• 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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A Hebrew Roots Wife Speaks

Over the years, I’ve received many emails and private messages from the spouses of Hebrew Roots followers and their stories are amazingly similar.  One wife shares her story below.  My prayer is that her story will be an encouragement for those who are walking the same path.
-JGIG

A Hebrew Roots Wife Speaks

A few years ago, my husband and I started to feel a stirring in our spirits and a growing discontent with the “status quo” we had experienced for many years in various churches. At that time, we had been very active in our church for 4 years, but as we began seeking the Lord, we felt an silhouette-coupleemotional disconnect happening and believed God was calling us out of our church.  Through a series of events, we were drawn to a church about 35 minutes drive from our home.  Just as I was settling in comfortably there, my husband decided out of curiosity to visit a “Messianic” congregation close to our home.

After his first visit, he came home all excited about how warm and accepting everyone had been, and said he wanted me to come with him the next week.  So the following Friday evening, our whole family went to a meeting, followed by a potluck meal.  The people were quite friendly, but it was all so foreign to me and not comfortable.  The children did not enjoy it at all.  I tried a couple of more times, but something was just feeling like red flags in my spirit.  Some of the things I started hearing were very concerning to me.

In the beginning, my husband agreed.  Things being taught did not sit right with him either.  But he felt a sense of community, and continued to attend.  It wasn’t long before he started becoming consumed with reading their materials, attending meetings Friday nights as well as most of the day on Saturdays, and watching  DVDs by various Hebrew Roots teachers.

It was about this time that my husband lost his job.  By then, he was calling himself a “Messianic Jew” (we are Gentiles), and had filed a request with his company to be excused from working Saturdays due to religious practice.  Although there was no solid proof, I have my suspicions that this may have played a part in him being let go.  He also began to grow his beard long and full, and started wearing tzi tzis, although for work he would tuck them inside his pants.

Pork and shellfish were out, and he began to scrutinize what I did around the house on Saturdays, as to what was “work” and what was “ok”.  He asked me to start preparing our meals on Friday, so that they could just be warmed on Saturdays, and I would not need to cook.  Our usual Saturday family time was now spent at home, and if we did go anywhere he wouldn’t spend any money.  Stopping for an ice cream cone was now “wrong”.

My husband started becoming very negative towards churches, and I noticed a very judgmental attitude toward members of our previous churches.  He no longer wanted to attend church with the children and me.  Since he had no job, he would spend day after day watching videos about the Law and end-times prophecies.  When I would question what he was doing to find another job, he would say the Lord would open a door at the right time, and that he was feeling blessed with a season of time to study.  We were living off his retirement account and savings, and when those gave out, credit cards.

During the first year of his involvement with HRM, I must admit I was totally freaking out! We had numerous arguments as we discussed scripture.  I felt like a yoke of slavery was being put around my neck; one that I had not asked for.  But for keeping the peace I tried to work within his new “convictions”.  I felt like my husband was becoming more of a stranger with every passing day.

He tried to ban Christmas that first year, but when he saw how upset the kids were, he backed down.  He said we were free to do whatever, but he would have no part of it. Easter was the same.  Many, many “discussions” of scripture would invariably turn to arguing again, to the point that my 11 yr old son asked me if we were going to divorce over the Bible!  My teenage daughter had slipped into a deep depression, and started pulling away from God.  She said she just didn’t know what to believe anymore, that things she had been raised to believe her whole life, now her father was saying were all wrong.

We eventually stopped going to church, because of so much conflict and me knowing how he felt about “Christian churches”.  But after several months, I felt like I was spiritually parched and longed for fellowship again with like-minded believers.  One particular Sunday, my husband asked me to go to Home Depot to pick up something he needed.  On my way in the car alone, I just began to weep and cried out to the Lord.  Another Sunday when I longed to be in church, and here we were, working on a toilet!!

I prayed, asking for direction about church for the kids and me.  Ten minutes later, the associate in the plumbing department who was helping me mentioned something about his church.  I asked him what church he belonged to and he said the name of the church that I had felt God lead us to at the beginning of all this mess.  His experience of the presence of God there was identical to my own. (And incidentally when we first started attending there my husband said he strongly sensed the Holy Spirit.)  I knew meeting this man was no fluke, and God had answered my prayer.

I went home and told my husband what happened, and that I intended to start going to church again, and that he was welcome to join us, but if not, the rest of the family would go.  He said, “You can go anywhere you want, I know eventually the truth will come.” To that I said “Hallelujah, yes it will!”

After getting established again in this wonderful, spirit-led church, the kids began to stabilize emotionally and I started seeing spiritual fruit developing in their lives.  My daughter had a powerful, life-changing experience at summer camp where she was delivered from the depression and her heart was stirred for worship ministry.  A week later my son prayed with a youth leader on a mission project, and also had a healing experience.

As I began to FULLY put my hope and trust in God, a major shift occurred. 

I no longer felt any need or desire to discuss scripture with my husband.  I realized it was not my job to show him the truth. The Holy Spirit is the one who leads into all Truth.

I was also able to let go of trying to control the situation.  When my husband would buy another DVD, instead of freaking out, I would just remind myself that God is bigger than any lie, and no matter what he watches or listens to, every lie will be made known.  Every conversation my husband would take into another room when an HRM friend would call, I would give it to God and make a decision to let it go.  I stopped peeking at his emails, or text messages on his phone.

Once I truly took my hands off and gave my husband’s salvation back to God, my peace skyrocketed, and I began to live above my circumstances.

Sure, there are days every so often,when I still get discouraged, but those days are fewer and farther between.  God has also given me a wonderful friend that I can whine to, because she always turns me back around to God’s sufficiency.

Over the next year, my husband worked odd jobs, got hired with a company, and then lost his job again last summer.  He eventually went to driving school to become a commercial truck driver.  He now travels and is only home about 4-5 days a month.  I found it curious, as divided as we are still in our marriage over our differing doctrines, that God would open a door for a job that physically separates us as well.  I realize though, that the peace in our home has greatly increased.  I really believe God took my husband out of the home to preserve our marriage.  I don’t know if we would still be together if we had continued living in constant conflict. He still wants desperately to change me to believe as he believes. But now when he comes home, we don’t waste our precious little time on our differences!  We spend it as a family, enjoying being together.

This has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through, but looking back over the last nearly 3 years, I am grateful for having gone through it.  I have experience God moving in my life and meeting me in the depths of the pain in ways I would have never known in smooth sailing.

I have learned to let go of every need and expectation of what I thought a husband should be, and have begun to find these things in God alone. God is my constant companion.  He is my provision, protector, one true lover of my soul.

It has also challenged me to seek out for myself what the scriptures really say about grace and the law.

I began to question things that I had learned in churches my whole life.  And I have come away with a greater understanding that my salvation is in no way purchased or maintained by any doing of my own good works.

Much of what I believed before, was grace+works.  That I was saved by the blood of Christ, but then my standing with the Father had everything to do with how good I was….how well I performed all the “dos” and kept from the “don’ts”.  When I was disciplined with my Bible study time and prayer, surely God was in heaven smiling down on me.  But when I lost my patience with one of the kids, I was on the Holy time-out chair.

My worth in my own eyes was directly tied to believing  “do good, get good….do bad, get bad.”

Focusing on our own behavior will always puff us up when we think we’re doing pretty good, or condemn us when we know we’re not.

When I was challenged into digging deeper in the Word, and realized exactly what the finished work of Christ has done for me, I found a deeper level of freedom and joy in the Lord than I have ever known.

God is pleased with me because of Jesus!

And the blessings of Abraham are mine by faith!

I don’t have to earn my right relationship with the Father.  It is a done deal, sealed with the Holy Spirit.  What freedom – to seek the Father when the fear of punishment or disapproval is gone!  Thank you HRM!!  Haha

I don’t know why God has allowed this journey for us, but I do know that it has worked for my good.  And I have faith that my husband is going to find this same freedom, in the timing and work of the Holy Spirit.

I know my husband was truly seeking for “more” when he stumbled into HRM, and still has a deep hunger for the Lord.  I believe many in the HRM are sincerely seeking to go deeper in God, which is a target on their backs for the enemy of their souls, to come and try his best to render them useless to the Kingdom of God.

Those still seeking will eventually come to the truth.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd; He will not lose any of his sheep.  If your spouse is seeking Truth, s(he) will not find what they are looking for in testimony 5HRM, and they WILL eventually come away empty from it.  I take great comfort in this.

In the waiting, I am learning that He truly is all that I need, and He will never leave or forsake His own.  Blessings to everyone reading this who is on this same journey.  

Hold fast to Jesus!  In a little while …

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This account will also appear on the Testimonies Page.  Many thanks to the above author for sharing with us her experiences, heart, and God’s faithfulness in her circumstances.  I pray for her family as well as the others who are out there affected by the HRM belief system.  You are not alone!

If you have a testimony you’d like to share about coming out of the Hebrew Roots Movement (or a variation of the HRM), or a testimony about walking in relationship with someone who is in 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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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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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 – The Bereans

Those in the Hebrew Roots Movement like to tell Christians that they should ‘be like the Bereans’, who had ‘only the Torah’ by which to measure what Paul taught.  But what was it that Paul was teaching the Bereans that they were checking against the Scriptures that they had at the time?

Torah folk would have you believe that the Bereans were checking to see if the doctrines that Paul was teaching to those in Christ were against Torah.  But is doctrine what Paul was actually teaching the Bereans according to Acts 17, the only place the Bereans are mentioned in the Scriptures?

Acts 17:2-3
2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said.

As was to become a common occurrence, the Jews began to stir up trouble against Paul because of his preaching about Christ Jesus.  Paul and his party were driven away, and sent by brothers in Thessalonica to Berea.

Acts 17:10-11
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Again, what was the message that Paul was bringing to them at that point? 

Paul was explaining and proving from the Scriptures that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead:  “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said.

The Bereans were determining from the Scriptures – the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings – whether or not Jesus was Who Paul said He was.

Acts 17:12
12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

After measuring what Paul told them about Jesus, many put their faith and trust in Christ.

For those who put their faith and trust in Christ, how they live is not determined by the Old Covenant, but determined by the New Covenant because of who they are in Christ – His Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and the imparting of His Holy Spirit.  While not contradicting in any way the Old Covenant, the New Covenant teachings written to the Body of Christ after Pentecost were not all-inclusive of the instructions given to Moses at Sinai.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that mean that we don’t need to be like the Bereans and search the Scriptures to test what we are being taught?

Of course not!  We are told to

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

We have the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, AND the Scriptures written after Pentecost – given to the Body of Christ for Her instruction, exhortation, and edification!

After instructing His disciples regarding keeping His commandments to love one another in John 15, Jesus went on to say this:

John 16:12-15
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

And the Holy Spirit did just that.  After the completed Work of Christ He revealed through the Apostles what life in Christ should look like, giving to the Body of Christ the New Covenant Scriptures through His Apostles during their ministries.  Letters written by the Apostles were copied and distributed amongst the local churches, the fledgling Body of Christ.

So many manuscripts survived over time because so many copies were made and distributed – recognized as Scripture by fellow Apostles and by the early Body of Christ.  Within one generation of Apostolic teaching, early Church Fathers, in their own writings, cited as authoritative every New Testament book that we have today. (From “Council of Nicaea Myth Debunked” on JGIG’s YouTube Recommendations list.)

There is also evidence from within the New Testament itself that Apostolic writings and the Gospels were considered to be Scripture in the early Body of Christ.  Referring to Paul’s writings, Peter wrote this, indicating that Paul’s letters were considered to be Scripture:

2 Peter 3:14-16
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

On the flip side, in Paul’s letters, which we see from the above passage were considered to be inspired Scripture, he also quotes from the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus and His Work in several of those letters.  In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quotes both the book of Deuteronomy and Luke’s Gospel, referring to both of them as Scripture:

1 Timothy 5:18
18For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

So we can see that the early Body of Christ DID have writings written after Pentecost, which WERE considered to be Scripture at the time, and those writings WERE available to them during in the first century!

Not only that, but the Spirit of God became active in the lives of all believers in Christ, imparting gifts for areas of service in which they could function as part of the now-established Body of Christ – the Church:

Ephesians 1:22-23
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 3:10-21
10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.  13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 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.

So if  you are ever encouraged to ‘be like a Berean’ by someone in the Hebrew Roots Movement or other Law ‘keeping’ sect, be sure to take the WHOLE counsel of Scripture into account.  Keep in clear view who you are in Christ according to the New Covenant Scriptures written to the Body of Christ – the Church – after Pentecost.

Watch a somewhat condensed video version of this post here:

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

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Other articles of interest:

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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 – “You Can’t Even Admit to Joining Israel!”

The above title is a statement made to me on a forum recently.  The premise from which the statement was made is that believers in Christ are grafted into Israel and are therefore subject to Old Covenant Law, the laws that were given through Moses to Israel.  You can read more about that belief in the post here at JGIG, Hebrew Roots Movement – Believers are Grafted Into and Become Israel?  Um . . . No.  As I wrote an answer to the statement in the title above, I did a short study of the Scriptures which refer to the Body of Christ and share it below, edited slightly for this venue.  I hope the following short study blesses you as much as it did me that day!

Originally Posted by believer0119
You can’t even admit to joining Israel. It miffs you to no end and want no part in it……but some people do…..and who are you to tell them that they are not…..

Isaiah 44:5
One shall say, I*”am”*YHWH’s; and another shall call”himself”*by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe”with”*his hand unto YHWH, and surname*”himself”*by the name of Israel.

Again….he accepts it……you don’t…what’s wrong with your logic?

In the context of the Old Covenant, the above was true.  Let’s take a look at my response to beliver0119:

Posted by JGIG:

believer0119, Gentiles who are in Christ are described as fellow heirs, living stones, fellow citizens, adopted sons, in-grafted wild branches, but Gentiles simply don’t ‘turn into’ Israel. We are part of the Body of Christ, made up of believing Jews and believing Gentiles.

The concept is made very clear in the New Testament, which is where the Body of Christ was established BY Christ.

Verses referring to the Body of Christ:

Romans 12:5
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

That passage goes on to describe spiritual gifts in the Body for the furthering of the Gospel and the edification of the Body. No mention of Gentiles becoming Jews.

1 Corinthians 6:15
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

Again, no reference to Gentiles being turned into Israel, but rather telling believers who they are in Christ and that to join one’s self to a prostitute is unthinkable (an issue at Corinth at the time)!

1 Corinthians 10:14-17
14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

There’s that ‘we who are many are one in Christ’ concept again. No mention of Gentiles being turned into Israel.

1 Corinthians 12:12-22
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Again, no mention of Gentiles becoming Israel there, just that consistent concept of all becoming one in Christ. That passage goes on to tell us that certain parts of the Body should not 1) wish to become other parts, and 2) tell other parts that they are less honorable or not needed. This part is interesting in light of the Gentile/Israel debate: But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”

Ephesians 1:22-23
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

We know from earlier in that chapter of Ephesians that the Body is those who have believed on Christ and are the adopted of God. There is no difference mentioned between Israel and Gentiles; all who are redeemed have been redeemed through Christ and are one in Him. The theme is very consistent.

Ephesians 2:14-18
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

We know from reading earlier in that chapter that Gentiles and Israel are mentioned; the ‘two’ later in the chapter. After vs. 18, we see that, “19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s 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.”

Fellow citizens with God’s people, which at this point are all those that believe on Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. There is no indication that citizenship is in Israel, but rather, as the Scripture says, and I like how the KJV puts it here: “19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”

Ephesians 3:1-12
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

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

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Very cool passage, telling how the mystery of the unsearchable riches of Christ – preached to the Gentiles – after the Jews of course, was NOT made known to men in other generations (read OT times). This was something NEW that God had done, accomplishing His purposes in Christ, and it is in Christ and through faith in Christ that we (Jews and Gentiles) can approach God with freedom and confidence \o/ !!!

Ephesians 4:11-16
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 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. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 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.

Here we see the whole structure of leadership is different than in the Old Covenant, in order to build up the Body of Christ in Him. Our significance and maturity come from being in Christ, not from knowing the Law.

It comes back to the Tree of Life or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Choose which one you want to partake of. One gives you knowledge, the other gives you LIFE.

“. . . as each part does its work.” One thing that strikes me about that phrase is that each part of the Body has a different work that it does. Those who teach Torah observance would have everyone do the SAME work – that of the observance of the Law. That’s not at all what God has in mind under the New Covenant! Instead of a people bound by Law, He has a people bound by Christ – all one in Him as His Body with Christ as the Head!  We each are free to do the work to which we are called and for which we are designed, whether that be foreign missions or ministering in day-to-day life.  I had never seen that before . . . Cool!

Ephesians 4:25
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

No comment. [I wrote that because on that forum those who are Torah ‘pursuant’ bear lots of false witness against me =o/. ]

Ephesians 5:29-30
29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.

Seeing this makes me think of how HRMers teach that division in the Body is a good thing because they have THE ‘truth’, and Jesus came to bring division! Then they go on to teach contrary to everything we see about the Body of Christ above.

Colossians 1:15-23
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Wow! Pretty self-explanatory. In Christ, we are without blemish, free from accusation! Hear that, Saints! And notice that Paul says that he has ‘become’a servant of the Gospel we have heard . . . it wasn’t a continuation of what he had taught in the Law – this is the Gospel of the Cross – see Ephesians 3, where this Gospel is described as a mystery not revealed in generations past, but, as is written in vs. 10-12,

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

Definitely a NEW thing going on there! Any doubt about what the church is? Many in the HRM claim that the ekklesia was present in the OT just as in the NT, but the Body of Christ did not yet exist. Continuing on with vs. 24-29:

24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

Paul was preaching Christ; His Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and indwelling with the Holy Spirit. Making Gentiles into Israel was not what was going on; making New Creatures out of believing Israel and believing Gentiles was what was going on, bringing them into the Body of Christ and under His Headship. And when Paul speaks of maturity, he does not go to Torah for that; he speaks of the fullness of Christ! Again, from Ephesians 4:

11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Christ is not the milk, Torah folk! Christ is the FULLNESS; He is the whole meal!

Colossians 2:6-23
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Some say that the above passage has to do with pagan rules. Fair enough. It could. But there is no getting around Who Jesus is, what He accomplished and that our life and sustenance is in Christ alone! Even if you want to think that vs. 20-23 has only to do with pagan rules, you cannot deny parallels to issues addressed in the Law: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” But they, like any law governing the flesh, lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Submitting to Christ, however, makes us New from the inside out; remaking us and in Christ giving us the desires to do the things that please Him. Nowhere in the NT writings after Pentecost are the things that please Him detailed as the works of the Law.

Colossians 3:1-15
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Let’s look at believer0119’s comment again:

You can’t even admit to joining Israel. It miffs you to no end and want no part in it……but some people do…..and who are you to tell them that they are not…..

