Relocating This Blog

I am in the process of divvying up the posts in this blog between several different websites. I’m even adding some new content in those places. There won’t be anything new here, and eventually this blog will be deleted.

Here you go:

  • AmericanTorah.com – Doing my part to bring America back to God & God’s Law.
  • Soil from Stone – Mostly archive, but I’m considering adding more content. I can’t seem to keep my thoughts to myself.
  • Answering Christian Objections – Not my site, but still lots of great content addressing common objections that Christians have to keeping Torah.
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Weekly Torah Study

Brenham Torah Community

Messianic – Christian – Hebrew Roots – Torah Study
Saturdays at 2 pm in homes around Brenham, Texas.

See BrenhamTorah.org for more info.

We are a group of believers in Jesus/Yeshua who keep God’s Law (aka Torah) to the best of our abilities and who fellowship together for prayer, study, and encouragement.

We believe that eternal salvation is only by God’s grace and cannot be purchased or earned through rituals or good behavior.

We are not a debate society.

We are NOT into church-bashing, converting Jews to Christianity, converting Christians to Judaism, or enforcing group conformity.

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Christians and the Law: answering the objections, part 20

In the comments to Vox’s original post, Tiger wrote,

Daniel: The New Testament says the purpose of the Law is to reveal sin. This lets us lead Holy Sanctified lives, but eliminating sin, cleaning as we go. Until the Law is written on our hearts, it is still needed. And, since Christians are NOT keeping the Law, it is obvious that it hasn’t been written there. Therefore, the New Covenant has not yet come, even though it has been promised and assured.

Daniel responded,

For the moment, I’ll disregard the failures in logic in the above, and simply demonstrate how they violate what is evident from scripture:

“The New Testament says the purpose of the Law is to reveal sin.”

Not quite right. It says the purpose of the Law is to prove a man guilty. (Romans 3:19-20)

“This lets us lead Holy Sanctified lives, but eliminating sin, cleaning as we go.”

No – no – no. You’ve gone way off the rails here, both according to Deuteronomy and St. Paul. Moses (in Deut) makes it very clear that the key is to keep every law to avoid sin, because once you broke off, only God in his mercy could cover it. A righteous man can no more cleanse himself of sin, than a hunter can unkill a deer. The law was provided so that a man might live, but its path was impossible to keep. Don’t forget that Abraham was saved (righteousness was credited to him) before the Law.

There’s no “cleaning as you go.”

“Until the Law is written on our hearts, it is still needed.”

Again, you are confusing scripture here. The Law passes away when its purpose (above) is fulfilled. Once a man is convicted of violating even the least commandment, it has achieved its purpose for him. This is why Jesus doesn’t change the law (add to it or subtract from it) – it needs to be the same for as long as man is on this earth: it is the yardstick by which all men fail.

Once an individual has failed it, he stands convicted. Jesus then fulfills the law by taking the punishment for sin.

Stop going through the motions of Law-keeping. It makes you a zombie slave to what Jesus Christ paid dearly to rescue you from, and denies His promise to complete the work in you.

-Daniel

Daniel was very specific and patient in his responses to Tiger, so I will return the favor by pointing out from Scripture how Daniel is clearly incorrect on every single point.

Statement 29:  The purpose of the law is not to reveal sin, but to prove a man guilty. (Romans 3:19-20)

Daniel speaks as if the Law can have only one purpose, but like everything else that God created, the Law has multiple dimensions and multiple purposes. Even if that were not so, Daniel’s objection would be nonsensical. How can anything prove anything without revealing it? Here is Romans 3:19-20, which Daniel cites as the basis of his statement:

Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God: (20) because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.

It is evident from this passage (and others, such as Romans 7:7), that the only way the Law  proves a man’s guilt is by defining sin. As Paul explained in Romans 7, he was free to go on living as he pleased until the Law said, “Thou shalt not covet.” It is only through the revelation of sin that the Law proves guilt. This seems so self-evident to me, I find it difficult to find more words to express it: Nothing proves anything without revealing it. Therefore, if the Law proves a man guilty of sin, then the Law also reveals his sin. It can’t do one without the other.

Statement 30: Moses (in Deut) makes it very clear that the key is to keep every law to avoid sin, because once you broke off, only God in his mercy could cover it. -Daniel

If the Law defines sin, as we are told by several New Testament writers, it seems completely obvious that you must keep every law in order to avoid sin. Since we have all sinned, we are all condemned by our sin. I don’t dispute that. Tiger didn’t dispute that. I can only conclude that Daniel is making the same basic mistake that almost every antinomian makes when arguing this topic. (And in the process he concedes Tiger’s previous point that the Law reveals sin.) He is conflating salvation and sanctification. Let me break this same erroneous logic down once more:

Premises

  • The Law defines sin.
  • If you violate the smallest part of the Law, you have sinned.
  • Once you have sinned, you are condemned.
  • You cannot save yourself from your sins.

