Monthly Archives: April 2018

Torah Questions with Answers from Scripture

DOES JEHOVAH’S TORAH STILL DEFINE RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR TODAY’S BELIEVERS?

My interpretation of the scriptures is based on three of Jehovah’s qualities:

  • His righteousness (The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Psalm 147:17),
  • His steadfastness (For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Malachi 3:6),
  • His lovingkindness. (For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100:5)

Based on Jehovah’s righteousness, can we conclude that every command of Jehovah is righteous? (My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. Psalm 119:172) Is righteousness randomly assigned by God to certain behaviors, or does He truthfully tell us right from wrong? (Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. Psalm 119:142) Based on His righteous nature, can we expect Him to keep every promise or covenant that He has ever made without altering the terms of the contract? (God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23:19)

Based on Jehovah’s steadfastness, can we trust that His standards of righteousness maintain their righteousness throughout the ages? (Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. Psalm 119:160) Are believers of all generations expected to love His Law? (But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Micah 4:1-2) Can we conclude that His standards are the same for all peoples? (Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 24:22) Can we expect His Son, His apostles, and His prophets to speak only words that align with Jehovah’s instructions? (To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20) Does anyone have the authority to alter God’s Law? (He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. Daniel 7:25)

Based on what we know of Jehovah’s lovingkindness, do we believe that He gave His chosen people instructions for their own good? (And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13) Is Jehovah’s plan to redeem Israel still intact? (Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies. Psalm 106:43-45) Does He expect His people to have blind faith in Jesus Christ, or does He use fulfilled prophecies to prove that Jesus is the Messiah? (Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7) Why would God tell us His plan ahead of time? (Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words. Isaiah 41:26) Does the Father give us any indication that His covenant would one day be abolished? (For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10) Does He give His people a foolproof method to discern a true prophet from a false one? (If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Deuteronomy 13:1-4)

JEHOVAH’S RIGHTEOUSNESS, STEADFASTNESS, AND LOVINGKINDNESS ARE INTERCONNECTED

Because Jehovah is righteous, He is perfect in defining righteousness for His people. (The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7) Even the heathens would recognize the rightness of the Law. (Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Deuteronomy 4:6-8) Righteousness leads to life, and unrighteousness leads to death. (See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:15-19) He wants His people to live eternally (O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Deuteronomy 5:29), which is not possible (But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:17) for physical bodies that have committed unrighteousness. (For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23) When Jehovah promised the Messiah through Abraham, He told Him that all nations would be blessed by means of his seed. (And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. Genesis 22:18) I believe that Jehovah was, in essence, explaining to Abraham that the Messiah would walk perfectly and reap the blessings of righteousness, while implying that His righteousness and those blessings would be imputed to people of all nations. (And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: Philippians 3:9) But how would He accomplish this seemingly impossible feat? (Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. Zechariah 8:6-8) When Jehovah called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but provided a substitution instead, He was teaching Abraham more about the plan of redemption.( And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. Genesis 22:8)

Was Jehovah righteous to command His people to walk perfectly before Him, and to make a life-and-death covenant with them that He knew they would not keep? (Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 29:24-28) By making this covenant with them, was He setting them up for failure? (Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? Ezekiel 18:25) Was the Law too difficult for them? (For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. Deuteronomy 30:11 ESV)

My perspective is this: Jehovah always keeps His end of the covenant. (What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? Romans 3:3 ESV) Mankind failed to keep their end. (They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Psalm 14:3) (God knew this would happen.) (And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. Deuteronomy 28:64) Because of His lovingkindness, He wants to bless us with eternal life anyway. (Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. Exodus 34:7) However, He is perfectly righteousness and just, He can’t just give us eternal life when we deserve death. (The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. Deuteronomy 24:16) Rightfully, eternal life only comes to those who have never done anything to bring death on themselves. (Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:15)

Amazingly, Jehovah is powerful enough to bless mankind without compromising His righteousness in the process. (Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: Isaiah 59:1) Praise Jehovah! (I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. Psalm 118:17-21) He sent His only begotten Son to fulfill man’s part of the covenant. (And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. Matthew 3:15) His Son did not earn the death penalty because He lived a perfect life according to the Law. (For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21) In other words, Jesus earned eternal life in accordance with the promise given through the Law. (Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:5)

We sold ourselves to sin. (And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. John 8:32-34) In other words, we traded away life for the temporal pleasures of sin, earning death in our bodies. (For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. Romans 7:5) We had a debt to pay. Thankfully, and rightfully, Jehovah makes a provision in His Law for redemption: a near kinsman is legally allowed to pay a debt in behalf of the debtor. (If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. Leviticus 25:25) When Jesus, as our next of kin, paid a debt He did not owe, He freed us from our debt. (There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4) By keeping the commandments, Jesus inherited all of the blessings that God gave His people. (And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. Luke 18:18-20) Through the obedience of Christ, all of the terms of the original covenant are fulfilled. (Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Matthew 5:17) Does this fulfillment mean that the Law is no longer valid? (For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18) God forbid. (Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. Romans 3:31) Jehovah and humanity are now reconciled in the covenant as though it had never been broken. (Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; Deuteronomy 7:9)

In light of the aforementioned qualities of Jehovah, how should we interpret the writings of Paul? First of all, we should test everything he says against God’s instructions. (These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11) If Paul had been a false prophet or had merely been mistaken, we would still be required to uphold God’s commandments, not man’s doctrine. (He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:6-7) However, Paul was not a false prophet; he never says anything contrary to the Law of Jehovah. (Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: Acts 26:22) In fact, Paul remains Torah-observant even after believing on Christ for salvation. (Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. Acts 21:24) When Paul says that we are no longer under the Law, he means that we no longer owe our debt. (For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2) He is not saying that the Law is sin. (What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Romans 7:7) The Law is good. (Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Romans 7:12) The definition of sin is the transgression of the Law (Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. I John 3:4), and Paul never implies that it no longer matters whether we sin or not. (God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:2) When he speaks of the curse of the Law, he is referring to the curse that we earned through our disobedience (death). (Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:13) The curse of the Law (death) also looms over your head if you try to rely on your own works for salvation. (For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Galatians 3:10 ESV) This is not a defect in the righteousness of the Law, but a defect in man’s willingness to keep it. (Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. Galatians 3:21) God renewed His covenant with Israel after finding fault with the people, not with the Law. (For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Hebrews 8:8) Many people had the wrong impression about what Paul was preaching. (And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. Romans 3:8) They mistook Paul’s message of salvation by faith as a message of lawlessness. (And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 2 Peter 3:15-17)

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Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 12

AiG: “There are real dangers in taking good intentions (learning more about the Hebrew backdrop of Christianity) too far. The HRM has created divisions in the body of Christ by labeling non-HRM believers as pagans or accusing them of engaging in pagan practices. They have set up a Christianity consisting of haves and have-nots (i.e., the haves who keep the law and the have-nots who do not).”

