• 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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    JGIG occasionally links to to sites that sometimes move or remove content, forums that periodically cull threads, sites/posters that appear to 'scrub' content from their sites (or YouTube posts, pdf files, etc.) when that content receives negative attention, and others that over time simply cease to exist.

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Testimony: “Graceful Grandma’s” Story

It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received yet another testimony.  This one also came as an email recently and is a great blessing to me and to others who contend for the Gospel in the arena with those who pursue Torah.  Many thanks to “Graceful Grandma” for the following. 

This testimony will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.

If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), please email me at joyfullygrowingingrace@gmail dot com.  From talking to those who have come out of Law-keeping sects, I understand that it can be a difficult thing to write about the experience.  Many thanks to those who have taken the time and effort to contribute here.

Keep ‘em coming!  Testimonies are a powerful witness to the Gospel of Christ!  Thank you!

Every blessing,
-JGIG


Graceful Grandma’s Story

I was saved in November 1996 and began to attend a Pentecostal church. I was so in love with Jesus! It was a very sweet time. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops that Jesus is alive! I went to every church service I could, attended special Holy Ghost meetings, and went to conferences. I was on fire for God!

As the years went by, however, I began to feel drained. The amount of time I had to spend in praise and worship, in prayer, memorizing scripture, trying to hear God’s voice, reading the bible, praying in tongues, attending prayer meetings and church services, making confessions, volunteering at church and for a local ministry, were wearing me down. I felt like I was getting nowhere.

At one point I completely gave up. I closed my bible and gave away all of my Christian books. I was finished. The “requirements” of this Christian faith were too hard for me.

But God wooed me back and I began attending a church where the worship was sweet and the teaching was just what my heart needed. After the pastor stepped down, though, I was left looking for another church. I could never free myself from feeling that this faith life was a huge struggle and outside my grasp.

In July 2004 a friend at work brought me some CD’s he’d been listening to on the book of Galatians from a Hebrew perspective. I was captivated by the teaching. I thought the teacher was very intelligent and what he was saying really made sense to me. I was hungry for more. I found out that this Messianic teacher had some teachings on line that I could listen to free of charge. I listened to everything I could and made careful notes. I began to feel alive again. “This is what I was missing!” I thought. When I went to work and tried to share what I was learning with some of my Christian friends, they weren’t too convinced what I was saying was true. I couldn’t believe their willful ignorance to want to believe the “whole” bible.

I began to send my tithe to this Messianic ministry. I hated that my job required me to work on Saturday (Sabbath), but what could I do. I reasoned that I was “serving,” and thus could justify it, likening it to getting your ox out of the ditch. I continued to listen to Messianic teachings intensely, night after night. I ordered more and more CD’s from this ministry. My family began to get very concerned about me. They were also very hurt that I quit celebrating Christmas and Easter. They thought I was seriously in a cult and needed intervention!

In February 2005 I knew that I needed some people around me to support me in this new found Messianic walk. I got on line and found that there was a Messianic congregation here in town. Since I had just retired I could now begin attending weekly Sabbath services. The pastor was referred to as “Rabbi,” even though he was not Jewish. In fact the vast majority of the congregation were not Jewish, but had come out of various Christian denominations looking for truth. Rabbi wore a Jewish prayer shawl and kippa. The shofar was blown at the beginning of each service. The meeting room was adorned with Jewish expressions of décor. We had a Torah scroll which was kept in an “ark” (cabinet). There was artwork depicting the Ten Commandments, and the two sticks representing the two houses of Israel. There was Hebrew/Davidic worship dance during the praise and worship portion of the service.

The congregation observed the sacred names of God: YHVH, Yahweh, and Yeshua. We observed the Feasts of the Lord. We observed Sabbath as the seventh day (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown). We observed “clean” food as outlined in Leviticus. There was no bacon or shrimp on our oneg table! The focal point of the teaching was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Every week there would be a teaching from that week’s Torah portion. I learned a lot about Hebraic mindset, Jewish culture, customs and idioms. I learned some Hebrew. We were given a Messianic prayer book with prayers in Hebrew and English. We were encouraged to wear tzitzits. Some women wore head coverings, others did not. Some men had long beards, others did not. Everyone there believed that Torah was the only true expression of faith.

There was always discussion about what days to observe Passover and the other feasts, whether to follow the Jewish calendar or follow the new moon observance. When there was discussion on whether or not to do a “resurrection celebration” (instead of Easter), it was felt that we would be going backwards if we were to do that. No matter what the topic, there was always lots of discussion and (friendly?) disagreement.

I was very gung-ho in this walk. I feared God and to not obey His commandments is something I could not fathom. I wanted His approval more than anything. One summer Friday evening as my grandkids and I were leaving the playground, they asked for a snow cone from the snow cone shack nearby. It was getting late and I knew the sun was going to set soon. As I was standing in the snow cone line I was looking back over my shoulder at the horizon in great fear. Hopefully I could pay for this before the sun set!

I began to walk more fearfully than ever before. I began to examine everything in my life and wonder if the Lord was pleased with me. At the end of the day as I sat down in my chair to pray, waves of despair would rush over me as I recalled my failures for that day. Surely God was very disappointed with me, because I was sure disappointed with myself.

At some point I must have begun to question if all that I had been learning was true. But whenever I heard someone talking about those “Sunday keepers” worshipping a “Greco-Roman God” being “willfully disobedient” to the Commandments of God, I hurried to get back under the Torah umbrella. I didn’t want to be considered those awful things, and I didn’t want to be rebellious to God.

In April 2008, during the afternoon midrash portion of the day, our Rabbi had been talking about the sacrifices in the Old Testament. He said that the sacrifices had not been done away with. He said Yeshua was not a sacrifice. There of course was much lively discussion over this, as there always was lots of discussion. As I listened to the discourse I sat alone in the back row of seats with tears streaming down my face wondering, “How did we get so far away from Jesus?”

That evening after I arrived home, I laid down on my bedroom floor, face down in the carpet, arms over my head. I cried out to God, “I’m not moving until you tell me the truth!” Thirty minutes went by and my arms began tingling and then numb. I heard nothing. “Lord, I’m not moving until you talk to me!” An hour went by. Still nothing. Eventually I had to get up from the floor, discouraged and defeated.

But in the days, weeks, and months to come, God began to reveal the truth of the New Covenant to me in a real and profound way. It began with Romans 7, then Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews and more. I read and reread passages of the New Testament hundreds of times. I did lots of “extra-curricular” reading as well. I wanted to believe that God had given us a New Covenant sealed in the blood of Jesus. I wanted to believe that the handwriting of decrees that was against me had been taken away, nailed to the cross.

I had to overcome a religious mindset. Let me tell you, it doesn’t want to die easy! But inside I finally knew, the Old was gone. The New has come! He has given us a new and living way! On Passover 2010, two full years after the night I laid before the Lord in despair, I passed over from death to life, and left the Messianic congregation. The leaders did not try to convince me to stay. They saw as clearly as I did that we had parted ways in our beliefs.

I didn’t know about grace while in the charismatic church, nor in the Messianic church. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was in bondage to a law mentality even while in the “Sunday” church. In the year since leaving the Messianic congregation, I have been attending a church with a strong grace message. God has brought me into a profound and radical revelation of His Grace! No more, me trying to be good enough to earn God’s blessings. No more, me trying to obey the commandments of God in my own ability. No more, I don’t measure up, or worse, I measure up, but those people sure don’t. No more, I failed again. No more, shame and fear! God has poured out a revelation of His intense and passionate love for me, which is completely perfect and unconditional. Nothing I can ever say or do will ever change His love for me. He is completely delighted with me. I am complete in Him. I am clean. He has given me His free gift of righteousness. I no longer have to strive to try and earn His acceptance. I am completely accepted, completely approved of, completely wonderful, because of Jesus. All I have to do is believe it.

Although I celebrated my “Passover” with a slice of pepperoni pizza, I still do not eat much pork, just for general health reasons.  I have entered into the rest (sabbath) that comes from trusting in the finished work of Christ.  What glorious freedom Jesus has given to me! I am free to live in His love. Today I can testify that I have been transformed by the power of God’s Spirit. I am trusting in Jesus for my identity. On the cross, Jesus freed me from the cycle of sin and shame. I believe it, and now the power of God is transforming me from the inside out. I don’t even have to worry about how I’m doing! Jesus declared I am righteous. He died for it. He’s doing the work! I am righteous forever!

The best part is now that I know how much God loves me, I want to tell others: God is not mad at you. God loves you. You are completely perfect and wonderful. You are innocent. Jesus has done it all. It is finished! Hallelujah!

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Many thanks to Graceful Grandma for her testimony.  One thing that stands out to me in the testimonies that former Law keepers have shared is that it was when they just sat down and read what the Word actually says – especially the letters to the Romans, the Galatians, and the Hebrews, they were able to see the truths of the Gospel, who they are in Christ and what that means. 

One thing that has become solidified for me in the past couple of months is this: It’s much better to contend FOR the Gospel than to contend AGAINST the Hebrew Roots Movement. The Gospel is what’s been getting through. Again, those that tell me they have come out of the HRM say that it’s when they just started reading the epistles for what they plainly say that they saw Truth. And thinking through, the Apostles didn’t spend a lot of time refuting error (though they did some), they mostly preached Jesus and Him Crucified, His Lordship and Godhood, and New Life through His Resurrection. The Law keeping sects do not spend time there.  We must!

Romans 1:1-17
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

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.”

The focus is the Gospel; then Paul goes on to show the relationship of those in Christ to the Law through the Gospel!

Thanks again, Graceful Grandma, for your testimony!

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To read several more testimonies from those who have come out of the Hebrew Roots Movement, please see the Testimonies Page.

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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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Millennial Prophecy: Measuring Unrevealed Prophecies in Light of Revealed Truths

This is a post about discerning what anybody tells you about unfulfilled prophecy in general, the example below being specific to many in  the Hebrew Roots Movement who assert that “We’re all going to be keeping the Law in the Millennium anyway, so we better start practicing now!”.  Most go on to say how we’ll also be offering sacrifices in the rebuilt Millennial Temple.  Not to dump on HRMers exclusively, as there are many others in different streams of thought in the Body of Christ who also believe that animal sacrifices will again occur according to Millennial prophecies found in Scripture.

Well, I have a BIG problem with that assertion.  Why would redeemed, cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb believers be making animal sacrifices for any reason?!

Hebrews 10 is very clear on the issue that Jesus Christ was the FINAL sacrifice.  Not only that, but He is purifying us as well, so purification sacrifices are no longer needed either.  The only sacrificing going on for those in Christ is described here:

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.

God wants living sacrifices, not dead ones!  The Temple, Priests, sacrificial system and other edicts and regulations that God set in place in the Old Covenant were to point to Christ while allowing for atonement for Israel both corporately and individually (temporary atonement that it was), as well as preserving Israel as a nation so that Messiah would be recognized when He came.  The thing about being a living sacrifice is that the atonement is a permanently done deal; those in Christ are redeemed and cleansed by THE Blood of THE Lamb – no further cleansing/purifying required!

Why does God want living sacrifices?
God wants living sacrifices not to preserve a people, but to GROW a people!  Living sacrifices can go out and fulfill the Great Commission, going out to preach the Good News of Christ to every tongue, tribe, and nation, regardless of cultural differences.  Living sacrifices make themselves available to God – renewing their minds, testing God’s will for them.  Living sacrifices go out as the Body of Christ, as His Hands and Feet, to serve and love people into the Kingdom.

Let us sacrifice thus:

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.

And what about the ‘Temple’?
Jesus begins to change the concept of the dwelling place of God from that of a Temple of stone to the Body of Christ here:

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.

And the concept of God’s dwelling place further shifts from a physical Temple to the spiritual Body of Christ in 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.

So I look at all that, and then I look at a teaching that states sacrifices will be offered in a physical temple during the Millennium, and it just doesn’t add up for me.  As I’ve done research about this issue, I’ve found that a broad sampling of streams of thought agree with a literal Millennial Temple, along with literal animal sacrifices being re-instituted, citing God’s ‘final dealing with Israel’ during that time and other such theories.  A simple Google search will provide you with a lifetime’s supply of reading material on the subject. I’ve not been able to pin down exactly who might be sacrificing and why beyond a possible memorial to Christ’s work.

But Christ Himself instituted a memorial to His work - commanding us to remember Him in the Bread and the Wine (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), what is called the Last Supper or Communion.  So the angle of re-instituting the actual slaughter and offering of animals on an altar as a memorial when a memorial is already in place rings hollow to me.

What I do get are lot of references to Ezekiel 40-48 and Zechariah 14 (with condescending statements about how it’s just so obvious what they are talking about) that are far from conclusive and do not prove the point.  My take on Zechariah 14 can be read here.  I see two flaws in the Ezekiel 40-48 argument, starting with one found in Ezekiel 43:

Ezekiel 43:10-11
10 “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, 11 and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.

The whole rest of the passage that those advocating for Millennial sacrifices becomes moot in light of the condition laid out in Ezekiel 43:10-11.  God says,“Let them consider the plan and if you are ashamed of all you have done, then . . . “ and has Ezekiel write down in great detail what God would have had in store for Israel, i.e. the new Temple with modified features and protocols, had Israel done the “If”.  Another issue comes up in the Ezekiel 40-48 passage is that some think that the ‘prince’ referred to in Ezekiel 45 is the Messiah, who will preside over the sacrifices offered in the Millennial Temple.  Let’s take a look:

Ezekiel 45:21-22
21 “‘In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover, a feast lasting seven days, during which you shall eat bread made without yeast. 22 On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land.’”

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is without sin, so the prince mentioned in the above passage cannot refer to Messiah.  Some surmise that the prince is David upon his promised throne over Israel – yet the Blood of THE Lamb has been shed, once for all, and from that reality I must base any interpretation of future events.

Questions that come up for me when considering such a view follow these axiomatic statements:

  1. Based on what we know about Christ’s finished work of the Cross, no more animal sacrifices are required, only the living sacrifices referred to above.
  2. Based on what we know about who we are in Christ, it is certain that believers in Christ will NOT be making sacrifices, so that interpretation is OUT.
    • Who does that leave?
    • Will there be a literal Millennium?
    • Who will populate it if there is?
    • If we reign with Christ as priests and kings, will we
      • be administering Mosaic Covenant Law?
      • overseeing sacrifices? Do you actually know what that entails?
      • The Temple was a virtual slaughterhouse. Is there ANY Scripture where we EVER see that as a possibility after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70?
    • Does the Blood of Christ come to no effect once the anticipated Millennial Reign commences?
    • Will He not still have performed the final sacrifice for mankind?
    • Will He not still be Resurrected?
    • Will those things mean nothing at a certain point on the timeline? If you think so, what Scripture do you (speaking collectively to all readers here) have to back up the assertion that the work of Christ ceases to have power at a certain point in history?
    • Will God demand more than the shed Blood of Christ at any point in history after the work of the Cross?

This bears repeating:  Based on what we know about who we are in Christ, it is certain that believers in Christ will NOT be making sacrifices, so that interpretation is OUT.

So what’s with all the different views?
How do teachers/interpreters of prophecy come up with so many different views in the first place?  I think it has a lot to do with what lens we look through and a great desire and/or a perceived need to have everything ‘all figured out’.

There are prophecies that some have extrapolated to mean certain things, but we must always place the unrevealed truths of those interpreted prophecies within the context of revealed Truth – that being the completed work of Christ.

Revealed Truth always supersedes unrevealed truth – that is, with prophecy, much of it is a mystery until it occurs, and as it occurs, it often looks very different than we thought it would.

I recently heard a funny example about how we can get stuff oh-so-wrong simply because we do not have the whole picture, are ignorant (not in a bad way, just in a not-having-all-the-knowledge about something way), and/or are seeing what we want to see:

A redneck family went to the city and went to one of those really big malls.  The father and the son noticed a big metal wall.  The wall would open up and people would walk into the hole and then it would close up and the people would disappear.  They kept looking at this wall and noticed that up above where the wall was there were numbers that would light up and they’d see the count go up: 1, 2, 3.  Then they’d keep watching and the numbers would come back down: 3, 2, 1.  The wall would open up, and different people would walk out of the hole.  This wall - this wall was something incredible!

Then they saw a little old lady.  She went up to the wall and she pushed a button . . . the wall opened up and she walked into the hole.  The hole closed and she too, disappeared.  They saw the numbers count up to three and then count back down to one.  And when the wall opened up, a beautiful young woman walked out of the hole!  And the father leaned over to his son and said, “Son, go get your mama.” 

Nothing against rednecks here . . . trust me, in some ways I are one!  But we can see from this story that how that father and son interpreted what they were seeing had no basis in reality.  They were interpreting what they saw based on the information and experiences that they had, along with a sizeable pinch of wishful thinking.  There were concepts and mechanical workings completely out of their view.  The concept of an elevator had nothing to do with their world.  Yet they would no doubt fully understand what they had witnessed when looking at the whole picture, instead of seeing the limited view that they had at the time, having interpreted it with the limited knowledge they possessed at the time.

The same can be said for interpreting prophecy.  Layer on top of  the limited information and experiences that influence our interpretations our individual pet theologies and biases, and you can end up with numbers of different interpretations for the same passages of Scripture.  Let me repeat:  There are prophecies that some have extrapolated to mean certain things, but we must always place the unrevealed truths of those interpreted prophecies within the context of revealed Truth – that being the completed work of Christ.

Those who were the most learned in the Scriptures completely missed or outright rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  They thought they had it all figured out.  They had the culture, the language, the history, the education, the Scriptures - yet they still missed Jesus.  They were expecting the Messiah to manifest in ways far different than He actually did.

God’s manifestation, fulfillment, and reality of what He foretold did not match what they thought that fulfillment should look like.  Beyond the fulfillment in the incarnation of Christ was the work of the Cross and what that would mean for those who would choose to put their faith and trust in Him.  There were many looking for a conquering Messiah – they did not count on Him conquering as the sacrificial Lamb of God.  That paradoxical reality really messed with their expectations.

We need to be mindful of the above examples when looking at prophecies yet unfulfilled.  We also need to recognize that NONE of the end-times doctrines or interpretations out there constitute core issues of the Christian faith beyond the fact that Jesus IS coming back and there WILL be judgement for both the redeemed and the unredeemed.  Much of what is beyond that is speculation on our parts and anyone who tells you they have it all figured out beyond a doubt is fibbing.

All that said, I’m completely comfortable stating that I don’t have the end-times timeline and events all figured out.  As of this writing, I’m a “Pan-Tribber” and “Pan-Millennialist” with Pre-Trib leanings and an open mind that understands that what I think or don’t think about it is not going to change God’s timetable.  That is, I figure God has it all worked out and knows what He’s doing and it will all pan out in the end.  My job is to be faithful to that which He has called me in this lifetime, whatever that may bring, all the while keeping in sight the completed work of Christ at the Cross and measuring everything through that lens.

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Related to the subjects of Millennial Sacrifices and Theological Perspectives:

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Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index, Glossary, and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Believers are Grafted Into and Become Israel? Um . . . No.

