Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jim Staley - Life Giving Life - Part 3 - What the Bible says about Tithe...

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  • What JGIG Is:

    Joyfully Growing In Grace engages in an examination of beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related sects.
    The term “Messianic” is generally understood to describe Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah. Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish/Hebrew Christians or simply, Christians.
    Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish Christians. Most aren’t Jewish at all, but are Gentile Christians who have chosen to pursue Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics. Some will even try to avoid that label and say that they are followers of "The Way".
    These Gentiles (and to be fair, some Messianic Jews) preach Torah observance/pursuance for Christians, persuading many believers that the Christianity of the Bible is a false religion and that we must return to the faith of the first century sect of Judaism that they say Yeshua (Jesus Christ) embraced. According to them, once you become aware that you should be 'keeping' the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law, if you do not, you are then in willful disobedience to God.
    It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism than they do with the tenets of Christianity. Many reject the label of Christian altogether and some eventually even convert to Judaism.
    1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."
    Joyfully Growing in Grace examines the methods, claims, and fruits of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related, law-keeping sects.
    To borrow from a Forest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.
    Welcome, and may God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.
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Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101

Salesmanship 101 you say??  Whatever does that have to do with the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Movements?  Let’s go through some steps that a salesperson goes through as they try to get you, the consumer, to buy what they’re selling to see how those steps parallel the persuasive methodology in the HRM:
1) Identify the Target Pool
The first thing a good salesperson will do is to identify a target pool for what they’re selling.  I’m sorry to say that modern church culture is a prime hunting ground for the Hebrew Roots Movement.  There are the “health and wealthers”,  the “word of faithers” , the “signs and wonderers” , the “reformers”, the “dispensers”, the “shepherders”, the “mega churchers”, the“feel gooders”, the “patriocentrists”, the “dominionists”, the “reconstructionists” . . . not to mention all the different denominations and sects.  Sorry if I left anyone out . . . but I think you get the general idea.
Though the Gospel can be found in the above categories, the focus of each “system” of belief can stray from biblical Christianity in such a way that the belief system becomes the focus of each group, and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the maturity of the believer in Him.
Agendas outweigh foundational teaching.  Financial and/or growth goals outweigh growing the local body in Scriptural grace and truth and maturity.  Programs are governed by perceived cultural “needs” instead of the commands of Jesus to love God and love others.  Our modern “drive thru” mentality leaves little room for waiting on God to show individuals or bodies of believers where He would have them serve in his Body.  Having a “successful” ministry becomes the goal (measured in many cases by church wealth and growth) instead of a solid foundation in sound, contextual, Scriptural doctrine and obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
target-practiceThe result is an anemic Church, more steeped in church “culture” than in sound biblical doctrine.  We have Christian bookstores stuffed full of books spanning every topic imaginable.  The Internet opens up all kinds of avenues for information gathering not previously available.  The “post-modern” believer is subject to information overload, and where they seek enlightenment and enhancement of biblical teachings, they often end up instead with a dilution of Scripture, giving them a spiritual diet of watery gruel instead of nourishing, hearty meals that provide opportunity for genuine spiritual growth and maturity.
The Homeschooling Pool
There is another group of Christians that I’ve observed that are susceptible to the errors in the Hebrew Roots Movement – that is the Homeschooling community.  We (and I include my family in that community) tend to be an independent lot, overall.  We tend question the status quo, question things more than the average bear, and have a tendency to be a bit counter-cultural and open to new concepts and ideas, while at the same time holding to basic traditional ideals.  We are not afraid to embrace “unique” ways of doing things – if something isn’t working the way it’s being done, we are willing to try doing it differently.  Those qualities in and of themselves are good things, providing the flexibility that those of us who homeschool tend to build in to our daily lives of educating our children at home.
However those qualities can be a double edged sword if a family is in a place of discontent, woundedness, or rebellion in their place of worship or feels like they can’t find any place with “like-minded” believers with whom to worship.  Some prefer to “home-church”, while others find a “home fellowship” in which to worship.   I want to be careful in how I couch this, because I don’t want to lump all home fellowships together, but understand that some home fellowships are perfect venues in which those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements can (and do) introduce and promote their ideas.  Depending on how the leadership is set up (assuming there is any leadership structure or shared accountability at all), there is the potential for the teaching or “sharing” of false doctrine to slip through from families or leadership who are on “the ancient path”.
A recent discourse with one who has come out of the HRM states the case better than I can, in relation to both traditional churches and home fellowships:
I’ve seen a growing trend of well-known pastors embracing and promoting teachings of the HRM. These are pastors that are widely respected in the body of Christ for their opinions, biblical interpretations, scholarship, and spiritual discernment. So I think the church as a whole is at risk for being influenced by the HRM, because we tend to trust and embrace the teachings of those we look up to for guidance. I want to say that house churches are less susceptible to encountering false doctrine, but the truth is that even the house churches of the New Testament had to deal with it, including the false teachings of the Torah observant/HRM. The major lesson I learned in my experience with the HRM is that the yeast of the Pharisees is still alive and well, and that the teachings should be avoided, because a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Jesus’ warning to avoid their teachings is relevant for all believers, whether they fellowship within larger church settings or house churches. Since it only takes a little leaven to affect the whole lump, we all have to stand firm against it and be on guard.
