An Answer To Hebrew Roots Questions

This post was originally an answer to a specific individual, I have removed their name but keep the post essentially the same (with some updating for clearer wording) as many people at my church have been very thankful for my posts here correcting many erroneous teachings that have sucked in more than a few families from FBCM. I hope it’s a blessing to you…

ORIGINAL POST:

Wow! I’m amazed that you would want to take the time to read my response. Please keep the conversation going if you have any questions in the comments section below.

Throughout church history there have been questions raised, answered, and debated. My prayer is that this will serve in that tradition.

Also, I don’t want to “re-post” *****’s questions because I don’t have *** permission to do so. So I’ll try to answer the question in such a way as it is somewhat coherent even without the question present. *** is free to post in the comments if *** so wishes. At the same time, this is primarily a response to actual questions asked of me, I just didn’t want to subject anyone who didn’t ask to be here to my answers.

Please, keep in mind, I am only, and have only, responded to questions or statements that I have been included on. I didn’t push my nose in anywhere I was not already present.

This is going to be about 2000+ words, so again, I’m amazed that you’re reading this.

So *****, I guess since you asked me some questions, I should at least do you the courtesy of answering them. I can be the bigger man even though you did call me a liar.

I’m definitely not “attacking” anyone, you are the one who sent out a message that included me, and you even used my name in the comments first, right? I’m not aware of anything I’ve sent to you or your family without first being included in a post and then I’ve responded. To be perfectly honest, if people who are within my ministry hadn’t brought this particular (original) post to my attention, I wouldn’t have even seen it.

Again, you asked me some questions, and I think it’s important that people here at FBCM not think I was “shut down” or “ignorant” of the real answers. At this point, I will feel I’ve met my obligation. If anyone says I didn’t try after this, well, they’re just not being honest with themselves and others. I’m definitely every bit as zealous for my long-studied and informed beliefs as you are. My intention isn’t to “convince” you, I’m quite sure your mind is made-up, but there are others looking on. I can clearly point out where I differ with you, but beyond this, I’ll simply maintain that my prior invitation to meet you for breakfast will stand in perpetuity. I’m open to any convincing argument, should one come to you. In fact, I am happy to meet anyone (well, any man) for breakfast for a civil meal and 30 min. discussion, it’s on me. That is an open invitation for anyone who would like to discuss this issues (though not rehash old ones, please). This would especially apply to members of FBCM who are “on the fence” or searching for what the truth really is, I can (and will) help you, just contact me.

So here you go, here is my response to your comments including those questions which were addressed to me (I am amazed that people read this stuff, but they do, so I must.).

Okay, so you seem to think that the “written Law” in the “Torah” (which is the first 5 books of the OT by your narrow view) is in one-to-one correspondence to the character of God in general for all time. So, I have some questions. If Leviticus 18 says it is a sin and an abomination to God for one to have sexual relations with his sister, and it most certainly does, then how did we all get here? Do you believe in a literal Adam and Eve? I do not believe it was a sin to “be fruitful and multiply” (as was commanded by God to Adam and Eve as well as to Noah and his Family) before Leviticus 18 was written and that covenant was struck with Moses at Sinai. However, there was certainly sin before Sinai, so as far as I can tell, sin has not always been based on the written law of the Torah. It seems more that the law given to Moses is a representation of the covenant with Israel until Jesus came and cut the new covenant, bringing the old to it’s intended end (i.e. Jesus did not come to “abolish” [that is to dismantle or prove void] the law given at Sinai, but He came to “fulfill” [that is to bring it to a pre-designed end, or to bring a period of time to an intended completion]. The new covenant makes the old covenant “obsolete” in function and thus it would eventually “disappear” in practice, but it was not proven “invalid” as a representation of God’s eternal law, his character, to Israel who never kept the law – see: Matthew 5:17-18 & Hebrews 8:13). see my video on this

I’m intrigued by your view that not “keeping sabbath” as a specific and special day is still a “sin.” Do you realize that in the old covenant, in order to keep the sabbath according to Deuteronomy 5:14 you are called not to do any work, or to to cause your children to do any work, or to cause those who are employed by you (your “servants”), or any of your possessions that do work (i.e. livestock etc.) or those who are not a part of your faith community but who are in your sphere of influence (the sojourner) so that no one will be in the situation of not being able to rest on account of you. How do you think the electricity comes into your house? How do you think the natural gas gets there? Do you watch TV? Do you post on Facebook or answer the phone? Does it matter that we live in “modern times” so surely it’s not a sin to run the A/C in my home from sun-down Friday to sun-down Sunday??? Well, I’ll simply ask the question, if everybody lived as you do, would there be people who were forced to work on the “sabbath” whether they believe as you do our not? If you have to say “yes” then you’re breaking the sabbath from Deuteronomy every week. You have told me that “no one born of God continues in sin” as you pointed out that I’m continually breaking the sabbath day… if your interpretation of “continuing to sin” holds true, then that would describe you as well. I think it’s better to hold the NT view that the sabbath day has been fulfilled in Jesus as but a shadow pointing to him.