Me: Those in the HRM should not be doing this, and only a few are. However, you will see this to some extent in every denomination, so why single us out above the others? The problem is with individual believers in the movement, and not in the movement as a whole.

AiG: “Some of the people involved in this movement have slipped into believing and teaching a false gospel by promoting “works salvation” when they argue that believers must keep the Mosaic law. If salvation is by God’s grace received through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, as the Bible clearly states (Romans 11:6Ephesians 2:8–9), then it cannot be based on works of the law, or else it would no longer be by grace. Certainly, Christians should do the good works God has set before them (Ephesians 2:10), but we are not saved by such efforts. We can only be saved on the basis of the complete and perfect atoning work of Jesus Christ.”

Me: I have never, ever met an HRM believer who believes in a works-based salvation. Labeling sin as sin in no way promotes a “works salvation.” It just calls attention to the fact that there is sin that we should do our best to abstain from.

AiG: “If you have been influenced by the Hebrew Roots Movement, I urge you to carefully read through the book of Galatians. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you read. Do not rely on my interpretation of its passages mentioned above or on the interpretation of various HRM teachers. Just carefully and prayerfully read through the letter to see what Paul told his readers. Look closely at the other passages discussed in this article.”

Me: Please follow the above advice whether you have been influenced by HRM or not. Galatians is a fantastic book and should be read by every believer (along with all of the other scriptures).

AiG: “Think about why none of the apostles ever instructed the Gentile believers to follow the Mosaic law when they had perfect opportunities to do so.”

Me: This is not true. Romans 3:31 says, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” In addition to that verse, I will explain why we don’t see others like it very often. It was already assumed that those entering covenant with the Father would abide by the terms of the covenant. Christianity is not a new religion, but if followed properly, it is the oldest in the book. Jesus came to clarify and fulfill, not abolish. Read His words on the matter, and remember that He is the living, breathing Torah and that we are called to follow His example: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6). In addition, every single time the apostle Paul or any other other authors of the New Testament address sin in any capacity, they are reminding us of the Father’s Law or clarifying it. They aren’t making up new sins from scratch that apply to New Testament believers. And they aren’t saying, do these things or you’ll lose your salvation. No, they are simply describing sin and asking us to abstain. That’s precisely what the Torah does for us as well, only the Torah did it first. All authority to label sin is based on the fact that the Father did it first.

AiG: “Remember that the kingdom of God is not about food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Recall the simplicity of the gospel, which is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Gentile (Romans 1:16). It is not about the works we might do for God, but what God has already done for us. The gospel message Paul received and delivered is this: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, NKJV).”

Me: Please do remember the above-mentioned things. I agree wholeheartedly. But also please remember a few more simple truths:

God doesn’t change: Malachi 3:6

All of God’s commandments are righteous: Psalm 119:172

His righteousness is an everlasting righteousness: Psalm 119:142

Every one of His righteous judgments endureth forever: Psalm 119:160

The Law shall go forth from Zion in the last days: Micah 4:1-2

One Law applies to the natural-born Israelite and to the stranger that desires to live among them: Leviticus 24:22

The commandments were given for our good: Deuteronomy 10:12-13

The Law of the Lord is perfect, and it is the Law that converts the soul: Psalm 19:7

Even the pagan nations would realize that God’s Law is righteous: Deuteronomy 4:6-8

The Law is intended to be kept forever, and for our own good: Deuteronomy 5:29

The Law is life, and obedience brings blessing. Disobedience brings death and cursing: Deuteronomy 30:15-19. This is why the wages of sin is death. Death is the result of sin. Romans 6:32 James 1:15

The commandments are not difficult: Deuteronomy 30:11

Life is made more abundant by keeping the Law. It is the natural result: Leviticus 18:5

The Law is not bondage. Sin is bondage: John 8:32-34

Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it. Therefore, fulfilling it and destroying it cannot be two words for the same thing: Matthew 5:18

Even the New Testament apostles set out to establish the Law: Romans 3:31

We are to search the Old Testament scriptures to see if modern doctrines align: Acts 17:11

Paul never contradicted the Torah, by his own admission: Acts 26:22

Paul kept the Law, even to the extent of taking a vow in the temple outlined in Leviticus. It was slanderously reported that he did not keep it: Acts 21:24

The Law is holy, just, and good: Romans 7:12

Sin is transgression of the Law: I John 3:4

Even though Christ has earned our salvation for us, we aren’t supposed to keep transgressing the Law once we know better: Romans 6:2

Even back in Bible times, lawless people were misinterpreting Paul’s message of grace for licentiousness: 2 Peter 3:15-17

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 11

AiG: “A very common teaching in the HRM is that faithful believers must only celebrate the holidays that were part of the Mosaic Covenant. Leviticus 23 describes the proper protocol for celebrating the following feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Weeks (Pentecost), Trumpets, Tabernacles, and Day of Atonement.”

Me: This statement is a bit wrong. We believe that we are supposed to celebrate the feasts perpetually because the Word of God says that (Leviticus 23:14, 21, 31, 41). However, the Torah does not tell us that we cannot keep other holidays. I don’t think I’d call them “holidays” though, because that means holy day, a day which has been set apart as holy by the Father. The reason we don’t keep Christmas, Easter, etc. is not because they are extra, but because they are pagan. You might have to do a bit of research, but it’s easy to find out whether I’m telling you the truth or not.

