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THE Conundrum

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

In a short E-Book I wrote a number of years ago, I pointed out that a dividing line would be drawn between different facets of believers in Messiah. It sort of felt like a prophetic thing at the time because all signs were pointing toward the ecumenical unification of believers becoming a massively successful and broad sweeping event that the vast majority would agree with.

Stick with me a moment, and don't give up on reading the rest because you have issues with ecumenism. The fact is, so do I. But I think we need to clearly define a few things and learn to see SOME things from more than just our own perspective before making a judgement call and writing people off. This isn't an advocacy for merging of religions under one banner, but rather a call to give one another space to both be correct about some things and realize that they are not as diametrically opposed to one another as we may currently believe. Get your free copy of that E-Book HERE

Don't worry, I'm not planning on muddying the waters without also clearing

them back up, but it will take a little unpacking of some examples.

It seems to me, if memory serves, the most stringent of divisions I "foresaw" back then was between the "Church" and those who have left the church to follow a Whole Bible/Torah Positive perspective (we'll call them the Way). [I am getting another one of those "foreseen" kind of moments as I type this and it's telling me many of you are planning to close this right now]. I humbly ask you not to. Please stay with me.

As I meet and greet literally thousands of people in person, who contact us by email, who engage with us on Social Media, and etc. each year I am finding that more and more from both the Church and the Way are becoming less and less tolerant of one another and, frankly, pulling away from one another all the more. Both have been hurt by the other side, and both have had to do a tremendous amount of soul searching to come to their own conclusions. Some have left one to search out the other's view only to return to their beginnings again. Some have become ardently all the more resolved in their new found beliefs and hardened against their former family. I am neither condoning nor advocating for any of this, I am simply pointing it out. Perhaps you are one of those who felt it necessary to walk away from everyone in your previous "camp" and wander alone while trying to find your new "tribe". Maybe you've got a foot on each side of the fence. Or a combination of the two and other variables I have not listed. My point is we need to start asking some serious questions of ourselves and our belief systems before cutting people off because this is precisely what the enemy wants.

NOTE: I am not suggesting that anyone who is being mistreated by people from either

side of this should stay among their abusers. I am saying we should not become the abuser

by controlling and manipulating the other side based on our "concerns". This is NO WAY

affects my views on Torah Obedience. I am convinced by Spirit and WORD and I will

continue to contend for that truth. But I am man enough to admit that there are some things

which both sides ARE correct about and it's time we all grow up enough to admit it.

Let start with something simple, and I will probably be coming back to more of these in coming months.

The Church Believes

The Way Believes

We have been in the New Covenant since Messiah's resurrection

​The New Covenant is a renewal of the previous

There are a number of Torah commands which have been disannulled by the New Covenant

Through Messiah the Covenant is ratified, making us all subject to Torah Obedience

Torah is divided in to Moral, Ceremonial, and Civil codes

Torah is one throughout the entire Bible

Torah was a model for the Law of Christ

Messiah never added to or took away from Torah

Torah was a shadow of what was to come

What Torah said, Messiah was, and we are to be

​Torah is a curse

Torah is a blessing. Disobedience brings a curse all its own

No one has ever kept Torah. Grace covers our inability to keep it

Many examples of those who kept Torah blamelessly can be found Paul, the parents of John the Immerser and more

Torah was nailed to the cross

The proof of our guilt (the ordinances written against us) was nailed to the cross

Jesus' death ended all sacrifices

​Paul sacrificed and provided the animal for 3 others' sacrifices as James/Ya'akov (Messiah's half-brother) urged him to

It doesn't matter what I eat

The dietary instructions are still valid

It doesn't matter what day I worship

Worship any day but still cease from all regular and laborious activities on the 7th day of each week for Shabbat (Sabbath)

If you violate one Law of Torah it's all over

We have an advocate

Sin is when we know to do good but don't do it James 4:17

​Sin is violation of God's Laws 1John 3:4

This list could get REALLY long, and I know I am being short and vague on some of these, but the point is that in discerning the correct answer to any of these differences takes more than just proving it with Scripture. It means doing so with a correct heart. It means doing so without it coming from a place of resentment or revenge. It means sharing truth because it is truth, but also listening and reaching out. These are just a few and frankly neither side is very good at and of this.

So I am going out on a limb and sharing one solution that I have pondered for the last 6-8 weeks quite a bit. The good news is, it's a solution that solves SO MANY OTHER problems within and between BOTH communities. It's also something I didn't have to scour Scripture for over the last 8 weeks, because it was the result of research I did for months on end as part of another project. I know, I know, I am starting to sound like a late night infomercial. But there is a reason. I want to be absolutely certain you are committed to finishing this article before I start laying down some details because if you stop before finishing and don't come back I assure you - you WILL miss the point. So please commit, before Abba and your own sanctified conscience, that you finish what you have started here.

I am going to zero in on one point of contention that both sides can only agree upon in one way - The Other Side is Wrong!!

Food Laws!!

I am not going to spend much, in fact very little, time detailing what each perceives as truth, but instead, start using the "proof texts" each side chooses, and then we'll take a look at that solution I mentioned above.

