Torah-Observant Gentiles — Part Two

For those of you who read the previous post on this blog and wondered if the person in question ever responded to my email, here is the follow-up conversation.

But, before we do that, I have to make something very clear.  I have no problem with Israelites/Jews who choose to follow some portion of their historic tradition in order to demonstrate their love for God.  Paul did not, either.  But, his most vitriolic language was reserved for those Jews who attempted to convince Gentiles in Galatia that they ought to keep the sign of the Old Covenant — circumcision.  If those Gentiles (specifically) did that, they were not only “fallen from grace” but they had been “severed from Christ.”

So, what I’m after here is for Gentiles to recognize that they simply cannot be justified by the Law.  It did not justify Israel, and it cannot justify those who were never under that covenant to begin with.

With that introduction, here’s our conversation (their comments are interspersed with my comments).

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Hello again,

Since you started this conversation with the accusation that I simply did not understand Torah observance, I’ll take one more shot at this.  The things you have written are plainly and clearly wrong — not because I say so, but because you are taking Bible verses from their context and using them incorrectly to achieve your desired result.  Like you, I’m not trying to be provocative.  But, the New Testament writers withstood this sort of thinking quite adamantly.

For instance, you wrote:

Num. 15:13-16 says: "...For the generations to come, whenever an ALIEN OR ANYONE ELSE living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must DO EXACTLY AS YOU DO. The community is to have the SAME RULES for you AND FOR THE ALIEN living among you; this is a LASTING ORDINANCE for the generation's to come. You and the alien shall be the SAME before the LORD: The SAME LAWS AND REGULATIONS will apply to both you AND the alien living among you."

Did you even read this passage?  It says that when someone (a Gentile) enters national Israel and is sacrificing “an offering made by fire,” they will make it according to the rules set out in the earlier portion of the chapter.  Are you saying that’s what you’ve done?  Have you joined national Israel?  Are you making sacrifices with fire?  Are you living within their borders (such as they are) and residing there as an alien?

Obviously not.

So, this passage relates to neither you or me and it certainly has nothing to do with this discussion.

This idea of there being no difference between Israel and the foreign believer is reiterated in other passages: 


Rom. 10:12-13 -- "AND IN THIS, IT DISCRIMINATES NEITHER JEW NOR GENTILES...."

This whole passage reads —  “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him;  for ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’”  (Romans 10:12-13 NASB, caps in original)

The passage is talking about salvation, not Torah observance.  Salvation is not only available to Jews but also to Gentiles.  Nowhere in this passage does it say that Gentiles who have come to Christ are now required to live like Torah-keeping Jews.  In fact, the entire book of Galatians deals with that very subject and Paul said that people who promote that theology are “anathema.”  (Gal 1:8-9)

God's commands (Torah), have been (in) existence since the very beginning, before there even were "JEWS," who only came into existence after Jacob begat Judah. Prior to Israel becoming a nation, those who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were called Hebrews, which simply means "crossed over." Torah is not just for "the Jews" but for anyone who has crossed over to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham was a pagan Chaldean after all.

Semantics.  The law covenant was with all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai after being delivered out of Egypt.  It is not — nowhere, not ever, not even once — prescribed for Gentiles, nor was it ever spoken of as covenant between God and them.

Also, Torah has NOT been in “existence since the very beginning.”  The Bible says just the opposite.

Romans 5:12-14 — Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

Death reigned from Adam until Moses, even when there was no law.  Got that?  No law until Moses.  And just as it had a beginning, it had an end.

Eccl. 12: 13-14 -- "Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything: fear God, and keep His mitzvot (commandments), this is what being human is all about. For God will bring to judgment everything we do, every secret, whether good or bad."

Solomon was king of Israel.  He was talking about Israel.  He was writing to Israel. They (Israel) were under a covenant to keep the law.  None of those words apply to the church, who has been redeemed, blood-bought, and “perfected forever” (Heb. 10:14) by the finished work of Christ.  He became a curse for us.  He died for us.  He justified us.  No Christian is required to keep the Law.

You’re mixing and matching covenants.

Oh! No wait...none of this part of God's Word matters anymore though, right? Jesus nailed it to the cross and abolished it all. Come on!

At this point, you’re not arguing with me, you’re arguing with the Bible.

First off, He didn’t “abolish” it.  I never said that.  He fulfilled it. And yes, Paul says that He nailed it to His tree.  That’s not me, that’s Paul.

By the way, “Come on!” is not an argument.  It’s an expression of exasperation.

I am sorry if you have become exasperated by discussing these things.

Do you love God with all you heart, mind, and soul? If so, what do you DO to show that you do? We are called to be set apart and holy, right? Tell me, Jim, are you living a holy, set apart life? How do you know if you are or not? You indicate that the "OT" is basically just for the Jews, so, does it not follow then that only Jews are supposed to live holy lives? Will you please provide me with Scriptural proof that shows this is so? Do you know what the law is and what being under the law means?

That’s Paul’s whole point.  The law did NOT result in the Jews living holy lives.  It resulted in them being judged.  So, he concluded that the reason for the law was to make sin more obvious (Rom. 7, Gal. 3:21).

Or, more clearly — “Why then was the Law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the seed to whom the promise referred. It was administered through angels by a mediator. (Gal. 3:19)

Also, the purpose of the law is to lead us to Christ, like a good tutor.  But, now that it has led us to Christ, it has completed its purpose and we who are in Christ are no longer bound to it.

Gal. 3:24-26 — “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

I just don’t know how much clearer the Bible has to make it.

