Preschool Christianity

“Let us leave the elementary teachings about Messiah and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death.”

As the years pass and we grow older, we as believers in Messiah ought to mature in our actions and beliefs, growing in righteousness and wisdom. I hope that many of us move on from “whatever my church believes” to “studying the Scriptures”, to “meditating on His word, day and night”, to “being led by the Spirit in accordance with the Scriptures”.

Anything less is a tree without fruit. No fruit, and there’s something wrong on the inside.

Part of maturation is discernment: seeing an act or a belief and being able to state whether that aligns with God’s way for us.

What is God’s way for us, exactly? I know that sounds like a fluffy religious cliché, but it has real meaning:

God told us how to live – Torah, God’s commandments – and He then showed us how to live – Messiah, who followed Torah perfectly. Given these righteous standards, a codified Law and the Spirit of God inside, we can weigh acts and beliefs and discern whether they are righteous or rebellious.

I’ve recently encountered many acts and beliefs of Christians that demonstrate a lack of wisdom all too common in today’s Pop Christianity. Not all Christians demonstrate this lack of wisdom, but enough do that I regularly hear these preschool doctrines preached to me. I want to share these with you today. I will show these here not to mock or condemn, but to rebuke and correct so that we can continue to grow and mature in Messiah. Note these are all real quotes from real-life Christian friends who have chided me in the last few weeks as I discussed God’s Torah with them.


“Free in Jesus/Freedom in Christ”

Christian says: “When Jesus came, he established the freedom we have in Christ. No longer are we governed by rules, commandments, religiosity or tradition.”
Christian wants it to mean: I can do anything I want to, Jesus doesn’t care, and neither should you! 
Usually whined when: God’s Torah is discussed as an applicable lifestyle. “Free in Jesus” is the knee-jerk response meant to imply Jesus doesn’t care about our works. Also implied is that this “freedom” Jesus gave us is a freedom to break Torah, which Paul defines as sin.
Applicable Scripture: Romans 6: “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
Take off the blinders and find…: We’re free from sin, not God’s commandments.


“Jesus changed everything”

Christian says: “Jesus’ birth and eventual death changed everything for humanity.”
Christian wants it to mean: Jesus changed the Sabbath to Sun-day, voided most of the commandments, rebuked all that Jewish stuff, and created a new religion apart from the original faith in the God of Israel, thus validating my brand of Christianity. 
Usually whined when: The eternal nature of God's sabbath, commandments and feasts are discussed.
Applicable Scripture: Exodus 31: “You are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and Israel forever.
Take off the blinders and find…: The Sabbath is forever. God’s Feasts are everlasting. God’s commandments are eternal. Messiah’s didn’t cancel the Father’s commandments, lest He be a rebellious son.


“We aren’t led by the law; we’re led by the Spirit”

Christian says: “The Holy Spirit now guides us now, not the old law. Haven’t you read Galatians 3?”
Christian wants it to mean: I can do whatever I want and justify it by claiming to be “led by the Spirit!”
Usually whined when: It’s suggested Christians living contrary to the Torah are living in error.
Applicable Scripture: Romans 7: “Now that we have died to sin, we are released from the law to serve in the new way of the Spirit. What are we saying, then? Is the law sin? No! Indeed I would not have known what coveting was except for the succinct commandment, “Do no covet.” The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.”
Take off the blinders and find…: The Spirit and the Torah are never in contradiction.


“Don’t let anyone judge you with regards to food or drink or celebration”

Christian says: “Haven’t you read Colossians 2? It doesn’t matter what I eat and drink, or what holidays I celebrate.”
Christian wants it to mean: I can eat unclean foods, drink anything I want, celebrate whatever festivals I choose, and God doesn’t care!
Usually whined when: It’s revealed Messiah didn’t rise from the dead on Easter.
Applicable Scripture: Acts 21: “As for the gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our decision that they should keep away from food that has been sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”
Take off the blinders and find…: Paul cannot be saying, “It doesn’t matter what you eat!” It would contradict his earlier judgment in Acts 15 and 21. It would contradict God’s commandments in the Torah. It would contradict Messiah’s statement in Matthew 5. God cares about what we eat, drink, and that we keep His eternal Feasts.


