• What JGIG Is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Broken Links – UGH

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

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

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

    Thanks,
    – JGIG

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A Hebrew Roots Wife Speaks

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

A Hebrew Roots Wife Speaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is pleased with me because of Jesus!

And the blessings of Abraham are mine by faith!

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

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

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

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

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

Hold fast to Jesus!  In a little while …

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

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Advertisement

What About ‘Hyper-Grace’???

What About ‘Hyper-Grace’???

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

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

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

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

How do you avoid losing your salvation?

By not sinning, of course!

How do you keep from sinning?

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

And if you do sin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited to add 4/7/14:

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

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

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

And Grace \o/..

grace is hyper

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Evaluation of Public Teachings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the entire page.

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Related, off-site articles:

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

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

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Other related articles available at JGIG:

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My Public Testimony by J. Rumani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-JGIG

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Other articles of interest:

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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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Grace or Law? How Then, Shall We Live?

After salvation, how then, shall we live?

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

tug-o-war1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

measuring up

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

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

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

We don’t produce fruit; we bear fruit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A commenter at JGIG’s Facebook page asked this excellent question out of frustration:

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

Andrea was referring to the quoting of this passage:

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

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

Here’s the really cool thing:

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

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

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

Commanding the one in Christ to love is like commanding a person who has life in them to breathe because it’s a law.  If a person has life in them, they automatically breathe – it’s something that we just DO.

If we are in Christ, loving others is something that we just DO. 

To command those in Christ to love is a ridiculously-unfair-in-our-favor-win-win-deal!

Here’s the other really cool thing:

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

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

That is Grace.

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

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

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

Good fruit takes time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That said, God does save completely:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 4:14-16
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

threeimputations

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

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

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

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

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

Law was given to increase sinning:

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

Law stirs up sinning:

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

Law produces death:

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

Law produces fruit unto death:

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

Law is the power of sin:

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

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

Grace teaches us godliness:

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

The Spirit produces life:

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

The Spirit produces the Fruits of the Spirit:

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

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

Law-Perfect-300x210

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

Apparently, the Thessalonians were really good at this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read them out loud.

Discover who God says you are in Christ.

Lift up those areas of weakness and sinning in your life – “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

grace always wins

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


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

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

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


Highly Recommended Related Audio Teachings (free downloads)
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Other articles of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every blessing, -JGIG

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

by Mark Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now fast forward to the present at 51 years old…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love in Christ our Lord,

Mark Smith
markbsmith7@yahoo.com

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Other Testimonies at JGIG:

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Other articles of interest:

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

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A Bit of Housekeeping – New Resources at JGIG

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

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

Media Tab

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

Audio and Text Resources

Video Resources

Music

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

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

The Gospel Tab

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

About Tab

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

Statement of Faith

Comments Policy

How I Became Aware of the Hebrew Roots Movement

About the Author

Contact JGIG

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

Sincerely in Christ,
-JGIG

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

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Other articles of interest:

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Are They Judaizers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

From JGIG:
Hi LabbyLove,

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

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

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

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

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

As I heard those things and heard more teaching from those who had chosen Torah observance, many Scriptures came to mind.  The teachings that I was hearing were not matching up with what my heart had hidden deep within me – the Word.  It is not the ‘teachings from pastors or church fathers’ or the ‘brainwashing of the modern church’ which cause me to disagree with the teachings I have discerned as false, it is the Word hidden in my heart!  I’d see a teaching and the thought process behind it (which more often than not seemed reasonable on the surface), but it wouldn’t sit right in my heart.  The words of Scripture would come to mind, I’d go look them up, and sure enough, error was revealed in whatever particular teaching by a plain reading of the Word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The key is actually simpler than a list.

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
-JGIG

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Other articles of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repentance unto salvation IS a one time deal, temu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many trespasses?

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

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

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

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

If you are in Christ, you ARE forgiven !

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

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

Originally Posted by JGIG
The question was asked,

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

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

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

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

Yes!

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

Yes!

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

Yes!

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

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

No!

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

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

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

and:

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

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

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

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

1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3539 – noeō

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

and

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

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

Strong’s G3199 – melei
1) to care about

(Source)

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

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

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

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

No. 1:

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

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

a) (Niphal)

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

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

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

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

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

a) (Qal)

1) to turn back, return

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

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

g) of inanimate things
h) in repetition

b) (Polel)

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

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

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

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

No. 3, with roots:

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

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

a) inner part, midst

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

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

Strong’s H3823 – labab, A primitive root

1) to ravish, become intelligent, get a mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) a recurrence, an answer, return

a) return

1) completion of a year, return of a year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Testament Believers and New Testament Christians

It’s a meaty read. Enjoy!

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

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

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

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

If you are in Christ, you ARE forgiven !

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

-JGIG

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Identifying False Teaching

(Edited and expanded 4/6/13.)  A commenter recently asked, “Would you be willing to submit names of those teachers who are the most widely known [in the Hebrew Roots Movement]. I know at ‘The Final Return’ conference in St. Louis this past weekend, there were several teachers including Bill Cloud, Brad Scott, Jim Staley, etc. What are your views on these people in regards to this movement?”

That is a great question.

When I purposed to start Joyfully Growing In Grace, I prayed a lot about what it should look like and what the content would be like. I had done lots of research into the HRM and its prominent teachers, and knew that there is a lot of info out there regarding aspects of Law ‘keeping’ sects and teachers.  As I did that research, I couldn’t find anyplace where core issues of Biblical Christianity which were under attack by the HRM and related sects were defended in a comprehensive, step-by-step way, or if they were, many of those sites also had agendas of their own (heresy-hunters who find error with everybody but themselves, KJV-onlyism, or legalistic in their own rights with their own pet doctrines).

I also thought about how I had come to the conclusion that the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism movements and related sects were in error . . . it was by having a good foundation in the Scriptures, many of which had been committed to memory growing up that came bubbling up in my heart and mind as I was presented with false teaching.

So where I stand is here:
It is not by the refutation of every Jim, Jon, Bill and Michael (or Eddie, Moshe, Avi, Monte, Brad, etc. list goes on ad nauseam) HRM/MJ teacher that believers will become equipped to recognize false teaching; it is by presenting the truths of the Scriptures that believers will become equipped to discern error.  The particular area of error to which God has called me is the error found in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related Law ‘keeping’ sects.
false prophet tape
This is key to the vision at JGIG:

It is on the core issues of the Faith that a belief system will stand or fall, not in refutations of who’s teaching what at any particular time.  The primary goal at JGIG is to equip believers in the core issues of the Gospel:  Who Jesus is, what He came to do, what that actually accomplished, and who believers are in Him.  When one has a firm grasp on those foundational Truths, falsehoods become more obvious and tend to fall away.

Teachers in the HRM are a dime-a-dozen. The movement is spreading.  They troll our churches and pick off those who are discontent with their church, wounded by their church, are rebellious in one way or another, or simply have itchy ears.  Then there are those believers who succumb to the “If you really love God, you will . . . ” appeal, because they really do love God!  I think sheepwrecked’s testimony relays that heart condition so well.  Sheepwrecked was well churched her whole life – but felt like she had “missed it” and been deceived by the Church after influence from the HRM.

Do I know about the teachers listed above?  Yes.  And it’s really tempting to write about them, but defending the faith is not about them.  It’s all about JESUS – Who He is, what He came to do, what that accomplished, and who we are in Him.  There are a million (at least) rabbit trails one can go down when investigating the HRM/MJism/Netzarim streams of faith.  As I was exposed to Law ‘keeping’ teachings, the thing that kept me on an even keel was not having information about who was teaching what (though some of that was helpful), but in holding fast to the Cross of Christ and the Gospel (1 Corinthians 2:2).

If you go to this page at JGIG, you can find out about how I became aware of the Law-keeping sects and read several posts dealing with issues that have come to my attention as I have had time to write about them.  The Glossary is also a good resource, along with the Articles page.  The GIG Media page has good, foundational teaching with an emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant issues.  On all of those pages/posts you will find many embedded links as resources should you want to examine different issues more closely.  Also be aware that teachers seeking to educate the Body about Her ‘Hebraic Roots’ may sound like they believe what other Christians believe, but beware:  it is often what they believe in addition to the core issues of the Gospel which result in the nullification of those core issues and the preaching/teaching of a different jesus and a different gospel.  Note also that the HRM has very little interest in reaching the lost with the Gospel, but rather is very concerned about putting the Body of Christ under Old Covenant Law.

The goal at JGIG is for believers to have resources to help them make up their own minds about all of this and to have tools available to help equip them to contend for the Gospel when called to do so.  If I go head-hunting, then it becomes about false teachers, not about false teaching and refuting THAT with Biblical Truth.  I’d rather not give those blokes any more screen time than they already get, know what I mean?

[Edited to add 10/21/13]  Due to the volume of emails and private messages I get asking about Jim Staley and Passion For Truth Ministries, and due to the aggressive marketing that PFT does, there is now a page here at JGIG that addresses Staley’s signature teaching, ‘Identity Crisis’ and related teachings.  The page also examines his leadership style and his testimony about how PFT started.  The page can be viewed here,  Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement  –  An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley, and can also be accessed from the Articles page.

Identifying False Teaching
When looking at what any teacher is teaching, look for where they stand on the core issues.

Watch for the systematic redefinition of terms and the following progression in their teachings.  From the Glossary Introduction here at JGIG:

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

An Incorrect Paradigm

As this illustration demonstrates, having an incorrect paradigm can change the picture of a thing quite a lot! Is it any wonder that those in the Hebrew Roots Movement have claimed the area of language as their primary pillar of “expertise” as they purpose to lure Christians away from the canon of Scripture to a more “enlightened” way of reading/interpreting Scripture and discerning doctrine?

It’s a seductive way to change a Christian’s paradigm, and ends up in a set of beliefs and practices that is not supported by Scripture.  It turns Christianity as inside out as the above illustration turns the concept of the solar system inside out. The picture is recognizable, but is totally false and unworkable when measured by reality.

It’s been amazing, disturbing, and somewhat amusing to discover how those in the HRM have determined to re-define terms and doctrines as well as pseudo re-translate the New Testament.

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

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

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

I have seen the same technique over and over in articles and teachings on HRM websites and in discourse with those who hold to Law keeping doctrine from all points on the spectrum.

Determine What the Core Issues of the Christian Faith Are and Go From There
I try to keep it simple.  For me the two things I look for when examining any belief system are:

  1. Do they deny the Deity of or diminish Who Jesus Christ is or His Work in any way?
  2. Do they repeat the Big Lie told by the Serpent in Genesis 3?

If either or both items above are present, I consider the belief system to be fatally flawed and false.