In addition to the above, homeschooling families are, in their quest for good curriculum, exposed to Torah observant families on internet forums, in support groups, and even through suppliers of curriculum.  One such supplier is Heart of Wisdom, which stresses a “Hebraic approach” to educating children vs. the “Greek approach”.  While Heart of Wisdom does have some good resources to offer, as with any entity offering false spiritual teaching, where there is good, there is always that “little leaven”, as the writer quoted above notes, that you need to look for and to stand firm against.
Heart of Wisdom is very subtle in its initial presentation of the “Hebraic mindset”, but like anything, if you investigate the Heart of Wisdom website and ALL of its sister websites and forum, it is clear that it promotes the “Hebrew Roots of our faith” through and through.  One book in particular that HOW Publishing offers to homeschoolers as curriculum (and which has become very popular in the homeschooling community) is “The Family Guide to Biblical Holidays.”a-family-guide
From one of the critical reviews of “The Family Guide to Biblical Holidays” at Amazon:
I was extremely disappointed with this particular item. The cost of the book is not worth it. The authors claim to make efforts to educate people on the biblical feasts, but have included an immense amount of information that is rooted in cabala [Kabbalah] without addressing it as such. As a parent who purchased this book in order to supplement the teaching of Truth, I was dumbfounded by the authors lack of research concerning the roots of certain celebration practices. My own elementary school children were able to pick apart the errors in teaching and doctrinal half truths. This book should come with a warning label. If you are pursuing information on practicing biblical feasts the Jewish way: Buy. If you are interested in information on Biblical feasts: Walk! Just as there are many pagan traditions in “Christian” holidays, there are just as many pagan traditions in the “Jewish” holidays. Buyer be aware.
There is a subtle yet consistent undertone of the use of Kabbalah and its related practice of Gematria in the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism as the reviewer refers to above.  [More can be learned about this connection at "Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement - The Use of Kabbalah and Gematria".  Highly Recommended.]
One mom relayed to me that in the homeschooling support group her family belongs to her family is the only family who is not Torah observant.  The families that have taken on Torah observance all have the “Family Guide to Biblical Holidays” in common.  The really interesting thing is that these families bought the book as curriculum to learn about Biblical Feasts and came away feeling commanded to keep not only the Feasts, but to become completely Torah observant.  There is no such command to the Body of Christ to keep the Law or the Feasts.
Conclusions
The realities of the shortcomings in the Church today prime many for the “getting back to the way early believers worshipped” and the “getting back to the Hebrew/Jewish roots of our faith” that the HRM claims to offer.  Teachers in the HRM systematically dismantle elements of both the modern and traditional Church (not without justification in some cases), replacing what they have torn down with a house of contradictions and doctrine woven in such a way that it can be difficult to discern its error.  Those in the Church who are unsatisfied, immature in their faith, disgruntled, wounded, or rebellious are bit by bit led from the error they may be experiencing in their current circumstance into compounded error in the HRM which has been dressed up in the seeming “authenticity” of Messianic Christianity.
NOTE:
I think the point needs to be made here that there are healthy churches out there!  It may take patient searching and lots of visiting, but they do exist!  I can say this with confidence, as our family is blessed to be in a healthy church.  Whether one finds a healthy church or home fellowship is partly determined by the attitude of one’s heart.  If you’re looking for the “perfect” church with “like-minded” believers, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and discontent.  There is no such place, as the Church is made up of imperfect believers – us.  Look for a healthy church, not a perfect one.  Focus on the Gospel being of primary importance, along with the core, indisputable matters of the faith.  Measure any church or home fellowship by those standards and by the commands of Jesus to love God and love others, and within those parameters you will find a healthy place in which to gather, worship, and serve with fellow Christians.
2) Establish the Need
In part, because of some real and deserved discontent in much of the modern Church today, the Hebrew Roots Movement makes use of that discontent in such a way as to establish something that has the appearance of authenticity.  In effect, they validate one’s discontent (and/or immaturity, woundedness, or rebellion – whether or not it is justified) and provides a possible explanation for one’s unhappiness in Christianity – that one is in fact being “drawn back to the Hebraic Roots of one’s faith”.
The HRM systematically tears down the orthodox (small ‘o’) tenets of biblical Christianity as being “Hellenized” , then systematically rebuilds an entirely new perspective on Scripture, based on “Hebraic” systems of thought, language, and customs.  [You can read more information about about the true influences of Hellenism on both Judaism (both BCE and CE) and the early Church at "Hebrew Roots Movement - The Issue of "Hellenization" here at JGIG.  Highly Recommended.]  The result of HRM teachings regarding Hellenistic vs. Hebraic thought and perspective is the 800px-raphael_school_of_athenssignificant minimizing of the Gospel and an inappropriate elevation of the Torah and “being a part of” Israel.  The simplicity of the Gospel for all tongues, tribes, and nations fades and eventually disappears under the weight of the Laws and traditions required by the “Hebraic mindset.”