We are not supposed to incorporate pagan rituals into our worship of the one true God. He specifically tells us not to, and He gives us the reason why in Deuteronomy 12:28-32: “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God. When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” How did the pagans figure out how to commit every abomination that the Lord hates? It’s my opinion that the demons taught them early on. Either way – God says not to worship Him that way, so we don’t worship Him that way. There’s no confusion over how exactly we should worship Him, because He tells us in black and white how He does desire to be worshipped (in the Torah).

The feast days are a big part of that worship, and they will remain so, as long as the earth endures. Remember that one jot or tittle shall not fail from the Law until all is fulfilled? Until heaven and earth have passed away? Read about it in Matthew 5: 17-18: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” We will still be keeping the feasts during the Millennial Reign of Christ: Isaiah 66:23, Ezekiel chapters 44-46, and Zechariah 14. “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).

AiG: “First, as discussed above, Christians have the freedom to esteem any day higher than any other or to not hold one day in honor above another (Romans 14:5). While this particular verse might have been written to specifically address the issue of the Sabbath, it can still be applied to any holiday, and Paul taught the same type of freedom applied to the festivals (Colossians 2:16). Neither did the apostles at the Jerusalem Council instruct the Gentile believers to celebrate the Levitical feasts.”

Me: I have addressed all of these issues in prior posts. I have demonstrated that Romans 14 was most likely talking about which days to fast, which has always been left up to the believer because weekly and monthly fasting is not addressed in Torah. The word “sabbath” appears in Romans 14 zero times. Paul is not giving people permission here to break God’s Torah. If he were, he would be a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 13. Also, nobody has the authority to add to or remove from the Word of God. This is what Jesus was constantly condemning the Pharisees for: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” I talk more about Romans 14 in a different post. I also address Colossians 2 and the Jerusalem Council in previous posts. Because of faulty doctrine that assumes that God’s Words are temporary, and that God’s righteousness changes with the “dispensation,” millions of people have been brainwashed into believing that this is the only way to interpret these “proof” texts that Mr. Chaffey keeps using. They are wrong. God’s instructions have always been righteous, and they always will be. Read Psalm 119 today. It looks like a long chapter, but it’s a pretty quick read nonetheless, and so worth your time, especially if you want to understand the love that the Psalmist had for the Torah.

AiG: “Second, it is quite hypocritical to accuse Christians of celebrating pagan holidays (because extrabiblical ideas have become associated with the celebrations for some people) when their own celebrations are loaded with extrabiblical ideas. For example, HRM proponents criticize Christians who celebrate Christmas for a variety of reasons. One popular reason is that the Bible never says anything about things like Santa, reindeer, and mistletoe being connected to the birth of Jesus Christ. While it’s true that the Bible does not mention these things, it does not follow that every Christian who celebrates the Lord’s birth in December does so using things like Santa, reindeer, and mistletoe. Furthermore, this criticism is a wee bit like the clover calling the grass green. When HRM followers celebrate the Passover, they include several items and practices that are not mentioned in Scripture, such as a roasted egg, the hidden piece of matzah bread called the afikomen, a bowl of salt water representing tears of Hebrew slaves and the Red Sea, and an extra seat for Elijah. These “traditions of men” were added over the centuries and are not found in the Bible. So why is it acceptable for traditions to be added to the Passover celebration but not to holidays deemed unacceptable by the HRM?”

Me: I don’t think that most of us believe there is anything wrong with keeping traditions, even if they are not commanded. We do not elevate extra traditions to the level of the actual commands to keep the feast days, and that’s why many of the traditions that Mr. Chaffey mentions are not kept by every HRM believer. What we have a problem with is the adoption of pagan traditions and the relabeling in the name of Christianity. We don’t keep December 25th as the birth of our Savior for two reasons: he was not born in winter because the shepherds were in the fields with their flocks, so that date is not even a possibility as the birthday of our Lord. It is, however, the celebrated birthday of a pagan god, and the mixture of the two religions is how we came to celebrate Jesus’ birth on that particular date (Saturnalia). Dig a little bit into the history of the catholic church during the days of Constantine, and you will begin to understand our problem. Easter has some of the same problems, and is even called by the name of the goddess.

AiG: “Third, if it is highly offensive to God to celebrate any holiday outside those mentioned in Leviticus 23, then why do so many HRM adherents often celebrate at least one holiday not found in that chapter and did not arise until more than 12 centuries after Moses? Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday to remember the rededication of the temple following the Maccabean Revolt (c. 167–160 BC). Why would the HRM celebrate such a festival when it is not mentioned in the Mosaic law?

The HRM certainly cannot condemn those who celebrate Hanukkah for a couple of reasons. Their followers highly esteem Jewish practices, and Hanukkah is a very important Jewish celebration. But the greatest argument against the “Leviticus 23 only” position is that Jesus almost certainly celebrated Hanukkah, “the Feast of Dedication” in the “winter” mentioned in John 10:22. If he was not in Jerusalem to celebrate the holiday, then what was he there for? And if it were wrong to celebrate it, why did he not take the opportunity to set people straight during the “Feast of Dedication”? So if Jesus did not violate the law by celebrating a holiday not found in Leviticus 23, then why would it be wrong for Christians to celebrate a holiday not listed in that chapter? It should be mentioned that many HRM followers also celebrate Purim, another Jewish holiday that started long after Moses (Esther 9:26–28).”

Me: I agree, and I think this is why most HRM folks do not take the “Leviticus 23 only” position. Again, our problem is with paganism being relabeled as Christian, not specifically man-made traditions (unless said traditions are being imposed upon believers and/or being elevated to the authority of scripture – then there is a big problem with man-made tradition).