Regarding #1
1 John 4 is one good passage by which to gauge what someone thinks about Who Jesus Christ is.  The entire letter to the Ephesians is a great book to read through to see how Christ is exalted and the authority that He has.  And of course, John 1, where it is made clear that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  The letter to the Hebrews further establishes Jesus as God and as our Perfect High Priest, as well as explaining in great detail the superiority of Jesus’ Priesthood and the New Covenant over the Old..  As one reads through the New Testament, one clearly sees the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His authority.  Anything that denies the God-hood of or diminishes Jesus Christ’s Work, Authority, or Position as the Perfect High Priest in any way and/or takes our focus away from Him and His Work, Authority or Position is error.

Let me repeat here: be aware that teachers seeking to educate the Body about Her ‘Hebraic Roots’ may sound like they believe what other Christians believe, but beware:  it is often what they believe in addition to the core issues of the Gospel which result in the nullification of those core issues and the preaching/teaching of a different jesus and a different gospel.

Regarding #2
From Genesis 3 –  Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say . . . “ and “You will not certainly die,”  . . . “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

I had a hard time pinning down #2 in relation to the HRM until I kept hearing the ‘we must walk as Jesus walked’ phrase over and over again in regard to the keeping of Mosaic Covenant Law.  The Scripture used most often to convince believers that they should be living according to Old Covenant Law is 1 John 2:3-6, and taken out of context, is quite compelling:

1 John 2:3-6
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

So how does all that tie into the ‘Big Lie’?

Part One of the ‘Big Lie’:
Those who say that we must walk in Torah as Yeshua/Jesus Christ did are teaching that before the work of Christ, man was not able to keep the Law, but that after the work of Christ, enabled by His Holy Spirit, we are able to keep the Law – as He did.

We cannot.  It is not possible.  Jesus Christ is God.  He is perfect.  He is sinless.  We are not God (anyone hear echoes of ” . . . and you will be like God . . . “ ?).  Even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are still bound by the imperfect flesh this side of our resurrection (Romans 7) and by a mind/soul in need of constant renewal (Romans 12).  To say/think/believe that we can walk as Jesus walked in the way of the Law is folly, and not at all how Jesus Himself commanded us to walk (John 13:34-35, John 15:12-17).

So how do we ‘walk as Jesus walked’?
A commenter at the JGIG Facebook page quoted the above passage from 1 John 2, with the following emphases: 

“We know we have come to KNOW him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (I John 2:3-6—NIV)”

This is the argument we hear a lot from those in Law-keeping camps: that if you’re going to walk as Jesus walked – Jesus being a Sabbath-keeping, clean-eating, tzit tzit wearing, Torah-keeping Jew – His example is how you too, should walk – in Torah obedience!

Context, dear ones, please  .  .  ..  .  .

What are God’s commands after the Work of Christ?  God is very clear in the same letter written through John that the commenter quoted from above:

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

Regarding, “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”, again, let’s go to what God also says through John:

1 John 4:13-21
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (This again reinforces 1 John 3:23) 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  [This, inclusive of the verses before and after this statement, and shows us how we are to walk as Jesus walked – in love.]

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

John never points us to Law-keeping, and he never instills fear in the believer because those in Christ need not fear punishment; all of our sins have been dealt with at the Cross and we have received the free gift of righteousness (Romans 5) – he points us to belief in Christ, recognizing that we receive His Spirit when we do that (New Life), and points us to love.  John is absolutely consistent in all of his writings.

If we are in Christ and love others, “in this world we are like Him”!  Love is a command – a law, yes?  One could say that.

A commenter at JGIG’s Facebook page asked this excellent question out of frustration regarding that very point:

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

Andrea was referring to the quoting of this passage (HRMers have a hard time with this one):

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

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

Here’s the really cool thing:  Love is a Fruit of the Spirit as well as a command.

Though love is a command, if you don’t do it, (which would be sin), you’re already forgiven.  If you are in Christ, you are not under law, and where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 4:15, 5:13).  God makes clear to us that sin and the Law are dealt with from two angles: the sins of the world were forgiven at the Cross (John 1:29, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 1 John 2:2 and others), and we who are in Christ are dead to the Law (Romans 7:1-4, Galatians 2:19).  Furthermore, as if that weren’t enough (!), God imputes the Righteousness of Christ to us (Romans 5:15-21).  There is nothing we can ‘do’ to improve or add to the righteousness of Christ that has been given to us in Christ.  These are the Truths of the Gospel that establish the position of the believer in the sight of God!

No Striving in Abiding

THAT SAID – If you are in Christ and are led by His Spirit, love will be a fruit produced in you.  We love because He first loved us and He lives in and through us.

Do fruit-producing plants strive to produce fruit?

No . . . they produce fruit because they are attached to the vine/tree/plant which nourishes them.

Fruit is the by-product of LIFE.

If you are alive in Christ and abiding in Him, allowing His Holy Spirit to live through you, love is an unavoidable by-product and fulfills the law (Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14)!

Commanding the one in Christ to love is like commanding a person who has life in them to breathe because it’s a law.  If we have life in us, we automatically breathe – it’s something that we just DO.

If we are in Christ, loving others is something that we just DO. 

To command those in Christ to love is a ridiculously-unfair-in-our-favor-win-win-deal!

By resting in Christ and letting Him live His Life through us, God’s command to love is obeyed (John 15:12, 1 John 3:23) as a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:18, 22-23) and the Law is fulfilled (Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14).

That is Grace.

What about sin?

Part Two of the ‘Big Lie’
We hear constantly from those in the HRM, “How do we know what sin is, anyway?”  And out comes 1 John 3:4 – “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”  From there they live, breathe, and eat Torah Law, studying and attempting to keep Old Covenant Laws to avoid sinning.  (Anyone hear echoes of, “. . . your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. ?)  While saying that Jesus’ Blood is for our salvation, they leave Him at the curb and turn to Law-keeping for sanctification and sin reduction, not relying on and resting in the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would come to be our Comforter, Helper and Counselor, leading His Body into all truth (John 14:26, John 16:8-15), yet claiming that it is the Holy Spirit Who ’empowers them’ to ‘keep’ Old Covenant Law.

Torah folk run to that which actually stirs up sin, that which the Bible says is the power of sin: the Law.  What should we do we do when we do sin (and those in both the Law and Grace ‘camps’ do sin!)?  Run back to that which we died to and the Bible says stirs up sin to try to straighten ourselves out (Romans 7:1-4)?  Is that what we who have a Perfect High Priest have to do?  Go back to an old, weak and useless system that made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:18-19)?

Hebrews 4:14-16
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Instead, those who advocate Torah observance tell us that unless we live by Old Covenant Law, we are engaging in willful sin, implying to believers in Christ who walk in the love of Christ that the Holy Spirit Who lives in them will somehow lead them into sin if they’re not walking in Torah Law:

Galatians 5:13-18
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

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

Wrapping up the ‘Big Lie’
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  It was the birth of Gnosticism, and it is woven into every false belief system out there.  We are often told by those who are pursuing ‘their Hebraic Roots’, “Did God really say . . . “ when it comes to the New Covenant and that you can avoid sin if you can define it, ” . . . and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  They have chosen the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than the Tree of Life and they don’t even know it.

We are told we need to ‘dig deeper’, that Christianity has had it wrong for the past two thousand years, that their (HRMers) eyes have been opened, and that they now know how to identify sin and how to avoid it.  Some engage in the practice of consulting the writings of the sages and rabbis through the ages – most of whom have arrived at their teachings through the use of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).  Others have adopted teachings derived from those who have consulted the sages and rabbis and their mystical methods and they don’t even know it.

For the believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the methods utilized in the practice of Kabbalah are strictly off-limits.  Even a cursory examination of the practice of Kabbalah will confirm this.  I always marvel at the stand HRMers will take against perceived paganism in the celebrations of the Birth and Resurrection of Christ, but how they will not give the same examination to many of the beliefs in the HRM to which they adhere.  (For more on this topic, see, “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gematria”.)

Beyond that, the Bible is clear that the Law actually stirs up sin, the power of sin is the Law, and the Law produces fruit unto death (Romans 7, 1 Corinthians 15:56).  Grace and the Spirit, on the other hand, produce godliness, life, and the Fruits of the Spirit (Titus 2:11-14, Ephesians 2, Galatians 5).  Those who buy into the ‘Big Lie’ latch onto that which takes them to the exact opposite place they really want to be.

As for the HRM stream of thought in which any teacher you come across swims, after you evaluate what they teach by items 1 and 2 above, if they fail either one or both of those core issue tests, the rest is all suspect.  For example, many teachers in the HRM teach the ‘Two House Theology’ or the ‘Northern Kingdom’ bit.   That teaching is a re-hash of British Israelism with a Hebrew Roots twist. Most of it is taken straight from the Worldwide Church of God, aka Armstrongism.  If you feel you need to go past items 1 and 2 above, you will find alternate interpretations of teaching after teaching from all parts of the Bible by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement – most requiring much effort and linguistic contraption-making to get them to fit into the Law-keeping mold.

About fruit . . .
If you’ve found this site, the ‘nice’ Law-keeper in your life has either tried to teach you some things that seem really ‘off’ to you, or you have dared to challenge them and they’re not so nice anymore and, well, you’ve experienced the fruits of one who is walking in self-righteousness.  Jesus summed it up pretty succinctly:

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

Holy Spirit Spidey Senses
Don’t discount when the Holy Spirit puts a check in your spirit.  Pay attention.  Get in the Word.  Look stuff up.  Check the language.  discernmentEspecially when someone is machine-gunning Scripture at you.  That’s just another technique that those in Law-keeping sects use – to fire off so much Scripture so fast that you don’t have time to check it out.  Like I said above, they establish false premises and then build upon those premises as fact, taking you to the next doctrinal place they want you to go.  This is especially true in when it comes to the re-definition of terms.  (For a more in-depth look at methods used by the HRM, see “Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101”)

So take your time and really examine what anyone is teaching you!  Pray that God would guard your heart and mind and give you discernment.

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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“Thy word have I hid in mine heart . . . “

As I’ve posted material here on JGIG, my oldest child has been reading along.  She asked me how I was able to see the mistakes, as she put it, in Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism doctrine.  The answer is that it wasn’t me, it was the Word.

As a school child, part of my schooling was Scripture memorization.  Portions from both the Old and New Testaments, in the King James Version.  As an adult, I use the NIV, though not exclusively, but still love the language of the KJV passages I learned.  In the busy-ness of adulthood and now parenthood, I must confess, there is not much time for Scripture memorization!  Now I have more of a map in my head of where to find Scriptures relevant to a discussion or study.

But back to the Word . . .

As I was exposed to the teachings of the HR/MJ movements, the teachings that I was hearing were not matching up with what my heart had hidden deep within me – the Word.  It is not the ‘teachings from pastors or church fathers’ or the ‘brainwashing of the modern church’ which cause me to disagree with the teachings I have discerned as false, it is the Word in my heart!  I’d see a teaching and the thought process behind it (which more often than not seemed reasonable on the surface), but it wouldn’t sit right in my heart.  The words of Scripture would come to mind, I’d go look them up, and sure enough, error was revealed in whatever particular teaching by a plain reading of the Word.

