• What JGIG Is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Broken Links – UGH

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

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

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

    Thanks,
    – JGIG

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Testimony – thatonechick’s Story

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

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

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

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG

 

thatonechick’s Story

When I originally considered Torah observance, I wasn’t really aware that I was even looking for a way to observe Torah.  I didn’t even really know the word Torah.  I was looking for a denomination that wasn’t the same as what I was a part of growing up.  I went to a Southern Baptist Church growing up, and stopped going in my late teens because I felt like I was attending a hypocritical, judgmental social club rather than a church.  I looked into several, and had heard of Messianic Judaism from someone I know.  I was mildly curious, but my curiosity didn’t last very long and then I moved on.

A few months ago, I became convinced that observing Torah was extremely important.  I came to believe that it was almost essential to salvation.  I kept thinking, “He said go and sin no more, did He not?”  Thus, began my journey into observing Torah.

But, I found myself on an emotional roller coaster.  It was bothersome.  I have learned some things along the way.

I no longer observe Torah in the sense that “Torah Keepers” do.  As I stand outside the box, I look back in and see some things that I now find a little disturbing.

First of all, the idea of using Father’s real name and the real name of His Son as opposed to the ones I learned as a child seemed almost a salvational issue.  I can’t speak for ALL Torah observers, but I can say that I know of some who at at least one point, believed that calling on any name besides Yahweh or Yeshua was like calling on empty space, or even satan himself.  I even almost believed it myself. 

But, I now find it very hard to believe that it is wrong to use God or Jesus.  One issue is that Jesus said to call God Father.  So why do some insist that we MUST use Yahweh?  I have heard the argument that Jesus is a paganized name for Zeus.  I find this arguable at best.  I myself was saved using the name Jesus.  I know that many people were saved using the name Jesus throughout history.  I know that the Holy Spirit has been with me for a long time now, and not when I suddenly started saying Yahweh and Yahushua.

Not to mention I have seen Jesus’ Hebrew name spelled and pronounced several ways, which in itself, goes against the argument that we MUST use His correct name.  How can we say that when it is spelled and pronounced so many ways? Yeshua, Yashua, Yahushua, Yahowushua, Y’shua and on and on.

I have no problems or hostilities with using our Heavenly Father’s name, if that’s what He wants.  But Jesus said to call Him Father.  This promotes a family unit.  I believe He wants us to draw near to Him as we would our dads.  As humans, we typically revere our earthly fathers and respect and honor them, and love them.  We go to them when we are sad, lonely, or happy.  We seek guidance, acknowledgement, understanding, forgiveness, and protection.  I believe this is the kind of relationship God wants.  Not fear, but love and trust.

After following Torah as best as I could (which wasn’t that great in my opinion) I came across the terms “Spirit” and “Letter” of the Law.  This was something new to me.  So I looked into these ideas, and suddenly I began to question what I was doing.  Was I pulling myself away from the Spirit in following the letter?  I was unsure.  I often felt like I didn’t know who Jesus was anymore.  I didn’t find myself relating to Him very often.

I knew that Jesus became our sacrifice, and our High Priest.  I knew that WE became the temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell.  I started to think, how is it that He replaced some of these things but not all.  Everything was a shadow, something to point towards Him, but was it all things?

I remembered one time, someone mentioned that Jesus WAS our Sabbath.  I never heard that growing up.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.  I also remember reading once, that ALL the 10 commandments besides the Sabbath was reiterated by Jesus in the Gospels.

Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Interesting that He didn’t really talk about resting on Sabbath, but He did say rest in Him.

This also got me to thinking about which Laws are written on our hearts.  I realize now that the moral Laws are most definitely written on our hearts.  At least I know this for myself. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, and so on and so forth. In fact He even expounded on them not just physically but spiritually,  by saying it’s wrong to even THINK about doing these things.  Is the sacrificial law written on our hearts?  Not really.  Except for when we accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, and received the Holy Spirit.  But this is received in Spirit.  Not on paper.  But I don’t feel that the 7th day rest is written on my heart, or even the feasts.

If morality of the Law is written on our hearts spiritually, and the remaining law wasn’t, then it remains the “letter” of the law.  That part was nailed to the cross.  The reason it was “nailed to the cross” is because those things are now found in our Savior.  And He was nailed to the cross.

Another thing I am failing to understand is the idea that the New Testament was translated wrong, or that we are just simply misunderstanding it.  I believe the message is simple, and that simple message can be translated in all languages. The premise, that we must learn Hebrew or Aramaic to understand what is being said, seems, well, ludicrous to me.  How can I ask people in the poorest parts of the world, who possibly can’t even read or write in their own language, to learn Hebrew in order to understand what is being said throughout the New Testament.  No.  That’s unrealistic.

What about the feasts?  We know that the feasts pointed towards Christ, but do we still observe them?  I think we certainly can, but some people say it’s demanded.  That the feasts are still honored in order to remember what Jesus did on the cross (or pole or stake as some insist), but isn’t this what the Lord’s supper is for?  Jesus said eat this bread and drink this drink in remembrance of me.

I now find it somewhat amusing, seeing some people struggle to celebrate these feasts on their own, having no real guidance in how to do it, and when one denies Rabbinical teaching, what can you do?  I see people getting the dates wrong, and not observing it properly, even as said in the Bible.

I don’t understand the obsession with all things pagan, and what they may or may not have represented.  I have heard that the names God and Jesus are pagan, along with Sunday, the Cross, church steeples, Christmas, Easter, the names of the days of the week, wedding rings, and so on and so forth. 

I think this obsession overwhelms and consumes some people.

As I observed Torah, I began to feel depressed, condemned, and less Christian than I have ever felt before, even when I was leading a less than righteous life.  And what’s with people not even wanting to claim the title “Christian”?  Insanity.

I again saw a comment regarding the “Spirit of the Law” vs. the “Letter of the Law”. What was this, I wondered.  I began to look and these are some of the things I began to realize.

Colossians 2:16-18 (King James Version)
16Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

18Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

I have heard people say that the Colossians were all Gentile, and therefore the people who would be giving them a hard time would be non-christian gentiles.  Why then, in vs. 17 would Paul call the things listed in vs. 16 a “shadow of things to come”, would non-christian gentiles even know of these shadows?  I think not.  The reality is, the congregation was made up of Gentiles AND Jews.  Look at vs. 18.  Who was worshipping angels?  I am still looking into this.  But the evidence I found suggests that the Jews (some of them) prayed to angels as intermediaries to Father.

My experience with other Hebrew Roots people has been on the internet.  People that I have met through forums or articles I have read through various sources.  It’s no surprise to me that many of these people feel the same way I felt in a sense.  When you embrace Hebrew Roots, you suddenly feel the need to witness to people who ALREADY BELIEVE in Jesus. This is neglecting non-believer’s in a terrible way.  We are to spread the Gospel to all nations, not to people who already have the Holy Spirit as their guidance.

When you embrace Hebrew Roots, you start to feel guilty about every aspect of your life, questioning every move you make, and thinking that if you screw up, you could, well, be screwed.  

I felt fallen from grace.

I notice that many people who embrace this movement, first of all deny they are in the movement, but also they are often arrogant, judgemental, condemning, nasty, hateful, and prideful.  Once I embraced this movement, I noticed these qualities in myself.  It’s like you automatically feel prideful and self righteous.  It was so stupid, and that was shameful on my part.

And what’s with this obsession with being the least or greatest in Heaven? I don’t think that should be our goal in life.  We should be loving and caring for people.  Not trying to beat them in some spiritual race to get to the top.

Another thing I noticed, is how some regard Torah so much more than the Gospels.  The Gospels show the light of the shadows of Torah.  It seems strange to me.

Once I started seeing the spiritual aspect of my faith, I found it harder to accept the letter or physical aspect as binding.

I believe that many many Torah keepers are honest about their faith, and they honestly believe they should be doing this and that they honestly believe they should be telling (warning) others that they should be doing this.  I have met some very generous and very kind people, but I can no longer believe what they believe.  All I want is the truth, and I don’t think they hold it.

I prayed often every day to be shown the truth.  I was never fully convinced of everything and often felt like I was wrong, but wasn’t sure how because many things “seemed” right about the movement.  I thank our Father so much for showing me the light in the shadows and giving me His guiding hand to lead me out.  If it wasn’t for Him, well, I don’t know what.

I just wanted to share my side of it.  I apologize that this is not more in depth, nor does it sound like I am all that educated **smile**, but I feel that this movement is from the wrong kind of spirit, and if I am wrong so help me God.

Thank you so much for listening to what I had to say.  I hope it helps in the fight against this “movement”.  I feel like it’s taking advantage of people who have good intentions but get mixed up in the wrong thing.  I partially feel like God sent me there to help me understand WHY I am saved and WHY He sent His son.  But another part of me thinks that there are bad spirits involved.  I am just glad I am out and glad I am saved.  Praise God!  I love Him!

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Thanks again, to “thatonechick” for sharing her heart with us here.   

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See also:

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Testimony – Serioussly S’african’s Story

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

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

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

Every blessing,
-JGIG

  

Howzit from Sunny, Beautiful South Africa

Wow what an incredible journey the past 5 weeks has been. I thought I had found a new and exciting “family” of serious believers, scholars and lovers of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  I won’t bore you with all the ins and outs of our journey (cos it sounds like everyone elses!!) but I am just grateful that I came across your website within a month or so of being “sucked in” to this movement.

I can detect from your various articles, testimonies and discussions that most of us have been disappointed with mainstream churches, are independent, are desperately searching for the Truth and yes I am also a homeschool Mum.

The whole family of us rushed off to a HRM weekend (only 3 beautiful children not 7!) on the weekend of my 43rd birthday, 14 May 2011 (another HRM no no among various pagan holidays including Christmas, Easter and Birthdays). We LOVED it!  We bought the dvd’s and were enthralled with the message. 

How could we have been so deceived – only receiving “half” of God’s Truth.  We had neglected our roots and more than half of God’s Word ie THE TORAH, THE TANACH, THE HEBREW PROPHETS.  We enrolled to begin Hebrew classes and an in depth study of The Torah.  We had to get back to our roots, to study to prove ourselves and learn all we could. 

Having studied Psychology and Linguistics this study was right up my street.  In fact, I became know as a “Torarist” because I had become outspoken against precious, mainstream evangelical pastor friends of mine and had even had the audacity to haul them over the coals over celebrating Easter.  (Cringe – I have subsequently publicly apologised to them and told them that I am once again “joyfully growing in grace”!).

I could not get enough.  I was addicted.  I would watch HRM preachers for hours through the night enthralled at their awesome revelations and deep, ancient insights.  Wow four different levels of interpretation, Two Houses of Judah, us vs the Arabs, never mind the Roman Catholics, Islam was now the Beast, End Time Prophecy through Hebrew eyes, the analogies, allegories, meanings within meanings, THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY, whoa never mind that just the MYSTERY ……. then it hit me . . . “enthralled” . . . “addicted”.  I had been heavily involved in the New Age before becoming Christian and I could sense the same excitement I had at the “MYSTICISM” of the New Age and the age old lie that “did the Lord your God really say that?”.  

Nothing new under the sun.

It was the mean and judgemental “fruits” that were squeezing the life out of me that made me look for critiques of the HRM. 

I must admit when I typed in a popular HRM pastor’s name and “heretical teaching” next to their name on Google, I actually thought there would be little or no representation, after all God is Holy, His Laws are Holy, the Torah contains His Laws, The Torah must be Holy and mandatory for us Christians to follow (forgive the simplistic argument but I do not want to write a thesis!!).  Well up your website came and I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit spoke straight to me and took me to 2 Corinthians 3 and the whole of Galatians.  He loves us, He speaks plainly to us if only we will listen, and keep our faith like a child’s.

