The Law and Grace–Hasn’t the Law Been Done Away With? Part 1–INAYP 64

Grace and the Law

Hasn’t the Law Been Done Away With?

That Which Separates Us

Those of us in the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith (Messianic Believers in Y’shua Messiah; Torah Observant Believers in Y’shua Messiah) are comparatively the smallest of minorities in the realm of self-professing Christians in the world. According to Wikipedia.com, approximately 1/3 of the world’s population consider themselves Christians. Christianity generally encompasses Protestantism, Eastern Orthodox and Catholicism. Now, I will step out on a limb and say that our group does not fall within any of these three (3) sub-groupings of Christianity. We are ostensibly a “forbidden” Faith that does not fall within the realm of the three (3) world Faiths—or better termed religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Probably the central-most element of our Faith—Hebraic Roots—is our adherence; our devotion; or love of Torah; or as the Christian-world prefers with excessive disdain, THE LAW!!!! It is our adherence and love of Torah that makes us pariahs to Catholicism, Christianity and the Eastern Orthodoxers. It is our love and adherence of Torah that, for whatever reason, causes our cousins, especially in Catholicism, to basically hate on us with the intensity of a hundred suns glaring upon the parched Serengeti plains. Furthermore, and this wasn’t even a distant thought in my mind until I met my dear friend Carmen Welker earlier this year, the Jews hate us because of our love and adherence of Torah and our devotion and loyalty to Y’shua HaMashiyach. And yes, there are other aspects of our Faith that just bug our cousins in fundamental Christianity. However, in this post I want to focus entirely upon the most glaring issue that separates us from our cousins in fundamental Christianity and that is our love and adherence to Torah and Traditional Christianity’s obsessiveness with the hijacked doctrine of grace. For whatever reason—mis-translations and misunderstandings of the Bible; doctrinal positions on both sides on the subject of the law or Torah; doctrinal opinions on the true meaning of grace and its role in the redemption plan; or just our conflicting respective views on the Bible, our Redeemer and our Creator–it would seem that our differences are irreconcilable.

It is the question of Torah’s efficacy and viability in a would-be Believer’s life that causes the greatest separation between Traditionalists and Messianics than any other issue. The fundamentalists strongly contend that those who would hold on to Torah as a staple of their Faith are grossly fallen from grace. We on the Messianic side believe that our churched cousins are living lives that are outside the way of life that our Master and our Creator commanded us to live. How then do we reconcile the two sides of this spiritual equation? Is there a right-side and a wrong-side to this equation? Or does this whole thing even matter? Can’t we just get along? (Rodney King)

Well, it does matter. It is the purpose of this post to explain why it matters and why any who would claim Jesus Christ as their Saviour is compelled to be Torah observant. Now I realize this may come across as disingenuous and I apologize for that at the outset. But my calling in this ministry is to tell the truth. The truth I tell is devoid of any denominational assertiveness and influences. It is purely derived from the Bible. And if the Bible is proved to be wrong, then my position on this subject will conversely be wrong. And with that sentiment, let me just say, if I’m wrong, my God, I have no problem saying to you all that I was wrong. But you better make sure that you are sure based solely upon what the Bible teaches and not what your denomination and your religion teaches. I don’t give a rat’s hoot what your denomination or your religion teaches on this subject and quite frankly, neither should you. Why? Because, when you stand in judgment before the Saviour who will judge the just and the unjust, you will have to give an account of your actions and inactions here on this earth during the time that the Father has allotted you. Your religion; your denomination; your pastor nor your teachers nor the scholars who give out their lame opinions without having the slightest in the way of a true relationship with the Master, these will not be able to answer for you. You will have to answer for yourself just as I will. I feel so strongly about this that I will absolutely hold no punches in this series. My love for you; the Saviour’s love for you, matters so much that you must be exposed to the truth without any dilution or alteration.

So stating the problem plainly, that which separates us is a firm disagreement over the issue of Torah and Grace. The Fundamentalist and Charismatic fervently contends that the Law was done away with at the cross and because of God’s grace, the believer in Jesus Christ has no responsibility but to await Jesus’ return. The primary father of this doctrine would be none other than Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul). The Messianic Believer on the other hand, fervently contends that Torah remains in affect for any who would claim Y’shua as their Master and that grace is not a license to live a Torah-less, do-as-I-please, life. Grace according to the Messianic is the ability to live a holy and righteous life in the midst of a perverted and evil world. This doctrine is believed to have been co-authored by none other than Master Y’shua HaMashiyach and Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul). Yes, as you will see in my argument here, Shaul falls out on both sides of this equation and this is why there remains a schism between our respective Faiths—this is why we continue to feud like the Hatfield and the McCoys. The crazy reality of this shameful split is that regardless which side you or I fall out on with this issue, we are all of Ephraim. And maybe once we all come to that realization, as strange as this may seem to some, we will be able to come to terms with the reality and truth of this crucial matter regarding grace and Torah.