So if you have children, encourage the memorization of passages of the Word.  Passages, not just verses.  Context is sooooo important as our children will be exposed to all manner of teachings/teachers/perspectives as they grow into and become adults.  I have a renewed goal in our home toward that end after that little conversation with our oldest . . .

Every Blessing,
-JGIG

Romans 14: Indisputable Matters – Torah or the Gospel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It really is very clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

eat-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 clean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ancient Heresies & Discredited Theories Which Have Been Taken Up by the Cults & Sects

by Robin Brace

[This article is informative in regard to the Hebrew Roots Movement, as variations of each of the following streams of thought are present in HRM doctrine.  As God’s Word so wisely forewarns, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  – JGIG]

ARIANISM
The belief that Jesus was not really God, just the highest creation of God was one of the first Church heresies. It was defeated simply because it is unscriptural; there are just too many New Testament verses which cannot be explained within this schema. The teaching originated with Arius, a fourth century Alexandrian minister. It was denounced as heresy at the councils of Nicaea (325) & Constantinople (381.) These early Church councils were almost certainly guided by the Holy Spirit and their judgements have stood the test of time.

The Arians insisted on calling the Son of God ‘creature’ and ‘work’ because they were uncompromising monotheists (believing in One God) and thought that this was compromised by calling Jesus God. But one should not baulk at revealed truths just because they may be humanly difficult to explain. If Arianisn should be true, we have no saviour, since Jesus is too far below God for His sacrifice to have been efficaceous for us. Jesus becomes an example of decent living and little more. This is high error indeed! Despite this, Arianism is still alive and kicking and is at the heart of the approach of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

EBIONITISM
The Ebionites also tended to demote the place of Christ. They taught the necessity for Christians to also uphold and obey the law of Moses and so have often been compared to the Judaistic group who were undermining Paul’s teachings at Galatia. A few have claimed that the Ebionites were the descendants of the Jerusalem church of the first century, but this is very far from being proven.

Like the Arians this group were very soon on the outside of the established Church. This approach is very very similar to the approach adopted by Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the ‘Worldwide Church of God’ cult/sect. For Armstrong, law was everything although he was very selective about which laws he was keen on; some were almost ignored, others such as the seventh day Sabbath and the Leviticus 23 holydays, were relentlessly pushed by Armstrong. He appeared totally disinterested in the major Christian doctrine of Grace, despite that doctrine’s very high profile in the writings of Paul. Armstrong would have agreed that the Old Covenant sacrifices had now ceased but was unwilling to make further concessions on Old Covenant law, which placed his theology a long way from the theology of the New Testament.

The tiny WCG offshoot cults have tried to maintain, to a greater or lesser degree, Armstrong’s approach.

PELAGIANISM
This was the famous 5th century heresy which was condemned at the councils of Milevis (416) and Carthage (418) – Pelagius himself was a British Bible teacher who rejected the doctrine of Original Sin and taught a ‘pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps’ method of salvation. Yet again we find both Christ and the pivotal Christian doctrine of grace strongly relegated within this schema. Pelagianism has (necessarily) gone straight into every cult or sect which rejects the fully biblical doctrine of Original Sin (Psalm 51: 5) – the doctrine appears in the early chapters of Genesis and is later fully supported by Paul so it really is not an option for the serious Bible student to reject it; despite this, however, numerous Adventist-type groups do reject it.

The clear teaching within [true] essential doctrine is that the legacy of Adam’s sin has been passed on and imputed to all his children, mankind therefore stands in a current state of  ‘falleness’ – only Christ can resolve this situation and He does so by imputing His righteousness to all who come to Him in faith. So the first Adam has caused his sin to be imputed to his children, while the second Adam, Jesus Christ, in His act of redemption, causes His righteousness to be imputed to all of His children. But where these vital biblical concepts are not upheld, Pelagianism will raise its head. Now men and women have it within themselves to ‘make it’ following Jesus’ example, and grace is left nowhere!

This really is the teaching of salvation by works. This theological schema has strongly affected the cults and sects and large areas of the New Age movement. It was strongly present in the old-style WCG group.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES
It has wisely been said that a cult does not exist except where it can uphold at least one conspiracy theory! This is very true and it is truly astonishing what some sects and cults have sometimes succeeded in getting quite bright and intelligent people to believe!

However, some of the sub-Christian sects do not have clean hands here either; some of the seventh day groups have come up with woeful perversions of early Church history in order to ‘prove’ how only apostate Christians turned to Sunday.

Typically, religious conspiracy theories might involve world bankers, the number 666, political goings-on in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church, new translations of the Bible… or almost anything else. The fact that there are sometimes nuggets of truth in these sorts of theories should not give anyone licence to come up with wild, wooly and totally unsubstantiated claims which are liable to lead the naive astray!

To take just a few of these; the number 666 does, of course, occur in the book of Revelation, but the astonishing and totally unproven theories which people have sometimes come up with – and then been prepared to claim that their approach is ‘biblical’ – is quite amazing!

A recent book, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great; the Church of Rome and the European Union exposed to the Light of Truth’ is fairly typical. It contains some amazing nonsense and yet will undoubtedly be avidly believed by many who read it! Much of it appears to be based on the now widely discredited ‘The Two Babylons’ by Hislop. Numerous unproven and unprovable ideas and schemas are given credence, as is the now somewhat famed religious hoaxer, Rivera. (One of his claims is that the Church of Rome not only frames, but actually murders Protestant ministers!)

The economy with hard facts is, I’m afraid, typical of such books. Now, of course, as evangelical protestants, we believe that the Church of Rome does have enormous doctrinal problems – but surely that does not give anyone the right to write wild and sensationalist claims which have not been meticulously researched!

A campaign to save the Old King James Bible has predictably gained support from some of these extremist groups. Some claims about various Bible translators have gone as far as blatant name-calling! The book mentioned even confuses the widely respected Christian translator, B.F. Westacott with W.W. Westacott, the occultist!

In all of this approach, fear appears to be a factor, forgetting the sound advice of 2 Timothy 1: 7.

‘LEVEL PLAYING FIELD’ BIBLICAL EXEGESIS
The Bible, quite obviously, contains various forms of writing. Surely nobody can deny that it contains prophecy, poetry, parables, historical accounts, apocalyptic writing, letters and other elements too. We should all be able to perceive that these are different forms of writing. Yes, in the case of the Bible, all inspired by the Holy Spirit – but still different forms of literature.

This should not seem so strange; when we look at a newspaper, we find main news, the editorial, a TV section, advertisements, perhaps (lamentably!) an astrology column, maybe a fashion section, the sports section and so on. We all immediately recognize these as different forms of writing. We do not expect the same from the ‘car ads’ as we would from the sports, or we do not confuse a vital ‘breaking news’ item with the gardening column! This sounds obvious and quite amusing, in fact.

All theologians and serious students of the Bible must confront these factors when looking at the varied facets of the Word of God. Unfortunately, however, the sects and cults have always tended to look on the Bible as a level playing field in which to enjoy their sports, unencumbered by any academic responsibility! This is not putting it too strongly.

They have often practised a ‘mix and match’ school of biblical interpretation which does not take account of differences within biblical writings. Lamentably these people have often not been slow in lifting a given Scripture completely out of its context if it can be used (abused?) to back up their points and agendas. They have been unconcerned about mixing different writing genres. This would be somewhat akin to reading a news item about Tony Blair but noticing that a detail had been left out, so looking for it in the advertising column! Obviously absurd.

This is the practise that Kurt Hutton called ‘Knight Jump exegesis’ (which he applied to Jehovah’s Witnesses) – all the Adventist-type (and indeed other types) of cults & sects have frequently ended up with the proverbial ‘egg on their faces’ because of repeated attempts to impose their own agendas upon the Scriptures, especially in the area of prophecy.

UNITARIANISM
Though there were some early ‘rumblings’ about the Trinity doctrine, the early Church councils tended to iron these out. As a more organized heresy, Unitarianism arrived late, emerging in 16th century England and Hungary. These people baulked at the idea that God could exist ‘in three persons’ and they were, perhaps, especially concerned about the Holy Spirit. Before too long, however, elements of Pelagianism came into the movement with its optimistic view of Man’s salvific potential and – as always in such a scenario – the place of Christ and His Grace started to be downplayed. Others started to say that Christ’s sacrifice had not been strictly necessary.

So, yet again, we see evidence of how these Christ and grace demoting heresies tended to ‘stick together’. Yet, while the make-up of the Trinity is not a specific part of the gospel message, the Trinity can be plainly seen in the New Testament. In time it was natural that questions would be asked so the early Church came up with an agreed approach in order to prevent division, dissent and heresy. It was the best they could do and, in fact, no better way of explaining the concept of God in three persons has been produced.

Unitarianism has gone straight into most of the cults and sub-Christian sects. Some of these people prefer to call the Holy Spirit ‘just the power of God’, and this sounds attractive at first but a deeper knowledge of the Scriptures eventually shows that this doesn’t go far enough; there is plainly a personal element too – in 62 references to the Spirit in Acts, 18 describe the Spirit in terms of a personage who speaks, forbids, thinks good, appoints, sends, bears witness, prevents, is deceived and resisted!  ‘Just the power of God’ does not satisfy these Scriptures!

In the Pauline epistles too we find that the Spirit is grieved, bears witness, cries, leads and makes intercession. Again, the cults and sects have often claimed that the Trinity is pagan in origin and they have gone looking for triads within paganism as evidence of this – but, of course, the ‘researcher’s effect’ immediately comes into play here (researchers tend to ‘find’ whatever they are looking for!) The truth is, however, that the Trinity is not error but, rather, the rejection of it is a heresy as the Church decided a long time ago. The whole Holy Trinity is involved in our conversion and Christian life! The Father draws us to the Son by means of His Spirit and it is the Spirit which leads us on our Christian paths.

When Jesus was about to return to heaven, He specifically stated that it was needful that His Spirit should come in order to continue leading His Church – Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all revealed to be God; the Scriptures are not lacking to back up this point.

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Used with permission from UK Apologetics.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Re-definition of Terms

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

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Glossary Introduction

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

An Incorrect Paradigm

An Incorrect Paradigm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Glossary A-F 

 

Biblical Feasts From Zechariah Ministries: The first three feasts . . . Pesach (Passover), Unleavened Bread and First Fruits, fall in March and April. The fourth one, Pentecost (Shavu’ot), occurs in Late May or early June.  The last three feasts, Trumpets, Yom Kippur and Sukkot take place in September and October.  All of the appointed times of the Lord are listed in the twenty third chapter of Leviticus and follow the Jewish lunar calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon. Each month in a lunar calendar begins with a new moon.