"Messiah fulfilled the law for me, so I don’t have to keep it”

Christian says: “The law is summarized with loving God and loving others. Since I do these, and since Jesus fulfilled the whole law, I don’t have to obey any of the other commandments.”
Christian wants it to mean: I narrowly escape having to obey God’s commandments.
Usually whined when: A Christian understands the righteousness in the Torah, but doesn’t feel motivated to change his ways.
Applicable Scripture: Matthew 5, again.
Take off the blinders and find…: The illogical nature of this argument: "Jesus fulfilled X, therefore, I don't have to concern myself with X." X could be "love", "atonement", "mercy", but this argument is conveniently applied only when X is "Torah". Another fallacy of this argument is that Jesus didn't carry out some commandments: commandments for farmers, for married men, for women, for the Levitical priesthood, for example. Scripturally, this is unsound doctrine: is a son allowed to cheat because his father was an honest man? Likewise, do we get to be disobedient because Jesus was obedient?


“Jesus didn’t worry about traditions or the old law”

Christian says: “Jesus didn't care about keeping any traditions. He saw a need to heal a man and do good, and He did it, without worrying about the old law about not working on the sabbath.”
Christian wants it to mean: I don’t have to think about the law; I’m a Christian after all!
Usually whined when: Discussing Messiah’s actions.
Applicable Scripture: Matthew 5: “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Take off the blinders and find…: Jesus didn’t break the Sabbath, or any other commandment, lest he contradict his own words in Matthew 5, and be found to be the false prophet of Deuteronomy 13.


“The Jewish stuff isn’t for me, but I’m glad you’re doing it.”

Christian says: “It’s nice that you Jewish people do those Jewish things. I’m a gentile, with my own culture and background, so I don’t need this stuff, but I think it’s great that you glorify God with your Jewish traditions.”
Christian wants it to mean: I can feel snuggy-snug-snug by dismissing the Torah as not-applicable, while unoffending you by saying some kind words.
Usually whined when: A Christian sees that Torah is Godly, but doesn’t want to change his own life.
Applicable Scripture: Leviticus 23: These are My Feasts, My appointed times, which you are to declare as holy.
Take off the blinders and find…: God’s commandments are not Jewish; they’re God’s. They’re not optional cultural traditions; they’re commandments to His people.


"No one can follow the Law perfectly, so I’m not even gonna try!”

Christian says: “There are 613 laws in the Old Testament! Ha! It’s impossible to keep them all, [Paul quote here], so I’m not even going to try! Thank Jesus He’s freed me from that bondage!”
Christian wants it to mean: I get to cover my ears and sing “la la la la” when I hear you talk about God’s commandments.
Usually whined when: Discussing the Torah.
Applicable Scripture: The New Testament. It contains more laws than the Torah. All of which are built upon, and strengthen, the Torah. (E.g. see Messiah’s new commandments that build upon the Torah.)
Take off the blinders and find…: the absurdity of this argument. It’s akin to saying, “Since I’ll probably break the speed limit at some point in my life, I’ll just drive however fast I want all the time!” ("..but officer, I was being led by the Spirit!")


"All that matters is Jesus and Him crucified."

Christian says: “Why are you all hung up on Feasts and commandments? Why are you judging me? All that matters is Christ, and him crucified. Jesus preached the gospel and nothing else, and you should too!”
Christian wants it to mean: Jesus got up in the Temple and started shouting, “Are you SAAVVVVVVED, brother?!!!! Altar call!” We ought to do the same, and drop this nonsense about the old law.
Usually whined when: We teach discipleship through following the Master’s actions, rather than church theology.
Applicable Scripture: Luke 18: A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered, “You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”
Take off the blinders and find…: asking Jesus into your heart isn’t all there is to salvation. Jesus taught repentance first, discipleship second. Repentance is turning from sin; sin is breaking the Torah. Discipleship is about following the acts of the Master: Torah.