I pray we find a mature, Bible-based church in our area where we are going to settle in, offer our time, talents and resources and be accountable as Believers in our Lord and Saviour who tells us plainly that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it!

Thank you for your fastidious research, your intelligent articles and the love and grace you show all people who come to your website, including those who show no genuine fruits and those who hurl insults and fallacious arguments at you. (Feel free to edit my testimony as we have enough problems to deal with in our beloved country without me having to contend with mockers and hair splitters).

Kind regards
Serioussly S’african

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Thanks again, to Serioussly S’african, for her very brief but effective testimony!  I wish I could cover that kind of ground with so few words! 

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See also:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I always have to come back to the Cross.    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

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TalmudExcerpt from Wikipedia‘s article on Talmud:

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

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

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

Excerpts from Judaism 101:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TorahExcerpts from From Judaism 101‘s page on Torah: 

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

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

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

From Hebrew Roots site First Fruits of Zion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before Sinai, the Torah was.

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

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

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

Now for the real Scriptures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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YHWH God.  See Sacred Names above.

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Yeshua – Jesus.  See Sacred Names above.

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See also:

Glossary Intro

Glossary A-F

Glossary G-L

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

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Hebrew Roots Movement – The Re-definition of Terms

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

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Glossary Introduction

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

An Incorrect Paradigm

An Incorrect Paradigm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Glossary A-F 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

two-house-tree

Two House/Ephraimite Error

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

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

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

 
 

 

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

Strongs H5769 –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gematria

The doublemindedness of those in the Hebrew Roots Movement who rely upon Jewish Sages and Scholars to uncover “hidden revelation” or to “peel back the layers of prophecy and bring deeper understanding to the Scriptures” is stunning.

Looking to Jewish Sages and Scholars by default makes use of Kabbalah and Gematria, as Kabbalah and Gematria are where the Sages and Scholars acquire portions of their “wisdom” and “insight”.  This reliance in the HRM is almost universal, from the mainstream to the outer fringes of the movement.  That a number of unsuspecting believers is being lured into a belief system with ties to the Occult is deeply troubling.

Some will balk at this assertion.  If, however, one takes a hard look at the Talmud and Jewish Sages and Scholars, and looks at all of the contributing elements affecting them throughout history, one cannot escape at the very least the influence of Kabbalah on Talmudic scholarship and teachings.  I hesitate to offer too much documentation for the charge, as I don’t want to open wide a portal here at JGIG into anything having to do with the occult  (see “Note to Readers” below).

Other than a supposed superior take on the language of the New Testament as a main pillar in the Hebrew Roots Movement, (see Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word) another self-touted pillar in the HRM is their claim that they have purified their form of worship to be free from all pagan influence. They make much of the pagan practices they say have permeated the Church, and how we, as believers, should determine to set ourselves apart from such practices.

Yet significant portions of HRM teachings and doctrines come from the “wisdom and insight” gleaned from the aforementioned Jewish Sages and Scholars, with their “wisdom and insight” coming from the Talmud, which in turn is influenced by Kabbalistic teachings, which are rooted in the Occult.

From an Ed Nelson (a Hebrew Roots Movement apologist) review of a book by Brad Young, “Meet the Rabbis: Rabbinic Thought and the Teachings of Jesus” (entire review can be read HERE):

Brad H. Young is well-known for his scholarly research on the life of Jesus and his contributions to the Jewish-Christian dialogue. Author of “Jesus the Jewish Theologian” and “Paul the Jewish Theologian”, in his latest book, “Meet the Rabbis: Rabbinic Thought and the Teachings of Jesus”, he continues to illustrate the place and value of rabbinic teachings for understanding the New Testament and the historical Jesus.

. . . The New Testament documents and the historical Jesus are verifiably Hebraic in origin and mission, Young says. In this vein, he takes a pre-first century and first century approach within the rabbinic traditions of Jewish faith to explain the New Testament and present the historical Jesus.

“I want readers to begin with what they know about the teachings of Jesus,” Young says, “and by associative method, to introduce them to the world of Jewish Torah learning.” His enthusiasm spills, “I believe that Christians particularly will enjoy studying the Talmud because ancient Judaism is the root that nourishes the branch.”

In reality, it is Jesus who is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last . . . the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. (See Revelation 22:12-16)  Our nourishment comes from Jesus Christ, who purchased us at great cost at the Cross.  I don’t see anything in the Scriptures about ancient Judaism holding such a lofty place as Jesus Christ.  For a study in the Talmudic view of Jesus Christ, click HERE.  Back to the review from Ed Nelson:

Through the book Young is careful to introduce the Torah-based wisdom of the Second Temple Era sages and post-temple era rabbis. “Like the rabbis,” he writes, “Jesus viewed his teachings on Torah as fulfilling the original purpose of the divine revelation from Mount Sinai.” Yet, he claims, “Jesus’ interpretation does not make Torah observance easier” but often “more stringent.” He explains, saying that “Jesus urges his followers to control their thought process as well as their actions.”

The above paragraph puts the emphasis on what we  have to do to observe Torah, in fact making the already impossible absolutely unattainable, as the emphasis is not now just on our actions in relation to Torah obedience, but also our thoughts in relation to Torah obedience.  God loves us far too much to assign us such a task.  An excellent article by a Jewish Christian regarding this concept can be found HERE.  New Covenant thinking according to Scripture is partially about how we become new creatures in Christ, going from spiritual death to spiritual life, which Jesus Christ accomplished at the Cross and with His Resurrection.  

Christ met ALL that the Law requires of us.  It is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us, renewing our minds and hearts to conform progressively in our thoughts and actions to the requirements of God and His righteousness.  This sanctification is evidenced by the demonstrable Fruits of the Spirit in our lives, not by how well we keep the Law.  Beware of any teaching which takes the focus off of Christ and what He did and puts the focus on you and what you have to do for God to be acceptable to Him.  More from Ed Nelson’s review:

Chapter 11 is the heart and soul of the book. In this section are annotated lists of names of sages and rabbisof the Tannaic and Amoraim periods from 20 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.. Because of their immersion in oral tradition, Young calls them “walking books” of commentary on the Torah. These rabbis, depicted in charts and lists, were major links in “the chain of Torah learning from one generation to the next.”

The Issue Measured Against Scripture

Understand that the above is an example of the theological workings within the Hebrew Roots Movement mindset.  There is no mention of the Church (Body of Christ) as depicted in the Epistles, no mention of the repentant, redeemed believer being a new creation in Christ having passed from spiritual death to spiritual life, no mention of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

Brad Young refers to the Talmud above.  What exactly is the Talmud?  Basically, it’s a compilation of Rabbinic commentary and opinion about the Tanakh (Old Testament Scriptures).  Rabbis, (Sages and Scholars – mentors in spiritual and philosophical topics who are renowned for profound wisdom) over time, have expanded upon and debated the Scriptures, adding to the mix a good portion of “Oral Tradition” as well as allowing the use of Kabbalah to creep into and influence the final outcome.  For a basic overview on the definition and structure of the Talmud, click HERE.  For a basic grasp on the different facets and sects of Judaism, click HERE.  For an enlightning website “What Jews Believe”, click HERE.

Do you begin to see a fatal disconnect in the HRM belief system here?

Here is “Joe” or “Josephine” Christian, drawn into the Hebrew Roots Movement, in part because they have a desire to reject anything pagan.  Over time, by studying HRM doctrine, they come to believe that they are commanded to hold to the practice of Torah observance.  In turn, to support HRM doctrine, they are led to the “wisdom and insight” of the Sages and Scholars who in turn have drawn from the well of Kabbalah, which is rooted in the Occult.  How can the Christian reconcile those sources and their practices with what Torah observance requires of them?  Torah categorically prohibits the people of God from participating in any form of divination, [the practice of attempting to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by occult or supernatural means] meaning all practices rooted in the Occult, which would obviously include Jewish Mystical practices such as Kabbalah and Gematria.

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.  Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.  You must be blameless before the LORD your God.  (from Dueteronomy 18:9-13) 

Warnings against such practices are contained in the New Testament as well:

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

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

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.  They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.  Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”  This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.  To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.  (from Titus 1:10-16)

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.  (from Revelation 22:12-16)

Is it not stunning that the Hebrew Roots Movement, in is its determination to avoid paganism, finds it acceptable to make use of practices with roots in the Occult to support their belief system? 

Kabbalah and Gematria Defined

I’ve gone back and forth on how much information I’m willing to include here regarding Kabbalah and Gematria (Hebrew numerology).  From the entry “Kabbalah” in an upcoming glossary here at JGIG:

Kabbalah (Kabalah, Caballa, Qaballah)Note to readers: It is my intent to NOT detail too much about the occultic aspects of the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Not wanting this site to be a potential gateway for exposing someone to facets of the occult, references to and descriptions of Kabbalah, etc. will be limited. 

Part of the reason for this is that *I* choose not to expose myself to the in-depthstudy of such things.  For me, this is discernment at a very basic and important real-life level of application.  There is no value in passing on information beyond something along the lines of “this doctrine/practice is rooted in Kabbalah/Gemetria” and leaving it at that.  Those practices are from the Pit, and while we need to recognize them when they cross our paths, a quick recognition and prompt rejection is what God calls us to. 

That said, basic definitions to facilitate that recognition will be provided here at JGIG, including Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Midrash, which examines the hermeneutical methods adopted by the HRM.

From Wikipedia (entire article is available HERE)“Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, lit. “receiving”) is a discipline and school of thought discussing the mystical aspect of Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional Rabbinic literature, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.[1] 

. . . According to the Zohar, generally considered the foremost kabbalistic text, Torah study uses four levels (PaRDeS) of interpretation (exegesis) of its text:[2]

  • Peshat (lit. “simple”)—the direct meaning.
  • Remez (lit. “hint[s]”)—the allegoric meaning (through allusion).
  • Derash (from Heb. darash: “inquire” or “seek”)—midrashic (Rabbinic) or comparative meaning.
  • Sod (lit. “secret” or “mystery”)—the inner meaning—a foundation of the kabbalah.

One Concept of Kabbalah

Kabbalah is considered, by its followers, as a necessary part of the study of Torah — the study of Torah (the Law of God) being an inherent duty of observant Jews.[3] Kabbalah teaches doctrines that are accepted by some Jews as the true meaning of Judaism while other Jews have rejected these doctrines as heretical and antithetical to Judaism.

The origins of the actual term Kabbalah are unknown and disputed to belong either to Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021 – 1058) or else to the 13th century CE Spanish Kabbalist Bahya ben Asher. While other terms have been used in many religious documents from the 2nd century CE up to the present day, the term Kabbalah has become the main descriptive of Jewish esoteric knowledge and practices. The Kabbalistic literature, which served as the basis for most of the development of Kabbalistic thought, divides between early works such as Heichalot and Sefer Yetzirah (believed to be dated 1st or 2nd Century CE) and later works dated to the 13th century CE, of which the main book is the Zohar representing the main source for the Contemplative Kabbalah (Kabbalah Iyunit).

According to Kabbalistic tradition, knowledge was transmitted orally by the Patriarchs, prophets, and sages (Hakhamim in Hebrew), eventually to be “interwoven” into Jewish religious writings and culture. According to this tradition, Kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel,[4] although there is little objective historical evidence to support this thesis.

From the same Wikipedia article regarding Gematria: 

. . . Among its many pre-occupations, Kabbalah teaches that every Hebrew letter, word, number, even the accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings. One such method is as follows:

As early as the 1st Century BCE Jews believed that the Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) contained encoded messages and hidden meanings.  Gematria is one method for discovering its hidden meanings. Each letter in Hebrew also represents a number; Hebrew, unlike many other languages, never developed a separate numerical alphabet. By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find a hidden meaning in each word. This method of interpretation was used extensively by various schools.

