Tag Archives: righteousness

One Law

The traditional Gentile Christian says that we are no longer under the Law. Or sometimes they say the Law was never intended for us to begin with. They can’t seem to get their story straight. It’s pick-and-choose. Don’t worry about the Law of Moses – that was given only to the Israelites. Oh, but don’t kill anyone. That’s not right. Keep the 10 Commandments. Those were intended for everyone. Oh, well, except the sabbath day; don’t worry about that one. You know what though? You really shouldn’t get a tattoo or cut yourself. Only rebellious people do that. Oh, and if you commit homosexuality, you’re a reprobate. That’s an abomination. What? So is eating pig? Well, Deuteronomy doesn’t count anymore. Setting up a Christmas tree in your house is okay though. (I know that originated with fertility worship, but God shouldn’t care as long as we use the tree to worship Him.) Forget about the feast days. Yeah, He says they’re perpetual, but since they’ve been fulfilled, it would be sacrilege to keep them anymore. Oh, but you had better pay your tithes!!!!!

No wonder atheists and Jews think we’re crazy.

The Jews that I talk to say that the Law of Moses was never intended for Gentiles at all. But let’s see what their own Torah has to say about that:

“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

“One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.” Exodus 12:49

“One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.” Numbers 15:16

“Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” Deuteronomy 27:26

The above passage is interesting in that it specifically doesn’t mention foreigners. However, it is referring to a future event, one that actually takes place in Joshua 8, after the fall of Jericho and Ai. Read the whole chapter, but take special note of the last verse:

“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

Why would it be a sin for a Gentile to disobey Hebrew Laws? Because they are first and foremost Yahweh’s Laws. They are the very definition of righteousness itself.

Psalm 119:142: “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”

Psalm 119:172: “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.”

And the righteousness of God did not morph somehow with the coming of Christ: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4

Could our Father be any more clear? All of these apologetics you’ve been reading your whole life are merely that – man’s method of explaining away the things they don’t understand.

We seem to think that God and His righteousness and His Law are three separate things, but they aren’t. Since Jesus is the Word made flesh, we should realize that the Torah and the Messiah are inseparable. All of the following verses relate to the pre-incarnate Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Read the whole chapter to see what I’m talking about.

Food for thought – how would you suggest that a Messianic Jew live? Should he throw out the perpetual commandments? What does “perpetual” mean to you?

What if you are among the ten lost tribes? What if you are Hebrew and you don’t know it? Most of us probably are: Genesis 48:19. What then?

What about an adopted child? Is he excluded from the laws of the family, or is he treated as a natural-born son? Galatians 3:29

Listen, if you really want to know what’s going on, read the entire Bible. Let it challenge your misconceptions, then dig until you find the answers. Then read it again. You will understand more the next time through, and expose the next layer of misconception. Rinse and repeat – it’s an incredible journey!

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Truth-Seekers? Are You There?

Okay, so I have a legitimate question. And the comment section is open to everyone, even if you think it is a stupid question in the first place, and even if you are an agnostic or atheist. I don’t expect everyone to agree with each other, but I do want to engage in respectful, intelligent conversation.

So here it is: have you ever gone through a serious phase of doubt in your life? And when I say doubt, I’m talking about your core beliefs. The ones that make you who you are. The reasons that you behave the way you do. I’m referring to the lens through which you view all other beliefs and ideologies.

I sincerely want to hear what you all have to say, even if you don’t call yourself a Christian. However, it is my opinion that this is something that sincere Christians do not talk about often enough. To me, it almost feels like the church is operating under an Emperor’s-New-Clothes mentality. We’re afraid that if we admit to having doubt, it will de-legitimize everything we claim to believe about God. Has anyone else felt what I’m feeling here?

So, if you did have doubts, or if you still do, where did they come from? Did you read something in the Bible that caused you to second-guess? Did you have a conversation that challenged your long-held beliefs? Maybe someone asked a question, and you just couldn’t fathom having an answer that fit in with everything you’ve ever believed.

I’d like to get a little bit of self-analyzing here, because I think it’s important that we ask the hard questions in an effort to become fully aware of why we believe what we do. I don’t think it’s good for people to float through life believing everything they’ve ever been told, even if it was a highly respected or valued individual that taught them.

Be a believer or a non-believer, as you wish. But be an intelligent one. Know why you are clinging to your religion (or anti-religion, as the case may be).

Okay, so a couple of follow up questions for those who have doubted: did you search for answers, or allow your beliefs to fall by the wayside? Did your religion suddenly become the most important thing you could possibly dig into and research, or did you just shrug your shoulders and leave it in the dust? Why do you think you reacted that way?

Did you come full-circle? Are you believing what you believed before, or did something change with the new information? What changed, and why?

