• 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 Forrest 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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  • Broken Links – UGH

    Do you find it frustrating when you’re directed to a link that does not exist? Me too! My apologies for any broken links you may find here.

    JGIG occasionally links to to sites that sometimes change hosting sites 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.

    Please let me know via the ‘Contact JGIG’ drop-down menu item under the ‘About’ tab at the top of this page if you come across a link that is broken so that I can try to repair or remove it. Please include the name of the post/article where you found the broken link as well as the link itself. You may be able to find content specified by doing a search and viewing a relocated or cached page/post/video.

    Thanks,
    – JGIG

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Jesus’ Gospel? Paul’s Gospel?

Jesus’ Gospel?  Paul’s Gospel?  Are they different?  Or are they complementary?  Is Paul’s Gospel ‘his’, or is it God’s Gospel embraced by Paul?  Are Paul’s writings (and the other apostolic writings in the New Covenant Scriptures) what Jesus alluded to in John 16?

Jesus vs Paul

I was asked this question in an email recently:

“Another question, some at hrm [Hebrew Roots Movement/Torah pursuant folks] say there is the gospel of Jesus vs the gospel of Paul.  Basically they teach that Paul wrote his own gospel even though Jesus clearly stated after his death burial and resurrection there would be more to come(information).”

My response (edited and expanded for this venue):
That’s a great question! In John 16, Jesus says this:

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Jesus is clearly telling His disciples that there is more truth to come that they, on that side of the Cross, could not, would not understand.

The Work of the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and His Perfect High Priesthood all needed to be in place before the fullness of the Gospel of Grace could be explained.

With the implications to the Law and Israel’s relationship with it and with God, when you think about it, it kinda had to be Paul to receive that revelation of the Gospel of Grace.

Paul was a Pharisee of the highest reputation, knowing the Law inside and out.  For him to embrace the Gospel of Grace, which he proclaimed to be ‘his’ Gospel, was huge.  To address that question real quick, Paul, by the end of his letter to the Romans states that it is ‘his’ Gospel, not in an ‘I thought it up and created it’ way, but in an ‘I now embrace this Gospel of Grace as my Good News, applied to my life – the New Covenant, superior to the Old Covenant for which I had such passion’ way.

Note that in Romans 1, Paul says this:

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

At the beginning of the letter to the Romans it is ‘the’ Gospel, and the letter to the Romans is a treatise on our

>>> need <<< for the Gospel for Jews and Gentiles alike, the

>>> supply <<< of the Gospel for Jews and Gentiles alike, and the

>>> results <<< of the Gospel for Jews and Gentiles alike.

And Paul expertly weaves the proper use of the Law and the application and superiority of Grace throughoutat the end proclaiming, as a former Pharisee Law-keeper, that this is *his* Gospel – a Gospel that he embraces *himself*, after having gone through the issues of Law and Grace point by point throughout the letter (and also in his other letters).

Now read Paul’s closing comments in Romans 16:

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations,

>>> according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— <<<

27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

So the Gospel that Paul preached was not a gospel apart from Christ’s, but Paul’s and the other apostolic New Covenant writings were the fulfillment of what Christ said in John 16.

Paul minces no words here when establishing the source and authority for what he was teaching to the Galatians:

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 

12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it,

>>> but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. <<<

13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16

>>> was pleased to reveal his Son to me, <<<

in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

One thing to note here, as well, is that Jesus said that the Spirit of Truth would point to and glorify Christ – not to point to and glorify the Law, but to Christ, which is what Paul and the other apostles do all throughout the New Covenant Scriptures.

God was no longer relating to mankind – nor was He desiring mankind to relate to Him – through the Law, but through the Work and Person of God in the flesh, Christ Jesus.

So Paul (and the others) were not writing their own ‘gospels’; they were carrying out the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in John 16 – they were receiving that further information that could be understood on the side of the Cross where they now lived and we do too – revealing what was actually accomplished at the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and with the High Priesthood of Christ – and writing it down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The point of this post is to show that Paul does not contradict the Gospel of Christ, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, explains it.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  (from John 16)

Paul, in particular, expertly goes back to the Law and the Prophets and shows how the Old Covenant shadows give way to the New Covenant realities in Christ.

So the next time a Law ‘keeper’ tries to tell you that Paul’s Gospel is either ‘misunderstood’ (those who try to twist Paul’s words to support Torah observance for believers) or a ‘different’ gospel from Jesus’ Gospel (those who reject Paul’s writings outright), point them to John 16!

(I found the illustration at a pro-Islam think tank site, btw.  Funny, they use the same arguments that HRMers tend to use!)

Grace and peace to you in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

-JGIG

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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 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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What About ‘Hyper-Grace’???

What About ‘Hyper-Grace’???

Over the past year or so (starting in 2013), a manufactured label, ‘Hyper-Grace’, has been made popular and applied to the Gospel of Grace.  Personally, I embrace the term, because in my opinion, the Living God coming to Earth as a man to die for our sin and bear the judgement due us, and then to give those who believe the gift of Righteousness and New Life in order to reconcile us to Himself is a pretty Hyper Grace!

That aside, not all believers embrace the term, and many are uncomfortable with the concept of pure Grace.  Rather those who mix Law and Grace use the term as a derogatory label, on which they pile false accusations about what the Gospel of Grace is and how those who walk in Grace live their lives.oh no!