“We are justified by faith alone. The old law can’t save me, so it’s useless.”

Christian says: “We’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The works you're preaching is legalism, and you're a Judaizer for doing so.”
Christian wants it to mean: It doesn't matter if I live according to God's commandments, and I get to call you names since I disagree with you. 
Usually whined when: Obeying God’s commandments -- works -- are shown to be a crucial part of living a holy life.
Applicable Scripture: James 2: What good is it, brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no works? Can such faith save him? You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without works is useless? Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his works were in union, and his faith was made complete by what he did. The Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
Take off the blinders and find…: The Torah is a crucial part of the gospel, and a crucial part of living a Godly life. How can we preach, “Be saved!”, when we do not preach what we’re saved from? How can we preach, “Repent!”, when we do not preach what we’re to repent from?


You fine blog readers hear these preached? Subscribe to some yourself? I'm not here to condemn, but to ripen (thanks for that one, Trent) and discern and exercise wisdom. Mature. Let me know what you think.


  1. You just won't let up on this maturity thing will you JH. Go easy on those poor Christians ;). Some of them don't even know what a Jew is!!

    I had close family over for the holidays, and debated this furiously with, um, let's just say a senior seminary-educated theology type person who I love dearly. His argument was; "If you focus too much on the law, you lose sight of the relationship, and that's 'dangerous'"

    Most of the rebuttals to this you have just nailed with this latest post.

    Shalom, and I hope we are all praying for peace and protection of His beloved in these days ahead.

    I am now going to amuse myself by actually writing in my comment the word verification:


  2. Judah,
    You just slaughtered alot of holy cows in that one post.

  3. PH,

    Yeah, I realize many Christians are young in the faith and understand only the basics, or only what their church has taught them. I hope this post is taken in the way I intended: not in a mocking or condemning spirit, but in a corrective one.

    I was also recently talking to a seminary grad. I quoted one of his bits here, the one about being justified by faith alone. He had better command over the Scriptures than the other Christians I was talking to, however, his interpretation of the Scriptures were standard Christian seminary fare.

    You said you encountered a seminary grad who said, "If you focus too much on the law, you lose sight of the relationship, and that's 'dangerous'".

    I have heard this too. It's almost saying, "Don't focus on the Torah too much, or you'll lose sight of Jesus."

    I would correct that by saying, the Torah points to Messiah; indeed, Paul states in one of his letters that Messiah is the goal of the Torah.

    A young Messianic teacher who works for First Fruits of Zion recently addressed this issue on his blog: "Torah and Messiah" is not a balancing act.

  4. As a recent seminary graduate myself, one of my last exercises was to read the book Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The "Lutheran" Paul and His Critics by Stephen Westerholm. Much of this book is written to refute the viewpoints of theologians like E.P. Sanders, James D.G. Dunn, and N.T. Wright--and their views (the New Perspective on Paul) that have proposed that we need to look at Paul more within the context of First Century Judaism.

    The first section of the book was very valuable, though, outlaying the four views of the Law of Moses from: Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley. Suffice it to say, among the latter three, Luther had a very negative view of the Torah--viewing the Torah and gospel as antitheses. Calvin and Wesley, however, did not! Even though seeing the Torah through a grid of "moral law" and "ceremonial law" (which could have been fixed if they had access to more Jewish resources in their day)--they take a view of the Law of Moses that would make most Church people today squirm.

    The generally anti-Law attitude we find in contemporary pop Christianity is more a result of either dispensationalism or German higher criticism since the 1800s. For most of its history, those affected by either Reformed or Wesleyan theology have taken a very positive view of the Torah.

  5. Hi Judah,

    I think the most important less I have learned, to date, as I have matured in Christ is that I'm not capable by words and actions to judge the heart of another. When I try, I judge according to the things in my own heart that I struggle with and I blunder. That is why I think it is best to leave another's spiritual growth with God. That doesn't mean that I don't judge words or actions because I do and you know what? No one passes. I've never met another Christians who's words and actions were without sin. That's when I decided it is better if I spend my time and energy waring with the sin within myself.

    One thing I know for sure, Jesus will present His bride spotless.


  6. Pam,

    Who is His bride? Not these people,

    "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" Matthew. 7:21-23

    I do believe we are responsible to each other. And let’s face it, some people are quite comfortable in their lawlessness and it’s like a disease that can spread throughout the community. Do we not have a responsibility to the assembly and to our nation? I see no harm in correction. On the other hand, I do see a great deal of harm in presenting the wrong message.

    The point of Judah’s blog is not to judge any one person’s beliefs or their sins or salvation. Heavens no! After all, they are only parroting what they’re hearing from the pulpit. We’re opposed to the distorted messages that are being circulated. And I, for one, am extremely saddened by the damage they’ve caused.

    Christianity seems to be losing its way. Sadly, it’s growing more divided every day. I grieve for those who have left the church and consequently lost their way over the discord in Christianity and for the others who never stood a chance because our made-up theologies stood in the way of the truth. Christianity as we know it is built on a weak foundation and it’s collapsing…maybe by God’s own design. Maybe He’s saying it’s time to graduate from the 1st grade.

    I borrowed an appropriate quote from another,

    “Why are we challenging Christianity? The answer is simple: Because Christianity has effectively twisted the Word of Yahweh (the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and turned it into something completely unrecognizable....”

    It seems that generations come along who would like to rewrite the Scriptures to suit themselves. We see that happening now with the extreme liberalism that has gained huge ground in our churches. If it wasn’t for people like Judah and his family, JK and his family and these other devoted souls who have dedicated themselves to learning, discerning and preserving the truth, the Bible would have no place in a believers life. All they would need is a few tracks with a verse of two from Paul.

    Thanks, guys, for being trumpets of the truth!

  7. Lydia,

    Sometimes I feel like I'm repeating myself when a message just doesn't get through. But hearing that message from another is powerful. Thank you.

    It's exactly as you say, Lydia, this isn't about judging or saying somebody's going to hell. This is about discernment and correction, so that we can grow in Messiah.

    It's really encouraging to hear what you've written. Thank you.


    You've twice encouraged me to war with my own sin, rather than focus on the sin of others. I've heard you. It is true we should repent and turn from our own personal sin, but you seem to imply that we ought not correct believers who err.

    Paul and Messiah both concerned themselves with the behavior and beliefs of religious people, correcting and rebuking where necessary.

    I suspect you do not take issue with Paul correcting the Galatians, for example, but you do take issue with this correcting of Christianity's lawlessness. I'm left wondering if correction is the real issue here. Perhaps the real issue is that you simply disagree?

    Thanks for posting, both of you guys.

  8. Judah, Lydia,

    I think it is important to speak the truth as God leads us to do so but I know I have no control over the outcome. I can't judge rightly where another person is spiritually or where God is leading them. I know it is wrong to disobey God but I do that sometimes too and God is faithful to correct me. I have to allow others that process.

    People always,(and I have been a part of this in the past) speak of the church being better in the past than it is now but from what I can tell, the church has always been a mess. The Biblical account is about as far back as we can go to get a picture of what the church was in the beginning and to me, it looks the same as the church today. Actually, when the organized church was most powerful is when it was the most evil. Perhaps God keeps us weak for a reason.:0)

    I wasn't taking 'issue' with you, Judah. I was sharing my experience with you. You do with it as God leads you. Believe it or not, I used to be quite the crusader for reforming the church. I don't want anyone to have to go through the correction of the Lord that I had to go through on that one. I learned to do and speak as I'm led but when I go further than that and take up my calling as my own crusade, I've quit listening to God and I've started trying to do His work my way. Then I'm in for a good spanking!

