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

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

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Cherie’s Story of Growing in Grace

Testimony 4

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

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

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

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Cherie’s Story of Growing in Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are only counted worthy and righteous by HIM ALONE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless each and every one of you !

In Christ, and all for His glory,

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

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

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

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Other articles of interest:

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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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From 8thDay4Life: My New Sabbath

Used by permission from 8thDay4Life.  You can read 8thDay’s blog HERE.  Highly recommended!

My New Sabbath
By 8thday4life

This Saturday morning, as we were rushing out of the house earlier than we ever did to attend church on Sabbath (Saturday) morning, I realized how much joy I would be missing if I were still there – or if I was lying around in my P.J.’s till 2 p.m. like we did in the Hebrew Roots Movement.  We had Sabbath-keeping down to a science – just as the Israelites were told to stay in their tents and not cook, we managed to follow those guidelines pretty well.  We really did REST, and only met for fellowship in the evening.  We were pretty righteous.

Today, I can’t tell you what we did, because then I’d lose my reward, but I have to say, nothing in life has given me more joy than what I am doing now, nor have I ever seen God move in more amazing ways.  We are back to meeting on Saturday evenings like we used to, with our present ministry fellowship group, after a long day of …. work.  God provided more today for what we do, than we have room to even store, or time to sort. In one day!  What a waste it was to sit around and pride ourselves on how right we were.  This was not the obedience God desired, or blessed.  We were left spiritually dying, in agony – cold, hard, without compassion.  Now we are like trees planted by the water and He is with us and sustaining us.  People can argue all day in words about what obedience is, what God wants from us, and how wrong Christians are for not observing the Torah as given to Moses.  But I have walked in Torah, and I have walked with Jesus, and there is such a big difference, words become pointless.  It’s like having had McDonalds all your life, then being invited to a steak dinner.  Some people are addicted to the junk and don’t want the steak.  But I say… pass me the garlic butter and a knife.  I’m too busy to even proof read this so my apologies.  Praying for more time to share.

Is Law Really Law Without Enforcement?

In discussions with those in Law keeping sects, there is one question that has kept coming up for me:  How can Law be law without enforcement?  You can’t have Law without enforcement. You can’t have enforcement without punishment. Those components go hand in hand.  All this talk about ‘keeping’ the Law . . . where are the Law ‘keepers’ who are keeping up the enforcement/punishment aspects of the Law?  Why are we not hearing about stonings and puttings out of the camp from these people?  Is law really law without enforcement? 

Let me be clear that I’m not talking about people who like to celebrate the Feasts, have found keeping a seventh-day Sabbath to be a blessing, or eat Biblically because they feel it’s healthier to do so.  I’m talking about those who believe and teach that observing Mosaic Covenant Law is mandatory for all believers, and once you become aware of that, if you don’t obey, you are in willful disobedience to God and at the very least will be the ‘least in the Kingdom’ and at worst will be utterly cast out.

“Oh, enforcement is not an issue because we ‘do’ the Law out of our love for God and want to honor Him”, the Law ‘keepers’ will say, as they commit their lives to Torah pursuance.  In reality, those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism streams of thought  pick and choose which laws they follow.  They call this practice being ‘Torah pursuant’ – doing what they can as they feel ‘led’.  Some even claim they are like Israel in exile and so do only what they can, as the Temple and Priesthood are not presently in effect.

So God has given a Law that is still to be followed – jot and tittle – just not the parts that punish?  Those who ‘keep’ the Law base most of their doctrine that believers in Christ are to keep Mosaic Covenant Law on the Matthew 5:17-20 passage that says:

Matthew 5:17-20
17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

As I wrote in the previous post, taking that passage in isolation, one could make a case for the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law for believers, because, as anyone in a Law keeping sect worth their salt will tell you, you can plainly see that the earth is still here, isn’t it?  And looking around Shifty, you would have to agree, that yes indeed, the earth has not disappeared.  Well that settles it then!  The Law is for believers today!  And to be called great in the kingdom of heaven, you must teach these commands to others. 

That conclusion, however, takes leaps over information about events that had not yet happened (the Cross, Resurrection and Ascension, implementing the New Covenant in Christ) and inspired Scriptures written to the Body of Christ which did not yet exist.  (Please see “The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended” for the complete post, which explores whether or not believers are indeed still under the Law.)

So, according to those in Law keeping sects, the Law (jot and tittle) MUST be followed – EXCEPT for the part that makes it potent – but that’s because it was just the curse of the Law that was nailed to the Cross . . . no wait . . . that was just the oral traditions of men that was nailed . . . no . . . it had to be the curses, didn’t it?  But aren’t the curses/punishment part of the jots and tittles . . . oh wait . . . what to do with those since the jots and tittles are still there . . . Law is still to be followed . . . jots and tittles because, well, the Earth IS still here, maybe all except for the curse jot and tittles is to be kept . . . . maybe that part of the Law doesn’t have jots and tittles . . . .Unsure??

‘Round and ’round the alleged reasoning goes, but all of the arguments supporting Law ‘keeping’ cannot be argued at the same time or the really huge inconsistencies start showing themselves.

Impotent Law ‘Keeping’
The ‘Law’ that those in Law keeping sects ‘keep’ is impotent. It is not at all THE Law as it was given to Moses.  And those who mandate the keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law insult both the Law which after the Cross leads us to Christ, and the Blood of Christ, which frees us from sin.

One of the Law keepers’  main points of persuasion is to tell us over and over again that “God does not change – and neither does His Law!”, yet they totally toss the penalty portion of the Law as they attempt to ‘keep’ the Law.

To follow that way of thinking not only cheapens the Law and the Holiness of God, but also devalues the amazing Grace that God extends to us in the Gospel.

Galatians 3:10
10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

God does not require pursuance of the Law – He requires complete obedience to the whole Law. If it were only pursuance that He required, Jesus would not have needed to come and do the work of the Cross, would He?  The Scriptures are full of accounts of pursuance of and failure to keep the Law.  And, if I may point out the obvious – there is no longer a Temple or Priesthood.  Some really important parts of the Law are to be carried out by the Priests in the Temple.  Why do you think that God has ordained that those things no longer exist?

Consequenses:  Old Covenant vs. New Covenant
Is Law Keeping required of believers in Messiah or not?  Clearly there are plenty of instructions in the New Testament to the Body of Christ as to how God expects her to behave, but is she instructed to keep the regulations, edicts, and ceremonial aspects of God’s Law given through Moses?  If so, where is that instruction to the Body of Christ, and who’s enforcing the consequences if those laws are violated? 

Where is the evidence in the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ for the structure and authority to deal with disobedience to the Law?  There must be documentation of those being held to account for disobeying the Law if first century believers were subject to the Law, mustn’t there?  Even if, as those who are Torah pursuant will assert, first century believers saw Law keeping as the norm, are we to believe that there was 100% compliance and that enforcement/consequenses for disobeying the Law was not an issue and therefore not documented?

I can’t think of any leadership structure in place in the fledgling Church that dealt with such disobedience.  I can’t think of one stoning documented (carried out by the Body of Christ). Yet Old Covenant Law is clear in the penalties for various sinful acts:

Leviticus 20:11
11If a man sleeps with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Under the New Covenant? Let’s look at 1 Corithians 5:

1 Corithians 5:1-13
1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 6hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

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

9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

Death under the Law (Old Covenant). Expulsion under Grace (New Covenant). For the same transgression. Clearly there is a difference in the administration of discipline (consequence) for one’s actions under the New Covenant. 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

The fine line between having good judgement and judging. God, in His grace and mercy for the Body of Christ, does not require her to carry out the punishment for transgression – He instructs her to separate evil from the Body and then HE will deal with it. And in His grace and mercy He leads the willing heart back into the Body.

“But Yeshua nailed the penalty of the Law to the Cross, not the Law itself!” is another assertion I hear from Law keepers, typically followed by “YHWH is patient with us as we learn His ways” or something similar. Yet I find no contextual Scriptures to support such statements.  They just aren’t there.  Read carefully and in context any Scriptures that they give you to try to convince you of the above.

What about another type of transgression, such as not keeping a seventh day Sabbath? The issue is not one of morality if one worships on the first day vs. the seventh day vs. any other day; it’s an edict:

Exodus 35:1-3
1Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: 2For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. 3Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

Wow. That’s pretty clear. No pursuance there. It’s ‘DO AS INSTRUCTED or DIE.’

And there are more regulations, edicts, Sabbaths, Feasts, and New Moons from the Old Covenant Scriptures, none of which are reinforced in the New Covenant Scriptures, nor are there any instances of discipline for those in the Body of Christ who did not abide by such things, either by the putting out of fellowship or by punishments as carried out under the Old Covenant. In fact, Romans 14 deals with such issues in depth regarding how those with differences in conscience about such things should live in deference to each other.  If obedience to Old Covenant Law were considered the norm in the early Church, the letter to the Romans would have a considerably different flavor!

Only two ceremonial edicts – Baptism and the remembrance of the beginning of the New Covenant (what is typically known as ‘The Lord’s Supper’ or ‘Communion’) are commanded to the Body of Christ.  The rest of the instructions to the Body of Christ are matters of morality, service to others, and issues of character and of the heart.

What does Scripture say the purpose/function of the Law is now that Christ has come?

Galatians 3:23-25
23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

Those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism camp, however, insist that the regulations and edicts of the Laws given at Sinai are applicable to the Body of Christ today – that those are the things that set us apart from the world and identify us as God’s own.  Again, I come to the question that if that’s really the case, then where is the authority structure in the Body of Christ detailed in the New Testament to deal with disobedience?

If you, as a believer dare to ask such questions and hold to the belief that we as believers are under the New Covenant, well, look out! You will all of a sudden be labled an Antinomian and a practitioner of all manners of the worst sins the Law ‘keeper’ can think of. Funny how those who strive under the Law automatically assign some of the more vile sins to those of us who don’t keep the edicts and regulations of the Law. Don’t get me wrong, sin is sin, but let’s face it – lying about your age doesn’t carry the social stigma that murder or sexual sin does. Yet those ‘bad’ sins are the behaviors that Law ‘keepers’ seek to tack on to us ‘Law-less’ Christians.

Here’s another angle that Law ‘keepers’ will come with:  That Christians have faith in grace and base their behavior on that belief.  That it is grace that we rely on, and that our actions are Law-less because we believe that grace will cover us, no matter what we do.