Isaiah 44

*5*
One shall say, I*”am”*YHWH’s; and another shall call”himself”*by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe”with”*his hand unto YHWH, and surname*”himself”*by the name of Israel.

Again….he accepts it……you don’t…what’s wrong with your logic?


18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

That’s exactly right, believer0119, I can’t admit to joining Israel, because I didn’t ‘join’ Israel, I joined with Christ and am a part of HIM. And after reading all of the above Scriptures regarding the Body of Christ, those who are in Christ should not admit to becoming Israel! We are part of the Body of Christ, made up of believing Jews; believing Gentiles. Those who believe are part of the Body of Christ, not part of Israel. The Scriptures are clear.

-JGIG

Folks, does that mean that I don’t love Israel?  No.  Does it make me an anti-Semite?  No.  It does make me a Gentile believer in Christ who is one in Christ with those of Israel who also believe in ChristIn Christ, believing Israel and believing Gentiles are One New Man IN CHRIST.  That’s what the above means!

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 related articles available at JGIG:

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Hebrew Roots Movement and Children – Testimony

If you are a child whose parents have come out of  ‘churchianity’ and embraced the Hebrew Roots Movement or another similar Law-keeping view of the Scriptures, what is your view of the Gospel?  Following is the testimony of one young man whose family spent several years pursuing Torah observance.  Many thanks to Sondra (8thDay4Life) and her now 18-year-old son Jesse for allowing this post to be shared here at JGIG.  When you go to Sondra’s site, be sure to scroll down through the Recent Posts section in the sidebar . . . there’s lots of good stuff there written with a tender spirit and a humble heart.

As with other testimonies at JGIG, this post will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG

HRM and Children

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving!   I have so many things to be thankful for this year, more than ever.  And no material blessing can come close to watching my children learn to know and trust God, to see His Spirit working in them.

Below my 18 year old son graciously agreed to share his perspective of what the HRM environment was like for a young heart and mind.  He saw this world through a completely different lens, one without the filters of denial that protected us as adults.

As a parent, I was heartbroken to learn this is what I put my older children through, and that I could not see I was continuing the cycle of how I was raised in  a legalistic environment.  Only recently have they both begun to share with me the effect the atmosphere and teaching had on them.   This post is the fruit of a heart-to-heart talk my son and I had that went till 2:00 a.m.  The Law did its job.. exactly as it was intended to do.  But the Remedy was seldom mentioned, and if it ever was, heavily qualified with conditions, both in words and our attitudes we projected.  I grieve not only for my own kids, but the several others that we had direct influence on.  I pray God can also bring good out of this in their lives, as He has for Jesse.

I saw a marked change in Jesse when God brought him to Grace.  He was already an amazing son, with a naturally compliant, loving temperament, but he went from “good” to ALIVE.. and that was visibly evident.

Jesse’s Story

Christians today are taught to be more tolerant of different beliefs, sometimes they don’t see the harm in what appears to be a slight doctrinal difference. Yet people are living in bondage not only to sin, but to their own beliefs as well. Another thing that is often overlooked is how alternate beliefs or perspectives can affect children; how they view God, themselves, and the rest of the world. I’m sharing my testimony in hopes that someone will see the danger of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

It started when I was about nine years old. My parents were under the impression that if they did more to please God, that God would bless the family more. The basic idea was that if we kept the law of Moses, and observed all the feasts (old covenant holidays), God would be pleased with us. When we made this change, my mother told me it was just an observation, more like adopting a new culture. We were gaining a new insight into what life and religion was like back in Bible times.

Soon after, we started attending a study group (or as they say in the Hebrew Roots, ‘Congregation’) based at a facility where children with disabilities could ride horses. My friends and I would play out there for hours while our parents would sit together and study the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).

A few years went by, we had been to a few different groups by that time, and eventually had started our own with friends we had made the whole time. I was a little older by this time, and I was listening to what the adults were saying. My mother still believed in Jesus, and the sacrifice he had made for our sins, and she thought I believed the same way, but it wasn’t exactly the case.

I believed Jesus died and rose again for my sins, but the obsession with the Law that everyone had gave me the impression I had to keep all 613 commandments to be saved. None of it made sense to me. How could Jesus die for me and still expect me to live a perfect life? I knew I wasn’t able to do it, and as hard as I tried to be perfect, I believed I was headed straight for Hell. I remember crying out to God on several occasions, pleading for mercy, and thinking to myself , “You don’t deserve it, He won’t listen to you”.

Not long after I turned 14, God led my parents out of the Hebrew Roots Movement, and we started going to a Baptist church. I was relieved to know at this point that I didn’t have to follow the Law of Moses to be saved, and that I just had to let Christ into my heart. But it wasn’t until I went with that Baptist church on a week long mission trip to Kansas that I actually got saved. The mission trip I went on to reach others, was really meant for me, so I could be saved. I remember sitting in the church building, my pastor giving us a sermon after dinner, and seeing the pulpit had a cross on the front. While I was listening, I started focusing on the cross. Being the 14 year old boy that I was, I started to think about how the cross looked like a sword, and how Jesus defeated sin on the cross. The image was simple, but it was powerful to me, and God changed my heart right there. I was free!

I know people go through much worse than I have, in a sense, I’m very blessed to have suffered very little, though when I look back now, I don’t so much see myself as I do another 10 year old boy, in torment, feeling unworthy of God’s presence, of His mercy. I hope that in writing this, someone will spare themselves, and their children of the bondage that is in the Hebrew Roots movement.

But until today, when Moses is being read, a veil lies on their heart. But whenever it turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord Spirit.         2 Corinthians 3:15-18

(Jesse said when he wrote this out, he opened his Bible for a reference, and his bookmark was on this Scripture!  God’s exclamation point!)

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Again, many thanks to Sondra and Jesse for sharing their story.  The following diagram came to mind as I read Jesse’s story . . . one much like the one I saw when I was eight years old and which made it so clear to me that the Way to God is found only in Christ:

One thing that I’d like you to take notice of in the above illustration is that Jesus paid the penalty for SIN, not just for the penalty of the LAW.  In discourse with those who pursue Torah I have found this to be a distinction – how do they view (and communicate) the work of Christ?

Was the work of the Cross meant to

  • pay for the penalty parts of Mosaic Covenant Law, making just those parts and the sacrificial portion of the Law obsolete, keeping every other part of the Law in place (if you think this is the case, then please provide contextual Scripture to support that view), or
  • pay the penalty for sin in a primary sense, restoring the spiritual life lost at the Fall when Adam sinned?

Romans 5:12-20
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

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

Ephesians 2:4-10
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

It’s all about Jesus!

Having faith in

Who He is.

What He did.

Walking in Him.

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Edited to add 8/14/13 – I wasn’t quite sure where to add this link, so I’ll just pop it in here.  I hope it does not go unnoticed.  This is part 3 of a testimony from a man who was brought up under the legalistic teachings of Bill Gothard during his childhood.  I include this here because many of the families I got to know through the Momys Digest were faithful followers of Gothard’s IBLP and ATI courses/camps/conferences.  Many of those families ‘progressed’ into Torah observance; it really was a natural progression, and for them brought an ‘authenticity’ to stuff they were already doing, as Gothard incorporates many OT laws in his teachings.  The following is available from a site called, Recovering Grace – A Gothard generation sheds light on the teachings of IBLP and ATI.  I found that Part 3 of the following testimony fit in really well with Jesse’s story above, going into more of the transformation that the author experienced and continues to experience in Grace as an adult.  

Two more pages that you may find interesting, as they cover a lot of ground regarding legalism:

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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 related articles available at JGIG:

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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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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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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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Romans 14: Indisputable Matters – Torah or the Gospel?

Occasionally as I’m researching, writing, or compiling subject matter for JGIG, a new doctrinal blip will appear on my radar screen.  The latest blip?  That Torah and not the Gospel is considered  to be the indisputable matters spoken of by Paul in Romans 14 in Law-keeping doctrine.  Knowing what I now know about the belief system that is the Hebrew Roots Movement (and other Law-keeping sects), it does make perfect sense that within the parameters of that belief system, once again, they put the Mosaic Law in a doctrinal place where the Law of Christ rightfully belongs.

This doctrinal blip appeared on the mom’s forum I subscribe to, stemming from a discussion concerning clean/unclean foods (there are several families on the mom’s forum that are Torah observant, including adherence to the dietary laws).  As I’ve done some more research about this Torah-rather-than-the-Gospel being the indisputable matters spoken of in Romans 14, it’s become clear that the concept is not uncommon among several facets in the Law-keeping community, including but not limited to those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, “Messianics”, Seventh Day Adventism, and Church of God sects.

I’ve written this before, but for the benefit of new readers, I want to make clear that my purpose with writing this is not to put down those who have chosen to keep Torah.  Most who have chosen to do so have sincere hearts and truly do want to please God because they love Him.  They have received false teaching that is very persuasive and deceptive – even seductive, because it is labeled as “hidden”, “forgotten”, “lost” or “previously mis-translated” truth.  They have been subjected to a progressive chipping away of sound doctrines, having had them replaced with distorted doctrines.

Back to Romans 14.  The wholecooking-rabbit thing started on the mom’s forum with someone posting about the ins and outs of raising rabbits for food and that led to the Law-keeping moms pointing out the dietary restrictions mandated by Torah and whether or not one should even be eating rabbits (or any other meat considered unclean by Mosaic Law standards).  Then one mom stated that the “indisputable matters” referred to  in Romans 14 were the dietary laws found in Torah – the Law of God.

Her premise was that since, in the context of Romans 13, we are called to live in the Spirit and not in the flesh, that we are to “not make provision for the flesh and fulfill the lusts thereof.”  The premise continues that the weaker in the faith spoken of in Romans 14 are those who have not come to an understanding of Torah and adherence to the Law – and, in this case specifically, the dietary laws found in Torah.

The concept of disputable/indisputable matters therefore breaks down like this in the Law-keeping paradigm: Disputable matters of the faith have to do with the traditions of men, rooted in man-made opinions – things that can be debated.  Indisputable matters are the points of the Law, specifically in this case whether or not to eat unclean meats (not considered to be defined as “food” and even classified as abominations in Scripture according to the Law).  In other words, eating unclean meats, not to be considered as food, was prohibited by the Law, and therefore was not a “disputable” matter.  She went on to assert that consuming “food” (which in her definition would mean only “clean meats”) sacrificed to idols was a disputable matter, since the food in question would have been clean meats (they had to be in this view or they would not have been referred to as “food”).  I guess in that view the pagans kept track of which meats they properly slaughtered and prepared according to the Laws of Israel and labeled them as such!  How considerate of them!

Other indisputable matters (again, in her view) according to the Law include the 7th day Sabbath and the observance of the Feasts, which she contends are indisputable matters as they were at the time of Christ and Paul.  According to her premise, the disputable matters of the day were what days to fast or special prayer days, citing extra-biblical historical records to prove her point, though no references for those sources were given.

She wrapped up her post saying that the indisputable things are found in the Old Testament, that being the Law.  That we, even as Spirit-filled believers cannot determine what is right or wrong apart from the repeated instruction of the Law.  Perhaps in her view not  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Though the concept of the points of the Gospel being the indisputable matters  never did come up in her interpretation of Romans 14, she did at least mention Jesus, in the context that He walked out the Law perfectly as an example for us to follow.  The Law, however, remains central to her belief system, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And there is NEVER a mention of a New Covenant.  The Law Keeper’s central core is always the Law.  Christ, in their belief system is secondary (at best), not primary.

Does the above sound a bit confusing and twisted?  I thought so too, and felt a look at Romans 14 through the lens of the Gospel was in order.  Following is my post responding to the “Law mom’s” post [edited, reorganized, and expanded slightly for this venue].

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Setting Up the Context of Romans 14
In the book of Romans, Paul is talking to the fledgling Church, the Body of Christ. The Gospel came first to the Jew – those who were accustomed to keeping the Law, then to the Gentile – those not accustomed to keeping the Law (Romans 1:16).  So on a practical level, there were people who were Jewish, people who were Gentiles, people who were pagan – ALL coming to New Life in Christ.  ALL were new believers in the completed work of Christ.  They ALL were bringing their backgrounds with them, and Paul recognizes and addresses this in Romans 14,
setting up a foundation of the Law of Love in Romans 13 before delving into the religious and cultural soup that is the early (us, too!) Church (Body of Christ).

To the Jews (primarily but not exclusively), Paul addresses in his letters the surpassing glory of the New Covenant in comparison to the Old Covenant in 2 Corinthians 3:4-18 as does the writer of Hebrews in chapters 8-10.  To the Gentiles (again, primarily but not exclusively – remember we are one new man in Christ, there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female – Galatians 3:28), the Epistles are packed full of practical instruction about how we in the Body of Christ are to live. 

There is no mistaking in the New Covenant (New Testament) Scriptures that paganism new-creationand worldliness are to be put away and that believers are to walk in righteousness and maturity in Christ.  Ephesians 4:14-32 and  Colossians 3 are just two passages that deal with the Church at large about how Gentiles (indeed how all in the Body of Christ) are to behave as believers.

Romans 14, however, deals with the practicalities of things like eating food and observing days of worship and issues of tradition – all issues bubbling up as the Gospel reached across cultural and religious boundaries – people brought together as new believers in Christ, one new man, the Church, the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22).  People who would NEVER have thought to cross paths before Christ were now fellowshipping together in ChristALL of these believers were learning to become mature in the Law of Love, no matter their background. This was the day-to-day reality for the Church at Rome into which Paul forged with his letter, our present-day book of Romans.

[As I relayed above, the “Law mom” wrote that the indisputable matters were issues of the Law.  The following is a refutation of that idea.]

Indisputable Matters:  Torah or the Gospel?
The “Law-keeping” interpretation of Romans 14 is an interesting one.  I re-read Romans 13 and 14 just now and find the flavor (since we’re talking partly about food, here) of the text, comparing it to what you wrote, to be different than what you described. [Responding to the “Law mom”.]

Let’s start with Romans 13 as you [the Law-mom] suggested – to set up the context.  Verses 1-7 instruct believers in submitting to the governmental authorities which God has allowed to rule over them – also there are some basic civil instructions for believers.

Romans 13:8-10 are a reinforcement of Jesus’ second of two commandments (in which He summed up the whole Law – Luke 10:25-37) saying “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10).  I find that especially interesting in relation to the Law, because Paul does list in verse 9 “‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet’ and whatever other commandment there may be . . .” 

If Paul were gearing up to make the Law the central basis for the indisputable matters spoken of in Romans 14, wouldn’t it make sense to reinforce the Mosaic Law here?  Instead, what does Paul do?  He expressly sets aside the particulars of the Law and goes straight to the Law of Love, which is the New Covenant, the Law of Christ.  Again, from Romans 13:10, following the phrase in verse 9, “and whatever other commandment there may be” and “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”    

Romans13:11-14 talks about leaving the old, dead, man that we were outside of Christ behind and instructs “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” and “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” 

Couple that with what Paul wrote in Romans 7:4-6 – “So, my brothers [clearly speaking to believers], you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, [speaking here of unbelievers]  so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, [sin]  we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, [resulting in sanctification by the working of the Holy Spirit, not by adherence to the Law] and not in the old way of the written code”.  Again, Paul is emphasizing the proper place of the Law in the believer’s life and their position under the New Covenant. 

Paul is saying that we, as believers, are to recognize that “we have been released from the law so that we serve in a new way of the Spirit, And not in the old way of the written code.”  We don’t have to go through life checking off the boxes of the Law  – we’re free from that as believers. As for the the sins outlined by the Law, it’s not the written code that convicts believers of wrongdoing, it’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  He brings to us the things that we need to get rid of (sin), not the things that we don’t.  He doesn’t even bring them up – it’s not necessary.   As a very basic example, if you tell me to not think “pink”, that’s something I’m now thinking about.  Some term that as the Law “stirring up sin”.  By repeatedly focusing on the specifics of the Law, one is exposed to things he/she may never think of doing as a believer.  Our focus as believers is not to be the Law, it is to be on Jesus Christ!

It really is very clear.

Romans 7:7-13: “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’  But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead.  Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.”

Now back to Romans 13:14:  “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  Which is what happens when one puts on the Law in place of the Gospel!

Romans 13:14 is not saying to put on the Lawit is saying to put on the Lord Jesus Christ an important distinction to make here  before addressing the “Law mom’s” view of Romans 14.

In view of clothing ourselves in Jesus Christ, rather than the Law, let’s now look at Romans 14:
Verses 1-4:Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”  Did anyone see where “eat everything” in these verses was broken down in to clean or unclean meats, food or “non” food?

Based on the context that Romans 13 and the rest of the letter to the Church at Rome provides, operating within the framework of the Law of Moses – that *was* one of several disputable matters.  The core issues of the Gospel – The perfect life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ and what that meant – those were the indisputable matters.  “Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ” – that was the New Covenant – the Law of Love – that was indisputable.  And that was what Paul was exhorting believers in Rome to do!

For the Jew, the Law was part of their heritage and birthright.  Not keeping the Sabbath or eating anything which to them was unclean under the Old Covenant was completely and utterly unthinkable.  For the Gentile or former Pagan, submitting themselves to the Law of Moses given to Israel was, in light of their culture and the New Covenant, equally unthinkable.  [There was another issue kicking around in this arena – that of former Pagans not wanting to have anything to do with food sacrificed to idols.  I do recognize that, and believe that the principles that Paul lays out here covers that issue as well, though that is not the issue being dealt with in this post specifically.]

Jewish and Gentile believers alike with a thorough understanding of the New Covenant did not concern themselves with the specifics of keeping the Law of Moses.  The Law of Christ, the Law of Love, the New Covenant, was now their concern.  Was it okay for both Jew and Gentile to walk in their respective heritages and traditions?

Romans 14 verses 5-8 gives us the answer: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

Continuing in verses 9-12, “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’   So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

Paul places the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ in their proper contexts in verses 12-18: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.”

Interestingly, Paul repeats the New Covenant view of the issue at hand here regarding clean/unclean foods in verses 19-21: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”

Take note that Paul does not differentiate between Jewish food and Gentile food.  He says “All food is clean”.       Twice.

Try as one might, the “Law-keeping”  interpretation espoused above is just not there, on a number of levels, food being one of them.  While Paul, being Hebrew, likely was thinking like a Hebrew, he was thinking like a Hebrew under the New Covenant.

Not only that, but Paul knew his audience.  Read the passage again.  Paul is known for his “get right to the point” ability and his audience was made up of both Jews and Gentiles.  If his audience were only Jewish, Law-keepers might have a case, as the definition of food could be assumed.  Being that the audience was made up of Jews and Gentiles, Paul would have, in deference to his combined audience, clearly defined what was considered food and what was not for the benefit of the Gentiles also being addressed if that were truly the issue.  He does not do that because food is not the underlying issue.