Hebrew Roots adherants believe that keeping the Feasts and Sabbaths given to Israel is mandatory for all Christians today.  Much time and effort is exerted in learning and observing them.  While some HRMers limit their observances to Feasts and Sabbaths, others believe it mandatory to obey all of the Mosaic Law given to Israel.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of those in the Hebrew Roots Movement are not Jewish.  It is not a matter of Jewish Christians carrying on their Jewish heritage, traditions, and customs in conjunction with their faith in Christ.  This is a group of Christians who have ostensibly come to the Cross, yet turn around and choose to go back to the Law, ignoring the truths of the completed work of Jesus Christ at the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension and rejecting God’s gift of the New Covenant.  (An excellent audio teaching working its way point by point through the scriptural truths of the New Covenant can be found HERE.)

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British Israelism (Anglo Israelism) – From WikipediaBritish Israelism (sometimes called Anglo-Israelism) is the belief that that many early Britons, Europeans and/or their royal families were direct lineal descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, but rarely the Tribe of Judah.

This belief has been accorded little scientific proof or significance; its significance stems largely from its cultural significance as a concept, and as an idea historically accepted and propounded. Proponents assert that national favor with God is based on a nation’s status as an Israelite nation while individual salvation remains based on a personal relationship with God.

Due to the amorphous nature of this idea over the years, there has rarely been a central head, recognized leadership, or organizational structure to the movement. This has led to a diverse set of professions and beliefs ancillary to the genealogical claims.  [See entire article HERE.] 

See also Ephaimites as well as Two House Theology below and notice the similarities in those movements with British Israelism.  There really is nothing new under the sun.

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Christianity – orthodox (small ‘o’ – conforming to established Biblical doctrine – not conforming to the traditions of men):  Generally means a focus on the essential or core issues of the Christian faith based on the authority of the Scriptures alone These include: the authority and infallibility of the Bible, the nature of God, the sinful and fallen state of humanity, and salvation by grace through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation.  Where I would have not long ago characterized myself as an evangelical Christian, that label has become so varient in the past few years I find “orthodox with a small ‘o’” to be a more accurate description of the Christian core beliefs to which I adhere.  The Statement of Faith page here at JGIG reflects what I believe to be a faithful representation of those essential or core issues of the Christian faith.

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church (vs. Church) – In HRM teaching, the church (small “c”) is the paganized Catholic church.  Most of what’s wrong in Christendom today, according to the HRM, has its origins in paganism and/or the Catholic church.  While I would agree that there are significant problems with Catholic doctrine and practices as well as some problems in the Church (Body of Christ) at large, I find that the Hebrew Roots Movement strays at least as far from the Christianity of the Bible with its reliance on extra-biblical sources for structuring its belief system as does either Catholicism or wayward Christianity. 

HRM teaching says that they are striving to return to the way the early believers worshipped, yet they at the very least twist and at the worst totally disregard the wealth of teaching and instruction contained in the Epistles of the New Testament that gave direction and correction to the fledgling Church (Body of Christ) in the first century.  One reason they give for this is that they don’t consider those letters to be part of the Scriptures that the early believers used, that they certainly were not used by Jesus, and that they were not (are not?) considered Scripture at the time (now?).  

The HRM solution?  They distort, ignore, or outright discard those teachings which they cannot adequately manipulate into their theology (see “Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word” ). They ignore the fact that the early letters written to the fledgling Church were faithfully copied and passed from congregation to congregation as Scripture.

From Bible.org – “The Holy Canon of Scripture” – “. . . (1) In the Apostolic Era. Since the books were inspired when they were written, they were already canonical and possessed authority as being a part of God’s Word. The responsibility of the church was simply to attest to the fact of their inspiration. This process began immediately with the writers recognizing that their own writings were the Word of God (Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 4:15). But they also recognized that other writings of the New Testament were Scripture and on a par with the Old Testament. In 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul quoted Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7 and referred to both passages as Scripture. Peter likewise attested to Paul’s writings as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:15-16. Furthermore, the New Testament epistles were being read and circulated among the churches as authoritative revelation from God (cf. Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27).[Bolding mine.]

I found this quote in a book review HERE, but this sentence is applicable to what I see in the Hebrew Roots Movement as well: “Once the Church is decontextualized, the inferred meanings of the texts of the New Testament are removed and new meanings assigned.” 

One of the more aberrant definitions of the Church that I’ve seen, according to Avi Ben Mordechai:  “The ‘Church’ is supposed to be a body of Torah Obedient Holy Ones, reflecting in their lives WRITTEN TORAH truth, evident through the life of all Israel.  See 1Timothy 3:14-15.”  (Source Avi Ben Mordechai – Live on Galatians, slide 75)  Okay, so the Church isn’t the Body of Christ?

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.”  (Ephesians 5:23)  “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:24). 

You have to do some fancy footwork through Scripture to come up with Avi’s definition.  Avi Ben Mordechai’s misuse and twisting of scripture is some of the most seductive I’ve seen.  His mis-definition of the Church is just the tip of the iceburg.  Avi Ben Mordechai also denies the Deity of Christ outright without apology.  He leads his students step by step, bit by bit, into absolute heresy. 

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Deity (or not) of Christ (Yeshua) THE foundational truth of the Christian faith is the deity of Jesus Christ – that He is fully God and fully man.  He is the incarnation of God in the flesh . . . the Second Adam . . . He who lived a perfect life to the standard of holiness as measured by the Law, and died in our place, in order to provide the payment for our sin and provide our justification before God.

4youAn immediate mark of a cult is the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ.  Cults will praise the works, teachings and character of Jesus all day and night long . . . but they draw the line at His God-hood.  Why is that?  If they can strip Him of His divinity, they can nullify the work of the Cross. 

Some in the Hebrew Roots Movement are quite forthcoming with the deniel of the Deity of Christ.  While others say  they believe in the deity of Christ (Yeshua), when you read through their teachings, you find that their writings do not support that belief.  There are still others in the Law keeping community who do believe that Jesus is God, yet when you take their doctrine to its eventual end, they remove the power of God from the Messiah.  In their belief system what Jesus did is not enough – it is not complete.  They in effect remove the Godly characteristic of omnipotence from Messiah, since their belief system is a “Jesus + Law” equation.  They will deny that salvation requires works, but insist that Torah compliance is mandatory for the born-again believer.  Just one of the many contradictions and inconsistencies in the Hebrew Roots Movement. 

From Torah of Messiah’s article titled, “Antichrist”:  “I am fully persuaded that the anti-Law “God in the flesh” Christ being promoted by Christianity and, to a lesser extent, the God in the flesh Messiah being promoted by counterfeit Messianism is precisely what the spirit of antichrist is since it presents a completely different Christ “IN PLACE OF” the True Messiah! That Christ is, indeed, THE antichrist!” 

This is an obvious example of a twisted, NON-Biblical view of Jesus Christ.

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Ephraimites (“Joes”) – In a nutshell, from “The Ephraimite Error: A Short Summary” [links to entire article and other articles available below]:

A movement alternately known as the “Ephraimite,” “Restoration of Israel,” “Two-Covenant Israel,” or “Two House” movement has recently gained ground in some areas among ardent Christian Zionists. Proponents of this movement contend that members of the “born-again” segment of the Christian church are, in fact, actual blood descendants of the ancient Israelites who were exiled in the Assyrian invasion of Israel in 722 B.C.E.

There is a great deal of disagreement and uncertainty about this “doctrine” within the Hebrew Roots Movement itself.  From Hebrew Roots site TNN Online: 

The Scriptures record that the Northern Kingdom of Israel, also known as Ephraim, was taken by into captivity by Assyria. Although some did join with the Southern Kingdom of Judah, many more were also assimilated into the nations and forgot their heritage as a part of the people of Israel. All of Israel is to be restored prior to the return of the Messiah.  Might scattered Ephraim include many non-Jewish Believers who are today being drawn into the Messianic movement? How does this affect our view of the Scriptures? What are some issues that frequently crop up relating to who this “Ephraim” is?

For a pretty thorough overview of the concept of Ephraimites in the Hebrew Roots Movement see The Ephraimite Error: A Short Summary” from a Jewish perspective, as well as the Hebrew Roots response to that article (from TNN Online), “The ‘Ephraimite Error’: Critical Errors”.  Also at TNN Online: “Christian Problems with the Two Houses of Israel”  Also see this article, “Ephraimites or Ephra-I-am-nots?”.  There’s a fascinating discussion about Ephraimites at the Jews for Jesus Message Board HERE.  Several posts there describe a similar doctrine found in the Mormon and Worldwide Church of God belief systems, relayed from first-hand experience.  Some excerpts: 

“What is not so apparent about the Ephraimite movement is that it is racist in nature. It is an attempt at identification theft. That is to say, unlike replacement theology, which postulates that the church is the successor to Israel, the Ephraimite people believe that they are descendants from the ten tribes. They will twist their genealogies hoping to wring out their Jewish ancestor, as though that might somehow help them be closer to the greatest Jew that ever lived, Jesus Christ. They overlook the fact that Calvary is a new start for everyone, Jew or Gentile.” 

And this:  “I was a Mormon for many years. When I was young I received a patriarcle blessing that says I was from the tribe of Ephraim. Most Mormons are told this when they get their blessings.”   

And this:  “My husband and I couldn’t agree with you more. We were saved out of the Worldwide church of God. We were heavily indoctrinated in the belief that the lost 10 tribes were scattered all over the “white” populated countries. There were elaborate “proofs” pinpointed, from “Jacob’s Stone” in England to folktales in Ireland. Mr. Armstrong divided the Word incorrectly, using a combustible combination of gnosticism and prooftexting.

I first became aware of the “ephraimite” movement through the Hebraic Roots Network. I was astounded that British Israelitism was merely repackaged as the “Two House” theology. Unfortunately, as with everything, there is a little truth with the error, making it all the more difficult to discern.   . . . Context of any Scripture being examined must never be ignored.

One last thought….in Romans 11, Paul specifically talks of gentiles being grafted in by faith, where Jews were broken off by disbelief. One purpose…? To make the Jew jealous. If Paul meant that “Israel” was being grafted in to make the “Jew” jealous, he certainly would have written so. God writes in the Tenach that He would make those who were not His people His….referring to the gentiles.

Another last thought….racism. Currently, there are 58 million, yes, million, House Church Christians in China….so….they aren’t “white”…so where would they fit???? 3 million Black Christians in the Sudan have been martyred to date by Moslims….again, where would they fit into British Israelitism. An estimated 100,000 Christians imprisoned in concentration camps in North Korea…..and on and on we go…..”

two-house-tree

Two House/Ephraimite Error

That last paragraph in the last post I included from the discussion at the Jews for Jesus Message Board addresses a key issue which the Hebrew Root Movement consistently gets wrong scripturally:  The issue of God taking Jew and Gentile and making them ONE in Christ, with Christ being the Root and source of our faith.  Neither Jew nor Gentile being “turned into” the other, but each being counted as joint heirs in Christ.  The Gospel is God’s provision for redemption for everybody.  Take notice of this diagram from a Hebrew Roots site . . . Where are the Gentiles? 

