretted the former course).”

In Jer. 4:28, the Lord made a similar contrasting statement using both terms. “I have purposed it, and will not repent (nacham), neither will I turn back (shoov) from it.” The word “neither” in the above sentence indicates contrasting ideas, NOT a restatement of the same idea. Consequently, “shoov” (translated “return”) and “nacham” (translated “repent”) do NOT have the same meaning. The former means to “retreat” or “return” and the later “to change the mind” or “regret.”

Joel 2:14 uses both terms as well. “Who knoweth if He will return (shoov) and repent (nacham) and leave a blessing behind Him.” Here the two terms have a cumulative effect, hoping that God will do two distinct things: return to His favor for Israel and also change His mind (or regret) regarding His intent to judge Israel.

We have at least two hard pieces of evidence that “shoov” and “nacham” do not have the same meaning. First, both terms are used in the same sentences in contrast to each other. Second, the LXX translators frequently rendered “nacham” as “metanoew,” but never rendered  “shoov” as “metanoew.” They did not view “shoov” and “metanoew” as equivalent terms.

If the LXX translators, who knew both Hebrew and Greek, did not see “shoov” and “nacham” as equivalent, or more importantly, did not see “shoov” and “metanoew” as equivalent, why would we suppose that Jesus and John the Baptist did, or their hearers?

More importantly, why should we think Brad Scott knows more about linguistics than the Jewish translators of the LXX and authors of all Greek lexicons? If the LXX translators did not think “metanoew” meant “to return to where you came from,” neither should you. Scott has played fast and loose with the Hebrew words in order to lead you where he wants you to go, back to the Law of Moses.

Should Gentile Pagans “Return” to Where They Came From?
If “repent” (metanoew) in the Gospels means “to return to where you came from,” then the use of the same word in evangelizing Gentiles would mean they should return to their pagan roots, their “wild olive tree!” Scott does not seem to notice this problem. While arguing that “repent” in the Gospels requires his definition, he wrote the following;

“The very first words that we hear from Yochanan the immerser (John the Baptizer) is REPENT! Who was he speaking these words to? the Nations? Of course not. The nations would not have a clue as to what to go back to!”10

Yet, Paul encouraged the Gentiles to “repent” as part of his evangelism.

21 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. (Acts 26:19-20)

Here, Scott’s definition of “return to where you came from” simply will not work in the context. “Works befitting repentance” in Scott’s bogus lexicon would be offering sacrifices to Zeus or the goddess Dianna! The same problem appears in the other passages that speak of Gentile “repentance,” none of which suggest “return to where you came from.” (Acts 17:30, Acts 26:20), and the noun form “repentance” (Luke 24:47, Acts 11:18, 2 Cor. 7:10, 2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus told the disciples, when sending them out to the Gentiles with the Great Commission, “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). How does Brad Scott suppose these Gentiles would “have a clue as to what to go back to?”

Other Greek Words Mean “Return” or “Turn Back”
There are other common Greek words that mean “return back” and “return again.” First, “upostrefw” (hupo-strepho  Strong’s #5290) comes from the preposition “hupo” (under or back) and “strepho” (to turn). Examples can be found in Luke 1:56, Luke 2:20,43,45, Luke 4:1,14). Second, “anastrefw” means “return again,” from the preposition “ana” (again) and “strepho” (to turn). This latter term is probably the closest to the Hebrew “shoov” as Scott defines it. Yet, it is nowhere used in the New Testament in the sense Scott promotes, a turning back to the Law of Moses. In fact, it is never used in an evangelistic sense in the New Testament.

What is painfully obvious from Scott’s treatment of “repentance” is that he is manipulating the evidence to suite his purposes. His work is unscholarly, manipulative, and malicious, in my humble opinion.

The “Judaizers” (neo-Galatians) are Back
A distinction needs to be made between two classes of modern “Law keepers” – those who practice “Law keeping” as a preference but not a necessity (Messianics who are Jewish by birth), and those who claim or imply that it is a salvation issue and binding on Gentiles. Brad Scott clearly falls into this latter category, what is commonly referred to as a “Judaizer.” Scott is proclaiming the same heresy Paul called “another gospel.” Here it is in Brad Scott’s  own words.

“I am going to, very bluntly, tell you that without a scriptural understanding of repentance, you are NOT redeemed or reconciled back to YHVH. To put it more perfectly, as Sha’ul would say, you are not saved.”11

By making his definition of “repentance” synonymous with a “return” to keeping the Law of Moses, Scott is essentially saying that observance of the Law of Moses is necessary to salvation.

Furthermore, he places all Christians who are not “Torah observant” within the category of the “workers of iniquity” to whom Jesus promised to answer, “depart from Me, I never knew you.” He equates this with the “mystery of iniquity” which gives birth to the Antichrist. Here it is in Brad Scott’s own words.

“If you are curious to know who the workers of iniquity are in Mattityahu 7:23, you can find them here. They are those who are TORAHLESS, lawless ones. This is the translation of the King James English, “workers of iniquity”. It is also a description of their leader, whether they know it or not, in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8. He is the mystery of iniquity that already works and is called the wicked one or the lawless one.”12

Scott’s claim that his perverted “repentance” (return to the Law of Moses) is essential to salvation puts him and his movement in the same camp as the ancient Judaizers who “troubled” and “unsettled” the Gentile believers. Paul called that message “another gospel” and told the Galatians that those who embraced it were “estranged from Christ” and “fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

We would do well to keep in mind the letter to the Gentiles, approved by all the Apostles and elders of the Jerusalem congregation.

“The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings,

Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’ — to whom we gave no such commandment — it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:23-24).

NOTES:

1. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part I; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson16.html; Wild Branch Ministries
2. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part II; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson17.html
3. Easton’s Bible Dictionary, article on “Repentance” (electronic version)
4. Unger’s Bible Dictionary, article on “Repentance” (electronic version)
5. Kittle; TDNT, Vol. IV, pp. 976-977
6. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part I; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson16.html. Strong, Hebrew Lexicon of Old Testament Words, #7725 (electronic version)
8. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, article on “Repentance” (electronic version)
9. ibid
10. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part II; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson17.html
11. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part I; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson16.html. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part III;
12. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part III; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson18.html

 © Tim Warner, September 2007

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Refer also to the following post, which contains a word study on the word, ‘repent’, that you may find helpful: 

Other articles of interest:

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.   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.

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Headlong into Heresy

I have a confession to make.  The past month or so has been greatly frustrating for me in regard to standing up for the truth of the freedom that Christ purchased for us at the Cross.  The moderator at the mom’s digest I subscribe to has continued to allow for false teaching to be posted, while she has repeatedly denied the posting of  direct questioning of that false teaching.  Most recently a subtle reference to the practice of Kabbalah was permitted to be posted (4 known levels of meaning for each Hebrew letter – Go ahead . . . Google that phrase and see what comes up).  There is no mistaking the connection of the practice of mystical Judaism (rooted in the Occult) to what was allowed to be posted.

So here’s where I find myself in regard to my attitude:  Part of me is shocked.  Shocked that such obvious headlongerror is lapped up by not only by the moderator of the mom’s digest, but also by many in the Body of Christ today.  After the shock comes frustration.  Frustration that even when error is exposed, folks will still follow after false teaching and promote its propagation.  After the frustration comes the resignation.  Resignation that no matter how conclusively one can prove that specific teachings/doctrines are false, there are those who will still choose to remove their heads from their shoulders and willingly and purposefully march headlong into heresy.

So part of me feels like I’m banging my head against a brick wall (though I know that’s not true because God says that His Word does not return void), another part of me is just tired,smi20 and most of me is just grieved.  Grieved that so many are so willingly deceived, even when sound evidence is presented to them, including Scriptural, linguistic, and historical evidence . . . and they still insist on marching headlong into heresy.  Not only that, but then accusations of being hateful, divisive and/or unloving come from those that have placed themselves in the High Places.  Interesting.  (Did she just say High Places???)  Yes I did.  Those of you who are familiar with your Old Testament and adhere to the false teachings/doctrines to which I refer are there.  You either don’t know you are there or refuse to recognize where you are in light of all the “hidden knowledge” and “deeper meaning” you find there.

I do understand there is a spiritual component here . . . deep error, once accepted, tends to be spiritually binding and blinding.  Thus deepens my grief.  I can almost taste the frustration that Paul must have felt as he wrote, “You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1a)  An integral reading of all of Galatians should be sufficient to clear up the false teachings found in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related belief systems/sects.  Indeed, an integral reading of the whole of Scripture should do the same.  Remove the linguistic and historical acrobatics that the HRM and its related belief systems/sects engage in, and one lands squarely under Law of Christ, not the Law of Moses.

So that’s why not much original content here at JGIG lately. I’m grieved and a little angry and my head hurts (and my heart). Those in the HRM and its related belief systems/sects are probably thinking, “She’s starting to see it!”  No.  I see even more clearly the errors of what you believe and where those errors come from.

I also understand that when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and defended, the Enemy is sure to show up. Recognizing the emotional components of this battle that are of the Enemy and also those that are of God, I choose to press in to Who God is and what His Word says.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:14-16)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  (Colossians 4:2-6)

When I can again speak with conversation that is full of grace, seasoned with salt, and not speak salt seasoned with grace, you’ll see original content here.

Grace and Peace,
JGIG

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Edited to add 8/23/13:  Grace has won in my heart, and I have written more, as you can see below =o).  I continue to pray for the women and the leadership at the mom’s digest above, that they may see the simple Truths of the Gospel in walk in the Freedom for which Christ has set us free .  Major W. Ian Thomas writes in the introduction to Classic Christianity this:

There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!

Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at ritual, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither!

They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to His humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life—God’s life!

There are those who have a life they never live. They have come to Christ and thanked Him only for what He did, but do not live in the power of who He is. Between the Jesus who “was” and the Jesus who “will be” they live in a spiritual vacuum, trying with no little zeal to live for Christ a life that only He can live in and through them, perpetually begging for what in Him they already have!

Below are links to posts regarding Grace and Law and the Hebrew Roots Movement, and links to resources that preach the Gospel ‘full preach’ whish help to establish those in Christ in the Grace, Gift of Righteousness, and New Life they have in Christ.  Grace and Peace to you!

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Believers in the Hebrew Roots Movement:  Are They Lost?

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If you’re someone or know 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 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.

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Take Just 10 Minutes – Law and Grace Teaching

Here’s a portion of a teaching from Bob George on Law and Grace.  For a longer (about 55 min.), more in depth audio teaching on the New Covenant with study notes by the same teacher, click HERE (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).  The New Covenant teaching will also be added to the Articles Page.

Be blessed!
-JGIG
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They Changed the Sabbath to Sunday

While there was just an article on JGIG regarding whether or not the Sabbath is still mandated for Christians today, this article is also excellent, bringing out some of the more historical issues in question, as well as some additional Scriptural/doctrinal issues.  This article will be linked to on the Articles Page here at JGIG for future reference.  The other article recently posted regarding the Sabbath can be found HERE, as well as at the Articles page.
-JGIG

From Let Us Reason Ministries (used as per copyright rules as stated at end of article):

let-us-reason1

THEY CHANGED THE SABBATH TO SUNDAY

There is no point of greater distinction between the reign of law and of grace then the observance of the seventh day and the first day of the week. Each represent a different dispensation and how God related to man.

There are many Sabbatarian groups that trace this event to Constantine in 321 A.D. and the council of Laodicea held in 364 A.D. In changing the Sabbath day of worship to Sunday. In the 4th cent. Sunday was declared to be the day of rest and worship. This does not mean Constantine changed the Sabbath day to Sunday, the Sabbath is still Saturday.

On the contrary there is much historical evidence to show Sunday worship was a universal practice of all the church’s outside the land of Israel by the beginning of the 2nd century. While there was a dispute between the Roman Catholic and eastern church hundreds of years later, on which day to worship there certainly was a repulsion to keep anything that was related to Judaism. While there may be a grain of truth in some of the arguments their is much exaggeration and even more extremism in changing the historical facts. Some go as far as to say Sunday is the day of the sun (worship ) so that is what Christians are doing they are practicing paganism. That early Christianity was mixed with pagan practices that led to the adoption of Sunday worship. This kind of rhetoric appeals to ignorance. Those who motivate others with guilt say you must worship on Saturday know this word is named after the Roman god Saturn. Like every day of the week it has a reference to a pagan name since many of these words come from that time period. The point is we don’t worship the day or the name of that day which would be idolatry. We worship the maker of that day and every day. God made all the days of the week and does not expect to be worshipped on only one day.

Philip Schaff a noted historian who is honest with history writes in his book the history of the Christian church cites Ignatius, Barnabus and Justin Martyr as observing the first day of the week. History includes Dionysius, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian of Africa and numerous others attesting to Sunday as the day of worship from the beginning of the church.

Schaff writes in the Schaff- Herzog Encyclopedia of religious knowledge 1891 Ed., vol.4 Article on Sunday. “Sunday… was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship.. . Sunday was emphatically the weekly feast of the resurrection of Christ, as the Jewish Sabbath was the feast of creation. It was called the Lords day, and upon it the primitive church assembled to break bread. No regulations for its observance are laid down in the new testament nor, indeed, is its observance even enjoined. Yet Christian feeling led to the universal adoption of the day, in imitation of the apostolic precedence. In the second century its observance was universal.” In other words this wasn’t to replace the Sabbath but held as a whole new day for a new dispensation

Ignatius 110 A.D. wrote in his epistle to the Magnesians 9… “If they who were concerned in old things, arrived at a newness of hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living according to the Lord’s day, by which our life sprung from him and by his death (whom certain persons deny)…we have been made his disciples, let us live according to Christianity.”

Barnabas 120A..D. “Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day, also, on which Jesus rose again from the dead”

Justin Martyr 140 A..D. “Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness, made the world; and Jesus Christ our savior , on the same day rose from the dead.”

Didache 80-90 A.D. “And on the day of our lords resurrection, which is the Lord’s day meet more diligently.”

We do not make our doctrine from history; all these quotes which are few in comparison to numerous others available. They show what took place in history. These are quotes from those who kept the canon of scripture, built churches and defended the faith among the pagans. There is too much evidence on Sunday worship and none for Sabbath keeping except to evangelize the Jews. The change of day was not instituted by the pope centuries after the apostles nor was it made to replace the Sabbath day no matter what a certain church claims.

Catholic Encyclopedia states “Sunday was the first day of the week according to the Jewish method of reckoning, but for Christians it began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in Apostolic times as the day set apart for the public and solemn worship of God.” 

It is claimed by Sabbatarians that Constantine’s edict was the institution of change from the Sabbath to Sunday as  the day of worship. What nonsense.  Pliny was governor of Bithynia, in Asia Minor from AD 106-108. He wrote to Trajan the emperor concerning the Christians in 107 AD. “They were wont to meet together, on a stated day before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately a hymn to Christ as God….When these things were performed, it was their custom to separate and then to come together again to a meal which they ate in common without any disorder.” 

History agrees with this. The day the early church broke bread was Sunday according to the Bible. “Upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7).

  Ireneaus in 155-202 A.D. wrote: “The Mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection may not be celebrated on any other day than the Lord’s Day, and on this alone should we observe the breaking off of the Paschal Feast.” We all know he resurrected the day after the Sabbath, the feats of first fruits which establishes what the early church calls the LORD’S day. All these quotes prove the Church held Sunday as a significant day long before any edict in the 300′s. What Sabbatarians want to do is ignore historical fact and make up a fantasy to promote their own legalistic view of what a Christian can and cannot do.

THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK

What we need to do is look at what transpired on the first day of the week and then look at the scriptural evidence for the assembly on the first day in the New Testament.

1. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week after the Sabbath (John 20:1). He was the first fruit until eternal life others were also raised Mt.27:53. The resurrection is the capstone of our faith and the proving of the new covenant. He was raised for our justification..

2. Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples on that first day of the week (John 20:19).If he appeared on the 7th day do you think the Sabbatarians would use this to promote the Sabbath ?

3. Jesus waited one week, and on the next first day of the week appeared to the eleven disciples (John 20:26).

4. The promised coming of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the first day of the week, the day of Pentecost he was sent, (Pentecost by law came on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:16).

5. On the first day of the week the first gospel sermon  preached by an apostle on the death and resurrection of Jesus was by Peter (Acts 2:14).

