QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM

Group Number 109

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"My in-laws are currently caught up in the "Hebrew Roots" movement, which you may or may not be familiar with. I have not heard of a local group that are practicing the ways of this movement. They currently "keep" the Sabbath, the festivals, the "kosher" laws, as well as, numerous other OT laws. They believe the "torah" should still be obeyed. They do  so under the pretense of Matt. 5:17-19:
 

Mat 5:17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Mat 5:18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Mat 5:19  Whosoever therefore shall  reak one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

They contend, since the earth has not passed away, the law has not passed away and they contend one of Jesus' purposes was to show us how we can "keep" the law in the correct manner.

When you get specific as to how to keep these laws, especially since many our dependent on temple sacrifices, they are a little hardpressed to give clear answers.  Additionally, they question the validity of the "trinity", and the validity of the NT being written in Greek, saying that it was first written in Hebrew and can only be understood from a Hebrew mindset. For those of us who do keep the "law", we are classified as lawless!

You, again, may be familar with their arguments/interpretation.  I have examined many of their teachings/apologitics on this subject in order to "contend for the faith once delievered unto the saints." I am hopeful that your current devotions will give me additional insights on this subject.

One question though. I am curious as to why the devotions on this subject at this time? Have you sensed or heard teaches in this area that have prompted you to address some of these subjects?"

Thank you for your response, and for your obvious interest in, and love for, the truth.


Yes, I am painfully aware of the current trend toward Judaism. As I write this, many mega-churches are observing The Feast of Tabernacles. Popular media ministers such as Larry  Huch, John Hagee, Rod Parsely, Jack Hayford, and others have hopped on the theological bandwagon, playing to the desires of people for the novel.

This trend started about a year ago, and has reached the level where professed Christian ministers are even joining with Jewish rabbis, letting them teach on their televised broadcasts. These men teach that the Jewish laws, feasts, and traditions, are what open up the Gospel – when the teaching of Scripture is that they foreshadowed and typified the Gospel – and there is a vast difference between those views (Col 2:17; Heb 8:5; 10:1). In fact, it is expressly stated that "the law," with its attending ordinances did NOT contain the "very image," or "form" of "the things" contained in the New Covenant.

First, a sharp contrast is made between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant. It is stated that the New Covenant is not after the manner, or of the same kind, as the Old: "It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt . . . " (Heb 8:8-13). This new and damnable teaching boldly affirms that it IS after that manner – even down to the keeping of the same feasts, and approaching God through lifeless and ritualistic manners.

Second, there is no apostolic doctrine that presents this view. This is particularly important since, with the exception of the church in Jerusalem, nearly every church of Scriptural record was basically Gentile. Yet, there is not a syllable of teaching in the epistles advocating the view taken by the teachers of "Jewish roots." They are not preaching the Word, but their interpretation of the Word.

Third, both Stephen, and Paul were so far from promoting Jewish traditions and feasts, that the Jews themselves charged with being disruptive of those traditions (Acts 6:13-14; 18:13; 21:21,28). It is hardly likely that such a charge would be made if they were preaching what these Judaistic advocates are declaring today.

Fourth, on the matter of true Jewish roots, the Scriptures are very specific. Those roots are traced back to Abraham, not to Israel and the covenant made with them. The Gospel was preached to Abraham, not Israel (Gal 3:8). Abraham is "the father of us all," not Israel – it is "the faith of Abraham" that is to be followed, not the ceremonies of Israel (Rom 4:16). The depiction of the salvation that is in Christ Jesus is found in Abraham, not Israel's observances (Rom 4:22-25). The Gentiles are said to be made partakers of "root and fatness of the olive tree" (Rom 11:17). This has to do with the promises that were given to Abraham and through the prophets – not the practices of Israel. We know this is the case because that "root and fatness" is clearly said to be associated with faith (Rom 11:20) – and the law had nothing whatsoever to do with faith (Gal 3:12). It had exclusively to do with doing (Lev 18:5; Rom 10:5).

Fifth, it is categorically stated that the "ordinances" that were contained in the Law were "abolished" in Christ's "flesh" – when He died (Eph 2:15). They were taken "out of the way" and mailed to "His cross" (Col 2:14). These were the "carnal ordinances" that are mentioned in Hebrews 9:10, which stood absolutely distinct from Jesus, having nothing whatsoever to do with His present ministry.

