• What JGIG Is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To borrow from a Forrest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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

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

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  • Broken Links – UGH

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

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

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

    Thanks,
    – JGIG

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Jesus’ Gospel? Paul’s Gospel?

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

Jesus vs Paul

I was asked this question in an email recently:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note that in Romans 1, Paul says this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now read Paul’s closing comments in Romans 16:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-JGIG

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Other articles of interest:

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

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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:

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

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

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What About ‘Hyper-Grace’???

What About ‘Hyper-Grace’???

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

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

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

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

How do you avoid losing your salvation?

By not sinning, of course!

How do you keep from sinning?

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

And if you do sin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited to add 4/7/14:

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

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

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

And Grace \o/..

grace is hyper

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

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Other articles of interest:

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Cherie’s Story of Growing in Grace

Testimony 4

It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received another testimony.  Cherie contacted me a while back with part of her story, and I’ve been honored to watch her grow in the love, knowledge, and grace of God and watch her heal as she’s come to a fuller understanding of who she is in Christ.  Get a cup of your favorite beverage – it’s a long one, but addresses so many of the emotions and questions that are common as folks come into Grace.  I think many will be able to relate to the questions Cherie was willing to ask herself and God.

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

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

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Cherie’s Story of Growing in Grace

My name is Cherie, His dear one, and this is my story of growing in grace… I pray it blesses you and encourages you.

Before I begin, I think it is important that I explain that I believe a testimony is not necessarily the specific moment one becomes saved, but rather the journey, and our life long walk with Jesus (beginning with salvation – justification – continued in life long sanctification).  That being said, I am still on my journey and I do not pretend to know “everything,” but as the saying goes…. thank God I’m not where I was!

A Little History
As much as I would like to jump right in and tell you all about my experience with the Hebrew Roots movement, I must share with you what led me there.  I must share with you the parts of my journey which had times of deception, confusion, fear and pain.

As a little girl, I grew up in a non-denominational church and for as long as I can remember I’ve loved Jesus and believed in Him as the Son of God and Savior of the world.  I was baptized as a young pre-teen but I don’t remember it very vividly.

After attending a private/Christian elementary school up until 6th grade, my parents decided to send me to public school.  It was a very different experience.  I missed my small school and close friends.  I do not have fond memories of those years.  As you know kids can be cruel and the pressures to be liked by everyone and considered “popular” were very hard on me.  Rumors and gossiping led to the formation of bitter roots which caused me to put on a “hard” shell.  I started hanging with the “tough” crowd in high school and became a rebellious teenager.  I wasn’t going to allow people to hurt me anymore, I thought.  I smoked, drank and lived for the moment.  I’m so thankful though and blessed that God allowed me to have bad experiences with Marijuana which scared me from trying any other drugs.

My teenage years were not fruitful.  I barely attended church and I don’t think I read my Bible much (if at all).  I am embarrassed, that if asked if I was a Christian that I surely said “yes” but misrepresented Christ.  I was not loving others and sharing the gospel because I was too concerned with myself and the cares of this world.

In my later teen years I am also highly embarrassed to say that I went to my friend’s mom who read “cards.”  I didn’t seem to think it was so bad to ask questions because she didn’t seem like a horrible person and she wasn’t using the bad tarot cards.  She used a deck of regular playing cards and it was weird that she knew things about me.  I was stupid and naïve for even entertaining that. Later when I was 18 I did it again with a friend, but this time we were just driving around bored and decided to stop at a psychic. Once again, I looked around and this lady had crucifixes hanging up and had a Roman Catholic feel. So I figured she wasn’t “a bad psychic.”

Ughhhhh!  If I could only go back in time! She actually scared me pretty bad.  She said she saw bad spirits around me.  She wanted to help me and told me to bathe in this crystal bath stuff.  This was over 16 years ago so it’s hard for me to remember all the details but I remember I went home and took her advice.  I was suppose to go back the next day and my friend and I called my dad from a nearby mall in a panic.  I told my father what I had done and that I was scared.  He called our family pastor and I remember that my pastor said, “RUN away (don’t walk) but run away from that stuff”….. and I did!!!

Why do you need to know that part of my history?  Because I feel that God’s Word is to be taken seriously and that we need to stay far away from that stuff (and that includes Horoscopes believers).  It is playing with fire and has the enemy’s name all over it!  By going outside of Christ for answers and entertaining these things, years later I reaped the natural consequences of those choices.  What I was doing was NOT honoring God and it is destructive.  Those consequences you will read about later on in my journey as deceiving and harassing spirits tried to put doubt in me and cause me to question my eternal security.

Please learn from my mistake and RUN away from any of that stuff.  Focus on Christ’s kingdom and His great love for you (and share it with others).  Remember that the Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts (plans in NLT) that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  You can rest in God’s perfect sovereign control and plan for your life.

Shortly after I turned 19 I met my husband.  We were both young and in a partying season of our lives.  We both became bored with it and wanted something more, so we slowly pulled away from those friends and got engaged.

He started coming to my family’s church and we started to grow together in Christ.  Looking back though, we were very carnal.  We went to church on some Sundays but got drunk with our old friends on Friday and Saturday nights.

One may even question if I was truly saved…..well I’ve learned a very important truth and that is ~~ we cannot judge.  Only God knows who is saved and who is not.  Through my experience of growing in His grace I’ve come to understand deeper that it is NOT what I Do or Not do that saves me.  Rather, it is by GRACE through FAITH, which is a gift from God alone which points me to the shed blood of my Savior Jesus and HIS finished work on the cross.

After we got married the anxieties of adult life and transitions became overwhelming to me.  This was my first time to leave home, and I planned that special princess wedding for over a year so when it came and was gone before I could blink, I was left saying “now what?!”  I was not prepared for marriage or a life in an apartment with my 21 yr. old husband and our unstable “jobs.”  I decided to go back to school – I wanted a “career” I said.  After changing majors a couple of times and convincing myself that education was the best route for me to follow my dreams (of actually being a dolphin trainer, lol, that’s a whole other conversation) I continued in that pursuit toward my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education (I was gonna be a teacher during the school year and be a dolphin trainer in the summer… I had it all planned out).

During this time I began to experience panic attacks and anxiety.  This had never happened to me before and it was very frightening.  Around this time in ’99 I drew very close to the Lord I remember praying more and I began reading the Word for the first time that I can remember in my adult life.  I did have a few friends who were on anti-depressants for anxiety and they claimed it helped them, so I tried it too.  I went on Paxil (the lowest dose) for about a year until I got my anxiety under control.  I also bought a program by the famous Lucinda Basset to help my anxious thoughts.  It seemed to work for a while.  Every person I talked to just said it was situational anxiety (because of all the new transitions and stress and that I’d be better soon).

Years passed, and in 2003 we bought a nice colonial house, bought a dog, and then surprise I became pregnant with our first….our son was born in 2005.  Two years later our daughter was born and we were a complete family!  I finally did graduate too after 10 long years of going part time (all glory to God).

I know, GET ON WITH IT…. Okay, so here is the spiritual journey that brought me to the Hebrew Roots Movement.  We are getting closer, hang in there, keep reading, try NOT to scroll, my prayer is that you will learn from my mistakes and only grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Remember I said we bought a house?  Well the town we moved to was about an hour from my parents and the church I had grown up in.  My pastor from childhood had also died unexpectedly that year (’03).  We began going to a Foursquare church with a large congregation that had 2 services.  Both my husband and I liked the messages and the pastor but we did not grow very much there.  We never really connected with anyone there and merely went to church on Sundays and then immediately left.  Looking back though, I can’t say we ever went out of our way either to try and serve there.

Over the course of 8 years I had taken our family to try numerous churches in the area.  It seemed as though deep down I was always looking for something more but in the end we always ended up back at the Foursquare Gospel church.

The worship time was always “moving” there, but I don’t remember being impacted by a strong grace message, or the exhortation of believers to recognize who they are IN CHRIST.  But I think deep down the main reason we never grew there is because we were simply not meant to. I met some people there (including one of the elders) that do not believe in “once saved always saved” (better referred to as the eternal security of the believer).

As a matter of fact there were times I remember the pastor saying that he symbolized it as a double edged sword.  Explaining on one side of the sword there is the fact that God will never leave us, but on the other side there is the fact that we can walk away from Him.  That never sat well with me.  That is a fearful thought to walk away.  I need HIM…..we all do, AMEN?!

We continued attending year after year.  We even became members pretty early on, but I laugh because I don’t think anyone there knew us by name (even the pastors).

I do have some close friends now who go there and I do not want to come off that I know more, or that they are in error.  I have learned that every church will have some people who disagree on things.  It was just that for me, eternal security is something very serious and because of my past I deeply want to be at a place that has a strong belief in God’s promise of eternal security and the sealing of the believer by the Holy Spirit.

In 2007 after my daughter was born I returned back to work as a bartender.  It was the most money I could make and still be home with my kiddos during the day which meant so much to me.  So at this time in my life I was still working on my degree, working a few nights a week till the early morning as a bartender, and raising my two small children.  Here is when things really started to change……

MY EXPERIENCE WITH END TIMES….Be careful….Don’t be deceived!
From as long as I can remember I had always been fascinated with end times prophecy.  I LOVED discussing the soon return of Jesus.  Well it truly became my passion and obsession.  I remember being at work one night and one of the “regulars” and I got on the topic about end times.  I was surprised with how much he knew.  He didn’t have a lot of Bible knowledge necessarily but he knew a lot of current event type things that lined up with Bible prophecy (if that makes sense).  We got on the topic of some conspiracy theories and he gave me a few DVD’s to watch.  They mainly instilled fear about our government and the mark of the beast system and New World Order type stuff.

That kick started a time where we (yes my husband became interested too) began spending a lot of our free time studying how the current events were pointing to the soon return of Jesus.  I began watching shows ALL the time like Jack Van Impe, Perry Stone, Hal Lindsay, Christ in Prophecy, pretty much ANYTHING that shared end times was set to record on our TV (I am not kidding).  I was sooo excited to learn about it and I could not wait to be with Jesus.  I found myself talking about it a lot and sharing it with strangers or even customers at the bar too.

Up until this time, my husband and I would still have a social drink, and I would even have a drink or more at work.  In 2008 I decided to stop social drinking all together because it often led to drunkenness.  I really did not like bartending either but I did not know how else I could make that kind of money and still be home during the day with the kids.  As years went by and I grew closer to God I began to despise the bar and all of the bondage there.  I often felt guilty about serving alcohol to people and watching them get drunk, but I would always justify it by thinking that I was just doing my job to help pay bills and I wasn’t drinking anymore (is what I would think to make myself feel better about it).

Around the fall of 2009 I began having bad anxiety again.  I think all the pressure of trying to balance college, work, and just daily activities of motherhood started overwhelming me.  I remember trying to figure out if it was an underlying health issues too (at that time I got very into organic eating and all the hype related to that).  I drew very close to the Lord again and began watching more preachers/teachers on Christian T.V. I remember at times feeling that I didn’t have enough “faith” or otherwise I’d be better.  That was the message from a few famous teachers.  I didn’t want conventional medicine/prescription drugs because I was terrified of the scary side effects that could happen.  I continued to pray about hearing from God in this matter.

As a matter of fact hearing from God is what I wanted more than anything.  I love Him so much and wanted so desperately to “hear” (not auditory) but “hear” from Him the way that the people on T.V. I was listening to did.  They made it seem so easy and that God would speak to them in that still small voice.  One woman in particular I was watching pretty much seemed to have an encounter with God daily.  I desired that too.

I began reading His Word a lot more.  I tended to focus on faith type scriptures, and ones on healing, and things that would help me deal with my anxiety/health issues.  It was horrible because I would have fearful thoughts, even bad thoughts about God and I couldn’t figure out why this was happening….I loved HIM and just wanted to “feel” close to Him!  I remember I asked a lady at church about it and she said that is what the enemy does….he tries to attack our mind.  That led me more into scriptures about renewing my mind and casting down thoughts that were contrary to His word, etc.

