• 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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Released/Delivered From the Law and Christ is the End of the Law – Getting Greeky About Romans 7, 10, and Ephesians 2

This is a post adapted from a Facebook post at the JGIG Facebook page.  Periodically, I do an ‘Exercise in Discernment’ post on the JGIG Facebook page, and since not everyone is on Facebook (shocking, I know, ha!), I’ve adapted the post here for reference.  Edited and expanded with formatting and links for this venue.

Exercise in Discernment

(Pay special attention to the G2673 – katargeō portion; I had never seen this before!  Very cool!)

_______________

Rhonda, on another [Facebook] page, wrote,

HRH, can you not understand Col 2:16-17? Verses 8,14,20,22, ‘…tradition of men, rudiments of the world, ordinances that was against us, commandments and doctrines of men…’ Do you know the difference between commandments of God and commandments of men?”

What was blotted out and nailed to the cross?  What stood against us?  Convicting us in the sight of God?

SIN.  Law Keepers assert that Christ merely nailed human traditions (Rabbinic laws) added to the Law or just the curses in the Law to the Cross. Jesus accomplished so much more than that.

It was our sin and the Law that was nailed to the Cross, not just man’s additions to or the curses in the Law.

A Hebrew Christian friend of mine wrote this:

“The LOM [Law of Moses] did NOT die on the cross, Jesus did, and through HIS death on our behalf, all believers have DIED as well — The LOM is NOT dead, but WE are DEAD to IT (a crucial distinction) … It is our SINS which Jesus took upon His own head on the cross when He became SIN for us (He did NOT become the LOM) — I think that is a pivotal point to keep in the forefront of our thinking as we read this passage & others relating to it … WHAT is REMOVED in Col.2:11 ???  NOT the LOM (!!!) but our body of flesh, our body of dead works, our body of SIN … The decrees certified against us in verse 14 have been CANCELLED out and taken away (Because our Transgressions were forgiven, having been Nailed to the Cross in HIS Body) and the charges have been dropped against US since they were levied upon Jesus (in our stead) who PAID our DEBT BOND, He Himself being the Surety Forfeited because of our DEFAULT.”

Seeing that human traditions (commandments and doctrines of man) carry no authority to convict man in God’s sight and sin (transgression of God’s Law) does, it could not be just human traditions or only the curses in the Law that were nailed to the Cross.

That assertion simply fails in light of the facts and the context.

Once sin is washed away, the Law is done with us . . . it has led us to the Cross (Galatians 3) and there we become a New Creation!  We are the very righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21)!  We no longer have the same relationship with the Law as we did before the work of Christ in our lives!

Colossians 2:9-15
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.  11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.  Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having >>> canceled G1813 – exaleiphō <<< the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.  15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Ephesians 2:14-16
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having >>> abolished G2673 – katargeō <<< in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

The Law IS abolished for those IN CHRIST.

Christ IS the end of the Law for righteousness for all who believe (Romans 10:4)!

Oh My!  I just checked this out . . . this is so cool . . . now it gets really interesting . . .

Romans 7:4-6
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.  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.  6 But now we have been >>> delivered G2673 – katargeō <<< from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

G2673 – katargeō is translated as both ‘abolished’ in Eph. 2:15 and as ‘delivered’ in Rom. 7:6.

Here’s the definition:

G2673 – katargeō

1) to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative

a) to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency
b) to deprive of force, influence, power

2) to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish

a) to cease, to pass away, be done away
b) to be severed from, separated from, discharged from, loosed from any one
c) to terminate all intercourse with one

That’s talkin’ about the Law for those in Christ, folks!

The Law, for those in Christ, is these things:

➞ idle

➞ unemployed

➞ inactive (!!!)

➞ inoperative (!!!)

➞ to cause a person to have no further efficiency

➞ to deprive of force, influence, power (!!!)

➞ to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish (!!!)

➞ to cease, to pass away, be done away (!!!)

➞ to be severed from, separated from, discharged from, loosed from any one (!!!)

➞ to terminate all intercourse with one (!!!)

Rhonda also wrote,

“Rom 10:4 For Christ is the AIM of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. He showed us how it’s done! τέλος is the same word for end, aim, eternal, purpose. Isn’t it amazing how one little word can change the entire sentence? [Isn’t it though?!] You can go with ‘end’, but that will give you the translation that lawless ppl like the most. If you go with ‘aim’, it harmonizes with all of scripture. What translation do you prefer?”

I prefer the translation that is supported by both the original language (in this case, Greek) and by context.

Note this about Rhonda’s approach:  She’s attempting to ‘harmonize’ a New Covenant Scripture by subjecting the New Covenant to the Old Covenant.  The Scriptures are clear:  The New Covenant is a better Covenant built on better promises (Hebrews chapters 4-10).  We are NOT to subject the New to the Old!  It’s folly to subject the superior to the inferior:

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

It brings another perspective to Galatians 5:4 where Paul says,

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

If they’re truly saved, it doesn’t mean that they’ve lost they’re salvation, but that they are making Christ of no effect to themselves in THIS life.  They’re choosing to live by the Law instead of by Grace.  They have fallen from Grace – from the higher reality in the New Covenant of Christ, to the shadows of the Old Covenant in Moses.  Paul also says in Galatians 2:18:

For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

Who makes who a transgressor?  The one who goes back under the Law or God?  When believers put *themselves* back under the Law, *they* are counting their transgressions against themselves.

In Christ, God isn’t counting their transgressions against them:

2 Corinthians 5:18-19
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

They FEEL all the condemnation and guilt that the Law brings, because that’s what the Law was designed to do, and they’ve put themselves back under it!  But that’s in this life – if they are believers they have been made perfect forever in Christ – that does not change (Hebrews 10).  Foolishness, even rooted in devotion or pride does not change the Work of Christ.  Dear believer, if you have put yourself back under the Law, come back to Grace and to the ‘freedom for which Christ has made you free’!