Sixth, it is written that "the law made nothing perfect."  How could spiritual advance possibly come through that law after the bringing in of a "better hope" – and that better hope is the exclusive means through which we draw nigh unto God (Heb 7:19). It is a glaring display of spiritual ignorance to represent Christ as giving power to the ordinances that were under the Law, enabling them to accomplish what God desires.

Seventh, we have an example of Jewish believers trying to enforce Jewish ordinances on Gentile believers; namely to "keep the law of Moses" (Acts 15:5). The "apostles and elders" came together to consider this matter. During that gathering, Peter testified that when he preached to the Gentiles, they received the Holy Spirit just as the disciples had, and it was independently of any Jewish customs or manners (Acts 15:7-9). He asked why anyone would propose putting the Jewish yoke upon others – a yoke they themselves were not able to bear. He said that would be tempting God (Acts 15:10). Following the testimony of Paul and Barnabas, the Lord put it all together for James, and he delivered a word concluding by saying they should not "trouble" the Gentiles who had "turned to God" (Acts 15:13-19). They then determined to give them certain instructions that were needful: "But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood" (Acts 15:20). This would have been an excellent time to cite Jewish roots, feasts, prayer manners, etc. But they did not. I do not know how men can justify such instruction today.

Eighth, the notion that the early scriptures were written in Hebrews is stupidity gone to seed. First, the only people in all of the world who spoke Hebrew were the Jews. It is referred to as "the Jews language," and no one else of Scriptural record is ever represented as knowing it (2 Kgs 18:26; Neh 13:24; Esth 8:19). The Gospel, on the other hand, was addressed to "all nations" and "every man." Greek was the language of the world following the Hellenization of the world by Alexander – a work that many consider to have been orchestrated by God to prepare for the dissemination of the Gospel. The idea that the Gospels, the epistles, and the Revelation were written in Hebrew means that it was purposefully concealed from the Gentiles – a notion that approximates blasphemy.

Ninth, the most prevalent false teachers against which the early church was warned were those promoting Judaism (Acts 15:1,24; Rom 1:19-20; 2 Cor 11:4-22; Gal 2:3-4; 4:17-21; 5:1-4; Phil 3:2-3; 1 Tim 1:3-8; 4:1-5; Tit 1:10,14; Heb 13:9).

Tenth, the church is particularly exhorted NOT to permit anyone to judge them in regard to the ordinances set forth in the law (Col 2:16-19). Such men are specifically said to NOT be holding to the Head, who is Christ – that is, Jesus is not working through them, regardless of what that may claim.

These are some things to think about. I will be covering the reasoning behind these matters in this series of devotions. This series has been prompted by two things. First, the doctrinal trend that you have mentioned. Second, the fact that there appear to be few preachers who are addressing this tidal wave of error that is sweeping across the Christian landscape.

To give you some idea of the magnitude of this problem, there are approximately 2.5 billion professing Christians in the world. That includes all stripes and varieties. Of that number, a recent survey by a special New York Times research team estimates that 555 million (45%) belong to, what they call, the Renewal. This is the charismatic movement that is represented by the vast majority of media ministers, mega-churches, and Christian TV. While all of these people have not embraced the erroneous teaching in question, the numbers are moving in that direction. This is not a regional teaching, or one embraced by some small and insignificant cult. These are the same people who have successfully reshaped Christendom with the praise and worship movement. To get a perspective of the situation, the entire Restoration Movement numbers about 3 million (a percentage of the total Christian world that is not even a fraction of one hundredth of one percent. The total number of Baptists during the 1990's was 33 million (a little over 1%).


"Is it wrong to kiss while dating?"

This is matter of conscience, as the Scriptures do not address the subject. Dating, as we know it, was not practiced among the Jews. Any activity in which you engage when you are with someone to whom you are not married is to be governed by a primary love for God Matt 22:37), a desire to abstain from the very appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:22), and from anything that awakens the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life (1 John 5:15-17).
 
If there are strong and burning desires in you, then you must give heed to the word of the Lord: "It is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Cor 7:9, NKJV).


:What man was Jesus talking about when He said this Jesus *said to him, 'If I want him to remain until I come, what {is that} to you? You follow Me!'"

