Guranteed to raise eyebrows


Many current and former W/XCGers face this question about “The Law” and the relationship to the believer. Trust me this is no small potatoes for either current or former W/XCGers. Some treat it as  a matter of life and death. As one well knows that this is a very heated and explosive topic to say the least.  Many former XCGers who have embraced evangelical Christianity, hold to the notion that the law has no relationship to the believer and is under “the law of Christ” which is stipulated in the New Covenant. The law in the Old Covenant has no relevance today and shouldn’t even be considered to look at. Jeus Christ is our chief role model and that’s all one needs. Some in the Christian Reformed faith would believe that the moral law stipulated in the Old Testament has relevance for the believer today, parts of the ceremonial law are not relevant and are not necessary to keep nor emulate.  Those in Armstrongism believe that there is no salvation apart from obedience to God law. Those schooled in the essentials of historic Cristian faith know very well that this is problematic. This belief actually compromises the belief in salvation of grace by faith in Jesus Christ—meaning when it comes to being saved it is not a matter of what you can do for God but it is a matter of what God has done 2000 years ago by sending His Son to die for the sins of mankind and liberate humanity from the bondage of death. In Armstrongism one “qualifies in entering” the kingdom. One cannot be assured that he or she is saved because that is presumptuous and arrogant! But scripture talks about assurance, that believers are given The Holy Spirit which SEALS a believer for the day of redemption! Not the meticulous observance of the law!

But what about the law—or Torah??? I have managed through another blog which is of Messianic Jewish orientation had collected this article from a Torah-observant Messianic website called The First Fruits of Zion. Doug Ward of Grace and Knowledge has subscribed to their materials and has spoken positively about their works. In the articled titled, It is Often Said:“Two Thousand Years of Christianity Cannot be Wrong!” by Tim Hegg, sheds some interesting light on Christianity’s relationship with the law (Torah):

Throughout the history of the Christian Church, a great deal of Torah has been taught and practiced,even if done so under a different label. While many sincere Christians may


say they have no obligation to obey the Torah, in reality they live out

many Torah commandments as a matter of obedience toGod. In this regard, their actions speak louder than their words. In Matthew 23, our Master reproves some of the Pharisees for neglecting the weightier matters of Torah while focusing on the minutiae oftithing herbs. He describes the weightier matters of the Torah as “justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”Clearly there are many Christians who excel in matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. My own father was such a person. Though he held a fairly typical Christian view of the Torah, his life remains a high watermark of holiness for me. He was careful with his tongue and meticulous in his financial dealings.

He was kind to all, giving aid to the poor and the widows. He reverenced God in his daily living and took every opportunity to share the Gospel. And though he gave his life to serve others as a humble shepherd of souls, he never neglected his family. He was a faithful husband and a good father. In other words, his life exemplified the “weightier matters of the Torah,” and so have many Christians throughout the centuries.

Makes sense to me. On James Pate’s blog I have said that “Jesus (Y’shua) for justification, the Torah for sanctification.”  I know some want to sing the portion of Pink’s lyrics of her new song “So What”, “Na na na na na/I wanna start a fight/Na na na na na/I wanna start a fight”  (told you that this is a hot topic for some) but James took a more Mr.Spock “highly logical” respone by saying,

I’m wondering, though, what justification and sanctification are. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve read my share of Protestant evangelical literature, and I know how they define them. But what I see when I read the New Testament and early Christian literature is that we still need to ask for forgiveness. Some of it suggests that we have to keep repenting and living a holy life in order to enter the good afterlife. Barnabas talks about giving alms for atonement.

In light of all this, I wonder why Christ came to die, if there are other means for atonement (confession). And, if Christ’s death accomplished what a lot of evangelicals claim–I’m righteous in God’s sight and guaranteed for the good afterlife–then why do I need to keep on seeking forgiveness, or why can certain works of the flesh bar me from the kingdom of God?

