"Not Subject to the Law of God?"
Part 9. Is This All Really That Big a Deal?
Problems within the Church
Sadly, issues such as divorce, teenage pregnancy and illicit drug usage in "the Church" mirror those of secular society. "Church hopping" is common among Christians. How many adults today are still part of the same denomination they grew up in? Many are leaving the ranks of "evangelical Christianity" altogether. The Mormon church is experiencing continued growth at the expense of these traditional churches, the majority of their converts in the United States in recent years being former Baptists. Then there are doctrinal problems such as the issue of homosexuality "still being sin." No longer are homosexuals staying away from Christianity. Rather, they are challenging Christianity's hypocrisy regarding the "Law of God," using the Christian argument that the Law is done away with, and that we are now under a "law of love."
These "symptoms" are recognized and preached about from the pulpit in
Christian churches. However, the problem has not been properly diagnosed. All of the above
can be attributed to one thing -- the Christian church is not built on the rock of Torah,
but on the shifting sands of anti-Torah doctrines. (Matthew 7:24-27 -- the concluding
verses of Yeshua's teaching on following the Torah. (See the section below, "Did
Yeshua Consider a Relationship to Torah to be Important?")
Problems with Jewish Evangelism
Let us first return to the Christian view of the Jews previously raised in the first section:
The typical experience today, of a Jew "saved" by "accepting Jesus," is to become a "Jewish-Christian." This person is welcomed to the world/culture of Christianity, including; Sunday church services, Christmas and Easter. Regarding "the Law," Jewish-Christians are taught that they no longer have to keep doing things like keeping Sabbath and eating kosher, as "Jesus freed them from this bondage," and they now have "Christian liberty" regarding such things. Many new Jewish believers will be offered unkosher food to eat so that they can "show their faith."
Jews who come to Christianity eventually, if not immediately, abandon their Judaism. By the time they have grandchildren (especially if they marry Gentiles), these little ones don't identify themselves as Jews or with Judaism at all. They are now Christians -- fully assimilated. Unfortunately, this new lifestyle offered to Jews is in direct contradiction to the Word of God. Assimilation is a curse promised to the Jews, by God, should they go against His Torah. Assimilation is a sign to them that they are not following the one true God.
Scripturally, any Jew who abandons the Torah of God and identifies with any anti-Torah deity, is an idolater. This applies to any (false) "messiah" who does not teach the Torah remains in place. Conversely, any Jew who rejects an anti-Torah Messiah, is not rejecting the true Messiah of Israel. Thus, a Jew who rejects a "salvation message" which has at its heart an anti-Torah "Jesus," has not rejected the true Messiah of Israel, any more than if they rejected the "Mormon Jesus," which Christianity itself says is a false-messiah.
As mentioned at the beginning of this document, many Christian groups are launching new evangelism campaigns to convert Jews, training their people to use "Jewish terminology" when witnessing. The result of this has been a backlash from the Jewish community, who accuse churches of using deceitful means to lead Jews away from Judaism to Christianity. (68)
They have a valid point. Why put a Jewish veneer on what is truly a Gentile faith? The first group to successfully do this in an organized fashion was Jews for Jesus, which was essentially a Baptist outreach. Jesus was presented in a more "Jewish light," but the goal and result was always the same -- "convert Jews," and get them into a church. Of late, Jews for Jesus has opened up to the idea of pointing Jews to Messianic congregations, as well as churches. This is a step in the right direction, but as long as the group maintains the name of "Jesus" in its title, and continues to offer "the Church" as a valid option for Jews, it stands in opposition to Torah.
Did Yeshua Consider a Relationship to Torah to be Important?
Christianity would say, "No - we are saved by faith only - so all of this 'Torah is for believers' doctrine is not important." As already mentioned however, there is a problem here with the definition of "faith." The modern Christian definition of "faith" is not the same as that of the Jewish Messiah and His first century Jewish contemporaries and Jewish writers of the "New Testament." The Christian definition is concerned with what you believe, whereas in Judaism, the focus is on a relationship grounded in trust and obedience to Torah. (69)
Yeshua Himself clearly upholds the Jewish view. Matthew 5:17-7:28 is a long dissertation by the Messiah on following the Torah correctly. He begins by establishing two facts:
After a number of verses where he explains and expounds upon the Torah, he concludes His teaching (Matthew 7:21-23) by speaking of a future time, when certain people will not be allowed into heaven. Does he rebuke these people for "not believing He is the Messiah?" Or, "not having invited Him into their hearts?" Or, "not having said the 'sinner's prayer?'"
No. Rather, Yeshua clearly states that those who practice lawlessness (Greek: anomia) will not enter into His kingdom. What "law" are these people violating with their "lawlessness?"
The context of Matthew 7:21-23 is that of "religious law," as Yeshua has been talking non-stop about the Torah. His warning concludes His lecture on the principles of Torah that He began by saying that none of the Torah is abolished (Matthew 5:17-21). (70)
Take note that these are not pagans or atheists that He is talking to. These people are shocked when He rebukes them. They claim to be believers, calling Him "Lord."
This raises a serious question:
Is there a religion made up of people who say they are followers of the Messiah, but claim they no longer have a relationship to Torah that meets the description of Matthew 7:23?
Doesn't "the Church" fit this description?
