• What JGIG Is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    – JGIG

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Jesus’ Gospel? Paul’s Gospel?

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

Jesus vs Paul

I was asked this question in an email recently:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note that in Romans 1, Paul says this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now read Paul’s closing comments in Romans 16:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-JGIG

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Romans 7:1-6 and Spiritual Adultery

Following is a guest post regarding the exposition of Romans 7:1-6, a passage greatly misused by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement and other ‘Law-keeping’ sects.  At the end of this article, I’ll post an excerpt from Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement  –  An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley, where the HRM view of Romans 7:1-6 is detailed to give contrast to what we see a plain reading of the passage communicating.  Thanks to UGANUL for submitting the following!

Christian Law-Keepers and Spiritual Adultery
An Exposition of Romans 7:1-6

by UGANUL (Under Grace And Not Under Law)

Hebrew Roots, Torah Observant and Seventh Day Adventist believers know well the commandment, “You shall not commit adultery”, number seven of the Big Ten. They also know well Jesus’ expansion of that commandment in His sermon on the mount, in which He proclaimed lust to be adultery in the heart.  Law-keepers love to say things like, “See, Jesus didn’t do away with the law, He made it even more demanding!”

A little rabbit-trail here from my main subject, but every time I hear a statement like that I want to reply, “Yes, and if Jesus had included the fourth commandment in His sermon on the mount, it would have probably gone something like this:”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘The seventh day is a Sabbath (complete rest) to the Lord Your God’, but I say to you, not just one day a week shall you enter into rest, but you shall enter into My rest every day of the week all day long.”

That is exactly the message of Hebrews 4:1-10 and elsewhere in the New Testament. But I digress . . .

Back to adultery.  I think that we can all agree on the fact that there are at least two kinds of adultery:

  1. Physical adultery (actual sexual involvement with someone other than one’s spouse)
  2. Psychological adultery (lust in the heart for sexual involvement with someone other than one’s spouse)

To these two forms of adultery, I believe the Apostle Paul clearly adds a third form of adultery, spiritual adultery, explained in Roman 7:1-6.

The first three verses there set up the basis of comparison with physical adultery:

Romans 7:1-3
1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.

That’s all pretty clear; no controversy here.  Paul is speaking to those who know the Law, so probably a good number of Jewish converts to the gospel of Jesus are among the Christians at Rome.  And they (and even those under other forms of civil law) clearly understand that, yes, if a woman is married to a husband, and while that husband is still alive she goes and joins herself to another man, she is clearly an adulteress.

Having set that stage, Paul goes on to apply this truth to those who are followers of Christ:

Romans 7:4
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.adultery 3

What is the “therefore” there for?  Obviously, this verse is an application of the previous three verses.

It is evident, is it not, that on a spiritual level, the Apostle is saying we cannot be joined to both Christ and the Law at the same time.

Otherwise, just like the woman in the first three verses, an individual who seeks to join himself or herself to both Jesus and the Law at the same time commits spiritual adultery, a third kind of adultery.

It seems obvious to me that this article should be concluded right here in the first clause of v. 4 in which we are told that if we are part of the “brethren” in Christ Paul is addressing, then we have been “made to die to the Law”, period, end of argument, end of this nonsense about Christians needing to obey the Law given to Moses.

We believers in Christ have been made to die to the Law!  What is so difficult to understand about that straightforward statement?  But alas, I must be too simple-minded, so I will continue.

There is obviously a huge problem here.  Some 1400 years before the book of Romans was written, Moses recorded the commandments of God for the Israelite people which appeared to be good for all time stretching into eternity.  Now, however, the very Son of God has appeared demanding that we be joined to Him in ways which supersede the Law given to Moses.  E.g., in His sermon on the mount He differentiates Himself from the Law with the refrain, “But I say to you…”, and even overturns some points of the Law such as commanding us to swear no oaths at all when the Law commands its adherents to take oaths to the Lord.  (Compare and contrast Mt. 5:33-37 and Dt. 6:13.)

So, what is the solution to this perceived contradiction between the Laws given to Moses, and the teachings given to us by our Lord Jesus and His Apostles?

Here it is:  Just as in verses 1-3 in which someone has to die in order for the second union to be non-adulterous, so someone has to die here in order for there to be no spiritual adultery – the adultery of seeking to join ourselves to both Jesus and the Law of Moses at the same time.

Now here is where I think God provides an amazing, startling, and totally unexpected solution.  In verse 4, He actually has two people die: Jesus and the believer in Christ!  But He also has those two people raised from the dead, so that they may be joined to each other in a new union that truly bears “fruit for God”.

Implication: The old union with the Law was not getting the fruit-bearing job done.  Only New Life can do that.

In another place Paul reveals,

The letter (speaking of the Ten Commandments carved on tablets of stone) kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6)

But wait; there’s more!  God tells us why He had to work the plan this way.  He tells us that there is actually a problem with the Law:  It actually causes the flesh to sin, to bear fruit for death!  Romans 7:5 says:

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

Almost every translation of the New Testament puts it the same way – that our sinful passions are aroused by the Law to cause us to sin!  Yes, there is something about the Law of Moses and our sinful flesh that is impossible to fit together to bear fruit for God.  The Law of Moses arouses our sinful passions to show us how desperately we need our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now I can almost feel a flood of law-keepers descending upon me saying, “But look down at v. 12, ‘So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.’  The problem isn’t with the commandment; it is with our sinful flesh.”

My dear friend, I am not saying that there is something evil about the Law.

  • By saying that the Law is “holy”, that word signifies that it is set apart for a special purpose, to show us our sin.
  • By saying that the Law is “just”, that word signifies that God is just in condemning us to His wrath.
  • By saying that the Law is “good”, that word signifies that the Law accomplishes the good purpose of showing us that in and of ourselves we can never accomplish all the demands of that law, and it thereby leads us to our need for Christ.

Unbeknownst to the Israelites of Moses’ day and following, they were never going to be able to perfectly keep the Law, and were in effect being set up for failure so that in the fullness of time they would be driven to the grace and mercy and forgiveness in Christ, along with the power and privilege to live a whole new kind of life above sin.

So the Law has a purpose, and Paul explains that purpose in vv. 7-12 (as well as in many other places in the New Testament).  But here is the one thing we must recognize about the Law:  Though the Law of Moses had and has many good purposes, though it is holy (set apart), and though it is good, there is something even more important about it:  It is inadequate.  It cannot produce life, and it cannot bear fruit.  This is why it is so important to tenaciously hold to the truth of Romans 7:6:

But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

I am amazed at the hermeneutical (interpretive) gymnastics that HRM, TO, and SDA apologists use to get around verses in the New Testament, but it is as obvious as the day is long that what this verse really means is, “we have been released from the Law”!

In the Greek it still means, “We have been released from the Law”!  Ok, if you missed it look at the second phrase which indicates action completed in the past with results continuing into the present:  “having died to that by which we were bound”.

Folks, when we were “born-again” or “born from above” (John 3), we were crucified with Christ and raised up with Him (Col. 3 and elsewhere), so that we are now dead to the Law along with everything else associated with our old life. We are new creatures in Christ… “the old things passed away, behold new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17)!

Now there is one more very important death that took place by crucifixion, and sadly this death is often missed by many Christians.  Not only was Jesus crucified (and raised again), and believers in Jesus were crucified with Him (and raised again, Gal. 2:19-21), but there was also something else that was crucified, and this thing that was crucified was not raised from the dead.  For believers, the thing that was crucified was the Law itself!

Check out these two passages from Colossians and Ephesians:

Colossians 2:13-14
13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

What is the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us? Paul makes it even clearer in his parallel passage to this one in the body of his letter to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:14-16
For He Himself [Jesus] is our peace, who made both groups [Jews and Gentiles] into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

Dear friend, do not pass over this passage too quickly.  Observe two very important points:

First, notice in v. 16 what exactly was put to death on the cross.  It was the enmity.  What was the enmity?  Look back up into v. 15, where it tells us exactly what the enmity was:  “…the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances….”

Let’s not get too complicated here.  The enmity is the Law.

Second, as JGIG has pointed out previously, the Greek word translated “abolishing” both here in Ephesians 2:15 and in the text of our exposition at Rom. 7:6 is the word katargeo – G2673.  It’s semantic range includes the following meanings:

to render idle, unemployed, inactive, inoperative; to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency; to deprive of force, influence or 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; and finally to terminate all intercourse with.

Given this semantic range, it would seem to me that the translators of the New King James Version were rather mild in saying we have been released from the Law in Romans 7:6, and dead on accurate in their translation of Ephesians 2:15 by saying “abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law….”

Dear friend, if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, you have been

  • released
  • separated
  • severed
  • loosed
  • discharged and terminated from the Law of Moses which has been
  • annulled
  • abolished, and
  • deprived of all force, influence, power and authority over you as a New Covenant believer!

There are many reasons why we have been released from the Law of Moses, but one of the most important is that it is impossible for us to ever obey all its commandments:

James 2:10
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

It is both a Biblical fact and the common experience of every human being outside of Jesus Christ, that none of us, not even Ellen G. White or any other proponent of sinless perfectionism, has ever lived a life completely without sin.

Sooner or later, many Law abiding believers come to the realization of what sadly has taken them a long period of years to finally admit:  That living by the letter of the law is actually and truly an act of the flesh.

You are either walking in the power of your own flesh to keep commandments, many of which, by the way, were never intended for believers in Christ to keep in the same way the Old Testament Israelites were to keep them, or you are walking in the Spirit, being led by Him as “sons of God” into and through a lifestyle of fulfilling the Royal law (James 2:8), the law of love, the “new commandment” Jesus gave to us.  There is no middle ground!

Ok, sorry for the run-on sentence in the previous paragraph; perhaps I was influenced by many of the Apostle Paul’s long sentences.  Dear loved one, let me conclude here by encouraging you from the bottom of my heart:

Galatians 6:7-8
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Whether it is committing adultery or trying to keep all the commandments of the Law of Moses, it is still of the flesh, and will only reap corruption.  Sow to the Spirit, dear friend, and reap eternal life.

Postscript: For those of you Goyim (Gentiles) who are trying to become more Jewish through Torah observance, please take heed to the following New Covenant warning from Romans 2:17-24 about being Jewish:

17 But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, 18 and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 21 you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?  22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?  23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.

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Following is an excerpt of an examination of Jim Staley’s teaching, ‘Identity Crisis’, in which he relays an interpretation common in the Hebrew Roots Movement regarding Romans 7:1-6.  Excerpted from Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement – An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley:

The Misuse of Romans 7:1-6

. . . Staley doesn’t answer the question, but goes into how God divorces and then makes it so that He can remarry Israel.

Around 1:00 he takes Romans 7:4 and actually says that Israel died to Law, but died only to the law of adultery, so that She could be married to another. Romans 7:4 actually says,

4 So, my brothers, 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.

Those in Christ do not die to a single law, but to THE Law, as Romans 7:4 clearly states.

Did you die just to the Law regarding adultery? If the law of adultery died, like the husband did in the scenario presented in verses 1-3, that might make sense, as the rest of the Law could remain intact, but the Scripture does not say that the law of adultery died, it says that those in Christ died. When someone dies, they die to all laws. So dying to a single law makes no sense in light of Romans 7:6, which says this:

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

The written code, as we know, is the Ten Commandments and the other 600+ specific commands documented by God in Torah.

In Romans 7:4-6, the Law doesn’t die, WE do!

To what?

To the Law.

Why?

To be able to be joined to Another.

To Whom?

To Christ!

Hang on to your hats for this one: If you go back to the Law (which you have died to and been released from in order to be joined to Christ), you commit spiritual adultery (see part 4 on this page).

Whether you view the Law as a husband, as in the example in verses 1-3, as a Schoolmaster/Tutor/Guardian, as in Galatians 3:21-28, or anything else, you cannot be joined to both the Law and to Christ!

. . . we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way
of the written code.

Which brings me to a few rhetorical questions: If you are now dead to just the Law of adultery, does it now matter if you commit adultery? Is adultery no longer a part of the jots and tittles, none of which were supposed to pass away? If you believe that you died just to the law of adultery, what is the ‘written code’ spoken of by Paul — just the Law of adultery? Or maybe the passage is referring to the Oral Traditions? No, that can’t be it, because the Oral Traditions include all of the Law plus other stuff. Silly? Perhaps, but you get the point.

Torah folk that I’ve talked with tell me that if we interpret Romans 7:4 to mean the whole Law then it must be okay to go out and murder, steal, commit adultery, etc. Yet, if we go with that logic and couple it with the HRM interpretation of Romans 7:4-6 (which is standard in the HRM beyond Staley’s teaching), then it must be okay to commit adultery since that’s a law you’ve died to, yes?

Well I certainly don’t believe that! Why? Because I died with Christ:

Galatians 2:20-21
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

The Scriptures tell us clearly that those in Christ have died to the Law — all of it.

In the New Covenant, Grace teaches us and the Spirit leads us (Titus 2:11-14, Galatians 5:18-26). If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under Law (Galatians 5:18), which coincides to being dead to the Law. Not only that, but what does Romans 7:5, which is sandwiched in between verses 4 and 6, say?

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

I like the idea of being dead to that which arouses our sinful passions! Because as one in Christ, I’m not looking for license to sin, rather for how to sin less and less. The Law does not show us how to accomplish that. The Scriptures say that in us, the Law actually stirs up sinful passions rather than to tamp down sinful passions (Romans 5:20, Romans 7:5-11, 1 Corinthians 15:56).

Living in Grace and by the Spirit does not leave us in a vacuum, floating about with no compass to guide us! Notice in Galatians 5:21 where it says, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

So how does righteousness come? Grace. (See Hebrew Roots Movement – Man’s Righteousness or God’s Righteousness? and Grace or Law? How Then, Shall We Live?, and also Parts 2 and 5 on this page for more on this topic.)

We also know from the Scriptures that the Fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22-23) and that love, which does no harm to its neighbor fulfills the Law (Romans 13:8-10) because someone loving others is not murdering, stealing, committing adultery, bearing false witness, etc.