James view deserves more attention on another post but here is the link  to Tim Hegg’s article. You might not agree with everything but I hope it will in some way make you think.













15 thoughts on “Guranteed to raise eyebrows

  1. It’s an interesting question that James Pate raises. I’ve often wondered the same thing about forgiveness and Christ’s death. Bob George with a radio program, People to People, believes we don’t need to continually ask for forgiveness once we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is totally opposite to how I was raised, and yet, keeping the law and continully asking for forgiveness sure didn’t make me righteous!

  2. Hi Felix,

    I’ll take a look at the article this evening. I like your presentation of the views on the law. I guess mine lines up more with the Reformed one–we do the moral law, but the ceremonial law has been fulfilled through Christ. The reason is that the NT appeals to the OT law as an authority. At the same time, I also think that there is a law of Christ, since we’re to imitate Christ’s example.

    I struggle with the whole assurance issue. In my post on my visit to the SDA church, which you responded to, I referred to passages about assurance for the believer. But I don’t know how to mesh that with continually asking for forgiveness and repenting. Maybe Catholics have an answer for that: how do they maintain hope while having to preserve their salvation on a regular basis?

  3. Very profound post. Clearly, there are any number of very deep issues and questions.

    Currently, I believe that good fruits grow within the Christian, just as a natural function of the Holy Spirit. That seems to be the overriding New Testament principle. It is unavoidable that some of these fruits would conform to some of the teachings of the Torah, since the source for both is the same. Motivation, however, becomes the important aspect. If one is trying desperately to keep every jot and every tittle of the law, to qualify for God’s Kingdom, it is not going to happen. That’s trying to “work it up” yourself. If, as we draw close to Him, Christ is creating a new creature in all of us, and placing us in conformity to Father God’s principle of love, that’s what gets the job done.


  4. Those who come from a WCG background have gone in various directions as they recover from Armstrongism and its legalism.

    One route to recovery, the one chosen by the current WCG leadership and forcibly imposed upon its membership, favors a radical discontinuity between law and gospel, Old Testament and New.

    This route has the virtue of being simple–to get over the past, just leave it all behind. But in practice, it has some nasty consequences. In arguing for this approach, WCG pastors ending up denigrating large parts of the Bible and twisting other parts, in the process making lots of antijudaic interpretations of scripture. And of course WCG forced its congregations to abandon worship customs that they loved.

    I ended up choosing a different route, one that emphasizes the continuity of God’s revelation and takes a positive view of the whole Bible and of both Christianity and Judaism. The folks at FFOZ have been very helpful here, since they demonstrate that one can have a high regard for Torah without being legalistic. Basically, your motto of “Jesus for justification, Torah for sanctification” is a good summary of their approach.

    There are a number of Christian views on how law and gospel fit together. One of the main differences among the main threads of Christian tradition lies in how they deal with that issue. It should be recognized that when it comes down to how people should live, all of those threads are largely in agreement, so people in the various camps shouldn’t look down on each other. The main differences come down to an attitude or approach, and I personally prefer taking a Torah-positive outlook.

  5. “In arguing for this approach, WCG pastors ending up denigrating large parts of the Bible and twisting other parts, in the process making lots of antijudaic interpretations of scripture.

    So, in other words, there was really no change from “the changes” at all.

  6. The change between New WCG and Old WCG, imo, simply lies in the part twisted.

    I personally believe in dispensations. I believe that God has progressively revealed deeper depths of His truth to His people as history has progressed. Old Covenant Judaism wasn’t a bad start, but it did nothing to modify the hearts or minds of individuals. Jesus attacked bad behavior where it originated, which is in the mind. Judaism attacked bad behavior with layers of laws. That is physical ritual, and does nothing to transform the heart.


  7. It is rather pointless to say you follow Christ and do as he did and then say you don’t keep the law!
    Christ kept the law perfectly and we are to follow him and do as he did.
    We follow him in keeping the ten commandments, in keeping the Sabbath and the holy days, keeping the laws of clean and unclean meats.
    Why would I want to eat ham on easter sunday in honor of our savior who never ate pig and kept the Sabbath??