A main instigator in applying the Hyper-Grace label to Grace-embracing believers is Dr. Michael Brown.  Understand that Dr. Brown is a respected theologian, and many take what he says quite seriously, seeing him as a credible source sounding a valid alarm – “Christians are seeing Grace as a license to sin!”, “Hyper-Grace teachings are leading to ‘grace horror stories!’” and the hyperbolic like.

You can do a search with Dr. Brown’s name and ‘Hyper-Grace’ and get a number of video teachings and interviews that he’s done on the subject, as well as an assortment of articles regarding the Hyper-Grace label/concept.  Note the ‘tabloidesque’ flavor to his interviews with Sid Roth, and the unbridled discussion about how this ‘hyper-grace’ can (and in their opinion does) lead to the loss of salvation.

How do you avoid losing your salvation?

By not sinning, of course!

How do you keep from sinning?

By keeping laws/commandments/rules . . . whatever the circle of like-minded folks you surround yourself with deems appropriate as the Biblical standard.

And if you do sin?

Repeated confession and repentance to God for sins that, according to their theology, God will hold against you if you don’t!

This of course, is contrary to contextual Scriptures (John 3:16-18,  Romans 5, 2 Corinthians 5:18-191 John 1:9, 1 John 2:1-2 for starters).

Many of the resources available on the Audio and Text Resources page here at JGIG refute the ‘Hyper-Grace’ hype, giving a Biblical defense for the Gospel of Grace.

Rob Rufus actually recorded a teaching entitled, ‘A Biblical Defense of the Gospel of Grace‘ several years before Dr. Brown made the ‘Hyper-Grace’ label popular.  A video version of the teaching can be viewed, as well:

Paul Ellis, author at the site, Escape to Reality, author of The Gospel in Ten Words, and The Gospel in Twenty Questions (links also in the left sidebar below), took the issue head on in “Confronting the Error of Hyper-Grace” – a response to Michael Brown, which garnered a few hundred comments in a good, lively discussion.  One more (of many) good articles found at his site in line with what we’re discussing here: Confession, Conviction, Confusion!

hyper graceWhen Dr. Brown’s book on ‘Hyper-Grace’ came out, D.R. Silva put together a good resource rebutting the common arguments against Grace.  Silva builds a solid defense for the Gospel of Grace in about 68 pages, whereas Brown’s book spends 304 pages trying to refute the Gospel of Grace and expound on its ‘dangers’.

D.R. Silva does reference Dr. Brown in his book, but I think it’s important to note that Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God is not primarily a refutation of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message (dangerous stuff, that Grace of God!!!), but rather a Biblical defense of the Grace position, taking on the common arguments/accusations leveled by those who mischaracterize the Grace position.

‘Grace is good, But . . . !’ should have been the title for Dr. Brown’s book.  A good audio by Rob Rufus, a teaching recorded several years ago, is available with a similar title:  Grace is Good – No Buts!

Edited to add 4/7/14:

Paul Ellis has published a book entitled, “The Hyper-Grace Gospel: A Response to Michael Brown and Those Opposed to thehyper-grace-gospel Modern Grace Message“, where he also provides an outline of the content, which systematically addresses the false perceptions of the Gospel of Grace as well as responds to specific assertions made by Dr. Brown.  Ellis puts together a definitive, clear presentation first and foremost of the Gospel of Grace.  Highly recommended:

A good video review of D.R. Silva’s book can be found here: Book Review “Hyper Grace – the Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God

So if someone warns you of the ‘dangers’ of ‘Hyper-Grace’, the Audio and Text Resources, Video Resources, and The Gospel pages have lots of materials to support the Biblical Gospel of Grace, and this article has given you a few specific resources (click on the embedded links!) to help you defend the Gospel of Grace with confidence and good humor.  [Added 5/4/14 – And more good humor.]

And Grace \o/..

grace is hyper

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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 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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Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement – An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley

One popular and widely shared teaching from Jim Staley is ‘Identity Crisis’, considered to be one of the ’gateway’ videos that gets folks more interested in the Hebraic Roots of their faith.  This page will address that teaching specifically as well as some other related teachings from Jim Staley.

Since I receive so many emails and private messages asking about the Hebrew Roots Movement teacher Jim Staley and Passion For Truth Ministries, I’ve put this page together so that folks can send out a link to an examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and other related Staley teachings.  A link to this page will also appear on the Articles Page here at JGIG.

There are a lot of teachings produced by Passion For Truths’ Jim Staley and there is no way logistically to evaluate them all.  A more practical approach is to take a few key teachings and find out how they fare when placed alongside the simple Truths of the Gospel as portrayed in the whole of the Scriptures:

  • Who Jesus is
  • What He came to do
  • What that actually accomplished, and
  • Who those who believe in Christ are in Him.

Another gateway teaching by Jim Staley that draws believers into the Hebrew Roots Movement, ‘Truth or Tradition’, will not be addressed here, since there are other resources which well address the issues raised in that video.

Two such excellent resources are Exit and Support Network and Ralph Woodrow’s ‘The Babylon Connection?‘, both of which do a good job sorting out truth from fiction regarding holidays. The Articles Page here at JGIG also has holiday-related articles listed under the letters “C” and “E” (which also has Two House/Ephraimite Doctrine articles).  As you navigate through that page (for which there is also a tab with a direct link at the top of this page) the articles are clearly titled.

