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.

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Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 6

AiG: “Not too long after that, following Paul’s first missionary journey where countless Gentiles believed the gospel message, the apostles gathered together in Jerusalem to settle a divisive issue in the church that speaks directly to the claims of the HRM. After Paul and Barnabas declared all that God had done during their journey, particularly the conversion of the Gentiles, some of the “believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses’” (Acts 15:1–5). The apostles and elders debated the matter for a time, and then Peter stood and argued that such burdens mentioned in verse 5 (circumcision and Mosaic law) should not be placed on the Gentile believers. “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:10–11).”

Me: The Torah-observant believers that I know have absolutely no issues with this passage. It is not necessary to become circumcised or to keep the Law of Moses to be saved, and we quite acknowledge that fact. For anyone who does believe in a works-based salvation, a thoughtful read-through of Galatians should be sufficient to correct his faulty thinking. Perhaps the person reading this article (you) may not keep the sabbath day or may not refrain from eating unclean animals. Does that mean that I think you are not saved? Not in the least. The whole purpose that I am so vocal about the Law is because it has been a great blessing to me, and I want to share the entire Word of God with everyone who has a desire to please the Father. It’s not because I think that all modern Christians need to get saved. In fact, the passage in Matthew 5 makes very clear that people who disobey or preach against the Law are still part of God’s kingdom: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

When Peter says, “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will,” he is saying that works are not required for salvation. He then reminds the Jewish believers that they and their fathers had been unable to earn their own salvation through obedience to the Law. It was only by Christ’s obedience to it and sacrifice on their behalf that they had been able to receive salvation.

AiG: “I have spoken with someone in the HRM who responded to this by saying that this referred only to the evangelistic message, and that once a Gentile became a believer, then he would be expected to be circumcised and keep the law. However, this is flatly contradicted by what happened next. James addressed the group and said, “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood” (Acts 15:19–20).”

Me: What James said does not at all contradict the fact that Gentiles would be expected to grow as believers. If James’ judgment were to be the only four restrictions placed on Gentiles for the rest of their Christian journey, then why would Paul consistently write to Gentile believers and teach them what sin is? If these are the only four restrictions placed on Gentiles, then why teach them not to steal, gossip, or murder? Wouldn’t that be teaching them to obey the Law? If these were the only four ways that a Gentile could sin, then we wouldn’t need the old or new testaments to tell us right from wrong. We would only need the instructions that came down from the Jerusalem council.

AiG: “So why did James think that four restrictions should be placed on Gentiles? Was it because Gentiles needed to obey these laws to be saved? Not at all! He answers that question in the next verse. “For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues” (Acts 15:21). One HRM follower told me that this verse meant that the Gentiles would go to the synagogues in those cities to learn about following the law. But that is not even close to what James said. The reason for the restrictions was so that the Gentile Christians who were not under the Mosaic law would not unnecessarily offend the Jews.”

Me: I agree that these four restrictions were not salvation issues. We are saved by grace through faith. The Gentiles were going to the synagogues on the Sabbath to learn more about the Law. This is why they needed to keep themselves clean enough to mingle with the Jews and not unnecessarily offend them.

AiG: “Notice, James did not include circumcision or the entirety of the law in his response. In fact, the four “apostolic decrees,” as they have been called, are quite similar to four of the regulations in the Mosaic law placed upon foreigners who wished to remain in the land of Israel. They were to abstain from pagan sacrifices (Leviticus 17:8–9), from blood (17:10–14), things strangled (17:13–14),5 and sexual immorality (18:6–23).”

Me: Yep, this is true to form. The disciples were not inventing a new religion. They were following the God-given instructions in Torah.

AiG: “Did the rest of the elders and apostles agree with Peter and James? Absolutely. In fact, they agreed at every point and drafted a letter to be sent out to Gentile believers that included the following words:

The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul. . . . For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. (Acts 15:23–2628–29, emphasis added)

So the disciples specifically stated that they did not send people to teach Gentiles that the law must be kept, and then they sent people to deliver a letter that included just four regulations. If ever there was a time in early Christianity to teach that Gentiles should follow the law, this was it. The decision of the “Jerusalem Council” carried the combined weight of the apostles and confirmation of the Holy Spirit. They did not command the Gentile believers to keep the Sabbath, observe the festivals, or to be circumcised.”

Me: There were some in the early church who were going around telling the Gentiles that they must keep the Law in order to be saved. This is entirely false, and today’s Torah-observant believers know it. Just to be clear, I will say again that we do not keep the Law for salvation nor preach to anyone else that keeping it is a requirement for their salvation. Jesus kept the Law. He fulfilled the requirement in our place. It wouldn’t do us any good to try keeping it for salvation because we have already fallen short of God’s standards.

Again, I will state that James’ judgment did not contain the only four possible sins for Gentile believers. This was merely to make it possible for the Jews to associate with the believing Gentiles. Why didn’t the Jerusalem Council take the opportunity to mention that Gentiles should follow the Law, not for salvation of course, but just because it’s the righteous thing to do? Because this is the Father’s religion we are talking about in the first place. It is His covenant with mankind. Christian believers are entering the covenant made with Israel, not starting a new religion. “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). Jesus came to share the one true religion with the lost 10 tribes of Israel, to bring them back into covenant with the Father, and to add Gentile believers to their number. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). All believers are spiritual Israel; otherwise, the promises would not pertain to them. However, this also means that the covenant and the Law apply to them as well.

The Law is righteous. Anyone seeking righteousness will eventually discover this truth. Believers in both the Old and New Testaments had a great respect for God’s Law, and they knew it was the very definition of righteousness itself. That’s how some of them got confused and tried to make keeping it a salvation issue. Read your entire Bible and judge for yourself. Is the Law righteous?

“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. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25). “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3). “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, Who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn And to the quarry from which you were dug” (Isaiah 51:1). “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18). “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). “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). “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160).

My point is, it doesn’t matter whether new converts were reading the Torah, the Psalms, the prophets, or listening to Jesus, Luke, or Paul. Everyone agreed when it came to the righteousness of the Law.

All believers throughout the course of history have realized that they have failed to live up to God’s standards which He set forth in the Law. They all look to the Messiah for salvation. Salvation through Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice did not change God’s standards; it merely changed our right-standing with Him. Christianity, based on the Living Torah, was not supposed to be a new religion. It’s the oldest religion, the one true religion. It’s all about the Father, His righteousness, His chosen people, and His salvation. His righteousness (as defined by the Law) will never, ever change. Jesus is the example of how we should walk in that righteousness: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” I John 2:6.

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 5

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 6:227:5). 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.)

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 4

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 6:147:4Galatians 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:

Deuteronomy 6

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:

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.

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.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

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.

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

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

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 3

AiG: “Some have gone so far as to challenge orthodox Christian beliefs such as the Trinity and even the deity of Jesus Christ.”

Me: There is nothing inherently wrong with challenging “orthodox” Christian beliefs, as long as the conclusions we reach come from the very Word of God itself. In fact, we are commanded to “test everything” (I Thessalonians 5:21). However, I believe that anyone with a firm grasp of the Hebrew language will see the deity of Jesus Christ everywhere they look. They will also see evidence of the Holy Spirit.

AiG: “Fundamentally, the HRM teaches that many modern Christian beliefs and practices were introduced to the church by pagan Greeks. This is why they generally do not like to be identified as Christians. Instead, they believe that they need to recover the first century Hebrew roots of Christianity.”

It’s true that many modern Christian beliefs and practices were introduced to the church by pagans. Why hide it or ignore it? Why not admit it if it is true? I’m not sure this is the only reason that many Torah-observant believers don’t like to be identified as Christians, however. I myself know that I am a Christian. If Christian means “Christ-like,” and if Christ obeyed the Torah, and if I am following that example as the Bible says we ought, then I am quite literally a Christian: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6). I think the reason why many don’t wish to be called Christian is that they don’t wish to be identified with the beliefs that spring to mind when the word “Christian” comes up. Nearly everyone believes they know what Christianity means already. Because Torah-observant believers do not fit into that box, many do not call themselves Christians. But they are still Christians in the literal sense of the word, and they know that they are.

Quoted by AiG: “It is a very modern movement that insists that we must resurrect first-century Judaism (our Jewish Roots) and the milieu and lifestyle of first-century Jews and impose them on both Jewish and non-Jewish believers. This is not just an academic study to better understand Scripture and its setting but is rather a movement of restoration that claims that the church has moved off its Jewish foundation and must return to a more Jewish way of life to be authentic.”

