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    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.

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

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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 and Children – Testimony

If you are a child whose parents have come out of  ‘churchianity’ and embraced the Hebrew Roots Movement or another similar Law-keeping view of the Scriptures, what is your view of the Gospel?  Following is the testimony of one young man whose family spent several years pursuing Torah observance.  Many thanks to Sondra (8thDay4Life) and her now 18-year-old son Jesse for allowing this post to be shared here at JGIG.  When you go to Sondra’s site, be sure to scroll down through the Recent Posts section in the sidebar . . . there’s lots of good stuff there written with a tender spirit and a humble heart.

As with other testimonies at JGIG, this post will also appear on the Testimonies Page here at JGIG.

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG

HRM and Children

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving!   I have so many things to be thankful for this year, more than ever.  And no material blessing can come close to watching my children learn to know and trust God, to see His Spirit working in them.

Below my 18 year old son graciously agreed to share his perspective of what the HRM environment was like for a young heart and mind.  He saw this world through a completely different lens, one without the filters of denial that protected us as adults.

As a parent, I was heartbroken to learn this is what I put my older children through, and that I could not see I was continuing the cycle of how I was raised in  a legalistic environment.  Only recently have they both begun to share with me the effect the atmosphere and teaching had on them.   This post is the fruit of a heart-to-heart talk my son and I had that went till 2:00 a.m.  The Law did its job.. exactly as it was intended to do.  But the Remedy was seldom mentioned, and if it ever was, heavily qualified with conditions, both in words and our attitudes we projected.  I grieve not only for my own kids, but the several others that we had direct influence on.  I pray God can also bring good out of this in their lives, as He has for Jesse.

I saw a marked change in Jesse when God brought him to Grace.  He was already an amazing son, with a naturally compliant, loving temperament, but he went from “good” to ALIVE.. and that was visibly evident.

Jesse’s Story

Christians today are taught to be more tolerant of different beliefs, sometimes they don’t see the harm in what appears to be a slight doctrinal difference. Yet people are living in bondage not only to sin, but to their own beliefs as well. Another thing that is often overlooked is how alternate beliefs or perspectives can affect children; how they view God, themselves, and the rest of the world. I’m sharing my testimony in hopes that someone will see the danger of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

It started when I was about nine years old. My parents were under the impression that if they did more to please God, that God would bless the family more. The basic idea was that if we kept the law of Moses, and observed all the feasts (old covenant holidays), God would be pleased with us. When we made this change, my mother told me it was just an observation, more like adopting a new culture. We were gaining a new insight into what life and religion was like back in Bible times.

Soon after, we started attending a study group (or as they say in the Hebrew Roots, ‘Congregation’) based at a facility where children with disabilities could ride horses. My friends and I would play out there for hours while our parents would sit together and study the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).

A few years went by, we had been to a few different groups by that time, and eventually had started our own with friends we had made the whole time. I was a little older by this time, and I was listening to what the adults were saying. My mother still believed in Jesus, and the sacrifice he had made for our sins, and she thought I believed the same way, but it wasn’t exactly the case.

I believed Jesus died and rose again for my sins, but the obsession with the Law that everyone had gave me the impression I had to keep all 613 commandments to be saved. None of it made sense to me. How could Jesus die for me and still expect me to live a perfect life? I knew I wasn’t able to do it, and as hard as I tried to be perfect, I believed I was headed straight for Hell. I remember crying out to God on several occasions, pleading for mercy, and thinking to myself , “You don’t deserve it, He won’t listen to you”.

Not long after I turned 14, God led my parents out of the Hebrew Roots Movement, and we started going to a Baptist church. I was relieved to know at this point that I didn’t have to follow the Law of Moses to be saved, and that I just had to let Christ into my heart. But it wasn’t until I went with that Baptist church on a week long mission trip to Kansas that I actually got saved. The mission trip I went on to reach others, was really meant for me, so I could be saved. I remember sitting in the church building, my pastor giving us a sermon after dinner, and seeing the pulpit had a cross on the front. While I was listening, I started focusing on the cross. Being the 14 year old boy that I was, I started to think about how the cross looked like a sword, and how Jesus defeated sin on the cross. The image was simple, but it was powerful to me, and God changed my heart right there. I was free!

I know people go through much worse than I have, in a sense, I’m very blessed to have suffered very little, though when I look back now, I don’t so much see myself as I do another 10 year old boy, in torment, feeling unworthy of God’s presence, of His mercy. I hope that in writing this, someone will spare themselves, and their children of the bondage that is in the Hebrew Roots movement.

But until today, when Moses is being read, a veil lies on their heart. But whenever it turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord Spirit.         2 Corinthians 3:15-18

(Jesse said when he wrote this out, he opened his Bible for a reference, and his bookmark was on this Scripture!  God’s exclamation point!)

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Again, many thanks to Sondra and Jesse for sharing their story.  The following diagram came to mind as I read Jesse’s story . . . one much like the one I saw when I was eight years old and which made it so clear to me that the Way to God is found only in Christ:

One thing that I’d like you to take notice of in the above illustration is that Jesus paid the penalty for SIN, not just for the penalty of the LAW.  In discourse with those who pursue Torah I have found this to be a distinction – how do they view (and communicate) the work of Christ?

Was the work of the Cross meant to

  • pay for the penalty parts of Mosaic Covenant Law, making just those parts and the sacrificial portion of the Law obsolete, keeping every other part of the Law in place (if you think this is the case, then please provide contextual Scripture to support that view), or
  • pay the penalty for sin in a primary sense, restoring the spiritual life lost at the Fall when Adam sinned?

Romans 5:12-20
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

20 The law was added 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.

Ephesians 2:4-10
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.

It’s all about Jesus!

Having faith in

Who He is.

What He did.

Walking in Him.

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Edited to add 8/14/13 – I wasn’t quite sure where to add this link, so I’ll just pop it in here.  I hope it does not go unnoticed.  This is part 3 of a testimony from a man who was brought up under the legalistic teachings of Bill Gothard during his childhood.  I include this here because many of the families I got to know through the Momys Digest were faithful followers of Gothard’s IBLP and ATI courses/camps/conferences.  Many of those families ‘progressed’ into Torah observance; it really was a natural progression, and for them brought an ‘authenticity’ to stuff they were already doing, as Gothard incorporates many OT laws in his teachings.  The following is available from a site called, Recovering Grace – A Gothard generation sheds light on the teachings of IBLP and ATI.  I found that Part 3 of the following testimony fit in really well with Jesse’s story above, going into more of the transformation that the author experienced and continues to experience in Grace as an adult.  

Two more pages that you may find interesting, as they cover a lot of ground regarding legalism:

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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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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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Resurrection Day!