So how did verses 9-21 flesh out for the Church at Rome on a practical level?
If Fred Gentile Christian invites Joe Jewish Christian over for supper, don’t serve him something he would consider unclean, if that’s something Joe considers important to his faith.  Joe Jewish Christian, if your brother Fred serves you something in ignorance of your heritage or tradition you consider to be unclean, lighten up.

eat-2

Does Paul say to eat up?  No, but he does say that you could, because “As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself” and repeats for emphasis that “All food is clean”.  If Brother Fred and Brother Joe are both on the same page where the Law of Love is concerned, Brother Joe will not be offended with what was served to him in ignorance and Brother Fred will not be offended if Brother Joe just cannot bring himself to partake and as a loving host will provide some more acceptable fare.  Paul exhorts, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

And grace is extended to those who are weaker in their faith, but they are also instructed in Romans 14 verses 22-23: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.  But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

God allows that for some, eating this food or observing that day or celebrating a particular holiday, or on the flip side, not doing any one or all of those things, for them, it would be sin.  If they have doubts, and do (or do not do) those things, for them it is sin, and they should not do (or do) those things.  Does that mean that those things are sin for everybodyNo. The deeper the understanding of the New Covenant and the freedom we have in Christ, the less important edicts become and the more important the Law of Love becomes as with the “Fred” and “Joe” scenario above.

Grasping hold of the New Covenant was (is) vital for the Body of Christ – for them (us) to understand on a fundamental level – it goes to the very basic functions of relationships and unity in the Body of Christ. 

The Freedom to Evangelize World/Culture – Wide
Beyond that, if the Body of Christ is to obey the commandment of Christ to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you [The Law of Christ, not the Law of Moses]. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20), the application of Romans 14 frees the believer to obey the Great Commission.

For the Jewish Christian, if they were indeed still under the Law of Moses, the Great Commission would be an especially challenging thing for them to obey.  Take just one example – that of observing the feasts that require attendance in Jerusalem 3 times per year.  For the Jewish Christian, taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth – without modern modes of transportation available in those days and for centuries to come – it’s obvious that travel to Jerusalem would have been an impossibility.  At the very least, that part of the Law of Moses was passing away for the Jewish Christian obeying the Great Commission.

Equally challenging in delivering the Gospel to the ends of the earth would be the issue of clean/unclean foods.  The Jewish Christian needed to recognize that the laws regarding unclean meats and other edicts designed to set Israel apart from the world around them were because the Law of Moses was given to the nation of Israel to separate them from the world.  Here was Jesus, telling believers to go out into the world . . . to preach the Gospel to them!  A much different command than Israel was used to hearing! 

If Joe Jewish Christian was called and went out in obedience to spread the Gospel to the Nations, he would at times necessarily have to give up his *right* to eat within the boundaries of his heritage and traditions.  I do not say according to the Law of Moses there, because if Joe is a Jewish believer in Christ he is positionally under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ – he is no longer bound by the Law of Moses.

 clean

It is likely to be the more mature believer, Jew or Gentile, who will set aside their wills, rights, traditions, heritages, and birthrights, to go out into all the world anyway.  Can you imagine a missionary whipping out his Clean/Unclean Foods chart to an unreached people group when all they really need to hear about is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the freedom from sin that He brings?  There are people on this earth that don’t even know what a sheep is!  What bread is . . . and who may have limited food sources consisting of “unclean” things according to Mosaic Law.  God is concerned whether or not the peoples of the earth are redeemed, not whether or not they’re eating shellfish or snails!

[I want to interject something here that this particular “Law mom” and I discussed off-forum regarding the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ as they pertain to the Great Commission.  She tried to show me that the Law could not be “set aside” for the sake of ministering in different cultures.  She gave two examples:

1)  What if the missionary was asked to commit adultery instead of eat something unclean?
My response:  They would say no, because it is not the most loving thing to do.  Covered under the Law of Love.

2)  What if the missionary were asked to sacrifice their children to the god of the unreached people group?
My response:   Again they would of course say no. Murdering a child for sacrifice to a false god would not be the most loving thing to do.  Again, covered under the Law of Love.  What an incredible, wonderful, open door to minister the Gospel to people, telling them that they don’t have to sacrifice their children . . . To be able to tell them (especially the parents!) that the true God is a God of mercy and grace and compassion and that He provided One Sacrifice for all?  What amazing news!  What good news!  It’s the Gospel!

These issues are addressed in a superior way by the Law of Christ, the Law of Love, The New Covenant.  The Mosaic Law was given to the people of Israel as part of a covenant.  The rest of mankind was never to be put under the Law of Moses.  There’s a really interesting article I came across on this very issue about translation of the Sabbath (for the purpose of Sabbath-keeping – an integral part of Law keeping) and the challenges that posed for one missionary who was serving an unreached people group.  You can read that article HERE.

The Gospel, the New Covenant, can go anywhere, into any culture, and be understood by anyone!

She also chided me for “equating” the Law with tradition and heritage.  

My response:   I didn’t.  I did not equate heritage and traditions with the Law.  Certain edicts of the Law, such as feast and sabbath keeping and dietary laws become a matter of personal preference under the New Covenant.  It in no way diminishes the significance of those things in a Jewish believer’s life, should he/she choose to continue in them, but they are no longer required of them under the New Covenant.  The purpose of the Law to show us our sin and our need for a Saviour translates into all cultures very well . . . but the edicts of the Law – the parts that set Israel apart – those don’t and were for Israel AND they were for a season.]

Romans 14 is such a love letter to believers, because God gets us.  He gets our tendency to hold onto that which is is old and familiar. He gets that we feel like we have to do something to be good enough before Him.  Yet He firmly reinforces the Gospel and gently instructs us to love one another, spurring us on to operate in the Fruits of the Spirit, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (vs. 17-18)

Two believers of opposing views on secondary disputable matters in reality view the other as the weaker brother.  In which case we are to show deference to one another.
 If some are more focused on their “pet theology” than on the Gospel and loving God and their neighbor, then there’s a problem.  The design of the Body of Christ as God has set it up is one of necessary differences, (talents and giftings), rooted and grounded in Christ, with the underlying framework being love (1 Corinthians 12-14).  If we’re operating within the parameters of that design, Romans 14 is easy.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Redefinition of Terms 2

Re-defining terms is one thing the Hebrew Roots Movement does very effectively.  Following entries will be posted here on the home page as well as having their own page on the sidebar for easy reference.  Some of you have seen the introduction content before . . . keep scrolling down . . . “Glossary G-L” follows in this post.

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Glossary Introduction

Language.  Powerful stuff.  If you can control the language, define the terms, manipulate the paradigm of a thing – you exercise great power.  [par·a·digm – A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.]

An Incorrect Paradigm

An Incorrect Paradigm

As this illustration demonstrates, having an incorrect paradigm can change the picture of a thing quite a lot!  Is it any wonder that those in the Hebrew Roots Movement have claimed the area of language as their primary pillar of “expertise” as they purpose to lure Christians away from the canon of Scripture to a more “enlightened” way of reading/interpreting Scripture and discerning doctrine?  It’s a seductive way to change a Christian’s paradigm, and ends up in a set of beliefs and practices that is not supported by Scripture.  It turns Christianity as inside out as the above illustration turns the concept of the solar system inside out.  The picture is recognizable, but is totally false and unworkable when measured by reality. 

I’m no linguist, but I’m no dim bulb, either, and it’s been amazing, disturbing, and somewhat amusing to discover how those in the HRM have determined to re-define terms and doctrines as well as pseudo re-translate the New Testament. 

I’ve written this before but it’s worth repeating here –   One of the things that is really important to 260px-planting_seedsbe aware of regarding this and other heretical movements is that they engage in the re-definition of terms.  Once that is accomplished, those re-defined terms become fields in which seeds of questionable doctrine can be cultivated.  And it’s the perfect set up for the same thing cults do: Convince you that what you know isn’t true, or is “incomplete”, then come in with fresh revelation based on previously “hidden” information.

At HRM websites and in HRM teaching materials a consistent technique is employed to bring the reader to where the writer wishes them to go:  Faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are constructed, then those same faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are built upon as FACT to take the reader to the next doctrinal place the writer wishes the reader to go.  I have seen the same technique over and over in articles on HRM websites from all points on the spectrum.  A good example of this can be found Here, where the author takes on both the Trinity and the full Deity of Christ.  Please, read any Hebrew Roots materials with caution. 

Following are some terms that I’ve become familiar with in the HRM.  Some terms are simply defined outright, others will be defined outright as well as include the Hebrew Roots definition in an attempt to explain HRM doctrine in certain areas.  To understand the “re-definitions” and terminology in which the Hebrew Roots Mindset engages is key to sorting through the subtle and not so subtle doctrinal errors and concepts they espouse.

Following are glossary pages A-F (available now), G-L , and M-Z (coming soon).  Those designations may change over time, but will be clearly re-labeled and linked to as necessary.  The goal is easy navigation!  

Compiling this Glossary has proven to be very challenging and time consuming.  It’s length has resulted in a formatting challenge, hence the necessity for nested pages.  As entries are completed, they’ll be added to the appropriate page, so be sure to check back every now and then. 

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

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Glossary G-L

Gematria  From Wikipedia’s article, “Gematria” (Click HERE for complete article):  (Rabbinic Hebrew גימטריה gēmaṭriyā), is a system of assigning numerical value to an alphabet. The word Gematria is believed to have been formed from a metathesis of the Greek word grammateia (”play upon letters”), from gramma (letter) andgematria_ill2 literally means ‘that which is written’. It is extant in English since the 17th century from translations of works of Tanakh and Talmud, notably in those associated with the Kabbalah.  Some identify two forms of gematria: the “revealed” form, which is prevalent in many several hermeneutic methods found throughout Rabbinic literature, and the “mystical” form, a largely Kabbalistic practice. [Bolding mine.] 

Rabbinic literature is in part a source for Hebrew Roots Movement doctrine.  Both Kabbalah and Gematria are occult based.  See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – the Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for additional information.  Also see “Kabbalah” below.

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Gnosticism: – In an attempt to put an abbreviated definition of Gnosticism here, I faced the fact that defining Gnosticisim is somewhat like trying to nail Jello to a wall.  Why is “Gnosticism” even on the list?  In one of my discourses with a Hebrew Roots Movement  adherant, it was that person’s opinion that the New Testament concepts I was communicating were “gnostic thought”.  These concepts were Scriptural New Testament principles coupled with the Scriptural concept of an intrinsic, progressive heart change (sanctification) brought about by the Holy Spirit vs. the HRM view of sanctification via adherence to Mosaic Law.  I expand on those concepts in the post, “The Hebrew Roots Movement – So What?”.

Gnosticism, as are all false belief systems, is a counterfeit of what God has established.  It distorts the character of God put forth in Scripture, (even putting man on equal footing with God once “enlightened enough”) denies the Deity of Christ and the work of the Cross, and skews the concept of salvation and the doctrines clearly laid out by God through the Apostles in the New Testament. 

In modern terms, one could use Gnostic thought as a kind of catch-all for New Age thought – Westernized, you could perhaps say “Hellenized” – Eastern Mysticism, encompassing concepts taught by Buddhism, Hinduism, and other facets of Eastern Mysticism.  You begin to see the Jello now, don’t you? 

There is evidence that Gnosticism (Gnostic “thought”) existed at least 400 years before Christ, twisting the truths of God as laid out in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).  In point of fact, one could trace Gnosticism and other belief systems like it back to the Original Lie, told by the Serpent to Eve: “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4,5) 

As Christianity dawned, Gnosticism attempted to attach itself to and pervert it as well as the Jewish faith.  Both Jews and Christians who held faithfully to Scriptural truths soundly rejected Gnostic thought and protected Biblical forms of Jewish worship and Christianity. 

Interestingly, Jews that did succumb to Gnostic thought were also those who had a bent toward Jewish mysticism.  Gnosticism and Kabbalah cross paths throughout history and there is Gnostic influence that later manifests itself in Judaism’s Talmud. The Talmud in turn influences many in the Hebrew Roots Movement leadership, and as a result many in the HRM laity are unknowingly subjected to Kabbalistic and Gnostic (both rooted in the Occult) concepts by exposure to their leadership’s teachings. 

(See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for more information on Kabbalah’s influence on the Talmud.)

There is much more to say on this subject, but as I compiled information here, it became evident (around 2000 words into it) that this issue deserves its own post.  That post is in progress and will be linked to HERE as soon as it’s published.

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(The) Instructions [See also “Law” below for a more complete definition.] Another term commonly used by the Hebrew Roots Movement  for the Law of God, implying that the Torah with its 613 laws and penalties are not burdensome, but are merely “instructions” about how God wishes for us to live.  While that is partially true (many of the ordinances and practices were for the viability and protection of Israel), the primary purpose of the Law was to establish the definition of both sin and righteousness.  Understanding that the Law could not be kept by human efforts, God provided a sacrificial system within the Law to “cover” the sins of His people until the full atoning work was accomplished by Jesus at the Cross, new life was given with the Resurrection, and the Priestly duties were retired at the Ascension (our High Priest ascended and sat at the right hand of God . . . something earthly priests never did – their duties were never done).  Jesus finished the work, and sat (rested) at the right hand of God, to intercede for His Church (Hebrews 8).

An example of the clear misunderstanding those in the HRM have of the purpose of Torah from Hebrew Roots site Torah of Messiah:

  1. we are to obey the Torah
  2. we are to teach the Torah
  3. we are to talk of the Torah
  4. we are to show that we love God through obedience to Torah
  5. we are to LIVE the Torah by sincerely striving to obey the God we claim to love.
  6. we are given the chance to accept the Mark of God, which is undeniably the Eternal Teachings given through Moses – THE TORAH!!!
  7. Despite this, there is literally a hatred of Torah – or at the very least apathy – within Christianity!

Compare the above Hebrew Roots Movement view with the instructions of Jesus:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

And this:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and samaritanbandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

 Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  (Luke 10:25-37)

The “Law Keepers” in the above story not only did not help the half-dead man, but when they saw him they actually passed by on the other side of the road!  Considering their positions as Priest and Levite, I’ll assume that they considered the man who lay dying on the side of the road to be unclean, as not only did they not want to help (touch) him, they went to the other side of the road to avoid any possible contact with him.  They were more concerned for their own “clean-ness”  than they were for the very life of the man bleeding, obviously needing aid, lying at the side of the road.  Who did Jesus say to imitate?  The consummate Law Keepers, a Priest and a Levite?  No!  He instructed the expert in the law to imitate the unclean man, a Samaritan. 

It’s a perfect example of the change and the freedom in behavior Jesus was ushering into the world with the New Covenant forged in His blood.  No longer was one to be bound by the restrictions of the Law, which, in the hands of humans could not be possibly be met by any stretch anyway, because Jesus met the requirements of the Law on our behalf  (Romans 7:4-6) .

Under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ, the believer is now free to love their neighbor without restriction.  We are able to bend down into the dirt of life and minister to those in need and love them with the love that comes from the very Holy Spirit of God. 

Why?  Because we are cleansed with the Blood of Christ, not merely covered by the blood of animals.  Our state of redemption and “clean-ness” is permanent and irrevocable – incorruptable – enabling us to obey both parts of the commandments (instructions) of Jesus – Love God, Love others, whatever the circumstance. 

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Hebrew-isms Okay, I made that one up.  “Hebrew-isms” is a word I’m putting here to describe how those in the Hebrew Roots Movement choose to speak and communicate matters of faith.  Using the Sacred Name(s) exclusively (YHWH/Yeshua), would be one example,  using the Hebrew “Ruach HaKodesh” instead of using English to refer to the Holy Spirit, another.  Leadership will also use Hebrew instead of English when referrencing Bible passages from their own “translations” (see “Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word” ) as will laity when exposed long enough to their new paradigm.  The book of “Matthew” becomes “Matityahu”, “John” becomes “Jochanan”, etc.  “Brit Hadashah” is a big one, which means “Renewed Covenant”, not “New Covenant”.  [Great article detailing the language errors the HRM engages in to “prove” that the Covenant is “renewed” not “new” can be found HERE.]   “Renewed Covenant” has the sense of going back to the Law, a renewing of the Old Covenant – not entering into the newness of life that the New Covenant brings.  The vernacular of the details of the Feasts is also an element, not a bad thing in itself, as the Feasts paint a powerful picture of the reality that is in Christ. 

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

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

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

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

Folks, the Gospel is simple.  It is not complicated.  The redeemed in Christ do not need to seek out secret knowledge or hidden revelation to walk in their new life, the free gift of God through the work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.  God has been faithful throught the ages to protect and preserve His Word.  Many have been brought to new life in Christ with the simple reading of the scriptures.  Is it all easy?  No.  But God has provided for His truth to be understood by the most simple among us as well as the most intellectually gifted. 

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Hebrew Thought From The Pristine Faith Restoration Society

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

Being “taught ‘at the feet’ of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent ‘teachers’ of the Hebrew Roots movement” is a ciritical flaw in the Hebrew Roots belief system because Jewish scholars and teachers are steeped in the Talmud.  This is an issue dealt with in the post   “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” here at JGIG.   See also “Gnosticism” above for additional reasons whey the Talmud has no place in the Christian’s belief system. 

Teaching that the truths of God can only be communicated to one after one has learned to think with a Hebrew mindset is insulting to God.  Did Jesus say to go out into all the world, teach the tribes and nations the Hebrew language and customs, and then make disciples of them?? 

I encourage you to go to an article written by a missionary translator that deals with the issue of the restrictions of communicating the Law vs. communicating the Gospel to a specific unreached people group.  The article shows in a very practical way how where the Law cannot translate into all cultures, the Gospel can.  Click HERE for “Bible Translator’s Problem” by Gil Prost.

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Hellenism (Greek Thought) From JewishEncyclopedia.com – for complete article click HERE“Word used to express the assimilation, especially by the Jews, of Greek speech, manners, and culture, from the fourth century B.C. through the first centuries of the common era. Post-exilic Judaism was largely recruited from those returned exiles who regarded it as their chief task to preserve their religion uncontaminated, a task that required the strict separation of the congregation both 800px-raphael_school_of_athensfrom all foreign peoples (Ezra x. 11; Neh. ix. 2) and from the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine who did not strictly observe the Law (Ezra vi. 22; Neh. x. 29). This separation was especially difficult to maintain when the victorious campaign of Alexander the Great had linked the East to the West. The victory was not simply a political one. Its spiritual influence was much greater. The Greek language became a common language for nearer Asia, and with the language went Greek culture, Greek art, and Greek thought.” 

Excerpts from Focus on the Faulty’s article entitled, “Was Early Christianity Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”What are we to make of this criticism? Is there evidence of wide-spread ‘Hellenism’ within the early church? If so, does this mean that central doctrines of the Christian faith were corrupted in the process?

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

1.) The Jewish world, from which Christianity arose, had already been touched by Hellenism prior to the birth of Christ.

