(This originally appeared in the July/August 1998 edition of the MCOI Journal beginning on page 6)
In Parts 1 and 2, we assessed some of the teachings of Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) through a chronological approach. While we wish to maintain that basic perspective in this series, this article covers such a vast and pervasive topic in Gothard’s ministry that it will depart from the chronological format. To evaluate Gothard’s teaching on the Law, we must examine it in the context of the overall history of IBLP.
“Legalism” is a time-honored word Christians use to refer to some kind of misuse of law.1For definitions from three evangelical writers: Erwin W. Lutzer, How In This World Can I Be Holy? (Moody Press, 1974), pp.82-92; J.I. Packer, Concise Theology, (Tyndale House, 1993), pp.175-77; Charles C. Ryrie, The Grace of God, (Moody Press, 1963), pp.73-84. Gothard, himself, once used it,2Instructions for our Most Important Battle, (IBLP, 1976), p.27. but now he writes:
The word legalism is not a biblical term and should not be used since it has conflicting meanings that are emotionally charged.3How to Respond to the Term Legalism, (IBLP, 1996), p.1
It is interesting that Gothard seeks to legislate how Christians use words and ironic that he chose “legalism.” It is reminiscent of George Orwell’s “thinkspeak” of 1984. Words are the coins of human ideas, and whoever controls their flow becomes a kind of Federal Reserve Board Chairman4The Federal Reserve Board Chairman heads the agency that controls the American money supply. of Christian thought. Should anyone have such power?
If we limited our vocabulary to words found in Scripture, then technically we only should speak Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Even if we extended this rule to include English translations of biblical words, we still could not use important theological terms like “Trinity,” “inerrancy,” “Calvinism,” “Arminianism,” or “dispensationalism,” all of which have conflicting meanings and emotional overtones for various people. Nor could Gothard, himself, use phrases like “chain of authority” or “umbrella of protection.”
Since Gothard has been bombarded with charges of legalism in recent years, we can understand why he would like to erase the word from the English language — but this cannot be allowed. Instead, we must determine the legitimate meanings of “legalism” and consider whether any of them apply to Gothard and IBLP.
When Christians use the word “legalism,” they usually are referring to one or more of the following definitions:
- Keeping the Law as a means of salvation;
- Keeping the Law’s “letter” without keeping its “spirit”;
- Building a “fence” of unnecessary, extra-biblical laws around biblical laws;
- Imposing obsolete Old Testament (OT) requirements on New Testament (NT) believers.
Gothard denies that we must keep the Law in order to be saved,5How to Respond to the Term Legalism, (IBLP, 1996), p.1 so he does not qualify as the first type of legalist.
He also repudiates keeping the “letter” without the “spirit.” This would include something that everyone has been guilty of: hypocritical compliance with God’s commands. It also includes the way the Pharisees nullified the Law through human traditions (Matt. 15:1-8; Mark 7:6-13).
When we come to the third definition, however, it does not seem that Gothard can be acquitted of legalism. It was precisely the practice of adding extra commandments to the Law that Christ was referring to when He said, “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matt. 23:4, NIV).
The Pharisees (and their rabbinic descendents, who wrote the Talmud) were quite unapologetic about this practice. They believed they were protecting the Law by building a “fence” of extra commandments around it,6The Mishnah, tractate Aboth 1:1. and that “tradition” was a “fence” that protected the Law.7Aboth 3:14. The idea was this: the more rules you set up for yourself, the easier it would be to keep from sinning. Thus, there was a rule against a woman looking into a mirror on the Sabbath. Why? Because, if she looked into a mirror, she might see a gray hair; and if she saw it, she might pluck it — and that would be “work” on the Sabbath! Hundreds of other examples could be cited.
It never seemed to occur to them that the resulting thousands of pages of rules and regulations would become far more burdensome than the Mosaic Law ever was! It would also suck the very life out of God’s people and make hypocritical compliance an inevitability under the strain of so many do’s and don’ts.
With all the “universal, non-optional principles of life” that Gothard’s Basic Seminar Textbook contains, it is a kind of “Evangelical Talmud.” But this does not only apply to the Basic Seminar Textbook. As I sit writing this article, I literally have thousands of pages of IBLP materials stacked around me, donated by concerned Christians, all filled with lists of “principles” for living the Christian life. How could anyone who reads them avoid drawing the conclusion that the Christian life is one of extremely complicated rule-keeping?
Gothard even sets up principles for which either a biblical reference is lacking or the one he does supply is questionable. This is a dangerous procedure, as Carl Hoch writes:
What is legalism to one is not legalism to another. People have their own set of extrabiblical rules that seem appropriate to them. But then each person’s set becomes the standard for other Christians. The person who has power and influence will soon gain a large following whose adherents will believe that their “set” is the true set. Those individuals in the group who do not necessarily accept that set as legitimate may still comply out of fear of punishment, ostracism, and “shunning.” All of these supererogations 8Supererogation — the act of performing more than is required, usually for the purpose of gaining merit. become identified with Christianity and build up an unnecessary wall between the church and the world. We should not be surprised when people reject Christianity for the wrong reason, thinking that they must give up movies or some other item on someone’s list in order to become a true believer. What a terrible distortion of Scripture and true Christianity! In essence another gospel has been created that leads to confusion within and without the church. 9Hoch, All Things New, (Baker, 1995), p.212.
In Gothard’s How to Respond to the Term Legalism tract, he does not even mention either the third or fourth definitions listed in this article, and yet, they are among the word’s most common meanings. As for the fourth definition — imposing obsolete OT requirements on NT believers — this takes us into an area of widespread disagreement among Christians: the exact role of OT Law in the Christian life. To evaluate Gothard’s tutelage on this point, we must set it in the context of the broad spectrum of evangelicalism.
Gothard Steps in to Fill a Vacuum
Many feel that the Church has not faithfully done its job in preaching the OT. In 1993, theologian Walter C. Kaiser wrote:
The hunger for someone to give the believing community instruction in the proper use of law is so great that one popular seminar since 1968, focusing on Proverbs (a veritable republication of the law of God in proverbial form, as can be seen from the marginal references to Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), has literally had tens of thousands of people swarming to its sessions in every major city in North America and now all over the world. [A footnote to this sentence reads: “In the Basic Youth Conflicts seminars.”] This is an indictment on the church and its reticence to preach the moral law of God and to apply it to all aspects of life as indicated in Scripture. 10Kaiser, “The Law as God’s Guidance for the Promotion of Holiness,” in The Law, the Gospel, and the Modern Christian, (Zondervan, 1993), p.198.
A widely respected scholar, Kaiser is well known for his independent position on the relationship between Law and Gospel. He certainly is not a Dispensationalist, but he also is not a Covenant theologian in the traditional sense; and while his remarks fall short of an endorsement of Gothard and IBLP, they urge Christians to have a greater appreciation for the Mosaic Law.
This quote is used as a starting point in order to emphasize the diversity of evangelical opinion on how to relate the Law of Moses to the Christian life, and that this diversity affects the way one evaluates Gothard’s use of the Law. Not all believing scholars follow Kaiser’s view — in fact, he is in a minority camp. (I agree that Christians have sadly lost an appreciation for the Mosaic Law as an important part of Scripture, although I do not accept his view of how Christians should relate to the Law. But our task here is to evaluate Gothard’s view.)
