119 Ministries

There is a phrase in Scripture from 1 Thessalonians 5 that says, “test everything.”

A organization called 119 Ministries has recently been posting several pictures to my Facebook wall.  Some of these pictures seem to suggest that the church believes the law has passed away, or that we are still to follow either portions of the Law we currently do not follow, or follow the law in its entirety.  Many in the Jewish community refer to this as being Torah-observant.  The slant is an argument against the non-Jewish flavor of much of the worship, rites, and observances.  

119 Ministries gets its name from Psalm 119, a text notable for not only being the longest Psalm in the Bible, but for also being David’s meditation on the goodness of the statutes and precepts found in the Law. I have some thoughts on this ministry that I would like to share, perhaps for the purpose of stimulating some discussion among my friends. 

Now, for those of you that know me well enough,  you know that I believe the dividing wall between Jewish and non-Jewish believers has been removed as a result of what Jesus did on the cross.  

You also know that I do no subscribe to “replacement theology”, which, in a nutshell, says that the church has replaced Israel in God’s redemptive timeline and that Israel has forfeited her promises because of her stuborn and unrepentant heart, and because of this unrepentance, God has move on and bestowed his covenant promises originally given to Israel, now to the Church.

But what you may not know about me is that I too, seriously explore the relationship between the Jewish roots of the church and the current practice of the church, and our tolerance of one another as practicing Jew and practicing non-Jew.

You also may not know that I do not use the term Gentile because of the context in which the term is referred to in Scripture.  “Gentile”, in my understanding of Scripture, is not a safe term to use to describe a non-Jewish follower of Jesus Christ.  “Gentiles” are those who do not know God, whose minds are darkened, whose minds are altogether futile.  

This is not a picture of the believer who lives in the light of Jesus, and no, before someone throws that text out, Romans 7 does not apply in the life of the believer, or those who are in Christ.  Ben Aker is correct.   

119 Ministries, publishing one of these images, seems to imply that the church believes the law has been done away with.  Last I checked, no church of which I have ever been part has ever made this assertion.  We may not be under the law, but the law has not been done away with.  Jesus fulfilled the law.  

Now, I am currently exploring a little of what that means.  And I know there are a lot of Sunday School answers on what that means, but I want the heart.  What does it REALLY mean when He said he came to fulfill the law?

The above question cannot be answered in the scope of a single post, so I wont attwmpt that here. But I will say a few things that are backed well in Scripture.

Now, I won’t go off on Judaizing tangents saying that we must keep kosher or any of those other funny ceremonial bits, but I do think there is non-redemptive, dietary value in observing kosher standards, starting with trichinosis, and I also think there is value, if your house has a flat roof, in building a guardrail to keep people from falling off those roofs.  

I also would say there is value, if you own orchards and vineyards and orange groves, in leaving a tithe of the fruit on the branches on the borders of your land so the poor may have access to food at need.  I also say there is value to letting the land lie fallow one year out of every seven, though I do not have definitive proof the Lord will bless you for observing a comprehensive Sabbath in all areas of your life. But I will say this, believers do not keep Sabbath and kosher and tithes because we are required to to fulfill some good standard to get or keep redemption.  Let those of us who do observe these practices do so because we love the Lord, walk in grace, and practice such out of faith according to the dictates of conscience.  By the same token, those of us who walk as non-jews, eat pork, etc., let us not judge such who practice these things accuse them of being legalistic.  The eating of pork and the drinking of beverage, and the freedom we have that we force and superimpose on others can also be rooted in the outflow of a legalistic spirit.
We must be absolutely careful that we do not superimpose out matters of conscience, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, on other believers.  This opens the door of the religious spirit.
We need to, in the body of Christ in many places, leave the fundamentals and move on to the greater things, the greatest of which is love.  

The next revival may well not be catalyzed by attention to one standard or another, but by the genuine love and affection we possess one for another, and the genuine devotion we have to the whole counsel of Scripture, whose spirit is charity and motive is affection rooted in the selfless work of the cross.



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