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

So we see that in the New Covenant, Grace teaches us and the Spirit leads us (Titus 2:11-14, Galatians 5:18-26). The Fruit of that is Love, which fulfills the Law (Romans 13:8-10). These are foundational Truths to the Gospel that bear repeating in the face of false teaching.

The balance of the article excerpted above can be read here:  Gateways into the Hebrew Roots Movement  –  An Examination of ‘Identity Crisis’ and Related Teachings of Jim Staley

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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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Believers in the Hebrew Roots Movement: Are They Lost?

I’ve seen the issue titled above come up time after time, from anxious family members and friends of precious believers who have been sucked into the Hebrew Roots Movement, and from heresy hunters who use fear every bit as much as those they strive to refute as they try to retrieve the deceived back into Biblical Christianity.

Here’s how I see it:
The HRM draws both believers and unbelievers into its web.  The Enemy accomplishes keeping the unbeliever away from the Gospel, and he keeps the believer from a fruitful relationship with God in Christ as he keeps them from bringing the Lost to Christ – they are far too busy ‘setting themselves apart’ via Law-keeping and trying to get other believers to be Torah observant for a variety of reasons.

Those in the Conditional Security camp may cringe when I say this, but one of the big ‘hooks’ that those in Law-keeping sects use to get folks into Law-keeping and keep them there is that if you don’t keep the Law, you’re in willful rebellion against God by not keeping His commandments and you are either Lost

  1. not really saved, or
  2. will lose your salvation.

Conditional Security types who believe that one in Christ can somehow lose their salvation open the door to that very subtle deception and unwittingly feed into it.

I firmly believe that believers who get hoodwinked into Law-keeping sects do not lose their salvation, but are neutralized in the Body – sterilized if you will – and will not ‘reproduce’, bringing the Lost into the Body.  Their fruit is mixed, which makes evaluating what they believe on the core issues of the faith important.

I say their fruit is mixed because I’ve interacted with Torah folk who are, up front anyway, loving and joyful.  When you begin to consistently disagree with them regarding believers’ relationship to the Law, however, they become impatient, critical, and controlling.  Their intentions may initially be noble, but the flesh takes over and bears its fruit, produced by the Law under which they’ve placed themselves.  We then begin to see things like idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, and envy.  A few of you Torah folk balking at the idolatry and sorcery charges?  Check out where some of your doctrines come from.

There are some from the HRM who convert to Judaism outright.  And there arises a real sticky wicket:  Are we in a position to judge the heart regarding the salvation/eternal security of one who goes so far as to do something as drastic as that?

Here’s a question worth considering: Are they, by their actions carried out under deception, rejecting the True Christ Jesus in/from/through Whom, in the past, they may have been saved and received eternal life, or are they rejecting the Enemy’s portrayal of a false Messiah cleverly crafted and spun in Law-keeping sects’ doctrines? 

If they were truly saved in their past, what will happen to them

no effectSee – I’m thinking we preach the Gospel regardless – to bring the deceived back to have Christ – the REAL Christ – be of full effect again in their lives, and if they were never saved to begin with, to bring them to Christ for the first time!

That’s the beauty of the Gospel: The Gospel corrects error and brings LIFE, so no matter the ailment, the Gospel is the Cure!

Are we seeing Torah folks’ lives from the perspective of God, Who sees not only where they are, but where they’ve been and where they’re going?  A deeply deceived person will believe and do really dumb stuff.  I’m of the mind and heart to preach the Gospel full preach and let God work out who is saved and who is not – with the understanding that I have but a snapshot of most people’s lives – especially on the internet!

So let this be an exhortation/encouragement for those of you who interact with friends and loved ones who are in the Hebrew Roots Movement and other false belief systems.  Don’t take the responsibility of sorting out ‘who’s saved and who isn’t.  It’s not your deal.  Examine fruit?  Absolutely.  Call out error?  You bet.  Tell someone who may very well be saved but walking in error that they’re going to hell?  No.

gospel-changes-everythingInstead, build them up in who they are in Christ; speak the simple Truths of the Gospel to them – lovingly and clearly to counter the falsehoods with which the Enemy seeks to muddy the waters as he drops the dirt of false doctrines into our streams of faith.  If they’re already saved, the Gospel will correct the error they’re in if they’re willing.  If they’re not already saved, communicating the Gospel to them will give them the opportunity to be reconciled to God in Christ.

Regardless, results are God’s business, not ours.  We are called to speak Truth in Love, not to manipulate in order to get results.

Again, the Gospel corrects error and brings Life – think of how the Apostles dealt with error in the Apostolic writings.  Sometimes they came at error head-on (absolutely appropriate on core issues), but mostly they just preached the Gospel of Grace and told believers who they are in Christ because of that Gospel (Who Jesus is, What He came to do, What that actually accomplished, and who believers are in Him).  Some plant, some water, but God makes those seeds grow!  If you’re not sure how to communicate the Gospel in an effective way, this is a good place to start, especially to those who are in Law-keeping sects:  The Gospel

There are lots of good resources out there, many of which can be found here.  I also encourage you to check out this site, as the author there has a really good way of relating the Gospel in real terms to real people living real lives.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page here at JGIG, for accounts of how God has brought those folks out of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

All that to say:  Our focus needs to be on the Gospel.  Understand the Gospel and the errors in false teachings will become very obvious.  Understand the Gospel and speak Grace and Truth into the lives of your friends and family members.  If/when the Torah folk in your lives reject the Jesus/Yeshua we love, try not to take it personally; they’ve been deceived by teachers bringing them a different jesus/yeshua and a false gospel.  Just love them well, pray, pray, pray, lift the emotion of it all Heavenward, giving it to God at His Throne of Grace, and leave the rest to Him.

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Other articles of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is some wisdom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is a ‘Jesus +’ equation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the text in Hebrews 10:

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

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

These questions arise:

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

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

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

God’s Law is clear.

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

Jesus took the penalty for sin, you say?

Right!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No!

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

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

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

This question was recently asked on a forum:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking at the balance of Hebrews 10:

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

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

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

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

38 But my righteous one will live by faith.

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

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

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

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

What are ‘these’? Go back to vs. 17:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:19-22

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

1 Peter 2:4-5

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

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

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

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

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

That is a FALSE teaching.

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

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

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

metanoeō (repent)

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

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

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

and:

metamelomai (repent)

1) it is a care to one afterwards

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

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

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

metanoeō (repent)

From μετά (G3326) and νοέω (G3539):

Strong’s G3326 – meta

1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3539 – noeō

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

2) to think upon, heed, ponder, consider

and

metamelomai (repent)

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

Strong’s G3326 – meta

1) with, after, behind

Strong’s G3199 – melei

1) to care about

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At that point the Bible says this happens:

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

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

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

Then what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Law stirs up sin:

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

Law produces death:

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

Law produces fruit unto death:

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

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

Grace teaches us godliness:

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

The Spirit produces life:

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

The Spirit produces the Fruits of the Spirit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay God!   \o/

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

What does God say to those who are in Christ?

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

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

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Resources for further study:

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Hebrew Roots Movement – “You Can’t Even Admit to Joining Israel!”

The above title is a statement made to me on a forum recently.  The premise from which the statement was made is that believers in Christ are grafted into Israel and are therefore subject to Old Covenant Law, the laws that were given through Moses to Israel.  You can read more about that belief in the post here at JGIG, Hebrew Roots Movement – Believers are Grafted Into and Become Israel?  Um . . . No.  As I wrote an answer to the statement in the title above, I did a short study of the Scriptures which refer to the Body of Christ and share it below, edited slightly for this venue.  I hope the following short study blesses you as much as it did me that day!

Originally Posted by believer0119
You can’t even admit to joining Israel. It miffs you to no end and want no part in it……but some people do…..and who are you to tell them that they are not…..

Isaiah 44:5
One shall say, I*”am”*YHWH’s; and another shall call”himself”*by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe”with”*his hand unto YHWH, and surname*”himself”*by the name of Israel.

Again….he accepts it……you don’t…what’s wrong with your logic?

In the context of the Old Covenant, the above was true.  Let’s take a look at my response to beliver0119:

Posted by JGIG:

believer0119, Gentiles who are in Christ are described as fellow heirs, living stones, fellow citizens, adopted sons, in-grafted wild branches, but Gentiles simply don’t ‘turn into’ Israel. We are part of the Body of Christ, made up of believing Jews and believing Gentiles.

The concept is made very clear in the New Testament, which is where the Body of Christ was established BY Christ.

Verses referring to the Body of Christ:

Romans 12:5
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

That passage goes on to describe spiritual gifts in the Body for the furthering of the Gospel and the edification of the Body. No mention of Gentiles becoming Jews.

1 Corinthians 6:15
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

Again, no reference to Gentiles being turned into Israel, but rather telling believers who they are in Christ and that to join one’s self to a prostitute is unthinkable (an issue at Corinth at the time)!

1 Corinthians 10:14-17
14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

There’s that ‘we who are many are one in Christ’ concept again. No mention of Gentiles being turned into Israel.

1 Corinthians 12:12-22
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Again, no mention of Gentiles becoming Israel there, just that consistent concept of all becoming one in Christ. That passage goes on to tell us that certain parts of the Body should not 1) wish to become other parts, and 2) tell other parts that they are less honorable or not needed. This part is interesting in light of the Gentile/Israel debate: But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”

Ephesians 1:22-23
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

We know from earlier in that chapter of Ephesians that the Body is those who have believed on Christ and are the adopted of God. There is no difference mentioned between Israel and Gentiles; all who are redeemed have been redeemed through Christ and are one in Him. The theme is very consistent.

Ephesians 2:14-18
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

We know from reading earlier in that chapter that Gentiles and Israel are mentioned; the ‘two’ later in the chapter. After vs. 18, we see that, “19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Fellow citizens with God’s people, which at this point are all those that believe on Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. There is no indication that citizenship is in Israel, but rather, as the Scripture says, and I like how the KJV puts it here: “19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”

Ephesians 3:1-12
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Very cool passage, telling how the mystery of the unsearchable riches of Christ – preached to the Gentiles – after the Jews of course, was NOT made known to men in other generations (read OT times). This was something NEW that God had done, accomplishing His purposes in Christ, and it is in Christ and through faith in Christ that we (Jews and Gentiles) can approach God with freedom and confidence \o/ !!!

Ephesians 4:11-16
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Here we see the whole structure of leadership is different than in the Old Covenant, in order to build up the Body of Christ in Him. Our significance and maturity come from being in Christ, not from knowing the Law.

It comes back to the Tree of Life or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Choose which one you want to partake of. One gives you knowledge, the other gives you LIFE.

“. . . as each part does its work.” One thing that strikes me about that phrase is that each part of the Body has a different work that it does. Those who teach Torah observance would have everyone do the SAME work – that of the observance of the Law. That’s not at all what God has in mind under the New Covenant! Instead of a people bound by Law, He has a people bound by Christ – all one in Him as His Body with Christ as the Head!  We each are free to do the work to which we are called and for which we are designed, whether that be foreign missions or ministering in day-to-day life.  I had never seen that before . . . Cool!

Ephesians 4:25
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

No comment. [I wrote that because on that forum those who are Torah ‘pursuant’ bear lots of false witness against me =o/. ]

Ephesians 5:29-30
29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.

Seeing this makes me think of how HRMers teach that division in the Body is a good thing because they have THE ‘truth’, and Jesus came to bring division! Then they go on to teach contrary to everything we see about the Body of Christ above.

Colossians 1:15-23
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Wow! Pretty self-explanatory. In Christ, we are without blemish, free from accusation! Hear that, Saints! And notice that Paul says that he has ‘become’a servant of the Gospel we have heard . . . it wasn’t a continuation of what he had taught in the Law – this is the Gospel of the Cross – see Ephesians 3, where this Gospel is described as a mystery not revealed in generations past, but, as is written in vs. 10-12,

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

Definitely a NEW thing going on there! Any doubt about what the church is? Many in the HRM claim that the ekklesia was present in the OT just as in the NT, but the Body of Christ did not yet exist. Continuing on with vs. 24-29:

24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

Paul was preaching Christ; His Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and indwelling with the Holy Spirit. Making Gentiles into Israel was not what was going on; making New Creatures out of believing Israel and believing Gentiles was what was going on, bringing them into the Body of Christ and under His Headship. And when Paul speaks of maturity, he does not go to Torah for that; he speaks of the fullness of Christ! Again, from Ephesians 4:

11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Christ is not the milk, Torah folk! Christ is the FULLNESS; He is the whole meal!

Colossians 2:6-23
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Some say that the above passage has to do with pagan rules. Fair enough. It could. But there is no getting around Who Jesus is, what He accomplished and that our life and sustenance is in Christ alone! Even if you want to think that vs. 20-23 has only to do with pagan rules, you cannot deny parallels to issues addressed in the Law: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” But they, like any law governing the flesh, lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Submitting to Christ, however, makes us New from the inside out; remaking us and in Christ giving us the desires to do the things that please Him. Nowhere in the NT writings after Pentecost are the things that please Him detailed as the works of the Law.

Colossians 3:1-15
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Let’s look at believer0119’s comment again:

You can’t even admit to joining Israel. It miffs you to no end and want no part in it……but some people do…..and who are you to tell them that they are not…..

Isaiah 44

*5*
One shall say, I*”am”*YHWH’s; and another shall call”himself”*by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe”with”*his hand unto YHWH, and surname*”himself”*by the name of Israel.

Again….he accepts it……you don’t…what’s wrong with your logic?


18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

That’s exactly right, believer0119, I can’t admit to joining Israel, because I didn’t ‘join’ Israel, I joined with Christ and am a part of HIM. And after reading all of the above Scriptures regarding the Body of Christ, those who are in Christ should not admit to becoming Israel! We are part of the Body of Christ, made up of believing Jews; believing Gentiles. Those who believe are part of the Body of Christ, not part of Israel. The Scriptures are clear.

-JGIG

Folks, does that mean that I don’t love Israel?  No.  Does it make me an anti-Semite?  No.  It does make me a Gentile believer in Christ who is one in Christ with those of Israel who also believe in ChristIn Christ, believing Israel and believing Gentiles are One New Man IN CHRIST.  That’s what the above means!