To this day one of my favorite things to do is praise the Lord and I had comprised a list of some of my favorite songs that I would listen to on You-tube.  I remember one day I was praying to God and began asking Him if my worship was pleasing to Him.  I remember that I immediately felt a scripture from Psalms come to my head.  Now this was not the words of that chapter….but the book and chapter number.  I remember I got a hot flash, and I remembered thinking “this cannot be God.”  Well I looked up the verse and it totally matched with what I had just been praying about.  I looked at that like it was God speaking to me and that it was sort of like confirmation to my prayer.  Because of the excitement and how that happened to match my prayer just right, I fed on that, and I thought that was normal and that is how I began to continue in my prayers.

I remember even looking up online what it was called and I found the word “quickening.”  I had read what seemed to be legit at the time, information saying that the Holy Spirit can bring verses to your memory by quickening them to you.  If I’m remembering correctly I think I even read a site that said how a specific book, with chapter and verse will pop in your head (like Eph. 4:12 for example).  Well to make an EXTREMELY long story short, I have to say that continued on for a while.

One thing I have always struggled with in my walk is wondering if I am hearing from God, my own thoughts/imagination or the enemy.  So in order to discern that, I thought I was suppose to ask God for confirmation (somewhere along the line I had learned that).  So if during my prayer time I thought I was hearing back from God I would say “Okay God if that is really you, than please confirm that.”  Many times then I would get an exact book, chapter and verse would pop in my head.  Now I have to be honest and say that there were times that would happen and it didn’t “match” or “confirm”, so to speak.  I would be left confused and frustrated.  Looking back, I really thought that I was doing what I was supposed to do.  I thought I was praying right, and approaching the Word right.  I was so immature.  Why is hindsight always 20/20???

I finally was lead to a natural doctor in the area who performed a series of blood tests on me.  She found some vitamin deficiencies and hormone imbalances and to this day I never had to go on conventional medicine.  She just told me to take natural 5HTP, fish oil, and other vitamins and minerals.  Please note, I am not saying that God cannot use medicine.  I was just personally scared to take certain prescription drugs because of the risky negative side effects.

Later that year in 2010, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree and my anxiety was under control.  I continued paying close attention to current events and how they lined up with Bible prophecy.  In the summer of 2011 I found some very interesting videos on You-tube that were pointing to the possibility of the rapture happening in the fall of 2011 (quite possibly on or around the fall feast of Rosh Hashanah).

Now I was familiar with the fall feasts because of watching Perry Stone a lot.  There was a ton of speculation that this could really be it….as a matter of fact the evidence seemed so convincing that I was pretty much convinced.  I met a girl on you-tube who did a video on all the signs.  We became close friends.  However, she also had a strong belief that not all so-called Christians would get taken in the rapture.  She scared me and used scripture to try and show that “once saved always saved” wasn’t true.  She used scripture verses like Philippians 2:12 “….work out your own salvation through fear and trembling” and others like that.  She actually went as far as to send me these disturbing videos about people who claimed to have near death experiences and how one person supposedly went to Hell before God brought him back and the reason was ~~for not tithing.

I explained to her that I didn’t like that stuff and that she shouldn’t watch it either.  Because we shared this passion for seeing Jesus’s return I overlooked some of her views.  Perry Stone also had some teachings which never sat well with me deep down, but on the surface I wondered if maybe he was right.  For example, he did a teaching on what is called the first fruit rapture.  He also seemed to think that only those in the book of remembrance he called it would be taken, and of course, he used scripture to back it up.  All I knew was I loved Jesus and I wanted to do whatever was necessary to be with Him.  I remember studying all the verses about being lukewarm and being the wise and not foolish virgins.  I was trying so hard to “get it” and “be ready.”

I knew that we were only saved by grace, I knew we could only come to the Father because of the perfect blood of Jesus, but for some reason when it came to the rapture stuff…I thought there was something extra I had to “do” to not be “left behind” to escape the tribulation that was to come.  I could cry now just thinking about it…..I was deceived!!!!  The first thing Jesus told His disciples about what to look for when His return was drawing near is in Luke 21:8 “And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.”

I just wanted to hear from God, so I would pray and think God was even telling me He was coming soon too.  I am so embarrassed by this but I actually thought He was confirming to me the day as well.  I really thought I was that close with Him that He was sharing it with me.  I remember my husband was the only one out of all my few close friends and family that I told who seriously doubted and questioned that I had heard from God.  But I didn’t feel he was right, I didn’t feel that he was as “spiritual” as I was.  I was wrong.

God has placed men to be the spiritual head of the household, and I was not honoring and respecting him as the leader.  God has ordained it that way, and it is for the woman’s protection, because if we remember….Eve was deceived first.  I wish I had listened to him, I wish I had gone to more people and shared what I thought the Lord was telling me.

This whole experience of deception and error hurt more than anything I have ever been through. I never in a million years would have prayed that way, or done anything to be considered “rapture ready” had I known that was displeasing/insulting to my Savior.  I truly thought I was supposed to live a certain way because of how thankful I was for Him dying for me.  Yes, I did love God so much; and in addition to that, that nasty driving emotion called FEAR also made me think if I did certain things He would love me more, be more pleased with me, and I would be considered rapture “worthy” (and if I didn’t… I’d be left behind…..ALL lies).

So here I was (fall 2011) thinking I heard from God about the rapture timing so after Rosh Hashanah had come and went, and I realized how I was deceived I wanted to share that with some other people on you-tube who were reminding me of myself.  I wanted to help them not get deceived also.  I remember I was praying before I contacted a certain man and I had horrible scary thoughts attack me like “You’re not my child anymore, I hate you, etc.”  I was so upset.  I know now that was NOT God, that is NOT His character.  But that does not mean that I did not have a season where I was scared and thought maybe it was Him.

THE HEBREW ROOTS MOVEMENT BEGINS…..
Later that month, my friend that I met from you-tube called me.  From now on I’m going to refer to her as “Millie” (please pray for her she’s still in the HRM).  She felt that God had told her to take a look at the Ten Commandments and tied it in with being “ready” for His return.  She said she felt a strong conviction after taking a look at the fourth commandment ~ which is honoring the Sabbath day (knowing that she did not observe it).

Okay, I wish I could tell you that I didn’t listen to her, I wish I could say that right away God had me discern that was false, but instead I was like ~ ~ Hmmm, okay…whatever God wants us to do “I’m in.”  I remember I coincidentally got sick and spent that whole weekend in bed studying this out (remember I was suppose to be bartending on the weekends).

I contacted my dad to tell him, and he was not convinced, he said he was not going back “under the law.” I didn’t quite see it that way though, I truly thought that if I was to show Jesus I loved Him then I should do that.

Okay, now try and chew on this…I needed to figure this out so I was studying how Jesus said in John 15:10 “If you keep MY commandment(S), you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”  So I kept on reading and I was like okay, Jesus what are your commandment(S)?  Well if you keep reading in John 15:12 it says “This is My commandmen(T) (singular) that you love one another as I have loved you.”  But wait I thought…He said in verse 15:10 to abide in His love I am to obey His commandment(S) plural.

So, I immediately thought what most people think and I went to the two greatest commandments IN THE LAW.  Which are “To love the Lord thy God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength” and to Love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus even said that ALL the law and prophets hang on these two commandments.  So, that made perfect sense to me.  Some teachings explained that in order too show God how much we love Him then we honor commandments 1-4 and to show others we love them we honor commandments 5-10.

I of course went on to study how Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday and that was supposedly stemmed from anti-Semitism.  So I began to question the church in general and wondered if corruption hadn’t leaked in some how because of all the bad stuff I read about Constantine and bringing in idols and etc.  I felt I had confirmation from 1st Corinthians 7:19 where it says “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”  

I was like….there it is….see we are suppose to be obeying the commandments (the Ten Commandments).  I also was confused why in Hebrews 4:8 that the KJV states “For if Jesus (but all other versions say Joshua) had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. vs 9. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”  I even had a lady from church on the phone with me as we tried to figure out all the exact meanings to all the varying Sabbaths in those verses with a concordance.  I truly just wanted to do what was right in God’s eyes.  I remember feeling as if it made sense and that maybe we were suppose to be resting on the traditional Sabbath.  I remember being very confused though and at this time I was still relying on those “quickenings” too for confirmation.  I look back now and I was a mess.

I never really had any peace about what to do regarding the Sabbath, I just figured that I would tell my job that I couldn’t work weekends anymore and they were not happy with that.  As a matter of fact I almost lost my job over it, so I actually looked for another job. Now, I totally put it in God’s hands and I even told the new job I could work weekends (I think at least one of the nights) and I remember saying that whatever happens I would sort of know that was what God wanted.  Well, I ended up staying at my original job and I got the weekends off.  The other restaurant never even called me.  I thought that was like a “sign” that I was supposed to be home on the weekends honoring the Sabbath.

UGHHHH ….signs…that’s a whole other chastisement season I had to go through.  We are not to be seeking after signs, I wish I would have KNOWN THAT!

So a few months passed and I was honoring the Sabbath sundown Friday till sundown on Saturday.  We still continued attending the Foursquare church.  My husband was not honoring the Sabbath like me, he often had to work Saturdays but I think he obviously had discernment in that area too.

After the holiday season passed in 2011 I talked with my friend Millie again and she had shared all these things she learned about the history of Christmas.  I was so disgusted to hear about the tree and how people actually worshipped it.  I knew we never did, but then again we never asked questions about WHY we even put it up and where was the scriptural support for it.  I immediately threw it out and I remember saying, “I choose Jesus” as I kicked it to the curb.

I didn’t want to do anything that was an abomination in His eyes.  Of course there were the verses in Jeremiah about the trees and the verses in Deuteronomy about not going into pagan lands and adopting the way they worship their gods.  Once again it all made sense to me then because I just wanted to honor and please God.

Shortly after that I found the documentary Truth vs. Tradition it tells the whole history of Christmas with a LOT of disgusting truths in it…especially about Santa Claus.  I actually had already felt guilty about that on my own earlier in the year. It was time to put out our little elf on the shelf doll and I felt very strongly about not lying to our kids anymore. I was disgusted with how my children thought Santa was watching them and they needed to behave a certain way to receive presents.  The whole thing is deception and I questioned what I was modeling to our kids?  Is it okay to lie right to their face but expect them to only tell us the truth?  I learned that we have to be so careful that what we may think are just little innocent traditions are actually rooted in lies, deceit and the love of self and money/gifts.  My children are going to be raised knowing that God knows all and sees all, not Santa, the enemy’s perversion of the truth.

By early 2012 I had started investigating attending churches that were Sabbath keeping congregations.  My husband and I decided to visit a place about 20 minutes from home in February.  We walked in with the beautiful ram’s horns playing and being greeting by men in Jewish tzitzits.  It was a very small congregation approx. 20-30 people.  After Shabbat (Sabbath) we had a 3 hour long conversation with the Rabbi.  This Rabbi was actually non-Jewish and previously from a Pentecostal background, but his wife did have a Jewish bloodline.  Through his studies he decided to convert to Judaism.  He wanted to have a congregation which resembled that of the first century believers he told us.  He also knew a lot of the same information that I had come across regarding the things that took place with Constantine and the pagan holidays.

The next week we visited and his son (who is also a Rabbi) preached and we talked with him after the Sabbath service as well.  However, that conversation sparked some uncomfortable doubts and questions in my mind.  For example, some how we got on to the topic of once saved always saved/eternal security not being true.  I know that deep down that has never sat well with me and it always brought with it a sense of fear and confusion.  It immediately makes you anxiously wonder…. what do I have to do to keep myself saved??  Thinking back over the last couple years, I remember that there were times that would be brought up and I would disagree because that would take the focus off of Christ and put it on myself.  I was definitely discerning that truth in my spirit…..it just needed to be developed….all thanks to God’s love and faithfulness to me.