The HRM establishes a further need for their belief system by framing the Church of the last 2000 years as being rooted in paganism.    No facet of the Church is exempt – from Catholicism (which is indeed steeped in extra-biblical doctrine and practices) to Protestantism to Evangelicism to Fundamentalism, etc. - all are indicted by the HRM as at least being influenced by and at worst practicing paganism in one form or another throughout the ages.  In Sheep Wrecked’s Testimony, one portion in her story brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it:
That first yesod class broke my heart.  I truly believed that I “had missed it”. I completely fell apart in the car on the way home, weeping non-stop for two days in repentance for the “error” that I had been taught my whole life in “church/babylon”.  I totally believed I had found the “truth” I had been searching for.  I was elated, but very misled, as I immersed myself in a new life style and new theology which systematically worked against me.  It eventually became a burden and a yoke that I could not bear.  I was absorbing another Gospel and it weighed so heavily on me that I could physically feel it.  I did not comprehend then why there was an underlying feeling of weariness and oppression that I could not shake. 
A  number of books feed into the Hebrew Roots Movement’s cycle of paranoia, including “Fossilized Customs” by Lew White, “Come Out of Her My People” by CJ Koster, “Too Long in the Sun” by Richard Rives, and the grand-daddy of them all, “The Two Babylons”, by Alexander Hislop – the book which is the basis for many modern books on paganism in the Church.  While there is some truth to some of their charges, the points on paganism found in these books and books like them are taken way too far by the HRM.  They inflate the influence of pagan practices  and Hellenistic culture as well as exercise poor scholarship in research [on purpose?], linking historical events (where their historical accuracy is tenuous at best in many cases) to practices in the Church that really have no basis in reality at all.  A good resource examining the claims of the above titles is the book, The Babylon Connection? by Ralph Woodrow, who came out of a Law-keeping lifestyle many years ago.
Some in the HRM leadership even see themselves as being the completion of the Reformation!  One Hebrew Roots leader wrote me an email (which I may post someday, just for fun) part of which stated:
“What about those of us who see our Messianic faith as continuing the work of a John Calvin or a John Wesley?”
My response:
I would say that some serious re-evaluation of your belief system on your part is in order.  Calvin and Wesley sought to bring the Gospel back to the simplicity that God intended for it to have.  In my opinion, the HRM, wherever you place yourself on that spectrum, seeks to complicate the Gospel, removing or minimizing the completed work of the Cross and adding the works of man.  Calvin and Wesley, I dare say, would not approve.” 
3)  Fill that need
Once you establish a need, you need to fill that need, or provide a solution.  Once someone had been convinced that Christianity has been in error – indeed that it is a false religion according to some in the HRM, false teachers can swoop in with their “secret knowledge” and “hidden insight”.  This goes for ALL false belief systems, by the way, not just the Hebrew Roots Movement.
The Hebrew Roots/Messianic movement determines to fill that  need with the efforts of man to keep a Covenant we, in Christ, are no longer under.  And Christians who become convinced that they’ve been “doing it all wrong” for so long are perfect targets.  They feel a need to “make up” for their error.  It’s a perfect set-up for the introduction to a works-based belief system.
Yep, everything will fall into place when you start to keep Torah.  Special insight, hidden knowledge, fascinating culture and a systematic re-working of the doctrines that that those in the HRM have convinced you are false, needing replacement from the context of the “Hebraic mindset”.
There are some consistent, key ways that I’ve observed how the HRM pulls this off:
* They systematically tear down the cultural Church, not without some cause, but deftly mix valid criticisms with invalid ones, bringing about the idea that the entire Church has been in error for all but the first century.  Not only that, but they will try to convince you that the “true” religion of the early believers in Christ is a perpetuation of the practice of Torah observance, and not “Christianity” at all!  To pull this off, they do one or all of three things:
1.) They will try to convince you that the belief system that you have been subjected to since the first century has been “Hellenized”, stripping “true first century beliefs” from their origins.  They will tell you that you engage in pagan sun worship and idolatry, not to mention blatant disobedience to God’s Law.  For an in-depth study dealing with these accusations by the HRM, refer to the post, “Hebrew Roots Movement – The Issue of ‘Hellenization’ “.
2.) They will re-define the New Covenant, changing it into a “renewed” Covenant, which is clearly communicated in the New Testament to be a NEW Covenant.  Refer to the post, “Hebrew Roots Movement – New Covenant or ‘Renewed’ Covenant” for an overview of the HRM position and an in-depth word study proving the “renewed” position to be false.
3.) They will try to convince you that though a “New Covenant” exists, we are not yet under that New Covenant, and as as such, we must still “keep” Old Covenant Law.  They will mis-use prophecy and the words of Jesus to support their position – always taken out of context and/or will mis-use the original language of a text in effort to support their error.
* They distort the biblical concept of repentance.  For the redeemed believer in Christ, when we repent, we recognize our sin and Who Jesus is, and turn to the Grace of God and the completed work of Christ Jesus at the Cross for our salvation.  To one in the HRM, repentance means to turn away from their sin and toward the Law of God, turning back to the keeping of Law with Jesus as the “Safety Net” for when they fail.  The Biblical definition of repentance is to have a change of mind and heart, recognizing our sin, recognizing God’s Provision in Christ, and letting the Holy Spirit renew us, resulting in the changing of our behavior.  For articles exploring this issue more, see “Hebrew Roots Movement – The Perversion of Repentance“, “Repentance For Those In Christ: A One Time Thing or an Every-Time-We-Sin Thing?“, and “Hebrew Roots Movement – Hebrews 10, Willful Sin, No More Sacrifice, and Judgement, Oh My!
* Sanctification and the maintaining of their “salvation” is not in the hands of God, but in their own hands, dependant on their keeping of the Laws of the Old Covenant.  Most in the HRM will try to deny this reality in their belief system, but if you systematically take each of their beliefs and see where they take you, there is no denying that their system of belief is upheld not by the Grace of God, but by the works of man.  I posed the following questions to some HRMers on a forum recently:
Under the Old Covenant, certain laws applied to certain people (encompassing all Israelites, then sub-groups such as male, female, priests, for example). These laws were not optional. If there were laws that applied to you, you had to do ALL of them. To not do them was punishable by expulsion from the community of Israel or death, as was called for in the Law.
Makes one wonder . . . most in the HRM say that keeping the Law is not required for salvation and that we should keep the Law because we love God and want to please Him . . . yet if Israel did not keep the Law, there was punishment – either expulsion from Israel or death. In that context, does that mean that we can “lose” our salvation for not obeying Mosaic Law? If we “become Israel”, and we fail to “keep” the Law are we then expelled from the community of Israel or worse yet, is the second death re-imposed on us as “law-breakers”? HRMers will say that “oh no, your salvation is not dependent on keeping the Law”, yet the Law itself does not support that claim. You can’t have Law without enforcement. The two go hand in hand.
One needs to first determine what law one is under before one determines to “do” it.
In the era after the completed work of Christ, are we under the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses given at Sinai, or the New Covenant, the Law of Christ, the Law of Love, forged in the blood of Christ?
4)  Overcoming objections
The people I’ve come across that were once involved with but are now out of the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism or its sects are not unintelligent people.  As a rule, I have found that their number one goal is to worship God in a manner pleasing to Him, unencumbered by human traditions. (For an ironic twist regarding this desire, see “Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gemetria”. )
Questions proselytes have had have been addressed with “special knowledge” and “hidden insights” as those in the leadership and laity of the HRM rattle on about linguistics, church history, and the re-working of pivotal doctrines.  Following is a glossary definition I put together to describe one method used by those in the HRM to establish superiority as they endeavor to answer questions/objections:  
Hebrew-ismsOkay, I made that one up.  “Hebrew-isms” is a word I’m putting here to describe how those in the Hebrew Roots Movement choose to speak and communicate matters of theological thought.  Using the Sacred Name(s) exclusively (YHWH/Yeshua), would be one example,  using the Hebrew “Ruach HaKodesh” instead of using English to refer to the Holy Spirit, another. 
Leadership will also use Hebrew instead of English when referencing Bible passages from their own “translations” (see “Hebrew Roots Movement - Messin’ With the Word”) as will laity when exposed long enough to their new paradigm.  The book of “Matthew” becomes “Matityahu”, “John” becomes “Jochanan”, etc.  “Brit Hadashah” is a big one, which means “Renewed Covenant”, not “New Covenant”. [Great article detailing the language errors the HRM engages in to "prove" that the Covenant is "renewed" not "new" can be found HERE.]   “Renewed Covenant” has the sense of going back to the Law, a renewing of the Old Covenant – not entering into the newness of life that the New Covenant brings.  The vernacular of the details of the Feasts is also an element, not a bad thing in itself, as the Feasts paint a powerful picture of the reality that is in Christ. 
However, all that astute language usage becomes a platform of superiority on which HRM leadership can stand upon above their “students” and on which HRM laity can stand upon above their potential “converts” as they lead them into a Hebrew Roots mindset.  The platform delivers in a couple of ways: 
1) It’s very impressive and gives one the air of superior knowledge and wisdom, enticing the hearer to place unearned and untested respect and weight in the speaker’s words.
2) It can be a diversionary tactic, distracting the hearer from the false doctrine being delivered amidst the flurry of unfamiliar language.
There comes with Hebrew-isms’ platform of superiority the prospect that the speaker does have special insight, secret knowledge, or hidden revelation, that before now, you, Joe Christian, were not privy to in the Church (Body of Christ).  Not only that, but the “truth” was purposefully hidden from you by the Church, corrupted through the ages, and you must rely on your new teachers to enlighten you.
And on all those “Hebrew-isms” they build their false doctrine.  Straight answers are hard to come by. Questions are met with questions.  While they are not prepared with a ready defense of what they believe, they are more often prepared to tear down what you believe, and then replace it with their false doctrine, leaving you nothing but a pile ofachildsview1 rubble to look back on if you question them again. 
You end up becoming so busy looking at the doctrinal rubble that’s been spread on the ground around you, and are so overwhelmed with the possibility that you’ve had it all wrong for so long, that you are exhausted from it all and don’t have the energy to really investigate where this “special knowledge” and “hidden insight” is truly coming from.  To the believer subjected to these techniques, they are unknowingly being beaten down, only to be “rescued” by the lies of the Enemy.
 
5)  Closing the “sale”
One person I know who came out of the Messianic Christian movement put it this way:  “Once you’re in ‘Messy’ “, as she affectionately calls it, “you become convinced that if you don’t keep the Law, you’ll lose your salvation.”
 
That’s it.  That is the close of the “sale”.  Taking it beyond “If you love God, you’ll keep His commandments”, the Hebrew Roots Movement is reduced to a fear-based belief system:  If you don’t hold up your end, you will die an eternal death.  If you don’t believe me, press those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements on this issue.  If your salvation is not dependant on your keeping of the Law, then “keeping” the Law would be optional.  As conversation progresses, you’ll find that in their belief system, the “keeping” of Old Covenant Law is not optional.  And if it’s not optional, where there is law, there must be enforcement and punishment.