6. On that first day of the week the three thousand converts were united into the   New Testament covenant separating from Judaism (Acts 2:41). While at the first Pentecost 3,000 were slain on this day God reversed it and instead they were given eternal life. The law kills the new covenant gives life.

7. On that same first day of the week the rite of Christian baptism into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was administered for the first time (Acts 2:41).

8. At Troas Paul preached to the assembled Christians on the first day of the week The only example of the Lord’s supper being practiced on Sunday (Acts 20:6, 7). So did the churches of Galatia and Corinth.

9. Paul instructed the Christians at Corinth to make contributions on the first day of the week (I Cor. 16:2).Why did Paul specifically give orders to the church for this to be done on the “first day of the week.”  Offerings are a part of worship itself. Offerings are a part of our worship and since offerings took place on the first day of the week, wouldn’t it make sense that worship also took place on the same day of the week. This is only day in the New Testament that commands Christians to give, they would have to be gathered to do so.

If Sunday was not an allowable day to worship or teach on then none of this would have occurred.

There is a biblical numerology in which 7 is the number of completion (of rest) the week is completed in 7 days. The number 8 is a symbol of new beginnings. Both days were used as In Ex.12. given at the same time.

No one ever changed the Sabbath day to SUNDAY

The Sabbath commemorated a finished creation with rest. The first day commemorates a finished redemption and a new work.

The Sabbath commemorates Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery and God resting on the 7th day. The first day commemorates Christ’s resurrection, victory over death and eternal punishment . It gives hope that all who believe will also be resurrected from the dead.

The Sabbath is a day of rest and quiet. The first day is a day of worship and praise. Sabbath means rest, not Saturday! There were other Sabbaths given to Israel on other days. The Sabbath was made for man to rest, God was telling Israel to keep the rest, their focus was not a day.

Christians met in houses for their assemblies Philemon 2, Romans 16:5, Col.4:15. According to the Sabbatarian’s they were to assemble together in the temple so they are breaking the Sabbath not keeping it.

The New Testament, principle is given in Heb.10:24-25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” If on does not want to assemble with the rest of the believers during a service certainly reveals a spiritual anemia. The day of the week to assemble is of the church’s choice whether it be Monday, Wednesday or Saturday. Many churches today have Saturday services as well as Sunday. The New Testament has no legislation for which day we are to assemble. History shows the early church chose Sunday because of its significance, not because they hated the Sabbath. Almost all the church the first 10 years were Jews. They certainly knew the difference. How can a believing church meet in an unbelieving Synagogue. To meet together in worship is beneficial to oneself and others. It stirs up others to hear what God is doing in each others life. This verse of Hebrews tells us to encourage each other by being present.

1 Cor. 16:1-2: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come”. To give has always been a means of worship. Paul sets the rule telling them as they gather together to take up an offering. This is not a tithe as in the O T. but a principle of as the Lord has prospered you, ( giving cheerfully not out of obligation) there is an absence of legalism that one would find under the law. Notice he says that he has instructed the churches in Galatia the same as the Corinthians. This certainly indicates this was not an isolated command but a common practice during even the apostles time to gather on Sunday.

Acts 20:7: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” When to come together was an option of choice not obligation. Obviously this was decided upon and they were already carrying it out by the apostles. To break bread consisted of what is called a love feast, eating a meal and taking communion which is to be done in an assembly. Paul was speaking til midnight. The Jewish first day began on sundown Saturday so this took place Saturday night Through the first day, after the Sabbath.

The truth is 9 of the commandments Ex.20:3-4 are repeated and incorporated in the New Testament epistles but the 4th one is not, why?

The 1st and 2nd commandment- which prohibit the worship of other Gods (50 times) and idols are repeated (12 times) Acts 15:29, 17:16: Rom.1:25; 1 Cor.6:9-10, 10:14: 1 Jn.5:21: Rev.21:8, 22:15.

The 3rd commandment of reverencing his name not to take it in vain (4 times ) Ex.20:7 is also repeated in the New Testament  Mt.5:33;  James 5:12.

The 4th commandment- ? Where do the apostles teach to keep the Sabbath? Its missing even for the Gentiles who had no concept of the Jewish laws would need to be instructed.

The 5th commandment- to respect your parents is also repeated (6 times) Mt.15:4-9: Eph.6:1-3 and Rom.13:1-7.

The 6th commandment- of forbidding murder Ex.20:13 is in the New Testament (4 times). Rom.13:9; Mt.19:18 and the true intent is explained in Mt.5:21-22

The 7th commandment- prohibiting adultery and any sexual sin Ex.20:14 is also found ( 12 times) in Acts.15:20; Rom.2:22, 13:13: 1 Cor.5:11, 6:9, 13,15, 18: 10:8: Eph.5:3,11-12.

The 8th commandment- forbids one to be dishonest, stealing,Ex.20:15 is found in the New Testament (6 times) Rom. 2:21 Eph. 4:28: 1Thess.4:6: Jms.5:4; Mk.10:19; Lk.18:20.

The 9th commandment- condemning a false witness, to lie Ex.20:16 is found in the New Testament (4 times) Mt.15:19,19:18; Lk.3:14 and 1 Tim.1:9-10.

The 10th commandment- tells us not to covet Ex.20:17 is repeated (9 times) in Mk.7:21-23; Lk.12:15,33-34; Rom.1:29, 13:9 1 Cor.5:11; 6:10; Eph.5:3.

Isn’t it amazing the one law that the legalists use to bully everyone around to show their disobedience is not found specifically in the New Testament? Why? Not because its practice was self evident as some claim! Its just as self evident not to murder. This was law before the 10 commandments but it is repeated often. The answer is in the fact the Sabbath is not suppose to be there! Not once in the New Testament is breaking the Sabbath called a sin or do we find anyone punished for it. Its ceremonial not moral because the very things forbidden for that day are allowed on all others , this would not be so if it was a moral law.

While Sabbatarian’s state “there is no command to worship on Sunday” They can’t produce a single command that the Church was to assemble on the Sabbath for worship? If there is one in the New Testament epistles (the teachings for the Church), please bring it to our attention and we will do it. Instead we find the very opposite. 

Contrasting the Sabbath day in the Old Testament covenant

Neither Jesus nor the apostles teach it necessary for the believer to keep the Sabbath. There is no command after the death and resurrection for the Church to keep the Sabbath as an obligation to Christ nor is it a salvation issue (actually Galatians makes it a gospel issue- if one adds it, it destroys the gospel of grace.) The epistles were mostly corrective letters reinforcing what was taught in person by the apostles and to add further revelation to what was being taught. There was absolutely no warning against Sunday worship that would be construed as pagan worship. In fact we find it is the very opposite, they were given freedom where they did not have before.

At the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 dealing with the teaching of the Judaizer’s and how the Gentiles are to practice their Christianity it does not mention the Sabbath. The very law (circumcision) that is a requirement in the Abrahamic covenant and a condition in the Mosaic is rejected in the New Covenant. Under the Abrahamic covenant it was for Jews only. Under the Mosaic it was mandatory for the Jews and the gentile proselytes showing their submission to the law (Lev.12:3). Paul states “for I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to the whole law. (Gal.5:3) This can be substituted with any part of the Mosaic law, diet, clothing and the Sabbath. The Hebrew epistles such as James and Hebrews written to dispersed Israel never refer to continue keeping the Sabbath day because even Jewish believers were not obligated.

“Grace that had been behind the law came to light through Jesus Christ so that it could be realized.” (Arthur Pink)

D.N. Canright who left the 7th day Church in 1914  had this to say: For myself, I feel profoundly impressed that the Sabbatarian theory is built all the way through upon a narrow, forced, and unnatural interpretation of the Bible, one that cannot stand the test of fair criticism. The more I study it the more apparent these facts become to me. I am devoutly thankful to God that he has led me out of that error.

The New Testament Church clearly saw Sunday not as the substitute and replacement for the Jewish Sabbath. Sunday was not seen as a modification or as a new Sabbath, but as a day that stood on its own merits having its own meaning. The church was given the resurrection and used this day to proclaim the very capstone of our faith. What some have done is use fear and devious manipulation to prove one is under the wrath of God by simply worshipping on a day apart from the Covenant given to Moses.

There is no Scripture in the New Testament which states that God will punish Sabbath breakers. There are in the New Testament statements for those who practice idolatry, thieves, liars, murderers,  the covetous, the sexually immoral will not enter the kingdom of God and be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur (1Cor.6:9,10; Eph.5:5-7;  Rev. 21:8). These were included in the 10 commandments for Israel but notice the Sabbath is missing. Because it was not in the moral law category but a ceremonial one.

Acts 13:38-39: “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” The Sabbath was part of the law of Moses.

Gal.4:10-11: “You observe days and months, and times, and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” To observe days the months years the holy days is a sign of weakness and immaturity. The DAYS are the Sabbaths and Holy days. Months are the new moon festival, seasons are the festivals of Lev.23, years are the sabbatical years and the year of jubilee. Paul did not want the New Testament believer to become entangled in bondage again. We are free to live toward Him every day, we don’t rest on one day or another but rest spiritually in Him.  [Do not] condemn those who do not practice the days, food codes and the rest of the law that has clearly been removed from the New Covenant.

© 2008 No portion of this site is to be copied or used unless kept in its original format- the way it appears. Articles can be reproduced in portions for ones personal use. Any other use is to have the permission of  Let Us Reason Ministries first. Thank You.

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Was the Mosaic Sabbath Eternal and Unchangeable?

 by Robin Brace, UK Aplolgetics

Some Seventh-Day People Insist that the Principles of the Mosaic Sabbath Are Unchangeable and that, Therefore, the Prescribed Mosaic Sabbath Should be seen as Having Commenced from Creation;

But Is This Really Biblical?

Glaring Weaknesses in Sabbatarian, Seventh Day Adventist and Armstrongist Theology Frankly Considered

Is the Genesis 2 Seventh Day ‘Rest’ Essentially Inseparable From the ‘Mosaic Sabbath’?

Some  seventh-day observing people, undoubtedly sincere, but perhaps naive, seem to believe that if they can establish that the Sabbath was instituted in Creation Week then it must follow that the seventh-day Sabbath - as a legal obligation for all believers – is still in force. But what these people do not appear to understand is that every single Bible-believing Christian accepts that the Seventh Day ‘Rest’ (actually, not specifically the ‘Sabbath’) was instituted in Creation Week since that is plainly a biblical fact (Genesis 2:2-3), and nobody can argue with it – but that the original Creation Week Seventh-Day ‘Rest’ had no legalistic restrictions applied to it; those prescriptions and restrictions only came in at Sinai with the Old Covenant and were applied to Israel alone. Moreover, it is not at all difficult to establish this through the record of Scripture, as we are going to see.

The original Seventh Day – not originally ‘sabbath’ – the word ‘sabbath’ does not occur until Exodus 16:23 (of course, one cannot deny that the very origin of the word ‘sabbath’ is based on ‘rested,’ but it is nevertheless important to point this out), was given to all of mankind as a day of joy, contemplation of the Creator God and contemplation upon the beauty of Creation, apart from rest from ones normal labours. Notice Genesis 2:2-3 again.

‘By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creation that he had done.’ (Genesis 2:2-3, NIV throughout).

Yet please notice that Genesis 2:2-3 only refers to the Lord’s resting – there is not a single word there which bans anything, the text is entirely positive, and, thereafter, God did not impose ‘Seventh day’ observance (and certainly not Sabbath observance), anywhere in the entire book of Genesis! Please note that Genesis 2:2-3 never says anything like, ‘The Lord rested on that day and, from henceforth, no work or labour must ever occur on that day.’ No – the very first reference to ‘Rest’ is entirely positive with no mention of later requirement or restriction. Moreover, one may scan the entirety of Genesis, read of the Lord’s dealings with Adam, read of Noah, read of the Flood, read of the lives of the Patriarchs, read of Sodom and Gomorrah, read of Jacob and Joseph, right through Joseph’s life in Egypt and right up to the death of Joseph and there is never talk of a ‘sabbath’ or of any required ‘Seventh Day’ or sabbath observance anywhere!  The first example of obligatory, or required, sabbath observance is of Israel on-route from Egypt to Sinai in Exodus 16. Moreover – and this must be very carefully noted – according to Deuteronomy 5:2-3 and Nehemiah 9:13-14, the sabbath was never an official covenant obligation prior to the ratification of the Ten Commandments at Sinai:

“…Since the sacrifice of Christ, the Sabbath has changed again (Matthew 11:28-12:8). It is now fulfilled in Christ with an eternal sabbatism awaiting Christians in Heaven.” (Hebs 3:18-4:11).

Yes, God made that day, one day out of every seven, holy and special; a day of peace and blessing, that is, it was there if Mankind wanted to use it (it is now recognised that people actually work harder when they have a complete break from regular employment and normal activity one day in seven; seven days a week ‘workaholics’ end up with broken health, and often seem to lose balance in other areas of their lives as well). 

‘The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. IT WAS NOT WITH OUR FATHERS THAT THE LORD MADE THIS COVENANT, BUT WITH US.’

(Deuteronomy 5:2-3, my emphasis).

An argument which one sometimes hears from the seventh-day Sabbatarians (and I believe that SDA writer Desmond Ford is one who has used it), goes something like this:

‘You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.’ (Nehemiah 9:13-14).

So, the principle of the ‘Sabbath,’ which required observance, can only be dated back to Moses. Yet many Seventh Day observing people have been erroneously taught that the Sabbath was always a legal requirement but that the Lord chose Sinai to “remind” the people of the Sabbath and His other laws, which they had “forgotten.” Sincere or not, these people do not have Scripture on their side; indeed, Israel are only ‘called out’ and formally organised as a people and a separate nation from the time of the exodus. So the Scripture is clear and unequivocal that the Old Covenant package – including strict Sabbath laws – only dates back to the time of Moses. Actually, the Old Testament is so clear on this point, with great stress laid on the description and detailing of the Old Covenant in the books of Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, with a careful description of the divine deliverance of the Ten Commandments and the book of the law and the agreement and ratification of that with the Israelites, that one is really without excuse in challenging this. The only possible reason one could ever have for challenging this point is to make some obscure theological point which is against the run of Scripture – and that is exactly what Sabbatarians attempt to do.

So Nehemiah confirms what any careful research of the book of Genesis reveals, that is, that although the ‘Seventh Day’ was instituted at Creation Week, the observance of a ‘Sabbath’ was never a legal requirement until Mount Sinai.

So only Israel were given the Sabbath as a required observance and, in fact, the Sabbath was a major sign of Israel. Apart from Israel, the rest of us simply have the principle that to rest from ones normal labours and industries one day in seven and to contemplate on our God and on the wonder and beauty of His Creation is a truly godly principle – but not a legal requirement! Most Christians like to set aside ‘The Lord’s Day’ (the day of Christ’s resurrection) in this way and even occasionally call it the ‘sabbath’ even while usually fully understanding that it is not – and never was – the Sabbath. That day is the actual and specific period of time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset which was given to Israel at Sinai (the Genesis 2 ‘Seventh Day’ is not specific).

‘In the fourth (sabbath) commandment there exists a parallel between what took place during the first six days of creation week and what transpired on the seventh day. One should note the tense in Exodus 20:11:

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth…and rested the seventh day; Wherefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

All four verbs are in the past tense. No one disputes that the first two apply to Creation week. The correlation of divine acts clearly indicates that the blessing and the hallowing took place at the same time as the resting.

The last phrase, “and hallowed it,” has no significance unless the Sabbath was proclaimed and set aside for human beings at Creation. The Hebrew term in this passage occurs repeatedly in Scripture to denote a public proclamation.’

The common Seventh Day Adventist error is in failing to notice the difference between the original institution of something and the point at which a particular divine prescription comes into effect. Frankly, it is very sloppy biblical interpretation. Yes, the Seventh Day was set aside at Creation but there were no legalistic observances attached to it at that time. But when the Israelites were given the Old Covenant (from Exodus 20), the Sabbath was given a special and prominent place and various legalistic observances were added – but those parts were added at Mt Sinai and only had effect and force under the Old Covenant! So – yes the Seventh Day was hallowed and set aside at Creation but it was given to all of mankind as a day of joy, of contemplation upon nature, and of rest. But no commands accompanied it at that time. The ‘Seventh Day’ only became the ‘Sabbath’ at the time of Moses. You think I am wrong? Then search Genesis to provide me with an example of a ‘sabbath’ or of any exhortation to keep a sabbath; oh, and by the way, the events related in Genesis cover an amazingly long period of time, actually several thousand years: so, several thousand years with no sabbath command!