Me: First of all, is Torah-observance very modern, or is it very ancient? The writer uses the phrase “very modern” to make it seem almost silly to the reader. He knows that if the movement is very modern, it can’t possibly be correct. Why? Because God doesn’t change. However, Torah-observance is the oldest religion that worships the Creator of the universe. It’s all God ever asked of His people. All throughout the Torah, He says obey my commandments. The poetry books speak of the righteousness of His Law. The prophets continually call the people to repent and turn back to His Law. Jesus obeyed the commandments as the perfect man and as our example. Paul kept the Law himself (Acts 21:17-26) and says that we establish the Law (Romans 3:31). And our God doesn’t change. This is what mainstream Christianity is completely missing. Keeping the Law doesn’t save us (He saves us in spite of our sin), but it does please the Law-Giver when we obey it.

Secondly, we do not “impose [Judaism]” on either Jewish or non-Jewish believers. He saves us in spite of our sin, not because of our ability to keep the Law. (We would all be doomed in that case.)  Christ’s blood pays for the sins of all who believe on Him, even if we are prone to misinterpreting what He wants from us.

Thirdly, the church has definitely moved off its foundation. However, I wouldn’t say they must return to a more Jewish way of life to be authentic. I’d say they need to return to Torah-observance to be obedient. God’s way and the Jewish way can be as different as night and day. Read anything that Jesus had to say to the Pharisees to understand what I’m talking about.

AiG: “Chief among these misunderstandings is the notion that ‘the law’ was intended to be binding on all people throughout history.”

Me: If the Law is not binding on all people, then those who are not under it do not need a savior to save them from their “sins.” If there is no Law, then there is no sin.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” Isaiah 53:6. (The definition of iniquity is “lawlessness.”)

“…sin is the transgression of the Law” (I John 3:4).

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

But here’s the entire chapter of Romans 3, to get a clearer picture:

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

 

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 2

From AiG: “In recent years, an increasing number of Christians have adopted teachings associated with the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM).”

My response: I believe that an increasing number of Christians are becoming more aware of the truth.

AiG: “Properly defining this movement is difficult because it has no central hierarchy or leader and no official statement of faith for members to endorse.”

Me: This is because we do not follow the interpretations of a single man, a group of people, or a denomination. We follow and obey only the Word of God (both the Living Word and the written Word). Although we may not be interpreting everything 100% correctly, we do our best to read the Bible for ourselves, to see what it says about itself, to allow it to interpret itself, and to use God’s Word to find out what He really wants from His people. We allow it to correct our long-held misconceptions and bring us into a greater understanding of the truth. We also continually study it from the perspective that we always have more to learn rather than study the doctrines of men who think they know everything about it already.

AiG: “Broadly speaking, followers of the HRM believe that Christians are obligated to follow Jewish laws and practices from the books of Moses.”

Me: I don’t know about the HRM, but I do not personally know anyone who thinks that we are “obligated” to follow the Law. Every Torah-observant believer that I know believes in salvation through faith in Christ alone. None of us could ever earn our own salvation because we have already sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We know we need a Savior just as much as mainstream Christians know it. We desire to keep Torah for the same reason that mainstream Christians desire not to lie, gossip, or cheat on their taxes. We don’t believe that God will “un-save” us when we fail to obey. Our sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb, just like everyone else’s. We know that God isn’t constantly looking for a reason to disinherit us. Instead, we obey from a desire from the heart to please the Creator who gave us very good commandments. We never claim to observe the Torah perfectly – in fact, we are well aware of our own shortcomings.

Also, using the term “Jewish laws and practices from the books of Moses” is highly misleading. The books of Moses contain God’s Laws that were given to His covenant people (largely Israel, but also the gentiles who joined themselves to the covenant, such as Ruth, Rahab, and the Egyptians that took part in the Exodus). To call them Jewish laws is to single out the tribe of Judah, which is incorrect.

AiG: “Oftentimes, extrabiblical rabbinic teachings and traditions are elevated (if not in official doctrinal beliefs then in practice) to the same level as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.”

Me: I have seen this to some extent from one of my online acquaintances. But again, I don’t personally know any Torah-observant believers who practice this. More often, Torah-observant believers are called into question because we elevate Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy to the same level as the rest of the scriptures.