I’m sure your answer would be something along the lines of telling me sabbath law isn’t that strict. What I have found from many self-proclaimed “Torah observant Christians” is that when I ask about a “hard to keep” OT law they usually go into a very long (like this post) discourse to try and show how easy that law really is.

Sure, that seems to be the thrust of the OT and NT “the law is actually easy, you’re making it too hard on yourself.” (that’s sarcasm, by the way…)

On the contrary, Jesus took the Pharisees to school on the law in the sermon on the mount and told them “no no no, you think these laws are easy, you’re wrong, they’re harder than you ever imagined to keep, in fact, they are impossible for you to keep! That’s why you need me…” (paraphrase of Matthew 5-7) i.e. “You have heard it said, You shall not murder…’ ‘But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable… to the hell of fire.” Matt 5:21-22

May I just point out that this kind of “lowering of the bar” so that the law is “easier” to keep is exactly what the Pharisees were doing. It is exactly that kind of attitude Jesus was combatting. The law isn’t easy, no one has ever kept it, except Jesus. But with Jesus, we are relieved of the burden of the law, that doesn’t make it any easier to do, but the requirement is fulfilled.

Also, with regard to “who changed the sabbath to Sunday” I’m not aware of any early church writing that calls Sunday our “sabbath.” The first reference I can find to Sunday being a day of rest is Origin in AD220, and he’s considered (by me) a heretic. Sunday is not the “Christian sabbath,” I would disavow any such language. My sabbath rest is in Jesus, not a day. So you can stop saying we (if that includes me) teach that Sunday is the “sabbath.” If someone has taught you that, I apologize on their behalf without ascribing one bit to that false teaching. Some people may view one day as holy, and they are free to do that, but that is certainly not a New Testament requirement (cf. Rom 14:5 & 10 “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike… why do you pass judgment on your brother?”)

Are you aware that Constantine did not even become the 57th Emperor of the Roman empire until AD306? And even then, made no religious decrees until his Edict of Milan in AD313. Are you also aware that the very first writings (and all the subsequent ones) by the direct followers of Jesus’ very disciples say that the practice of worshiping on the first day of the week started with the Apostles themselves?

  • Didache AD90
  • Barnabas AD100
  • Pliny AD110
  • Epistle of the Apostles AD150
  • Justin AD150
  • Justin Martyr AD155
  • Acts of Peter AD180
  • Clement AD190
  • Bardesanes AD200
  • Tertullian AD200
  • Cyprian AD250
  • Ignatius AD250
  • Eusebius AD300
  • Athanasius AD345 (et. al. )

You must somehow believe that every single writing was changed or expunged as a part of a vast conspiracy including hundreds of thousands of people without one defector, surely not, right? The singular reference to “sabbath keeping” that I’ve found was when Eusebius references the Ebionites who denied Jesus’ virgin birth and divinity, rejected the teachings of Paul, and required circumcision to be a “true Believer.” Are you claiming the Ebionites as your true brothers in the faith?

As for me, I believe that Great Commission Baptists (of whom, I am one) stand in the tradition of the Anabaptists that died for their faith in opposition to the likes of Emperor Constantine. Anyone who thinks that the church was unified under Constantine has not studied the issue from a historical perspective, or has been sold a lie.

Further, as to “sabbath,” one of the arguments given by the early disciples of the Apostles as to why they didn’t keep the sabbath was that no one before Moses ever kept the sabbath either. There’s really no question about the fact that they didn’t keep the sabbath day. If that means that they were not “real Christians” then that would seem to mean that hell won the day for about 2,000 years. That seems to speak against Jesus’ words in Matt 16:18 “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

It is simply taken for granted by every single author of the first writings of the church (after the Bible) that all Christians worship on the “Lord’s Day” which is unanimously described as the “first day of the week.”