The third week in a row we planned to go to the Shabbat service again but I had a wedding to go to that night, so we skipped it.  I decided to listen to the service online.  This time their 3rd Rabbi spoke.  This was over a year ago but I can still remember the fear that swept over me when he was talking about the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and if you didn’t follow the Torah than the Holy Spirit would LEAVE YOU!  I had heard enough, I knew something was very off there.  That was an uncomfortable and scary thought and once again it put the focus on me (works).  Later that week I put a call into a Messianic Congregation further away.  I spent a long time on the phone with that Rabbi who explained to me that those were not their beliefs and invited us to come visit there if I’d like.

Sure enough we (primarily me) decided to start visiting this Jewish Messianic congregation.  This one was a lot larger and it was a mix of Jew and gentile believers in Christ.  From what I understood they believed the same message that we are only saved by Jesus Christ but there was still confusion sometimes as I heard a guest speaker (I think it was one of their elders) speak one Saturday and he mentioned that we stay in covenant by keeping the Shabbat.  I was definitely a little confused by that but I didn’t ask any questions and I continued to attend.  My husband came when he could.  This lasted about 3 months total when everything CHANGED.

GOD CAME AFTER HIS WANDERING SHEEP (ME)
I was at a park on a beautiful June (2012) afternoon with my friends from our homeschool group.  During our conversation a woman from our group had asked about the church we were attending.  She thought we still were going to the Foursquare gospel church and I had explained to her that we had started attending a Jewish Messianic congregation on the other side of town.  She (of course) had many questions.  She wondered what they believed, if they were Kosher, Sabbath keeping, etc.

One of the women at the park named Cherity overheard our conversation and started an email conversation between the ladies from the conversation that day.  I emailed back the group of ladies from the park that day including Cherity regarding some online information I found supporting the dietary restrictions and etc.  This is quoted from the email message I wrote to them that day ~

“I would never force my beliefs on anyone, nor do I judge anyone on their individual walk with the Lord.  Just to clarify, the church we have been attending is a Messianic Jewish congregation comprised of both Jews and non-Jewish believers who recognize Yeshua (Jesus’s name in the original Hebrew) as their Messiah/Savior…..to me that is sooo cool to be in that type of setting.  Their beliefs are not based on the legalistic traditions of Orthodox Jews but rather salvation is only obtained by placing FAITH in the saving blood of Christ alone.  This lifestyle I chose years ago out of nothing other than complete LOVE for God and my desire to be obedient to Him.  I trust in Him to know what is best for me and my family concerning diet….”

WOW, before I can even comment on the above email I wrote last year you have to read about my good shepherd and how His unfailing love pursued after me.

Cherity responded that she had listened to the audio teaching To Eat or Not to Eat that I sent the ladies from the park that day and invited me to come over and discuss….“iron sharpens iron” she said. So, I was off to Cherity’s, but not before spending hours trying to gather all of my evidence to show her she should be living this lifestyle too if she loved God. I knew I needed to do it in “love” and be willing to hear what she had to say too. “Millie” and I talked and prayed about my conversation with Cherity too before I went.

It was the morning of Tuesday, June 19th 2012.  Little did I know that day would be the day where God spoke to my heart like never before.  I dropped off the kids at VBS at our old church to be with some friends and headed off to Cherity’s.

When I arrived we had small talk and then she asked me about my background and what brought me to the Jewish Messianic congregation.  She had stacks of papers of research she had done on the HRM.  Then she told me she had over heard me say at the park that I do these things because Jesus said “If you love me, you’ll obey me.”  I knew the moment she said that, that I had said it wrong….and I had been referring to John 14:15 where Jesus says “If you love me keep my commandments.”

We talked more and I shared what I had been learning with her and she began to get choked up and she said,

“Please be careful, I feel like your being deceived, there is nothing you have to do to earn God’s love for you or do anything to make Him LOVE YOU any more.”

Well immediately I got teary eyed too, all I could think of was, “Oh, no, NOT again….I remembered how I had been deceived that last fall with the end times stuff I thought.  I opened my Bible and told her that I had always wondered about that verse John 15:10 “If you keep MY commandmentS, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”  We discussed that for a little more and then I left with a new mission.  To understand this better, to further study what is the difference between Jesus and the Father’s commandments.

I knew that something changed though that day… and that it’s all about LOVE.

A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING of LAW and GRACE
I knew loving others the way Jesus loved me was definitely one of His commandments, but I still anxiously wondered how to show “love” back to God.  I had been made to believe that to show God I love Him, than I was to be obedient, and obedience included honoring the Sabbath.  I did however choose to stop honoring the Sabbath after that conversation with Cherity.  For those months that I did honor it, I felt that if I didn’t do it, than God would be upset with me or that He might think that I didn’t appreciate what Jesus did for me.  I was willing to do anything to show Him that I was thankful for Jesus’s sacrifice for me…I just wanted to show my love for Him and apparently deep down….. feel LOVED BY HIM too.

The rest of June 2012 and early July I spent so much time in the Word trying to understand scriptures pertaining to the law and the commandments.  I remember one day I was so completely frustrated trying to understand what Jesus’s commandments are verses His Fathers.  To me when reading John 15:10 (from earlier) it seems as though Jesus is clearly differentiating between His and His Fathers commandments. One day during studying, I just yelled out in a crying frustration that I couldn’t take it anymore and cried out, “Jesus, what are your commandments?!”

All I know is…. it’s as though it came right to me ~~ Believe in Me and Love others.  I took a red pen and began to mark many places in the gospels where Jesus said to “believe in Me.”  It was starting to make sense to me little by little.  Jesus says specifically in John 3 when explaining to Nicodemus on how to inherit eternal life that one must be born again.  The famous passage John 3:16 explains further how this happens: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever BELIEVES in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then I found the verse in 1st John which completely confirmed it for me. 1st John 3:23 says “And this is His commandment: that we should BELIEVE on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”

Another important note on the commandment point that helps clarify that “believing” is one of Christ’s commandments is found in John 12.  In the context of speaking about believing in Himself, Jesus says in vs. 49 “but the Father who sent Me, gave Me a command what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that His command is everlasting life.”  Do a study for yourself and see just how many times you find the word “believe.”

Around this time, I listened to a sermon which really helped me.  The following are some notes I took from the sermon Pastor White was doing on the two greatest commandments.  He explained that when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment in THE LAW that Jesus picked the two commandments that no one has ever kept.  The pastor mentioned to take note that Jesus never mentions God’s love for you.  See the law teaches about your love for God.  Only grace teaches about God’s love for man.  Love and grace for man would be displayed at the cross!  Scripture says that “For the law was given through Moses but Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).”

That was huge for me because I started seeing more clearly that Jesus came and did what we (I) could never do.

Not only did He fulfill the sacrificial law but He fulfilled the moral law.  That was something that the Hebraic Roots teachers tried to disprove by saying that we are still obligated to keep moral law (including a seventh day Sabbath).  Now I know right away some of you are thinking….what kind of Christian are you if you think we can steal, murder, etc. and not uphold the standards of the moral law.  Well let’s see what Paul says:

Romans 13:8-10 says 8 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Therefore, it is quite clear to me that if I love someone I will not try to rob them or kill them.  If I love my husband I will not commit adultery.  Do I do this in my own power? NO, only by the power of the Holy Spirit in me.  Remember 1st John 4:8 says “….God is love” therefore it is Him in me, loving through me, and He gets all the glory.

Remember how God said He would put His law in our hearts?  Jeremiah 31:33 says “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  

As a born again believer, God gives us His desires, He places within us a desire to love others.  One of the best ways to show love to others is to care about their eternity.  It is not burdensome to share the good news with someone about what Christ has done for us.  Take a look at Romans 10:9-10 too.  It says 9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

I love how it talks about believing in our heart, just like God said He would do ~ put the law in our hearts.  As believers we have also been given the mind of Christ; therefore, we have the law in our minds too just like He said.  So can you see too how this verse now becomes much clearer…. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just I have kept My Fathers commandments and abide in His love.”

Break that down….Jesus obeyed the commandments His Father gave to Moses perfectly, if we believe in that and BELIEVE what He did for us to pay for our sin and LOVE others the way He commanded then we are abiding in His love… and GUESS WHAT the very next verse says 11“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

I cannot speak for anyone other than myself and my own circumstances.  What I can tell you is that from my experience, when I went searching for ways to please God, and striving, and went outside of just simply believing and resting in Christ…..I had no deep sense of joy in my life, in fact I had the complete opposite and I was extremely confused.

You may still be thinking like I did….but how do I show God I love Him?

We must always remember that we love Him because He first loved US (1st John 4:19).  In addition, 1st John 4:10-11 says. 10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

May I submit to you, what better way to show God you love Him other than BELIEVING in Christ, resting in Him, and trusting that the work necessary to be acceptable to God the Father was finished by Christ for YOU.  When this truth has set YOU FREE, I believe you will desire to share it with others too….which is also a wonderful way to show God you love Him.  By sharing the gospel and sowing seed you are bringing glory to Christ, by loving your brother and enemy you are bringing glory to Christ.  Is legalistically sitting home on a Saturday (or Sunday) afternoon bringing Him any glory?

Back when I was honoring the Sabbath, I was definitely confused by thinking that it was by the power of the Holy Spirit in me that helped me to honor the traditional Sabbath.  I don’t think I had a very good understanding of what walking in the Spirit really meant.

If you read Galatians 3:23-25 it says, 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

Christ came and did what I could never do and by His spirit in me I bear fruit for His glory.  The fruit of the spirit as you may already know is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW.  It does not say to return to the law to follow Christ….we are to walk in the Spirit loving others and we do that by His power.

When I was confused by the Sabbath teachings, I used to read Matthew 5:17-20 which says 17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”~~~ and I would think well I love Jesus, and I want to be considered great in the Kingdom of God.

So I assumed that meant I had to follow and teach the 10 commandments BUT if you keep reading He speaks about having a righteousness that exceeds the scribes and Pharisees.  Well duh, now I see, that is only accomplished by the gift of HIS righteousness.  We don’t come before God based on our adherence to the law.  See I had gotten so caught up in the end times “being ready” hype that I forgot that simple truth.  Thank you Jesus for the loving reminder that we come before the throne of grace with Your righteousness alone.

As I furthered my study I was lead to the books of Paul. I discovered the importance of rightly dividing/handling scripture, when in came to studying law/grace, old covenant/new covenant and in the sense of recognizing that ~~yes, Matthew starts the New Testament, but it was a deeper understanding that the New Covenant does not begin at Matthew chapter 1 but it begins at the CROSS.

We always have to take in to account when reading scripture who the author is speaking to (the audience) and what the context is of that chapter.  Is it before or after the cross?  That truly matters because before the cross they were still under the law.

Everything needs to be filtered through the cross and Christ’s finished work.

Many people quote the things that Jesus spoke as though everything He said applies to His believers today.  We must look at the context and what He came to accomplish through the cross.  For example, certain end times teachers scared me into thinking I had to forgive others in order to be forgiven (again see how it puts the focus back on what I have to “do”).

The law says forgive to be forgiven…and believers are not under the law.  Conditional salvation brings fear and is not based on God’s abundant grace and mercy and there is no hope in that message.

Furthermore, it is not what Ephesians 1:7 explains because of the NEW covenant which says. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

We could never keep all that the law required…only One perfect Man could.  Remember, the law shows us our sinfulness and how we never can measure up. Thanks to our Savior, now according to Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:13 we forgive others BECAUSE WE ARE FORGIVEN! Praise Jesus for His perfect blood of the New Covenant, which was shed for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:28).  When my children have a hard time forgiving others, I remind them of what Jesus did for them…I remind them that He forgave them before they ever asked for forgiveness.  So they too need to forgive those that offend them, even if that person never asks for forgiveness.  Seeing that God has forgiven us in Christ, are we a greater judge than He? Certainly not…and because of what He has done for us we should be moved with compassion to have the same mercy and extend forgiveness to others.