Some may be offended by this statement (and much of the rest of this document.) The idea that "Christ's own Church" could be in such grievous error regarding the Word of God and what true faith in God entails, is simply impossible to believe. However, as mentioned, the very concept of "the Church" is a product of the anti-Torah (anti-God) replacement theology, and willful Bible mistranslation.
Did Paul Consider a Relationship to Torah to be Important?
There is a misconception held by many, including some in modern Jewry, that Yeshua may have supported Torah, but the apostle Paul -- well, he started the Christian religion by taking a stance against Law.
For example, as Christian author Daniel Fuller states in his book, The Unity of the Bible:
But the historian must also explain how a person so involved with Judaism could then act in completely non-Jewish ways, rejecting circumcision as the sign of the covenant for believing Jews and Gentiles (Gal. 2:3-5) and willingly eating nonkosher food as he maintained table fellowship with the Gentiles (vv. 11-14). Nothing in his background as one totally immersed in the traditions of Judaism can explain such a profound reversal of conduct. The only alternative for explaining how Paul came to eat pork is to accept his own explanation: this profound change resulted from his being confronted by the risen Jesus as he journeyed to Damascus to destroy the Christian church there. (71)
Paul's rebuke of Peter, in the second chapter of Galatians, is traditionally viewed by Christianity as a proof that "the Law" had ended for Jews who now followed the Messiah. The problem here is that the text shows that the issue is not one of the food being eaten. Peter was indeed eating with Gentile believers, however this is not "different" in that he was now eating non-kosher food. Rather, it was "different" because Jews generally did not sit and eat with Gentiles at that time. However, Peter was told by God that Gentiles were to be considered "clean." (This was the meaning of of his dream in Acts chapter 10, which had nothing to do with eating unkosher food as seen by Peter's responses in Acts 10:17, 28, 34, 11:3-17; 15:7-10.)
Peter was rebuked by Paul because of his hypocrisy, as when he saw Jewish brethren approaching, he walked away from the Gentiles, treating them as if they were spiritual inferiors. When Paul says to Peter that they "live" in the same way, he is not talking about their eating habits. Rather, he is saying they are "saved" in the same way. This is consistent with the theme of the rest of the letter, that Jews and Gentiles are saved ("live") in the same way, by faith, not "works of Law." (72)
For Fuller to arrive at the conclusion that "Paul now eats pork," and is telling Peter he should as well, he has to:
As mentioned, this practice of injecting anti-Torah dogma into the text of Scrtipture stems from hundreds of years of Scripture twisting, first done willfully by those in power who held anti-Jewish opinions, and perhaps inadvertantly today. This is even done, in the latter fashion, by Jews who are more than happy to distance Judaism from Christianity, especially with the resurgence of Messianic Judaism. (73)
However, this is not the case regarding Paul, who taught that Torah was indeed for Gentiles -- not for salvation, but as the direction they should be encouraged to follow subsequent to coming to faith. This is part of God's plan for the restoration of His unity (through the faith of Israel), as although "God is One" (Deuteronomy 6:4), He is not yet One, as this will occur at the end of days with the coming of Messiah (Zechariah 14:9). (74)
As an Orthodox Rabbi, this was Paul's view of God being "one," (echad) and is at the foundation of all his writings. This belief says that there is one God, here on earth, for the Jew and the Gentile (i.e., Romans 1:16). There is one God in heaven, with but one revelation (Torah) from Him for all mankind (Exodus 12:48-49, Leviticus 24:22, Isaiah 56). There is one God through history (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). The path He has provided for us, is leading to the restoration of the unity of God and His creation, which will be brought together through Messiah, in the Millennium and the ensuing "World to Come" (Olam Haba), a concept that is foundational to Judaism.
The book of Romans has within it a significant teaching (a midrash) regarding the Torah, which is overlooked due to poor translation and anti-Torah theology. Although Paul aggressively condemned the teaching that a Gentile had to take on the Torah in order to be saved (Acts, Galatians), he retained the view that subsequent to salvation, Torah was the desired goal for the lifestyle of all believers, as Torah observance brings closer the unification of the Name of God (shema).
Beginning at verse 6:1 and going through 8:14, Rav Sha'ul the Pharisee (Paul), provides the following teaching, directed primarily (if not exclusively) to the Gentiles in the Roman congregation:
A key section near the end of this midrash, is Romans 8:5-8, where Paul says people fall into one of two classes before God. They are either; a) of the flesh, or, b) of the Spirit. Paul says if you are "of the flesh," you cannot please God. Why is that? Because, Paul says, those in the flesh are not subject to the Law (Torah) of God.
Conversely, Paul is saying that those of the Spirit ("having been saved") ARE subject to Torah. God has not changed -- it has always been this way.
CONTINUE TO PART 10
Part 1 - The Christian View of "the Law"
Part 2 - The Hebrew View of the Law/Torah and Salvation
Part 3 - What does the "New Testament" Teach About the Torah and Salvation?
Part 4 - Christianity's Difficulty with "the Law"
Part 5 - The Confusing Christian view of the Believer's Relationship to Torah
Part 6 - How Did the Christian View of the Torah Originate?
Part 7 - Historical Reality Concerning What Yeshua and His Followers Believed
Part 8 - Clarifying the Believer's Relationship to Torah
Part 9 - Is This All Really That Big a Deal?
Part 10 - Concluding Thoughts & Footnotes
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