Another reason I’ll not be dealing with the holiday issue here is that it really is a secondary disputable issue; I have no desire to convince folks to observe or not observe seasons or days, but am content, in the spirit of Romans 14, to leave their practices in such matters to their consciences.  The resources above are offered to help believers sort out the issues.Identity Crisis in Christ

Jim Staley’s ‘Identity Crisis’ teaching, however, is not a teaching regarding secondary disputable matters, but goes to the very core of the Gospel and is a teaching that twists the Truths of who believers are in Christ.

A relative sent me Jim Staley’s ‘Identity Crisis’ video link on YouTube many months ago, saying that the Lord woke them one night and felt that the Lord was prompting them to send it to me.  They had no idea that I’d ever heard of Jim Staley or that I was very familiar with his teachings.  Following is a detailed response to the teaching as well as some of some of Staley’s related teachings, edited and expanded for this venue.

Public Evaluation of Public Teachings

One more thing I’ll address here: Many who follow Jim Staley and Passion For Truth Ministries will take issue with this page.  They will write to me or on their own sites or on their Facebook pages about how I ‘should have gone to Jim personally if I have a problem with him’.

Folks, this is not an issue where I feel that Jim Staley has personally sinned against me.  He is a preacher/teacher out there claiming very publicly that he has Truth.  Jim Staley aggressively markets his brand of Law-keeping world-wide, and there are thousands of PFT DVDs and CDs that get passed around in the Body as well as PFT having a strong presence on YouTube and other online audio/video outlets.  Passion For Truth Ministries also has a strong presence on Facebook.

The search terms ‘Jim Staley Cult’, ‘Jim Staley false teacher’, ‘Jim Staley heresy’ and similar phrases are the most used search terms after this site’s name that bring people to JGIG, sending them to the Identifying False Teaching article, where a commenter asks about Jim Staley specifically.  As much as I hate to put the spotlight on any one teacher, it has become evident to me that the time has long since come for a few of Staley’s core teachings to be examined here at JGIG.

The comments function on this page has been turned off.  This page is for educational purposes and is published on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.  For those of you who think that’s unfair, note that Passion For Truth has not allowed comments on their videos for, as of this writing, about a year.  You will, however, find a contact form at the bottom of this page where you can give feedback that will be sent to my email.

This page has information that anyone can check out for themselves.  I provide links to each of the teachings in question as well as many time stamps and transcriptions for specific issues raised.  I encourage folks to watch the teachings referenced in total to get a feel for context and tone.  I have no interest in it seeming like I’m trying to railroad someone by taking their words out of context.

Note that in the past, once he becomes aware of scrutiny regarding his teaching materials, Jim Staley has been known to have his staff edit out clips that have been addressed, take down and repost videos under different URLs so that original links will no longer work, or mark certain videos as ‘private’.

Other folks concerned about the teachings of Jim Staley have taken to YouTube, using clips of Staley’s teachings and evaluating them in video form.  Staley has had many of those videos successfully removed claiming copyright infringement.  Videos that remain are those that post ‘fair use’ laws in their introductions.

All that to say this:  Jim Staley seems to not like being challenged.  I note these things here so that if you as readers click on a link that does not work or go to a time stamp that does not say what’s transcribed in the article below, consider the possibility that the URL/content may have been altered by PFT.

Let me be clear:  I have no beef with Jim Staley personally.  This page is about examining his teachings and theology, seeing how they measure up when placed alongside contextual Scripture and proper interpretive practices and the simple Truths of the Gospel.

For those of you who are aware of other issues with Jim Staley and are wondering if those issues will be addressed here:  No, they will not.  This page is only about examining Jim Staley’s teachings.  At the end of the page there are some ‘More Concerns’ regarding the origins of PFT Ministries and his leadership style.

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you read the following:

Click here to read the entire page.

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Related, off-site articles:

These off-site resources are offered with the understanding that the value of these resources outweigh any disagreements I may have with those sources.  Lots of good information below; as always, read/listen with discernment.

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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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Other related articles available at JGIG:

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My Public Testimony by J. Rumani

Path-to-the-Woods 3It 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.

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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

  1. Torah Observance, and
  2. 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).

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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.

-JGIG

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Other articles of interest:

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Believers in the Hebrew Roots Movement: Are They Lost?

I’ve seen the issue titled above come up time after time, from anxious family members and friends of precious believers who have been sucked into the Hebrew Roots Movement, and from heresy hunters who use fear every bit as much as those they strive to refute as they try to retrieve the deceived back into Biblical Christianity.

Here’s how I see it:
The HRM draws both believers and unbelievers into its web.  The Enemy accomplishes keeping the unbeliever away from the Gospel, and he keeps the believer from a fruitful relationship with God in Christ as he keeps them from bringing the Lost to Christ – they are far too busy ‘setting themselves apart’ via Law-keeping and trying to get other believers to be Torah observant for a variety of reasons.

Those in the Conditional Security camp may cringe when I say this, but one of the big ‘hooks’ that those in Law-keeping sects use to get folks into Law-keeping and keep them there is that if you don’t keep the Law, you’re in willful rebellion against God by not keeping His commandments and you are either Lost

  1. not really saved, or
  2. will lose your salvation.

Conditional Security types who believe that one in Christ can somehow lose their salvation open the door to that very subtle deception and unwittingly feed into it.