If you doubted, and did your research, and are now a believer again, do you feel that your faith is stronger than ever? Do you feel that you needed to experience a time of doubting and searching to become the person you are today?

If you have never doubted, not even for a moment, why not? Are you clinging so closely to what you grew up believing that there’s no room for questions? Are you afraid to ask the hard questions? Afraid that you won’t like the answers, or afraid that you may be misled by someone who believes differently than you?

Truth is worth seeking. Even if you have to break down 50 years of traditional beliefs, even if it divides you from your friends and family, Truth is worth finding. Seek with a whole heart, and never be afraid of the Truth. Truth is freedom.

If the Bible is true, and I have found that it is, then your seeking will not go unrewarded. You will find the answers you are looking for:

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

I am one of them, and so are you.

“Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord.” Is this children’s-church song scripturally sound? I tell you, it is more sound than much of what you will hear coming out from behind the pulpit nowadays. But what does it mean? And what does it mean to you?

Are you listening to theologians who tell you that the Law was only valid for the Israelites?

They have been misled: “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

“One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD. One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.” Numbers 15:15-16.
“One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.” Exodus 12:49. This particular passage is specifically referring to eating the Passover lamb, which foreshadows salvation. Any foreigner who wanted to partake in eating the lamb had to become circumcised first, joining himself to the Hebrew nation.

Today, there is no physical lamb to eat because there is no temple. Jews do not even partake of a lamb anymore because God warned them in His Law not to do so without a temple. There is, however, a spiritual Lamb to partake of – that is Christ. To eat the spiritual Lamb, you must be spiritually circumcised – that is the act of coming to Him for salvation.

You will hear many preachers preach against circumcision and against keeping the Law. They use Galatians to make their case. I would encourage you to read the entire book. It’s very short. Paul was angry with the Jews in Galatia who were demanding that the gentiles be circumcised in order to gain salvation. In fact, he makes this very strong statement: “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.” Galatians 5:3. However, note that his problem was not with circumcision itself (read Romans 3:1-2), but in the requirement to perform an act to obtain salvation.

It’s perfectly okay to be circumcised because of health reasons or because it is the lawful thing to do. Most who are circumcised don’t even have a choice in the matter. Paul isn’t saying that any circumcised person cannot attain salvation unless they keep the Law perfectly.  He is saying that you can’t hinge your salvation on it (or anyone else’s, for that matter). If your salvation were to depend on circumcision, then it would also depend on the whole Law.

The Jews themselves never lived up to the perfection set forth in God’s righteous Law. “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalm 14:3, quoted in Romans 3:10. Not that the Law is difficult – it is easy. “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.” Deuteronomy 30:11, ESV. The Jews failed to keep the Law because they were human, sinful, rebellious – the same reasons all of us fall short. How could their consciences allow them to put a requirement on the Gentiles when they couldn’t live up to God’s requirements themselves?

The Jews were saved by grace alone. They knew it. Why did they believe that the gentiles would be saved through any other means? “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Galatians 2:14. The Law cannot justify you unless you are perfect, unless you have always been perfect. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Galatians 5:4.

Some folks believe that if we follow the Law to the best of our ability, we are trying to earn salvation. This would be like suggesting that any time you do something righteous, you are attempting to earn salvation. We know better than that. If it has become a sin to follow the Law in circumcision, Sabbath days, and dietary restrictions, then it would also be a sin to avoid adultery, stealing, and murder. In fact, if it were a sin to perform the Law to the best of our abilities, then the entire definition of sin would have become the opposite of what it always was, and is! “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. “ 1 John 3:4. (Notice how inseparable sin is from transgression of the Law. It works both ways. If you are sinning, you are transgressing the Law, and vice versa. John wrote it that way on purpose to help us avoid confusion.)

However, keeping the Law cannot make you righteous, unless you keep the whole Law – that is, never sinning, even once. This is precisely what Christ did for us. His righteousness became our righteousness. It was attributed to us, as though we were the ones who had kept the entire Law – which is the only way to Life. (Sin equals death, Law equals Life – Romans 6:23, Deuteronomy 32:46-47) “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21.

The fact is, there is no one work that you have to do to “earn” salvation because it cannot be earned. There is no one act that you can do that will erase your past, present, and future sins. Doing something righteous, such as circumcision, does not atone for all of the wrong you have done. Once you have committed one sin in your life, you are doomed to experience the curse of disobedience (death), and there is no act you can perform to undo it. That is, you are doomed unless your sin can be atoned for – and it can! By the blood of Jesus Christ. This is the very reason that non-Christians will not experience eternal life. They are doomed by the curse of the Law. If the Law has become void, as modern-day theologians claim, then there is nothing by which to judge the unrighteous, nothing by which to separate those who will live from those who will not. (Read all of Deuteronomy for a more perfect understanding.)