He is Risen!  Risen Indeed!

Some of you who read here believe that “Easter” really has pagan origins.  Depending on who/what you deem to be reliable sources will largely shape your view on the subject.

Resurrection Day, however, does not! 

A Chocolate Bunny’s Dilemma

I don’t have a problem that most of the Body of Christ celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter because as far as the WORLD is concerned, they have no idea of any paganism that may or not be a part of Easter celebrations.   By and large, the world thinks we’re celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in spite of egg hunts and chocolate bunnies.  And if we can draw attention to Jesus and Who He is and show the World the glory of God, then, YAY!

Some who read here believe that it is rebellion to celebrate Easter and that we should instead celebrate the appointed time of Passover given to Israel.

Jesus did celebrate Passover.  And as He did so for the last time, He established a NEW observance, that of remembering that His Body was broken and His Blood was shed for the remission of our sins.  He lived by the Law in His observance of the Feast(s), the shadow of things to come, and then instructed us to remember Him and what He did (Luke 22:14-20).  We are to honor the fulfillment of Who the Law with it’s feasts foreshadowed, not the shadows themselves.

And He Lives!  And we celebrate that He lives!  Every day that we reside among the living, not just on “Easter”.  We, as a family, do not choose to do the egg thing or the basket thing or the bunny thing.  It’s just not how we feel we can best honor what Jesus did.  We celebrate an empty tomb and the living Christ.  Do we praise and worship and lift the name of Jesus up on “Easter”, the day that most of the World recognizes as the celebration of His resurrection?  You Bet!  And we are worshipping and honoring JESUS, not a pagan sun god!  My big girls, when they update the wet-erase calendar on our fridge, draw a picture of an empty tomb with the stone rolled away, so I think it’s safe to say they get what we’re really celebrating =o).

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

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

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

But back to the Word . . .

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

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

Every Blessing,
-JGIG

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 – 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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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Perversion of Repentance

Another one of the pillars in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related belief systems/sects, is their re-definition of the word “repent” or “repentance”.  They skew the meaning of repent in order to point the unsuspecting believer toward 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 laws of a covenant no longer in effect.

The following article from Pristine Faith Restoration Society makes many excellent points and observations about the HRM and does a really good job in taking on HRM assertions regarding the language and concepts of the word “repent”.  The author deals specifically with the teaching of Brad Scott, considered to be a “mainstream” teacher in the Hebrew Roots Movement. 

 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 website, 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.   This article will also be posted at the Articles Page here at JGIG.

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

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The Perversion of Repentance
by Tim Warner

Criterion for Understanding the New Testament
According to many teachers in the Hebrew Roots movement, the Gentile mind is not equipped to properly comprehend Scripture. They draw a distinction between “Gentile thinking” and “Jewish thinking.” This distinction is alleged to be more than merely having different presuppositions, but rather a completely different thought process and basis for understanding. Consequently, Gentiles need a thorough education in “Jewish thinking” in order to understand the New Testament. This includes instruction in the Hebrew language. A converted Gentile cannot normally read the Old and New Testaments and arrive at a proper understanding without a Jewish teacher. Having been taught “at the feet” of some Jewish scholar or rabbi is the claimed credential of several prominent “teachers” of the Hebrew Roots movement.  [See “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria” for a better understanding of just what being taught “at the feet” of some Jewish scholar or rabbi means.]

Historically, Christians have always believed that the Old Testament is sufficient background material for the New Testament. Paul distinguished between those who are able to comprehend and those who are not. The criterion he gave has nothing to do with the Hebrew language or “Jewish thinking.”

11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. (1 Cor. 2:11-15 NKJV)

According to Paul, even “Jewish scholars” do not understand the things of God unless they have received the Spirit of God. Jesus Himself gave us a pretty good picture of the unconverted “Jewish Scholar” in Matthew 23. It is therefore critical that modern Hebrew Roots teachers fully disclose to their hearers the names of the “Jewish Scholars” under whose instruction they have learned. And those “scholars” should be carefully scrutinized to see whether they are true believers.

The New Testament was Primarily Written to Gentile Minds
With the exception of Matthew, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and James, the New Testament was written by the Apostles for Gentile minds. The New Testament contains almost no explanatory background information about Jewish thinking. The Apostles frequently quoted the Old Testament, without comment, as supporting material to the particular point they were making. References to Old Testament events were frequently given as illustrations and moral lessons in the language of the Greeks. More often than not, they quoted the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Greek speaking reader was expected to be familiar with the Septuagint, and this was deemed by the Apostles to be sufficient for understanding their own writings in the New Testament. The Apostles frequently quoted from the Greek translation of the Old Testament with which their readers were familiar. There was no appeal made by the Apostles to extra biblical Jewish sources for explanatory information. One wonders why modern Gentile Christians need such sources when the Apostles obviously did not think it beneficial for their Gentile audiences in the first century who knew little about Jewish thinking. In fact, Jesus Himself was antagonistic to such sources, claiming they perverted the Word of God (Matt. 15:2-14). The Jewish scholarly commentaries were characterized by Jesus as “the blind leading the blind” (v. 14).

Why would modern Christians, who have received the “Spirit of Truth,” want to be taught by “the Blind?” Yet, such is now the case in this movement.

Some might contend that in the context of the early Church, there was a great deal of oral teaching by the Jewish Apostles, and the Epistles were merely supplementary material. That is true in some cases. Paul spent three years in Ephesus before writing his epistle to this church. However, the major theological treatise on the Law (Romans) was written by Paul to a local church no Apostle had yet visited. His second Epistle on the Law and grace, Galatians, was written to the churches (plural) of Galatia, of which we have no direct record of his spending time in discipleship. Yet, Paul expected that the Greek Old Testament (LXX) would be adequate background material for the Gentile mind to comprehend his teaching on the covenants, the Law, and grace.

Is “Repentance” Turning Back to Moses?
In his website article series on “repentance,” Brad Scott made his real intentions clear in the closing paragraph of part I.

“The foundation of repentance is the return to where you came from. The root of repentance is to go back to something. Adam came from the dust, and that is where he will teshuvah, or return to. The root of repentance is to go back to something. It is what we are to go back to, that is critical.”1 [Bold mine]

Scott is intent on incorporating into the term “repentance” the idea of returning to a former condition. And as he stated in the above quote, the thing to which one is to return is the critical factor. In Scott’s theology, this is a return to God’s laws revealed through Moses, the ultimate destination for his followers. He made this point crystal clear.