There is a belief in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic/Netzarim movements that when one believes on Yeshua (Jesus Christ) that they become grafted into the ‘tree of Israel’, actually becoming Israel, obligating those believers to observe Israel’s Mosaic Covenant Law.  There are also those who think that if one believes on Messiah, it’s actually because God has drawn them as a member of the ‘Lost 10 Tribes of Israel’ and that they have been part of natural Israel all along, they just haven’t realized it yet!  (See “Ephraimites” on the Glossary A-F page for more information and resources regarding this belief.)

Law ‘keepers’ use passages in Romans 11 and Ephesians 2 along with a smattering of Old Testament verses regarding the sojourner with Israel to support the view that all believers actually become Israel by being grafted into the olive tree and that believers, by becoming part of the “commonwealth of Israel” actually change into Israel.  These same people will go on to lament about how Christians are the ones who believe in replacement theology!

Someone on a forum posted this question about the issue (this thread has already been culled at Tree of Liberty’s Seminary Forum, so no link is available):

Originally Posted by Munkh:
I hear this term used a lot on TOL and just wanted to ask for clarification what others believe it means?

The reason I ask is because I often see it being referred to [as] Gentiles being grafted into Israel (Wild olives of Romans 11) and so becoming Israel but when you look at actual grafting, the grafted in branch does not become the same as the root in other words you can graft an Orange branch onto a Lemon tree and it still produces Oranges not lemons.  It does get its sustenance from the Lemon tree roots and is supported by the roots but it is still an orange branch not a lemon.

So by that kind of poor example I have a hard time understanding how I as a Gentile become an Israelite or Jew simply because I was grafted in. I get my spiritual nourishment from the same source but I am still a Gentile.

I can find nothing in Romans 11 to lead me to believe otherwise so please help my confusion.

“Munkh” was quite right in his/her assessment of what Romans 11 says in light of the realities of actual grafting practices.

Let’s look at the grafting metaphor in Romans 11 coupled with actual olive tree grafting:

Romans 11:11-24
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap of the olive root, 18do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20Granted.  But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Back to the Scripture in a moment, but if you please, read through this article on olive tree grafting, The Road Back to Tradition Begins With a Graft .   The article is an agrarian one, not a religious one, so there is no bias in the article’s grafting perspective.  It’s a short article with enlightening photos, and well worth the read.

What I want you to notice is how when the grafting process on an olive tree is started, the olive tree is cut down to almost nothing. There is basically only root stock left. The writer of the article describes it as “a brutal process, if you’re a tree”.  Other resources available about olive tree grafting tell how resilient the olive tree is, and how, after grafting, it can actually be a stronger tree and bear more fruit as a result.

So back to the Scripture, and please do look at the article on grafting, as you’ll get a visual to go along with the Scripture which really describes a much more radical process than those of us unfamiliar with grafting may have in mind.  Paul differentiates the Root from the branches, and as such, based on what I now know about grafting, the branches are the Body of Christ, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, and Christ is the Root.  “You do not support the root, BUT THE ROOT SUPPORTS YOU.”  

Does Israel support us?

No,  Jesus does!

What happened to the branches?

“‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’  20Granted.  But THEY WERE BROKEN OFF BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF, and you stand BY FAITH.  Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.  21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”

When an olive tree is prepped for grafting, all of the branches are cut off. After the Cross, unbelieving Israel was cut off.  Those who believed then and believe now were/are grafted back in, along with believing Gentiles.  All were/are grafted in by faith, and nowhere is there any indication that the wild branches become natural branches.  

Do they all share in the life that comes from the Root?  

Yes.  

Do they maintain their identity?  

Ethnically, yes.

As believers in Christ we become one tree, Jew and Gentile both grafted in by faith to the Root through Whom we receive life.  Our primary identity is that we are in Christ!  As a believer, I am in Christ first and foremost – I identify as a Christian who happens to be a Gentile, not a Gentile who happens to be a Christian. 

It is at this point where I expect the HRM/MJer to chime in, “Yes!  And you know that the tree is Israel, right?  And if Gentiles are grafted into Israel, then Gentiles are subject to the same Law as Israel!”   I’ll give them one point:  Jews and Gentiles grafted into the Root are all subject to the same Law, but it isn’t Mosaic Covenant Law, it is the Law of Christ!

As if anticipating ‘the tree is Israel’ argument, Paul, in Romans chapter 9 says this:

Romans 9:1-8
1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel.  Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.  5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

6 It is not as though God’s word had failed.  For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.  7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.  On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

Note that it is Abraham’s offspring, not Jacob’s offspring that Scripture identifies as the children of the promise.  Abraham’s seed was not identified as Israel; Jacob’s seed was the first to be identified as Israel.  The promise is given to everyone, Israelites and Gentiles alike!  This, later in the Romans 9 passage (I did not include the entire chapter for brevity’s sake):

Romans 9:30-33
30 What then shall we say?  That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.  They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” 33 As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Back to Romans 11:20:

But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith.

After the Cross, one is part of the tree not because of ethnicity; one is part of the tree because of faith.

Flesh vs. Spirit

Obedience/disobedience to the Law resulted in blessings/curses – for the flesh.  Obey the Law - live.  Disobey the Law – die.   The Law, however, could never impart spiritual life; only the Crucified, Risen, God-incarnate-Christ can do that.  The Law could only guarantee a natural, physical life to those who walked in obedience to its edicts and regulations, and a swift physical punishment/death for those who rebelled, either for them or for a sacrifice offered in their stead, depending on the offense.  

Galatians 3:21-29
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Romans 7:1-6
1 Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.  But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

4 So, my brothers, 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. 5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound 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.

Some in the HRM will retort, “But the Law is spiritual!  Keep reading in Romans 7!”  Okay, let’s do that:

Romans 7:14-25
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Paul leaves us rather hopeless at the end of Romans 7!  Even though the Law is spiritual, we are still flesh, and if Paul can’t get a handle on sin, what hope have we?!  He gives us a hint where he’s going in Romans 7:25, and thankfully, Paul continued writing in Romans chapter 8:

Romans 8:1-16
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 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, 4 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.

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; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9 You, 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. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And 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.

12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Paul does such a powerful job of showing us our utter hopelessness in the flesh, and the great gift of being in Christ - But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.   We are dead to Law (Romans 7:1) but alive in His Spirit!  We are grafted into the Life-giving Root, Jesus!

After the Cross, the Law is NOT done away with; it continues to point to Christ.  Instead of being that which foreshadowed Messiah in the observances which it required, the Law now serves as confirmation giving witness to Who Christ is and His fulfillment of the Law’s types and shadows!  The Law’s types and shadows now reveal the Reality of He Who has come, that is Jesus Christ the long-awaited Messiah (Colossians 2:17)!  This is what the Bereans were searching the Scriptures about; to see if what Paul told them about Jesus Christ being the Messiah was true.  As a system of relationship with God, however, Mosaic Covenant Law has become obsolete.  It has been replaced as a practical and functioning covenant by the New Covenant:

Galatians 3:19a
19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.

Hebrews 8:13
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

After the Cross several things happened (not an exhaustive list):

  1. The purpose of the Law was fulfilled when the Seed came and did the work of Redemption promised at the Fall and that promise reinforced to Abraham’s seed.
  2. The Law, as a functioning religious system, became obsolete because of the complete work of Christ.  Primary evidence proving that the two covenants cannot operate at the same time is that the Old Covenant had a sacrificial system, CLEARLY made obsolete by the once-and-for-all sacrifice of The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10) .
  3. Unbelieving Israel was cut off (Romans 11:20).  The ONLY way to be grafted back into the Life-giving Root is by FAITH in the Messiah, for both the Jew and the Gentile.

Grafted in by Faith.  Clothed in Christ.  One Body in Christ.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, according to the promise not according to flesh.  We are to abide in the Vine, Jesus (John 15).  One building, made up of living stones, whose Cornerstone is Christ.   All abstract, spiritual concepts, removed from the flesh and bound together by faith and trust in the Crucified and Risen Christ Who gives us LIFE by His Spirit.

One’s ethnicity (flesh) does not change because one is grafted into the tree – natural branches grafted back in and wild branches grafted in live together as one tree drawing spiritual Life from the same Source, The Root, Who is Christ.  Note that in the natural world, grafted branches continue to produce the fruit of the stock from which they were cut, receiving life from the root into which they’ve been grafted – their individual identity does not change, though they receive life from the same root, natural and wild branches alike.  The overall identity of the Tree is one in Christ, however, even though the branches consist of both natural and wild branches.  The believing Jew/Israelite and the believing Gentile are grafted in together, becoming ONE TREE by faith in Christ, who gives them ALL spiritual LIFE. 

A quote from the tree-grafting article, “Yeah. It’s not a hybrid; it changes the whole identity of the tree.”  [Bolding mine.]  Several metaphors are used to describe those in Christ being the people of God, and they cover a lot of bases, showing that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross.  Whether Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave or free, we are all one in Christ.  Whether natural branches or wild, we all receive Life from the Root, Who is Jesus.  We are living stones, carefully placed by the Master Builder, built into a spiritual house, joined together by the Chief Cornerstone:

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.

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.

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.

Before Christ’s work at the Cross, the people of God had an identity of Israel, and in Romans 11 they are represented by an olive tree.  After Christ’s work at the Cross, God’s people have a whole new identity in Christ.  Another metaphor used in the New Testament is that we are One Body, with many parts: 

1 Corinthians 12:12-14
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 

Romans 12:3-8
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Over  and over references to who we are in Christ hammer home that regardless of our ethnicity or position or gender, we are one in Christ!  I, and every other person who is in Christ remains who God created us to be in the flesh while simultaneously becoming a New Creation and a part of His Body by His Spirit.  Does that make all who are in Christ Jews/Israel?  No, for the Scripture says there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.  Okay . . . I’m female, and I’m in Christ.  Do I cease to be female in the physical? Of course not!  I’m also a Gentile, and I’m in Christ.  Do I cease to be a Gentile?  No.  Being in Christ does not mean our ethnicity/gender/social standing (caste, position, whatever) changes, but we do become members of the Body of Christ, and as such, are one IN HIM.  [It is important to note here that the terms 'Jew' and 'Israel' are used interchangeably in Scripture.]

The Two House/Ephraimite Error

The Two House/Ephraimite Error

As mentioned at the top of this post, there are some who think they actually are Israel/Jews/Ephraim who are in the Messianic/Hebrew Roots/Netzarim streams of thought.  There are some who think they heard that some great-grand parent might have been Jewish and they proudly take on that identity.  Some actually shell out  $$$ to have their DNA tested.  Others ‘just have a feeling’ that they are part of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel (that aren’t really lost, by the way).  One person who has come out of the HRM told me that some in the Hebrew Roots Movement claim to have had a mystical experience similar to the Mormon ‘burning in the bosom’ after which they ‘just know’  they are part of Ephraim (the Lost 10 Tribes).

The Bible, however, doesn’t teach that those who believe on Messiah become Israel, or that they are drawn to the Cross just because they are Israel.  All of the metaphors used in the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ confirm that God makes everyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His work at the Cross a New Creation, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or position (See also the entry Ephraimite on the Glossary A-F Page for more information on the ‘Two House Doctrine/Ephraimite Error.)

Conclusions
Tree grafting is not rocket science.  
Save for the chain saws and tape, grafting has remained pretty much the same since it was first tried, and the metaphor that Paul used nearly 2000 years ago holds up as well today as it did then.  There are natural branches and wild branches, each retaining their identities, all drawing their life from the same Root.  As seen above, many other metaphors are used to make the same basic point.

Those in the HRM will try to take behaviors expected of the sojourner with physical Israel under the Law in the Old Testament and apply those expectations to Jews and Gentiles alike in the spiritual Body of Christ.  That is an inappropriate application.  Israel and Her sojourners were under Mosaic Covenant Law, given until the Seed should come.  The Body of Christ rests in the Gospel – the Seed has come, He did the work of the Cross, and we have died with Him and received Life from the Resurrected Christ.  All, whether Jew or Gentile, come to relationship with Him through faith – heirs according to the Promise given to all mankind.

Promises given to all mankind and depicted in the flesh of Israel via the Law give way to the spiritual realities fulfilled in Christ.

Am I saying that Israel is ‘replaced’ by the Church (Body of Christ)?  No.  After the Cross, however, those who are a part of Israel must be saved just as the Gentile; through faith and trust in Jesus Christ Who died, Rose on the third day, and Ascended into Heaven and sits at the Right Hand of the Father. 

What of natural/national Israel?  I’m content to leave that up to God.  I believe that He has further plans for Her according to His Word.  There are lots of different opinions about how the last events will play out, but none of that has bearing on the salvation of the individual soul before God and who we are in Christ.

Do I boast over the natural branches?  No.  The offer of salvation comes to the Jew first and then the Gentile.  There is special honor, in my opinion, for Israel, as She is the vehicle God chose to facilitate the coming of Messiah.  Israel has endured much for Her chosen status.  The balance of Romans 11 says:

Romans 11:25-36
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Now some will take that to mean that every individual in Israel will be saved as per God’s promise in this passage.  Yet Scripture tells us that Jesus is the only Way to the Father.  Some surmise that a representative number of Israel will be saved, thus fulfilling the promise.  Like with many prophecies, we often don’t know how they will come about until God fulfills them and then we say, “Oh!  That’s what He meant by that Scripture!”  So I’m content to wait to see how God will fulfill His promises to Israel.

As those in Christ we are grafted into the Root, abide in the Vine, become part of the Body of Christ.  In Christ, we live in a spiritual reality in spite of our ‘fleshy’ existence.  The Scriptures are clear:  We are a New Creation in Christ, One Body, many parts, each with talents and giftings and callings which God desires us to use to spread the Gospel of Christ to every tribe, tongue and nation.  He does not require that we become ethnically someone we were not created to be to in order to partake in His Kingdom, because flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Amen!

We, as believers in Christ, need to understand who we are in Him.  Don’t let anyone tell you that ‘you are now Israel and as such are subject to the Laws given to Her by God through Moses’.   If you are in Christ, you are now dead to the Law and alive in Christ.  If you are in Christ, you are part of the Body of Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female - we believers are all one in Him!

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  • Note: I also posted the above post on a forum I was invited to this past winter.   Interesting responses and a good primer in how those who are Torah pursuant think.  You can find the thread HERE.

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If you’re someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the other testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.

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Other articles of interest:

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Testimony – thatonechick’s Story

It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received yet another testimony.  This one came as an email recently and is a great blessing to me and to others who contend for the Gospel in the arena with those who pursue Torah.  Many thanks to “thatonechick” for the following. 

This testimony will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.

If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), please email me at joyfullygrowingingrace@gmail dot com.  From talking to those who have come out of Law-keeping sects, I understand that it can be a difficult thing to write about the experience.  Many thanks to those who have taken the time and effort to contribute here.

Keep ‘em coming!  Testimonies are a powerful witness to the Gospel of Christ!  Thank you!

Every blessing,
-JGIG

 

thatonechick’s Story

When I originally considered Torah observance, I wasn’t really aware that I was even looking for a way to observe Torah.  I didn’t even really know the word Torah.  I was looking for a denomination that wasn’t the same as what I was a part of growing up.  I went to a Southern Baptist Church growing up, and stopped going in my late teens because I felt like I was attending a hypocritical, judgmental social club rather than a church.  I looked into several, and had heard of Messianic Judaism from someone I know.  I was mildly curious, but my curiosity didn’t last very long and then I moved on.

A few months ago, I became convinced that observing Torah was extremely important.  I came to believe that it was almost essential to salvation.  I kept thinking, “He said go and sin no more, did He not?”  Thus, began my journey into observing Torah.

But, I found myself on an emotional roller coaster.  It was bothersome.  I have learned some things along the way.

I no longer observe Torah in the sense that “Torah Keepers” do.  As I stand outside the box, I look back in and see some things that I now find a little disturbing.

First of all, the idea of using Father’s real name and the real name of His Son as opposed to the ones I learned as a child seemed almost a salvational issue.  I can’t speak for ALL Torah observers, but I can say that I know of some who at at least one point, believed that calling on any name besides Yahweh or Yeshua was like calling on empty space, or even satan himself.  I even almost believed it myself. 

But, I now find it very hard to believe that it is wrong to use God or Jesus.  One issue is that Jesus said to call God Father.  So why do some insist that we MUST use Yahweh?  I have heard the argument that Jesus is a paganized name for Zeus.  I find this arguable at best.  I myself was saved using the name Jesus.  I know that many people were saved using the name Jesus throughout history.  I know that the Holy Spirit has been with me for a long time now, and not when I suddenly started saying Yahweh and Yahushua.

Not to mention I have seen Jesus’ Hebrew name spelled and pronounced several ways, which in itself, goes against the argument that we MUST use His correct name.  How can we say that when it is spelled and pronounced so many ways? Yeshua, Yashua, Yahushua, Yahowushua, Y’shua and on and on.

I have no problems or hostilities with using our Heavenly Father’s name, if that’s what He wants.  But Jesus said to call Him Father.  This promotes a family unit.  I believe He wants us to draw near to Him as we would our dads.  As humans, we typically revere our earthly fathers and respect and honor them, and love them.  We go to them when we are sad, lonely, or happy.  We seek guidance, acknowledgement, understanding, forgiveness, and protection.  I believe this is the kind of relationship God wants.  Not fear, but love and trust.

After following Torah as best as I could (which wasn’t that great in my opinion) I came across the terms “Spirit” and “Letter” of the Law.  This was something new to me.  So I looked into these ideas, and suddenly I began to question what I was doing.  Was I pulling myself away from the Spirit in following the letter?  I was unsure.  I often felt like I didn’t know who Jesus was anymore.  I didn’t find myself relating to Him very often.

I knew that Jesus became our sacrifice, and our High Priest.  I knew that WE became the temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell.  I started to think, how is it that He replaced some of these things but not all.  Everything was a shadow, something to point towards Him, but was it all things?

I remembered one time, someone mentioned that Jesus WAS our Sabbath.  I never heard that growing up.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.  I also remember reading once, that ALL the 10 commandments besides the Sabbath was reiterated by Jesus in the Gospels.

Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Interesting that He didn’t really talk about resting on Sabbath, but He did say rest in Him.

This also got me to thinking about which Laws are written on our hearts.  I realize now that the moral Laws are most definitely written on our hearts.  At least I know this for myself. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, and so on and so forth. In fact He even expounded on them not just physically but spiritually,  by saying it’s wrong to even THINK about doing these things.  Is the sacrificial law written on our hearts?  Not really.  Except for when we accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, and received the Holy Spirit.  But this is received in Spirit.  Not on paper.  But I don’t feel that the 7th day rest is written on my heart, or even the feasts.

If morality of the Law is written on our hearts spiritually, and the remaining law wasn’t, then it remains the “letter” of the law.  That part was nailed to the cross.  The reason it was “nailed to the cross” is because those things are now found in our Savior.  And He was nailed to the cross.

Another thing I am failing to understand is the idea that the New Testament was translated wrong, or that we are just simply misunderstanding it.  I believe the message is simple, and that simple message can be translated in all languages. The premise, that we must learn Hebrew or Aramaic to understand what is being said, seems, well, ludicrous to me.  How can I ask people in the poorest parts of the world, who possibly can’t even read or write in their own language, to learn Hebrew in order to understand what is being said throughout the New Testament.  No.  That’s unrealistic.