To set the record straight – Believers in Christ have faith in Jesus Christ, not in grace. HE is our Rock. HE is our Redeemer. HE is our Righteousness. His Holy Spirit indwells us and as imperfect as we are this side of eternity, we, with His Holy Spirit, are able to walk in love for God and love for others. Does God require that we walk in Torah to show Him that we love Him? No.  He requires that we love others as He loves them (The Law of Christ) . THAT is how we demonstrate that we love Him . . . not by keeping this Feast or that edict or Feast Days.  The Law was/is a tool to point mankind TO CHRIST, not as an instruction book to walk IN CHRIST.

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

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

A plain reading through the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ will clearly reveal that as believers, we are not permitted to go ’round sinning willy nilly and doing whatever we want.  The heart given to Christ will not want to do that!

What does the Law ‘Require’?
An interesting set of questions crossed my path a while back from a Law ‘keeper’ regarding the motivation(s) for keeping the Law. Let me just focus on two of those questions here.

The Law ‘keeper’ in the discourse said that the word ‘required’ used by someone like me (who challenges them about the Body of Christ being required to ‘keep’ the Law) implies that one be motivated by an ‘or else’.  They asked, “So what’s the motivation, and what’s the ‘or else’?” 

Interesting question.  

Thanks, by the way, as you are the one who set me on this whole course of inquiry.   Another person in the discourse said, “my Webster’s Dictionary didn’t say anything about ‘motivation’ in the definition of ‘required’.”

So I did some looking up of my own.  I find word studies to be tedious, but find value in them nonetheless, so bear with me.  Here’s what I found:

Required:
transitive verb
1 a: to claim or ask for by right and authority barchaic : request
2 a: to call for as suitable or appropriate <the occasion requires formal dress> b: to demand as necessary or essential : have a compelling need for <all living beings require food>
3: to impose a compulsion or command on : compel
4chiefly British : to feel or be obliged

Required is a pretty strong word, but it is not what God says. He didn’t give us requirements, He gave us Commandments.  Note the progression:

Commandment:
1. A command; an edict.
2. Bible One of the Ten Commandments.

Edict:
1. A decree or proclamation issued by an authority and having the force of law.
2. A formal pronouncement or command.

God’s Law is not just required, it’s commanded, decreed, issued by an Authority and having the force of law.

Law:
1 a (1): a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (2): the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules (3): common law

b (1): the control brought about by the existence or enforcement of such law (2): the action of laws considered as a means of redressing wrongs ; also : litigation (3): the agency of or an agent of established law c: a rule or order that it is advisable or obligatory to observe d: something compatible with or enforceable by established law e: control , authority

2 often capitalized : the revelation of the will of God set forth in the Old Testament capitalized : the first part of the Jewish scriptures : pentateuch , torah — see bible table

With law there is authority and enforcement.

Enforce:
1. To compel observance of or obedience to: enforce a law.
2. To impose (a kind of behavior, for example): enforce military discipline.
3. To give force to; reinforce: “enforces its plea with a description of the pains of hell” Albert C. Baugh.

Compel:
1. To force, drive, or constrain:
2. To necessitate or pressure by force; exact: . See Synonyms at force.
3. To exert a strong, irresistible force on; sway:

Impose:
1. To establish or apply as compulsory; levy: impose a tax.
2. To apply or make prevail by or as if by authority: impose a peace settlement. See Synonyms at dictate.
3. To obtrude or force (oneself, for example) on another or others.

Dictate:
a. To prescribe with authority; impose: dictated the rules of the game.
b. To control or command

Optional does not seem to be a part of any of the above, does it?  So there we have the answer to the motivation for those under the Law to keep the Law.  It falls under ‘because God said so’!  What about the ‘or else’?

Under the Old Covenant, certain laws applied to certain people (encompassing all Israelites, then sub-groups such as male, female, priests, for example).

These laws were not optional.  Of the laws that applied to you, you had to do ALL of them. To not do them required atoning sacrifice or was punishable by expulsion from the community of Israel or by death, each offense punishable as was called for in the Law.  Then there were all the purification laws.  Even if, as Law ‘keepers’ assert, Jesus nailed only the curse of the Law (spiritual separation from God) to the Cross, do not those who break the Law still deserve death for certain offenses (since we’re all going to die anyway, should the Lord tarry) if that is the punishment that is called for under the Law?  Jots and tittles . . .

But Isn’t it Right to Keep The Law?
The next question the Law ‘keeper’ asked was, “Where do we find God’s laws and is it right to do any of them?”   How does one answer that question, phrased as it is, without obligating one’s self to the keeping of the Law?  Reminds me of the Catch-22 question, “Have you quit beating your wife yet?”  Sometimes it is not the answer which is incorrect, but the question.

Their question, in the Law-keeping context, was designed to point one to the the Covenant given at Sinai, not to point one to the Covenant forged in the Blood of Christ.  And one not suspecting where they’re being steered would answer, “We find those laws in the OT, and of course it is right to obey [any of] them.”     

The hook is in. 

What now?  If you’re the one who just answered the question above about the Law, you now are wondering, “Hmmm . . . IS Mosaic Covenant Law something I should be keeping??

And What if You Don’t?
Most Law Keepers say that keeping the Law is not required for salvation and that we should keep the Law because we love God and want to please Him, that obeying the Law is a matter of doing, not merely believing. 

This bears repeating here:  If Israel broke any part of the Law, there was punishment – payable by atoning sacrifice, expulsion from Israel or death.  And that’s not including the purification/separation laws for women during/after their monthly cycles and childbirth, or the men who touched them or purification rituals for other ‘offenses’ such as touching a dead body (necessary for burial).  Folks forget about all that the Law entails.  It’s far more encompassing than keeping the Appointed Feasts, the Sabbaths, New Moons, and dietary laws.

With that in mind, does that mean that we can lose our salvation for not obeying Mosaic Covenant Law?  And can we get it back again if we start ‘keeping’ the Law?  If we actually ‘become Israel’, as many Law ‘keepers’ claim, and we fail to keep Mosaic Covenant Law, are we then expelled from the community of believers or worse yet, is spiritual death re-imposed on us as Law breakers?

What do the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ have to say about such things?  Can you think of any Scriptures that tell us that we are no longer a part of the Body of Christ if we don’t ‘keep’ the Law?  Or that we are a part of the Body of Christ if we do ‘keep’ the Law?  Is that what Scripture teaches us?

You can’t have Law without enforcement. You can’t have enforcement without punishment. Those components go hand in hand.

One needs to first determine what law one is under before one determines to ‘do’ it.

Which Law Makes More Sense?
In the era of the completed work of Christ, are believers under the Covenant given to Moses at Sinai, or under the New Covenant enacted by the Blood of Christ?

The view that Old Covenant Feasts and practices are still mandated makes no sense at all considering that those things were designed to point to Christ and provide for atonement for sin until Christ did the work of the Cross.  Christ has come!  He is the reality of what the Feasts foreshadowed.  He was the FINAL sacrifice.  There are some events that still need to play out, historically, but the work is done. It is finished!

One cannot pick and choose which laws from Mosaic Covenant Law they will follow . . . THE Law is a package deal.  You must do everything that applies to you or you do none of it:

James 2:10
10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 

In addition to the prophecies and foreshadowing that the Law provides pointing to Messiah, it is the realization of our inability to keep the Law that drives us to Messiah!  No one has ever kept the Law perfectly, except Jesus, of course!  It is when we come to the end of ourselves, realizing that we are utterly incapable of perfection and having relationship with God outside of Christ that the Law has completed its mission:

Romans 3:21-24
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Christ commanded us to love God, love others, and to go out in to all the world and make disciples among every tribe and nation. Going back to Mosaic Covenant Law doesn’t spread God’s love and the Gospel to the nations, it isolates and erroneously turns one’s heart toward self and the duties one must perform to be pleasing to God.  What He really desires is for us to love those around us and share the Life for which He paid so dear a price, bringing precious souls into relationship with Him.

And the New Covenant did bring new life, not just a ‘renewed’ covenantal system.  All throughout the Gospels Jesus Christ repeatedly demonstrated and administered grace and mercy, love and forgiveness, even life itself, with His authority as God in the flesh as He walked amongst mankind before the work of the Cross.  Jesus spoke in parables to shake loose those Hebraic minds from the confines of the Law of Moses and the Old Covenant. He never denied the foundation nor the purpose of the Law – He was fulfilling it.

John 15:9-17
9″As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.”

The Law of Christ is not Mosaic Covenant Law reinforced. The Law of Christ is the whole of Scripture in the context of the New Covenant, forged in the Blood of Christ via the work of the Cross.  It is the fulfilling of the Promise given to mankind at the Fall, changing the hearts of those who believe on Jesus Christ and making them a New Creation, and that demonstrated by the bearing of fruit according to the Spirit, not the performance of works according to the Law.

Where Law ‘keepers’ view the whole of Scripture through the lens of Torah, redeemed believers free from the Law view the whole of Scripture through the lens of the completed work of Christ.  It’s the Gospel.  The Gospel reaches across cultural boundaries where the Law of Moses could not. That’s how Jesus could tell us to love God, love others, and go out into all the world to make disciples from all nations.  His love and the Gospel translate to all cultures, not just Israel. That’s the Law of Christ.

Does Christ in Us Promote Sin?
I’ve been told that if I am not obeying the edicts of Torah that I am practicing Lawlessness.  What does Scripture have to say?

Galatians 2:11-21
11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15″We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

17″If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Under the New Covenant we are called to much loftier things that observing feasts and days or the carrying out of edicts or avoidance of certain foods:

Galatians 5
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9″A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

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

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

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

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

Watch for the Fruit Produced by Those in Law ‘keeping’ Sects 
According to this list, there are 210 verses that refer to false prophets, priests, elders and Pharisees.  Here is a summary of their content:

  • 99 verses (47%) concern Behavior
  • 66 verses (31%) concern Fruit
  • 24 verses (12%) concern Motives
  • 21 verses (10%) concern Doctrine

Is it any wonder that Jesus exhorted us to therefore:

Matthew 7:15-20
15″Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Fruit is fruit, and sooner or later, it identifies with the vine from which it comes, no matter the shine one tries to put on it!