I will tell you from the outset that I obviously fall out on the side of Torah being still in affect for every believer in Y’shua Messiah. I hope and trust that this episode will sway those of you who are opposed to believers being Torah-keepers over to my side, or that this episode clarifies for those of us who are unsure as to how this whole grace and Torah thing is supposed to work. To the Fundamentalist and Charismatic, this will be a defense for Christian Torah observance. For the Messianic/Netzari/Hebrew Rooters, this will hopefully be useful as an evangelistic resource. So let’s begin the discussion in earnest.

The Law (aka Torah) Has Been Done Away With

The Fundamentalist and Charismatic will vehemently contend that the Law was indeed done away with by the redemptive work of the Saviour upon the cross. Or, the Fundamentalist and Charismatic might equally contend that the Saviour kept the Law perfectly, therefore we don’t have to. At any event, God’s Law has been nullified by His grace. Sound familiar?

Well, the Fundamentalist and Charismatic have at their disposal a number of texts that they contend supports their position of the Law being nullified by God’s grace. Let’s take a look at these passages–especially the Pauline passages, that seem to be anti-Torah in content and fuel Churchianity’s claim that Torah was done away with and replaced by grace. I was originally going to use the Aramaic English New Testament to recite these verses, but given that the vast majority of Christians in the world use some form of the King James Version, I will use the KJV here.

Ephesians 2:8,9 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9 KJV) Here Shaul seems to be establishing a definitive teaching that would be hard to refute. Both Christian and Messianic agree that salvation can not be earned and that it comes by the grace of the Almighty. The Law or Torah on the other hand, has always been viewed in conjunction with works. Consider Romans 9:30-32–which reads: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles who have not followed after righteousness have attained righteousness, but that righteousness which is of faith: but Israel, who followed after the law of righteousness, unto the law of righteousness have not attained. For why? Because it was not by faith, but by the WORKS OF THE LAW: for they stumbled over the stone of stumbling.” (ETH)

In Galatians 2:16, Shaul talks about man being NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW but by faith in Jesus Christ. Shaul also wrote to the Galatian assembly that those who are of the WORKS OF THE LAW are under a curse—Gal. 3:10. So the works that Shaul was addressing the Ephesian assembly about must certainly be the works of the Law right? Thus, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, Shaul reasons that men would naturally gravitate towards trying to earn or achieve salvation through some type of effort; some type of process; some set of established rules and protocols. And in that effort to earn salvation, the whole aspect of salvation being a gift from the Almighty becomes obscured and even lost in translation, so to speak.

This is a critical verse in support of the Christian’s view of sola gratia, Latin for “grace alone.” But to the Netzari or Hebraic Roots believer in Y’shua Messiah, we don’t see this verse as being a problem at all. For we certainly agree that salvation comes via the Creator’s grace through our Faith in Messiah and that we can do nothing to earn it. We simply believe, however, that one must qualify for the free gift of salvation and one of those qualifications is obedience to our Master Y’shua’s commandments (John 14:15) and His commandments are the exact same commandments as His Father’s commandments or laws. Y’shua said, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10) Furthermore the Master said, “And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8:29)

If we can simply accept the free gift of salvation but ignore the Saviour’s directive that we keep His commandments, which I’m afraid most self-professing Christians have done today, then there’s a huge disconnect. Do we simply take Shaul’s instructions over that of our Saviour? I just have to ask; because it would seem that virtually every Christian bases their religion—and to some extent Faith—on the teachings of Paul and unknowingly, reject most if not all the teachings of Y’shua HaMashiyach. This is a tragedy that few in the Fundamentalist and Charismatic world are willing to address.

Let’s move on.

Romans 6:1414 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:14 KJV) Now this verse may be somewhat damaging to the Messianic and Netzari community when defending the position of Torah still being in effect for the Believer in Y’shua HaMashiyach. What can one make of this verse other than what is printed on the page: we are not under the Law but under grace. And if Shaul were to have simply written that and not attached the first half which says that sin has no dominion over us, then the Fundamentalists might have a valid and powerful argument against Torah-keeping by Christians.

Interestingly, sin continues to dominate many a Christian’s life, no matter how devoted they might be to Christianity. Think about it, sin is rampant in the Christian Churches of the 21st century, just as it was in the 20th and 19th and before. I’m not trying to be judgmental by any stretch of the imagination. But infidelity, fornication, adultery, idolatry, backbiting, hate, stealing, lying, etc has and continues to exist in many Christian Churches around the globe today. And the problem is not getting better. Yet in this verse, Shaul writes to the Roman assembly that sin shall not have dominion over them. Seems like a terrible disconnect, or seems as though Shaul (aka Paul) doesn’t know what in the wide-wide-world of sports he’s talking about.