Gothard vs. Matthew 5:17
Among evangelicals, three primary positions on the Mosaic Law exist. They can be distinguished from each other by one simple test: how they interpret Christ’s words, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17, NIV). More specifically, each view can be identified by how it interprets the phrase “to fulfill” (Greek: plerosai). At the risk of oversimplifying (for variations exist within each viewpoint), the three positions and their adherents are as follows:
- Christ Revises the Law (Reformed);
- Christ Replaces the Law (Lutherans and Dispensationalists);
- Christ Reaffirms the Law (Theonomians and others).
Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox hold to a variation of position two in which the “one true Church,” through its clergy, mediates Christ’s authority in the world. So, in practical terms, they believe the Church replaces the Law.
Since Gothard claims to be an evangelical, we will focus on comparing his position with the standard evangelical positions.
- Christ Revises the Law (Reformed)
This broad heading does not do justice to the spectrum of Reformed interpretation of Matt. 5:17, but it accurately conveys its results. In Reformed theology, Christ “fulfilled” the Law in the sense of revealing its true meaning and intent — and, to some extent, transcending it. Reformed tradition divides the Law into three categories: moral, civil, and ceremonial. The moral laws are seen as still in force for the Church, but Christ’s ministry helps us better understand them. The civil and ceremonial laws are considered types and shadows of Christ that no longer function as pointing forward to Him, so they have been set aside.
Gothard’s position clearly is not Reformed, since he promotes Mosaic ceremonial law in the areas of abstinence from sexual relations on specific occasions (Leviticus 12 and 15) 11The Unexpected Benefits of Periodic Abstinence in Marriage, (Medical Training Institute of America “IBLP”, Revised 1992), p.5. and circumcision. 12How to Make a Wise Decision on Circumcision, (MTIA, Revised 1992) Gothard’s entire rationale for circumcising infants uses the OT in a way that Reformed Christians reject. He urges the need for an actual circumcision ceremony 13Op.cit., pp.11-14 on the eighth day after the birth of a male child. 14Op.cit., pp.7-8 To document the event, he even provides a “Certificate of Circumcision” 15Op.cit., p.15 (not something I would hang on my wall) with places for signatures from an officiating minister, “medical attendant” (doctor?), family members, and other witnesses.
Regardless of his employment of medical evidence to support his use of ceremonial laws, Gothard ultimately does not promote them for medical reasons. He picks and chooses what he will accept from medical authorities, as he so much as states in his bulletin on circumcision:
In recent years, the time-honored practice of circumcision has been challenged by many groups, including pediatricians. The attack against circumcision in the United States coincided with the revolt against morality and authority in the 1960s. One of the chief reasons given for not having circumcision was that it decreased a man’s sensual pleasure. Indeed, uncircumcised men have, as a group, been more promiscuous than circumcised men … Because this is one subject which is so strongly commanded and reinforced in Scripture, there is no question what the decision of Christian parents should be on the matter. 16Op.cit., p.2
While one might wonder how Gothard knows so much about the sexual habits of uncircumcised men, it is clear that he does not present circumcision as an option for Christians, but rather, as a moral requirement. This, alone, places Gothard’s view outside the Reformed tradition which interprets circumcision as a moral requirement under the Law but not under the Gospel.
- Christ Replaces the Law (Lutherans and Dispensationalists)
Despite his popularity among Dispensationalists, it would be a mistake to think Gothard is one of them. 17Robert J. Sheridan wrote: “… if there is a dispensational approach [in Gothard it is inconsistent.” Bill Gothard and Dispensationalism, (Calvary Bible College, 1984), p.20. However I detect few, if any, dispensational tendencies in Gothard.] The dispensational position on the Law can be summarized as follows: “Christians are not under the Law of Moses as a rule of life.” This position reads Matt. 5:17 and 18 together, and the emphasis is placed on the phrase “until everything is accomplished” at the end of verse 18. Since Jesus has “accomplished” (or fulfilled) the entire Law, all of it has “passed away” (see v.18) for Christians. The Law remains a vehicle of revelation but not regulation.
Lutherans agree that Mosaic Law is not binding on Christians, but they differ from Dispensationalists in that they allow for “three uses” of the Law. The first use is to restrain evil in the world; the second use is to bring people to an acknowledgment of their sins, so they can understand their need for Christ; the third use is to restrain the remnants of sin that remain in true, regenerated believers.18“Formula of Concord, Article VI,” P. and D. Schaff, eds., The Creeds of Christendom, Volume 3, (Baker, reprinted 1985), pp.130-31. So, what do Dispensationalists say is the “rule of life” for Christians today? When you consider the fact that a wide range of teachers — from John MacArthur, to Charles Ryrie, to Zane Hodges — call themselves “Dispensationalists,” the answer obviously varies. But the most common response is that the NT, itself, provides all the moral guidance that believers need.
Gothard’s view of the Law is not even close to the Lutheran position. It also is more-or-less opposite that of Dispensationalists. While he does not attack the dispensational view overtly, much of what he writes seems intended to refute that position.19See especially point 25, “We Despised His Law,” in The Power of the Living Church: A Biblical Strategy for Courageous Pastors and Congregations, (IBLP), p.34. He does not admit that the Law has passed away in any sense other than, perhaps, that its sacrificial system has ceased.
- Christ Reaffirms the Law (Theonomians and others)
Theonomians are a small, fringe group of evangelicals whose origin traces back to Reformed scholar Rousas J. Rushdoony, who insisted in his 1973 book, The Institutes of Biblical Law, that the Church should work to bring Mosaic civil laws and penalties (e.g., the death penalty for adulterers, idolaters, and sorcerers) into the law books of modern “Christian societies.” Sometimes called Christian Reconstructionists, their views have spread beyond their Reformed birthplace into Pentecostal circles.
Theonomians depart from the Reformed view in that only the moral aspects of the Law apply today, and they believe that only the ceremonial aspects of the Law passed away in Christ. Thus, Gothard is not a Theonomian. However, we can say that, of all the interpretations of Matt. 5:17, this one comes the closest to his position. Like the Theonomians, Gothard believes Christ’s basic meaning was to reaffirm the validity of the Law for all time. 20Ibid.
Nonetheless, Gothard’s view goes beyond that of the Theonomians. He, too, believes that modern civil laws should be based on Scripture,21Be Alert To Spiritual Danger, (IBLP, 1980), p.12 but he also strongly promotes the ceremonial requirements of the Law for Christians today. In this, his belief comes closer to that of a group outside of evangelicalism: Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA).
One of the things Gothard has in common with the SDA is his admiration for a popular book from the 1960s: None of These Diseases by S.I. McMillen, M.D. 22(Revell, 1963); reprinted numerous times McMillen primarily interpreted Mosaic ceremonial laws in medical terms. He was an early popularizer of the notion that circumcision reduces the risk of cervical cancer in women 23None of These Diseases, pp.17-22 — which has since been repudiated by the American Cancer Society.
Following McMillen’s lead, many Bible teachers jumped on the bandwagon, finding medical reasons for the distinction between “clean” and “unclean” foods, the treatment of lepers, the handling of corpses, and numerous other ceremonial requirements which, otherwise, seem inexplicable to modern man. For Christians interested in apologetics, this approach also seemed to provide evidence for the hand of an omniscient God at work in Scripture.
But were health and hygiene the primary (or even partial) reasons that the ceremonial laws were given?