And finally, Hebrews 10 sums up the whole issue so well:

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

5Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.

7Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, O God.’ “

8First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made).

9Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

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

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

17Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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

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

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

38But my righteous one will live by faith.  And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”

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

This struck me just now as I re-read this passage:

He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

According to Hebrews 10, we are made holy (set apart), righteous, sanctified, purified – ALL through Christ!  The Law has nothing to do with us as believers!

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

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

See also:  The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended
                    The Hebrew Roots Movement: So What?
                    Romans 14: Indisputable Matters – Torah or the Gospel?
                    Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101 
                    Hebrew Roots Movement – New or “Renewed” Covenant?

The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended

(Edited and expanded 7/9/13)  In the last several months the Law of Christ has become clearer for me.  Not that I haven’t necessarily understood what is the Law of Christ, but expressing that understanding has been challenging, especially when in a discussion with those who believe that we, as believers in Christ, are commanded by God to keep Mosaic Covenant Law.

In those discussions, I’ve been privileged to contend alongside some wonderful brothers and sisters in the Lord and have learned much from their perspectives.  A few are just Christians like me, some are learned students of the Word, a few are former adherents to the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism belief system(s), and a few are Jewish Christians, whose concise use of and perspective from the Scriptures I’ve found to be a real blessing.  None of those above distinctions are mutually exclusive, by the way . . . as all of the above have a wonderful love for the simplicity of the Gospel while understanding and being able to communicate the more intricate aspects of the Word.

This post by no means contains an exhaustive listing of the Scriptures referring to the Law of Christ, but rather a compilation of those Scriptures that have kind of tied it all together for me as I and others have engaged in discussions with Law keepers and with each other.

The words of Christ, coupled with His revelations to the Apostles and the Apostles’ instructions to and teaching of the early Body of Christ regarding Grace and Law, clearly describe what our relationship with Mosaic Covenant Law is in Christ, after the Cross.

The Law of Christ Defined
Understand that when a Law keeper refers to God’s commandments they are referring to Mosaic Covenant Law.  Those who adhere to the keeping of that Law believe that when Jesus says, “If you love me, keep My commandments”, that means keeping  Mosaic Covenant Law.  And we’re not just talkin’ the ‘Big Ten’, but also the ‘Jots and Tittles’.  Why they pick that covenant law over, say Noahide Covenant law I’m not sure, but it may have to do with their view of believers actually becoming Israel and as such being subject to all of the the Laws given to Her, but that’s another post entirely.

If conversing with a Law keeper about Law and Grace, one is likely to hear, So those who are born again can just do as they please?  I wonder why Jesus said we have to obey God’s commandments?”   This is a valid question and often rooted in the idea that many in the Body of Christ hold to what some term a ‘Greasy Grace’, thinking that if they place their faith in Jesus Christ, whatever they do is ‘covered’ by the Grace of God.  (See also Grace or Law?  How Then, Shall We Live? and Hebrew Roots Movement – Man’s Righteousness or God’s Righteousness?)

Is the Body of Christ commanded to keep edicts, regulations, and days, or are issues of morality and spiritual fruits and service – those things which are fulfilled by love, which is a Fruit of the Spirit, not a performance of the Law – instructed to the Body of Christ?  Can you think of any commands to the Body of Christ about Feast keeping or the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath or dietary laws in the New Testament?  Are edicts and regulations and ceremonial laws really commanded to the Body of Christ?

Law keepers will tell you that Mosaic Covenant Law was assumed to be adhered to by early believers.  According to them, that was never a question for first century believers, and that in fact, early believers were really ‘a Judaism’ that functioned largely as they did for hundreds of years under Mosaic Covenant Law.  In the Law-keeping paradigm, anything that Jesus did via the work of the Cross and the obvious differences in the practices and customs of the Body of Christ is minimized, though Jesus’ teachings to those under the Law and before the Work of the Cross is maximized.

A  favorite reference that Law keepers use in regard to the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law is:

Matthew 5:17-20
17″Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Taking that passage in isolation, one could make a case for the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law for believers, because, as anyone in a Law keeping sect worth their salt will tell you, you can plainly see that the earth is still here, isn’t it?  And looking around Shifty, you would have to agree, that yes indeed, the earth has not disappeared.  Well that settles it then!  The Law is for believers today!  And to be called great in the kingdom of heaven, you must teach these commands to others.

That conclusion, however, takes leaps over information about events that had not yet happened (the Cross, Resurrection and Ascension, implementing the New Covenant in Christ, and the consequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit for those in Christ) and inspired Scriptures written to the Body of Christ which did not yet exist.

From a thread on the Messianic Judaism forum at CARM:

Originally Posted by ‘Ben David’ (A Jewish believer who believes that all are bound by Mosaic Covenant Law, aka ‘One Law Theology’):

Why is it achoti, that all you christian [sic] when you want to make a point of the Torah go straight to Paul? why not go to yeshua, as I pointed to you? (Matt. 5:17-20). Where did Yeshua say that anybody, Jew or gentile have died to the Torah? Yet you want us to believe that Paul, who in everyone of his Epistles started with “I Paul, an Apostle and a bond servant of Yeshua….” was teaching against his Master? In your interpretation of the teachings of Paul, you are making him a lier [sic], and a renegade…you need to learn how to reconcile Paul’s writing to Yeshua’s teaching. so far, unfortunately, You are failing miserably…

You are also illogical, but that is for later….

Blessings
Dan

And a response from ‘CIAN’, a Jewish Christian who believes that believers are not mandated as believers to keep Mosaic Covenant Law:

Dan,
Here’s what Yeshua said to His Israeli talmudim shortly before the cross, “I have many more things to tell you, but YOU CANNOT BEAR THEM NOW.  But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine & will disclose it to you.” John 16:12-14…

Sadly, there are yet those among us Jewish disciples who STILL CANNOT BEAR to hear the teachings of Messiah revealed by Ruach HaKodesh through His Apostles which He did NOT DISCLOSE BEFORE the crucifixion <:-(

— CIAN

Indeed the Holy Spirit would reveal much to the Body of Christ through the Apostles, and Jesus Himself began preparing the way for the Law of Christ in John 15.  Let’s break it down:

John 15:9-17
9″As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my [God the Son’s] commands , you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s [God the Father’s] commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

12My [God the Son’s]  command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my [God the Son’s] command: Love each other.

Jesus’ command is what?  Let’s look at it in the King James Version:

John 15:12 “This is my [God the Son’s] commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Keep the Law as I have kept the Law.”  Jesus’ command is Love, not Law.

Reinforced again in verse 17:

John 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

That is the Law of Christ!  Clarity is such a wonderful thing .  You’re looking at the beautiful simplicity that is in Christ.

The Law of Christ Defended
“But wait!”
those in the Law keeping sects will wail, “Jesus would NEVER preach against the Law or He would be a false prophet and could not be the Messiah!”  Wow.  I guess they got us there . . . or do they?  Why is it that Jesus would have to ‘preach against the Law’ to establish the Law of Christ?  Does the Law of Christ in any way contradict Mosaic Covenant Law?  Are there not different covenants established by God throughout history?  The Law keeper will say, “God never changes!”   Agreed!  But clearly God’s covenants DO.

And what about that ‘until the heavens and earth pass away’ bit?  If the earth is still here, the Law must be too, right?  Right.  How can it be that the Law hasn’t passed away, and yet we who are the Body of Christ are no longer ‘under the Law’?

Also from CIAN:

Achi, Jews who DIE are no longer obligated to perform the binding mitzvot of Torah — The Law of Moses does NOT die, but those under its mandatory requirements DO die, and are thereby released from their bounden duty to fulfill its deeds…

Zephania [another poster at CARM] asked me if Scripture says that believers (Jewish and/or Goyish [Gentiles]) are to walk as Messiah did — In regard to Judeo-specific Torah observance, the answer is NO because although Yeshua was born a Jew under the Law, He DIED to its obligations on the cross & through our spiritual union with Him in His DEATH and resurrection, so have ALL believers been released from any “til death do us part” burden of bar mitzvah in Him as well, whether we were born Jews OR Gentiles in the flesh:

“For while we WERE in the FLESH, the sinful passions which were aroused by the LAW were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for DEATH … However, you are NOT in the FLESH but in the Spirit” (Romans 7:5 & Rom.8:9)

I never teach against endeavoring to walk in a Torah observant lifestyle (!!!) but I always point out that G-d no longer mandates such for believing Jews, let alone for Gentiles IN Messiah Yeshua <:-)

— CIAN 

 Dead people are no longer under Law.

Romans 6:1-7
1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Romans 7:4-6
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

We die to sin, and live in Christ:

Romans 6:8-14
8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 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.

11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.   

Yes!

There is no instruction there about observing Mosaic Covenant Law . . . because sin is no longer our master, we are dead to sin in Christ!  And if we are dead to sin, then we are no longer under law.  And our spirit has been made “alive to God in Christ Jesus”!  Jesus didn’t come to make Law breakers into Law keepers, He came to make spiritually dead people into spiritually alive people!

Romans 10:1-4
1Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
   

Does the Law still exist?  Absolutely.  Is it still upheld?  Yes.  The Law shows the unbeliever their sin and points them to Christ. That is the proper use of the Law.  Once one believes, Christ is the end of the Law for the believer.

Romans 3:21-25
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. 

This next part almost seems to contradict itself if you don’t remember that those who are in Christ have a different relationship with the Law than those who are not in Christ:

Romans 3:27-31
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

And for those who are in Christ love fulfills the Law:

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

(For more on this, see Grace or Law?  How Then, Shall We Live?)

Like in so many other places instructing the Body of Christ, it seems that if the edicts and regulations of the Law given at Sinai were to be ‘kept’, Romans 13 would have been a really good place to mention it.  Instead we see yet another reinforcement that love is what we are commanded, and that love is the fulfillment of the law.

It is in Christ, not the Law, in Whom we move forward after the Cross. That fact is abundantly evident all throughout the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ.  I’ve had a hard time narrowing down the passages to share in this post because there are so many, praise God, but here’s one really good one:

Colossians 2:6-7
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.   

