Righteousness by faith
Faith without works is Dead
If you love me, keep my commandments.
Law is nailed to the cross.
Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments and have the faith of Yeshua.
New covenant grace.
A new covenant will I give. I will write my law upon their hearts, and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people.
“The Ten Commandments are still to be followed, the Mosaic law (everything else in Torah) was nailed to the cross, so we can pretty much ignore it, except for the clean and unclean meats – that’s just good health principles” (the synopsis of what I learned as a child)
So many opposing messages. What is a child, a young adult, a middle aged adult supposed to do with it all??
By the time I was born into a Southern, mountain town and Adventist congregation, the focus of the Adventist church at large (judging by some of the doctrinal statements) was on behavior, and even more so in Southern Appalachia. Yes, there was lip service to doing things “in Christ”, following Him, by faith we are saved… but the typical message, across the US, distilled down to the bottom was “right behavior equals salvation.” Various “off-shoots” claimed further perfection and favor gained by living even more “holy” than the mainstream church. Eternal death or salvation by cheese or vegan lifestyle…. It was toxic, and so enslaved at least one member I know to the point of opening doors for the demonic… I’m sure there were more who were overcome by the toxicity and left, or died inside, or were truly demonically possessed thanks to the stronghold of earning salvation by my works – ie – not accepting the work of Christ’s salvational power in our lives, in the process.
There were many, are many, in my generation, as well as my parent’s generation, and those after me, who just walked away from everything, including God. There are some of us who are undecided on whether to walk out of the SDA church, or stay with the hopes to make a difference. There are some who have stayed and just stayed. There are many who have stayed and challenged status quo, challenged the comfort zones, called for a second look at Scripture, called for integrity. Ty Gibson, Herb Montgomery, Tim Jennings stand out in my mind as well known teachers in the denomination, preaching a beautiful message of the Character of God, and what that means regarding our salvation, and, there are other less known, like both of my parents, who in their own ways have challenged status quo in the last 15 years.
When my dad first started learning about the doctrine of Righteousness by Faith, which was preached by a few prominent pastors of the SDA church in 1888, he was sharing with my Grandfather, who said that’s what he always believed. (tho his children’s perception of what he believed was different than what he stated.) I guess the church went in cycles, cause in 1888 the church rejected the idea, to the point that they sent one of the founders to Australia, cause they didn’t want to listen to her. However, by the time my Grandpa was being raised, in the late 1920’s, and 1930’s some were teaching that our righteousness, in Christ, come by faith in Him, not by works… But by the 1950’s or so, the tide was turned back towards legalism, in part I understand from Ron & Nancy Rockey, to a large German influence that came after the wars, which by culture is very works oriented.
So, yeah, that’s what I was raised into… Thankfully, my father did learn about the doctrine of Righteousness by Faith when I was 10 or so, as preached by AT Jones & Waggoner back in the late 1800’s, which gave my experience a voice of reason…
I can remember, as a 7 year old, in school, being told we all sin, and we must be forgiven of our sins in order to get into heaven, and if we die before we are forgiven, we will be lost, so we have to confess our sins daily. I was a good child, and filled with the Spirit, so found my self agonizing for hours each night, trying to find SOMETHING to confess. Yes, sometimes I made mistakes, but there wasn’t a lot of true “sin” going on in my life yet. Still, I was covered by a weight of shame that surely I had done some sin! I sensed in my spirit that something was amiss here… but it wasn’t till I read John Eldredge’s “Waking the Dead” that I realized just WHAT was amiss… Credit given to the Holy Spirit, who, when he fills us, makes our hearts good, so that our hearts are not the sinful ugly stones they once were, but are HEARTS of Flesh!!! Hearts reflecting the glory of Yehovah in ever increasing degrees of glory!!!!! My heart is good thru the work of Christ!!! I don’t have to agonize over my sin, He lives in me, and as I walk with Him daily, He will convict if something is amiss, otherwise, I can rest in Him, knowing that He is able to keep me from stumbling and to present me before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 1:24), and Knowing He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it (Phil 1:6) !!! WooHOOO!!!! HalleluYah!!!!
After joining the RH forum, I came across a doctrine that I found interesting, and evidently a bit of a sacred cow in some circles. The theology basically goes that the Law, all of it, was done away with, nailed to the Cross, the entire Torah, 10 commandments included; henceforth, why do we really need the Old Testament? We are all under grace.
Now, to be fair, there are varying degrees of thought on this – some will say that if you are in relationship with God, you won’t want to sin. Some will say the OT is good, but not on par with the NT. Some will say it is written from the perspective of the writers, not necessarily the actual Words of God, but their perspective on life and what God might have been saying. Then there are a few beautiful voices which said, The Old Covenant and the New Covenant are essentially the same, the same idea is presented – God wanted to be in relationship with His people. And, The law is summed up in love. Love must be the guide.
I wrestled with understanding this idea of the Law being completely abolished and of no interest nor need for us for a long time. It just doesn’t line up with Scripture, the idea that the law is summed up in love, however, does.
