A few weeks ago I was making my way through some books in the New Testament trying to understand some things better. I think I started in the Book of James and saw the familiar verse where it says we need to be a “doer” of the Word and it struck me…”are there any instructions on how to ‘do’ the Word of God”? I continued my way through the Book of James and found some more familiar scriptures referring to “works”. James spoke of “works” that our faith was supposed to produce and then he goes as far as to suggest that if our faith does not produce these “works”…then our faith may not be “saving faith” at all. What were these “works” and how do we “do” the Word? Things that came to my mind were: be kind, generous, loving, etc etc. Are any of us truly convinced that kindness, generosity, love, and so on are the works that will turn our plain faith into saving faith? I mean, are all atheists devoid of love? Are all new-agers destitute of kindness? Are those in other religions lacking generosity? Certainly these fruits are not expressly “Christian” characteristics are they? If not, then what are these “works” that will ultimately prove our faith is “saving faith”? Hopefully, this will help us get a better idea of what the Bible says about it.
Saved by Grace Through Faith
We know that we are saved through faith because of verses like Ephesians 2:8,9…
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9 KJV)
This verse tells us that we are saved because of our faith in Yeshua (Jesus) and it’s not because of anything that we have done. We cannot work our way to salvation. I don’t think there are many that will argue against that…but in this blog post I want to focus on the works part of this verse. We have established that we cannot earn our salvation, but what part do “works” play in our salvation, if any at all? The very next verse in Ephesians 2 says…
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10 KJV)
We see here that, although we cannot work our way into salvation, we are created to do good works in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus The Messiah). We can also see that we will receive rewards based on our works when Messiah returns…
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27 KJV
James, the brother of Yeshua (James is actually Jacob…his Hebrew name is Ya’akov which is the same as the Jacob of the OT), takes it one step further in his letter…
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (Jas 2:14 ESV)
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (Jas 2:17 ESV)
So, from what we can gather from James in the above two verses, faith must be accompanied by works in order to be considered “saving faith”.
What was considered “Scripture” to Paul?
I want to point out something that I am sure most, if not all of us, have never really thought about. What do you think Paul is referring to when he uses the word “Scripture” in the following verse?
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17 ESV)
Do you think he is including the books of the New Testament as “scripture”? Paul’s writings make up a great deal of what we now call the New Testament. Do you think he is referring to his letters as scripture? I don’t believe so. When Paul was writing this the only thing referred to as “scripture” was the Old Testament. The Epistle of James is widely believed to be the first book written from the New Testament as it is believed to have been written around 49 AD before the Council of Jerusalem in 50 AD (http://goo.gl/8x80Ma). There were certainly some who did consider some parts of what we now call the NT as “authoritative” as early as 95 AD. The canon (Bible) as we know it, however, was not finalized until the middle of the 4th century (http://goo.gl/MXLFrD). Now, I am not at all suggesting that we cannot use the scriptures found in the NT “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” as Paul states above. I just want to make the point that when Paul was writing this, and when all the of the NT was written, the only scriptures that they had at that time were what we refer to as the Old Testament or what was called the Tanakh…or the Torah, the Nevi’im (Prophets), and the Ketuvim (the writings). I am not saying that the New Testament should not be considered scripture.
Back in the time of the Bible, especially in the days of the OT, people were not able to have their own copies of the scriptures. A copy of the scriptures would have been very expensive because the material used to make the scrolls and the ink itself were very hard to come by…especially in the amounts needed to make a hand copy of the scriptures. It would take a copyist or scribe around a year or so to do the work so it was very time consuming as well. The Bible tells us that the kings of Israel were commanded to make their own copy of the Torah when they became king (Deut. 17:18) so they would have access to His Instructions/Law at all times…plus the act of copying it would make them more familiar with it as well.
Doers and not Hearers Only
The way that people were exposed to the scriptures back then was to hear the Word. The scriptures were read every Sabbath in the synagogues and on occasion it was read in full to the entire assembly of Israel (for example in the book of Ezra). So then, the only way the people had to consume the scriptures was to have them read to them.