He was speaking about the apostle John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. John 21:20 identifies him as the disciple "which also leaned on His breast at supper . . ." (John 13:23-25). John also said that he was the one of whom Jesus spoke in answering Peter: "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true" (John 21:24)


"I do have a question for you about something I have been wrestling with for a while.  Where is the balance between texts like Ps. 20:4 / 21:2 / 37:4 and Mark 8:34?
On one hand the feel is that as we pursue God, He will "meet the desires of our heart."  on the other hand, part of what Christ says is that if we want to pursue him, we must abandon the desires of our heart.
-Is Christ talking about the old sin nature in Mk. 8:34?
-What to do with desires (or burdens for service in our hearts) that we pray that God would answer?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
"


The difficulty in distinguishing the difference between desires to be denied, and those to be diligently sought, is directly traceable to an inordinate theological emphasis. Pursuing God and fervently desiring to do something for Him are not at all synonymous. Paul expressed the proper motivation, then urged those who were mature to adopt the same approach to life.
 
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:7-11, NASB).
 
He continues, “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:12-14, NASB).
 
He then declares this mind set is to be adopted by all of the saints: “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (Phil 3:15-16). The promise is that if what he has said is not readily apparent, it will be clarified to us by God Himself if we continue to live up to what we do know, not allowing any form of compromise to take hold of our minds.
 
Notice the absolute absence of self-centeredness, whether it has to do with gain in this world, or accomplishing something for God.
 
1.  In counting everything loss, Paul was not referring to fleshly advantages as ordinarily perceived. He was referring to a religious career that he had been living out in a good conscience, thinking that he was doing God service.
 
2.  He placed the priority on knowing Christ Himself – “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” He had scrapped his institutional involvement, considering what he had been conscientiously doing, as nothing more than rubbish. He did not do this in order to do something else, but in order to KNOW someone else.
 
3.  His aim was to be found by Christ without a righteousness or his own, possessing the righteousness that is realized through faith, not through doing – “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil 3:9).
 
4.  Paul made it his aim to know Jesus – to have a personal familiarity with Him – “that I may know Him.”
 
5.  He wanted to participate in the power of Christ’s resurrection, coming back from the dead, and living in the vigor of Christ’s resurrected life – “and the power of His resurrection.”
 
6.  He wanted to participate in the sufferings that are the result of identity with Christ, experiencing the rejection of the world and all that entails – “and the fellowship of His sufferings.”
 
7.  He wanted to be personally conformed to the death of Jesus: death to self, death to the sin, death to the world – “being conformed to His death.”
 
8.  He wanted to participate in the resurrection as a victor over all that was induced by sin, with the resurrection being a blessing instead of a curse – “that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
 
9.  He knew that all that was involved in these desires transcended what he had already experienced. He was aware that the Divine objective has been revealed, and it is conforming us to the image of His Son. Paul wanted that objective to be met, and continued to eagerly pursue it – “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:12).
 
10. Whatever he accomplished or did not accomplish upon the earth, his driving compulsion was to obtain the prize that had been set before him, like Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him (Heb 12:1-2) – “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).
 
Brother ________, it is the inveterate propensity of all organized and institutional religion to turn us from these revealed objectives – objectives that are, according to this text, to be eagerly pursued by all believers. When a life-career, or a specific role in the work of the Lord, or the realization of some personal objective for this world, is sought, what God has really intended for His people begins to dim and become quite elusive. That does not mean the person is insincere. It does mean they have been diverted from the real aim.
 
So far as I know, there were only two matters of care or concern in this world that troubled Paul. One was the salvation of the Jews, his kinsmen, to whom all of the promises of God had been given. “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen . . . Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” (Rom 9:3-5; 10:1, NASB). The other was his profound concern for the churches: “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:28, NASB). There is no evidence that Paul ever thought in such an extraordinary way about any foreign continent, country, region, city, or body of people. This was because both Israel and the church are the revealed focus of God’s attention. It appears that Paul would not allow himself to be distracted by a debilitating concern for anyone else, even though he labored extensively to reach all men.
 
Jesus Himself wept over only one city: “And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42). Jesus did not weep over Bethlehem, Bethany, Caesarea, Nain, or Tyre and Sidon – even though He labored in those areas.
 
Brother . . . there is no mythical balance to be found in the texts affirming God will give us the desires of our heart, and those that teach we are to deny ourselves. Both are total views, not fragmentary ones. They speak of desires proceeding from different parts of our being, as you suggested – the old man and the new man, the flesh and the spirit, what is begotten of God and what is begotten of the flesh. The whole matter is clarified to our hearts and minds when our aim is in total synch with that of the Lord: conformity to the image of Christ, or, as Paul put it, “the surpassing value of knowing Christ.”
 
Your satisfaction must be in your personal spiritual advancement, and the confidence that you will awake in His likeness (Psa 17:15). Seeking satisfaction in any other thing or things will only yield frustration.


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