Four Further Sabbath Questions

1. Is the ‘Seventh Day’ on which the Creator ‘rested’ in Genesis necessarily the very same weekday as the 7th Day Sabbath of Moses?

No. Some use naive reasoning here; they will say that since the Mosaic Sabbath is the ‘seventh day’ then it must be the same ‘seventh day’ as Genesis 2. However, it appears that ‘seventh’ is only used in Genesis 2 in order to denote a principle of rest one day in seven, a principle which has been shown to be mentally and physically beneficial for Mankind. Yes, the day and principle is even sanctified, but since several thousand years separate Genesis 2 and Exodus 16:23, which is the first ever use of the word ‘Sabbath’ in Holy Scripture, it is impossible to be certain that it is the same ‘seventh day,’ although maybe Exodus 31:14-17 implies that it is. However, the reason that the Lord links the Sabbath to Creation Rest is that He is identifying Himself to Israel as the true and living Creator God. By the way, the same Scripture confirms that the Sabbath was a sign between the Lord and Israel (but not between the Lord and all Mankind).2. Is the Sabbath the ‘Seal of God’?

Some Sabbatarians have claimed that the seventh-day Sabbath is the ‘Seal of God.’ But the Seal of God is certainly not the Sabbath. The Bible tells us clearly that the ‘Seal of God’ is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13 says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 4:30 warns, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 states “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”

3. Is a Sabbath-keeping church, or denomination, the Commandment-keeping church of Revelation 12:17?

Rev. 12:17 says, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
In the New Covenant, what are the “Commandments of God”? Does this mean the Ten Commandments? Actually, no, the Greek word used for the Ten Commandments and ‘Law’ is “nomos.” That word is not used here. The word used here is “entole” and it is a much broader word, usually meaning “teachings.”
In Revelation and in his epistles too John uses ‘entole’ rather a lot. Before we find John’s own definition of the way he uses the word, let us look at another example,
I John 5:1-3 says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

These verses are frequently used to teach people that they must still keep the Sabbath since it is one of the Ten Commandments, however, the Apostle John finally defines his use of “commandments” for us. In chapter 3 of this small epistle, he defines it specifically:
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in is sight. And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him…”
I John 3:21-24a.

4. Did the Roman Catholic Church change the day of the Sabbath at the Council of Laodicea?

It is amazing how common and widespread this complete mis-information is among sabbatarians! In fact, the Council of Laodicea sat 363-365AD and The Roman Catholic Church did not even exist until several centuries after that! The early “catholic” church, as described in church histories, is the Church which Jesus founded! The word ‘catholic’ simply meant ‘universal’ and the term was often used to separate biblical churches from heretical groups. However, the congregation based at Rome increasingly followed unbiblical teachings and emphases, especially in placing all power in the hands of a ‘pope,’ taking an independent line in doctrine and approving superstitious practises. Roman Catholicism reached the peak of its power and influence in the 11-13th centuries and can be discerned as a separate movement from about the 7th century. While a few earlier Roman bishops were known as ‘popes’ this was not the grandiose sense of ‘pope’ of later centuries.
The Council of Laodicea may have been guilty of anti-Jewish sentiments but nothing more, because, the First Day, or, Lord’s Day, was already established as a day of Christian meeting in the 1st and 2nd centuries which we know from many sources, including Justin Martyr, the Epistle of Barnabas, Irenaeus, the Epistle of Ignatius, Apostolic Constitutions, and other sources too.
R.J. Bauckham says this,
“Anti-Judaism played its part in second-century Christian polemic against Jewish Sabbath observance, but it does not follow that it motivated the introduction of Christian Sunday worship…..Sunday worship dates back to the first century, while few second-century writers compare and contrast the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian Sunday. Derogatory discussions of the Jewish Sabbath do not usually refer to the Christian Sunday. If Sunday were a recent substitute for the Jewish Sabbath, we should expect far more discussion of the superiority of Sunday to the Sabbath.” (R. J. Bauckham, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, p. 271, edited by D.A. Carson.)
Robin A. Brace, 2007.

So here it is being suggested that the Sabbath – as given to Israel at Sinai had always been in force as an obligation, when, as we have already seen, that is simply not the case. Moreover to insist that it is so, shows that one has never carefully studied the book of Genesis or even discovered the plain statements of Deuteronomy 5:2-3 and Nehemiah 9:13-14. Also, the Lord appeared to identify Himself with the original ‘Creation Rest’ in order to positively identify Himself as the Creator God, that is, the ‘I AM,’ rather than to infer that the Mosaic Sabbath had any sort of continuous lineage with the Genesis 2 divine rest. Certainly, the Lord based the authority and precedent for the Old Covenant sabbath on the Creation Rest, that is undeniable, but the two things are obviously quite different.

The unbiblical argument of the claimed ‘one required seventh day observance for all men of all time’, sometimes continues in the following fashion:

‘There is no instance in Scripture of a memorial being instituted thousands of years after the event it memorialized. The Passover, for example, began at the time of the deliverance it symbolized.’

So here it is apparently insisted that a divine prescription cannot later change and yet Holy Scripture presents us with several examples of Old Testament institutions being changed even before we reach the changes of the New Covenant. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for example, had no knowledge of the package of laws delivered to Moses and the children of Israel at Mount Sinai! This is obvious to the keen student of Scripture before we even find confirmation of this fact in Deuteronomy 5:2-3 and Nehemiah 9:13-14. Regarding using the Passover as a thing which began ‘at the time of the deliverance which it symbolized’ (therefore – presumably – suggesting that a later change is impossible), one wonders why an example which can be so quickly refuted would ever be chosen (simply compare Exodus 12 with Matthew 26: 20-30 !!). In fact, Jesus changed the way the Passover had been observed up until His time, turning it into Christian communion. Even the form of “passover” or “memorial” conducted among several legalistic sects (including the Worldwide Church of God and the Jehovah’s Witnesses) has little in common with the Passover given to Israel! The fact that “the Passover began at the time of the deliverance it symbolized” (as seventh-day writers sometimes state) proves nothing, and is actually a very poor example. God is able to change things, and Scripture amply testifies to this.

Later we find the major changes of the New Covenant. We learn that Old Covenant law was never intended to be permanent:

‘The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.’  (Luke 16:16).

Of course, a few complain that the Sabbath command was part of the Ten Commandments and not part of Old Covenant law which, again, reveals a certain biblical naievity: The Ten Commandments stand at the very heart of the Old Covenant in Exodus 20! Those theologians who came along later who often separated components of Old Covenant observance into things like ‘the ceremonial law,’ ‘the civil law,’ and ‘the moral law,’ were only artificially separating those parts for purposes of closer study. The Torah presents one, unified law.

‘All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no-one is justified before God by the law…’  (Galatians 3:10-11a).

‘What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come…’  (Galatians 3:19a).

‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.’  (Hebrews 1:1-2).

‘For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.’  (Hebrews 7:12).

‘By calling this covenant “new” he has made the the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear.’  (Hebrews 8:13).

‘But now, by dying to what bound once us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.’ (Romans 7:6).

By the way, nobody is saying that the Sabbath was a ‘memorial instituted thousands of years after the event’ (as seventh-day writers often infer to be the Christian position because of the gap from Creation to Mount Sinai), one day out of every seven was indeed recognised as ‘holy time’ in Genesis long before the time of Moses but only at the time of Moses did ‘Sabbath observance’ begin with many prescriptions and restrictions being added. This is simply what inspired Scripture teaches us, however unpalatable to Seventh Day Adventist theology it may be. Indeed, since the sacrifice of Christ, the Sabbath has changed again (Matthew 11:28-12:8). It is now fulfilled in Christ with an eternal sabbatism awaiting Christians in Heaven (Hebrews 3:18- 4:11). With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that the New Testament does not contain a single admonition for Christians to continue to observe a ‘sabbath,’ even though Christian doctrine and practise is well-covered in the epistles and in the book of Hebrews. An even bigger problem for those who teach one regulated sabbath observance which is more or less ‘set in stone’ for all time, is Acts 15 where, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and dating to about AD49 or 50, the Apostles discussed which elements of Old Covenant law needed to be taught to those Gentiles who were coming to Christ. The Sabbath is highly conspicuous by its absence! Since the topic was, apparently not even raised, this tends to confirm that the Apostles fully understood that the Sabbath was given to Israel alone. In a rare moment of  ‘off the record’ candour a strong sabbatarian once admitted to me that Acts 15 is a major and unresolved weakness in sabbatarian argument.

A Seventh Day minister I used to know (WCG, not SDA), loved quoting Hebrews 13:8 to back up his belief that the seventh day ‘sabbath’ and the Leviticus 23 Mosaic ‘holydays’ were still in force for Christians:

‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.’

Of course, that statement is true but it describes the unchanging character and purposes of God. Just consider: If it means that Old Testament doctrine can never change (as this sincere but seriously misguided man seemed to infer), then you and I should still be performing animal sacrifices, Jesus was plainly wrong in some of His ‘sermon on the mount’ comments, Paul was plainly seriously wrong in numerous comments he made (especially in Romans and Galatians), and the writer of Hebrews (whoever it was) was an arch-heretic!!

So because the Lord set things up in a certain way, either at Creation or at the time of Moses, does not mean that those things can never change or have various prescriptions later added or annulled. To reject this is to either show a poor knowledge of Holy Scripture, or, more seriously, it is to attempt to force ones ‘official doctrines’ to fit in with Scripture rather than to allow Holy Scripture alone to shape ones doctrinal approach.

Robin A. Brace, 2007.

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Used with permission.  Many thanks to UK Apologetics.

This article is also linked to on the Articles page here at JGIG.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – New Covenant or “Renewed” Covenant?

Folks in the Hebrew Roots Movement will tell us that God, in Christ, instituted a renewal of the Old Covenant instead of giving us a completely New Covenant.  They cite the Hebrew language to support their position, using something known as the ‘Root Word Fallacy’.

Following are two entries from the “Glossary M-Z” page, examining the concept of a New vs. a Renewed Covenant, followed by excellent word studies from two readers,  SheepWrecked (who also has a testimony here at JGIG), and Kimberly from Maine, who have both done a great job examining the language issues surrounding whether or not the Covenant in Christ is New or Renewed.  

Sheep’s and Kimberly’s examinations of the New/Renewed issue are thorough, using step by step progressions.  Each one comes to their conclusion using two different methods of study.  This page will also be linked to on the Articles” page located in the Articles tab located at the top of this site. 

I know that language studies can be tedious (like just shoot me now tedious, though some really like language study), but I think if you stick with the following, you’ll see how clearly God has communicated the New Covenant to us. 

Special thanks to SheepWrecked at For The Love of Truth  and Kimberly from Maine for the language analysis portions of the following:

New Covenant or “Renewed” Covenant?

New Covenant - This, from a post here at JGIG, “Law Keepers – Part 4 – Thoughts on the New Covenant” :

At the Last Supper Jesus held up the bread and the wine and said,

“This is my Body and my blood, do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:14-20) 

Jesus says in Luke 22:20,

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

communion26Jesus wants us to remember that His Flesh and Blood took the place of the old covenant (Law) to make us acceptable (free from sin – from spiritual death to spiritual life) before God. 

It seems to be a rather significant point made during the observance of a feast itself.  He shifted the focus in a very clear way from remembering what the Passover was all about to remembering what the breaking of  HIS Body and the shedding of  HIS Blood was all about . . . replacing the blood on the doorposts (a TEMPORARY solution) with His own Blood (the PERMANENT solution).

To say that that is not enough, or to say that one does not realize the full meaning of all God has done UNLESS one observes the Torah, or that one is not pleasing to or loving God enough if one is not observing the Torah is to say that the shed Blood of Christ is really not enough.  That is ground I would not care to tread upon.  And make no mistake, that is where you are treading if you feel we all should be Torah observant. 

It is not Jesus plus anything that pleases God.  God in the flesh - Jesus – fully God and fully man, was crucified and shed His blood for our sins, rose from the dead three days later, and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.  He finished the complete work of salvation.  God does not require that we follow Torah.  He nailed the written code to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)  He released us from the Law when He released us from our sin through the Blood of Christ. (Romans 7:4-6)

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”  (Romans 8:1-4)

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a repentant believer, cleansed by the blood of  THE Lamb, results in the changing of a person – from the inside out!  The Law works itself from the outside in.  And it’s never enough.  Jesus talks a LOT about that in Matthew 23.

Can one truly be “Torah observant” when, in reality, one is selective in which parts of the Law one obeys?  Are there not parts of the Law that require a High Priest and a Temple?  What about animal sacrifice?  Did God become flesh and spill His blood simply to spare us the inconvenience of sacrificing animals?

What about penalties for those who violate the parts of the law for which the punishment is death?  Who will take on the “responsibility” of making sure that appropriate punishment is administered according to the Law?  Do not Deuteronomy 27:26 and Galatians 3:10 say that “cursed is everyone who does not continue to do EVERYTHING written in the Book of the Law?” (Caps mine.)

How is it, in the view of Law keepers, that Grace exempts one from observing/performing the parts of the Law that one finds inconvenient or impractical, but does not exempt one from observing/performing the more palatable parts of the Law?

Honestly, my intent is not to be antagonistic here.  I really wonder how those who are “Torah observant” can reconcile these obvious problems with consistency in obedience to the Law.  If you do go ahead and decide to perform sacrifices, to be consistent, then of what use is the Cross?  Have you not left the Cross, rejected the redemptive work of the Blood that was shed there for you by the Lamb of God?

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcisionof your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”  (Colossians 2:13-17)

I wonder . . . . . how does God view Law-keeping through the lenses of His Grace and His Blood?

Beyond the realities of what the New Covenant means to the individual believer, how the believer carries out the commands of Christ - the “Law of Christ” impacts those around that believer in a complete systemic all-inclusive way.  Christ’s commands?  Love God, love others. 

How do the realities of the New Covenant enable us to do that?

Under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ, the believer is now free to love their neighbor without restriction.  We are able to bend down into the dirt of life and minister to those in need and love them with the love that comes from the very Holy Spirit of God.  We don’t need to worry if something or someone will make us “unclean” as we love and minister to those arouned us.

Why?  Because we are cleansed with the Blood of Christ, not merely covered by the blood of animals.  Our state of redemption and “clean-ness” is permanent and irrevocable – incorruptible - based on the Righteousness of Christ, which, as He lives His Life in and through us, produces the Fruit of the Spirit, Love, which fulfills the commandment to love one another, which in turn fulfills the Law.  In Christ, we are able to Love God, Love others, whatever the circumstance.

That is the beauty, the reality, of the New Covenant! 

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“Renewed” CovenantOne false definition of the New Covenant re-termed the “Renewed Covenant” typical in the Hebrew Roots Movement is found at 1bread.org:

“At His last Passover, Yahshua initiated a “New Covenant” (prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31). In Hebrew, it is really a lawrenewal of the same covenant, with a few allowances added for while we make the transition back.  [???]  But the Covenant is “with the House of Israel and the House of Judah”. It cannot be fully in effect until Israel is back together, for it is not with individuals but with a unified nation. So our focus needs to shift from just being saved individuals to again being the people of Israel. Don’t pass up this highest of callings! We dare not fail again.” 

“We dare not fail again”???  Who’s running the show in the Hebrew Roots Movement?  Man or God?

No Scriptures come to mind to support the above rendering of a “renewed Covenant”.  In more mainstream Hebrew Roots circles the concept of a “renewed Covenant” vs. the “New Covenant” is rendered with the mis-use of the original languages of Scripture. 

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Here’s a language analysis from SheepWrecked at “For the Love of Truth”, which examines whether God has given us a New or a Renewed Covenant in Christ.  Used with permission, and be sure to check out Kimberly from Maine’s take with a different style and emphasis after SheepWrecked’s article – both are well worth the time.

 Is it the New or Renewed Covenant?

By SheepWrecked

Some Hebrew roots “scholars” are teaching that we are under a renewed covenant, not new, therefore we must follow the Old Covenant laws as well. Some have gone so far as to teach that the New Covenant will not be in effect until the return of Jesus.