Christendom tends to use 3 passages as their go-to for proving their point. We'll list them and then discuss them a little. I am not putting these here to condemn, if that has already entered your mind, I ask you to please remove that and just bear with me... both sides of this conundrum tend to have a predetermined mindset about the intentions of the other. I hope we can set that aside for the sake of this article.

Mark 7:19 - For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

Acts 10 - 9 The next day at about the sixth hour, as the men were approaching the city on their journey, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven open and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, as well as birds of the air. 13 Then a voice said to him: “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 “No, Lord!” Peter answered. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and all at once the sheet was taken back up into heaven.
Colossians 2:16 So do not let anyone make rules for you about eating and drinking or about a religious feast, a New Moon Festival, or a Sabbath day.

I chose this last version (New Century Version) because it helps to point out something important that causes [The Way] folks to reject that it has anything to do with the "Dietary Laws". The various translations and versions are often called into question by both Christendom and those of a more Messianic view because of context. Most don't see it, because it's not terribly overt, but Shaul/Paul was writing to people he'd already met with and possibly taught in person - but we can be certain they had been taught by his student Epaphras. Paul having confessed in Acts 24:14 that he taught others to obey Torah and lived by all that is in the Torah and the Prophets, gives us insight into why he would have said what he did in Colossians 2:16. He would never have lied to the jury surrounding him or to governor Felix. So then knowing this, and that he wrote Colossians while in prison in Rome shortly after the trial we see in Acts 24, we can surmise something from the evidence at hand. This is not about changing the rules of Torah it is about problems among the believers a Colossae and it is cultural. The Essenes and Pharisees were are odds with one another about which two days to fast and within each group, there were further divisions about whether or not one can eat vegetables on a fast or if they must fast with no food, also whether or not water was allowed. They were also in disagreement over whether or not the "New Moon" was a regular Shabbat/Sabbath or a special High Holy Day as are the first and last days of some Feasts.

None of this was actually about Torah at all, but rather about differences OVER Torah and he was telling people that arguing over these things is not fruitful, just do as your conscience dictates and let others do the same because they are pictures of the greater Covenant we now walk in. This is an extension of Paul's sentiments in Romans 2 when he said that Gentiles proved they were converted to Messiah by following Torah without having been taught Torah, thus also proving Torah was written upon their hearts and minds being led to Torah obedience by their new (sanctified - my word not his) conscience. Again, I am not writing this as a condemnation, but to inform WHY The Way sees things differently than Christendom.

Where Acts 10 is concerned, Christendom (in the vast majority) views this as another location where Scripture confirms a change in the "Dietary Laws". Messianism/HRM tends to reject this, again due to context but also the plain text. Peter explains his vision himself in verse 28.

28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.

One debate many in Christendom bring up which they feel lends credence to their view is "why it was asked 3 times if it wasn't about something more than just what Peter said in verse 28?". To a Way(ist) this seems trivial because there were 3 gentiles who came to greet him, plus in Peter's interpretation he uses the exact same words as those used by the "voice" in the vision/trance. To them, the fact that Peter did use the exact same words confirms the prior simply because in his culture this was a norm - so the context of it all is very 1st Century Hebraic, something The Way feels Christendom overlooks way too often.

Lastly, most in Christendom feel Mark 7:19 is the fail-safe proof about a change in the "Dietary Laws" but The Way does not, and here is why; the parenthetical insert of the thought of "by this, He declared all foods clean" is not in all early Greek manuscripts - for one. Another is that nowhere is 1st Century Hebraic culture were unclean animals seen as "food". Still, yet another, is found in Matthew's account of this event found in Mark 7. Those in The Way circles feel that Christians stop too early when reading the account found in Matthew.

Mathew 10:20 - These are what make a man `unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him `unclean.

The Way(ists) argue that Messiah explains the entire argument to us, but if we don't read the entire discourse we miss the point and can make doctrine that simply isn't supported by the remainder of Scripture. The cultural context is that the Pharisees had a ritual of handwashing and Scripture even tells us of this in Mark 7, which further adds emphasis to the accuracy of the perspective since Mark was a "Jew" writing to "Jews". He simply assumed knowing this about the Pharisees would make it clear what is really going on in his retelling of the event. Matthew, on the other hand, as a tax collector, worked in circles that made him aware of how few understood the differences between Torah and rabbinic law. So he added those details from the mouth of Messiah Himself to explain.

I recently had an encounter with someone saying they are "fed up with Messianics" and that they "question if any of you really know God at all". Their point surrounded this very topic. I responded by telling the person that they made some good points, but none that supersede Scripture or made the words of Scripture mean anything different than what I have presented to you thus far in this article.

They cited 1 John 5:17 -

17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

They then proceeded to tell me that they believe Messianics make too big a deal over the Feasts, Dietary Laws, and Sabbath. That not doing THESE are sins that won't lead to death, and this indicates one's conscience must be consulted to determine if this is so.