But Shaul most-certainly knew what he was talking about. Indeed. The Traditionalist, focusing more on the second-half of the verse disavowing the law in favor of grace, will naturally analogize the first-half of the verse. Instead of seeing sin as having direct influence over us as individuals who are striving to do the will of the Father, the Fundamentalists will surmise that sin has no influence over our destiny—that is, sin has absolutely no bearing over whether or not the born-again believer in Christ will go to heaven. When looked at from this analogized perspective, then the born again believer in Christ Jesus has not a thing to worry about, don’t they?

Well, the problem with analogizing passages of the Bible is that the true meaning and interpretation of the passages in question, is inevitably obscured; blacked out; summarily removed from the eyes, hearts and minds of the Bible student. Analogizing the Bible serves only to cause the seeker of truth to give over their quest to the agendas of men; men who are bent to control the hearts and minds of every believer they can coral and bring into their fold. Those who would create analogies of passages of the Bible, and completely ignore the true meaning of passages based upon sound Biblical, contextual Biblical study—rejecting the urge to latch onto Bible-verse sound bites to support Church doctrine—are building their spiritual homes on sand. I was once that person. I analogized everything in support of the doctrines that I received from the Baptist Church of my youth. How did that work for me? Well, at the time it made me feel good and I convinced myself that I was destined for heaven by way of the pre-trib-rapture-express B-A-B-Y. But all that changed when I miserably failed to adequately explain to someone who asked me to defend why I was a Christian. I had nothing but analogies upon which to make my defense. It was quite disconcerting to say the least. From that point forward, I wanted to make sure that I would always allow the Bible to interpret itself and not rely on jack-leg-preachers and teachers and televangelists to tell me what I am to believe. I have chosen to know, to the extent that the Bible, sound extra-biblical resources and the Ruach haKodesh provides, the truth of what Father has to say—regardless how distasteful that truth may seem at the time.

But back to Romans 6:14: here Shaul seems to be saying that sin no longer has dominion over us because we are no longer under the Law or Torah, but we are now under grace. If we simply take this verse at face value and as written on the pages of our Bible, the interpretation is quite simple to determine, heh? Well, the problem is that sin continues to be a problem for Christians all over the world. Now we must bear in mind that this verse says nothing about salvation or eternal life, so for one to attempt to analogize this verse to mean that sin will not impede one’s access to eternal life, would be a stretch. But as we all well know, Fundamental and Charismatic Christians have no problem stretching the content of the Word to match whatever wind and doctrine they’ve ever dreamed up over the centuries. But shouldn’t this thing go the other way: shouldn’t our doctrines stretch to match the true teachings of the Bible, and for that matter, match common-sense. We can not move anywhere until we adequately do something about that nasty, nagging statement about sin found in this passage.

What about sin? Well, what is sin? We know from Scripture that sin is lawlessness—that is, being without law. In context, being without The Law or being without Torah. Sin is defined by Rav Yochanan (aka the Apostle John) as the transgression or violation of The Law. (1 John 3:4) The funny part of this whole equation is that believers all over the world talk about sin; preachers preach against sin; Bible teachers teach against sin; we admonish those of us who are backslid to abandon their sinful lives. Yet we summarily reject even the thought of Torah having any role in a believer’s life. We can not know or truly understand what sin is unless we know and embrace the Law or Torah. Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul) wrote: “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, aI would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if bthe law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Rom 7:7 ESV) It’s right here folks! In black and white! Shaul unceremoniously reveals all we need to know about sin; that being, without Torah, we can not truly know what sin is. Oh, we can be told what constitutes a single incident of sin. Heck, we can become thoroughly indoctrinated into a rather full understanding of what activities are sinful. But at the end of the day, understanding of what activity is sinful comes only via an understanding of Torah. And let’s face it, we all grew up knowing a great deal about what activities are sinful—stealing, murder, adultery, fornication and the like. But then, there are a ton of other things that go on around us, and we unknowingly may even be party to, that are sinful such as eating pork and shell fish; rejecting the seventh (7th)-day Sabbath and honoring the Creator’s annual Festivals. Thus, we can not know that an activity or behavior is sinful unless we know from Torah that it is prohibited or is mandated.

So, does knowing the Law or Torah and thus knowing what is sin, eliminate sin’s dominion over us? What did Shaul mean by “sin shall no longer have dominion” over us? The problem is not that men can’t or won’t learn Torah and thus can’t or won’t understand what constitutes sin—because the truth of the matter is that we can learn Torah and thus we can know what sin is. The problem is that man is prone to sin despite knowing what sin is. You see, when we were wandering in the Sinai desert and were being taught by Yahovah through Moshe (because we were too afraid to receive the teachings directly from Father—but that’s beside the point) His commandments—His Laws—His precepts and ordinances and statutes—His Torah, we continued to violate. We sinned and we sinned with gusto! So many of us died because we simply couldn’t resist sinning. We have a nature that is prone to sinning. But just because we have a hard time resisting sin, doesn’t make us any less responsible for obeying the Laws and Commandments of the Almighty and thus, not sinning. Yahovah still holds us responsible for keeping His Torah. Fast-forward 1,500-or so years, around 28-CE, when the gift of the Ruach Kodesh was given to us on the Temple Mount that fateful day of Pentecost—from that point on, when we become Y’shua HaMashiyach’s disciples and the gift of the Ruach is imparted unto us, we receive the wherewithal to resist sin and live Torah perfectly just as our Master lived and demonstrated Torah to us flawlessly. Sin has no dominion over us any longer, as it once had over us in the Sinai desert and throughout our history dwelling in Palestine. Thus, that bull that a million and one preachers throw out there in their varied and many pulpits each Sunday—that we can’t possibly keep Torah so don’t even think about trying to keep it—is a lie from the pit of hell. If what these jack-leggers say was even remotely true, then the Gift of the Holy Spirit was and continues to be a lie and a fraud. I don’t think so!