Christians and nonchristian opponents from this time all agree.

It was not Constantine (not even born yet at this time) who started this practice.

Look at what these early defenders of Christianity were saying, they make a good point to respond to you. Before Moses, did everyone continue in sin because they didn’t keep the sabbath? Or, as with marrying your brother or sister, is that something that was not a sin prior to the Sinai covenant, and thus, not eternal?

If sabbath keeping is a requirement to be truly born of God, then no one before Moses and no one from the writing of the NT onward is truly born of God, except, of course, you and those who follow your teaching, and Herbert W. Armstrong’s the World Wide Church of God (that started in the 1930’s) who taught essentially the same as you.

Did you know that nine of the 10 commandments are positively affirmed in the NT but keeping the Sabbath is not?
1st. – Eph. 4:6; 1 John 5:21; Matt. 4:10
2nd. – 1 Cor. 10:14; Rom. 1:25
3rd. – James 5:12; Matt. 5:34,35
4th. – ??? (Sabbath Day)
5th. – Eph. 6:1,2; Col. 3:20
6th. – 1 John 3:15; Matt. 5:21
7th. – Heb. 13:4; Matt. 5:27,28
8th. – Rom. 2:21; Eph. 4:28
9th. – Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25; 2 Tim. 3:3
10th. – Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5

Obviously in Acts 20:7 the church, including Paul, did meet for religious services on the first day of the week. To “break bread” and to hear Paul teach.

Now, I think it’s clear that Paul did continue to teach in the Synagogue on Saturdays to reach his fellow Jews with the Gospel, but that’s a long way from a command for all Gentiles to keep the sabbath. What else did he mean when he said “To those under the law I became as one under the law” except that he did remain ritually pure. But if Paul did it, does that mean necessarily that we should we do it too? Shouldn’t we ask “why did he do it?” He answers us “though not being myself under the law, so that I might win those under the law.” Sure, Paul remained ritually pure, but not because of any obligation, it was so that the ritually strict Jews would listen to him. It was for the gospel! It would be like me living by your dietary laws, if I thought you might actually listen to me if I did… which, I don’t think you would, so I won’t.

Clearly, even within the pages of the NT itself, the church was meeting on the first day of the week. ALL the writings after the Bible state that Sunday is the day the early church meets to worship, it’s even called “the Lord’s Day.” So, either all of the writers of thousands of documents all spontaneously decided to switch everything and not tell anyone, or the practice of worshiping on Sunday and not “keeping sabbath” began in the time of the Apostles and continued on through the centuries. It was only well after the practice of worshiping on Sunday was established in the time of the Apostles that the opportunist Constantine (who was no true Christian) used it to his political advantage almost 300 years later. I honestly can’t see the logic in ascribing “sabbath keeping” as a necessity of Christianity, unless 100% of the 12 Apostles were utter failures at the Great Commission and did absolutely nothing to correct 100% of their followers who were meeting on Sunday.

It wasn’t until Andreas Fisher and Oswald Glait (Baptists no less, well, okay Anabaptists – ironically) who became the pioneers and first promoters of “Christian sabbath-keeping” about 1500 years after Jesus (AD1527 to be exact).

Okay, so I know you say you don’t believe salvation is an issue of “Law Keeping.” That would be good. But I’m not aware that I said you did. If I ever did, I apologize, that wasn’t my intention. Great! there’s another thing you can stop saying about us 🙂 .

I do need some clarification though…

  • You have said to me that if someone is truly born of God (if they are really saved) then they will not keep on sinning (e.g. 1John 5:18)
  • You have also indicated that you believe it is sin to break any of the laws written in the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible) because “sin is lawlesness” (cf. 1John 3:4)
  • You have, as a part of this same argument, pointed out that keeping the sabbath is in the Torah and a part of God’s law for all people forever (Exod 20:8)
  • And you have finally stated that anyone who continues to break the sabbath is continuing in sin.

What else are you saying by stringing this argument together but that someone who does not “keep sabbath” is, ipso facto, not a true child of God? I find it completely disingenuous for you to adamantly give the disclaimer that you believe salvation is a “grace alone” issue but then go on to materially argue that someone isn’t really saved if they don’t keep sabbath.

It sounds to me that you don’t have a consistant position on this issue. If I’m hearing you right, I guess I don’t blame you for the deception, very few people will listen to you initially if you are up front and tell them that their families in churches, their loved ones who worship on Sundays, all their pastors, and all their beloved former pastors, will all spend eternity separated from God when they die because only those born of God will see the kingdom of God.