As they continued they explained, during their time as a believer, they have never once felt guilty about eating pork or working on a Sabbath day. My reply was simple and perhaps too bold for that person at that time but I cannot change it now. "Perhaps you and the Messianics you're dealing with are BOTH right and BOTH too arrogant and stubborn to listen to one another". But my meaning wasn't as cut and dry as it may appear.

My point is this. Messiah gave two possible ends for those who disobey Torah, and to me, HE is the final word on the matter, not my conscience or any other figure in the "New Testament" whether their point is understood in context or not.

Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

I chose this version (the NLT) because it is the closest to the Greek for the last word. In the Greek it is a'nomia and it literally means without law. In Luke's recalling of this event, he chose adikia which refers to rejecting or hating the law. Attempting to summarize this without putting too fine a point on it, if that's possible; Messiah is prophesying that even believers who did great works (in alignment with Mark 16:17&18) will be told to go away (literally get away from me or get out of my sight) if they did those great works while living a life that rejects Torah. That's possibility 1.

The other possible future Messiah gave is also found in Matthew

5:19 So if you ignore the least of commandments and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Surely, He wasn't talking the religious teachers, they added 4,000 -7,000 rules to Torah! Surely this wasn't aimed at those rabbis! Most assuredly, He was speaking to everyone in the crowd that day.

Now back to my point, the two sides of this - Christendom and Messianism - need to realize they don't get to choose some things and frankly - WHY RISK IT? If we teach someone something and we are wrong, James/Ya'akov warns us that teachers are judged more strictly!

James 3:1 Do not, many of you, become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment.

What if the person I have been speaking of is correct? What if they are not?

I think it is dangerous advice to trust one's conscience when there is so much disagreement on Scripture among scholars and lay people alike. There is one place where one's conscience is mentioned and that is in Romans 2 when Paul mentions the Gentile believers proving their acceptance of Messiah by living according to Torah without having been taught Torah and that their new consciences either affirmed their actions or convicted them when they violated Torah - further proving it was written upon their hearts and minds just as Jeremiah 31 said would happen and Hebrews 8 confirmed had happened as we entered the New Covenant.

So in Paul's example the proof their consciences were truly changed and sanctified was based on Torah Obedience. Nothing more, nothing less. They were convicted if the sinned (violated Torah - 1 John 3:4), or affirmed when the did according to Torah. This proved they had been changed.

Since each of us has our own varying levels of Cognitive Dissonance and Confirmation Bias which lead to tendencies of not seeing truth right under our noses, it might even be irresponsible to make anything public, like the sentiments of the person so upset with me, as it will potentially lead people into dangerous places. Please note that Paul's mention in Romans 2 is only of those who began living according to Torah and whose convictions led them back to Torah Obedience when they strayed. This doesn't imply that a lack of conviction is affirmation from Holy Spirit that it's ok to do something, it just means there is no conviction. This would further likely imply that prior to accepting Messiah, they already knew of Torah by observing Torah Obedient people. Even if they had never been taught Torah, they would still recognize the differences between their pagan upbringing and that of Israelis.

I cannot definitively tell you eating unclean animals, after beginning a Torah Obedient life is going to send you into outer darkness one day. But the warning in Isaiah 66 and Revelation 21 against the abominations sounds pretty strong. Strong enough that I find it hard to believe it could be one of the "least commandments" found in Matthew 5.

So, even if I withhold the prophecy in Isaiah 66 and where John repeats it in Revelation 21 (concerning the abominations), or that unclean birds are still called unclean in Revelation 18, and that we are told it takes BOTH obedience to God's Law and Faith in Messiah in Revelation 12:17, 14:12 and 22:14... the bottom line is, it isn't up to us - either side. Messiah Himself gave two possibilities. NEITHER are very good. Even if "outer darkness" from Matthew 7 isn't about being sent to hell, it doesn't sound pleasant. Neither does being least in the Kingdom. For more clarification on this topic you can read my already controversial paper on the Bride - Are all Believers Members of the Bride?.

I would like to wrap this up with a prayer:

Abba, grant us all wisdom to know what to say and what to keep to ourselves. Help us to see the heart of the other side and not just the theology or doctrine - especially not our differences. Help us to see Messiah in one another and to garner from one another's strengths. Help us to reserve righteous judgment without becoming cold or calloused to the other side. Most of all, help us to see - TRULY SEE - when someone loves Yeshua/Jesus as much as we do and to talk with; not to, at, or through them.

I feel a strong sense of weightiness on this message and it won't leave me alone. I am burdened with it day and night and I hope that some of you will catch that burden - from both sides of the fence. His return is not imminent and there are still biblical prerequisites that will need to be met before He can return, but the world stage being as it is RIGHT NOW, these things could occur very quickly. Please, work through your issues with the other side and realize there is room for both to be correct to a degree and focus on that while working through your/our differences. If we are to be quick to agree with actual enemies, how much more so should we attempt to do it with fellow believers?

My goal here was not to teach theology or put anyone in their place, but to open our eyes to how badly this problem has gotten out of hand! We need to learn to listen and not just speak.

It's time folks. It's past time...

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