There is no one fixed way to “do” gematria. Some say there are up to 70 different methods. One simple procedure is as follows: each syllable and/or letter forming a word has a characteristic numeric value. The sum of these numeric tags is the word’s “key”, and that word may be replaced in the text by any other word having the same key. Through the application of many such procedures, alternative or hidden meanings of scripture may be derived. Similar procedures are used by Islamic mystics, as described by Idries Shah in his book, “The Sufis”.

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I found this portrayal of Kabbalah at My Jewish Learning.  An excerpt from “Kabbalah: Origins of a Sprirtual Adventure” :

Basically, kabbalists wanted to transform Judaism into a more profound inner experience; an experience, so they believed, that could not be attained through a rational and intellectual approach to religion. For them Judaism was a system of mystical symbols reflecting the mystery of God and the universe, and their aim was to discover keys to the understanding of this symbolism.

Let’s engage in a little experiment with the paragraph above, shall we?  Let’s substitute the term “Hebrew Roots Movement” for “Kabbalah”, “Christianity” for “Judaism”, apply HRM thinking to the mix, and see what we get:

Basically, the Hebrew Roots Movement wanted to transform Christianity into a more profound inner experience; an experience, so they believed, that could not be attained through a rational and intellectual approach to religion [echos of the “Greek thought vs. Hebraic thought” issue]For them, Christianity was a system of Hebraic symbols reflecting the mystery of God and His Torah, and their aim was to discover keys to the understanding of this symbolism.

Interesting how those paragraphs mesh together conceptually . . .

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First Fruits of Zion would be considered to be a “mainstream” Hebrew Roots Movement organization.  Notice below how they defend Orthodox Judaism and mysticism while trying to distance themselves from Kabbalah.  Keep in mind that Judaism does not in any way, shape, or form support Christianity, but rather vilifies the core beliefs of the Christian faith.  Following is part of this discussion regarding “Benefits of the Synagogue Liturgy” at First Fruits of Zion.  An FFOZ writer states:

“. . . Revelation [the book of] is filled with mystical symbols and teachings. The example cited above is an instance of gematria (numerology). Thus we cannot dismiss Jewish mysticism off hand without casting off our own Scriptures.

“I am concerned about the accusation expressed by many Christians that Orthodox Judaism is replete with Kabbalah, and this Kabbalah is occultic or satanic. To be honest, this sounds to me like a witch hunt or blood libel inspired by centuries of anti-Jewish sentiment. I do not by any means believe that devout Orthodox Judaism represents an occultic religion. I do not mean that all people who are critical of Jewish mysticism are anti-Semitic—it is just that there are anti-Semitic people out there that look for any excuse they can to villianize Jewish people, and it does not take much to trigger and evoke anti-Judaism that lies dormant in a significant segment of our society. It is something we must guard against.  [While I agree that Judaism may not be replete with Kabbalah, it is at the very least influenced by it.  And Kabbalah IS occultic.  And if it is not from God, it IS from Satan.  Bringing that to light is not Anti-Semitic, it’s discernment.]

“Kabbalah has many forms.  ‘Pop’ kabbalah, such as the type embraced by celebrities and the Kabbalah Centre is a joke, and it is pagan, and it is indeed occultic. Disciples should denounce and dismiss it. The problem with it is that it lacks Torah as a foundation.  [So, if “Pop” Kabbalah had its foundation in Torah, it would be okay??]

“Neither ‘pop kabbalah’ nor traditional forms of kabbalah will be present in our siddur for several reasons. Kabbalistic prayers and songs will not be included whatsoever. I do not recommend that people study Kabbalah or pray kabbalistic prayers. I myself do not study Kabbalah or pray kabbalistic prayers.  [By allowing Rabbinic literature to seep into their teachings, FFOZ, while not overtly recommending forms of Kabbalah, by default is allowing Kabbalah to shape their doctrine, based on what we know about Rabbinic literature.]

“Even healthy mysticism is a dangerous topic.  [“Healthy” mysticism?]  Until modern times, mystical study was traditionally restricted to advanced Torah scholars advanced in age and study. Without a solid Torah foundation, mysticism can easily [lead] to heresy and error. That is one important reason that FFOZ and I do not recommend that people study it.

“I myself continue to struggle to understand the peshat (plain meaning) of the Scriptures.  [Notice “peshat” is the first part of “PaRDeS” – see “Zohar” in above Wikipedia article]  I do not even feel qualified to delve into healthy forms of mystical study.  [Again, “healthy”?]  And if I ever get to the point where I feel the need to do so, there is enough mysticism in the books of John, Jude and Revelation to keep me busy for a lifetime.

“We as a movement need to stay away from mental exercises and occupy ourselves with texts that we can understand plainly and that have a practical impact on the way we live out Torah as disciples of Yeshua.

“Allow me to repeat: ‘Pop Kabbalah’ IS occultic, non-biblical, and must be condemned and avoided. As I have previously stated, neither I nor FFOZ endorse or encourage study of any kind of Kabbalah.”  [Yet FFOZ continues to rely on Rabbinic sources as foundational, which are, at the very least, influenced  by Kabbalah.  If  you do the following searches at FFOZ, as of this writing, these are the results:  “Rabbinic” = 53 results, “Sages” = 69 results, “Scholars” = 40 results, “Rabbinic literature” = 20 results.  Doublemindedness.]

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Those of you in the Hebrew Roots Movement recognize certain terms and concepts in the article excerpts above.  Do you see the disconnect in avoiding all things pagan while at the same time embracing the “wisdom and insight” of the Sages and Scholars knowing what you now know?  Does it unnerve you to know the true origins of such things?  Do you perhaps recognize a need to investigate further where the teachings and doctrines you have become familiar with and hold to really come from, and, more importantly, where those teachings and doctrines are taking you?

Jewish Sages and Scholars to “Restore” First Century Christianity?

As if engaging in or relying upon a methodology influenced by the Occult weren’t enough, the Hebrew Roots Movement has another major problem in attempting to interpret the Gospel and New Testament doctrine through the “wisdom and insight” of Jewish Sages and Scholars:

Jewish Sages and Scholars have absolutely no interest in establishing the Messiahship and Deity of Jesus Christ.  They are Rabbis.  Their religion is Judaism.  Judaism is focused on what man has to do to meet the requirements of a Holy God rather than on what God has done through the Messiah to meet His requirements of us through His work at the Cross.  They are still looking for a Messiah that has already come.  They do not practice Christianity.  They are not born again and they do not see the Scriptures through eyes that see and ears that hear enabled by the Holy Spirit.

That the Hebrew Roots Movement would rely on the “wisdom and insight” of Jewish Sages and Scholars to try to restore Christianity to its first century moorings is indeed puzzling.  The New Testament is full of accounts of dramatic changes in worship and the living out of one’s new life in Christ after the work of Jesus at the Cross.  The Church (Body of Christ) was established, basic structures of spiritual authority were framed, giftings of the Holy Spirit were poured out upon God’s people – Jew and Gentile alike, now one in Christ – for the furthering of God’s Kingdom.  It was evident that God was doing something quite different after the Cross in and through the lives of His people.

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So Where Does the Study of Numbers Fit in, Scripturally?

Numbers obviously have significance in the Scriptures.  There is a sense of great order and consistency in God’s Word, and some of that is brought about by God’s use of numbers.

From  “Running us in Circles – Why Gematria is occultic and unbiblical – The Inter-mixing of Occult and Christian Terminology and the resulting confusion” at XFOC :

When someone finds the word “Gematria” on the internet, and clicks on it or on the reference pages, are they likely to be led into the freeing truth of “Salvation by faith alone through Jesus Christ”, and how to learn to walk with Him ?

Or are they likely to be led to read books and sources about Gematria and numerology that are anti-Christian – whether by intent or default – because they are leading people AWAY from Jesus Christ, and into a spirituality that ultimately receives information from demonic sources ?

Philosophy that is not Christian – does not automatically have to lead someone towards something which is specifically demonic. But in the case of Gematria, most of the time, that will be the case – unfortunately.

. . . Then there are the issues that arise when God gives his own evaluation of certain numbers – such as 7 being the number of God, and 6 being the number of man.

Those who are Christians who study Biblical numerology often have the same goal:

1. to make sure that God receives credit for what He has done, and

2. to ensure that nothing would detract from the Glory of God, or the accuracy of his Word, the Bible.

Many studies of Biblical prophecy also involve the use of numbers, simply as part of the study.  So – to a certain extent – there is a system of numbers that would seem to apply to the study of the Bible, at least on some levels.

God is the God of Order, who created the universe. This would include mathematical laws and universal constants, so to find or apply some of those concepts to the Bible would not be a surprise, since God is consistent, and the physical laws of the universe He has made would be a demonstration of His glory as well.

The problem comes in when man tries to make something up which is not in the Bible, or when Satan decides to try to corrupt that system.  . . . One of the things that Satan specializes in is the ability to attempt to reverse, or invert – whatever God has established. Satan devises clever counterfeits.

For this page, Gematria is defined differently than “numerology”.  We define numerology as being itself “biblically neutral” – within the strictest confines of the narrow definition of the word itself.

[If] someone wishes to see if the Bible has certain mathematical patterns, and wants to know if that vindicates the Bible, we would only say: go for it. But the concern for us remains that attempts are being made to bypass the plain message of the Bible, and the words that we already understand in plain language.

. . . While Christians should study the Bible, they should stay away from sources that propose to acquaint them with Biblical systems– through anything other than Christian sources, and especially when the sources are from the Occult or the demonic side of spirituality. This is not to prevent anyone from learning, but it is to prevent us from going astray.

Knowledgeable Jewish sources – in some cases – should be given credit for a preferential understanding of 1) the Old Testament Mosaic law on the plain face of the Old Testament and 2) an understanding of the various feasts in the O.T.

Other than these specific areas, we would urge all to be very cautious and wise. There is a good deal of occultic material that is specifically Jewish, that dates back many hundreds of years. It is based on the premise that Jesus Christ is to be rejected as Messiah, and that God still communicates with His chosen people through Gematria, which is an exclusive means of salvation to them. This is a false teaching.

. . . We need to continue to examine the claims of the Kabbalah and any other text according to the Bible. Gematria . . . is something that falls under the category of what is occult and witchcraft, and is taught based on a system of numerology that is a counterfeit system. [Bolding mine.]

Though I may not agree with everything in the full article above (or the website from which it came), the insight offered there regarding the place of the study of numbers in Scripture within appropriate bounds is of value in helping to keep things in their proper perspective.

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Conclusions

The Body of Christ, by definition, should not be exclusionary within itself according to Scripture.  God does allow for differences in opinion on secondary disputable matters (Romans 14) and distinguishes between different parts of the Body that are necessary for the functioning of the Body (1 Corinthians 12-14).

However those that seek to be “set apart” within/from the Body of Christ based on “unique revelation” or “hidden truths” that have been “revealed to them” using questionable resources and/or methods should be met with extreme caution.  Resources and/or methods determined to be occultic in origin should be rejected outright.

Those of you who are curious about and are flirting with the Hebrew Roots Movement – be alert.  Not all is as it seems.  Ask the hard questions.  If you are steered anywhere other than toward the Exaltation of Jesus Christ and His completed work at the Cross, step away and take a serious, critical look at the HRM and how (and WHY) it differs from orthodox (small ‘o’) Christianity.  If you’re in the Hebrew Roots Movement (Messianic Christianity, Hebraic Roots, etc.) please consider taking a fresh look and prayerfully . . . and Scripturally . . . re-examine the things you’ve been taught by those in the HRM.