Law keepers will try to tell you that it is by the keeping of the Law that we are sanctified.  It is not true.  They cannot produce contextual Scriptures to support that view.  To get to that place of belief one has to build complicated theological contraptions that in the end diminish the completed work of Jesus Christ and hold the Law in a place of reverence and function for which it was never intended

Please don’t misunderstand me here:  I am NOT saying that the Law is not to be revered or looked to as a standard of righteousness.

What I am saying is that relative to the person and work of Jesus Christ and who believers are in Him, the Law is but a shadow, a fading glory, a weak, useless, and obsolete covenantal system (2 Corinthians 3, Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8Hebrews 10).

We must be careful to not elevate Law to a place in our hearts and minds that Christ alone should occupy.

What Jesus did matters.

References to being ‘clothed in Christ’, ‘putting on Christ’, knowing what is right and wrong ‘by the Spirit He gave us’, etc. . . . it is IN HIM that we live and move and have our being – not in the Law.

The Law of Christ is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit for those in Christ
A commenter at JGIG’s Facebook page asked this excellent question out of frustration:

Andrea wrote, “But I can’t love because it is a command – Because I am under grace [and not under law]. Do see how you guys make absolutely NO SENSE?!”

Andrea was referring to the quoting of this passage:

1 John 3:21-24 21
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

It’s a great question!  If we’re not under Law, but after the Cross God commands us to love – sometimes referred to as the Law of Christ – what’s up with that?!

Here’s the really cool thing:

Love is a Fruit of the Spirit as well as a command. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Though love is a command, it’s also a Fruit.

Do fruit-producing plants strive to produce fruit?  No . . . the branches bear fruit because they are attached to the vine/tree/plant which nourishes them.  Fruit is the by-product of LIFE, and it takes time for fruit to be produced.  If you are in Christ and are led by His Spirit, love will be a fruit produced in you.  If you are alive in Christ, abiding in Him, allowing His Holy Spirit to live through you, love is an unavoidable by-product of that relationship, fulfilling God’s command to love!

The Purpose of the Law After the Cross

The Law is useful when it is used properly.

1 Timothy 1:3-11
3As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. 5The goal of this command [parraggelia] is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law [nomodidaskalos] , but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

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

Mosaic Covenant Law has become the center of the HRM/MJ belief systems, making Christ a means by which to keep the Law instead of the Law leading us to Christ and us living in Him. Do you see how backwards and out of whack that is?

Some take it a heretical step further, and say that Jesus Christ is the ‘Living Torah’ (scroll to the bottom of this page for an explanation).  Making Christ the living Torah is how some in Law keeping streams of thought get around the fact that they place Mosaic Covenant Law in the center of their belief system.  By making Torah =  Jesus (God), they think they avoid making Torah an idol.  Click on the link above to see how they twist Scripture to attempt this.  These things are a gross misuse of the Law and that for which it was intended.

Purifications, Feasts, observance of days, new moons, dietary laws . . . those things served the purpose of separating Israel from the nations so that the Messiah would be recognized when He came. Beyond that, the sacrificial system gave Israel a temporary solution to the problem of sin. The whole of the Law is to show man his sin and to point us to Christ!     

He has come!

Jesus fulfilled the shadows and types of the Feasts and days found in Mosaic Covenant Law, the sacrificial requirements for both sin and purification, has become our Sabbath rest, and our Perfect High Priest (Hebrews 7-10). What remains? Those parts of the Law that can be fulfilled by walking as Jesus walked – in LOVE (1 John 4, especially vs. 17).

Again, that is the Law of Christ!  John 15:12 –  This is my [God the Son’s] commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  

And remember that though love is a command, it’s also a Fruit of the Spirit.

Those in the Law keeping community will try to convince you that keeping Mosaic Covenant Law is how we ‘act on’ or ‘walk out’ our faith.  That the better we become at ‘keeping’ Mosaic Covenant Law, the more like Yeshua we’ll be.  While that may be partially true on a fleshly level, we can NEVER keep Mosaic Covenant Law as Jesus did because HE IS GOD and WE ARE NOT GOD.  Whenever I hear an adherent to Mosaic Covenant Law say that we need to keep the Law as Jesus (God in the flesh) did, following His example,  I hear whispers of the Great Lie in Genesis 3:5b: “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (See also Identifying False Teaching for more on this issue.)

The Law was never intended to be the means by which redeemed believers in Christ are sanctified.  We are still here in the flesh, and make choices about our behavior every day.  Sin is destructive and a distraction from the will of God in our lives, and has real, earthly consequenses.  The fledgling Body of Christ struggled with the same sins that we struggle with today – and the Apostles dealt with those specific issues all throughout the New Testament Scriptures.  But they didn’t write to the Body of Christ about keeping edicts and regulations of Old Covenant Law, they wrote about issues of the heart and character and service to others and who they were in Christ.  What it all boils down to is what Jesus had to say in John 15:17 – “These things I command you, that ye love one another.”  Jesus’ command is Love, not Law.

Romans 8:1-4
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-25
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.   

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

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

Based on the above, the Law keeper will say, “See, the Holy Spirit enables us to keep the Law!”  But I’ve not been able to find anywhere in the writings to the Body of Christ that says that the Holy Spirit enables us to keep Mosaic Covenant Law.  I see where the Scriptures tell us that the sinful mind does not submit to God’s law, but nowhere do I see where the mind submitted to/controlled by the Holy Spirit is given the wherewithall to keep Mosaic Covenant Law.  I see where those who live according to the Spirit desire what the Spirit desires . . . to bear the Fruit of Love that fulfills the Law . . . where the mind controlled by the Holy Spirit is life and peace . . .

Romans 8:5-11
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  

Reading on through Romans 8 there is no indication that if we are controlled by the Spirit we will be enabled to keep Mosaic Covenant Law.  Nor need we be concerned with the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law.  Let’s go back to Romans 13:

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

If we are loving others, we are not murdering them, stealing from them, committing adultery with them/their spouse, bearing false witness against them, coveting their stuff, or dis-honoring parents.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.   If we are loving God, we are not worshipping any other god but Him, we are not making a graven image, we are not taking the name of God in vain, and we are resting in Jesus, our Sabbath rest.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Another favorite passage that those who advocate the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law for believers is 1 John 2.  If you read the writings of John with John 15 and the above and other passages in Romans in mind, the message is clearly one of Love, not Law; Fruit, not performance. 

 1 John 2:3-6
1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.  3And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep [tereo] his commandments [entole] .

4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth [tereo] not his commandments [entole] , is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoso keepeth [tereo] his word [logos] , in him verily is the love [agape] of God perfected [teleioo]: hereby know we that we are in him. 6He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

“See,  it says if we know Him, we’ll keep His commands!”, the Law keeper will assert.  Remember that ‘command’ to the Law keeper means Mosaic Covenant Law.  Is Mosaic Covenant Law that which is referred to in the above passage?  Why would John refer specifically to the work of the Cross and its result – the propitiation of our sins – and though not directly referenced here, the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood, if he were going to steer us back to the Old Covenant,  Mosaic Covenant Law?   And what about the word, ‘keep’ used in that passage?  Does ‘keep’ mean to ‘observe’ as in perform the actions that Mosaic Covenant Law requires?

Let’s take a look:  the Greek word used for ‘command’ here is entole, which is used in a general sense when it comes to command, as in a precept/principle.  When Mosaic Covenant Law is meant, nomos is the Greek word that is usually used.  Click on the embedded links for the definitions to get a sense of the differences in entole and nomos.

 Now let’s take a look at the word, ‘keep’.  The Greek word used here is tereo, which means to to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard, as opposed to the Greek word, prasso, which means to exercise, practice, to be busy with, carry on, to undertake, to do, to accomplish, perform, to commit, perpetrate (as used for example in Romans 2:25 – 25Circumcision has value if you observe [prasso] the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised.).  There are 31 different Greek words used for ‘keep’ in the New Testament, so it makes perfect sense for us to look closely at the one that John chose to use in this passage and how that affects the meaning of the passage.

Are we really being told by John to keep (observe, perform) Mosaic Covenant Law (nomos), or rather to keep (attend to carefully, guard) the Law of Christ (entole)?   

1 John 2:7-11
7Brethren, I write no new commandment [entole] unto you, but an old commandment [entole] which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment [entole] is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8Again, a new commandment [entole] I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

Love, not Law; Fruit, not performance.  And that part about “I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment” and “The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning” . . . I sense that it has to do with the Promise given at the Fall.  What do I base that on?  “The old commandment is the word [logos] which you have heard from the beginning [arkha].”  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Promise given at the Fall – He is the logos of God – God in the flesh (John 1:1) , and John 3:16-21 come to mind as the fulfillment of that promise in the completed work of Christ:

John 3:16-21
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

I see this echoed here:

1 John 2:8
Again, a new commandment
 I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

The concept of sacrificial love is reinforced and commanded to us here: 

John 15:12-14
12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command.

And Jesus is the Light of the world:

John 8:12
12Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

One other verse from John’s writings that is a staple in the Law keeping cache:

Revelation 14:12
Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

“See!  Faith in Yeshua and observing Mosaic Covenant Law!  That’s what we’re supposed to be doing!” will assert the Law keeper.  Let’s break it down and see if John is talking about performing the actions that Mosaic Covenant Law requires:

Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep [tereo] the commandments [entole] of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Again, tereo, not prasso, and entole, not nomos.

John is very consistent in that his focus is on Jesus and on love (which is a Fruit of the Spirit), not on the performance of Mosaic Covenant Law.

Examine the Scriptures carefully when someone advocating that believers are commanded to keep Mosaic Covenant Law goes to John’s writings to prove their point, because whether or not they know it, they’re forcing a meaning into the text that John never intended.

I could cite more examples of Scripture passages that those who advocate the mandatory keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law use to attempt to make their case, but the passages above are what tied it all together for me.  Dear believer, when someone is trying to convince you that you are bound by the edicts and regulations of a law Scripture says you are no longer under, examine those passages and their contexts carefully.

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Redefinition of Terms 3 (M-Z)

If you haven’t already, please read the Glossary Intro  first.  Thanks!

Messianic Judaism/Christianity The term “Messianic” is generally known to describe  Jews who have come to believe ingrafted_in_lg Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah.  Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish Christians or simply, Christians.    

Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish.  Most aren’t Jewish at all, but Gentile Christians who have chosen to adopt Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics.  It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism then they do with the tenets of Christianity.  Many reject the label of Christianity altogether and some even eventually convert to Judaism.  