It’s a pretty effective close.
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Dear Believer,
If you find yourself in a discourse with a Law Keeper of any persuasion, investigate fully where their beliefs come from before discarding the completed work of Christ at the Cross.  Don’t be afraid to question your own beliefs . . . that’s a healthy thing to do on occasion, to reinforce why we believe what we believe.  While doing so, NEVER lose sight of the Cross, the Grace of God, the truths of the New Covenant, and the whole, contextual use of Scripture.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:3-11)
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At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:3-11)
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I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!  (Galatians 1:6-9)
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In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
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The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
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Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:1-6)
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Other articles of interest:
For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index, Glossary, and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.
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26 Responses

  1. Excellent article. Love how you showed the progression from the first “sales call” to the “close”. That is exactly how it goes down, exactly. Once you are hooked and truly believe salvation can be thrown away by walking away from keeping the Law – the fear closes its hand around your heart and you are “owned”.
    It is that fear, that reared its head many times for a couple of years after I got out. It is so ingrained, so fully injected into one’s brain that you must keep the Law to be part of the bride of Christ; that only by the grace and mercy of God, and the cleansing of the washing of the Word did I become totally free of the lie.
    Thank you for so clearly showing how subtle and how dangerous the Hebrew Roots movement is. I thank God for your insight and God given ability to hit it right in the bullseye :)
    sheep wrecked
  2. I sincerally and honestly do appreciate the helpfull
    information you posted on your web site.Keep on pressing on for the high calling in Christ Jesus, that others may know the True Gospel.
    May the Lord God and father and His son Jesus Christ richly bless you and the Ministry He has called you to do for His Glory.
    Terry.
  3. Excellent article! I echo sheep wrecked’s statement about how subtle and dangerous the HRM really is. I was in it (although I didn’t know the movement as HRM, but as Messianic Judaism). It was through my own observation and study of the Scriptures that the Lord used to lead me out to the true freedom in Christ Jesus. When I was saved in 1974, I was told I needed to be with other Jewish believers in a Messianic fellowship in order to “identify” with “Jewishness”.
    I love the way you presented the “lure” of the HRM as a sales tactic. That’s exactly what it is. We as NT born again Christians need to be discerning and “try the spirits”. Also, be in the Word of God and “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Get to know the TRUTH, then when a counterfeit comes along, you will be able to discern it as false. Ask any bank teller…that’s how they are taught to spot counterfeit money.
    Thank you for this insightful article!
  4. I bought the HRM ticket and took the ride for a few years – but praise be to God, He was able to bring me out of it.
    Thanks for a great post.
  5. I love this! I was actually getting ready to write one similar to this, inspired by an insurance sales person who came to my door. By the time she left, my mind was reeling with the similarities between her tactics and those of cults. Excellent comparison here. I totally agree!
  6. Wonderful article. So happy the Lord led me to your blog.
  7. A big “Thank You” for this blog, and on this particular subject. I was apart of the Messianic/Hebrew Roots movement for several yrs, and was perplexed of the things I heard from over-zealous Christians who didn’t have sound doctrine. I was told that if you truly Yeshua(Jesus)you would obey His commands (meaning to obey the 613 laws of the Torah/Law of Moses)!
    Messiah Jesus said to love God with ALL yr heart, soul, mind, and strength…and to love yr neighbor as yourself was the fullfillment of the Torah/Law of Moses. Praise God for His faithfullness, even when we cannot love in of our selves.
    Shalom to all in Jesus our Messiah!!!
  8. To Sheep, Terry, Linda, Truthseeker, 8thday, Joy, and David -
    Thanks for all your kind words about this blog and this post in particular. This post had been on my heart and parts of it in my drafts folder for quite some time ’til God brought all its “parts” together.
    May God bless you all as you walk in the freedom and simplicity of the Gospel!
    Grace and Peace in our Lord Jesus Christ,
    -JGIG
    (who is off to attempt to remove glitter-glue from the carpet =o>)
  9. Fascinating. This is most informative for someone like me who has very little idea of this movement.
    Thanks for posting.
  10. Fascinating, yes. But erroneous. This entire site has little of worthwhile content. Note that JGIG actually thinks she knows better than all those “well-known pastors embracing and promoting teachings of the HRM. These are pastors that are widely respected in the body of Christ for their opinions, biblical interpretations, scholarship, and spiritual discernment. So I think the church as a whole is at risk…”. The pastors may be respected by some, but apparently not by JGIG, with her mighty axe to grind.
    • Hi Mishkan,
      Yet you keep coming back =o).
      You may want to try reading the posts here at JGIG a bit more carefully, Mish. The quote that you referenced was not from me. It was from one who CAME OUT OF the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism movements, and the quote related their observations based on their experiences.
      I don’t have an axe to grind . . . and there are lots of pastors that I respect. It’s false doctrine that I have a problem with =o).