AiG: “There is nothing wrong with a Christian taking part in a Passover seder or celebrating Hanukkah, as long as he realizes that such practices are not required for salvation or sanctification and do not grant any special favor with God. Observing these festivals can help one acquire a better grasp of the Bible’s context.”

Me: Thank you. I agree, except that being set apart and being sanctified is the same thing. So while not necessary for salvation, keeping God’s Torah does physically set us apart from those who don’t. All believers are spiritually sanctified, however, by the blood of Christ.

AiG: “The reason for this critique of the HRM is that many in the movement go far beyond the desire to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the historical and cultural background of Scripture and have fallen for false doctrine. These are not minor disagreements that can be swept under the rug, but are egregious errors that often have serious ramifications and must be addressed. When it condemns Christians for not following the Mosaic law and Hebrew traditions, then the HRM has crossed a line repeatedly rejected by the apostles. They need to hear the same rebukes that Paul delivered to the Galatians who had been bewitched by teachings very similar to the HRM.”

Me: I am still not seeing any false doctrine. How could following the very Words of God, His righteousness, His Torah, be false? How could following Christ’s example be an egregious error? Unless you are telling people that their salvation is dependent upon their own righteousness and not the righteousness of Christ, the doctrines that Mr. Chaffey has brought to our attention are quite sound and not at all dangerous to the soul. However, works-based salvation is not a belief that the HRM clings to or promotes. Because of their deep respect for the written Word of God, and for the Word made flesh, and because of their willingness to obey the righteousness of the Father, HRM believers are misunderstood by Mr. Chaffey and many others the world over. As long as we know that we are incapable of walking a perfect life from birth to death, then we know we can’t earn our own salvation. It is the “Christian thing” to do your best to abstain from sin, and by now I think we all know the NT definition of sin: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 10

AiG: “It can easily be demonstrated from the pages of Scripture that the dietary regulations of the Mosaic law were not binding on all people throughout history. We have already seen that Paul permitted his readers to eat whatever they chose, as long as their decision did not injure the conscience of the weaker brother. Does the Old Testament have any teachings similar to this?”

Me: As I explained in part 9, the word “meat” in the KJV refers to food. Google it or look it up in Strong’s concordance. In 1611, that’s what the word meant. And yes, of course people are allowed to eat any kind of food. The Father never told His people that we couldn’t eat every kind of food. Unclean animals, however, were not and are not considered food by the Father. Neither will they ever be considered food. Isaiah 66 explains to us the end of days. Verse 17 says: “ ‘Those who dedicate and purify themselves to enter the groves following their leader, eating meat from pigs, vermin, and rats, will perish together.’ This is the LORD’s declaration.” Paul didn’t have the authority to alter Torah because nobody has that authority. See Deuteronomy 4:2. He can’t (and didn’t) tell you that you can eat anything you want. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said that man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, and He was quoting from Deuteronomy, using the Old Testament scriptures as the authority so that satan would know that what He said was true. Do you have any idea how many times Jesus quotes the Old Testament? It is reliable, dependable, unchanging. Timothy confirms this in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”  You can and should base your doctrine upon the unchanging righteousness of the Father.

So what was Paul saying? If you read all of Romans 14, you will see that Paul was specifically addressing those who wanted to abstain from all “flesh,” what we would call meat today, and to eat only herbs. To demand that others follow this restriction would be to add to the Torah, God’s Law, which is what Jesus always preached against when he ridiculed the Pharisees.

AiG: “When God created Adam and Eve, he instructed them to eat vegetation (Genesis 1:29). There is no mention of any change in this regulation until Genesis 9:3, which records the Lord telling Noah after the Flood, ‘Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.’ Of particular interest here is that God specifically proclaims that he is changing what man is permitted to eat. At first, man could only eat plants, but after the Flood, God permitted man to eat meat from ‘every moving thing that lives.’ “

Me: In Genesis 1:29, sin and death had not yet entered into the world. It makes sense then, that in a perfect world, nothing needs to die. Also, the earth was perfect and the climate was perfect. It would bring forth food all year round. After the flood, the climate of the earth changed dramatically. (You’ll have to do some research into the firmament, and the waters which were above the firmament to understand these changes.) Suddenly, the people would begin to experience winters and might need to supplement their diets with animals. It’s not that God’s righteousness was changing. His righteousness always protects. In the beginning, He was protecting the animals from unnecessary death. Later, he was protecting the humans from starvation during winters.

AiG: “HRM proponents have argued that since the Flood account distinguishes between clean and unclean animals (Genesis 7:8), then it follows that God was simply telling Noah that he could now eat clean animals; thus it is just like the Levitical restrictions. A problem with this claim is that Genesis 9:3 makes no mention of the distinction between clean and unclean animals, so they are reading such an idea into the text rather than getting it from the text. In fact, the text specifically states twice that man was now permitted to eat “every” moving thing, and it mentions no restrictions. Another problem is that this verse still shows that prior to this moment, man was only permitted to eat vegetation. So the dietary restrictions found in Leviticus were clearly not in operation prior to the time of Moses. And if God changed the dietary restrictions at the time of Noah and the time of Moses, then there is no reason he could not have done so at the time of Jesus (Mark 7:18–19).”

Me: I’m not sure if Noah thought he should eat unclean animals or not. The fact that they were called unclean seems to suggest that they were unclean for eating. However, it’s true that the Father said that he could eat every thing. I would really like to read this in the Hebrew before I pass judgment on the passage one way or the other (I’m working on learning). If the Father was, in fact, giving Noah permission to eat unclean animals, that would suggest to me that cancers and other mutations were not yet a problem in the animal genes. Remember that God’s righteousness (His Law) is always for our benefit: “And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day” (Deuteronomy 6:24). “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments arerighteousness” (Psalm 119:172).

AiG: “This simple fact undermines the central tenet of the HRM—the Mosaic law was not binding on all people throughout history. Of course, this does not mean it was fine to murder someone before God told Moses, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Long before that, he confronted Cain over his evil act of murder (Genesis 4:10–15). He also told Noah that murderers deserve to be put to death, because man was made in God’s image (Genesis 9:6). Just because certain laws or principles can be found across biblical history, it does not follow that all 613 laws of Moses are binding across history.”