Critics who use this argument often make it sound as if the life and culture of Jesus and the first disciples was untouched by Hellenism, and that only in later centuries was it allowed to ‘infect’ the church. However, we know from history that this is simply not the case. In his groundbreaking study, Judaism and Hellenism, Martin Hengel has shown that, from the middle of the third century BC, Jewish Palestine had already experienced the effects of Hellenism in various ways. For example: (1) under Ptolemaic rule, the Jews were forced to deal with Hellenistic forms of government and administration; (2) as inhabitants of an important coastal land, Palestine served as a crossroads for international trade, which brought many Hellenized merchants through the area; (3) the Greek language–the common language of the Roman Empire–became a part of Jewish culture (and became the language of the New Testament!); (4) Greek educational techniques were adopted, in part, by the Jews. Thus, the idea of a pristine Judaism, untouched by Hellenism, giving rise to an equally untouched early Christianity that was later ‘corrupted’ by Hellenism is simply a false historical picture.

2.) Recent studies have shown that the influence of Hellenism on various peoples in the ancient world was largely superficial, and primarily attracted the ruling class and those with political and administrative hopes.

3.) Although Judaism and early Christianity were affected by the surrounding culture in certain ways, they diligently guarded their religious beliefs and practices from Hellenistic pagan influences, even to the point of martyrdom.

4.) Many of the central elements of the Gospel are diametrically opposed to the Hellenistic mind-set.

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

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

Finally, we must address the claim that the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity are later Hellenistic pagan corruptions of the early and ‘pure’ Christianity. Two responses will suffice to show the weaknesses of these claims. First, the claims of those like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses [And now the Hebrew Roots Movement] that New Testament Christianity was corrupted by later Hellenistic influence fail to account for the fact that it is the New Testament data itself which led the early Christian fathers to confess the deity of Christ and the Trinity of God. While space considerations do not allow for a detailed biblical defense of these doctrines, reference can be made to a number of significant studies demonstrating that these doctrines are rooted in the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ (see endnote for suggested resources). Second, recent research has forcefully shown that the early Christian idea of Christ’s deity developed not in a Hellenistic context but in a distinctly Jewish thought-world. Richard Bauckham, a contributor to this relatively new scholarly movement (sometimes known as the ‘New History of Religions School’) states these conclusions succinctly:

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

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

The above is an excellent article with extensive references for further study.  Again, that article can be found HERE (Won’t link you directly to the article for some reason – When you get to the page, click on “Focus on the Faulty”, then on “articles” in the left-hand sidebar, then scroll down to and click on “Was the Early Church Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”).

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Kabbalah (Kabalah, Caballa, Qaballah) Note to readers: It is my intent to NOT detail too much about the occultic aspects of the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Not wanting this site to be a potential gateway for exposing someone to facets of the occult, references to and descriptions of Kabbalah, etc. will be limited.  Part of the reason for this is that *I* choose not to expose myself to the in-depth study of such things.  For me, this is discernment at a very basic and important real-life level of application.  There is no value in passing on information beyond something along the lines of “this doctrine/practice is rooted in Kabbalah/Gemetria” and leaving it at that.  Those practices are from the Pit, and while we need to recognize them when they cross our paths, a quick recognition and prompt rejection is what God calls us to. 

That said, basic definitions to facilitate that recognition will be provided here at JGIG.

From Wikipedia (full article available HERE):  Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, lit. “receiving”) is a discipline and school of thought discussing the mystical aspect of Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional Rabbinic literature, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

zoharAccording to the Zohar, generally considered the foremost kabbalistic text, Torah study uses four levels (PaRDeS) of interpretation (exegesis) of its text:

  • Peshat (lit. “simple”)—the direct meaning.
  • Remez (lit. “hint[s]“)—the allegoric meaning (through allusion).
  • Derash (from Heb. darash: “inquire” or “seek”)—midrashic (Rabbinic) or comparative meaning.
  • Sod (lit. “secret” or “mystery”)—the inner meaning—a foundation of the kabbalah.

Kabbalah is considered, by its followers, as a necessary part of the study of Torah – the study of Torah (the Law of God) being an inherent duty of observant Jews. Kabbalah teaches doctrines that are accepted by some Jews as the true meaning of Judaism while other Jews have rejected these doctrines as heretical and antithetical to Judaism.

The origins of the actual term Kabbalah are unknown and disputed to belong either to Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021 – 1058) or else to the 13th century CE Spanish Kabbalist Bahya ben Asher. While other terms have been used in many religious documents from the 2nd century CE up to the present day, the term Kabbalah has become the main descriptive of Jewish esoteric knowledge and practices. The Kabbalistic literature, which served as the basis for most of the development of Kabbalistic thought, divides between early works such as Heichalot and Sefer Yetzirah (believed to be dated 1st or 2nd Century CE) and later works dated to the 13th century CE, of which the main book is the Zohar representing the main source for the Contemplative Kabbalah (”Kabbalah Iyunit”).

According to Kabbalistic tradition, knowledge was transmitted orally by the Patriarchs, prophets, and sages (Hakhamim in Hebrew), eventually to be “interwoven” into Jewish religious writings and culture. According to this tradition, Kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel, although there is little objective historical evidence to support this thesis.

From the same Wikipedia article regarding Gematria:

Among its many pre-occupations, Kabbalah teaches that every Hebrew letter, word, number, even the accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings. One such method is as follows:

As early as the 1st Century BCE Jews believed that the Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) contained encoded messages and hidden meanings. Gematria is one method for discovering its hidden meanings. Each letter in Hebrew also represents a number; Hebrew, unlike many other languages, never developed a separate numerical alphabet. By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find a hidden meaning in each word. This method of interpretation was used extensively by various schools.

There is no one fixed way to “do” gematria. Some say there are up to 70 different methods. One simple procedure is as follows: each syllable and/or letter forming a word has a characteristic numeric value. The sum of these numeric tags is the word’s “key”, and that word may be replaced in the text by any other word having the same key. Through the application of many such procedures, alternative or hidden meanings of scripture may be derived.

See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – the Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for additional information. 

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Law (Law of God, Mosaic Law, Law of Moses)  This entry is a long one, necesarily.  I want to preface its definition and pupose by including part of a continuing discourse I had with a friend, clarifying my view of the Law.  The discourse will speak for itself (used with permission) . . .

 

JJ – Hi there,

After reading through your last set of exchanges on your blog, I had this thought – do with it what you want! :-P

Reading through your response to Sean about the law left me with the impression that your view of the law is a negative one. It was something broken, impossible – just wrong. I’m not saying that is or isn’t your view of the law, that was just my impression from reading your response.

JGIG – I view the Law in light of Hebrews 8 (a lot of the rest of Hebrews, too =o)) . . .

1The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.

3Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
“The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

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

Those in the HRM put the Law above the work of Christ. They put their primary focus on the Law, and not on Christ. There are some that actually teach that Jesus is Torah incarnate . . . that He, himself is the Law in the flesh (an amazing twisting of John 1). The Law is central to everything they believe, not just the purpose of the Law, and certainly not what Jesus did to bring about the New Covenant.

JJ – My thought was, the Jewish people loved the law – it showed them how much they needed God to be righteous and how to reconcile themselves with God. It showed them how to live lives that pleased Him.

JGIG – Yes and no. Though the Law did show them what they needed to do to reconcile themselves to God and what was pleasing to (also required by) Him, it was like taking a test that they had no possible chance of passing. They could do what they could do . . . then they had to rely on the mercy and grace of God. Those who realized that fact were justified by their faith. Hebrews 11 chronicles this both before and after the giving of the Mosaic Law. Those who strive to keep the Law in the light of the New Covenant put themselves under its curse, according to Paul. If you put yourself under the Law, you subject yourself to the penalty of the Law.

JJ – I know that as a people they did not live that out, but I do think there was as deep love for God’s law. Having said that, the beautiful thing about Christ is that he completed the work of the Law on the cross when he reconciled God’s people with God forever. No more separation! No more animal sacrifices! It’s all done. So, while the law was good, Christ is better.

JGIG – Amen!

JJ – I just wondered if it might help those who presently revere the law to hear, yes, the law was a wonderful gift, but God has more for us. Don’t stop at the Law! Keep going!

JGIG – Re-read my “So What?” post . . . I do talk about how the Law is upheld as the standard. And I do understand the love of the Law . . . for the Jew it is direct revelation from and their connection to YHWH. My view of the Law is not a negative one . . . I just see it relative to Jesus and who He is and what He did. Understand that the HRM view is heavily skewed in that regard, and part of the purpose of the blog is to put the Law and Christ in their proper contexts.

As for Sean, also understand that he IS NOT a Jew . . . So when I speak to him, in particular, I am not minimizing his culture, or his birthright, or his heritage . . . He has learned an inappropriate view of the Law from Rabbinic (and probably Kabbalistic) sources that have no rightful place in determining Christian doctrine. I’m not even minimizing the Law . . . just keeping it in perspective relative to the work of Christ . . . which is where the HRM gets way off track.

When I read Psalm 119 I see the wonderful images of the Law as written on the heart of the believer and the working of the Holy Spirit to bring those things about in the life of a believer. The redeemed heart is where those things progressively take place, not by obedience to the written Law, as the HRM teaches. So the Law that I love is the fleshy written-on-the-redeemed-heart Law rooted in what the Holy Spirit renews in us through the completed work of Jesus Christ, not the do-this-this-way-and-that-that-way Law, which relies on the work of the flesh. 

 

An excerpt from THIS ARTICLE, “Isn’t Grace a Licence to Sin?” clarifies what I think JJ was trying to say and what I was trying to agree with:

To say that the Christian is not under the law is not to insult the law or say that it is bad. For those who lived in the Old Testament period, being a member of God’s Covenant people was an unspeakable blessing. The entire world had sunk into deep spiritual darkness, ignorance, and paganism. But in that world, one nation – Israel – knew the true God. Because they had God’s Word, they knew the truth about God, themselves, right and wrong, and the future. God intended them to be a light in a dark world. The Old Covenant did indeed “come with glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7). 

However, “What was glorious [the law] has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory” [of the New Covenant] (2 Corinthians 3:10). Again, to say that we are not under the law is not to downgrade the law; it is to maintain that something better has come!

More specifically, God used the law to manage His chosen people in the centuries before Christ. But ever since the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, we live in a different age. Rather than managing His people by law, God now wants His people to grow in grace through the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is why Galatians 5:18 says, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” To be “led by the Spirit” means that we Christians have the privilege of walking in a loving, trust relationship with our heavenly Father! His goal is to grow us in grace as a result of our personal relationship with Him, not to “keep us in line” under the law.

It is important that we emphasize what God has provided above and beyond the removal of the law. To release someone from the captivity of law without adding something in its place is like letting a city dog out of his pen. He’ll just take off running as fast as he can to get away. God’s method of releasing us from the law is by replacing it with His indwelling life. Why does a country dog stay near the front door when he has miles of freedom? Because he knows and loves his master! His freedom is not freedom from bondage, but freedom to be with the one he loves.

In the same way, as I grow to know and love Jesus Christ more intimately I find myself experiencing incredible freedom and hardly think about the law at all. The issue is not what I can or cannot do. I am free to know my heavenly Father in an unhindered personal relationship. That’s what I concentrate on. Then through that relationship, God reaches my mind to think His thoughts. When I am wrong, He reasons with me. He doesn’t lock me behind some backyard fence!

People say some of the most thoughtless and foolish things in response to the message of God’s love and grace. “If you teach people that they are totally forgiven,” many say, “then they will go out and sin like the devil.” I reply, “When did the law ever stop people from sinning?” Others ask, “If what you are saying is true, that God accepts us in Christ regardless of our actions, then why shouldn’t I just sin up a storm?” In response to such foolishness I feel like replying, “If that really is your attitude, go ahead. Then in a little while you can come back and tell me why not!”

What questions like these clearly reveal is the slender, meager experience, which the questioner has had of the indwelling abundant life of Jesus Christ. Asking if we should sin because we are under grace is like someone facing an endless cafeteria line and asking permission to go eat out of garbage cans!

God cares about you. There is nothing you can give Him, there is no service you can perform, there is no self-discipline you can apply, that He wants more than He wants you. He wants to reveal Himself and His love to you, and He wants you to grow to love Him in return. This is how we grow in grace.

However, for this to happen, it is essential that we abide in the truth of God’s Word – particularly in those truths, which deal with our total acceptance, forgiveness, righteousness, and life in Jesus Christ. Only by abiding in the truth that Christ has done it all can we have the boldness to approach God and get to know Him in a personal way. If we have a law mentality, it will never happen. We must abide in His grace in order to grow in His grace.  [Emphases mine.]

On to the definition and purpose of the Law . . .

Excerpts from Bible.org,  (complete article available HERE):  In the Old Testament, the word “law” is used to translated the Hebrew word torah, “instruction.” The Hebrew word for “law” probably comes from the causative form of the verb yarah, “to throw,” “to shoot (arrows).” In the hiphil stem, the verb horah means “to point, guide, instruct, teach.” Hence, the law is that which provides authoritative guidance. In the New Testament, the Greek word used for law is nomos. Nomos means “that which is assigned,” hence, “usage, custom,” and then “law,” or “a rule governing one’s actions.”

The Nature and Content of the Mosaic Law

It is common to divide the Mosaic Law into three parts as illustrated below, but though this is helpful for analysis and the study of the Mosaic Law and the way it functions, such a division is never stated as such in Scripture. Rather it is seen as a unit. Arguments for this will be given below.

Part 1: The Moral Law or the Ten Commandments. This part of the Law governed the moral life giving guidance to Israel in principles of right and wrong in relation to God and man (Exodus 20:1-17).

Part 2: The Judgments, or the Social Law. This part of the Law governed Israel in her secular, social, political, and economic life (Exodus 21:1–23:13).

Part 3: The Ordinances or the Ceremonial Law. This was the religious portion of Law which guided and provided for Israel in her worship and spiritual relationship and fellowship with God. It included the priesthood, tabernacle and sacrifices (Exodus 25:-31: Leviticus).

The Recipients of the Mosaic Law

The Mosaic Law was a bilateral covenant made specifically for Israel alone to govern her life in the promised land. From the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen.12) we see Israel was a chosen nation, an instrument of God to become a channel of blessing to all nations. Yahweh was her Theocratic King who was to rule and guide the nation in her destiny that she might not become polluted or contaminated by other nations and could thus fulfill her purpose. For this the Mosaic Law was instituted to direct Israel as a nation in all spheres of her life—morally, socially, politically, economically and religiously. 

The Characteristics of the Mosaic Law

(1) The foundation and basis of the Mosaic Law is the covenant God made with the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In several places in Exodus and Deuteronomy, there a references to the Abrahamic Covenant which establish the fact that the giving of the Law at Sinai was based on the covenant with Abraham and God’s continuing plan for the nation of Israel as a priesthood nation (cf. Ex. 19:4-6; Deut. 4:4-8 with Ex. 2:24-25; Deut. 4:36-38; 29:31; 1 Chron. 16:15-19). God had promised to bless the descendants of Abraham and through them, the world. This was a promises reiterated and expanded to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob. God would bless Israel and through them, bring blessing to the world (Gen. 12:1f; 15; 17:1ff; 26:24f; 28:13f). The Abrahamic covenant is a unilateral covenant. Its ultimate fulfillment is dependent on God’s sovereign and steadfast faithfulness to His promises to Abraham regardless of Israel’s continued disobedience (cf. Ezek. 20:1-44).

The Mosaic Covenant, however, was a bilateral covenant. Though its ultimate fulfillment is dependent on God, for any generation to experience the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, there had to be faithfulness to God. Thus, enters the Law, a bilateral covenant given to Moses for the nation of Israel after their redemption out of the land of Egypt. It was through obedience to the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) that Israel would be able to experience the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant in the promised land. For obedience there would be blessings; for disobedience, cursing (cf. Deut. 28-30).

(2) The Mosaic Law is holy, good, and spiritual (Rom. 7:12, 14). It was, however, only temporary as the book of Hebrews so clearly teaches. As such, the Mosaic Law was designed to maintain a proper relationship between God and His people Israel (blessing versus cursing), but only until the coming of Messiah and the establishment of a New Covenant. The Law was never designed to be a permanent rule of life. It was merely a tutor or guardian to guide Israel in all areas of her life until Christ (2 Cor. 3:7, 11; Gal. 3:23-24; Rom. 10:4).

(3) The Mosaic Law is weak because it is dependent on man’s ability. It is especially weak when adopted as a system of merit (Rom. 8:3).

(4) The Mosaic Law was an indivisible unit, and is that which was terminated by the Lord Jesus. Though the Law is usually divided into three parts, as described above, it is important to see that it was an indivisible unit. Thus, when Paul stated that we are not under the Law, this included all three parts, including the Ten Commandments. Some will agree that parts of the Old Testament Law have been done away, but assert the Ten Commandments are supposedly still in force today. But all three parts of the Law were designed to function as a unit to guide Israel in all of its life. The Ten Commandments cannot be separated from the rest. Further, even though most recognize this three-fold division, the Jews so numbered all the commands that they approached the Law as a unit. Ryrie notes that,

“…the Jewish people either did not acknowledge it (the three-fold division) or at least did not insist on it. Rather they divided the 613 commandments of the Law into twelve families of commandments which were then subdivided into twelve additional families of positive and twelve additional families of negative commands.”10

Further, that it is a unit is evident by the fact that the recognition of any of its features, i.e., as a meritorious system of righteousness with God, obligates the person to fulfill the entire Law, as we are taught by both Paul and James (cf. Gal. 3:10, 12; 5:3; Jam. 2:8-11).

Further evidence that the Law is a unit is the penalty of death for disobedience is attached to all three parts of the Law.

Noticing the penalties attached to certain commands further emphasizes the unitized character of the Law. When the command to keep the Sabbath (one of the “commandments”) was violated by a man who gathered sticks on that day, the penalty was death by stoning (Num. 15:32-36). When the people of Israel violated the command concerning the Sabbatical Year for the land (one of the “judgments”), God sent them into captivity where many died (Jer. 25:11). When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord (one of the “ordinances”), they immediately died (Lev. 10:1-7). Clearly these commands from various parts of the Law were equally binding and the punishment equally severe. The Law was a unit.11

Finally, three times in 2 Corinthians 3:6-13 Paul declares that the Mosaic system is done away or abolished (vss. 7, 11, 13). In commenting on 2 Corinthians 3:7-13, Chafer wrote:

It is the law as crystallized in the ten commandments which is in view; for that law alone was ‘written and engraven in stones.’ In the midst of the strongest possible contrast between the reign of the teachings of the law and the teachings of grace, it is declared that these commandments were ‘done away’ and ‘abolished.’ It should be recognized that the old was abolished to make place for the new, which far excels in glory. The passing of the law is not, therefore, a loss; it is rather an inestimable gain.”12

(5) The Mosaic Law stands in contrast to the grace of God as now manifested in the coming of Christ (Rom. 6:14; 7:6; 8:3; Gal. 3:12).