I firmly believe that believers who get hoodwinked into Law-keeping sects do not lose their salvation, but are neutralized in the Body – sterilized if you will – and will not ‘reproduce’, bringing the Lost into the Body.  Their fruit is mixed, which makes evaluating what they believe on the core issues of the faith important.

I say their fruit is mixed because I’ve interacted with Torah folk who are, up front anyway, loving and joyful.  When you begin to consistently disagree with them regarding believers’ relationship to the Law, however, they become impatient, critical, and controlling.  Their intentions may initially be noble, but the flesh takes over and bears its fruit, produced by the Law under which they’ve placed themselves.  We then begin to see things like idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, and envy.  A few of you Torah folk balking at the idolatry and sorcery charges?  Check out where some of your doctrines come from.

There are some from the HRM who convert to Judaism outright.  And there arises a real sticky wicket:  Are we in a position to judge the heart regarding the salvation/eternal security of one who goes so far as to do something as drastic as that?

Here’s a question worth considering: Are they, by their actions carried out under deception, rejecting the True Christ Jesus in/from/through Whom, in the past, they may have been saved and received eternal life, or are they rejecting the Enemy’s portrayal of a false Messiah cleverly crafted and spun in Law-keeping sects’ doctrines? 

If they were truly saved in their past, what will happen to them

no effectSee – I’m thinking we preach the Gospel regardless – to bring the deceived back to have Christ – the REAL Christ – be of full effect again in their lives, and if they were never saved to begin with, to bring them to Christ for the first time!

That’s the beauty of the Gospel: The Gospel corrects error and brings LIFE, so no matter the ailment, the Gospel is the Cure!

Are we seeing Torah folks’ lives from the perspective of God, Who sees not only where they are, but where they’ve been and where they’re going?  A deeply deceived person will believe and do really dumb stuff.  I’m of the mind and heart to preach the Gospel full preach and let God work out who is saved and who is not – with the understanding that I have but a snapshot of most people’s lives – especially on the internet!

So let this be an exhortation/encouragement for those of you who interact with friends and loved ones who are in the Hebrew Roots Movement and other false belief systems.  Don’t take the responsibility of sorting out ‘who’s saved and who isn’t.  It’s not your deal.  Examine fruit?  Absolutely.  Call out error?  You bet.  Tell someone who may very well be saved but walking in error that they’re going to hell?  No.

gospel-changes-everythingInstead, build them up in who they are in Christ; speak the simple Truths of the Gospel to them – lovingly and clearly to counter the falsehoods with which the Enemy seeks to muddy the waters as he drops the dirt of false doctrines into our streams of faith.  If they’re already saved, the Gospel will correct the error they’re in if they’re willing.  If they’re not already saved, communicating the Gospel to them will give them the opportunity to be reconciled to God in Christ.

Regardless, results are God’s business, not ours.  We are called to speak Truth in Love, not to manipulate in order to get results.

Again, the Gospel corrects error and brings Life – think of how the Apostles dealt with error in the Apostolic writings.  Sometimes they came at error head-on (absolutely appropriate on core issues), but mostly they just preached the Gospel of Grace and told believers who they are in Christ because of that Gospel (Who Jesus is, What He came to do, What that actually accomplished, and who believers are in Him).  Some plant, some water, but God makes those seeds grow!  If you’re not sure how to communicate the Gospel in an effective way, this is a good place to start, especially to those who are in Law-keeping sects:  The Gospel

There are lots of good resources out there, many of which can be found here.  I also encourage you to check out this site, as the author there has a really good way of relating the Gospel in real terms to real people living real lives.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page here at JGIG, for accounts of how God has brought those folks out of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

All that to say:  Our focus needs to be on the Gospel.  Understand the Gospel and the errors in false teachings will become very obvious.  Understand the Gospel and speak Grace and Truth into the lives of your friends and family members.  If/when the Torah folk in your lives reject the Jesus/Yeshua we love, try not to take it personally; they’ve been deceived by teachers bringing them a different jesus/yeshua and a false gospel.  Just love them well, pray, pray, pray, lift the emotion of it all Heavenward, giving it to God at His Throne of Grace, and leave the rest to Him.

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Other articles of interest:

A clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Grace or Law? How Then, Shall We Live?

After salvation, how then, shall we live?

Is Grace the best path, or is Law the best path?

tug-o-war1

Many come to sites like JGIG that address issues of Law and Grace thinking that those in the Grace camp preach either easy believism, antinomianism, that Grace is a license to sin, or that we believe/teach all three.

Let Me Address the ‘Easy-Believism’ Misperception First
Some will make a charge of ‘easy believism’ against those who preach the Gospel of Grace, using this single verse from Scripture:

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.

They then try to equate that belief of demons with faith in Christ.  Demons do understand – they know Who Jesus is – they believe that fact – but they don’t put their faith in His Work.  It is not the same thing at all.  The unspoken accusation here, whether intended or not, is that belief by humans, without the added performance of Law, is no better than the belief of demons.  What a motivator, eh?!Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

Broken people who have been saved by Grace through Faith, in the midst of healing and restoring by the Spirit of God, don’t believe like the demons believe.  They are placing their faith and trust in the God Who came in the flesh to die a horrible death to satisfy the wrath that should have come on them and are instead receiving complete forgiveness that He freely gives, enabling Him to impute to them the Righteousness of Christ, resulting in New Life – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – making them a New Creation in Christ (Romans 5 and 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)!

