Why The Torah

(Thomas Jackson) #1

Hi everyone, I’ve been dealing with a confusing topic for that past few years. I met a old friend from my freshmen in highschool who had a Baptist Church he used to go to. As we were catching up with different topics brushing by, the topic of the torah came up. He said, “I believe that the torah is to be applied and lived by (not eating pork, wearing 4 tassels etc…) as law.” Though I respect his discipline, I’ve seen him fall apart trying to keep up with the laws that are stated. Where is the line drawn and how can I know for certain what is law?

My understanding is that the laws in Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, were for the Jewish nation to distinguish the people. Though God has us become the light of the world, I don’t believe we are held down by the works law (Galations 3:2-3).
Thank you! Any feedback would be very appreciated!

(Matt Western) #2

Hi Thomas,
I’m also a little confused as to why a Christian attending a Baptist church would be wanting to keep the Kosher laws you mention such as wearing tassels and not eating pork. I attend an Baptist church in Australia, and have not heard of anyone wanting to do this - and as you say ‘to go back under the law’. Do you think he or she might be looking at converting to Judaism?

Yes to add to your Galatians 3:2-3 reference there are some other ones that come to mind. The whole book of Galatians is written by Paul the Apostle to stop the false teaching that the early church needed both Christian and Judaism together.

  • Jesus said he did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. In doing so, he removed the Old Covenant that was with Israel in the Old Testament, and replaced it with the New Covenant in the New Testament. Matthew 5:17-20

  • By the works of the law, no flesh is justified. Romans 3:20 (read the full chapter for context)

  • The law is described as a ‘schoolmaster’ which points to our need of Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

  • But, are we free to do whatever we want and just sin because of Grace? No ‘God forbid’ as Paul says in Romans 6:1-2 (again the full chapter for reference). There is the question that a person that just continues to wilfully sin may actually not be a Christian at all. We all fall, fail, struggle with addictions and sin of course, but my understanding is that continued wilful sin is a serious ‘red flag’ warning for a person to question of themselves if they are actually in the faith… We’ll not achieve sinless perfection this side of heaven, but there should be some growth over a lifetime as we gradually become more Christ-like - which is what God promises to Christians.
    In Romans 7:18-25 (check the full chapter for context), the Apostle Paul very honestly laments over his wanting to not sin, but does, and the good things that he wants to do he does not do. This is an encouraging passage to me as we try to become more Christ-like - even Paul didn’t have it all together and still sinned.

If you haven’t seen it, The Bible Project ‘The Law’ video is a good introduction, and then the Torah video series is very cool, in particular the Exodus video, which asks the question are we supposed to keep all 613 laws or just the 10 commandments or what? :slight_smile: . The Leviticus video is also very helpful.

There is also a number of theme videos there - check out videos ‘Sacrifice and Atonement’, ‘Holiness’ and ‘The Covenants’ and all the rest of the videos are very helpful and talk about the covenant with Israel, but more importantly how it all points forward to Jesus. Also, check out the ‘Galatians’ overview video as well.

Jesus said, in response to the question posed to him what is the most important commandment - we are to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second is like it ‘to love your neighbour as yourself’. Jesus then goes on to explain who our neighbour is, in the parable of the good Samaritan. There is also the idea (which you’ll pick up in the BibleProject videos and I don’t have any Bible references to off the top of my head) that God was going to replace hard stony hearts - who are not able to keep the law - with soft hearts that are able to do this in a response of love to what Jesus has done for us on the cross and while following Jesus.

Also some further hopefully interesting points to ponder. What is the law of Christ mentioned in Galatians 6:2

I hope this is a helpful starting point. Please, if I’m a bit off on my theology or train of thought, would love correcting and clarifying from others so I can learn more. :slight_smile:
I am curious if your friend is considering converting to Judaism, having never heard of any person attending a Baptist church wanting to keep the Kosher laws.

(SeanO) #3

@Thomas_Jackson That is a good question. Here is an article and short excerpt from it that explains why we do not need to follow all of the OT laws. The gist of it - and I agree - is that there 3 types of law in the OT - ceremonial (laws for the priests and purification of the people), judicial/civil (for the earthly kingdom of Israel) and moral (laws based upon God’s nature and eternally binding). When Jesus’ died on the cross, He put an end to the ceremonial and judicial law - He is our High Priest and King - we live a new life by the Spirit and not by the letter of the law. Our purity is not through sacrifices of goats and bulls, but once and for all by the blood of the Son of God.

“There exists a three-fold division of the law — ceremonial, judicial/civil and moral. The civil and ceremonial law are no longer applicable to us today, while the moral law — which is not culturally contingent — is indeed universally binding.”

Cross Examined Article

The Law of Love in Christ Jesus

Jesus made it clear that we are no longer bound by the law because the law is fulfilled in love of God and neighbor.

Matthew 22:35-40 - One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Paul reiterates this point in Romans 13:8-10: Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Paul actually goes so far as to say that the one who tries to submit themselves again to the law must keep the entire law and has alienated themselves from Christ. What matters is faith expressing itself through love.

Galatians 5:1-6 -It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

(Thomas Jackson) #4

Thank you so much for your feedback!
My friend was confused and worried that he wasn’t fully committed to God. And because of that, he tried to do the law, not realizing the nealry impossible standards the the law expects. I see him fall apart in front of me because he can’t live to these expectations and forgive himself through grace.

(Matt Western) #5

@Thomas_Jackson I’m glad it was a little helpful, and I’ll be thinking of you and your friend as you hopefully continue to build your friendship and continue the conversations. :slight_smile: