From Andrew Strom
RETURN of THE JUDAIZERS??
-by Andrew Strom.
I have friends who call Jesus “Yeshua”. I don’t mind it at all. I have other friends who keep the Saturday Sabbath. It doesn’t bother me too much, unless there is a kind-of “aggressive attitude” about it. But in recent years I have witnessed a worrying trend – that in my opinion is growing worse – and we need to address it.
Today when a Christian tells me that they are “Torah-observant” then all kinds of alarms go off. It may be that they are just into ‘Hebrew roots’ – but usually it is a lot more than that. We all know that in the early church, the biggest problem they had was with the “Judaizers” who went around trying to convince the Gentile Christians that they must obey the letter of the Old Testament Law. This shipwrecked the faith of many. It was the biggest problem they had. The book of Galatians is all about it – and many other sections of the New Testament. It was a battle between the old Law – with its subtle bondages – and the new walk of the Spirit and of grace.
A few months back, we published the testimony of a Christian woman who got involved with a Messianic group that slowly under-mined her faith in Jesus – and basically converted her gradually into a practicing Jew – even though they all thought of themselves as “Messianic Christians”! She realized later that in almost every way she had slowly had her faith in Jesus and the New Testament replaced with the keeping of the Torah. She had been “Judaized”! And I fear this is happening to a great many Christians today – in all kinds of subtle ways.
This is exactly what the Bible warns against – losing the “simplicity” of the faith. And that is why Paul was so strong against the Juda-izers. He saw that Christians were being tempted – not to place their faith in Christ alone – but rather in Christ PLUS the keeping of the Law. It was no longer a simple trust in JESUS to be their righteousness. They now started to feel they had to keep the letter of the Old Law too – in order to be truly “holy”. And so they became “Judaized”. This is the worst trap possible. And so subtle!
Let us look at a few vital Scriptures. Please open your Bible to Acts 15:1-29. This whole passage is about a great meeting of the apostles to decide whether – with the new Gentile Christians – it was “necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (v 5). So what did the apostles conclude about this? As Peter declared during the debate about it, “Why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (v 10).
At the end of the great meeting, the apostles put out a letter to the Gentile Christians that declared: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” (v. 28-29). And as far as the Old Law went, that was it!
In other words, no “Torah observance”, no Sabbath, no circumcision, no Old Law apart from these few things. This brief list only. That was the pronouncement of the apostles. If they wanted to tell the Gentiles, “You must keep the Jewish Sabbath,” then this was the place to do it. But it is definitely not included. And neither are a thousand-and-one other things from the Old Testament. [including tithing – editor] Continue reading “Andrew Strom: RETURN of THE JUDAIZERS??”