No, the belief that demons exercise is something quite different indeed.

Now that THAT’S out of the way, let’s move on to the antinomian and license to sin charges.

The Misperceptions that Grace Teaches Antinomianism and/or a License to Sin
This is what the Scriptures say about what Grace teaches:

Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It [grace] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory 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.

You’d think that would be the end of it, but no . . .

Setting aside, for the moment, the fact that a gospel gained by Grace through Faith but not maintained by Grace through Faith from first to last (Romans 1:16-17) is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-9), another huge issue in the Grace/Law debate, for the purposes here, I’ll limit this post to the following:

measuring up

Team Law relies on outward works of the Law as fruit of salvation – performance based evidence.

For Torah folk, whom JGIG tends to address primarily, that means the keeping of Old Covenant Laws: Feasts, days, dietary laws, wearing tzit tzit, etc.  For other team Law folks it may be baptism by sprinkling vs. immersion as proof of salvation or the speaking of tongues as the ‘proof’ or ‘fruit’ that one is truly saved, etc., what to wear, whether or not to go to movies, haircuts, head-coverings, etc., depending on the stream of thought in which one swims.  There are bunches more examples, but you get the idea.

Team Grace sees Grace and the Holy Spirit as that which/Who empowers us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives.  Evidence of salvation lies in the production of the Spirit’s Fruit.  When one is truly saved, Fruit happens.

We don’t produce fruit; we bear fruit.

Fruit is the inevitable outflow of the work of God’s Spirit and Grace in and through us, those being the Fruits of the Spirit as stated in Galatians 5:22-26.  Those Fruits often manifest in the flesh as works of love and service to others, opening up avenues for the sharing of the Gospel with the Lost. One can absolutely be demonstrating the Fruits of the Spirit while not Feast or day keeping, observing dietary laws, wearing tzit tzit, etc.

It’s interesting to note that Spirit-led Fruit tends to look outward with concern for others, having a heart for the Lost, while performance-led fruit tends to turn one’s focus inward, always self-examining to make sure they are in line with whatever system of law they’ve put themselves under. If they have time, they busy themselves examining other Christians, exhorting them to also put themselves under law in order to achieve holiness before God so that they, too, can avoid God’s wrath.  Little time (if any) is left over for the Lost.

Regarding the keeping of Law, let’s take a look at what we see in Galatians:

Galatians 5:16-18
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:22-23
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The first Fruit of the Spirit is love.  The rest of the Fruits, in my opinion, are all elements, or subsets, if you will, of love.  If one is loving (verb), they are, most likely, exhibiting joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There are no laws against such things.  This echoes Galatians 5:18, “If we are led by the Spirit we are not under law”, after which the Fruits of being led by the Spirit are listed.

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!that long groove

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 a person has life in them, they 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!

Here’s the other really cool thing:

We love because He first loved us.  (1 John 4:19)

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

That is Grace.

And because of Grace and being led by the Spirit, when we love, we are not murdering, stealing, committing adultery, worshipping other gods, bearing false witness . . . do you see where this is going?

Can you begin to see how Jesus is our Sabbath Rest?

Note that fruit does fruit in stagesnot come out fully formed and completely ripe.

Good fruit takes time.

Don’t judge the blossom because it’s not yet a strawberry.

Let me take the example of a morbidly obese person, say, around 300 lbs. or so.  You may look at the person in question and make observations, thinking unkind thoughts about their size, their ‘obvious’ eating habits, their ‘obvious’ undisciplined lifestyle, their ‘obvious’ sin of gluttony, etc.  Please do not misunderstand; I’m not saying at all that obesity is a sin. This is an illustration.

Now let’s take a look at what you don’t see, because you CANNOT see what GOD sees, and you may be greatly misinterpreting what’s going on in someone’s life or how you perceive leadership to be handling a situation.  Be careful how you interpret what you think you see:

Perhaps that 300 lb. person used to be 500 lbs., and with God’s help, they have dropped 200 lbs.  They have good days and bad days, calorically speaking, but they are a work in progress, keeping their eye on the goal, persevering, and relying on God’s Mercy and Grace to see them to the finish line. Some in that position will reach their goal in a relatively short period of time; for others, it will take a lifetime.  For some, it may be a simple case of an over-active love for food.  For others, maybe they have an underlying medical condition.  For still others, it may be a comfort thing, where they are replacing the lack of care and love in their lives with food.  Whatever the issues, God is faithful to progressively address and minister to those issues over time.

Now let’s apply that same concept of what you can and cannot see to all different kinds of situations and sin scenarios.  I won’t detail any here; we all have people and situations familiar to us that we’re thinking of right now.

Here’s the thing:  While some are radically delivered from their addictions and/or lifestyles, for many, though positionally they have been forgiven of all their sins, it can be a life-long process for them to have victory over sinning.

For most, behavior is a manifestation of heart issues, and those things are not dealt with by employing behavior modification techniques.  Those are things that take time to heal – not that God can’t deliver immediately and completely – that can and does happen – but for many, like skittish animals that have been abused, it takes time (for some, a lifetime) for the deeply wounded to learn to trust Who God is, how completely He loves and accepts them, and who they are in Him.