While this view of the ceremonial laws enjoyed its heyday among some commentators,24Especially R.K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, (Eerdmans, 1969), p.605; and R. Laird Harris, “Leviticus,” Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2, (Zondervan, 1990), pp.529-30. it has been thoroughly discussed by Christian scholars and no longer carries much weight. As Gordon J. Wenham observes, the reasons this view does not work can be found in the Scriptures:
First, hygiene can only account for some of the prohibitions. Some of the clean animals are more questionable on hygienic grounds than some of the unclean animals. If ancient Israel had discovered the dangers of eating pork, they might also have discovered that thorough cooking averts it [sic]. In any event, trichinosis is rare in free-range pigs … Secondly, the OT gives no hint that it regarded these foods as a danger to health … Third, why, if hygiene is the motive, are not poisonous plants classed as unclean? Finally, if health were the reason for declaring certain foods unclean in the first place, why did our Lord pronounce them clean in his day [Mark 7:19]? Evidence is lacking that the Middle Eastern understanding of hygiene had advanced so far by the first century A.D. that the Levitical laws were unnecessary. Indeed, if the primary purpose of the food laws was hygienic, it is surprising that Jesus abolished them. 25Wenham, Leviticus, (Eerdmans, 1979), pp.167-168
We should add two items to Wenham’s list:
First, if ceremonial laws were given for health reasons, then (because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit) some moral imperative must be attached to those laws. The inspired Apostles should have recognized this and taught believers to keep ceremonial laws as proper stewards of their bodies — but they didn’t. Even when they had a Greek Christian in their midst (Titus), the Christian church in Jerusalem did not require him to get circumcised (Gal. 2:3). Ultimately, however, Gothard does not seek to justify “Christian circumcision” on medical grounds; for him it is a matter of biblical “morality.”
Second, to focus on matters of health and hygiene, or interpret Mosaic ceremonies as moral requirements, is to lose the prophetic function of those laws as pointing forward to Christ and to risk removing Christ from the core of the Bible. Paul’s teaching, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col. 2:17; cf. Heb. 10:1), recedes into the background. Keeping ceremonial requirements becomes the main thing, and we end up trading the substance for the shadow.
To all Christians, especially those who follow Gothard, his teaching on the Law should be quite alarming. It forces us to ask the question, “Is Gothard truly an ‘evangelical’?”
The Historic Christian Position
The historic Christian position on Matt. 5:17 has not been that Christ came to reaffirm the Mosaic Law; but that, in its original form, the Law was provisional and incomplete at some level. The fact that it was necessary for Christ to come and “fulfill” it is proof enough of that. This is a basic area of agreement between the Reformed, Lutherans, and Dispensationalists.
Another area of agreement among evangelicals has been that neither the ceremonial nor the civil aspects of the Law are required of Christians today. Evangelicals take different theological routes, but they arrive at the same conclusion: it is not only unnecessary but wrong for Christians to require others to be circumcised, to keep the Levitical purification rites, or to impose Mosaic civil sanctions.
Gothard has not merely adopted a “fringe” position on the Law; he clearly falls outside historic evangelicalism, having gone much further than Theonomianism.
Recently, I explained Gothard’s view to Dr. Walter Elwell, Professor at Wheaton College, during a personal conversation. He identified Gothard’s position (as I explained it) as a “moderate Judaizing” position, because Gothard clearly does not require circumcision for salvation, and yet, he makes it a requirement for Christians.
Full-blown Judaizers, whom we read about in the Book of Acts, required circumcision for salvation. Then there were Jewish Christians who practiced the Law but did not require Gentile Christians to do so. Moderate Judaizers fall in between Judaizers and Law-observing Jewish believers.
So now we should ask: “Is there room in evangelicalism for moderate Judaizers?” An “evangelical” is one who adheres to the gospel message as it was preached in the NT. So does Gothard’s gospel match the Apostle’s gospel? This question goes beyond the scope of this article.
Gothard’s Key Text
Gothard defends his position on the Law by quoting Gal. 3:24 from the KJV: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ …” Should not Christians follow the Law if it brings people to Christ? Several things need to be noted here.
First, Gothard often misquotes Paul’s verb tense by saying that the Law is a schoolmaster. Paul used a past tense (“was” KJV, NIV 26Also: R.Y.K. Fung, Galatians (Eerdmans, 1988). NASB interprets the verb (ginomai, in the perfect tense) as “has become” which is an attempt to bring out the perfect tense but at the cost of introducing ambiguity. It is still not the same as “is.” F.F. Bruce’s use of “has been,” Galatians, (Eerdmans, 1982), is a better choice.) to indicate that the Law no longer functions in this way.
Second, the phrase, “to bring us,” is not in the original Greek (it’s italicized in the KJV). The NIV and NASB add similar phrases, but the NIV provides the alternate translation, “the law was put in charge until Christ,” in its margin. Many scholars agree that the Greek preposition “eis” has this temporal meaning of “until” which fits the context (especially v.25). 27See Bruce’s and Fung’s commentaries on Galatians. Paul was not so much describing what the Law did (i.e., bring us to Christ) as he was emphasizing its temporary role.
Third, Gothard omits Gal. 3:25, “But after that faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster,” where Paul made it clear that the relationship described in v.24 no longer exists for Christians. By quoting Gal. 3:24 out of context, Gothard tries to get Paul to say the opposite of what he intended.
But Is It Legalism?
Based on the evidence, we conclude that Gothard is a legalist according to the third and fourth definitions previously listed. Several Bible teachers have observed that legalism inevitably leads to license, because it frustrates the very grace of God. We need to become holy. Instead of being cleansed by God’s Spirit, legalism depends on one’s own efforts; and since man is not up to the task, sin invariably boils over in the human soul.
|↑1||For definitions from three evangelical writers: Erwin W. Lutzer, How In This World Can I Be Holy? (Moody Press, 1974), pp.82-92; J.I. Packer, Concise Theology, (Tyndale House, 1993), pp.175-77; Charles C. Ryrie, The Grace of God, (Moody Press, 1963), pp.73-84.|
|↑2||Instructions for our Most Important Battle, (IBLP, 1976), p.27.|
|↑3, ↑5||How to Respond to the Term Legalism, (IBLP, 1996), p.1|
|↑4||The Federal Reserve Board Chairman heads the agency that controls the American money supply.|
|↑6||The Mishnah, tractate Aboth 1:1.|
|↑8||Supererogation — the act of performing more than is required, usually for the purpose of gaining merit.|
|↑9||Hoch, All Things New, (Baker, 1995), p.212.|
|↑10||Kaiser, “The Law as God’s Guidance for the Promotion of Holiness,” in The Law, the Gospel, and the Modern Christian, (Zondervan, 1993), p.198.|
|↑11||The Unexpected Benefits of Periodic Abstinence in Marriage, (Medical Training Institute of America “IBLP”, Revised 1992), p.5.|
|↑12||How to Make a Wise Decision on Circumcision, (MTIA, Revised 1992|
|↑17||Robert J. Sheridan wrote: “… if there is a dispensational approach [in Gothard|
|↑18||“Formula of Concord, Article VI,” P. and D. Schaff, eds., The Creeds of Christendom, Volume 3, (Baker, reprinted 1985), pp.130-31.|
|↑19||See especially point 25, “We Despised His Law,” in The Power of the Living Church: A Biblical Strategy for Courageous Pastors and Congregations, (IBLP), p.34.|
|↑21||Be Alert To Spiritual Danger, (IBLP, 1980), p.12|
|↑22||(Revell, 1963); reprinted numerous times|
|↑23||None of These Diseases, pp.17-22|
|↑24||Especially R.K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, (Eerdmans, 1969), p.605; and R. Laird Harris, “Leviticus,” Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2, (Zondervan, 1990), pp.529-30.|
|↑25||Wenham, Leviticus, (Eerdmans, 1979), pp.167-168|
|↑26||Also: R.Y.K. Fung, Galatians (Eerdmans, 1988). NASB interprets the verb (ginomai, in the perfect tense) as “has become” which is an attempt to bring out the perfect tense but at the cost of introducing ambiguity. It is still not the same as “is.” F.F. Bruce’s use of “has been,” Galatians, (Eerdmans, 1982), is a better choice.|
|↑27||See Bruce’s and Fung’s commentaries on Galatians.|
I just happened upon your website yesterday, as I was searching for something else. I started a message to you after reading some of your materials, but for some reason, it disappeared. There is much to speak about, but suffice it to say now, that there are a couple of basic Truths that need to be considered.
