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Back To The Torah

Back To The Torah
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One of the most common beliefs among “Christians” today is that the phrase “not under the law”, used only twice in the entire Bible and by the same writer each time, means that they are no longer bound to the regulations of The Torah as given by God to His covenant people. But this would mean that this same Bible writer alone overturns the totality of the rest of Scripture, and that would be illogical—especially as this writer, the apostle Paul, is not The Messiah and not even one of the apostles who actually walked with Yeshua during His life on earth.

I will look a little more closely at these two records of this phrase in just a moment. What I want to do in this message is make a case that God’s covenant people—which has always included both Israelites and those from the nations who lived in covenant with Him and always excluded both Israelites and those from the nations who abandoned or rejected His Torah—have always been expected and mandated to live according to the terms of His covenant, which is The Torah.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if a real time machine were invented and we could take people back to the first century to interact with the Torah-keeping Jewish men who wrote the portion of Scripture commonly called today the “New Testament”. Of the many time machines dreamed up by moviemakers, my personal choice would be the DeLorean car from Back To The Future, though the phone booth from Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure seems another fun option. Regardless of whether we traveled in something that iconic or something less impressive, there is no doubt that such an adventure would radically change the way we look at The Bible today.

But in some ways we can go back in time. We live in a unique point in history unlike any other where unlimited resources are available to anyone with a computer and a connection to the Internet and through the use of new artificial intelligence software we can quickly search for accurate information about the early movement of the first followers of Yeshua within ancient Israel and throughout the surrounding Roman empire. And when we do this and look at the facts, we find that there is a need to return back to The Torah, as the message of all Scripture is telling us to follow, keep, obey, and live by The Torah of Yah.

And we really don’t even have to travel that far back in history to find out why modern-day “Christianity” rejects The Torah. Apart from the Roman Catholic religion, the majority of “Christians” today are from the Protestant tradition, the origins of which are often attributed to Martin Luther. Now, there is a famous story about Luther tacking his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, which is actually considered an urban legend as there is no real evidence that this ever happened, but regardless it is this man to whom it is believed all Protestant theology started.

Interestingly enough, Luther took exception with certain apostolic writings as they did not align well with his views on grace. One of the most prominent of these is the book of James, who interestingly enough was the half-brother of Yeshua. Consider these statements made by Luther regarding the book of James.

Therefore St James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it.

The epistle of James gives us much trouble, for the Papists embrace it alone and leave out all the rest. … Accordingly, if they will not admit my interpretations, then I shall make rubble also of it. I almost feel like throwing Jimmy into the stove, as the priest in Kalenberg did.

In addition to these statement, Preserved Smith documents the following words by Luther in his book The Life And Letters Of Martin Luther:

Many sweat to reconcile St. Paul and St. James, as does Melanchthon in his Apology, but in vain. “Faith justifies” and “faith does not justify” contradict each other flatly. If any one can harmonize them I will give him my doctor’s hood and let him call me a fool.

Let us banish this epistle from the university, for it is worthless. It has no syllable about Christ, not even naming him except once at the beginning. I think it was written by some Jew who had heard of the Christians but not joined them. James had learned that the Christians insisted strongly on faith in Christ and so he said to himself: “Well, you must take issue with them and speak only of works,” and so he does. He says not a word of the passion and resurrection of Christ, the text of all the other apostles. Moreover, he has no order nor method. He speaks now of clothes, now of wrath, jumping from one topic to another. He has this simile: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Mary, mother of God! He compares faith to the body when it should rather be compared to the soul! The ancients saw all this and did not consider the epistle canonical.