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

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

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Other related articles available at JGIG:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Temple is Christ and His Body:

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the sacrifices are now living ones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Law keeping community is a walking contradiction, people.

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

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

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

How do we uphold the Law?

By using it properly:

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

Who are you in Christ?

What does Romans 3 say?

Who does Timothy say that the Law is for?

Can we learn from the Law?

Yes.

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

No.

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

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

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

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

Love goes where Law cannot.

-JGIG

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

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Other articles of interest:

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Testimony: “Graceful Grandma’s” Story

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

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

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

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG


Graceful Grandma’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks again, Graceful Grandma, for your testimony!

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Millennial Prophecy: Measuring Unrevealed Prophecies in Light of Revealed Truths

This is a post about discerning what anybody tells you about unfulfilled prophecy in general, the example below being specific to many in  the Hebrew Roots Movement who assert that “We’re all going to be keeping the Law in the Millennium anyway, so we better start practicing now!”.  Most go on to say how we’ll also be offering sacrifices in the rebuilt Millennial Temple.  Not to dump on HRMers exclusively, as there are many others in different streams of thought in the Body of Christ who also believe that animal sacrifices will again occur according to Millennial prophecies found in Scripture.

Well, I have a BIG problem with that assertion.  Why would redeemed, cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb believers be making animal sacrifices for any reason?!

Hebrews 10 is very clear on the issue that Jesus Christ was the FINAL sacrifice.  Not only that, but He is purifying us as well, so purification sacrifices are no longer needed either.  The only sacrificing going on for those in Christ is described here:

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

God wants living sacrifices, not dead ones!  The Temple, Priests, sacrificial system and other edicts and regulations that God set in place in the Old Covenant were to point to Christ while allowing for atonement for Israel both corporately and individually (temporary atonement that it was), as well as preserving Israel as a nation so that Messiah would be recognized when He came.  The thing about being a living sacrifice is that the atonement is a permanently done deal; those in Christ are redeemed and cleansed by THE Blood of THE Lamb – no further cleansing/purifying required!

Why does God want living sacrifices?
God wants living sacrifices not to preserve a people, but to GROW a people!  Living sacrifices can go out and fulfill the Great Commission, going out to preach the Good News of Christ to every tongue, tribe, and nation, regardless of cultural differences.  Living sacrifices make themselves available to God – renewing their minds, testing God’s will for them.  Living sacrifices go out as the Body of Christ, as His Hands and Feet, to serve and love people into the Kingdom.

Let us sacrifice thus:

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

And what about the ‘Temple’?
Jesus begins to change the concept of the dwelling place of God from that of a Temple of stone to the Body of Christ here:

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

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

And the concept of God’s dwelling place further shifts from a physical Temple to the spiritual Body of Christ in the writings to the Body of Christ after Pentecost:

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

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

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

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

So I look at all that, and then I look at a teaching that states sacrifices will be offered in a physical temple during the Millennium, and it just doesn’t add up for me.  As I’ve done research about this issue, I’ve found that a broad sampling of streams of thought agree with a literal Millennial Temple, along with literal animal sacrifices being re-instituted, citing God’s ‘final dealing with Israel’ during that time and other such theories.  A simple Google search will provide you with a lifetime’s supply of reading material on the subject. I’ve not been able to pin down exactly who might be sacrificing and why beyond a possible memorial to Christ’s work.

But Christ Himself instituted a memorial to His work – commanding us to remember Him in the Bread and the Wine (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), what is called the Last Supper or Communion.  So the angle of re-instituting the actual slaughter and offering of animals on an altar as a memorial when a memorial is already in place rings hollow to me.

What I do get are lot of references to Ezekiel 40-48 and Zechariah 14 (with condescending statements about how it’s just so obvious what they are talking about) that are far from conclusive and do not prove the point.  My take on Zechariah 14 can be read here.  I see two flaws in the Ezekiel 40-48 argument, starting with one found in Ezekiel 43:

Ezekiel 43:10-11
10 “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, 11 and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.

The whole rest of the passage that those advocating for Millennial sacrifices becomes moot in light of the condition laid out in Ezekiel 43:10-11.  God says,“Let them consider the plan and if you are ashamed of all you have done, then . . . “ and has Ezekiel write down in great detail what God would have had in store for Israel, i.e. the new Temple with modified features and protocols, had Israel done the “If”.  Another issue comes up in the Ezekiel 40-48 passage is that some think that the ‘prince’ referred to in Ezekiel 45 is the Messiah, who will preside over the sacrifices offered in the Millennial Temple.  Let’s take a look:

Ezekiel 45:21-22
21 “‘In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover, a feast lasting seven days, during which you shall eat bread made without yeast. 22 On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land.'”

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is without sin, so the prince mentioned in the above passage cannot refer to Messiah.  Some surmise that the prince is David upon his promised throne over Israel – yet the Blood of THE Lamb has been shed, once for all, and from that reality I must base any interpretation of future events.

Questions that come up for me when considering such a view follow these axiomatic statements:

  1. Based on what we know about Christ’s finished work of the Cross, no more animal sacrifices are required, only the living sacrifices referred to above.
  2. Based on what we know about who we are in Christ, it is certain that believers in Christ will NOT be making sacrifices, so that interpretation is OUT.
    • Who does that leave?
    • Will there be a literal Millennium?
    • Who will populate it if there is?
    • If we reign with Christ as priests and kings, will we
      • be administering Mosaic Covenant Law?
      • overseeing sacrifices? Do you actually know what that entails?
      • The Temple was a virtual slaughterhouse. Is there ANY Scripture where we EVER see that as a possibility after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70?
    • Does the Blood of Christ come to no effect once the anticipated Millennial Reign commences?
    • Will He not still have performed the final sacrifice for mankind?
    • Will He not still be Resurrected?
    • Will those things mean nothing at a certain point on the timeline? If you think so, what Scripture do you (speaking collectively to all readers here) have to back up the assertion that the work of Christ ceases to have power at a certain point in history?
    • Will God demand more than the shed Blood of Christ at any point in history after the work of the Cross?

This bears repeating:  Based on what we know about who we are in Christ, it is certain that believers in Christ will NOT be making sacrifices, so that interpretation is OUT.

So what’s with all the different views?
How do teachers/interpreters of prophecy come up with so many different views in the first place?  I think it has a lot to do with what lens we look through and a great desire and/or a perceived need to have everything ‘all figured out’.

There are prophecies that some have extrapolated to mean certain things, but we must always place the unrevealed truths of those interpreted prophecies within the context of revealed Truth – that being the completed work of Christ.

Revealed Truth always supersedes unrevealed truth – that is, with prophecy, much of it is a mystery until it occurs, and as it occurs, it often looks very different than we thought it would.

I recently heard a funny example about how we can get stuff oh-so-wrong simply because we do not have the whole picture, are ignorant (not in a bad way, just in a not-having-all-the-knowledge about something way), and/or are seeing what we want to see:

A redneck family went to the city and went to one of those really big malls.  The father and the son noticed a big metal wall.  The wall would open up and people would walk into the hole and then it would close up and the people would disappear.  They kept looking at this wall and noticed that up above where the wall was there were numbers that would light up and they’d see the count go up: 1, 2, 3.  Then they’d keep watching and the numbers would come back down: 3, 2, 1.  The wall would open up, and different people would walk out of the hole.  This wall – this wall was something incredible!

Then they saw a little old lady.  She went up to the wall and she pushed a button . . . the wall opened up and she walked into the hole.  The hole closed and she too, disappeared.  They saw the numbers count up to three and then count back down to one.  And when the wall opened up, a beautiful young woman walked out of the hole!  And the father leaned over to his son and said, “Son, go get your mama.” 

Nothing against rednecks here . . . trust me, in some ways I are one!  But we can see from this story that how that father and son interpreted what they were seeing had no basis in reality.  They were interpreting what they saw based on the information and experiences that they had, along with a sizeable pinch of wishful thinking.  There were concepts and mechanical workings completely out of their view.  The concept of an elevator had nothing to do with their world.  Yet they would no doubt fully understand what they had witnessed when looking at the whole picture, instead of seeing the limited view that they had at the time, having interpreted it with the limited knowledge they possessed at the time.

The same can be said for interpreting prophecy.  Layer on top of  the limited information and experiences that influence our interpretations our individual pet theologies and biases, and you can end up with numbers of different interpretations for the same passages of Scripture.  Let me repeat:  There are prophecies that some have extrapolated to mean certain things, but we must always place the unrevealed truths of those interpreted prophecies within the context of revealed Truth – that being the completed work of Christ.

Those who were the most learned in the Scriptures completely missed or outright rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  They thought they had it all figured out.  They had the culture, the language, the history, the education, the Scriptures – yet they still missed Jesus.  They were expecting the Messiah to manifest in ways far different than He actually did.

God’s manifestation, fulfillment, and reality of what He foretold did not match what they thought that fulfillment should look like.  Beyond the fulfillment in the incarnation of Christ was the work of the Cross and what that would mean for those who would choose to put their faith and trust in Him.  There were many looking for a conquering Messiah – they did not count on Him conquering as the sacrificial Lamb of God.  That paradoxical reality really messed with their expectations.

We need to be mindful of the above examples when looking at prophecies yet unfulfilled.  We also need to recognize that NONE of the end-times doctrines or interpretations out there constitute core issues of the Christian faith beyond the fact that Jesus IS coming back and there WILL be judgement for both the redeemed and the unredeemed.  Much of what is beyond that is speculation on our parts and anyone who tells you they have it all figured out beyond a doubt is fibbing.

All that said, I’m completely comfortable stating that I don’t have the end-times timeline and events all figured out.  As of this writing, I’m a “Pan-Tribber” and “Pan-Millennialist” with Pre-Trib leanings and an open mind that understands that what I think or don’t think about it is not going to change God’s timetable.  That is, I figure God has it all worked out and knows what He’s doing and it will all pan out in the end.  My job is to be faithful to that which He has called me in this lifetime, whatever that may bring, all the while keeping in sight the completed work of Christ at the Cross and measuring everything through that lens.

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Related to the subjects of Millennial Sacrifices and Theological Perspectives:

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Other articles of interest:

For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index, Glossary, and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Believers are Grafted Into and Become Israel? Um . . . No.

There is a belief in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic/Netzarim movements that when one believes on Yeshua (Jesus Christ) that they become grafted into the ‘tree of Israel’, actually becoming Israel, obligating those believers to observe Israel’s Mosaic Covenant Law.  There are also those who think that if one believes on Messiah, it’s actually because God has drawn them as a member of the ‘Lost 10 Tribes of Israel’ and that they have been part of natural Israel all along, they just haven’t realized it yet!  (See “Ephraimites” on the Glossary A-F page for more information and resources regarding this belief.)

Law ‘keepers’ use passages in Romans 11 and Ephesians 2 along with a smattering of Old Testament verses regarding the sojourner with Israel to support the view that all believers actually become Israel by being grafted into the olive tree and that believers, by becoming part of the “commonwealth of Israel” actually change into Israel.  These same people will go on to lament about how Christians are the ones who believe in replacement theology!

Someone on a forum posted this question about the issue (this thread has already been culled at Tree of Liberty’s Seminary Forum, so no link is available):

Originally Posted by Munkh:
I hear this term used a lot on TOL and just wanted to ask for clarification what others believe it means?

The reason I ask is because I often see it being referred to [as] Gentiles being grafted into Israel (Wild olives of Romans 11) and so becoming Israel but when you look at actual grafting, the grafted in branch does not become the same as the root in other words you can graft an Orange branch onto a Lemon tree and it still produces Oranges not lemons.  It does get its sustenance from the Lemon tree roots and is supported by the roots but it is still an orange branch not a lemon.

So by that kind of poor example I have a hard time understanding how I as a Gentile become an Israelite or Jew simply because I was grafted in. I get my spiritual nourishment from the same source but I am still a Gentile.

I can find nothing in Romans 11 to lead me to believe otherwise so please help my confusion.

“Munkh” was quite right in his/her assessment of what Romans 11 says in light of the realities of actual grafting practices.

Let’s look at the grafting metaphor in Romans 11 coupled with actual olive tree grafting:

Romans 11:11-24
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap of the olive root, 18do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20Granted.  But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Back to the Scripture in a moment, but if you please, read through this article on olive tree grafting, The Road Back to Tradition Begins With a Graft .   The article is an agrarian one, not a religious one, so there is no bias in the article’s grafting perspective.  It’s a short article with enlightening photos, and well worth the read.

What I want you to notice is how when the grafting process on an olive tree is started, the olive tree is cut down to almost nothing. There is basically only root stock left. The writer of the article describes it as “a brutal process, if you’re a tree”.  Other resources available about olive tree grafting tell how resilient the olive tree is, and how, after grafting, it can actually be a stronger tree and bear more fruit as a result.

So back to the Scripture, and please do look at the article on grafting, as you’ll get a visual to go along with the Scripture which really describes a much more radical process than those of us unfamiliar with grafting may have in mind.  Paul differentiates the Root from the branches, and as such, based on what I now know about grafting, the branches are the Body of Christ, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, and Christ is the Root.  “You do not support the root, BUT THE ROOT SUPPORTS YOU.”  

Does Israel support us?

No,  Jesus does!

What happened to the branches?

“‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’  20Granted.  But THEY WERE BROKEN OFF BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF, and you stand BY FAITH.  Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.  21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”

When an olive tree is prepped for grafting, all of the branches are cut off. After the Cross, unbelieving Israel was cut off.  Those who believed then and believe now were/are grafted back in, along with believing Gentiles.  All were/are grafted in by faith, and nowhere is there any indication that the wild branches become natural branches.  

Do they all share in the life that comes from the Root?  

Yes.  

Do they maintain their identity?  

Ethnically, yes.

As believers in Christ we become one tree, Jew and Gentile both grafted in by faith to the Root through Whom we receive life.  Our primary identity is that we are in Christ!  As a believer, I am in Christ first and foremost – I identify as a Christian who happens to be a Gentile, not a Gentile who happens to be a Christian. 