First of all, Jeremiah 31:31-33,34, Hebrews 8:8-10, and Hebrews 9:16 all state that God, YHVH, would make, and did make, a “new covenant” with “the House of Israel and with the House of Yehudah”, and that part of that new covenant, in Messiah Yeshua’s blood, is that He would, and did, write His Law on the hearts of the recipients of that new blood covenant. If He writes it on our hearts, and puts it in our minds, to obey it, then it becomes natural to our “new nature”…obviously, not our fallen nature.
Secondly, as Gentiles are the “wild branches who are grafted into the root and fatness of the good and cultivated Olive Tree of (redeemed, believing remnant)Israel, through that new covenant in Messiah’s blood, the Hebrew Messiah, the “Lion of the Tribe of Yehudah, we GET to obey His commandments, we don’t HAVE to! The True Messiah is NOT the Gentile Jesus who came to start a “new religion” called “churchianity”, with it’s own sabbath, sun-day, the venerable day of the sun, (Mithra), in place of the 7th day Sabbath, the venerable day of the SON…it’s own festivals, based on the pagan, solar calendar and the solstices and the equinox, and now we are “free” to eat bat, rat, cat, dog, hog, skunk, snake, alligator, slug, snail, shark, horse, mouse, louse, etc., etc., ad nauseum! Gentiles are NOT their own “new olive tree”! It is the “law of sin and death” that we have been delivered from, NOT the Law of YHVH! The “law of sin and death” in the spiritual realm, is similar to the law of gravity in the natural realm…in order to overcome/counteract the law of gravity we need extraordinary power, speed, lift and thrust. So, also do we need extraordinary power, even supernatural power to overcome the “law of sin and death”. And we have it, Holy Spirit power! He enables, impowers us, to walk the walk and then talk the talk!!
Our relationship and application to the Law of YHVH today, is that it was given to Israel, as a pedagogue/tutor, St Paul says, to “bring us to Messiah”. In antiquity, parents would hire a pedagogue/tutor to accompany their child/children as they walked about, to teach them morals and ethics, not necessarily academics. When the chld reached maturity, he would not longer need a tutor, however, the parents did not then banish/koll the tutor and tell the child to forget all that the tutor had taught him. The child would “become like His Master”, and would have a life long relationship with the tutor/pedagogue, and could go back to the tutor for clarification, if needed. That’s why Paul asked “what advantage has the Yehudim then in the Body of Messiah? Much in every way! For to them have been given the oracles of YHVH!” When Paul said that “Messiah is the “goal at which Torah aims”, he was telling us exactly what I am trying to tell you. (BTW, that has been mistranslated as “for Messiah is the end of the Law”, as in “abolished”, “done away with”, contrary to what Messiah, Himself said.) That is precisely why, in Acts 15, the issue was what to do with all of the Gentiles who were coming to faith in the Hebrew Messiah, as they were “strangers and aliens to the covenants and promises of YHVH”, and the Jerusalem Council decided that they would give the Gentiles 4 instructions to observe, for table fellowship with the Messianic Jews, and then “for Moses is taught in the synagogues in every city on the Sabbath”…so they could get the rest of the “Law” as they went into the Messianic synagogues on Sabbath! It is significant that we have come to know the Covenant given at Sinai, as “the law of Moses”, but YHVH, Himself, spoke the 10 commandments to ancient Israel, and then, because they were afraid, they told YHVH to speak to and through His servant Moses! But God, YHVH, spoke the words of the Sinai Covenant, so it is His Law! Also, significant is the fact that there was no tabernacle at Sinai, no Levitical priesthood, and no prescribed sacrifices given for sin offerings. That came later. We have been taught that “Sinai is the child of the bond woman”, and that means we “are not under the Law” in Messiah, (aka Gentile Jesus Christ), which is what Paul said about “not being under a tutor”. Of course, a child that had been fully trained would not longer need a tutor watching over him, because he would have been fully trained and like His Master! It is interesting that you separate out “ceremonial law”. There was another covenant that we have not been taught about, and that is the Moabite Law, or the law of Moab, which was approximately 39 1/2 years AFTER Sinai. YHVH is recorded as having said, “I will make another covenant with these people, BESIDES the covenant that I made with them at Sinai…” that’s in Deuteronomy, NOT Exodua. Sinai was shortly after the Israelits left Egypt, but Moab was shortly before they entered the Promised Land! That covenant fits better wth what is known as the “Old Covenant” referred to in the book of Hebrews, because the blood of bulls and goats only covered sin, but the blood of Messiah Yeshua, “takes away the sin of the world”. (as far as the East is from the West!) The tabneracle/temple sacrifices were temporal and temporary, but the once for all pure blood sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua is permanent and eternal!! He saved us from the penalty of sin, death (the ordinances against us, that were “nailed to the cross”)for disobedience, He saves us from the power of sin, as we surrender to His Law/Word and His Will on a daily basis, and will save us from the very presence of sin, when we either die and say “Yeshua, take my hand”, or if we are “alive and remain” at His return! You are correct in that we must “bring every though into captivity to the mind of Messiah”, and by doing that, we are delivered FROM the world, the flesh, the devil and false “religion” as well as being freed TO love, honor, obey, worship and serve the Creator of the Universe! (We are His bride, so we covenant to “love, honor and obey”, Him)
So much for to say, but time prohibits me from taking any more time, but this is a start. You’ve heard the old saw, “blessed are those who go around in cirles, for they shall be called Big Wheels”. That’s what Gentile churchianity, and all of the many scholars/theologians/preachers/evangelists, have been doing, trying to get people to “convert” to the Gentile Jesus that abolished the Law of YHVH! Gentile Jesus is a false Messiah, according to Deuteronomy 13, an idol of Gentile fallen mankind’s own making! And we are told by Paul “don’t even sit down to eat with such a one”, as an idolator! (one among other things that people who claim to be brethren do) One more quick thing, the reason that Messiah did not condemn the woman caught in adultery is because the Law requires both the man and the woman to be put to death for adultery, and the Pharisess only brought the woman!! (they are not fair, you see) He told her “go and sin no more”. He warned her, and others “lest something worse happens to you”.
Thanks for considering my thoughts, if, in fact, you have. You may surmise that I am a Messianic Gentile believer in and receiver of the Messiah Yeshua, who taught that He upheld the Law of YHVH, and correctly interpreted it and applied it. St Paul asks, “Do we then annul the Law because of Messiah?” And then he answers himself, “May it never be!” On the contrary, we establish/uphold the Law!” Elsewhere he tells us, “for the Law if holy and righteous and good”! If you are not obeying/keeping/observing the Law, and celebrating Messiah Yeshua’s fulfillment of the Feasts of Passover, First Fruits, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Sabbath, then you probably won’t want to be in the millennial Kingdom of Messiah, because these are holy, (set apart) rehearsals for that time period, and you are missing out on a lot! If you were getting married, and you asked your betrothed and the wedding party to attend the rehearsal, would you not think it strange if they said, “do we HAVE to attend?” Don’t miss out!!
