AiG: “First, God gave plenty of commandments in Scripture that do not fall under the Mosaic law. He commanded Noah to build an Ark and to bring food for all the animals that would come to him, and Noah obeyed God’s commands (Genesis 6:22, 7:5). Should we assume that every believer must also follow these commands? If so, we should expect to see many more Arks being built around the world.”
Me: Those were obviously specific commands for specific people – not commands for all who enter the covenant. Even Paul says to the Romans, who were Gentiles, that we establish the Law. (Romans 3:31) There is a clear difference between the Law for all the covenant people (see my references in previous posts) and instructions to individuals. For instance, modern churches today preach that everyone should tithe, no one should steal, etc. They don’t preach that we should all build arks, so they understand the difference; as far as I know, everyone understands the difference. Also, I was amused when I read the last line from the above quote: I don’t know anyone who thinks that Ken Ham and his God-fearing team of believers are trying to earn their salvation by building an ark. Someone might say that, but it wouldn’t be true. Well, like I mentioned before, nobody that I know thinks they are earning their salvation through keeping the Law to the best of their ability. Opponents might say that about us, but that doesn’t make it true. Jesus kept the Law perfectly and earned my salvation in the process. That means that I don’t have to earn my salvation, but that doesn’t mean that I should ignore God’s instructions. There may not be any eternal consequences for disobedience, but there are temporal ones.
AiG: “The HRM followers I have spoken to about this typically reply that those commands were given to a specific person for a specific time, and they are correct. But if that reason is strong enough to avoid following such commandments, why does it not hold true when it comes to the Mosaic law? After all, the Mosaic law was given to a specific group of people at a specific time. The Bible spells out this fact at the initiation of this covenant and again 40 years later when the Israelites prepared to enter the land God promised to them.”
Me: I answered all of these concerns in recent posts. However, in case you don’t have time to read it all, here it is again in a nutshell: Gentiles joined the covenant – some were even there when it was ratified. 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). The Law is righteous forever : “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160). There are last-day Gentiles who join the covenant and keep the sabbath, and this is pleasing to the Lord: “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). Keeping the Law is very much a part of the new covenant: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33). “And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:18-20).
AiG: “Shortly after the Lord delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, they camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and Moses went up the mountain to hear from God.”
Me: I just have to draw your attention to the fact that the removal from Egypt was God’s way of delivering the people from bondage, and He didn’t bring them out of bondage just to place them right back into it a few weeks later at Sinai. His Law is anything but bondage – The Law tells us how to achieve freedom from sin, the most brutal and tragic slavemaster there is: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:25. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 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 8:31-34. Notice that Jesus did not take this opportunity to tell them that they were in bondage to the Law, and that they needed to get out from under it, but that they were in bondage to sin. The Law is the opposite of sin, because sin is transgression of the Law. Sinning against the Law is what binds us. It is from precisely this bondage that Jesus sets us free.
AiG: “The Bible is abundantly clear that God made this covenant with the people of Israel (the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and Moses acted as their representative before the Lord.”
Me: I will say again that the covenant was made with natural-born Israel, and those Gentiles who joined the covenant (adopted Israel). This does not become “abundantly clear” until you understand the mystery of the gospel, which is the fact that Gentiles would be saved under the same covenant that God made with His chosen people, Israel: “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).
AiG: “Many HRM proponents respond to such claims by arguing that believers in Jesus are Jewish, even if they have no known Jewish heritage or ethnicity.”
Me: No, we are not Jewish. To identify as Jewish is to identify as the tribe of Judah. But we are certainly part of Israel: “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Paul says we are adopted. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” Ephesians 1:5, Romans 11:18: “Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.”
AiG: “First, by inconsistently following the law, HRM followers are guilty of breaking the entire law. James stated, ‘For whoever keeps the whole law, but fails in one point, has become guilty of all of it’ (James 2:10).”
Me: As far as I know, we are obeying the Law consistently (to the best of our ability). We aren’t ignoring any of the commandments on purpose. And if this is an issue for the author, let me remind him that modern-day churches are even worse than those in the HRM movement. They preach 9 of the 10 commandments, they preach against tattoos, homosexuality, and fornication. They insist on the giving of tithes. Why choose some and leave the rest out? The reference in James is proof of our need for a Savior because we are unable to save ourselves by living perfectly. Jesus did live perfectly according to the Law. He is the one we trust for our salvation. If one is trusting in his own obedience to the Law to save him, then he is severely misled.
Should we do unrighteous things on purpose, to avoid placing ourselves under the righteousness of the Law? Think about this: all believers are guilty of inconsistently following the Law. They choose to keep parts of it and to neglect the rest. For instance, the Law says not to murder, not to steal, not to commit adultery. I have never heard a preacher say that these things are okay because we are not under the Law. In order to not place yourself under the righteousness of the Law in any regard, you would need to do any of these things any time you felt the urge. But no, you don’t do those things if you are living in obedience to the Father’s will. Most Christians choose to be obedient, at least in part – not because they think they are earning their salvation, but because they love and serve a righteous God who gave us righteous commandments, and because they recognize for themselves that many of the commandments are in fact righteous.
Some of the commandments are easily recognized as righteous by almost all believers. But do we all have to agree that something is righteous in order to keep obeying? If half of the Christians in the world disagree that homosexuality is a sin, does that mean that it isn’t? No. That just means that we are losing our ability to discern right from wrong. The Father knows that we won’t always be able to discern righteousness, and that we won’t always agree about what righteousness is. That’s why He told us in black and white what sin is and what sin isn’t. How we feel about those regulations has absolutely no bearing on the everlasting righteousness of the Law.
AiG: “But HRM adherents do not follow the 613 commands (by traditional count) in the Mosaic law—they focus only a small fraction of those. In fact, they could never keep all of those laws because they do not have access to the Levitical priesthood.”
Me: First of all, we “focus” on the whole Law. Secondly, if not having the ability to keep parts of the Law equals a failure in keeping it, then Jesus was not the perfect sacrifice. He did not have the ability to keep the parts of the Law that pertained specifically to women. We keep all of the parts we are able to. If God wants us to keep the other parts, He will bring us back into the land and reestablish the Levitical ministry. (This is precisely what will happen during the Millennial Reign of Christ – read the last 10 chapters of Ezekiel.)