“The very first words that we hear from Yochanan the immerser (John the Baptizer) is REPENT! Who was he speaking these words to? the Nations? Of course not. The nations would not have a clue as to what to go back to! He speaks this word to the local Jewish leadership. Yochanan is pleading in behalf of Yahshua for YHVH’s covenant people to go back to the covenant. Yahshua’s first words to the Jewish leaders is to REPENT! (Mattityahu 4:17). The two main religious systems in Judaism, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, had strayed away from the Word of YHVH. He certainly knew this in advance. Go Back! YHVH says. The common myth that Judaism was a law-keeping religion that YHVH came to denounce and change is a lie. Most of the Jewish leaders of that time were big time law breakers.”2

Was Jesus Simply Moses’ Revival Preacher or The New Lawgiver?
When Jesus and John the Baptist called Israel to “repentance,” Scott wants you to believe that he was calling them back to Moses. Hence, Scott makes John and Jesus missionaries and preachers of Moses by manipulating the word “repentance,” as we shall prove shortly. The Scripture, however, does not portray Jesus as Moses’ revival preacher, but as the new Lawgiver, proclaiming a new Law far superior to that of Moses. Jesus brought the “Law of Christ,” a higher Law, which superseded the Law of Moses. It did not supplement the Law of Moses. Consequently, the “household of Christ,” according to Scripture, is not the former “household of Moses,” but a completely new “household.”

1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward,  6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.  (Hebrews 3:1-6 NKJV)

Paul drew a clear distinction between the “house of Moses” and the “house of Christ.” Keep in mind that Paul wrote this to Jewish believers, implying that they were no longer of the “household of Moses” after joining the “household of Christ.” A few chapters later, the Apostle expands on this distinction.

1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”   6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: [from Jer. 31:31-34]

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—  

9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 

11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:1-13 NKJV)

The Meaning of “Repentance”
The Greek word translated “repent” in the NT is “metanoew” (me-ta-nah-eh-O), Strong’s #3340. As with a multitude of Greek verbs, it consists of a verb prefixed with a preposition. “Meta” (preposition) means “after.” And “noiew” means “understand” or “comprehend.” Hence, the basic sense of “metanoew” is “after-thought.” In modern English idiom we would say, “after second thought.” It indicates a change of mind after further contemplation. All Greek lexicons define this word as a “change of mind.” None suggest, as does Scott, that this change of mind is a return to a former place, condition, or state. In fact, it is usually a turning AWAY from a former way of thinking that is being stressed. We will list below a couple of examples of lexical definitions.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary:
Repentance
, There are three Greek words used in the New Testament to denote repentance.
(1.) The verb metamelomai is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas (Mat 27:3).
(2.) Metanoeo [metanoew], meaning to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge.
(3.) This verb [metanoew], with the cognate noun metanoia, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised. 3

Unger’s Bible Dictionary
REPENTANCE, a “change” of mind. In the theological and ethical sense a fundamental and thorough change in the hearts of men from sin and toward God. 4

The most comprehensive study of the koine Greek language from ancient Greek writings was done by the German scholar, Gerhard Kittle. His ten volume Greek lexicon (TDNT) far exceeds all other lexicons. While most Greek lexicons trace Greek word usage in the NT and the LXX, Kittle adds massive evidence from thousands of secular Greek manuscripts written in both classical and koine Greek of the period. There is no better source for understanding the “common” meanings of Greek words in every day life of the first century. According to Kittle’s TDNT, “metanoew” (repent) was used in secular Greek literature of the period to mean, “change one’s mind,” “adopt another view,” or “change one’s feelings.” He gives many examples of these in Greek literature. Kittle then adds, “…if the change of mind derives from recognition that the earlier view was foolish, improper or evil, there arises the sense ‘to regret,’ ‘to feel remorse’.” He cites many examples of this as well.5 In no case does Kittle suggest the idea of returning to a former place, state, or condition, as part of the Greek word “repent” in common Greek usage. Brad Scott is simply wrong.

In the face of massive contrary linguistic evidence, Scott alleges that Christianity has redefined “repentance” to suite its own ends. Yet, as we shall see, it is Scott who has done precisely what he alleges of Gentile Christians – twist the meaning to suite his own purpose.

Scott’s Manipulation of “Repentance”
Scott completely ignores the etymology of “metanoew” and all the lexical evidence, all the while pretending to offer a more nuanced definition which he claims is derived from the Hebrew equivalent. He claims that Jesus, John, and their hearers would have held his view of “repentance” because of their Hebrew background and alleged equivalent Hebrew term with which they would have been intimately familiar.

“When Yahshua and Yochanan (John the baptizer) said to the P’rushim (Pharisees), ‘repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ what did they mean by repent? Do you really believe the meaning of repent in the English or the Greek is what they meant? Do you believe that 23,214 verses of teaching in the Tenach (Old Testament) about this word is irrelevant?”6

Scott gives the impression, in the above quote, that there are over twenty-three thousand verses in the Old Testament that contain teaching on the word “repent,” and that all modern lexicons ignore this “teaching.” The fact is, there is only a handful of Old Testament verses that use the verb “repent,” or its noun form “repentance,” and not one of them supports Scott’s definition.

Scott’s “Shell Game” Exposed
Brad Scott plays a “shell game” with the Hebrew words. He declares by fiat that the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word “metanoew” (repent) is the Hebrew word, “shoov” (Strong’s #7725). He offers not one shred of linguistic or historical evidence in support of this claim, which is THE fundamental premise of his entire series of articles on repentance.

While it is true that “shoov” (or “shoob”) does mean “return” in many cases, it does not always. Strong’s Hebrew lexicon states this very clearly.

7725  שׁוּב      shûb  shoob  A primitive root; to turn back (hence, away) transitively or intransitively, literally or figuratively (not necessarily with the idea of return to the starting point); generally to retreat; often adverbially again:”7 [emphasis mine]

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia adds that “shoov” can either mean “return” or “turn away,” the latter having nothing to do with returning to a former place or state.8 Numerous examples of this meaning can be found, (Gen. 27:44-45 for example). 

Even IF “shoov” (shoob) was the Hebrew equivalent for the Greek “metanoew” (repent), which it is not, it would not prove Scott’s point. Even the Hebrew word “shoov” is used in Old Testament contexts where the idea of returning back to a former state, place, or condition is clearly not intended, as Strong’s lexicon and the ISBE point out. Consequently, the meaning Scott seeks to squeeze out of this word is NOT always essential to its basic meaning, and therefore not necessarily the sense even if it was the exact equivalent for the Greek word for “repent” in the New Testament. Had Scott been successful in establishing equivalence between the Hebrew, “shoov,” and the Greek “metanoew,” the most he would have accomplished would be to establish a possibility, but not a necessity. In other words, had Jesus and John the Baptist used the Hebrew word “shoov” instead of the Greek “metanoew” they might have meant “turn away” rather than “turn back” (to Moses) as Scott insists.