Blessing and Peace and Wisdom and Discernment,
Jennifer, hi! I have read your essay on the Law, and want to know what you think the following passages mean —
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, (Ephesians 2:14–15)
Here are John MacArthur’s thoughts on that, which I believe are the truth:
Furthermore, in addition to abolishing the enmity between Jew and Gentile, the book of Hebrews chapter 7 says the Law was set aside because of its weakness. The priesthood was changed, which means (according to Hebrews) that the Law was changed. Hebrews says, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of the Mosaic Law, because of its weakness and uselessness in not being able to perfect us, and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope.
Hebrews 8 goes on to say:
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he said, Behold, the days come, said the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, said the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
In that he said, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.”
In fact, the whole book of Hebrews is meant to instruct us to listen to Him who now speaks from Heaven. Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all. There is no more sacrifice for sin. The Hebrews are warned to NOT turn back to the Old Covenant – it has been replaced by the New Covenant. And Hebrews teaches the New Covenant is not a repeat of the Old, where we are now able to obey all those ordinances found in the Mosaic covenant. No, they have been set aside.
PS, Jennifer, the Jewish Apostles and James the brother of the Lord, at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, expressly told the Gentiles they were NOT to receive circumcision in order to enter into following the Law of Moses, but were rather told to abstain from eating things sacrificed to idols, things strangled, and fornication. Period. End. Finish. How then, do you deal with what the Jewish Apostles and James the brother of the Lord told the Gentile believers?
You wrote: “That’s what Gentile churchianity, and all of the many scholars/theologians/preachers/evangelists, have been doing, trying to get people to “convert” to the Gentile Jesus that abolished the Law of YHVH!”
You appear to be lumping in Peter and James the brother of the Lord in with the above group, for they expressly told the Gentiles in the Word of God in Acts the following from Acts 15:
“Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”
Also, regarding the celebration of feasts and the keeping of special days and dietary laws, here is Paul’s teaching on that:
“One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
Paul clearly says each person must be convinced in his own mind as to how he serves the Lord w/respect to special days and foods. He says there are believers who do, and those who don’t, and both serve the Lord just fine. Now if this is the case, and Paul says it is, it means that each man is free to follow his conscience in this matter. IOW – there are no special observances that HAVE to be followed, unless you, in your heart, follow them as unto the Lord. For those who love the Lord who DON’T follow such laws, they are just as accepted by the Lord as those who do.
Do I think the feasts of Israel have eschatalogical significance? You bet I do! But I am not bound to observe them. I am no better a believer if I do, and no worse a believer if I don’t. They find their fulfillment in Christ, to whom I belong.
There is much that I could say about all of this…and I realize that I started this discourse by commenting on the article in the first place.
I would like to start here: Please remember that John MacArthur is a very prominent evangelical television preacher who is steeped in modern Gentile churchianity, and he has a lot to lose by saying anything that opposes the party line, so to speak. As much as I respect his sincerity, I have come to realize that anyone can make the Scriptures say anything that they want it to say. And also, anyone can believe anything they choose, as well as, if Gentile Jesus, who abolished the Law, is your Lord, you can also do anything that you want, because He doesn’t expect anything from you, but just “believe”and receive. For me, the Gospel/Salvation message is not an insurance policy for some time in the future, and we don’t just get saved and go to heaven to be with Him…we have to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”, and walk it out.
The “middle wall of partition” speaks of the inner court in the temple, where only ethnic “Jews” could go, and the “court of the Gentiles”, where those Gentiles who were sojourners were confined to.
Now, I am not a theologian, so I will put out a disclaimer about anything that I say here…that all of it is an informed opinion, hard won, after many, many years of study and investigation…prayer and fasting. That doesn’t mean that I have everything sewed up neatly in a package, as no one does. I have studied, and continue to study, the Hebrew Roots of the ” faith once delivered”, and know, for certain, that it was NOT what we see today.
Right there, in your fiest paragraph, you said that Messiah “abolished the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances”, which speaks of the penalties for transgressing the Law. 1 John 3:4 states, “for sin is transgression of the Law”. We also know that “keeping the Law” doesn’t buy us anything…it was never meant to. Paul tells us, and especially, those who “know the Law”, that it was a “pedagogue”, tutor, to lead them/us to Messiah. Unfortunately, the Gentiles did not have the benefit and blessing of having that pedagogue, as did the Jews…so, as we are told in Acts 15, the Gentiles who were coming to faith in the Hebrew Messiah were given 4 things which they were to do upon coming to faith, for table fellowship with the Messianic Jews, who, we are told, were “myriads and myriads, and they are all zealous for the Law”. Then, although, most Gentile teachers stop there, or tell us that the Messianic Jews converted to the “new religion” of Gentile churchianity, started by the Gentile Jesus, who abolished the Law and the Prophets…we are told, “for Moses is read in the synagogues in every city on the Sabbath”. I have been informed that the Gentiles coming to faith in Yeshua, would join the Messianic Jews to hear Moses taught, so that they would know what it is that they have failed to do, and what to do now, that they are “grafted in”. I now longer believe that I am part of the Gentile “church”, because the premise upon which it is built is that Gentile Jesus came to abolish the Law and the Prophets, start a new religion, with it’s own sabbath, sun-day, the “venerable day of the sun”, it’s own festivals based on pagan times and seasons ( Scripture says that it is anti-Messiah who seeks to change times and seasons) instead of the Biblical appointed times and seasons, “mo’edim”, and now we can eat bat, rat, cat, dog, hog, horse, slug, snail, hippopotamus, snake, skunk, alligator, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Paul tells us in Romans 11, that Gentiles are the “wild branches who are grafted into the root and fatness of the good, cultivated Olive Tree of (redeemed, believing remnant) Israel. Gentiles are NOT their own new olive tree. He also says that it is “contrary to nature”. Since most people are so far removed from an agrarian society, they do not know that in nature, the good branches are grafted into wild root stock, because the wild root stock is cold hardy, and heat and drought tolerant, as well as pest resistant, etc. Not so, in the spiritual realm for us. Besides, what we have been set free from, delivered from is the “law of sin and death”, which is, in the spiritual realm, similar to the law of gravity in the natural realm. In order to overcome/counteract the law of gravity, we need extraordinary means, we need power, speed, lift and thrust. So, too, in the spiritual realm, we need extraordinary power to counteract/overcome the “law of sin and death”, and we have it…Holy Spirit power! Messiah didn’t just save/deliver us from the penalty of sin…but also, from the power of sin, as we surrender to His Word and His Will day by day, and will, one day, deliver us from the very presence of sin. We cannot continue to sin with impunity, if we have been set free from it. And, once again, “sin is transgression of the Law”. When we are told in Jeremiah 31:31-34 that God would make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Yehudah, and that part of that new covenant, in Messiah’s blood, He would write His Law upon their hearts and put it in their minds…what purpose would that have, other than for those who have been called into covenant through Messiah, than to walk in it. We have it in our hearts to obey, out of love and gratitude for what has been done for us…and that is the righteous, loving response of a people who have received such amazing deliverance…and it is implanted in our minds as we meditate on it day and night. Please avail yourself of some good teaching from a Messianic perspective. Now, I realize that there is sometimes, “heavy emphasis on the mess in Messianic”, but it is no different than what goes on in Gentile churchianity, with a few thousand denominations…all considering themselves the “preserved remnant”. 🙂 Also, look into Dr Daniel I Block’s writings/books, especially “The Gospel According to Moses”. Dr Block is a professor of “Old Testament” at Wheaton College, so he is not some goof-ball who has just decided to embrace the Hebrew Roots and spout about it. He has been a professor for 40 years. It makes sense.
