Many Modern Christians incorrectly believe that we should ignore God’s Instructions in the Torah because we are “Under Grace.” They will often MISAPPLY Paul’s letter to the Galatians to try and prove their point. There are countless and detailed Bible studies that disprove this false Lawless Grace narrative, which most modern Christians wrongly claim that Paul was teaching.
I myself along with others have written many notes, blog posts, and You-Tube videos describing Biblical truths on this subject. I won’t rehash all of those here. At the same time, Abba YHWH reminded me of a modern Parallel that He gave to me when I was trying to understand these issues. It might be helpful to other believers too. So here goes.
Years before I became a WHOLE Testament believer, I was still in active traditional Christian ministry. I was extremely passionate, devoted, and excited to see people come to Christ and have their lives transformed in Christ. I was once at a conference involving believers of various flavors and denominations. I struck up a conversation with a younger lady. I was trying to give her a chance to give me her testimony. “Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?’ I asked. “Oh yes!” She said with exuberance. “I have been baptized,” she said. After some brief dialogue, it became painfully obvious that she had no concept whatsoever of what a life transforming, Born-Again relationship with God through Christ was all about.
The more I tried to show her that there was much more available to her in a thriving relationship with God than she was experiencing, the more confused and irritated she seemed to get. I was heart sick for her. The whole idea that you were supposed to be Born Again and transformed by God on the inside, [John 3:3,7; Ezekiel 11:19-20; Ezekiel 36:25-27], was a completely foreign concept to her. The whole idea that she could be transformed into someone that was changed, from a person who lived to please herself, into someone that was so touched by God’s Love and Power that she was willing and able to live to please God and Messiah, was not even on her radar. The whole notion that God wanted to transform her by the Holy Spirit and teach her how to obey His Words, so that she could overcome her weaknesses and gain victory over her failings and become a triumphant, more mature, and victorious daughter of YHWH through Christ, this was like speaking a foreign language to her.
From this lady’s point of view, her entire salvation and relationship with God rested upon the fact that she was baptized and went to church. In her mind, this was all that was necessary, and even the suggestion that she could have something more in her relationship with God through Messiah was irritating to her. It was truly disheartening. She truly believed that her being baptized and going to this particular church was what guaranteed her salvation, and in her mind that was all she needed.
It was at that point that God began working on my heart. He let me know that if He was going to have me write to this particular church, or if the apostle Paul was to write to this church, he would have us BOTH tell this church the SAME thing:
“Your baptisms have made the cross of Christ of no effect.” “If you accept these baptisms, you have cut yourselves off from Christ.”
Several years later the Father reminded me of this incident.
Let’s say that God did have me write to this congregation concerning their misguided views on baptism. 2000 years later, somebody could take the statements I made in my letter to this misguided church, and make the false argument that I was teaching against baptism, even if I wasn’t teaching against baptism at all. This is the EXACT SAME mistake that modern Christians make when they consider Paul’s teachings regarding God’s Law.
The real issue behind my statement would NOT have been that believers should never be baptized. The REAL problem is NOT the fact that this girl was baptized. The REAL issue was that she had a false belief that it was the ritual of baptism, and belonging to her specific church, which she believes was the CAUSE and the GUARANTEE of her being saved and going to heaven, without any regard for whether or not she had a truly born-again experience with the Holy Spirit, and whether or not she had a life transforming and thriving relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
This is the EXACT problem that Paul was trying to correct when he was writing to the Galatians. Many of them were believing that going through the ritual of rabbinical and pharisaical circumcision was the proof and guarantee that they were saved and going to heaven. They were making the EXACT SAME mistake regarding rabbinical circumcision that this girl was making regarding her baptism and belonging to a particular church. It was her false belief and reliance upon her baptism for her salvation, and NOT her baptism that was the real problem. If she believes that her baptism would save her apart from a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ, then her baptism makes the cross of Christ of no effect in her life. The same would be true with obeying any other biblical principle. If I DEPEND upon my church attendance, or my tithing, or my prayer life, or my telling the truth and not lying or any other godly practice, to be the CAUSE and the GUARANTEE of my salvation, instead of what Jesus Christ did for me through His death and resurrection and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, THEN under those circumstances, all of my good practices would render the cross of Christ meaningless in my life.