But, here’s the scary part.  By keeping the law, you are begging God to judge you by that law.  And, by your own admission, you haven’t kept it perfectly and perpetually.  So, Paul says —

Gal. 3:10-11 — For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 

Of course I love God.  And I show it by trusting His Son, just as His Son requires.  Once, the Pharisees (who are real sticklers for keeping Law) asked Jesus what works they could do to improve their standing with God (sort of like you’re doing).  They wanted a command, an action, a rule.  He answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29) 

That’s what I’m doing.  Exactly what God said to do: believe in Christ.

(I'm sorry for all the questions but I am trying to understand how you can possibly conclude that Torah is no longer relevant and not meant for all who worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so please, humor me.)

Consider yourself “humored”.  🙂

The reason is plain and simple.  Your tradition won’t allow you to see it, but I am staying perfectly consistent with what the Bible says about how New Covenant Gentiles are saved and justified.  Not by the works of law, but by faith in Christ.  And I really do hope, by God’s good grace, that the scales will fall from you eyes and you will read the Bible for what it is actually saying.

As for the seventh day Sabbath, what Biblical evidence can you provide that shows it was changed to a Sunday?

Changed to Sunday?  It wasn’t.  Sunday is the day of the week when Christ arose.  So the early Christians, no longer Sabbath-keepers, began meeting on Sunday (Acts 20:7).  That’s just history.

But, I have never argued that the Sabbath was moved to Sunday.  That’s impossible because the word “shabbath” means “seventh.”  There is no way to make the first day of the week into the seventh day.  It’s a mathematic impossibility.

But, here’s what’s really important.  Keeping the Sabbath was a sign of the Old Covenant (Exod. 31:13).  When that Covenant was replaced by Christ’s blood of the New Covenant (Luke 22:20), the sign of that previous covenant was equally done away with.  That’s why Paul could argue against Gentiles keeping the Sabbath.  They were never part of that covenant.

Again, what Scriptures can you offer that prove that Sabbath keeping and the keeping of the Feasts (God's appointed times), do not apply to all believers?

Easy.

Colossians 2:13-17 — When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Sabbaths, new moons, feasts — they’re all just casting shadows that were fulfilled in Christ’s appearance on the planet.  He is the substance.  I prefer Him to the Sabbaths and feasts ,,, you know, like the Bible says.

What Scriptures can you show me that say that God's Divine Instructions in Righteousness (Torah) were EVER negated?

There are no Scriptures that say that God’s Law was negated.  That’s your word, not mine.  But, there are multiple verse that say it was fulfilled.

Matthew 5:17 — “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

Hebrews 8:13 — When He (God) said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

I'm sorry, Jim, I'm not trying to be provocative. I just cannot fathom how you can conclude that Yeshua abolished the Law and yet still quote Him saying He hadn't come to do that! 
 
 Jim:

You’re not being provocative.  You’re just not understanding the genuine freedom we have in Christ.  When Christ told law-keeping Pharisees “whom the Son sets free is free indeed,” that meant something.  Paul repeatedly refers to the law as bondage, a yoke, and something that was against us.  No one from Israel was ever justified by the law.  And yet, people have imposed it on you as though it’s going to do you some good.  It didn’t help Israel, it has never helped anyone; why would it help you?

The law was added to make sin all the more sinful.  It cannot bend to help you.  It can only condemn you.  It can only curse you.

And that’s not what I want for you.

Perhaps there really is no point in continuing our discussion. It is clear from the tone of your second email that you think I am in error and obviously I think you are. I suppose we're at the proverbial dead end!

It doesn’t matter who thinks who is in error. It only matters what the Bible says.  That’s our final authority.  And so far you are not representing it correctly.  But, I want you to, because there is great freedom, grace, and joy in Christ’s finished work.  If He has finished it, then there’s nothing you can add to it.  He gets all the glory.  And that’s how it should be.

And, in case you think that I am utterly antinomian, I agree with Paul that, while we are not under the law of Moses, we under the law of Christ (Gal 6:2) — which is different.  We follow HIS commands.  But, we do not follow the Sinai Law.  Rather than use commands written in stone to govern my behavior, I am trusting that the power of God through His Holy Spirit can achieve what the law could not do.  He has changed me.  He has enlightened and converted me.  He is sufficient for all those who walk in the Spirit of God.

By the way, many years ago I taught a series on this topic — Law Versus Grace.  If you care to listen, it’s here:

http://salvationbygrace.org/audio-archives/law-vs-grace/

And if this is the end of our discussion, then I hope that God has mercy on you and yours.

In Him,

Jim Mc.

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2 thoughts on “Torah-Observant Gentiles — Part Two”

  1. I couldn’t help, Brother Jim, but think while I was reading this, that what a blessing it is for the Lord to bring these challenges before us that force us to retreat to the Word of God for His instruction in all things. Lord-willing, this will be an enlightenment to this individual, for a freedom in Christ is the only true freedom.

    I, also, truly appreciate the ending thought of the law of Christ from Galatians 6:2. What is more deeply interesting in that, is that the Word doesn’t say the law of Jesus (humanity) or the law of the Lord (authoritative position in the kingdom), but of Christ – the Messiah or Anointed One. It is calling to mind the purpose of Christ in the willful, sacrificial spilling of His own precious blood on our behalf. And this is accomplished because of HIS (agape) love. And if we love our brothers in the same way that Christ loves us, we truly fulfill that which is only possible in Him.

    Thank you, Brother, for your loving account and your friendship and fellowship! I’m looking so forward to seeing you up here in Columbus in September!

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