The Law is the mirror by which we are judged, reflecting the perfect righteousness of God. In it, we can see what righteousness looks like. In Christ, we have an example of what it would look like for a human to continually abide in righteousness because He walked perfectly according to the Law. It is not the Law that is unrighteous. It is wholly righteous – it is the very definition of truth and righteousness itself. (Read Psalm 119:142&172). The only problem with the Law is that is makes no provision for redeeming yourself – except through your own death. “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Romans 6:7, Romans 7:2. But a dead person still cannot experience the eternal life that he never earned, unless Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him. So you see, the Law is not the problem – sin is. Read this: “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. In this hypothetical scenario, Christ would not have had to die for us.

Maybe you are still convinced that the Law was given only to the Israelites. I don’t see how you would reach that conclusion, but okay. Don’t you know that once you have entered into salvation, you have entered into the covenant that God made with His people? Any stranger who wanted to follow the true God would do so by joining themselves to the Hebrew people through circumcision. That’s what salvation signifies. Like it or not, if you are a saved person, you are an Israelite. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. We are grafted into their family; we are heirs of their inheritance. The entire Word of God is all about Him, His Law (aka, His righteousness), and His people.

We hear that the church is the bride of Christ, and that any Jewish person wanting to get saved must do so by becoming part of the church. However, “church” just means congregation, and the congregation is spoken of over and over again in the Old Testament – it is not a new thing. This isn’t the “church age.” The congregation refers to His people. It has always been His people. If you don’t believe me, read Psalm 22:22, and Hebrews 2:12 which quotes it. Read Acts 7:38. Old Testament = congregation, New Testament = church. Congregation = church.

In regards to the church being the bride of Christ – that is also referring to Israel. Paul was familiar with Isaiah, chapters 50-54. The doctrine of the bride of Christ comes from those passages, and others, such as Hosea. You see, Israel was divorced for her unfaithfulness (chapter 50). In chapter 54, she is remarried to Christ. The death of God, Israel’s first husband, freed Israel from the law of her husband, allowing her to enter into marriage again, legally, without breaking God’s holy laws concerning marriage. (Isaiah 54:4 refers to her widowhood, just before her remarriage in the next verse.)

Salvation was offered to the gentiles almost as a side effect – but that’s just my way of looking at it; I’m sure God doesn’t see it that way. You see, it was too easy for the Messiah to save only Israel, so He made a way to save all of us: “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6. Salvation became available to the Gentiles while Christ was in the process of saving Israel.

Read all of Isaiah, and you will see how God is going to save the 10 lost tribes of Israel in spite of the fact that they turned from Him and walked in rebellion for thousands of years. They don’t even know who they are, yet God is going to gather them from the 4 corners of the earth, and they will once again become His people. In this process, He also made a way of salvation to every nation. We are saved by being adopted into the Israelite family. We are called to obey the Laws given to them – because they are us, and we are them. We are the seed of Abraham because of our faith. If none of this makes sense to you, I would encourage you to read the whole Bible. If that seems like too much of a chore, start with Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews.

One more question, in parting: If the Sabbath day and feast days are perpetual ordinances, the way that God says they are so many times (read the first 5 books of the Bible), what would you suggest to Jewish people who trust in Christ? Would you suggest that they can stop keeping them now, that “forever” doesn’t really mean forever? What if someone told you that your eternal life gained through salvation wasn’t actually eternal, that it could be superseded by something new? And if you think that they should still be keeping them (you know, because forever really does mean forever), what would you suggest to the lost 10 tribes of Israel? These people have lost track of their lineage. They don’t know who they are. And how do you know you aren’t one of them? The Prodigal son, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the wheat and the tares: all of these parables point emphatically to the salvation of Israel, and our own salvation by extension.

Did God Change His Law?

I have been thinking for a long while about the Law of the Medes and Persia. What do we know about it? From the scriptures, we can see that it got foolish kings into trouble.

“Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.” Daniel 6:15

In the book of Esther, Ahasuerus was bribed into making a law that would extinguish the Jews from his domain.  Little did he know that his precious wife and her people were the folks he had hastily condemned to death. In the book of Daniel, Darius is advised to make a law requiring that every member of his kingdom make petitions to only the king for 30 days. He makes this decree and immediately regrets his decision. Upon reading these stories, I have often thought about how incredibly foolish these kings were. I have asked myself why they would make such laws, knowing that they couldn’t change their minds even if they wanted to.

Let’s break this down a little. I can imagine two reasons why a code of laws would work in such a way:

  1. Perhaps it was believed that these kings were deities, incarnations, or just so righteous that they could make no mistakes. In this case, to break their own decree would be a sign of pretending to be something they were not, or at the very least a sign of weakness.
  2. Perhaps it was considered fair that the king be subject to his own laws, to prevent an unrighteous king from showing favoritism or from getting away with murder.