Conclusion

  • One should not try to keep any part of the law.

As stated, Daniel’s argument doesn’t add up. His conclusion is completely irrelevant to his arguments. Let me show you a parallel argument to illustrate what I mean.

Premises

  • Road maps define permissible driving routes.
  • There are no roads to take you from New York and London.
  • If you drive into the water, your car will stall and sink.
  • There is a large ocean between New York and London.

Conclusion

  • One should not try to drive anywhere.

Even the most simple minded among us can see why this conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. What does the inability to drive from New York to London have to do with driving to other places? For this conclusion to be valid, one would also have to assume that the only possible reason someone would drive a car is to get from New York to London. But we all know that isn’t the case. People drive on roads for all kinds of reasons and to all kinds of destinations, and very few of them are related to London in any way.

So why is it so difficult for people to discuss the topic of Christians keeping the Law without assuming that the only reason anyone would ever want to keep the Law is to attain salvation?

Daniel’s conclusion is not only logically unsound and irrelevant to the discussion, it’s also hypocritical. I strongly suspect that he keeps many points of the Law every single day, and, just like almost every other self-described Christian, he almost certainly keeps some of those points primarily because the Law says to. Why then does he argue so vociferously and irrationally against the idea that he should keep the Law? Daniel is not alone in this.

At root this is not a logical argument.

There is a spirit of deceit at work in the Church that causes Christians to hear “You must keep the Law to be saved,” whenever anyone says “You must keep the Law.” For many people, I don’t believe it matters how many times we say that you cannot be saved by keeping Torah, they will still believe that we are saying you cannot be saved unless you keep the Torah. It’s a lie, but they will believe it because they are being deceived. There is no argument that will convince those people. We can only wait on God as we pray for their sight to be restored.

Statement 31: The Law passes away when its purpose (above) is fulfilled. Once a man is convicted of violating even the least commandment, it has achieved its purpose for him. This is why Jesus doesn’t change the law (add to it or subtract from it) – it needs to be the same for as long as man is on this earth: it is the yardstick by which all men fail.

Daniel appears to be saying that the Law passes away for each person once it has fulfilled its purpose for that person. This statement also contradicts numerous very plain statements in Scripture.

Yeshua said that not even the tiniest part of the Law will pass away until all is fulfilled and heaven and earth have passed away. The Law has multiple purposes, one of which is to convict us of sins. Therefore, the Law cannot pass away–even for one person–until all of its purposes have been fulfilled. Even assuming Daniel’s idea that the Law can pass away entirely for one individual while still being in force for another person, it cannot pass away for one simply because it has convicted him of sin. If so, then no Christian can sin again once they have been convicted and then forgiven. Paul’s statements about continuing to struggle against sin are nonsense. Yeshua’s threats against Christians in the Revelation are empty….Unless the Law continues to be a yardstick by which the failures of men are measured even after they are saved.

Does Daniel really believe that the God who declared “I change not” would have a definable standard of behavior for strangers, but not for his own children? The same God who said, “One law and one ordinance shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.”

Statement 32: Once an individual has failed the Law, he stands convicted. Jesus then fulfills the law by taking the punishment for sin.

Yeshua fulfilled the Law’s requirement of blood. However, he did not fulfill our ongoing obligation to obey his commandments. If a judge forgave you for speeding in a school zone and volunteered to pay your fine, if he swore to forgive you of every future offense and to pay every future fine for you, would that remove your obligation to obey the speed limit in school zones? That’s absurd. The judge would revoke his forgiveness and throw you in jail for contempt of court. That’s exactly what Yeshua has said he will do to those who abuse his love and forbearance  by willfully continuing to sin.

Statement 33: Stop going through the motions of Law-keeping. It makes you a zombie slave to what Jesus Christ paid dearly to rescue you from, and denies His promise to complete the work in you.

Yeshua did not pay dearly to rescue us from his own commands, and obeying him does not deny his promise to complete the work he started in us. What Daniel has forgotten is that “the work” includes the transformation of our behavior according to God’s standards.

No one is claiming that we can be perfect or attain perfect obedience under our own strength, but that doesn’t mean we are free to ignore God’s commands. Just because we can’t do everything perfectly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do some things better. Every day as we are enabled by knowledge, revelation, and the moving of God’s spirit in us we are to be better than we were the day before. We can never surrender to the world’s standards of behavior simply because the goal seems too far for human sight or legs. Our concern is to obey.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

part 18, part 19, part 20, part 21

Vox’s original article: Christians and the Law.