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Forever [This entry has been edited.  Thanks to a friend for a bit of guidance in the language area.]  This may seem like a rather odd word to include in a glossary – after all, everybody  knows what forever means, right?  Not so fast.  “Forever” is a word used in the HRM to convince Christians under the New Covenant that the Mosaic Law, the “Instructions”, the Old Covenant, endure as a “forever” Covenant.  That the Law did not “pass away”.  That the Law was not “nailed to the Cross”.  Forever to most of us means from a point in time, whether it be from now or from some point in the past, to an intangible distance in the future (or past, regarding the eternal nature of God) . . . infinity. 

Those in the Hebrew Roots Movement count on people thinking of that general definition when it comes to the word “forever” to sway them to believe this:  That the verses referring God’s commandments (the Old Covenant) being “forever” binding prove that Christians (even though God has provided a New and superior Covenant, not dependent upon the actions of man Hebrews chapters 8-10) should be Torah observant.  Let’s dig a little deeper into what the Hebrew concept of “forever” really means, since, after all, we’re supposed to be thinking with a Hebraic mindset  . . .

 
 

 

Hebrew Word for forever – From Crosswalk.com,  (source Brown, Driver, Briggs Lexicon) – olam – עולם:  

Strongs H5769 –

long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world

  1. ancient time, long time (of past)
  2. (of future)
    1. for ever, always
    2. continuous existence, perpetual
    3. everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity 

Olam can mean forever, but doesn’t always mean forever.  Its meaning is conditional, depending on the nature of that which is being described. 

From Christian-thinktank.com : Olam thus seems to mean ‘indefinitely, with reference to the nature of the thing being so described.’ If the nature is God, then olam means ‘truly eternal’. If the nature is  a human, then it means ‘as long as he lives’. If the nature is a relationship, then it means as long as the conditions upon which the relationship is based still hold.  And this: And, since we know the Mosaic covenant was a conditional one, it could easily have been understood after the model of many others in the OT/Tanaak: “eternal, as long as the agreed upon conditions are met”.  [Though I don’t agree with everything in the article cited, the two statements above give a good description of the conditional nature of the word “olam”.]

We know that while God held up His end of the bargain concerning the Old Covenant, Israel failed again and again when it came to their end of the bargain (rebellion and idolatry).  God, in His Grace and Mercy, not only sustained Israel, but provided a New Covenant . . . the terms of which are not dependent on Israel (man), but dependent upon Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, Who perfectly held up His (both) end(s) of the bargain.  This is a New Covenant, offered first to Israel, then to all mankind, fulfilling the promise of redemption given to Adam and Eve in the Garden (Romans 1:16)

Even from a Hebrew Roots site, Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings, we get this incomplete meaning of “olam”: The Hebrew word olam means in the far distance. When looking off in the far distance it is difficult to make out any details and what is beyond that horizon cannot be seen. This concept is the olam. [An incomplete concept of “olam” – remember the definition is conditional, depending upon that which is being described.] The word olam is also used for time for the distant past or the distant future as a time that is difficult to know or perceive. This word is frequently translated as eternity or forever but in the English language it is misunderstood to mean a continual span of time that never ends. In the Hebrew mind it is [can smokiesbe] simply what is at or beyond the horizon, a very distant time. A common phrase in the Hebrew is “l’olam va’ed” and is usually translated as “forever and ever” but in the Hebrew it means “to the distant horizon and again” meaning “a very distant time and even further” and is used to express the idea of a very ancient or future time.

So in the  Hebraic mindset, forever  does  not  necessarily  mean from a point in time to infinity.  In fact, the concept of “olam”, when speaking of the Israelites’ failure in regard to the terms of the Old Covenant, flows beautifully into the truths of the New Covenant.  

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Humor Break

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

The Results Are In!

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

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

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

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word

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

An Incorrect Paradigm

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

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

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

One way that the Hebrew Roots Movement does this is to first cast doubt on the canon of Scripture that we have had from the earliest days of the Church (Body of Christ) until today.  To think!  No one has gotten it right until the HRM came along!  Take that premise to its logical conclusion:  To say that no one has gotten it right in the time since Christ is to say that God did not preserve His Word for His Church and has left her to stumble about in history. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So back to “Messin’ with the Word”.  One important point to make at this stage is this:  The Hebrew Roots Movement is kind of like chili.  Stay with me.  I say that because you can go to a number of friends and relatives and it’s likely you’ll be able to glean several different chili recipes from them.  The recipes are all just a little different, but they’re all chili.  The HRM is very much like that.  Some believe in the deity of Christ, some don’t.  Most are Sacred Name adherents, but a few aren’t.  Some say only observance of the Sabbath and the Feasts is required, others say you have to be completely Torah compliant.  Some believe that observing a simple seventh day Sabbath is correct, others insist that one must reckon and observe the correct Sabbath by the phases of the moon.  The recipes are all a little bit different, but they’re all chili.

What does this have to do with “Messin’ with the Word”?  Well, to convince Christians that they should be under the Law when the New Testament clearly states in many places that we are under a New Covenant and no longer under the Law, the HRM has to do some very impressive improvising, especially where the epistles are concerned.  For it is in the epistles that the fledgling Church (Body of Christ), made up of Jews and Gentiles, was instructed how they, established by Jesus with the completed work of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension, were to function in their New Covenant relationship with God as one new man in Christ.  For a really good, solid, scriptural teaching on the New Covenant, click HERE.  It’s an audio teaching with complete Scripture notes.  Very “listenable” and is a comprehensive teaching on the New Covenant.

Now if the New Testament is so clear on the completed work of Christ and the place of the Law and how we are all one new man (neither Jew nor Gentile) in God’s plan, and it does not fit into the goal of the HRM, (convincing Christians that they are to be Torah compliant, among other things) then what’s the HRM to do?  Well, change the New Testament, of course!

Following are four examples of “new” versions (I won’t use the word translations because that would be inaccurate) propagated by the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Please take some time and CLICK HERE to read a study of how the canon of Scripture we have today came to be.  I do encourage you to read the whole study, but if you only have a few minutes to spare, at least read the sections titled, “Canonicity: Determining and Discovering the God-Inspired Books”, and “Texts and Manuscripts of the New Testament”.   It really will give you a good, basic foundation on which to stand regarding how we got our Bible and will provide you with a contrast of how the Hebrew Roots Movement “versions” and their methodology stand up to the canon of Scripture accepted by orthodox Christianity.

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1) The Restoration Scriptures – True Name Edition Study Bible  By Rabbi Moshe Koniuchowski (aka Marshall Koniuchowski)

The “Restoration Scriptures – True Name Edition” is one example of a Hebrew Roots Movement “translation”.  Here are some excerpts from their website where they explain the sources for their “translation”:

For the Renewed Covenant, we have used the greatly appreciated and widely accepted Textus Receptus, or Received Text in the Greek. After prayerful consideration and scholarship, we have heartily used other key sources such as the Aramaic Peshitta, Matthew Shem Tov, Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint, along with consulting many other legitimate sources. Most often those sources were Semitic, since we believe the Renewed Covenant was inspired in the Semitic languages of Aramaic and Hebrew.

So then the resulting Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition Study Bible is a blendof the Masoretic Text and the Textus Receptus and their reliability, combined with valid Hebraic understandings gained from other reliable Semitic sources.  [Bolding mine.]

Let me be clear about one thing up front: I am NOT an anti-Semite. I’m not an ethnic anti-anything! Let me explain the bolding above.  Jewish (Semitic) texts do not support the Gospel or the NEW Covenant.  Semitic texts (understandably) support Judaism!  Notice the use of the term above “Renewed Covenant”. “Renewed Covenant” has the sense of renewing the Old Covenant, going back to the Law.  Entering into the New Covenant is what the canon of scripture confirms. This is a key doctrine in the HRM (like all chili has beans . . . this would be a consistent ingredient in the Hebrew Roots Movement).

Regarding one of the “other key sources” that the “Restoration Scriptures – True Name Edition Study Bible” uses in its “translation”, the Matthew Shem Tov, here is an excerpt of an article regarding the Matthew Shem Tov from Wikipedia:

The Shem Tov Matthew is marked by its Jewish thought, and is interspaced with the comments of Shem Tov himself. As a consequence several scholars feel it is difficult to determine which parts are Shem Tov’s commentary, and which parts are the actual text of the manuscript he was copying.  Many scholars view the text as a medieval translation from the Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew, as well as being the likely source of all later Hebrew versions of Matthew prior to the 20th century. [Bolding mine.]

That would be why reliable translations of the Bible don’t use Matthew Shem Tov as one of their sources! Notice also the “blending and combining” that the Restoration Scriptures “translation” “gains” from “other reliable Semitic sources”.  Ummm, could we have a list of those, please? Could you let us know how you determined that those “sources” were, well, inspired?

More from the “Restoration Scriptures” website, trying to explain how they justify the ” . . . times when we have added a word, or a phrase in order to capture the consistency and eternal commitment of YHWH’s message to Yisrael.” :

Some may rightly ask about the prohibition and dire warnings against adding, or subtracting words from the Scriptures. To that we wholeheartedly agree and would never think of rewording, altering, or changing the original manuscripts also known as the autographs. In order to violate these prohibitions as found in such places as Proverbs 30:6, Deuteronomy 12:32, and Revelation 22:18-19, one would by definition have to have access to the autographs (originals) and proceed to tamper with them. This we have not done, for the fear of YHWH and His awesome word is both the beginning and fullness of all wisdom. Simply put, we have paraphrased and reversed some word orders to properly fit the original Semitic languages into understandable English. Nevertheless we have managed to remain true to the text, without major changes.  [Bolding mine.]

So let me get this straight:  As long as you’re not messin’ with the original autographs (which don’t exist anymore, though many, many reliable copies do exist), you’re okay?  You can tweak this and adjust that in the scriptures to line up with a belief system or set of doctrines that you  think is correct??  Seriously?  Do not the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses do the same thing?   Are their “translations” considered to be accurate?  Seriously?

More from “Restoration Scriptures” website:

Unlike many crafty translators and their translations that do not admit to an underlying agenda in their publications, The Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition Study Bible has an overriding and clear agenda in publishing this project. We admit that! It is our most sincere desire and heartfelt prayer, that this translation will help end the exile of our people, by bringing believers from all backgrounds into their Hebraic heritage. We desire that The Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition Study Bible will lead to a repentance and return to YHWH for many, so as to experience life in His sight as a practicing Torah-keeping born-again Yisraelite. [Bolding mine.]

Wow.  There are many more problems with “The Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition Study Bible”, but the above examples are “deal breakers” for me when it comes to choosing a reliable translation of God’s Word.