Messianic Judaism, when objectively defined, is an oxymoron.  “Messianic” implies that one believes in Jesus Christ (Yeshua) as the Messiah, while “Judaism”, by definition, rejects Jesus Christ as Messiah at its core.    

The contradictions start there and carry on throughout the belief system.   

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Midrash  Following is an actual quote from a Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism adherent who was justifying using Midrash with which to interpret Scripture:  

Well, here’s the passage Paul was quoting …. kinda.  He was doing a d’rash on it.  

My response:
So let’s get this straight . . . you’re developing doctrine based on what you say Paul was “kinda quoting” and you claim that he was doing a “d’rash” on it?  

The weakness of the “kinda quoting” bit is obvious, but for the benefit of the reader, let’s look at what is a “d’rash”, short for “Midrash” . . .  

For the full post here at JGIG, see Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Midrash.  

From Faqs.org
Midrash minimizes the authority of the wording of the text as communication, normal language. It places the focus on the reader and the personal struggle of the reader to reach an acceptable moral application of the text. While it is always governed by the wording of the text, it allows for the reader to project his or her inner struggle into the text. This allows for some very powerful and moving interpretations which, to the ordinary user of language, seem to have very little connection with the text. The great weakness of this method is that it always threatens to replace the text with an outpouring of personal reflection. At its best it requires the presence of mystical insight not given to all readers.  

bragg-midrashFrom Wikipedia:
Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש‎; plural midrashim, lit. “to investigate” or “study”) is a Hebrew term referring to the not exact, but comparative (homiletic) method of exegesis (hermeneutic) of Biblical texts, which is one of four methods cumulatively called Pardes. The term midrash can also refer to a compilation of homiletic teachings (commentaries) on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), in the form of legal and ritual (Halakhah) and legendary, moralizing, folkloristic, and anecdotal (Aggadah) parts.   

What is PaRDeS?  Also from Wikipedia:
The term, sometimes also spelled PaRDeS, is an acronym formed from the name initials of these four approaches, which are:

  • Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — “plain” (“simple”) or the direct meaning.
  • Remez (רֶמֶז) — “hints” or the deep (allegoric) meaning beyond just the literal sense.
  • Derash (דְּרַשׁ) — from Hebrew darash: “inquire” (“seek”) — the comparative (midrashic) meaning, as given through similar occurrences.
  • Sod (סוֹד) (pronounced with a long O as in gold) — “secret” (“mystery”) or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.

Each type of Pardes interpretation examines the extended meaning of a text. As a general rule, the extended meaning never contradicts the base meaning. The Peshat means the plain or contextual meaning of the text. Remez is the allegorical meaning. Derash includes the metaphorical meaning, and Sod represents the hidden meaning. There is often considerable overlap, for example when legal understandings of a verse are influenced by mystical interpretations or when a “hint” is determined by comparing a word with other instances of the same word.  

From My Jewish Learning:
Midrash: The Interpretive Tradition
Midrash is a tool of interpretation which assumes that every word, letter, and even stroke of the pen in the Torah has meaning. Midrash Aggadah focuses on biblical narratives, Midrash Halakhah interprets legal passages. In modern times, midrash can include any retellings, additions, or twists on Torah stories. 
 

From Jewish Virtual Library’s Glossary:
Midrash
(pl. midrashim). From darash, “to inquire,” whence it comes to mean “exposition” (of scripture). Refers to the “commentary” literature developed in classical Judaism that attempts to interpret Jewish scriptures in a thorough manner. Literary Midrash may focus either on halaka, directing the Jew to specific patterns of religious practice, or on (h)aggada, dealing with theological ideas, ethical teachings, popular philosophy, imaginative exposition, legend, allegory, animal fables—that is, whatever is not halaka
 

From VirtualReligion.net:
Midrash
Hebrew term for “Interpretation” or “Exposition.” The word generally used for any written or oral commentary on a biblical text. The original purpose of midrash was to resolve problems in the Hebrew text of the Bible. As early as the 1st c. CE rabbinic principles of hermeneutics & philology were used to bring the interpretation of difficult passages in the literal text of scripture into line with the religious & ethical values of the teachers. This method of interpretation was eventually expanded to provide scriptural pretexts to justify oral tradition.
Thus, midrash exposes the values & worldview of the rabbinic interpreter & audience rather than the original intention of the author of the biblical text.  

There are more definitions and a myriad of websites out there with “midrashic” points of view, but one gets the general idea from the references above.  

When one uses a “d’rash” as a lens to interpret Scripture through, it is clear that that person is seeking to mold Scripture to a predetermined opinion or belief system, not seeking to mold their opinion or belief system to what Scripture actually says.  

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New Covenant    This, from a post here at JGIG “Law Keepers – Part 4 – Thoughts on the New Covenant”: At the Last Supper Jesus held up the bread and the wine and said, “This is my Body and my blood, do this in remembrance of communion26me.” (Luke 22:14-20)  Jesus says in Luke 22:20, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  Jesus wants us to remember that His Flesh and Blood took the place of the old covenant (Law) to make us acceptable (free from sin – from spiritual death to spiritual life) before God.  It seems to be a rather significant point made during the observance of a feast itself.  He shifted the focus in a very clear way from remembering what the Passover was all about to remembering what the breaking of  HIS Body and the shedding of  HIS Blood was all about . . . replacing the blood on the doorposts (a TEMPORARY solution) with His own Blood (the PERMANENT solution).

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

It is not Jesus plus anything that pleases God.  God in the flesh – Jesus – fully God and fully man, was crucified and shed His blood for our sins, rose from the dead three days later, and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.  He finished the complete work of salvation.  God does not require that we follow Torah.  He nailed the written code to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)  He released us from the Law when He released us from our sin through the Blood of Christ. (Romans 7:4-6)  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the realities of what the New Covenant means to the individual believer, how the believer carries out the commands of Christ – the “Law of Christ” impacts those around that believer in a complete systemic all-inclusive  way.  Christ’s commands?  Love God, love others.    

How do the realities of the New Covenant enable us to do that?

Under the New Covenant, the Law of Christ, the believer is now free to love their neighbor without restriction.  We are able to bend down into the dirt of life and minister to those in need and love them with the love that comes from the very Holy Spirit of God.  We don’t need to worry if something or someone will make us “unclean” as we love and minister to those around us. 

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

That is the beauty, the reality, of the New Covenant!

[A common assertion in the Hebrew Roots Movement is that the New Covenant is not ‘New’, but the ‘Re-newed’ covenant.  For and in depth language study of the Scriptures commonly used by the HRM to support their view, see this post:  Hebrew Roots Movement – New Covenant or “Renewed” Covenant?]

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(The) Prodigal Son I couldn’t resist putting this one down.  Click HERE for a Hebrew Roots interpretation of the parable of the Prodigal Son.  (Please use caution when reading any Hebrew Roots materials.)  Some of the metaphorical perversions:  The prodigal son is not sinful man, he is Christianity.  Repentance is not turning away from sin and toward God, it is turning toward Torah.  (See also Repent below.)  I’ve seen this parable used by several different HRM organizations to lure unwary Christians into a Torah lifestyle.   Quoted from the above link:  

The younger son (the Northern Kingdom, Ephraim/Christianity) spent his inheritance on riotous living (by departing from the Torah of the G-d of Israel) and went to a far country (the nations of the world) and was feeding on swine (a reference to not obeying the Torah)”.    

These are some specific liberties taken with the story (there are more, but frankly, I couldn’t stomach putting more here):  The labels given the younger son are not supported by the text, and a far country means anywhere but Israel.  The robe and ring that the father gives to the prodigal son in the HRM version is not a sign of authority and inheritance given to the son by the father, it is instead referred to as “wedding terminology”?!  Yuk.  And notice that the writer says that the prodigal was feeding on swine, when in fact the bible says that he was feeding the swine.  Gotta notch up that Torah rebellion to make this interpretation fit.  That particular author tends to make those subtle changes in text to change seemingly unimportant details in a text with which to frame his particular brand of HRM doctrine.  

What strikes me about the above is how Nationalism and Torah are central to the story of the Prodigal, not the realities of how we, as undeserving sinners, are embraced by a loving and forgiving Father, no matter what we’ve done.  Yes, the cultural implications of the text bring deeper and richer meaning to the parable, but redemption and forgiveness beyond our wildest expectations is the main thrust of the story, not the returning of the Body of Christ to a Torah lifestyle!  

There are about a zillion sermons that have been preached on the parable of the Prodigal Son . . . but in light of the HRM, one thing that jumps out at me is this:  The Prodigal comes back to the father broken and spent.  When he returns, his father knows that he has his son’s heart.  The firstborn, faithful to follow the rules and obey his father, finds it difficult to understand the grace extended to his brother.  Let me share with you the last part of an article (also available on the Articles Page) that says it so much better than I can [from “Law and Grace Exemplified” by C.H. Mackintosh]:  

But, oh! how could the prodigal think lightly of sin in the light of such extraordinary grace? Impossible. He was most effectually delivered from the power of sin by the grace which reigned in his reception, and in his position. It was truly such as to set sin before him in the most fearful colours. “Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Yes, God forbid. It cannot, it must not be, my reader. Grace has set us free — free not only from the penalty of sin, but free from its power — free fromprodigal-on-road its present dominion. Blessed freedom! The law gave sin power over the sinner; grace gives him power over it. The law revealed to the sinner his weakness; grace makes him acquainted with the strength of Christ, the law put the sinner under the curse, no matter who or what he was; grace introduces him into all the ineffable blessedness of the Father’s house — the Father’s bosom. The law elicited only the cry, “O, wretched man that I am!” grace enables him to sing triumphantly, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory. “These are important differences, and such as may well lead us into deep thankfulness for the truth that “we are not under the law, but under grace.”  

If anything were needed to prove that nothing but grace can form the basis of holy service, the spirit and bearing of the elder brother in our beautiful parable would most fully prove it. He thought he had ever been a very faithful servant, and his heart rebelled against the high position assigned to his younger brother. But, alas! he understood not the father’s heart. It was not the cold service of formalism or legalism that was needed, but the service of love — the service of one who felt he had been forgiven much — or rather those deep affections which flow from the sense of redeeming love. All practical Christianity is comprehended in that word of the apostle, viz., “We love Him because He first loved us.” God grant that we may all enter more into the sacred power of these simple, but most precious truths!   