You know, it may simply be my opinion but not since Marcion has there been such a poor handling of apostolic writings as what we read from Luther. And I will add that Luther also wrote a booklet titled On The Jews And Their Lies, which reads like a blueprint for the holocaust, but I cannot take the time in this message to go through some of those horrendous statements. Sadly, this is what happens when people turn from The Torah of Yah and embrace “Christian” religion without it. Luther wanted someone to harmonize the words of James and the words of Paul. Does not John do this in Revelation 12:17 and 14:12 where he tells us we must both follow the commandments of God and hold to the testimony and the faith of Yeshua? Does not Paul himself do this in passages like Romans 2:13 where he says that it is the doers of The Torah who will be justified? Thus, I will take Luther at his word and say that he was a fool and so are all who follow the anti-Torah fake grace message of popular “Christianity”.

Luther was right about one thing though, James was a Jew. As were all of the other apostles, including Paul. They all lived daily according to The Torah. The testimony of Scripture says that they followed the food laws, kept the biblical Sabbath on the seventh day of a Hebrew week, and celebrated the Torah-appointed Feast Days—which are among the top things opposed by all stages of anti-Torah “Christianity”. Antinomianism ranges from people who teach that there is only one thing we need to obey in the entire Bible, loving each other, to views that commandments deemed in the fictional Calvinist category of “ceremonial laws” are obsolete but “moral laws” still need to be followed. The problem with all of these views is that much like Luther’s trouble with the book of James there are always passages within the whole counsel of Scripture that are problematic to anything but a fully Torah-positive theology. So, with that, let’s get into this message.

Not Under The Law

I had mentioned that one of the top statements used to oppose The Torah by modern-day anti-Torah “Christians” is the phrase “not under the law”, which is used two times by the apostle Paul. Let’s take a look at these statements, one found in Romans and the other Galatians.

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

—Romans 6:14-15 (TLV)

To begin understanding why this passage is not saying what most “Christians” think it’s saying we must look first at the word “sin”. 1 John 3:4 gives us the only definition in the entire Bible for sin—the breaking, transgressing, violating of The Torah. Additionally, the phrase “shall not be master over you” means something more like “is not your way of living”, which can be seen in some paraphrase Bibles such as the Contemporary English Version and The Message Bible.

Then we see that we are not under law but under grace. So, then, what is grace? Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, training us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live in a manner that is self-controlled and righteous and godly in the present age.” Righteousness is defined for us in Deuteronomy 6:25 as following, keeping, obeying, living by The Torah. With these things in mind, we could read Romans 6:14 this way: Torah-breaking is not your way of life, for you are not under law but under Torah-obedience.

Now, I get it that most “Christians” would find this very confusing and contradictory, so allow me to illustrate this with a scenario most people today could understand. Let’s say that two people were driving along the freeway, one following the posted speed limit and the other greatly exceeding it. Which driver would be stopped by the police and issued a speeding ticket under the law? Obviously, it would be the one breaking the law, not the one obeying the law.

Now let’s say that the driver issued the speeding ticket goes to the court and pleads his case, asking the judge to show favor to him or her. The judge accepts and dismisses the ticket. Does this mean that this person can go back out on the freeway and speed again, and whenever pulled over tell the police, “Officer, the judge showed me grace and dismissed my ticket, therefore I am no longer under law but under grace.” It’s a funny thing, you know, the speed limit sign is still posted along the freeway and the police are still going to issue you a citation under the law if you are speeding. And here’s the real kicker to the whole thing: The judge is probably not going to dismiss your ticket the second time around.

You know, Numbers 15:22-31 speaks about the difference between unintentional sins and defiant sins. It says that a person who legitimately commits sin in ignorance can be forgiven, but the person who intentionally sins cannot be forgiven. Certainly this is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind in chapter 10 verses 26 and 27 when writing these words: “For if we keep on sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but only a terrifying expectation of judgment and a fury of fire about to devour the enemies of God.” If you read the words leading up to this, it is clear the context of this chapter is about the blood of Yeshua, so it’s literally saying that if you are so defiant to the work of the cross that you sin—break, transgress, violate The Torah—willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth then even the blood of Yeshua can no longer atone for your sin.