It is at this point where I expect the HRM/MJer to chime in, “Yes!  And you know that the tree is Israel, right?  And if Gentiles are grafted into Israel, then Gentiles are subject to the same Law as Israel!”   I’ll give them one point:  Jews and Gentiles grafted into the Root are all subject to the same Law, but it isn’t Mosaic Covenant Law, it is the Law of Christ!

As if anticipating ‘the tree is Israel’ argument, Paul, in Romans chapter 9 says this:

Romans 9:1-8
1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel.  Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.  5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

6 It is not as though God’s word had failed.  For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.  7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.  On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

Note that it is Abraham’s offspring, not Jacob’s offspring that Scripture identifies as the children of the promise.  Abraham’s seed was not identified as Israel; Jacob’s seed was the first to be identified as Israel.  The promise is given to everyone, Israelites and Gentiles alike!  This, later in the Romans 9 passage (I did not include the entire chapter for brevity’s sake):

Romans 9:30-33
30 What then shall we say?  That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.  They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” 33 As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Back to Romans 11:20:

But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith.

After the Cross, one is part of the tree not because of ethnicity; one is part of the tree because of faith.

Flesh vs. Spirit

Obedience/disobedience to the Law resulted in blessings/curses – for the flesh.  Obey the Law – live.  Disobey the Law – die.   The Law, however, could never impart spiritual life; only the Crucified, Risen, God-incarnate-Christ can do that.  The Law could only guarantee a natural, physical life to those who walked in obedience to its edicts and regulations, and a swift physical punishment/death for those who rebelled, either for them or for a sacrifice offered in their stead, depending on the offense.  

Galatians 3:21-29
21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

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

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Romans 7:1-6
1 Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.  But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

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

Some in the HRM will retort, “But the Law is spiritual!  Keep reading in Romans 7!”  Okay, let’s do that:

Romans 7:14-25
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Paul leaves us rather hopeless at the end of Romans 7!  Even though the Law is spiritual, we are still flesh, and if Paul can’t get a handle on sin, what hope have we?!  He gives us a hint where he’s going in Romans 7:25, and thankfully, Paul continued writing in Romans chapter 8:

Romans 8:1-16
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 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, 4 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.

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; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

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

12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Paul does such a powerful job of showing us our utter hopelessness in the flesh, and the great gift of being in Christ – But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.   We are dead to Law (Romans 7:1) but alive in His Spirit!  We are grafted into the Life-giving Root, Jesus!

After the Cross, the Law is NOT done away with; it continues to point to Christ.  Instead of being that which foreshadowed Messiah in the observances which it required, the Law now serves as confirmation giving witness to Who Christ is and His fulfillment of the Law’s types and shadows!  The Law’s types and shadows now reveal the Reality of He Who has come, that is Jesus Christ the long-awaited Messiah (Colossians 2:17)!  This is what the Bereans were searching the Scriptures about; to see if what Paul told them about Jesus Christ being the Messiah was true.  As a system of relationship with God, however, Mosaic Covenant Law has become obsolete.  It has been replaced as a practical and functioning covenant by the New Covenant:

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

Hebrews 8:13
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

After the Cross several things happened (not an exhaustive list):

  1. The purpose of the Law was fulfilled when the Seed came and did the work of Redemption promised at the Fall and that promise reinforced to Abraham’s seed.
  2. The Law, as a functioning religious system, became obsolete because of the complete work of Christ.  Primary evidence proving that the two covenants cannot operate at the same time is that the Old Covenant had a sacrificial system, CLEARLY made obsolete by the once-and-for-all sacrifice of The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10) .
  3. Unbelieving Israel was cut off (Romans 11:20).  The ONLY way to be grafted back into the Life-giving Root is by FAITH in the Messiah, for both the Jew and the Gentile.

Grafted in by Faith.  Clothed in Christ.  One Body in Christ.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, according to the promise not according to flesh.  We are to abide in the Vine, Jesus (John 15).  One building, made up of living stones, whose Cornerstone is Christ.   All abstract, spiritual concepts, removed from the flesh and bound together by faith and trust in the Crucified and Risen Christ Who gives us LIFE by His Spirit.

One’s ethnicity (flesh) does not change because one is grafted into the tree – natural branches grafted back in and wild branches grafted in live together as one tree drawing spiritual Life from the same Source, The Root, Who is Christ.  Note that in the natural world, grafted branches continue to produce the fruit of the stock from which they were cut, receiving life from the root into which they’ve been grafted – their individual identity does not change, though they receive life from the same root, natural and wild branches alike.  The overall identity of the Tree is one in Christ, however, even though the branches consist of both natural and wild branches.  The believing Jew/Israelite and the believing Gentile are grafted in together, becoming ONE TREE by faith in Christ, who gives them ALL spiritual LIFE. 

A quote from the tree-grafting article, “Yeah. It’s not a hybrid; it changes the whole identity of the tree.”  [Bolding mine.]  Several metaphors are used to describe those in Christ being the people of God, and they cover a lot of bases, showing that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross.  Whether Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave or free, we are all one in Christ.  Whether natural branches or wild, we all receive Life from the Root, Who is Jesus.  We are living stones, carefully placed by the Master Builder, built into a spiritual house, joined together by the Chief Cornerstone:

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

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

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

Before Christ’s work at the Cross, the people of God had an identity of Israel, and in Romans 11 they are represented by an olive tree.  After Christ’s work at the Cross, God’s people have a whole new identity in Christ.  Another metaphor used in the New Testament is that we are One Body, with many parts: 

1 Corinthians 12:12-14
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 

Romans 12:3-8
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Over  and over references to who we are in Christ hammer home that regardless of our ethnicity or position or gender, we are one in Christ!  I, and every other person who is in Christ remains who God created us to be in the flesh while simultaneously becoming a New Creation and a part of His Body by His Spirit.  Does that make all who are in Christ Jews/Israel?  No, for the Scripture says there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.  Okay . . . I’m female, and I’m in Christ.  Do I cease to be female in the physical? Of course not!  I’m also a Gentile, and I’m in Christ.  Do I cease to be a Gentile?  No.  Being in Christ does not mean our ethnicity/gender/social standing (caste, position, whatever) changes, but we do become members of the Body of Christ, and as such, are one IN HIM.  [It is important to note here that the terms ‘Jew’ and ‘Israel’ are used interchangeably in Scripture.]

The Two House/Ephraimite Error

The Two House/Ephraimite Error

As mentioned at the top of this post, there are some who think they actually are Israel/Jews/Ephraim who are in the Messianic/Hebrew Roots/Netzarim streams of thought.  There are some who think they heard that some great-grand parent might have been Jewish and they proudly take on that identity.  Some actually shell out  $$$ to have their DNA tested.  Others ‘just have a feeling’ that they are part of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel (that aren’t really lost, by the way).  One person who has come out of the HRM told me that some in the Hebrew Roots Movement claim to have had a mystical experience similar to the Mormon ‘burning in the bosom’ after which they ‘just know’  they are part of Ephraim (the Lost 10 Tribes).

The Bible, however, doesn’t teach that those who believe on Messiah become Israel, or that they are drawn to the Cross just because they are Israel.  All of the metaphors used in the Scriptures written to the Body of Christ confirm that God makes everyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His work at the Cross a New Creation, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or position (See also the entry Ephraimite on the Glossary A-F Page for more information on the ‘Two House Doctrine/Ephraimite Error.)

Conclusions
Tree grafting is not rocket science.  
Save for the chain saws and tape, grafting has remained pretty much the same since it was first tried, and the metaphor that Paul used nearly 2000 years ago holds up as well today as it did then.  There are natural branches and wild branches, each retaining their identities, all drawing their life from the same Root.  As seen above, many other metaphors are used to make the same basic point.

Those in the HRM will try to take behaviors expected of the sojourner with physical Israel under the Law in the Old Testament and apply those expectations to Jews and Gentiles alike in the spiritual Body of Christ.  That is an inappropriate application.  Israel and Her sojourners were under Mosaic Covenant Law, given until the Seed should come.  The Body of Christ rests in the Gospel – the Seed has come, He did the work of the Cross, and we have died with Him and received Life from the Resurrected Christ.  All, whether Jew or Gentile, come to relationship with Him through faith – heirs according to the Promise given to all mankind.

Promises given to all mankind and depicted in the flesh of Israel via the Law give way to the spiritual realities fulfilled in Christ.

Am I saying that Israel is ‘replaced’ by the Church (Body of Christ)?  No.  After the Cross, however, those who are a part of Israel must be saved just as the Gentile; through faith and trust in Jesus Christ Who died, Rose on the third day, and Ascended into Heaven and sits at the Right Hand of the Father. 

What of natural/national Israel?  I’m content to leave that up to God.  I believe that He has further plans for Her according to His Word.  There are lots of different opinions about how the last events will play out, but none of that has bearing on the salvation of the individual soul before God and who we are in Christ.

Do I boast over the natural branches?  No.  The offer of salvation comes to the Jew first and then the Gentile.  There is special honor, in my opinion, for Israel, as She is the vehicle God chose to facilitate the coming of Messiah.  Israel has endured much for Her chosen status.  The balance of Romans 11 says:

Romans 11:25-36
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Now some will take that to mean that every individual in Israel will be saved as per God’s promise in this passage.  Yet Scripture tells us that Jesus is the only Way to the Father.  Some surmise that a representative number of Israel will be saved, thus fulfilling the promise.  Like with many prophecies, we often don’t know how they will come about until God fulfills them and then we say, “Oh!  That’s what He meant by that Scripture!”  So I’m content to wait to see how God will fulfill His promises to Israel.

As those in Christ we are grafted into the Root, abide in the Vine, become part of the Body of Christ.  In Christ, we live in a spiritual reality in spite of our ‘fleshy’ existence.  The Scriptures are clear:  We are a New Creation in Christ, One Body, many parts, each with talents and giftings and callings which God desires us to use to spread the Gospel of Christ to every tribe, tongue and nation.  He does not require that we become ethnically someone we were not created to be to in order to partake in His Kingdom, because flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Amen!

We, as believers in Christ, need to understand who we are in Him.  Don’t let anyone tell you that ‘you are now Israel and as such are subject to the Laws given to Her by God through Moses’.   If you are in Christ, you are now dead to the Law and alive in Christ.  If you are in Christ, you are part of the Body of Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female – we believers are all one in Him!

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  • Note: I also posted the above post on a forum I was invited to this past winter.   Interesting responses and a good primer in how those who are Torah pursuant think.  You can find the thread HERE.

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

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Other articles of interest:

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12 Undeniable Truths That Drive Law ‘Keepers’ Crazy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now consider this passage:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more on this topic:

3. God is eternal, Torah is not. Torah is created, not eternal.  There is an attempt in the Law keeping community to attach godly attributes to Torah, when in reality Torah is representative of God’s character and expectations, not an embodiment of them. You may hear the Law ‘keeper’ say things like,

“Torah was before time”, “God spoke creation into being, and what did He use to do that? His Word! What is His Word? Torah! What does John 1:1 say? The Word was with God in the beginning . . . therefore Torah is eternal!”

They will also take that train of thought (right off a cliff!) and say that the Word in John 1:1 is Torah and turn that into “Yeshua is the Living Torah”, totally misusing the Greek word logos John uses for the word, Word.  I used to think this was more of a fringe belief in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism and Law ‘keeping’ sects, but the belief that Yeshua is the Living Torah is a fairly widespread belief.  They are undoubtedly preaching a different Jesus.

2 Corinthians 11:4-6
4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”  6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.

4. The catch-22 problem with the ‘Yeshua is the Living Torah’ doctrine:  If Yeshua is the Living Torah, then the Law DID die.  If the Law died, then it is no longer in effect.  If you are a Law ‘keeper’, are you going to come back and say that the Law rose from the dead?  Are you going to pick the Law apart like you do to ‘keep’ it?  Can you pick Yeshua apart and say that only ‘parts’ of the Word were put to death?  Was the Law resurrected?

 Game over.  Law ‘keepers’ shred their own theology with such an unscriptural doctrine.  Not only is it unscriptural, it’s just plain silly.

Sound doctrine elevates Yeshua to the fullness of God as the Scriptures say He is (Colossians 2:9-17).  The doctrine Law ‘keepers’ believe diminishes Yeshua to a written code.  If you hold to the ‘Yeshua is the Living Torah’ doctrine, the Law died.

The Bible says that Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe (Romans 10:4).  That indicates a change in relationship to the Law for the believer.   See the following articles to explore more about the relationship of the believer in Christ to the Law:

We also see that Jesus is eternal (Alpha and the Omega, or the Aleph and the Tav, for our HRM friends), Torah is not.

1 Peter 1:22-23
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Where else do we see the term ‘incorruptible’?

Romans 1:20-23
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.  23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

We see that we are ‘born again by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever’ and it is clear from the Greek that it is the logos of God, Christ, Who is being spoken of, not the nomos, the Torah of God.  And Christ is described as incorruptible seed, clearly a reference to his God-hood.

Most MJ/HRMers will agree that Torah cannot save, but have this huge blind spot when they claim that ‘Yeshua is the Living Torah’, because Yeshua undeniably DOES save!

5. It was our SIN that was nailed to the Cross, not just man’s additions to or the curses of the Law. What was blotted out and nailed to the cross? What stood against us?  Convicting us in the sight of God?  That which the Law defines – SIN.  Law Keepers assert that Christ merely nailed human traditions added to the Law or just the curse of the Law to the Cross.  Jesus accomplished so much more than that.

**This entry has been edited after a fellow contender for the faith corrected me.  They say it best, so I’ll post what they wrote to me here (Many thanks CIAN!):

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

Seeing that human tradition carries no authority to convict man in God’s sight and sin does, that it was merely human tradition or just the curse of the Law that  Law ‘keepers’ assert was nailed to the cross  simply fails in light of the facts and the context.  Once sin is washed away, the Law is done with us . . . it has led us to the Cross – and there we become a New Creation!  We no longer have the same relationship with the Law as we did before the work of Christ in our lives!

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

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

6.  The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of sanctifying the believer apart from observing Mosaic Covenant Law.  The Holy Spirit works righteousness from the inside out, where the Law merely restrains sin from the outside.  Where the Law instructs man regarding his sinful condition, the Gospel transforms man regarding his sinful condition!  The believer walking in submission to the Holy Spirit will not be led into sin.  The believer walking in rebellion to the Holy Spirit will be miserable!