      Grace and Peace,
      JGIG
  11. Psalm number one: Who is blessed? ‘His delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law does he meditate day and night.’ ‘This Torah is not too hard for you. It is even in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.’ Yeshua, our beloved Master was a 100% Torah Observant Rabbi(teacher). In fact, He IS the Torah in the Flesh. ‘He who says he abides in Him so ought to walk, even as he walked.’ Now go and learn what it means to be His disciple. Don’t fall for the well intended efforts of this blog. It’s time to come home.
    • R J Dutka -
      Our eleven year old is in the process of memorizing Psalm 1. Our delight IS in the Law of the Lord! As redeemed-by-the-Blood believers, His Law is written on our hearts instead of on tablets of stone. We obey the spirit and truth of the Law through Christ’s Law (love God, love others) and not the letter of the Mosaic Law (edicts and regulations).
      As for Yeshua (Jesus) being ‘Torah in the Flesh’, that is a false teaching rendered by a purposeful mistranslation of John 1 in order to support Torah superiority. Your belief system clearly puts Torah above Christ – a form of idolatry. Changing the language of John 1 is one of many Scriptural acrobatics that those in the HR/MJ movements do to try to buttress their belief system. Christ is God in the Flesh, not a written Law in the Flesh.
      Best regards,
      JGIG
  12. Interesting article and not without some merit…the term used by the Messianic movement is not Messianic Christianity but Messianic Judaism and the approach is different than you suggest.
    I participate in a Messianic Judaic congregation after 30+ years ina Christian Church. While the form of the service is patterned after traditional Synagogue service complete with Torah and worshipping on Saturday, I have found none of the things present that you claim is the ‘error’ of thinking and theology in a group such as this.
    I do find a certain beauty and dignity and awesome reverence for the Lord that I miss in the ‘Jesus is our good ole buddy surfer dude’ attitude I have found in evangelical churches.
    Yes, there is the ‘drosh’ part of the Torah service which are very interesting as they are ‘personal’ expressions of scriptures and how they relate to that persons life, but no one ever suggests that these’interpretations’ should take on any weight of scripture, but they are just personal anecdotes and inspirations.
    Basically (since I don’t have the time to detail a rebuttal here) I find your thoughts rational, concise but ultimately the ‘Pot calling the Kettle black’
    I have participated in virtually every ‘Christian’ denominations services ( I am a musician) for over 40 years, from evangelical such as Calvary Chapel, Foursquare, Christian, Baptist, Southern Baptist, to Orthodox such as Lutheran (both Synods), Catholic, and Episcopal. I have spent considerable time in each and not just a ‘hire’.
    The most sound doctrine I found was in a Lutheran Church headed by a missionary from Finland. I have found, in general that the evangelicals have the closest to the ‘silliest and most irrational’ doctrines and beliefs , especially their penchant for speculating on the ‘physics’ of heaven and how ‘Time’ works in heaven and calling heaven ‘another dimension’.
    I mean, really, using science fiction terms to describe spiritual things?? Only in evangelicalism.
    I could go on, but i reiterate, ‘The pot calling the kettle black’ that is all you are doing.
    • Hi Gary,
      Thanks for sharing your wide and varied experiences with us. I have no doubt that there are good, solid Messianic Jewish fellowships out there that hold to their cultural heritage in their style and methods of worship. I don’t have a problem with that at all! Messianic Judaism, however, is an oxymoron. Judaism denies Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The contradictions in reality are eventually undeniable.
      Jewish people that I know that have embraced Jesus Christ and have put their faith in Him do not label themselves as being a part of Judaism in the least! They consider themselves Christian Jews – or more simply Christians in the Body of Christ.
      I am familiar with the differences in the terms you mentioned, and the ‘approaches’, as you put it, that they apply. I agree that there can be a certain lack of reverence in churches today, however, reverence and error are not mutually exclusive. Reverence and error co-exist in many religious sects, do they not?
      As you can see from the opening paragraphs of my post, I agree that there are big problems in the Body of Christ. Belief “systems” have overtaken the simplicity of the Gospel, so I’m not so sure where you get the ‘pot calling the kettle black’ bit . . . I’m pretty hard on ‘churchianity’. But there are good, solid, loving churches out there in which to worship. Painting them all as apostate and prodding believers into the Hebrew Roots Movement/Messianic Judaism isn’t the answer, either. If you’re in a fellowship where Jesus Christ and the Gospel is central, that’s a good thing. If you’re in a fellowship where Torah is central, some re-evaluation on your part may be in order.
      Every blessing,
      - JGIG
  13. Thank you so much for all of this research. I am going through this with my husband. He is trying to save all of our Christian friends and family now that he is a Messianic believer (does not use the word Christian any more since he read the book by Lew White). He says that the phrase “I never Knew you” is written about the Christians. I have not had anyone to really talk too as they have not come in contact with anyone that is in the HR movement. I look forward to your publishing. God has blessed me through you. Again thank you
    • Dear Pam,
      I’m sorry to hear about what you’re going through with your husband. Unfortunately you are not alone. I’ve had several wives write to me with similar accounts. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and will pray for you and your family.
      Every Blessing,
      -JGIG
  14. Hi, really glad I located your website! I seem to be called to interface with a lot of Torah-Keepers these last few years. I am in NO way swayed by this movement, but wanted to find out where this all began. I am a homeschooling mom, and find the Hebrew Roots movement spreading like wildfire throughout the homeschool community, thanks in great measure to Robin Sampson. I have investigated her other websites, and they are as you say…quite a bit different than her gentle “introductory” book on Biblical Holidays!
