Doomed to Failure?
Schiele Scout Reservation was a magical part of my adolescence. I loved scouting. Lake Lanier felt like an exotic location. Every day at camp was packed with adventure and discovery. One of those discoveries changed my life.
I was a weak swimmer. When I was twelve and my first trip to scout camp approached, I was terrified. We would spend part of each day in the lake, and I did not want the guys in Troop 205 to see that I could barely swim.
Amazingly, I enjoyed twice-daily swimming sessions, and my skills rapidly improved. Two high-school-age instructors took an interest in me and patiently taught me fundamentals. We arrived Sunday, and by Tuesday my instructors were encouraging me to try the “mile swim” on Friday. It was the most absurd idea I could imagine.
Nonetheless, I was one of more than a hundred who hit the lake Friday afternoon for three laps around the inlet. Instructors in rowboats served as lifeguards. One of “my” guys was always near me. Several swimmers became exhausted and were pulled out. I was more afraid of failing than I was of drowning. Long after everyone else finished, one tall twelve-year-old finally made it to shore. Beside him was a boat carrying a swimming instructor who made the impossible real.
It could have been a cruel joke. Boys that age can find pleasure in seeing younger kids fail. I was fortunate to find two who wanted me to succeed. If I could swim a mile, I could face other fears without blinking.
Caring teachers and loving parents want those under their care to succeed. Only the perverse place their charges in impossible situations, and yet, popular “Christian” doctrine teaches that God Almighty maliciously placed His chosen people in circumstances where they could not do what He asked. Most Christians believe and teach that when He gave His instructions for living in the first five books of the Bible—the Torah—He was setting up His own children for failure. Can that be true?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Did God give the Torah so he could laugh at His children’s failure, or was he merely telling us how he wants us to live? The Hebrew word Torah means “instructions.” It does not mean “law” in the way that we use law. Time and again the Bible teaches that Torah is perfect and just and freeing and delightful. More importantly, the Bible teaches that Torah is possible. Deuteronomy 30:11 says that Torah: “Is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.” 1 John 5:3 says: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
Modern Christians are taught that God’s instructions for living are a burden, that Jesus excused His disciples from following them, and that when Messiah died, God abandoned the people and promises and prophecies He had endorsed since the time of Abraham and before. The widespread notion of “Replacement Theology” says that God set impossible standards for His own children so that we would have no option but failure. Did The Almighty leave his chosen people floundering in the lake of life for eighteen hundred years with no hope of pleasing Him? When Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah and the Prophets?” was He was actually saying, “I came to abolish the Torah and the Prophets.”
Replacement theology makes a mockery of every promise that God made to Adam, to the Patriarchs, to Moses, to David and others. It also makes gibberish of hundreds of prophetic passages which state plainly that Israel will be God’s chosen people forever. Jeremiah 31:35-37 says that as long as the sun and moon and stars keep shining and until the heavens and the foundations of the earth are fully explored, the nation of Israel will always be His people. I was taught that the church is now spiritual Israel, but every time the New Testament uses the name “Israel,” it is referring to the blood descendants of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. What we know as the “church” did not replace Israel in God’s plan.
The Son of God did not live a perfect life and die a substitutionary death so that He could start a new religion. He did those things to take away our sin and release us from the death penalty we owe. We all have broken the covenant established at Sinai. His sacrifice makes possible our adoption into His family. We owe everything we are and have and will be to Jesus, and His expectation of us is clearly stated. John 14:15-16 says that if we love Him, we will keep his Torah, and then He will send the Comforter to assist us in living holy lives.
The “burden of the law” referred to by Jesus, Peter, Paul and others in the New Testament is not God’s instructions for living. That “burden” is the thousands of regulations added to the Torah by humans. Psalm 119 tells the true nature of Torah. Rather than being a burden, God’s instructions are a delight and a direct channel to His abundant blessings. He knew that this life is made up of many “mile-swim” challenges, and He wanted us to know how to stay on top and keep moving forward.
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
Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obediaent Heart Fellowship