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

Galatians 6:11-15
11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

Does that mean that we as believers cannot learn from the Law?  Of course not!  ALL Scripture is profitable . . .

2 Timothy 3:14-17
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

7.  Law is not law unless it is enforced.  Those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism streams of thought pick and choose what laws they follow. They call it being ‘Torah pursuant’ – doing what they can as they are ‘led’. God’s Law does not allow for this practice! To follow that way of thinking is to cheapen both the Law and the Holiness of God Almighty!

Those who are Torah ‘pursuant’ completely ignore the very important enforcement aspects of Mosaic Covenant Law.  It would seem that the judgement aspects of the Law are part of the jots and tittles, if you know what I mean.  If you want to see some Torah-pursuant back-pedaling, see how your Law ‘keeping’ friends respond when you ask them why they don’t obey Deuteronomy 16 and 17.   (See also Is Law Really Law Without Enforcement?)

8.  The fruit of the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism belief systems and related sects is not good.  While attempting to sway you to a Torah-pursuant lifestyle one may appear to be sweet and nice at the outset, but consistently challenge them on their beliefs with contextual Scripture and look out for the teeth and claws!  (Edited to add:  An example of what I’m talking about can be found in a run of comments from ‘Brandon’ found HERE at JGIG.)  There are several who have lined up to be ‘witnesses against me’ at the judgement because I disagree with mandatory Torah observance for those in Christ.  Apparently I am not alone as one who has witnesses lining up against me . . .

This came to a fellow believer/friend of mine who had a civil discourse with such a person. Then this, after my friend clearly was rejecting Law keeping doctrine (bolding, color, spelling, and exclamation points all by original author):

“According to Heb 10:26 you are headed for the fire!! and this direction you are on will lead to destruction!!! and I am one witness who will testify of your disobedience in front of Yahushua (Jes*s), I pray you will obey YHWH (GOD) before there comes another witness!

And according to 1 Jon [sic] you are a liar so, dream what you will regarding your understanding… but don’t let your dreams keep you from experiencing everlasting life with the Creator of the universe! REPENT NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! 

My last post to you!

R~

GO AND SIN (LAWLESSNESS) NO MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…….eversasting [sic] “

Other Christians who contend for the Faith on debate forums have had similar threats leveled at them.  Beyond the obvious problems with the above, I’ve had false witness borne against me by Law ‘keepers’ countless times, one has threatened me with legal action for content on this blog, and I’ve received veiled threats because I stand by the completed work of Christ at the cross!

Galatians 5:22-26
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

9. Torah is not our access to God and His Character or His promises.  Faith in Jesus and belonging to Him is. There is relationship with God that is available to us that was not available to those under the Law.

Ephesians 3:2-6
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 11:39-40
39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

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

10. The hermeneutic (a method or principle of interpretation) used by those teaching HRM/MJ doctrines is fluid. There is no stable underlying framework from which those in Law ‘keeping’ sects interpret and teach Scripture. They make use of eisegesis over exegesis, transliteration, Midrash, proof texting, and shift back and forth between ‘Hebraic’ thought and Western thought when it suits their purposes. 

Some will even go so far as to use ‘re-translated Scriptures’ – those translated from what they claim is the original Hebrew or Aramaic New Testament writings.  In other words, they reject the Greek Primacy of the New Testament Scriptures, opening up all kinds of new interpretations of the writings to the Body of Christ as they purpose to substitute specific Greek language that the Apostles actually used in their writings with what HRM/MJ teachers consider to be Hebrew or Aramaic ‘equivalents’.  Key Biblical doctrines affected by this practice are those hinging on words such as justification, repent/repentance, Word, commandment, fulfill, etc.

If it (HR/MJism) were indeed truth, the belief system would be able to stand on a plain reading of Scripture and not have to build all kinds of theological interpretive contraptions to get Scripture to mold to their way of thinking.

11.  Those in Law-keeping sects seek to make the simple complicated.   Notice when someone like me comes along with a simple New Covenant concept like the realities of grafting or the Law of Love how some Law ‘keepers’ go on and on about how I “just don’t understand – here – let me throw 30 different Old Testament passages and a couple of out-of-context and/or misapplied New Testament passages at you to show you how you’re wrong”.

12.  Law ‘keepers’ cannot deal with contextual writings written to the Body of Christ, or their theology falls apart.  It is on the core issues of the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that belief systems stand or fall. Who Jesus Christ is, what He did, and that He instituted the New Covenant in His Blood, making a way for all men, through faith in Him, to have relationship with God – these are core issues that are muddied by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism streams of thought.  Some key results from those muddied issues:

  • Jesus for them becomes the Living Torah, not the Living God.
  • The New Covenant becomes the Renewed Covenant, a complete misuse of the language of both the OT and the NT, and indicating a turning back to Mosaic Covenant Law when the Gospel requires nothing of the sort.
  • A perversion of the word repentance, again saying that it is a turning back to God in the form of turning back to Mosaic Covenant Law, not in a turning away from sin and to the Cross and the New Creation that God desires us to become in Christ!
  • It’s always a Jesus + equation for the Law ‘keeper’ . . . for them it is believe on Jesus (Yeshua or however they choose to spell the sacred name at any particular moment), and then there are things you MUST do.  If you don’t you at best will be called least in the kingdom, at worst, be utterly cast out.
  • They are Torah-centric, not Christ-centric, resulting in obvious idolatry, rectified in their minds by the first point noted above.
  • Some resort to mystical interpretations of the Scriptures, using Talmudic sources and methods, not realizing where those things are rooted.  If they do become aware of the mystical roots of such sources and methods, by that point they no longer care, as they are so tied to the Law.  The veil is by then firmly in place (2 Corinthians 3).

truth like a lion

There are more points I could raise here, but a dozen is a nice round number and I thought it would be nice to have a post that comes in under 3000 words for a change!

(Full disclosure . . . added a few more Scriptures.  Clocked in at 3112, 3138, 3401+ words.  Oh well.)

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Other articles of interest:

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

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From 8thDay4Life: My New Sabbath

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

My New Sabbath
By 8thday4life

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

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

Is Law Really Law Without Enforcement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting question.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With law there is authority and enforcement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hook is in. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it any wonder that Jesus exhorted us to therefore:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From a thread on the Messianic Judaism forum at CARM:

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

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

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

Blessings
Dan

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

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

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

— CIAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reinforced again in verse 17:

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

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

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

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

Also from CIAN:

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

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

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

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

— CIAN 

 Dead people are no longer under Law.

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

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

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

We die to sin, and live in Christ:

Romans 6:8-14
8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

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

Yes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Jesus did matters.

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

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

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

Andrea was referring to the quoting of this passage:

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

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

Here’s the really cool thing:

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

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

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

The Purpose of the Law After the Cross

The Law is useful when it is used properly.

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

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

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

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

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

He has come!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I see this echoed here:

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

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

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

And Jesus is the Light of the world:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I always have to come back to the Cross.    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

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TalmudExcerpt from Wikipedia‘s article on Talmud:

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

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

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

Excerpts from Judaism 101:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TorahExcerpts from From Judaism 101‘s page on Torah: 

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

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

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

From Hebrew Roots site First Fruits of Zion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before Sinai, the Torah was.

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

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

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

Now for the real Scriptures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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YHWH God.  See Sacred Names above.

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Yeshua – Jesus.  See Sacred Names above.

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See also:

Glossary Intro

Glossary A-F

Glossary G-L

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

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Midrash

Something that comes up repeatedly when one is exposed to those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism movements is their primary method of interpreting Scripture called “midrash”.   In various venues I’ve seen those in the HR/MJ camp invoke superior knowledge and insight rendered by the use of midrash, which they imply means “context” –  just from a decidedly Jewish point of view.  They appeal to the Christian believer’s affinity for context by saying things like, “The Scriptures were written by Hebrews, about Hebrews, for Hebrews”, making their approach seem to make perfect sense.  Never mind that if we really look at the actual context of several of the Epistles, the “by Hebrews, about Hebrews, for Hebrews” shtick doesn’t hold up.  But I digress.

After all, as Christian believers, we’re all for looking at the Scriptures in context!  Considering a Scripture passage’s author, time of writing, the history of the day, who the passage was written to/about, the cultural traditions/implications of all of those things, etc., etc. – we find that those things give us a better understanding of many biblical texts.  For those who are serious about understanding the Scriptures, well, context is our thing!

That said . . .

While context may or may not be an element of midrash, it is at best a fragmentary element, as you will see below.  As you will also see below, even if a midrash does contain even an element of context, the subjectivity of midrash cancels out any context because of that subjectivity!  Add to that the rabbinic prejudices and the potential mystical components of midrash, and, well . . . just keep reading . . .

Let’s look at just what is 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.

From 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 is more information about midrash online 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 midrash as a lens through which to interpret Scripture, based on the above it is likely that that person is seeking to mold Scripture to a predetermined opinion or belief system, rather than seeking to mold their opinion or belief system to what Scripture actually says.  Even if one is sincere in their desire to seek truth using midrash, the method of midrash is fundamentally flawed, from its subjective nature (not to mention its rabbinic prejudice) to the possibility of mystical influence.

It is also interesting to note the Scripture passages that are targeted for midrash within the HR/MJ belief system.  Those passages are not limited to Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) as with Judaism, but are often those New Testament Scriptures (which were written in Greek) that deal with issues such as the Old and New Covenants, whether or not those who have faith in Jesus Christ are or are not subject to the Law of Moses, even the issue of the Deity of Jesus Christ.  The list goes on, and the topics subjected to midrashic methods typically line up with the basic tenets of Christianity in an effort to tear them down or “modify” them one by one.  A number of HR/MJ teachers and lay people even claim that the New Testament was written in Hebrew in an attempt to justify their use of midrashic techniques.

So if someone is trying to tell you that midrash is a “Bible study” or that it is looking at the Scriptures “in context”, or that midrash is simply looking at Scripture from a “Jewish perspective as opposed to our Western mindset”, don’t buy it.  Those telling you such things likely believe them to be true – I don’t doubt the sincerity of most folks who are in the HR/MJ movements.  But if you go to the simple definitions of midrash, its origins, and read what leadership influencing those in the HR/MJ movements has to say about and how they use midrash, deep flaws in the use of such a subjective method of interpretation comes into focus.

For further reading related to this topic, see

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

-JGIG

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Confessions of A Former Sabbath Keeper

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

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

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

Confessions of A Former Sabbath Keeper
by Tom Warner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing Sabbath-keeping’s Negative Side Effects

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

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

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

Learning More About Church History

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reconsidering First Day Texts in a New/Old Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distinguishing Between the Covenants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally Facing Up to Colossians 2:16-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding New Freedom to Rest and Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still Resting in God’s Grace

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

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

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

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

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

END NOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Used with permission from UK Apologetics.

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Other Sabbath Articles

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

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Other articles of interest:

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions proselytes have had have been addressed with “special knowledge” and “hidden insights” as those in the leadership and laity of the HRM rattle on about linguistics, church history, and the re-working of pivotal doctrines.  Following is a glossary definition I put together to describe one method used by those in the HRM to establish superiority as they endeavor to answer questions/objections:  

Hebrew-ismsOkay, I made that one up.  “Hebrew-isms” is a word I’m putting here to describe how those in the Hebrew Roots Movement choose to speak and communicate matters of theological thought.  Using the Sacred Name(s) exclusively (YHWH/Yeshua), would be one example,  using the Hebrew “Ruach HaKodesh” instead of using English to refer to the Holy Spirit, another. 

Leadership will also use Hebrew instead of English when referencing Bible passages from their own “translations” (see “Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word”) as will laity when exposed long enough to their new paradigm.  The book of “Matthew” becomes “Matityahu”, “John” becomes “Jochanan”, etc.  “Brit Hadashah” is a big one, which means “Renewed Covenant”, not “New Covenant”. [Great article detailing the language errors the HRM engages in to “prove” that the Covenant is “renewed” not “new” can be found HERE.]   “Renewed Covenant” has the sense of going back to the Law, a renewing of the Old Covenant – not entering into the newness of life that the New Covenant brings.  The vernacular of the details of the Feasts is also an element, not a bad thing in itself, as the Feasts paint a powerful picture of the reality that is in Christ. 

However, all that astute language usage becomes a platform of superiority on which HRM leadership can stand upon above their “students” and on which HRM laity can stand upon above their potential “converts” as they lead them into a Hebrew Roots mindset.  The platform delivers in a couple of ways: 

1) It’s very impressive and gives one the air of superior knowledge and wisdom, enticing the hearer to place unearned and untested respect and weight in the speaker’s words.

2) It can be a diversionary tactic, distracting the hearer from the false doctrine being delivered amidst the flurry of unfamiliar language.

There comes with Hebrew-isms’ platform of superiority the prospect that the speaker does have special insight, secret knowledge, or hidden revelation, that before now, you, Joe Christian, were not privy to in the Church (Body of Christ).  Not only that, but the “truth” was purposefully hidden from you by the Church, corrupted through the ages, and you must rely on your new teachers to enlighten you.

And on all those “Hebrew-isms” they build their false doctrine.  Straight answers are hard to come by. Questions are met with questions.  While they are not prepared with a ready defense of what they believe, they are more often prepared to tear down what you believe, and then replace it with their false doctrine, leaving you nothing but a pile ofachildsview1 rubble to look back on if you question them again. 

You end up becoming so busy looking at the doctrinal rubble that’s been spread on the ground around you, and are so overwhelmed with the possibility that you’ve had it all wrong for so long, that you are exhausted from it all and don’t have the energy to really investigate where this “special knowledge” and “hidden insight” is truly coming from.  To the believer subjected to these techniques, they are unknowingly being beaten down, only to be “rescued” by the lies of the Enemy.

 

5)  Closing the “sale”
One person I know who came out of the Messianic Christian movement put it this way:  “Once you’re in ‘Messy’ “, as she affectionately calls it, “you become convinced that if you don’t keep the Law, you’ll lose your salvation.”