The Purpose and Function of the Mosaic Law

The Purpose and Function Explained

What then is the purpose of the Law? Though given to Israel to govern her life in the promise land for blessing instead of cursing, there was an attendant purpose in the giving of the Mosaic Law to Israel—a purpose that still stands today. Simply put, its proper use is to show man his total helpless and hopeless condition before a righteous and just God.

1 Timothy 1:8-10 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 1:9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 1:10 sexually immoral, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers—in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.

In the study of the Bible, there are three specific purposes that surface in the proper use of the Mosaic Law.

(1) In a general sense, it was given to provide a standard of righteousness (Deut. 4:8; Psalm 19:7-9). In the process, the Mosaic Law revealed the righteousness, holiness, and goodness of God (Deut. 4:8; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; Rom. 7:12-14). The Law at Sinai was given to Israel to reveal who God is and to shed light on the reality of an infinite gulf that separates God from man.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Romans 3: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

(2) The Law was given to identify sin and reveal man’s sin and bankrupt condition as guilty before God (Rom. 3:19f; 7:7-8; 5:20; Gal. 3:19). God’s holy Law reveals to man just who and what he is—sinful and separated from God by an infinite gulf that he is unable to bridge in his own human strength.

Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

(3) The Law was given to shut man up to faith, i.e., to exclude the works of the Law (or any system of works) as a system of merit for either salvation or sanctification and thereby lead him to Christ as the only means of righteousness (Gal. 3:19-20, 20-24; 1 Tim. 1:8-9; Rom. 3:21-24). The ceremonial portion of the Law did this by pointing to the coming of a suffering Savior, “for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).

Romans 3:21-24 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God, which is attested by the law and the prophets, has been disclosed— 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:24-26 Thus the law had become our guardian13 until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.

Summary: Keeping the Law in the True Sense

By keeping the Law, we are speaking about the true sense as God intended it, not as Israel and man tend to take it. The Ten Commandments showed the Jew his sin (and so all mankind) and that he was shut up under that sin. The Ten Commandments were designed to guide him, indeed to drive him to the Ceremonial Law (the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices) for forgiveness through faith in the sacrifices which pointed to Christ. Then, the Social Law, regulated his life by showing him how to live socially, not to give him merit before God, but to enable him to experience the blessings of the covenant rather than the cursing as God warned in Deuteronomy.

The Limitations of the Mosaic Law

When approached as a meritorious system, the Law cannot justify (Gal. 2:16), give life (Gal. 3:21), give the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:2, 14), sanctify (Gal. 3:21; 5:5; Rom. 8:3), make perfect, or permanently deal with sin (Heb. 7:19). It was designed to be a temporary guardian until the coming of Christ, the Suffering Messiah Savior.

The Effects of the Mosaic Law

The reasons for the effects listed below lie in the wrong reaction of Israel and people today, i.e., approaching the Law as a system of merit, shifting from a faith basis to a works basis (Exodus 19:8; Rom. 10:3). People often try to use the Law as a means of establishing their own standing before God. But Scripture emphatically teaches us that the Law brings a curse (Gal. 3:10-12), brings death, it is a killer (2 Cor. 3:6-7; Rom. 7:9-10), brings condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9), makes offenses abound (Rom. 5:10; 7:7-13), declares all men guilty (Rom. 3:19), and holds men in bondage to sin and death (Gal. 4:3-5, 9, 24; Rom. 7:10-14). This is because man in his sinful state can never fulfill the righteousness of the Law, especially in the spirit of the Law. He always falls short as Romans 3:23 tells us, and becomes condemned or guilty before a Holy God (Rom. 3:19).

The End of the Mosaic Law as a Rule of Life

The Fact Established

Several passages of Scripture clearly establish that the coming of Christ has brought an end to the Mosaic Law. Paul specifically states that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). This instituted a new law or principle of life, i.e., the law of the Spirit, the one of liberty and grace (Rom. 8:2, 13). This fact was also clearly settled by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. A council was convened in the church at Jerusalem to look into the issue of the Law and its place in the life of believers because some were saying “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved,” and because even certain of the Pharisees who had believed were also saying “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.” The conclusion of the council, consisting of apostles and elders, was to reject the concept of placing New Testament believers under the yoke of the Law (15:6-11). The only thing the Jerusalem Council asked was that Gentile believers control their liberty in matters that might be offensive to Jewish believers, but they did not seek to place the believers under the yoke of the Law for they realized the Law had come to an end.

Finally, the book of Hebrews demonstrates that the old covenant of the Mosaic Law was only temporary and has been replaced by the coming of Christ whose ministry is based on (1) a better priesthood, one after the order of Melchizedek which is superior to Aaron’s, and (2) a better covenant with better promises (see Heb. 7-10). The old covenant was only a shadow of heavenly things, and if it had been able to make men perfect before God there would have been no occasion for a second or new covenant (see Heb. 7:11-12; 8:1-13). This change in the priesthood also necessitates a change in the Law. Such a change shows the Law has been terminated or done away.

The Problem of Mosaic Laws as Commands for New Testament Believers

A careful reading of the New Testament shows us that nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated as obligations for believers. The one exception is the command to keep the Sabbath. If the Mosaic Law has been done away, then why are these commandments repeated in the New Testament? Further, some commandments outside the Ten Commandments are even repeated in the New Testament. For instance, as a motivation for loving others, Paul referred to four of the Ten Commandments because they demonstrate this principle, but then, to summarize, he mentioned one from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So in what sense has the Law been done away?

The Solution

Part of the purpose of the Law was to point men to the coming Savior through its shadows and types. Through the moral law, man could see God’s holy character as well as his own sinfulness and the infinite gulf that separates God and man. Through the ceremonial part of the Law (the priesthood, sacrifices, and tabernacle), man could find the solution to his sin by faith in what this part of the Law represented, a suffering Savior, one who would die as the Lamb of God. But even though no one could perfectly keep the Law, it was also designed for Israel’s immediate blessing by setting forth righteous principles that would show them how to love God and their fellow man. This would produce a stable and secure society as well as a testimony to the nations (Deut. 4:6-8).

Thus, in 613 commands the Mosaic Law represented an ethical code given by God to Israel to govern the nation until the coming of Messiah, but at their heart, they represented the moral law of God—righteous principles vital to humanity. Today, we are not under this code, but many of its righteous principles, the eternal laws of God, have been carried over and are part of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ (Rom. 8:2) or the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). In this, some of the former commands are carried over (Rom. 13:9), some new commands and guidelines are added (Eph. 4:11f; 1 Tim. 3:1f; 4:4), and some have been revised, as in the case of capitol punishment which is to be exercised by human government (Rom. 13:4).

It needs to be emphasized that the end of the Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments, does not cancel or detract one iota from the eternal moral law of God. The moral principles of the ten laws did not begin with Sinai but are as eternal and immutable as the character of God. To understand this should dispel the fears of those who think the abolition of the Mosaic law leaves only a state of lawlessness.

The moral principles embodied in the law of Moses Paul calls “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4), and shows that such principles are the goal of the Spirit-directed life in the same context in which he teaches the believer is not under the Mosaic law (Rom 6—8).

This should be no more difficult to understand than the fact that a citizen of the United States is not under the laws of Canada, even though the moral principles underlying the laws of the two countries are the same. When a citizen of the United States becomes a citizen of Canada he does not remain under ten of the best laws of the United States. Nor does the fact that some of the laws of the United States are quite similar to some of the laws of Canada confuse or compromise his new exclusive responsibility to Canada. So the believing Jew of the first century moved entirely from the Mosaic economy of law into the new economy of grace instituted by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).14

The Lawful Use of the Mosaic Law

The Law is still good from the standpoint of its main function and purpose as seen above in The Purpose and Function of the Law (1 Tim. 1:8-10; James 2:1-10; Gal. 5:1-3; 6:1). This is how James uses the Law, to reveal sin (James 2:9), to get believers out of self-righteous legalism, and move them into a walk by faith in a living Savior.

The Relationship of New Testament Believers to the Mosaic Law

    1. He is never saved by keeping the Law (Gal. 2:21).

    2. He is not under the Law as a rule of life, i.e., sacrifice, Sabbath keeping, tithing (Rev. 6:14; Acts 15:5, 24).

    3. Thus, he does not walk by the Law but by the Spirit, which is the new law for the New Testament saint (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:5). This is law of liberty through faith in the power of God.

    4. He is dead to the Law (Rom. 7:1-6; Gal. 2:19) by virtue of his union with Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law.

    5. He is to fulfill the righteousness of the Law, i.e., the spirit of the law as seen in Christ’s words in Matthew 10:37-40 love for God, and love for one’s neighbor (James 2:9). But this can only be fulfilled through a knowledge of Bible truth and the filling of the Holy Spirit, which furnishes the power or ability needed to live the Christian life according to the eternal moral law of God. So we are under God’s new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2-4).

Christ, the Fulfillment of the Mosaic Law

Christ fulfilled the Ten Commandments by living a perfect and sinless life. Thus, when man trusts in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to that individual so we have justification. We have Christ’s righteousness so the Law can’t condemn us (Rom. 8:1; 7:1-6; Rom. 5:1; 4:4-8).

Christ fulfilled the ceremonial ordinances, the shadows and types of His person and work, by dying on the cross for us and in our place. This showed that God was also perfect justice and sin must be judged, but God provided His Son, the precious Lamb of God. The penalty which the Law exercised was paid. Again there is no condemnation because the believer is “in Christ” (Col. 2:14; Rom. 3:24-25).

Christ also fulfilled the Social Law, but now He replaces it with a new way of life fitting to our new salvation. He gives provision for the inner man—the indwelling Holy Spirit—who enables us to experience true sanctification so that we may experience also the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 8:2-4).

Summary

1. Christ is the end of the Law and believers are not under the Mosaic Law. New Testament believers are not under Law but under grace (Rom. 6:14).

2. Since the Lord Jesus Christ fulfills the Law by His person and work, believers are under a new law; the obligation to walk by the Spirit of Life through faith (Rom. 8:2-4). If we are led by the Spirit, then we are not under the Law (Gal. 5:18).

3. Against such, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit, there is no law because the believer is then operating under the highest law, the standards are met as we walk by the Holy Spirit and grow in the Word (Gal. 5:22).

Warning Against Entanglements with the Law as Believers Today

After salvation by grace there has always been the grave danger of reverting to Law or legalism by taboos and tactics of coercion, or some form of human manipulation (Gal. 3:1-3). To go back to the Law as a way of life puts one under the control of the flesh, it nullifies true spirituality by faith in the Holy Spirit, and defeats the believer. It results in human good and domination by the sin nature or the flesh (Gal. 5:1-5; Col. 2:14f). The fact that the Christian is not under the Mosaic Law does not mean, of course, that there is lawlessness or no proper sense of morality or ethics in the Christian life. Quite the contrary is true. But in dealing with the subject of morality or ethics, it must be understood that the clear teaching of the New Testament is that the moral life the Christian is responsible for is that (1) no one can be saved by virtue of his own works (Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9), and (2) that the morality of the Christian life is to be the result of the Christ exchanged life by faith and submission to the ministry and power of a Spirit-controlled life.

The Threefold Duties of the New Testament Believer

In the New Testament, then, completely adequate teaching is provided as to the principles of conduct the Christian will follow if he truly presents his body “a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) and walks “in the Spirit” (Eph 5:9). In Titus 2:11-14 is to be found a convenient outline around which to group these principles. First in this passage it is majestically stated that God’s grace brings us salvation. But His grace then teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly. These are three important lines of responsibility: the believer is to live soberly with regard to himself (Rom 12:3); righteously with regard to his fellow men; and godly with regard to the Lord. The same truth can be more or less expressed in a somewhat different way: We should seek to live in accordance with the precepts of grace because (1) this will please God (Heb 13:16) and will demonstrate our love for Christ (John 14:15); (2) it will help others (Matt 5:16; Titus 3:8,14); (3) it will bring true joy and blessing to our own hearts (John 15:10-11). 15

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Humor Break

Discerning the errors of the Hebrew Roots Movement can be a heavy subject.  Let’s lighten things up a bit, shall we?  Following is a bit of satire my husband put together several months ago as I was in the thick of researching the HRM.  I found the following to be a fun read and thought it appropriate to post here on the heels of “Messin’ With the Word” . . . 

The Results Are In!

Dearest Wendy,
 
Great news!  The results are in!  Feel free to forward this to your mom’s forum friends.  Or not.
 
I’ve been in a bit of a quandary about those pesky Bible verses that just seem to keep popping up.  You know the ones.  They don’t quite mesh with our world view or our ability to give or receive love. And those verses where they encourage us to confess stuff or accept discipline!  Whew!  And then there’s that part about the “front” of the book not seeming to line up with the “back” of the book.  What is one supposed to do? It causes us to walk around with a dissonance in our hearts that just won’t go away.  So, “Huh”, I said to myself, “there must be an answer.  Surely my Creator would want me to ‘have life and have it the way that is most comfortable for me.’  I mean, what is right in my eyes never fails me, right?”

We all know how difficult some parts of the Bible can be.  So I’ve decided that instead of adapting my life to Scripture, or better still, letting the Holy Spirit lead my life, I’m just going to edit the Word as I see fit.  Well . . . therein lies a bigger issue!  What sort of marker is appropriate for the job?  Well, honey, your Dear Husband is on the job!  Did you know that Office Depot stocks TWENTY-FOUR BRANDS of markers??  That’s right!  Twenty-four!  Woo-hoo!

My initial choice was of course the “Mean Streak.”  Seemed fitting.  The problem was it comes in yellow and some other completely inappropriate colors.  I mean, come on, we’re looking for complete coverage!  (On a side note there is something appealing about yellow, for some reason.)  [Update: The Mean Streak does now come in black!]
 
So, to jump right to it…  the winner is, after hours and hours of testing (just kidding), the Sanford Sharpie Magnum in Black!  This puppy can cover!  And with its wide tip I can blot out entire paragraphs of scripture in just a couple of passes.  Don’t like the stuff about speaking in tongues?  Gone!  Can’t seem to reconcile the “women speaking in the congregation” stuff? Blammo!  Just can’t stand the Apostle Paul at all?  Toasted!!!  Best yet, I have seen this thing completely remove from my Bible all the references to the Blood of Jesus and living a life of faith in Him!  Pow!  Freedom!  Who knew it could be so easy?  Please keep in mind that this coverage doesn’t come cheap.  These bad boys run $3.29 a piece.  But guess what, the ink is toxic!  Perfect.
 
For those budget-minded blotters out there the choice-du-jour would of course have to go to the Eberhart Faber 3000 Chisel Point Permanent in Black.  Great editing at only  $.59 a piece!  Be warned – more strokes are needed, but when you’re on a roll what’s a few more passes? 
 
Honorable mention would have to go back to the Sharpie brand with their “Click-It” line of retractable markers.  A great little product that allows you to edit almost anywhere.  Please be advised that the tip is tiny compared to the winning choices so care will need to be taken to get full coverage.
 
I hope this has been helpful.  I am so excited to know that even though Jesus said that “His burden is light” and we should “take up our cross and follow Him” that with a mere swoosh I can do it the way I want to do it.  Yeah!  What peace.
 
One word of caution.  These are PERMANENT markers!  They seem to work best for some reason.  I just marked out some stuff and got carried away – I marked out something about “your sins are forgiven” and now I’m not sure what to do.  Oh, well.  No worries . . . 
 
Love,
Your Dear Husband

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The Hebrew Roots Movement: So What?

So what if Christians want to keep the Law?  What’s wrong with keeping the Sabbath and observing the Feasts?  Are those things wrong?  The dietary laws, purification rituals . . . after all, we are talking about the Law . . . God’s standard for righteousness here, not some weird pagan ritualistic stuff, right?

I’ve been thinking about this the past few days as I’ve been compiling an HRM glossary (coming soon) and going through (again) the Hebrew Roots Movement doctrine I’ve become familiar with in the past several months, and the question does periodically come to mind, “So what?”

Some of you may be thinking the same thing.  What is the big deal about those who want to keep the Law?  Simply celebrating the Sabbath and feasts, in my opinion, are fine.  There is much to be learned by doing such things.  It’s important to know, however, that that’s where the HRM gets its foot in the door of a lot of people’s hearts, because if you’re already doing part of the Law, shouldn’t you be doing it ALL?  In and of themselves, celebrating the Sabbath and the Feasts are not a bad thing.  But it is important to understand that they are not a required  thing.  Understanding the completed work of Jesus at the Cross and what the New Covenant is – it’s so important to understand the freedom that was purchased there at so great a cost.

There is this impression put forth in the HRM that the Hebraic model of worship and relationship with God is the be-all and end-all to religious expression.  And that it’s not just an expression, but that it is required expression – required of all believers.  That Judaism is the root of our Christian faith.  That Judaism was never intended by God to be done away with.  Folks, relationship between God and man PREDATES  Judaism.  Jesus – and God’s promises that would be fulfilled through Him – PREDATE  the Law!

I found a post regarding the HRM over at “Labarum”, a blog from a decidedly more liturgical point of view.  I’m not knocking that, by the way . . . the more I learn about the shenanigans the HRM “leaders” are pulling, the more I’m learning to appreciate liturgy and its original purpose in defining and defending the foundations of biblical truth and doctrine while holding fast to my evangelical moorings.  Here’s an excerpt from the Labarum post entitled, “Root of the Problem”:

The movement [Hebrew Roots Movement] overall also suffers from a complete misunderstanding of both God’s motivation in choosing Abraham and his sovereignty in choosing the time when the Eternal Word would become incarnate. The choosing of the Jews had far less to do with God’s preference for Hebrew as it did with His rewarding the faith of Abraham.

It also never occurs to these folks that God in His sovereign will chose a time when the Mediterranean world was under the rule of one state (the Roman Empire) whose engineering feats had made quick travel over long distances possible through its vast network of roads, the highly expressive Greek language was the common tongue for learning, and Hellenistic culture had greatly influenced much of the known world since Alexander the Great.

The Greek language is highly suited for philosophical endeavors whereas Biblical Hebrew was relatively simple by comparison. I do not believe it was a coincidence that God chose a time when the infrastructure, language, and culture of an empire allowed an easy expansion of the faith, the widespread use of a language that allowed its forceful defense, and a rich culture that allowed it to be placed in the context of the fulfillment of all that is good within mankind.

Restricting the faith to some alleged “Hebrew Roots” that define a faith other than what ever existed removes two of the great strengths of Christianity – its universality and its historicity. However sincere its proponents may be, they are assuming Christ has never been able to fully realize His purpose for the Church until they came along. And, to borrow a term from the Jews, that’s chutzpah!  [Bolding mine.]