So now, when we read in James…
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (Jas 1:22 ESV)
…we can make some assumptions based on what we know about the time that James wrote his epistle. Like I stated before, at the time of the writing of the New Testament books and especially James since it is considered the first book written of the NT, the “scriptures” were the Tanakh or the Old Testament. James was stating that we needed to be a doer of the scriptures (OT) and not just a hearer only. I believe when we find out what “works” are, we will know what it means to be a “doer” of the Word as well.
Some time ago, I wrote a blog post about “Light” and how it is defined according to the OT scriptures. Click here http://goo.gl/p3dmLY to go to the blog post. Below are some of the verses I used in the blog post to help you see the connection between Torah and Light…
For the commandment is a lamp; and the law (Torah in Hebrew) is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: Proverbs 6:23 KJV
To the law (Torah) and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20 KJV
Listen to Me, My people, and give ear to Me, O My nation, for the Torah goes forth from Me, and My right-ruling I set as a light to peoples. Isaiah 51:4 The Scriptures 1998
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalms 119:105 KJV
Yeshua also speaks about “Light” in Matthew 5…
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Mat 5:14-16 ESV)
It is interesting that Yeshua felt no need to explain what He meant by “Light”. He spoke as if they would know what He was talking about. Look at the scriptures in context with what Yeshua continues saying in verse 17. Did He make a turn and start talking about something else entirely? No, He is talking about the Torah and the Prophets the entire time. He says in verse 17 that He did not come to abolish the Torah and the Prophets. Here, Yeshua is making the connection for me…He seems to be saying that doing good works is equal to shining our light before men. So, to sum up, the Torah is the Light and we are to let our light shine before others so they can see our good works and give glory to the Father in heaven. Torah=Light and Shining our Light=Good Works. With me so far?
Are we a Peculiar People like we are supposed to be?
Yeshua telling us that we need to let our Light shine brings me to another point. Aren’t we supposed to stand out to the world? The Bible tells us…
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1Pe 2:9 KJV)
How are we, the people of Yehovah, peculiar? How are we holy (set apart) when I cannot tell the difference from the church of today and the world? It is getting more and more difficult to tell the difference. All one has to do is get on the internet to see those who profess faith in Messiah…the movies that we talk about, the language that we use, ungodly comment after ungodly comment, and the eyes of His people are glued shut to where we cannot see what we are exposing themselves and our families to. What is it that is supposed to set His people apart from the world? Do you see it in the verse above? He calls us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (what is light?).
The Works of Cain versus the Works of Abel
The NT gives us some additional information concerning the works of Cain and Abel. Will we be able to tell more about what “works” are if we look at their story?
Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 1 John 3:12 KJV
Let’s make sure that we get what John is saying here. John asks why Cain slew his brother Abel. His answer: – because Cain’s works were evil but Abel’s works were righteous. What works did they do that was considered evil or righteous?
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. Hebrews 11:4 KJV
My argument is that Yehovah gave specific instructions regarding sacrifice and Cain just did not meet those requirements…both in his heart and in what he actually brought. While Cain was a farmer and he did bring a portion of what he grew, I believe that Yehovah taught Adam and Chavvah (Eve’s real name in Hebrew), that by blood being shed will sins be forgiven (Gen. 3:21, Hebrews 9:22). I think you will find that many scholars hold to this belief and suggest the first sacrifice to atone for sins were the animals that died to provide the clothes for Adam and Chavvah. In effect, Abel was following Torah (Yehovah’s instructions) before Torah was codified (arranged and written down).
Let’s look at some verses for context in 1 John 3…
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth (keeps the Torah/Law) not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin (breaks the Torah/Law) is of the devil; for the devil sinneth (broke the Torah/Law)from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil (could this be breaking the Torah/Law as well?). Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (does not transgress the Torah/Law); for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin (transgress the Torah/Law), because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 1 John 3:4-11 KJV [words in parenthesis are mine]
Pay special attention to the part I underlined above. The Bible, specifically the New Testament, defines what sin is…it is the breaking of the law or Torah. Sin=transgression (breaking) of the Law (Torah). To make it easier for you, I defined sin according to the definition provided in the first verse in this section of scripture.
The Big Picture
Rob Skiba, a Bible teacher that I like and listen to, did something quite interesting. He took the definition of sin…that is, transgressing the Torah, and put it in place of the word “sin” in Paul’s writings. When you read it like that, you find that Paul doesn’t really say what so many Bible scholars, pastors, and the like suggests that it says. Paul does not teach that the Torah is bondage, slavery, done away with, old, removed, or any other similar adjective. If he did, he would be contradicting himself time and time again. How can Paul be teaching the Torah is done away with when he says…
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. Romans 3:31 KJV
You see, when we take verses here and there, we can make entire doctrines that are all kinds of jacked up. Remember…out of the same scriptures we get all the different doctrines concerning the rapture…pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib, pre-wrath, and you also have those that believe all of Revelation is behind us. There is only one view that is right…right? Perhaps it is none of the above but there is only one Truth. If we do not look at the entire picture, we will only get part of the message. The whole counsel of Yehovah is required…not just bits and pieces here and there. FYI…There will be much more on Paul later.
Narrowing down “works”
Let’s go back to Ephesians 2:10. Again, it reads…
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV
For we are God’s masterpiece, created in the Messiah Jesus to perform good actions that God prepared long ago to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:10 ISV
What exactly does Paul mean? What actions or works did Yehovah prepare for us long ago that we should walk in them? What do you think Paul could possibly be referring to?
The Church at Ephesus
Since we are in the book of Ephesians, I thought this would be a good segway into another portion of scripture where I found “works” being associated with Torah. It is in the book of Revelation when Yeshua is dictating the letter to the ekklesia in Ephesus. Let’s see what Yeshua says…
‘I know what you’ve been doing, your toil, and your endurance. I also know that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles, but are not, and have found them to be false. You have endured and suffered because of my name, yet you have not grown weary. However, I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Revelation 2:2-4 ISV
First, Yeshua has some good things to commend the ekklesia (assembly…also incorrectly translated as “church”). He says that He knows the trials that they have gone through. He knows that they do not tolerate evil people and that they have tested people who have called themselves apostles and have been found out to be false. He knows that they have endured and suffered because of holding to His Name and have not grown weary. Finally, He says that they have left their first love.
What does that mean? I will tell you that I have always believed it to mean that they have fallen away from Yeshua…their first love. Yeshua should be our first love right? Yes, I would agree, but Yeshua commended them for things that would suggest that they have indeed not left Him. He says that they have been suffering because of His Name. It does not sound like they have fallen away from Him. Let’s look at the next verse and see what is going on.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Revelation 2:5 ESV
What works did they do at first that they quit doing? John K. Johnson wrote an article entitled The Seven Letters…to the “Church” where he seemed to come to the same conclusion I am alluding to at this point.
The “first love” that is of concern, may likely relate to becoming both “worn down” with the cares and issues of worldly influence and careless and slack observation of the “priorities” of daily obedience to Torah, fellowship with the Holy Spirit and assembling together of the believers to worship and study the Torah… for instruction to overcome. The first and most important activity for a believer is fellowship with Messiah Yeshua… always. Yeshua, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, of John chapter 1, is Torah, and study of Torah is fellowship with Yeshua… they are (and have always been) the same. They are inseparable. (http://goo.gl/fVXK56) [Emphasis mine]
The 7 Lampstands
Returning back to the letter to the Ephesian Ekklesia, what is the symbolism of the lampstand and what does it mean to have it removed for its place?