There is much more that could be said, but suffice it to say now, that this is a journey for all of us. And no one, except the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, YHVH, has perfect knowledge. I do know that Gentile churchianity has been less that satisfying for me…I was brought up in it…and left for about 10 years, when I graduated from public high school. Then I received the Call, and I heard the Call, heeded the Call, and began to obey the Call…so now I am Chosen…to walk the walk and talk the talk. The problem is, sometimes, people begin to talk the talk without walking the walk first. I began again to seek the Lord earnestly, but eventually, after many years, became aware that it was what I had left in the first place, many years ago. And I kept praying and studying, and as a result, I was exposed to Messianic Judaism, or Hebrew Roots, if you will. So, I studied it out for over 10 years before I began to make it my own. These teachers are NOT God, and no one will embrace 100%, everything that they say. Personally, I glean from Ascension Ministries and from Gates of Eden, as well as 119 Ministries, and a few others. I am in the Word constantly, but knowing what I know now, the Scriptures have been opened up to me.
I can throw a couple of other things in here now…when the woman was brought to Yeshua, who had been caught in adultery…He told her that He did not condemn her, but to “go and sin no more”. So, what did that mean. Well, for one thing, the main reason He did not condemn her is because the Pharisees, (they are not fair, you see) brought only her for condemnation. The Law required both the woman and her partner, the man, we presume, to be subject to condemnation. But the first “good ole boys club”, only brought the woman. Did Messiah Yeshua mean that she was free to go on sinning, because He did not condemn her? And what does that mean, anyway? Was she free to commit adultery again, because she was not capable of living a pure life? Or was it just not to commit adultery again, but she could go ahead and steal, kill, bear false witness, and profane the Sabbath, etc., and it was all okay, because she had been “forgiven”? Also, when the rich young ruler came to Messiah and asked Him, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” and Messiah enumerated the 10 commandments to him…that’s not exactly correct…He didn’t enumerate ALL the commandments, and that is why Gentiles say that Sabbath wasn’t mentioned, and therefore, that doesn’t apply to us…but He said, which has been left off again…”if there be any other commandment”. Messiah didn’t say, “you should stop with the do’s and dont’s”…He actually said, “Well done, come and follow Me”. He expected that young man, who told Him that he had kept those commandments from his youth, to follow Him to share that benefit and blessing with others, not to keep it for himself! But the young man couldn’t tear himself away from his own good fortune, the benefits and blessing, to draw others in.
And we all know about Zacharias and Elizabeth, who, we are told, were “in all the requirements of the Law blameless”, but who were still awaiting the prophesied Messiah. They knew that keeping the Law didn’t buy them eternal life! It was never intended to!
What was “old and passing away”, was the sacrificial system. The blood of bulls and goats only covered sin, they didn’t take it away! The Tabernacle/Temple system was temporal and temporary. Whereas, Messiah Yeshua’s once for all sacrifice was permanent and eternal! And the better hope is that His sacrifice of Himself, the “Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD”, didn’t just cover sin, but takes it away…the penalty, power and presence. That is, did save/deliver, does save/deliver, and will save/deliver!
Messiah never asks/tell us to do anything that He doesn’t enable/empower us to do. He is not a bull or goat who sheds it’s blood and leaves us powerless, groping around in the dark. Someone once said to me, “my faith is like I’m standing at the back door and it’s dark, and the Lord bids me to take a leap in the dark” and follow Him”. I thought to myself, “that’s not my faith. My faith is a leap into the Light. It’s an informed faith”.
Now, I thought that it was a little strange to call Bill Gothard’s teaching “Talmud”, because the Talmud is extra-biblical. I do not embrace Talmud, or the Mishnah, or Jewish mysticism, etc. The problem for many of us is that we listen to others and read books about the Bible, instead of reading and studying the Scriptures. And we ALL do it or have done it. I still have to rely on others who know the original languages. But many theologians/teachers/pastors, etc. have an agenda. I just read on this website an article about the pastors being wicked shepherds that scatter the flock. Hmmm…We are supposed to be of one heart and mind. Now, if I were to attend a Rabbinic synagogue today, I wouldn’t be “jewish” enough, even if my dad was an ethnic “jew”. And many rabbis teach that only ethnic “jews” can study Torah. I can understand why some Messianic groups insist on the leadership to be Jewish, because they know how the Gentiles came in and changed everything, and de-Judaized the Gospel. Judaizers are those who insisted that Gentiles become circumcised, and change their ethnicity, so to speak, before they can be saved. And Paul said, “No, they can remain Gentiles…and serve YHVH, through Messiah, right along side of the Jews”. Obedience is a loving, grateful response from a people who have been delivered from the penalty and power of sin, and who look forward to being delivered from the very presence of sin!
So much more to say…not enough time right now. I can think of other appropriate verses of Scripture to make my case for Torah observance for the believer. I guess that I will invite you over for “roast spiders in the pie”, after we eat “bizarre foods”, and bloody steaks, etc., etc. And for entertainment, we can watch some porn, because one Gentile ‘scholar’ says “it’s okay, that ‘Jesus’ really didn’t meant it when He said that looking at a woman to lust after her, is adultery in the heart…that’s been misinterpreted”. Anybody can believe anything, and make the Scriptures say anything. After all, “no rules” to live by. Those in Gentile churchianity can just make up their own as they go along, if they so choose. And they can try to convert Jews to the Gentile Jesus, contrary to Deuteronomy 13’s own criteria and test for the Messiah. BTW, I venture to mention that Deuteronomy is “another Law, BESIDES the Law which I (YHVH) made with Israel at Sinai”. There was no Tabernacle/Temple at Sinai,no Levitical priesthood, and no prescribed altar sacrices at Sinai…so the “Old Covenant/Testmanent”of Hebrews, fits better with the Covenant given at Moab, because, in the ensuing 39 1/2 years between Sinai, just outside of Egypt, and Moab, just outside the Promised Lane…the instructions for the Tabernacle were give, the priesthood was established, etc. The “ordinances against us”, were the prescribed penalties for disobedience…those where what were “nailed to the cross”, “done away with”, “abolished”, etc.
Paul asks, “what advantage hath the Jew then, in the body of Messiah? Much, in every way! For to them have been given the oracles of God”. And he also says, “do we then annul the Law because of Messiah? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish/uphold the Law!”
I don’t know what else to say. I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.
Peace, and Baruch B’Shem Yeshua,
My name is Hannah Leverenz. I am currently a student at New York University, looking to combine my passion for reporting/journalism, literature, and human studies into a definitive major. Growing up, I was homeschooled under the wing of IBLP until late middle school. I attended various conferences for IBLP in California, Indiana, and Tennessee, along with a Journey to the Heart experience. IBLP had a hugely negative impact on my relationship with my mother and her interactions with those closest to her, eventually driving my parents apart and creating and tense atmosphere at home. The teachings of Gothard were central to my family being torn apart and my mother’s extremist mentality.
I recently heard of the sexual accusations being made by Gothard, which led me to this site. With my background in writing, I am looking to creative a narrative surrounding Gothard’s rise to power and his eventual abuse of his position. I believe that he did not come into power looking to abuse his position—he most likely meant to help people, but was overwhelmed by the crowd looking to him for direction and interpretation, and his strengths became his weaknesses. This is a story of fanaticism and the idolization of a singular man over god, and I am very interested in piecing together an article.