Moving on to another verse that the anti-Torah crowd uses–Romans 7:6— 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.1 (Rom 7:6 KJV) Certainly, another damaging blow to our pro-Torah stance it would seem. A simple read of this passage would have us understanding the Apostle Paul to say to the Roman assembly that “we have been delivered from the Law.” Boy, this carries a rather harsh tone to it, for it implies that Torah was such a negative thing, that we needed to be delivered from it. And the one thing that I don’t recall ever hearing an explanation of is, what about Torah was so bad that it necessitated our being delivered from it? The best I can come up with are those handful of Torah passages that commanded us to put the offenders of certain of God’s Word/God’s Law/God’s commandments, to death; those handful of passages that commanded us to wipe out the nations that were occupying the land of promise ahead of us; those handful of passages that locked us into a lifestyle that was in utter opposition to that of carnal man who sought to live in accordance with his/her desires and preferences. If indeed being under complete subjection to God’s commandments and His ways was and is so distasteful and undesirable—which to the carnal man it absolutely must be that way—then it would absolutely stand to reason that one would need deliverance from it at the very first opportunity. Again, to the Roman assembly, Shaul writes: “For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God’s Torah – indeed, it cannot.” (Rom 8:7 CJB) So then, what aspect of the Law have we been delivered from? If Torah or the Law provides the measuring stick for righteous living and it defines sin for us, why was there a need to be delivered from it? What was so bad about it that it necessitated our deliverance from it? As we saw with Romans 6:14, there is likely something about Torah that is not readily apparent in this verse that Shaul was clearly aware of, but his writings fail to adequately dispense to us living in the 21st century.

Rav Kefa (aka the Apostle Peter) wrote of Shaul: 14 ¶ Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 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; 16 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. 17 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. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2Pe 3:14-18 KJV)

I humbly submit to you that Shaul’s writings have been at the center of most every schism that exists between the denominations and between our Faith (i.e., the Hebraic Roots) and Churchianity. Shaul’s brilliance is undeniable and accepted across the wide spectrum of Christian believers, scholars, teachers and preachers. What isn’t understood by most, however, is Shaul’s deep understanding of Torah and its unbreakable connection to grace, faith and truth. Most of us are in the dark about this. Shaul gives his pedigree to us, in part, in his epistle to the Galatian assembly. The first chapter gives us a slight glimpse of this man, who was selected to be a sent one of Yahovah from his mother’s womb; who was trained not only at the feet of Gamli’el as a child (Acts 22:3), but one-on-one by Y’shua HaMashiyach in Arabia for upwards of three (3)-years. He was to be the twelfth-disciple to replace Judas Iscariot, not Matthias (Acts 1:23-26) whom we never heard from again after his appointment. Shaul would, because of his unique mission, be special and he would have to be brought on-line unlike any who would have preceded him. Shaul was uniquely qualified to be the apostle to the Gentile. The situations that he had to deal with during the course of His ministry can not possibly be fully understood by 21st century folks, who are prone to explain away Shual’s writings and behavior and life and ministry from a western worldview. Embarking upon such a course—that is attempting to read and understand Shaul’s writings from a westernized worldview—will invariably falter and ultimately find us heading for destruction.

Galatians 3:10-14— 10 ¶ For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:10-14 KJV) This passage is filled with some tough to swallow seemingly anti-Torah rhetoric. Let’s itemize them: (1) those of us who are Torah observant are under a curse—seemingly implied and my wording only applies here. (2) We, claiming to be righteous, must live by faith only since Torah can not make us righteous before Father. (3) Torah has nothing to do with faith, thus by living in Torah, we live a faithless life. (4) Torah is a curse and Torah is what Y’shua Messiah came to deliver us from. Christ took on the curse of Torah so that we don’t have to. And (5) we Gentiles have replaced the Jew in the promises of God our Father—i.e., replacement theology. But is all that I’ve listed in the way that I’ve stated them true? Is Torah a curse that believers in Y’shua Messiah must reject or avoid? Are Torah Observant Believers faithless people who have fallen from grace? Has Torah been completely done away with and we, born-again Christians, the new Israel that have replaced our forefathers who sadly proved that we humans are incapable of keeping Torah? But I pose a rebuttal question: if Father chose Israel to be His “chosen” ones, why would He saddle us with something that we couldn’t possibly keep and that would be considered a curse? How does that work? Is our Creator schizophrenic? Yet we sing the praises of God our Father each Sunday, proclaiming how wonderful He is. How could we say He’s wonderful, loving and caring, when we believe that He cursed us with Torah? Makes no sense does it? So like the previous verses used by the anti-Torah crowd, there must be something to this passages about Torah that eludes us as well. We’ll take a closer look at this too.