 

That’s it.  That is the close of the “sale”.  Taking it beyond “If you love God, you’ll keep His commandments”, the Hebrew Roots Movement is reduced to a fear-based belief system:  If you don’t hold up your end, you will die an eternal death.  If you don’t believe me, press those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements on this issue.  If your salvation is not dependant on your keeping of the Law, then “keeping” the Law would be optional.  As conversation progresses, you’ll find that in their belief system, the “keeping” of Old Covenant Law is not optional.  And if it’s not optional, where there is law, there must be enforcement and punishment.

It’s a pretty effective close.

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Dear Believer,

If you find yourself in a discourse with a Law Keeper of any persuasion, investigate fully where their beliefs come from before discarding the completed work of Christ at the Cross.  Don’t be afraid to question your own beliefs . . . that’s a healthy thing to do on occasion, to reinforce why we believe what we believe.  While doing so, NEVER lose sight of the Cross, the Grace of God, the truths of the New Covenant, and the whole, contextual use of Scripture.

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:3-11)

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At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:3-11)

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I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!  (Galatians 1:6-9)

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In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

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The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

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Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:1-6)

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Other articles of interest:

A clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Issue of “Hellenization”

Those who advocate the Hebrew Roots Movement erroneously equate Greek language with the Greek culture, even to the point of claiming that New Testament itself was Hellenized, rendering the text unfit for discerning doctrine without first sifting the concepts found there through the sieve of Hebrew language and Hebrew thought.

The standard grafted_in_lgassertion in the Hebrew Roots Movement regarding Greek influence on Scripture and the Church is two-fold: 
1)
 That the New Testament was written about Hebrews, by Hebrews, and for Hebrews and
2) That the Church and the New Testament that she uses has been “Hellenized” or influenced heavily by “Greek thought”, detrimentally affecting the doctrines and practices of the Church.
I understand the points they’re trying to make, but find flaws in how far they take those points.

Let’s take an objective look at the above assertions espoused by the HRM – first regarding language, then regarding culture – and measure them against the realities of the New Testament Scriptures and New Testament Church as God has established them.

Regarding Language

Granted, most of the early converts to Christianity were Jewish.  Yes, they came with a Hebraic mindset – to a degree.  To say that they came with Hebrew culture and religion would be more accurate.  Some did know Biblical Hebrew, but the majority spoke Aramaic, similar to but different from Hebrew (see “Languages Used in Ancient Palestine” below).  It is debatable whether or not Aramaic was their primary language or rather that it was one of two or more languages common to the era, culture and geography in which they lived.  Those in the HRM would have you believe that the Hebrew religion, culture and language at the time of Jesus’ ministry was pure and unadulterated by the languages and cultures in which it found itself.  An objective inspection of history does not, however, prove that opinion to be true.

One thing that the HRM fails to do is to delineate the difference between language and culture.  The common Greek language in use during the time of Christ crossed many cultural boundaries.  That God intended for the New Testament to be written in Greek makes sense.  It was the dominant language of the world at the time, used in trade, politics, and culture.  Not only that, the Koine Greek language of the New Testament has broad descriptive ability and vocabulary with which to communicate the spiritual truths that God intended to impart to mankind under the New Covenant.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Read on . . .

A brief description of Koine Greek from Wikipedia:

Koine Greek (Greek: Κοινὴ Ἑλληνική IPA[kɔɪnɛ̝^], Mod.Gk. IPA[kʲiˈni e̞liniˈkʲi], “common Greek”, or ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος, Mod.Gk. [i kʲiˈni ðiˈale̞kto̞s], “the common dialect”) is the popular form of Greek which emerged in post-Classical antiquity (c.300 BC – AD 300). Other names are Alexandrian, Hellenistic, Common, or New Testament Greek. Koine was the first common supra-regional dialect in Greece and came to serve as a lingua franca for the eastern Mediterranean and ancient Near East throughout the Roman period.  It was also the original language of the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

From the  School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania regarding how Koine Greek differs from Classical Greek:

Robertson characterizes Koinê Greek as a later development of Classical Greek, that is, the dialect spoken in Attica (the region around Athens) during the classical period.

“To all intents and purposes the vernacular Koinh is the later vernacular Attic with normal development under historical environment created by Alexander’s conquests. On this base then were deposited varied influences from the other dialects, but not enough to change the essential Attic character of the language.” (Robertson 71)

If the Koinê is an outgrowth of Classical Greek, what are the differences between the two? Robertson states the basic differences succinctly.  Koinê was more practical than academic, putting the stress on clarity rather than eloquence. Its grammar was simplified, exceptions were decreased and generalized, inflections were dropped or harmonized, and sentence-construction made easier. Koinê was the language of life and not of books.

From “Greek Primacy”, also at Wikipedia, an article describing the evidence supporting the deduction that the original language of the New Testament is Koine Greek:

Greek Primacy
Greek Primacy is the view that the Christian New Testament and/or its sources were originally written in Koine Greek. It is generally accepted by most scholars today that the New Testament of the Bible was written primarily, if not completely, in Koine or common Greek. Greek Primacy is asserted over and against Aramaic primacy and Hebrew Primacy.

Background on Koine Greek
Whereas the Classical Greek city states used different dialects of Greek, a common standard called Koine (κοινή “common”) developed gradually in the 5th and 4th centuries BC as a consequence of the formation of larger political structures (like the Athenian Empire and the Macedonian Empire) and a more intense cultural exchange in the Aegean area.

In the Dark Ages and the Archaic Period, Greek colonies were founded all over Mediterranean basin. However, even though Greek goods were popular in the East, the cultural influence were more heavy the other way around. Yet, with the conquests of Alexander the Great (333-323 BC) and the subsequent establishment of Hellenistic kingdoms (above all, the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Kingdom), Koine Greek became the dominant language in politics, culture and commerce in the Near East.

hellenisticworldmap

During the following centuries, Rome conquered Greece and the Macedonian kingdoms piece for piece until, with the conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, she held all land around the Mediterranean. However, as Horace gently puts it: “Conquered Greece has conquered the brute victor and brought her arts into rustic Latium” (Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artes intulit agresti Latio). Roman art and literature were calqued upon Hellenistic models. Koine Greek remained the dominant language in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. In the city of Rome, Koine Greek was in widespread use among ordinary people, and the elite spoke and wrote Greek as fluently as Latin.

Languages Used in Ancient Palestine
After the Babylonian captivity, Aramaic replaced Biblical Hebrew as the everyday language in Palestine. The two languages were as similar as two Romance languages or two Germanic languages today. Thus, Biblical Hebrew, which was still used for religious purposes, was not totally unfamiliar, but still a somewhat strange norm that demanded a certain degree of training to be understood properly.

After Alexander, Palestine was ruled by the Ptolemies and the Seleucids for almost two hundred years [See Map Above].  Thus, Jewish culture was heavily influenced by Hellenistic culture, and Koine Greek was used not only for international communication, but also as the first language for many Jews. This development was furthered by the fact that the largest Jewish community of the world lived in Ptolemaic Alexandria. Many of these diaspora Jews would have Greek as their first language, and the Tanakh (Old Testament) was therefore translated into Greek, i.e. the Septuagint.

Currently, 1,600 Jewish epitaphs (funerary inscriptions) are extant from ancient Palestine dating from 300 B.C. to 500 A.D. Approximately 70 percent are in Greek, about 12 percent are in Latin, and only 18 percent are in Hebrew or Aramaic. In Jerusalem itself about 40 percent of the Jewish inscriptions from the first century period (before 70 C.E.) are in Greek.We may assume that most Jewish Jerusalemites who saw the inscriptions in situ were able to read them.

 

Jesus and the disciples spoke Greek?
Most scholars acknowledge that Jesus used Aramaic as his everyday language. Occasionally, the Greek text of the gospels quote Aramaic phrases uttered by Jesus (cf. Aramaic of Jesus). Since Jesus and the disciples belonged to a lower stratum of the population being carpenters, fishermen and the like, it is generally assumed that they would have known little or no Greek. Yet, some scholars challenge this view and point to a number of passages in the New Testament, where Greek conversation is presupposed:

  • Jesus speaks to a Syro-Phoenician woman who is described as a Hellēnis, “a Greek” (Mark 7:26).
  • Jesus journeys in the Phoenician cities Tyre and Sidon and the Greek Decapolis (Mark 7:31-37)
  • A Roman centurion approaches Jesus for the sake of his boy or slave (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10)
  • Some Hellēnes, “Greeks”, want to see Jesus (John 12:20-36)
  • Pontius Pilate questions Jesus (Mark 15;2-5; Matthew 27:11-14; Luke 23:3; John 18:33-38)
  • The early Church included a group called Hellēnistai, probably Greek-speaking Jews (Acts 6.1-6)

In none of these cases an interpreter is mentioned. Even though it is impossible to estimate how fluent or eloquent Jesus and the disciples would be in their Greek, it is likely that they would be able to communicate in Greek when it was needed.

 

The Language of the New Testamentbiblicalgreek20manuscript20of201st20corinthians2013
Most biblical scholars adhere to the view that the Greek text of the New Testament is the original version. The opposite view, that it is a translation from an Aramaic original (see Aramaic primacy), has not gained popularity. At any rate, since most of the texts are written by the two diaspora Jews and companions Luke and Paul and to a large extent addressed directly to Christian communities in Greek-speaking cities, and since the style of their Greek is impeccable, a Greek original is more probable than a translation.

Even Mark, whose Greek is heavily influenced by his Semitic substratum, seems to presuppose a non-Hebrew audience.Thus, he explains Jewish customs (e.g. Mark 7:3-4), and he translates Aramaic phrases into the Greek (Mark 7:34: ephphatha). In the Aramaic Syriac version of the Bible, these translations are preserved, resulting in odd texts like Mark 15:34 :

  • Greek text
    καὶ τῇ ἐνάτῃ ὥρᾳ ἐβόησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς φωνῇ μεγάλῃ· ελωι ελωι λεμα σαβαχθανι; ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Ὁ θεός μου ὁ θεός μου, εἰς τί ἐγκατέλιπές με;
  • Syriac text (with rough transliteration)
    ܘܒ݂ܰܬ݂ܫܰܥ ܫܳܥܺܝܢ ܩܥܳܐ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܒ݁ܩܳܠܳܐ ܪܳܡܳܐ ܘܶܐܡܰܪ ܐܺܝܠ ܐܺܝܠ ܠܡܳܢܳܐ ܫܒ݂ܰܩܬ݁ܳܢܝ ܕ݁ܺܐܝܬ݂ܶܝܗ ܐܰܠܳܗܝ ܐܰܠܳܗܝ ܠܡܳܢܳܐ ܫܒ݂ܰܩܬ݁ܳܢܝ܂
    wbatša‘ šā‘yin: q‘ā’ yešua‘ bqālā’ rāmā’ we’mar, ’ēl ’ēl lmānā’ šbaqtāni di’aiteyh ’elāhi ’elāhi lmānā’ šbaqtāni
  • King James
    “And at the ninthhour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Observations made by Neil Booth at Pass the Toast, from the post, “This Was The Moment”  regarding historical, cultural and linguistic circumstances present in the era in which God chose to send Jesus:

And it happened, says Paul, “when the fullness of time had come”. The expression is found nowhere else in the New Testament and, literally translated, it would be “when the filling-up of the time came”. The picture it suggests to my mind is a measuring beaker into which the stream of history has been pouring like water. In 6 BC (or thereabouts — we do not know with certainty the year of Jesus’ birth), the mark that God had set on the beaker was reached and the time for the incarnation had arrived.

But why then? The only answer that we can give is that God knew it to be “the right time” (Good News Bible). Perhaps it was because then the world had become more or less one world under Rome. The Pax Romana meant a virtual absence of war at this point in history. The system of Roman roads and Roman colonies and Roman trade routes had made travel swift and relatively easy and safe. Greek had become an almost universal language thus facilitating world-wide communication. Jews had become dispersed throughout Europe and Asia, spreading a knowledge of the one true God and preparing a context for the Gospel. And paganism had proved itself bankrupt and degenerate and had led to widespread spiritual hunger. But that is all just “perhaps”. Only God knows why that particular moment of history and no other was the right time. But we can be glad that it was.


From Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, III, p. 870, G. L. Archer has noted that:

Greek was the most ideally adapted linguistic medium for the world-wide communication of the Gospel in the entire region of the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and the Near East. Accurate in expression, beautiful in sound, and capable of great rhetorical force, it furnished an ideal vehicle for the proclamation of God’s message to man, transcending Semitic barriers and reaching out to all the Gentile races. It is highly significant that the ‘fulness of times,’ the first advent of Christ, was deferred until such time as Greek opened up channels of communication to all the Gentile nations east of Italy and Libya on a level not previously possible under the multilingual situation that previously prevailed.

The reality that common Greek “furnished an ideal vehicle for the proclamation of God’s message to man, transcending Semitic barriers and reaching out to all the Gentile races”, poses quite a dilema for the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Where does Hebraic superiority in communicating spiritual things land if Semitic barriers were alpha_omega1transcended – that God determined that those barriers needed to be transcended – with the coming of the Gospel (the New Covenant) to all mankind? 

Jesus sought consistently throughout His ministry to transition religious Jews from their Hebraic paradigm in preparation for the New Covenant.  More on that below.  And it should be made clear that it wasn’t from a Hebraic paradigm to a Greek paradigm that he was shifting focus to.  Jesus was shifting the focus from the Law-based system of the Old Covenant – while retaining its foundational value – to the faith-based transformative power of the Gospel (the New Covenant) to all men!  The Greek language used to communicate the New Covenant Scriptures was merely a tool used by God.    

Nowhere in Scripture does God require that to know and please Him we have to come with the Hebrew language or a Hebrew perspective.  Psalm 51 comes to mind, where David, even under the Old Covenant, with the Hebrew language and the Hebrew perspective, understood that God’s grace and mercy were the source for his redemption and cleansing from sin – not the Law.  Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,  O God, you will not despise.”  And David’s faith, along with the faith of many others, not his adherance to the Law (which is a good thing, because David didn’t do so well with adhering to the Law), was what he was commended for according to Hebrews 11.  Those whose names are listed in Hebrews 11, as the King James Version puts it, became heirs of righteousness through . . . the Law?  The language or mindset that they had?  No!  They became heirs of righteousness through faith!