Me: We mustn’t forget that the Mosaic Law is the Father’s Law, the Father’s Word. Is the Father’s Law righteous or not? Who defines righteousness? Do we define it, or does God define it? Do you remember that the wages of sin is death? Have you ever wondered why? God didn’t just randomly assign death as the penalty for disobedience. He gave us instructions for life, for living. When you refuse to follow the instructions that bring life, then the natural result is death. When you disobey the Father, you are choosing death over life. So why did the Father’s instructions for life command that we abstain from unclean animals? Because eating them will kill you. Their toxic carcasses will work death in your body. Maybe they weren’t toxic yet in Noah’s day– maybe the mutations were not yet in the gene pool, or maybe Noah’s body was close enough to perfect not to be affected by which animals he ate. I don’t know. What I do know is what God said about His own Law, what David said about it, what Paul said about it, Timothy, Solomon, James – every person in the Bible who has ever said anything about the God’s perfect, righteous Law. The biggest argument for me is that the Father Himself instructs us not to add to it or take away from it (Deuteronomy 4:2), and Jesus constantly reprimands the Pharisees for trying.

On the other hand, we have what Tim Chaffey says about the Law. He has picked a verse from Genesis to prove his point, but to do so, he has had to ignore the entirety of the other scriptures, including the Word of the Father Himself. Almost every time the Father speaks through the prophets, He is begging the people to return to His Law or telling them what the consequences will be for disobedience. But Mr. Chaffey, and others who have been brainwashed by modern Christianity, want us to reinterpret every other verse that I have been showing you to pretend that disobeying the Father’s Law is not sin. Remember the New Testament definition of sin: transgression of the Law (I John 3:4).

Mr. Chaffey’s argument compares apples with oranges. The Father never told Noah that the permission to eat animals was a perpetual statute. (How can permission to do something be a statute anyway?) He never told Noah not to add to or take away from the words He was “commanding” him that day. (Again, He wasn’t making a commandment, but giving permission for something.) He didn’t tell Noah that he had to eat every moving thing in order to be part of His covenant. When the Father gave the Law and made a covenant with the people, He was setting them apart from all the people in the earth, making them different: healthy, civil, set apart. Even the pagan nations would recognize the righteousness of God’s Law. When we accept Christ, we become spiritual Israel. When we join ourselves to the covenant, we inherit their promise – the promise of salvation. At the same time, we become His covenant people in truth – set apart and subject to the same perfect, holy Law: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Romans 9:4). It’s silly to believe that we have entered the covenant, but only partway. That only the adoption and the glory and the promises apply to us, but not the covenants, the giving of the Law or the temple service. Who are we to pick and choose? Are we fully adopted sons, or not? Are we spiritual Israel, or not?

 

 

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 9

AiG: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14:1–5)

Once again, it is difficult to be much clearer than what Paul wrote here. Believers should not pass judgment on each other over the foods they choose to eat. One person believes he can eat any type of food, but the one who is weak in faith believes he can only eat certain foods. Yet, even though Paul identifies this person as weak, he still urges one side not to pass judgment on the other side. The same is true when it comes to recognizing certain special days. One person highly esteems a given day while another esteems all days the same. Both positions are fine as long as each person is fully convinced in his own mind. These issues are matters of the conscience.”

Me: Paul was talking about food, which was the meaning of the word “meat” in 1611. All foods are okay to eat. However, some animals do not classify as “food,” such as pigs, birds of prey, and fish without scales (and for good reason – these animals are far more toxic than the ones we were given permission to eat). The problem that Paul was having with the Romans is that some of them were saying that you shouldn’t eat meat (“flesh”) at all, but only herbs. Please read the whole chapter, and please pay attention to the places where Paul uses the word “meat” as opposed to where he says “flesh.” This will greatly increase your understanding.

Also, when Paul mentions esteeming one day as “better” than another, he isn’t talking about which day God set apart as the holy sabbath. That was not in question, as no one was questioning God’s own Word. Paul wouldn’t have had the authority to change God’s Law, even if he had wanted to. (And Daniel 7:25 is not speaking of the apostle Paul.) Remember, the believers back in those days held the Law in such high regard that Paul had to keep reminding them in no uncertain terms that they were  not earning their salvation by keeping it. But He never told them not to keep it. He never said, abstain from righteousness. In fact, he said, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). Remember that in Matthew 4:4, Jesus said we should live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God? Jesus’ words still stand, just as His Father’s do. This passage never mentions the sabbaths or feast days at all. Someone twisted this passage once upon a time, and the Christian world bought it and built their doctrine of lawlessness around it.

So as long as this verse was ever true: “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160), and this one: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16), and the entire chapter of Isaiah 56, this passage is not about the sabbath.

But if Paul was not talking about the sabbath, then what was he talking about? Since this chapter is mainly about food, about eating and not eating, and since there was a great debate going on in the early church about which days were better to fast (most likely Pharisees vs. those who looked to God as their only authority), it makes more sense to interpret this passage as Paul’s answer to that debate. Rabbinical traditions called for specific fasting days in spite of the fact that our Father never designated any specific fasting days aside from Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Since believers are not subject to rabbinical teachings in the slightest, we are allowed to choose our own days on which to fast, and that’s the point Paul was trying to make. Here is an excerpt from the Jewish Virtual Library so you can see what I’m talking about:

“The laws of fasting detailed in talmudic literature and by halakhic authorities (Maim. Yad, Ta’aniyyot, 4; Tur and Sh. Ar., OḤ, 579) have basically not changed from the biblical period. Founded on very ancient popular and spontaneous customs, they were, in the main, like the reasons for fasting, not peculiar to the Jewish people, but current in the whole of the ancient Near East. The description of a public fast held by the Phoenicians of Carthage, at the end of the second century b.c.e. (Tertullian, De jejuniis 16), is almost identical to descriptions of fasts in the Bible, in Second Temple literature, and in rabbinic sources.