While there are benefits to understanding the culture and original language  used in communicating the parable of the Prodigal Son, those benefits culminate in a deeper understanding of the grace of God toward sinful man, and do not in any way point to a ‘prodigal Church’ needing to return to Torah observance.   

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“Renewed” CovenantOne false definition of the New Covenant (re-termed the “Renewed Covenant”) typical in the Hebrew Roots Movement is found at 1bread.org:  At His last Passover, Yahshua initiated a “New Covenant” (prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31). In Hebrew, it is really a renewal of the lawsame covenant, with a few allowances added for while we make the transition back.  [???]  But the Covenant is “with the House of Israel and the House of Judah”. It cannot be fully in effect until Israel is back together, for it is not with individuals but with a unified nation. So our focus needs to shift from just being saved individuals to again being the people of Israel. Don’t pass up this highest of callings! We dare not fail again.   

“We dare not fail again”???  Who’s running the show in the Hebrew Roots Movement?  Man or God?  

No Scriptures come to mind to support the above rendering of a “renewed Covenant”.  In more mainstream Hebrew Roots circles the concept of a “renewed Covenant” vs. the “New Covenant” is rendered with the misuse of the original languages of Scripture.  See Hebrew Roots Movement – New Covenant or “Renewed” Covenant for an in-depth word study and solid refutation of the “renewed” Covenant position.  [Highly Recommended.]  

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Repent – Another one of the pillars in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related belief systems/sects, is their re-forgiven_repent2definition of the word ‘repent’ or ‘repentance’.  They skew the meaning of repent in order to point the unwary believer back to the Law of Moses and away from the Law of Christ.   If one forgets the transformative power and role of the Holy Spirit, along with the realities of the New Covenant, and fail to take an honest look at the language, one might be deceived and find themselves feeling ‘commanded’ into wearing tzit tzit and and attempting to keep the regulations and edicts of a covenant no longer in effect.  

For a full article regarding the HRM/MJ perspective on repentance, see Hebrew Roots Movement – The Perversion of Repentance.  

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SabbathWith Torah pursuance comes the keeping of a seventh-day Sabbath, typically from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday.  

However, as I researched the issue of the Sabbath, I discovered that within the Sabbath-keeping community itself there is division.  There are those that observe a simple seventh-day Sabbath (sundown Friday through sundown Saturday).  There are those that view Sunday as the NT Sabbath.  Then there are those that follow a lunar reckoning of the Sabbath.  The first time I became aware of this method was when someone from the mom’s digest recommended this site.  Check it out.  Check out this section at that site, in particular, addressing a geocentric vs. heliocentric view of the solar system (universe?).  No, seriously.   This is one of the more interesting sites that not only mandates keeping the Sabbath, but also mandates a lunar reckoning of the Sabbath.  If you visit HRM/MJ sites and blogs, you may notice that some of them have a lunar phase widget in their sidebars.  This may be for New Moon sightings for shofar-blowing and New Moon feast-keeping and/or reckoning the Sabbath.  

There are several articles here at JGIG regarding the Sabbath.  You can access those at the Articles Page and also see Law Keepers – Part 3 – Thoughts on the Sabbath.  

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

Gentler, kinder HRM/MJ types will come at it from the “We don’t want to insult YHWH/Yeshua by using His incorrect name now, do we?” angle.   

Just a very few of the variations I’ve seen of the “Sacred Names” are YHWH, YHVH, YaHWeH, Yahweh, Jehovah, Yahuweh, Yahuah, Yah (understood to be sort of an affectionate shortening of the other Yah-whatevers) and G-d . . . those are for God.  For Jesus, a few variations I’ve seen are Yeshua, Y’shua, Yahshua, Yahushua, Yahoshua . . . so if getting the names right is so important, which ones are they?!  

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

This site, sacrednamemovement.com, is an excellent resource regarding the Sacred Name Movement.  Another excellent resource is Let Us Reason Ministries, who has published this article  regarding the sacred names at their site.     

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Sanctification – So what about keeping the Law as believers?  Is it a question of sanctification for the Law keeping believer?  The HRM/MJ belief systems are all over the consistency map on this one.  Some say yes, Torah observance is how we are sanctified, others will say no, Torah observance is just how we show God that we love Him. 

Most will say that Torah observance is not a salvation issue, but when pressed they will admit that if you, once you become accountable to the knowledge that you are to  be Torah observant as a believer, choose not to obey, then you are in rebellion and will not enter the Kingdom of God according to Scriptures that they will take out of context.  Others will say that Yeshua (Jesus) will only come back for a Torah-observant Bride, so if you’re not observing Torah, well, you do the math.  

I won’t pretend to have this all ironed out and nailed down perfectly.  And I honestly can see both sides of the issue when it comes to simple Law keeping (Feasts, sabbaths, and dietary laws) barring the heretical doctrines prevalent in the Hebrew Roots Movement today.  The popular church has become permissive and in some cases downright atrocities occur and are not dealt with as the Church has been instructed to deal with them in the New Testament Scriptures.  To take those occurences  and go back to a covenental system no longer in effect because of the Blood of Christ, however, is not a fix. 

I always have to come back to the Cross.    

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

The Holy Spirit works righteousness from the inside out, where the Law merely restrains sin from the outside.  Where the Law instructs man regarding his sinful condition, the Gospel transforms man regarding his sinful condition!  The believer walking in submission to the Holy Spirit will not be led into sin.  The believer choosing to walk in rebellion to the Holy Spirit will be miserable. 

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

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

When I re-read this passage recently, the part I’ve bolded really stood out to me:

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

The one who belongs to Christ and lives by the Spirit bears fruit against which there is NO law.

See also:  Romans 15:14-19, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17, Galatians 5:16-26, Philippians 3:7-9  

  

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TalmudExcerpt from Wikipedia‘s article on Talmud:

The Talmud (Hebrew: תַּלְמוּד) is a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs, and history. It is a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, second only to the Hebrew Bible in importance.  

The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), the first written compendium of Judaism’s Oral Law; and the Gemara (c. 500 CE), a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh.  

The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably. The Gemara is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is much quoted in other rabbinic literature. The whole Talmud is also traditionally referred to as Shas (ש”ס), a Hebrew abbreviation of shisha sedarim, the “six orders” of the Mishnah.  

Excerpts from Judaism 101:  

Oral Torah:  The Talmud
In addition to the written scriptures we have an “Oral Torah,” a tradition explaining what the above scriptures mean and how to interpret them and apply the Laws. Orthodox Jews believe G-d taught the Oral Torah to Moses, and he taught it to others, down to the present day. This tradition was maintained only in oral form until about the 2d century C.E., when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah.

Over the next few centuries, additional commentaries elaborating on the Mishnah were written down in Jerusalem and Babylon. These additional commentaries are known as the Gemara. The Gemara and the Mishnah together are known as the Talmud. This was completed in the 5th century C.E.

There are actually two Talmuds: the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud is more comprehensive, and is the one most people mean if they just say “the Talmud” without specifying which one.

The Talmud is not easy to read. It reminds me of someone else’s class notes for a college lecture you never attended. There are often gaps in the reasoning where it is assumed that you already know what they are talking about, and concepts are often expressed in a sort of shorthand. Biblical verses that support a teaching are often referenced by only two or three words. The Talmud preserves a variety of views on every issue, and does not always clearly identify which view is the accepted one.

Something that I didn’t realize is just how much material makes up the Talmud.  And all that is made up of discussions amongst those who rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah as well as by those who engaged in Jewish mysticism.  I’m curious as to why anyone who claims Christ would go to the Talmud for direction in their faith. 

I’ve observed that Hebrew Roots types tend to reject the Talmud, Oral Traditions, and Rabbinical sources, while Messianic Judaism types tend to embrace the ‘wisdom and insight’ that the rabbis and sages can allegedly give.   

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TorahExcerpts from From Judaism 101‘s page on Torah: 

Level:  Basic
• Torah in the narrowest sense refers to the first five books of the Bible
• In a broader sense, Torah includes all Jewish law and tradition
• Torah was given to Moses in written form with oral commentary
• The oral component is now written in the Talmud
• There are additional important writings

The word “Torah” is a tricky one, because it can mean different things in different contexts. In its most limited sense, “Torah” refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But the word “torah” can also be used to refer to the entire Jewish bible (the body of scripture known to non-Jews as the Old Testament and to Jews as the Tanakh or Written Torah), or in its broadest sense, to the whole body of Jewish law and teachings.

Written Torah
To Jews, there is no “Old Testament.” The books that Christians call the New Testament are not part of Jewish scripture. The so-called Old Testament is known to us as Written Torah or the Tanakh.

From Hebrew Roots site First Fruits of Zion:

The Torah is an ancient scroll containing the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—the first five books of the Bible.

The Torah is the foundation of faith in Yeshua. All of the concepts associated with the Gospel—such as God, holiness, righteousness, sin, sacrifice, repentance, faith, forgiveness, covenant, grace and the kingdom of heaven on earth—are introduced in the Torah. Basic sacraments and rituals like baptism, communion, prayer and blessing all come from the Torah. Faith in Jesus is meaningful because of the Torah. Without the Torah, the Gospel has no foundation on which to stand.

The Hebrew word torah is translated “law” in most of our English Bibles. The Torah is called the Law of Moses because Moses wrote it, but the Torah is more than just a legal code. The word “Torah” (תורה) is from the Hebrew root, yara (ירה) which means “to instruct,” or “to teach.” Although it does contain laws, Torah itself is not only a “law,” but it is God’s “teaching” and “instruction.”

The Torah is the story of God’s people and how they came to be the people of God in the first place. The Torah is something all believers have in common. Regardless of what kind of Christianity or Judaism you come from or hold to, we all have this common ground. The Torah is our shared origin. It is God’s book.

However a simple definition/description of Torah is not sufficient when it comes to the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism.  After spending time examining the HRM/MJism belief system(s), it becomes clear that while claiming the saving grace of the Messiah, it appears that it is Torah that sits on the throne of their hearts.  They say that they are obeying the command to ‘walk as Yeshua walked’, yet there are a couple of fatal flaws in that thinking:

1. Jesus’ work was not yet completed as He walked among us

2. This one is a biggie – Jesus is sinless.  He is God.  He was able to walk perfectly.  We are not God.  We cannot keep the Law.  If we could, there would be no need for the Cross.  