What about the feasts?  We know that the feasts pointed towards Christ, but do we still observe them?  I think we certainly can, but some people say it’s demanded.  That the feasts are still honored in order to remember what Jesus did on the cross (or pole or stake as some insist), but isn’t this what the Lord’s supper is for?  Jesus said eat this bread and drink this drink in remembrance of me.

I now find it somewhat amusing, seeing some people struggle to celebrate these feasts on their own, having no real guidance in how to do it, and when one denies Rabbinical teaching, what can you do?  I see people getting the dates wrong, and not observing it properly, even as said in the Bible.

I don’t understand the obsession with all things pagan, and what they may or may not have represented.  I have heard that the names God and Jesus are pagan, along with Sunday, the Cross, church steeples, Christmas, Easter, the names of the days of the week, wedding rings, and so on and so forth. 

I think this obsession overwhelms and consumes some people.

As I observed Torah, I began to feel depressed, condemned, and less Christian than I have ever felt before, even when I was leading a less than righteous life.  And what’s with people not even wanting to claim the title “Christian”?  Insanity.

I again saw a comment regarding the “Spirit of the Law” vs. the “Letter of the Law”. What was this, I wondered.  I began to look and these are some of the things I began to realize.

Colossians 2:16-18 (King James Version)
16Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

18Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

I have heard people say that the Colossians were all Gentile, and therefore the people who would be giving them a hard time would be non-christian gentiles.  Why then, in vs. 17 would Paul call the things listed in vs. 16 a “shadow of things to come”, would non-christian gentiles even know of these shadows?  I think not.  The reality is, the congregation was made up of Gentiles AND Jews.  Look at vs. 18.  Who was worshipping angels?  I am still looking into this.  But the evidence I found suggests that the Jews (some of them) prayed to angels as intermediaries to Father.

My experience with other Hebrew Roots people has been on the internet.  People that I have met through forums or articles I have read through various sources.  It’s no surprise to me that many of these people feel the same way I felt in a sense.  When you embrace Hebrew Roots, you suddenly feel the need to witness to people who ALREADY BELIEVE in Jesus. This is neglecting non-believer’s in a terrible way.  We are to spread the Gospel to all nations, not to people who already have the Holy Spirit as their guidance.

When you embrace Hebrew Roots, you start to feel guilty about every aspect of your life, questioning every move you make, and thinking that if you screw up, you could, well, be screwed.  

I felt fallen from grace.

I notice that many people who embrace this movement, first of all deny they are in the movement, but also they are often arrogant, judgemental, condemning, nasty, hateful, and prideful.  Once I embraced this movement, I noticed these qualities in myself.  It’s like you automatically feel prideful and self righteous.  It was so stupid, and that was shameful on my part.

And what’s with this obsession with being the least or greatest in Heaven? I don’t think that should be our goal in life.  We should be loving and caring for people.  Not trying to beat them in some spiritual race to get to the top.

Another thing I noticed, is how some regard Torah so much more than the Gospels.  The Gospels show the light of the shadows of Torah.  It seems strange to me.

Once I started seeing the spiritual aspect of my faith, I found it harder to accept the letter or physical aspect as binding.

I believe that many many Torah keepers are honest about their faith, and they honestly believe they should be doing this and that they honestly believe they should be telling (warning) others that they should be doing this.  I have met some very generous and very kind people, but I can no longer believe what they believe.  All I want is the truth, and I don’t think they hold it.

I prayed often every day to be shown the truth.  I was never fully convinced of everything and often felt like I was wrong, but wasn’t sure how because many things “seemed” right about the movement.  I thank our Father so much for showing me the light in the shadows and giving me His guiding hand to lead me out.  If it wasn’t for Him, well, I don’t know what.

I just wanted to share my side of it.  I apologize that this is not more in depth, nor does it sound like I am all that educated **smile**, but I feel that this movement is from the wrong kind of spirit, and if I am wrong so help me God.

Thank you so much for listening to what I had to say.  I hope it helps in the fight against this “movement”.  I feel like it’s taking advantage of people who have good intentions but get mixed up in the wrong thing.  I partially feel like God sent me there to help me understand WHY I am saved and WHY He sent His son.  But another part of me thinks that there are bad spirits involved.  I am just glad I am out and glad I am saved.  Praise God!  I love Him!

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Thanks again, to “thatonechick” for sharing her heart with us here.   

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See also:

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Love Goes Where the Law Cannot

As sometimes happens when discussing Law and Grace on a forum, a particular issue will become clear in a really simple way.  I’ve written before about how the Gospel can go where the Law cannot culturally, but tonight God showed me that Love goes where the Law cannot, as well.

A mom who is Torah pursuant asked me this:

Originally Posted by ‘ME
I know you’re a Mother too, so maybe this will make sense:

Q:  Do you become a mother when you first get pregnant or do you become a mother when your child is terminally ill and you never leave its side at a hospital?

A: You become a mother both times.

However, just because you are a mother in the first instance doesn’t mean you ‘do right’ and are even a ‘good’ mother. Read the Ohio story of a woman who killed her child in a way.

The mother who sits by her child’s bedside is also a mother, but reborn in her experiences all those years as a Mom. We would call her a good, faithful mother.

Both, however are and will be to their dying days a “Mother”.

The same can be said of salvation. Once you accept the Savior, He has brought you salvation.

How are you going to show you are worthy of such a calling?

It is a personal thing (just like being a mom) and there is indeed ‘right things’ and ‘wrong things’ you can do until your last breath.

You’re still a Mom, just like You’re still saved – but we aim for faithfulness and truth when we want to do ‘right’. A part of that is obedience to Him [she is speaking of Torah observance here].

We look to the spirit, and we look to His written word.

I thought maybe you being a Mom might help understand this concept. I hope you didn’t think I was rude or overly parochial at all. I help teach children, so I am constantly trying to find real life connections with gospel connections.

My response:
Let me ask you a question, mother to mother:

Do you do the things to care for and nurture your children because state or federal laws tell you to or because you instinctively know and desire to do the best you can for your children because you love them?

If one of your children is teething, is there a law that tells you to comfort them and tend to their pain, even if it means you losing sleep because of it?  Or do you comfort that child and tend to their pain because it is the loving thing to do?

When one is in Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we don’t need to rely on the Law to tell us what’s right or wrong – we instinctively know – the Holy Spirit becomes our conscience and our Guide – He writes the Law on our hearts. Even more than that – the Holy Spirit not only tells us what is right and wrong – He tells us how to love sacrificially.

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

Titus 2:11-14
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.

The Law will not tell you to stay up with a teething baby.  Love, however, will.

In our own family, we have a child with Type 1 Diabetes, so this hits very close to home for me.  The law does not tell me to check my child’s blood glucose through the night, but I do – sometimes 3 or 4 times a night for the past two years and for the rest of the time that she will be in our care. If she runs too high, there is potential damage happening to her nerves and organs. If she runs too low, there is the risk of death.  The law would say that it’s okay to let her run a little high so that I can sleep more without the risk of her going low and dying.  Love tells me to keep her Blood Glucose #’s in a good range ’round the clock and to check through the night to make sure she’s not too high or too low to minimize damage to her body systems so that she can live a long and healthy life.

The law can only go so far.  

Love takes doing the right thing to the next level.

That’s what Jesus taught about in Matthew 5 and exemplified throughout His ministry – right to the Cross where He became the once-and-for-all sacrifice for us because He loved us.

The Law didn’t tell Jesus to go to the Cross – Love did.

I hope this simple example helped you to see the significant truth that Love goes where the Law cannot.  It did me!

Blessings,
-JGIG

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Testimony – Serioussly S’african’s Story

It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received another testimony.  This one came as an email recently and is a great blessing to me and to others who contend for the Gospel in the arena with those who pursue Torah.  Many thanks to “Serioussly S’african” for the following. 

This testimony will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.

If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), please email me at joyfullygrowingingrace@gmail dot com.  From talking to those who have come out of Law-keeping sects, I understand that it can be a difficult thing to write about the experience.  Many thanks to those who have taken the time and effort to contribute here.

Every blessing,
-JGIG

  

Howzit from Sunny, Beautiful South Africa

Wow what an incredible journey the past 5 weeks has been. I thought I had found a new and exciting “family” of serious believers, scholars and lovers of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  I won’t bore you with all the ins and outs of our journey (cos it sounds like everyone elses!!) but I am just grateful that I came across your website within a month or so of being “sucked in” to this movement.

I can detect from your various articles, testimonies and discussions that most of us have been disappointed with mainstream churches, are independent, are desperately searching for the Truth and yes I am also a homeschool Mum.

The whole family of us rushed off to a HRM weekend (only 3 beautiful children not 7!) on the weekend of my 43rd birthday, 14 May 2011 (another HRM no no among various pagan holidays including Christmas, Easter and Birthdays). We LOVED it!  We bought the dvd’s and were enthralled with the message. 

How could we have been so deceived – only receiving “half” of God’s Truth.  We had neglected our roots and more than half of God’s Word ie THE TORAH, THE TANACH, THE HEBREW PROPHETS.  We enrolled to begin Hebrew classes and an in depth study of The Torah.  We had to get back to our roots, to study to prove ourselves and learn all we could. 

Having studied Psychology and Linguistics this study was right up my street.  In fact, I became know as a “Torarist” because I had become outspoken against precious, mainstream evangelical pastor friends of mine and had even had the audacity to haul them over the coals over celebrating Easter.  (Cringe – I have subsequently publicly apologised to them and told them that I am once again “joyfully growing in grace”!).

I could not get enough.  I was addicted.  I would watch HRM preachers for hours through the night enthralled at their awesome revelations and deep, ancient insights.  Wow four different levels of interpretation, Two Houses of Judah, us vs the Arabs, never mind the Roman Catholics, Islam was now the Beast, End Time Prophecy through Hebrew eyes, the analogies, allegories, meanings within meanings, THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY, whoa never mind that just the MYSTERY ……. then it hit me . . . “enthralled” . . . “addicted”.  I had been heavily involved in the New Age before becoming Christian and I could sense the same excitement I had at the “MYSTICISM” of the New Age and the age old lie that “did the Lord your God really say that?”.  

Nothing new under the sun.

It was the mean and judgemental “fruits” that were squeezing the life out of me that made me look for critiques of the HRM. 

I must admit when I typed in a popular HRM pastor’s name and “heretical teaching” next to their name on Google, I actually thought there would be little or no representation, after all God is Holy, His Laws are Holy, the Torah contains His Laws, The Torah must be Holy and mandatory for us Christians to follow (forgive the simplistic argument but I do not want to write a thesis!!).  Well up your website came and I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit spoke straight to me and took me to 2 Corinthians 3 and the whole of Galatians.  He loves us, He speaks plainly to us if only we will listen, and keep our faith like a child’s.

I pray we find a mature, Bible-based church in our area where we are going to settle in, offer our time, talents and resources and be accountable as Believers in our Lord and Saviour who tells us plainly that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it!

Thank you for your fastidious research, your intelligent articles and the love and grace you show all people who come to your website, including those who show no genuine fruits and those who hurl insults and fallacious arguments at you. (Feel free to edit my testimony as we have enough problems to deal with in our beloved country without me having to contend with mockers and hair splitters).

Kind regards
Serioussly S’african

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Thanks again, to Serioussly S’african, for her very brief but effective testimony!  I wish I could cover that kind of ground with so few words! 

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See also:

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Being a Galatian

It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received the following testimony.    From talking to those who have come out of Law-keeping sects, I understand that it can be a difficult thing to write about the experience.  Many thanks to “GirlLuvs2Read” for the following.

This testimony will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.

If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), please email me at joyfullygrowingingrace@gmail dot com.

Every blessing,
-JGIG

 

Being a Galatian

by “GirlLuvs2Read”

One of the frustrating things I have learned about life is that you can be sincere in your convictions, and still be wrong. I have also learned that God’s grace will not let us go, even after we’ve strayed. He is always willing to leave the 99 others, and come get us. When I entered the Hebrew Roots/Torah Observant (HR/TO) movement, I got to experience this first hand.

I had struggled for years with various sicknesses, searching books, articles, and the internet for home remedies and cures, after doctors had not been able to help me. One night I was up watching TV, and a talk show host had a woman on her show promoting the health benefits of the raw food diet. It’s not really a diet, but more of a lifestyle of only eating raw fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. Imagine a vegan diet, only all uncooked. It was extreme, but many people had supposedly been cured of various health problems as a result of choosing to only eat raw foods, so it was worth a try. I gave away all of my food that required cooking, and began eating basically only salads, fruit, and nuts.

Looking back, I know that this lasted only 3 weeks, but at the time, I was in the frame of mind that this would be my new lifestyle, and I was in it for the long haul. Naturally my friends and family were concerned, but more so my family. I’m already pretty skinny, and my family foresaw that my removing meat and grains from my diet would cause me to lose weight, and be unhealthy in general. They were right. When I have my convictions about something, I can be relentlessly stubborn, until my convictions on the matter genuinely change. I had books and experts who backed up my claims that the raw food diet was not only the healthiest, but also most biblical choice. After all, in the beginning, what did Adam and Eve eat?

A friend of mine from the young adults ministry at my church lovingly challenged me to consider that my viewpoint was on the extreme side, and reminded me of the wisdom in being balanced. She recommended that I consult scripture to see what God actually said about food. If eating cooked food was immoral and unhealthy, surely God would have had something to say about it. So I went through the bible with my concordance to see what it said about food, meat, cooking, and so on. Whatever the bible said, is what I would take as truth. What I found was that, yes, originally Adam and Eve ate only fruits and vegetables, but later God allowed them to eat meat and grains. And of course, they were cooked, as they were forbidden to eat blood. (It’s not that I didn’t know this beforehand, but it’s interesting how you can conveniently forget to consult the whole counsel of scripture when trying to prove your point.)

Later on, when Moses gave the law to Israel, God had much more to say about what could and could not be eaten. There is also a promise of good health and the removal of diseases to those that follow God’s law, and a promise of punishment and curse to those who do not. Perhaps this was the key that we had all overlooked. Maybe we were all suffering from various diseases because we weren’t following all of the law. As believers we do follow a good portion of the law, but we completely ignore God’s commands regarding food. Maybe we were wrong after all. Maybe this was something God cared about.

I sought to research the possibility that there was wisdom in following God’s law in its entirety, including the parts about food. I found myself on Amazon.com looking for books on biblical eating and the law, and discovered a whole genre of books on Torah observance. The two books I found especially helpful in my quest were “Holy Cow! Does God Care about What We Eat?” and “Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus” (which I eventually wrote a review of on Amazon). After reading them, I was thoroughly convinced that, even as new covenant believers, Christians did have a responsibility to observe the law, except for the commandments that were absolutely impossible or inappropriate for us to follow (ie, stoning someone for working on the Sabbath).

Along the way I also became a major fan of websites that were a one-stop-shop for all things Torah Observant, especially First Fruits of Zion. These ministries taught that while salvation is received solely by having faith in Jesus, that a lifestyle of righteousness can only be achieved through obeying the law. After all, Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Of course, their definition of “fulfillment” was that Jesus was the fullness or embodiment of the law. Therefore, how could we say we loved him, and disobey his commandments? He even said that if you loved him, you would obey his commands. So goes the logic of the Torah observant movement. In my experience, those who teach such things are precious and sincere believers who are simply trying to teach what they believe to be the true and honorable way of righteous living, even though they’re wrong. At the time, their resources were so dear to me, because I felt I was being reconnected with a part of my faith that I had been deceived out of embracing. And I consumed all of the books and website articles fueled by a desire to learn all that could about the law, so that I could put as much of it into practice as possible.

I began to learn that it was necessary for us to understand the Hebrew culture, idioms, and language, in order for us to truly understand scripture, which in turn made me doubt the accuracy of any mainstream Christian interpretations of scripture, and lose faith in our ability to even understand scripture without the aid of those who are experts on the ins and outs of the Hebrew culture and language. (HR/TO proponents argue that the Greek/Western mindset misinterprets scripture, as it doesn’t understand its context, which has resulted in most in Christendom turning its back on the Torah.) This led me to trust the teachings of those within the TO movement over others because they sought to interpret scripture from the information they received in their studies of Hebrew culture and language. Little did I know, therein laid the problem. Their sources for this information were unbelieving Jewish rabbis and their teachings.

With my beliefs changing so much, I made the decision to leave the church I had been a part of for almost 5 years, and set out on my own. Around the same time, the biblical holidays began to creep up on the calendar, and I found myself, for the first time in search of a place to celebrate Yom Kippur. Surfing around the internet I found a Christian congregation that met on Saturdays in a church in a nearby town, that was very much into celebrating the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith. So I decided to go and spend the holiday there. Much to my relief, although it was a small congregation, it was definitely multicultural, which I was sincerely thankful for. I was picturing myself, not only standing out as a visitor, but also as being the only black person in a crowd of Messianic Jews. Thankfully God saw fit to spare me from what could have been a very awkward situation. The congregation was made up of a small close-knit family of believers that danced together, sang Messianic songs together, and ate potluck lunch together after service.

I stayed with this congregation for about 2 months, until one Saturday during the after service brunch, I overheard, a family that had recently returned from a trip to Malaysia retelling some of the disappointing discoveries they had made regarding the Messianic congregations they had visited while on their trip. Unfortunately some of the congregations were actually embracing the Torah or Old Testament law, and were sincerely doing everything they could to follow its commandments, and were somehow blinded to the fact that the law of Moses was no longer applicable for believers today. Unfortunately the views of this church just weren’t getting it done for me. If I’m going to do something, especially if it involves seeking the Lord, I’m gonna do it all the way. Not half way. It’s either all or nothing. And somehow they were able to justify upholding half of the law, but not all of it. So I left, very distraught over having to break fellowship with friends I had just made, but knowing that it was the right thing to do. I hated the idea of being labeled a church hopper, but the gap in our beliefs would not allow me to sincerely fellowship with them without feeling this thick wall of awkwardness between us. Maybe eventually they would come around.

I left, and decided that while I was in between churches I would listen to sermons online. (Along the way I had discovered some Messianic congregations that were made up of Jews and non-Jews (I have always hated the word Gentiles….), that had websites and archives of their sermons. I have to admit that I truly enjoyed Saturdays by this point. It became a day for me to stop everything and spend a whole day reading the Bible if I wanted to and relaxing, which totally beat spending the day doing chores.

As I began to implement various aspects of the law in my life, my family became very concerned. My dad, who’s not a Christian, thought I was taking my religious beliefs way too far, and my mother, who is a Christian, thought I had wandered away from genuine Christianity. She often tried to talk “sense” into me or to get me to break the Sabbath on purpose, because she didn’t see the value in it. Both of my parents thought I was trying to be Jewish, and as a joke my dad wrapped my birthday presents in Hanukkah themed giftwrap that year (my birthday is in December, so Hanukkah themed paper was plenty available). I did find it a little funny, but I was also kind of hurt. I have great respect for Jewish people and their heritage, but I really wasn’t trying to be Jewish. I was just trying to be a biblical Christian. But no one in my social circle (with the exception of a few mainly non-Christian friends) seemed to really get that.

God eventually did allow some of my mother’s words to sink in to help bring me out of the deception I had wandered into, but it was not before I saw the unhealthy side of the TO/HR movement and its effects on Christians.