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word

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

An Incorrect Paradigm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More from “Restoration Scriptures” website:

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

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

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The Hebraic Roots Version Scriptures by James Scott Trimm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ancient Roots Translinear Bible by A. Frances Werner

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

From ARTB’s website:

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

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

“From the Author” on the ARTB website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A second reader sent the following inquiry: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Other articles of interest:

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

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The Hebrew Roots Movement: So What?

So what if Christians want to keep the Law?  What’s wrong with keeping the Sabbath and observing the Feasts?  Are those things wrong?  The dietary laws, purification rituals . . . after all, we are talking about the Law . . . God’s standard for righteousness here, not some weird pagan ritualistic stuff, right?

I’ve been thinking about this the past few days as I’ve been compiling an HRM glossary (coming soon) and going through (again) the Hebrew Roots Movement doctrine I’ve become familiar with in the past several months, and the question does periodically come to mind, “So what?”

Some of you may be thinking the same thing.  What is the big deal about those who want to keep the Law?  Simply celebrating the Sabbath and feasts, in my opinion, are fine.  There is much to be learned by doing such things.  It’s important to know, however, that that’s where the HRM gets its foot in the door of a lot of people’s hearts, because if you’re already doing part of the Law, shouldn’t you be doing it ALL?  In and of themselves, celebrating the Sabbath and the Feasts are not a bad thing.  But it is important to understand that they are not a required  thing.  Understanding the completed work of Jesus at the Cross and what the New Covenant is – it’s so important to understand the freedom that was purchased there at so great a cost.

There is this impression put forth in the HRM that the Hebraic model of worship and relationship with God is the be-all and end-all to religious expression.  And that it’s not just an expression, but that it is required expression – required of all believers.  That Judaism is the root of our Christian faith.  That Judaism was never intended by God to be done away with.  Folks, relationship between God and man PREDATES  Judaism.  Jesus – and God’s promises that would be fulfilled through Him – PREDATE  the Law!

I found a post regarding the HRM over at “Labarum”, a blog from a decidedly more liturgical point of view.  I’m not knocking that, by the way . . . the more I learn about the shenanigans the HRM “leaders” are pulling, the more I’m learning to appreciate liturgy and its original purpose in defining and defending the foundations of biblical truth and doctrine while holding fast to my evangelical moorings.  Here’s an excerpt from the Labarum post entitled, “Root of the Problem”:

The movement [Hebrew Roots Movement] overall also suffers from a complete misunderstanding of both God’s motivation in choosing Abraham and his sovereignty in choosing the time when the Eternal Word would become incarnate. The choosing of the Jews had far less to do with God’s preference for Hebrew as it did with His rewarding the faith of Abraham.

It also never occurs to these folks that God in His sovereign will chose a time when the Mediterranean world was under the rule of one state (the Roman Empire) whose engineering feats had made quick travel over long distances possible through its vast network of roads, the highly expressive Greek language was the common tongue for learning, and Hellenistic culture had greatly influenced much of the known world since Alexander the Great.

The Greek language is highly suited for philosophical endeavors whereas Biblical Hebrew was relatively simple by comparison. I do not believe it was a coincidence that God chose a time when the infrastructure, language, and culture of an empire allowed an easy expansion of the faith, the widespread use of a language that allowed its forceful defense, and a rich culture that allowed it to be placed in the context of the fulfillment of all that is good within mankind.

Restricting the faith to some alleged “Hebrew Roots” that define a faith other than what ever existed removes two of the great strengths of Christianity – its universality and its historicity. However sincere its proponents may be, they are assuming Christ has never been able to fully realize His purpose for the Church until they came along. And, to borrow a term from the Jews, that’s chutzpah!  [Bolding mine.]

As Christians, we need to understand that those who claim to keep the Law perpetuate practices that Jesus ended when He completed His work at the Cross.  For example, Jesus took over and performed with finality the duties of Priest and sacrifice, not just the covering of sins, (as did animal sacrifices) but the erasing  of our sins, putting us in a position of justification before God.    

Hebrews 10:11-14
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are “the holy ones.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.

Hebrews 10:26-29
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Those in the HRM will argue that we need to keep the whole Law (barring sacrifices, though some think that should be brought back as well), because if we love God and want to honor Him we will keep His commandments.  Even as redeemed, Holy Spirit filled Christians we cannot keep the Law.  Most use Hebrews 10:26-27 as a “you can lose your salvation if you keep on sinning” passage.  Law Keepers use it as a “See, if you put yourselves under the Law and obey its edicts, you will not be in danger of losing your salvation.”  What about verses 28 and 29, though?  Let’s look at it again:  

Hebrews 10:28-29
Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” 

Could this be speaking to the believer who goes back to the Law?  Could this passage be intended for the Torah observant Christian?  Is the Law keeping believer treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him and are they insulting the Spirit of Grace?

If we could keep the Law, (which we can’t) scripture tells us how God sees the situation of our attempts at Law keeping in Romans chapters 3 and 4.  From Romans 3:21-31:

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

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

Now before any Law Keepers say, “See!  We aren’t supposed to nullify the law!  We’re supposed to uphold it!”, let’s look at Romans 4:13-25:

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.  For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.  As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’  He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.  This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’  The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. 

Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, and that Sara’s womb was also dead.  God asked Abraham to believe the impossible.   It was crystal clear to Abraham that in his present state, there was nothing that he could do.  He was inherently unable to carry out what God had mandated.  God said, “I have made [past tense] you a father of many nations”.  Abraham believed that God would do what He said He would do – that God had the power to do what He said He would do, and it was that faith that was credited to him as righteousness.  It wasn’t anything that Abraham did, it was what God did.  Abraham was “fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised“.

God asks us to believe something just as unlikely as Abraham was asked to believe as we look at our old, dead selves.  We are asked to believe that God has the power to do what he has promised – that we believe that it is what He does that puts us in a position of fellowship with Him, not anything of ourselves.  God mandates that to be acceptable before Him we must be holy.  The Law is that standard against which we must be measured – it is not nullified – it is upheld!  The fact remains, however, that we are inherently unable to keep the Law, that standard of holiness. 

Jesus met that standard on our behalf!  Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification in the midst of our old, dead inability to meet that standard.  When God looks at the repentant believer, He sees holiness because of the justification that HE brought forth for us through the work of Jesus.  Though the Law is the standard by which all the measuring is done, it is not the means by which justification comes.  Justification comes through the amazing grace and mercy and work of God to meet the standard of the Law on our behalf.

So what about keeping the Law as believers?  Is it not really a question of sanctification for the Law keeping believer?  Isn’t that the essence of the question I posed above?  I won’t pretend to have this all ironed out and nailed down perfectly.  And I honestly can see both sides of the issue when it comes to simple Law keeping, barring the heretical doctrines prevalent in the Hebrew Roots Movement today.

But I always have to come back to the Cross.  

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

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

What does that mean?  It means that the Holy Spirit changes our nature – we belong to Him – we were purchased with a price – and that the Law keeping that takes place in the life of a believer is a natural fruit-bearing process as we grow in Christ, not of keeping this festival and that law.  The fruits that we see in the Church were not designed to be the keeping of the Law . . . those fruits are designed to be seen as God remakes us from the inside out through the working of His Holy Spirit!  (Romans 15:14-19, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 

I think about the High Priest, the only one who was permitted to go to meet God on behalf of the people in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle/Temple.  He had to go through much purification before entering that Holiest place.  And even then, there was no guarantee that he would survive the encounter.  That’s the Law, folks.  Through Christ, however, and His work at the Cross, the Most Holy Place was made available to all, and all have the right to enter who are cleansed (not merely covered) by the Blood of the Lamb.

It is obvious that God DID do away with some very specific, pivotal points in the Law immediately  at the sacrifice of Himself at the Cross.  More of the Law passed away as time went on.  Why was the temple not rebuilt after AD 70?  If the early Church felt it so important to the worship of God to maintain the Hebrew point of view, why didn’t they rebuild it?  Where are the stories of Christians being thrown to the lions because they were intent on rebuilding the Temple?

Could it be that the early Church recognized that the new Temple was the Church, the Body of Christ, not built with blocks of stone, but with living stones, those being the redeemed people of God, with their Cornerstone being Jesus Christ Himself?  Indeed, is this not what Paul was telling the Church in Ephesians 2:11-22?

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 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, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

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

If we are not obligated to keep the Law, yet some in the Church are convinced that we are, what a cunningly deceptive way for the Enemy to enslave and immobilize portions of the Church.  The idea that the Holy Spirit enables us to keep Torah seems good and right, but the goals of Christ for the Church are so much loftier than for Her to keep Torah!  Christianity goes beyond the scope of Law keeping (which focuses on what we do to please God) and makes us dependent on the Holy Spirit for the renewing of our minds and hearts and actions (which focuses on what He does in/through us – Romans 12:1-2, 1 John 1:9, Philippians 3:1-11)!  While obedience is required in either scenario, which one do you think results in the writing of the Law on the heart versus the Law which has already been written on stone?  Who gets the glory in each scenario?

Have you ever had someone (an unbeliever) come up to you (a believer) and say, “What is it with you, anyway?!  Why are you so peaceful all the time?”  I have, and it wasn’t because I was wearing tzit tzit or a head covering or turning down unclean foods or preparing for Shabbat.  It was because the Holy Spirit is ALIVE in me, and He shows!  It is nothing of myself, but the Holy Spirit that is within me.  He gets the glory.

What do I do?  I submit to Him, I stay in His Word, I pray as the Spirit leads.  I love God and I love others as I love myself.  And when someone does come up to me and asks me “what’s so different about me?” — out comes the Gospel.  How God made a way from death to life, how He loved us so much He sent His Son Jesus, God incarnate, to take the penalty of our inability to keep the Law, and how if we make Him Lord of our lives HE CHANGES US! 

The “Go out into all the world and make disciples” command becomes a natural outpouring in the life of the believer.  For some believers, that will mean that they will be called to a literal foreign mission field, ministering to people groups in the far corners of the globe.  For others, they will have Divine appointments with those they come in contact with in their daily lives.  And the Temple of the Lord under the New Covenant is built – living stone by living stone.

Conclusion

So what?  What is the big deal about Law keeping?  If keeping the Sabbath is something you feel God has asked you to do out of obedience to Him, do it.  To make it Law for everyone, however, is not supported by the New Covenant Scriptures.  We have a Sabbath rest in Jesus.  If you want to celebrate Feasts to gain a deeper understanding of the pictures they paint of God’s plan of redemption and restoration, I think that’s fine.  To do so feeling commanded by Scripture, however, is not supported by New Covenant Scriptures.  The Law and it’s Feasts and Holy days were a shadow of things to come.  We live in the reality that is Christ!  (Colossians 2:17)

If you find yourself leaving the reality that is Christ and what He completed at the Cross, then look out.  Look out for those who will say Torah observance is mandatory for every Christian.  Look out for those who will lead you through scriptural mazes to bring you to “hidden truth” or “lost doctrine”.  Beware of false teachers and prophets that will have your head so wrapped up in “new knowledge” derived from questionable sources and practices that it will be hard to ever see true Grace and Mercy again!

For me the “So what?” boils down to how God views Law keeping through the Blood sacrifice that He personally provided for us.  The Grace extended, the suffering endured, the Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension . . . those things were accomplished to give us NEW life.  The Law was given as instructions to lawless people – people bound by sin.  To behave and practice as if we were still bound by our sin when He has removed our sin as far as the east is from the west – well, are we then trampling the Son of God underfoot?  Are we treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified us?  Are we insulting the Spirit of grace?

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For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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Other articles of interest:

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If you or someone you know is in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect and are questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the 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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About Law Keepers – An Overview

Edited to add, 18Oct 2011:  This Overview was written relatively early in my experience with the beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic/Netzarim movements.  I have added links at the end of this post that will help give you a more well-rounded view of the different facets in the Law ‘keeping’ community.  To borrow from a Forest 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 HR/M/N 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.