    Thanks again for all the great info, it will be very useful to me! Blessings.
  15. Started googling for more info on HRM and Messianic Jews. Just don’t sound right to me. Have a dear friend involved in this cult
  16. My Problem is this: I know many families that have been sucked into this movement at Jim Staleys Church. It truly is a cult. How do I get them away? Will they come to terms on their own? Should I just watch as they follow the teachings of a false teacher?
    • Oh Chrissy, I’m sorry. I’ve tussled on a couple of forums with some of Staley’s congregants. One of them even took on the user name of ‘Joyfully Growing In Sin’ to mock me =o/. In my opinion, Jim Staley is a very gifted false teacher. He uses emotional appeal and sets up ‘the sale’ expertly. All you can do is patiently and consistently present the truths of the Gospel. From watching several Staley teachings, it is my observation that he is a master at redefining Biblical terms and teaching doctrine by using a ‘machine gun’ approach with Scripture, i.e. he throws lots of Scriptures out there (taken out of context) very quickly and systematically sets up a false doctrine before anyone has a chance to check out context or the terms he is defining. It’s an absolutely consistent technique used in false belief systems.
      The good news is that the false doctrines are not that hard to dissect. Look up context of the Scriptures, look at the Greek or Hebrew definitions of words – Hebrew in the OT, Greek in the NT – be careful, as those in the HRM like to take a Hebrew ‘equivalent’ and use that definition, or worse, use what’s called a ‘root word fallacy’ to redefine the word to support their doctrine. This practice is rampant in the HRM.
      As for ‘getting someone away’ from false teaching, only God can do that. Be encouraged, as God’s Word does not return void. It takes a lot of time and patience, but those who do come out of the HRM and similar false belief systems tell me that it is when they just simply started reading the Word for what it actually says – IN CONTEXT, and without all the spin that false teachers have to apply to it to twist it to mean things it does not mean that they come back to the truths of the Gospel. The letters to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and other Epistles, when read as whole works are very clear in what they say. Keep bringing those you know and will talk with you back to the core issues of the Gospel, as that is where belief systems stand or fall. HRMers will try to take you down a gazillion bunny trails; don’t bite. Keep your focus on the core issues.
      Here are some links to forum threads on which I’ve participated that will give you a feel for the issues that come up over and over in debate/discourse with those in the HRM. This is a forum that I was invited to join by a member there:
      >>> http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=164900 – this link goes to a thread entitled, “Jim Staley – Awesome”. I start in that thread at post #11.
      >>> http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?p=2944560#post2944560 – this is a thread on that touts Staley’s Two House Doctrine teaching. I have linked to a review I did of that teaching. The link on the forum to the video no longer works, but the video has been re-posted HERE. Apparently Staley got a LOT of negative feedback about his teaching and re-posted it with a 10 minute addendum trying to explain how his teaching is not racist. The minute marks on my review are a little off as a result of his re-posting, but you should be able to follow along pretty well.
      >>> http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=189297 – this is a really long thread, but also deals with many of the issues of debate with those who pursue Torah. At this writing, the thread has over 3000 posts, but for anyone willing to sift through the chaff (there’s always chaff on forum threads!), there is much valuable information to be gleaned there, including watching the lights of Truth come on for one Law keeper =0).
      >>> http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=197014 – this is a thread that is becoming longer and longer at this writing. The Law keeper who started to see the light near the end of the big thread above asks some really good questions and continues to demonstrate an understanding of the Gospel as it’s communicated in the Word vs. the Law keeping paradigm. Well worth the read. Again, these are conversations between Law keepers contending for Torah observance and Christians contending for the simplicity of the Gospel. Many Scriptural arguments are raised and examined, in both this and the really long thread above, as well as some good word studies demonstrating the false definitions prevalent in the HRM.
      Bottom line: Contend for the core issues of the Gospel; stay focused on those things, as that is where belief systems stand or fall, pray for the people that God leads you to speak with, and leave the rest to God. I’m praying that more Christians who see the false teachings of HRM leadership will become bold and take a strong stand for the Gospel. It can be a tough arena, but my personal faith has grown so much as I’ve studied more deeply the truths of God’s Word. EVERY TIME I think, “Oh no . . . they have me stumped on this one”, and then I go study out the issue in question, I am amazed to see how God has made it so that the Gospel ALWAYS STANDS. ALWAYS. God is so cool =o)!
      Grace, peace, and prayers,
      -JGIG
  17. Thank you for this article. I was involved in a facebook debate with some HR/Sacred Name/Messianic types and my bottom line to them was…
    No one can effectively keep the Law today as there is no High Priest, temple and no sacrifice system on place.
    Because of this, they are picking and choosing which Laws, out of the 613, they choose to follow.
    As such, they are starting off on a preference based faith and not on the Word of God.
    No one could respond to that and that effectively let me know these guys were liars.
  18. I was saddened to read this article, that paints the HRM with such a one-dimensional brush. I’ve been in (and have been teaching in) the HRM for some time now, and have also been attending a local “Sunday Church” with my family.
    I will say that there are a few segments of the HRM that are indeed “cultish” – but this article uses these segments and paints the *entire* HRM with the same brush – which is very uncheritable.