B’riyt Chadashah is the phrase that appears in Jeremiah 31:

Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt (which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says the LORD). (Jeremiah 31:31-32)

B’riyt means covenant, which is the equivalent for the word testament. Chadash in the context of Jeremiah 31:31 does not mean renewed but new, and in this passage the adjectival form for renewedwould have to appear as mechudeshet to make it mean renewed, and not chadashah as found in the Hebrew text. We can determine that the meaning is something completely new because following verse 31, the negative “lo” appears in the Hebrew text (lo kabriyt). Contextually, this makes it clear that the writer is differentiating between an existing and a “new” covenant. The new covenant referred to in verse 31 is referred to in the Hebrew of verse 32 as lo meaning “not” the previous covenant and is defined in the passage below as not being:

“. . . the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; my covenant which they broke . . . “

There are two separate and distinct forms of chadash listed in the Hebrew lexicon for new (H2319) and renewed (H2318). Another Biblical Hebrew form for renewed is mechudash, the pu`al particple from the root (shoresh) chet-dalet-shin. Chidesh is a modern Hebrew word that is also used for renewed.

H2319
חדשׁ
châdâsh
BDB Definition:
1) new, new thing, fresh
Part of Speech: adjective
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2318
Same Word by TWOT Number: 613a

Here is the Hebrew lexicon listing of the word that is translated as renewed:

H2318
חדש
châdash
BDB Definition:
1) to be new, renew, repair
1a) (Piel)
1a1) to renew, make anew
1a2) to repair
1b) (Hithpael) to renew oneself
Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root
Same Word by TWOT Number: 613

New

Let’s take a look at how the Jewish scholars that made up the translation team for the 1917 Jewish Publication Society TeNaKh translated chadash (H2319) contextually:

30 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant (b’riyt chadashah) with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah;

Here is the Hebrew:

הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים, נְאֻם-יְהוָה; וְכָרַתִּי, אֶת-בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת-בֵּית יְהוּדָה–בְּרִית חֲדָשָׁה.

Just to be sure, I referenced the latest version of the JPS TeNaKh (1985). It says new there as well. As a matter of fact, it says new in every translation I reviewed, with the exception of a few Hebrew Roots translations which are filled with faulty language scholarship, and are purely agenda driven.

So using the Hebrew roots teacher’s logic, shouldn’t this passage below also be renewed then?

Do not remember former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new 2319 (chadashah) thing; now it shall sprout. Shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.(Isaiah 43:18-19)

Using the same reasoning, wouldn’t it be a renewed song in the following passages as well?

Sing to Him a new (H2319) song; play skillfully, with shouts of joy. (Psalms 33:3)

And He put a new (H2319) song of praise to our God in my mouth; many shall see and shall fear and shall trust in the LORD. (Psalms 40:3)

O sing to the LORD a new (H2319) song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. (Psalms 96:1)

O sing to the LORD a new (H2319) song, for He has done wondrous things; His right hand and His holy arm has saved Him. (Psalms 98:1)

I will sing a new (H2319) song to You, O God; I will sing praises to You on a harp of ten strings (Psalms 144:9)

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new (H2319) song, His praise in the assembly of the saints. (Psalms 149:1)

Sing a new (H2319) song to the LORD; His praise from the end of the earth, you who go to sea, and all that is in it; the coasts and their people. (Isaiah 42:10)

How did Hebrew Scribes translate the word “new” when they put together the Greek traslation (the Septuagint) of the Old Testament?
Below are some of the words that the Hebrew scribes used when translating the Hebrew word chadashinto a Greek equivalent for the Septuagint (LXX) and their definitions:

H2319
chadash G2537 kainos
chadash G3501 neos
G2537
καινοìς
kainos
Thayer Definition:
1) new
1a) as respects form
1a1) recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn
1b) as respects substance
1b1) of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of
Part of Speech: adjective
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: of uncertain affinity
Citing in TDNT: 3:447, 388

Now from the New Testament writings we have these passages using the Greek equivalent for chadash listed above, which is kainos (G2537):

Rev 5:9 And2532 they sung103 [5719] a new 2537 song 5603, saying3004 [5723], Thou art1488 [5748] worthy514 to take2983 [5629] the book975, and2532 to open455 [5658] the seals4973 thereof846: for3754 thou wast slain4969 [5648], and2532 hast redeemed59 [5656] us2248 to God2316 by1722 thy4675 blood129 out of1537 every3956 kindred5443, and2532 tongue1100, and2532 people2992, and2532 nation1484;

Rev 14:3 And2532 they sung103 [5719] as it were5613 a new 2537 song 5603 before1799 the throne2362, and2532 before1799 the four5064 beasts2226, and2532 the elders4245: and2532 no man3762 could1410 [5711] learn3129 [5629] that new 5603 but1508 the hundred1540 and forty5062 and four5064 thousand5505, which3588 were redeemed59 [5772] from575 the earth1093.

Mat 26:28 For1063 this5124 is2076 [5748] my3450 blood129 of the new 2537 testament1242, which3588 is shed1632 [5746] for4012 many4183 for1519 the remission859 of sins266.

Heb 8:8 For1063 finding fault3201 [5740] with them846, he saith3004 [5719], Behold2400 [5628], the days2250 come2064 [5736], saith3004 [5719] the Lord2962, when2532 I will make4931 [5692] a new2537 covenant1242 with1909 the house3624 of Israel2474 and2532 with1909 the house3624 of Judah2455

Heb 8:13 In1722 that he saith3004 [5721], A new2537 covenant , he hath made3822 the first4413 old3822 [5758]. Now1161 that which decayeth3822 [5746] and2532 waxeth old1095 [5723] is ready1451 to vanish away854.

And the now another equivalent word for chadash(neos G3501) is used (see definition below):

Heb 12:24 And2532 to Jesus2424 the mediator3316 of the new 3501 covenant1242, and2532 to the blood129 of sprinkling4473, that speaketh2980 [5723] better things2909 than3844 that of Abel6.

G3501
νεìος / νεωìτερος
neos / neōteros
Thayer Definition:
1) recently born, young, youthful
2) new
Part of Speech: adjective
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: a primary word
Citing in TDNT: 4:896, 628

Someone in the Hebrew Roots Movement may give this example while trying to convince you of the “renewed” concept:
“So what happens to the ‘Chodesh’ moon? Does it just go poof when its cycle is done?  [Editor's note: A Hebrew Roots adherent recently put it this way to me: "Keep in mind Jer. 31:31 talks of the new covenant as the 'old' one being written on our hearts. Also keep in mind that the Hebraic understanding of "new" is more like, 'renewed'. Just as the New moon is seen every month and is certainly not a different, one, so too the Covenant is not a different one, but a renewed one."]

Actually, chodesh is listed as a totally different word in the Hebrew lexicon, that has its derivation from a word that is listed as meaning renewed.

H2320
חדש
chôdesh
BDB Definition:
1) the new moon, month, monthly
1a) the first day of the month
1b) the lunar month
Part of Speech: noun masculine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from *H2318*
Same Word by TWOT Number: 613b

The Bad News and the Good News
I once read that a Jewish person living in Israel on a good day could only fulfill about 240 of the 613 commandments established by the rabbis. That is because there is no Temple, no Priesthood, and other various reasons. If you do the math on that, it means that a person living in the US could probably only fulfill 40 +/-  percent of the Law on a good day.

Here is the bad news:

If you truly fulfill the royal Law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. But if you have partiality you work sin, being reproved by the Law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep all the Law, but stumbles in one, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:8-10)

To believe that you are keeping the Law (which one is not capable of) and then switching to grace when someone points that out, is a terrible witness for the price that Christ paid (in my personal opinion). This is where the whole Hebrew roots concept of a “renewed covenant” got its start. What do the scriptures say, and what is truly your final authority? Let’s look to the book of Hebrews just to be sure:

Truly, then, if perfection was through the Levitical priestly office (for the people had been given Law under it), why yet was there need for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek and not to be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priestly office having been changed, of necessity a change of law also occurs.

For, indeed, an annulment of thepreceding command comes about because of its weakness and unprofitableness. For the Law perfected nothing, but a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And by how much it was not without oath-taking; for they truly becoming priests are without oath-taking, but He with oath-taking, through the One saying to Him, The Lord swore, and will not care to change, “You are a priest to the age according to the order of Melchizedek;” by so much Jesus has become Surety of a better covenant. (Hebrews 7:11-12,18-22)

For anyone to teach that the New Covenant is not here yet goes against scripture, and is agenda driven. Those who teach this are alluding to the fact that we are still under the Old Covenant until Christ returns. Since the book of Hebrews shows that to be incorrect, many of the Hebrew roots teachers are now saying that the book of Hebrews is not authentic, and should be removed from the canon.

And now for the Good News (The Gospel!)
According to the Book that I read, the Law is now written in our hearts.

But now He has gotten a more excellent ministry, also by so much as He is a Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises:

For if that first was faultless, place would not have been sought for a second. For finding fault, He said to them, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will make an end on the house of Israel and on the house of Judah; a new covenant shall be, not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day of My taking hold of their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not regard them”, says the Lord. “Because this is the covenant which I will covenant with the house of Israel after those days”, says the Lord, “giving My Laws into their mind, and I will write them on their hearts,and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall no more teach each one their neighbor, and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’; because all shall know Me, from the least of them to their great ones. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousnesses, and I will not at all remember their sins and their lawless deeds.” In the saying, New, He has made the first old. And the thing being made old and growing aged is near disappearing. (Hebrews 8:6-13)

A covenant cannot be changed after the death of the testator:

And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were covered under the first testament, those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead, otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator is living. And so not even the first testament was dedicated without blood. (Hebrews 9:15-18)

Brothers, I speak according to man, a covenant having been ratified, even among mankind, no one sets aside or adds to it. (Galatians 3:15)

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Kimberly from Maine Says:

After reading several statements claiming that because the New Moon is not actually new therefore the New Covenant is not either, but “REnewed”, I decided to do a word study on “new” and “renew.” I found the study quite enlightening and thought I’d share my results with you.

According to Strong’s Concordance, there are seven different Hebrew words translated “new.”

The first is 1069 bakar baw-kar’ a primitive root; properly, to burst the womb, i.e. (causatively) bear or make early fruit (of woman or tree); also (as denominative from 1061) to give the birthright:–make firstborn, be firstling, bring forth first child (new fruit). It is translated “new” in the following verse:

“And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth NEW fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” Eze 47:12

The second instance is 1278 briy’ah ber-ee-aw’ feminine from 1254; a creation, i.e. a novelty:–new thing. It is found in this verse:

“But if the LORD make a NEW thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.” Nu 16:30

The third instance is 2323 chadath khad-ath’ (Aramaic) corresponding to 2319; new:–new and is found in this verse:

“4With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house: 5And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.” Ezr 6:4-5

The fourth instance is 2961 tariy taw-ree’ from an unused root apparently meaning to be moist; properly, dripping; hence, fresh (i.e. recently made such):–new, putrefying. This word is used in the verse

“15And he found a NEW jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.”Judges 15:15

In each of these instances, the words I have given were used just a single time, in the verses given.

Then I made an interesting discovery. The next word is 8492 tiyrowsh tee-roshe’ or tiyrosh {tee-roshe’}; from 3423 in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape-juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine:–(new, sweet) wine. This word is translated “new wine” in 13 verses. In other words, if you look up “new” in the verse Proverbs 3:10 and then “wine” in that same verse, you are given the number 8492 for the word “new” and again for the word “wine.” In other words, “new” is not one Hebrew word and then “wine” another. “Tiyrowsh” means “new wine.” Here are some verses so that you may look for yourself:

“39For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the NEW WINE, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.” Ne 10:39

“10So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with NEW WINE.” Pr 3:10

“11Whoredom and wine and NEW WINE take away the heart.” Ho 4:11

With this discovery fresh in mind, I approached the next word 2320 chodesh kho’-desh from 2318; the new moon; by implication, a month:–month(-ly), new moon. Again, I found that there is not one Hebrew word for “new” and another for “moon,” but a single Hebrew word translated “new moon” in 24 verses. I have given four verses as examples so that you may look for yourself.

“5And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the NEW MOON, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.” 1 Sam 20:5

“23And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither NEW MOON, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.” 2 Ki 4:23

“3Blow up the trumpet in the NEW MOON, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” Ps 81:3

“23And it shall come to pass, that from one NEW MOON to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.” Isa 66:23

But there’s more! While the word chodesh is translated “new moon” in 24 instances, in another 217 it is simply translated “month.”

“4And the ark rested in the seventh MONTH, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” Gen 8:4

“19And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first MONTH, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.” Jos 4:19

At this point, I find it simply illogical that one can conclude that because “chodesh” means “new moon” and “month” that therefore the “new” of “New covenant” in Jer 31:31 means “renew.” But we will continue the study…

The final word translated “new” in the Old Testament is 2319 chadash khaw-dawsh’ from 2318; new:–fresh, new thing. There are 45 instances of this word, one of them the Jeremiah verse in question:

“31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a NEW covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:” Jer 31:31

It would indeed change our understanding of this important promise if we understand “new” to mean “renew.” But are we being honest with the other uses of this word if we take it to mean renew?

“8Now there arose up a NEW king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” Ex 1:8

“11And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with NEW ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.” Judg 16:11

“3Sing unto him a NEW song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” Ps 33:3

“19Behold, I will do a NEW thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isa 43:19

Clearly, the word “new” that is used in Jer 31:31 must be understood to mean “fresh, new thing” if the other instances of that same word are to make any sense at all.

But to be fair, let’s consider the word “renew.”
“Renew” is translated 10 times from just two Hebrew words. Three times it is translated from 2498 chalaph khaw-laf’ a primitive root; properly, to slide by, i.e. (by implication) to hasten away, pass on, spring up, pierce or change:–abolish, alter, change, cut off, go on forward, grow up, be over, pass (away, on, through), renew, sprout, strike through in these verses:

“31But they that wait upon the LORD shall RENEW their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isa 40:31

“1Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people RENEW their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.” Isa 41:1

“20My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was RENEWED in my hand.” Job 29:20

The other seven times, “renew” was translated from 2318 chadash khaw-dash’ a primitive root; to be new; causatively, to rebuild:–renew, repair.

“14Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and RENEW the kingdom there.” 1 Sam 11:14

“10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and RENEW a right spirit within me.” Ps 51:10

“21Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; RENEW our days as of old.” La 5:21

“8And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and RENEWED the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.” 2 Ch 15:8

“5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is RENEWED like the eagle’s.” Ps 103:5

“17Thou RENEWEST thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.” Job 10:17

“30Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou RENEWEST the face of the earth” Ps 104:30

Since I have engaged in this study, I stand convinced that the “new” in Jer 31:31 does indeed mean “fresh, new thing” rather than “renew.”

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Many thanks to SheepWrecked and Kimberly from Maine for their thorough examinations of the ‘New/Renewed’ language issues!

Folks, don’t let those in the Hebrew Roots Movement try to convince you that the Bible’s original language says that we are to go back to the Law.  As you can see from the above, God’s plan of redemption through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus ushered in not a “renewed” covenant, but the New Covenant – we are no longer under the Law of Moses, but now under the Law of Christ, which is actually about Fruit rather than about Law.

The New Covenant is so vastly superior; a better covenant built upon better promises, with a Perfect Sacrifice and a Perfect, Forever High Priest!  Don’t settle for or strive to live under the Old Covenant, or even try to mix the two. 

Check out these free audio teachings regarding the New Covenant and the New Life we have in Christ (Highly Recommended):

Three other good audio teachings which round out much of the contextual, Scriptural basis for the Truths of the New Covenant can be heard here:

The first two teachings are from an Evangelical stream of faith, while the next three are from more of a Charismatic stream of faith, but all are very sound theologically.

Another good resource for New Covenant articles in print form can be found at Escape to Reality.  Highly Recommended.

These teachings and more New Covenant teachings can be found on the Media Page here at JGIG.  Lots of good resources there – check it out!

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Other articles of interest:

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If you or someone you know is in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect and are 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 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.

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Romans 14: Indisputable Matters – Torah or the Gospel?

Occasionally as I’m researching, writing, or compiling subject matter for JGIG, a new doctrinal blip will appear on my radar screen.  The latest blip?  That Torah and not the Gospel is considered  to be the indisputable matters spoken of by Paul in Romans 14 in Law-keeping doctrine.  Knowing what I now know about the belief system that is the Hebrew Roots Movement (and other Law-keeping sects), it does make perfect sense that within the parameters of that belief system, once again, they put the Mosaic Law in a doctrinal place where the Law of Christ rightfully belongs.