The fast was accompanied by prayer (during the First Temple period sacrifices were offered) and confession of sins (Judg. 20:26; I Sam. 7:6; Ezra 10:1). From the Second Temple period onward, the public fast was also accompanied by the reading of the Torah (Neh. 9:3). On solemn fasts (Ta’an. 4:1; Tosef. Ta’an. 4:1), four prayers – Shaḥarit, Ḥaẓot (“noon”), Minḥah, and Ne’ilat She’arim – were recited as well as Ma’ariv. TheAmidah of the fast day consisted of 24 benedictions – “the eighteen of every day, to which another six were added” (Ta’an. 2:2–4; ḤemdahGenuzah (1863), nos. 160–1; Tur, OḤ, 579) – and the liturgy was elaborated with special passages of supplication (Anenu – “Answer us!,” Ta’an. 14a), seliḥot, and prayers for mercy. The central part of the service was the sounding of the shofar (Joel 2:1) or the ḥaẓoẓerot (“trumpets”; I Macc. 3:54), trumpets (as main instruments) accompanied by horns (RH 3:4; Tosef. to RH 3:3). The blowing of shofarot and trumpets was performed in a different manner in the Temple and on the Temple Mount from the other localities (RH 27a; Ta’an. 16b); the exact procedure, however, is not known. (According to one opinion, there was no blowing outside the Temple area at all; see Ta’an. 2:4–5.) During the Middle Ages, in some Jewish communities, shofarot were sounded, in others, trumpets (see Beit Yosef to Tur, OḤ, 579).” http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/fasting-and-fast-days

It is reasonable to believe that Romans 14 was a response to an age-old problem in the church: Spiritual leaders who were adding to and taking away from the commandments of the Father. Sound familiar? This is precisely what Jesus was always reprimanding the Pharisees for: for their direct violation of Deuteronomy 4:2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Can I just say that this is what the HRM has against today’s Christian leaders?)

AiG: “How could Paul, a Jewish believer in the Messiah, tell people that they do not need to observe special days or dietary restrictions?”

Me: Again, keeping the Law never saved anyone, and Paul taught that clearly. However, in the Romans 14 passage, he wasn’t even talking about salvation by works – he was directly addressing man-made traditions (which flew in the face of the liberties afforded us by God’s perfect Torah). Men were trying to place extra restrictions on food and days, restrictions that God never placed. In doing so, they were placing their righteousness above God’s righteousness, and their own authority above His.

AiG: “Paul taught the same thing in 1 Corinthians 8. The person with a weak conscience is one who would not eat certain food, namely that which had been offered to idols. Others understood that the food itself was not defiled by an idol and that God is the Creator of all things, so they had no qualms about eating it. They recognized they were free to eat it because “food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:8).”

Me: Offering up a sacrifice to any god but the one true God is forbidden by Torah: Leviticus 17:8-9. Paul was not giving the believers at Corinth permission to break God’s Law concerning idol sacrifice. He was also not giving them permission to eat unclean animals, which is also forbidden by Torah. However, abstaining from legal foods that someone else had offered to an idol was an extra, man-made tradition, and believers were under no obligations to follow it, except when it would create a great offense to the Jewish believers (Acts 15:29), or when it would tempt a weaker brother to sin against what he believed God wanted: I Corinthians 9:8-13: “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” Again, this is a case of Paul explaining to new believers that they had only one authority: God. As long as they were obeying His righteousness, His Torah, they didn’t need to concern themselves with any other regulations. And I’m not saying that if they chose to disobey God, they would become unsaved because we don’t earn our salvation in the first place. Jesus obeyed perfectly and earned our salvation. It’s finished. Our only part in that is faith in Him. What I am saying is that there are many out there who have a desire to please God to the fullest. To live as perfectly as possible according to His righteous standards, which are clearly defined in the Law. Again, we are not seeking to earn salvation or favor or anything else. It is a pure desire which drives us to live God’s way. It’s the same desire that keeps you from committing any sin that you choose not to commit.

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 8

AiG: “In Colossians 2, Paul explained that the Colossian believers, who were of the uncircumcision (i.e., Gentiles) had been “circumcised with a circumcision made without hands” having been saved “through faith in the powerful working of God” (Colossians 2:11–12). This circumcision made without hands refers to a circumcision of the heart, which comes through the Spirit (Romans 2:25–29).”

Me: This is absolutely correct. Whereas a physical circumcision was requirement for a physical entry into the physical commonwealth of Israel, a spiritual circumcision (aka, salvation) is a requirement for entry into the spiritual commonwealth of Israel. The physical is always an object lesson to help us understand the spiritual. Physical circumcision never saved anyone, past, present, or future. No one is saying that it does.

AiG: “The previous paragraph laid the framework for what Paul told these Gentile believers next. “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16–17). As we have already seen in Acts 15 and Galatians, the early churches often consisted of contingents of both Jews and Gentiles, and they struggled with the dynamic of Gentiles being “brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). Many of the Gentile believers had been told that they need to believe in Jesus and follow some or all of the Mosaic law. But, as he did in Galatians, Paul rejected such a view and told these Gentiles not to let anyone judge them if they did not follow Jewish customs, such as the dietary laws, festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths.”

Me: Yes it does lay a framework. It shows us, as I stated above, that the physical things are representations of the spiritual things. The object lessons help us understand the realities. These are a shadow (representation) of things to come, but the substance (the actual body casting the aforementioned shadow) belongs to Christ. He’s telling us not to confuse the shadows with the realities. The shadows are in place to help us understand the realities – they are not the realities themselves. If the Colossians chose not to be circumcised or to take part in the feast days, etc, these were not salvation issues. Throughout his epistles, Paul tries over and over again to make clear to people (people who had a very high regard for the Law and were keeping it) that keeping the Law is not what saves us.