It is important to note here that in addition to The Bible defining sin as “breaking, transgressing, violating The Torah” it also says in Psalm 119:142 that The Torah is truth. So, that would mean that we could word Hebrews 10:26 this way for a better understanding: If we keep breaking The Torah after we have received the knowledge of The Torah, there no longer remains a sacrifice to cover your Torah violations…” If folks would just get a proper understanding of these things than a lot of this perversion of grace and distortion of phrases like “not under the law” would disappear.

There is one more time that Paul uses this phrase, which we need to look at. It’s found in the Book favored by antinomians, Marcionists, and the hyper-grace heretics of modern-day popular “Christianity”: Galatians.

But if you are led by the Ruach, you are not under law.

—Galatians 5:18 (TLV)

This time it is a whole lot easier to address this phrase having established a basis for what it means in context from Romans 6. Here we see that the “not under the law” person is the one who is led by The Spirit of Yah. To further understand this verse, in addition to what we have already discussed regarding what “not under the law” means, we need only turn to Ezekiel 36:27 where the prophet said: “I will put My Spirit within you. Then I will cause you to walk in My laws, so you will keep My rulings and do them.” It’s real simple; a person who is born-again and Spirit-filled is a person who walks in God’s Laws, The Torah. A person who claims faith through Yeshua but opposes The Torah is deceived, as you will see in the rest of this message.

Nailed To The Cross

Another argument the anti-Torah people make comes from Colossians 2:14, where it says, “He wiped out the handwritten record of debts with the decrees against us, which was hostile to us. He took it away by nailing it to the cross.” The claim is that The Torah was nailed to the cross and therefore no longer applies to biblical faith. There are numerous problems with this, but the primary one comes from the context of the passage itself.

If we start in verse 8 of the chapter, we see what Paul was talking about when he said, “See that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men and the basic principles of the world rather than Messiah.” Can we honestly say that The Torah of Yah is philosophy, empty deception, traditions of men, and the basic principles of the world? This alone should be enough to show that the majority of “Christians” who believe verse 14 is talking about The Torah are wrong. But there is one more point that seals it.

In Colossians 2:14 the Greek word translated as “handwritten record of debts” is cheirographon. This is the only time it is used in the entire Bible. It is a reference to a legal document used in court proceedings within the secular judicial systems of Greek and Roman culture of that time in history. What this document contained was a list of charges being brought against a defendant. In other words, Paul was using this word to say that a person’s sins are nailed to the cross when they accept faith in Yeshua. Seeing as the apostle John defines sin as “breaking, transgressing, violating The Torah” (again, 1 John 3:4), it becomes quite obvious that Paul could not possibly be saying that The Torah was nailed to the cross—and therefore voided from faith practice.

Also, the word translated “decrees” is the Greek dogma, a term often used in religion today. You may hear people in religious circles speak about being dogmatic about a particular matter. Sometimes this is justified, such as being dogmatic about following The Torah or a specific part of it that is commonly rejected—such as The Sabbath or the food laws. Other times dogma is a reference to people holding tight to their religious traditions, the very thing we see addressed in verse 8 of the passage. Once again the argument of anti-Torah “Christians” has failed. Let’s take a look at one more of their “proof-texts” that they feel justifies their rejection of The Torah.

Fallen From Grace, Voiding The Cross

Another thing frequently claimed by those who oppose The Torah today is that anyone who believes we are still expected to follow commandments they believe abrogated is that such a person has fallen from grace and made void the work of the cross (Galatians 5:4, 1 Corinthians 1:17). But this too simply does not hold up to an evaluation of the text. Let’s take a look.

You who are trying to be justified by Torah have been cut off from Messiah; you have fallen away from grace.

—Galatians 5:4 (TLV)

On the surface, when isolated as a single statement, we can perhaps see why people would conclude that this verse is saying what “Christians” think it says. But when we look at other things Paul said there is a problem. Consider this:

For it is not the hearers of Torah who are righteous before God; rather, it is the doers of Torah who will be justified.