Yeshua says, “if you love me, keep my commandments.” Jn 14:15
John has this huge treatise about knowing and loving God, which starts with, “We know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” 1 John 2:3 and begins his summary in chapter 5 saying, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
As a side note, we lose it in English, but in the Hebrew, there is an “aleph” & a “tov” (aka an “a” & a “z”) hiding out in Exodus 19:5, next to the word covenant, and in Exodus 20:1, next to the word God. Basically, God & His covenant with his people were identified as the “A & Z” or Beginning and End, or as we see repeatedly in Revelation, the Alpha & the Omega.
John, in Revelation 1, sees One as the Son of Man, who identifies himself as the Alpha & the Omega, or he would have said, in Hebrew, the Aleph & the Tov. The Son of Man, our Savior was identifying himself as the one who also spoke the 10 commandments + the rest of the covenant found in Exodus 20-23 at Mt Sinai.
And, in Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible, connects the two clearly:
12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16I, Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
Last but not least, there are Yeshua’s own words in Matthew 5:
17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For 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. 19Whosoever therefore shall break 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.
(Another side note – in the Hebrew manuscripts of Matthew, Jot & Tittle are written as “Vowel” & “Consonant”. )
Now maybe it’s just me, but from what I can tell, heaven and earth are both here. Neither have passed. And, if I’m not mistaken, we still have half of the promises of the Messiah yet to be fulfilled. Yes, he finished the work of redemption in choosing selfless love to the point of death, but He’s not come a second time… So, I’m really, really hesitant to teach men to break His commandments, or to teach that they no longer are applicable for us today…
But what is it then?? What is the Law to us???
I have no doubt that salvation comes only thru Faith in Yeshua as our Messiah!
That’s pretty clear –
John 3:16 For YHVH so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life!!
Yeshua calls himself the door to the sheepfold, the only appropriate way to enter in by. (John 10)
In John 14, he says, I’m the way, the truth & the life, No one comes to the Father but by me.
We also know that the work in us, is done by Him, as I stated earlier! So, it’s not in our effort, our power, our keeping of the “law” that we are saved to eternal life, OR made whole, complete, without fault (Jude 1:24) It’s Him!!
I have a working theory on what the “law” is for us … It’s still in process.
It all started with hearing this verse, and going, whoa… well, if that’s so then this… (I like mathematical equations when they fit in real life :D)
John 5:46, 47 “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
Coupled with this text, where on the road to Emmaus, Yeshua, walking with two of his disciples, AFTER his death and resurrection – “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:26
If that’s so; if Moses – aka Torah, spoke of Christ, then maybe we should look for Him there?! Maybe we should be like the Bereans who were commended for studying the Scriptures (Old Testament), diligently, to see if what Paul was preaching (New Testament) was true. [Side note: By the way, on the subject of Paul – the question begs to be asked – did he truly teach that the Torah was to be ignored or done away with? Really? Acts 21:19-25 tells us that Paul was accused of that rumor… AND, that he was in the Temple, going thru the rituals of cleansing to prove that the rumors were FALSE, when he was taken prisoner and left Jerusalem for the last time by way of armed guard. He did teach that circumcision or any other ritual would NOT save – which is true! He was very Grace oriented – our salvation comes as grace, by faith. YHVH does the work in us, we don’t, etc. However, he suggests, in Acts 15, that the Gentiles be given what at the time was standard in converting individuals to Judaism, the “top four” Torah instructions to start them out with, saying, the Torah is preached in the Synagogue – in other words, they’ll get the rest of it. /side note]
So, I’ve been on a journey, and in the midst of that journey, I’m reminded of these words of our Messiah:
10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Life! and more Abundant!! Abundant Life!
What does that look like??
How about this:
Worship YEHOVAH your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. (Ex 23)
It may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey. God will give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant (Deut 6)
YHVH your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. 15 YEHOVAH will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. (Duet 7)
Then YHVH your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors. (Duet 30)
Sounds like pretty abundant life to me!!! What is interesting is that before or after every single one of those promises is a verse that says something like this: “If you obey YHVH your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to YHVH your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deut 30:10
One other thing I wanted to say about the promises.
They are all conditional – “if you obey my commands” but I’m also working thru a theory that they aren’t completely arbitrary, but most often, natural consequences.
The difference of me saying to my child – If you obey me today we’ll have a happy day, and will have time to play together at the end of the day (the natural consequence of the child’s obedience) VS If you obey me today, I’ll give you a huge party tomorrow (an arbitrary blessing and incentive but not the natural cause to effect).
In the same way that disobedience generally leads to natural consequences – my family is experiencing the pain of heart due to the natural consequences of disobedience. Or, If you put a plastic bag over your head, you will experience the natural consequences of disregarding the “law of respiration” which says that you have to breathe in order to live.
What I know for sure is this: Salvation comes by faith and the acceptance of Yeshua as our Savior only.