The Journey Out
Along the way there were certain aspects of the TO/HR movement that bothered me. Initially it seemed that its proponents taught that Christians had an obligation to follow the written law of the bible, just as Jews did, but that we had no responsibility whatsoever to follow them in observing the oral Torah of the Talmud. This was fine by me because I wanted to be free of the extra biblical traditions of men. But then I found that even the TO/HR proponents were evolving in their understanding of what it meant to be a biblical Christian. They began to see non-Messianic rabbis as “fathers” of the faith whose authority Christians were obligated to come under. They believed that aside from its exclusion of Jesus Christ as savior, that rabbinic Judaism, complete with praying 3 times a day facing Jerusalem, learning and obeying the Talmud, and even delving into mystical practices (Kabbalah) should be an integral part of the Christian’s faith. I actually was able to be deceived by their teachings on prayer. I remember owning a DVD series produced by First Fruits of Zion called Praying in the Spirit, that took the position that praying pre-written prayers from a prayer book 3 times a day facing Jerusalem was the way one prayed “in the spirit” and “without ceasing”. It bothers me now to think about how I used to take mini breaks at work to pray, and actually brought a tiny compass along with me to ensure that I was indeed facing Jerusalem when I did it.

While I was able to be deceived into thinking that praying set prayers according to Jewish tradition was a biblical commandment, I could never buy into the idea that unbelieving Jewish rabbis had a place of spiritual authority over me or other Christians. Wandering into the territory of mystical Judaism and obeying the teachings of the Talmud stood out as being clearly blasphemous to me. What was worse was to hear messages and read articles about how many Christians were beginning to abandon Jesus altogether for Orthodox Judaism, and how we needed to work to prevent this trend from spreading further into the TO Christian community. Somehow people who began studying the Torah and Hebrew idioms and culture out of a sincere love for Jesus, wound up growing farther and farther away from him. One day they were pursuing the “Jewishness of Jesus”, and the next they decided that Jewishness in and of itself was their savior, and that Jesus was merely a deceiver. Unexpected, but the reality none the less.

I found myself utterly disappointed with the HR/TO movement. Here I was thinking I had finally found rest within a movement that adhered to all of the true teachings of the bible, and instead I found people zealous for the vain and destructive teachings of men (men who didn’t even believe that Jesus was their Messiah). I wanted to distance myself from the movement, while holding on to what I felt was true.

While I was having my experience with the HR/TO movement, I was also dealing with another issue that was very frightening and perplexing. I won’t go into the details of what was happening, as that would be a book all on its own. I will suffice it to say that it required me to contact believers who worked in deliverance ministries for their assistance, as neither I nor anyone I knew was equipped to handle it.

The first deliverance minister I contacted, I had discovered through a Messianic (HR/TO) congregation’s website. They had an archive of online sermons you could listen to, and I had heard a few of this brother’s messages. While speaking with him about my issues, he explained to me, among other things, that he and his wife were no longer a part of the Messianic Congregation. He no longer believed the things he had been teaching, and thought the ideas of the HR/TO movement were really just false interpretations of Jewish rabbis.

I was completely shocked, and kind of felt like this man was a traitor. I had believed his messages, and now he no longer did. Not only that, but as I explained to him how I was practicing my faith, he kindly suggested that it was not good for me to be without the fellowship of other believers, listening to online sermons in my room. While no church was perfect, he strongly believed that I would be better off in a church, connected to other Christians, however flawed they may be, than I would be going it alone. I left the conversation feeling somewhat betrayed by this man’s departure from the HR/TO movement to return to mainstream Christianity, but his words left a mark on me.

The strange disturbances persisted, so I contacted another deliverance minister. This one was also a part of the HR/TO movement, but believed that the writings of Paul were evil and untrustworthy because he advised people not to follow the law of the old covenant. Though I actually began to consider this as a possibility, in the end, God was able to use this individual’s perspective to correct my thinking. Up until that time, I had bought into the HR notion that Western interpretations of scripture were unreliable due to their lack of understanding of the Hebrew culture and language. Anything written in the New Testament that seemed to indicate that we were no longer under the law was actually pro-Torah observance. We had just been interpreting those passages incorrectly. Works like The Complete Jewish Bible were able to translate those verses “correctly”, and restore the proper pro-Torah meaning. But this deliverance minister did not believe those arguments for a second. He thought the anti-law message was quite clear, and that there was no mistake about it. Paul preached an end to the law for Gentiles, and I was beginning to see it.

Because months later the problems continued, I contacted my last deliverance ministry. It was a couple in New Jersey, who prayed with me over the phone. They were just “regular” Christians, and before getting to the meat of our conversation they wanted to make sure I was a Christian too. They asked me some standard litmus test questions, one of them being “How do you know you have salvation?” I explained to them that I was confident that I had salvation because I believed that Jesus had died on the cross for my sins and because I obeyed his commandments. That seemed fair enough to them, and having satisfied them with my answer, we moved on. However, there was a major problem. When I said that I obeyed Jesus’ commandments, I wasn’t just talking about righteous living that comes from loving God and loving one another. I was referring to the law. When I heard these words come out of my mouth I realized that my theology was dangerously off course. I now believed I was saved because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and because I obeyed the Mosaic laws.

Then I realized that I no longer truly understood why I needed Jesus at all. If I had the law, and obeying it made me a righteous person, what was Jesus’ role? After speaking to this couple, I noticed that I felt very far away from Jesus. I can’t say I’ve ever felt his presence in a noticeable way, but I certainly felt that there was a distance between us now. How could I, in my desire to love Jesus and obey him, have ended up feeling like we were strangers? Unfortunately my good intentions had not been enough. I found myself, after having been raised in church my whole life, and saved since 6 or 7, now needing to relearn the basics of my faith all over again. Above all, I needed to understand why Jesus came to earth, and why I needed him.

I remember having seen Joseph Prince give messages on his show on Daystar (a Christian TV network). His ministry focused on the grace of God, saved by grace and grace alone, and fully embracing the new covenant. Originally I was against this pastor’s teachings because he rejected the importance of the law, but now his words were exactly what I needed to hear. I began watching his sermons, and purchased his book Destined to Reign. It sounds like the kind of book that focuses on being the best in life and constantly receiving blessings, so initially I wasn’t interested. But it was actually exactly what I needed. It explained the purpose and limitations of the old covenant, why Jesus died on the cross, what he accomplished in doing so, and how the righteous live in the new covenant. This book played an enormous role in correcting my thinking and restoring Jesus to his rightful place in my life, and for that I am extremely thankful.

During this period of relearning my faith I also reread Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and all of the sudden it made so much sense. Galatians was written to people just like me, Gentile Christians who had been deceived into believing they had to obey the law of Moses. When you have lived as a Galatian, Paul’s words really come alive, and speak so clearly to your situation. I thank God that he preserved his letter for us.

Now that my mindset was changed, my lifestyle began to change as well. I allowed myself to eat my favorite foods, even if they were considered unclean or weren’t kosher. I no longer felt the need to celebrate biblical holidays, and allowed myself to do whatever I wanted Friday night and all day Saturday (though I still firmly believe that the Sabbath is the 7th day of the week, not Sunday, and that as human beings we do need rest for our physical bodies). I stopped trying to learn about the Jewish mindset on biblical issues, and regained trust in the scholarship behind mainstream bible translations. My Complete Jewish Bible and all those other HR/TO books and resources went in the trash, and I eventually started attending a regular church.

At the end of it all, I had learned many lessons:

  • I saw that when I strayed, God would leave the 99 other sheep, and come and get me, and bring me back to the truth.
  • You can either have the law or Jesus. You cannot mix the old and new covenant. It’s all or nothing.
  • No one alive today can keep the law in full. There is no temple, no Levitical priesthood, and most of us don’t live in Israel, so we cannot live by the law even if we wanted to.
  • Beware of the yeast of the Pharisses! The yeast is their teachings. Today’s unbelieving Jewish rabbis are the religious descendants of the Pharisees. They believe and teach what the Pharisees taught. Their teachings are hostile to the gospel, and will lead believers away from Jesus Christ, even if they have good intentions.
  • The heart of our faith is found in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and faith in him and his message. The gospel is meant to be easily accessible and understood by people of all cultures and languages. Jesus and his blood are the “roots” of the Christian faith, not his culture or the language he spoke. They may be the backdrop of the events of his life, but they can become a major distraction to God himself, if we let them.

The above is an excerpt from my life as a believer. The events took place during 2007 and 2008. Today I cling solely to the new covenant, and generally feel most comfortable fellowshipping in house church settings (though I believe those too have much room for growth).

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Thanks again to “GirlLuvs2Read” for the above contribution.

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Repentance Unto Salvation: A One Time Thing or an Every-Time-We-Sin Thing?

In discourse with those in Law ‘keeping’ sects, this question inevitably comes up, “Don’t you ever sin after you’re saved?” or the statement, “You must repent over and over when you sin.”  In legalistic circles in churchianity, one might hear the phrase, “Well, if they sin, they must not have been saved in the first place!”  There is this idea out there in both churchianity and in Law ‘keeping’ sects that we must repent over and over to in effect maintain our salvation.

Actually, a Jew of Judaism asked the following similar question about Christians with more clarity than I had seen it asked before:

Originally Posted by Dreidel at CARM:
Don’t Christians still have to repent to Jesus when they sin? If you didn’t repent, it would indicate you were not really saved. And being saved doesn’t mean you don’t sin.

Kind of seems to put the believer in Christ in a ‘catch-22′ dilemma, doesn’t it?  Or does it . . . 

This is one of those times when it is so important to have a good grasp on who we are in Christ and what that actually means:

Ephesians 1:3-14
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

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 put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you 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.

Do Christians need to turn away from sin in their lives? Yes. Out of love for God and love for others, but not as a ‘maintenance payment’ on our salvation.  And that love is a Fruit produced by the Holy Spirit living through us.  Love is not a work that we perform, we bear His Fruit (His yoke is easy, His burden is light) that the Holy Spirit produces as He lives through us – and sometimes good Fruit takes time . . .

After reading the passage above, let me put it this way:

If you adopt a child, and that child disobeys you, does that child cease to be your child until they repent of that particular transgression?

No.

While there is disciplining and shepherding going on in the life of that child, they are yours, for you have made a commitment of adoption and a promise of an inheritance to them. Your commitment and promise to them at the time of adoption is not conditional on the future behavior of the child.  But neither do you go into that commitment or give that promise blindly, for you know that you will have significant influence in the steering and training and LOVING of that child!

So it is with we who are adopted into sonship by God through Jesus Christ.

While a flawed human parent can disown ANY child – natural or adopted – from their inheritance, the cool thing is that God has made a promise guaranteeing our inheritance by marking us with His seal, the promised Holy Spirit!  We are a New Creation in Him!  And with that seal, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, comes the work of sanctification . . . the ever changing of the believer from the inside out, making us more and more a reflection of the character of Jesus Christ.

God has not made the commitment blindly – for He knows that He will have significant influence via His Holy Spirit in the steering and the training and the LOVING of His adopted.

Just as with the adopted in the natural world, God does not reject what HE has done when WE mess up.  He lovingly and firmly disciplines His children, faithful to complete the work He began in us.

Philippians 1:3-11
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

This is the goal of those in Christ!  Without constant fear of God disowning us when we fail.

For more perspective on this issue, here are a few excellent audio teachings that go into greater depth in describing who we are in Christ, our relationship to God and to sin, and the common arguments using specific Scriptures.  Lots of Scripture references and study notes are included.  The following teachings are well worth the time to take a listen and are highly recommended.

The Clear Message of Grace Part 3 – Unbroken Access to God - Is forgiveness a once-and-for-all thing or do we need to keep asking for forgiveness?  Part 3 of a 5-Part series on the simple Truths of the Gospel which can be found HERE.

Teaching on 1 John 1:9 - 1 John 1:9 is a staple verse in Law ‘keeping’ sects about how when we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us.  Who was John talking to in that passage?  If God is faithful to forgive us for our sins, why would we keep asking Him to do something He has already done?

Predestination - I threw this one in since there are references to predestination in the Ephesians passage above.  This is just a really good, common sense teaching on what election and predestination mean Biblically, and takes away confusion (and a tendency toward elitism!!) about the issue.  About 23 minutes long.  [Note:  This teaching is currently unavailable; many of Bob George's teachings which are archived at People to People Ministries are in transition to the new BobGeorge.net site.  I hope that this particular teaching will again be available in the future.]

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Edited to add 4/18/12 – Some in the Hebrew Roots Movement have tried to use this article to accuse me of teaching that Christians should just go about sinning willy-nilly because all of their sins are forgiven.  That is NOT what the post above is about.  The post above is about Christians being securely forgiven.  Believers in Christ do not drift from a saved to an unsaved state depending on whether or not they have unconfessed sin at any certain point in their lives.  That IS what the post above is about; repentance unto salvation.   At this point I will add a forum post I wrote which explains my view regarding the role repentance in the life of one already saved:

[A poster at Survivalist Board] ‘temu’  likes to mischaracterize my view on repentance unto salvation and make it look like I believe that someone can just go about their merry way and sin willy nilly for the rest of their lives. He knows that’s not what I believe, yet he persists in flat out lying about my position. Part of that comes from temu’s inaccurate definition of the word, ‘repent’ and part of it comes from Law keepers’ ceaseless attempts to demonize me.

So here comes the part where I re-post what I’ve posted (and re-posted ) before:

Repentance unto salvation IS a one time deal, temu.

As you’ve read me write elsewhere in an answer to armourbearer:

Here’s the thing: You’re basing a doctrine (having to ask for forgiveness over and over for sins bled and died for – a practice not taught anywhere in Scripture after the work of the Cross) on a false definition of the word repent.

As both Vectorwoman and I have proven, repent never means ‘turn’, return or ‘turn back’.

You’re using a Hebrew root word common to both teshuwbah and nacham – the root word, ‘shuwb’, and inserting that root word’s definition into a text and throwing out the actual definition of the actual word used in a text! What you’re doing is akin to defining the word ‘butterfly’ by its root words, ‘butter’ and ‘fly’, neither of which go to the actual definition of the word, ‘butterfly’!

It’s also changing the Word of God as He ordained it .

Not only that, but you are then taking that same HEBREW root word’s definition and applying that to GREEK words with their own definitions !

You cannot do that! Remember, God ordained that certain words be used in certain places – you cannot just go ’round substituting words here and there to make/fit a particular theology! The funny thing is that the Hebrew words for repent and the Greek words for repent are in agreement in their definitions – there is no need to substitute a root word in the first place!

The kind of repentance that leads to salvation IS a one time deal. Once we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, all of our sins are forgiven. That is what the Scriptures tell us! To ask for forgiveness for sins already forgiven by the Blood of Jesus is unnecessary and not taught in Scriptures written after the Cross.

Some will jump to 1 John 1:9, citing that as a perpetual practice for those in Christ, but it says that God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

So did God do what He said He would do or not?

Colossians 2:13
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

How many trespasses?

Is there still place for repentance (the change of heart and mind, remorse for sin) in the life of the believer? Absolutely. But it has no tie to salvation or the securing of God’s forgiveness for the believer in Christ. As the Holy Spirit sanctifies those in Christ repentance by those in Christ has to do with the renewing of our minds:

Romans 12:1-2
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform 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.

No more forgiveness for sin is required for those in Christ. Jesus’ Blood covered all sin for those in Him. You are either a forgiven person or not. The only continuing sacrifice mentioned after the Cross for those in Christ is us offering ourselves up as living sacrifices – submitting to the Holy Spirit, letting Him do His work of sanctification in us. Will that require some ‘changing of our minds and hearts’ and ‘remorse and sorrow for sin’ along the way? Of course it will – but it does not go to forgiveness already given for sins already cleansed and cast as far as the East is from the West by the shed Blood of Christ at the Cross.

Please don’t confuse, “Oh God, I messed up, I’m so sorry. Please help me to not do _________ again and live the way you want me to” with “Oh God, I messed up, please forgive me of that sin.”

If you are in Christ, you ARE forgiven !

About that definition of repent. . . we’ve also been over this a NUMBER of times, temu:

Answered here:
And more completely with the following post (I’ll post it again here in case you missed it):

Originally Posted by JGIG
The question was asked,

. . . and temu likes to pester me about what repentance means, what defines sin, and if I repeatedly repent of my sins.

I’ve been crazy busy – sorry for the delay on answering this, but here ya go:

No – I do not ask for forgiveness. Before everybody starts freaking out, keep reading.

Do I apologize/regret/feel sorry for my sins?

Yes!

Do I humble myself before God and ask for His help and strength to not sin?

Yes!

Do I remember the sacrifice that was made for me and strive to honor that sacrifice and not to grieve God by my behavior?

Yes!

God says that my sins are already forgiven – put away as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12) – and that He remembers them no more (Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12).

Does He say just a few of my sins, or just a certain type of sin, or just the sins that were committed up until a certain time but that all sins after that time are not forgiven?

No!

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

(Source)

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, or even, as we will see, always in the OT!

When looking at the word repent in the OT, repent has 3 different Hebrew words with lots of meanings, all which need to be evaluated by context. HRM teachers like to exclusively take just two Hebrew words return (Strong’s H8666 – tĕshuwbah) and repent (Strong’s H7725 – shuwb), both which have the same Hebrew Root word (Strong’s H7725 – shuwb), and try to make them interchangeable with each other, regardless of context, and regardless of the clear Greek meanings for repent as stated in the NT.

To repeat: Not only do they do so within the OT itself, but they take that Hebrew word for return, tĕshuwbah and its root ‘shuwb’ and replace the Greek words for repent, which are in line with the three other Hebrew words for repent, Strong’s H5162 – nacham, Strong’s H3820 – leb, and Strong’s H3824 – lebab (from Strong’s H3823 – labab). To be clear – they take a Hebrew word which does not mean ‘repent’ anywhere in the OT and apply it to where the word repent is used in the NT!

I know that word studies can be tedious, but stick with me and let’s look at the Hebrew definitions of the five different words/roots used for repent, in order of appearance in the OT (you can look at a list of the occurrences of the English word repent in the OT and their corresponding Hebrew counterparts and click on the Strong’s number to see meanings matched with context HERE):

No. 1:

Strong’s H5162 - nacham (repent), a verb, and a primitive root (which you can’t just go switching ’round with other roots!)

1) to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted

a) (Niphal)

1) to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion
2) to be sorry, rue, suffer grief, repent
3) to comfort oneself, be comforted
4) to comfort oneself, ease oneself

b) (Piel) to comfort, console
c) (Pual) to be comforted, be consoled
d) (Hithpael)

1) to be sorry, have compassion
2) to rue, repent of
3) to comfort oneself, be comforted
4) to ease oneself

No. 2 (This is one you’ll see in HRM teachings a lot, you may also see it spelled as shoov or shoob:

Strong’s H7725 – shuwb (repent), a verb, and also a primitive root
1) to return, turn back

a) (Qal)

1) to turn back, return

a) to turn back
b) to return, come or go back
c) to return unto, go back, come back
d) of dying
e) of human relations (fig)
f) of spiritual relations (fig)

1) to turn back (from God), apostatise
2) to turn away (of God)
3) to turn back (to God), repent
4) turn back (from evil)

g) of inanimate things
h) in repetition

b) (Polel)

1) to bring back
2) to restore, refresh, repair (fig)
3) to lead away (enticingly)
4) to show turning, apostatise

c) (Pual) restored (participle)
d) (Hiphil) to cause to return, bring back

1) to bring back, allow to return, put back, draw back, give back, restore, relinquish, give in payment
2) to bring back, refresh, restore
3) to bring back, report to, answer
4) to bring back, make requital, pay (as recompense)
5) to turn back or backward, repel, defeat, repulse, hinder, reject, refuse
6) to turn away (face), turn toward
7) to turn against
8 ) to bring back to mind
9) to show a turning away
10) to reverse, revoke

e) (Hophal) to be returned, be restored, be brought back
f) (Pulal) brought back

No. 3, with roots:

Strong’s H3820 – leb (repent) , A form of לֵבָב (H3824)

1) inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding

a) inner part, midst

1) midst (of things)
2) heart (of man)
3) soul, heart (of man)
4) mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory
5) inclination, resolution, determination (of will)
6) conscience
7) heart (of moral character)
8 )
as seat of appetites
9) as seat of emotions and passions
10) as seat of courage

Strong’s H3824 - lebab, From לָבַב (H3823), meanings identical to leb.