  8. Actually the entire Bible is important or it would not have been preserved. But what the Armstrongites never understood is that keeping the Old Covenant handwritten laws is not necessary under the New Covenant(1) because the physical Temple is no longer there & (2) because Christ nailed it to His cross(Col.2:14-17)and the Old Covenant Tabernacle or Temple becomes the reality of Christ in you(Col.2:16-17)
    Not to mention, God has made sure that the Jews cannot build another Temple by allowing the worshippers of Allah to build the Al Aqsa Mosque on the sight, and getting rid(mysteriously)of the ark.

    Remember Paul says in II Cor.3:6 that “the letter kills.” How? because it cannot save us. It cannot be taken through the resurrection. We have to be in the Body of Christ(not the WCG or her daughters)in order to be taken through the resurrrection.
    Notice that He says that He will tell some who profess to teach His Word, “I never knew you”(Matt.7:22-23)
    Why? because He does not recognize Himself in them. They are not in His Spiritual Body, and so do not look like Him(Spiritually) That Body is not a corporation, but a Spiritual entity.

    Moses is still there though-ie, why does Christ give a parable showing in Lazarus and the Rich Man, that Abraham tells the Rich Man that his brothers need to “hear Moses and the prophets”??-(Luke 16:29-31) Now why?

    The answer is, it happens because of the testimonies that prophesy the future(Rev.19:10-those testimonies repeat themselves in other generations).
    IOW, we are destined to repeat mistakes that were made before. Who said that those who refuse to look at history are destined to repeat it(ie, the sign over the bodies in Jonestown)? True? not true?

  9. Myra did a great job of explaining that to you, Elizabeth, but we also need to make the distinction that Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. We now keep the spirit of it, the ideas which Yeshua and Yahweh had behind it prior to giving physical restrictions to the Israelites. It’s a totally different level. Besides, you are not allowed to pick and choose, as we did in WCG, from Mosaic law. You either keep the entire law, or you are breaking all of it.

    When the pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the sabbath, they were not referring to pharissaic do’s and don’ts! Yahweh told the Israelites that it broke the sabbath to gather manna! Why would grain be any different from manna? If you read the Sermon on the Mount with an open mind, and not through any Armstrong filters, it becomes very plain that Jesus was most definitely changing things. That becomes even more obvious if you can read the epistle to the Galatians with an open mind. Paul even states in so many words that keeping the old covenant blinds one to the new one through Jesus Christ. The Armstrongs attempted to harmonize Paul’s teaching with Mosaic law, and this is something that simply cannot be done.

    I’ve seen statements such as yours made many many times on all of these forums and blogs. They stem from a lack of understanding of the work that Jesus did during his life, and on the cross. Jesus was very much de-emphasized by WCG and all of the splinters. They did not teach us that He lives His life through those of us who submit to Him, and it is His righteousness that bears the Christian fruits in our lives, not anything that we could ever do ourselves, no matter how diligently we might try to keep the law. He fulfilled it for us, and we live it in the Spirit.


  10. Jesus lived in another Covenant, Elizabeth.
    Jesus lived perfectly, that’s right. Can you live perfectly? Then you do not actually follow as He did in His life. And when you say ‘keep the law’, why then do you not keep the law?
    Have all your males traveled three times each year to the place where God puts His name and not just once, or have you built a booth at Tabernacles according to the plans given, or blown a trumpet on Atonement? If not, then you haven’t kept the Holy Day laws. Have you eaten fat, or eaten food at a restaurant that serves pork (thus making the stove-top unclean)? Then you haven’t kept the food law. Have you tithed of money? Then you haven’t kept the tithe law, because the law states tithes were from the garden, field, and orchard. Have you regarded a false prophet when God clearly said not to (HWA predicted Christ’s return in 1936 and 1975)? Then you haven’t kept the law.