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The Hebraic Roots Version Scriptures by James Scott Trimm

In the post “About Law Keepers – An Overview” , in point number 6, I allude to some in the leadership of the Hebrew Roots Movement as having connections to The Way International, a “christian” cult.  The basic qualifiers for TWI being a cult is that though they believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Son of God, they do not believe that Jesus Christ is God Himself, and they hold to a non-trinitarian belief system.  Beyond those two basic breaks from Biblical Christianity, TWI has engaged in just some weird stuff.  You can read two articles outlining the basic beliefs and history of The Way International HERE and HERE.

All that said to say this:  The Hebraic Roots Version Scriptures, is “translated” by James Scott Trimm, a man with more roots in The Way International than in serious language study and the scholarship required to tackle a major task such as translating the Bible!  Not only that, it appears that “Dr.” Trimm has “lifted” portions of his “translation” from a version produced by The Way International entitled, “The Aramaic-English Interlinear New Testament”.

From lebtahor.com/truth/trimm/plagiarisms [the entire (exhaustive) article can be read HERE] :

James Trimm in 2003 has released a Hebraic-Roots Version (HRV) New Testament. Many folks sent many dollars in advance and waited for this NT, thinking that it would be an original translation from Aramaic and Hebrew manuscripts, as James claimed in promotion. If fact, it turns out that the great bulk of it is simply a plagiarism(8), from an version produced by the Way International (13) with the title, The Aramaic-English Interlinear New Testament, which we will call the AEINT. The Matthew (14) chapter of the HRV is from a previous work by James Trimm, also a plagiarism, from other sources.

The Way has been described as a secretive, cultish group, but really that is not the relevant issue here. Note that since this AEINT was designed for in house use, rather than public distribution, it has not been not available at all, not even verse quotes, for perusal in any manner on the Internet, and it is even difficult to find out any information from sources like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Obtaining this version is difficult. Mostly the AEINT was known to members of the Way International, and in addition some men who specialize in the rather small world of Peshitta translation. Ergo, the ideal version to use surreptitiously as a base text, while publicly declaring an “original translation”. [Bolding mine.]

An excerpt from SeekGod.ca  also regarding the scholarship (or lack thereof) of James Trimm:

Over many years James stated he was in the process of  translating his own version of the New Testament called the, “Semitic New Testament”. It is supposedly based on the “original” Aramaic manuscripts of the New Testament. He then also “translated” from the “original” Hebrew manuscripts, defying all scholarly knowledge of the Greek Textus Receptus manuscripts. These issues will be also addressed. For now, the focus will be on his academic claims. 

We see emails as far back as 1996, where James was pushing his books and theology as Doctor James Scott Trimm.Please note. Throughout this series, I have not corrected any spelling mistakes when quoting from James Trimm’s correspondences or website, or various articles. They are seen as originally posted. [Bolding mine.]

You can read more of the article above and also other articles regarding James Trimm and other HRM leadership HERE.  Another excerpt from this site related to the above paragraph:

Since James Trimm had no college education prior to working with Phillip Arnn, which was from 1993-1995, and he received his “doctorate” July 6, 1995, with his “doctorate interview” May 12, 1995, when do you suppose he had time to get his Baccalaureate, and Masters degrees or their equivalent? And that  prior to completing the seventy two credit hours of graduate work by May, 1995?

We have not just one man who had direct physical interaction with  James Trimm, who knew him personally, who worked alongside of him, but two, who state clearly that James did not have a college, university or other education that would have led to a doctorate or degree of any kind. And that is aside from the fact of the source of James’ “doctorate” in the first place.

James Trimm stated in an email, “St. John Chrysostom Theological Seminary is NOT a “diploma mill”. Its degree programs are among the most demanding I have ever seen…”

It would be most interesting to know what degree programs James Trimm had actually seen and evaluated. Other than the GED course which can be studied for, or not. While James has been busy changing the Word of God to his version of ‘truth’, claiming credentials he did not have, claiming knowledge that allowed him to change the very Word of God, and getting money from people who believed him, we are reminded:

 Proverbs 30: 5 -6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18 -20  “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the bookof this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the bookof life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  [Bolding mine.]

There really is a lot of info on this site. . . go to to the section on James Trimm for articles regarding his education, religious background, and various character issues.  One can also gain a lot of insight by doing a simple Google search using the name James Scott Trimm.  There are a few sites supporting his scholarship, but they are far outweighed with those that do not, and those that do not support his scholarship have better documentation for their claims.

Not getting into too much detail about the translation itself, the above concerns alone deny the Hebraic Roots Version Scriptures translation serious consideration for use.  Suffice it to say that the Hebraic Roots Version Scriptures has a modus operandi much the same as the previous other versions reviewed here:  To promote Hebrew Roots Movement’s false teaching and false doctrine and attempt to give them a valid basis in “scripture” with which to deceive the undiscerning reader.

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Ancient Roots Translinear Bible by A. Frances Werner

This is the “new kid on the block” as far as “Hebrew Roots” versions go, and so far only has the Old Testament available.  The New Testament is coming, though, so this review comes as more of a “heads up” in anticipation of what promises to be an “interesting” version of the Word.

From ARTB’s website:

The ARTB restores hundreds of specialty ancient words missing from other versions. Each English word matches a unique Hebrew root and the Strong’s number 99+% of the time.  The text format even captures the double word use unique to biblical Hebrew.    

Put away the reference books and enjoy the outpouring of insights! Follow the travels of the Israelites on the ancient trade routes. Track bible prophecy with updated geography to see the connection to events today in the Middle East.

“From the Author” on the ARTB website:

That’s the stack of bibles I own. [Photo of a stack of different translations and paraphrases accompanies her words.] Plus a few more. Some I love for reading, some for study. You probably have a similar pile. So why do you need another bible?

The Ancient Roots Translinear Bible (ARTB) ushers in a new era of bible study.  It’s a new method specifically designed for bible lovers like you who don’t know Hebrew or Greek to approach the word of God as if they really could read it in the ancient languages. 

How is this possible?  Back up for a moment and think about the great breakthroughs in bible study. In 1890, James Strong invented the Strong’s numbering system and concordance for the King James Version.  For the first time, bible lovers who didn’t know Hebrew or Greek could look beyond the English words on the page and “see” the original words.   The Strong’s numbering system was particularly helpful for bible lovers who could not read or pronounce the ancient languages to be able to share their insights by referring to the number instead of the word.  . . . it gave bible lovers who didn’t know Hebrew or Greek a shortcut to find the related words in the ancient language without having to look at a concordance.

And how about J.P. Green’s revolutionary Interlinear bible in 1976 which put the English side-by-side with the text?  For the first time, the bible lover in the pew could view things that were previously only available to scholars.

. . . But I found that as I was doing bible study, I would have multiple reference books, multiple versions of the bible and checking out details on the computer.  Often I would lose the sense of the text just trying to figure out all the information I was given from other sources.  I wanted to be able to read the text, pure and simple, and bask in the “real” word of God.  I was ready for a new approach.  Are you?

The Translinear method was born from a detailed scientific analysis of several bible versions.  . . . The light went on for me when I realized that the reason we needed things like cross-references and Interlinear bibles because none of the bibles that had been published to date were close enough to the original language.  They have extra words, are missing many unique words, and were not utilizing English consistently with the original language.  So all the classic bible study tools were needed to find out what the ancient text really said.

But what would happen if all the all the ancient words matched the English language 100% of the time?  You wouldn’t need a cross reference column.  You wouldn’t need to compare them in an Interlinear bible.  You wouldn’t need to double check the original word in a concordance.

Or think about the number of footnotes in a typical study bible.  Have you ever noticed that many footnotes tell you the “real” meaning of the word?  In ARTB, the “real” word is in the text!  So the number of footnotes is dramatically reduced.  A bible study with a version that matched the Strong’s numbers would mean that all those reference books could be put on a shelf, and you’d be free to soak in the word of God.

The trademark lawyers recommended patent lawyers: Maybe I was onto a new method to be “magic glasses” for bible lovers who don’t know Hebrew. So the word translinear was born to convey that this is not a normal translation. It’s far more exact, a “cleaned up data base” and the methodology applies well beyond this project.

Put on the “magic glasses” and see the Old Testament exactly the way it was written. Transport yourself to the Ancient Roots of the original language with the most exact methodology ever published for completeness and consistency. Join me and enjoy the outpouring of insights. [Bolding mine.]

Maybe it’s just me, but this is what I see above:  The emphasis is on convincing the reader to not study, to put away all their reference materials, because this new and improved version with a scientific analysis is available so you can be free to soak in the Word of God as you put on the magic glasses of the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible!  The following is from the ATRB blog, regarding the upcoming New Testament version: 

Yeshua or Jesus
I received a question from a reader: First I want to thank you for the swift processing and sending of the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible (ARTB). What a breath of fresh air. Secondly, I was wondering what Hebrew name for Jesus will be used in the New Testament when it comes out? I’ve been doing research. It’s amazing how many different spellings and renderings of Jesus name there are in the Hebrew. I read one article where the person said Yahushua is the real name of Jesus. Others say Yahshua or Yahoshua, Yeshua. I didn’t know if you were a sacred name person or what. As you can see, I ask a lot of questions but I do so to learn. I love to learn. The final decision for the name of Jesus has not been made. We will likely do a survey of the readers in the near future. At this point, the spelling of the Hebrew alternative would be Yeshua. There are two main groups who are studying the ARTB. Those who are coming from a Hebrew/Aramaic perspective who would like to see all names and places in Hebrew/Aramaic, and those who are only familiar with a Greek New Testament who would be lost if Bartholomew was listed as “Bar-Tolmai, a disciple of Yeshua”. Glad you are enjoying ARTB!

I’m a little concerned about a “translineator” who is likely to “do a survey of the readers” to determine what name Jesus will have in her upcoming New Testament version!  Another observation from the author’s ARTB website concerning her upcoming NT version (you can read more HERE):

A second reader sent the following inquiry: 

“I have purchased the ARTB – Old Testament and, as a biblical scholar, am truly pleased. What is the status of the ARTB – New Testament; will it be taken from the Greek or the Aramaic? Are there any plans to work on some of the other books that were not included in our present cannon – i.e., Books of Enoch, Wisdom of Solomon, etc.?”

I started the Greek New Testament several years ago.  But I put a “pause” on the Greek and am now tackling the Aramaic for a couple of reasons:

1)  My personal curiosity got the better of me!  I wanted to see what the complete Hebrew/Aramaic vocabulary would look like when placed in the New Testament.  Would it be interesting?  A significant aid to understanding? 

2)  I am very aware that the Aramaic Peshitta is likely derived from the Greek.  So, it is a legitimate question whether its the right thing to do it from the Aramaic.  I want to review the end product of the translinear Aramaic New Testament before I make that conclusion.   