AiG: “Amazingly enough, HRM teachers flip the meaning of this verse on its head, claiming that Paul is telling them not to let anyone judge them for now keeping these practices.8 Such an interpretation is exactly the opposite of what Paul stated. The whole thrust of the passage is that a person is saved by faith alone and not by human effort, such as legalism. Paul urges these Gentile converts to understand that they are in danger of losing their reward if they seek to be sanctified in any way outside of faith in Christ, whether it be legalism (verse 16) or other fleshly practices, such as asceticism and mysticism (verses 18–23).”

Me: I’d say the verse works either way. If we are not to judge those who have not yet developed a desire to keep God’s Torah, why in the world would we think it’s okay to judge those who have? It doesn’t say let no man judge you for not keeping Torah, and it doesn’t say let no man judge you for keeping it. It says “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath” (Colossians 2:16). Mr. Chaffey, why are you passing judgment on me? Calling my practices (my obedience to the Word of God) dangerous? We are not in danger of losing our reward because we are not making an effort to save ourselves. However, let me make an effort to explain why those in the HRM flip this verse on its head, and why I believe they are justified in doing so. A cursory reading of Colossians (go ahead, read it; it’s a short book) will show you exactly why. Those in Colossae had been practicing abnegation (self-denial), neglecting their bodies and abstaining from any kind of fleshly pleasures in an effort to gain spirituality: “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Colossians 2:19-23). So when some of the new believers began to have a desire to please the Father and keep His sabbaths and His feast days (which, let’s not forget, are still legitimate object lessons concerning things to come), they were most likely receiving backlash from all sides. From their own people, the Gentiles in Colossae, who most likely believed that God’s party days were sent from the very depths of hell itself, and also from Jews, who were probably jealous that the Gentiles felt eligible to keep what they considered to be their sabbaths and their feast days.

Let me take this opportunity to chase a couple of rabbits: Remember how the Gentiles are going to provoke the Jews to jealousy? “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy” (Romans 11:11). Right now the Jews are in denial. They know that they are God’s chosen people, and they can’t see that there’s room for the Gentiles that wish to join themselves to God’s original covenant (although they have no problems with Gentiles joining rabbinical Judaism as we know it today).There are millions of Gentiles all over the world that have accepted the salvation made possible through Christ. However, until our faith has obedience to back it up, our salvation will remain invisible to the Jews.

Remember that faith without works is dead? (Read James; it’s a short book.) There is no way to prove you have faith without also having works. Others will know that we are God’s people by our love, but they will only recognize our love through our works. There is no way to prove you love God or the brethren by sitting at home or in a pew and having nice thoughts toward one another. You cannot actively love without actively engaging in loving works. So the question then becomes: how do we love each other? The Law tells us how to love God and how to love our neighbor as ourselves. The entire Law hangs on these two commandments and clarifies them, so that we’ll know how to love our Creator and our fellow man. If we don’t keep the Law, then we will forget how to love each other: “And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). If you didn’t know that iniquity means lawlessness, then you should read through the New Testament again, taking this information into consideration. It really helps to clarify a few things.

My theory is that the Jews will know that salvation has come to the Gentiles when they observe three things happening. First, they will observe that we serve their God and keep His commandments out of desire, and not out of mere tradition or ritual (this is God’s definition of the new covenant given through Jeremiah in chapter 31, verse 33). Second, they will be jealous when they see us reaping the direct blessings of obedience (read Deuteronomy if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Third, they will see a mass influx of Israel and believing Gentiles (adopted Israel) returning to the land of the covenant: “Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him” (Isaiah 56:6-8).

Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing much of any of those things, not yet. However, as the HRM increases worldwide, the blessings on the obedient will become more and more obvious to the outside world and to the Jews. “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:8).

 

 

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 7

AiG: “As mentioned earlier, the HRM often ignores relevant passages in the New Testament epistles. In some cases, the text is not technically ignored; rather its meaning is flipped on its head. Downplaying the teaching contained in these letters is unwise, particularly since most of these letters were specifically composed to instruct the various churches or individuals on matters of Christian doctrine and practice. The Gospels and Acts, on the other hand, are more akin to historical writings. That is, their emphasis is on what happened whereas the epistles’ focus is on how one should live.”

Me: As far as I know, we are not ignoring any passages. It’s true that we are interpreting some passages in an opposite manner than mainstream Christianity. Torah-observant believers are interpreting those passages in light of the whole Word of God – in light of everything that the Father ever said, and in light of what Jesus said regarding God’s Word: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We will get to some those passages in the upcoming paragraphs.

I don’t know of any Torah-observant believers who are guilty of downplaying the teachings contained in the letters to the early church. And I’m not sure what Mr. Chaffey, the author of the original article, is trying to say when he mentions that the gospels and Acts are more akin to historical writings. Is he saying that we shouldn’t depend on them for doctrine? I understand that there are many sins recorded in the historical books, such as Peter’s denial of Christ, Judas’ betrayal, Simon’s desire for power, etc. But the Gospels and Acts contain much good doctrine, specifically when we focus on how Christ lived His life. He was the Living Torah, and we can rest assured that we can use His life as the example for how one ought to live: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6). Also, Mr. Chaffey himself used the Jerusalem Council from the book of Acts to try to make the case that Gentiles have no need to concern themselves with learning the Law. (For more details, see part 5 of this rebuttal). However, I don’t want to put words in the author’s mouth. Perhaps that’s not at all what he meant by pointing out the difference between the historical writings and the epistles.

AiG: “Written close to the same time as the convening of the Jerusalem Council, Paul’s letter to the Galatians was penned primarily to deal with the same type of issues. A group of people known as Judaizers had troubled the churches in Galatia with the idea that believers in Christ must submit to the Mosaic law, with circumcision being highlighted throughout the letter. In fact, it is probably not a stretch to say that the HRM would end today if each of its followers properly understood the main argument of Galatians.”

Me: Galatians addressed those who were relying on circumcision and keeping the Law for the purpose of justification, or in other words, as a requirement for salvation. Read the whole book today – it’s pretty short, and it’s obvious what’s being discussed. Some highlights: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16). “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Paul is not saying that there is anything wrong with the Law, merely that we cannot earn our justification through keeping it. (We couldn’t, but Christ could and did.) “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (Galatians 3:21).