There were times I struggled with having peace about fully comprehending law and grace.  Remember above how I kept getting stuck on the verses about the greatest commandments in the law?  I think in my mind I just wanted to separate and draw a line so to speak in what was before the cross and after the cross pertaining to God’s laws. Over time though He showed me through Paul’s books how love fulfills the law.  Like I said earlier since LOVE is a fruit of the spirit, HIS SPIRIT, He gets all the glory.

Over time God helped me see that since Christ came and did what we could never do and fulfilled the law AND now LIVES IN US (His believers) it’s more like a continuum. Since He is in us and we have been giving the mind of Christ, His living water flows through us.  We love others because He first loved us.  I love Him by believing in Him and loving others the way He loved me….it’s a beautiful continuum or continuation of God’s law that has now been put in our hearts through the work of Christ.  Another way to look at it is like this ~~ JESUS is the CAUSE and LOVE is the EFFECT.

Because of my relationship with Jesus Christ the effect is ~ ~ I will love others.  Because of the cause and effect relationship between Jesus and love….the law of love is fulfilled in our lives BY HIM and to bring Him glory.  The seed of love was placed in me when I became a believer and it grows as a beautiful fruit as I abide in the vine (Jesus).  By spending time with Him in prayer and in the Word, He shows me how to live a life that is more “loving” by serving others and carrying others’ burdens.  This is not a worldly love.  With that clearer understanding He gave me more peace in that area.

Before I move on, I feel that I need to make it clear that not only did I think keeping the greatest commandments in the law would keep me abiding in His love but it would also make me “rapture ready.”  Remember that’s how this all got started because “Millie” thought God had spoken to her about obeying the 10 commandments to be ready for Christ’s return.

The confusion all started because I was truly a babe in God’s Word, in understanding His promises and I lacked the assurance of my salvation.  This was rooted in twisting of the scriptures and misinterpretations from those in the conditional salvation camp.  I could see how this even carried over into my thinking when it came to the topic of how love fulfills the law.

I now know when Paul is speaking in Romans and in Galatians about love being the fulfillment of the law… he is not saying that fulfilling the law is what SAVES YOU.  We are only saved by grace through faith remember?  Galatians 2:16 says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”  So I think the problem stemmed from a faulty view of the purpose of the commandments to begin with.  Obeying the commandments from the old covenant is NOT what saves us…JESUS SAVES us.  The law NEVER justified anyone.  The law was given to expose our sin and show us our need for a Savior.  Remember “the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Galatians 3:24-25)

So how was someone saved in the Old Testament? The Old Testament saints had FAITH and it was accounted to them for righteousness (Romans 4:1-25 and Hebrews chapter 11).  I just love that…I love how they trusted God to take care of their sin problem and looked forward to the Messiah – Jesus – the Seed who was promised all the way back in the garden to Adam and Eve.  As believers today, by faith we look back to what He graciously accomplished for us at the cross.  Our confidence is in our God who is mighty to save.  Jesus victoriously triumphed over sin and death making a way for us to have fellowship again with our loving Father.  All praise to King Jesus!

I’m sorry if I was redundant at times, but if you are anything like me I know the HRM and conditional salvation camps can really mess with your heart and mind. I want to stress GOD’s unconditional, everlasting love so clearly to you and that includes many details of my journey.  I have learned that we have to be so careful to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and His finished work.  Thanks to His Spirit for guiding me into TRUTH and putting the focus back where it belongs (off of me and my works and back on where it belongs~ ~ ~Christ, my all sufficient Savior!

NOT FOR A MOMENT DID HE FORSAKE ME
At the end of July 2012 the spiritual attacks that would often torment me became stronger.  It was as though, as soon as I started learning about the difference between law and grace and began studying who I am in Christ the war was “on” so to speak.

I started having more attacking scary thoughts, more attacking thoughts during prayer and my anxiety started to return very strong.  My focus is not to shine light on what the enemy did over the course of these months to try and scare me, so I am not going to share those details with you.  Was I scared.  Yes!  Did he try and convince me that the error I fell into was unforgivable?  Yes!  Did he try and make me think I had fallen from grace (permanently) and that I was cursed and God would not love me anymore?   Yes! Did he try to get me to look at “signs” all around me to prove I was forsaken and not at the finished work of Christ and His promise to never leave me?   Yes!

I was clearly being harassed for my mistakes.  I was having panic attacks that I had blasphemed the Holy Spirit and that I could not be forgiven.  I can’t even tell you how many phone calls I made to local pastors, TV pastors, and friends/family looking for affirmation that I was going to be okay and that I could be forgiven for my error.  The enemy is good at taking scripture out of context to try and condemn us with it.  For months and months I struggled with thinking I was cursed for being misled by another gospel (and for sharing what I thought was truth with others).

Every single person that God put in my life to talk to me and help me through this could clearly see that God had drawn me back, and that is because I am His child and that I should be thankful that He had rescued me from error and brought me back to truth. Every phone call/visit God encouraged me through my brothers/sisters in Christ that He loved me, never left me, and that I hadn’t done something unforgivable.  He put all those people in my path to remind me of His promises.

I had months of the worse anxiety of my life.  Thinking that you are separated from God is the absolute worst and scariest feeling in the world.

But ya know what…something inside of me, at my scariest moments, and my lowest lows would not let me give up on Christ and God’s goodness. 

I absolutely refused to believe with my whole heart that He didn’t love me.  In my anxious panicky moments I would just shout out that I know He loves me and I believed that this was some sort of refiners fire; that I was being chastened by God because He DID love me.  I would read and read and read Biblical articles and sermons online to try and help me feel better.  Although the scary feelings would still come….God was faithful to give me the moments where I soared with wings like an eagle as my hope was renewed in Him.

Looking back on those months, I get teary eyed right now…and it’s not because of the fear or the pain I went through….I’m crying thinking of how God was walking with me that whole time and He NEVER for a second left me.  Just like He promised!  He loved on me and helped me understand that He is my refuge and strength.  He is my stronghold.  That He is mighty to save and that He is so completely and utterly FAITHFUL!  Just like His Word says…He is true to His promises!  He is the potter and I am the clay and HE IS FAITHFUL TO COMPLETE THIS GOOD WORK THAT HE STARTED IN ME!!!

I do need to say that at those months when the anxious thoughts came strong, I had actually thought maybe it was a chemical imbalance and that since I had dealt with anxiety before than maybe I just needed to see a doctor about trying anti-anxiety medicine again like I did in ’99.  Please hear my heart in this…I am not saying God does not use doctors, or conventional medicine to help people.  I just never needed it, I continued using the same natural products that I had been using since 2010.  To this day, I never needed to take anything extra or take one prescription drug….it was growing in the grace and knowledge of MY Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His peace that passes all understanding that helped me.  He calmed my mind and heart.  He helped me realize who I am in HIM.  He restored to me the joy of His salvation that He gave me long ago which I will be forever thankful for.  I cannot wait until that day that I can fall on my knees and worship Him, hug Him, and thank Him for saving me!!!!

Cherity (the sister in Christ who called me over for that Bible study) could have had a stack of papers all the way to the ceiling.  She could have quoted scripture that whole morning but when she spoke to my heart…to my born again spirit that I DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING TO MAKE GOD LOVE ME ANY MORE….Something clicked!!!!  It was HIS LOVE!!!!  His LOVE for ME!

If you are someone who is struggling with understanding law and grace, I’ve been there. If you’re struggling with trying to live a life pleasing to God to “feel” more loved and accepted by Him, I’ve been there.  I am a real person who was misled, confused and now by the grace of God I have been SET FREE!

Do you remember my email I sent to the ladies from the park that day that I said I’d get back to?  Okay, well remember how I sort of stuck up for the Messianic congregation for not being like “legalistic” Orthodox Jews?  Well, now I can clearly see that I was in LEGALISM all the way.

You can be in ANY denomination and be in bondage to legalism.

If you really think about it…whenever the message puts more of the focus on what you have to be doing…or should be doing…then you concern all of your time focusing on yourself and making sure you are doing everything right in you walk with Christ, which takes the focus off of Christ and what He has DONE for us.

We are only counted worthy and righteous by HIM ALONE.

We can easily become puffed up Christians as we compare our “holier” lifestyle than those around us.  It’s a stinky prideful arrogance that overtakes us.  There is no time to share the good news when you’re too focused on making sure your brothers and sisters in Christ are walking the way you walk.

Sometimes we all need to re-read the book of Galatians.  We are really putting ourselves back into bondage.  Remember Paul said in Galatians 4:9, “… how is that you turn again to weak and beggarly elements which you desire again to be in bondage?”  Is good news making people feel that doing certain things will keep them walking on the narrow road?  Remember the truth shall set you FREE!!  Freedom is knowing I can rest, I can relax, I don’t have to worry that I’m always pleasing to God.

I’ve learned that trying to please God is religion, realizing how much He loves me and that He is fully pleased with His Son’s sacrifice for my sins and victory over sin and death~~ is GRACE.  I don’t have to earn God’s love or approval and neither do you.  I am so thankful that He loves ME for me, despite all my weaknesses and failures.

I want to expand on the idea of “pleasing God.”  1st John 3:22-23 says, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are PLEASING in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should BELIEVE on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and LOVE one another, as He gave us commandment.”  So it makes sense to me that the best way to “please God” or make Him happy would be simply that ~ ~ to believe in His Son Jesus and Love others the way Jesus commanded us to do.

Aren’t you thankful we were made right with God through the cross?  I think that keeping my eyes fixed on Christ and His finished work and loving others by sharing the good news and loving others in deed and in truth (1st John 3:18) is walking the narrow road.  Because in the end Jesus gets ALL the glory that He so rightfully deserves. Please just grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…I can’t say this enough!

Are you RESTING in Christ and His finished work?  He perfectly fulfilled the law and all its requirements.  The truth is “resting” on whatever day you think the Sabbath falls on is actually WORK… Why is that?  Well if you think you HAVE to do it…your “doing” something to try and please God.  That’s working for His love and approval.

Now would be a good time to address that scripture that had me confused before about the Sabbath rest in Hebrews 4.  It is very clear to me now that Jesus is our Sabbath rest.  I could take up pages trying to explain this, so instead I will refer you to a site which I just love because it gives a wonderful summary on how scripture reveals that Jesus is our Sabbath rest.  Here are some excerpts taken from this well respected site:

“There is no other Sabbath rest besides Jesus.  He alone satisfies the requirements of the Law, and He alone provides the sacrifice that atones for sin. He is God’s plan for us to cease from the labor of our own works.”  AND  “The various elements of the Sabbath symbolized the coming of the Messiah, who would provide a permanent rest for His people.  Once again the example of resting from our labors comes into play.  With the establishment of the Old Testament Law, the Jews were constantly “laboring” to make themselves acceptable to God.”  AND  “Because of what He did, we no longer have to “labor” in law-keeping in order to be justified in the sight of God.  Jesus was sent so that we might rest in God and in what He has provided.”  Please read more at: Question: “How is Jesus our Sabbath Rest?”

If you are a believer that understands grace and chooses to rest and relax on Saturday or Sunday because you want to, then you know that you don’t have to nor do you tell others they have to in order to be okay with God.  I’m not saying you can’t have a day of rest…I’m saying it’s wrong if you think you HAVE to and judge others who don’t.

Paul says in Romans 14:5, “One person esteems one day above another, another esteems every day alike.  Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord, and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it….” and in Colossians 2:16-17: 16, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”

So please see that I am not trying to be legalistic by saying you can’t pick a day to rest. I am saying we are not to force rest by telling believers today that they are under the law and judge our brethren for not keeping the 4th commandment.  Please study Galatians, Romans, Colossians, Hebrews, and pray for discernment and that God would lead you and guide you in the truth.  He WILL!