AiG: “Although they often speak of keeping the “law,” they are usually inconsistent in how this is understood and defined. For example, certain laws are either broken or neglected while a great deal of attention is placed on keeping the Sabbath (Friday sunset through Saturday sunset) and celebrating the feasts mentioned in Leviticus 23. These issues will be discussed in more detail below.”

Me: This statement is scandalously untrue. I think it may seem that we are harping on the sabbath because it is the most obvious thing that separates us from mainstream Christianity, and it’s probably the easiest proof to our Christian friends that they have been missing something important. So, we do talk about it a lot in an effort to help our brothers and sisters to understand the perpetual sign of the covenant: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16-17). And if you think that the sabbath applies only to those who were naturally born into Israel, then how do you understand the concept of salvation? In order to obtain salvation through the line of Judah, we are grafted into Israel. In other words, we join the covenant. This is Christianity 101, isn’t it?

If you still think I’m wrong, how do you explain the Old Testament prophecies concerning gentile sabbath-keepers in the last days? “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).

In reference to the outcasts of Israel – Israel never came back from Assyrian captivity. They are dispersed into the entire world, and they don’t know who they are. So, if you’re a Christian today, or even if you aren’t, it’s still very possible that you are part of Abraham’s bloodline, who is the father of many nations, or Ephraim’s, whose “seed shall become a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19b). It’s very possible that your forefathers entered into the covenant, which includes the perpetual covenant of the sabbath. And even if you’re a gentile through-and-through, once you’re saved, you’re still part of Abraham and the covenant made with him. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). There is no way to know if you are a natural-born citizen of Israel or an adopted one. It matters not. If you are a Christian, then there is absolutely no difference.  Either way, there is no excuse for not keeping the sabbath, which is a sign of the covenant.

As far as being inconsistent, breaking or neglecting some parts of the Law: we believe what Moses said initially in Deuteronomy 8:3 and what Jesus quoted when He was tempted by satan: that man shall live by EVERY Word of God. Most of the other Torah-observant Christians that I know believe the same.

AiG: “It is difficult to document the movement’s history because of its lack of organizational structure, but the modern HRM has been influenced in some ways by Seventh-Day Adventism and the Worldwide Church of God during the lifetime of its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.”

Me: I think this is most likely because the HRM is made up of individual people coming into the knowledge of the truth. These are people who are reading the Bible for themselves to see what it really says instead of allowing someone else to tell them what it means. You can do this too. Be like the Bereans, who were commended for double-checking everything Paul said against the Old Testament scriptures (Acts 17:11).

AiG: “Additionally, the HRM has been influenced by the practices of Messianic Jews, but the similarities between the groups are superficial and should not be conflated. In fact, many Messianic Jewish organizations have denounced the beliefs of the HRM.”

Me: Because most Messianic Jews are being proselytized by mainstream Christians, they adhere to mainstream beliefs. However, because they have a better understanding of the Old Testament in the first place, they are probably more likely aware of how the feast days and other aspects of the Law foreshadow Christ, and those are the things we have in common.

AiG: “The past few decades have witnessed a growing influence of this movement among conservative Christians. It is not unusual to see some HRM proponents give themselves Hebrew names, write ‘God’ as ‘G-d,’ eat kosher foods, claim that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew (or at least several books were), condemn numerous Christian traditions as pagan, and dismiss teachings from Paul’s epistles.”

Me: I don’t know why you would give yourself a Hebrew name unless you had one already, but at the same time, I don’t see anything wrong with it. It might be weird, but not wrong. Easter eggs are weird too, but mainstream Christianity seems to have no problems with them. Something else worth consideration is the fact that many people have Hebrew names already. For instance, my husband’s name is Jesse. When we started learning more about the Hebrew language (out of a desire to better understand the Old Testament scriptures), we did look up the spelling, pronunciation, and meaning. But I still call him Jesse. However, I don’t see a problem with calling him Yishai, if that’s what he wanted. After all, his name does originate from the Hebrew language.

The people writing “God” as “G-d” are doing so because they have been influenced too strongly by the man-made Jewish tradition of not speaking the tetragrammaton (the name of Jehovah in Hebrew). A lot of Jews writing in English will not write the word “God” either, although I don’t understand why. The word “God” is closer in meaning to “Elohim,” which the Jews have no problems with.