And the last seeming anti-Torah passage I wish to cover in this episode is Galatians 5:2-4— 2 ¶ Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (Gal 5:2-4 KJV) Ah yes, the ole “ye have fallen from grace” passage that those of us who are Torah honoring and observant have been accused of—having fallen from grace. The traditionalists and fundamentalists and charismatics are quick to reference this passage to prove that we who honor and obey Torah have, by our Torah-keeping lifestyle, nullified for ourselves the work and sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They contend that by our keeping Torah, we are saying that we are not reliant upon Jesus to be our redeemer and our savior. I remember vividly holding this very belief in the Baptist and inter-denominational churches of my youth. The rationale is, if Christ kept Torah perfectly and by His death, He has paid our sin debt—then Torah has in effect been nailed to the cross with Jesus and has been done away with. What’s that Pauline passage that the anti-Torah crowd loves to use to explain this eliminating of Torah? Colossians 2:14—”Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross…”

Closing Thoughts and Call to Action

Now I will say as I bring this bad boy to a close, that we of the Hebraic Roots/Netzari communities, have contributed to a greater or lesser degree, to the Fundamentalists’/Traditionalists’/Charismatics’s anti-Torah argument. Why do I say this? My observations over the years, having started this journey into the Hebrew Roots of the Christian Faith for over a decade now, is our extreme focus on Torah. Many of the ministries associated with our Faith focus so much on Torah and over-analyzing the written Torah (i.e., getting deep into the Hebrew and numerology and even Kaballaism), that Y’shua Messiah is factored entirely out of the lives of those believers. We focus on the nuances of what we can and can not do on Sabbath. We worry about the best ways to celebrate the Feasts. We delve into the Talmud/Mishnah or the Oral Tradition for direction on how to be Torah compliant. Before we know it, we’re facing east and touching passing Torah scrolls with our tzitzits at a torah service. [By the way, I discuss this whole Mishnah-Talmud thing in-depth in my latest Torah Living Daily Challenge episode entitled “Obey My Laws (Mitzvot)”—this is a must read/must hear episode of Torah Living Daily Challenge that fits so well with this subject of Grace and the Law. Please check it out.]

In some circles, the very mention of Jesus and the Holy Spirit makes us uneasy. I remember when I first entered into this Faith, I attended one of the Worldwide Churches of God splinters, the United Church of God in Garden Grove, California. After a couple years of attending, I found that I had completely outgrown the church spiritually and I transitioned to a spirit-filled Sabbath-keeping congregation located in the inland empire of Southern California. The pastor of this church was a former member of that United Church of God church I had just left. He explained to me that he had left that United church because the singing group he was part of sang too much about “Jesus” according to the pastor of the United church. So he left that United church and started his own church.  And it wasn’t too long before I found that this new church I had begun attending was indeed focusing entirely upon Jesus and discouraging the members of following Torah. I remember hearing one sermon from that pastor when he told us, “don’t even think about trying to keep the Law—it can’t be done—and if you do try, you better keep the whole thing and not falter on any one law…” And that’s me paraphrasing of course.

Well, what can you say to that? Certainly some would focus entirely upon Jesus as in many charismatic churches, while the other side focuses entirely on Torah. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles so to speak. I am of a belief that the two are inseparable–Torah and Grace (Y’shua). It is not one or the other. I believe that Y’shua is the living Word of Yahovah—the living Torah. It is through Y’shua HaMashiyach that we have our being; whom we serve; whom we imitate; whom we obey. Obeying Y’shua means obeying and honoring Torah. Y’shua’s sacrifice on the cross made atonement for our sins once and for all, eliminating the need to sacrifice animals every time we transgressed Torah. Y’shua’s gift of the Ruach Kodesh provides a means for us to keep Torah the way He did, in the midst of an evil and perverted world. Y’shua is our soon coming King–He is our Master today. He will establish His eternal kingdom here on earth. That kingdom, like any other kingdom that has ever existed, has a legal code that the citizens of that kingdom are required to adhere to. We operate in the spirit within Yahovah’s kingdom and thus we live by His code. It is imperative that we keep everything in perspective. It is imperative that we know what it is we believe and are able to articulate those beliefs to whoever may ask us to explain our beliefs. The Apostle Peter wrote: “Be not terrified by those who would terrify you, nor be in uproar: but sanctify Master YHWH the Mashiyach, in your hearts. And be you ready for a vindication before everyone who demands of you an account of the hope of your faith, in meekness and respect, as having a good conscience; so that they who speak against you as bad men may be ashamed for having maligned your good conduct in the Mashiyach.” (1 Peter 3:14-17 AENT)

This is the point behind this Sabbath Thoughts and Reflections for today dear friends: being able to “give an answer to every man that ask of us a reason for the hope that is in us.” (KJV rendering of verse 15). I found myself lacking when this issue confronted me last weekend. Thus, I did not post an episode, but went into deep study and preparation for this episode that you have before you today. Next week, we’ll start putting together an impregnable defense as it relates to our keeping and honoring Torah. This may be the most important series of postings that we’ve ever done. This issue is the dividing point between us and our sorrowfully mistaken and misled cousins of the Christian religion.