Earlier I used the term “shell game” to describe what Scott has done. The “shell game” is a classic swindle in which slight of hand is used to fool the target of the con. And slight of hand is what Scott has apparently done here. The way to determine equivalence between words of different languages is to examine ancient translations from one language to the other. There are two such sources for determining equivalence between Old Testament Hebrew words and New Testament Greek words. They are the Septuagint (LXX), and the Apostles’ quotes of the Old Testament in the New Testament. It is a simple thing to search the Septuagint (LXX) to verify Hebrew equivalents for Greek terms. There are no New Testament Apostolic quotes of the Old Testament that use the word “repent.” We are left with the Septuagint as our source.

One cannot accuse the LXX translators of “Gentile thinking” or any bias against Judaism, since they were themselves Jewish scholars living shortly before the appearance of Jesus Christ. They were far more fluent in the Hebrew of the Torah and ancient Greek than any modern Hebrew Roots teacher, including Brad Scott. They translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek, choosing the best Greek equivalents for the Hebrew words of the Old Testament. If Scott were correct in his claim that John and Jesus had the Jewish idea of “return” contained in the word “shoov” when they spoke of “repentance” in the Gospels, we would expect the LXX translators to render the Hebrew word “shoov” as “metanoew” (repent) in their Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. However, not once did those seventy Jewish scholars translate “shoov” as “metanoew” in their Greek translation of the Old Testament! So, not only does Scott’s view flow counter to all modern linguistic scholars, but also the Jewish scholars of the Septuagint!

The Jewish translators of the Septuagint used the Greek word “metanoew” (repent) in their translation. But, when it appears, it translates the Hebrew word, “nacham” (Strong’s #5162), not “shoov.” They used “metanoew” sixteen times in their Greek translation in the following verses: 1 Sam. 15:29, Prov. 20:25, Prov. 24:32, Jer. 4:28, Jer. 8:6, Jer. 18:8,10, Jer. 31:19 (38:19 in LXX), Joel 2:13,14, Am. 7:3,6, Jon. 3:9,10, Jon. 4:2, Zech. 8:14.

In each of these verses, “metanoew” translates the Hebrew word “nacham” (#5162), except in Prov. 20:25 & Prov. 24:32. And in neither of these exceptions do we find the Hebrew word “shoov.” In the former it translates a Hebrew term that means to “inquire,” and in the latter it translates two Hebrew words meaning to “make to understand.”

So, what is the meaning of the Hebrew word “nacham” which the LXX translators rendered as “metanoew?” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that nacham “implies difficulty in breathing, hence, ‘to pant,’ ‘to sigh,’ ‘to groan’ … Naturally it came to signify ‘to lament’ or ‘to grieve,’ and when the emotion was produced by the desire of good for others, it merged into compassion and sympathy, and when incited by a consideration of one’s own character and deeds it means ‘to rue,’ ‘to repent’.”9 In no case does “nacham” mean to return to a previous place, state, or condition.

Furthermore, there are a few verses in the Hebrew Bible where both Hebrew words “shoov” and “nacham” appear together in the same sentence, but are mutually exclusive! In other words, the context clearly shows that they are NOT the same thing, but were being contrasted with each other, or their diverse meanings were used to compliment each other. For example, Jer. 31:19 says this: “Surely after that I was turned (shoov) I repented (nacham).” That these two words are contrasted in this way proves their meanings are not the same. If “shoov” means “repent,” as Scott claims, then Jeremiah said, “After I repented I repented,” a rather nonsensical statement! The meaning is precisely as the NKJV renders it, “Surely after that I was turned (changed course), I repented (regretted the former course).”

In Jer. 4:28, the Lord made a similar contrasting statement using both terms. “I have purposed it, and will not repent (nacham), neither will I turn back (shoov) from it.” The word “neither” in the above sentence indicates contrasting ideas, NOT a restatement of the same idea. Consequently, “shoov” (translated “return”) and “nacham” (translated “repent”) do NOT have the same meaning. The former means to “retreat” or “return” and the later “to change the mind” or “regret.”

Joel 2:14 uses both terms as well. “Who knoweth if He will return (shoov) and repent (nacham) and leave a blessing behind Him.” Here the two terms have a cumulative effect, hoping that God will do two distinct things: return to His favor for Israel and also change His mind (or regret) regarding His intent to judge Israel.

We have at least two hard pieces of evidence that “shoov” and “nacham” do not have the same meaning. First, both terms are used in the same sentences in contrast to each other. Second, the LXX translators frequently rendered “nacham” as “metanoew,” but never rendered  “shoov” as “metanoew.” They did not view “shoov” and “metanoew” as equivalent terms.

If the LXX translators, who knew both Hebrew and Greek, did not see “shoov” and “nacham” as equivalent, or more importantly, did not see “shoov” and “metanoew” as equivalent, why would we suppose that Jesus and John the Baptist did, or their hearers?

More importantly, why should we think Brad Scott knows more about linguistics than the Jewish translators of the LXX and authors of all Greek lexicons? If the LXX translators did not think “metanoew” meant “to return to where you came from,” neither should you. Scott has played fast and loose with the Hebrew words in order to lead you where he wants you to go, back to the Law of Moses.

Should Gentile Pagans “Return” to Where They Came From?
If “repent” (metanoew) in the Gospels means “to return to where you came from,” then the use of the same word in evangelizing Gentiles would mean they should return to their pagan roots, their “wild olive tree!” Scott does not seem to notice this problem. While arguing that “repent” in the Gospels requires his definition, he wrote the following;

“The very first words that we hear from Yochanan the immerser (John the Baptizer) is REPENT! Who was he speaking these words to? the Nations? Of course not. The nations would not have a clue as to what to go back to!”10

Yet, Paul encouraged the Gentiles to “repent” as part of his evangelism.

21 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. (Acts 26:19-20)

Here, Scott’s definition of “return to where you came from” simply will not work in the context. “Works befitting repentance” in Scott’s bogus lexicon would be offering sacrifices to Zeus or the goddess Dianna! The same problem appears in the other passages that speak of Gentile “repentance,” none of which suggest “return to where you came from.” (Acts 17:30, Acts 26:20), and the noun form “repentance” (Luke 24:47, Acts 11:18, 2 Cor. 7:10, 2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus told the disciples, when sending them out to the Gentiles with the Great Commission, “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). How does Brad Scott suppose these Gentiles would “have a clue as to what to go back to?”