Strong’s H3823 – labab, A primitive root

1) to ravish, become intelligent, get a mind

a) (Niphal) to take heart, become enheartened, become intelligent

b) (Piel) to ravish the heart, encourage, make heart beat faster

2) (Piel) to make cakes, bake cakes, cook bread

Now for the really interesting part of how those in Law ‘keeping’ sects turn the NT word repent (with its clear meanings in the original Greek which are in agreement with the Hebrew meanings for repent in the context of the changing of the heart and mind – please go through and read these Scriptures in context to see how the Greek and Hebrew agree about what repentance is) into the word return.

It is the classic progression of the redefinition of Biblical terms.

I’ve written this before but it’s worth repeating here:

One of the things that is really important to be 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.

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, and I can’t stress this enough:

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.

A popular HRM teacher referred to here at SB is a master at this technique, and does so regarding the word repent HERE. He takes the Hebrew word tĕshuwbah, (you’ll also see it spelled teshuvah in HRM teachings) which means return, ‘expired’, or ‘answers’, and is NEVER used as ‘repent’ in the OT, which has its primitive root, shuwb (shoov, shoob), and builds a whole doctrine about how repent in the NT means to return back to Law as the act of repentance!

Strong’s H8666 – tĕshuwbah From שׁוּב (H7725) (primitive root shuwb, see above)

1) a recurrence, an answer, return

a) return

1) completion of a year, return of a year

b) at the return (construct)
c) answer, reply

Word studies really can be tedious, and eyes tend to glaze over when they’re presented, but folks, getting a grasp on this is important, because it’s really important to be clear about what particular words God ordained to communicate specific concepts.

To sum it up: The concept of repentance in light of the Gospel is a change of heart and mind, a realization of the truth of the Gospel and the putting of one’s faith and trust in Christ. The Law has NOTHING to do with it, except to point out our sin and to point us to Christ. Good works, defined in the NT as works of faith, are the result of repentance, not the vehicle for it.

This short article lays it out nicely (from GotQuestions.org):

Question: “What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?”

Answer: Many understand the term repentance to mean “turning from sin.” This is not the biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.

It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself (John 6:44). Acts 5:31 and 11:18 indicate that repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).

While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19-23; James 2:14-26). Repentance, properly defined, is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Copyright Policy: While all of the material on the GotQuestions.org website is under copyright protection, the only purpose of our copyright is to make sure people copy it right. As long as you always clearly reference and/or link to www.gotquestions.org as the source of the material, you have our permission to copy, print, and distribute our material.)

I added in a later post that the gotquestions article was a little ‘Calviny’, but got the basic point across.

Part of why you keep asking me the same question over and over about repentance is that you define repentance according to Brad Scott’s definition, which, as I have proven above, is false.

And either you’re getting senile or you’re playing the ‘she still hasn’t answered the question’ game to try to make me look bad when I have answered the question – several times. You just don’t like the answer .

If we lived before the advent of the work of Christ, you’d have a point. But we don’t. While you’re resting your bones after a hard day of bulldozing, take some time to read this article:

Old Testament Believers and New Testament Christians

It’s a meaty read. Enjoy!

To repeat, regarding continuing repentance, not regarding salvation, I believe this:

No more forgiveness for sin is required for those in Christ. Jesus’ Blood covered all sin for those in Him. You are either a forgiven person or you are not. The only continuing sacrifice mentioned after the Cross for those in Christ is us offering ourselves up as living sacrifices – submitting to the Holy Spirit, letting Him do His work of sanctification in us.

Will that require some ‘changing of our minds and hearts’ and ‘remorse and sorrow for sin’ along the way? Of course it will – but it does not go to forgiveness already given for sins already cleansed and cast as far as the East is from the West by the shed Blood of Christ at the Cross.

Please don’t confuse, “Oh God, I messed up, I’m so sorry. Please help me to not do _________ again and live the way you want me to” with “Oh God, I messed up, please forgive me of that sin.”

If you are in Christ, you ARE forgiven !

So temu, you just keep repeating the mischaracterization about what I believe about ‘repentance’. Not very integral of you. You go ahead and keep posting lies about what I believe and I’ll keep proving you wrong . . .

-JGIG

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

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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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Tzit Tzit For the Believer In Christ?

The wearing of tzit tzit is another area for those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism/Netzarim streams of thought that becomes an outward expression of their attempts at Torah pursuance.  The wearing of the fringes on the corners of their garments or from their belt loops becomes for them as necessary as observing a seventh-day Sabbath, appointed Feasts, and abiding by dietary laws.  Some proudly display their fringes, while others tuck them in, pulling them out when going to gather with their fellowships.

What place (if any) for tzit tzit in the life of  the believer in Christ?

Why the wearing of tzit tzit was commanded:

Numbers 15:37-41
37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.  41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’”

What strikes me as I read the Scripture passage above is that tzit tzit are much like an external ‘conscience’, hanging there as a constant reminder of the commandments of God.  I can picture children fiddling with their tzit tzit, and in the back of their minds all the while understanding that those little fringes were there to remind them of God’s instructions . . .

What purpose for the believer, though, who has the Law written on their heart?

Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.

I find it so interesting that believers are exhorted to rejoice in the Lord, to not be anxious about anything, bring every situation to God in prayer and petition, and that we are promised peace beyond all understanding that guards our hearts and minds in Christ.  These are all things that we, as believers in Christ can do in direct relationship with God with confidence - because we are in Christ.

The instruction that follows to the Body of Christ is not one of an external reminder of Law, but of an internal meditation of those things which are in line with righteousness.

In addition, as those who are New Creations in Christ, we have the seal of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who actively sanctifies us and leads us into righteousness (Galatians 5).  God Himself is our very real and effective internal conscience.

This Scripture also comes to mind:

1 Timothy 1:3-11
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.  Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing 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 departed from these and have 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.

8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the 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 the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

As believers we are encouraged not to fiddle with fringes (no disrespect intended), but to actively think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy”.

Another example is found in Romans 12:1-2:

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mindThen you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Those in Christ depart from the Old Covenant way of offering dead sacrifices before God to being living sacrifices themselves.  The physical shadow gives way to the spiritual reality (there’s a paradox for you!).  And this is holy and acceptable to God!

Likewise, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds as we offer ourselves up to Him, submit to Him, not conforming ourselves to the world, but thinking on things as described in Philippians 4.  Then we will know the will of God!

The practice of wearing tzit tzit is not necessary in the life of one who is in Christ, as our conscience is now governed by His Holy Spirit Who indwells us - not by physical fringes that hang from our clothing.

Romans 13:14
14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

It always strikes me how the physical shadows found in Torah fade away in the greater spiritual realities for those in Christ.  That the commandment to wear tzit tzit and the reason for wearing them is now obsolete is just one more of those things.

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

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If you’re someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the other testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.

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Other articles of interest:

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Identifying False Teaching

(Edited and expanded 4/6/13.)  A commenter recently asked, “Would you be willing to submit names of those teachers who are the most widely known [in the Hebrew Roots Movement]. I know at ‘The Final Return’ conference in St. Louis this past weekend, there were several teachers including Bill Cloud, Brad Scott, Jim Staley, etc. What are your views on these people in regards to this movement?”

That is a great question.

When I purposed to start Joyfully Growing In Grace, I prayed a lot about what it should look like and what the content would be like. I had done lots of research into the HRM and its prominent teachers, and knew that there is a lot of info out there regarding aspects of Law ‘keeping’ sects and teachers.  As I did that research, I couldn’t find anyplace where core issues of Biblical Christianity which were under attack by the HRM and related sects were defended in a comprehensive, step-by-step way, or if they were, many of those sites also had agendas of their own (heresy-hunters who find error with everybody but themselves, KJV-onlyism, or legalistic in their own rights with their own pet doctrines).

I also thought about how I had come to the conclusion that the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism movements and related sects were in error . . . it was by having a good foundation in the Scriptures, many of which had been committed to memory growing up that came bubbling up in my heart and mind as I was presented with false teaching.

So where I stand is here:
It is not by the refutation of every Jim, Jon, Bill and Michael (or Eddie, Moshe, Avi, Monte, Brad, etc. list goes on ad nauseam) HRM/MJ teacher that believers will become equipped to recognize false teaching; it is by presenting the truths of the Scriptures that believers will become equipped to discern error.  The particular area of error to which God has called me is the error found in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related Law ‘keeping’ sects.
false prophet tape
This is key to the vision at JGIG:

It is on the core issues of the Faith that a belief system will stand or fall, not in refutations of who’s teaching what at any particular time.  The primary goal at JGIG is to equip believers in the core issues of the Gospel:  Who Jesus is, what He came to do, what that actually accomplished, and who believers are in Him.  When one has a firm grasp on those foundational Truths, falsehoods become more obvious and tend to fall away.

Teachers in the HRM are a dime-a-dozen. The movement is spreading.  They troll our churches and pick off those who are discontent with their church, wounded by their church, are rebellious in one way or another, or simply have itchy ears.  Then there are those believers who succumb to the “If you really love God, you will . . . ” appeal, because they really do love God!  I think sheepwrecked’s testimony relays that heart condition so well.  Sheepwrecked was well churched her whole life – but felt like she had “missed it” and been deceived by the Church after influence from the HRM.

Do I know about the teachers listed above?  Yes.  And it’s really tempting to write about them, but defending the faith is not about them.  It’s all about JESUS - Who He is, what He came to do, what that accomplished, and who we are in Him.  There are a million (at least) rabbit trails one can go down when investigating the HRM/MJism/Netzarim streams of faith.  As I was exposed to Law ‘keeping’ teachings, the thing that kept me on an even keel was not having information about who was teaching what (though some of that was helpful), but in holding fast to the Cross of Christ and the Gospel (1 Corinthians 2:2).

If you go to this page at JGIG, you can find out about how I became aware of the Law-keeping sects and read several posts dealing with issues that have come to my attention as I have had time to write about them.  The Glossary is also a good resource, along with the Articles page.  The GIG Media page has good, foundational teaching with an emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant issues.  On all of those pages/posts you will find many embedded links as resources should you want to examine different issues more closely.  Also be aware that teachers seeking to educate the Body about Her ‘Hebraic Roots’ may sound like they believe what other Christians believe, but beware:  it is often what they believe in addition to the core issues of the Gospel which result in the nullification of those core issues and the preaching/teaching of a different jesus and a different gospel.  Note also that the HRM has very little interest in reaching the lost with the Gospel, but rather is very concerned about putting the Body of Christ under Old Covenant Law.

The goal at JGIG is for believers to have resources to help them make up their own minds about all of this and to have tools available to help equip them to contend for the Gospel when called to do so.  If I go head-hunting, then it becomes about false teachers, not about false teaching and refuting THAT with Biblical Truth.  I’d rather not give those blokes any more screen time than they already get, know what I mean?

[Edited to add 10/21/13]  Due to the volume of emails and private messages I get asking about Jim Staley and Passion For Truth Ministries, and due to the aggressive marketing that PFT does, there is now a page here at JGIG that addresses Staley’s signature teaching, ‘Identity Crisis’ and related teachings.  The page also examines his leadership style and his testimony about how PFT started.  The page can be viewed here,  Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement  –  An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley, and can also be accessed from the Articles page.

Identifying False Teaching
When looking at what any teacher is teaching, look for where they stand on the core issues.

Watch for the systematic redefinition of terms and the following progression in their teachings.  From the Glossary Introduction here at JGIG:

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

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.

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 be 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, and I can’t stress this strongly enough:

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/listener/viewer to the next doctrinal place the teacher wishes them to go.

I have seen the same technique over and over in articles and teachings on HRM websites and in discourse with those who hold to Law keeping doctrine from all points on the spectrum.

Determine What the Core Issues of the Christian Faith Are and Go From There
I try to keep it simple.  For me the two things I look for when examining any belief system are:

  1. Do they deny the Deity of or diminish Who Jesus Christ is or His Work in any way?
  2. Do they repeat the Big Lie told by the Serpent in Genesis 3?

If either or both items above are present, I consider the belief system to be fatally flawed and false.

Regarding #1
1 John 4 is one good passage by which to gauge what someone thinks about Who Jesus Christ is.  The entire letter to the Ephesians is a great book to read through to see how Christ is exalted and the authority that He has.  And of course, John 1, where it is made clear that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  The letter to the Hebrews further establishes Jesus as God and as our Perfect High Priest, as well as explaining in great detail the superiority of Jesus’ Priesthood and the New Covenant over the Old..  As one reads through the New Testament, one clearly sees the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His authority.  Anything that denies the God-hood of or diminishes Jesus Christ’s Work, Authority, or Position as the Perfect High Priest in any way and/or takes our focus away from Him and His Work, Authority or Position is error.

Let me repeat here: be aware that teachers seeking to educate the Body about Her ‘Hebraic Roots’ may sound like they believe what other Christians believe, but beware:  it is often what they believe in addition to the core issues of the Gospel which result in the nullification of those core issues and the preaching/teaching of a different jesus and a different gospel.

Regarding #2
From Genesis 3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say . . . “ and “You will not certainly die,”  . . . “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

I had a hard time pinning down #2 in relation to the HRM until I kept hearing the ‘we must walk as Jesus walked’ phrase over and over again in regard to the keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law.  The Scripture used most often to convince believers that they should be living according to Old Covenant Law is 1 John 2:3-6, and taken out of context, is quite compelling:

1 John 2:3-6
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

So how does all that tie into the ‘Big Lie’?

Part One of the ‘Big Lie’:
Those who say that we must walk in Torah as Yeshua/Jesus Christ did are teaching that before the work of Christ, man was not able to keep the Law, but that after the work of Christ, enabled by His Holy Spirit, we are able to keep the Law – as He did.

We cannot.  It is not possible.  Jesus Christ is God.  He is perfect.  He is sinless.  We are not God (anyone hear echoes of ” . . . and you will be like God . . . “ ?).  Even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are still bound by the imperfect flesh this side of our resurrection (Romans 7) and by a mind/soul in need of constant renewal (Romans 12).  To say/think/believe that we can walk as Jesus walked in the way of the Law is folly, and not at all how Jesus Himself commanded us to walk (John 13:34-35, John 15:12-17).

So how do we ‘walk as Jesus walked’?
A commenter at the JGIG Facebook page quoted the above passage from 1 John 2, with the following emphases: 

“We know we have come to KNOW him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (I John 2:3-6—NIV)”

This is the argument we hear a lot from those in Law-keeping camps: that if you’re going to walk as Jesus walked – Jesus being a Sabbath-keeping, clean-eating, tzit tzit wearing, Torah-keeping Jew - His example is how you too, should walk - in Torah obedience!

Context, dear ones, please  .  .  ..  .  .

What are God’s commands after the Work of Christ?  God is very clear in the same letter written through John that the commenter quoted from above:

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.

Regarding, “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”, again, let’s go to what God also says through John:

1 John 4:13-21
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (This again reinforces 1 John 3:23) 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  [This, inclusive of the verses before and after this statement, and shows us how we are to walk as Jesus walked - in love.]

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

John never points us to Law-keeping, and he never instills fear in the believer because those in Christ need not fear punishment; all of our sins have been dealt with at the Cross and we have received the free gift of righteousness (Romans 5) - he points us to belief in Christ, recognizing that we receive His Spirit when we do that (New Life), and points us to love.  John is absolutely consistent in all of his writings.

If we are in Christ and love others, “in this world we are like Him”!  Love is a command - a law, yes?  One could say that.

A commenter at JGIG’s Facebook page asked this excellent question out of frustration regarding that very point:

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

Andrea was referring to the quoting of this passage (HRMers have a hard time with this one):

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.

Though love is a command, if you don’t do it, (which would be sin), you’re already forgiven.  If you are in Christ, you are not under law, and where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 4:15, 5:13).  God makes clear to us that sin and the Law are dealt with from two angles: the sins of the world were forgiven at the Cross (John 1:29, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 1 John 2:2 and others), and we who are in Christ are dead to the Law (Romans 7:1-4, Galatians 2:19).  Furthermore, as if that weren’t enough (!), God imputes the Righteousness of Christ to us (Romans 5:15-21).  There is nothing we can ‘do’ to improve or add to the righteousness of Christ that has been given to us in Christ.  These are the Truths of the Gospel that establish the position of the believer in the sight of God!

No Striving in Abiding

THAT SAID – If you are in Christ and are led by His Spirit, love will be a fruit produced in you.  We love because He first loved us and He lives in and through us.

Do fruit-producing plants strive to produce fruit?

No . . . they produce fruit because they are attached to the vine/tree/plant which nourishes them.

Fruit is the by-product of LIFE.

If you are alive in Christ and abiding in Him, allowing His Holy Spirit to live through you, love is an unavoidable by-product and fulfills the law (Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14)!

Commanding the one in Christ to love is like commanding a person who has life in them to breathe because it’s a law.  If we have life in us, we automatically breathe – it’s something that we just DO.

If we are in Christ, loving others is something that we just DO. 

To command those in Christ to love is a ridiculously-unfair-in-our-favor-win-win-deal!

By resting in Christ and letting Him live His Life through us, God’s command to love is obeyed (John 15:12, 1 John 3:23) as a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:18, 22-23) and the Law is fulfilled (Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14).

That is Grace.

What about sin?

Part Two of the ‘Big Lie’
We hear constantly from those in the HRM, “How do we know what sin is, anyway?”  And out comes 1 John 3:4 - “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”  From there they live, breathe, and eat Torah Law, studying and attempting to keep Old Covenant Laws to avoid sinning.  (Anyone hear echoes of, “. . . your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. ?)  While saying that Jesus’ Blood is for our salvation, they leave Him at the curb and turn to Law-keeping for sanctification and sin reduction, not relying on and resting in the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would come to be our Comforter, Helper and Counselor, leading His Body into all truth (John 14:26, John 16:8-15), yet claiming that it is the Holy Spirit Who ‘empowers them’ to ‘keep’ Old Covenant Law.

Torah folk run to that which actually stirs up sin, that which the Bible says is the power of sin: the Law.  What should we do we do when we do sin (and those in both the Law and Grace ‘camps’ do sin!)?  Run back to that which we died to and the Bible says stirs up sin to try to straighten ourselves out (Romans 7:1-4)?  Is that what we who have a Perfect High Priest have to do?  Go back to an old, weak and useless system that made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:18-19)?