Please, as always, don’t simply take the content of this posting as gospel. Study, pray, meditate and maybe even fast. Allow the Ruach Kodesh to reveal to you the truth of this matter. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have on this or on any other content we’ve posted. We’re all on a journey with Messiah. We must each give an account on that fateful day as to how we lived our lives during the years the Father has allotted to us here on earth. We will have to answer alone. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t bless one another with the knowledge and understanding that Father has blessed each of us with today. Isaiah wrote: “Come now, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. 1:18 DBY)

We are a community. We can and must learn from one another, if we are to face well the tasks assigned to each of us by our Master. The road ahead is not going to be easy. By virtue of us signing on to be His disciple, many of us are destined for martyrdom, contrary to the pre-trib-rapture Christian belief. It’s gonna take everything we have to make it through the tribulation, that is if we live to see those days. So while it is still day and we still have the freedoms afforded to us to practice our Faith, let us dig deep and hard and rely in some part upon one another for our spiritual sustenance. The writer of Proverbs wrote: “Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” (Pro. 27:17 CJB) And with that, I’ll start preparing for next week’s episode. Please come back next time and let’s get into part 2 of this series Grace and the Law.

In the interim, may you be most blessed fellow saints in training. Shavuatov. Shalom.

Music by Dan-O–“The Experiment”
Terms and Names:
  • Y’shua HaMashiyach–Jesus the Messiah
  • Yahovah–Yahweh–Adonai–the sacred names of Creator or as Christians refer to Him as simply God
  • Hebrew Roots/Messianic Believers/Netzari–Torah Observant Believers in Y’shua the Messiah
  • Torah-1st five books of the bible believed to be written by Moses (aka Moshe in Hebrew)

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Another Sermon on the Mount?

Are there really two?

I bet that most of us who are fans of the Bible (whatever that really means) are unaware that the Master delivered not just one sermon on the mount, but two.

The Physician Luke records what some have come to refer to as “The Sermon on the Plain.” This much shorter version of the most well known “Sermon on the Mount that the Apostle Matthew recorded. Despite what Christianity teaches, there were at least two-sermons delivered by the Master to a throng of would-be disciples. Yes, I said disciples. The teachings of the Church have all but discarded any concept of discipleship, which was paramount to the Master’s ministry here on earth. Discipleship is what we as believers of Messiah are supposed to be. We’re not supposed to be Christians, Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, or any one of the 30,000 denominations that current exist in world. No. We are called to be disciples of the Master. Being a disciple of the Master implies that we are beholden to no one nor organization. Instead, we belong to the One who redeemed us through His sacrificial work on the execution stake. So when someone inquiries as to your religious status, think about who and what you are. Are you a card-carrying member of the Church or a sold-out, hard-and-fast disciple of the Father’s chosen One? Only you can answer that question. We must never allow people to box us into a denomination or religion. The Master in part came to deliver us from religion. And yes, being in a religious organization is bondage.

Deliverance from religion, now that’s a sticky wicket isn’t it? What does it mean to be delivered from religion? Most people think of a deliverance from religion when an unfortunate individual finds him or herself in some form of dangerous cult. These individuals in most cases are in severe bondage and in the most extreme cases, the outcome isn’t a good one for the unfortunate cultist.

The Sermons on the Mount and Plain demonstrate what I mean–deliverance from religion. Seldom has this message been taught and delivered to and in the Church. Why? Because delivering such a message could potentially cut off the flow of people and funds to the church in question. Those who lead our various churches and denominations are dependent upon their membership to keep them employed and to keep the lights on. I do not believe that Father nor our Master ever intended for the True Faith once delivered to devolve into church–on the contrary.

The Sermon on the Plain, found in Luke 6:17-49, reveals the essence of freedom not only from sin, but freedom from the leaven of the Pharisees, which today for most of us, translates into freedom from denonminationalism and religion. Simply read through this passage, not through the lenses of our denomination, but through the lenses of one who would have lived during the time this sermon was delivered. Think about all that the disciples who were following the Master had to endure and the religious construct that dominated and ran their lives. It was not an easy life by no stretch of the imagination, especially when one factors in having to endure oppression of Roman occupation, pervasive poverty and high-mortality rates as a result of illnesses that today could be easily cured simply by taking certain medications or undergoing non-invasive surgical procedures. These folks had it hard. Yet we who profess “Christ” today, especially in the west, will often complain about how hard it seems to be. There are, however, thousands of our brothers and sisters living under repressive regimes and government and social systems throughout the world, who are forced to practice their faith in secret out of a real fear of being persecuted and killed.