So I guess I’ll ask it this way. Do you believe that someone who has reject the idea that there are dietary restrictions and reject the idea that we must keep the Sabbath and reject the idea that Jesus didn’t bring a “new command” can still be “born of God?” Let’s get more personal, that is an accurate description of me, is it possible that I am saved, according to your view? Can I be truly born of God and continue for the next 50 years not keeping sabbath, not keeping food restrictions, not keeping, the OT law, and allowing others to relegate those kinds of things to their own conscience?

I know you’ll want to say “well that’s between you and God” but you are the one who made the argument and then didn’t deliver the punchline. As you said, it’s our job to correct and rebuke and we are absolutely called to judge rightly and judgment begins with the household of God. I really would appreciate an honest answer here. either (a) that is between me and God, which would mean there is “room for interpretation here,” or on the other hand, if God’s word is so clear, then (b) you would have to say, if I’m really saved, I will change my practice more in line with what you believe (which countless billions of Christians have not done throughout history).

I absolutely do not believe Paul preached “lawlessness” but adherence to the eternal law of God, that is, His character. That is THE law (not simply that which was written as a covenant with Israel, something that changed things when it was written, and was made obsolete when Jesus came [again, see Hebrews 8]).

Besides, the NT says “sin is lawlessness” it doesn’t say breaking any law is sin. You’re reading into that verse what you want it to say. Obviously when we break God’s eternal law it is sin, however, not everything in the Pentateuch is eternal (as I’ve already demonstrated with “be fruitful and multiply” vs. Lev. 18 as well as no sabbath keeping until Moses). Again, that verse doesn’t say “breaking the Pentateuch is sin” it says that “sin is lawlessness” which I agree with. I’m against lawlessness. I’m for the law of Christ written on our hearts as a part of the New Covenant. I’ve heard friends of yours even say that “many Gentiles to what is right naturally” and that is true, it is written on their hearts, we no longer even need to teach the law in order to prove sin. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, that’s his job, not ours.

I know it is much simpler to say that it is only “Black and White” but that’s simply not the case. Sometimes, there are not “easy answers” and we have to wrestle with them. It is not as simple as “Paul preached the OT law and anything other than the OT law is ‘lawlessness'” (which is my summary of what I believe you have said to me). Reducing the argument to absurdity doesn’t make your point for you. And I hope people, particularly people at my church, can see it for that.

The thrust of Jesus’ teaching, as I read it in the NT, moves the external observances of the Torah into an internal reality of the heart. Not keeping physical laws, but the deeper heart issue. Nothing physically touching a person or going into a person can defile them (Mark 7:18). Yet, that’s exactly what the Old Covenant taught Israel. Something changed, everything changed. That is not lawlessness, that is grace, that is the law of Christ. God’s character remains, even the 10 commandments are affirmed 90% in the NT, but I do not believe that Gentile believers are “Israel” (the Israel in the OT). He took “Israel” and “Gentiles” and made one NEW group (“one new man in place of the two” Eph 2:15). He did not put Gentiles into the same Israel of the OT, but he first removed unbelieving Israelites from his people, making it something new, and then added believing Gentiles to the believing Jews. The people who were removed were still “Israelites,” but God did something new in Christ. If it’s new, and the Bible says it’s “new,” then it is not the same. The church did not replace OT Israel, Gentiles were not made a part of OT Israel, but the “holy nation” of God’s people is made up of believers from Israel and believers from outside of Israel who are in Christ. The “new man” is not the “old Israel.”

I believe that God the Father is God, and I believe that God the Son is every bit as divine and that He existed as a person (though not as a human) before the creation of the world, and that also goes for the PERSON of the Holy Spirit who is also God. Neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit were simply God the Father’s action or force or merely an extension of Himself, but they were and are distinct PERSONS existing before this creation. If you can agree to that, then I would indeed count you as a brother (even though you believe the OT obligations are still in effect for me). I honestly don’t know if you would or wouldn’t affirm this belief, this is why I ask you, to get it straight from the horses mouth. How would you correct my statement about what is usually described as the “trinity?”

Blessings to you, your family, and all. I truly wish you well, and though you did call me a liar, I’ll over look it, because I do love you. It’s the people who never oppose you who don’t really love you. I’ll look forward to that breakfast. The ball’s in your court.

About John Harris

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
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