To really understand the Bible the way that Yehovah wants us to understand it we have to let scripture interpret scripture. I heard 119 Ministries recently put it this way…we cannot interpret one scripture using our interpretation of another scripture. I believe that is how we get man’s doctrine that is so far away from what Yehovah is actually trying to tell us. So, what are the lampstands?
The secret meaning of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lamp stands is this: the seven stars are the messengers of the seven churches, and the seven lamp stands are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20 ISV
So, we can see that the Bible explains or defines itself and that the 7 lampstands=7 churches. What does it mean to have the lampstand removed?
Yeshua said that he would be in the midst of the lampstands, right? In Revelation 1 we read….
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. Revelation 1:12-13 ESV
Being in the midst of the lampstands suggests intimacy which alludes to the bridegroom/bride analogy that everyone is familiar with in regards to the relationship Yeshua has with His Bride, the ekklesia.
Is having the lampstand removed akin to losing one’s salvation? Or is it something like dropping in status within the Kingdom of Yehovah? What is it talking about? I really feel as if Yehovah just gave me some understanding in this even as I type. In order to go about this I want to talk a bit about who the Bride of Messiah is. I have been taught in church that the Bride of Messiah are those who have been “saved” and are now part of the church. I have to say that my view point has changed somewhat in the past few years. Let’s look at the Parable of the 10 virgins.
The 10 Virgins
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Matthew 25:1-12 KJV
I used to read this and think that 5 were “saved” and 5 were not. The problem with that line of thinking is that all 10 of them were waiting for the bridegroom. The world (the Lost) is not going to be waiting on the bridegroom (Yeshua) to come. One thing we can gather from this is that 5 were prepared and 5 were not. The 5 wise virgins were prepared with enough oil to light their lamps while the others were forced to go find oil to light their lamps. They came back to the wedding with their lamps lit but they were too late…the master would not let them enter. Remember what I wrote earlier concerning “Light” and how it is synonymous with Torah? Could it be that the ekklesia, those that profess faith in Yeshua, are split into two groups…one that is allowed into the wedding supper and one that is not? One group is pursuing a relationship with Messiah and keeping the commandments of Yehovah while the other believes that His statutes and commandments are no longer valid while pursuing a relationship with Messiah? Consider Yeshua’s words in Matthew 5 again when He Himself describes two different groups that enter into the Kingdom of Heaven…
Whosoever 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. Matthew 5:19 KJV
Whoever keeps the instructions/commandments (Torah) of Yehovah and teaches others to do so will be great while those who break the commandments of Yehovah and teaches others to do so will be called least. Yeshua says nothing about it being an issue with salvation (both say in the kingdom of heaven) but rather their status once they enter into eternity.
Could the removal of the lampstand be referring to their removal from the wedding feast and thus the intimacy with Messiah? I think Yeshua is telling the church at Ephesus that if they don’t return to the works that they did at first (Torah), they will have their lampstand removed from His presence and thus will be named among the least of the Kingdom of Heaven. To be clear I will say this again…I think there are two groups of believers. One that professes with their mouths and attempt to do good and right but do not keep the commandments of Yehovah and another that profess Messiah with their mouths and do their best to keep His commandments. The more I study this the more that I believe the latter group are the ones who are the Bride of Messiah.
For further study on the 10 Virgins I recommend watching 119 Ministries short video teaching on the parable. http://goo.gl/Pk7VYt
Do you remember those who Yeshua made the statement “depart from me, ye that work iniquity”? They were the ones who had performed miracles and prophesied in His name.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:22-23 KJV
Look at the word iniquity in the Greek and see what you find. The word for iniquity in the Greek is anomia (G458). Anomia is from the word nomos which is the word that is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word Torah in the Septuagint. The prefix “a” simply means “without” which is why Thayer defines “anomia” as such…
1) the condition of without law
1a) because ignorant of it
1b) because of violating it
2) contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness
Simply replace “law” with the Hebrew word Torah (which really only means instruction) and you get Yeshua telling these people who had done mighty works in His name to depart from Him because they are workers of being without Torah.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity (anomia-without law), and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11-14 KJV [words in parenthesis are Greek original and Thayer definition]
I find this interesting. So He died to redeem us from all anomia and to purify unto Himself a peculiar people. Is being kind and loving make anyone peculiar? Or could being a people that do what Yehovah says to do make us peculiar? Maybe, keeping the Sabbath or the feast days could make us quite peculiar? Perhaps not eating the “foods” He said not to eat would make you peculiar? I know that I have become quite the enigma to most people since I decided to follow Torah. Are we not to drive the Jews to jealousy (Romans 11:11)? Let me ask you…if the Jews refuse to believe in Yeshua because the Messiah their scriptures talk about tell of a Messiah that comes and upholds the Torah?