Every Blessing,
-JGIG
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Following is an overview of the Hebrew Roots Movement from a New Covenant perspective.  The Hebrew Roots Movement is the present-day version of “Law Keepers” that Paul corrected in several letters to Christians in the fledgling Church under his apostolic care.

Background 

If you’ve read parts 1-5 of the “Law Keepers” posts, (see the Series Page to link to those posts) you have a good idea about some of the basic concerns that came to my mind regarding the concept of mandatory Torah observance for Christians.

In those posts, I give account of my experience with an online Christian mom’s forum (which has been a tremendous blessing in many ways) that I frequent where there has been a definite, discernible trend toward “Law Keeping”, i.e. believers that are Torah observant.  Their belief system encompasses observance of the Sabbath, keeping the biblically mandated feasts, and also keeping all of the dietary laws and even adhering to parts of the Law regarding things like when a woman is considered a “Niddah” .

Discussion on that forum about the Law bubbles up occasionally and over the years has been a progression of “Law vs. Grace” to debates about “what is legalism” to more recently, the subtleties of “keeping God’s commandments because we love Him and want to please Him” and “this is how Jesus lived and worshipped” or “this is how the first century Church actually did things” to those promoting the “keeping of the Instructions”.  All of that was eventually revealed to mean that some Christians feel commanded to be, and are striving to be, Torah compliant.

Posts on the mom’s forum from those who are Torah observant have always seemed a little “off” to me, doctrinally, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering me.  After all, how can you look at “if you really want to please God” and “if you really love God” and “this is how Jesus worshipped and we’re just doing what Jesus did” and “we are just following the commands of Jesus” as being a bad thing . . .

Still, I saw that what Christ did at the Cross was being minimized.  It was like they came to the Cross, got “saved”, and then turned around and went back to the Law.  For me, I went to the Cross, made Jesus Lord of my life and became a follower of Christ.  Instead of turning backwards, I followed Christ beyond the Cross, as a part of the Body of Christ!

There wasn’t really a “light bulb” moment for me when I realized that there was indeed false doctrine being posted at the mom’s forum.  It took nearly three years for me to be able to pinpoint some specific things that led me to find the “sources” of the doctrine I had seen posted.  However, some key elements did come together for me when one mom in particular, whose family keeps the Law, responded to my “The Law – What About the Blood?!” post.  At that point I had something I could identify doctrinally, and could investigate further.

Being a Grace oriented Christian, I come from the perspective of the completed work of Christ at the Cross.  We, as believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, ARE NOT under the Old Covenant, but under the New Covenant.

It is distinctly clear to me from scripture that Jesus did not shed His Blood and give us new life to endorse a mere continuation of Judaism.  He came to make the spiritually dead spiritually alive.  He came, died, and rose from the dead to restore relationship with God to all tribes and tongues and nations, establishing the Church (Body of Christ), the Body of which all who truly believe the Gospel belong.

One more thing, and this is really important:  My purpose with writing this overview is not to put down those who have chosen to keep Torah.  Most who have chosen to do so have sincere hearts and truly do want to please God because they love Him.  They have received false teaching that is very persuasive and deceptive – even seductive, because it is labeled as “hidden”, “forgotten”, or “previously mis-translated” truth.  They have been subjected to a progressive chipping away at the accuracy of the canon of scripture and told that much of what they believe in Christianity has pagan roots.  “Rabbis” in this Torah for Christians movement systematically purpose to establish that Christianity today has its roots in the Catholic church, not the early Church, the Body of Christ.  They are told that the “church fathers” (aka the Catholic church) have lied to the Body of Christ for centuries and that now, finally, the truth of the roots of our faith are available to them!

From what I’ve observed thus far, there are the “mainstream” Law Keepers, (keep the Sabbath and observe the Feasts) the “legalists”, (they are very serious about keeping as much of Torah as they possibly can, even going to Jerusalem at the appointed times) and the “fringe” Law Keepers (who are also very serious about keeping Torah, promoting a “Yahshua Messiah as Torah incarnate” concept, possibly engaging in more primitive practices such as the slaughtering of a goat for the Passover meal and using its blood for the painting of their doorposts and/or practicing polygamy).

As with any false belief system, the first objective is to cast doubt on what really is truth, then replace that truth with the “truth” of the new belief system.  Many precious souls have been led astray, while others have been willingly deceived by what their itching ears want to hear.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn  aside to myths.  (2Timothy 4:3-4) 

Objective

My intent is not to pile a bunch of information on you, rather this is an overview to hit some of the high points, some “red flag” raisers, that I’ve learned about where Christians who are Torah observant  are coming from.  In the past several months, I’ve done some in-depth research about the doctrine I’ve seen posted on that mom’s forum as well as additional doctrine I’ve come across online.

The movement that teaches Law keeping to Christians is very seductive, persuasive, and wrong.  Much of what they say seems to make sense, but if you pay careful attention, when you look for the Gospel in what they teach, it isn’t there.  It’s always “Jesus plus something“, the Gospel is never permitted to stand on its own.  And there are some corners of this movement where I’ve poked around and couldn’t find any hint of the Gospel at all!

Due to the seductive and persuasive nature of Law keeping doctrine, if you haven’t already, please read “A Little Perspective Regarding Future ‘Law Keepers’ Posts”.

The following information is just for you to tuck under your hat in the event that you cross paths with a “Law Keeper” or come across websites proselytizing Torah observance for Christians.  It’s been my experience that Law keepers will throw lots of information at you, so it’s good to have a few things in mind as they volley stuff your way . . .

The Overview

1) Law Keepers minimize what Jesus did at the Cross.  Many (not all) Law Keepers believe that Jesus died for past sins, not that there is grace for all sin.  That’s one reason it’s so important for them to follow “the instructions” about how to live.  They fall into the trap of the externals, when Jesus constantly pointed to and stressed the internals.

The Law in effect becomes an idol to them.

Law Keepers rely on the Law for sanctification, having it take the place of the Holy Spirit, Who enables believers to become more and more a reflection of Jesus, being part of the living Body of Christ.  Law Keepers see the Holy Spirit as the One Who enables the believer to keep Torah, not as the One Who progressively changes (sanctifies) the believer from the inside out (1 Corinthians 1:21 Corinthians 6:111 Thessalonians 5:19-24, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17Hebrews 10:291 Peter 1:2).

Law Keepers consistently say, “This is how Y’shua worshipped!”, yet they dismiss the radical change in worship and practice in the New Testament Church (Body of Christ) after Jesus accomplished what He came to do!  They do not recognize the Cross as being a definite dividing line in history, delineating the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  

It is also important to note that Law Keepers rarely refer to the Epistles, unless they’re trying to discredit them or trying to convince you that they say something that they just don’t, in context, and in view of the Cross, say.  Isn’t it interesting that the Epistles are where guidance, instruction, and correction of the fledgling Church occur, as well as the establishing of sound doctrine and warnings against false doctrine?  Others in the Law keeping community feel it necessary to throw Paul (the writer of the bulk of the Epistles) under the bus altogether, saying that it was he who established “christianity” (small “c”), not Jesus.

2) A subtle, though sometimes outright denial of the Trinity.  There are great ponderings among Law Keepers about how paganism has permeated Christianity throughout history.  Some of it is true – some pagan customs have influenced Christian traditions.  That topic will be addressed in a future post.  In the realm of the existence/non-existence of the Trinity, however, Law Keepers take it a bit far.

Pagan sun worship apparently has its gods in sets of three, and Law Keepers extrapolate from there that the Catholic church applied that pagan concept of God to their doctrine and came up with the Trinity.  From the Law Keeper’s view, over the centuries “church tradition” has perpetuated the concept of the Trinity.  But thanks to the “new information” uncovered by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, we can now be aware of our error.  How this very serious error has escaped the Church (Body of Christ) for nearly 2000 years is truly amazing!

Actually, Scripture, not the Catholic church, clearly confirms the concept of a Triune God.  For example, the doctrine of a Triune God – one God in Three Persons, is a clear concept in the Word.  (Matthew 3:15-17 Triune God present at the baptism of Jesus;  Acts 2:32-33 all 3 persons of God simultaneously present, then the Holy Spirit poured out on the believers at Pentecost; Genesis 1:26-27Genesis 3:22 not explicitly triune references, as in the NT, but clearly plural descriptions of the one true God, to give a few examples.)

And if you are willing to throw out the concept of the Trinity, Who loses their deity?  God the Father?  Jesus the Son?  The Holy Spirit?  Let’s think about that for a minute:

-If it is Christ who loses His Deity, then the work of the Cross cannot be, as the blood shed there had to be sinless, and if Jesus was not God, then He could not be without sin, and the cross counts for nothing.  It would also mean that if Jesus was not without sin, He could not “do” the Law, making His claim to be God, His example to us,  AND  His commandments to us a big fat lie.

-If it is the Holy Spirit who loses His Deity, then the believer cannot obey the whole Law, as it is the Holy Spirit Who enables the believer to carry out the edicts of the Law (according to HRM doctrine).

-If it is God Who loses His Deity, then everything for everybody falls apart and nothing matters anyway!

This presents quite a dilemma for those adhering to any “Law for Christians” doctrine who also deny the Trinity.  In a discussion with a Torah observant Christian, I asked if it had ever occurred to them that “if, in Babylonian sun worship, gods always come in sets of three, that it may mean that the sun worshippers were counterfeiting the three Persons of God and not that the Church was copying the pagans?  That’s what the Enemy does – he takes that which IS and perverts it!”

From the link above, regarding pagan god “trinities” at “Let Us Reason”:

“Where did the pagans get a concept of three ? Why not two or four ? Where did they get the idea of a God in heaven anyway? What about their belief in a virgin and a son, where did that originate from ? Rom.1:20-25 tells us that man from the beginning knew God.”… ‘and their foolish hearts were darkened” vs.25 “they exchanged the truth for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator.” When mankind fell into darkness of sin, they still retained some elements of the truth but distorted its meaning and it became lost.”  (Emphasis mine.)

3) Some Law Keepers deny the deity of Jesus.  Some are quite forthcoming with that belief.  While others say  they believe in the deity of Christ (Yahshua), when you read through their teachings, you find that their writings do not support that belief.  There are still others in the Law keeping movement who do believe that Jesus is God, yet when you take their doctrine to its eventual end, they remove the power of God from the Messiah.  In their belief system what Jesus did is not enough – it is not complete.  They in effect remove the Godly characteristic of omnipotence from Messiah, since their belief system is a “Jesus + Law” equation.

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

Just a very few of the variations I’ve seen of the “Sacred Names” are YHWH, YHVH, YaHWeH, Yahweh, Jehovah, Yahuweh, Yahuah, Yah (understood to be sort of an affectionate shortening of the other Yah-whatevers) and G-d . . . those are for God.  For Jesus, a few variations I’ve seen are Yeshua, Y’shua, Yahshua, Yahushua, Yahoshua . . . so if getting the names right is so important, which ones are they?!  I’ll be exploring this concept further in a future post, along with providing links explaining the movement in detail.  (Also see below about the issue of language in Acts 2.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) Watch for a doctrine that teaches that if you don’t observe the Sabbath, you are taking on the Mark of the Beast.  No, seriously.  I know of at least one “Law Keeper” who has written this doctrine to someone who indicated an interest in learning more about observing Old Testament Feasts and about the concept of being Torah observant.  This comes from early Seventh Day Adventist doctrine, and has influenced other Law keeping sects, as well.  As you’ll see in future posts, there are streams of thought from many different sources in the HRM, including the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of God (of which there are numerous strains), The Way InternationalThe World Wide Church of God (Armstrongism), British IsraelismJudaismJewish sages and their writings, and Kabbalah.