Other Greek Words Mean “Return” or “Turn Back”
There are other common Greek words that mean “return back” and “return again.” First, “upostrefw” (hupo-strepho  Strong’s #5290) comes from the preposition “hupo” (under or back) and “strepho” (to turn). Examples can be found in Luke 1:56, Luke 2:20,43,45, Luke 4:1,14). Second, “anastrefw” means “return again,” from the preposition “ana” (again) and “strepho” (to turn). This latter term is probably the closest to the Hebrew “shoov” as Scott defines it. Yet, it is nowhere used in the New Testament in the sense Scott promotes, a turning back to the Law of Moses. In fact, it is never used in an evangelistic sense in the New Testament.

What is painfully obvious from Scott’s treatment of “repentance” is that he is manipulating the evidence to suite his purposes. His work is unscholarly, manipulative, and malicious, in my humble opinion.

The “Judaizers” (neo-Galatians) are Back
A distinction needs to be made between two classes of modern “Law keepers” – those who practice “Law keeping” as a preference but not a necessity (Messianics who are Jewish by birth), and those who claim or imply that it is a salvation issue and binding on Gentiles. Brad Scott clearly falls into this latter category, what is commonly referred to as a “Judaizer.” Scott is proclaiming the same heresy Paul called “another gospel.” Here it is in Brad Scott’s  own words.

“I am going to, very bluntly, tell you that without a scriptural understanding of repentance, you are NOT redeemed or reconciled back to YHVH. To put it more perfectly, as Sha’ul would say, you are not saved.”11

By making his definition of “repentance” synonymous with a “return” to keeping the Law of Moses, Scott is essentially saying that observance of the Law of Moses is necessary to salvation.

Furthermore, he places all Christians who are not “Torah observant” within the category of the “workers of iniquity” to whom Jesus promised to answer, “depart from Me, I never knew you.” He equates this with the “mystery of iniquity” which gives birth to the Antichrist. Here it is in Brad Scott’s own words.

“If you are curious to know who the workers of iniquity are in Mattityahu 7:23, you can find them here. They are those who are TORAHLESS, lawless ones. This is the translation of the King James English, “workers of iniquity”. It is also a description of their leader, whether they know it or not, in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8. He is the mystery of iniquity that already works and is called the wicked one or the lawless one.”12

Scott’s claim that his perverted “repentance” (return to the Law of Moses) is essential to salvation puts him and his movement in the same camp as the ancient Judaizers who “troubled” and “unsettled” the Gentile believers. Paul called that message “another gospel” and told the Galatians that those who embraced it were “estranged from Christ” and “fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

We would do well to keep in mind the letter to the Gentiles, approved by all the Apostles and elders of the Jerusalem congregation.

“The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings,

Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’ — to whom we gave no such commandment — it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:23-24).

NOTES:

1. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part I; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson16.html; Wild Branch Ministries
2. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part II; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson17.html
3. Easton’s Bible Dictionary, article on “Repentance” (electronic version)
4. Unger’s Bible Dictionary, article on “Repentance” (electronic version)
5. Kittle; TDNT, Vol. IV, pp. 976-977
6. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part I; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson16.html. Strong, Hebrew Lexicon of Old Testament Words, #7725 (electronic version)
8. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, article on “Repentance” (electronic version)
9. ibid
10. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part II; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson17.html
11. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part I; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson16.html. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part III;
12. Scott, Brad; Repentance Part III; http://www.wildbranch.org/Archive/lesson18.html

 © Tim Warner, September 2007

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Refer also to the following post, which contains a word study on the word, ‘repent’, that you may find helpful: 

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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Headlong into Heresy

I have a confession to make.  The past month or so has been greatly frustrating for me in regard to standing up for the truth of the freedom that Christ purchased for us at the Cross.  The moderator at the mom’s digest I subscribe to has continued to allow for false teaching to be posted, while she has repeatedly denied the posting of  direct questioning of that false teaching.  Most recently a subtle reference to the practice of Kabbalah was permitted to be posted (4 known levels of meaning for each Hebrew letter – Go ahead . . . Google that phrase and see what comes up).  There is no mistaking the connection of the practice of mystical Judaism (rooted in the Occult) to what was allowed to be posted.

So here’s where I find myself in regard to my attitude:  Part of me is shocked.  Shocked that such obvious headlongerror is lapped up by not only by the moderator of the mom’s digest, but also by many in the Body of Christ today.  After the shock comes frustration.  Frustration that even when error is exposed, folks will still follow after false teaching and promote its propagation.  After the frustration comes the resignation.  Resignation that no matter how conclusively one can prove that specific teachings/doctrines are false, there are those who will still choose to remove their heads from their shoulders and willingly and purposefully march headlong into heresy.

So part of me feels like I’m banging my head against a brick wall (though I know that’s not true because God says that His Word does not return void), another part of me is just tired,smi20 and most of me is just grieved.  Grieved that so many are so willingly deceived, even when sound evidence is presented to them, including Scriptural, linguistic, and historical evidence . . . and they still insist on marching headlong into heresy.  Not only that, but then accusations of being hateful, divisive and/or unloving come from those that have placed themselves in the High Places.  Interesting.  (Did she just say High Places???)  Yes I did.  Those of you who are familiar with your Old Testament and adhere to the false teachings/doctrines to which I refer are there.  You either don’t know you are there or refuse to recognize where you are in light of all the “hidden knowledge” and “deeper meaning” you find there.

I do understand there is a spiritual component here . . . deep error, once accepted, tends to be spiritually binding and blinding.  Thus deepens my grief.  I can almost taste the frustration that Paul must have felt as he wrote, “You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1a)  An integral reading of all of Galatians should be sufficient to clear up the false teachings found in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related belief systems/sects.  Indeed, an integral reading of the whole of Scripture should do the same.  Remove the linguistic and historical acrobatics that the HRM and its related belief systems/sects engage in, and one lands squarely in he Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Grace, not the Law of Moses.

So that’s why not much original content here at JGIG lately. I’m grieved and a little angry and my head hurts (and my heart). Those in the HRM and its related belief systems/sects are probably thinking, “She’s starting to see it!”  No.  I see even more clearly the errors of what you believe and where those errors come from.

I also understand that when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and defended, the Enemy is sure to show up. Recognizing the emotional components of this battle that are of the Enemy and also those that are of God, I choose to press in to Who God is and what His Word says.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

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. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 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. (Ephesians 4:14-16)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  (Colossians 4:2-6)

When I can again speak with conversation that is full of grace, seasoned with salt, and not speak salt seasoned with grace, you’ll see original content here.