I would be delighted if anyone reading would be willing to contribute advice on angle and what to include. Further, if anyone who has experienced IBLP and participated in the organization/knows about the foundation and growth wants to speak out, I would be extremely grateful if you would contribute an interview or opinions.
Thanks for your time,
Obviously Lynn can respond for herself if she chooses and most often neither I nor MCOI gets overly involved in issues of Orthopraxy or how we practice the faith. As I mentioned to you in an email exchange, how we answer many of those questions is informed by our ecclesiology or view of the church. Roman Catholics and many of those in the Reformed tradition tend to view the Church which is the Body of Christ as having replaced Israel. The various dispensational groups tend to view Israel as having particular promises and calling in fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The Church Age is a fulfillment of something not previously revealed (Ephesians 3:1-6) until God raised up the Apostle Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). The Book of Acts records Paul turning from the Nation of Israel because of their rejection of the Messiah (Acts13:46; 18:6; 28:28). I am not going to debate the merits or weaknesses of any particular view here other than to say each view informs those who hold them as to how they understand and live out their faith. Whether I agree with John MacArthur or not I have to suggest that it is uninformed or dishonest to claim “he has a lot to lose by saying anything that opposes the party line, so to speak.” Because you don’t agree with his views doesn’t mean he is a sell out for fear of losing popularity or that he doesn’t have what he believes to be sound biblical reasons for his positions.
Second, there may be some who teache that Jesus is a Gentile, I do not know of any. It is perhaps a fun way to take a cheap shot at others but without citing evangelical leaders who teach this it is only a cheap shot.
It is true that Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfill the Law and He did so. Paul makes abundantly clear that the Law is still in force, binding and will judge those who are under the Law, those who are not in Christ. The Apostle to the Gentiles spent a fair amount of time in Romans 1-8, Eph. 2 and the book of Galatians addressing this issue.
Should Gentiles act as Jews as you seem to insist? As I said, I am not going to become engaged in a lengthy discussion but in the Jerusalem Council, which you allude to, Peter makes a very interesting statement in 15:10-11:
His answer was in response to the assertion in verse 5:
Peter first states that this is a “yoke” which neither the Fathers nor “we” (this includes Peter and those in attendance) “have been able to bear.” The next very interesting statement is that the Jews would be saved in the same way the Gentiles were being saved. I will quote that one again:
I realize that you believe you have discovered something that nearly all of the Body of Christ has missed or ignored since late in the First Century. It strikes me as a modern day resurgence of the error of the Galatian Judaizers. Paul was very pointed when he confronted Peter who should have known better (Galatians 2:14):
There is nothing in the Gospel which demands that those of Jewish descent should reject their Jewish ancestry and traditions but there is also nothing which explicitly or implicitly shows that Gentile believers should adopt Jewish practices, rituals and holy days. It seems to me Paul spent a fair amount of time instructing believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, not to judge one another on these issues but to live graciously with each other without making these things divisive. We see that with the issues of eating meat sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 8 & 10) Which is the proper day of worship and what dietary choices are available (Romans 14 & Colossians 2)
One final thought, when you write:
“…you can also do anything that you want, because He doesn’t expect anything from you, but just “believe”and receive.”
Is something that we have written on in Bad Heir Day Like you I see a dearth of sound teaching in churches today leading to Spiritual AIDS (Acquired Ignorance of the Doctrines of Scripture) and as a result, bad behavior. But the anecdotal citations of bad or flippant behavior does not disprove that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone apart from our works but we address this issue in Bad Heir Day so I won’t comment further here.
Dear Don Veinot,
I want to be as gracious as I possibly can be, and give a thoughtful, measure response to your reply comment to me.
First of all, thank you for stating clearly that, in your opinion, I am making “uninformed and dishonest” claims, regarding John MacArthur. I did say clearly that I respect his sincerity when he teaches what he teaches, as it is the traditional teaching of those who ripped the “faith once delivered” from it’s Hebrew Roots. Paul tells us in Romans 11, that the wild branch Gentiles are supported by the Hebrew Roots of the faith, NOT the other way round.
You also said that I made cheap shots at others without any credible evidence, and naming names, in particular, of those who teach a “Gentile Jesus”. However, I have to say that no one is going to deliberately say that they are teaching that He is a Gentile, because Scripture clearly states, from Paul, that “if anyone comes teaching another Yeshua, aka Jesus, or another Gospel, they are anathema”. ALL evangelical teachers teach that “Christianity” is a “new religion”. I have some acquaintances who have been following a television preacher, Les Feldick, who says essentially the same thing that you said, about Paul going to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected the Messiah. And I just read that in the Scriptures, myself. However, just as Marcion did, centuries earlier, Les Feldick has removed the Gospels from his Scriptures, as well as half of the book of Acts, the books of Hebrews, First and Second Peter, and James. That is exactly what the alleged heretic Marcion did, as well as throwing out the “Old Covenant”Scriptures. He only uses the letter of Paul. And I have been reminded that when Paul writes to Timothy about “all Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable of teaching and correction, for reproof and instruction in righteousness”, there were NO “New Covenant” Scriptures when he wrote that letter. Of course, Paul’s letters were inspired, but they had not yet been compiled into a book of “Scripture”, which means “writing”, at that time. The only Scripture that was available to the New Covenant believers at that time, were the Tanakh, which Yeshua and Paul quoted from multiple times. The plan of salvation/redemption did not begin in the book of John.
When speaking about those Jews who are “under the Law”, who will be judged by the Law…I wasn’t addressing those Jews in my earlier quote from Acts 15. Those writings and admonitions coming from the Jerusalem Counsel, were NOT addressing unrighteous, unregenerate Jews, but the believing Jews, which you seemed to skip over, and jump to the phrases in Paul’s letters about those Jews who refused to accept Yeshua as the promised Messiah. The Jews, the “myriads and myriads” of those who believed, are being clearly addressed in that context. It clearly states that. There are secular and/or “religious” Jews, who, obviously will be judged by the Law. But the book of Acts is not talking about them here. The question was not what to do with all the Jews coming to faith, but what to do with the Gentiles coming to faith in the Hebrew Messiah! You seem to gloss over that fact.
I don’t see that it is “Gentiles acting as Jews”, as you seem to insist. It is Yeshuish, NOT Jewish, to obey the commandments, which you also seem to gloss over. You didn’t have a response, and couldn’t answer some of my Scriptural contentions, so you resorted to personal attack. When you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger. I have read many and various comments of the book of Galatians, and I have to say that “the debate goes on”. But, what I have also found is that Paul is talking about various issues in the book of Galatians, and one of them is those who had been delivered from pagan influences, worshiping the moon and stars, pagan days of worship, of which sun-day would be one, etc., were going back under those influences…not those who were seeking to observe the Feasts of YHVH. The Feasts and Sabbath are NEVER referred to as “Jewish Feasts” or the “Jewish Sabbath”.
It is an insult to contend that the Sabbath, instituted at Creation and set apart, holy, is a “weak and beggarly” thing.