This doctrinal blip appeared on the mom’s forum I subscribe to, stemming from a discussion concerning clean/unclean foods (there are several families on the mom’s forum that are Torah observant, including adherence to the dietary laws).  As I’ve done some more research about this Torah-rather-than-the-Gospel being the indisputable matters spoken of in Romans 14, it’s become clear that the concept is not uncommon among several facets in the Law-keeping community, including but not limited to those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, “Messianics”, Seventh Day Adventism, and Church of God sects. 

I’ve written this before, but for the benefit of new readers, I want to make clear that my purpose with writing this is not to put down those who have chosen to keep Torah.  Most who have chosen to do so have sincere hearts and truly do want to please God because they love Him.  They have received false teaching that is very persuasive and deceptive – even seductive, because it is labeled as “hidden”, “forgotten”, “lost” or “previously mis-translated” truth.  They have been subjected to a progressive chipping away of sound doctrines, having had them replaced with distorted doctrines. 

Back to Romans 14.  The wholecooking-rabbit thing started on the mom’s forum with someone posting about the ins and outs of raising rabbits for food and that led to the Law-keeping moms pointing out the dietary restrictions mandated by Torah and whether or not one should even be eating rabbits (or any other meat considered unclean by Mosaic Law standards).  Then one mom stated that the “indisputable matters” referred to  in Romans 14 were the dietary laws found in Torah – the Law of God. 

Her premise was that since, in the context of Romans 13, we are called to live in the Spirit and not in the flesh, that we are to “not make provision for the flesh and fulfill the lusts thereof.”  The premise continues that the weaker in the faith spoken of in Romans 14 are those who have not come to an understanding of Torah and adherence to the Law - and, in this case specifically, the dietary laws found in Torah.  

The concept of disputable/indisputable matters therefore breaks down like this in the Law-keeping paradigm: Disputable matters of the faith have to do with the traditions of men, rooted in man-made opinions – things that can be debated.  Indisputable matters are the points of the Law, specifically in this case whether or not to eat unclean meats (not considered to be defined as “food” and even classified as abominations in Scripture according to the Law).  In other words, eating unclean meats, not to be considered as food, was prohibited by the Law, and therefore was not a “disputable” matter.  She went on to assert that consuming “food” (which in her definition would mean only “clean meats”) sacrificed to idols was a disputable matter, since the food in question would have been clean meats (they had to be in this view or they would not have been referred to as “food”).  I guess in that view the pagans kept track of which meats they properly slaughtered and prepared according to the Laws of Israel and labeled them as such!  How considerate of them!

Other indisputable matters (again, in her view) according to the Law include the 7th day Sabbath and the observance of the Feasts, which she contends are indisputable matters as they were at the time of Christ and Paul.  According to her premise, the disputable matters of the day were what days to fast or special prayer days, citing extra-biblical historical records to prove her point, though no references for those sources were given.

She wrapped up her post saying that the indisputable things are found in the Old Testament, that being the Law.  That we, even as Spirit-filled believers cannot determine what is right or wrong apart from the repeated instruction of the Law.  Perhaps in her view not  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Though the concept of the points of the Gospel being the indisputable matters  never did come up in her interpretation of Romans 14, she did at least mention Jesus, in the context that He walked out the Law perfectly as an example for us to follow.  The Law, however, remains central to her belief system, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And there is NEVER a mention of a New Covenant.  The Law Keeper’s central core is always the Law.  Christ, in their belief system is secondary (at best), not primary.

Does the above sound a bit confusing and twisted?  I thought so too, and felt a look at Romans 14 through the lens of the Gospel was in order.  Following is my post responding to the “Law mom’s” post [edited, reorganized, and expanded slightly for this venue].

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Setting Up the Context of Romans 14
In the book of Romans, Paul is talking to the fledgling Church, the Body of Christ. The Gospel came first to the Jew – those who were accustomed to keeping the Law, then to the Gentile – those not accustomed to keeping the Law (Romans 1:16).  So on a practical level, there were people who were Jewish, people who were Gentiles, people who were pagan – ALL coming to New Life in Christ.  ALL were new believers in the completed work of Christ.  They ALL were bringing their backgrounds with them, and Paul recognizes and addresses this in Romans 14,
setting up a foundation of the Law of Love in Romans 13 before delving into the religious and cultural soup that is the early (us, too!) Church (Body of Christ). 
 
To the Jews (primarily but not exclusively), Paul addresses in his letters the surpassing glory of the New Covenant in comparison to the Old Covenant in 2 Corinthians 3:4-18 as does the writer of Hebrews in chapters 8-10.  To the Gentiles (again, primarily but not exclusively – remember we are one new man in Christ, there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female – Galatians 3:28), the Epistles are packed full of practical instruction about how we in the Body of Christ are to live. 

There is no mistaking in the New Covenant (New Testament) Scriptures that paganism new-creationand worldliness are to be put away and that believers are to walk in righteousness and maturity in Christ.  Ephesians 4:14-32 and  Colossians 3 are just two passages that deal with the Church at large about how Gentiles (indeed how all in the Body of Christ) are to behave as believers.
 
Romans 14, however, deals with the practicalities of things like eating food and observing days of worship and issues of tradition – all issues bubbling up as the Gospel reached across cultural and religious boundaries – people brought together as new believers in Christ, one new man, the Church, the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22).  People who would NEVER have thought to cross paths before Christ were now fellowshipping together in ChristALL of these believers were learning to become mature in the Law of Love, no matter their background. This was the day-to-day reality for the Church at Rome into which Paul forged with his letter, our present-day book of Romans.
 
[As I relayed above, the "Law mom" wrote that the indisputable matters were issues of the Law.  The following is a refutation of that idea.]

Indisputable Matters:  Torah or the Gospel?
The “Law-keeping” interpretation of Romans 14 is an interesting one.  I re-read Romans 13 and 14 just now and find the flavor (since we’re talking partly about food, here) of the text, comparing it to what you wrote, to be different than what you described. [Responding to the "Law mom".]
 
Let’s start with Romans 13 as you [the Law-mom] suggested - to set up the context.  Verses 1-7 instruct believers in submitting to the governmental authorities which God has allowed to rule over them – also there are some basic civil instructions for believers. 
 
Romans 13:8-10 are a reinforcement of Jesus’ second of two commandments (in which He summed up the whole Law – Luke 10:25-37) saying “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10).  I find that especially interesting in relation to the Law, because Paul does list in verse 9 “‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet’ and whatever other commandment there may be . . .” 

If Paul were gearing up to make the Law the central basis for the indisputable matters spoken of in Romans 14, wouldn’t it make sense to reinforce the Mosaic Law here?  Instead, what does Paul do?  He expressly sets aside the particulars of the Law and goes straight to the Law of Love, which is the New Covenant, the Law of Christ.  Again, from Romans 13:10, following the phrase in verse 9, “and whatever other commandment there may be” and “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”    
 
Romans13:11-14 talks about leaving the old, dead, man that we were outside of Christ behind and instructs “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” and “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” 

Couple that with what Paul wrote in Romans 7:4-6 – “So, my brothers [clearly speaking to believers], you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, [speaking here of unbelievers]  so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, [sin]  we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, [resulting in sanctification by the working of the Holy Spirit, not by adherence to the Law] and not in the old way of the written code”.  Again, Paul is emphasizing the proper place of the Law in the believer’s life and their position under the New Covenant. 

Paul is saying that we, as believers, are to recognize that “we have been released from the law so that we serve in a new way of the Spirit, And not in the old way of the written code.”  We don’t have to go through life checking off the boxes of the Law  – we’re free from that as believers. As for the the sins outlined by the Law, it’s not the written code that convicts believers of wrongdoing, it’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  He brings to us the things that we need to get rid of (sin), not the things that we don’t.  He doesn’t even bring them up – it’s not necessary.   As a very basic example, if you tell me to not think “pink”, that’s something I’m now thinking about.  Some term that as the Law “stirring up sin”.  By repeatedly focusing on the specifics of the Law, one is exposed to things he/she may never think of doing as a believer.  Our focus as believers is not to be the Law, it is to be on Jesus Christ!

It really is very clear.

Romans 7:7-13: “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’  But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead.  Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.”

Now back to Romans 13:14:  “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  Which is what happens when one puts on the Law in place of the Gospel!

Romans 13:14 is not saying to put on the Lawit is saying to put on the Lord Jesus Christ - an important distinction to make here  before addressing the “Law mom’s” view of Romans 14.

In view of clothing ourselves in Jesus Christ, rather than the Law, let’s now look at Romans 14:
Verses 1-4:Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”  Did anyone see where “eat everything” in these verses was broken down in to clean or unclean meats, food or “non” food?
 
Based on the context that Romans 13 and the rest of the letter to the Church at Rome provides, operating within the framework of the Law of Moses – that *was* one of several disputable matters.  The core issues of the Gospel – The perfect life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ and what that meant – those were the indisputable matters.  “Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ” – that was the New Covenant – the Law of Love – that was indisputable.  And that was what Paul was exhorting believers in Rome to do! 
 
For the Jew, the Law was part of their heritage and birthright.  Not keeping the Sabbath or eating anything which to them was unclean under the Old Covenant was completely and utterly unthinkable.  For the Gentile or former Pagan, submitting themselves to the Law of Moses given to Israel was, in light of their culture and the New Covenant, equally unthinkable.  [There was another issue kicking around in this arena - that of former Pagans not wanting to have anything to do with food sacrificed to idols.  I do recognize that, and believe that the principles that Paul lays out here covers that issue as well, though that is not the issue being dealt with in this post specifically.] 

Jewish and Gentile believers alike with a thorough understanding of the New Covenant did not concern themselves with the specifics of keeping the Law of Moses.  The Law of Christ, the Law of Love, the New Covenant, was now their concern.  Was it okay for both Jew and Gentile to walk in their respective heritages and traditions? 
 
Romans 14 verses 5-8 gives us the answer: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” 
 
Continuing in verses 9-12, “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
   ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
   ‘every knee will bow before me;
      every tongue will confess to God.’   So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
 
Paul places the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ in their proper contexts in verses 12-18: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.”
 
Interestingly, Paul repeats the New Covenant view of the issue at hand here regarding clean/unclean foods in verses 19-21: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”
 
Take note that Paul does not differentiate between Jewish food and Gentile food.  He says “All food is clean”.      
Twice.

Try as one might, the “Law-keeping”  interpretation espoused above is just not there, on a number of levels, food being one of them.  While Paul, being Hebrew, likely was thinking like a Hebrew, he was thinking like a Hebrew under the New Covenant.

Not only that, but Paul knew his audience.  Read the passage again.  Paul is known for his “get right to the point” ability and his audience was made up of both Jews and Gentiles.  If his audience were only Jewish, Law-keepers might have a case, as the definition of food could be assumed.  Being that the audience was made up of Jews and Gentiles, Paul would have, in deference to his combined audience, clearly defined what was considered food and what was not for the benefit of the Gentiles also being addressed if that were truly the issue.  He does not do that because food is not the underlying issue.

So how did verses 9-21 flesh out for the Church at Rome on a practical level? 
If Fred Gentile Christian invites Joe Jewish Christian over for supper, don’t serve him something he would consider unclean, if that’s something Joe considers important to his faith.  Joe Jewish Christian, if your brother Fred serves you something in ignorance of your heritage or tradition you consider to be unclean, lighten up.

eat-2

Does Paul say to eat up?  No, but he does say that you could, because “As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself” and repeats for emphasis that “All food is clean”.  If Brother Fred and Brother Joe are both on the same page where the Law of Love is concerned, Brother Joe will not be offended with what was served to him in ignorance and Brother Fred will not be offended if Brother Joe just cannot bring himself to partake and as a loving host will provide some more acceptable fare.  Paul exhorts, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
 
And grace is extended to those who are weaker in their faith, but they are also instructed in Romans 14 verses 22-23: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
 
God allows that for some, eating this food or observing that day or celebrating a particular holiday, or on the flip side, not doing any one or all of those things, for them, it would be sin.  If they have doubts, and do (or do not do) those things, for them it is sin, and they should not do (or do) those things.  Does that mean that those things are sin for everybodyNo. The deeper the understanding of the New Covenant and the freedom we have in Christ, the less important edicts become and the more important the Law of Love becomes as with the “Fred” and “Joe” scenario above. 

Grasping hold of the New Covenant was (is) vital for the Body of Christ – for them (us) to understand on a fundamental level – it goes to the very basic functions of relationships and unity in the Body of Christ. 

The Freedom to Evangelize World/Culture – Wide
Beyond that, if the Body of Christ is to obey the commandment of Christ to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you [The Law of Christ, not the Law of Moses]. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20), the application of Romans 14 frees the believer to obey the Great Commission.  
 
For the Jewish Christian, if they were indeed still under the Law of Moses, the Great Commission would be an especially challenging thing for them to obey.  Take just one example – that of observing the feasts that require attendance in Jerusalem 3 times per year.  For the Jewish Christian, taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth – without modern modes of transportation available in those days and for centuries to come – it’s obvious that travel to Jerusalem would have been an impossibility.  At the very least, that part of the Law of Moses was passing away for the Jewish Christian obeying the Great Commission. 
 
Equally challenging in delivering the Gospel to the ends of the earth would be the issue of clean/unclean foods.  The Jewish Christian needed to recognize that the laws regarding unclean meats and other edicts designed to set Israel apart from the world around them were because the Law of Moses was given to the nation of Israel to separate them from the world.  Here was Jesus, telling believers to go out into the world . . . to preach the Gospel to them!  A much different command than Israel was used to hearing! 

If Joe Jewish Christian was called and went out in obedience to spread the Gospel to the Nations, he would at times necessarily have to give up his *right* to eat within the boundaries of his heritage and traditions.  I do not say according to the Law of Moses there, because if Joe is a Jewish believer in Christ he is positionally under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ – he is no longer bound by the Law of Moses.

 clean

It is likely to be the more mature believer, Jew or Gentile, who will set aside their wills, rights, traditions, heritages, and birthrights, to go out into all the world anyway.  Can you imagine a missionary whipping out his Clean/Unclean Foods chart to an unreached people group when all they really need to hear about is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the freedom from sin that He brings?  There are people on this earth that don’t even know what a sheep is!  What bread is . . . and who may have limited food sources consisting of “unclean” things according to Mosaic Law.  God is concerned whether or not the peoples of the earth are redeemed, not whether or not they’re eating shellfish or snails!

[I want to interject something here that this particular "Law mom" and I discussed off-forum regarding the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ as they pertain to the Great Commission.  She tried to show me that the Law could not be "set aside" for the sake of ministering in different cultures.  She gave two examples:

1)  What if the missionary was asked to commit adultery instead of eat something unclean?
My response:  They would say no, because it is not the most loving thing to do.  Covered under the Law of Love.

2)  What if the missionary were asked to sacrifice their children to the god of the unreached people group?
My response:   Again they would of course say no. Murdering a child for sacrifice to a false god would not be the most loving thing to do.  Again, covered under the Law of Love.  What an incredible, wonderful, open door to minister the Gospel to people, telling them that they don't have to sacrifice their children . . . To be able to tell them (especially the parents!) that the true God is a God of mercy and grace and compassion and that He provided One Sacrifice for all?  What amazing news!  What good news!  It's the Gospel!

These issues are addressed in a superior way by the Law of Christ, the Law of Love, The New Covenant.  The Mosaic Law was given to the people of Israel as part of a covenant.  The rest of mankind was never to be put under the Law of Moses.  There's a really interesting article I came across on this very issue about translation of the Sabbath (for the purpose of Sabbath-keeping - an integral part of Law keeping) and the challenges that posed for one missionary who was serving an unreached people group.  You can read that article HERE.

The Gospel, the New Covenant, can go anywhere, into any culture, and be understood by anyone!

She also chided me for "equating" the Law with tradition and heritage.  

My response:   I didn't.  I did not equate heritage and traditions with the Law.  Certain edicts of the Law, such as feast and sabbath keeping and dietary laws become a matter of personal preference under the New Covenant.  It in no way diminishes the significance of those things in a Jewish believer's life, should he/she choose to continue in them, but they are no longer required of them under the New Covenant.  The purpose of the Law to show us our sin and our need for a Saviour translates into all cultures very well . . . but the edicts of the Law - the parts that set Israel apart - those don't and were for Israel AND they were for a season.]