    I learn a lot from you Judah and your words have affected my life. I don't question your calling. I just hate to see you frustrated because the outcome isn't quite what you want it to be. Leave the outcome to God, He'll probably surprise you with that which is much better than you've dreamed of.:0)


    Remember, "knowledge puffs up but love edifies"

  9. Pam, you have some good points. Thank you. There is one thing I want to respond to directly:

    Do you believe I am not allowing God's correction process to take place?

  10. Judah,

    That isn't something you have any power over. You can't thwart God's Will but you can make yourself frustrated and miserable by taking on more than is yours to carry.

    That's what I mean about it being Jesus Who will present the church as a spotless bride. We are blessed that God chooses to work through us but it is His work. Sometimes, we can get sidetracked and put our faith in method, theology, or doctrine and while those are important our faith is to be in God. The church needs regeneration more than reform and only Jesus can do that.

    I hope you know that I appreciate you and I love it when you share your culture. It opens up scripture to me in a way that isn't possible without knowing the culture from which the men God chose to write it through came from. What I've learned from you has changed my life in ways you probably don't even suspect. I just don't want you to get a big head!;-}Maybe you aren't so frustrated as the post sounds to me. Just don't let hard-headed gentile Christians like me steal your joy, Judah!


  11. Judah,

    Personally, I know you’re far from frustrated or miserable about this. I could go further and say with some assurance that you’re not being big-headed. :)

    I do agree with Pam on this point. Ultimately, God IS in charge. His plan…His story…His time...His glory…AMEN. It was all supposed to go down just like it has. We are a part of something that was already on the books to happen. We certainly didn’t conjure this up in our little minds and take it door to door. We know this…and lest we be reminded that no matter how many different ways we slice it and dice it and try to serve it up, unless the veil has been lifted most folks will not see themselves as part of Israel. They continue to see themselves as different, new and often times even better and more enlightened, somehow. Until He lifts the veil, or until His Spirit fills them with an insatiable appetite for the truth…for the deepest desire to know His ways, they will see themselves only as gentiles and you and your beliefs as Jewish traditions and old world culture and customs.

    Take heart, my friend. In this hour there are so many souls wandering, searching and asking questions. You never know when, how many, or who might be reading these posts. God is using you as a facilitator of His message and His new (to us) chapter that’s unfolding now. He’s throwing these drifters life rafts and you’re helping to pull them in and load them into the boat. That’s not being puffed-up. I heard someone say once, “I’m just one beggar telling another where to get some bread.” If I may speak for you, I think that accurately describes your heart attitude about it all.

    Thanks for being such a blessing in my life, J.

    We’re looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow night, weather providing.
    Oh yea, please tell Kristin that after our discussion last Friday night, the Sham Wow commercial has taken on a whole new meaning. (She’ll know what it’s about.) :)


  12. I was teasing Judah about my giving him a big head. This post and another recent post sounded frustrated to me and that is what I responded to. I'm not bagging on, Judah, really. I support him even when we don't agree on every little thing. We do agree on most things. If it means anything to be in agreement with me. I think we all do better making sure we are in agreement with God individually and let the rest take care of itself.

  13. This post wasn't written out of frustration. It was written for correction.

    Gotta go, my big head is blocking my viwe fo teh kyebraord/

  14. Well, then I stand corrected on my comment. The last line of your post though was, "Tell me what you think, guys." So I did. I guess what I wrote was written in a spirit of correction, as well. It is always easier to give correction than receive it and I'm no different from anyone else.

    You know, Judah, Jesus did not say, "Where two or more agree" but "Where two or more are gathered in My Name" I hope you know that even when I disagree or when you disagree with me, I still consider you my brother, my co-equal in Christ. He is what unites us, not our religious practice, culture, or the way we understand or misunderstand scripture. I would never tell you anything to tear you down but hope that all my words edify you in some way. Even when I mess up, I do trust that Jesus will take my words, good and bad, and work them for your good.

    God Bless,


  15. Issue is a tad more complicated:

    The Torah being abrogated or changed has a long Jewish pedigree.