3)  The very important lesson I learned doing the Old Testament is that the final output looks very different if you start from the New Testament first, and push back to the Old Testament (which the majority of translations have done). If you go from NT to OT, you CANNOT do a translinear version because the vocabulary in the New Testament is so much smaller than the Old Testament.  You get caught with the wrong words and you end up with the problem of needing to reuse English words.

Thus, it means if I want to do a translinear Greek NT, I must go back and do the entire Septuagint/Wisdom Books/New Testament at one crack.  That’s a multi-year project, which I do plan on doing—because I’m also interested in the Wisdom books.  But I decided to finish the Aramaic NT first for all the reasons above. My sense is that it truly will be an eye-opener and will resolve the gap between words in the New Testament (like baptism, apostles, church/synagogue, preach, evangelism) that don’t occur at all in the Old Testament.  It’s on track to be published by year end.

Does the above seem like a flawed system to you?  It should not matter in which order you translate Old and New Testaments unless you have an agenda of some sort.  Translation is translation.  Note that the author is very careful  to never use the word translation in reference to her own work.

Here’s an excerpt of a review of the ARTB from Dr. Claude Mariottini, professor of Old Testament studies at Northern Baptist Seminary (you can see his complete review HERE) :

As most biblical scholars and translators know, translating the Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into English or any other language is not easy. How does a translator clearly communicate the meaning of Hebrew words to English speaking people? Because the task is difficult, the result is that today we have many different translations of the Bible.

Now the problem has been solved. Let us welcome a new translation of the Bible: the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible. The aim of the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible is to solve the problem that different translations of the Bible create for the average reader.  The following press release explains the aim of the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible:

The “Ancient Roots Translinear Bible (ARTB)” is a completely new concept designed and patented by a scientist and bible-lover who asked the basic question: Why do we have to interrupt our reading of the bible to look up the original meaning of the Hebrew text in a separate book or footnote? Why don’t English bible translations match the ancient text?

. . . A. Frances Werner designed the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible (ARTB) to be 100% consistent with the ancient texts to simplify bible study. “The word “translinear” has been created to let you know that it is completely consistent between Hebrew and English. Thus, every unique English word matches every unique Hebrew word. Even thought the concept seems incredibly obvious and simple, it hasn’t been done in 1500 years of English bible translations. That’s why the ARTB is patented. Now you can save some time and money. You don’t need to stop and reach for expensive reference books to be assured you finding the accurate word of God.” 

How did this translator produce a Bible that solved the problems translators have struggled for centuries to solve? How was this done? It was easy! The translator, A. Frances Werner, used Strong’s Concordance to make sure that every Hebrew word was translated in the same way in English . . .

. . . Any one who has translated from Hebrew to English will agree that the approach taken by Ancient Roots Translinear Bible is very simplistic. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible was first published in 1890. Strong’s Concordance is an index of the Bible based on the translation of the King James Version. The index is designed to help students find a phrase or a word and compare how the same word was used in another section of the Bible.

The major weakness of the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible is its dependence on Strong’s Concordance [complete article from Wikipedia can be seen HERE]:

Since Strong’s Concordance identifies the original words in Hebrew and Greek, Strong’s Numbers are sometimes misinterpreted by those without adequate training to change the Bible from its accurate meaning simply by taking the words out of cultural context. The use of Strong’s numbers does not consider figures of speech, metaphors, idioms, common phrases, cultural references, references to historical events, or alternate meanings used by those of the time period to express their thoughts in their own language at the time. As such, professionals and amateurs alike must consult a number of contextual tools to reconstruct these cultural backgrounds.

It seems to me that this new Bible will be consistent in translating the same Hebrew words into English, but it will be a Bible which will fail to communicate the beauty of the biblical message and the intricacies of the Hebrew language to its readers.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

I have a hunch this new “version” of the Bible will be one of the “new things” with “new truths” that the Hebrew Roots Movement will be promoting.  Dear reader, please use discernment and ask common-sense questions of these “new and improved” versions of God’s Word! 

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Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern
A basic synopsis (From Jewish New Testament Publications):
  “Jewish New Testament”, David Stern. Freshly rendered from the original Greek into enjoyable modern English by Stern, a Messianic Jew, the Jewish New Testament challenges Jews to understand that Yeshua (Jesus)is a friend to every Jewish heart and the New Testament a Jewish book filled with truths to be accepted and acted upon. At the same time, while reaffirming the equality of Gentiles and Jews in the Messianic Community, it challenges Chritians to acknowledge the Jewishness of their faith and their oneness with the Jewish people.

Here’s a sampling of some of the not-so-glowing reviews of David Stern’s work (you can see all the reviews, both pro and con HERE):

Horrible translation of the Greek, December 10, 2002 While Dr. Stern’s grasp of the Hebrew is erudite and developed, his translation of the Greek text is horrible at best, and at worst, arguably heretical. I am a NT scholar and his translation of the B’Rit Hadashah is irresponsible. To have one man translate scripture as opposed to a committee is always an exercise in folly and this is a perfect example of reckless scholarship.

Shameful, Mar 17 2004  As an Orthodox Rabbi let me say that this is a shameful hoax – Judaism and the new testament are mutually exclusive. This is a trick on behalf of missionaries to lure Jews into their ranks. Be forewarned.

DO NOT BE BRAINWASHED !!, Mar 12 2004 Obviously, there are many who have been brainwashed into thinking that “messianic Jews” are just that – THEY ARE NOT JEWS – they accept Jesus as their messiah and Jews DO NOT. PLEASE reconsider supporting these fringe movements – don’t buy these books; don’t accept flyers from Jews for Jesus on the streets; don’t give up your birthright – your Judaism. The Jewish bible stops with the ‘Old’ Testament. Please use your common sense.

Why the Yiddish?, December 27, 2002 I don’t want to repeat what has been said before, so I will just make one point. There are a number of Yiddish words scattered throughout the [Complete Jewish Bible] New Testament. Of course Jews no more spoke Yiddish in Christ’s time than they spoke English. I asked Dr Stern why he had done this; he replied that it was to add to the Jewish flavor of the New Testament. That sums up the book – deliberate sloppy scholarship to convey a false flavor of Jewishness.

Inconsistent & Biased Translation, January 27, 2005 For those of you who have a love for the unadulterated Word of God, the grace of God, and the blood of Jesus Christ, please note the following concerns as it relates to this particular book. In Romans chapters 5 & 7, the author is meticulously consistent in translating the Greek word for law (nomos) into Torah. However, in Romans chapter 6, he totally departs from this consistencyand translates the same Greek word for law (nomos) into the word “legalism.” This is clearly an inconsistent translation and a personal and private interjection and interpretation (II Peter 1:20). For it clearly reflects a theological bias which can lead to spiritual deception and bondage as it relates to being under the law/Torah. Why?Because, if he maintains the same consistency in translating the word law (nomos) found in Romans chapter 6 as he has done in Romans chapters 5 & 7, the verse by Paul in chapter 6 would then read, “…for ye are not under the Torah, but under grace”(Romans 6:14). Paul was talking about the same law (nomos) in chapter 6 as he was in chapters 5 & 7. This consistency should be reflected in the translation as well. Note very carefully that the author’s personal interpretation and translation of this very powerful Pauline verse MASKS a Scriptural reference that has clearly declared our freedom and liberty from being under the law/the Torah. Thus, this Bible translation gives us a, “we are still under the law/the Torah…Sabbath keeping, etc.” type presentation. Paul declares that it is this type of presentation that can lead to spiritual bondage (Galatians 3:1,2 & 5:1-4).

Those of you who know the Word of God, understand that we are now under a better covenant – grace. Paul, like myself, was not anti-law, or anti-Jewish, he was simply pro-grace. Although he was indeed a Jew, he counted everything associated with his Jewishness, including his theology and heritage, as “dung” relative to winning Christ (Philippians 3:4-8). This also included the righteousness of the law/Torah. The Word of God declares that God’s plan of salvation for today is not about Jewishness, but Holiness. God is a spirit who declares, “Be ye holy (not Jewish), for I am holy.”

. . . Finally, he talks about his “fans.”Interesting. These are just a few of the major concerns that need to be addressed as it relates to this book. Finally, can any NEW BIBLE TRANSLATION that drastically alters the words and meanings of the Psalmist and the apostle Paul with “personal and private interpretations and interjections” in its NEW TRANSLATION of the Word of God truly reflect the Word of God?Education, money, and “fan requests”, cannot be the qualifier and basis for writing a new Bible translation. For no translation should be independent of the Spiritual anointing that is needed in order to receive divine truth and revelation of the Word of God. Remember, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” [Bolding mine.]

The observation above of the Amazon reviews for the “Complete Jewish Bible” does shed light on another of the Hebrew Roots Movement’s problems, which is this:  The HRM, as one of their stated “benefits”, is that they can be “missionaries” to Jews in a way that Christians cannot, because they do not “reject” the Law, and embrace Hebrew culture and practices.  In reality, however, Jews are deeply offended by the overtures made to them by those in the HRM.  A number of the reviews at Amazon do shed light on this fact. 

NOTE: There are many glowing reviews of David Stern’s work on the Amazon listing, that when read carefully, reveal that they are reviews from those in the HRM, who identify themselves as Messianic believers or some similar term.  Also note that some reviews critical of the CJB from a Jewish background equate Jews for Jesus with the Hebrew Roots Movement, which is definitely not the case.  Jews for Jesus fully supports the New Covenant as clearly stated in the New Testament Scriptures.

Here’s an excerpt from a post at “Messianic Jewish Musings” (you can read the entire post HERE):  

The Complete Jewish Bible is perhaps the greatest unifying factor in our movement. The Complete Jewish Bible is the least controversial and perhaps the most useful tool produced yet by the Messianic Jewish movement.   . . . for now, I want to quote a portion of Dr. Stern’s introduction and raise a few points for discussion:

“Why is this Bible different from all other Bibles? Because it is the only English version of the Bible fully Jewish in style and presentationand includes both the Tanakh (“Old Testament”) and B’rit Hadashah(New Covenant, “New Testament”). Even its title, The Complete Jewish Bible, challenges both Jews and Christians to see that the whole Bible is Jewish, the B’rit Hadashah as well as the Tanakh. Jews are challenged by the implication that without it the Tanakhis and incomplete Bible. Christians are challenged with the fact that they are joined to the Jewish people through faith in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) — so that because Christianity can only be rightly understood from a Jewish perspective, anti-Semitism is condemned absolutely and forever. In short, The Complete Jewish Bible restores the Jewish unity of the Bible.”

In my opinion, that is one of the finest statements on the Bible and the relationship between Jews and Christians that I have read . . . anywhere. [Bolding mine.]

I’d like to point out one really big truth that God makes very clear about those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and His completed work at the Cross: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  (Galatians 3:26-29)   The restoration is of people, as God created them, of neither this ethnicity nor that social status, but the opportunity of redemption for all mankind, as He intended originally when He made the Promise to Adam and Eve after the Fall. 