As I was growing little by little, I had comprised a list of truths from His Word and other edifying reminders of His love for me to encourage me through that season.  I think I heard the word sovereignty more over those many months than in my entire life.  At a prayer meeting at church – yikes!  I forgot to mention we started attending a church we had visited back in 2011.  We decided to re-visit it again in September of 2012 and we really like it there.  It is a Christian and Missionary Alliance church.  The pastors are very humble and I feel that Tony and I have grown a lot there.  They give God all the glory and I LOVE THAT!  Furthermore, they remind the body of God’s promises and great love for us along with the truth that He will never leave us.

So anyways, at a couple of the prayer meetings God really seared some truths to my heart.  One week a man had prayed and thanked God for picking him up and placing him on the rock (Christ) and I just loved that.  I felt so strongly that’s what God had done for me too.  Another time a woman had prayed that a particular person would only grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Well that stuck with me like SUPER GLUE…I wanted to know more about growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ too and that’s what eventually lead me to this site.

I was already out of the Hebrew Roots movement at this time, but I was sooo desperate to talk to someone who had gone through it and come out okay.  I felt like I was the only one of my friends that had ever been mislead or deceived and that really bothered me.

Again, those scary thoughts that I had done something unforgivable would come and bring fear too.  After I found this site, God continued to bring more healing to my heart.  God is sooo cool.  Do you know that in the stack of papers Cherity had at her house that day was a testimony from this very website (Joyfully Growing In Grace), and now here I am writing mine a year later.

I must also tell you that over those months I had a hard time forgiving myself.  I really couldn’t understand how I had let myself fall into error.  I felt absolutely horrible about it and the fear that it was some kind of unforgivable blasphemy made it that much worse.

Even though I had prayed about this time and time again, and had even said I had forgiven myself the agonizing feelings wouldn’t stop.  On the week of Easter 2013, Wednesday night at home after a prayer service I finally lifted up my hands to God and just handed it over to Him.  I told Him I couldn’t hold on to it any longer and I didn’t want to.  I cried out that I didn’t know how to handle the mistake of thinking He was coming on Sept. 27th, 2011 and all the legalism and error that followed it.  I begged Him to make the pain of regret stop and I chose to believe in His promises and that I wasn’t cursed and that Jesus had become the curse for me (according to Galatians 3:13).

Later that same night a study that was recommended to me came to my memory which only by the grace of God brought the most amazing healing to my heart.  As I read that night, I learned about the Faith OF Christ, as it is worded in the original King James. Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

Do you even know what weight was lifted off of my shoulders?!  Did you know you can even worry about having enough faith???  That brought tremendous healing to my heart because I could finally understand now that when I was burdened with fear, regret, doubt, and unbearable anxiety WHY I refused to stop believing in Him, trusting in Him, worshipping Him, praying to Him….BECAUSE HIS FAITH IN ME KEPT ME HOPING IN HIM.

I finally didn’t have to worry about my faith and if I was having enough faith.  He is the author and finisher (perfecter some versions say) of it. He’s got it…which again takes the focus off of me and puts it on Christ where it belongs.  It also brought deeper meaning for the verse, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).  AMEN!!  And even Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  That is an amazing truth…our faith is a gift too…thank you Father.

THE TRUTH HAS SET ME FREE!
It was actually just this past June 2013 that I had a clearer understanding of how the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit ties in with 1st John 1:9.  This understanding brought even greater peace.  To blaspheme means to speak against someone/something.  That said, let’s take into account what scripture says regarding this.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:31, “I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.”  Now what did the Holy Spirit come to do?  Jesus tells us in John 16:8-11, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

Okay, so someone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit is speaking against what the Holy Spirit is saying.  They reject or speak against the fact that they are a sinner and need to believe in Christ for salvation.  Now let’s look at what happens when someone is convicted by what the Holy Spirit reveals to them.  When a person realizes they are a sinner, their eyes have been opened to the truth, and they come to recognize their need for a Savior and for Jesus to cleanse them and give them new life.  They personally receive His forgiveness that was given at the cross and are reconciled back to God.

Well when this takes place, then they are NO LONGER BLASPHEMING the HOLY SPIRIT because they are no longer speaking against Him but are now in AGREEMENT with Him!!!  Praise GOD!  Therefore, first by believing the conviction that the Holy Spirit places upon their heart they now do exactly what 1st John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness…” and all means ALL!

Because of God’s unfailing promises, this person now has received forgiveness for ALL sins and ALL unrighteousness.  I love this TRUTH!  Therefore, the only sin that is unforgivable is the sin of “unbelief.”  This is the flat out rejection of Jesus and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit’s truth that is revealed in the need for Jesus to be your Savior.  Please recognize this truth: EVERY sin that you and I ever committed (and will commit) was taken away 2,000 years ago in His finished work.  This is hard for some people to understand.  Jesus said, “It is FINISHED” and the veil was torn….Hallelujah!!!

How can I be sure all sins are covered you may wonder?  Well Paul says in Romans 6: 9-10, “9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.”

In addition, I love this truth found in Hebrews 10:11-12 11, “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,” 

Jesus SAT down!  As a child of God I don’t have to be in fear that I have any sins that are not covered by His blood and He is not continuously applying the blood for our new mistakes.  Hebrews 9:12 says, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”  Praise God!  I’ve come to a deeper understanding of this by amazing teachers who have helped me to understand that my past, present and future sins have ALL been covered.

So now when I make mistakes, I do not want to insult my savior by “anxiously” seeking forgiveness for these sins when it has already been given.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge it and say sorry.  Oh no, on the contrary, I humbly say sorry when I make mistakes.  As a believer, I know right away and I can’t stand the icky feeling I get.  So when I pray I sincerely apologize for my mistake.  The difference is, I thank Him for taking that sin upon Himself at Calvary.  I pray that He will help me to overcome this area of sin that I may be struggling with.  I pray that He will help me to yield to His Spirit in me and not my flesh.  I ask the Father to help me learn from my mistake, to bear more fruit, and bring glory to Him as He changes me and makes me more like Christ.  I have confidence in Him and what He accomplished at the cross. I know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead now by His grace lives in me.

What a comforting truth to know that He is with me (us) forever just like He promised in John 14:15-16.  Ephesians 1:13-14 also says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance UNTIL the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of HIS GLORY.”  I just love that comforting truth that I am Christ’s possession!  Not only do I not have to worry about keeping myself saved, but I also do not have to worry that I have done something (or could do something) to LOSE my salvation.  Right when I first believed in Him, He faithfully sealed me with His Spirit, who will be with me until the day He calls me home and for eternity.

I can rest knowing I’m safe in His hands.

It’s important to make mention, that even though I finally had a clearer understanding of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, that it took me a couple more weeks to see how that fit in with my life.  I began to have the thought that maybe I had never believed “right” so maybe I was never truly saved until last summer (’12).  However, a great sister in Christ, Wendy, and my awesome dad helped me to understand that wouldn’t be scriptural.

Because God is true to His promises and in Romans 10:9-10 it says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”, and 1st John 5:1 says, Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him”, and 1st John 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

By the grace of God I came across these following scriptures which helped me understand this truth even more and with it came even greater joy and more peace.  Remember how Jesus said in John 16:13 that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth?  Well, I was clearly a lost sheep.  I was a believer who had wandered from the truth, but my loving Savior came and brought me back to truth.

I believe He spoke through Cherity that day to woo me back to following Him.  Let me explain.  In John chapter 8 Jesus was speaking to a group of people and sharing that He is the light of the world.  He went on to tell them more truths about how the Father is with Him always and that He does nothing of Himself but as His Father taught Him.  He told them they would know that I am “He” when He is lifted up (referring to His crucifixion).  Now read this part….the Word tells us in verse 30 that, “As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. THEN Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him (vs. 31-32), If you abide in My word you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Okay so try and follow me.  It makes perfect sense that the first step is BELIEVING, then following.  We know that the first disciples had to believe what John the Baptist was saying about Jesus and then they followed Him.  So as I am applying this to my life and my walk with the Lord.  I have BELIEVED Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He took the penalty for my sins and rose from the dead, for a long time now.  I got off course and was led astray by false teaching BUT check this out….

John 12:46 says, “I have come as a light into the world that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”  I wanted the exact definition for abide.  The definition for abide means to dwell in, stay in, some versions say “sink deeper into.”  I LOVE this because He is so good and faithful to me that He would not let me stay or get deeper into darkness (untruth).

So like the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18, He came and rescued me from my error (by Cherity speaking His love/grace to me).  He is my good shepherd and He says in John 10:27-30, “27My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”  In John 8:12 it says, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Now that I had been rescued from the darkness of error I could follow Him in truth.

So to summarize, I think my life up until this point is best explained by saying that I believed (for a long time now) and was lead astray by error (like the parable of the lost sheep) and that God used Cherity a sister in Christ to remind me of God’s love for me (so I wouldn’t ABIDE in error)….which then put me on the right path of following Jesus where now the truth has set me FREE (gaining a fuller understanding of the salvation I have had all along, maturing in Christ and gaining a deeper understanding more and more about His finished work and who I am in HIM).  All glory to God! I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).

It’s important that I mention that Wendy explained to me that a lot of people who come into a deeper understanding of who they are in Christ “feel” like they have been born again, again.  That is why I obviously got confused, but we need to always go to scripture and take into account the whole counsel of God’s Word.  I humbly thank God for all of these truths and for sharpening my discernment in this area and for growing me in His grace this far.  By His continued grace I should no longer be a babe tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine; thank you sweet Jesus, my all sufficient Savior and BEST friend.

I really think my whole life the enemy has tried to confuse me and get me to doubt who I am in Christ and to doubt God’s complete, constant, and unconditional love for me.

I am so happy to say “Thank you Jesus, because You have SET ME FREE!”  HE who is in me, is greater than he who is in the world (1st John 4:4).  I am so happy and so proud to BOAST in my SAVIOR. As the enemy has tried to scare me and make me think I can be possessed by him, I proudly say I am Christ’s possession.  He bought me with His perfect blood and I am His!!!

For a long time I feared that messing with that stuff from my earlier years had “opened a door” of some sort.  I know I had heard that terminology from somewhere before…..but the truth is I couldn’t find anything in scripture that says that.  On the contrary actually, again an amazing sister in Christ helped me to see the truth that is spoken in Colossians 2:9-15.

This is awesome ~ vs. 15 says, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” and vs. 10 says, “and you are complete in HIM, who is the head of all principality and power.”  I just love that! It’s a done deal….they were defeated at the cross.  My ability to deal with the lies they try and throw at me now is all due to HIS grace and maturing me in my knowledge of Him.  He has strengthened my confidence in Him and my confidence of who I am in Him.  There are not enough words to express my thanks and praise to Him.  He is amazing!

It is such a blessing to have a clearer understanding of my salvation.  I was undoubtedly saved when I first believed.  I cannot recall the exact day or moment because like I said I have believed in Jesus for sooo long.  I was also one of those immature believers who said the “sinners’ prayer” at every service if it was offered.  I have since learned that we must be very careful that we are not placing our assurance of salvation on something we “did” over the grace through faith He gives us to BELIEVE in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Let me clarify, yes often times when a person recognizes their depraved condition and need for a Savior….that is often expressed in a prayer of humbling themselves before God, receiving His forgiveness and thanking Him for His gift of salvation through sending Jesus to die for them.  So I am not saying that salvation cannot happen by means of doing this.  What I’m saying is some people can boast in it just like anything else like it is something they have done.  In other words, they may boast about saying the prayer, and look to what they did for assurance.  We have to remember God does the drawing of us to Himself and the SAVING. We make our boast in Him alone.  Praise God, by His gift of grace through faith that an absolute miracle happens when we believe.  I am not entirely sure of how the miracle happens.  All I know is that what ever small role I played in believing I still give Him the entire glory and thanks for it.