7) Watch for language about information that has been hidden, the rest of the gospel, or that which has been erased.  It’s the perfect set up for the same thing that cults do:  convince you that what you know cannot possibly be true, or is incomplete, then come in with “fresh revelation” based on previously “hidden” information.  The Hebrew Roots Movement is absolutely saturated with the revealing of so-called “hidden” or “forgotten” or “erased” “truths”.

8)  Some Law Keepers consider themselves to be actual  Israel, part of the “Lost Ten Tribes”, which they also refer to as the “Diaspora”, and label themselves “Ephraim”.  The Diaspora, or dispersing of Israel, is a real thing, but some who keep the Law have taken a real thing and added to or blatently twisted it.  Many Law Keepers believe one of two things: Either they believe that they are IN REALITY part of the Lost Tribes of Israel (Ephraim) and the Holy Spirit is “calling” them back to their “roots”, or they believe that since they are “grafted into Israel”, they actually become Israel.  Some (self-proclaimed Ephraimites) have actually petitioned the Israeli government for citizenship (Aliyah).  Not being able to provide appropriate documentation of their “roots”, their applications are summarily denied.

A fundamental misunderstanding of what Christ did at the Cross and of the New Covenant leads to much error!  Gentiles don’t become Jews when they become followers of Christ.  Likewise, Jews, when they choose to become followers of Christ, don’t become Gentiles!  We, in Christ, become one new man!  (See Ephesians 2 HERE.)  And our “roots” aren’t Hebrew, our Root goes back much further than that!  Check this out . . .

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”  (Revelation 22:13-16)

9) The Homeschooling Connection  There is a prominent homeschool resource company called Heart of Wisdom Publishing.  This is an organization that actively promotes Law keeping from its basic educational philosophy to the materials that it offers.  One resource, in particular, is a “textbook” called “A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays”.   One mom told me that in the homeschool support group she belongs to, her family is the only family not keeping Torah.  The common denominator of those families who are keeping Torah?  A study of “A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays”.  The families that completed the study felt commanded  to keep Torah by the time they were done. 

To be clear, the HOW curriculum is subtle in it’s Law stance.  HOW presents their book on Biblical Holidays as a “textbook” for learning about the OT holidays, with projects, crafts, recipes, games, and songs for celebrating each holiday(sounds like fun, doesn’t it?).  But if families start keeping Torah because they feel commanded to after completing the study . . . well there you have it.  It’s at that point where it goes from being curriculum to being dogma. 

There are some other providers of homeschooling curriculum out there that promote Law keeping, but Heart of Wisdom Publishing seems to be the biggest.  Heart of Wisdom also has a website titled “Biblical Holidays”, a Hebrew Roots Movement site through and through.

Homeschooling families are independently-minded and open to “out of the box” and “counter-culture” thinking.  THAT IS NOT A BAD THING.  Without discernment, however, homeschooling families can fall prey to false doctrine in clever packaging.

 

10) Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name Movement “Buy” Products  Let’s take a dip in the pool of cynicism for a moment, shall we?  While the great majority of those in the HRM and SNM do what they do with honorable intentions, there are those in the “leadership” who have countless wares, books, and videos available for purchase. 

For instance, to truly understand the Word of God, you’re going to need a new Hebrew Roots version of the Bible, right?  Perhaps also some commentaries from a Hebrew Roots perspective?

To abide by the commandment in Exodus 20:7, you’re going to need to dump all your old music that contains the names of “Jesus”, “God”, or “Lord” . . . tapes, CDs, sheet music, hymnals . . . it’s all got to go!  Don’t worry, though, your buddies online with the HRMwill fix you up with new music, with the right names, and the right doctrine!

Of course, you’re also going to need to correct your view of history – of the Church in particular.  You’re also going to need to brush up on all that is pagan, since so much in Christendom has been contaminated and corrupted by pagan practices and symbolism.  You’ll be sure to have your own copies of “Fossilized Customs” by Lew White, “The Two Babylons” by A. Hislop, and “Too Long in the Sun” by Richard Rives, to mention just three.  Heck, buy a case of each, so you can pass them out to your friends!

Then there’s all that new doctrine you have to learn . . . sorting out all the Two house, One Stick, House of Ephraim, House of Joseph, Wife of God, Bride of Christ, etc. etc. etc. theology . . . gotta have resources for learning all of that, right?  And don’t forget about the Law, itself!  How to keep it, the dietary restrictions and stuff like that . . . there must be a few books out there about how to actually keep  the Law!

Don’t forget your tzit tzit fringes, (can get expensive at $10-20 a pop if you have a big family – are you allowed to make your own?) prayer shawls, a shofar, head coverings . . . there’s lots of stuff to buy to get you and your household into Torah compliance!

Conclusion

Can you almost hear Paul, perhaps with his hands on either side of his head, while shaking it slightly, saying to the Galatians . . .

“You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing?  Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”  (Galatians 3:1-5)

I know this has been long, and if you’ve stuck with me this far, you either know me =o), have a family member(s) involved with the Hebrew Roots Movement, are interested in the HRM, or have come across the HRM in some form and have been unsure what to make of it.  My prayer is that this information will provide  insight for prayer to those with family members in the HRM, discernment for those interested in the HRM, and tangible “jumping off” points for further research by those who have come across the HRM, think it’s a little “off” and feel like they should know more.  

May God guard your hearts and minds and grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider these things.

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For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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Other articles of interest:

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

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A Little Perspective Regarding Future “Law Keepers” Posts

Before I post the next installment in the “Law Keepers” series, I would like to do a little housekeeping, so to speak.  As some of you have already figured out, I’m not a theologian =o).  I’m just a simple heart living a simple faith, just like under the title of my blog says.  That said, I believe that “Joe”, or in my case, “Josephine” Christian is able to determine, with the Holy Spirit’s leading and careful study of the Scriptures, whether or not a doctrine, teaching, theology, belief system, etc. which crosses their spiritual path is sound or not.  Not only do I believe that we are able to discern such things, I believe we are CALLED  to do so!

2 Timothy 2:15
My son, preserve sound judgement and discernment, do not let them out of your sight;  they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble;  when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  (Proverbs 3:21-24)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 

Back to the part about me not being a theologian.  I do not know Hebrew or Greek.  I have not read the “great theologians”.  I do, however, have a basic-to-good working knowledge of the major streams of thought in Christendom, including those streams that are considered “Christian Cults” as well as other religions and philosophies.  I’m not afraid to ask questions, even if they seem dumb.  Though I may not know everything about Scripture, history, religions and philosophies, I do have access to (and so do you if you’re reading this!) lots of tools and resources for clarification regarding issues of language or perspective by those who do know a lot more than I do.  On the most basic level, I believe that when a belief system diverts away from or diminishes the Gospel and/or the revealed character of God, it is suspect, and should either be rejected outright or investigated further.  In the “Regarding What I Believe” section of my Statement of Faith I relay what I mean by that in a bit more detail.

The Bible is the plumb line.  I don’t presume to have every interpretation perfectly correct.  I do sincerely believe, however, that God has equipped believers – by His Word and by His Holy Spirit – to discern truth from error.  You can read posts on discernment here at JGIG on the Series page to get an idea how I go about evaluating any “new thing” that comes across my path.

I say all that to say this:  The balance of the posts here at JGIG regarding Law Keepers will be a compilation of observations I have made, along with resources I have come across regarding Law keeping perspectives.  I’ll be encouraging you to listen to/read teaching from a New Covenant perspective on occasion.  There are many facets to the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name movements.  I am under no illusion that I will be able to “lay it all out” in a totally comprehensive way for you.  There are some things in the Hebrew Roots Movement that I just “don’t get”, but have read enough to know that they’re “off”, doctrinally, and have chosen to not study those facets any further.  I will hit the high points, however, and will try to give you resources for further study.

I am firmly in the “New Covenant” camp.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  You can go to the Series page here at JGIG to read “Law Keepers” parts 1-5 of my journey into the land of the Law keepers posted thus far.  I will say that as I was in the thick of the research of the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Names movements, I felt at times as though I was in a swift-running river, and had to hold fast to the Rock of the Gospel and the completed work of Christ at the Cross to avoid being swept into the stream.  I exhort you, the reader, that if you do choose to investigate these movements in any depth, to do so prayerfully and purposefully anchor yourself firmly in the Word and the completed work that Christ did at the Cross as you go.  These movements are very seductive in their appeal and Bible-believing Christians have been led astray by their false doctrines.  I can’t stress enough how persuasive these movements can be. 

Studying these things can be taxing – both spiritually and emotionally.  People who have chosen to put themselves under Torah work really hard at it and work really hard at justifying why they do what they do.  It grieves my heart to see them trading in their freedom in Christ for a life of Law keeping.  I’m not saying that the Law is bad . . . it is God’s standard.  But we can never measure up to that standard . . . hence God’s provision of Redemption and restored life through Jesus.  You will find yourself having to staunchly guard your heart and mind, and for a while, everything you see and hear will be through the filter of the Law.  If you do choose to study these things in depth, rest assured that if you are holding to the Gospel (Good News!), you will come through with a much deeper understanding and an incredible appreciation for what God has done and Who He is . . . in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  There is much joy there!

After posting an overview about Law Keepers, (which will list a few observations I’ve made regarding some basic beliefs as well as a bit of information I’ve gleaned from research regarding the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Names movements) I’m thinking a “glossary” post may be in order.  One of the things that is really important to be aware of regarding these and other heretical movements is that they engage in the re-definition of terms.  Once that is accomplished, those re-defined terms become fields in which seeds of questionable doctrine can be cultivated.

My prayer is that those who have come in contact with or have family members who have been exposed to these false teachings will have a better understanding about where these teachings are coming from, their basic belief system/structure, and resources to which they can go where they can learn more.  Most of all, I pray that “Joe” and “Josephine” Christian will be encouraged in the Gospel as God has provided it according to His Word, and that they will be able to recognize false teachings whenever and wherever they encounter them.

For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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Other articles of interest:

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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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Law Keepers – Part 5 – What Got Me Asking Questions

As you might imagine, there was a bit of a dust-up on the mom’s forum regarding Grace and the Law.  I wish I could share posts from both the “Law moms” and the “Grace moms”, but I can’t, or I’d be violating the copyright rules of the forum.  I’ll have to settle for sharing one mom’s main points here, and my responses to and questions about those points.  I will do my best to be faithful to her points without being able to directly quote her.

This one mom in particular is one that has been progressively more vocal about Law-keeping on the mom’s forum and has stated that Torah observance is mandatory for all Christians.  I’ll call her “Rose” and paraphrase her points for the purposes of this post, as much of the post below was a “conversation” between us as we discussed the issue of Torah observance for Christians.

I want to be clear about one thing:  I really like “Rose”.  “Rose” and her family have been in my home, we have met at one homeschooling field trip, and I’ve conversed with her on the phone a number of times.  I find “Rose” and her family to be very pleasant people.  I think “Rose” is an intelligent woman and I really enjoy her wit and sense of humor.  Another really important point about “Rose” and her family:  They are not messing around when it comes to being Torah observant.  They are going about their Torah observance with a lot more commitment and integrity than many Christians go about their faith.  This post is not meant to slam “Rose” for what she believes.  My intent in posting this is to point out what I believe to be error in how Law Keepers interpret Scripture in relation to the Law.

“Rose’s” portion of the conversation (paraphrased) will be in green below, my response as it was seen on the mom’s forum will be in blue.

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Hello ladies and Rose, whom I also consider friend,

To you and the other families who are Torah observant:  Let me be clear. Though my family and I find no reason to be Torah observant, and indeed find [Scriptural] reasons to not be Torah observant, it is absolutely your decision what you do in your family.  I feel compelled to write my views on the subject here just as you do.  One mom wrote that she’s tired of feeling like she has to defend herself for doing what they as a family feel God has led them to do in observing Torah. 

