It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received another testimony. This one comes from an individual who wrote me a while back as they began their journey out of the Hebrew Roots Movement. It’s been such a blessing to see how God has been progressively growing this dear person in His Grace. Many thanks to J. 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 at 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.
MY PUBLIC TESTIMONY
by J. Rumani
I was first introduced to the Hebrew Roots Movement through a stranger who soon became so much more to me. I had been raised in an evangelical church environment and had never experienced anything else, so hearing theology from the Hebraic mindset was a completely new idea to me and I ended up falling for it – hook, line, and sinker.
At first, I thought the ideas were zany, but soon the arguments towards Torah Observance sounded convincing and logical. After all, if God said don’t eat pork, maybe nobody should ever eat it? Maybe since we are grafted in, we should be following the Torah? And from there, I buried my ‘roots’ so to speak, deeper into the doctrines of the HRM.
I thought to myself, maybe I had been missing something important in traditional church and what if what I had believed growing up was wrong? After all, I had never questioned any of it before but instead of studying the Scriptures for myself and carefully weighing everything, I swung the other way and embraced the HRM perspective and teachings because it seemed there was an answer to everything.
Soon our small family must have appeared Jewish to anyone who would enter our home or observe our way of life. From the wearing tzitzit and head coverings to the way we observed Shabbat to the removal of crosses and the replacement with the mezuzah and menorah and the refusing of all things labeled ‘pagan’ by most in the HRM – the way I understood ‘pleasing God’ changed greatly both on the inside and maybe more so on the outside.
Fellowship with other Christians typically included arguments advocating Torah observance and denouncing ‘paganism’ in ‘churchianity’. Holidays were a misery because I was still very much attached to them and I wanted to celebrate Christ with other Christians in those as well, but from the HRM perspective anything to do with Easter or December 25 is to be completely avoided and hence I was yet another apologist for the HRM protesting those days as the seasons arrived, though part of me was not fully convinced of the matter.
I began to learn that there is much variance within the HRM on various doctrines from soul sleep, to Kabbalah and scripture interpretation, to how Shabbat is carried out and even which laws are still valid and applicable. There is no real ‘What we believe’ statement per se, although the two main features of the Hebrew Roots Movement were
- Torah Observance, and
- Avoidance of all things ‘pagan’ including traditional Christian holidays, the cross, the name Jesus and on and on.
It turned out that I also saw many disputes among congregations where they would not associate with each other even if there were a whole bunch of congregations in the same general city/outskirts. These many variances would become one of the factors in my questioning of the whole movement and my beliefs.
In regards to fellowship, I attended 1-2 messianic congregations a handful of times, but it wasn’t my cup of tea for some reason. I found the services to be too legalistic for my liking (oh the irony!) and felt more comfortable with the type of church I was raised in. The whole Torah Observance/traditional holiday-avoiding lifestyle made me feel isolated in many ways. But at the same time, I thought I was better than all these churchianity Christians who didn’t fall for the HRM arguments that my household presented.
Why on earth couldn’t they see ‘the truth’? But I figured I would give them a little grace since the whole of Christendom had been steeped in paganism for thousands of years.
Still, I found myself turning into a righteous snob without realizing it. I had dropped out of nearly all fellowship and found that I had no best friend I could confide in about spiritual matters, even within the HRM. And as far as my own family of origin, I loved them dearly. But huge influence from an HRM member made me feel isolated from my own family and torn in many ways, especially around holidays, and throughout the whole year … and years.
But there was still something that didn’t make sense to me; I observed Christians who lived full of love and joy, and I hadn’t known true joy in a long time.
The fruit in my own life had gone downhill tremendously. It’s like Jesus said, those who strain a gnat and swallow a camel or those who look at the speck in someone’s eye but forget the plank in their own; while I was worried about everyone else accepting the Torah truth, my own life didn’t reflect anything that anyone could desire.
Besides judgmentalism, I was losing hope, complaining a lot more, becoming skeptical, starting to become confused about what I believed, and I even swore like a sailor which was new to me. I wasted my time doing useless projects and even a few times got drunk on purpose. My faith was becoming ship-wrecked and I knew I was soon coming to a complete faith crisis. For a while I tried to put it off, figuring with just a little extra sleep and prayer, I’d be fine. But inside I knew that wasn’t the case.
Something drastic had to change; I had to come to the end of myself.
One thing I found interesting that happened during my time in the HRM is that I had lost hunger for the Word of God, and near the end, as I found myself escalating towards a faith crisis, I understood that I was becoming so confused and doubtful that I didn’t even want to crack open a Bible because I didn’t know what to believe.
Thankfully I did finally come to the end of myself. One evening, I opened my Bible to read as though it were the first time ever. I poured over the epistles with a voracious fervor like I was completely starved. Those first few weeks I took time to read Galatians, again and again and again, along with Romans and practically all the epistles and multiple commentary notes.
So many varying degrees of thoughts went through my mind while reading – from extreme hope, to extreme confusion, to HRM arguments, to finally coming to the question that I wasn’t sure if I could ask: could it just maybe really be this simple to be a Christ-follower? All I had to do is trust in Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit and love in my life?
It’s been a while now since what I excitedly call my “grace-walk” began, and while I was hoping my life would change dramatically and that I’d have it all together in a neat scheduled time-frame, I know God doesn’t work in our timing or expectations.
But that’s part of the grace journey – learning to accept that God’s grace and timing is enough. As the saying goes “I’m not where I want to be yet, but thank God I’m not where I was!”
I have also learned that it is perfectly okay if I do not have all the answers to my questions yet. I simply don’t know it all, but I’ve experienced freedom and an appreciation for grace as never before. I regret my strong involvement in HRM, but I know God can use all things for His glory if we let Him.
People who have never been in captivity may not be able to understand freedom or may not fight for it, but those who have been in bondage appreciate and fight for their freedom all the more. And I have that freedom in Christ. I’m learning what grace looks like practically both for my own life, in raising my children, and in dealing with other believers.
I have no idea what my future will look like or God’s purposes in my life. But I keep trusting that “He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion” (Phil 1:6).
Again, many thanks to J. for your testimony. My prayer for you is this:
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (From Ephesians 3)
If you’re someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE. For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page. General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE. Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE. Be sure to check out the other testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable. May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.
Other articles of interest:
- Millennial Prophecy – Measuring Unrevealed Prophecies in Light of Revealed Truths
- Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement – An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley
- Tzit Tzit For the Believer In Christ?
- 12 Undeniable Truths That Drive Law ‘Keepers’ Crazy
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