Let’s talk a little bit about point one. If these kings had been gods, it would have made sense that they wouldn’t go around making up laws and then later changing their minds. Let’s consider our God for a moment. When He makes a decree, is it subject to change? Would he regret that He demanded righteousness from His people and later erase the Law, rendering it worthless? Or would He rather provide a way for mankind to somehow meet the requirements of His righteous Law?

Consider this problem in religion today. How do we know that Mohammed was not truly Allah’s prophet? One of the easiest ways is to take a look at the list of Mohammed’s inconsistencies. You can find an explanation and a list on this page. If Mohammed had truly heard from God, you wouldn’t expect him to be constantly changing his mind all the time.

How about Catholicism? They claim to have the power to change God’s ordinances at will. Just look into their history a little bit, and you will see how presumptuous they are. But can the righteousness of God be altered? Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and I have a perfect example for you. On Fridays during Lent, it is forbidden for Catholics to eat meat. Oh, except, well, nevermind if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday. Just never mind. Go ahead and have that corned beef or whatever. It’s okay, but just for one day. We don’t want to ruin your party. (More like we don’t want a reason to excommunicate folks who would otherwise be paying tithes.)

Do you see? Is it clear? Inconsistency is key to determining whether a religion or a religious observance is legit. The Jews know this and have good reason to scoff at Christians when we tell them that the Law is no longer valid. “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 (Also see Deut. 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, and Revelation 22:18-19)

Note: I am not condemning Muslims, Catholics, Christians, or anyone else who has been fooled by a religious leader. I am issuing a wake-up call. See tomorrow’s post for more on that topic.

How about point two? Is it reasonable to expect that our righteous God would abide by His own righteousness? Or does He somehow exist outside of righteousness? Is He “above the Law”? What we sometimes fail to remember is that God and His righteousness are inseparable. They are not two different things – they are one and the same: The Law is the righteousness of God (Psalm 119). Jesus is the Torah, the Word made flesh (John 1) – the very righteousness of God revealed (Romans 1).

So, did God change His mind about His Law?

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.” I Samuel 15:29

“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Psalm 89:34

I read this article about the topic, and thought you might find it interesting. The comments and responses are also worth the read.

I also found the second half of this page interesting, concerning Law-abidingness.

 

Ever Changing

Christie Thomas

FreeImages.com/Christie Thomas

I have been reading back through some of my old posts this week, and there are a few points in which I no longer agree with myself. I have changed my mind about several things over the course of the last year or so. As I compile some of my popular articles into a book and expound on the ideas presented, I am finding that I am leaving a lot of remarks out, and even changing a few things altogether. It is my hope that I understand things a little better than I did when I first penned these blog entries. It is my prayer and fervent desire that the Lord bring me into a fuller knowledge of the truth. I know that I hunger and thirst after His righteousness, and that I have been marveling at how perfect His law is. I am considering re-posting some of my well-read topics with comments about how my perspective has changed. Would that be weird? Providing commentary on my own writings? Ha, if I have time, I think I am going to do it. If for no other reason than to provide clarity for anyone I may have confused along the way.

Keith Green

“My eyes are dry; my faith is old. My heart is hard; my prayers are cold.

And I know how I ought to be: alive to You, and dead to me.”

This old song by Keith Green has been running through my mind a lot lately. I had been singing it on and off for days (the parts I could remember), and my 6-year-old finally asked if I knew any more of it. So on Friday, I dug out my seemingly ancient Keith Green CDs and began listening again. I love his music: he was, in my estimation, the Christian version of Billy Joel. He was very straightforward – very blatant in his statement of faith. The words that he chose to illustrate the Christian walk are almost stark: listening to his lyrics gives you the impression that you are being faced with the Truth, with no excuses between you and it to soften the blow.

I know that a lot of Christian artists have written tons of music expounding on the deep things of God, but here’s the kicker: as I was listening the other day, I realized that I had been thinking all these years that Keith Green was a new convert when he wrote these songs. I asked myself why I would have been under that impression all this time; some of the lyrics are pretty deep. How could a person just saved have written so many experience-laden songs about the Christian walk? As I began searching my mind for the answer, I suddenly realized the difference between Mr. Green and most Christian celebrities: he was so humble in his walk with the Lord. His music exudes a meek attitude: the fact that he was so undeserving. It feels like he was a new Christian because (in my mind, at least) he had not had time to develop that attitude of self-righteousness that so many “mature” Christians emit. I think that, above all, I love his honesty about his imperfect walk with the Lord, and his willingness to share his shortcomings with the world in an effort to challenge Christians into a genuine relationship with God.

Challenge: Can we live what we believe? But can we do it without an attitude of self-righteousness? Let’s make every moment count for the Kingdom today – but let’s not feel too proud of ourselves. We must remember in the process that our own righteousness is like filthy rags.