As Christians, we need to understand that those who claim to keep the Law perpetuate practices that Jesus ended when He completed His work at the Cross.  For example, Jesus took over and performed with finality the duties of Priest and sacrifice, not just the covering of sins, (as did animal sacrifices) but the erasing  of our sins, putting us in a position of justification before God.    

Hebrews 10:11-14
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are “the holy ones.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.

Hebrews 10:26-29
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Those in the HRM will argue that we need to keep the whole Law (barring sacrifices, though some think that should be brought back as well), because if we love God and want to honor Him we will keep His commandments.  Even as redeemed, Holy Spirit filled Christians we cannot keep the Law.  Most use Hebrews 10:26-27 as a “you can lose your salvation if you keep on sinning” passage.  Law Keepers use it as a “See, if you put yourselves under the Law and obey its edicts, you will not be in danger of losing your salvation.”  What about verses 28 and 29, though?  Let’s look at it again:  

Hebrews 10:28-29
Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” 

Could this be speaking to the believer who goes back to the Law?  Could this passage be intended for the Torah observant Christian?  Is the Law keeping believer treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him and are they insulting the Spirit of Grace?

If we could keep the Law, (which we can’t) scripture tells us how God sees the situation of our attempts at Law keeping in Romans chapters 3 and 4.  From Romans 3:21-31:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  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— 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.

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

Now before any Law Keepers say, “See!  We aren’t supposed to nullify the law!  We’re supposed to uphold it!”, let’s look at Romans 4:13-25:

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.  For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.  As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’  He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.  This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’  The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. 

Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, and that Sara’s womb was also dead.  God asked Abraham to believe the impossible.   It was crystal clear to Abraham that in his present state, there was nothing that he could do.  He was inherently unable to carry out what God had mandated.  God said, “I have made [past tense] you a father of many nations”.  Abraham believed that God would do what He said He would do – that God had the power to do what He said He would do, and it was that faith that was credited to him as righteousness.  It wasn’t anything that Abraham did, it was what God did.  Abraham was “fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised“.

God asks us to believe something just as unlikely as Abraham was asked to believe as we look at our old, dead selves.  We are asked to believe that God has the power to do what he has promised – that we believe that it is what He does that puts us in a position of fellowship with Him, not anything of ourselves.  God mandates that to be acceptable before Him we must be holy.  The Law is that standard against which we must be measured – it is not nullified – it is upheld!  The fact remains, however, that we are inherently unable to keep the Law, that standard of holiness. 

Jesus met that standard on our behalf!  Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification in the midst of our old, dead inability to meet that standard.  When God looks at the repentant believer, He sees holiness because of the justification that HE brought forth for us through the work of Jesus.  Though the Law is the standard by which all the measuring is done, it is not the means by which justification comes.  Justification comes through the amazing grace and mercy and work of God to meet the standard of the Law on our behalf.

So what about keeping the Law as believers?  Is it not really a question of sanctification for the Law keeping believer?  Isn’t that the essence of the question I posed above?  I won’t pretend to have this all ironed out and nailed down perfectly.  And I honestly can see both sides of the issue when it comes to simple Law keeping, barring the heretical doctrines prevalent in the Hebrew Roots Movement today.

But I always have to come back to the Cross.  

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

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

What does that mean?  It means that the Holy Spirit changes our nature – we belong to Him – we were purchased with a price – and that the Law keeping that takes place in the life of a believer is a natural fruit-bearing process as we grow in Christ, not of keeping this festival and that law.  The fruits that we see in the Church were not designed to be the keeping of the Law . . . those fruits are designed to be seen as God remakes us from the inside out through the working of His Holy Spirit!  (Romans 15:14-19, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 

I think about the High Priest, the only one who was permitted to go to meet God on behalf of the people in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle/Temple.  He had to go through much purification before entering that Holiest place.  And even then, there was no guarantee that he would survive the encounter.  That’s the Law, folks.  Through Christ, however, and His work at the Cross, the Most Holy Place was made available to all, and all have the right to enter who are cleansed (not merely covered) by the Blood of the Lamb.

It is obvious that God DID do away with some very specific, pivotal points in the Law immediately  at the sacrifice of Himself at the Cross.  More of the Law passed away as time went on.  Why was the temple not rebuilt after AD 70?  If the early Church felt it so important to the worship of God to maintain the Hebrew point of view, why didn’t they rebuild it?  Where are the stories of Christians being thrown to the lions because they were intent on rebuilding the Temple?

Could it be that the early Church recognized that the new Temple was the Church, the Body of Christ, not built with blocks of stone, but with living stones, those being the redeemed people of God, with their Cornerstone being Jesus Christ Himself?  Indeed, is this not what Paul was telling the Church in Ephesians 2:11-22?

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

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

If we are not obligated to keep the Law, yet some in the Church are convinced that we are, what a cunningly deceptive way for the Enemy to enslave and immobilize portions of the Church.  The idea that the Holy Spirit enables us to keep Torah seems good and right, but the goals of Christ for the Church are so much loftier than for Her to keep Torah!  Christianity goes beyond the scope of Law keeping (which focuses on what we do to please God) and makes us dependent on the Holy Spirit for the renewing of our minds and hearts and actions (which focuses on what He does in/through us – Romans 12:1-2, 1 John 1:9, Philippians 3:1-11)!  While obedience is required in either scenario, which one do you think results in the writing of the Law on the heart versus the Law which has already been written on stone?  Who gets the glory in each scenario?

Have you ever had someone (an unbeliever) come up to you (a believer) and say, “What is it with you, anyway?!  Why are you so peaceful all the time?”  I have, and it wasn’t because I was wearing tzit tzit or a head covering or turning down unclean foods or preparing for Shabbat.  It was because the Holy Spirit is ALIVE in me, and He shows!  It is nothing of myself, but the Holy Spirit that is within me.  He gets the glory.

What do I do?  I submit to Him, I stay in His Word, I pray as the Spirit leads.  I love God and I love others as I love myself.  And when someone does come up to me and asks me “what’s so different about me?” — out comes the Gospel.  How God made a way from death to life, how He loved us so much He sent His Son Jesus, God incarnate, to take the penalty of our inability to keep the Law, and how if we make Him Lord of our lives HE CHANGES US! 

The “Go out into all the world and make disciples” command becomes a natural outpouring in the life of the believer.  For some believers, that will mean that they will be called to a literal foreign mission field, ministering to people groups in the far corners of the globe.  For others, they will have Divine appointments with those they come in contact with in their daily lives.  And the Temple of the Lord under the New Covenant is built – living stone by living stone.

Conclusion

So what?  What is the big deal about Law keeping?  If keeping the Sabbath is something you feel God has asked you to do out of obedience to Him, do it.  To make it Law for everyone, however, is not supported by the New Covenant Scriptures.  We have a Sabbath rest in Jesus.  If you want to celebrate Feasts to gain a deeper understanding of the pictures they paint of God’s plan of redemption and restoration, I think that’s fine.  To do so feeling commanded by Scripture, however, is not supported by New Covenant Scriptures.  The Law and it’s Feasts and Holy days were a shadow of things to come.  We live in the reality that is Christ!  (Colossians 2:17)

If you find yourself leaving the reality that is Christ and what He completed at the Cross, then look out.  Look out for those who will say Torah observance is mandatory for every Christian.  Look out for those who will lead you through scriptural mazes to bring you to “hidden truth” or “lost doctrine”.  Beware of false teachers and prophets that will have your head so wrapped up in “new knowledge” derived from questionable sources and practices that it will be hard to ever see true Grace and Mercy again!

For me the “So what?” boils down to how God views Law keeping through the Blood sacrifice that He personally provided for us.  The Grace extended, the suffering endured, the Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension . . . those things were accomplished to give us NEW life.  The Law was given as instructions to lawless people – people bound by sin.  To behave and practice as if we were still bound by our sin when He has removed our sin as far as the east is from the west – well, are we then trampling the Son of God underfoot?  Are we treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified us?  Are we insulting the Spirit of grace?

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For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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Other articles of interest:

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

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About Law Keepers – An Overview

Edited to add, 18Oct 2011:  This Overview was written relatively early in my experience with the beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic/Netzarim movements.  I have added links at the end of this post that will help give you a more well-rounded view of the different facets in the Law ‘keeping’ community.  To borrow from a Forest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates . . . ya never know what you’re gonna get!”  The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the HR/M/N 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.

Every Blessing,
-JGIG
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Following is an overview of the Hebrew Roots Movement from a New Covenant perspective.  The Hebrew Roots Movement is the present-day version of “Law Keepers” that Paul corrected in several letters to Christians in the fledgling Church under his apostolic care.

Background 

If you’ve read parts 1-5 of the “Law Keepers” posts, (see the Series Page to link to those posts) you have a good idea about some of the basic concerns that came to my mind regarding the concept of mandatory Torah observance for Christians.

In those posts, I give account of my experience with an online Christian mom’s forum (which has been a tremendous blessing in many ways) that I frequent where there has been a definite, discernible trend toward “Law Keeping”, i.e. believers that are Torah observant.  Their belief system encompasses observance of the Sabbath, keeping the biblically mandated feasts, and also keeping all of the dietary laws and even adhering to parts of the Law regarding things like when a woman is considered a “Niddah” .

Discussion on that forum about the Law bubbles up occasionally and over the years has been a progression of “Law vs. Grace” to debates about “what is legalism” to more recently, the subtleties of “keeping God’s commandments because we love Him and want to please Him” and “this is how Jesus lived and worshipped” or “this is how the first century Church actually did things” to those promoting the “keeping of the Instructions”.  All of that was eventually revealed to mean that some Christians feel commanded to be, and are striving to be, Torah compliant.

Posts on the mom’s forum from those who are Torah observant have always seemed a little “off” to me, doctrinally, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering me.  After all, how can you look at “if you really want to please God” and “if you really love God” and “this is how Jesus worshipped and we’re just doing what Jesus did” and “we are just following the commands of Jesus” as being a bad thing . . .

Still, I saw that what Christ did at the Cross was being minimized.  It was like they came to the Cross, got “saved”, and then turned around and went back to the Law.  For me, I went to the Cross, made Jesus Lord of my life and became a follower of Christ.  Instead of turning backwards, I followed Christ beyond the Cross, as a part of the Body of Christ!

There wasn’t really a “light bulb” moment for me when I realized that there was indeed false doctrine being posted at the mom’s forum.  It took nearly three years for me to be able to pinpoint some specific things that led me to find the “sources” of the doctrine I had seen posted.  However, some key elements did come together for me when one mom in particular, whose family keeps the Law, responded to my “The Law – What About the Blood?!” post.  At that point I had something I could identify doctrinally, and could investigate further.

Being a Grace oriented Christian, I come from the perspective of the completed work of Christ at the Cross.  We, as believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, ARE NOT under the Old Covenant, but under the New Covenant.

It is distinctly clear to me from scripture that Jesus did not shed His Blood and give us new life to endorse a mere continuation of Judaism.  He came to make the spiritually dead spiritually alive.  He came, died, and rose from the dead to restore relationship with God to all tribes and tongues and nations, establishing the Church (Body of Christ), the Body of which all who truly believe the Gospel belong.

One more thing, and this is really important:  My purpose with writing this overview is not to put down those who have chosen to keep Torah.  Most who have chosen to do so have sincere hearts and truly do want to please God because they love Him.  They have received false teaching that is very persuasive and deceptive – even seductive, because it is labeled as “hidden”, “forgotten”, or “previously mis-translated” truth.  They have been subjected to a progressive chipping away at the accuracy of the canon of scripture and told that much of what they believe in Christianity has pagan roots.  “Rabbis” in this Torah for Christians movement systematically purpose to establish that Christianity today has its roots in the Catholic church, not the early Church, the Body of Christ.  They are told that the “church fathers” (aka the Catholic church) have lied to the Body of Christ for centuries and that now, finally, the truth of the roots of our faith are available to them!

From what I’ve observed thus far, there are the “mainstream” Law Keepers, (keep the Sabbath and observe the Feasts) the “legalists”, (they are very serious about keeping as much of Torah as they possibly can, even going to Jerusalem at the appointed times) and the “fringe” Law Keepers (who are also very serious about keeping Torah, promoting a “Yahshua Messiah as Torah incarnate” concept, possibly engaging in more primitive practices such as the slaughtering of a goat for the Passover meal and using its blood for the painting of their doorposts and/or practicing polygamy).

As with any false belief system, the first objective is to cast doubt on what really is truth, then replace that truth with the “truth” of the new belief system.  Many precious souls have been led astray, while others have been willingly deceived by what their itching ears want to hear.

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  aside to myths.  (2Timothy 4:3-4) 

Objective

My intent is not to pile a bunch of information on you, rather this is an overview to hit some of the high points, some “red flag” raisers, that I’ve learned about where Christians who are Torah observant  are coming from.  In the past several months, I’ve done some in-depth research about the doctrine I’ve seen posted on that mom’s forum as well as additional doctrine I’ve come across online.

The movement that teaches Law keeping to Christians is very seductive, persuasive, and wrong.  Much of what they say seems to make sense, but if you pay careful attention, when you look for the Gospel in what they teach, it isn’t there.  It’s always “Jesus plus something“, the Gospel is never permitted to stand on its own.  And there are some corners of this movement where I’ve poked around and couldn’t find any hint of the Gospel at all!

Due to the seductive and persuasive nature of Law keeping doctrine, if you haven’t already, please read “A Little Perspective Regarding Future ‘Law Keepers’ Posts”.

The following information is just for you to tuck under your hat in the event that you cross paths with a “Law Keeper” or come across websites proselytizing Torah observance for Christians.  It’s been my experience that Law keepers will throw lots of information at you, so it’s good to have a few things in mind as they volley stuff your way . . .

The Overview

1) Law Keepers minimize what Jesus did at the Cross.  Many (not all) Law Keepers believe that Jesus died for past sins, not that there is grace for all sin.  That’s one reason it’s so important for them to follow “the instructions” about how to live.  They fall into the trap of the externals, when Jesus constantly pointed to and stressed the internals.

The Law in effect becomes an idol to them.

Law Keepers rely on the Law for sanctification, having it take the place of the Holy Spirit, Who enables believers to become more and more a reflection of Jesus, being part of the living Body of Christ.  Law Keepers see the Holy Spirit as the One Who enables the believer to keep Torah, not as the One Who progressively changes (sanctifies) the believer from the inside out (1 Corinthians 1:21 Corinthians 6:111 Thessalonians 5:19-24, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17Hebrews 10:291 Peter 1:2).

Law Keepers consistently say, “This is how Y’shua worshipped!”, yet they dismiss the radical change in worship and practice in the New Testament Church (Body of Christ) after Jesus accomplished what He came to do!  They do not recognize the Cross as being a definite dividing line in history, delineating the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  

It is also important to note that Law Keepers rarely refer to the Epistles, unless they’re trying to discredit them or trying to convince you that they say something that they just don’t, in context, and in view of the Cross, say.  Isn’t it interesting that the Epistles are where guidance, instruction, and correction of the fledgling Church occur, as well as the establishing of sound doctrine and warnings against false doctrine?  Others in the Law keeping community feel it necessary to throw Paul (the writer of the bulk of the Epistles) under the bus altogether, saying that it was he who established “christianity” (small “c”), not Jesus.

2) A subtle, though sometimes outright denial of the Trinity.  There are great ponderings among Law Keepers about how paganism has permeated Christianity throughout history.  Some of it is true – some pagan customs have influenced Christian traditions.  That topic will be addressed in a future post.  In the realm of the existence/non-existence of the Trinity, however, Law Keepers take it a bit far.

Pagan sun worship apparently has its gods in sets of three, and Law Keepers extrapolate from there that the Catholic church applied that pagan concept of God to their doctrine and came up with the Trinity.  From the Law Keeper’s view, over the centuries “church tradition” has perpetuated the concept of the Trinity.  But thanks to the “new information” uncovered by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, we can now be aware of our error.  How this very serious error has escaped the Church (Body of Christ) for nearly 2000 years is truly amazing!

Actually, Scripture, not the Catholic church, clearly confirms the concept of a Triune God.  For example, the doctrine of a Triune God – one God in Three Persons, is a clear concept in the Word.  (Matthew 3:15-17 Triune God present at the baptism of Jesus;  Acts 2:32-33 all 3 persons of God simultaneously present, then the Holy Spirit poured out on the believers at Pentecost; Genesis 1:26-27Genesis 3:22 not explicitly triune references, as in the NT, but clearly plural descriptions of the one true God, to give a few examples.)

And if you are willing to throw out the concept of the Trinity, Who loses their deity?  God the Father?  Jesus the Son?  The Holy Spirit?  Let’s think about that for a minute:

-If it is Christ who loses His Deity, then the work of the Cross cannot be, as the blood shed there had to be sinless, and if Jesus was not God, then He could not be without sin, and the cross counts for nothing.  It would also mean that if Jesus was not without sin, He could not “do” the Law, making His claim to be God, His example to us,  AND  His commandments to us a big fat lie.

-If it is the Holy Spirit who loses His Deity, then the believer cannot obey the whole Law, as it is the Holy Spirit Who enables the believer to carry out the edicts of the Law (according to HRM doctrine).

-If it is God Who loses His Deity, then everything for everybody falls apart and nothing matters anyway!

This presents quite a dilemma for those adhering to any “Law for Christians” doctrine who also deny the Trinity.  In a discussion with a Torah observant Christian, I asked if it had ever occurred to them that “if, in Babylonian sun worship, gods always come in sets of three, that it may mean that the sun worshippers were counterfeiting the three Persons of God and not that the Church was copying the pagans?  That’s what the Enemy does – he takes that which IS and perverts it!”

From the link above, regarding pagan god “trinities” at “Let Us Reason”:

“Where did the pagans get a concept of three ? Why not two or four ? Where did they get the idea of a God in heaven anyway? What about their belief in a virgin and a son, where did that originate from ? Rom.1:20-25 tells us that man from the beginning knew God.”… ‘and their foolish hearts were darkened” vs.25 “they exchanged the truth for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator.” When mankind fell into darkness of sin, they still retained some elements of the truth but distorted its meaning and it became lost.”  (Emphasis mine.)

3) Some Law Keepers deny the deity of Jesus.  Some are quite forthcoming with that belief.  While others say  they believe in the deity of Christ (Yahshua), when you read through their teachings, you find that their writings do not support that belief.  There are still others in the Law keeping movement who do believe that Jesus is God, yet when you take their doctrine to its eventual end, they remove the power of God from the Messiah.  In their belief system what Jesus did is not enough – it is not complete.  They in effect remove the Godly characteristic of omnipotence from Messiah, since their belief system is a “Jesus + Law” equation.