The reason we eat kosher foods is because God Himself commanded us not to eat unclean animals. However, our family doesn’t eat every kind of food labeled as kosher, because any food that’s been blessed by a rabbi is considered kosher by mainstream Jews, and we do not agree that they are all clean. For instance, Jello contains gelatin from a pig, and we do not eat it, even though it is “kosher.” Also, there are many foods that mainstream Jews do not consider kosher that we do eat. We allow God’s dietary instructions to guide us, and not the rabbinical additions and subtractions from His Word.

Some of the Hebraisms used in the New Testament only make sense if they were written first in Hebrew and then translated into Greek. Google it to see what I’m talking about. We still have access to the Hebrew gospels, if you want to learn Hebrew and read them. 119 Ministries posted some links to the digital gospels right here: https://www.facebook.com/119Ministries/posts/1991512577542670

Numerous Christian traditions have pagan origins. Look them up. To get you started: Christmas trees (fertility worship), the date of Christmas (Saturnalia), painting Easter eggs (painting eggs with the blood of a child sacrifice), the name of Easter/Ishtar, the date of Easter (the rebirth of the sun). Many Christians are well aware of the pagan origins of many traditions, but they claim that paganism in the church is okay because God looks on the heart. While it’s true that God does look on the heart (see yesterday’s post concerning King Solomon’s heart in 1 Kings 3:3-5), once we know the truth about what He wants, and THEN refuse to worship Him His way, it is rebellion, and He treats it as such. As sincere Christians (and I am talking to everyone reading this article), it is our duty to read the entire Word of God to find out exactly how the Father desires to be worshipped. To find out for yourself whether God likes being worshipped through pagan traditions and His reason for feeling that way, start with 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.”

Those who dismiss Paul’s teachings do not understand that he never spoke out against God’s Law nor contradicted it. He says as much in Acts 26:22: “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.” In 2 Peter 3:15-17, Peter also tells us that Paul is easily misunderstood: “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.”

Those who dismiss Paul’s teachings believe that mainstream Christianity’s interpretations concerning them are correct. They are not correct. Paul never contradicted the Word of God. If he had, the Bereans would not have believed him (Acts 17:11), nor would I (Deuteronomy 4:2). God does not change His Word. Here is an object lesson for those believing that He does: I Kings 13:11-24. If once God reveals His Word, believe Him forever, and don’t let anyone else tell you that God has changed His mind.

Rebuttal: Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 1

Introduction

On March 17, 2018, Answers in Genesis (AiG) released an article challenging the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM). To read it for yourself, click here: https://answersingenesis.org/presuppositions/dangers-hebrew-roots-movement/?utm_source=facebook-aig&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facebook-aig

First of all, let me state that this article does not properly represent any of the Torah-observant Christians that I know (whether they are part of the HRM or not). The article itself is severely misleading, due to the fact that the author, Tim Chaffey, misunderstands what the HRM believes. For instance, if you’re a Baptist, how would you feel if you read an article stating that Baptists get saved as a sort of “fire insurance” against hell, and that they don’t really care whether people keep sinning or not? If you’re Pentecostal, what if someone wrote an article stating that you believe that you have to work your way into heaven? If you’re Presbyterian, and you’ve read any articles on “the dangers of Calvinism,” then you know the kind of misrepresentation I’m talking about. Now imagine for a moment that one of your favorite ministries released such an article, a ministry that’s respected by believers around the globe. Imagine thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands, who take the time to read the article and take it at face value without doing any research themselves — because they already trust the research standards of Answers in Genesis.

I’m not angry. I don’t believe that the misrepresentation is intentional on the author’s part. I think Mr. Chaffey incorrectly assumes that he understands what the majority of the HRM believes. While I do appreciate the fact that the author reminds the readers that not all HRM believers will fit what he is describing, he doesn’t tell us that only a very select few will even begin to fit the description (probably because he doesn’t know). For instance, there will be a few Baptists who do purchase “fire insurance” and a few Pentecostals who work daily for fear that they won’t be “good” enough to get to heaven. There are probably a few Presbyterians who think that soul winning is unimportant because people are already elected or they’re not. That doesn’t mean that the vast majority will fall into those categories, and you certainly wouldn’t want tens of thousands of people believing that most Baptists, Pentecostals, or Presbyterians believe what I’ve just described.