    Jesus qualified, not us, then He took His righteousness and granted it to us while He took our sins and bore them on Himself. (Not a fair trade, but we come out on top in this.)
    What I wonder is why do people insist again on gaining their own righteousness in the law, knowing what Jesus has done for us? We already have Christ’s righteousness. In what way is that not good enough? In what way was Christ insufficient?

    I hear all about “Christ will not marry someone who isn’t like Him.” Well, that’s a half-truth. We aren’t like Him. We will never be like Him while we live – law or no law. It’s a lie that the law makes us like Him. Physical rest will never make a man like Christ. The law has never done that for any man. These things (among others) Paul says do not come from the law:
    Justification (GAL. 2: 16)
    Righteousness (GAL. 2: 21)
    The Spirit (GAL. 3: 2)
    Perfection (GAL. 3: 3)
    Miracles (GAL. 3: 4)
    Inheritance (GAL. 3: 18)
    Life (GAL. 3: 21)
    Grace (GAL. 5: 4)
    So, Christ simply credits us the difference.
    The other half is that we are Christ’s spiritual body and Christ’s temple, and we are those things now. If we weren’t one with Christ, we wouldn’t be able to inherit the promise. It’s not the law at all but the promise God made to Abraham and his Seed, that comes to us through faith in that Seed, that keeps us from being wiped out. Not some perfection in the law – which no man but Christ has ever achieved.

    Why live a godly life, then? Because we are in God’s presence, for one, and we are His ambassadors, for another. He gains glory from men by His light shining in us. Not that we are anything or that it earns us anything. Also, there are two things Christ’s sacrifice didn’t do – 1)bring us to spiritual maturity, 2)bring us to eternal life. Is food going to bring us to maturity in Godly love? No. Even Herbert Armstrong said food isn’t a spiritual matter but rather a health matter. Can yeast give us eternal life? No. Even Paul says ‘not the old leaven but the unleavened bread of spirit and truth.’ What is the weightier matter, then?

    It is a misunderstanding to say “We must do all that Jesus did while He was alive,” then fail to take into account what He did after He was resurrected. He told the disciples ‘there is more for Me to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.’ Armstrong stops there, as if there were nothing more. Jesus could not simply throw out the Old Covenant. No man breaks a covenant sealed in blood. But only when Jesus died was the Covenant nullified. And it was nullified, or we have no High Priest – because by law no priest can serve but one from Levi, and Jesus was of Judah.

    As a wife is released from her deceased husband, by law, so all are released from every part of the Old Covenant. And not only that, but Christ died for us. Paul says ‘if One died for all, then all have died.’ So now we are doubly dead to the law. And not only that, but baptism pictures the death of the old carnal man. We are triply dead to the law. And not only that, but Christ fulfilled every last ceremonial part of the law – of which were the food laws. So we are quadruply released from the law. It has no hold on us. And thank God! Because Jesus also never went to nor sent anyone to the Gentiles while He was alive. Unless you are a full-blood Jew, be careful what you wish for when you say ‘we should do what Christ did’.

  11. Hey Elizabeth,

    Don’t forget the part about praying and washing your hands before you touch a piece of bread. Or saying specific prayers before and after you eat, depending on what you eat. Or the part about doing Passover eight days in a row, instead of splitting it up into Passover and DoUB. Don’t forget the specific prayers you have to say in the morning, at midday, and in the evening. Oh, and you’re not allowed to even move so much as to turn on a light switch on the Sabbath.

    Those are all requirements of “the law”, Elizabeth: So how well have you been keeping them, lately?

    Now for an on-topic contribution to the discussion at large:

    The Myth of the Law-Free Paul Standing Between Christians and Jews.

    Very interesting paper. Lots of canonical Biblical references. I know you guys can’t get enough of those!!