Yes, over time and deep into history God chose a specific people as a vehicle for His restoration and redemption of mankind back to Him, but that had more to do with the faithfulness of Abraham than it did with Hebrew (Jewish) ethnicity!  Again, I am not anti-ethnic anybody . . . I’m just making an observation here.  I have great respect and love for the people that God did choose, and He does have a special plan for His chosen people, but when we are in Christ, we are all the same in Him, and that new man is neither Jew nor Greek.

The agenda to sway Christians toward Torah observance disqualifies, in my opinion, the Complete Jewish Bible from consideration for use.  It is useful to those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, however, because as the poster at Messianic Jewish Musings above stated, “The Complete Jewish Bible is the least controversial and perhaps the most useful tool produced yet by the Messianic Jewish movement.” 

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

Edited to add:  Derek from Messianic Jewish Musings, in his comment below, brings up a good point about lumping groups together.  Messianic Jews are not Hebrew Roots Movement folks.  I should have specified that fact in the post above.  Let me be clear, however, that the Complete Jewish Bible IS  a staple in many “Messianic Christian” (Hebrew Roots Movement) fellowships.  My apologies to Derek for any perceived misrepresentation of Messianic Jewish Musings.

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

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

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

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

Is all of this perhaps an exercise in futility?

Does it really matter how we “get” redeemed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Edited to add:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The American Concept of Harvesting

With all the news stories about farmers not growing this in order to grow that in order to make the other . . . well it got me to thinking about the farm “industry” in this country vs. the small local farmers.  And that made me think of this . . .

The American concept of successful harvesting is for a farmer to climb up into the big air-conditioned cab of their combine, fire it up, crank up some tunes, and proceed to mow down the fields before them.  There is little contact with the ground, and the harvest is swift.  The crop is shuffled off to the next stage in production (cleaning, sorting, inspecting) and then arranged neatly in attractive packaging for sale at market.

Hmmm . . .  do you see any elements of the above paralleling some [mega] churches and formula-based movements out there?

Plant . . . Water . . . Then WHO Makes Them Grow?

Seems that Grace vs. Law, Legalism and Judgementalism, formula-based belief systems vs. gospel-based belief systems . . . they are regretfully always there to be debated and discussed. 

Two very un-related posts on Adventures in Mercy and White Washed Feminist (don’t let that “f” word scare you . . . the site is not feminist in the stereotypical sense) reminded me of a post I wrote nearly two years ago on a mom’s forum.  It was in response to a thread of discussion about being responsible for how our kids “turn out”, modest dress (or lack thereof) in churches today, body piercings, tattoos, and just what many thought acceptable behavior (though it was based more in appearance than in character) should be from believers in general.

The connection between the following and the current blogs’ posts mentioned above?  Well, the Adventures in Mercy post was titled, “Those Who Leave Christ and My Own Story (Of Why I Could Not)”.  Molly’s heartfelt post (wonderfully transparent, as usual) is an account of a key part of her journey thus far, honestly relaying her doubts and questions along the way, about how some of those she knew did  leave the faith, and why she did not.  It brought to mind the different elements that go into anyone’s journey of faith . . . how a person is put together in their mind and heart by their Creator, their free will, the external influences that come into play . . .

The connection with Anne’s post, “Dear Lady Lydia”at WWF, was more me pondering along the lines of how certain, shall we say, more “rigid” belief systems tend to respond to exposed belly-buttons and nose rings.  Not that Anne’s post really addressed that kind of thing.  Her post was about much more serious stuff than body piercings and too-short skirts.  But as I read Lady Lydia’s post, “What if This and What if That”, (linked to at “Dear Lady Lydia”) I just wondered how Lady Lydia would respond to a young tatooed, purple-haired believer that might somehow wander into her church.  As I pondered such a scene, I was reminded of some of the things I had seen posted at the mom’s forum that were, well, pretty rigid, too.  And two years ago, I was prompted to write the following . . .

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I’ve been reading all of the recent posts on the subjects of legalism and judgementalism with great interest.  For us as the Church, I believe these issues to be extremely important.  So many precious souls who are drawn into the Church are discouraged in their spirits (many to the point of leaving their faith) by well-meaning Christians who view holiness as a set of rules or a formula to be followed (law).  The principle of worshiping in Spirit and in Truth gets reduced to things being done “a certain way” or worse yet, “not a certain way”. 

Just think about the beauty of the way GOD has set things about.  One can go into ANY culture, in ANY language, ANYWHERE, and communicate the LOVE of God through Jesus Christ. Ladies, I’m not talking just about the primitive cultures of the deep dark jungles, but also of the cultures in all of civilization as well.  INCLUDING the girls and guys with their belly-buttons showing or with body piercings and tattoos!

I’m trying to condense my thoughts to really say what I want to say here.  After salvation through grace has been received, it seems that many in the Church “turn off” the GRACE!  These sweet little baby Christians (OK, so lots of times they’re big and un-cuddly and it’s hard to picture them this way . . . work with me on this one) are expected to behave with maturity they have NOT YET GROWN INTO.  

1 Corinthians 3:1-9  Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.  For we are God’s fellow workers;  you are God’s field, God’s building. 

I think when we read the above passage, we tend to apply it personally, thinking how glad “we’re not there” and skip over what Paul is saying.  Do we forget that new believers struggle immensely as they transition from being in the world without Christ to a new reality of being in the world WITH Christ? 

On to an analogy we can all relate to without any stretch at all:  What do we expect of our newborns?  We feed them.  Often.  Change their diapers.  Often.  Comfort them as they grow and struggle to deal with their “new” life outside of the womb with all of its new stimuli and experiences.  We LOVE them.  No matter what.  We rejoice as they pass developmental milestones . . . . . and continue to clean up their messes, which can on occasion be sizable and very unpleasant to deal with. We lovingly guide and instruct them as they slowly mature. 

You can mentally carry the analogy on through the growth process of your children, paralleling it with the spiritual journey of a new believer.  Don’t forget to include the pure joy of seeing the first smiles and watching them “get” a new skill or understand a new concept.  Do we take the same joy in watching (and watching over if called) a new believer as they grow and stumble and pick themselves up and “get” things as they grow? 

Why is it that we as the Church are so impatient (lacking in Grace and Love) with new and/or fellow believers?  Yes, the “infant” stage can be exhausting.  But without proper nutrition and LOVE, the infant may die.  Some will live, but struggle greatly because of improper care. Sadly, I believe there are MANY believers in this category.  Without Grace and proper discipline (teaching) a toddler will become defiant, frustrated, rebellious, or simply lose direction.  My children are not yet at the adolescent stage, so I haven’t experienced the day-by-day walking out of the next part of the analogy.  But having worked with college aged young people, I do know that tremendous time and discussion is required to meet their needs. 

Such idealism, passion, vision, and paradoxically cynicism or lack of vision . . . such a season can be nearly as exhausting as the newborn season! 

When relating to new/fellow believers, we need to remember that we are not the ones who are in “control” of how a particular believer “turns out”.  That’s God’s deal. They are “God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9). We plant.  Someone else waters.  GOD MAKES THEM GROW.  Some of us will have the privilege of discipling someone through to maturity.  Some of us need to be content with being a “piece of the  puzzle” in someone’s life, maybe never seeing the complete picture until eternity.  Whatever God calls us to, we need to be faithful to act in LOVE, or we become a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). 

We need to recognize that God may be calling a new or fellow believer to a different culture (be it jungle-type or inner city- type) for ministry that we may not be comfortable with, – that would be why God would be calling them and not us :o) – and that God’s best for them (and His purposes) is to maybe keep that nose-ring or weird hair for a time.  And there are also those, sadly, who by an act of their will, choose to reject God.  Heartbreaking all the way around.

About “not being fearful to stand up for righteousness”.  I agree that we need to take a stand for what’s holy and righteous in this world and in our churches/fellowships.  I would ask you to take a moment to think about this question:  Are you concerned more for the outward appearance of the people in your church/fellowship/family, or with the condition of their spirit in their relationship to a Holy God?  How do we actually flesh out taking that “stand”?

Ephesians 6 talks about obedience, honor, respect, fathers training and instructing, making clear that they are not to exasperate their children.  How masters should relate to slaves, making clear that God shows no favoritism between the two and that He indeed cares how all are treated.  Skipping down the the “Armor of God” portion of the passage, Paul makes it clear that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Then he talks about taking on the Armor of God.  Vital principles in which to clothe ourselves.  Character and spiritual truth type stuff.  He doesn’t go into a what-to-do or not-to-do rules and regulations type thing.  He calls us to something much higher and nobler, for the battle is far too important to rely on outward “armor”!  And without a new paragraph, flowing right into vs 18,  “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

Does that mean pray something like, “God, please convict Sally of her exposed belly-button”, or does it mean praying something like, “God, please show Sally how precious and valuable she is in Your eyes.  Let her know who she is in You!  Show me if there is anything I can do to help communicate that truth to her!”   Should our goal simply be for Sally’s navel to be covered, or should we be more concerned with the condition of her heart and her relationship with God?  Do you not think that Sally’s heart, in a right place relationally with God, would be more open to guidance regarding her navel?  Perhaps no specific “navel guidance” would be required, since God has a superior way of making us NEW CREATIONS!   

Are you willing to cover in prayer a young/fellow believer who still demonstrates worldly attributes while they are maturing? . . . . . . . Are you willing to be patient and let GOD MAKE THEM GROW and watch those “worldly” things fall away as the believer matures and sees them and casts them off readily to HONOR the God who has SAVED them and LOVED them and has bathed them in GRACE? 

Are you willing to WAIT for GOD to show you the proper time and place to speak TRUTH IN LOVE into someones life?  And then have the Godly boldness (don’t forget the Grace!) to actually do it?  Are you willing to be QUIET and TRUST the Holy Spirit when He SHOWS you to be quiet, and trust that HE knows what HE is doing?  Are you willing to LOVE the one who is the object of your disapproval, and not try to “change” them so that they are “lovable” before you love them?  Are you willing to do any of the above and not simply reject someone because of your disapproval? 

Do we want churches/fellowships full of believers who look “right” on the outside, but are broken and wounded and in some cases rotting (white-washed sepulchers) on the inside?  Or do we want vibrant, alive, humble, REDEEMED believers in our churches/fellowships who draw unbelievers (yes, many will be wounded and flawed) into the Kingdom of God by the LOVE of God for which mature believers have become free-flowing vessels?

Please look through any concordance under “love” and read just the short phrases.  God cares very much about us getting this concept.  He has inspired much to be written on this subject.  He loves us so much and desires for the Church to be a healing place for the wounded and the lost.

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While the above post had more to do with appearence-based issues being discussed on the mom’s forum, on the spiritual level, we also need to be so careful to let God do His work, and not try to force things along or reject someone when we think or feel that they’re not progressing as they should.  We need to stick to nurturing, discipling, exhorting, and above all, loving new and fellow believers, leaving the making-them-grow part to God.

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