I can’t help but wonder, as I hear those in the HR/MJ movements claim that they keep the Law, if they are being snookered by the same Lie that Satan told Eve, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)      

Where faith in Christ, being clothed in Him, and the Law of Love are central themes in the practices of New Testament believers, those who align themselves with a Law-keeping mentality place Torah as central in their lives.  They live, breath, and eat the Feasts, Days, edicts and regulations of Old Testament Law.  Their speech is filled with what they do and how they relate to Torah, not filled with who Jesus is and what He did and their relationship with Him.

Folks in the Law-keeping community, when pressed or challenged about the proper use of Torah in a New Covenant reality, exhibit fruit that is opposite of the Fruits of the Spirit described in Galatians 5.  Instead of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, you will find pride mostly, and the unpleasant characteristics that tend to accompany pride.  When they think they can sway you to their way of thinking, all is good.  Challenge them, however, and you will be accused of being an antinomian, promoting all kinds of awful sin because you believe yourself to be under Grace!

There are also those who teach that Yeshua is the living Torah.  They give Torah Godly characteristics and seem to give it a place in the God-head.  From the article, “Yeshua; Living Torah” and a Netzarim Statement of Faith (see how many perversions of Scripture you can pick up in just the next few sentences):

Before Sinai, the Torah was.

“In the beginning was the Torah and the Torah was with God and the Torah was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made… In him was life and that life was the light of men… And the Torah became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:1

Listen carefully.  The Torah became flesh and dwelt among us. Yeshua is the living Torah. Attempting to understand Messiah and His teachings, without understanding Torah is IMPOSSIBLE.

From the NSOF:  “We also believe that the Messiah Yeshua is the Torah incarnate. Just as the Torah is the way, the truth and the light, the Messiah is also the way, the truth and the light.”

Now for the real Scriptures:

John 8:58
58Jesus said unto them,
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

John 1:1-5, 14
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Hebrews 11:6
6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

John 14:6-7
6Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Do you see the differences there?  Evaluate everything that a Law keeper will throw at you (and they tend to bury you in information and Scripture), concentrating specifically on core issues of Biblical Christianity.  If those core issues fall short, the building the Law keeper is trying to get you to live in will not stand and eventually will crush you.

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YHWH God.  See Sacred Names above.

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Yeshua – Jesus.  See Sacred Names above.

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See also:

Glossary Intro

Glossary A-F

Glossary G-L

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

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Confessions of A Former Sabbath Keeper

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

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

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

Confessions of A Former Sabbath Keeper
by Tom Warner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing Sabbath-keeping’s Negative Side Effects

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

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

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

Learning More About Church History

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reconsidering First Day Texts in a New/Old Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distinguishing Between the Covenants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally Facing Up to Colossians 2:16-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding New Freedom to Rest and Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still Resting in God’s Grace

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

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

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

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

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

END NOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Used with permission from UK Apologetics.

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Other Sabbath Articles

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

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Other articles of interest:

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

It’s a pretty effective close.

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Dear Believer,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Take Just 10 Minutes – Law and Grace Teaching

Here’s a portion of a teaching from Bob George on Law and Grace.  For a longer (about 55 min.), more in depth audio teaching on the New Covenant with study notes by the same teacher, click HERE (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).  The New Covenant teaching will also be added to the Articles Page.

Be blessed!
-JGIG
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They Changed the Sabbath to Sunday

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

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

let-us-reason1

THEY CHANGED THE SABBATH TO SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one ever changed the Sabbath day to SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contrasting the Sabbath day in the Old Testament covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Was the Mosaic Sabbath Eternal and Unchangeable?

 by Robin Brace, UK Aplolgetics

Some Seventh-Day People Insist that the Principles of the Mosaic Sabbath Are Unchangeable and that, Therefore, the Prescribed Mosaic Sabbath Should be seen as Having Commenced from Creation;

But Is This Really Biblical?

Glaring Weaknesses in Sabbatarian, Seventh Day Adventist and Armstrongist Theology Frankly Considered

Is the Genesis 2 Seventh Day ‘Rest’ Essentially Inseparable From the ‘Mosaic Sabbath’?

Some  seventh-day observing people, undoubtedly sincere, but perhaps naive, seem to believe that if they can establish that the Sabbath was instituted in Creation Week then it must follow that the seventh-day Sabbath – as a legal obligation for all believers – is still in force. But what these people do not appear to understand is that every single Bible-believing Christian accepts that the Seventh Day ‘Rest’ (actually, not specifically the ‘Sabbath’) was instituted in Creation Week since that is plainly a biblical fact (Genesis 2:2-3), and nobody can argue with it – but that the original Creation Week Seventh-Day ‘Rest’ had no legalistic restrictions applied to it; those prescriptions and restrictions only came in at Sinai with the Old Covenant and were applied to Israel alone. Moreover, it is not at all difficult to establish this through the record of Scripture, as we are going to see.

The original Seventh Day – not originally ‘sabbath’ – the word ‘sabbath’ does not occur until Exodus 16:23 (of course, one cannot deny that the very origin of the word ‘sabbath’ is based on ‘rested,’ but it is nevertheless important to point this out), was given to all of mankind as a day of joy, contemplation of the Creator God and contemplation upon the beauty of Creation, apart from rest from ones normal labours. Notice Genesis 2:2-3 again.

‘By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creation that he had done.’ (Genesis 2:2-3, NIV throughout).

Yet please notice that Genesis 2:2-3 only refers to the Lord’s resting – there is not a single word there which bans anything, the text is entirely positive, and, thereafter, God did not impose ‘Seventh day’ observance (and certainly not Sabbath observance), anywhere in the entire book of Genesis! Please note that Genesis 2:2-3 never says anything like, ‘The Lord rested on that day and, from henceforth, no work or labour must ever occur on that day.’ No – the very first reference to ‘Rest’ is entirely positive with no mention of later requirement or restriction. Moreover, one may scan the entirety of Genesis, read of the Lord’s dealings with Adam, read of Noah, read of the Flood, read of the lives of the Patriarchs, read of Sodom and Gomorrah, read of Jacob and Joseph, right through Joseph’s life in Egypt and right up to the death of Joseph and there is never talk of a ‘sabbath’ or of any required ‘Seventh Day’ or sabbath observance anywhere!  The first example of obligatory, or required, sabbath observance is of Israel on-route from Egypt to Sinai in Exodus 16. Moreover – and this must be very carefully noted – according to Deuteronomy 5:2-3 and Nehemiah 9:13-14, the sabbath was never an official covenant obligation prior to the ratification of the Ten Commandments at Sinai:

“…Since the sacrifice of Christ, the Sabbath has changed again (Matthew 11:28-12:8). It is now fulfilled in Christ with an eternal sabbatism awaiting Christians in Heaven.” (Hebs 3:18-4:11).

Yes, God made that day, one day out of every seven, holy and special; a day of peace and blessing, that is, it was there if Mankind wanted to use it (it is now recognised that people actually work harder when they have a complete break from regular employment and normal activity one day in seven; seven days a week ‘workaholics’ end up with broken health, and often seem to lose balance in other areas of their lives as well). 

‘The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. IT WAS NOT WITH OUR FATHERS THAT THE LORD MADE THIS COVENANT, BUT WITH US.’

(Deuteronomy 5:2-3, my emphasis).

An argument which one sometimes hears from the seventh-day Sabbatarians (and I believe that SDA writer Desmond Ford is one who has used it), goes something like this:

‘You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.’ (Nehemiah 9:13-14).

So, the principle of the ‘Sabbath,’ which required observance, can only be dated back to Moses. Yet many Seventh Day observing people have been erroneously taught that the Sabbath was always a legal requirement but that the Lord chose Sinai to “remind” the people of the Sabbath and His other laws, which they had “forgotten.” Sincere or not, these people do not have Scripture on their side; indeed, Israel are only ‘called out’ and formally organised as a people and a separate nation from the time of the exodus. So the Scripture is clear and unequivocal that the Old Covenant package – including strict Sabbath laws – only dates back to the time of Moses. Actually, the Old Testament is so clear on this point, with great stress laid on the description and detailing of the Old Covenant in the books of Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, with a careful description of the divine deliverance of the Ten Commandments and the book of the law and the agreement and ratification of that with the Israelites, that one is really without excuse in challenging this. The only possible reason one could ever have for challenging this point is to make some obscure theological point which is against the run of Scripture – and that is exactly what Sabbatarians attempt to do.

So Nehemiah confirms what any careful research of the book of Genesis reveals, that is, that although the ‘Seventh Day’ was instituted at Creation Week, the observance of a ‘Sabbath’ was never a legal requirement until Mount Sinai.

So only Israel were given the Sabbath as a required observance and, in fact, the Sabbath was a major sign of Israel. Apart from Israel, the rest of us simply have the principle that to rest from ones normal labours and industries one day in seven and to contemplate on our God and on the wonder and beauty of His Creation is a truly godly principle – but not a legal requirement! Most Christians like to set aside ‘The Lord’s Day’ (the day of Christ’s resurrection) in this way and even occasionally call it the ‘sabbath’ even while usually fully understanding that it is not – and never was – the Sabbath. That day is the actual and specific period of time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset which was given to Israel at Sinai (the Genesis 2 ‘Seventh Day’ is not specific).

‘In the fourth (sabbath) commandment there exists a parallel between what took place during the first six days of creation week and what transpired on the seventh day. One should note the tense in Exodus 20:11:

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth…and rested the seventh day; Wherefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

All four verbs are in the past tense. No one disputes that the first two apply to Creation week. The correlation of divine acts clearly indicates that the blessing and the hallowing took place at the same time as the resting.

The last phrase, “and hallowed it,” has no significance unless the Sabbath was proclaimed and set aside for human beings at Creation. The Hebrew term in this passage occurs repeatedly in Scripture to denote a public proclamation.’