On the flip side, I feel like I’ve had to defend the reasons why we do not observe Torah.  The inference is that those of us that are not Torah observant love God less because we do not observe the Law.  Do we obey His commandments because we love Him?  You bet.  We just don’t follow the set of laws/rules that God gave to Israel, God’s chosen people.  Are we grafted into Israel when we believe on Jesus Christ?  Yes.  We share the same roots and receive life from the same source, but as Gentiles, we are different, and God made it clear that we were not required to abide by the Law.  Jesus even summed up the Law into two requirements – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourselves.  It’s funny, ’cause I’ve read mom’s here who have posted about how if you observe the Law, your doing those two things anyway.  Kind of makes me wonder why some Torah observers try so hard to convince us “un-observers”, who abide by the commands of Jesus, to observe when in the end we’re both honoring God in the ways we feel He has asked us to!

That said, I feel compelled to respond to my friend Rose’s post.

Wow.  Rose gave me a lot for me to respond to and some important questions for me to ask.  I’ll take her points bit by bit. 

Rose wrote [from here on I’ll not quote “Rose”, but distill the general ideas of what she was saying] that since the shed blood of Jesus and grace is preached in most churches we need not to speak much of that, as most Christians understand that.

I must strongly disagree!  From the time that Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, everything God did pointed to Grace and the Shed Blood of Christ!  These things are the ONLY things that bring mankind back into right relationship and fellowship with God and are absolutely foundational to the Gospel.

Rose continued that there was, however, more to the story, a rest of the gospel, things that had been erased, hidden, shunned, and despised.

WHAT rest of the story, WHAT rest of the Gospel, WHO erased it, hid it, etc.?  WHERE does this teaching come from?

As for Rose’s response to my paragraph on indisputable core issues, [From “The Law – What About the Blood?!” which you can read here] one of which is the existence of God in three Persons, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, Rose responded that she would agree to that, but not limit the almighty to 3 parts.  Rose, you did not elaborate on that point.  What does that mean, exactly?  Where does the teaching that God is more than 3 persons come from?

Rose’s response to my paragraph about secondary, disputable issues.  There were three things we disagreed upon, two of which I’ll address here.  1)  Regarding the Sabbath, I’ll save for another post.  [You can read that post, “The Law – Thoughts on the Sabbath” here.]

2)  Tithe.  Rose stated that the tithe is a commandment and belongs in the indisputable issues category.   Commanded, yes, though not required for salvation, so it should stay in the secondary issues category.  I debated whether or not to include that in the disputable issues, as there is no clear direction in the NT on this, except where Jesus says, “When you tithe . . . ” It is understood that He is referring to the OT description of the Tithe, which is an assumption we also use as a guideline when it comes to our personal practice of giving to our local church.  

3)  Dispensationalism. [I since have learned that the more accurate term for what I was describing is “cessationism”.]  From my post:  “Spiritual gifts for the Church today or dispensationalism [cessationism]?”  Rose responded that the word dispensationalism is not even found in scripture.  Rose, you are correct, dispensationalism is not a word found in scripture.  It’s a word describing a view of the Gifts of the Spirit.  Some hold that the demonstrable gifts of the Spirit were for a season, “dispensed” as they were needed in the early Church (tongues, healing, words of knowledge, prophecy, etc.) and that those gifts are no longer active.  This is a ‘dispensationalist’ view.  Then there are others who hold that the Gifts of the Spirit are active in the Church today.”  I classified that issue as a secondary , disputable issue because salvation does not hinge on someone holding to one view or the other.

Then Rose came out with something that really puzzled me.  Saying that we needed to throw out all of our religious ideas and rhetoric and that the scriptures are clear about who YHWH’s people are.  Then she said that YHWH’s people are not just the Jews or the Christians and that that fact can’t be disputed in scripture.

WHO exactly are you referring to and what Bible references confirm that view?

Rose then talked about how the only way the above 3 issues can be categorized into the “disputable matters” is if man’s definitions, theologies and ideas are interjected into YHWH’s word.  She then talked about how she is not a god, does not set herself up as a god, and does not believe that any person, institution or religion should set itself up as a god.  One religion, according to her, has set itself up as Elohim, and has changed the set apart day (the Sabbath) to the first day from the seventh.  In addition, she takes this issue seriously enough that she states that in their home, they give allegiance not to man and his religious system (which she equates with Satan), but to YHWH.

Wow.  So are you saying that Christians at large have submitted to Satan because they worship God on Sunday?  Where does this idea that Bible-believing Christians have given their allegiance to Satan just because they worship on Sunday come from?

About the term “Judaisers” [my husband and I had been discussing the Torah-observance-for-Christians issue and he had made the comment that “Judaisers are alive and well in the Church today, resulting in a dilution of the Gospel.”  You can read “The Law – What About the Blood?!” to see this reference]

Rose stated that she had made an observation over time that those who speak the loudest about love often show hatred toward the ones who don’t believe the way they do, especially when it comes to those who choose to follow His Law.  She also informed me that the term “Judaiser” shows hostility toward the Jews and is intended to put down those who choose, because of their love for God, to obey YHWH’s instructions.  She then pointed out that it was “Christians” who exterminated Jews and their fellow believers for practicing what the “Christians” considered to be “Jewish”.  And that it would happen again.

Rose, to be clear, my husband’s use of the term “Judaisers” had neither malice nor hatred in intent.  “Judaiser” was simply a word used to describe Jewish believers in the early Church trying to bring Gentile believers under the Law, just as a “painter” is one who paints a wall.  Both he and I are ignorant of any connotation beyond the simple descriptive value of the word as I’ve explained here.  [A brief description of the term “Judaisers” can be found here.]

In addition, the intent of my husband in using that term was to say that just as Jewish Believers in the early Church were trying to make Gentiles come under the Law, it appears that (some, not all) Torah observant Christians are attempting to do the same today.  Paul told the Jewish Christians to stop.  If they wanted to place themselves under the Law, that was their choice, but they were not to impose it on anyone else (Galatians 2:11-4:11, 5:1-26) Paul describes the freedom of life in
Christ and how we go from living under the law (as good and beneficial as it was, those relying on observing it were also under a curse – Galatians 3:10) to living by the Spirit of God.  That God, because of what Jesus did on the Cross, nailing all of our iniquities there and putting them away forever, can now INDWELL us, as the Holy Spirit . . . “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18 ) .  We are no longer dependent on the Law for a conditional relationship with God, but we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and have intimate, personal relationship with the Living God because of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified and Risen!  How awesome is that?!

Rose relays that the Law that YHWH established was never to be done away with.  That it was the penalty, not the Law, that Y’shua came to destroy.  [This next part is difficult to paraphrase, because it is a unique interpretation of Ephesians 2:15.]  She talks about the enmity referred to in Ephesians 2:15 being between Judah and Ephraim, not between Jew and Gentile, using Ezekiel 37 as one explanation for that deduction.  She goes on to explain that the whole house of Israel includes Judah, Ephraim, and others that have been grafted in by faith, [she does throw in some Gentiles there] and that the enmity that was slain on the cross was the enmity between those houses.  And further that that enmity between the houses is not the Law itself, but rather the man-made ordinances that had been added by the Jews, not YHWH’s laws.

So according to this (Rose’s stated) interpretation, she concludes that 1) the Law was never to be abolished, 2) the part that WAS abolished was the “man made” laws of the Jews, not YHWH’s laws, and 3) that the removal of the man made laws made peace between the “houses” possible.

Ladies, please take a few moments to read all of Ephesians 2 to get the full context of what is being said.  Yes, I agree with Rose that Jesus came to destroy the penalty for our sins, the second death that we all deserve.  But He came to do SO MUCH MORE!  Verses 1-10 chronicle the miracle of salvation.  Verses 11-13 talk about the separation of the Gentiles from God but how they have been brought near to God through the Blood of Christ.  Verses 14-18 bring Jew and Gentile together because of what Christ did on the cross.

In Ephesians 2:15it states ” . . . by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations” and it more likely refers to the ceremonial rituals that rendered nonobservant Gentiles ritually unclean.  That the verse says “the law WITH ITS commandments and regulations” (caps mine) says to me that those are parts IN the law and not parts ADDED to the law by man.  There’s a lot there . . . please take time to read it.  The chapter wraps up with how Jesus made us (Gentiles) fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household . . . Jesus is the chief cornerstone.  In HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  The imagery of the reality of the indwelling of God in us through Jesus Christ is so beautiful.  The whole book of Ephesians is such an encouraging place in the Word!

I posted “Why did Jesus do what He did if the Law is still to be observed”  The tearing of the curtain . . . restoring fellowship with God . . . the atonement of sin . . .”  Rose asked which curtain was torn, and referred to two curtains: one being the one behind which lies the Holy of Holies and the other one being one which Jews had put up to keep Gentiles out of the holiest placeIn Matthew, Mark and Luke, where accounts are given of the temple curtain being torn in two, the curtain referred to is the one beyond which lies the Holy of Holies.  The symbolism here is that we have access to the Father in a new way through Christ.  HE is our High Priest, and by the Blood of Christ we have full fellowship with and access to God.  Hebrews 10:19-21 also describes the “confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.”

Rose asks what it is about the Law, something that our Creator gave to His bride as a marriage covenant that was so beautiful that He promised to write that Law on our hearts (the law written on hearts of flesh instead of on stone) that is such a burden to follow?

God gave the Law to Israel.  As I see it, in my limited capacity at this point writing this into the wee hours, 1) The Law was to point God’s people to their need for Messiah by showing them their inherent inability for righteousness before God.  2)  The Law was a protection for God’s people spiritually and physically.  3)  The Law was a way for God’s people to be set apart from the world.  There are maybe some more points to be made here, but again, wee hours, so . . .

As a repentant believer in Jesus Christ, point 1) is fulfilled because of the Blood of the Lamb.  Through Christ I am righteous before God (Romans 3:22, 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2Corinthians 5:21, and my favorite, Philippians 3:8-9 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the  surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”) Point 2) still applies in some respects, as in the area of diet.  Again, the spiritual aspect of the Law was completed in Christ.  And under Grace, dietary laws are not mandated, though if you choose to practice the guidelines, that’s fine.  Point 3)  I consider this to be a very important point.  Where the Law majors on rules and the externals, the Gospel majors on principles and the internals.  The Law says, “Be set apart from the world by your outward actions.”  The Gospel says, “Be in the world but not of it . . . be more concerned with the condition of your heart and relationship with God rather than if you’re following a set of rules . . . Go out in to all the world and make disciples of all nations!”

Also, the Law’s reach is limited culturally.  The Gospel  reaches into all cultures and welcomes all who believe on the Blood of Christ into the Kingdom of God.  I write more about this in another post coming soon to a digest near you.  First, I sleep =o).  [That post is “Law Keepers – Part 3 – Thoughts on the Sabbath”.]

My dear Rose, I love you still through our disagreements and discussions =o).

I love you, ladies, and my prayer for you all is “that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:16-19

Lovingly submitted,

Wendy

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During the time of these discussions on the mom’s forum, I started researching where these teachings could be coming from.  I found out a lot.  My next post will be an overview of some of the basic beliefs of Torah observant Christians, with subsequent posts on this topic detailing websites, teachers, and some of the doctrines from this Law keeping movement.  I say “some of the doctrines” because there are some doctrines in the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name Movements that have one jump through so many scriptural hoops, I don’t know that I totally understand them (nor do I necessarily want to) enough to try to explain them!  Stay tuned . . . I’ll try to get the next “Law” post up a little more quickly =o).

For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Law Keepers – Part 4 – Thoughts on the New Covenant

Okay, so about Torah observance for Christians . . . setting aside – just for a moment – the scriptures which support the concept that we are free from the Law because of what Christ did at the Cross, there are some practical problems with keeping the Law in a post-Cross world, are there not?