—Romans 2:13 (TLV)

So, which is it? Are we justified through The Torah or are we not justified through The Torah? There is, of course, a simple explanation if you apply a little common sense to reading these two passages.

In Galatians 5:4 Paul is telling us that you cannot earn justification through keeping The Torah, while in Romans 2:13 he is emphasizing the fact that truly saved people follow The Torah and therefore it will only be those who live by The Torah who will be justified. This is much like a similarly perceived conflict in 1 John. Consider these two passages.

If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

—1 John 1:8 (TLV)

The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

—1 John 2:4 (TLV)

Once again, which is it? Are we a liar if we say we have no sin or a liar if we say we know Yeshua while sinning? And of course we have the same simple solution with a little bit of common sense. In chapter 1 the apostle is dealing with those who have not yet entered into covenant, as all have sinned, while chapter 2 is speaking of those who are living in covenant—those who have repented of their sins—and are walking in The Torah.

You see, there are two primary hermeneutical approaches to Scripture: The anti-Torah view and the Torah-positive view. The anti-Torah hermeneutic constantly requires one passage of Scripture to be in direct conflict with another passage. They explain this away through their bogus claims from their fantasy land “Christian” fiction pseudo-theology where the so-called “New Testament” overturns the so-called “Old Testament”, even though there is never any consistency in this and they are always needing to change the rules or make up new rules to keep this belief going. The Torah-positive hermeneutic, on the other hand, always harmonizes Scripture. Every single “proof-text” of the anti-Torah crowd has a fully Torah-positive explanation and context and when you see it you will realize that the only theology that makes sense is the one that is in unison with every single verse of The Bible.

The Apostles Taught Torah

Despite what many proponents of modern-day “Christianity” claim, the Gospels and later writings of the apostles hold an overwhelmingly Torah-positive message. As I so often remind people, Yeshua was a Torah-keeping Jewish Rabbi who taught His followers to live by The Torah just as He did. He was not a lawless “Christian” pastor telling a church crowd they no longer have to live by The Torah. Yeshua did the very things that almost all “Christians” today believe they are not required to do and many think that if they did them they would have fallen from grace and voided the cross—He followed the food laws, He kept the biblical seventh-day Sabbath, and He celebrated the Torah appointed Spring and Fall Feasts as well as the festivals of Purim and Hanukkah. We can also be sure that He would not participate today in the pagan Roman Catholic holidays of Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and those “Saint” Days because He lived holy according to The Torah and would have nothing to do with idolatry—if He attended a church for these celebrations it would be with a whip in His hand.

Yeshua made statements, as recorded in the Gospel records, such as, “I came not to abolish The Torah,” “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” and, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He told His followers that until heaven and earth pass away not a single part of The Torah would pass away, and we are told in Revelation 21:1 exactly when this passing away of heaven and earth will occur—after every other “end-times” event that will happen regardless of what those events actually are and when they will take place.

Then we turn to the words of the apostles. Let’s start with Paul, since he is the one most people have come to believe is the “smoking gun” regarding the belief that people no longer need to follow The Torah. We’ve already looked at a number of the statements Paul made that are frequently used to support the anti-Torah view and saw that these passages all hold a context that in fact does not support this at all. So then we must now turn toward the statements that support a Torah-positive belief.

To begin, in the Book of Acts we find a story where Paul traveled to Jerusalem and was arrested and charged with “the crime” of teaching against The Torah. It’s a funny thing, that’s exactly what “Christians” today believe to be the message of Paul, against The Torah. Paul’s response to these charges was that he believed everything in The Torah and Prophets (Acts 24:14) and committed no offense against The Torah or The Temple (Acts 25:8). Then when we get to Acts 28:23 Paul is witnessing faith to people testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them about Yeshua from both The Torah and The Prophets.