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Christians and the Law: answering the objections, part 19

Statement 27: No one except Jesus can keep the law. That’s the point.

We have all broken the law, we are all lawbreakers, rebels against God.

We are all sinners.

Which is why we need a savior.

Trying to keep the law is an eternal death sentence, for it is rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus.

-Josh

If I may paraphrase Paul…

We have all sinned (broken the law) and fallen short of the glory of God. While we were still unrepentant and hopeless sinners, God sent his Son to atone for us so that we might be forgiven and saved from our sins. If God has forgiven our sins and washed them away, are we now free to commit whatever sin we choose with complete impunity? I’m sure that Josh would agree with me that it would be absurd to reject all future moral behavior because God has forgiven our past immorality. Yet, this is exactly what Josh has argued. He said that trying to keep God’s Law is the same as rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus. If that is true, then we should sin as much as possible in order to embrace Jesus’ sacrifice to the full.

Of course, this isn’t what Josh meant. I am positive that he doesn’t believe only profligate thieves and murderers can derive any ongoing benefit from Yeshua’s death and resurrection. Josh committed a simple fallacy of generalization. Unfortunately, almost every single person who argues against Christians keeping Torah makes the exact same mistake. In essence, Tiger said “It’s good for Christians to keep the Law.” Josh (and just about everyone else) heard “A Christian can’t be saved unless he keeps the entire Law perfectly.” Trying to keep the law for salvation is an eternal death sentence, and if anyone had asserted it, Josh would have been entirely correct in what he said. But no one asserted it.

It is both wrong and hopeless to try to attain salvation through perfectly sinless behavior, but that is very far from saying that trying to attain more perfect behavior is itself a sin.

Statement 28: I think you are free to ignore all commandments that you aren’t already obligated to follow based on the dual commandment of love. In other words, one of them: Keeping the Sabbath. -Markku

Yeshua said that all of the Law is based on the “dual commandment of love.” On what basis can anyone exclude the Sabbath, which is exemplified in Genesis and repeatedly commanded in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy? It is at least as important a part of the Law as the command against committing murder. Furthermore, the command to keep the Sabbath is explicitly founded in love:

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Jehovah thy God commanded thee. (13) Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; (14) but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Jehovah thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou. (15) And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Jehovah thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

part 17part 18, part 19, part 20part 21

Vox’s original article: Christians and the Law.

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Christians and the Law: answering the objections, part 18

Tiger: “If you claim to follow Jesus, then the Law of Moses is a must; for he kept the Law of Moses”

Statement 26: How’s that? Just because Jesus followed those Laws, how does that mean that we need to? -Northern Observer

Paul wrote,

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

If Paul said that the Corinthians (and we can assume all other believers) should emulate him and he emulated Yeshua, then wouldn’t we be emulating Yeshua when we emulate Paul?

It’s possible that Paul didn’t mean that we should emulate him in his specific behaviors but only in the way that he put the needs of others before his own needs as he described in the previous few verses (1 Corinthians 10:32-33). However, there are other scriptures that say the same thing:

1 Peter 1:13-16 Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (14) as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in the time of your ignorance: (15) but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; (16) because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy.

Yeshua is “he who called you”, so you are to be holy as Yeshua was holy. As evidence, Peter quoted Leviticus 11:44, in which God told the Israelites that they are not to eat unclean animals:

Leviticus 11:43-45  Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. (44) For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (45) For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

If Peter believed that being holy meant–in part–not eating unclean animals, it follows that when he warned his audience against the former lusts they followed in their ignorance, that he–at least in part–referred to that same sin. “Be holy in all manner of living,” he wrote. (The KJV says “conversation”, but in modern English this would be “behavior”.)

Paul also wrote:

Ephesians 4:11-15 And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: (13) till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (14) that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; (15) but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

We are to continue learning to walk according to God’s ways, to continue being perfected in our manners of life and relationship until we have matured to be like him. How can we be like him if we refuse to behave as he did?

Being holy and being perfect are always defined by Scripture in one of two ways: atonement by God’s grace or keeping God’s Law. Usually the latter. Since the readership of each of the letters I quoted above had already received atonement, then keeping God’s Law is the only reasonable understanding of these expressions.

part 16part 17, part 18, part 19part 20

Vox’s original article: Christians and the Law.