Sermon on the Plain

 

 

The Master began his sermon (term chosen by those who arranged or formatted our Bibles) by touching upon those who were there in His presence, seeking something–be it healing, deliverance or a word of encouragement. These were the poor (verse 20)–in the Greek “ptochos”–one who is dependent on others for support. These, according to the various and sundry Greek-English Lexicons on our respective bookshelves, describe those who would be “ptochos” as having a special need for the Father’s help. Figuratively, these individuals in Y’shua’s time, were deemed as having little value to society. These were deemed as being worthless, powerless and beggars. (cf. Gal. 4:9) Of the several Lexicons I have access to, the Thayers provided the most profound insight on the issue concerning the poor from the Sermon on the Plain perspective. According to Thayer, ptochos referred to those who are thoroughly frightened. These were known to cower down and hide in fear in the society of their day. “Hence, ptochos, properly, is one who slinks and crotches–roving about in wretchedness.” These types were the throw aways of society, much as they are now. We want them as far away from us as we can get them. When they encroach upon our space, we recoil and become dismissive of them. Yet these were the type who came to the Master as He addressed His disciples. These came looking for a blessing of some type. These did not come with pedigree or with means. These were helpless, frightened, rejected of society.

In the great “Sermon on the Mount,” Master spoke of those who were “poor in spirit.” Who would these be? A clue is provided, I believe, in the Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, who described the poor in spirit as those of humble character, who possessed a contrite mind. Those who came to Master in both events/incidents, were not of humble character or of a contrite mind by choice. No indeed. These were humble in their character and demeanor and contrite of mind because of their circumstances. These were by their personal circumstances, humble and contrite. (Consider Isa. 66:2; Psa. 5019; Dan. 3:39 in the LXX) These were the ones that especially caught the Master’s attention. Was it simply because of these individuals’ social status (or lack there of) that separated them from all the rest? I don’t believe so. I believe that these were the one’s who came because they were at their end. These came because they had no one else to turn to. These came because they needed a touch from the Master in order to make it in life.

I don’t necessarily equate the poor that the Master was addressing with all those who are poor today. Certainly, many who are poor in our society today are angry, bitter, proud, violent and just plain ole mean. These often wear their poverty as a badge of honor and a reason to rail against society by whatever means they can. Yet there are some who because they have lost everything (if indeed they ever had anything), despite their attempts to pull themselves out of their impoverished state, they seek help. They don’t languish in their poverty and blame society. These have come to a point in their lives where they have a contrite  (i.e., a felling of remorse or penitence that may be affected by guilt) mind and humble spirit. These are the ones the Master has given first right of refusal to as it relates to the true Gospel of the Kingdom. There is no place in the kingdom for those impoverished souls who are angry and seek to make society pay and who seek to take advantage of those who would be unwary prey for them. No, the poor that Master was addressing are humble and contrite. This is where we must find ourselves if we are to inherit the kingdom, for according to Master, the kingdom will be given to those who are poor–the humble and contrite of mind. Later on in the Sermon on the Plain, Master rails against the rich, the full and the jovial. These are likely in no position to be of a humble spirit or demeanor, nor of a contrite mind. These will have a difficult if not impossible time receiving the kingdom of God. I firmly believe that it’s not until we are broken and destitute; essentially we become poor (humble and contrite of mind)–not because of some carnal vow of poverty as some in Catholicism take or assume in the service of the church–so that we are open to receive the Kingdom. The cares and things of life prevent such a transference–that is receiving the Kingdom. It’s not until we are able to abandon those things as being of prime importance in our lives, then we are ready to receive that which the Master has for us.

I believe that people are leaving the Church in droves today because the Church has failed to teach how to become a disciple for Jesus Christ (aka-Y’shua haMashiyach). We have been taught throughout the decades to come to Jesus just as we are. What does that really mean? It means, simply bring whatever baggage, lifestyle and mindset you haveand set it before the Master. The problem is that the Church fails to finish filling the prescription. After coming to Master, we must give everything up for Him and conform to His teachings; His way of living; His instructions. That stuff that we bring to the altar must be factored out of our lives. I’m not talking about giving everything materially we’ve accumulated away and becoming impoverished. Indeed, all that serves to do is to make us dependent upon others to provide for our needs. On the contrary, I’m talking about giving up the importance the material things have in and over our lives. Thus, the focus is shifted from ourselves over to Him and His Father. We must become poor so that we may become rich. Otherwise, we’ll just be spinning our wheels as so many former Christians who are leaving the church in record numbers have come to understand for themselves.