There is no temple, there are no high priests, most  believers do not or are not able to go to Jerusalem at the appointed times for the appointed feasts.  So how do believers who are Torah observant reconcile these and other inconsistencies?

The following was posted by me on the mom’s forum I subscribe to in response to posts by those who “keep” the Law:

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I just want to stress again that the following is intended as a defense of what I believe to be scripturally sound teaching regarding Grace and the Law.

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.”  Jesus wants us to remember that His Flesh and Blood took the place of the old covenant (Law) to make us acceptable (free from sin – from spiritual death to spiritual life) before God.  It seems to be a rather significant point made during the observance of a feast itself.  He shifted the focus in a very clear way from remembering what the Passover was all about to remembering what the breaking of  HIS Body and the shedding of  HIS Blood was all about . . . replacing the blood on the doorposts (a TEMPORARY solution) with His own Blood (the PERMANENT solution).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Are we justified before God because of Jesus’ work at the Cross or are we not?   I found a really really good teaching titled, “Justified Through Faith” at Pass The ToastI suggest that you turn on the audio as you read through the teaching.  The audio is a little fuzzy, but I found that I got much more out of the teaching as I listened while I read, to hear the inflection in the words which were being spoken.

May I also suggest that you take a look at the testimony of Aaron Budjen, a Jewish Christian.  He gives a very good account about how God showed him the difference between spiritual death and spiritual life and how God led him from one to the other – all from the perspective of one born a Jew and raised a Jew – studying to become a Rabbi.  His perspective on salvation and the Law is very enlightening.

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Though the above was one of my last posts (there is one more in response to another “Law” mom I’ll be posting here later) on the mom’s forum regarding Torah observance for Christians (the discussion was shut down by the moderator to those of us who had been debating there), it was evident to me that based on the responses posted by “Law Keepers” that there was a stream of thought . . . a source of teaching . . . this doctrine was coming from somewhere.  Not only that, but after my “What About the Blood?!” post, the responses that came from “Law Keepers” contained discernible heresy.

These and other issues regarding the Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name Movements will be discussed in future posts here.  Stay tuned . . .

For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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Other articles of interest:

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

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Law Keepers – Part 3 – Thoughts on the Sabbath

Following is Part 3 of my journey into the land of the “Law Keepers”.  The topic of the post below regards the Sabbath, though the point I was really trying to emphasize was this fact:  Where the Law cannot translate into all cultures, the Gospel can.  The following was posted on an online mom’s forum to which I subscribe, in an ongoing discourse regarding Torah observance for Christians.

Where “About Law Keepers – Part 1” chronicles my introduction to the concept of Torah observance for Christians, “Law Keepers – Part 2 (What About the Blood?!)” gets to the heart of the matter – If you are a repentant, cleansed-by-the-blood-of-Jesus-Christian and think it is necessary to keep Torah, how do you view yourself positionally with God?  If the Word declares you righteous positionally before God, how then are we, as cleansed-by-the-Blood-alive-in-Christ-believers to relate to the Law?

Right up front, I want to make clear that I’m not against Sabbath-keeping.  There are many families that keep the Sabbath as a day of rest and it has been a wonderful thing in their lives.  The post below was written to those who say that God has commanded the keeping of the Sabbath for everyone, forever.  That you are in willful sin if you do not abide by the Sabbath and its rules (peripheral laws).

Here’s another chunk of some things that have been on my heart about the Law . . . . . And again, if you are observant, this is not a personal attack on you or what you are doing.  These thoughts are offered here as insight from a non-Torah observant perspective.

“The” Sabbath.   I know the quotation marks seem to be in an odd place in that sentence.  This has been a particular point of discussion in the Law thread. 

My understanding of the law regarding the Sabbath in the OT is that there was a requirement of a specific time period set aside each week, where certain things would/would not and could/could not and should/should not be done.  It was a time of rest and a time of undivided time for God.  Failing to abide by the Law regarding the Sabbath had a penalty of death. 

My understanding of the sabbath in the NT is that it’s meaning shifted from a law-based reality to a concept/principle-based reality.  Love trumped Law when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, for example.  The New Testament is full of principle-related and Holy Spirit led instruction instead of specific “do this – don’t do that” instruction.   And what about Gentiles who became Christians?  When all cultures and people groups gained access to God through the Blood of Christ and salvation from sin through Grace, the original Sabbath took on the characteristics of a distinctly Jewish tradition in the spreading light of the Gospel.

Culturally, the Law doesn’t always translate.  But the Gospel always does!  Where the Law fails, the Gospel succeeds.  The Gospel can be taken into any culture and understood.  The Ten Commandments can be taken into any culture and be understood.  In cultures that have not been exposed to Judaism (think deep dark jungles of Africa type places) they often have a rudimentary version of the Ten Commandments, the Law written on their hearts by their Creator.  But the Levitical Law is not there, and it should not it be imposed upon those outside of the tradition of Jewish Heritage. 

At an Urbana missions conference my dh had the opportunity to go to years ago, one speaker talked about how many people groups don’t know what bread is.  They have no concept of grain and leavening and the making of bread.  They don’t know what a sheep is.  Culturally they are worlds apart from the things of the Law.  They CAN understand Grace and the gift of sacrificial, substitutional death for their sins, however, and the conquering of death through the resurrection and the reconciliation to God through what Jesus did!  The Gospel takes RELATIONSHIP with God to a universal level, available to all cultures.  Keeping the Gospel connected to Torah observance restricts the Gospel’s availability culturally.  The Law says “stay separate from the world”.  Grace and the Gospel say “Go out into all the world . . .”!      

What about those who are not able to go to church on Sunday, or are not able follow the Torah in the area of the keeping of the Sabbath due to work responsibilities?  I used to work second shift for an airline.  My typical shift required me to be at work from 2:30pm till 11pm.  I was able to go to church on Sunday mornings, but due to my seniority (or lack thereof), for several years my days off were Tuesday-Wednesday, or some other mid-week two day “weekend”.  I had my day(s) of rest, though it did not always coincide with the day I was able to worship with other believers.  Amazingly enough, I discovered that fellowship with God was not restricted to “set aside” times of worship.  Some of my most intimate times with God were out on the ramp or on a jetway waiting for a flight to come in, singing praise and worship songs at the top of my lungs through the noise of jet engines and APUs (auxiliary power units – they’re really loud!).

How do Torah observers handle this?  More importantly, does God require that it be “handled”?  Should it be that one should quit one’s job to be Torah compliant?  There were no allowances made by the company that employed me for “religious scheduling”.  If every Christian left jobs that required shift work in order to become Torah compliant, where would the Light and the Salt come from in those workplaces?  What about the people we worked with that came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as a direct result of me and other believers being faithful to live out our relationship with a Living God in their presence, being available to love them into the Kingdom?  I STILL hear of fruit being borne from the years we were there, and that was over 13 years ago!  Again, the Law says, “stay separate from the world”, the Grace and the Gospel say, “Go into all the world . . .”! 

The concept of a day of rest still stands, however.  God worked six days creating the earth and all of creation and rested on the seventh day.  Because He was tired?  I think not.  He was setting an example for us.  Even BEFORE the Law.  He designed us physically to need a day of rest!  I personally do not think God cares if, in our modern day calender, it’s a Saturday, a Sunday, a Tuesday, or whatever-day!  As long as we are setting a day aside for Him. (Colossians 2:16,17)   

The point I’m trying to make is this:  Christ has made it possible for us to be set apart by the living out of the two commandments He summed up in Matthew 22:36-40.  People are not going to be so drawn to God through us because we follow the Torah faithfully . . . . they’re going to be drawn to God because we love Him and find ways to love them faithfully and in ways relevant to THEM!  It’s not the observance of the Torah, it’s the demonstration of the redeeming power and love of Jesus Christ through the Fruits of the Spirit that will bring the lost into relationship with Him.

As I researched the issue of the Sabbath, (after writing the post above) I discovered that within the Sabbath-keeping community itself there is division.  There are those that observe a simple seventh-day Sabbath (sundown Friday through sundown Saturday).  There are those that view Sunday as the NT Sabbath.  Then there are those that follow a lunar reckoning of the Sabbath.  The first time I became aware of this method was when someone from the mom’s forum recommended this site.  Check it out.  Check out this section at that site, in particular, addressing a geocentric vs. heliocentric view of the solar system (universe?).  No, seriously.   So this is one of the “more interesting” sites that mandates lunar reckoning of the Sabbath. 

In light of the divisions within the Sabbath-keeping community above, as well as those Christians who do not feel commanded to keep the Sabbath, the following Scriptures come to mind:

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 things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.  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.  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.

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it do you still submit to its rules“Do not handle!  Do not taste!  Do not touch!”?  Colossians 2:16-21

Commentators supporting a mandatory Sabbath will make this argument about Colossians 2 . . .  The gist of that position is that Paul wasn’t telling the church at Collose to not observe the Law, but to put away the pagan practices of denying themselves any pleasure associated with eating, drinking, etc. in their observances of the biblical Sabbaths and Feasts.  Fair enough.  Culturally, in this instance, that may be what Paul was saying.  (Here comes the big but) BUT, the more encompassing point he was trying to communicate was that it is not by anything we do that earns or maintains our salvation.  That is a finished and completed work by Christ at the Cross.  Jesus + any other requirement is out of bounds.  We must be careful not to lose connection with the Head!  If, in your Christian liberty, however, you want to celebrate Feasts and the Sabbath, have at it!  Paul said don’t let anyone judge you for that!  What I must have good judgement about, however, is recognizing that God’s Law, imposed on the redeemed believer, when we are freed from the Law by the completed work of Christ at the Cross, (I know I keep saying that, but it is central to everything) is also out of bounds.

Here’s an example of where culturally the Law was the issue:  Well, um, let’s just say the whole book of Galatians =o).  This post is getting long, so let me just hit the high points:

Galatians 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”

Galatians 3:1-5 “You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you:  Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  [Paul, now echoing what he was talking about in regard to pagan practices in Colossians talks here regarding the Law] Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Have you suffered so much for nothing – if it really was for nothing?  Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”

Galatians 5:1-6 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Mark my words!  I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.  You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.  But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.  [I have to break in here, because this is key: Law keepers believe that though salvation comes through faith in what Jesus did at the cross, they believe that sanctification comes by their keeping of the Law . . . that the Holy Spirit enables them to keep the Law, and that keeping the Law is where their sanctification is attained.  Paul says it is by faith, waiting on the Holy Spirit, through which our sanctification comes.  We are positionally righteous (verses on that in Part 1) before God.  We are painfully aware, however, of our day-to-day challenges with sin this side of eternity.  Therefore, we “eagerly await through the Spirit (not by performing the edicts of the Law) the righteousness for which we hope.”  How does that come about?  On to vs. 6 . . .]  “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.  The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Then Paul goes on to say to not abuse the freedom we have in Christ, and indulge in the sinful nature, but again calls us to serve one another in love, and states that the ENTIRE Law is summed up in one command:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  (Galatians 5:13-21)  Then Paul goes to the “internals” as did Jesus, and gives us this:

Galatians 5:21-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature, its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

There is so much in Galatians.  Go read it again!  Click here for it online.

I need to be done for now.  Christ’s completed work at the Cross, the new life purchased for us there, and living submitted to the Holy Spirit all have to be at the center of all that we do.  The Gospel will universally translate into any culture (Go out into all the world . . . ).  The Law cannot, nor was it ever intended to (requires isolation from the world).  New life by Grace alone, though Faith alone, in Christ alone really is an amazing thing!

For a complete listing of posts at JGIG regarding the Hebrew Roots Movement, click HERE.

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Other articles of interest:

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

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