My theory is that Abundant life comes in following the Leading of the Spirit, who brings the new covenant to pass, where He Writes His Laws on our hearts, and then brings us along in giving us a new heart which desires Him, and following Him in obedience to the Spirit in Us – not as a way of earning salvation, nor pleasing God, but out of our love for Him, and our desire to take a look at the owner’s manual and follow the instructions given for the best, happiest life possible.
If we got a “new” or even “new to us” car, and the owner’s manual said to only put diesel fuel into the car, we would likely follow that suggestion, that “law” of the car. If we didn’t, we could count on having to replace the engine…
In much the same way, I’ve come to see the Torah as an owner’s manual. Very helpful “laws” which are based on how we, and the earth around us, is created to BEST function.
The dietary laws are most familiar to me – First record of Food in Torah, is in Eden & shortly thereafter – fruits, nuts, grains, vegies – people living for hundreds of years. Current Medical Science shows that a plant only, or even plant rich diet is the healthiest. Post flood, Noah is allowed the clean animals to eat, and those are outlined later in Leviticus. Life span is shortened down to about 120 years, but still the people are healthy… Medical Science also backs this up – the clean meats are the healthiest for us (despite current trends in the love of bacon).
However, there are other laws within Torah that are being proven, thru Science, to be the healthiest ways of life.
I’ve previously discussed the cleanliness laws re Niddah (menstrual flow).
There’s this great study done about the healing properties intrinsic in Linen, and how those properties are completely nullified, when in the presence of wool. (hence the admonition to not mix wool & linen together)
Those are just a few examples. There are many more…
And then, then – lets’ talk about His Feasts!
Man! They are so much fun! I learn something new with each Celebration. I regularly get chills seeing the awesomeness of God, His timing, His clues to us in the feasts about what would happen in the future. It enlarges and grows my faith by leaps and bounds, seeing how He perfectly fulfilled His Prophecies within the Feasts in Yeshua’s first coming, and knowing that He will do the same in Yeshua’s second coming!!!
The Torah even outlines how we will pay for them, which I discussed in my post on tithe, but will just bring these verses to give you an idea of the type of celebrating He’s looking for:
Deut 14: 22People of Israel, every year you must set aside ten percent of your grain harvest.23Also set aside ten percent of your wine and olive oil, and the first-born of every cow, sheep, and goat. Take these to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped, and eat them there. This will teach you to always respect the LORD your God.
24But suppose you can’t carry that ten percent of your harvest to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. If you live too far away, or if the LORD gives you a big harvest, 25then sell this part and take the money there instead. 26When you and your family arrive, spend the money on food for a big celebration. Buy cattle, sheep, goats, wine, beer, and if there are any other kinds of food that you want (KJV says “Lust after”), buy those too. 27And since people of the Levi tribe won’t own any land for growing crops, remember to ask the Levites to celebrate with you.
And the amount of time spent celebrating is extravagant!
Yehovah’s calendar includes 3 whole weeks plus a day Celebrations (Passover/Unleavened Bread/First Fruits, Feast of Tabernacles & Feast of Dedication/Hannukah), in addition to 3 – 2 day feasts (feasts traditionally celebrated for 2 days, or may require at least 2 days off for travel – Purim, Pentacost & Trumpets), and a one day fast – that’s the yearly feasts. Then, we have the New Moon celebrations – once a month, and Sabbath, a once a week celebration!!! That’s 94 Feast & Celebration days + 1 fast day out of the year!!! Just to put that into perspective – the US Federal government has 10 holidays. Add to that a two week vacation and you get 24 days. Let’s say you are a Sabbath Keeper – then you are getting close, with 76 days. But, YHVH’s calendar still has almost 20 days extra to celebrate!!!!
But, when most of us take George Washington’s birthday off, do we really spend time worshiping the Creator? Do most of the Federal Holidays teach us about the shadow pictures of good things to come? Do they show us the plan of Salvation? How about vacation time – what’s one’s usual focus? My experience with vacation has been Rest, Relax, Self-indulgence, Spoil the kids. AND there’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, relaxing, eating foods you wouldn’t ordinarily eat, spoiling the kids with lots of fun family time. BUT, what if vacation meant that AND learning about our Savior? Dancing, eating great food, rejoicing, fellowship with friends AND practicing elements of the plan of Salvation in a living drama? The Feasts are so rich with both fun and meaning!!
To summarize – The way I see it right now is:
We are saved thru the belief that Yeshua is our Messiah. Our salvation is a gift that we neither earn or can maintain thru our own actions. He does the work in us.
As He does the work in us, he brings us to Abundant Life, which when all distilled, looks remarkably like paying attention to the owner’s manual of the Torah. We don’t find those grievous any more than we find our car owner’s manual grievous. If we happen to forget to change the oil, we may experience the consequences of that down the road, but we still have a car, we are still “saved”.
Salvation by faith
Life abundant and to the FULL! by HIS grace of recreating us,
as we observe His Commandments (and more than just the first 10).