That said, God does save completely:

Hebrews 7:18-26
18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

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

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

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

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

As a result, we have unlimited and uninterrupted access to the Grace of God:

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.

However the woundedness manifests in sinful behavior, it is God’s desire to see the positional New Creation in Christ in the spirit become the New Creation in this life:

2 Corinthians 5:16-21
16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!

18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What struck me as I re-read the above portion of Scripture is that God isentrusted committing to us, the Body, this message – that in and through the Work of Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them.  I don’t often look to commentaries, but my sense in reading, “that this is the message of the Gospel that God is committing to us means that it is something that God is entrusting believers with, that we would communicate this Gospel of Grace, this Good News, to others, indicated by the ‘ambassadors’ language following.  I found this, from Barnes’ Notes:

Tyndale renders this: “and hath committed unto us the preaching of the atonement.” The meaning is, that the office of making known the nature of this plan, and the conditions on which God was willing to be reconciled to man, had been committed to the ministers of the gospel.

The Scripture goes on to say that “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.”  What kind of ambassadors of the message of reconciliation are we being?

How can we be proper ambassadors to the world if we, as the Body of Christ, are holding sins against people that God no longer holds against them?

I’m not speaking of Universalism, here, at all.  What I am saying is that all sin was dealt with at the Cross; the sins of the entire world were propitiated for by the Work of Christ:

1 John 2:2
2He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

That being the case, all do need to respond by faith to believe in the Work of Christ and receive that forgiveness and the free gift of righteousness (Romans 3:21-26, Romans 5:12-21, Romans 10:9-15).

By grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we are then positionally declared justified and righteous not because of anything we have done or ever will do beyond receiving God’s free gift of righteousness, but because of Who Jesus is, His actions as the Last Adam – His Perfect Righteousness – which is imputed to us.

Note that imputed righteousness is preceded by imputed sin.  It doesn’t seem fair: ” . . . as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin . . . therefore as by the offense of one, judgement came upon all . . .”   Neither is imputed righteousness ‘fair’: “ . . .  For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”  (From Romans 5)

threeimputations

We are condemned by the sin of the First Adam (though the Scriptures cover the sin issue from two angles: sin was imputed to you, but by the Law we were all found guilty; no one is righteous).  We who receive the gift of righteousness are declared righteous by the actions of the Last Adam (Christ Jesus).  Not only that, but the result is this:

Romans 5:20-21
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

It’s very convenient for a religious spirit to ‘deal with’ believers sinning by applying the nice, neat, template of Law (an improper use of the Law, as the Law was made for the unrighteous, not believers, who in Christ, are declared righteous).  One can just throw the Law out there and hope that the ‘target’ will ‘get it’ and turn from their evil ways (reduction in sinning) under the threat of ‘or else’.

Note that people sin under Law; people sin under Grace.

Yet according to the Scriptures, Team Law’s approach has the exact opposite of the desired effect (a reduction in sinning):

Law was given to increase sinning:

Romans 5:20
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.

Law stirs up sinning:

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

Law produces death:

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

Law produces fruit unto death:

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

Law is the power of sin:

1 Corinthians 15:56
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

What do Grace and the Spirit produce (Team Grace)?

Grace teaches us godliness:

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

The Spirit produces life:

Romans 8:5-6
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; (see also Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, and Ephesians 6:14-17)

The Spirit produces the Fruits of the Spirit:

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

How there is even a debate . . . I get it, but I don’t get it.

Law-Perfect-300x210

For those of us who aren’t dealing with the big, obvious sins (other than spiritual pride, arrogance, and judgementalism, that is), we need to be actively aware of the struggling believer’s secure position in Christ in the midst of their condition in the flesh.  That active awareness should translate into gently lifting up those who struggle with their condition in the flesh, establishing them in the reality of their position in Christ, reminding them of the Throne of Grace that they/we can approach in Christ in their/our time of need.  That’s talking about help when it comes to sinning, folks, and the Throne spoken of is not a throne of judgement (from the Law), but the Throne of Grace!

Apparently, the Thessalonians were really good at this:

1 Thessalonians 5:11-24
11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

12Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Live in peace with each other.  14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt.  21 Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  22Avoid every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

It is important to understand that the Gospel does not place any condition on the wounded and broken except to believe on the One God sent.  The command to love one another is ultimately fulfilled through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as He produces His Fruit through us – we bear that Fruit; it is a by-product of life in Him.  Our sins – past, present, and future, along with the sins of the whole world, were paid for at the Cross, Christ Jesus having taken the wrath of God upon Himself to spare us that wrath.  If we receive that forgiveness, we receive the Life of Christ, sealed with His Holy Spirit, adopted as sons through Christ Jesus and co-heirs with Him, Who then begins His work of healing and restoration in us.

Dear Believer, read through the letters to the early Body of Christ.

Read them out loud.

Discover who God says you are in Christ.

Lift up those areas of weakness and sinning in your life – “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.”  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

grace always wins

Grace recognizes that for a lot of people, it’s not so neat and tidy; it can take longer for some than for others, for all – a lifetime, and it can be messy.  But where sin increased, grace super abounded, and God is faithful:


May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.

May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it!