Romans 14 is such a love letter to believers, because God gets us.  He gets our tendency to hold onto that which is is old and familiar. He gets that we feel like we have to do something to be good enough before Him.  Yet He firmly reinforces the Gospel and gently instructs us to love one another, spurring us on to operate in the Fruits of the Spirit, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (vs. 17-18)
 
Two believers of opposing views on secondary disputable matters in reality view the other as the weaker brother.  In which case we are to show deference to one another.
 If some are more focused on their “pet theology” than on the Gospel and loving God and their neighbor, then there’s a problem.  The design of the Body of Christ as God has set it up is one of necessary differences, (talents and giftings), rooted and grounded in Christ, with the underlying framework being love (1 Corinthians 12-14).  If we’re operating within the parameters of that design, Romans 14 is easy.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Redefinition of Terms 2

Re-defining terms is one thing the Hebrew Roots Movement does very effectively.  Following entries will be posted here on the home page as well as having their own page on the sidebar for easy reference.  Some of you have seen the introduction content before . . . keep scrolling down . . . “Glossary G-L” follows in this post.

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Glossary Introduction

Language.  Powerful stuff.  If you can control the language, define the terms, manipulate the paradigm of a thing – you exercise great power.  [par·a·digm - A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.]

An Incorrect Paradigm

An Incorrect Paradigm

As this illustration demonstrates, having an incorrect paradigm can change the picture of a thing quite a lot!  Is it any wonder that those in the Hebrew Roots Movement have claimed the area of language as their primary pillar of “expertise” as they purpose to lure Christians away from the canon of Scripture to a more “enlightened” way of reading/interpreting Scripture and discerning doctrine?  It’s a seductive way to change a Christian’s paradigm, and ends up in a set of beliefs and practices that is not supported by Scripture.  It turns Christianity as inside out as the above illustration turns the concept of the solar system inside out.  The picture is recognizable, but is totally false and unworkable when measured by reality. 

I’m no linguist, but I’m no dim bulb, either, and it’s been amazing, disturbing, and somewhat amusing to discover how those in the HRM have determined to re-define terms and doctrines as well as pseudo re-translate the New Testament. 

I’ve written this before but it’s worth repeating here -   One of the things that is really important to 260px-planting_seedsbe aware of regarding this and other heretical movements is that they engage in the re-definition of terms.  Once that is accomplished, those re-defined terms become fields in which seeds of questionable doctrine can be cultivated.  And it’s the perfect set up for the same thing cults do: Convince you that what you know isn’t true, or is “incomplete”, then come in with fresh revelation based on previously “hidden” information.

At HRM websites and in HRM teaching materials a consistent technique is employed to bring the reader to where the writer wishes them to go:  Faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are constructed, then those same faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are built upon as FACT to take the reader to the next doctrinal place the writer wishes the reader to go.  I have seen the same technique over and over in articles on HRM websites from all points on the spectrum.  A good example of this can be found Here, where the author takes on both the Trinity and the full Deity of Christ.  Please, read any Hebrew Roots materials with caution. 

Following are some terms that I’ve become familiar with in the HRM.  Some terms are simply defined outright, others will be defined outright as well as include the Hebrew Roots definition in an attempt to explain HRM doctrine in certain areas.  To understand the “re-definitions” and terminology in which the Hebrew Roots Mindset engages is key to sorting through the subtle and not so subtle doctrinal errors and concepts they espouse.

Following are glossary pages A-F (available now), G-L , and M-Z (coming soon).  Those designations may change over time, but will be clearly re-labeled and linked to as necessary.  The goal is easy navigation!  

Compiling this Glossary has proven to be very challenging and time consuming.  It’s length has resulted in a formatting challenge, hence the necessity for nested pages.  As entries are completed, they’ll be added to the appropriate page, so be sure to check back every now and then. 

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Glossary G-L

Gematria - From Wikipedia’s article, “Gematria” (Click HERE for complete article):  (Rabbinic Hebrew גימטריה gēmaṭriyā), is a system of assigning numerical value to an alphabet. The word Gematria is believed to have been formed from a metathesis of the Greek word grammateia (”play upon letters”), from gramma (letter) andgematria_ill2 literally means ‘that which is written’. It is extant in English since the 17th century from translations of works of Tanakh and Talmud, notably in those associated with the Kabbalah.  Some identify two forms of gematria: the “revealed” form, which is prevalent in many several hermeneutic methods found throughout Rabbinic literature, and the “mystical” form, a largely Kabbalistic practice. [Bolding mine.] 

Rabbinic literature is in part a source for Hebrew Roots Movement doctrine.  Both Kabbalah and Gematria are occult based.  See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – the Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for additional information.  Also see “Kabbalah” below.

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Gnosticism: – In an attempt to put an abbreviated definition of Gnosticism here, I faced the fact that defining Gnosticisim is somewhat like trying to nail Jello to a wall.  Why is “Gnosticism” even on the list?  In one of my discourses with a Hebrew Roots Movement  adherant, it was that person’s opinion that the New Testament concepts I was communicating were “gnostic thought”.  These concepts were Scriptural New Testament principles coupled with the Scriptural concept of an intrinsic, progressive heart change (sanctification) brought about by the Holy Spirit vs. the HRM view of sanctification via adherence to Mosaic Law.  I expand on those concepts in the post, “The Hebrew Roots Movement – So What?”.

Gnosticism, as are all false belief systems, is a counterfeit of what God has established.  It distorts the character of God put forth in Scripture, (even putting man on equal footing with God once “enlightened enough”) denies the Deity of Christ and the work of the Cross, and skews the concept of salvation and the doctrines clearly laid out by God through the Apostles in the New Testament. 

In modern terms, one could use Gnostic thought as a kind of catch-all for New Age thought - Westernized, you could perhaps say “Hellenized” – Eastern Mysticism, encompassing concepts taught by Buddhism, Hinduism, and other facets of Eastern Mysticism.  You begin to see the Jello now, don’t you? 

There is evidence that Gnosticism (Gnostic “thought”) existed at least 400 years before Christ, twisting the truths of God as laid out in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).  In point of fact, one could trace Gnosticism and other belief systems like it back to the Original Lie, told by the Serpent to Eve: “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4,5) 

As Christianity dawned, Gnosticism attempted to attach itself to and pervert it as well as the Jewish faith.  Both Jews and Christians who held faithfully to Scriptural truths soundly rejected Gnostic thought and protected Biblical forms of Jewish worship and Christianity. 

Interestingly, Jews that did succumb to Gnostic thought were also those who had a bent toward Jewish mysticism.  Gnosticism and Kabbalah cross paths throughout history and there is Gnostic influence that later manifests itself in Judaism’s Talmud. The Talmud in turn influences many in the Hebrew Roots Movement leadership, and as a result many in the HRM laity are unknowingly subjected to Kabbalistic and Gnostic (both rooted in the Occult) concepts by exposure to their leadership’s teachings. 

(See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for more information on Kabbalah’s influence on the Talmud.)

There is much more to say on this subject, but as I compiled information here, it became evident (around 2000 words into it) that this issue deserves its own post.  That post is in progress and will be linked to HERE as soon as it’s published.

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(The) Instructions - [See also "Law" below for a more complete definition.] Another term commonly used by the Hebrew Roots Movement  for the Law of God, implying that the Torah with its 613 laws and penalties are not burdensome, but are merely “instructions” about how God wishes for us to live.  While that is partially true (many of the ordinances and practices were for the viability and protection of Israel), the primary purpose of the Law was to establish the definition of both sin and righteousness.  Understanding that the Law could not be kept by human efforts, God provided a sacrificial system within the Law to “cover” the sins of His people until the full atoning work was accomplished by Jesus at the Cross, new life was given with the Resurrection, and the Priestly duties were retired at the Ascension (our High Priest ascended and sat at the right hand of God . . . something earthly priests never did – their duties were never done).  Jesus finished the work, and sat (rested) at the right hand of God, to intercede for His Church (Hebrews 8).

An example of the clear misunderstanding those in the HRM have of the purpose of Torah from Hebrew Roots site Torah of Messiah:

  1. we are to obey the Torah
  2. we are to teach the Torah
  3. we are to talk of the Torah
  4. we are to show that we love God through obedience to Torah
  5. we are to LIVE the Torah by sincerely striving to obey the God we claim to love.
  6. we are given the chance to accept the Mark of God, which is undeniably the Eternal Teachings given through Moses – THE TORAH!!!
  7. Despite this, there is literally a hatred of Torah – or at the very least apathy – within Christianity!

Compare the above Hebrew Roots Movement view with the instructions of Jesus:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

And this:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and samaritanbandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

 Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  (Luke 10:25-37)

The “Law Keepers” in the above story not only did not help the half-dead man, but when they saw him they actually passed by on the other side of the road!  Considering their positions as Priest and Levite, I’ll assume that they considered the man who lay dying on the side of the road to be unclean, as not only did they not want to help (touch) him, they went to the other side of the road to avoid any possible contact with him.  They were more concerned for their own “clean-ness”  than they were for the very life of the man bleeding, obviously needing aid, lying at the side of the road.  Who did Jesus say to imitate?  The consummate Law Keepers, a Priest and a Levite?  No!  He instructed the expert in the law to imitate the unclean man, a Samaritan. 

It’s a perfect example of the change and the freedom in behavior Jesus was ushering into the world with the New Covenant forged in His blood.  No longer was one to be bound by the restrictions of the Law, which, in the hands of humans could not be possibly be met by any stretch anyway, because Jesus met the requirements of the Law on our behalf  (Romans 7:4-6) .

Under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ, the believer is now free to love their neighbor without restriction.  We are able to bend down into the dirt of life and minister to those in need and love them with the love that comes from the very Holy Spirit of God. 

Why?  Because we are cleansed with the Blood of Christ, not merely covered by the blood of animals.  Our state of redemption and “clean-ness” is permanent and irrevocable – incorruptable – enabling us to obey both parts of the commandments (instructions) of Jesus – Love God, Love others, whatever the circumstance. 

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Hebrew-isms - Okay, I made that one up.  “Hebrew-isms” is a word I’m putting here to describe how those in the Hebrew Roots Movement choose to speak and communicate matters of faith.  Using the Sacred Name(s) exclusively (YHWH/Yeshua), would be one example,  using the Hebrew “Ruach HaKodesh” instead of using English to refer to the Holy Spirit, another.  Leadership will also use Hebrew instead of English when referrencing Bible passages from their own “translations” (see “Hebrew Roots Movement - Messin’ With the Word” ) as will laity when exposed long enough to their new paradigm.  The book of “Matthew” becomes “Matityahu”, “John” becomes “Jochanan”, etc.  “Brit Hadashah” is a big one, which means “Renewed Covenant”, not “New Covenant”.  [Great article detailing the language errors the HRM engages in to "prove" that the Covenant is "renewed" not "new" can be found HERE.]   “Renewed Covenant” has the sense of going back to the Law, a renewing of the Old Covenant – not entering into the newness of life that the New Covenant brings.  The vernacular of the details of the Feasts is also an element, not a bad thing in itself, as the Feasts paint a powerful picture of the reality that is in Christ. 

However, all that astute language usage becomes a platform of superiority on which HRM leadership can stand upon above their “students” and on which HRM laity can stand upon above their potential “converts” as they lead them into a Hebrew Roots mindset.  That platform delivers in a couple of ways: 

1) It’s very impressive and gives one the air of superior knowledge and wisdom, enticing the hearer to place unearned and untested respect and weight in the speaker’s words.

2) It can be a diversionary tactic, distracting the hearer from the false doctrine being delivered amidst the flurry of unfamiliar language.

There comes with Hebrew-isms’ platform of superiority the prospect that the speaker does have special insight, secret knowledge, or hidden revelation, that before now, you, Joe Christian, were not privy to in the Church (Body of Christ).  Not only that, but the “truth” was purposefully hidden from you by the Church, corrupted through the ages, and you must rely on your new teachers to enlighten you.

Folks, the Gospel is simple.  It is not complicated.  The redeemed in Christ do not need to seek out secret knowledge or hidden revelation to walk in their new life, the free gift of God through the work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.  God has been faithful throught the ages to protect and preserve His Word.  Many have been brought to new life in Christ with the simple reading of the scriptures.  Is it all easy?  No.  But God has provided for His truth to be understood by the most simple among us as well as the most intellectually gifted. 

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Hebrew Thought - From The Pristine Faith Restoration Society

Criterion for Understanding the New Testament – According to many teachers in the Hebrew Roots movement, the Gentile mind is not equipped to properly comprehend Scripture. They draw a distinction between ‘Gentile thinking’ and ‘Jewish thinking.’ This distinction is alleged to be more than merely having different presuppositions, but rather a completely different thought process and basis for understanding. Consequently, Gentiles need a thorough education in ‘Jewish thinking’ in order to understand the New Testament. This includes instruction in the Hebrew language. A converted Gentile cannot normally read the Old and New Testaments and arrive at a proper understanding without a Jewish teacher. Having been taught ‘at the feet’ of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent ‘teachers’ of the Hebrew Roots movement. 

Being “taught ‘at the feet’ of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent ‘teachers’ of the Hebrew Roots movement” is a ciritical flaw in the Hebrew Roots belief system because Jewish scholars and teachers are steeped in the Talmud.  This is an issue dealt with in the post   “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” here at JGIG.   See also “Gnosticism” above for additional reasons whey the Talmud has no place in the Christian’s belief system. 

Teaching that the truths of God can only be communicated to one after one has learned to think with a Hebrew mindset is insulting to God.  Did Jesus say to go out into all the world, teach the tribes and nations the Hebrew language and customs, and then make disciples of them?? 

I encourage you to go to an article written by a missionary translator that deals with the issue of the restrictions of communicating the Law vs. communicating the Gospel to a specific unreached people group.  The article shows in a very practical way how where the Law cannot translate into all cultures, the Gospel can.  Click HERE for “Bible Translator’s Problem” by Gil Prost.

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Hellenism (Greek Thought) - From JewishEncyclopedia.com – for complete article click HERE“Word used to express the assimilation, especially by the Jews, of Greek speech, manners, and culture, from the fourth century B.C. through the first centuries of the common era. Post-exilic Judaism was largely recruited from those returned exiles who regarded it as their chief task to preserve their religion uncontaminated, a task that required the strict separation of the congregation both 800px-raphael_school_of_athensfrom all foreign peoples (Ezra x. 11; Neh. ix. 2) and from the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine who did not strictly observe the Law (Ezra vi. 22; Neh. x. 29). This separation was especially difficult to maintain when the victorious campaign of Alexander the Great had linked the East to the West. The victory was not simply a political one. Its spiritual influence was much greater. The Greek language became a common language for nearer Asia, and with the language went Greek culture, Greek art, and Greek thought.” 

Excerpts from Focus on the Faulty’s article entitled, “Was Early Christianity Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”What are we to make of this criticism? Is there evidence of wide-spread ‘Hellenism’ within the early church? If so, does this mean that central doctrines of the Christian faith were corrupted in the process?

What we do know is this: ‘Hellenism’ was a cultural force that touched most areas in the ancient Mediterranean world. Thus, since Christianity arose in the Mediterranean world, it is not surprising that early Christians had to deal with its effects. We know that there were various reactions to Hellenistic philosophy among early Christians. For example, Tertullian claimed that Christianity and Greek philosophy has nothing in common at all. On the other hand, Justin Martyr felt quite comfortable making comparisons between Christianity and Greek philosophy in order to attract Hellenistic pagans to the Gospel. Justin was not alone in trying to create bridges from Greek philosophy to Christianity. Like Justin, many early Christians were willing to borrow certain terms and ideas from the cultural world of their day in order to communicate the Gospel to those around them. Does this mean that, in the process, Hellenistic ideas were allowed to creep into the Gospel message and distort its true meaning? Although this is a common criticism of orthodox Christianity, it can be shown that, in fact, it is an argument with no real foundation. The following four points will serve to reveal the weaknesses of this view.

1.) The Jewish world, from which Christianity arose, had already been touched by Hellenism prior to the birth of Christ.