So, I can have a peaceful assurance that I was born again when I first believed. I can comfortably and confidently say it is okay that I am not sure when it happened, because HE does.  What truly matters is that I DO BELIEVE and I AM A CHLD OF GOD…PERIOD!  I actually prefer to say that “I was His before the foundation of the world.”  It brings me comfort to know that all my days were written in His book before I was even born.  He loves me and knew I would fall into error, but like the good shepherd that He is ~ He came and rescued me!!!  Thanks to Jesus, my error and misunderstanding was forgiven when I first believed and all of my past, present and future sins were taken away in His finished work! Thank you Jesus for reconciling me back to the Father by taking my sin and shame over 2,000 years ago and giving me new life in you (and your gift of righteousness so that I can be a child of God).

I must say, there is NOTHING greater in this life than knowing you are a child of the living God.  I am not cursed, I am blessed, I am loved, I am forgiven, I am saved, and I am set free!!!  I am thankful to have this understanding now; however, I do not claim that I have arrived, I am still growing.

One thing is for sure, the moment I hear anything that puts the focus on myself I REJECT it because it immediately brings with it fear and confusion.  I RECEIVE only messages about Christ’s love for me, grace, His finished work, God getting all the glory and my eternal security which brings complete PEACE and fullness of JOY!!!  We all need to grow in the truth of who we are in HIM!

Likewise, as His body, we all need to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2nd Peter 3:18).  We all need to be on guard for error.  Messages that help us grow in grace humbly make us “Savior conscious” NOT “sin conscious” where we fear our eternal security.

We need to magnify our Savior not our sin.  I used to listen to those people who taught that radical grace messages encouraged sin or that they give a license to sin.  However, now that I’ve been given a “revelation of grace” and what Christ has done for me, I see how absolutely ridiculous that is.

The message of grace completely and utterly humbles me and I want NOTHING at all to do with sin.  I want to share this great love of our Savior with others and only be led by His Spirit in me.  I desire to walk as Christ walked, and that is walking in LOVE. 

The message of grace is driving me more than ever to go share this good news with others.  He’s changed my passion of “end times” into sharing the gospel that we are saved by grace through faith alone.  I don’t know if I would have this strong of a desire to share God’s love and grace if I hadn’t gone through this season of my life.  I thank Him for the testing of my faith…it surely is more precious than gold.  I know my faith is strong and sealed because it has been given to me from GOD.  Please pray for me that I would continue to have this desire to see people set FREE like I have been, and to see my brothers and sisters in Christ realize who they are in Him and the freedom, joy and peace it brings.  All glory to our King!

My prayer for you dear reader is that you would be SET FREE also.  That you would KNOW that you are loved by our great God and Savior and that there is nothing YOU have to do to make God love YOU anymore either!  Just as it clicked for me, I pray it clicks for you and that you would know that YOU ARE DEEPLY LOVED!  Spend time in His Word and abide in His love and you will grow closer to our sweet Savior.  I am so happy that I no longer need to “feel” loved to think God loves me.  I KNOW that I am loved because His Word says so, and in addition, it is a deep down KNOWING in your Spirit that goes way beyond any fickle feelings.  That is my prayer for you too.

God Bless you on your journey.  I don’t know your names but He does and I will continue to pray for Christ’s body to share the unity of His love.  Please pray for my dear friend “Millie” that God would give her ears to hear and eyes to see of His love for her too and that she can truly rest in Him!

Thank you all my dearest family, friends, Pastors, (you all know who you are) who have helped me come to a deeper knowledge of God’s love for me and who I am in Him.  You all were right all along, it just took me some time to understand it more fully.  God’s timing is always perfect though and I must have needed to go through all of that to experience a deeper understanding of His grace and love for me.  Looking back on those months I see His complete and total faithfulness to me and His promise to never leave me.  I love you all, you truly are my FOREVER friends, and my eternal family since we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  I long for the day we can all worship Him together in His Kingdom.

God bless each and every one of you !

In Christ, and all for His glory,

Cherie (in French my name means “dear one”….. and I’m thankful to be His dear one)

There are MANY songs that I love which encouraged me and blessed me through the scariest time of my life (when I thought for a moment I was without Christ)….this song was found after everything I had gone through and speaks perfectly about His love and faithfulness to me through it all.  I pray that it blesses you too!

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

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Other articles of interest:

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Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate

I first posted this back in December of 2008, and it continues to be one of the most-read posts here at JGIG.  Be sure to check out the related links below as well as other informative and thought-provoking Christmas articles on the Articles Page.  Grace and Peace to you in this Christmas season of celebrating the Birth of Christ and in the new year ahead!
-JGIG

Christ’s Birth – Why It’s Okay to Celebrate

Okay.  Before all you holiday purists start hurling comments based on the title alone, hear me out.

I know all about the pagan influences and the date-setting and the sun worship and . . . well, all that stuff  that takes what for me is the simple celebration of the birth of my Saviour and turns it into something ugly and evil.  Some of you will maintain that “Christmas” IS ugly and evil!  And I get where you’re coming from, really I do.  And in the spirit of Romans 14, I’m okay with that.  I would never dream to try to convince you that you should celebrate something that you don’t believe you should.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit this past year, and I just want to share with you where I am in that thought process.

The short answer for me is this:

God made a pretty big deal

out of the birth of His Son.

Angel visitations to Mary and Joseph, to the shepherds, the summoning of kings from far away (with a special “star” hung in the sky, no less) . . . the divine protection of the baby and child Jesus from the evil King Herod.

shepherd_angel1
Let’s take the shepherd’s experience:  They’re there, tending their sheep, maybe dozing off once in a while, but being good shepherds, waking at any little noise, they wake up to angels!  And they’re singing, “Glory to God in the highest!” . . .

What am I celebrating?
I’m celebrating the willingness of God to come in the flesh to walk among us, love us, teach us, and then do the work of the Cross for us.  And how did He choose to come in human form?  As an obviously powerful King?  Did he ride down majestically on the clouds, announcing His kingdom was at hand?  No . . . He came in the most vulnerable human form, actually taking on humanity through the seed of Mary while maintaining His Godhood through the Seed of the Holy Spirit.

I’m celebrating the birth and gift of Hope and Life to the world.

Having given birth seven times myself, I reflect on Mary’s obedience and courage as a young woman.  Having had relatively easy births with my children, I wonder what Mary’s “birth story” is (a favorite topic among moms of many).  Before I had children of my own, I thought how sad it was that Mary had to go through the birth thing the way she did, the traveling, the no Inn thing, the giving birth with the animals around thing.

But now, having had easy births with all but one of my children (the other one was wonderful, just really, really hard!), I like to think that God must have blessed Mary with a wonderful birth experience.  Understand that I understand that my thoughts are total conjecture in this area, but given the circumstances, I think they’re in line with the character of God to have abundant grace and mercy on Mary in birthing Jesus.  After all, she was giving birth to His Son.  And she had been willing and obedient under difficult circumstances . . . I just think He may have blessed her with a wonderful birth!

There is something quite amazing about birthing a baby.  It’s hard work, and there is pain, but for some the pain is brief, and labor can actually be enjoyable!  The progressive work of the intensifying contractions, the  process of knowing new life is soon coming into the world, getting to meet the one you’ve carried for so long face to face . . . and that you get to be a part of it!  It can be such a profound experience!

nativityscene
And then when that little baby is birthed!  Oh my!  The wonder!  The joy!  The amazement of what God has done!  And that’s just what I’ve felt at the birth of my own children.  I can hardly imagine the glory that must have been in the place where Jesus was born!  And the feelings of wonder and joy that Mary must have felt as the baby King Jesus was placed in her arms and nursed at her breasts.  All mixed in with the gravity of being charged with the care of this child who would in adulthood save us from our sins and give us new life . . . Oh my . . .

And who did God announce the birth of His Son to first?  The local mayor?  Thejesus_nativity governing authorities of the broader area?  No, He told the local shepherds.  And told them to go and see the newborn King . . .  They were the first on the scene besides Mary and Joseph to take in the wonder of the advent of the Saviour of the world.  Just regular folks.  God didn’t leave out the king-types . . . they just came much later.  He came for everyone, from shepherds to kings . . . He came for us all.  What an amazing event – the coming of God in the flesh to dwell among those He created and to eventually provide for their redemption.  To celebrate those things – that’s what I think it’s okay to do.

Do we hang lights?  Make special food?  Sing and listen to special songs? Put up a Nativity scene?   Have a *gasp* tree?  Yes, we do.  NONE of those things signify anything pagan for us.  They are not a part of worship.  They are part of celebrating.  I don’t know where the tradition of baking a birthday cake or putting up decorations to celebrate birthdays came from, but for us, it’s simply a celebration.  A time to be glad.  To take joy in the immense gift from God as He came to us in the flesh.  A time to commemorate the real event that happened so long ago, that has such an impact on us as believers today.

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Luke 2:1-33 

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

journey_to_bethlehem_brickey

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

nort_cuypb
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
swindle_she-shall-bring-forth-a-son

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law.

jesus02Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

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Other Holiday-related Posts:

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

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

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Other articles available at JGIG:

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My Public Testimony by J. Rumani

Path-to-the-Woods 3It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received another testimony.  This one comes from an individual who wrote me a while back as they began their journey out of the Hebrew Roots Movement.  It’s been such a blessing to see how God has been progressively growing this dear person in His Grace.  Many thanks to J. for the following. 

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

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

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MY PUBLIC TESTIMONY
by J. Rumani
I was first introduced to the Hebrew Roots Movement through a stranger who soon became so much more to me.  I had been raised in an evangelical church environment and had never experienced anything else, so hearing theology from the Hebraic mindset was a completely new idea to me and I ended up falling for it – hook, line, and sinker.

At first, I thought the ideas were zany, but soon the arguments towards Torah Observance sounded convincing and logical.  After all, if God said don’t eat pork, maybe nobody should ever eat it?  Maybe since we are grafted in, we should be following the Torah?  And from there, I buried my ‘roots’ so to speak, deeper into the doctrines of the HRM.

I thought to myself, maybe I had been missing something important in traditional church and what if what I had believed growing up was wrong?  After all, I had never questioned any of it before but instead of studying the Scriptures for myself and carefully weighing everything, I swung the other way and embraced the HRM perspective and teachings because it seemed there was an answer to everything.

Soon our small family must have appeared Jewish to anyone who would enter our home or observe our way of life. From the wearing tzitzit and head coverings to the way we observed Shabbat to the removal of crosses and the replacement with the mezuzah and menorah and the refusing of all things labeled ‘pagan’ by most in the HRM – the way I understood ‘pleasing God’ changed greatly both on the inside and maybe more so on the outside.

Fellowship with other Christians typically included arguments advocating Torah observance and denouncing ‘paganism’ in ‘churchianity’. Holidays were a misery because I was still very much attached to them and I wanted to celebrate Christ with other Christians in those as well, but from the HRM perspective anything to do with Easter or December 25 is to be completely avoided and hence I was yet another apologist for the HRM protesting those days as the seasons arrived, though part of me was not fully convinced of the matter.

I began to learn that there is much variance within the HRM on various doctrines from soul sleep, to Kabbalah and scripture interpretation, to how Shabbat is carried out and even which laws are still valid and applicable.  There is no real ‘What we believe’ statement per se, although the two main features of the Hebrew Roots Movement were

  1. Torah Observance, and
  2. Avoidance of all things ‘pagan’ including traditional Christian holidays, the cross, the name Jesus and on and on.

It turned out that I also saw many disputes among congregations where they would not associate with each other even if there were a whole bunch of congregations in the same general city/outskirts.  These many variances would become one of the factors in my questioning of the whole movement and my beliefs.

In regards to fellowship, I attended 1-2 messianic congregations a handful of times, but it wasn’t my cup of tea for some reason.  I found the services to be too legalistic for my liking (oh the irony!) and felt more comfortable with the type of church I was raised in.  The whole Torah Observance/traditional holiday-avoiding lifestyle made me feel isolated in many ways.  But at the same time, I thought I was better than all these churchianity Christians who didn’t fall for the HRM arguments that my household presented.