Hebrews 4:14-16
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, 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 empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Instead, those who advocate Torah observance tell us that unless we live by Old Covenant Law, we are engaging in willful sin, implying to believers in Christ who walk in the love of Christ that the Holy Spirit Who lives in them will somehow lead them into sin if they’re not walking in Torah Law:

Galatians 5:13-18
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

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.

Wrapping up the ‘Big Lie’
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  It was the birth of Gnosticism, and it is woven into every false belief system out there.  We are often told by those who are pursuing ‘their Hebraic Roots’, “Did God really say . . . “ when it comes to the New Covenant and that you can avoid sin if you can define it, ” . . . and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  They have chosen the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than the Tree of Life and they don’t even know it.

We are told we need to ‘dig deeper’, that Christianity has had it wrong for the past two thousand years, that their (HRMers) eyes have been opened, and that they now know how to identify sin and how to avoid it.  Some engage in the practice of consulting the writings of the sages and rabbis through the ages – most of whom have arrived at their teachings through the use of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).  Others have adopted teachings derived from those who have consulted the sages and rabbis and their mystical methods and they don’t even know it.

For the believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the methods utilized in the practice of Kabbalah are strictly off-limits.  Even a cursory examination of the practice of Kabbalah will confirm this.  I always marvel at the stand HRMers will take against perceived paganism in the celebrations of the Birth and Resurrection of Christ, but how they will not give the same examination to many of the beliefs in the HRM to which they adhere.  (For more on this topic, see, “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gematria”.)

Beyond that, the Bible is clear that the Law actually stirs up sin, the power of sin is the Law, and the Law produces fruit unto death (Romans 7, 1 Corinthians 15:56).  Grace and the Spirit, on the other hand, produce godliness, life, and the Fruits of the Spirit (Titus 2:11-14, Ephesians 2, Galatians 5).  Those who buy into the ‘Big Lie’ latch onto that which takes them to the exact opposite place they really want to be.

As for the HRM stream of thought in which any teacher you come across swims, after you evaluate what they teach by items 1 and 2 above, if they fail either one or both of those core issue tests, the rest is all suspect.  For example, many teachers in the HRM teach the ‘Two House Theology’ or the ‘Northern Kingdom’ bit.   That teaching is a re-hash of British Israelism with a Hebrew Roots twist. Most of it is taken straight from the Worldwide Church of God, aka Armstrongism.  If you feel you need to go past items 1 and 2 above, you will find alternate interpretations of teaching after teaching from all parts of the Bible by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement – most requiring much effort and linguistic contraption-making to get them to fit into the Law-keeping mold.

About fruit . . .
If you’ve found this site, the ‘nice’ Law-keeper in your life has either tried to teach you some things that seem really ‘off’ to you, or you have dared to challenge them and they’re not so nice anymore and, well, you’ve experienced the fruits of one who is walking in self-righteousness.  Jesus summed it up pretty succinctly:

Matthew 7:15-20
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

Holy Spirit Spidey Senses
Don’t discount when the Holy Spirit puts a check in your spirit.  Pay attention.  Get in the Word.  Look stuff up.  Check the language.  discernmentEspecially when someone is machine-gunning Scripture at you.  That’s just another technique that those in Law-keeping sects use - to fire off so much Scripture so fast that you don’t have time to check it out.  Like I said above, they establish false premises and then build upon those premises as fact, taking you to the next doctrinal place they want you to go.  This is especially true in when it comes to the re-definition of terms.  (For a more in-depth look at methods used by the HRM, see “Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101″)

So take your time and really examine what anyone is teaching you!  Pray that God would guard your heart and mind and give you discernment.

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

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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.  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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Hark! Is That the Gospel I Hear?

‘Tis the season for those of you who have friends and family who are in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism/Netzarim movements or related sects to be hearing from them either why they won’t be celebrating the Birth of Christ and/or why you shouldn’t be. 

I’ve written a couple of posts here at JGIG about why we celebrate the Birth of Christ.  One is entitled, “Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate” , and the other, “Celebrating the Birth of Christ – The Reality is Christ . . . . (ya bone-heads) . . . . ”  .  That second one is a bit of a vent after receiving lots of comments that weren’t fit to post because they were so vitriolic.  (It was then that JGIG had to go to moderated comments.)  For a lighter take on a Christmas music classic, check out this post.   

Another wonderful post regarding the celebrating the Birth of Christ from one formerly in the Hebrew Roots Movement is, “A New Relationship With Christmas” , from 8thDay4Life’s blog.  I’ll also provide a list of articles regarding Christmas at the end of this post.

But all that is not why this post is here. 

The reason for this post is about how the Gospel is communicated through so much of the music we hear this time of year.  One of my daughters and I were driving home from a doctor’s appointment the other day, and “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing!” came on the radio.  We had just pulled in to a parking lot to grab a bite to eat on the way home, and I said to her, “Let’s just sit for a minute and listen to the rest of this.”

I knew the Gospel was in there, but, Oh My!  The particular arrangement that was playing was beautifully orchestrated and very well sung.  As I listened, there was no mistaking the Gospel there!  Not only was the Birth of our Saviour celebrated in song, but the Gospel was powerfully communicated there as well. 

There are many, many Christmas songs that also relay the wonder of what God has done through the Incarnation and the work of the Cross and the Resurrection.  Okay, there are some silly songs, too, like “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” and the cultural Santa Claus and Jingle Bells stuff, but I’m thinking that most of us can differentiate between the significance and reality of the two types of songs much as we can between songs like “The Purple People Eater” and Hymns and Spiritual Songs.  I’m just sayin’.

“Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing” was originally written by Charles Wesley (brother of John Wesley) and the work appeared as a poem in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739.  George Whitfield and others ‘punched it up’ a bit into the version we are more familiar with today.  In 1855, English musician William H. Cummings adapted Felix Mendelssohn’s secular music from Festgesang to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”.  Wesley envisioned the song being sung to the same tune as his song  “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”, and in some hymnals, that melody is included along with the more popular version (source).

I found the version on YouTube that we heard the other day on the radio.  I hope you’re as blessed by it and other songs that lift high the Name of Jesus and preach the Gospel that permeate the airwaves now as at no other time of the year.  There are those who come to know Him and follow Him in part through songs such as this:

May you all have a blessed time as we celebrate the Birth of our Saviour, Lord and King, Jesus Christ!  Merry Christmas!

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For some good articles covering the issues of paganism, date setting, and traditions concerning Christmas, click on the following links:

“Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?”

“Are Christian Holidays Pagan in Origin?”

“Should We Have a Christmas Tree?”

“Was Jesus Born on December 25th?”

“Do Some Christmas Traditions Have Pagan Origins?”

“Is Christmas Pagan?”

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).

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!sculptor

(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.

Is Law Really Law Without Enforcement?

In discussions with those in Law keeping sects, there is one question that has kept coming up for me:  How can Law be law without enforcement?  You can’t have Law without enforcement. You can’t have enforcement without punishment. Those components go hand in hand.  All this talk about ‘keeping’ the Law . . . where are the Law ‘keepers’ who are keeping up the enforcement/punishment aspects of the Law?  Why are we not hearing about stonings and puttings out of the camp from these people?  Is law really law without enforcement? 

Let me be clear that I’m not talking about people who like to celebrate the Feasts, have found keeping a seventh-day Sabbath to be a blessing, or eat Biblically because they feel it’s healthier to do so.  I’m talking about those who believe and teach that observing Mosaic Covenant Law is mandatory for all believers, and once you become aware of that, if you don’t obey, you are in willful disobedience to God and at the very least will be the ‘least in the Kingdom’ and at worst will be utterly cast out.

“Oh, enforcement is not an issue because we ‘do’ the Law out of our love for God and want to honor Him”, the Law ‘keepers’ will say, as they commit their lives to Torah pursuance.  In reality, those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism streams of thought  pick and choose which laws they follow.  They call this practice being ‘Torah pursuant’ – doing what they can as they feel ‘led’.  Some even claim they are like Israel in exile and so do only what they can, as the Temple and Priesthood are not presently in effect.

So God has given a Law that is still to be followed – jot and tittle – just not the parts that punish?  Those who ‘keep’ the Law base most of their doctrine that believers in Christ are to keep Mosaic Covenant Law on the Matthew 5:17-20 passage that says:

Matthew 5:17-20
17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

As I wrote in the previous post, 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 inspired Scriptures written to the Body of Christ which did not yet exist.  (Please see “The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended” for the complete post, which explores whether or not believers are indeed still under the Law.)

So, according to those in Law keeping sects, the Law (jot and tittle) MUST be followed – EXCEPT for the part that makes it potent – but that’s because it was just the curse of the Law that was nailed to the Cross . . . no wait . . . that was just the oral traditions of men that was nailed . . . no . . . it had to be the curses, didn’t it?  But aren’t the curses/punishment part of the jots and tittles . . . oh wait . . . what to do with those since the jots and tittles are still there . . . Law is still to be followed . . . jots and tittles because, well, the Earth IS still here, maybe all except for the curse jot and tittles is to be kept . . . . maybe that part of the Law doesn’t have jots and tittles . . . .Unsure??

‘Round and ’round the alleged reasoning goes, but all of the arguments supporting Law ‘keeping’ cannot be argued at the same time or the really huge inconsistencies start showing themselves.

Impotent Law ‘Keeping’
The ‘Law’ that those in Law keeping sects ‘keep’ is impotent. It is not at all THE Law as it was given to Moses.  And those who mandate the keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law insult both the Law which after the Cross leads us to Christ, and the Blood of Christ, which frees us from sin.

One of the Law keepers’  main points of persuasion is to tell us over and over again that “God does not change – and neither does His Law!”, yet they totally toss the penalty portion of the Law as they attempt to ‘keep’ the Law.

To follow that way of thinking not only cheapens the Law and the Holiness of God, but also devalues the amazing Grace that God extends to us in the Gospel.

Galatians 3:10
10All 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.”

God does not require pursuance of the Law – He requires complete obedience to the whole Law. If it were only pursuance that He required, Jesus would not have needed to come and do the work of the Cross, would He?  The Scriptures are full of accounts of pursuance of and failure to keep the Law.  And, if I may point out the obvious – there is no longer a Temple or Priesthood.  Some really important parts of the Law are to be carried out by the Priests in the Temple.  Why do you think that God has ordained that those things no longer exist?

Consequenses:  Old Covenant vs. New Covenant
Is Law Keeping required of believers in Messiah or not?  Clearly there are plenty of instructions in the New Testament to the Body of Christ as to how God expects her to behave, but is she instructed to keep the regulations, edicts, and ceremonial aspects of God’s Law given through Moses?  If so, where is that instruction to the Body of Christ, and who’s enforcing the consequences if those laws are violated? 

Where is the evidence in the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ for the structure and authority to deal with disobedience to the Law?  There must be documentation of those being held to account for disobeying the Law if first century believers were subject to the Law, mustn’t there?  Even if, as those who are Torah pursuant will assert, first century believers saw Law keeping as the norm, are we to believe that there was 100% compliance and that enforcement/consequenses for disobeying the Law was not an issue and therefore not documented?

I can’t think of any leadership structure in place in the fledgling Church that dealt with such disobedience.  I can’t think of one stoning documented (carried out by the Body of Christ). Yet Old Covenant Law is clear in the penalties for various sinful acts:

Leviticus 20:11
11If a man sleeps with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Under the New Covenant? Let’s look at 1 Corithians 5:

1 Corithians 5:1-13
1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 6hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

6Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

Death under the Law (Old Covenant). Expulsion under Grace (New Covenant). For the same transgression. Clearly there is a difference in the administration of discipline (consequence) for one’s actions under the New Covenant. 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

The fine line between having good judgement and judging. God, in His grace and mercy for the Body of Christ, does not require her to carry out the punishment for transgression – He instructs her to separate evil from the Body and then HE will deal with it. And in His grace and mercy He leads the willing heart back into the Body.

“But Yeshua nailed the penalty of the Law to the Cross, not the Law itself!” is another assertion I hear from Law keepers, typically followed by “YHWH is patient with us as we learn His ways” or something similar. Yet I find no contextual Scriptures to support such statements.  They just aren’t there.  Read carefully and in context any Scriptures that they give you to try to convince you of the above.

What about another type of transgression, such as not keeping a seventh day Sabbath? The issue is not one of morality if one worships on the first day vs. the seventh day vs. any other day; it’s an edict:

Exodus 35:1-3
1Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: 2For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. 3Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

Wow. That’s pretty clear. No pursuance there. It’s ‘DO AS INSTRUCTED or DIE.’

And there are more regulations, edicts, Sabbaths, Feasts, and New Moons from the Old Covenant Scriptures, none of which are reinforced in the New Covenant Scriptures, nor are there any instances of discipline for those in the Body of Christ who did not abide by such things, either by the putting out of fellowship or by punishments as carried out under the Old Covenant. In fact, Romans 14 deals with such issues in depth regarding how those with differences in conscience about such things should live in deference to each other.  If obedience to Old Covenant Law were considered the norm in the early Church, the letter to the Romans would have a considerably different flavor!

Only two ceremonial edicts – Baptism and the remembrance of the beginning of the New Covenant (what is typically known as ‘The Lord’s Supper’ or ‘Communion’) are commanded to the Body of Christ.  The rest of the instructions to the Body of Christ are matters of morality, service to others, and issues of character and of the heart.

What does Scripture say the purpose/function of the Law is now that Christ has come?

Galatians 3:23-25
23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

Those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism camp, however, insist that the regulations and edicts of the Laws given at Sinai are applicable to the Body of Christ today – that those are the things that set us apart from the world and identify us as God’s own.  Again, I come to the question that if that’s really the case, then where is the authority structure in the Body of Christ detailed in the New Testament to deal with disobedience?

If you, as a believer dare to ask such questions and hold to the belief that we as believers are under the New Covenant, well, look out! You will all of a sudden be labled an Antinomian and a practitioner of all manners of the worst sins the Law ‘keeper’ can think of. Funny how those who strive under the Law automatically assign some of the more vile sins to those of us who don’t keep the edicts and regulations of the Law. Don’t get me wrong, sin is sin, but let’s face it – lying about your age doesn’t carry the social stigma that murder or sexual sin does. Yet those ‘bad’ sins are the behaviors that Law ‘keepers’ seek to tack on to us ‘Law-less’ Christians.

Here’s another angle that Law ‘keepers’ will come with:  That Christians have faith in grace and base their behavior on that belief.  That it is grace that we rely on, and that our actions are Law-less because we believe that grace will cover us, no matter what we do.

To set the record straight - Believers in Christ have faith in Jesus Christ, not in grace. HE is our Rock. HE is our Redeemer. HE is our Righteousness. His Holy Spirit indwells us and as imperfect as we are this side of eternity, we, with His Holy Spirit, are able to walk in love for God and love for others. Does God require that we walk in Torah to show Him that we love Him? No.  He requires that we love others as He loves them (The Law of Christ) . THAT is how we demonstrate that we love Him . . . not by keeping this Feast or that edict or Feast Days.  The Law was/is a tool to point mankind TO CHRIST, not as an instruction book to walk IN CHRIST.

James 2:8-11
8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For 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 lawbreaker.

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.

A plain reading through the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ will clearly reveal that as believers, we are not permitted to go ’round sinning willy nilly and doing whatever we want.  The heart given to Christ will not want to do that!

What does the Law ‘Require’?
An interesting set of questions crossed my path a while back from a Law ‘keeper’ regarding the motivation(s) for keeping the Law. Let me just focus on two of those questions here.

The Law ‘keeper’ in the discourse said that the word ‘required’ used by someone like me (who challenges them about the Body of Christ being required to ‘keep’ the Law) implies that one be motivated by an ‘or else’.  They asked, “So what’s the motivation, and what’s the ‘or else’?” 

Interesting question.  

Thanks, by the way, as you are the one who set me on this whole course of inquiry.   Another person in the discourse said, “my Webster’s Dictionary didn’t say anything about ‘motivation’ in the definition of ‘required’.”

So I did some looking up of my own.  I find word studies to be tedious, but find value in them nonetheless, so bear with me.  Here’s what I found:

Required:
transitive verb
1 a: to claim or ask for by right and authority barchaic : request
2 a: to call for as suitable or appropriate <the occasion requires formal dress> b: to demand as necessary or essential : have a compelling need for <all living beings require food>
3: to impose a compulsion or command on : compel
4chiefly British : to feel or be obliged

Required is a pretty strong word, but it is not what God says. He didn’t give us requirements, He gave us Commandments.  Note the progression:

Commandment:
1. A command; an edict.
2. Bible One of the Ten Commandments.

Edict:
1. A decree or proclamation issued by an authority and having the force of law.
2. A formal pronouncement or command.

God’s Law is not just required, it’s commanded, decreed, issued by an Authority and having the force of law.

Law:
1 a (1): a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (2): the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules (3): common law

b (1): the control brought about by the existence or enforcement of such law (2): the action of laws considered as a means of redressing wrongs ; also : litigation (3): the agency of or an agent of established law c: a rule or order that it is advisable or obligatory to observe d: something compatible with or enforceable by established law e: control , authority

2 often capitalized : the revelation of the will of God set forth in the Old Testament capitalized : the first part of the Jewish scriptures : pentateuch , torah — see bible table

With law there is authority and enforcement.

Enforce:
1. To compel observance of or obedience to: enforce a law.
2. To impose (a kind of behavior, for example): enforce military discipline.
3. To give force to; reinforce: “enforces its plea with a description of the pains of hell” Albert C. Baugh.

Compel:
1. To force, drive, or constrain:
2. To necessitate or pressure by force; exact: . See Synonyms at force.
3. To exert a strong, irresistible force on; sway:

Impose:
1. To establish or apply as compulsory; levy: impose a tax.
2. To apply or make prevail by or as if by authority: impose a peace settlement. See Synonyms at dictate.
3. To obtrude or force (oneself, for example) on another or others.

Dictate:
a. To prescribe with authority; impose: dictated the rules of the game.
b. To control or command

Optional does not seem to be a part of any of the above, does it?  So there we have the answer to the motivation for those under the Law to keep the Law.  It falls under ‘because God said so’!  What about the ‘or else’?

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.  Of the laws that applied to you, you had to do ALL of them. To not do them required atoning sacrifice or was punishable by expulsion from the community of Israel or by death, each offense punishable as was called for in the Law.  Then there were all the purification laws.  Even if, as Law ‘keepers’ assert, Jesus nailed only the curse of the Law (spiritual separation from God) to the Cross, do not those who break the Law still deserve death for certain offenses (since we’re all going to die anyway, should the Lord tarry) if that is the punishment that is called for under the Law?  Jots and tittles . . .

But Isn’t it Right to Keep The Law?
The next question the Law ‘keeper’ asked was, “Where do we find God’s laws and is it right to do any of them?”   How does one answer that question, phrased as it is, without obligating one’s self to the keeping of the Law?  Reminds me of the Catch-22 question, “Have you quit beating your wife yet?”  Sometimes it is not the answer which is incorrect, but the question.

Their question, in the Law-keeping context, was designed to point one to the the Covenant given at Sinai, not to point one to the Covenant forged in the Blood of Christ.  And one not suspecting where they’re being steered would answer, “We find those laws in the OT, and of course it is right to obey [any of] them.”     