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

Just a very few of the variations I’ve seen of the “Sacred Names” are YHWH, YHVH, YaHWeH, Yahweh, Jehovah, Yahuweh, Yahuah, Yah (understood to be sort of an affectionate shortening of the other Yah-whatevers) and G-d . . . those are for God.  For Jesus, a few variations I’ve seen are Yeshua, Y’shua, Yahshua, Yahushua, Yahoshua . . . so if getting the names right is so important, which ones are they?!  I’ll be exploring this concept further in a future post, along with providing links explaining the movement in detail.  (Also see below about the issue of language in Acts 2.)

5) This one is a biggie:  In both the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name movements, there is a tremendous emphasis on the understanding of the scriptures through the lens of Hebrew thought and of the Hebrew language.  Most adherents believe that the entire Bible was originally written in Hebrew, and that the New Testament was translated into Greek from its original Hebrew.  As a result, in the HRM view, ALL New Testament writings were contaminated and corrupted with Hellenistic thought.  And since, according to Law Keepers, our accepted canon of scripture (compiled by “corrupt church fathers”) and eventual English translations came from a contaminated and corrupted source, they can’t possibly be accurate!  While some Law Keepers continue to use their current Bibles, they do so with suspicion, often relying on outside commentary or perspective from the HRM for clarification of their “flawed” texts.

Due to their suspicion of our current Bible, some in the HRM have worked to provide us with new “translations”, such as the “Restoration Scriptures”,  “The Hebraic Roots Version”, the “Complete Jewish Bible”, and the “Ancient Roots Translinear Bible”. 

Once the canon of Scripture is put under a shadow of doubt and “new” scriptures are introduced, the door opens wide for great doctrinal deception by leadership and within the laity of the Hebrew Roots Movement.  It’s interesting that in this area there is a similarity of the Hebrew Roots Movement with Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness methodology regarding the scriptures, as both cults also have their own “versions” of the Bible, “correcting” the errors in the accepted canon.

It should be noted and understood that the “new” versions of Scripture being peddled by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement are typically works written by individuals.  Reliable translations of the canon have been the work of groups of linguistic scholars, providing built-in oversight and accountability within those groups of linguists.  However, if one does internet searches on the authors’ names of these “new” versions, their scholarship and methodology come into serious question.

Regarding the issue of the importance of understanding Scripture through the lens of Hebrew thought and the Hebrew language:  I have been re-reading the book of Acts because of Law Keepers referring to it a lot in respect to “how the early Church worshipped”.  Looking through the lens of the Sacred Name and Hebrew Roots streams of thought, Acts 2 really jumped out at me!  I must repeat – those streams of thought say that to truly understand the scripture, one has to come to an understanding of Hebrew language and of Hebrew thought.

It would be reasonable to conclude that if it were God’s intent that His Word was to be correctly communicated to the world in Hebrew, that the gathering at Pentecost would have been an ideal time and place to make that clear.  Instead, God made provision, by His Holy Spirit,  for every person, from every nation, to hear the Gospel in their own tongue.  Interesting on even a deeper level, because Acts 2 says that “God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven had come to Jerusalem”.  If there was ever a crowd gathered that probably knew Hebrew, it was this bunch!  When the New Testament says “God fearing Jews” it means the ultra-faithful to Judaism, and they would KNOW their Hebrew.  Yet God made sure that the Gospel was available IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGES!

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

6) Watch for a doctrine that teaches that if you don’t observe the Sabbath, you are taking on the Mark of the Beast.  No, seriously.  I know of at least one “Law Keeper” who has written this doctrine to someone who indicated an interest in learning more about observing Old Testament Feasts and about the concept of being Torah observant.  This comes from early Seventh Day Adventist doctrine, and has influenced other Law keeping sects, as well.  As you’ll see in future posts, there are streams of thought from many different sources in the HRM, including the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of God (of which there are numerous strains), The Way InternationalThe World Wide Church of God (Armstrongism), British IsraelismJudaismJewish sages and their writings, and Kabbalah.

7) Watch for language about information that has been hidden, the rest of the gospel, or that which has been erased.  It’s the perfect set up for the same thing that cults do:  convince you that what you know cannot possibly be true, or is incomplete, then come in with “fresh revelation” based on previously “hidden” information.  The Hebrew Roots Movement is absolutely saturated with the revealing of so-called “hidden” or “forgotten” or “erased” “truths”.

8)  Some Law Keepers consider themselves to be actual  Israel, part of the “Lost Ten Tribes”, which they also refer to as the “Diaspora”, and label themselves “Ephraim”.  The Diaspora, or dispersing of Israel, is a real thing, but some who keep the Law have taken a real thing and added to or blatently twisted it.  Many Law Keepers believe one of two things: Either they believe that they are IN REALITY part of the Lost Tribes of Israel (Ephraim) and the Holy Spirit is “calling” them back to their “roots”, or they believe that since they are “grafted into Israel”, they actually become Israel.  Some (self-proclaimed Ephraimites) have actually petitioned the Israeli government for citizenship (Aliyah).  Not being able to provide appropriate documentation of their “roots”, their applications are summarily denied.

A fundamental misunderstanding of what Christ did at the Cross and of the New Covenant leads to much error!  Gentiles don’t become Jews when they become followers of Christ.  Likewise, Jews, when they choose to become followers of Christ, don’t become Gentiles!  We, in Christ, become one new man!  (See Ephesians 2 HERE.)  And our “roots” aren’t Hebrew, our Root goes back much further than that!  Check this out . . .

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  (Revelation 22:13-16)

9) The Homeschooling Connection  There is a prominent homeschool resource company called Heart of Wisdom Publishing.  This is an organization that actively promotes Law keeping from its basic educational philosophy to the materials that it offers.  One resource, in particular, is a “textbook” called “A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays”.   One mom told me that in the homeschool support group she belongs to, her family is the only family not keeping Torah.  The common denominator of those families who are keeping Torah?  A study of “A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays”.  The families that completed the study felt commanded  to keep Torah by the time they were done. 

To be clear, the HOW curriculum is subtle in it’s Law stance.  HOW presents their book on Biblical Holidays as a “textbook” for learning about the OT holidays, with projects, crafts, recipes, games, and songs for celebrating each holiday(sounds like fun, doesn’t it?).  But if families start keeping Torah because they feel commanded to after completing the study . . . well there you have it.  It’s at that point where it goes from being curriculum to being dogma. 

There are some other providers of homeschooling curriculum out there that promote Law keeping, but Heart of Wisdom Publishing seems to be the biggest.  Heart of Wisdom also has a website titled “Biblical Holidays”, a Hebrew Roots Movement site through and through.

Homeschooling families are independently-minded and open to “out of the box” and “counter-culture” thinking.  THAT IS NOT A BAD THING.  Without discernment, however, homeschooling families can fall prey to false doctrine in clever packaging.

 

10) Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name Movement “Buy” Products  Let’s take a dip in the pool of cynicism for a moment, shall we?  While the great majority of those in the HRM and SNM do what they do with honorable intentions, there are those in the “leadership” who have countless wares, books, and videos available for purchase. 

For instance, to truly understand the Word of God, you’re going to need a new Hebrew Roots version of the Bible, right?  Perhaps also some commentaries from a Hebrew Roots perspective?

To abide by the commandment in Exodus 20:7, you’re going to need to dump all your old music that contains the names of “Jesus”, “God”, or “Lord” . . . tapes, CDs, sheet music, hymnals . . . it’s all got to go!  Don’t worry, though, your buddies online with the HRMwill fix you up with new music, with the right names, and the right doctrine!

Of course, you’re also going to need to correct your view of history – of the Church in particular.  You’re also going to need to brush up on all that is pagan, since so much in Christendom has been contaminated and corrupted by pagan practices and symbolism.  You’ll be sure to have your own copies of “Fossilized Customs” by Lew White, “The Two Babylons” by A. Hislop, and “Too Long in the Sun” by Richard Rives, to mention just three.  Heck, buy a case of each, so you can pass them out to your friends!

Then there’s all that new doctrine you have to learn . . . sorting out all the Two house, One Stick, House of Ephraim, House of Joseph, Wife of God, Bride of Christ, etc. etc. etc. theology . . . gotta have resources for learning all of that, right?  And don’t forget about the Law, itself!  How to keep it, the dietary restrictions and stuff like that . . . there must be a few books out there about how to actually keep  the Law!

Don’t forget your tzit tzit fringes, (can get expensive at $10-20 a pop if you have a big family – are you allowed to make your own?) prayer shawls, a shofar, head coverings . . . there’s lots of stuff to buy to get you and your household into Torah compliance!

Conclusion

Can you almost hear Paul, perhaps with his hands on either side of his head, while shaking it slightly, saying to the Galatians . . .

“You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing?  Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”  (Galatians 3:1-5)

I know this has been long, and if you’ve stuck with me this far, you either know me =o), have a family member(s) involved with the Hebrew Roots Movement, are interested in the HRM, or have come across the HRM in some form and have been unsure what to make of it.  My prayer is that this information will provide  insight for prayer to those with family members in the HRM, discernment for those interested in the HRM, and tangible “jumping off” points for further research by those who have come across the HRM, think it’s a little “off” and feel like they should know more.  

May God guard your hearts and minds and grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider these things.

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For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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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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Jesus Changes People

Jellico, Tn is a small town in Appalachia.  Watch this video about how Jesus is changing lives there.

Real testimonies about how God changes real people from the inside out.

More about GoodSoil Ministries HERE.

Here’s the complete song that was a part of the testimonies that were posted:

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A Little Perspective Regarding Future “Law Keepers” Posts

Before I post the next installment in the “Law Keepers” series, I would like to do a little housekeeping, so to speak.  As some of you have already figured out, I’m not a theologian =o).  I’m just a simple heart living a simple faith, just like under the title of my blog says.  That said, I believe that “Joe”, or in my case, “Josephine” Christian is able to determine, with the Holy Spirit’s leading and careful study of the Scriptures, whether or not a doctrine, teaching, theology, belief system, etc. which crosses their spiritual path is sound or not.  Not only do I believe that we are able to discern such things, I believe we are CALLED  to do so!

2 Timothy 2:15
My son, preserve sound judgement and discernment, do not let them out of your sight;  they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble;  when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  (Proverbs 3:21-24)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 

Back to the part about me not being a theologian.  I do not know Hebrew or Greek.  I have not read the “great theologians”.  I do, however, have a basic-to-good working knowledge of the major streams of thought in Christendom, including those streams that are considered “Christian Cults” as well as other religions and philosophies.  I’m not afraid to ask questions, even if they seem dumb.  Though I may not know everything about Scripture, history, religions and philosophies, I do have access to (and so do you if you’re reading this!) lots of tools and resources for clarification regarding issues of language or perspective by those who do know a lot more than I do.  On the most basic level, I believe that when a belief system diverts away from or diminishes the Gospel and/or the revealed character of God, it is suspect, and should either be rejected outright or investigated further.  In the “Regarding What I Believe” section of my Statement of Faith I relay what I mean by that in a bit more detail.

The Bible is the plumb line.  I don’t presume to have every interpretation perfectly correct.  I do sincerely believe, however, that God has equipped believers – by His Word and by His Holy Spirit – to discern truth from error.  You can read posts on discernment here at JGIG on the Series page to get an idea how I go about evaluating any “new thing” that comes across my path.

I say all that to say this:  The balance of the posts here at JGIG regarding Law Keepers will be a compilation of observations I have made, along with resources I have come across regarding Law keeping perspectives.  I’ll be encouraging you to listen to/read teaching from a New Covenant perspective on occasion.  There are many facets to the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name movements.  I am under no illusion that I will be able to “lay it all out” in a totally comprehensive way for you.  There are some things in the Hebrew Roots Movement that I just “don’t get”, but have read enough to know that they’re “off”, doctrinally, and have chosen to not study those facets any further.  I will hit the high points, however, and will try to give you resources for further study.

I am firmly in the “New Covenant” camp.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  You can go to the Series page here at JGIG to read “Law Keepers” parts 1-5 of my journey into the land of the Law keepers posted thus far.  I will say that as I was in the thick of the research of the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Names movements, I felt at times as though I was in a swift-running river, and had to hold fast to the Rock of the Gospel and the completed work of Christ at the Cross to avoid being swept into the stream.  I exhort you, the reader, that if you do choose to investigate these movements in any depth, to do so prayerfully and purposefully anchor yourself firmly in the Word and the completed work that Christ did at the Cross as you go.  These movements are very seductive in their appeal and Bible-believing Christians have been led astray by their false doctrines.  I can’t stress enough how persuasive these movements can be. 

Studying these things can be taxing – both spiritually and emotionally.  People who have chosen to put themselves under Torah work really hard at it and work really hard at justifying why they do what they do.  It grieves my heart to see them trading in their freedom in Christ for a life of Law keeping.  I’m not saying that the Law is bad . . . it is God’s standard.  But we can never measure up to that standard . . . hence God’s provision of Redemption and restored life through Jesus.  You will find yourself having to staunchly guard your heart and mind, and for a while, everything you see and hear will be through the filter of the Law.  If you do choose to study these things in depth, rest assured that if you are holding to the Gospel (Good News!), you will come through with a much deeper understanding and an incredible appreciation for what God has done and Who He is . . . in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  There is much joy there!

After posting an overview about Law Keepers, (which will list a few observations I’ve made regarding some basic beliefs as well as a bit of information I’ve gleaned from research regarding the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Names movements) I’m thinking a “glossary” post may be in order.  One of the things that is really important to be aware of regarding these 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.

My prayer is that those who have come in contact with or have family members who have been exposed to these false teachings will have a better understanding about where these teachings are coming from, their basic belief system/structure, and resources to which they can go where they can learn more.  Most of all, I pray that “Joe” and “Josephine” Christian will be encouraged in the Gospel as God has provided it according to His Word, and that they will be able to recognize false teachings whenever and wherever they encounter them.

For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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Other articles of interest:

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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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Law Keepers – Part 5 – What Got Me Asking Questions

As you might imagine, there was a bit of a dust-up on the mom’s forum regarding Grace and the Law.  I wish I could share posts from both the “Law moms” and the “Grace moms”, but I can’t, or I’d be violating the copyright rules of the forum.  I’ll have to settle for sharing one mom’s main points here, and my responses to and questions about those points.  I will do my best to be faithful to her points without being able to directly quote her.

This one mom in particular is one that has been progressively more vocal about Law-keeping on the mom’s forum and has stated that Torah observance is mandatory for all Christians.  I’ll call her “Rose” and paraphrase her points for the purposes of this post, as much of the post below was a “conversation” between us as we discussed the issue of Torah observance for Christians.

I want to be clear about one thing:  I really like “Rose”.  “Rose” and her family have been in my home, we have met at one homeschooling field trip, and I’ve conversed with her on the phone a number of times.  I find “Rose” and her family to be very pleasant people.  I think “Rose” is an intelligent woman and I really enjoy her wit and sense of humor.  Another really important point about “Rose” and her family:  They are not messing around when it comes to being Torah observant.  They are going about their Torah observance with a lot more commitment and integrity than many Christians go about their faith.  This post is not meant to slam “Rose” for what she believes.  My intent in posting this is to point out what I believe to be error in how Law Keepers interpret Scripture in relation to the Law.

“Rose’s” portion of the conversation (paraphrased) will be in green below, my response as it was seen on the mom’s forum will be in blue.

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Hello ladies and Rose, whom I also consider friend,

To you and the other families who are Torah observant:  Let me be clear. Though my family and I find no reason to be Torah observant, and indeed find [Scriptural] reasons to not be Torah observant, it is absolutely your decision what you do in your family.  I feel compelled to write my views on the subject here just as you do.  One mom wrote that she’s tired of feeling like she has to defend herself for doing what they as a family feel God has led them to do in observing Torah. 

On the flip side, I feel like I’ve had to defend the reasons why we do not observe Torah.  The inference is that those of us that are not Torah observant love God less because we do not observe the Law.  Do we obey His commandments because we love Him?  You bet.  We just don’t follow the set of laws/rules that God gave to Israel, God’s chosen people.  Are we grafted into Israel when we believe on Jesus Christ?  Yes.  We share the same roots and receive life from the same source, but as Gentiles, we are different, and God made it clear that we were not required to abide by the Law.  Jesus even summed up the Law into two requirements – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourselves.  It’s funny, ’cause I’ve read mom’s here who have posted about how if you observe the Law, your doing those two things anyway.  Kind of makes me wonder why some Torah observers try so hard to convince us “un-observers”, who abide by the commands of Jesus, to observe when in the end we’re both honoring God in the ways we feel He has asked us to!

That said, I feel compelled to respond to my friend Rose’s post.

Wow.  Rose gave me a lot for me to respond to and some important questions for me to ask.  I’ll take her points bit by bit. 

Rose wrote [from here on I’ll not quote “Rose”, but distill the general ideas of what she was saying] that since the shed blood of Jesus and grace is preached in most churches we need not to speak much of that, as most Christians understand that.

I must strongly disagree!  From the time that Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, everything God did pointed to Grace and the Shed Blood of Christ!  These things are the ONLY things that bring mankind back into right relationship and fellowship with God and are absolutely foundational to the Gospel.

Rose continued that there was, however, more to the story, a rest of the gospel, things that had been erased, hidden, shunned, and despised.

WHAT rest of the story, WHAT rest of the Gospel, WHO erased it, hid it, etc.?  WHERE does this teaching come from?

As for Rose’s response to my paragraph on indisputable core issues, [From “The Law – What About the Blood?!” which you can read here] one of which is the existence of God in three Persons, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, Rose responded that she would agree to that, but not limit the almighty to 3 parts.  Rose, you did not elaborate on that point.  What does that mean, exactly?  Where does the teaching that God is more than 3 persons come from?

Rose’s response to my paragraph about secondary, disputable issues.  There were three things we disagreed upon, two of which I’ll address here.  1)  Regarding the Sabbath, I’ll save for another post.  [You can read that post, “The Law – Thoughts on the Sabbath” here.]

2)  Tithe.  Rose stated that the tithe is a commandment and belongs in the indisputable issues category.   Commanded, yes, though not required for salvation, so it should stay in the secondary issues category.  I debated whether or not to include that in the disputable issues, as there is no clear direction in the NT on this, except where Jesus says, “When you tithe . . . ” It is understood that He is referring to the OT description of the Tithe, which is an assumption we also use as a guideline when it comes to our personal practice of giving to our local church.  

3)  Dispensationalism. [I since have learned that the more accurate term for what I was describing is “cessationism”.]  From my post:  “Spiritual gifts for the Church today or dispensationalism [cessationism]?”  Rose responded that the word dispensationalism is not even found in scripture.  Rose, you are correct, dispensationalism is not a word found in scripture.  It’s a word describing a view of the Gifts of the Spirit.  Some hold that the demonstrable gifts of the Spirit were for a season, “dispensed” as they were needed in the early Church (tongues, healing, words of knowledge, prophecy, etc.) and that those gifts are no longer active.  This is a ‘dispensationalist’ view.  Then there are others who hold that the Gifts of the Spirit are active in the Church today.”  I classified that issue as a secondary , disputable issue because salvation does not hinge on someone holding to one view or the other.