And we, as believers under the New Covenant, understand from the New Testament that the Gospel – the completed work of Christ at the Cross – is grace and mercy and the very Spirit of God indwelling us to bring about not just the covering of sin, as the Old Covenant provided for, but the cleansing of sin and for our sanctification.  The letter of Paul to the Romans in particular discusses the transformative power of the Gospel and how it changes mankind’s relationship to sin, to the Law, and ultimately to God.  Indeed, most of the New Testament communicates the realities of the Gospel to mankind.  

This simple illustration frames the tendencies of the languages used in the Bible well:  

Hebrew language tends to be concrete
——> Law makes sense <——

Greek language tends to be abstract/conceptual
——> Grace makes sense <——

Remember . . .
The common Greek language that God chose to communicate the concepts and truths of the New Covenant was merely a tool. Used because it was the best way to communicate the Gospel to the world at the time, both in its linguistic ability and in its scope.  That the Koine Greek plays a part in the plan of God need not be targeted unless another agenda is afoot.

We transistion now from language to culture . . .

Regarding Culture

A typical view of Hebrew vs. Greek “lenses” in the HRM from Hebraic Eyes Ministry:

Welcome to Hebraic Eyes.  We are excited you are visiting our website.  We hope that you can put on your Hebraic lenses taking off the Greek lens that governs our whole world system and thoughts.  The Scripture is a different culture than ours, it is like going to a different country where the people look different and talk different.  Different is not bad, it is just not what we are used to. 

So step back in time with us.  Where do we start?  First we need to look at the foundation of the Scripture.  Where is that you say?  It is the Torah or you may know it as the Law or Pentateuch.  We will use the term Torah because remember we are in a Hebraic mindset not Greek.  You ask what is the Torah? Good question, let’s explore it…

Torah . . .

Before we continue, I want say we are not seeking to be Jewish or educate you on the practices of Judaism. We are followers of our Messiah, Yashua, who is the Torah (Word) made flesh (John 1:14) [Fodder for a whole ‘nother post!  The language and theology-twisting in that statement alone is amazing!]  and came to dwell among us.  He was calling people back to the Torah instead of following after the man-made traditions that were burdening the people.  However, it is necessary to know the culture and the background of the culture so we can have a true Hebraic focus.  We can gather a lot of information from Judaism.

But “we are not seeking to be Jewish or educate you on the practices of Judaism”?  Then why would they “gather a lot of information from Judaism”, a religious system that is steeped in the Talmud, is influenced by Jewish mysticism mystical-torah(Kaballah), and denies the Deity of Jesus Christ?  Oh, wait, they already did that by saying that Messiah is Torah incarnate, not God incarnate!  Not a universal belief in the Hebrew Roots Movement, but more widespread than you might think.  As with most teaching resources in the HRM offering a “Hebraic lens”, this site minimizes (or in this case outright denies the deity of) the rightful place of Jesus Christ and the Gospel and elevates Torah to a place of superiority and centrality in their belief system.

One other point:  The Hebrew Roots Movement – across the board – espouses this in regard to their insistence that we must look at all Scripture with a Hebraic mindset: The Scripture is a different culture than ours, it is like going to a different country where the people look different and talk different.  Different is not bad, it is just not what we are used to”.  While that is true on one level, the primary purpose of the Scriptures is to deal with the spiritual condition of mankind’s heart in relation to God.  The truths communicated throughout the whole of Scripture transcend culture and language.  While we can benefit from knowing about linguistic nuances and about cultural differences and how they influenced certain people in particular times and circumstances in their response to or rejection of God, the spiritual truths themselves delve into the heart issues everyone shares, our common human-ness, no matter our cultural or linguistic background.  Only if you are seeking to be placed under (or place others under) the practices of the Old Covenant do the issues of learning to think and speak “like a Hebrew” come into play.      

In one Hebrew Roots Movement article by Brian Knowles, one of the ways in which the differences between the Hebraic mindset and the Greek (Hellenized) mindset are characterized is by using the concepts of doing vs. knowing:   

William Barrett . . . explains that one of the most fundamental differences between the Western, Hellenistic mind and the Hebrew mind is found in the area of knowing vs. doing.  Says Barrett, “The distinction…arises from the difference between doing and knowing. The Hebrew is concerned with practice, the Greek with knowledge. Right conduct is the ultimate concern of the Hebrew, right thinking that of the Greek. Duty and strictness of conscience are the paramount things in life for the Hebrew; for the Greek, the spontaneous and luminous play of the intelligence. The Hebrew thus extols the moral virtues as the substance and meaning of life; the Greek subordinates them to the intellectual virtues…the contrast is between practice and theory, between the moral man and the theoretical or intellectual man.”

This is where the HRM begins to assert Hebraic primacy, in both language and culture indivisibly, as well as assert Greek inferiority, linking the Greek language and culture indivisibly, in communicating the things of God. 

What strikes me about their premise is not that it elevates one “mindset” above another, but that it limits God in its assumption that the only way Heis able to communicate His purposes, His righteousness, and His heart to mankind effectively is through a particular mindset and language!  What becomes evident as one learns more about the Hebrew Roots Movement is that it is not capable of supporting the truth that the Gospel transcends linguistic and cultural barriers.  

Knowles continues: 

This helps explain why so many Christian churches are focused on the issues of doctrinal orthodoxy (however they may define it) — often at the expense of godly living. In many Christian circles, what one believes or espouses is treated as more important than how one lives – i.e. how one treats his or her neighbor.

In Biblical Judaism, it is precisely the opposite. Christians are inclined to subject each other to litmus tests of orthodoxy, while Jews are concerned mainly with behavior. As Dennis Prager writes, “…belief in God and acting ethically must be inextricably linked…God demands right behavior more than anything else, including right ritual and right belief.”

Like fudge-swirl ice cream, there is truth mixed in with error in the above statements, making an appealing argument for the Hebraic “way”.  The author makes the assumption that Christian orthodoxy (small ‘o’) and godly living tend to be mutually lawexclusive.  At the same time, they ignore the whole “white-washed tomb” concept that Jesus tried to communicate to the consummate Law-keepers of the day, the Pharisees. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)  

Actually, the entire 23rd chapter of Matthew is an indictment on how the Hebraic “mindset” had become more concerned with outward appearance and had neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (vs. 23)  Right before He revs up to the “whitewashed tombs” statement, Jesus says, “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (vs. 25b-26)     

As is their tendancy, those in the HRM evade the truths constituted in the whole of Scripture in regard to faith and works and water those truths down to concepts of “doing vs. knowing”.  While in the HRM world the “Renewed” Covenant that they put themselves under requires their dutiful attention, in the world of the Redeemed, if one is truly submitted to the Holy Spirit, the Law of Christ (love God, love others) is a natural outpouring in one’s life as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”  In both cases there is a matter of obedience – in one case obedience to an obsolete system (Hebrews 8:13), in the other case obedience to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender to the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit of the Living God! (Acts 16:31, John 3:15-16, Romans 10:9-13Romans 12:1-22Corinthians 5:17, the book of Hebrews1 John 1:9 . . . and many more)   

Again . . . as Jesus sought to transition those in the religious “Hebraic mindset” – which had become more focused on the Law of Moses than on the faith of Abraham (doing vs. knowing/believing), He sought to re-focus people on the new-creationcoming provision of redemptive sacrifice and forgiveness – to focus them on a mindset full of grace and mercy, love of God and love of neighbor.  Notice that it’s not a transition from Hebraic thought to Greek thought, but a transition to Godly perspective on the Law and its proper place in relation to the coming New Covenant.  

And the New Covenant brought new life, not just a “renewed” covenental system.  All through the Gospels Jesus Christ repeatedly demonstrated and administered grace and mercy, love and forgiveness, even life itself, with His authority as God in the flesh as He walked among mankind before the work of the Cross.  Jesus spoke in parables to shake loose those Hebraic minds from the confines of the Law of Moses and the Old Covenant.  He never denied the foundation or the purpose of the Law – He was fulfilling it.  Luke 16:16 says, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John.  Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”   In effect, Jesus was overriding edicts of the Mosaic Law, administering grace, mercy, forgiveness, and life for things for which the Law required separation, punishment, sacrifices – even death!  Jesus was preparing the hearts of men for the Law of Christ, the New Covenant forged in His blood! 

Lest you question that Jesus was operating with Godly Authority, look at Mark 9.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain, and something amazing happened.  It’s called the transfiguration, where Jesus’ clothes became a dazzling white and Elijah and Moses showed up and were talking with Jesus.  Mark 9:7 tells us, “Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”  So there stood Moses, Elijah, and Jesus all together and God said, “Listen to Jesus!”  All three appeared together, then Moses and Elijah were gone.  Jesus remained.  Mark 9:8 says, “Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.”  The time of Moses and Elijah under the Old Covenant was passing and the time for the New Covenant under Jesus was dawning.  And God said, “This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to Him!” 

Back to the cultural issue of Hellenism.  Excerpts from the following article beautifully communicate the historical/cultural realities prior to and at the time of Christ.  There are a number of cults and sects that attempt to use the “Hellenization” (Greek lens) argument to direct Christians into a Law-keeping mindset.  From “Was Early Christianity Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?”  [complete article with endnotes available at the link] by Dr. Paul R. Eddy, Assistant Professor of Theology, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN:

A common criticism of historic orthodox Christianity is the claim that early Christianity was corrupted by the intellectual forces of ‘Hellenism.’ (Hellenism, of course, refers to the influence of ancient Greek philosophy and culture, which spread throughout the Mediterranean world after the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC.) Specifically, the doctrines of Trinity and the deity of Christ have been rejected as unbiblical ideas that were introduced into Christianity through the corrupting influence of Greek philosophy, particularly the ideas of Plato. As long ago as 1531, in his book, On the Errors of the Trinity, Michael Servetus criticized the ‘Hellenistic’ terms used by Trinitarian Christians to explain their understanding of God. More recently, various critics of orthodox Christianity–including Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, New Age adherents, and theological liberals–have argued that the true biblical understandings of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit were corrupted in the third, fourth, and fifth centuries by Greek philosophy and pagan polytheism, which led to the development of the doctrines of the Trinity and the deity of Christ . . .

What are we to make of this criticism? Is there evidence of wide-spread ‘Hellenism’ within the early church? If so, does this mean that central doctrines of the Christian faith were corrupted in the process?

greek-templesWhat we do know is this: ‘Hellenism’ was a cultural force that touched most areas in the ancient Mediterranean world. Thus, since Christianity arose in the Mediterranean world, it is not surprising that early Christians had to deal with its effects. We know that there were various reactions to Hellenistic philosophy among early Christians. For example, Tertullianclaimed that Christianity and Greek philosophy have nothing in common at all. On the other hand, Justin Martyr felt quite comfortable making comparisons between Christianity and Greek philosophy in order to attract Hellenistic pagans to the Gospel. Justin was not alone in trying to create bridges from Greek philosophy to Christianity. Like Justin, many early Christians were willing to borrow certain terms and ideas from the cultural world of their day in order to communicate the Gospel to those around them. Does this mean that, in the process, Hellenistic ideas were allowed to creep into the Gospel message and distort its true meaning? Although this is a common criticism of orthodox Christianity, it can be shown that, in fact, it is an argument with no real foundation. The following four points will serve to reveal the weaknesses of this view.

1.) The Jewish world, from which Christianity arose, had already been touched by Hellenism prior to the birth of Christ.
Critics who use this argument often make it sound as if the life and culture of Jesus and the first disciples was untouched by Hellenism, and that only in later centuries was it allowed to ‘infect’ the church. However, we know from history that this is simply not the case. In his groundbreaking study, Judaism and Hellenism, Martin Hengel has shown that, from the middle of the third century BC, Jewish Palestine had already experienced the effects of Hellenism in various ways.

For example:
(1) under Ptolemaic rule, the Jews were forced to deal with Hellenistic forms of government and administration
(2) as inhabitants of an important coastal land, Palestine served as a crossroads for international trade, which brought many Hellenized merchants through the area
(3) the Greek language–the common language of the Roman Empire–became a part of Jewish culture (and became the language of the New Testament!)
(4) Greek educational techniques were adopted, in part, by the Jews. Thus, the idea of a pristine Judaism, untouched by Hellenism, giving rise to an equally untouched early Christianity that was later ‘corrupted’ by Hellenism is simply a false historical picture.

2.) Recent studies have shown that the influence of Hellenism on various peoples in the ancient world was largely superficial, and primarily attracted the ruling class and those with political and administrative hopes.
In his massive study of the Hellenistic period, Peter Green demonstrates that the effects of Hellenism on local cultures in the ancient world operated like a forced cultural veneer over an otherwise healthy and distinct traditional worldview. G. W. Bowersock has come to similar conclusions:

The persistence of all these local traditions has suggested that there was no more than a superficial Hellenization of much of Asia Minor, the Near East, and Egypt . . . . [Hellenism] was a medium not necessarily antithetical to local or indigenous traditions. On the contrary, it provided a new and more eloquent way of giving voice to them.

These observations point to the fact that Hellenism did not tend to infiltrate and ‘corrupt’ the local religious traditions of the ancient world. Rather, people maintained their religious traditions in spite of Hellenistic influence in other areas of their lives. This leads to our third observation.

3.) Although Judaism and early Christianity were affected by the surrounding culture in certain ways, they diligently guarded their religious beliefs and practices from Hellenistic pagan influences, even to the point of martyrdom.
We now come to the heart of the issue. The historical and archaeological evidence shows that bothJudaism and early Christianity carefully guarded their religious views from the surrounding Hellenistic culture. For example, with regard to Judaism, the archaeological work of Eric Meyers on the city of Sepphoris in first-century Upper Galilee reveals that, in spite of wise-spread Hellenistic influence on various cultural levels, the Jewish people maintained a strict observance of the Torah.