The hook is in. 

What now?  If you’re the one who just answered the question above about the Law, you now are wondering, “Hmmm . . . IS Mosaic Covenant Law something I should be keeping??

And What if You Don’t?
Most Law Keepers 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, that obeying the Law is a matter of doing, not merely believing. 

This bears repeating here:  If Israel broke any part of the Law, there was punishment - payable by atoning sacrifice, expulsion from Israel or death.  And that’s not including the purification/separation laws for women during/after their monthly cycles and childbirth, or the men who touched them or purification rituals for other ‘offenses’ such as touching a dead body (necessary for burial).  Folks forget about all that the Law entails.  It’s far more encompassing than keeping the Appointed Feasts, the Sabbaths, New Moons, and dietary laws.

With that in mind, does that mean that we can lose our salvation for not obeying Mosaic Covenant Law?  And can we get it back again if we start ‘keeping’ the Law?  If we actually ‘become Israel’, as many Law ‘keepers’ claim, and we fail to keep Mosaic Covenant Law, are we then expelled from the community of believers or worse yet, is spiritual death re-imposed on us as Law breakers?

What do the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ have to say about such things?  Can you think of any Scriptures that tell us that we are no longer a part of the Body of Christ if we don’t ‘keep’ the Law?  Or that we are a part of the Body of Christ if we do ‘keep’ the Law?  Is that what Scripture teaches us?

You can’t have Law without enforcement. You can’t have enforcement without punishment. Those components go hand in hand.

One needs to first determine what law one is under before one determines to ‘do’ it.

Which Law Makes More Sense?
In the era of the completed work of Christ, are believers under the Covenant given to Moses at Sinai, or under the New Covenant enacted by the Blood of Christ?

The view that Old Covenant Feasts and practices are still mandated makes no sense at all considering that those things were designed to point to Christ and provide for atonement for sin until Christ did the work of the Cross.  Christ has come!  He is the reality of what the Feasts foreshadowed.  He was the FINAL sacrifice.  There are some events that still need to play out, historically, but the work is done. It is finished!

One cannot pick and choose which laws from Mosaic Covenant Law they will follow . . . THE Law is a package deal.  You must do everything that applies to you or you do none of it:

James 2:10
10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 

In addition to the prophecies and foreshadowing that the Law provides pointing to Messiah, it is the realization of our inability to keep the Law that drives us to Messiah!  No one has ever kept the Law perfectly, except Jesus, of course!  It is when we come to the end of ourselves, realizing that we are utterly incapable of perfection and having relationship with God outside of Christ that the Law has completed its mission:

Romans 3:21-24
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This 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.

Christ commanded us to love God, love others, and to go out in to all the world and make disciples among every tribe and nation. Going back to Mosaic Covenant Law doesn’t spread God’s love and the Gospel to the nations, it isolates and erroneously turns one’s heart toward self and the duties one must perform to be pleasing to God.  What He really desires is for us to love those around us and share the Life for which He paid so dear a price, bringing precious souls into relationship with Him.

And the New Covenant did bring new life, not just a ‘renewed’ covenantal system.  All throughout 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 amongst 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 nor the purpose of the Law – He was fulfilling it.

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 commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my 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 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 command: Love each other.”

The Law of Christ is not Mosaic Covenant Law reinforced. The Law of Christ is the whole of Scripture in the context of the New Covenant, forged in the Blood of Christ via the work of the Cross.  It is the fulfilling of the Promise given to mankind at the Fall, changing the hearts of those who believe on Jesus Christ and making them a New Creation, and that demonstrated by the bearing of fruit according to the Spirit, not the performance of works according to the Law.

Where Law ‘keepers’ view the whole of Scripture through the lens of Torah, redeemed believers free from the Law view the whole of Scripture through the lens of the completed work of Christ.  It’s the Gospel.  The Gospel reaches across cultural boundaries where the Law of Moses could not. That’s how Jesus could tell us to love God, love others, and go out into all the world to make disciples from all nations.  His love and the Gospel translate to all cultures, not just Israel. That’s the Law of Christ.

Does Christ in Us Promote Sin?
I’ve been told that if I am not obeying the edicts of Torah that I am practicing Lawlessness.  What does Scripture have to say?

Galatians 2:11-21
11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15″We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

17″If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Under the New Covenant we are called to much loftier things that observing feasts and days or the carrying out of edicts or avoidance of certain foods:

Galatians 5
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9″A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

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

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.

Watch for the Fruit Produced by Those in Law ‘keeping’ Sects 
According to this list, there are 210 verses that refer to false prophets, priests, elders and Pharisees.  Here is a summary of their content:

  • 99 verses (47%) concern Behavior
  • 66 verses (31%) concern Fruit
  • 24 verses (12%) concern Motives
  • 21 verses (10%) concern Doctrine

Is it any wonder that Jesus exhorted us to therefore:

Matthew 7:15-20
15″Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Fruit is fruit, and sooner or later, it identifies with the vine from which it comes, no matter the shine one tries to put on it!

And finally, Hebrews 10 sums up the whole issue so well:

Hebrews 10
1The 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. 2If 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.  3But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.

7Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, O God.’ “

8First 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).

9Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

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

15The 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.”

17Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let 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. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let 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.

26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How 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? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

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

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

38But my righteous one will live by faith.  And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”

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

This struck me just now as I re-read this passage:

He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

According to Hebrews 10, we are made holy (set apart), righteous, sanctified, purified – ALL through Christ!  The Law has nothing to do with us as believers!

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

See also:  The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended
                    The Hebrew Roots Movement: So What?
                    Romans 14: Indisputable Matters – Torah or the Gospel?
                    Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101 
                    Hebrew Roots Movement – New or “Renewed” Covenant?

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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Resurrection Day!

He is Risen!  Risen Indeed!

Some of you who read here believe that “Easter” really has pagan origins.  Depending on who/what you deem to be reliable sources will largely shape your view on the subject.

Resurrection Day, however, does not! 

A Chocolate Bunny’s Dilemma

I don’t have a problem that most of the Body of Christ celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter because as far as the WORLD is concerned, they have no idea of any paganism that may or not be a part of Easter celebrations.   By and large, the world thinks we’re celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in spite of egg hunts and chocolate bunnies.  And if we can draw attention to Jesus and Who He is and show the World the glory of God, then, YAY!

Some who read here believe that it is rebellion to celebrate Easter and that we should instead celebrate the appointed time of Passover given to Israel.

Jesus did celebrate Passover.  And as He did so for the last time, He established a NEW observance, that of remembering that His Body was broken and His Blood was shed for the remission of our sins.  He lived by the Law in His observance of the Feast(s), the shadow of things to come, and then instructed us to remember Him and what He did (Luke 22:14-20).  We are to honor the fulfillment of Who the Law with it’s feasts foreshadowed, not the shadows themselves.

And He Lives!  And we celebrate that He lives!  Every day that we reside among the living, not just on “Easter”.  We, as a family, do not choose to do the egg thing or the basket thing or the bunny thing.  It’s just not how we feel we can best honor what Jesus did.  We celebrate an empty tomb and the living Christ.  Do we praise and worship and lift the name of Jesus up on “Easter”, the day that most of the World recognizes as the celebration of His resurrection?  You Bet!  And we are worshipping and honoring JESUS, not a pagan sun god!  My big girls, when they update the wet-erase calendar on our fridge, draw a picture of an empty tomb with the stone rolled away, so I think it’s safe to say they get what we’re really celebrating =o).

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart . . . “

As I’ve posted material here on JGIG, my oldest child has been reading along.  She asked me how I was able to see the mistakes, as she put it, in Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism doctrine.  The answer is that it wasn’t me, it was the Word.

As a school child, part of my schooling was Scripture memorization.  Portions from both the Old and New Testaments, in the King James Version.  As an adult, I use the NIV, though not exclusively, but still love the language of the KJV passages I learned.  In the busy-ness of adulthood and now parenthood, I must confess, there is not much time for Scripture memorization!  Now I have more of a map in my head of where to find Scriptures relevant to a discussion or study.

But back to the Word . . .

As I was exposed to the teachings of the HR/MJ movements, the teachings that I was hearing were not matching up with what my heart had hidden deep within me - the Word.  It is not the ‘teachings from pastors or church fathers’ or the ‘brainwashing of the modern church’ which cause me to disagree with the teachings I have discerned as false, it is the Word in my heart!  I’d see a teaching and the thought process behind it (which more often than not seemed reasonable on the surface), but it wouldn’t sit right in my heart.  The words of Scripture would come to mind, I’d go look them up, and sure enough, error was revealed in whatever particular teaching by a plain reading of the Word.

So if you have children, encourage the memorization of passages of the Word.  Passages, not just verses.  Context is sooooo important as our children will be exposed to all manner of teachings/teachers/perspectives as they grow into and become adults.  I have a renewed goal in our home toward that end after that little conversation with our oldest . . .

Every Blessing,
-JGIG

Hebrew Roots Movement – The Redefinition of Terms 3 (M-Z)

If you haven’t already, please read the Glossary Intro  first.  Thanks!

Messianic Judaism/Christianity - The term “Messianic” is generally known to describe  Jews who have come to believe ingrafted_in_lg Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah.  Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish Christians or simply, Christians.    

Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish.  Most aren’t Jewish at all, but Gentile Christians who have chosen to adopt Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics.  It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism then they do with the tenets of Christianity.  Many reject the label of Christianity altogether and some even eventually convert to Judaism.  

Messianic Judaism, when objectively defined, is an oxymoron.  “Messianic” implies that one believes in Jesus Christ (Yeshua) as the Messiah, while “Judaism”, by definition, rejects Jesus Christ as Messiah at its core.    

The contradictions start there and carry on throughout the belief system.   

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Midrash -  Following is an actual quote from a Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism adherent who was justifying using Midrash with which to interpret Scripture:  

Well, here’s the passage Paul was quoting …. kinda.  He was doing a d’rash on it.  

My response:
So let’s get this straight . . . you’re developing doctrine based on what you say Paul was “kinda quoting” and you claim that he was doing a “d’rash” on it?  

The weakness of the “kinda quoting” bit is obvious, but for the benefit of the reader, let’s look at what is a “d’rash”, short for “Midrash” . . .  

For the full post here at JGIG, see Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Midrash.  

From Faqs.org
Midrash minimizes the authority of the wording of the text as communication, normal language. It places the focus on the reader and the personal struggle of the reader to reach an acceptable moral application of the text. While it is always governed by the wording of the text, it allows for the reader to project his or her inner struggle into the text. This allows for some very powerful and moving interpretations which, to the ordinary user of language, seem to have very little connection with the text. The great weakness of this method is that it always threatens to replace the text with an outpouring of personal reflection. At its best it requires the presence of mystical insight not given to all readers.  

bragg-midrashFrom Wikipedia:
Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש‎; plural midrashim, lit. “to investigate” or “study”) is a Hebrew term referring to the not exact, but comparative (homiletic) method of exegesis (hermeneutic) of Biblical texts, which is one of four methods cumulatively called Pardes. The term midrash can also refer to a compilation of homiletic teachings (commentaries) on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), in the form of legal and ritual (Halakhah) and legendary, moralizing, folkloristic, and anecdotal (Aggadah) parts.   

What is PaRDeS?  Also from Wikipedia:
The term, sometimes also spelled PaRDeS, is an acronym formed from the name initials of these four approaches, which are:

  • Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — “plain” (“simple”) or the direct meaning.
  • Remez (רֶמֶז) — “hints” or the deep (allegoric) meaning beyond just the literal sense.
  • Derash (דְּרַשׁ) — from Hebrew darash: “inquire” (“seek”) — the comparative (midrashic) meaning, as given through similar occurrences.
  • Sod (סוֹד) (pronounced with a long O as in gold) — “secret” (“mystery”) or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.

Each type of Pardes interpretation examines the extended meaning of a text. As a general rule, the extended meaning never contradicts the base meaning. The Peshat means the plain or contextual meaning of the text. Remez is the allegorical meaning. Derash includes the metaphorical meaning, and Sod represents the hidden meaning. There is often considerable overlap, for example when legal understandings of a verse are influenced by mystical interpretations or when a “hint” is determined by comparing a word with other instances of the same word.  

From My Jewish Learning:
Midrash: The Interpretive Tradition
Midrash is a tool of interpretation which assumes that every word, letter, and even stroke of the pen in the Torah has meaning. Midrash Aggadah focuses on biblical narratives, Midrash Halakhah interprets legal passages. In modern times, midrash can include any retellings, additions, or twists on Torah stories. 
 

From Jewish Virtual Library’s Glossary:
Midrash
(pl. midrashim). From darash, “to inquire,” whence it comes to mean “exposition” (of scripture). Refers to the “commentary” literature developed in classical Judaism that attempts to interpret Jewish scriptures in a thorough manner. Literary Midrash may focus either on halaka, directing the Jew to specific patterns of religious practice, or on (h)aggada, dealing with theological ideas, ethical teachings, popular philosophy, imaginative exposition, legend, allegory, animal fables—that is, whatever is not halaka
 

From VirtualReligion.net:
Midrash
Hebrew term for “Interpretation” or “Exposition.” The word generally used for any written or oral commentary on a biblical text. The original purpose of midrash was to resolve problems in the Hebrew text of the Bible. As early as the 1st c. CE rabbinic principles of hermeneutics & philology were used to bring the interpretation of difficult passages in the literal text of scripture into line with the religious & ethical values of the teachers. This method of interpretation was eventually expanded to provide scriptural pretexts to justify oral tradition.
Thus, midrash exposes the values & worldview of the rabbinic interpreter & audience rather than the original intention of the author of the biblical text.  

There are more definitions and a myriad of websites out there with “midrashic” points of view, but one gets the general idea from the references above.  

When one uses a “d’rash” as a lens to interpret Scripture through, it is clear that that person is seeking to mold Scripture to a predetermined opinion or belief system, not seeking to mold their opinion or belief system to what Scripture actually says.  

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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 communion26me.” (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.”  Jesus 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 uncircumcision of 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 around 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 – enabling us to obey both parts of the commandments (instructions) of Jesus – Love God, Love others, whatever the circumstance.

That is the beauty, the reality, of the New Covenant!

[A common assertion in the Hebrew Roots Movement is that the New Covenant is not 'New', but the 'Re-newed' covenant.  For and in depth language study of the Scriptures commonly used by the HRM to support their view, see this post:  Hebrew Roots Movement - New Covenant or "Renewed" Covenant?]

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(The) Prodigal Son - I couldn’t resist putting this one down.  Click HERE for a Hebrew Roots interpretation of the parable of the Prodigal Son.  (Please use caution when reading any Hebrew Roots materials.)  Some of the metaphorical perversions:  The prodigal son is not sinful man, he is Christianity.  Repentance is not turning away from sin and toward God, it is turning toward Torah.  (See also Repent below.)  I’ve seen this parable used by several different HRM organizations to lure unwary Christians into a Torah lifestyle.   Quoted from the above link:  

The younger son (the Northern Kingdom, Ephraim/Christianity) spent his inheritance on riotous living (by departing from the Torah of the G-d of Israel) and went to a far country (the nations of the world) and was feeding on swine (a reference to not obeying the Torah)”.    

These are some specific liberties taken with the story (there are more, but frankly, I couldn’t stomach putting more here):  The labels given the younger son are not supported by the text, and a far country means anywhere but Israel.  The robe and ring that the father gives to the prodigal son in the HRM version is not a sign of authority and inheritance given to the son by the father, it is instead referred to as “wedding terminology”?!  Yuk.  And notice that the writer says that the prodigal was feeding on swine, when in fact the bible says that he was feeding the swine.  Gotta notch up that Torah rebellion to make this interpretation fit.  That particular author tends to make those subtle changes in text to change seemingly unimportant details in a text with which to frame his particular brand of HRM doctrine.  

What strikes me about the above is how Nationalism and Torah are central to the story of the Prodigal, not the realities of how we, as undeserving sinners, are embraced by a loving and forgiving Father, no matter what we’ve done.  Yes, the cultural implications of the text bring deeper and richer meaning to the parable, but redemption and forgiveness beyond our wildest expectations is the main thrust of the story, not the returning of the Body of Christ to a Torah lifestyle!  

There are about a zillion sermons that have been preached on the parable of the Prodigal Son . . . but in light of the HRM, one thing that jumps out at me is this:  The Prodigal comes back to the father broken and spent.  When he returns, his father knows that he has his son’s heart.  The firstborn, faithful to follow the rules and obey his father, finds it difficult to understand the grace extended to his brother.  Let me share with you the last part of an article (also available on the Articles Page) that says it so much better than I can [from "Law and Grace Exemplified" by C.H. Mackintosh]:  

But, oh! how could the prodigal think lightly of sin in the light of such extraordinary grace? Impossible. He was most effectually delivered from the power of sin by the grace which reigned in his reception, and in his position. It was truly such as to set sin before him in the most fearful colours. “Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Yes, God forbid. It cannot, it must not be, my reader. Grace has set us free — free not only from the penalty of sin, but free from its power — free fromprodigal-on-road its present dominion. Blessed freedom! The law gave sin power over the sinner; grace gives him power over it. The law revealed to the sinner his weakness; grace makes him acquainted with the strength of Christ, the law put the sinner under the curse, no matter who or what he was; grace introduces him into all the ineffable blessedness of the Father’s house — the Father’s bosom. The law elicited only the cry, “O, wretched man that I am!” grace enables him to sing triumphantly, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory. “These are important differences, and such as may well lead us into deep thankfulness for the truth that “we are not under the law, but under grace.”  

If anything were needed to prove that nothing but grace can form the basis of holy service, the spirit and bearing of the elder brother in our beautiful parable would most fully prove it. He thought he had ever been a very faithful servant, and his heart rebelled against the high position assigned to his younger brother. But, alas! he understood not the father’s heart. It was not the cold service of formalism or legalism that was needed, but the service of love — the service of one who felt he had been forgiven much — or rather those deep affections which flow from the sense of redeeming love. All practical Christianity is comprehended in that word of the apostle, viz., “We love Him because He first loved us.” God grant that we may all enter more into the sacred power of these simple, but most precious truths!   

While there are benefits to understanding the culture and original language  used in communicating the parable of the Prodigal Son, those benefits culminate in a deeper understanding of the grace of God toward sinful man, and do not in any way point to a ‘prodigal Church’ needing to return to Torah observance.   

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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 renewal of the lawsame 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 misuse of the original languages of Scripture.  See Hebrew Roots Movement – New Covenant or “Renewed” Covenant for an in-depth word study and solid refutation of the “renewed” Covenant position.  [Highly Recommended.]  

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Repent - Another one of the pillars in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related belief systems/sects, is their re-forgiven_repent2definition of the word ‘repent’ or ‘repentance’.  They skew the meaning of repent in order to point the unwary believer back to 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 regulations and edicts of a covenant no longer in effect.  

For a full article regarding the HRM/MJ perspective on repentance, see Hebrew Roots Movement – The Perversion of Repentance.  

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SabbathWith Torah pursuance comes the keeping of a seventh-day Sabbath, typically from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday.  