Messiah will be observant of Torah and well versed in Jewish Law – Isaiah 11:2-5
He will establish a Torah government in Israel that will be the center of all world government – Isaiah 2:2-4, 11:10, 42:1
He will establish Torah as the law of the land – Jeremiah 33:15
Why would they ever be jealous of Christians if their Messiah did away with the Torah or made it to where you did not have to keep it? That is blasphemy to them! What if…we actually kept the things that their God told His people to keep and have a relationship with Messiah? Would that drive them to jealousy? I think so.
Doctrines of Man
Now, you can reject all of this but I don’t think anything I am saying is a stretch by any means. I am simply taking the Bible in its original languages and context and coming to conclusions based on what the Bible says without the doctrine of man coming in to pollute it. What did Yeshua say about the doctrines of man?
Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:7-9 KJV
Which He quoted from Isaiah…
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13 KJV
Moral Law vs. The Whole Law
Some will argue that we only have to keep part of the law…that which is called the Moral Law or just the 10 Commandments. First, I would like to challenge anyone to show me one verse which suggests any division of Torah because I cannot find one. Some suggest that the Jews are the ones that have to keep the Torah. I would like to see scripture on that as well. People quote the words of Yeshua and state this is the new Law that believers should adhere to…they state that these are the only commandments Yeshua ever gave…
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:36-39 KJV
…but for some reason they quit quoting at verse 39. Yeshua continues by saying this…
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:40 KJV
Yeshua isn’t saying “Don’t worry about the rest”. He says that these two commandments are the roots that holds up the rest. All of the others ones have to do with loving Yehovah or loving your neighbor. There are those that would argue that we should keep the 10 commandments except for the one about keeping the Sabbath. Where does that doctrine come from? Where does it say it can be disregarded? Some say it is because Yeshua makes no mention of keeping the Sabbath in the Gospels. What? Does He really have to reiterate everything the Father gave? The Old Testament says…
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Malachi 3:6 KJV
The law (Torah) of the LORD is perfect (tamim – without spot or blemish), converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. Psalms 19:7 KJV [words in parenthesis are Hebrew original and Strong’s definitions]
So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever (l’olam va’ed). Psalms 119:44 KJV [words in parenthesis are Hebrew orginial]
And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. 2 Kings 17:37 KJV
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. Ecclesiastes 3:14 KJV
And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 2 John 1:6 KJV
Some clarification is needed here regarding the translation of l’olam va’ed. Someone suggested to me that it can also mean a certain length or period of time. I looked it up and it turns out that this is fairly correct. Are we to interpret that His mercy is only for a certain period of time?
O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever (l’olam). Psalms 107:1 KJV
Now, let’s look at what Yeshua says in Matthew about the Torah…
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18 KJV
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Yeshua is telling us that the Torah will not fade or pass until all is fulfilled…or till heaven and earth pass. 119 Ministries made an interesting graphic concerning this. These are some of the verses that they used in describing what was going on.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Matthew 18:16 KJV
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you (two witnesses), that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19 KJV
The above verse is talking about the blessing of the law and the curse of the law. If you follow the Torah of Yehovah then you will be blessed. If you break the Torah of Yehovah, you will be cursed. This is what Paul is referring to when he says the curse of the law…
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:13 KJV
…he was not calling the law of Yehovah a “curse”…instead he was saying that Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of not keeping the instructions of Yehovah.