Back to the Romans 10 passage with a bit of context:

Romans 10:1-4
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  3 For they being ignorant of >>> God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, <<< have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  4 For Christ is the >>> end G5056 – telos <<< of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

First, to deal with Christ as the end of the Law:

G5056 – telos

1) end

a) termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be (always of the end of some act or state, but not of the end of a period of time)
b) the end

1) the last in any succession or series
2) eternal

c) that by which a thing is finished, its close, issue
d) the end to which all things relate, the aim, purpose

2) toll, custom (i.e. indirect tax on goods)

End, in this case, simply means end.

End of the Law for those in Christ.

A simple translation for the linguist guys.

But the HRM has to take meaning ‘1d’ to try to force a meaning into the text.  Even then, their attempt falls short, as the Law points to Christ:

>>>>>>>>>> . . . He . . . Christ . . . <<<<<<<<

. . . is the end (the end to which all things relate, the aim, purpose) of the Law, not the Law is the end of Christ!

The Law points to Christ, Christ does not point to the Law!

For those in Christ, the Law is abolished, and those in Christ
are released from the Law, having died to it!
(Rom. 10:4, Rom. 7:1-6, Eph. 2, Col. 2)

The second point I wish to make here is that the righteousness that is in Christ – the righteousness we receive – is the very righteousness of God. God’s righteousness is the righteousness that is provided in Christ for all who believe! (Romans 5, 2 Corinthians 5)

The only ‘righteousness’ you could ever hope for through the Law is your own (‘and seeking to establish their own righteousness’, from Romans 10, above), and that would require your perfect obedience, all the time, zero mistakes, which is an impossibility.

God offers you HIS Righteousness!

In Christ!

By Grace!

Through Faith! (Ephesians 2)

Why?

To demonstrate God’s Righteousness! \o/

I hope this short study has helped you to sort out some of the common Scriptures that those in Law-keeping sects try to use to support the keeping of Old Covenant Law.  As one digs deeper and really examines the language and context of the Scriptures, the simple Truths of the New Covenant become clearer and clearer – and Christ Jesus becomes more and more exalted, not only as our Sweet Saviour and Lord, but also as our Perfect High Priest, in Whom we can always do this:

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

Please also note that it is not through Law that we draw near to God, but by His Grace, faith in His Death and Resurrection, His Free Gifts of Righteousness and New Life, and His Perfect High Priesthood in the New Covenant, by which we draw near to God.

Grace and peace to you!
-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 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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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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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Redefinition of Terms 3 (M-Z)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I always have to come back to the Cross.    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

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TalmudExcerpt from Wikipedia‘s article on Talmud:

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

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

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

Excerpts from Judaism 101:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TorahExcerpts from From Judaism 101‘s page on Torah: 

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

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

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

From Hebrew Roots site First Fruits of Zion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before Sinai, the Torah was.

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

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

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

Now for the real Scriptures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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YHWH God.  See Sacred Names above.

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Yeshua – Jesus.  See Sacred Names above.

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See also:

Glossary Intro

Glossary A-F

Glossary G-L

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

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Labels

We do like to define things and have everything all figured out, don’t we? 

If I label myself a Christian-homeschooling-stay-at-home-mom-of-six, that gives you a pretty good idea of who you think I am, doesn’t it?  Or does it?  Do you really know who I am, or do you just have a pre-supposition of who I am based on the labels I’ve given to you or that have been put on me by others?

I’ve always kind of approached labels with caution.  Like the ingredients on the outside of a bottle of this or a box of that, until one really digs in and gets past the packaging, one really can’t get a feeling for the nuances of flavor and texture and character and color of what’s inside.  That takes digging.  It takes time.  It takes effort.

Add to labels the insulation of anonymity that the internet provides, and one needs to add a healthy dose of discernment to one’s evaluation of labels, whether they be self-imposed or imposed by others.

I’ve been asked what my denomination is on occasion.  I don’t have one.  No quick label there, sorry =o).  Just a plain old Bible-believing follower of Christ.  I’ve been blissfully ignorant of many of the micro-labels within Christendom today until lately.  Wow.  I had no idea that people had such far-reaching and differing opinions on what they perceive Scripture to say.  Sure, I have had a good grasp of the major streams of thought/denominations/religions/cults, but sheesh!  If all those weren’t enough, there are bunches of sub-divisions and divisions within those sub-divisions.  I’m pretty observant by nature, so it really has taken me a bit by surprise that I’ve been so taken by surprise =o). 

Back to labels.  When my husband and I relocated from a far-away town, we needed to find a new church.  We visited several churches, any of which would have been fine places to worship.  We often drove past a small plaza, and on the vertical sign by the road listing the tenants in the plaza was a sign that read “Worship Christ”, and in the corner of the plaza (which is shaped like an “L”) there was a sign reading “CHURCH”.  Those labels intrigued us every time we drove by.  We decided to stop and look at the posted times of worship were so we could go and visit one Sunday.  In this case, the “Worship Christ” label fit really well.  It has been our church home for over 12 years now, and the church has grown and built a modest church building on some land.

What a blessing it is to be in a healthy, functional, body of believers.  It is not a perfect place, but the Law of Love is practiced there, and the leadership is mature and accountable, submitting to each other.  There are no power plays there, just willing hearts to Biblically mature the Body and grow the Kingdom as God leads and confirms.

The example set by leadership carries over into the local Body.  Though there are different backgrounds and experiences (and baggage) that people bring as they come to fellowship, we are there to worship God, bathe in the Word and fellowship with one another.  And the Law of Love does reign there.  Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself.

Worship Christ.  Church.  Good labels. 

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