Highly Recommended Related Audio Teachings (free downloads)
:

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Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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A Bit of Housekeeping – New Resources at JGIG

(Updated 10/7/13) – I’ve been wanting for some time now to put together a resource page/pages for solid teachings regarding the simple truths of the Gospel and teachings with an emphasis on New/Old Covenant issues for the growth, edification, encouragement, and equipping of those who come to JGIG.  I’ve compiled a collection of balanced teachings and have found a need to rearrange the tabs with drop-down menus just a wee bit at the top of JGIG to accommodate the extra content.

The new Media tab, has replaced the Contact JGIG tab.  More about this in a minute.

Media Tab

Media is just that; the resources listed within that drop-down menu include audio, video, and text resources as well as a music category:

Audio and Text Resources

Video Resources

Music

Two drop-down categories have been moved from the Good Links (now just Links for the sake of space) tab to the Media tab:  the audio series on Hebrews (which can be found in the Audio and Text Resources menu under ‘Aaron Budjen’) and the Music category.

There is now also The Gospel tab, with one of the clearest presentations of the Gospel I’ve ever heard; gentle and joyful, yet thorough.

The Gospel Tab

Contact JGIG:
The page with the email link for reaching JGIG is now located under the About tab:

About Tab

That drop-down menu now reads (when you hover your cursor over or click on the About tab):

Statement of Faith

Comments Policy

How I Became Aware of the Hebrew Roots Movement

About the Author

Contact JGIG

I hope that you find the resources available under The Gospel and Media tabs to be a source of both growth and refreshment for you in your walk and as you share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and New Life in Him with others.

Sincerely in Christ,
-JGIG

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

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Other articles of interest:

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Are They Judaizers?

As often happens on forums, questions come up to try to clarify the Law/Grace issue.  The following is a post posed by one person trying to sort out if there are differences between those who are part of the modern ‘Hebrew Roots Movement’ and the Judaizers that Paul spoke about in his letter to the Galatians.  Following is her inquiry and my response:

Originally Posted by LabbyLove –>
I’m trying really hard to understand this Hebrew Roots information that I get in bits and pieces. You know I struggle with the Sabbath and what to do with that law…

Anyway, if you follow HRM or are VERY familiar with its teachings, then would you please tell me what the DIFFERENCES are between people who follow some laws some as dietary, circumcism, sabbath, passover observances, etc., (which I think are HRM) and those that were named Judaizers in Paul’s day.

Did Judaizers believe that you had to follow the laws in order to be saved, or once you were saved by Jesus Christ that you had to follow the laws? Did they equate following the laws with gaining salvation, or were they okay with people becoming Christians, but felt they needed to follow Jewish laws to be in line with God’s will? What if they didn’t follow the laws, did they feel salvation would be lost?

It seems the Gentile Christians were told after the Council at Jerusalem that they only needed to follow the four rules set before them by the apostles, thus freeing them from following all of the mosaic law. Trying also to understand what Paul is saying in Galatians about all of this.

My impression is that HRM differs from the original Judaizers in that they don’t feel it’s necessary, but helpful or loving to follow some of the law? Do I have that right?

From JGIG:
Hi LabbyLove,

Bank tellers, when trained to identify counterfeit money, are trained first to become thoroughly familiar with genuine money.  They handle it, examine it, study it, becoming so familiar with it’s look and feel that when a counterfeit bill comes across their path, something will feel/seem ‘off’ enough to them that they will examine it further.

That’s how it was for me when the concepts/teachings in the Hebrew Roots Movement came across my path.  The perspective was fascinating; the motives of its followers seemed to be pure.  After all they were just doing what they were doing because they love and want to obey and please God, right?  Yet something seemed a little ‘off’ to me, so I determined to learn more.

As a Christian I understood how the Feasts of God, Sabbaths and other observances in Mosaic Covenant Law pointed to Christ and for some to decide to celebrate them now in order to learn the beauty of how the Law points to Christ did not disturb me at all.

I have Jewish/Hebrew Christian friends who maintain their heritage and traditions of Feasts and Days and dietary observances.  They see the beauty of God’s provision of the Law for Israel and take great joy in celebrating Jesus, the Fulfillment of what the Law pointed to.  It is no longer Law to them now, however.  Their lives revolve around the Reality in Christ, not around the shadows of the Law.

Then I started hearing things like, “If you really love God, you will keep His Laws – all of them”, “If you don’t keep God’s Law, you’ll be called least in the kingdom”, “If you’re really saved, you’ll keep the Law”, “Jesus is coming back for the Bride – if you don’t keep the Law you aren’t part of the Bride” . . . and more. You may have heard similar things said in a more ’round-about way.

As I heard those things and heard more teaching from those who had chosen Torah observance, many Scriptures came to mind.  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 hidden 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.

It seems that you may be experiencing some of the same from what you say here:

It seems the Gentile Christians were told after the Council at Jerusalem that they only needed to follow the four rules set before them by the apostles, thus freeing them from following all of the mosaic law. Trying also to understand what Paul is saying in Galatians about all of this.

My impression is that HRM differs from the original Judaizers in that they don’t feel it’s necessary, but helpful or loving to follow some of the law? Do I have that right?

Judaizers, in one form or another, have been around since the infancy of the Body of Christ.  They come in many forms . . . the sect that Paul addressed directly in the letter to the Galatians, those who have more concern about religious observance than about abiding in Christ, and more recently, those in the HRM streams of thought who preach adherence to Mosaic Covenant Law in addition to the simplicity of the Gospel.