    There are many congregations in the HRM that do indeed hold up the simplicity of the gospel, that teach salvation by grace through faith, that teach that those in the HRM are indeed brothers and sisters in the faith with those outside of the movement, etc.
    I would recommend that the author of the article visit different Messianic congregations — especially those that do hold up the gospel and emphasize bringing the gospel to the nations.
    Maybe this would help soften the tone of an otherwise sharply worded, unfair, not to mention alarmist article.
    Brotherly,
    Rob
    • Hi Rob,
      Welcome to JGIG.
      From what I’ve seen of the Hebrew Roots Movement and related sects (understand that this is the face that the HRM has showed to me – I did not go seeking after it!), and from what others have witnessed as well as testimony that those who have come out of the HRM have given me, the Hebrew Roots Movement – Salesmanship 101 article is spot-on. The article has nothing to do with painting the HRM with a ‘broad brush’; it has to do with the methods employed by the HRM in convincing Christians that they are not pleasing to or obeying God unless they are pursuing Mosaic Covenant Law. So while I respect your right to your opinion, I firmly disagree with that opinion.
      You say that there are many congregations that hold up the simplicity of the Gospel. Would you consider yourself to be a part of one of those? I ask because your website is full of ‘One Law’ teaching, which states that believers are bound to Mosaic Covenant Law, teaching that is outside of the simplicity of the Gospel. Indeed, the tag line under the title of your blog reads, “Laying a firm foundation in Messiah and in Torah”. Your interest in Messiah is in Him as an example of a Law keeper, and that secondary to the study of the Torah, not in His fulfilling work of the Cross and the Resurrection and the Gospel that is the result.
      The foundation for the Biblical Christian is the Work of Christ; everything in Scripture points to Him and His Work. And Christ did not come to make Law breakers into Law keepers; Christ came to make spiritually dead people into spiritually ALIVE people! And out of that Life good fruit is produced – that fruit which only the Holy Spirit imparted to those who have put their total faith and trust in Christ can produce!
      As the author of the article, I can tell you that I do not feel a need to be visiting different Messianic congregations. Why? I have only seen fruits of elitism and arrogance coming from those congregations, not to mention false teaching. And I am not speaking of Hebrew Christians who maintain their culture and their Christianity – they are wonderfully humble and sweet-spirited believers from whom I have learned much! I’m speaking of those who are Gentiles who look down on and label Christians who don’t bind themselves to Mosaic Covenant Law as ‘antinomians’ or ‘ignorant’ or worse, ‘willfully rebellious’ now that Law ‘keepers’ have informed them of their version of ‘truth’! Show me HRM fellowships that are preaching a righteousness that God gives apart from the Law (Romans 3:21-22) and I’ll be happy to go and fellowship with them! Show me an HRM fellowship that is growing because they are reaching out to the Lost and not because they are trolling churches, home groups, Bible studies, or homeschooling groups and I’ll be happy to come and visit. Show me an HRM group with actual foreign missions to actual Lost people groups and not just going to convert existing bodies of Christians abroad to Torah observance, and I’d be very interested in seeing their missions fruits. If not, then no thanks.
      Perhaps you will label this response to your comment as “sharply worded, unfair, not to mention alarmist”. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But please understand that you’re not addressing someone who has not been ’round the HRM block several times. I’m familiar enough with your belief system (confirmed by a perusal of your site) to know about the deep internal divisions that plague the ‘movement’, yet you seek to present the HRM in an unrealistic light. But the failings and divisions of the HRM as a movement is not the focus of this site. This site is a point of departure for most readers; it provides them with a basic overview of the tenets of the different flavors of Law ‘keeping’ along with specific defenses of the Gospel in relation to those tenets, and then provides resources and jumping-off points for further individual study. My style is admittedly at times blunt, but not unloving. If you don’t ‘do’ blunt, then this is not the place for you =o).
      Grace and peace,
      -JGIG
  19. It’s a shame that you have had a negative experience at the Messianic congregations you’ve attended. You yourself recognize though that you haven’t been to all (or even the majority) of congregations that are out there.
    Perhaps I can recommend the following congregations as examples of gospel loving Messianic congregations/groups:
    [links removed]
    Speaking to your response above, you said:
    “The foundation for the Biblical Christian is the Work of Christ; everything in Scripture points to Him and His Work.” I completely agree with this statement. But once we have faith in Jesus, the question quickly becomes: “How then shall we live our lives”?
    For example, do we continue in our previous lives of stealing from others? Or disrespecting our parents? What about covetousness? Do you at least believe that these things are a “sin” because they go against what God has commanded (in this case the 10 Commandments)?
    • John 15:1-17
      1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
      5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
      9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
      The above passage speaks to both of your points. The fruit that I see from the HRM is not good fruit. Why would I want to pursue that? Why would I want to learn to be like them?
      You wrote, “For example, do we continue in our previous lives of stealing from others? Or disrespecting our parents? What about covetousness? Do you at least believe that these things are a “sin” because they go against what God has commanded (in this case the 10 Commandments)?”
      All of the commandments are covered under the ‘love one another’ concept taught by Jesus in John 15. If we are loving one another, we are not stealing, murdering, coveting, etc. Elsewhere Christ teaches us to love God, love others, and make disciples, to go to all tribes and tongues. Love goes where Law cannot. The Law cannot go into all cultures, the Gospel can.

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