  12. My viewpoint is that the law is a requirement for salvation. Obedience to the law is our ticket to eternity. This can be clearly seen in Revelation 22:15. These people were law breakers, sinners (murderers, liars, the sexually immoral, and sorcerers), they were kept out of God’s kingdom. Now, if the law does not play any part in salvation as the popular understanding is today, then, our God, is wrong not to allow these people into His kingdom right?
    We clearly see here people who break the law and who are punished by being kept out of the Kingdom!

  13. This is a complex issue. The old WCG was correct to insist that the 10 commandments were demands that were incumbent upon Christians. They could never understand that the ceremonial law, which includes the complete sacrificial system which includes the Holy Days were fulfilled in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is the Passover, He is our atonement. His sacrifice made the whole sacrificial system irrelevant. This includes the sabbath.

    However, the moral imperative to worship God wasn’t abrogated in the least. But the WCG always thought that the sabbath was somehow hardwired into the cosmos.

    If one can get away from trying to “prove” everything from scripture one can easily see the trajectory of the early Church and their worship from a Saturday sabbath to Sunday. After the resurrection one will notice an emphasis given to things occurring on the first day of the week. This is not given in OT parlance – the morrow after the sabbath. This is a very important shift because emphasis is now being given to the first day of the week and not the sabbath. St. Paul taking up offerings from the Corinthians in 1 Cor 16 on the first day of the week was another indication of activity in the Church taking place on Sunday. In Revelation 1:10 speaks of the Day of the Lord; a clear reference to Sunday (if one reads the writings of the early church). When St. Paul went to the synagogue it wasn’t to worship – it was to evangelize and spread the Christian gospel. If one reads Acts closely one sees Christian worship taking place in “the breaking of the bread”. All these clear clues were ignored by the WCG because of their preconceived notions of the sabbath being an eternal law of God.

    This is not difficult to understand if due reverence is given to Jesus for his fulfilling of the OT sacrificial law and rising from the dead on the first day of the week. Jesus revealing Himself to the men on the road to Emmaus in the “breaking of the bread” occurring on a Sunday was much more than an episode given in the gospels. It was another indication given, written several decades after the resurrection, that demonstrate this new trajectory understood by the first evangelists of the Church; especially St. Luke.

    So, indeed the moral imperative of the 10 Commandments is still a necessity of living the Christian life. But, unfortunately the WCG never seemed to grasp the significance of Jesus Passion and the import it had on Christian worship.

  14. One of the ministers over FFOZ spoke several times at the Feast site I attended this year in Tennessee. He caused a buzz with some of his remarks.

    For instance, he said we should accept “Jewish authority over the Torah.” If you don’t, he claimed you’re rejecting the Torah.

    (Later in that message, he declared “all atheists keep Christmas.” Aw c’mon — the uproar over the “Winter Solstice” sign at the Washington state Capitol should prove otherwise.)

    In another message on the weekly Sabbath, he claimed “Judaism does NOT follow men.” If so, how does he explain the Orthodox/Reform split? Much less the disagreement 2,000 years or so ago between Hillel and detractors?

    His bottom line point seemed to be that we someday will return to authentic synagogue Judaism.

  15. >>>>>Hey Elizabeth,Don’t forget the part about praying and washing your hands before you touch a piece of bread. Or saying specific prayers before and after you eat, depending on what you eat. Or the part about doing Passover eight days in a row, instead of splitting it up into Passover and DoUB. Don’t forget the specific prayers you have to say in the morning, at midday, and in the evening. Oh, and you’re not allowed to even move so much as to turn on a light switch on the Sabbath.

    Those are all requirements of “the law”, Elizabeth: So how well have you been keeping them, lately?<<<<<<<<

    Elizabeth clearly said in her post that we are to follow Christ in his obedience to God. He did none of the things you mention in your response to Elizabeth.

    He challenged the Pharisees about their traditions of men and added things, such as the hand washing you bring up.

    The light switch thing is more than a stretch even if you think you’re tying to tie it to fire building. I do not believe God had his people freezing on the Sabbath and then told them it was a delight. I’ve heard various interpretations of the fire mention and I do not believe it to be an ordinary heating fire.

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