AiG: “The HRM makes much of the fact that Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law and that he stressed the importance of keeping commandments. In their view, this means that the law must still be in force today—even on Gentiles, although they were not under the law in Old Testament times…”
Me: Yes, I do make much of what Jesus said about the Law. Yes, He did stress the importance of keeping commandments. The only Gentiles who were not expected to keep the Law in Old Testament times were those who did not join themselves to the covenant. Those who did join themselves to Jehovah’s covenant placed themselves under His authority: “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them” (Joshua 8:35). “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). See also Exodus 12:49, Numbers 9:14, and Numbers 15:15-16.
When we get saved, we become part of the Hebrew people; in other words, we join the covenant that God made with Abraham and His people: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
What is Abraham’s seed expected to do? For starters, keep the sabbath. Notice that it is a perpetual covenant: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16). Does this mean that only saved Jews are supposed to keep the sabbath, but not saved Gentiles? No, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile once you are part of the covenant. The whole chapter of Isaiah 56 is very eye-opening, but here’s a glimpse: “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” (Isaiah 56:6-7).
I know I’m quoting some of the same scriptures as previously, but these scriptures are almost completely ignored in the church today, which is probably why the author of the original article does not understand what it means to join the covenant. I’m not saying he isn’t saved. Salvation isn’t based on understanding, but on belief: “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Also, I don’t expect everyone to go through and read each and every one of my posts on this topic, so for the point at hand, some repetition is required.
Why does the modern-day church preach against sin? Is it because they think that Christ’s blood won’t cover us if we sin? No, there is a different reason: to be pleasing to God. Our family keeps the Torah for the same reason. To please Him, to walk in His ways, to benefit from the Law’s righteousness, to be a blessing to others because they also benefit when we adhere to the righteousness of the Law. Remember that His Law is perfect and righteous, holy, good, and just. For confirmation, read Psalm 119 in its entirety, or just ask the apostle Paul: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Romans 7:12
AiG: “Somehow they seem to overlook or reinterpret the last part of Matthew 5:17. Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.4 By living a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21), and then dying as the ultimate sacrifice, our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), Jesus Christ fulfilled the law (Colossians 2:14). This is why the Apostle Paul confidently wrote that those who have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ are “not under the law” (Romans 6:14, 7:4; Galatians 5:18).”
Me: Fulfill does not mean abolish. If it does, then Jesus contradicted Himself in Matthew 5:17. Jesus did come to fulfill the Law (live it, walk it out, fulfill the prophecies), and He has yet some aspects to fulfill (The feast of trumpets – His return, the day of atonement – judgment day, the feast of tabernacles – His dwelling among us on the earth during the Millennial Reign). In fact, it won’t be entirely fulfilled until heaven and earth pass away, which Jesus confirms in Matthew 5:18: “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.” In fact, until the elements melt with a fervent heat, the Law must stand. Aside from Jesus’ own words, here’s another reason why: heaven and earth are the witnesses that God called to witness the covenant that God made with mankind. “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 30:19). Why did He call heaven and earth as witnesses? Because they were the only things that would be around long enough to see that both God and Man (through Jesus Christ) kept up their end of the covenant.
If you believe that the Law endures, that God’s definition of righteousness endures forever (Psalm 119:160), then absolutely no part of what Jesus said in Matthew 5 will be a problem for you. If, however, you believe there is a problem with the Law, or that it is meaningless for us today, or even that it isn’t still in effect, well, then a lot of what Jesus said isn’t going to make sense to you.
Here’s the reference I made earlier: “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160).
However, I do agree with Paul that we are not “under” the Law. Christ’s blood is what justifies me, so when judgment day comes, I will stand innocently before the Throne. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). In other words, anyone who is justified by the Law doesn’t need a Savior. However, nobody at all falls into that category because we have all sinned (transgressed the Law). That doesn’t mean that I should give myself permission to fornicate, steal, murder, abandon the sabbath, or eat abominable things. Remember, I live the way I do for the same reason that you live the way you do: not in an effort to earn salvation, but out of a love for God and a desire to please Him.
AiG: “Furthermore, it is highly questionable to assume that Jesus had the Mosaic law in mind when he told the disciples to keep his commandments. Earlier in the same evening, he commanded the disciples to love one another (John 13:34), and he gave them several commands during his ministry that are not spelled out in the Mosaic law.”
Jesus was clarifying the meaning of the Law, just as one might preach a sermon to clarify the meaning of a passage. He certainly wasn’t adding to the Law or taking away from it. If He was, then He wasn’t the perfect Son because God told His people: “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” (Deuteronomy 4:2). Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law, which means He never added or took away. And in case you think that loving people is an addition to the Law: “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18). The first and greatest commandment is also a quote from the Old Testament, but let’s take a look at the context:
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
2 That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
What most people don’t understand is that the Law is synonymous with love. God is Love – this we know. His Word is also love, both the written form of His Word, and the Living form. The Law spells out for us in no uncertain terms HOW we are to go about loving God and loving one another. Anyone who keeps Torah is actively loving God and man, as opposed to the passive, loosely-defined love that’s taught in churches today. Here’s an interesting verse: Matthew 24:12 states: “And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Notice that the cause and effect that one might expect is reversed. Love waxes cold because lawlessness abounds, not the other way around. The cold, hard truth is that people don’t know how to properly love God or other people. We preach love, but we leave the definition up to each individual. Remember that when we do what is right in our own eyes, rather than heeding the Words of the Father, we are going to fall short. Here’s a quote from a very dark time in Israel’s history: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” Judges 17:6.
A few more verses to consider: “Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.” Deuteronomy 12:8. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” Proverbs 21:2, Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 16:2, Proverbs 30:12, Proverbs 36:2. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 But if we can’t trust our own hearts, where do we turn? Whom do we trust? “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7