• 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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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.

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

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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Pierre’s Story

It is with a grateful heart that I’ve received another testimony.  This one comes from a brother I became acquainted with on the JGIG Facebook page who I now count as a friend and a brother.  He’s been such a blessing there, contending for the simple Truths of the Gospel with the liberty he now enjoys by Grace through faith in Christ with a direct and unassuming style.  Many thanks to Pierre 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.

Testimony2

Pierre’s Story

Introduction:
I was born and raised in the city of Nassau, on the island of New Providence, in the country of the Bahamas.  I grew up in a small close knit family with my mother and her side of the family.  I am an only child, and was first introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ through the Baptist denomination.  This was the beginning of my experience with Christianity and learning about the LORD God and His written word known as the Bible.

My Experience with the Baptists:
One of the things that I remember about the Baptist is that I was told the first half of the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The complete and total forgiveness of all sins for all time through the one time death of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This I understood, but I did not really believe, because every time that I sinned, I would ask God for forgiveness, as if the one time death of the Lord Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago did not finish the problem of sin between God and man.

The focus with the Baptists was baptizing people with water.  There was not much preaching or teaching about being baptized with the Holy Spirit by the Lord Jesus Christ; which is an everlasting, eternal life that a saved person could never lose because the Lord Jesus Christ died once for all sins for all time.  There is no more sacrifice for sins.

My Experience with the Evangelical Pentecostal Word of Faith Movement:
After a while I wanted to be blessed more in my flesh by God, and with the majority of Christian networks and programs on television being from the WOFM I was very attracted to their prosperity gospel, of if you do this then God will do that.  This worked for a while, kind of like motivational speaking encourages people to do things.

Soon I realized that this was not working for me personally either.  I still felt empty, and was getting a little angry with God wondering how much longer I would have to wait until I received my “blessing” in the flesh.

The pastors would keep saying that this year would be your year for increase, but it never really turned out as I had expected.  It was never exceeding, abundantly, above all that I could imagine or think.  The WOFM preached and taught about being blessed in your flesh with good health, lot’s of money, etc.  They focused on giving and paying tithes and offerings, and that everyone who is saved should be speaking in tongues.

But I don’t remember ever hearing about being blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus our Lord, or giving alms to the poor, or bearing the Fruit of the Spirit.  The first half of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness was preached and taught, but again, the second half of the Gospel was hardly ever preached or taught – that of salvation – being baptized with the Holy Ghost by the Lord Jesus Christ.

I continued on my journey of life.

My Experience with the Hebrew Roots Movement via Messianic Judaism:
I decided after reading in the Bible that there was a special blessing promised by God to the children of Israel if they kept the seventh day Sabbath, so I decided to “keep” the Sabbath.  I felt I needed to study about this, and the Jews where the main set of people that knew about “keeping” the seventh day Sabbath.  But I needed to associate with Jews who believed that Jesus is Messiah.

I watched a number of programs on TV and I contacted one ministry in Florida, U.S.A.  I was learning a lot about Hebrew, Israel, and Judaism.

Then after seven years I started to realize that the Law was only stirring up sin in my life.

I also realized that the customs and traditions of the Pharisees were being subtly taught in these Messianic synagogues.  When I realized this I rejected it, and was only trying to keep God’s Old Covenant instructions.

But that was not working either.  My life got much worse; I lost opportunities, and was distant from my close family and friends.  I felt like I was being cursed not blessed.

I studied Deuteronomy 28 and the word ‘all’ stood out to me.  I realized that God required me to do all of His commandments through out my entire life in order to be blessed like He promised.

Well I could not do this; it was impossible.

Messianic Judaism’s focus was to reach out to Jewish people, but more Gentiles were getting involved than Jews.  They taught the first half of the Gospel, but not much was taught on the second half of the Gospel.  I learned a lot about the Hebrew language, it’s culture, and customs, etc. though, and I really appreciated that because it helped me to grow.  But I could no longer continue with this lifestyle and so I moved on.

My Experience with the Seventh-Day Adventist:
I have family that are SDA and when I decided to “keep” Sabbath I decided to associate with them.  We had this in common, so if not why not.  I was involved with the SDA for six of the seven years that I was involved with MJ.  It was great at first, I was a greeter, and eventually became a Sabbath School teacher for the young adult collegiate class.

I never agreed with the writings of Ellen G. White, and when we where doing a quarterly study on the letter of Romans written by the apostle Paul, I understood what he was saying.  It took all this failure and disappointment to realize and understand his point of view.  This happened in my last year in the SDA.

I handed in my letter of resignation and left, praying that my family would understand and believe the truth. The SDA’s focus is on “keeping” the seventh-day Sabbath, “keeping” the dietary laws (what they call the health message), “keeping” the ten commandments, as if God only has ten commandments – wrong!  They also strongly encouraged the study of the writings of Ellen G. White; which are commentary on the Bible, as if the Holy Spirit was not good enough to teach us all things, and the writings of the Apostles Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, etc., where not enough.

While I was involved with the SDA I became very angry and attacked people who disagreed with me.  This was not good at all. I ran away from the SDA denomination as fast as I could, never looking back.  And the main reasons where because they actually believed that a saved person could lose their salvation, as if the death of the Lord Jesus Christ meant nothing, it was unholy, and not good enough to resolve the problem of sin once and for all.  I will never believe this lie that they believe, ergo my departure.

My Experience with God’s New Covenant:
I did a Google search for ex-Messianic Judaism and the first thing that drew my attention was a website called Joyfully Growing In Grace.  I started devouring all the written material, and felt like I was home among people who understood what I had gone though as well as the type of belief that I needed.  In one of the articles I discovered a link to Living God Ministries with a Jewish believer in the Lord Jesus by the name of Aaron Budjen.  This is where I first heard both halves of the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ:-

  1. Forgiveness, and
  2. Salvation

I understood the difference between God’s Old Covenant or first testament, and His New Covenant or second testament.  I was no longer interested in trying to “keep” all of God’s Old Covenant instructions, I was only interested in believing, trusting, resting, and abiding in Abba ! Father’s ! New Covenant.

I also found out that Aaron Budjen had heard the Gospel from a man by the name of Bob George, who wrote a book called Classic Christianity – Life’s too Short to Miss the Real Thing.  God’s New Covenant is a better covenant based on better promises.  The only Person Who ever kept all of God’s Old Covenant instructions was God Himself; the Lord Jesus Christ.

No one else has or ever will.

Even those people like John the Baptists parents, etc. who appear to have kept all of God’s old covenant instructions eventually failed by committing the sin of unbelief, specifically referring to their unbelief of the message sent by God through the angel Gabriel as it is written in Luke 1:18-20 –

Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain ? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” 

The only commandment(s) that I am interested in are written in 1 John 3:23-24 , John 3:14-18, 6:28-29, 13:34-35, 15:12.

Conclusion:
I would just like to encourage each and everyone of you who reads my testimony to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect finished work of forgiveness and salvation.  And for you to grow in the loving-kindness and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ to maturity or full age, as our heavenly Father is perfect.  Abba ! Father ! bless you.

Faithfully,
Pierre

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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 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.

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Other articles of interest:

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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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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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Testimony – thatonechick’s Story

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

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

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

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG

 

thatonechick’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think this obsession overwhelms and consumes some people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I felt fallen from grace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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See also:

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Testimony – Serioussly S’african’s Story

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

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

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG

  

Howzit from Sunny, Beautiful South Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing new under the sun.

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

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

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

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

Kind regards
Serioussly S’african

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

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See also:

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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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