Paul – A Torah Keeper?
What about Paul? Did he keep the whole law after his conversion? I have mentioned before that Paul goes out of his way to show the Jews that he was not teaching people to quit obeying Torah in Acts 21…
And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake (apostosia in Greek) Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. Acts 21:20-24 ESV
Why were the Jewish converts still zealous for the Torah? Let’s look at another statement Paul said in Galatians concerning the Torah…
I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. Galatians 5:3 ESV
Paul seems to be saying here that whoever accepts circumcision, or any other Torah commandment for that matter, is obligated then to keep the entire Torah. The idea here is that if you place yourself under any of the Torah then you are obliged to keep them all.
In Acts 15, Paul is part of the council that gets together to discuss what exactly non-Jewish converts need to do once they accept Messiah. The outcome was to stay away from certain things…
Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. Acts 15:19-20 ESV
James continues by saying…
For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” Acts 15:21 ESV
Why would James say that if the law is too difficult like what so many people interpret Peter to be saying just 11 verses up?
Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? Acts 15:10 ESV
Can this really be the Torah or does it have to be something else? Wouldn’t that put Peter in conflict with John when he wrote…
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. 1 John 5:2-3 KJV
Or Yehovah Himself when He said this…
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 KJV
If it is too difficult…then why did Yehovah say it is in your heart that you may do it. Is He not talking about the whole Torah?
Ok…back to Paul’s statement in Galatians 5. Here is what Paul did at the exact same time frame he made the statement about circumcision…
Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Acts 16:3 ESV
So, Paul seems to tell the Galatians that if you accept circumcision you are then obliged to keep the whole law? Is Paul crazy? Did he basically curse Timothy when he circumcised him? If not, Paul has to mean something other than what mainstream Christianity believes he is saying in Galatians. Also, you cannot say that he did it because Timothy was a Jew. Timothy’s mother was a Jew and in modern day Judaism they do believe the Jewishness comes from the mother’s side but that was not the case back then and it is clear from the text. Paul made sure that we knew Timothy’s father was a Greek. Timothy being circumcised had nothing to do with him being a Jew but everything about him being obedient to the Torah. Circumcision is an outward sign of what was inwardly being done to his heart.
Finally, in the last chapter of Acts, Paul says to the Jews…
And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Acts 28:17 KJV
By this verse alone you have to commit to one of two different solutions or interpretations to what he said…you either have to believe he is telling the truth and that up until that point he had done nothing against the customs of their forefathers (keeping the whole Torah) or you have to consider Paul a liar. If you choose the latter, you have to throw out everything he said. If you choose the former, you have to rethink a lot of the things that Paul has said in his writings.
So what is it that I am saying here? I am quite simply saying that when the Bible says that we need to be “doers” of the Word and that our faith should be producing “works”…all this is really saying that we need to be following and keeping Yehovah’s instruction book for His people. That instruction manual is the entire Bible of course but specifically includes the Torah which is by all means NOT done away with or not intended for us as modern believers and followers of Yeshua and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I stopped writing this post a few weeks back because I felt that I had run into a wall. I sat down to read one day and I just kept finding verses that had to do with works. Over and over again and I felt as if the Spirit was giving me understanding that works equates to light and keeping the commandments of Yehovah. When I sat down to write it I ran into the following verse that I thought completely destroyed what I thought was being given to me.
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”John 6:28-29 ESV
So, if Yeshua said that the “work of God” is believing In Yeshua whom Yehovah had sent…how did that fit in with what I was trying to say. In fact, it seemed to completely trash what I was saying in that it has nothing to do with Torah – but believing instead.