Critics who use this argument often make it sound as if the life and culture of Jesus and the first disciples was untouched by Hellenism, and that only in later centuries was it allowed to ‘infect’ the church. However, we know from history that this is simply not the case. In his groundbreaking study, Judaism and Hellenism, Martin Hengel has shown that, from the middle of the third century BC, Jewish Palestine had already experienced the effects of Hellenism in various ways. For example: (1) under Ptolemaic rule, the Jews were forced to deal with Hellenistic forms of government and administration; (2) as inhabitants of an important coastal land, Palestine served as a crossroads for international trade, which brought many Hellenized merchants through the area; (3) the Greek language–the common language of the Roman Empire–became a part of Jewish culture (and became the language of the New Testament!); (4) Greek educational techniques were adopted, in part, by the Jews. Thus, the idea of a pristine Judaism, untouched by Hellenism, giving rise to an equally untouched early Christianity that was later ‘corrupted’ by Hellenism is simply a false historical picture.

2.) Recent studies have shown that the influence of Hellenism on various peoples in the ancient world was largely superficial, and primarily attracted the ruling class and those with political and administrative hopes.

3.) Although Judaism and early Christianity were affected by the surrounding culture in certain ways, they diligently guarded their religious beliefs and practices from Hellenistic pagan influences, even to the point of martyrdom.

4.) Many of the central elements of the Gospel are diametrically opposed to the Hellenistic mind-set.

This claim can be demonstrated by offering the following examples: First, like Judaism, the Christian Gospel proclaims that God created all things ‘out of nothing’ (’ex nihilo’). This is contrary to the Greek view of pre-existing eternal matter. Second, since God created all things, including matter, Christianity (with Judaism) understands matter in general, and the human body in particular, as ‘very good’ (Gen 1:31). The Hellenistic worldview understood matter as questionable at best–if not down-right evil. The body was seen as something like an unnatural tomb, within which the eternal human soul was temporarily trapped until released by death. [This is a Gnostic view as well.]  Whereas, with Judaism, Christianity proclaimed that to be human was to have a body, and thus that we would experience resurrection of the body (an uncorruptible body!) in the after-life, the Greek view of the after-life was freedom from the body.

Some have noted similarities between certain Greek systems of ethics and New Testament teachings on morality. However, even here there are significant differences. While one can identify certain common features, such as literary styles and basic moral codes, there are prominent differences in the motivation (Christians are motivated by regard for God and His call to holiness; the Greeks by self-evident ‘reason’) and means for living a moral life (Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit; Greeks rely upon their own innate wisdom and ability). Finally, unlike the Greek philosophical view, the hope of heaven provides the foundation for Christians to persevere under moral pressure.

Finally, we must address the claim that the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity are later Hellenistic pagan corruptions of the early and ‘pure’ Christianity. Two responses will suffice to show the weaknesses of these claims. First, the claims of those like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses [And now the Hebrew Roots Movement] that New Testament Christianity was corrupted by later Hellenistic influence fail to account for the fact that it is the New Testament data itself which led the early Christian fathers to confess the deity of Christ and the Trinity of God. While space considerations do not allow for a detailed biblical defense of these doctrines, reference can be made to a number of significant studies demonstrating that these doctrines are rooted in the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ (see endnote for suggested resources). Second, recent research has forcefully shown that the early Christian idea of Christ’s deity developed not in a Hellenistic context but in a distinctly Jewish thought-world. Richard Bauckham, a contributor to this relatively new scholarly movement (sometimes known as the ‘New History of Religions School’) states these conclusions succinctly:

When New Testament Christology is read with this Jewish theological context in mind, it becomes clear that, from the earliest post-Easter beginnings of Christology onwards, early Christians included Jesus, precisely and unambiguously, within the unique identity of the one God of Israel . . . . The earliest Christology was already the highest Christology . . . .

In conclusion, although the claim that early Christian belief and practice was corrupted by Hellenistic influence is commonly argued by critics of orthodox Christianity, the historical evidence does not support this claim. Rather, like the Judaism from which it arose, the Christian faith rigorously guarded its unique religious identity in the midst of the religious and philosophical diversity of the ancient Mediterranean world. 

The above is an excellent article with extensive references for further study.  Again, that article can be found HERE (Won’t link you directly to the article for some reason – When you get to the page, click on “Focus on the Faulty”, then on “articles” in the left-hand sidebar, then scroll down to and click on “Was the Early Church Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”).

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Kabbalah (Kabalah, Caballa, Qaballah) - Note to readers: It is my intent to NOT detail too much about the occultic aspects of the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Not wanting this site to be a potential gateway for exposing someone to facets of the occult, references to and descriptions of Kabbalah, etc. will be limited.  Part of the reason for this is that *I* choose not to expose myself to the in-depth study of such things.  For me, this is discernment at a very basic and important real-life level of application.  There is no value in passing on information beyond something along the lines of “this doctrine/practice is rooted in Kabbalah/Gemetria” and leaving it at that.  Those practices are from the Pit, and while we need to recognize them when they cross our paths, a quick recognition and prompt rejection is what God calls us to. 

That said, basic definitions to facilitate that recognition will be provided here at JGIG.

From Wikipedia (full article available HERE):  Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, lit. “receiving”) is a discipline and school of thought discussing the mystical aspect of Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional Rabbinic literature, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

zoharAccording to the Zohar, generally considered the foremost kabbalistic text, Torah study uses four levels (PaRDeS) of interpretation (exegesis) of its text:

  • Peshat (lit. “simple”)—the direct meaning.
  • Remez (lit. “hint[s]“)—the allegoric meaning (through allusion).
  • Derash (from Heb. darash: “inquire” or “seek”)—midrashic (Rabbinic) or comparative meaning.
  • Sod (lit. “secret” or “mystery”)—the inner meaning—a foundation of the kabbalah.

Kabbalah is considered, by its followers, as a necessary part of the study of Torah – the study of Torah (the Law of God) being an inherent duty of observant Jews. Kabbalah teaches doctrines that are accepted by some Jews as the true meaning of Judaism while other Jews have rejected these doctrines as heretical and antithetical to Judaism.

The origins of the actual term Kabbalah are unknown and disputed to belong either to Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021 – 1058) or else to the 13th century CE Spanish Kabbalist Bahya ben Asher. While other terms have been used in many religious documents from the 2nd century CE up to the present day, the term Kabbalah has become the main descriptive of Jewish esoteric knowledge and practices. The Kabbalistic literature, which served as the basis for most of the development of Kabbalistic thought, divides between early works such as Heichalot and Sefer Yetzirah (believed to be dated 1st or 2nd Century CE) and later works dated to the 13th century CE, of which the main book is the Zohar representing the main source for the Contemplative Kabbalah (”Kabbalah Iyunit”).

According to Kabbalistic tradition, knowledge was transmitted orally by the Patriarchs, prophets, and sages (Hakhamim in Hebrew), eventually to be “interwoven” into Jewish religious writings and culture. According to this tradition, Kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel, although there is little objective historical evidence to support this thesis.

From the same Wikipedia article regarding Gematria:

Among its many pre-occupations, Kabbalah teaches that every Hebrew letter, word, number, even the accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings. One such method is as follows:

As early as the 1st Century BCE Jews believed that the Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) contained encoded messages and hidden meanings. Gematria is one method for discovering its hidden meanings. Each letter in Hebrew also represents a number; Hebrew, unlike many other languages, never developed a separate numerical alphabet. By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find a hidden meaning in each word. This method of interpretation was used extensively by various schools.

There is no one fixed way to “do” gematria. Some say there are up to 70 different methods. One simple procedure is as follows: each syllable and/or letter forming a word has a characteristic numeric value. The sum of these numeric tags is the word’s “key”, and that word may be replaced in the text by any other word having the same key. Through the application of many such procedures, alternative or hidden meanings of scripture may be derived.

See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – the Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for additional information. 

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Law (Law of God, Mosaic Law, Law of Moses) - This entry is a long one, necesarily.  I want to preface its definition and pupose by including part of a continuing discourse I had with a friend, clarifying my view of the Law.  The discourse will speak for itself (used with permission) . . .

 

JJ – Hi there,

After reading through your last set of exchanges on your blog, I had this thought – do with it what you want! :-P

Reading through your response to Sean about the law left me with the impression that your view of the law is a negative one. It was something broken, impossible – just wrong. I’m not saying that is or isn’t your view of the law, that was just my impression from reading your response.

JGIG – I view the Law in light of Hebrews 8 (a lot of the rest of Hebrews, too =o)) . . .

1The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.

3Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
“The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Those in the HRM put the Law above the work of Christ. They put their primary focus on the Law, and not on Christ. There are some that actually teach that Jesus is Torah incarnate . . . that He, himself is the Law in the flesh (an amazing twisting of John 1). The Law is central to everything they believe, not just the purpose of the Law, and certainly not what Jesus did to bring about the New Covenant.

JJ – My thought was, the Jewish people loved the law – it showed them how much they needed God to be righteous and how to reconcile themselves with God. It showed them how to live lives that pleased Him.

JGIG – Yes and no. Though the Law did show them what they needed to do to reconcile themselves to God and what was pleasing to (also required by) Him, it was like taking a test that they had no possible chance of passing. They could do what they could do . . . then they had to rely on the mercy and grace of God. Those who realized that fact were justified by their faith. Hebrews 11 chronicles this both before and after the giving of the Mosaic Law. Those who strive to keep the Law in the light of the New Covenant put themselves under its curse, according to Paul. If you put yourself under the Law, you subject yourself to the penalty of the Law.

JJ – I know that as a people they did not live that out, but I do think there was as deep love for God’s law. Having said that, the beautiful thing about Christ is that he completed the work of the Law on the cross when he reconciled God’s people with God forever. No more separation! No more animal sacrifices! It’s all done. So, while the law was good, Christ is better.

JGIG – Amen!

JJ – I just wondered if it might help those who presently revere the law to hear, yes, the law was a wonderful gift, but God has more for us. Don’t stop at the Law! Keep going!

JGIG – Re-read my “So What?” post . . . I do talk about how the Law is upheld as the standard. And I do understand the love of the Law . . . for the Jew it is direct revelation from and their connection to YHWH. My view of the Law is not a negative one . . . I just see it relative to Jesus and who He is and what He did. Understand that the HRM view is heavily skewed in that regard, and part of the purpose of the blog is to put the Law and Christ in their proper contexts.

As for Sean, also understand that he IS NOT a Jew . . . So when I speak to him, in particular, I am not minimizing his culture, or his birthright, or his heritage . . . He has learned an inappropriate view of the Law from Rabbinic (and probably Kabbalistic) sources that have no rightful place in determining Christian doctrine. I’m not even minimizing the Law . . . just keeping it in perspective relative to the work of Christ . . . which is where the HRM gets way off track.

When I read Psalm 119 I see the wonderful images of the Law as written on the heart of the believer and the working of the Holy Spirit to bring those things about in the life of a believer. The redeemed heart is where those things progressively take place, not by obedience to the written Law, as the HRM teaches. So the Law that I love is the fleshy written-on-the-redeemed-heart Law rooted in what the Holy Spirit renews in us through the completed work of Jesus Christ, not the do-this-this-way-and-that-that-way Law, which relies on the work of the flesh. 

 

An excerpt from THIS ARTICLE, “Isn’t Grace a Licence to Sin?” clarifies what I think JJ was trying to say and what I was trying to agree with:

To say that the Christian is not under the law is not to insult the law or say that it is bad. For those who lived in the Old Testament period, being a member of God’s Covenant people was an unspeakable blessing. The entire world had sunk into deep spiritual darkness, ignorance, and paganism. But in that world, one nation – Israel – knew the true God. Because they had God’s Word, they knew the truth about God, themselves, right and wrong, and the future. God intended them to be a light in a dark world. The Old Covenant did indeed “come with glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7). 

However, “What was glorious [the law] has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory” [of the New Covenant] (2 Corinthians 3:10). Again, to say that we are not under the law is not to downgrade the law; it is to maintain that something better has come!

More specifically, God used the law to manage His chosen people in the centuries before Christ. But ever since the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, we live in a different age. Rather than managing His people by law, God now wants His people to grow in grace through the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is why Galatians 5:18 says, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” To be “led by the Spirit” means that we Christians have the privilege of walking in a loving, trust relationship with our heavenly Father! His goal is to grow us in grace as a result of our personal relationship with Him, not to “keep us in line” under the law.

It is important that we emphasize what God has provided above and beyond the removal of the law. To release someone from the captivity of law without adding something in its place is like letting a city dog out of his pen. He’ll just take off running as fast as he can to get away. God’s method of releasing us from the law is by replacing it with His indwelling life. Why does a country dog stay near the front door when he has miles of freedom? Because he knows and loves his master! His freedom is not freedom from bondage, but freedom to be with the one he loves.

In the same way, as I grow to know and love Jesus Christ more intimately I find myself experiencing incredible freedom and hardly think about the law at all. The issue is not what I can or cannot do. I am free to know my heavenly Father in an unhindered personal relationship. That’s what I concentrate on. Then through that relationship, God reaches my mind to think His thoughts. When I am wrong, He reasons with me. He doesn’t lock me behind some backyard fence!

People say some of the most thoughtless and foolish things in response to the message of God’s love and grace. “If you teach people that they are totally forgiven,” many say, “then they will go out and sin like the devil.” I reply, “When did the law ever stop people from sinning?” Others ask, “If what you are saying is true, that God accepts us in Christ regardless of our actions, then why shouldn’t I just sin up a storm?” In response to such foolishness I feel like replying, “If that really is your attitude, go ahead. Then in a little while you can come back and tell me why not!”

What questions like these clearly reveal is the slender, meager experience, which the questioner has had of the indwelling abundant life of Jesus Christ. Asking if we should sin because we are under grace is like someone facing an endless cafeteria line and asking permission to go eat out of garbage cans!

God cares about you. There is nothing you can give Him, there is no service you can perform, there is no self-discipline you can apply, that He wants more than He wants you. He wants to reveal Himself and His love to you, and He wants you to grow to love Him in return. This is how we grow in grace.

However, for this to happen, it is essential that we abide in the truth of God’s Word – particularly in those truths, which deal with our total acceptance, forgiveness, righteousness, and life in Jesus Christ. Only by abiding in the truth that Christ has done it all can we have the boldness to approach God and get to know Him in a personal way. If we have a law mentality, it will never happen. We must abide in His grace in order to grow in His grace.  [Emphases mine.]

On to the definition and purpose of the Law . . .

Excerpts from Bible.org,  (complete article available HERE):  In the Old Testament, the word “law” is used to translated the Hebrew word torah, “instruction.” The Hebrew word for “law” probably comes from the causative form of the verb yarah, “to throw,” “to shoot (arrows).” In the hiphil stem, the verb horah means “to point, guide, instruct, teach.” Hence, the law is that which provides authoritative guidance. In the New Testament, the Greek word used for law is nomos. Nomos means “that which is assigned,” hence, “usage, custom,” and then “law,” or “a rule governing one’s actions.”

The Nature and Content of the Mosaic Law

It is common to divide the Mosaic Law into three parts as illustrated below, but though this is helpful for analysis and the study of the Mosaic Law and the way it functions, such a division is never stated as such in Scripture. Rather it is seen as a unit. Arguments for this will be given below.

Part 1: The Moral Law or the Ten Commandments. This part of the Law governed the moral life giving guidance to Israel in principles of right and wrong in relation to God and man (Exodus 20:1-17).

Part 2: The Judgments, or the Social Law. This part of the Law governed Israel in her secular, social, political, and economic life (Exodus 21:1–23:13).

Part 3: The Ordinances or the Ceremonial Law. This was the religious portion of Law which guided and provided for Israel in her worship and spiritual relationship and fellowship with God. It included the priesthood, tabernacle and sacrifices (Exodus 25:-31: Leviticus).

The Recipients of the Mosaic Law

The Mosaic Law was a bilateral covenant made specifically for Israel alone to govern her life in the promised land. From the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen.12) we see Israel was a chosen nation, an instrument of God to become a channel of blessing to all nations. Yahweh was her Theocratic King who was to rule and guide the nation in her destiny that she might not become polluted or contaminated by other nations and could thus fulfill her purpose. For this the Mosaic Law was instituted to direct Israel as a nation in all spheres of her life—morally, socially, politically, economically and religiously. 