When it comes to early Christianity, it is clear that the religious influences are Jewish rather than Hellenistic paganism. The essence of the Christian Gospel is nothing more nor less than the fulfillment of all the Old Testament covenantalpromises through the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. It is the climax of the history of Yahweh-God’s dealings with the Jewish people through a series of covenants, culminating in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. It is a Jewish worldview that dominates the Gospel, not that of paganism. Gregory Dix’s conclusions on the question of the Hellenization of the Gospel confirm this claim: the central core of the Gospel consists of “a Jewish Monotheism and a Jewish Messianismand a Jewish Eschatology; which is expressed in a particular pattern of worship and morality.”

This conclusion does conflict with what used to be a popular view of Christian origins in the early twentieth-century. This view, held by a group of critical scholars known as the ‘History of Religions School,’ claimed that many early Christian beliefs and practices were actually borrowed from Hellenistic pagan ‘mystery cults.’ In recent years, however, this view has largely been abandoned by the scholarly world. The evidence now demonstrates that early Christianity is best understood as arising from the Jewish thought world. In his book, Christianity and the Hellenistic World, philosopher Ronald Nash wrestles with the claims of the History of Religions School. His findings are worth noting:

Was early Christianity a syncretistic faith? Did it borrow any of its essential beliefs and practices either from Hellenistic philosophy or religion or from Gnosticism? The evidence requires that this question be answered in the negative.

Nash’s conclusion fits with the findings of many others. The work of historians and biblical scholars such N. T. Wright and David Flusserconfirm that first-century Judaism is the proper context within which to understand the rise of early Christianity. It is true that Christianity eventually broke with Judaism. Unlike Judaism, it understood God as a TriuneBeing, and the Messiah as both divine and human. However, these theological perspectives were rooted in the experience of the early Jewish Christians as recorded in the New Testament. As Dix has noted:

Christianity ceased to be Jewish, but it did not thereby become Greek. It became itself–Christianity.

4.) Many of the central elements of the Gospel are diametrically opposed to the Hellenistic mind-set.
This claim can be demonstrated by offering the following examples: First, like Judaism, the Christian Gospel proclaims that God created all things ‘out of nothing’ (‘ex nihilo’). This is contrary to the Greek view of pre-existing eternal matter. Second, since God created all things, including matter, Christianity (withJudaism) understands matter in general, and the human body in particular, as ‘very good’ (Gen 1:31). The Hellenistic worldview understood matter as questionable at best–if not down-right evil. The body was seen as something like an unnatural tomb, within which the eternal human soul was temporarily trapped until releasedby death. Whereas, with Judaism, Christianity proclaimed that to be human was to have a body, and thus that we would experience resurrection of the body (an uncorruptible body!) in the after-life, the Greek view of the after-life was freedom from the body.

Some have noted similarities between certain Greek systems of ethics and New Testament teachings on morality. However, even here there are significant differences. While one can identify certain common features, such as literary styles and basic moral codes, there are prominent differences in the motivation (Christians are motivated by regard for God and His call to holiness; the Greeks by self-evident ‘reason’) and means for living a moral life (Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit; Greeks rely upon their own innate wisdom and ability). Finally, unlike the Greek philosophical view, the hope of heaven provides the foundation for Christians to persevere under moral pressure.

Finally, we must address the claim that the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity are later Hellenistic pagan corruptions of the early and ‘pure’ Christianity. Two responses will suffice to show the weaknesses of these claims.

First, the claims of those like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses that New Testament Christianity was corrupted by later Hellenistic influence fail to account for the fact that it is the New Testament data itself which led the early Christian fathers to confess the deity of Christ and the Trinity of God. While space considerations do not allow for a detailed biblical defense of these doctrines, reference can be made to a number of significant studies demonstrating that these doctrines are rooted in the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ (see endnote for suggested resources).

Second, recent research has forcefully shown that the early Christian idea of Christ’s deity developed not in a Hellenistic context but in a distinctly Jewish thought-world. Richard Bauckham, a contributor to this relatively new scholarly movement (sometimes known as the ‘New History of Religions School’) states these conclusions succinctly:

When New Testament Christology is read with this Jewish theological context in mind, it becomes clear that, from the earliest post-Easter beginnings of Christology onwards, early Christians included Jesus, precisely and unambiguously, within the unique identity of the one God of Israel . . . . The earliest Christology was already the highest Christology . . . .


In conclusion, although the claim that early Christian belief and practice was corrupted by Hellenistic influence is commonly argued by critics of orthodox Christianity, the historical evidence does not support this claim. Rather, like the Judaism from which it arose, the Christian faith rigorously guarded its unique religious identity in the midst of the religious and philosophical diversity of the ancient Mediterranean world.

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Conclusions

While on Earth, did Jesus think like a Hebrew?  Like a Greek?

I would submit to you that He did neither. 

Jesus thought like God, because He IS God. 

God’s plan for mankind predates anything Hebrew or Greek, linguistically or culturally.  God’s redemptive plan, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restores us to relationship with Him, with faith rooted in Jesus Christ, not in a culture or in a particular language or “mindset”!

The Hebrew culture and journey throughout history bears testimony to God’s faithfulness, bears witness to God’s plan, the sketch of what was to come for the redemption of all tribes, tongues and nations through the completed Masterpiece, the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  To tie the world’s tribes, tongues, and nations to the Hebrew culture and language to fully understand the things of God is not a reasonable leap.  Furthermore, that leap is never required by God!

One has to consider, based on the same observations that Neil from Pass the Toast and commentator G.L. Archer made, that God indeed used a time in history where a language different from Hebrew, that HE ALLOWED to be in place, would be used to communicate His Gospel to the majority of the world as it existed at the time.   Yes, Jesus came first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.  That truth is not negated by the primary language or the cultural conditions of the era in which He came. And now God has allowed for His Word to be translated into many tongues in order to reach all tribes and nations.  Indeed, He mandated it with the command from Jesus to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

language

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Holy Hebrew!

This article was posted March 3, 2009 at fortheloveoftruth.  Good information and insight.  Thanks to Sheepwrecked at fortheloveoftruth for sharing =o).  This article will also be made available on the Articles Page.   

Guest article – posted with permission from author.

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Holy Hebrew!

Is Hebrew a special Holy language (leshon ha Kodesh) that is special and different than all of the other languages? Some Hebrew roots teachers have stated that Hebrew is a language so Holy, that it is impossible to even curse in it.

Some have also stated that because of its Holiness, it was the language used to create the world, and most assuredly will be the language of Heaven.

 Here is one of the Hebrew roots teachers, who state that Hebrew was the language of creation.

Quote:

Hebrew: Restoring the Pure Language
Brad takes a fascinating journey into the history of Hebrew, the pure language of Adonai (Tz’fanyah 3:9), the language that created all things. Brad proves through the dynamics of the Hebrew language that this heavenly tongue is the Mother Tongue and is being restored in these last days. This series covers the use of gematria, equidistant letter sequencing, and many other fascinating aspects of Hebrew to show that this language is revived today to be the foundation of bringing Adonai’s people back together to serve Him in one consent. Through the restoration of Hebrew, many long-held, erroneous, religious doctrines are being exposed. The true followers of Y’shua are being revealed and unity is being re-established in the latter days. Brad concludes this series with a lesson on how to research and discover the wonderful truths of Adonai contained in the Hebrew text.
(http://www.wildbranch.org/Marketplace/index.htm)

Let’s first take a look at where all the languages originated from, so that we can better understand the origins of the Hebrew language:

Genesis 11
6 And The LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and the lip one to all of them, and this they are beginning to do, and now all which they have purposed to do will not be restrained from them.
7 Come, let Us go down and confuse their language so that they cannot understand one another’s speech.
8 And the LORD scattered them from there, over the face of all the earth. And they stopped building the city.
9 On account of this its name is called Babel, because the LORD confused the language of all the earth there. And the LORD scattered them abroad from there on the face of all the earth.

Hebrew is a language that evolved historically from proto Canaanite/ancient Hebrew, into paleo, middle, and late Hebrew, which finally ended up becoming the Biblical Hebrew (with vowels) that we have today in the Masoretic text. From there modern words were added, which again evolved into the modern Hebrew that is spoken in Israel today.

Because of the history of Hebrew, clearly the Original Ten Declarations were not written in what we consider Hebrew, because of the time frame that they were written. The Ten Declarations were written before the Torah, which is dated approximately 1500-1400 BCE. The language of that time was proto Canaanite which has been established through archaeological finds. Proto Canaanite did evolve into what we know as Hebrew, but other languages also evolved from it as well.

If the Ten Declarations had been written in Hebrew as we know it, Moses and the children of Israel would have not been able to understand what they said as it is a different alefbet, because Hebrew script, which is a derivative of Proto Canaanite, has been only used since the 9th century BCE.

It should be noted that proto Canaanite was used by idol worshipping pagan cultures.

Here is how it developed over time:

If you take a look at Dead Sea Scrolls Hebrew, it looks different than today’s Masoretic text (1000 years difference). Hebrew didn’t really develop until 900 BCE. The Torah was written in 1500-1400 BCE.  Moses was raised in the court of Pharaoh, and also spoke Akkadian. Moses could read and write proto Canaanite as well, so I am sure he knew what the tablets said.

Also, the difference in writing style and refinement between the oldest Masoretic text known as the Aleppo codex, and the DSS style:

And the Dead Sea Scrolls:

and the Leningrad codex:

Those changes occurred in only 1000 years after Hebrew was established.

Let’s take a quick look at Biblical Hebrew so that we can examine the “Holy” status of it during Biblical times:

Isaiah 6 (written approx700 BCE)
5 Then I said, Woe is me! For I am cut off; for I am a man of unclean lips (H8193), and I live amongst a people of unclean lips (H8193); for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts.
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, snatched with tongs from the altar.
7 And he touched it on my mouth, and said, See, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is covered.

H8193
שׂפת / שׂפה
śâphâh / śepheth
BDB Definition:
1) lip, language, speech, shore, bank, brink, brim, side, edge, border, binding

1a) lip (as body part)
1b) language
1c) edge, shore, bank (of cup, sea, river, etc)

Part of Speech: noun feminine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: probably from H5595 or H8192 through the idea of termination (compare H5490)
Same Word by TWOT Number: 2278a

Here is another example of how the same word lip or language is used:

Zephaniah 3 (approx 620 BCE)
9 For then will I restore to the people a pure (H1305) language (H8193), that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one accord.

H1305
בּרר
bârar
BDB Definition:
1) to purify, select, polish, choose, purge, cleanse or make bright, test or prove

1a) (Qal)

1a1) to purge, purge out, purify
1a2) to choose, select
1a3) to cleanse, make shining, polish
1a4) to test, prove

1b) (Niphal) to purify oneself
1c) (Piel) to purify
1d) (Hiphil)

1d1) to purify
1d2) to polish arrows

1e) (Hithpael)

1e1) to purify oneself
1e2) to show oneself pure, just, kind

Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root
Same Word by TWOT Number: 288

Since we know that Isaiah spoke and wrote in Hebrew, and he himself said that he is a man of unclean lips (speech), and since God stated in Zephaniah, which is a book that was written after Isaiah that he will restore a pure language, then it is obvious by the text that Biblical Hebrew is not a pure language currently, nor was it at the time of Isaiah.

Secondly, we need to examine the fact that there are parts of various books in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) that are written partially in Aramaic (Daniel, Ezra, Jeremiah, Genesis).

Aramaic is a language that came out of Canaan, where the people worshipped idols, and was also spoken in pagan Babylon during the captivity.

If Hebrew is a Holy language, then why would God mix the language used by a pagan cultures with Hebrew in the Scriptures? In the book of Daniel, in the portion where the Aramaic begins, it opens like this:

Daniel 2
4 And the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will reveal the meaning.

In the passages directly following the opening, we find Aramaic words such as Melecha (H4430), Shamaya (H8065), Elahh (H426), and others throughout the text. The Aramaic continues until to the end of chapter seven, spanning almost five chapters. It should be noted that Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees, and then in obedience he left his pagan culture, and crossed over into the land that God had promised him which became Israel.

Nehemiah 9
7 You are the LORD the God who chose Abram, and brought him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and appointed his name, Abraham.

Many Hebrew Roots teachers have stated that the only way one can really effectively understand the Old Testament Scriptures, is by learning to read and understand them in the Hebrew language. Currently, English is spoken (sometimes as a second language) by a much larger percentage of the six billion people in the world today, than the five million people world wide who currently speak Hebrew. This works out statistically to be a negligable percentage of the worlds population that speaks and understands Hebrew.

Would God have been so short sighted as to write His word into Hebrew, which for the most part was a dead language until resurrected in the last half of the nineteenth century as modern Hebrew, if it could not be accurately translated and comprehended in other languages such as English? This should be something for us all to consider seriously.

Going forward into the NT, it should be noted that Jesus spoke Aramaic on the cross, and in some other passages found in the New Testament. He most likely conversed in Greek or even possibly Latin with Pilate at His trial. Jesus also spoke in a Hebraic language (some scholars say Aramaic) to Paul on the road to Damascus in the book of Acts.

Paul, who wrote thirteen or fourteen books of the New Testament spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin (Roman citizen), and because he lived in Tarsus at an early age, he possibly would have spoken a local dialect which would probably be related to modern Turkish, and possibly even a few more dialects of other languages that he learned in his travels.

Next, we should examine the use of languages in first century Judea. Listed below (parenthesis) are a few of the possible languages spoken in those regions at that time. Please keep in mind that the list is by no means comprehensive:

Acts 2 (written approx 63 CE)
1 And in the fulfilling of the day of Pentecost, they were all with one mind in the same place.
2 And suddenly a sound came out of the heaven, as being borne along by a violent wind! And it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And tongues as of fire appeared to them, being distributed, and it sat on each one of them.
4 And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave ability to them to speak.
5 And Jews were living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation of those under the heaven.
6 But this sound occurring, the multitude came together and were confounded, because they each heard them speaking in his own dialect.
7 And all were amazed and marveled, saying to one another, Behold, are not all these, those speaking, Galileans?
8 And how do we hear each in our own dialect in which we were born,
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites (Persian), and those living in Mesopotamia (Turkish dialect, Syrian, Persian, Akkadian), both Judea <