I feel the Spirit gave me this understanding this morning on my way to work. I was reminded of the scripture where Yeshua walked with two men after He had resurrected along the road to Emmaus. The scripture says…
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27 KJV
Yeshua started with Moses (synonymous with Torah) and the prophets and told them all the scriptures had to say about the Messiah. Paul also used the Torah and the Prophets to preach Yeshua to the Jews…
And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. Acts 28:23 KJV
Would the world have been able to recognize the Messiah if it were not for the Torah and the Prophets? There were 353 prophecies that were fulfilled in Yeshua (http://goo.gl/NlCPlk) and they start in Genesis 3 at the fall of mankind. Yeshua and Paul both knew that in order to know Messiah and who He was, you had to be familiar with Torah.
We also know that John equates Yeshua to the Torah. We read in John 1…
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 KJV
When? In the beginning. Know any other books that start like that? Research how exactly Yeshua is the Torah made flesh (John 1:14). Give this page a look as you do. http://goo.gl/iupjA2
So…if Yeshua is the Word (Torah) made flesh…
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8 KJV
Torah is also the same yesterday, today, and forever. Why would something that is perfect need to be changed or considered old and not applicable?
My point is…you cannot believe in Yeshua without the Torah and the Prophets. You cannot do the “work of God” which is believing in Yeshua whom Yehovah sent without knowing who Yeshua is according to the prophecies in the Torah and the Prophets. The way I see it, John 6:28-29 does not completely trash my argument. Yeshua is the Torah (Word of Yehovah) made flesh.
Salvation has nothing to do with keeping Torah. You don’t start with Torah to get “saved”. You get “saved” and then because of that salvation you go to Torah. Torah is the instruction manual for His People…the ekklesia…not for the Jews. (I recommend you do some study into what the word Jew really means in the Bible if you believe the Torah is for the Jews. Jews were those who came from the tribe of Judah initially. The KJV translates the Hebrew phrase men of Judah as Jews in II Kings 16:6. In this passage, the Jews were at war with Israel. Does that fly in the face of your beliefs? There was only 1 tribe of Jews at the foot of Mt. Sinai receiving the commandments from Yehovah through Moses. Rahab and Ruth did not convert into Judaism…they made Yehovah their God and kept His instructions.) Remember I Peter 2:9? We are called out of darkness and into His marvelous light (Torah). If you reject His instructions, are you really part of His people?
An analogy to wrap this thing up…when you are convicted of a crime and stand before a judge…the judge has two choices…justice or mercy. If the judge chooses to show mercy and not punish you for the crime you committed, does this mercy therefore nullify the law that you were convicted of? Would you go out and commit the same crime again and expect the same mercy? In the same way, we have had the penalty of our sin pre-paid for us by our Savior Yeshua. Does His sacrifice nullify the commandments that Yehovah gave? No. We only know sin because of the commandments of Yehovah. Sin is the breaking of His commandments. If there are no commandments then there is no sin and we are not in need of a Messiah. Again…
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (anomia in Greek). 1 John 3:4 KJV
I understand that this post is all over the place but I still think I have made a decent argument concerning works and how they have to be tied to obedience to the commandments of Yehovah. Yeshua states that shining your light is equal to doing good works in Matthew 5:14-16. I’ve shown that the Bible tells us that His Law is equal to Light. We know that we are supposed to be a “doer” of His Word and not a “hearer” only. If His Word is to be interpreted as Torah or the OT like James would have considered it to be when he wrote it, then isn’t that exactly what the modern day “church” is doing. Glad to hear from the Torah on Sunday morning during a sermon but to suggest that you do it…that is bondage and legalism. As I write this, there are so many more examples that come to mind that proves this to be true. I could keep writing on and on. Over the past 2+ years I have become absolutely convinced that this is Truth and I have been blessed to watch others come to know the Truth as well. I pray that you will, at the very least, study this out to find out for yourself. Ask Yehovah to remove anything that could be preventing you from knowing His Truth whether it be this or something else altogether. Try to read the scriptures with fresh eyes. Ask Him to help you get what He wants you to get and not have anything that you may have been taught over the years to come back into mind.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: Matthew 7:7 KJV