Why on earth couldn’t they see ‘the truth’?  But I figured I would give them a little grace since the whole of Christendom had been steeped in paganism for thousands of years.

Still, I found myself turning into a righteous snob without realizing it.  I had dropped out of nearly all fellowship and found that I had no best friend I could confide in about spiritual matters, even within the HRM.  And as far as my own family of origin, I loved them dearly.  But huge influence from an HRM member made me feel isolated from my own family and torn in many ways, especially around holidays, and throughout the whole year … and years.

But there was still something that didn’t make sense to me; I observed Christians who lived full of love and joy, and I hadn’t known true joy in a long time.

The fruit in my own life had gone downhill tremendously.  It’s like Jesus said, those who strain a gnat and swallow a camel or those who look at the speck in someone’s eye but forget the plank in their own; while I was worried about everyone else accepting the Torah truth, my own life didn’t reflect anything that anyone could desire.

Besides judgmentalism, I was losing hope, complaining a lot more, becoming skeptical, starting to become confused about what I believed, and I even swore like a sailor which was new to me.  I wasted my time doing useless projects and even a few times got drunk on purpose.  My faith was becoming ship-wrecked and I knew I was soon coming to a complete faith crisis.  For a while I tried to put it off, figuring with just a little extra sleep and prayer, I’d be fine.  But inside I knew that wasn’t the case.

Something drastic had to change; I had to come to the end of myself.

One thing I found interesting that happened during my time in the HRM is that I had lost hunger for the Word of God, and near the end, as I found myself escalating towards a faith crisis, I understood that I was becoming so confused and doubtful that I didn’t even want to crack open a Bible because I didn’t know what to believe.

Thankfully I did finally come to the end of myself.  One evening, I opened my Bible to read as though it were the first time ever.  I poured over the epistles with a voracious fervor like I was completely starved.  Those first few weeks I took time to read Galatians, again and again and again, along with Romans and practically all the epistles and multiple commentary notes.

So many varying degrees of thoughts went through my mind while reading – from extreme hope, to extreme confusion, to HRM arguments, to finally coming to the question that I wasn’t sure if I could ask:  could it just maybe really be this simple to be a Christ-follower?  All I had to do is trust in Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit and love in my life?

It’s been a while now since what I excitedly call my “grace-walk” began, and while I was hoping my life would change dramatically and that I’d have it all together in a neat scheduled time-frame, I know God doesn’t work in our timing or expectations.

But that’s part of the grace journey – learning to accept that God’s grace and timing is enough.  As the saying goes “I’m not where I want to be yet, but thank God I’m not where I was!”

I have also learned that it is perfectly okay if I do not have all the answers to my questions yet.  I simply don’t know it all, but I’ve experienced freedom and an appreciation for grace as never before.  I regret my strong involvement in HRM, but I know God can use all things for His glory if we let Him.

People who have never been in captivity may not be able to understand freedom or may not fight for it, but those who have been in bondage appreciate and fight for their freedom all the more.  And I have that freedom in Christ.  I’m learning what grace looks like practically both for my own life, in raising my children, and in dealing with other believers.

I have no idea what my future will look like or God’s purposes in my life.  But I keep trusting that “He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion” (Phil 1:6).

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Again, many thanks to J. for your testimony.  My prayer for you is this:

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (From Ephesians 3)

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

-JGIG

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Other articles of interest:

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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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Escape From The Iron-Fisted Worldwide Church of God Cult into The Power and Freedom of Jesus Christ!

It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received yet another testimony.  This one like so many others, came via an email, and is a great blessing to me and to others who contend for the Gospel in the arena with those who pursue Torah.  Many thanks to Mark Smith for the following.  Mark’s story is about coming out of the Worldwide Church of God, from which the Hebrew Roots Movement draws much of its doctrine. 

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

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

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

Every blessing, -JGIG

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Escape From The Iron-Fisted Worldwide Church of God Cult into The Power and Freedom of Jesus Christ!

by Mark Smith

The following is my testimonial of 18 long years in the Worldwide Church of God (HRM) Cult founded by Herbert W. Armstrong.  For more information on the founder and this cult, simply do some research on Google for more details and the history of the WCG cult.  [Exit and Support Network is a great resource. – jgig]

My father heard the founder’s convincing message in 1964 when I was 3 years old and converted wholeheartedly – my mother went along out of love for my father.  From the age of 3 years old to 21, I was indoctrinated in following and observing all of the old covenant teachings of the Torah/Mosaic law, the holy days and feast days, the Sabbath, plus extra biblical doctrine the founder imposed on us as further bondages and heavy burdens.  As children, we were not allowed to participate in the regular holiday celebrations at school, enjoy birthdays or participate in sports that typically scheduled games on the Sabbath.

While growing up, my father worked hard to support my brothers, sister and I with very little left over after paying income taxes and multiple tithes to the CULT.  For years, my mother would cook simple meals and shop at thrift stores, grow gardens and sew clothes for us to make it – and my father made good money – but gave much of it to support the cult’s “iron-fisted” control to OBEY and PAY!

There was 99 percent law mixed with their exclusive (we have the truth) spin within their doctrine claiming to being the ONLY one with the TRUTH while the rest of the world is lost.  The other 1 percent was teaching on the work of Jesus Christ and His suffering on the cross for our sins which was quickly diminished and perverted by the other 99 percent false doctrine.

Several magazines, books and correspondence courses were the means of being brainwashed and indoctrinated into their (“The”) way of spiritual growth, including fear based manipulation woven into the writings to compel followers into adhering to all the teachings of the founder.  There was the Plain Truth and Good News magazines to pitch to the followers and also to reach out to potential converts on a worldwide scale consisting of modern events, news, prophecy and God’s kingdom to come.

Problem was, there was NO emphasis about salvation in Jesus Christ.

Scripture they used to support the doctrines found in their publications were (TYPICAL OF A CULT) used out of context – and can be clearly discerned and recognized once you DO know the truth that reveals the errant false teachings!  Sin and scandals were common among members including leadership as well as the founder which demonstrated to me that their moral benchmark for godly living was skewed by legalism – NOT having the Holy Spirit moving through TRULY converted people demonstrating the power of the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ.

Their basis for conversion was the required reading of two NON biblical books written by the founder and then water baptism.  Keeping the Torah’s dietary laws and paying first, second and third tithes filled the cult’s vaults and fueled the propagation of their doctrine worldwide as well as funding a luxurious lifestyle for the founder.  The pastors, deacons and so-called evangelists, did NOT reach people with the “true love of God” but infused control and manipulation that came from the very top – the founder.

The works-based righteousness that I and others tried to walk-in produced the fruit of SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS and a pious, pride-filled life.  Looking back at the fruit of people’s lives, it was clear that the Spirit-filled life of love, joy, peace, patience – etc… was null or void of the fruit that IS evident in a converted person demonstrating the love for God and others.

Falling away or leaving the cult equaled a one-way ticket to the eternal lake of fire.  Powerful, manipulative preaching kept (me) the followers/members in fear and awe that their teaching was OF GOD and somehow anointed.  Once you were a member, you were ensured of salvation within the chosen group of God’s elect, or FACE THE LAKE OF FIRE!!

The real kicker is… their version of the Gospel was what they call the “Good News” – the kingdom of God during the 1000 year millennium to come and that we would all be small gods occupying our own planets – kind of like what the Mormons believe.  Yes, the kingdom of God will be an awesome time, but the cult’s primary focus and doctrine of the kingdom is front and center OVER and above the gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior first… AND His kingdom to come!

Truth is, I don’t remember hearing TRUE solid and sound evangelism about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that would be centered on His redemptive work and the gift of salvation and eternal life through Him!

I left the cult in 1983 after suffering serious emotional and mental anguish about whether I should continue to live under that cults heavy hand or leave since my heart was no longer in remaining as a member.  Fact is I WAS FED UP, and even though I felt that I was condemned at the same time for leaving, I left out of feeling a need to save and salvage my sanity!

Before leaving though, I asked for counseling with my (cult) pastor, who then proceeded to bash me loudly and harshly about being emotional and showed zero compassion and love.  That was all I needed to make my final beeline for the exit door out of that cult once and for all in 1983.

However, my mother went along with it all those years from 1964 until she was fed up and then divorced my father in 1988.  Six years later, in 1994, my father committed suicide due to a complete breakdown from guilt and failure of losing a marriage, and felt like he failed his children, including feeling he was a failure in that cult as a deacon.  His death was extremely heart-breaking to us all… however we felt compassion on our dear dad who was caught in the destructive teachings of a cult.

I don’t remember any of us (my siblings and myself) condemning our father for our childhood… that’s because we know our dad did the best that he thought he could.

My brothers and sister came out of it shortly after I did.  I guess you could say I paved the way to coming out of the cult after many lost years under mind control and manipulation.  My mother drank herself to death in 2009.  My younger sister is not a believer, my younger brother moves all around the country as a vagabond, and my other brother who was a year and half younger is now gone; he died in 2006 from cancer.

I pray for my two remaining siblings that the Lord would reveal to them His Gospel having mercy and grace on them as He did with me.

Several years later, the Lord brought the gospel to me through coworkers and others in the public (thank God for people not afraid to share Christ), yet I vowed never to listen to any man again, but wanted to hear from GOD and GOD only what the truth was.  In August of 1996, I was searching for something to listen to on the radio and heard a man preaching and can’t remember who it was since it was a Christian station with many different teachers and ministers.  I broke my vow to not listen to any man and knew that I just had to keep listening to a new message (the gospel) that spoke to my heart.

Little did I know it was the Holy Spirit drawing me to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Gospel, our salvation and the forgiveness of sins that weighed so heavy on me!

After strong conviction from the Holy Spirit regarding my past and present sins, I received Jesus Christ as my Savior and experienced the NEW BIRTH, and started reading the New Testament learning about OUR SAVIOR, about faith, mercy, grace, redemption, sanctification, justification, fruit of the Spirit, love fulfilling the law, Christian living, eternal life to come, Revelation and the Kingdom of God, the message of the Old Testament and the Messianic line along with prophecies of Jesus and so much more!

Now fast forward to the present at 51 years old…

I praise God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for His glorious love, mercy and grace upon those of us who receive Him and his Word by faith, revealing the wonderful promises to come – from everlasting to everlasting!

Unfortunately, there are several men online that have persevered [known as ‘splinter groups’ – info available at link provided above] and are pitching the teachings of the cult I grew up in.  THEY ARE MISSING the mark big time leading people into bondage.

As the days are growing more troublesome globally, the Lord has laid it on my heart to reach the lost with the (TRUE) message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I thank God for the TRUE warriors in the faith that are battling against and exposing the lies of false prophets and teachers that are everywhere.

Even though I would love to battle solely against cults and false teaching, I can do MORE damage against the evil one and false teaching by SOLELY focusing on preaching the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ which the evil one hates more than anything!

If you are reading this testimony about my life in a Hebrew Roots/Messianic-type cult and don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior… repent and turn to Him, calling out to Him in His name “LORD and Savior Jesus Christ” and believe that He died for our (your) sins, was buried and rose from the dead three days later.

If you’d like someone to pray with you about receiving Jesus Christ, contact the author of this site, or feel free to comment on this testimony.

After receiving Jesus Christ by faith, you will receive the gift and promise of the Holy Spirit and He will reveal to you the truth in His Holy Scriptures about the Godhead – who our Father in heaven is, who His Son Jesus Christ is, who the Holy Spirit is and MORE.  Read the New Testament books to learn about Jesus Christ… the gospel of John is a great place to start and read the other gospel books about Jesus.  Read the rest of the New Testament to understand the wonderful truths of Him and His Word.

I believe the Old Testament is best understood after you receive Christ as your Savior where you will become a new creation in Christ through the regeneration power of the Holy Spirit that will open up your spiritual eyes of understanding for His Word and the entire biblical message of God’s salvation plan for humanity.