The Characteristics of the Mosaic Law

(1) The foundation and basis of the Mosaic Law is the covenant God made with the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In several places in Exodus and Deuteronomy, there a references to the Abrahamic Covenant which establish the fact that the giving of the Law at Sinai was based on the covenant with Abraham and God’s continuing plan for the nation of Israel as a priesthood nation (cf. Ex. 19:4-6; Deut. 4:4-8 with Ex. 2:24-25; Deut. 4:36-38; 29:31; 1 Chron. 16:15-19). God had promised to bless the descendants of Abraham and through them, the world. This was a promises reiterated and expanded to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob. God would bless Israel and through them, bring blessing to the world (Gen. 12:1f; 15; 17:1ff; 26:24f; 28:13f). The Abrahamic covenant is a unilateral covenant. Its ultimate fulfillment is dependent on God’s sovereign and steadfast faithfulness to His promises to Abraham regardless of Israel’s continued disobedience (cf. Ezek. 20:1-44).

The Mosaic Covenant, however, was a bilateral covenant. Though its ultimate fulfillment is dependent on God, for any generation to experience the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, there had to be faithfulness to God. Thus, enters the Law, a bilateral covenant given to Moses for the nation of Israel after their redemption out of the land of Egypt. It was through obedience to the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) that Israel would be able to experience the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant in the promised land. For obedience there would be blessings; for disobedience, cursing (cf. Deut. 28-30).

(2) The Mosaic Law is holy, good, and spiritual (Rom. 7:12, 14). It was, however, only temporary as the book of Hebrews so clearly teaches. As such, the Mosaic Law was designed to maintain a proper relationship between God and His people Israel (blessing versus cursing), but only until the coming of Messiah and the establishment of a New Covenant. The Law was never designed to be a permanent rule of life. It was merely a tutor or guardian to guide Israel in all areas of her life until Christ (2 Cor. 3:7, 11; Gal. 3:23-24; Rom. 10:4).

(3) The Mosaic Law is weak because it is dependent on man’s ability. It is especially weak when adopted as a system of merit (Rom. 8:3).

(4) The Mosaic Law was an indivisible unit, and is that which was terminated by the Lord Jesus. Though the Law is usually divided into three parts, as described above, it is important to see that it was an indivisible unit. Thus, when Paul stated that we are not under the Law, this included all three parts, including the Ten Commandments. Some will agree that parts of the Old Testament Law have been done away, but assert the Ten Commandments are supposedly still in force today. But all three parts of the Law were designed to function as a unit to guide Israel in all of its life. The Ten Commandments cannot be separated from the rest. Further, even though most recognize this three-fold division, the Jews so numbered all the commands that they approached the Law as a unit. Ryrie notes that,

“…the Jewish people either did not acknowledge it (the three-fold division) or at least did not insist on it. Rather they divided the 613 commandments of the Law into twelve families of commandments which were then subdivided into twelve additional families of positive and twelve additional families of negative commands.”10

Further, that it is a unit is evident by the fact that the recognition of any of its features, i.e., as a meritorious system of righteousness with God, obligates the person to fulfill the entire Law, as we are taught by both Paul and James (cf. Gal. 3:10, 12; 5:3; Jam. 2:8-11).

Further evidence that the Law is a unit is the penalty of death for disobedience is attached to all three parts of the Law.

Noticing the penalties attached to certain commands further emphasizes the unitized character of the Law. When the command to keep the Sabbath (one of the “commandments”) was violated by a man who gathered sticks on that day, the penalty was death by stoning (Num. 15:32-36). When the people of Israel violated the command concerning the Sabbatical Year for the land (one of the “judgments”), God sent them into captivity where many died (Jer. 25:11). When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord (one of the “ordinances”), they immediately died (Lev. 10:1-7). Clearly these commands from various parts of the Law were equally binding and the punishment equally severe. The Law was a unit.11

Finally, three times in 2 Corinthians 3:6-13 Paul declares that the Mosaic system is done away or abolished (vss. 7, 11, 13). In commenting on 2 Corinthians 3:7-13, Chafer wrote:

It is the law as crystallized in the ten commandments which is in view; for that law alone was ‘written and engraven in stones.’ In the midst of the strongest possible contrast between the reign of the teachings of the law and the teachings of grace, it is declared that these commandments were ‘done away’ and ‘abolished.’ It should be recognized that the old was abolished to make place for the new, which far excels in glory. The passing of the law is not, therefore, a loss; it is rather an inestimable gain.”12

(5) The Mosaic Law stands in contrast to the grace of God as now manifested in the coming of Christ (Rom. 6:14; 7:6; 8:3; Gal. 3:12).

The Purpose and Function of the Mosaic Law

The Purpose and Function Explained

What then is the purpose of the Law? Though given to Israel to govern her life in the promise land for blessing instead of cursing, there was an attendant purpose in the giving of the Mosaic Law to Israel—a purpose that still stands today. Simply put, its proper use is to show man his total helpless and hopeless condition before a righteous and just God.

1 Timothy 1:8-10 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 1:9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 1:10 sexually immoral, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers—in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.

In the study of the Bible, there are three specific purposes that surface in the proper use of the Mosaic Law.

(1) In a general sense, it was given to provide a standard of righteousness (Deut. 4:8; Psalm 19:7-9). In the process, the Mosaic Law revealed the righteousness, holiness, and goodness of God (Deut. 4:8; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; Rom. 7:12-14). The Law at Sinai was given to Israel to reveal who God is and to shed light on the reality of an infinite gulf that separates God from man.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Romans 3: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

(2) The Law was given to identify sin and reveal man’s sin and bankrupt condition as guilty before God (Rom. 3:19f; 7:7-8; 5:20; Gal. 3:19). God’s holy Law reveals to man just who and what he is—sinful and separated from God by an infinite gulf that he is unable to bridge in his own human strength.

Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

(3) The Law was given to shut man up to faith, i.e., to exclude the works of the Law (or any system of works) as a system of merit for either salvation or sanctification and thereby lead him to Christ as the only means of righteousness (Gal. 3:19-20, 20-24; 1 Tim. 1:8-9; Rom. 3:21-24). The ceremonial portion of the Law did this by pointing to the coming of a suffering Savior, “for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).

Romans 3:21-24 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God, which is attested by the law and the prophets, has been disclosed— 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:24-26 Thus the law had become our guardian13 until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.

Summary: Keeping the Law in the True Sense

By keeping the Law, we are speaking about the true sense as God intended it, not as Israel and man tend to take it. The Ten Commandments showed the Jew his sin (and so all mankind) and that he was shut up under that sin. The Ten Commandments were designed to guide him, indeed to drive him to the Ceremonial Law (the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices) for forgiveness through faith in the sacrifices which pointed to Christ. Then, the Social Law, regulated his life by showing him how to live socially, not to give him merit before God, but to enable him to experience the blessings of the covenant rather than the cursing as God warned in Deuteronomy.

The Limitations of the Mosaic Law

When approached as a meritorious system, the Law cannot justify (Gal. 2:16), give life (Gal. 3:21), give the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:2, 14), sanctify (Gal. 3:21; 5:5; Rom. 8:3), make perfect, or permanently deal with sin (Heb. 7:19). It was designed to be a temporary guardian until the coming of Christ, the Suffering Messiah Savior.

The Effects of the Mosaic Law

The reasons for the effects listed below lie in the wrong reaction of Israel and people today, i.e., approaching the Law as a system of merit, shifting from a faith basis to a works basis (Exodus 19:8; Rom. 10:3). People often try to use the Law as a means of establishing their own standing before God. But Scripture emphatically teaches us that the Law brings a curse (Gal. 3:10-12), brings death, it is a killer (2 Cor. 3:6-7; Rom. 7:9-10), brings condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9), makes offenses abound (Rom. 5:10; 7:7-13), declares all men guilty (Rom. 3:19), and holds men in bondage to sin and death (Gal. 4:3-5, 9, 24; Rom. 7:10-14). This is because man in his sinful state can never fulfill the righteousness of the Law, especially in the spirit of the Law. He always falls short as Romans 3:23 tells us, and becomes condemned or guilty before a Holy God (Rom. 3:19).

The End of the Mosaic Law as a Rule of Life

The Fact Established

Several passages of Scripture clearly establish that the coming of Christ has brought an end to the Mosaic Law. Paul specifically states that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). This instituted a new law or principle of life, i.e., the law of the Spirit, the one of liberty and grace (Rom. 8:2, 13). This fact was also clearly settled by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. A council was convened in the church at Jerusalem to look into the issue of the Law and its place in the life of believers because some were saying “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved,” and because even certain of the Pharisees who had believed were also saying “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.” The conclusion of the council, consisting of apostles and elders, was to reject the concept of placing New Testament believers under the yoke of the Law (15:6-11). The only thing the Jerusalem Council asked was that Gentile believers control their liberty in matters that might be offensive to Jewish believers, but they did not seek to place the believers under the yoke of the Law for they realized the Law had come to an end.

Finally, the book of Hebrews demonstrates that the old covenant of the Mosaic Law was only temporary and has been replaced by the coming of Christ whose ministry is based on (1) a better priesthood, one after the order of Melchizedek which is superior to Aaron’s, and (2) a better covenant with better promises (see Heb. 7-10). The old covenant was only a shadow of heavenly things, and if it had been able to make men perfect before God there would have been no occasion for a second or new covenant (see Heb. 7:11-12; 8:1-13). This change in the priesthood also necessitates a change in the Law. Such a change shows the Law has been terminated or done away.

The Problem of Mosaic Laws as Commands for New Testament Believers

A careful reading of the New Testament shows us that nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated as obligations for believers. The one exception is the command to keep the Sabbath. If the Mosaic Law has been done away, then why are these commandments repeated in the New Testament? Further, some commandments outside the Ten Commandments are even repeated in the New Testament. For instance, as a motivation for loving others, Paul referred to four of the Ten Commandments because they demonstrate this principle, but then, to summarize, he mentioned one from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So in what sense has the Law been done away?

The Solution

Part of the purpose of the Law was to point men to the coming Savior through its shadows and types. Through the moral law, man could see God’s holy character as well as his own sinfulness and the infinite gulf that separates God and man. Through the ceremonial part of the Law (the priesthood, sacrifices, and tabernacle), man could find the solution to his sin by faith in what this part of the Law represented, a suffering Savior, one who would die as the Lamb of God. But even though no one could perfectly keep the Law, it was also designed for Israel’s immediate blessing by setting forth righteous principles that would show them how to love God and their fellow man. This would produce a stable and secure society as well as a testimony to the nations (Deut. 4:6-8).

Thus, in 613 commands the Mosaic Law represented an ethical code given by God to Israel to govern the nation until the coming of Messiah, but at their heart, they represented the moral law of God—righteous principles vital to humanity. Today, we are not under this code, but many of its righteous principles, the eternal laws of God, have been carried over and are part of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ (Rom. 8:2) or the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). In this, some of the former commands are carried over (Rom. 13:9), some new commands and guidelines are added (Eph. 4:11f; 1 Tim. 3:1f; 4:4), and some have been revised, as in the case of capitol punishment which is to be exercised by human government (Rom. 13:4).

It needs to be emphasized that the end of the Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments, does not cancel or detract one iota from the eternal moral law of God. The moral principles of the ten laws did not begin with Sinai but are as eternal and immutable as the character of God. To understand this should dispel the fears of those who think the abolition of the Mosaic law leaves only a state of lawlessness.

The moral principles embodied in the law of Moses Paul calls “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4), and shows that such principles are the goal of the Spirit-directed life in the same context in which he teaches the believer is not under the Mosaic law (Rom 6—8).

This should be no more difficult to understand than the fact that a citizen of the United States is not under the laws of Canada, even though the moral principles underlying the laws of the two countries are the same. When a citizen of the United States becomes a citizen of Canada he does not remain under ten of the best laws of the United States. Nor does the fact that some of the laws of the United States are quite similar to some of the laws of Canada confuse or compromise his new exclusive responsibility to Canada. So the believing Jew of the first century moved entirely from the Mosaic economy of law into the new economy of grace instituted by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).14

The Lawful Use of the Mosaic Law

The Law is still good from the standpoint of its main function and purpose as seen above in The Purpose and Function of the Law (1 Tim. 1:8-10; James 2:1-10; Gal. 5:1-3; 6:1). This is how James uses the Law, to reveal sin (James 2:9), to get believers out of self-righteous legalism, and move them into a walk by faith in a living Savior.

The Relationship of New Testament Believers to the Mosaic Law

    1. He is never saved by keeping the Law (Gal. 2:21).

    2. He is not under the Law as a rule of life, i.e., sacrifice, Sabbath keeping, tithing (Rev. 6:14; Acts 15:5, 24).

    3. Thus, he does not walk by the Law but by the Spirit, which is the new law for the New Testament saint (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:5). This is law of liberty through faith in the power of God.

    4. He is dead to the Law (Rom. 7:1-6; Gal. 2:19) by virtue of his union with Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law.

    5. He is to fulfill the righteousness of the Law, i.e., the spirit of the law as seen in Christ’s words in Matthew 10:37-40 love for God, and love for one’s neighbor (James 2:9). But this can only be fulfilled through a knowledge of Bible truth and the filling of the Holy Spirit, which furnishes the power or ability needed to live the Christian life according to the eternal moral law of God. So we are under God’s new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2-4).

Christ, the Fulfillment of the Mosaic Law

Christ fulfilled the Ten Commandments by living a perfect and sinless life. Thus, when man trusts in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to that individual so we have justification. We have Christ’s righteousness so the Law can’t condemn us (Rom. 8:1; 7:1-6; Rom. 5:1; 4:4-8).

Christ fulfilled the ceremonial ordinances, the shadows and types of His person and work, by dying on the cross for us and in our place. This showed that God was also perfect justice and sin must be judged, but God provided His Son, the precious Lamb of God. The penalty which the Law exercised was paid. Again there is no condemnation because the believer is “in Christ” (Col. 2:14; Rom. 3:24-25).

Christ also fulfilled the Social Law, but now He replaces it with a new way of life fitting to our new salvation. He gives provision for the inner man—the indwelling Holy Spirit—who enables us to experience true sanctification so that we may experience also the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 8:2-4).

Summary

1. Christ is the end of the Law and believers are not under the Mosaic Law. New Testament believers are not under Law but under grace (Rom. 6:14).

2. Since the Lord Jesus Christ fulfills the Law by His person and work, believers are under a new law; the obligation to walk by the Spirit of Life through faith (Rom. 8:2-4). If we are led by the Spirit, then we are not under the Law (Gal. 5:18).

3. Against such, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit, there is no law because the believer is then operating under the highest law, the standards are met as we walk by the Holy Spirit and grow in the Word (Gal. 5:22).

Warning Against Entanglements with the Law as Believers Today

After salvation by grace there has always been the grave danger of reverting to Law or legalism by taboos and tactics of coercion, or some form of human manipulation (Gal. 3:1-3). To go back to the Law as a way of life puts one under the control of the flesh, it nullifies true spirituality by faith in the Holy Spirit, and defeats the believer. It results in human good and domination by the sin nature or the flesh (Gal. 5:1-5; Col. 2:14f). The fact that the Christian is not under the Mosaic Law does not mean, of course, that there is lawlessness or no proper sense of morality or ethics in the Christian life. Quite the contrary is true. But in dealing with the subject of morality or ethics, it must be understood that the clear teaching of the New Testament is that the moral life the Christian is responsible for is that (1) no one can be saved by virtue of his own works (Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9), and (2) that the morality of the Christian life is to be the result of the Christ exchanged life by faith and submission to the ministry and power of a Spirit-controlled life.

The Threefold Duties of the New Testament Believer

In the New Testament, then, completely adequate teaching is provided as to the principles of conduct the Christian will follow if he truly presents his body “a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) and walks “in the Spirit” (Eph 5:9). In Titus 2:11-14 is to be found a convenient outline around which to group these principles. First in this passage it is majestically stated that God’s grace brings us salvation. But His grace then teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly. These are three important lines of responsibility: the believer is to live soberly with regard to himself (Rom 12:3); righteously with regard to his fellow men; and godly with regard to the Lord. The same truth can be more or less expressed in a somewhat different way: We should seek to live in accordance with the precepts of grace because (1) this will please God (Heb 13:16) and will demonstrate our love for Christ (John 14:15); (2) it will help others (Matt 5:16; Titus 3:8,14); (3) it will bring true joy and blessing to our own hearts (John 15:10-11). 15

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