If we are to “walk as He walked”, Messiah did walk in obedience to the Law, and if that is being “weak and beggarly”, then that is a crude reference to Messiah Yeshua’s practice and behavior. Or if we are to “follow Paul as he follows Messiah”, the same thing applies. When you brought up the statement of Peter, in regard to the “Gentiles being saved through grace of the Lord just as they, (the Jews) will”, that is correct. But what was Peter talking about there? Once again, it was circumcision, and the necessity of it for Gentiles, as well as them being “ordered to keep the Law of Moses”. Those statements were talking about pre-conditions of salvation, and furthermore, what we have come to know as the “law of Moses”, was actually the Law of YHVH, because, at Sinai, the Israelites became afraid and asked that YHVH not speak directly to them anymore, that He should speak to and through His servant Moses. So, Moses was given that “Law” by YHVH, Himself. It is significant that the Sinai Covenant was placed INSIDE the ARK of the Covenant, and the Moab Covenant was placed BESIDE the Ark of the Covenant, as a witness against them. They chose NOT to obey God’s Law, it’s not that they could not, but that they DID NOT. Furthermore, your contention that the Messianic/Hebraic Roots expression of the “faith once delivered” is a “modern day resurgence of the Galatian Judaiers” is a tired argument, better left to those who choose to ignore almost the entire Bible. When you say that we are to “live graciously with one another, and not to judge one another”, that is easier said than done, because as I have come to embrace the Hebrew Roots of the faith, which Paul says “supports you, you don’t support the root”, when I stopped “playing church” on the venerable day of the sun, being kept so busy that I did not have time to think, then those who knew that I was becoming a Sabbath keeper would constantly ride me, and I didn’t tell them that they had to do it, but they thought that they could tell me that I should not, as well as, if I no longer ate pork and shellfish, they would hold it under my nose, or in my face, and insist that I was a Judaizer, although I didn’t tell them that they couldnn’t eat it, but they were telling me that I must eat it. Now, where’s the grace in that? Also, your contention that it doesn’t matter what we eat, there is a verse in the New Covenant Writings that tells us that “food is to be sanctified by the Word and prayer”…not just saying a “hocus-pocus” over unclean meat to make them sanctified, set apart, holy…but also by the Word, whereby we know what is food…what is clean and unclean. You seem to gloss over that, as well.
I do “works” because I already AM SAVED. You simply ignored most of what I wrote, because you wanted to scold me, and put me in my place. You really didn’t address much of what I wrote, with Scripture references to back it up.
Also, read John MacArthur’s article on “Christmas”, which he says is of pagan origin, but that it’s okay to celebrate in anyway. It’s online, and I printed it, so that I could reflect on it. Most of what has come down with Gentile “churchianity” has been pagan practices that have been “baptized” into the Body of Messiah, to make those pagans feel at home. But our faith is not based on feeling, but on facts. Feelings are fickle.
I think that the church has lost credibility wihh Jews…and Deuteronomy 13 clearly gives the criteria for the True Prophet, and we can see the rotten fruit of that in the fact that 75% of American Jews support homosexuality, and homosexual “marriage”, so called, and 44% of SCOTUS are Jews, who legalized same. They can make it legal, but it is NOT Lawful! And I’m going to say something that may really upset you, but I’m going to say it anyway. My Jewish friends call that decision a “shanda”, a horrible dis-grace. Good word, dis-grace. I have found favor with a small pocket of Orthodox Jews, and they know exactly where I am coming from. Here is my assertion: Many Jews are lamenting a resurgence of “anti-Semitism”, because as one person told me, “Jews are a superior race”. Furthermore, they were being driven from nation after nation throughout His-Story, and that is likely because of their unGodly stand for such as homosexuality, etc. and barred from holding office in most nations. That has been prophesied. They have their own nation, so why don’t they go live there, instead of ruining other nations…ooops, running other nations? The world, and the Evangelical Church seems to be in bed with secular Judaism and the nation of Israel, in particular, but they won’t give observant Jews the time of day! Scott Lively, an orthodox Christian and Kevin Abraham, an orthodox Jew, wrote a book called “The Pink Swastika”, in which they recount what happened in Nazi Germany, and it was the homosexuals who were doing the killing, but everyone prefers to get their information from Hollywood and the media. The reason I bring this up is because Evangelicalism is all over modern, secular nation state, “Israel”, but ignore reality right in front of them. There are many observant Jews who want to see Messiah Yeshua presented as the “Lion of the Tribe of Yehudah”…because they haven’t seen that. Regardless of what you say, about “no one that you know teaches a Gentile Jesus”, that is essentially how He has been portrayed down through the centuries…but you insist that it isn’t so, that it is just something that I “think that I have discovered”…and maybe there is more truth to that assertion, because it has been covered, and now if has been dis-covered, or uncovered, no longer covered up.
In closing, we can “worship” any day of the week. Our lives are a “worship”, it’s not just what we do at a building that counts, it’s how we live our lives day to day that counts. And none of us are perfect in belief and practice. I have so many opportunities to give charity, and to assist others, that at times, I sense that I have compassion fatigue. The needy now outnumber those who can lend a hand. And why is that? Because of, as you said, “Spiritual Aids”…and that is what many people do to “earn their salvation”, instead of keeping the Law. What do you do with the verse that states, Paul writing to the Corinthians, “for Messiah our Passover has been slain for us, therefore, let us keep the Feast…”. We don’t sacrifice a lamb at the temple, of course. And what about the Feast of First Fruits, “for Messiah Yeshua is the First Fruits from among the dead…”so why NOT celebrate His fulfillment of both of those Feasts of the Lord…NOT “Jewish Feasts”? Also, the Holy Spirit was given on the Feast of Shavuot, NOT on some new Greek festival called “Pentecost”. While Pentecost does mean 50 days, these thing took place on God’s appointed times, not on the modern solar calendar, which the “church” adheres to. Why, in fact, is October known today as the 10th moonth, when in fact, an octogram has 8 sides, not ten. Sep is Latin for 7, not 9. Nov is 9, not 11, and a decimeter is 1/10th of a meter, NOT 1/12th of a meter, and if we were following the Hebrew Lunar calendar, as YHVH set it up with His appointed times, with Passover in the First Moonth, those numbered moonths would fit perfectly into His calendar. Why don’t you answer my points, rather than wanting to castigate me and intimidate me into silence? I guess it’s because debate is not my calling. I have been excited about what I have learned, and know that many others are embracing the Hebrew Roots of the faith, and know that the book of Revelation states that those who “keep the commandments and have the testimony of Yeshua” are those who will enter the kingdom, and Messiah Yeshua, Himself said, “not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom. On that day, I will say to them, ‘go away from Me, I never knew you, you Lawless ones'”. I guess that I will have to unsubscribe from your E-Newsletter, because I don’t have time to have endless debates, and I am tired of being castigated and intimidated. It’s okay. I’m a big girl. I can handle it. As I said, “I don’t have all the answers”. I’m sure that you know much more than I do, so have it your way. I’m into building the Body, not into building buildings. I was just so excited that I was bubbling over, and I’m sorry that I have shared my heart, wanting to be poured out wine and broken bread for the Body. I will keep my own counsel from now on. Once again, the Feasts of YHVH are NOT Jewish holy days…they are the Feasts of YHVH, open to all believers, Jew and Gentile.
Peace and Baruch B’Shem Yeshua,
Obviously I didn’t address every issue, nor comment on every nuance. It is also the case that I didn’t give each possible permutation of Reformed or dispensational thought nor layout the different views of the use of the Law (this was touched on in the article). But then I did say,
For others following this thread or know little about the Hebrew Roots Movement, which is wide and varied, Pastor G. Richard Fisher has done an understandable overview in Bewitching Believers Through the Hebrew Roots Movement and our friends at Jew for Jesus have done a similar service to the discussion with Stephen Katz’s The Jewish Roots Movement: Flowers and Thorns