In short, and in principle, a Judaizer is anyone who adds to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  To be saved or to stay saved, it’s Jesus + (insert pet theology here).  While the term Judaizer definitely lends itself to the Law and traditions given to Israel, the spirit behind Judaizing takes many forms and its intent is to take the believer’s focus away from the complete work of Christ and abiding and resting in Him and to put the believer’s focus and efforts into what they must do in order to be pleasing to God and remain in His good graces.

So while the ‘mechanics’ of Judaizing or legalistic movements may be different from group to group and age to age, the underlying intent of the Enemy is the same:  To take your focus off of Jesus and to turn your focus back to yourself (what do I have to do to please God, what do I have to do to receive status in the kingdom, what do I have to do to stay saved, what must I do to be a part of the Bride, etc.).  The focus becomes very much on the flesh, and very little on the Spirit.

As you read through the writings to the Body of Christ after Pentecost, you will see over and over how God shifts focus from the Law and the flesh to Jesus and the Spirit.  It is not that Law ceases to be, it is that our relationship to Law changes.  We die to the Law in Christ, and the Law becomes obsolete in Christ.  The message is clear.

If someone has to start telling you that the Scriptures don’t really say what they clearly say and then they have to build linguistic or theological contraptions to make their point, then red flags should start going up.

Be careful, as you consume HRM information in bits and pieces, that you don’t become as the metaphorical ‘frog in the pot’.  Bit by bit is how many become deceived; if given the whole picture up front, many would reject false belief systems outright.  For some, other elements come into the picture, such as discontent with churchianity, woundedness, etc.  Read HERE for the progression of how it goes for many who choose Torah pursuance.

Keep the Law to be saved?  Keep the Law to stay saved?  Keep the Law to prove you’re saved?  Keep the Law to be blessed?  Keep the Law to not be cursed?  You can only please God by keeping His Law as given to Moses?  The only way to know and to stay in the will of God is to keep the Law?  You’ll be the least in the kingdom if you don’t keep Mosaic Covenant Law?  Yep, you will find a number of or all of those beliefs and more in the HRM.

I know you asked for a simple list of differences, and I’m sorry I could not do that for you. 

The key is actually simpler than a list.

You just need to stay in the Word and become well grounded about who you are in Christ.  Even if you were to just go through the New Testament and read through, paying special attention to every time the text says, “In Christ”, “Through Christ”, “Because of Christ”, “In Him”, etc. and keep in mind the HRM teachings you have under your belt thus far, you might find some confusion clearing up and begin to see the difference in focus between what you’re seeing plainly written in the Bible and what you hear from HRM sources.

You may also begin to see why one of the tenets in the HRM is that Yeshua is the Living Torah.  That is a key false teaching in the HRM designed to take your focus off of the Living Christ Who did the work of the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the sending of His promised Holy Spirit and to put your focus on Torah instead.  It is the attempt to replace the Living Christ with the written Law.  Did Torah do all the things that Christ did?  No!  Then how can Yeshua be the Living Torah?  Torah is a partial revelation of God’s Word.  Yeshua/Jesus is the FULL and LIVING expression of God Who bled and died and rose again to fulfill the promises of God.

I’m sorry this is so long.  There were several points I thought important to make.  It sounds like as you’re reading things like Acts 15 and Galatians for what they plainly say, you’re seeing some disconnects in what you’re learning from HRM sources. Those I know (and I know quite a few now) who have come out of the HRM, tell me that that’s exactly how it happened for them:  When they just sat down with the Word and read what it says to the Body of Christ, it was clear to them that they truly were not under Law but under Grace.  There are some testimonies from some former HRMers HERE, as well a more information about the HRM if you want to take a look.

When one’s focus remains on the finished work of Christ and who we are in Christ, so many things become so clear.  May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

Blessings,
-JGIG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Temple is Christ and His Body:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the sacrifices are now living ones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Law keeping community is a walking contradiction, people.

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

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

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

How do we uphold the Law?

By using it properly:

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

Who are you in Christ?

What does Romans 3 say?

Who does Timothy say that the Law is for?

Can we learn from the Law?

Yes.

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

No.

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

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

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

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

Love goes where Law cannot.

-JGIG

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A clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Other articles of interest:

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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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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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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.

“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

Confessions of A Former Sabbath Keeper

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

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

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

Confessions of A Former Sabbath Keeper
by Tom Warner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing Sabbath-keeping’s Negative Side Effects

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

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

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

Learning More About Church History

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reconsidering First Day Texts in a New/Old Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distinguishing Between the Covenants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally Facing Up to Colossians 2:16-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding New Freedom to Rest and Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still Resting in God’s Grace

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

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

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

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

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

END NOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Used with permission from UK Apologetics.

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Other Sabbath Articles

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A clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Other articles of interest:

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

It’s a pretty effective close.

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Dear Believer,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Other articles of interest:

A clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Perversion of Repentance

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

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

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

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

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The Perversion of Repentance
by Tim Warner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTES:

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

 © Tim Warner, September 2007

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

Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Headlong into Heresy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace and Peace,
JGIG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Believers in the Hebrew Roots Movement:  Are They Lost?

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

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They Changed the Sabbath to Sunday

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

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

let-us-reason1

THEY CHANGED THE SABBATH TO SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one ever changed the Sabbath day to SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contrasting the Sabbath day in the Old Testament covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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