AiG: “Paul makes some extremely strong statements against such teaching. Following his introductory comments, he twice condemned those, whether man or angel, who would preach any other gospel than what Paul had preached to them (Galatians 1:8–9).”

Me: I am not preaching another gospel. I agree wholeheartedly with Paul, but only because He agrees with the rest of scripture. If he didn’t, then he would be the false prophet preaching another gospel. Thankfully, he’s a true apostle, and his doctrine is sound. The Bereans were commended for checking everything Paul taught them against the scriptures that they had at their disposal right then: the Torah, the writings, and the prophets: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

AiG: “The HRM follower might respond that they do not believe they are justified by the law, but through faith in Christ.6 Instead, many of them view the works of the law as being required of believers for the purpose of obedience and sanctification. Paul bluntly addresses this idea as well:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1–3)”

Me: Obedience? Yes, it’s true. You cannot obey the Father without obeying His Words – His Torah. Jesus was the perfect example of obedience. We remember that the New Testament definition of sin is “transgression of the Law” (I John 3:4). Do you cheat on your taxes? Sleep with your neighbor’s wife? Gossip? Do you feel it is sin to do these things? Why? Obedience is completely different from justification, and many, many times, Paul taught obedience. Read any of the epistles. Just pick one and open it up. See if he is teaching us how to obey the Father. Paul’s big point (and this is why people misunderstood him so badly) is that we are not justified through obedience, but by faith alone. “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:15-17). Undoubtedly, Paul preached salvation by grace through faith. Some people mistakenly thought this was a license to sin. But Paul wasn’t preaching lawlessness by any means. “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

Sanctification? Sanctification means to be set apart: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/6942.htm

In order to be set apart, you have to be different from the rest. Again, this has nothing to do with justification. But yes, if you wish to be set apart, then you can achieve that by keeping God’s holy Torah. And if for some reason, you fear that’s it’s a sin (or dangerous) to keep Torah, to obey the very Word of God Himself, remember that Jesus (our perfect example) did it. Remember that the New Testament definition of sin is transgression of the Law. And if you’re really hung up on Paul, as though his doctrine has more weight than the Father’s and Christ’s put together, I assure you that Paul never preached against keeping the Law. “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good” (Romans 7:16). “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). Paul’s protégé, Timothy also acknowledged the goodness of the Law. “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully” (I Timothy 1:8). And folks, I’m mostly quoting the New Testament here because I am doubtful how much weight and authority you may believe the Old Testament to have. However, if you would just lay aside all man-made doctrine and read through the Old Testament, you would quickly discover how very beautiful and righteous the Torah actually is. It is God’s righteousness, revealed to man. Jesus Christ is the living Torah, also God’s righteousness revealed to man. The written and the Living Torah. They are the same Torah. Psalm 19:7: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.”

AiG: “Paul stated that those who think they can be sanctified by the works of the law are foolish and have been bewitched.”

Me: That’s not what he said. Read the passage again. He is asking if we think we can perfect ourselves through our own efforts. No, we don’t think that. Some of the Galatians did, and that’s why this epistle was written, but the Torah-observant believers that I am acquainted with believe that it is Christ alone who perfects us. We cannot perfect ourselves because we are already ruined, already imperfect. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There’s no going back. You can’t right a wrong. Even through the works of the Law, you can’t erase sin once it’s been committed. The Law gives us instructions for LIFE, therefore, when you ignore or disobey those instructions, DEATH goes to work in your body. It stands to reason then, that the just penalty for sin is death, and our God is always just. Without Christ’s perfect life (according to Torah) and perfect, spotless sacrifice, we would all be doomed. We don’t obey out of a delusion that we are perfecting ourselves. We obey out of a desire to please the Father, to live according to the things He called righteous. We obey because we love Him, not because we are trying to earn favor or salvation or anything like that. And please don’t feel so sorry for us, as though we have placed an unnecessary burden upon ourselves. The Law is not burdensome – it’s quite the opposite. But you won’t believe me unless you try it. The Law has been a great blessing to us. The blessings are the reason that I am sharing this with you – I want all believers to walk in the perfect Law of liberty, to get free from the bondage of sin.

AiG: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16–18, emphasis added). How much plainer does Paul need to say it? What can we unreservedly say about those who are led by the Spirit? They are “not under the law.””

Me: You might want to read another verse or two, instead of stopping at verse 18. When Paul speaks of the works of the flesh, he is not equating them to God’s holy Torah. The works of the flesh are transgressions against the Law. Here is Paul’s list of the works of the flesh, beginning in the very next verse: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

When we are being led by the Spirit, we are not under the tutelage of the Law. It is no longer our schoolmaster because now we have a desire to do those things that it had been teaching us before we were mature enough to understand them. The Spirit is a gift to us from the Father, to enable us to walk according to the Law with desire instead of merely ritual obedience: “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27).

AiG: “Instead of being under the law, Paul stated that in Christ, we have liberty and do not need to rely on law-keeping.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. (Galatians 5:1–3)

Notice the similarity of verse 3 with James 2:10. If someone believes he must keep the law, then he cannot pick and choose which parts of the law he wants to keep: it’s all or nothing.7

Me: What freedom does Christ bring us? Freedom from sin: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:32-34). We were slaves – we sold ourselves under sin. Therefore, we were under the condemnation of the Law. (The penalty for sin is death.) We do not believe that one must be circumcised in order to attain salvation. That notion is incredibly silly, because like I said before, we have already sinned. Mr. Chaffey draws our attention to the similarity of Galatians 5:3 and James 2:10, and when it comes to earning our own salvation, he is correct: it is all or nothing. That’s the very reason that Christ came and took on flesh and died in our stead. But before doing so, He had to walk innocently, perfectly according to Torah. It is not a sin to obey the Father’s Law and walk according to Jesus’ example. But it is ridiculous to believe that by doing so, we are justifying ourselves or making ourselves perfect. This is the point of Paul’s letter to Galatians.