I’ve taken on a spiritual vow of poverty. I once valued my job/career, my material possessions and my aspirations above all. I had this Christian thing as a plug-in, that served only to satisfy my interest and occasional hunger for spiritual things. But at the end of the day, my earthly, carnal, personal life ruled over that of my spiritual life. I had not become poor so that I could become rich. I figured I could make it work on my own terms. But Paul taught that we are not our own any longer–that we’ve been purchased at a very precious and valuable price. (Ref. 1 Cor. 6:19,20) In order for that to happen, we have to become poor–humble of spirit and contrite of mind. It’s the only way.

Blessings to you–until next time–fellow saints in training.

 

 

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The Prayer Shawl Controversy–Part 1–INAYP 63

The Prayer Shawl Controversy–Part 1

In recent months we’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend taking place in traditional Christianity, especially in the more charismatic circles of the Christian Faith. As more and more adherents/believers/Christians, if you will, are feeling the tug towards the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith, the church’s leaders are seeing and actually acting upon opportunities to take advantage of their members’ and followers’ interests in things Hebrew or more popularly, Jewish. And again, this seems to be more localized to charismatic churchianity.

It wasn’t but 3-short years ago that so-called Rabbi Ralph Messer, in a rather disturbing and strange ceremony, wrapped Bishop Eddie Long in a Torah scroll and crowned Eddie Long some kind of king. This of course upset to no small degree many traditional and orthodox Jews around the nation and possibly even the world. You can actually see this travesty on youtube.com–simply type in the search term Ralph Messer Torah Scroll Eddie Long and you’ll have a number of video clips that clearly show this incident.
prayer shawl
Other Christian leaders have taken it upon themselves to take hold of the ever burgeoning interest in the Jewish/Hebrew roots of the Christian Faith, taking it upon themselves to teach, preach, produce videos and CDs, and write books on the subject. The vast majority of content on the subject that these preachers are putting out to their flocks is based upon horribly twisted theology, doctrine and Jewish tradition and even mysticism that in the long-run serves only to severely damage their credibility as men and women of Yahovah/Yahweh/Yahuah or whatever name you refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by, and worse, lead their followers down a path of spiritual destruction.
The Eddie Long incident is an extreme example of what can go wrong when money and power hungry preachers and teachers see an opportunity to tap into a new trend that they identify as being of potential interest to the so-called Body of Christ. As more and more people who once identified themselves as Christians are leaving Christianity for various and sundry reasons–mainly because they’ve come to terms that Christianity is in and of itself hollow and it is an irrelevant aspect of their overall spiritual lives–these jack-legged preachers are finding themselves scrambling to come up with new, thought-provoking schemes and themes to capture the imaginations of their followers and to keep the cash-flow going.
In this multi-episode series of It’s Not As You Perceive, we explore and discuss one of the latest trends seemingly taking charismatic churchianity by storm in recent months–that being the Jewish Prayer Shawl. As you will see, the issue we will present to you in this series has nothing to do with Christians, or for that matter Jews, owning or using prayer shawls. The issue, as you will hear dear friends, is the false teachings and prophecies that these men and women of churchianity are putting out to their members and followers, potentially leading them astray. Seemingly gone are the days when sermons and teachings were based primarily on what is contained in the Bible. Instead, the sermons and teachings are geared toward appealing to the itchy ears, the greed, and desperation of believers looking for anything that their beloved religion could offer to make their unfulfilled lives match the ill-perceived abundant life that the Master promised to those who would be His disciples.
We warn you that a great deal of what you will hear in this series as being taught, preached and advocated by various preachers and teachers may disturb you as much as it disturbed us when we first heard it. If you are indeed disturbed, then it’s a sure bet that your spiritual discernment meter is properly functioning. After gaining a clear understanding of such false teaching, the challenge then becomes, what do we do with that which we’ve just learned? Let’s discuss and sort this thing out.
This is a combined episode of It’s Not As You Perceive, Episode 63 and Sabbath Thoughts & Reflections 25–The Prayer Shawl Controversy, Part 1.
References:

 

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The Bride of Christ Part 2–It’s Not As You Perceive 62

The Bride of Christ Part 2

In this second part of the 2-part series entitled The Bride of Christ, Hilary and Rod continue the discussion, picking up from last week’s episode 1. What is the Bride of Christ? Who is included in the Bridal Party? Are all Christians considered part of the Bride of Christ? These and more questions will be answered. You’ll be blessed.

Agent pic

Hilary Thomas–Messianic Teacher, Content Creator, Singer, Realtor Professional

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The Bride of Christ–Part 1–It’s Not As You Perceive Episode 61

 

Agent pic

Hilary R. Thomas–Speaker–Writer–Messianic Content Creator–Hebraic Roots Teacher

In this episode of It’s Not As You Perceive, Hilary and I attempt to get to the bottom of what Shaul and John meant when they spoke about a certain group of individuals being the Bride of Christ. Were they speaking about the Church Triumphant? Or individual born again believers in Jesus Christ? This first of a 2-part series takes you in the midst of one of the many conversations that Hilary and I have on various topics and issues affecting the Faith.

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