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Messianic Symbolism in the Passover Seder

The Jews have been celebrating Passover for thousands of years and practicing traditions of which they only know half the meaning. Christians have been celebrating a mixture of Passover and pagan holidays during that time, but they too know some of the meaning of the Jewish traditions. Most of them just don’t know that they know. Here is just some of the rich meaning behind the traditions and commands of the Passover seder:

The Karpas

We eat parsley or celery greens dipped in salt water to remember the hyssop with which our ancestors painted the lamb’s blood on their doorposts and with which Yeshua was given vinegar on the cross. We dip the greens in salt water to remind us of the tears of bondage in Egypt and sin, as well as the tears of joy at our redemption.

The Matzah

We eat unleavened bread to remember how our ancestors had to leave Egypt in such a hurry that they had not time to allow their bread to rise, and it baked in the sun right on top of their packs.

The matzah is striped and pierced (think of a typical Saltine) to represent the wounds of our Messiah who was pierced for our transgressions and striped for our healing.

In the center of the Passover table, we place three pieces of matzah wrapped in white linen. Each piece is in a separate fold or compartment of the cloth and represents one part of the Trinity.

The Yachatz

At the start of the seder, we break the middle matzah in half, wrap it in a separate cloth and hide it. This is called the afikomen and reminds us of how the Messiah’s body was broken for us, wrapped in a linen burial shroud and buried in the tomb for three days. It also reminds us that he was taken away and hidden from our view after his resurrection.

At the end of the seder, the children all go to find the afikomen. This tells us that only those who are willing to look for the Messiah with the heart of a child will find him. The child who returns with the matzah may bargain with the leader for a prize. When the Messiah returns to rule his kingdom, he will not be coming for a slovenly bride, but one who is pure, who has worked out her salvation with earnestness. He will accept our gifts of gold and silver but destroy our chaff.

The Maror

We eat horseradish or some other bitter herb to remind us of our ancestors’ bitter suffering in Egypt. Although their suffering was great, so was their redemption and reward. We suffer too, but Yeshua said to rejoice when we are persecuted for righteousness sake. Our reward in heaven will be more than just compensation.

The Charoset

We eat a paste made of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and wine to remind us of the mortar used to lay bricks in Egypt. It tastes much better than the mud it resembles, however, which is appropriate, because time spent in hard labor as a community binds us together and strengthens us as families and a nation.

The Lamb

Since there is no Temple in Jerusalem, we cannot have an actual Passover lamb. Many families will include a roasted lamb bone on the seder plate to symbolize the lamb whose blood marked the doorposts of the faithful in Egypt. The bone is roasted to remind us that the Passover lamb is to be roasted over a fire and eaten in whole. Whatever is leftover must be burned in a fire. The lamb also represents the Lamb of God who was slain to take away the sins of the whole world.

Although many people only eat chicken or some other bird on Passover so as to avoid even the appearance of having sacrificed somewhere besides the Temple, there is no commandment to that effect. Since this Passover can only ever be a rehearsal, no blood sacrifices are involved.

The Wine

We drink four cups of wine at Passover, though they need not be four full cups and can even be diluted or filled with simple grape juice instead of wine. The cups represent four promises that God made to Israel regarding slavery:

Exodus 6:6-7 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and (1) I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and (2) I will rid you out of their bondage, and (3) I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And (4) I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

We drink the first cup immediately after the opening blessing to remind us that God saves us from our sins, while we were yet sinners. He took our ancestors out of Egypt before he gave them his laws or told them to do anything at all except to trust in him. Likewise, we do not need to complete our transformation to be saved, but only to commit ourselves to the process.

We drink the second cup after telling the story of the Exodus and explaining the significance of the various items on the seder plate, but before eating the main meal. This represents our sanctification through obedience to God’s law after our salvation from sin. God gave his Torah to Israel after saving them from Egypt and before allowing them to enter the Land. Only after we rid ourselves of bondage to sin can we partake in the full richness of God’s promises.

We drink the third cup, the cup of redemption, after the meal. This is the cup that Yeshua held when he said, This is my blood of the new covenant. Since sin entered the world through one son of God, so sin can only be taken away through another. As the perfectly sinless only begotten Son of God, the Messiah is the only person whose blood can redeem all of mankind from sin. Although we work hard to rid our lives of sin, we could never remove it through our own efforts. True redemption can only be a gift of God.

We drink the fourth cup to symbolize our union with God as his people. Yeshua did not drink the fourth cup because his mission was not yet complete. Although his blood was given as an earnest of that time, the New Covenant has not fully come. Only when he returns to rule his Kingdom will he drink the fourth cup and usher in the age of the New Covenant, writing his Torah on our hearts so that we will no longer have to teach or be taught about God. We will know him and his ways in our very flesh.

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