Secondly, my family and I do not consider ourselves part of any “movement.” We are Torah-observant because we believe that God wants His covenant people to abide by the terms of the covenant. The HRM consists of Torah-observant believers for the same reason. However, my family began to consider Torah observance before we knew of any other families on earth that were living that way. Our change in lifestyle was not due to any movement, but rather due to the conviction of the Word of God and His Holy Spirit: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). “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).

Thirdly, I highly respect AiG, and I am in no way attacking them or their ministry. In fact, I encourage all of you to follow and support their work. However, I believe that we are living in the last days, and that citizens of Israel are waking up (including both natural-born and adopted citizens). “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (I Corinthians 15:34).

Ezekiel 11:14-17: And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’

If you look on AiG’s FaceBook page, specifically this post in question (https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/posts/10157311064584899), you will see that many Torah-observant Christians are engaging with AiG. While some in the HRM might come across as extremely arrogant or judgmental, many (like myself) have long harbored the hope that those at AiG are sincere seekers of the Truth of the entire Word of God. AiG has done so much already to prove and teach the integrity of the Word, and I believe that Torah observance is the natural next step toward the whole Truth. Hopefully, the backlash that they are currently now receiving will cause some of the employees to pause and reconsider (meanwhile reading the entire Word of God to test for and discover Truth).

As I mentioned earlier, we do not follow the Hebrew Roots movement or any movement. We only do our best to interpret what the Bible really says, although I readily admit that we do not always agree with mainstream Christianity about its interpretation. So when I answer this article, I will tell you if the concerns raised by the author apply to my family or not.

At a Glance

While the AT-A-GLANCE sidebar may apply to a few in the HRM, it does not apply to our family at all, nor does it apply to any Torah-observant Christian that I have fellowshipped with. We do not hold ourselves to any man-made traditions, Jewish or otherwise. We do not treat the traditions like scripture. We are interested in some of them, specifically in how they got started – especially the ones that foreshadow Christ, unbeknownst to the Jews who partake in them. But elevating man-made traditions to the level of the Word of God is precisely what Jesus had against the Pharisees (Mark 7:7). He also reprimanded them because they made the commandment of God of none effect by their own traditions (Mark 7:8; 13). To the best of our ability, my family follows God’s own commandments, which is what Jesus told satan that people should do: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Satan comes to us as an angel of light, deceiving and tempting us, trying to nullify the very Word of God (which is the oldest trick in the book – quite literally: Genesis 3:1), and if we truly were to follow Christ’s example, this would be our response to him.

The second AT-A-GLANCE point says that the Hebrew Roots Movement misunderstands the extent and scope of the Mosaic Law. Let me just remind you of something you already know: Moses didn’t invent the Law – God gave it to Moses to give to His covenant people. Moses recorded it and passed it on to them and to us. We assume that Moses is responsible for writing down most of the Pentateuch in addition to the commandments. This is what is meant when we refer to the “Mosaic Law” or the “Books of Moses,” but it is just as correct to refer to it as “God’s Word” or “the scriptures.” As the discussion proceeds, and as you read through the scriptures and do your own research (please do), you will have to decide for yourself whether we misunderstand the Law or not.

The third AT-A-GLANCE point is completely misleading. The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) determined not to burden the Gentiles with the entire Mosaic Law. Obeying the Law has never been a salvation issue, not even before Christ came and obeyed it for us (see Galatians in its entirety); obedience is done out of a desire to please God. Not all Christians have that desire, and many that do have that desire do not believe that keeping the Law is the way to please Him, so they aim to please Him in other ways. (I am not saying that the Lord has no delight in you if you worship Him improperly. See 1 Kings 3:3-5. However, once we know better, it then becomes direct disobedience to worship Him improperly. See Leviticus 10:1-3). Anyway, the Jerusalem Council determined to give the Gentiles four commandments (that were also not salvation issues) to get them started, and to make them clean enough that the Jewish Christians (who were still keeping Torah) would be able to hang out with them. It was determined by the Jerusalem Council that the Gentiles would pick up the rest at their own pace as they learned more about the Law. The council had no need to include all of the commandments in their letter because: “…Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:21).

The fourth AT-A-GLANCE statement says that: “The Apostle Paul refuted many of the most popular teachings of the HRM.” I agree with everything the apostle Paul ever said concerning the Law, and He agrees with everything that the Father ever said: “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).