Then Rose came out with something that really puzzled me.  Saying that we needed to throw out all of our religious ideas and rhetoric and that the scriptures are clear about who YHWH’s people are.  Then she said that YHWH’s people are not just the Jews or the Christians and that that fact can’t be disputed in scripture.

WHO exactly are you referring to and what Bible references confirm that view?

Rose then talked about how the only way the above 3 issues can be categorized into the “disputable matters” is if man’s definitions, theologies and ideas are interjected into YHWH’s word.  She then talked about how she is not a god, does not set herself up as a god, and does not believe that any person, institution or religion should set itself up as a god.  One religion, according to her, has set itself up as Elohim, and has changed the set apart day (the Sabbath) to the first day from the seventh.  In addition, she takes this issue seriously enough that she states that in their home, they give allegiance not to man and his religious system (which she equates with Satan), but to YHWH.

Wow.  So are you saying that Christians at large have submitted to Satan because they worship God on Sunday?  Where does this idea that Bible-believing Christians have given their allegiance to Satan just because they worship on Sunday come from?

About the term “Judaisers” [my husband and I had been discussing the Torah-observance-for-Christians issue and he had made the comment that “Judaisers are alive and well in the Church today, resulting in a dilution of the Gospel.”  You can read “The Law – What About the Blood?!” to see this reference]

Rose stated that she had made an observation over time that those who speak the loudest about love often show hatred toward the ones who don’t believe the way they do, especially when it comes to those who choose to follow His Law.  She also informed me that the term “Judaiser” shows hostility toward the Jews and is intended to put down those who choose, because of their love for God, to obey YHWH’s instructions.  She then pointed out that it was “Christians” who exterminated Jews and their fellow believers for practicing what the “Christians” considered to be “Jewish”.  And that it would happen again.

Rose, to be clear, my husband’s use of the term “Judaisers” had neither malice nor hatred in intent.  “Judaiser” was simply a word used to describe Jewish believers in the early Church trying to bring Gentile believers under the Law, just as a “painter” is one who paints a wall.  Both he and I are ignorant of any connotation beyond the simple descriptive value of the word as I’ve explained here.  [A brief description of the term “Judaisers” can be found here.]

In addition, the intent of my husband in using that term was to say that just as Jewish Believers in the early Church were trying to make Gentiles come under the Law, it appears that (some, not all) Torah observant Christians are attempting to do the same today.  Paul told the Jewish Christians to stop.  If they wanted to place themselves under the Law, that was their choice, but they were not to impose it on anyone else (Galatians 2:11-4:11, 5:1-26) Paul describes the freedom of life in
Christ and how we go from living under the law (as good and beneficial as it was, those relying on observing it were also under a curse – Galatians 3:10) to living by the Spirit of God.  That God, because of what Jesus did on the Cross, nailing all of our iniquities there and putting them away forever, can now INDWELL us, as the Holy Spirit . . . “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18 ) .  We are no longer dependent on the Law for a conditional relationship with God, but we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and have intimate, personal relationship with the Living God because of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified and Risen!  How awesome is that?!

Rose relays that the Law that YHWH established was never to be done away with.  That it was the penalty, not the Law, that Y’shua came to destroy.  [This next part is difficult to paraphrase, because it is a unique interpretation of Ephesians 2:15.]  She talks about the enmity referred to in Ephesians 2:15 being between Judah and Ephraim, not between Jew and Gentile, using Ezekiel 37 as one explanation for that deduction.  She goes on to explain that the whole house of Israel includes Judah, Ephraim, and others that have been grafted in by faith, [she does throw in some Gentiles there] and that the enmity that was slain on the cross was the enmity between those houses.  And further that that enmity between the houses is not the Law itself, but rather the man-made ordinances that had been added by the Jews, not YHWH’s laws.

So according to this (Rose’s stated) interpretation, she concludes that 1) the Law was never to be abolished, 2) the part that WAS abolished was the “man made” laws of the Jews, not YHWH’s laws, and 3) that the removal of the man made laws made peace between the “houses” possible.

Ladies, please take a few moments to read all of Ephesians 2 to get the full context of what is being said.  Yes, I agree with Rose that Jesus came to destroy the penalty for our sins, the second death that we all deserve.  But He came to do SO MUCH MORE!  Verses 1-10 chronicle the miracle of salvation.  Verses 11-13 talk about the separation of the Gentiles from God but how they have been brought near to God through the Blood of Christ.  Verses 14-18 bring Jew and Gentile together because of what Christ did on the cross.

In Ephesians 2:15it states ” . . . by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations” and it more likely refers to the ceremonial rituals that rendered nonobservant Gentiles ritually unclean.  That the verse says “the law WITH ITS commandments and regulations” (caps mine) says to me that those are parts IN the law and not parts ADDED to the law by man.  There’s a lot there . . . please take time to read it.  The chapter wraps up with how Jesus made us (Gentiles) fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household . . . Jesus is the chief cornerstone.  In HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  The imagery of the reality of the indwelling of God in us through Jesus Christ is so beautiful.  The whole book of Ephesians is such an encouraging place in the Word!

I posted “Why did Jesus do what He did if the Law is still to be observed”  The tearing of the curtain . . . restoring fellowship with God . . . the atonement of sin . . .”  Rose asked which curtain was torn, and referred to two curtains: one being the one behind which lies the Holy of Holies and the other one being one which Jews had put up to keep Gentiles out of the holiest placeIn Matthew, Mark and Luke, where accounts are given of the temple curtain being torn in two, the curtain referred to is the one beyond which lies the Holy of Holies.  The symbolism here is that we have access to the Father in a new way through Christ.  HE is our High Priest, and by the Blood of Christ we have full fellowship with and access to God.  Hebrews 10:19-21 also describes the “confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.”

Rose asks what it is about the Law, something that our Creator gave to His bride as a marriage covenant that was so beautiful that He promised to write that Law on our hearts (the law written on hearts of flesh instead of on stone) that is such a burden to follow?

God gave the Law to Israel.  As I see it, in my limited capacity at this point writing this into the wee hours, 1) The Law was to point God’s people to their need for Messiah by showing them their inherent inability for righteousness before God.  2)  The Law was a protection for God’s people spiritually and physically.  3)  The Law was a way for God’s people to be set apart from the world.  There are maybe some more points to be made here, but again, wee hours, so . . .

As a repentant believer in Jesus Christ, point 1) is fulfilled because of the Blood of the Lamb.  Through Christ I am righteous before God (Romans 3:22, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2Corinthians 5:21, and my favorite, Philippians 3:8-9 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the  surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”) Point 2) still applies in some respects, as in the area of diet.  Again, the spiritual aspect of the Law was completed in Christ.  And under Grace, dietary laws are not mandated, though if you choose to practice the guidelines, that’s fine.  Point 3)  I consider this to be a very important point.  Where the Law majors on rules and the externals, the Gospel majors on principles and the internals.  The Law says, “Be set apart from the world by your outward actions.”  The Gospel says, “Be in the world but not of it . . . be more concerned with the condition of your heart and relationship with God rather than if you’re following a set of rules . . . Go out in to all the world and make disciples of all nations!”

Also, the Law’s reach is limited culturally.  The Gospel  reaches into all cultures and welcomes all who believe on the Blood of Christ into the Kingdom of God.  I write more about this in another post coming soon to a digest near you.  First, I sleep =o).  [That post is “Law Keepers – Part 3 – Thoughts on the Sabbath”.]

My dear Rose, I love you still through our disagreements and discussions =o).

I love you, ladies, and my prayer for you all is “that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:16-19

Lovingly submitted,

Wendy

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During the time of these discussions on the mom’s forum, I started researching where these teachings could be coming from.  I found out a lot.  My next post will be an overview of some of the basic beliefs of Torah observant Christians, with subsequent posts on this topic detailing websites, teachers, and some of the doctrines from this Law keeping movement.  I say “some of the doctrines” because there are some doctrines in the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name Movements that have one jump through so many scriptural hoops, I don’t know that I totally understand them (nor do I necessarily want to) enough to try to explain them!  Stay tuned . . . I’ll try to get the next “Law” post up a little more quickly =o).

For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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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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Calvinism/Reformed Theology (And What I Think is an Obvious Disconnect)

Discussions here  . . . here . . . and here have prompted me to write a few thoughts here on my own blog. Let’s Talk About Calvinism was the first post to start one of what I conclude are many, many debates over what Calvin taught/believed as well as what his teachings/beliefs morphed into in the hands of others over time.  I think it’s important to note that until comment #87, the parameters of the discussion asked “readers to post comments, questions, arguments, etc.”  Well, that’s what happened, and then the parameters of the discussion got edited.  Comments pretty much petered out after that, with the balance of the comments (10 at last count) consisting mostly of a Calvinist Mutual Appreciation Society =o).   That’s fine . . . the author of the post pulled the plug as is her prerogative.

The disconnect?  From what I gather so far, the Calvinist view is very concerned with God getting all of the glory, man getting none, and keeping salvation a total result of God’s Grace and Soveriengty and none of man’s doing.  I get that.  I even agree with that.  My question is this:  Is the Kingdom of God being furthered or hindered by such heated debate?  [Re-reading this I guess in the world of Calvinism’s concepts no one but God can truly affect His Kingdom anyway, so maybe the point is moot?]  Are the Fruits of the Spirit being demonstrated by either/both sides?  Are believers (those in the Body of Christ) being built up or torn down as the concepts are discussed?

I get the impression that while those who ascribe to Calvinism view the Word as the final authority, they are still viewing the Word through an external lens.  And those who react/respond with disdain or even pain toward some of the “harder” teachings of Calvinism do so with almost a hand-in-the-flame reflex.  Those who have been deeply wounded and saved by a loving and gentle God cannot fathom those “hard” teachings, for they portray a god they don’t recognize.  To which Calvinists may retort that maybe they do not know the real God after all.  Again, Fruits of the Spirit?  The furthering of the Kingdom of God?

Is all of this perhaps an exercise in futility?

Does it really matter how we “get” redeemed?

Okay, let me qualify that.  Of course it matters that we believe on Jesus Christ and the Gospel as communicated in the Bible.  What I mean by does it really matter how we “get” redeemed is this:  What difference does it make whether or not we know when we actually become “regenerated”?  If it was the moment before we submitted to the Truth of the Gospel or after?  How is it that God gets any more or any less glory or gains any more or has any less sovereignty – whichever way we find out it actually happens?

God’s glory and His sovereignty, in my opinion, are demonstrated in a most obvious and wonderful way in the changing of a person from a state of spiritual death to spiritual life.  Is at what exact instant that transformation takes place – God regenerating a person to enable them to receive the Gospel, or a person freely receiving the gift of salvation extended to all mankind (raising my shield in anticipation of what some of you Calvinists will have to say about that “all mankind” thing) – really a place we need to put great focus or have disagreements over?  Does God, in reality, lose any of who He truly is based on what view we in the Body of Christ take on the matter?

Do not we (the Body of Christ) all, in reality, believe that no one comes to the Father but by the Blood of Jesus?   I guess one of the reasons I get kind of frustrated about this kind of debate is that I don’t see much beneficial fruit that comes from it.  While one side swears up and down that the grace, sovereignty and justice of God is at stake, another side swears up and down that the love and compassion, grace and justice of God is at stake from their perspective, as well.

Me?  I see it all as a big pile of chicken wings sitting on my table, not sure that I want to put the time and effort into picking it all apart ’cause, back to my question, does it really matter for us to know the exact instant and in exactly what order our redemption “processed”, or does it matter more that we are redeemed.  Speaking for myself, I know  Who saved me.  I know  I did nothing to merit or earn what it took to redeem me.  I know  that God orchestrated my conversion circumstances.  I know  that His Holy Spirit prepared my heart and drew me to Himself.

I also know  that God put it all out there and allowed (let) me choose whom I would serve.  Did He foreknow me?  Yes.  Did He predestine me?  Yes.  That’s what the Word says.  Do I fully understand all of that?  No.  There are actually several things I need to ask God about that I’m pretty sure I won’t understand ’till I’m completely restored at the Resurrection.  Can I still trust in the God of my salvation even if  I can’t conclusively for sure have every bit of the process nailed down pat?  Yup.  Maybe I’m too simplistic, but then I see things in the word like this:

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?  What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.  1 Corinthians 3:4-9  

Does God, in the view of Calvinism lose some of His glory because of the planters and waterers?  And this:

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.  1 Corinthians 2:1-5

The rest of that chapter is good to keep things in perspective, too. 

Calvin, Arminius, Wesley, Knox, Augustine, Tyndale, and dozens and dozens of others have written many many many more pages on theology than the Bible itself contains!  I’m thinking we need to focus where??, exactly, with our time and effort?

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Edited to add:

Click here for a good video summary of Calvinism and Arminianism by Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church.  I really like what he has to say about being in different camps and still loving one another and functioning as the Body of Christ.  Mark Driscoll is in the Calvinist camp, and I like also how he distinguishes Arminianism, with its 5 points and theRemonstrants, and Calvinism, with its 5 points and the Synod of Dordt, from the men Arminius and Calvin themselves.

A brief telling of the long history of the Calvinist-Arminian debate can be found here.  Yeah, it’s just Wikipedia, but it will give anyone wanting to do further study a good jumping off point should they choose to do more research on the subject.  [Did I just say “choose”?  =o)]

This is an excellent 21 minute broadcast about predestination, election, and free will.  It lays out a scriptural foundation . . . what does the Bible really say about those things?  Listen HERE and click the play button for the audio.  Stick with it through to the end . . . the teaching does come full circle.

Check out this article in Christianity Today by Roger E. Olsen.

I came across this post at “Christ is Deeper Still”.  A really good perspective on functioning in love within the Body of Christ from a Calvinist perspective.

This reviewer of “What Love is This?  Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God” makes some points that I really like.  See the review hereIf you take the time to read more reviews of the book, her point is well-made.

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Further edited to add (3/28/13):

I’m sorry to add here that Anne, the author of the ‘Let’s Talk About Calvinism’ post referenced above, and one who staunchly defended Calvinism, is now (again) a practicing Pagan.  My prayer for her is that she would encounter the Gospel of Grace as opposed to the Doctrines of Grace.

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Law Keepers – Part 4 – Thoughts on the New Covenant

Okay, so about Torah observance for Christians . . . setting aside – just for a moment – the scriptures which support the concept that we are free from the Law because of what Christ did at the Cross, there are some practical problems with keeping the Law in a post-Cross world, are there not?

There is no temple, there are no high priests, most  believers do not or are not able to go to Jerusalem at the appointed times for the appointed feasts.  So how do believers who are Torah observant reconcile these and other inconsistencies?

The following was posted by me on the mom’s forum I subscribe to in response to posts by those who “keep” the Law:

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I just want to stress again that the following is intended as a defense of what I believe to be scripturally sound teaching regarding Grace and the Law.

At the Last Supper Jesus held up the bread and the wine and said, “This is my Body and my blood, do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:14-20)  Jesus says in Luke 22:20,“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  Jesus wants us to remember that His Flesh and Blood took the place of the old covenant (Law) to make us acceptable (free from sin – from spiritual death to spiritual life) before God.  It seems to be a rather significant point made during the observance of a feast itself.  He shifted the focus in a very clear way from remembering what the Passover was all about to remembering what the breaking of  HIS Body and the shedding of  HIS Blood was all about . . . replacing the blood on the doorposts (a TEMPORARY solution) with His own Blood (the PERMANENT solution).

To say that that is not enough, or to say that one does not realize the full meaning of all God has done UNLESS one observes the Torah, or that one is not pleasing to or loving God enough if one is not observing the Torah is to say that the shed Blood of Christ is really not enough.  That is ground I would not care to tread upon.  And make no mistake, that is where you are treading if you feel we all should be Torah observant. 

It is not Jesus plus anything that pleases God.  God in the flesh – Jesus – fully God and fully man, was crucified and shed His blood for our sins, rose from the dead three days later, and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.  He finished the complete work of salvation.  God does not require that we follow Torah.  He nailed the written code to the cross (Colossians 2:13-15).  He released us from the Law when He released us from our sin through the Blood of Christ. 

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

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a repentant believer, cleansed by the blood of  THE Lamb, results in the changing of a person – from the inside out!  The Law works itself from the outside in.  And it’s never enough.  Jesus talks a LOT about that in Matthew 23.

Can one truly be “Torah observant” when, in reality, one is selective in which parts of the Law one obeys?  Are there not parts of the Law that require a High Priest and a Temple?  What about animal sacrifice?  Did God become flesh and spill His blood simply to spare us the inconvenience of sacrificing animals?

What about penalties for those who violate the parts of the law for which the punishment is death?  Who will take on the “responsibility” of making sure that appropriate punishment is administered according to the Law?  Do not Deuteronomy 27:26 and Galatians 3:10 say that “cursed is everyone who does not continue to do EVERYTHING written in the Book of the Law?” (Caps mine.)

How is it, in the view of Law keepers, that Grace exempts one from observing/performing the parts of the Law that one finds inconvenient or impractical, but does not exempt one from observing/performing the more palatable parts of the Law?

Honestly, my intent is not to be antagonistic here.  I really wonder how those who are “Torah observant” can reconcile these obvious problems with consistency in obedience to the Law.  If you do go ahead and decide to perform sacrifices, to be consistent, then of what use is the Cross?  Have you not left the Cross, rejected the redemptive work of the Blood that was shed there for you by the Lamb of God?

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”  (Colossians 2:13-17)

I wonder . . . . . how does God view Law-keeping through the lenses of His Grace and His Blood?

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Are we justified before God because of Jesus’ work at the Cross or are we not?   I found a really really good teaching titled, “Justified Through Faith” at Pass The ToastI suggest that you turn on the audio as you read through the teaching.  The audio is a little fuzzy, but I found that I got much more out of the teaching as I listened while I read, to hear the inflection in the words which were being spoken.

May I also suggest that you take a look at the testimony of Aaron Budjen, a Jewish Christian.  He gives a very good account about how God showed him the difference between spiritual death and spiritual life and how God led him from one to the other – all from the perspective of one born a Jew and raised a Jew – studying to become a Rabbi.  His perspective on salvation and the Law is very enlightening.

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Though the above was one of my last posts (there is one more in response to another “Law” mom I’ll be posting here later) on the mom’s forum regarding Torah observance for Christians (the discussion was shut down by the moderator to those of us who had been debating there), it was evident to me that based on the responses posted by “Law Keepers” that there was a stream of thought . . . a source of teaching . . . this doctrine was coming from somewhere.  Not only that, but after my “What About the Blood?!” post, the responses that came from “Law Keepers” contained discernible heresy.

These and other issues regarding the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name Movements will be discussed in future posts here.  Stay tuned . . .

For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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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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