However, as I researched the issue of the Sabbath, I discovered that within the Sabbath-keeping community itself there is division.  There are those that observe a simple seventh-day Sabbath (sundown Friday through sundown Saturday).  There are those that view Sunday as the NT Sabbath.  Then there are those that follow a lunar reckoning of the Sabbath.  The first time I became aware of this method was when someone from the mom’s digest recommended this site.  Check it out.  Check out this section at that site, in particular, addressing a geocentric vs. heliocentric view of the solar system (universe?).  No, seriously.   This is one of the more interesting sites that not only mandates keeping the Sabbath, but also mandates a lunar reckoning of the Sabbath.  If you visit HRM/MJ sites and blogs, you may notice that some of them have a lunar phase widget in their sidebars.  This may be for New Moon sightings for shofar-blowing and New Moon feast-keeping and/or reckoning the Sabbath.  

There are several articles here at JGIG regarding the Sabbath.  You can access those at the Articles Page and also see Law Keepers – Part 3 – Thoughts on the Sabbath.  

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The Sacred Name - Mandatory use of the “Sacred Names”.  This is almost universal among Law Keepers.  Though many Law Keepers would not consider themselves aligned with any movement, there is a Sacred Name Movement that’s been around since the dawn of the 20th century to which they are adhering in practice.  The basic idea is that there is one true name for God, and He requires that we use it, or we are in violation of the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.”   

Gentler, kinder HRM/MJ types will come at it from the “We don’t want to insult YHWH/Yeshua by using His incorrect name now, do we?” angle.   

Just a very few of the variations I’ve seen of the “Sacred Names” are YHWH, YHVH, YaHWeH, Yahweh, Jehovah, Yahuweh, Yahuah, Yah (understood to be sort of an affectionate shortening of the other Yah-whatevers) and G-d . . . those are for God.  For Jesus, a few variations I’ve seen are Yeshua, Y’shua, Yahshua, Yahushua, Yahoshua . . . so if getting the names right is so important, which ones are they?!  

In studying this issue, I’ve reached the conclusion that God is not concerned with the language in which the Gospel is communicated, but rather that the Gospel IS communicated!  As for the ‘Sacred Name’ - for me, God is God.  Jesus is Jesus.  He knows Who I’m talking to/about.  Those are words in our language that represent the essence of Who He is.  And based on what God did in Acts 2, I’m pretty sure He’s ok with that.   

This site, sacrednamemovement.com, is an excellent resource regarding the Sacred Name Movement.  Another excellent resource is Let Us Reason Ministries, who has published this article  regarding the sacred names at their site.     

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Sanctification - So what about keeping the Law as believers?  Is it a question of sanctification for the Law keeping believer?  The HRM/MJ belief systems are all over the consistency map on this one.  Some say yes, Torah observance is how we are sanctified, others will say no, Torah observance is just how we show God that we love Him. 

Most will say that Torah observance is not a salvation issue, but when pressed they will admit that if you, once you become accountable to the knowledge that you are to  be Torah observant as a believer, choose not to obey, then you are in rebellion and will not enter the Kingdom of God according to Scriptures that they will take out of context.  Others will say that Yeshua (Jesus) will only come back for a Torah-observant Bride, so if you’re not observing Torah, well, you do the math.  

I won’t pretend to have this all ironed out and nailed down perfectly.  And I honestly can see both sides of the issue when it comes to simple Law keeping (Feasts, sabbaths, and dietary laws) barring the heretical doctrines prevalent in the Hebrew Roots Movement today.  The popular church has become permissive and in some cases downright atrocities occur and are not dealt with as the Church has been instructed to deal with them in the New Testament Scriptures.  To take those occurences  and go back to a covenental system no longer in effect because of the Blood of Christ, however, is not a fix. 

I always have to come back to the Cross.    

The priesthood, sacrifices . . . death . . . edicts, regulations, and ceremony – all were done away with at the Cross.  Yes, Jesus kept all of the Law that applied.  Before the Cross.  The Cross was the great dividing line in history . . . there was a clear path from death to life, from the sinful state to righteousness, from condemnation to justification.  And not once did Jesus or anyone else in the Bible ever say that salvation was attained or maintained by observance to any part of the Law.  You can cry point/counterpoint all day long when it comes to Paul’s writings . . . but the end result will always consistently be:  By faith, not by works we are saved.  By the Holy Spirit working on us from the inside out, we are sanctified, not by how well we keep the 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 choosing to walk in rebellion to the Holy Spirit will be miserable. 

Works are a natural result of redemption in the believer’s heart.  It is not by the outward performance of Law keeping that we become sanctified, it is by the completed work of Christ in our hearts that changes us intrinsically – belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing  (according to the Merriam-Webster definition of intrinsically).   

What does that mean?  It means that the Holy Spirit changes our nature - we belong to Him – we were purchased with a price – and that the Law keeping that takes place in the life of a believer is a natural fruit-bearing process as we grow in Christ, not of keeping this festival and that law.  The fruits that we see in the Church were not designed to be the keeping of the Law . . . those fruits are designed to be seen as God remakes us from the inside out through the working of His Holy Spirit!

When I re-read this passage recently, the part I’ve bolded really stood out to me:

Galatians 5:22-25
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.

The one who belongs to Christ and lives by the Spirit bears fruit against which there is NO law.

See also:  Romans 15:14-19, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17, Galatians 5:16-26, Philippians 3:7-9  

  

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TalmudExcerpt from Wikipedia‘s article on Talmud:

The Talmud (Hebrew: תַּלְמוּד) is a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs, and history. It is a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, second only to the Hebrew Bible in importance.  

The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), the first written compendium of Judaism’s Oral Law; and the Gemara (c. 500 CE), a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh.  

The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably. The Gemara is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is much quoted in other rabbinic literature. The whole Talmud is also traditionally referred to as Shas (ש”ס), a Hebrew abbreviation of shisha sedarim, the “six orders” of the Mishnah.  

Excerpts from Judaism 101:  

Oral Torah:  The Talmud
In addition to the written scriptures we have an “Oral Torah,” a tradition explaining what the above scriptures mean and how to interpret them and apply the Laws. Orthodox Jews believe G-d taught the Oral Torah to Moses, and he taught it to others, down to the present day. This tradition was maintained only in oral form until about the 2d century C.E., when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah.

Over the next few centuries, additional commentaries elaborating on the Mishnah were written down in Jerusalem and Babylon. These additional commentaries are known as the Gemara. The Gemara and the Mishnah together are known as the Talmud. This was completed in the 5th century C.E.

There are actually two Talmuds: the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud is more comprehensive, and is the one most people mean if they just say “the Talmud” without specifying which one.

The Talmud is not easy to read. It reminds me of someone else’s class notes for a college lecture you never attended. There are often gaps in the reasoning where it is assumed that you already know what they are talking about, and concepts are often expressed in a sort of shorthand. Biblical verses that support a teaching are often referenced by only two or three words. The Talmud preserves a variety of views on every issue, and does not always clearly identify which view is the accepted one.

Something that I didn’t realize is just how much material makes up the Talmud.  And all that is made up of discussions amongst those who rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah as well as by those who engaged in Jewish mysticism.  I’m curious as to why anyone who claims Christ would go to the Talmud for direction in their faith. 

I’ve observed that Hebrew Roots types tend to reject the Talmud, Oral Traditions, and Rabbinical sources, while Messianic Judaism types tend to embrace the ‘wisdom and insight’ that the rabbis and sages can allegedly give.   

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TorahExcerpts from From Judaism 101‘s page on Torah: 

Level:  Basic
• Torah in the narrowest sense refers to the first five books of the Bible
• In a broader sense, Torah includes all Jewish law and tradition
• Torah was given to Moses in written form with oral commentary
• The oral component is now written in the Talmud
• There are additional important writings

The word “Torah” is a tricky one, because it can mean different things in different contexts. In its most limited sense, “Torah” refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But the word “torah” can also be used to refer to the entire Jewish bible (the body of scripture known to non-Jews as the Old Testament and to Jews as the Tanakh or Written Torah), or in its broadest sense, to the whole body of Jewish law and teachings.

Written Torah
To Jews, there is no “Old Testament.” The books that Christians call the New Testament are not part of Jewish scripture. The so-called Old Testament is known to us as Written Torah or the Tanakh.

From Hebrew Roots site First Fruits of Zion:

The Torah is an ancient scroll containing the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—the first five books of the Bible.

The Torah is the foundation of faith in Yeshua. All of the concepts associated with the Gospel—such as God, holiness, righteousness, sin, sacrifice, repentance, faith, forgiveness, covenant, grace and the kingdom of heaven on earth—are introduced in the Torah. Basic sacraments and rituals like baptism, communion, prayer and blessing all come from the Torah. Faith in Jesus is meaningful because of the Torah. Without the Torah, the Gospel has no foundation on which to stand.

The Hebrew word torah is translated “law” in most of our English Bibles. The Torah is called the Law of Moses because Moses wrote it, but the Torah is more than just a legal code. The word “Torah” (תורה) is from the Hebrew root, yara (ירה) which means “to instruct,” or “to teach.” Although it does contain laws, Torah itself is not only a “law,” but it is God’s “teaching” and “instruction.”

The Torah is the story of God’s people and how they came to be the people of God in the first place. The Torah is something all believers have in common. Regardless of what kind of Christianity or Judaism you come from or hold to, we all have this common ground. The Torah is our shared origin. It is God’s book.

However a simple definition/description of Torah is not sufficient when it comes to the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism.  After spending time examining the HRM/MJism belief system(s), it becomes clear that while claiming the saving grace of the Messiah, it appears that it is Torah that sits on the throne of their hearts.  They say that they are obeying the command to ‘walk as Yeshua walked’, yet there are a couple of fatal flaws in that thinking:

1. Jesus’ work was not yet completed as He walked among us

2. This one is a biggie – Jesus is sinless.  He is God.  He was able to walk perfectly.  We are not God.  We cannot keep the Law.  If we could, there would be no need for the Cross.  

I can’t help but wonder, as I hear those in the HR/MJ movements claim that they keep the Law, if they are being snookered by the same Lie that Satan told Eve, “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 3:5)      

Where faith in Christ, being clothed in Him, and the Law of Love are central themes in the practices of New Testament believers, those who align themselves with a Law-keeping mentality place Torah as central in their lives.  They live, breath, and eat the Feasts, Days, edicts and regulations of Old Testament Law.  Their speech is filled with what they do and how they relate to Torah, not filled with who Jesus is and what He did and their relationship with Him.

Folks in the Law-keeping community, when pressed or challenged about the proper use of Torah in a New Covenant reality, exhibit fruit that is opposite of the Fruits of the Spirit described in Galatians 5.  Instead of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, you will find pride mostly, and the unpleasant characteristics that tend to accompany pride.  When they think they can sway you to their way of thinking, all is good.  Challenge them, however, and you will be accused of being an antinomian, promoting all kinds of awful sin because you believe yourself to be under Grace!

There are also those who teach that Yeshua is the living Torah.  They give Torah Godly characteristics and seem to give it a place in the God-head.  From the article, “Yeshua; Living Torah” and a Netzarim Statement of Faith (see how many perversions of Scripture you can pick up in just the next few sentences):

Before Sinai, the Torah was.

“In the beginning was the Torah and the Torah was with God and the Torah was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made… In him was life and that life was the light of men… And the Torah became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:1

Listen carefully.  The Torah became flesh and dwelt among us. Yeshua is the living Torah. Attempting to understand Messiah and His teachings, without understanding Torah is IMPOSSIBLE.

From the NSOF:  “We also believe that the Messiah Yeshua is the Torah incarnate. Just as the Torah is the way, the truth and the light, the Messiah is also the way, the truth and the light.”

Now for the real Scriptures:

John 8:58
58Jesus said unto them,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

John 1:1-5, 14
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Hebrews 11:6
6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

John 14:6-7
6Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Do you see the differences there?  Evaluate everything that a Law keeper will throw at you (and they tend to bury you in information and Scripture), concentrating specifically on core issues of Biblical Christianity.  If those core issues fall short, the building the Law keeper is trying to get you to live in will not stand and eventually will crush you.

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YHWH - God.  See Sacred Names above.

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Yeshua - Jesus.  See Sacred Names above.

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See also:

Glossary Intro

Glossary A-F

Glossary G-L

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

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A New Relationship With Christmas

I saw this post over at 8thday4life’s Weblog and Sondra graciously granted me permission to share her post with you here.  Her perspective as one formerly in the Hebrew Roots Movement is valuable and provides insight that I, as one who merely observes, questions, and comments, cannot give.  I encourage you to spend some time at her blog, a place where she humbly and scripturally communicates about her and her husband’s journey from Law to Grace. 

I know Christmas has come and gone this year, but maybe some of you are discussing such things after being with family and examining why we do what we do – on whichever side of the issue you stand.  

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

- JGIG

 

A New Relationship With Christmas

I recently sat in a living room of Christian women who had met together to learn more about healthy food preparation.  As an icebreaker for the meeting, we were asked to share how we kept things in perspective during the busy holiday season, as well as special traditions our families had.  I realized how this question would have stressed me terribly a few years ago.  I shared that I did not have a great deal of experience yet, (long story) but our main focus was to give Jesus the gifts, to the “least of these” rather than go crazy on junk no one needs, wants, or remembers this time next year.   As the sharing moved around the room, one woman began to explain why they were not going to celebrate Christmas this year.  Her explanation wavered between sheepish embarrassment to dogmatic conviction about “what the Bible says.”  I know that conviction well.  No one knew what to say.  I knew what I wanted to tell her, but I also knew she would have to walk down that road to see what I see now.

You cannot ignore Christmas, no matter how hard you might try.  And oh did we try, for nearly ten years.  We came under conviction early on in our Christian lives that we were wrong to mix the worship of the one true God with traditions inherited from Paganism.  The desire for our worship to be pure before God sparked our search for the purest form of our faith, seeking to go back all the way to what we believed were our authentic roots.

I don’t blame anyone for coming to this conclusion about Christmas, especially if you do as I did and study out the history of the Church and various holy days.  During the Middle Ages, every month had some type of celebration adopted from various pagan cultures, renaming the days for saints, yet retaining the rituals of superstition and divination.  I did not view this as an honorable history, but rather a church compromising in order to gain allegiance and control of the masses.  In many countries around the world today you see a strange mix of traditional cultures with Catholic mass and rituals, mixing Jesus and Mary with whatever custom they can impress them upon.  Watching documentaries of other cultures, I personally saw no difference in what they were doing and the western worship of Christmas.  (I felt the day was worshiped, not God, and still see this is the largest pitfall of our materialistic culture.)

I became a Christian after spending time in the New Age, so I was especially sensitive to avoid all references or participation in paganism, which at this time in my life, was perfectly right.  This was all I could see in Christmas at the time which is why I don’t judge anyone for choosing to not celebrate this day.  However for me, my pure devotion quickly transformed into a source of superiority and pride.

Each year as the day rolled around we sometimes had a dinner with friends who had the same conviction.  There was literally nothing else to do.  We would eat, play games, and lament how our families just did not  understand.  We personally didn’t mind being with our own families, but some did not respect our unwillingness to exchange gifts, which created awkward situations, so we tended to avoid them.  The irony of our non-Christmas dinner fellowships wasn’t lost on me.  I realized, we were still acknowledging the day, just in a different way.

When confronted with Christmas invitations and questions, I soon tried to not reveal that we didn’t celebrate it because the questions were uncomfortable.  Do you believe in Jesus?  Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?  It took too long to explain.  Even with the challenge it posed, this became an important feature of our unique spiritual identity.  To ignore Christmas is like standing against a tidal wave.

When our eyes opened to the reality of what we have in Christ, and we began to rebuild our spiritual worldview, we had to face once again the question; What do we do with  Christmas?

We did not have a new set of facts.  History cannot be changed.  And this was in fact our conclusion.  Try as we might to pretend it didn’t happen, Christmas has become the shining star of the entire year of holidays for the entire western world, and even in many countries which do not generally embrace Christianity.  As we looked at the issue again, we had to go back to the testing method which originally prompted our discontent with the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Fruit.  The fruit of ignoring Christmas had only caused people to shy away and assume we did not even believe in Jesus at all.  Only atheists and cults deny Christmas.  (here’s your sign…once again.)  Bad fruit there if you are in fact wanting people to know about Him.  Add that to the ways in which we gave the wrong impression about Jesus, which were many.  The only thing we had to show for our pious obedience was sheer boredom and miffed family members.

When we looked at  Christmas again, instead of seeing only paganism repackaged, we saw paganism redeemed, for the spread of the gospel.  Just as Jesus took us who were broken, sinful, idolatrous, rebellious, and prideful – and redeemed us for His glory, we realized He can also do this with a day if it pleases Him to do so.  The evergreen, the pagan symbol for eternal life – was simply the cry of their hearts – the realization of their problem with death, that Jesus came to resolve.  The lights symbolize the true Light of the World, that comes in our darkest, coldest nights.  The day they dedicated to call back the Sun is now celebrated to the Eternal Son.  It seems maybe God intended for things to transpire the way they have.  Another miracle of Christmas is the success of its worldwide popularity, being presented as the day of Jesus Christ’s birth!  If I were a pagan, I would not see this as a victory for my perspective, especially since most people don’t give a second thought to where the traditions came from in the first place.

As I sat in church during what was arguably my first real Christmas – fully embracing Christ, I was so moved by the focus on the amazing miracle and sacrifice of a God who was willing to come and give everything of Himself to His Creation.  How could the Creator submit to a human birth,  just as we are born?  I related to Him in the birth of my own children and wondered what Mary must have thought as she held God in her arms.  Thankfully she could not fully see the days ahead.  I was filled with emotion as I saw illustrations of these tender moments – with full knowledge from our perspective of the enormity of His mission and future suffering.

Did He command me to remember His birth?  No.  But part of the beauty of the New Covenant is found in the love offering our life becomes.  In the Old Covenant people brought freewill and thank offerings when they desired to.  I believe Christmas, for a genuine believer, becomes a time to present a thank offering to Jesus for the amazing gift He gave, which only started with His birth.  We cannot stop at the manger.  Our minds are drawn to the cross, and finally a risen Lord, and His ever-present Spirit, the true Spirit of Christmas.

I found it was not possible to ever completely separate myself from this holiday, but I am thankful that I am now in a new relationship with it that blesses me and gives me a chance to bless others in many ways.  I don’t believe there is any other day of the year that provides a better stage to share the truth about Jesus, to find people with their ears and hearts a little more open.  I am sorry for the years I missed that, and for all the frustration we put our families through.  I have also seen how special this day is to those who don’t have the freedom to worship Him openly, and how they have risked their lives to honor their Savior on the day dedicated to His birth.  I would much rather stand with them in their sacrificial love of Christ, than were I stood before, in pride against those who have given all for Him.  What will you do with the day of the Son this year?

Thank you Jesus for being willing to come to our dark world and share in our human suffering and carry our humiliation.  Your love is beyond understanding, beyond anything mortal man in all his vain wisdom ever dared to hope for – a God that would come down and unite Himself with us, in order to save us.  Thank you that You are in us, and we are in You, forever! Maranatha!

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Other Holiday-related Posts:

There are also links to articles from other sources regarding holidays on the Articles Page here at JGIG.

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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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Merry Christmas, All

Today we celebrate His humble entrance into the world. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us and being willing to come to do the work of the Cross. Thank you for the New Life you offer to all who believe and put their faith in You.

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