Thank you Lord GOD of heaven and earth for this website and your glorious Truth and promises.

Love in Christ our Lord,

Mark Smith
markbsmith7@yahoo.com

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Other Testimonies at JGIG:

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Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  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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The Spring Feasts of God – Crumbs in Your Peanut Butter

Last year around this time I read a comment on a Law-keeping forum about preparing for the Spring Feasts.  Regarding getting the leaven out opeanut-butterf their homes, it seems that in addition to removing obvious leaven from the home (yeast, baking powder, baking soda, all fermenting/leavening agents along with all leavened breads and any food products containing leaven including frozen and canned products, condiments, etc.), it’s also important to get rid of any peanut butter and jelly, as crumbs from leavened bread can get transferred into the containers by one’s knife. Another person posted how they should probably get rid of their mayo, too, ‘just in case’.

One does have to wonder, in case WHAT?!

What great calamity will happen to the one in Christ if there are crumbs in their mayonnaise jar during the Spring Feasts? Leaven is a symbol of sin, not sin itself.  Even then, after the work of Christ, this is what God has to say:

2 Corinthians 5:17-19
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: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

In Christ, this is how we are to celebrate, understanding that >> we << can never get every speck of leaven (representing sin) out of our lives:

1 Corinthians 5:6-8
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeastas you really are.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival,  not with the old yeast,  the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

Folks, this season of remembrance is not about >> US << getting sin (leaven) out of our lives and going through the object lesson that Israel did every year, it’s about
>>> JESUS <<< and how HE has already CLEANSED those in Christ from our sins and about remembering, in the bread and the wine, HIM and what HE has already DONE.

We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! (2 Cor. 5:21) We are not to dwell on sin, we are to dwell on the Gift of Righteousness we have in Christ:

Romans 5:17
17For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

righteous11

If you want to do the object lessons of the Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits to learn how God designed His Law and its shadows to perfectly point to Christ, that’s fine. But to attempt to observe the Old Covenant,  as those without Christ did – year after year – after Christ has already fulfilled those shadows and commanded us to remember HIS Body – broken for us – and HIS Blood – shed for us – in the bread and the wine . . .

Let me put it this way:

God does not care about the crumbs in your peanut butter, jelly or mayo jars.  He just doesn’t.  He cares about the condition of your heart and whether or not you are in Christ:

1 John 3:23-24
23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24The one who keeps God’s commands lives 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.

The Law ‘keeper’ is constantly working to get the leaven (sin) out, by observing this day or avoiding that food or wearing fringes on their clothes, when Jesus said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6, reiterated in 1 John 3 above) and then went on to state how HE is the Bread from heaven, and HE is the Living Water.  Jesus then goes about systematically replacing elements found in the Old Testament and the Law with HIMSELF.  Many left Him after that (John 6:66).

We are to partake in HIM.  Remember HIM.  We are not to strive as those without Christ did by observing ritual and regulation in Feast observances, but to remember what Christ HAS ALREADY DONE!  “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me . . . This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood, poured out for you.” (From Luke 22)

Romans 7:4-6
4So, my brothers and sisters, 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 for God.  5For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.  6But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

2 Corinthians 3:4-6
4Such confidence we have through Christ before God.  5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  6He 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.

calvin-hobbes-spirit-of-the-law

I’ve heard it said that as soon as a law is given, mankind starts looking for loopholes.  In Christ, we don’t have to look for loopholes, because we are not under law.  We can walk in the newness of the life that we have in Christ (Romans 6:4), led by the Spirit He gave us (Ephesians 1, Galatians 5), walking not in Law and bearing its fruit (sin, death, fruit unto death Romans 7:5, 7-8, 9-11), but walking in His Spirit, bearing His Fruit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control Galatians 5).

We often hear from those in Law-keeping camps, “Choose ye this day Whom you will serve!” and “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (YHWH)!” (Joshua 24:15)

In the New Covenant, walking in His Spirit is the way to serve God.  Those in Christ are led by His Spirit; we are no longer under Law.  In a very practical sense, that means that we can spend more time actively loving others and sharing the Grace of God in the Gospel with them instead of spending time inspecting our peanut butter jars.

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Other articles of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is some wisdom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is a ‘Jesus +’ equation.

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:1-10
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the text in Hebrews 10:

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

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

These questions arise:

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

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

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

God’s Law is clear.

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

Jesus took the penalty for sin, you say?

Right!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No!

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

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

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

This question was recently asked on a forum:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking at the balance of Hebrews 10:

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

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

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

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

38 But my righteous one will live by faith.

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

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

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

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

What are ‘these’? Go back to vs. 17:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:19-22

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

1 Peter 2:4-5

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

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

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

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

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

That is a FALSE teaching.

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

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

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

metanoeō (repent)

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

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

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

and:

metamelomai (repent)

1) it is a care to one afterwards

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

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

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

metanoeō (repent)

From μετά (G3326) and νοέω (G3539):

Strong’s G3326 – meta

1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3539 – noeō

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

2) to think upon, heed, ponder, consider

and

metamelomai (repent)

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

Strong’s G3326 – meta

1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3199 – melei

1) to care about

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At that point the Bible says this happens:

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

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

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

Then what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Law stirs up sin:

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

Law produces death:

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

Law produces fruit unto death:

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

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

Grace teaches us godliness:

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

The Spirit produces life:

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

The Spirit produces the Fruits of the Spirit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay God!   \o/

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

What does God say to those who are in Christ?

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

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

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Resources for further study:

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Other articles of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Temple is Christ and His Body:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the sacrifices are now living ones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Law keeping community is a walking contradiction, people.

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

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

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

How do we uphold the Law?

By using it properly:

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

Who are you in Christ?

What does Romans 3 say?

Who does Timothy say that the Law is for?

Can we learn from the Law?

Yes.

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

No.

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

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

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

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

Love goes where Law cannot.

-JGIG

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

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Other articles of interest:

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Testimony: “Graceful Grandma’s” Story

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

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

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

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG


Graceful Grandma’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again, Graceful Grandma, for your testimony!

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Being a Galatian

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

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

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG

 

Being a Galatian

by “GirlLuvs2Read”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanks again to “GirlLuvs2Read” for the above contribution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repentance unto salvation IS a one time deal, temu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many trespasses?

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

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

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

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

If you are in Christ, you ARE forgiven !

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

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

Originally Posted by JGIG
The question was asked,

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

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

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

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

Yes!

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

Yes!

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

Yes!

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

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

No!

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

metanoeō (repent)
1) to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent
2) to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins

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

and:

metamelomai (repent)
1) it is a care to one afterwards
a) it repents one, to repent one’s self

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

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

metanoeō (repent)
From μετά (G3326) and νοέω (G3539):
Strong’s G3326 – meta

1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3539 – noeō

1) to perceive with the mind, to understand, to have understanding
2) to think upon, heed, ponder, consider

and

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

Strong’s G3326 – meta
1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3199 – melei
1) to care about

(Source)

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

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

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

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

No. 1:

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

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

a) (Niphal)

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

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

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

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

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

a) (Qal)

1) to turn back, return

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

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

g) of inanimate things
h) in repetition

b) (Polel)

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

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

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

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

No. 3, with roots:

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

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

a) inner part, midst

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

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

Strong’s H3823 – labab, A primitive root

1) to ravish, become intelligent, get a mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the things that is really important to be aware of regarding this and other heretical movements is that they engage in the re-definition of terms. Once that is accomplished, those re-defined terms become fields in which seeds of questionable doctrine can be cultivated.

At HRM websites and in HRM teaching materials a consistent technique is employed to bring the reader to where the writer wishes them to go, and I can’t stress this enough:

Faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are constructed, then those same faulty definitions, examples, analogies and reasonings are built upon as FACT to take the reader to the next doctrinal place the writer wishes the reader to go.

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

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

1) a recurrence, an answer, return

a) return

1) completion of a year, return of a year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Testament Believers and New Testament Christians

It’s a meaty read. Enjoy!

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

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

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

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

If you are in Christ, you ARE forgiven !

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

-JGIG

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Tzit Tzit For the Believer In Christ?

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

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

Why the wearing of tzit tzit was commanded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Scripture also comes to mind:

1 Timothy 1:3-11
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.  Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.  5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.  7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Other articles of interest:

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12 Undeniable Truths That Drive Law ‘Keepers’ Crazy

Having debated with those in Law-keeping sects for the last couple of  years, the following are some truths that I’ve found to be of particular frustration and annoyance to them as they try to convince me that those in Christ are mandated to ‘keep’ Torah (updated 10/01/14 to include additional links and Scriptures):

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

Those in Law-keeping sects, especially those who hold to a Two-House or Lost Tribes theology will tell you that the New (or ‘Renewed’, as they like to say) Covenant was only made with the houses of Israel.  This is true!  And it’s a mystery solved how God brought Gentiles into relationship with Him (promised to all mankind after the Fall) through the New Covenant . . .

Let’s look at what the Scriptures say the mystery of the Gospel is:

Ephesians 3:1-6
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

The mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers in the promise in Christ through the Gospel. We can see why defining just who Gentiles are AND what the Gospel is becomes important . . .

Now consider this passage:

Galatians 3:26-29
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

The Scriptures say that the mystery is that Gentiles, by faith, partake in the promises of God, and are sons – heirs in Christ. There is no distinction in ethnicity, but all partake in the promise by faith in Christ. This is a core issue in the Gospel. It levels the ground at the Cross not only in relation to sin but also in relation to ethnicity. Let’s look at it again, changing the order of the following verses for clarity:

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

(For more on the Two House/Lost Tribes doctrine, see Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement – An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more on this topic:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bible says that Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe (Romans 10:4).  That indicates a change in relationship to the Law for the believer.   See the following articles to explore more about the relationship of the believer in Christ to the Law:

We also see that Jesus is eternal (Alpha and the Omega, or the Aleph and the Tav, for our HRM friends), Torah is not.

1 Peter 1:22-23
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Where else do we see the term ‘incorruptible’?

Romans 1:20-23
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.  23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

We see that we are ‘born again by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever’ and it is clear from the Greek that it is the logos of God, Christ, Who is being spoken of, not the nomos, the Torah of God.  And Christ is described as incorruptible seed, clearly a reference to his God-hood.

Most MJ/HRMers will agree that Torah cannot save, but have this huge blind spot when they claim that ‘Yeshua is the Living Torah’, because Yeshua undeniably DOES save!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My last post to you!

R~

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 7:19
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

truth like a lion

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

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

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Other articles of interest:

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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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Is Law Really Law Without Enforcement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That conclusion, however, takes leaps over information about events that had not yet happened (the Cross, Resurrection and Ascension, implementing the New Covenant in Christ) and inspired Scriptures written to the Body of Christ which did not yet exist.  (Please see “The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended” for the complete post, which explores whether or not believers are indeed still under the Law.)

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

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

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

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

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

Galatians 3:10
10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting question.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With law there is authority and enforcement.

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

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

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

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

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

Under the Old Covenant, certain laws applied to certain people (encompassing all Israelites, then sub-groups such as male, female, priests, for example).

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

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

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

The hook is in. 

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

And What if You Don’t?
Most Law Keepers say that keeping the Law is not required for salvation and that we should keep the Law because we love God and want to please Him, that obeying the Law is a matter of doing, not merely believing. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the New Covenant did bring new life, not just a ‘renewed’ covenantal system.  All throughout the Gospels Jesus Christ repeatedly demonstrated and administered grace and mercy, love and forgiveness, even life itself, with His authority as God in the flesh as He walked amongst mankind before the work of the Cross.  Jesus spoke in parables to shake loose those Hebraic minds from the confines of the Law of Moses and the Old Covenant. He never denied the foundation nor the purpose of the Law – He was fulfilling it.

John 15:9-17
9″As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it any wonder that Jesus exhorted us to therefore:

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

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

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

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

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

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

8First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made).

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

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

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

17Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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