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Front of the Book

By Jim Huskins

McDowell County

 

One of the joys of my life is having been exposed to a number of challenging disciplines in math, science, language arts, other humanities, ministry, the building trades, mechanics, woodwork, leatherwork, and lutherie. I’ve devoted myself to fly fishing, music, sustainable agriculture, and the culinary arts. In a few of these fields I claim some competence, but I know enough about the others to realize that all difficult endeavors have something in common. In order to achieve mastery, one must first grasp the fundamentals.

Geometry, for instance, begins with a trio of concepts presented as the “undefined terms:” point, line, and plane. On the first day of physics class, Mr. Washburn taught us that, “Hot is a physical sensation.” I learned the Greek alphabet before I could spell words in that language. Clear and convincing essays are built on a mastery of punctuation, grammar, syntax, diction, and logic. Without exception, the foundational concepts of any field are presented near the beginning of the book. No one begins studying biology or chemistry or trigonometry two-thirds of the way through the introductory text.

Why is it that Christians believe they can read only the last third of the Word of God and come to a clear understanding of what our Creator desires of us? Many regular church attenders do not even read the so-called New Testament. Instead of studying the Word for themselves, they depend on teachers and media personalities. Be assured that the discipline listed under the course heading: “Faith in God” has a final exam, and cheating will not be an option.

God expects us to love and serve him on His terms, but most of us follow the doctrines of men. Widespread misunderstanding of snippets plucked from Paul’s epistles and the book of Hebrews lead many Christians to believe that when our Messiah died, God changed His mind about the clear instructions for living which He gave in the first five books of the Bible—His Torah. How can that be? Scripture makes it clear that God never changes. He says in Psalm 89:34: “I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips.” Anyone of sincere faith has only two options: either God is wrong, and our common understanding of Paul is correct, or God is right and our perception of Paul’s teaching is incorrect.

One of the most ignored passages in the New Testament is 2 Peter 3:15-17. Peter cautions that some of Paul’s teachings are difficult to understand. He goes on to warn against twisting Paul’s words to make it appear that he is teaching “lawlessness.” Peter makes it clear that only unstable people take that approach. He teaches that such a misunderstanding of Paul results in destruction. He does not teach that Paul is wrong, but he does say that Paul can be difficult to understand. Consider some examples:

Based on Galatians 5:1, many believe that Paul refers to the Torah as bondage. This cannot be true because Psalm 119:44-45 says that Torah is liberty.

Galatians 3:13 causes many to believe that the Torah is a curse. Deuteronomy 30:16 makes it clear that if we obey Torah, then God will bless us.

The common understanding of Hebrews 8:6 is that the Torah has been replaced by something better. Psalm 17:7 says that Torah is perfect. By definition, perfection cannot be improved.

Many believe that Hebrews 8:13 teaches that the Torah is obsolete and in the process of vanishing. Deuteronomy 29:29 makes it clear that Torah is forever.

First Timothy 4:1-5 does not teach against the dietary instructions found in Leviticus. For that to be the case, Leviticus 11 would have to be labeled a “doctrine of demons” and a “lie-in hypocrisy.” I would be terrified to refer to any passage of scripture in such terms. According to the front of the Book—Psalm 119:142—God’s Torah is truth.

It is impossible for Paul to teach against the Torah. To do so would not only put him at odds with Jesus, it would also make Paul a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 13. Paul was not unstable or schizophrenic. Romans 6:14 says: “For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law but under grace;” however, the next verse says that we must not use grace as an excuse to sin. Sin is defined by scripture as “lawlessness” or not keeping Torah.

Romans 10:4 says: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes,” but Romans 3:31 says “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”

In Romans 7:12, Paul teaches that the Torah is holy, righteous and good. Why would God take away something so wonderful? Is Paul talking out of both sides of his mouth, or is the difficulty in understanding him our fault because we are not familiar with the first two-thirds of the Bible?

In our fellowship, many Bible teachings begin with reading Luke 24:44. It says, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Jesus makes it clear that the Torah, the Prophets, and the Psalms all describe and point to Him. How can we understand Him, His mission, or our role in His Kingdom unless we are willing to master the entirety of the only valid textbook for a life well lived?

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Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. We meet each Sabbath—Seventh Day—at Abba’s House, 72 South Main Street in Marion. 10:00 A.M. 828-460-7913

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