In the Book of Romans we find Paul making such statements as, “For it is not the hearers of Torah who are righteous before God; rather, it is the doers of Torah who will be justified,” and, “So then, the Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 2:13, 7:12). In Acts 20:16 Paul expressed His desire to be in Jerusalem for the Torah-appointed Feast of Shavuot, in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 he tells us to keep the biblical Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, and in 2 Corinthians 6:17 he says that touching no unclean thing is still a requirement of faith and to being received by God. When you consider the clear error in which “Christians” interpret some of Paul’s statements and the blatantly obvious Torah-positive nature of other things he said it should be quite apparent that Paul’s teachings upheld The Torah the same way every other Bible writer did.

And what of the other apostles? We already saw that Luther believed James to favor The Torah, thinking his lone contribution to Scripture was in conflict with the letters of Paul. After all, James said that faith without works is dead, which sure sounds a lot like where Paul said it is the doers of Torah who will be justified. He also said that The Torah gives freedom (James 1:25, 2:12).

Then we have John, who said that anyone who claims to know God but doesn’t keep the commandments is a liar and the truth is not in them (1 John 2:4), abiding in Him is synonymous with keeping His commandments (1 John 3:24), the love of God is keeping His commandments (1 John 5:2-3), and that love is walking in His commandments (2 John 1:6). From there if we turn over to Revelation 12:17 and 14:12 we see that keeping the commandments of God and the faith / testimony of Yeshua are equal pillars of true biblical faith. Even Peter and Jude, while a little less direct, make a lot more sense when you read them as Torah-positive writings instead of thinking they were teaching against The Torah. 1 Peter 1:16, for example, quotes where it is written that we are to be holy as Yah is holy. This statement comes from Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2-3, and 20:25-26 where it is twice associated with following the food laws and once with keeping The Sabbaths—both the weekly Shabbat and the annual Feast Day High Sabbaths.

The Lawless One And The Righteous One

I realize that it seems like I am making this point in nearly every new message I put out anymore, but this is a point that simply must be repeated over and over and over and over again until everyone I am able to reach hears it. In The Bible there is a lawless one and there is a Righteous One. Properly understanding this and applying it to how you read The Bible is the most essential thing you can ever do to gain a proper understanding of anything and everything said in The Bible.

We are told about the lawless one in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-11. It says that this lawless one is connected with the activity of Satan. Really, Satan is THE lawless one above all others who engage in lawlessness. Then we are told about The Righteous One in Isaiah 53:11 and Acts 3:14, 7:52, 13:39, and 22:14 where it is an obvious reference to Yeshua.

The word lawless refers to sin, as 1 John 3:4 says that sin is lawlessness—the breaking, transgressing, violating of The Torah. In the Greek used for the Apostolic Writings it’s the word anomia, to which Discovery Bible says it means: The utter disregard for God’s Law. You know, when I encounter things like this in these leading theological resources the first thing I think is how “Christians” misrepresent the words of Paul to claim that they are “without law” regarding The Torah of Yah. It’s truly astonishing when you think about it.

The word righteous is defined in Deuteronomy 6:25 as keeping, following, obeying, living by The Torah. In Greek this word is dikaios, and turning to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon it is defined as: Observing divine laws, keeping the commands of God. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary says that righteousness is: Holy and upright living, in accordance with God’s standard. The Layman’s Bible Encyclopedia says it is: Being free from wrong or sin. Again, this is all contrary to popular “Christian” views of righteousness, because when we dig into what this word means in The Bible it is always married to Torah-obedience.

It’s real simple, anti-Torah theologies, regardless of how much of The Torah is being rejected, are of the devil. Those who push these views are of the devil. They are lawless ones serving THE lawless one. Whenever someone takes a statement from Scripture, whether Paul’s words or anything else, and uses it to claim that there are things in The Torah that no longer need to be followed they are simply doing the exact same thing the serpent in Genesis 3 did.