The common Seventh Day Adventist error is in failing to notice the difference between the original institution of something and the point at which a particular divine prescription comes into effect. Frankly, it is very sloppy biblical interpretation. Yes, the Seventh Day was set aside at Creation but there were no legalistic observances attached to it at that time. But when the Israelites were given the Old Covenant (from Exodus 20), the Sabbath was given a special and prominent place and various legalistic observances were added – but those parts were added at Mt Sinai and only had effect and force under the Old Covenant! So – yes the Seventh Day was hallowed and set aside at Creation but it was given to all of mankind as a day of joy, of contemplation upon nature, and of rest. But no commands accompanied it at that time. The ‘Seventh Day’ only became the ‘Sabbath’ at the time of Moses. You think I am wrong? Then search Genesis to provide me with an example of a ‘sabbath’ or of any exhortation to keep a sabbath; oh, and by the way, the events related in Genesis cover an amazingly long period of time, actually several thousand years: so, several thousand years with no sabbath command!

Four Further Sabbath Questions

1. Is the ‘Seventh Day’ on which the Creator ‘rested’ in Genesis necessarily the very same weekday as the 7th Day Sabbath of Moses?

No. Some use naive reasoning here; they will say that since the Mosaic Sabbath is the ‘seventh day’ then it must be the same ‘seventh day’ as Genesis 2. However, it appears that ‘seventh’ is only used in Genesis 2 in order to denote a principle of rest one day in seven, a principle which has been shown to be mentally and physically beneficial for Mankind. Yes, the day and principle is even sanctified, but since several thousand years separate Genesis 2 and Exodus 16:23, which is the first ever use of the word ‘Sabbath’ in Holy Scripture, it is impossible to be certain that it is the same ‘seventh day,’ although maybe Exodus 31:14-17 implies that it is. However, the reason that the Lord links the Sabbath to Creation Rest is that He is identifying Himself to Israel as the true and living Creator God. By the way, the same Scripture confirms that the Sabbath was a sign between the Lord and Israel (but not between the Lord and all Mankind).2. Is the Sabbath the ‘Seal of God’?

Some Sabbatarians have claimed that the seventh-day Sabbath is the ‘Seal of God.’ But the Seal of God is certainly not the Sabbath. The Bible tells us clearly that the ‘Seal of God’ is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13 says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 4:30 warns, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 states “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”

3. Is a Sabbath-keeping church, or denomination, the Commandment-keeping church of Revelation 12:17?

Rev. 12:17 says, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
In the New Covenant, what are the “Commandments of God”? Does this mean the Ten Commandments? Actually, no, the Greek word used for the Ten Commandments and ‘Law’ is “nomos.” That word is not used here. The word used here is “entole” and it is a much broader word, usually meaning “teachings.”
In Revelation and in his epistles too John uses ‘entole’ rather a lot. Before we find John’s own definition of the way he uses the word, let us look at another example,
I John 5:1-3 says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

These verses are frequently used to teach people that they must still keep the Sabbath since it is one of the Ten Commandments, however, the Apostle John finally defines his use of “commandments” for us. In chapter 3 of this small epistle, he defines it specifically:
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in is sight. And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him…”
I John 3:21-24a.

4. Did the Roman Catholic Church change the day of the Sabbath at the Council of Laodicea?

It is amazing how common and widespread this complete mis-information is among sabbatarians! In fact, the Council of Laodicea sat 363-365AD and The Roman Catholic Church did not even exist until several centuries after that! The early “catholic” church, as described in church histories, is the Church which Jesus founded! The word ‘catholic’ simply meant ‘universal’ and the term was often used to separate biblical churches from heretical groups. However, the congregation based at Rome increasingly followed unbiblical teachings and emphases, especially in placing all power in the hands of a ‘pope,’ taking an independent line in doctrine and approving superstitious practises. Roman Catholicism reached the peak of its power and influence in the 11-13th centuries and can be discerned as a separate movement from about the 7th century. While a few earlier Roman bishops were known as ‘popes’ this was not the grandiose sense of ‘pope’ of later centuries.
The Council of Laodicea may have been guilty of anti-Jewish sentiments but nothing more, because, the First Day, or, Lord’s Day, was already established as a day of Christian meeting in the 1st and 2nd centuries which we know from many sources, including Justin Martyr, the Epistle of Barnabas, Irenaeus, the Epistle of Ignatius, Apostolic Constitutions, and other sources too.
R.J. Bauckham says this,
“Anti-Judaism played its part in second-century Christian polemic against Jewish Sabbath observance, but it does not follow that it motivated the introduction of Christian Sunday worship…..Sunday worship dates back to the first century, while few second-century writers compare and contrast the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian Sunday. Derogatory discussions of the Jewish Sabbath do not usually refer to the Christian Sunday. If Sunday were a recent substitute for the Jewish Sabbath, we should expect far more discussion of the superiority of Sunday to the Sabbath.” (R. J. Bauckham, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, p. 271, edited by D.A. Carson.)
Robin A. Brace, 2007.

So here it is being suggested that the Sabbath – as given to Israel at Sinai had always been in force as an obligation, when, as we have already seen, that is simply not the case. Moreover to insist that it is so, shows that one has never carefully studied the book of Genesis or even discovered the plain statements of Deuteronomy 5:2-3 and Nehemiah 9:13-14. Also, the Lord appeared to identify Himself with the original ‘Creation Rest’ in order to positively identify Himself as the Creator God, that is, the ‘I AM,’ rather than to infer that the Mosaic Sabbath had any sort of continuous lineage with the Genesis 2 divine rest. Certainly, the Lord based the authority and precedent for the Old Covenant sabbath on the Creation Rest, that is undeniable, but the two things are obviously quite different.

The unbiblical argument of the claimed ‘one required seventh day observance for all men of all time’, sometimes continues in the following fashion:

‘There is no instance in Scripture of a memorial being instituted thousands of years after the event it memorialized. The Passover, for example, began at the time of the deliverance it symbolized.’

So here it is apparently insisted that a divine prescription cannot later change and yet Holy Scripture presents us with several examples of Old Testament institutions being changed even before we reach the changes of the New Covenant. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for example, had no knowledge of the package of laws delivered to Moses and the children of Israel at Mount Sinai! This is obvious to the keen student of Scripture before we even find confirmation of this fact in Deuteronomy 5:2-3 and Nehemiah 9:13-14. Regarding using the Passover as a thing which began ‘at the time of the deliverance which it symbolized’ (therefore – presumably – suggesting that a later change is impossible), one wonders why an example which can be so quickly refuted would ever be chosen (simply compare Exodus 12 with Matthew 26: 20-30 !!). In fact, Jesus changed the way the Passover had been observed up until His time, turning it into Christian communion. Even the form of “passover” or “memorial” conducted among several legalistic sects (including the Worldwide Church of God and the Jehovah’s Witnesses) has little in common with the Passover given to Israel! The fact that “the Passover began at the time of the deliverance it symbolized” (as seventh-day writers sometimes state) proves nothing, and is actually a very poor example. God is able to change things, and Scripture amply testifies to this.

Later we find the major changes of the New Covenant. We learn that Old Covenant law was never intended to be permanent:

‘The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.’  (Luke 16:16).

Of course, a few complain that the Sabbath command was part of the Ten Commandments and not part of Old Covenant law which, again, reveals a certain biblical naievity: The Ten Commandments stand at the very heart of the Old Covenant in Exodus 20! Those theologians who came along later who often separated components of Old Covenant observance into things like ‘the ceremonial law,’ ‘the civil law,’ and ‘the moral law,’ were only artificially separating those parts for purposes of closer study. The Torah presents one, unified law.

‘All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no-one is justified before God by the law…’  (Galatians 3:10-11a).

‘What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come…’  (Galatians 3:19a).

‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.’  (Hebrews 1:1-2).

‘For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.’  (Hebrews 7:12).

‘By calling this covenant “new” he has made the the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear.’  (Hebrews 8:13).

‘But now, by dying to what bound once us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.’ (Romans 7:6).

By the way, nobody is saying that the Sabbath was a ‘memorial instituted thousands of years after the event’ (as seventh-day writers often infer to be the Christian position because of the gap from Creation to Mount Sinai), one day out of every seven was indeed recognised as ‘holy time’ in Genesis long before the time of Moses but only at the time of Moses did ‘Sabbath observance’ begin with many prescriptions and restrictions being added. This is simply what inspired Scripture teaches us, however unpalatable to Seventh Day Adventist theology it may be. Indeed, since the sacrifice of Christ, the Sabbath has changed again (Matthew 11:28-12:8). It is now fulfilled in Christ with an eternal sabbatism awaiting Christians in Heaven (Hebrews 3:18- 4:11). With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that the New Testament does not contain a single admonition for Christians to continue to observe a ‘sabbath,’ even though Christian doctrine and practise is well-covered in the epistles and in the book of Hebrews. An even bigger problem for those who teach one regulated sabbath observance which is more or less ‘set in stone’ for all time, is Acts 15 where, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and dating to about AD49 or 50, the Apostles discussed which elements of Old Covenant law needed to be taught to those Gentiles who were coming to Christ. The Sabbath is highly conspicuous by its absence! Since the topic was, apparently not even raised, this tends to confirm that the Apostles fully understood that the Sabbath was given to Israel alone. In a rare moment of  ‘off the record’ candour a strong sabbatarian once admitted to me that Acts 15 is a major and unresolved weakness in sabbatarian argument.

A Seventh Day minister I used to know (WCG, not SDA), loved quoting Hebrews 13:8 to back up his belief that the seventh day ‘sabbath’ and the Leviticus 23 Mosaic ‘holydays’ were still in force for Christians:

‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.’

Of course, that statement is true but it describes the unchanging character and purposes of God. Just consider: If it means that Old Testament doctrine can never change (as this sincere but seriously misguided man seemed to infer), then you and I should still be performing animal sacrifices, Jesus was plainly wrong in some of His ‘sermon on the mount’ comments, Paul was plainly seriously wrong in numerous comments he made (especially in Romans and Galatians), and the writer of Hebrews (whoever it was) was an arch-heretic!!

So because the Lord set things up in a certain way, either at Creation or at the time of Moses, does not mean that those things can never change or have various prescriptions later added or annulled. To reject this is to either show a poor knowledge of Holy Scripture, or, more seriously, it is to attempt to force ones ‘official doctrines’ to fit in with Scripture rather than to allow Holy Scripture alone to shape ones doctrinal approach.

Robin A. Brace, 2007.

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Used with permission.  Many thanks to UK Apologetics.

This article is also linked to on the Articles page here at JGIG.

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