Grace and Peace,
JGIG

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Edited to add 8/23/13:  Grace has won in my heart, and I have written more, as you can see below =o).  I continue to pray for the women and the leadership at the mom’s digest above, that they may see the simple Truths of the Gospel in walk in the Freedom for which Christ has set us free .  Major W. Ian Thomas, in the introduction to Classic Christianity, writes this:

There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!

Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at ritual, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither!

They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to His humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life—God’s life!

There are those who have a life they never live. They have come to Christ and thanked Him only for what He did, but do not live in the power of who He is. Between the Jesus who “was” and the Jesus who “will be” they live in a spiritual vacuum, trying with no little zeal to live for Christ a life that only He can live in and through them, perpetually begging for what in Him they already have!

Below are links to posts regarding Grace and Law and the Hebrew Roots Movement, and links to resources that preach the Gospel ‘full preach’ whish help to establish those in Christ in the Grace, Gift of Righteousness, and New Life they have in Christ.  Grace and Peace to you!

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Believers in the Hebrew Roots Movement:  Are They Lost?

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If you’re someone or know 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 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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Take Just 10 Minutes – Law and Grace Teaching

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

Be blessed!
-JGIG
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They Changed the Sabbath to Sunday

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

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

let-us-reason1

THEY CHANGED THE SABBATH TO SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one ever changed the Sabbath day to SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contrasting the Sabbath day in the Old Testament covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2008 No portion of this site is to be copied or used unless kept in its original format- the way it appears. Articles can be reproduced in portions for ones personal use. Any other use is to have the permission of  Let Us Reason Ministries first. Thank You.

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Hebrew Roots Movement – New Covenant or “Renewed” Covenant?

Folks in the Hebrew Roots Movement will tell us that God, in Christ, instituted a renewal of the Old Covenant instead of giving us a completely New Covenant.  They cite the Hebrew language to support their position, using something known as the ‘Root Word Fallacy’.

Following are two entries from the “Glossary M-Z” page, examining the concept of a New vs. a Renewed Covenant, followed by excellent word studies from two readers,  SheepWrecked (who also has a testimony here at JGIG), and Kimberly from Maine, who have both done a great job examining the language issues surrounding whether or not the Covenant in Christ is New or Renewed.  

Sheep’s and Kimberly’s examinations of the New/Renewed issue are thorough, using step by step progressions.  Each one comes to their conclusion using two different methods of study.  This page will also be linked to on the Articles” page located in the Articles tab located at the top of this site. 

I know that language studies can be tedious (like just shoot me now tedious, though some really like language study), but I think if you stick with the following, you’ll see how clearly God has communicated the New Covenant to us. 

Special thanks to SheepWrecked at For The Love of Truth  and Kimberly from Maine for the language analysis portions of the following:

New Covenant or “Renewed” Covenant?

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 me.” (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.” 

communion26Jesus 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 uncircumcisionof 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 arouned 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 based on the Righteousness of Christ, which, as He lives His Life in and through us, produces the Fruit of the Spirit, Love, which fulfills the commandment to love one another, which in turn fulfills the Law.  In Christ, we are able to Love God, Love others, whatever the circumstance.

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

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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 lawrenewal of the same 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 mis-use of the original languages of Scripture. 

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Here’s a language analysis from SheepWrecked at “For the Love of Truth”, which examines whether God has given us a New or a Renewed Covenant in Christ.  Used with permission, and be sure to check out Kimberly from Maine’s take with a different style and emphasis after SheepWrecked’s article – both are well worth the time.

 Is it the New or Renewed Covenant?

By SheepWrecked

Some Hebrew roots “scholars” are teaching that we are under a renewed covenant, not new, therefore we must follow the Old Covenant laws as well. Some have gone so far as to teach that the New Covenant will not be in effect until the return of Jesus.

B’riyt Chadashah is the phrase that appears in Jeremiah 31:

Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt (which covenant of Mine they broke, although I was a husband to them, says the LORD). (Jeremiah 31:31-32)

B’riyt means covenant, which is the equivalent for the word testament. Chadash in the context of Jeremiah 31:31 does not mean renewed but new, and in this passage the adjectival form for renewedwould have to appear as mechudeshet to make it mean renewed, and not chadashah as found in the Hebrew text. We can determine that the meaning is something completely new because following verse 31, the negative “lo” appears in the Hebrew text (lo kabriyt). Contextually, this makes it clear that the writer is differentiating between an existing and a “new” covenant. The new covenant referred to in verse 31 is referred to in the Hebrew of verse 32 as lo meaning “not” the previous covenant and is defined in the passage below as not being:

“. . . the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; my covenant which they broke . . . “

There are two separate and distinct forms of chadash listed in the Hebrew lexicon for new (H2319) and renewed (H2318). Another Biblical Hebrew form for renewed is mechudash, the pu`al particple from the root (shoresh) chet-dalet-shin. Chidesh is a modern Hebrew word that is also used for renewed.

H2319
חדשׁ
châdâsh
BDB Definition:
1) new, new thing, fresh
Part of Speech: adjective
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2318
Same Word by TWOT Number: 613a

Here is the Hebrew lexicon listing of the word that is translated as renewed:

H2318
חדש
châdash
BDB Definition:
1) to be new, renew, repair
1a) (Piel)
1a1) to renew, make anew
1a2) to repair
1b) (Hithpael) to renew oneself
Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root
Same Word by TWOT Number: 613

New

Let’s take a look at how the Jewish scholars that made up the translation team for the 1917 Jewish Publication Society TeNaKh translated chadash (H2319) contextually:

30 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant (b’riyt chadashah) with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah;

Here is the Hebrew:

הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים, נְאֻם-יְהוָה; וְכָרַתִּי, אֶת-בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת-בֵּית יְהוּדָה–בְּרִית חֲדָשָׁה.

Just to be sure, I referenced the latest version of the JPS TeNaKh (1985). It says new there as well. As a matter of fact, it says new in every translation I reviewed, with the exception of a few Hebrew Roots translations which are filled with faulty language scholarship, and are purely agenda driven.

So using the Hebrew roots teacher’s logic, shouldn’t this passage below also be renewed then?

Do not remember former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new 2319 (chadashah) thing; now it shall sprout. Shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.(Isaiah 43:18-19)

Using the same reasoning, wouldn’t it be a renewed song in the following passages as well?