At the same time, would it be right to suggest that because I have a born again and life-changing experience with Christ, that I should never gather in congregation with other believers, because attending church doesn’t CAUSE my salvation? Of Course not! Does the fact that it does NOT CAUSE my salvation, also mean that I should not pay attention to God’s tithing principle and I shouldn’t put Him as First Priority, with all the resources that he provides? Prayer, apart from a thriving relationship with God and Jesus Christ will NOT CAUSE or GUARANTEE my salvation. Does that reality also mean that it is wrong to pray, and thus I should never pray, because prayer alone doesn’t cause or guarantee our salvation? We know that telling the truth and not lying by itself, apart from a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ CANNOT CAUSE or GUARANTEE my salvation. Does that reality mean that I should practice lying in an effort to prove that I have faith and confidence in Jesus Christ, and that I am not depending on my own works of honesty to save me? Of course not! God Forbid!! We should be mature enough to understand that such a conclusion is utterly ridiculous, and yet that is exactly how Christians are taught to treat the Law and Instructions of God in the Torah.
Attending congregational meetings may not cause my salvation, but I can grow better as a follower of God and Jesus Christ by having solid fellowship with other believers. It may not cause my salvation, but it’s a helpful tool for my growth. So, I should practice doing it. Gathering with other believers can help me to be encouraged, it can challenge me, and God can use me to be a blessing to others, so it still has merit both for my growth, and for the brethren. Prayer by itself may not cause my salvation, but that doesn’t mean I should never pray. Prayer can help me grow in my friendship and intimacy with God and Jesus Christ. It can develop my faith and help me see God’s provision more often. So, it has great benefits. Tithing may not cause or guarantee my salvation, but that doesn’t mean I should never do it. There is great benefit in learning to put God first with what He provides. It can teach you a lot. It can also combat greed and self-sufficiency, because you are depending on YHWH Almighty God to provide. So tithing can have benefits even though it doesn’t cause salvation. By itself, apart from Christ, not lying and being a truth teller will not cause or guarantee my salvation. That doesn’t mean that I should become a liar in order to prove that I am not relying on my honesty to save me. Truth and honesty is pleasing to the Heavenly Father. It also keeps me from breaking relationships with other people. That’s a part of loving them. So, becoming an honest person has great value and merit even though it does not cause salvation by itself.
The EXACT SAME principle is true regarding any Biblical Commandment you can find, Keeping YHWH’s Sabbaths and honoring His festivals; Not mixing pagan practices and traditions of men into Godly Worship, wearing Tzit-zit, or any other Command or Instruction in the Torah of YHWH, or anywhere in Scripture. Just because honoring God’s Torah and Instructions does NOT CAUSE us to be saved, apart from Christ; this DOES NOT mean that we should disobey God’s Instructions on purpose, just because obeying God’s Law does not cause our salvation. Should we outlaw all baptism, because some believers have false doctrine surrounding the practice?! Of course not! The same principle is true with every Commandment you find in Scripture. Obeying the Torah by itself, apart from a thriving relationship with God and Jesus Christ, cannot save you. But that is not a sign that we should do the opposite of God’s Law on purpose to demonstrate that we have faith in Jesus, who incidentally OBEYED the Father’s Commandments, [John 15:10]. God uses His Commandments to teach me the mechanics of how to love YHWH with all my heart, and He uses His Commandments to teach me the mechanics of how to love my neighbor as myself, [1 John 5:2-3]. All of that still has merit, even if it is not the ultimate cause of my salvation. Think about it. Shalom.
Brother Robert Michel Lankford