When we read through The Gospels, we find Yeshua always upholding The Torah. Again, The Bible testifies that He kept the biblical Sabbath, followed the Leviticus 11 food laws, celebrated the Torah-appointed Feast Days, and in every way lived daily according to His Father’s Torah. Had He or anyone involved in writing The Bible went against The Torah they would be going directly against God Himself. I promise you that neither Yeshua nor any Bible writer went against The Father, not even Paul.

Try reading The Bible with these two points about the lawless one and The Righteous One as the basis for understanding everything it says. When you get to passages that popular mainstream “Christianity” claims to mean that The Torah no longer needs to be followed, ask yourself: Does that sound more like it aligns with what Satan, the lawless one, says or Yeshua, The Righteous One, says? You might be shocked at what happens when you do that.

Running “OUTATIME”

One of the little details hidden in the Back To The Future movie was a license plate on the time machine that read “OUTATIME”—a play on the phrase out of time. But unlike the fictional world of Doc Brown and Marty McFly, when you run out of time in this life there is no flying DeLorean that you can jump into and go back in time to change the course of history. I want to take a moment here and examine two questions that I believe every anti-Torah “Christian” would do good to consider.

1. What happens to those who stand against The Torah, when they come face-to-face with God at The Judgment, if those of us who believe we are still mandated to follow The Torah are correct?

2. What happens to those of us who believe we are still mandated to follow The Torah, when we come face-to-face with God, if the anti-Torah “Christians” are correct?

You see, the simple reality is that there is not a single statement anywhere in The Bible that indicates any kind of a penalty, either in this life or the in the Eternal Kingdom to come, for doing what is commanded in The Torah—even if it’s true that we are no longer obligated to follow The Torah. Nothing even vaguely suggests that God will look at us and say: “Now, you followed that Torah, and because of it you need to spend eternity in a lake of fire.” However, there are plenty of passages in The Bible that offer penalties for breaking The Torah, even in the writings of the apostles. Not the least of which is Revelation 21:8 that offers a list of people groups who will have a place in the lake of fire—among them being the abominable or detestable (depending on what English Bible translation you are using), which is the exact same word used to describe the eating of unclean meats in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. And if eating things like pork or shellfish can result in having a place in the lake of fire, then we shouldn’t eat those things that God says in His Word not to eat. Also, Matthew 7:21-23 describes a group of people that only matches “Christians” and says they will be rejected by Him because of lawlessness—literally, despite working all sorts of miracles and claiming them to be “in His name” they will be cast away because they didn’t live by The Torah.

I mean, as I so often point out to people, the very first act of sin in the entire Bible was eating something God said not to eat. People argue with me about it all the time. They say that’s not the same thing as the dietary laws of Leviticus. They say that Genesis 3 was allegory or hyperbole or something else. But when it’s all said and done the literal text of The Bible says they ate something God said not to eat. And once you see this and realize that the passages often used as the “proof-texts” that the Torah food laws are voided don’t actually say what popular “Christian” religion claims they say then every other aspect of The Torah—The Sabbath, the Feast Days, and everything else “Christians” take exception with—is easily seen as also still a mandated part of true biblical new covenant faith.

We don’t need Doc Brown to get out of a flying DeLorean and say: “You need to think fourth dimensionally. We’ve got to get back… Back to The Torah.” We don’t need Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan to say: “Whoa, The Torah is most excellent dude.” We just need people to crack a Bible open and read it from cover to cover with the points I made about the lawless one and The Righteous One as the basis for understanding everything it says. If you will do that, you will see that it’s impossible for any single statement, paragraph, chapter, or book of The Bible to support an anti-Torah theology, because in order for that to be, that part of The Bible would have to be inspired by Satan, the lawless one, instead of being God-breathed Scripture given by the very same Creator of all life who gave His Torah before anything else.

So let’s change history… future history… by going back—returning to the discarded values of the past, back to the faith of Yeshua, back to the way of the apostles, back to the call of the prophets… back to The Torah.

Blessings and Shalom

©2023 Truth Ignited Ministry

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