Sing to Him a new (H2319) song; play skillfully, with shouts of joy. (Psalms 33:3)

And He put a new (H2319) song of praise to our God in my mouth; many shall see and shall fear and shall trust in the LORD. (Psalms 40:3)

O sing to the LORD a new (H2319) song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. (Psalms 96:1)

O sing to the LORD a new (H2319) song, for He has done wondrous things; His right hand and His holy arm has saved Him. (Psalms 98:1)

I will sing a new (H2319) song to You, O God; I will sing praises to You on a harp of ten strings (Psalms 144:9)

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new (H2319) song, His praise in the assembly of the saints. (Psalms 149:1)

Sing a new (H2319) song to the LORD; His praise from the end of the earth, you who go to sea, and all that is in it; the coasts and their people. (Isaiah 42:10)

How did Hebrew Scribes translate the word “new” when they put together the Greek traslation (the Septuagint) of the Old Testament?
Below are some of the words that the Hebrew scribes used when translating the Hebrew word chadashinto a Greek equivalent for the Septuagint (LXX) and their definitions:

H2319
chadash G2537 kainos
chadash G3501 neos
G2537
καινοìς
kainos
Thayer Definition:
1) new
1a) as respects form
1a1) recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn
1b) as respects substance
1b1) of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of
Part of Speech: adjective
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: of uncertain affinity
Citing in TDNT: 3:447, 388

Now from the New Testament writings we have these passages using the Greek equivalent for chadash listed above, which is kainos (G2537):

Rev 5:9 And2532 they sung103 [5719] a new 2537 song 5603, saying3004 [5723], Thou art1488 [5748] worthy514 to take2983 [5629] the book975, and2532 to open455 [5658] the seals4973 thereof846: for3754 thou wast slain4969 [5648], and2532 hast redeemed59 [5656] us2248 to God2316 by1722 thy4675 blood129 out of1537 every3956 kindred5443, and2532 tongue1100, and2532 people2992, and2532 nation1484;

Rev 14:3 And2532 they sung103 [5719] as it were5613 a new 2537 song 5603 before1799 the throne2362, and2532 before1799 the four5064 beasts2226, and2532 the elders4245: and2532 no man3762 could1410 [5711] learn3129 [5629] that new 5603 but1508 the hundred1540 and forty5062 and four5064 thousand5505, which3588 were redeemed59 [5772] from575 the earth1093.

Mat 26:28 For1063 this5124 is2076 [5748] my3450 blood129 of the new 2537 testament1242, which3588 is shed1632 [5746] for4012 many4183 for1519 the remission859 of sins266.

Heb 8:8 For1063 finding fault3201 [5740] with them846, he saith3004 [5719], Behold2400 [5628], the days2250 come2064 [5736], saith3004 [5719] the Lord2962, when2532 I will make4931 [5692] a new2537 covenant1242 with1909 the house3624 of Israel2474 and2532 with1909 the house3624 of Judah2455

Heb 8:13 In1722 that he saith3004 [5721], A new2537 covenant , he hath made3822 the first4413 old3822 [5758]. Now1161 that which decayeth3822 [5746] and2532 waxeth old1095 [5723] is ready1451 to vanish away854.

And the now another equivalent word for chadash(neos G3501) is used (see definition below):

Heb 12:24 And2532 to Jesus2424 the mediator3316 of the new 3501 covenant1242, and2532 to the blood129 of sprinkling4473, that speaketh2980 [5723] better things2909 than3844 that of Abel6.

G3501
νεìος / νεωìτερος
neos / neōteros
Thayer Definition:
1) recently born, young, youthful
2) new
Part of Speech: adjective
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: a primary word
Citing in TDNT: 4:896, 628

Someone in the Hebrew Roots Movement may give this example while trying to convince you of the “renewed” concept:
“So what happens to the ‘Chodesh’ moon? Does it just go poof when its cycle is done?  [Editor’s note: A Hebrew Roots adherent recently put it this way to me: “Keep in mind Jer. 31:31 talks of the new covenant as the ‘old’ one being written on our hearts. Also keep in mind that the Hebraic understanding of “new” is more like, ‘renewed’. Just as the New moon is seen every month and is certainly not a different, one, so too the Covenant is not a different one, but a renewed one.”]

Actually, chodesh is listed as a totally different word in the Hebrew lexicon, that has its derivation from a word that is listed as meaning renewed.

H2320
חדש
chôdesh
BDB Definition:
1) the new moon, month, monthly
1a) the first day of the month
1b) the lunar month
Part of Speech: noun masculine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from *H2318*
Same Word by TWOT Number: 613b

The Bad News and the Good News
I once read that a Jewish person living in Israel on a good day could only fulfill about 240 of the 613 commandments established by the rabbis. That is because there is no Temple, no Priesthood, and other various reasons. If you do the math on that, it means that a person living in the US could probably only fulfill 40 +/-  percent of the Law on a good day.

Here is the bad news:

If you truly fulfill the royal Law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. But if you have partiality you work sin, being reproved by the Law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep all the Law, but stumbles in one, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:8-10)

To believe that you are keeping the Law (which one is not capable of) and then switching to grace when someone points that out, is a terrible witness for the price that Christ paid (in my personal opinion). This is where the whole Hebrew roots concept of a “renewed covenant” got its start. What do the scriptures say, and what is truly your final authority? Let’s look to the book of Hebrews just to be sure:

Truly, then, if perfection was through the Levitical priestly office (for the people had been given Law under it), why yet was there need for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek and not to be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priestly office having been changed, of necessity a change of law also occurs.

For, indeed, an annulment of thepreceding command comes about because of its weakness and unprofitableness. For the Law perfected nothing, but a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And by how much it was not without oath-taking; for they truly becoming priests are without oath-taking, but He with oath-taking, through the One saying to Him, The Lord swore, and will not care to change, “You are a priest to the age according to the order of Melchizedek;” by so much Jesus has become Surety of a better covenant. (Hebrews 7:11-12,18-22)

For anyone to teach that the New Covenant is not here yet goes against scripture, and is agenda driven. Those who teach this are alluding to the fact that we are still under the Old Covenant until Christ returns. Since the book of Hebrews shows that to be incorrect, many of the Hebrew roots teachers are now saying that the book of Hebrews is not authentic, and should be removed from the canon.

And now for the Good News (The Gospel!)
According to the Book that I read, the Law is now written in our hearts.

But now He has gotten a more excellent ministry, also by so much as He is a Mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises:

For if that first was faultless, place would not have been sought for a second. For finding fault, He said to them, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will make an end on the house of Israel and on the house of Judah; a new covenant shall be, not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day of My taking hold of their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not regard them”, says the Lord. “Because this is the covenant which I will covenant with the house of Israel after those days”, says the Lord, “giving My Laws into their mind, and I will write them on their hearts,and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall no more teach each one their neighbor, and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’; because all shall know Me, from the least of them to their great ones. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousnesses, and I will not at all remember their sins and their lawless deeds.” In the saying, New, He has made the first old. And the thing being made old and growing aged is near disappearing. (Hebrews 8:6-13)

A covenant cannot be changed after the death of the testator:

And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were covered under the first testament, those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead, otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator is living. And so not even the first testament was dedicated without blood. (Hebrews 9:15-18)

Brothers, I speak according to man, a covenant having been ratified, even among mankind, no one sets aside or adds to it. (Galatians 3:15)

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Kimberly from Maine Says:

After reading several statements claiming that because the New Moon is not actually new therefore the New Covenant is not either, but “REnewed”, I decided to do a word study on “new” and “renew.” I found the study quite enlightening and thought I’d share my results with you.

According to Strong’s Concordance, there are seven different Hebrew words translated “new.”

The first is 1069 bakar baw-kar’ a primitive root; properly, to burst the womb, i.e. (causatively) bear or make early fruit (of woman or tree); also (as denominative from 1061) to give the birthright:–make firstborn, be firstling, bring forth first child (new fruit). It is translated “new” in the following verse:

“And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth NEW fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” Eze 47:12

The second instance is 1278 briy’ah ber-ee-aw’ feminine from 1254; a creation, i.e. a novelty:–new thing. It is found in this verse:

“But if the LORD make a NEW thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.” Nu 16:30

The third instance is 2323 chadath khad-ath’ (Aramaic) corresponding to 2319; new:–new and is found in this verse:

“4With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house: 5And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.” Ezr 6:4-5

The fourth instance is 2961 tariy taw-ree’ from an unused root apparently meaning to be moist; properly, dripping; hence, fresh (i.e. recently made such):–new, putrefying. This word is used in the verse

“15And he found a NEW jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.”Judges 15:15

In each of these instances, the words I have given were used just a single time, in the verses given.

Then I made an interesting discovery. The next word is 8492 tiyrowsh tee-roshe’ or tiyrosh {tee-roshe’}; from 3423 in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape-juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine:–(new, sweet) wine. This word is translated “new wine” in 13 verses. In other words, if you look up “new” in the verse Proverbs 3:10 and then “wine” in that same verse, you are given the number 8492 for the word “new” and again for the word “wine.” In other words, “new” is not one Hebrew word and then “wine” another. “Tiyrowsh” means “new wine.” Here are some verses so that you may look for yourself:

“39For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the NEW WINE, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.” Ne 10:39

“10So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with NEW WINE.” Pr 3:10

“11Whoredom and wine and NEW WINE take away the heart.” Ho 4:11

With this discovery fresh in mind, I approached the next word 2320 chodesh kho’-desh from 2318; the new moon; by implication, a month:–month(-ly), new moon. Again, I found that there is not one Hebrew word for “new” and another for “moon,” but a single Hebrew word translated “new moon” in 24 verses. I have given four verses as examples so that you may look for yourself.

“5And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the NEW MOON, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.” 1 Sam 20:5

“23And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither NEW MOON, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.” 2 Ki 4:23

“3Blow up the trumpet in the NEW MOON, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” Ps 81:3

“23And it shall come to pass, that from one NEW MOON to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.” Isa 66:23

But there’s more! While the word chodesh is translated “new moon” in 24 instances, in another 217 it is simply translated “month.”

“4And the ark rested in the seventh MONTH, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” Gen 8:4

“19And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first MONTH, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.” Jos 4:19

At this point, I find it simply illogical that one can conclude that because “chodesh” means “new moon” and “month” that therefore the “new” of “New covenant” in Jer 31:31 means “renew.” But we will continue the study…

The final word translated “new” in the Old Testament is 2319 chadash khaw-dawsh’ from 2318; new:–fresh, new thing. There are 45 instances of this word, one of them the Jeremiah verse in question:

“31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a NEW covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:” Jer 31:31

It would indeed change our understanding of this important promise if we understand “new” to mean “renew.” But are we being honest with the other uses of this word if we take it to mean renew?

“8Now there arose up a NEW king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” Ex 1:8

“11And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with NEW ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.” Judg 16:11

“3Sing unto him a NEW song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” Ps 33:3

“19Behold, I will do a NEW thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isa 43:19

Clearly, the word “new” that is used in Jer 31:31 must be understood to mean “fresh, new thing” if the other instances of that same word are to make any sense at all.

But to be fair, let’s consider the word “renew.”
“Renew” is translated 10 times from just two Hebrew words. Three times it is translated from 2498 chalaph khaw-laf’ a primitive root; properly, to slide by, i.e. (by implication) to hasten away, pass on, spring up, pierce or change:–abolish, alter, change, cut off, go on forward, grow up, be over, pass (away, on, through), renew, sprout, strike through in these verses:

“31But they that wait upon the LORD shall RENEW their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isa 40:31

“1Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people RENEW their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.” Isa 41:1

“20My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was RENEWED in my hand.” Job 29:20

The other seven times, “renew” was translated from 2318 chadash khaw-dash’ a primitive root; to be new; causatively, to rebuild:–renew, repair.

“14Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and RENEW the kingdom there.” 1 Sam 11:14

“10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and RENEW a right spirit within me.” Ps 51:10

“21Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; RENEW our days as of old.” La 5:21

“8And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and RENEWED the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.” 2 Ch 15:8

“5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is RENEWED like the eagle’s.” Ps 103:5

“17Thou RENEWEST thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me.” Job 10:17

“30Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou RENEWEST the face of the earth” Ps 104:30

Since I have engaged in this study, I stand convinced that the “new” in Jer 31:31 does indeed mean “fresh, new thing” rather than “renew.”

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Many thanks to SheepWrecked and Kimberly from Maine for their thorough examinations of the ‘New/Renewed’ language issues!

Folks, don’t let those in the Hebrew Roots Movement try to convince you that the Bible’s original language says that we are to go back to the Law.  As you can see from the above, God’s plan of redemption through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus ushered in not a “renewed” covenant, but the New Covenant – we are no longer under the Law of Moses, but now under the Law of Christ, which is actually about Fruit rather than about Law.

The New Covenant is so vastly superior; a better covenant built upon better promises, with a Perfect Sacrifice and a Perfect, Forever High Priest!  Don’t settle for or strive to live under the Old Covenant, or even try to mix the two. 

Check out these free audio teachings regarding the New Covenant and the New Life we have in Christ (Highly Recommended):

Three other good audio teachings which round out much of the contextual, Scriptural basis for the Truths of the New Covenant can be heard here:

The first two teachings are from an Evangelical stream of faith, while the next three are from more of a Charismatic stream of faith, but all are very sound theologically.

Another good resource for New Covenant articles in print form can be found at Escape to Reality.  Highly Recommended.

These teachings and more New Covenant teachings can be found on the Media Page here at JGIG.  Lots of good resources there – check it out!

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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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