New video blog: Lawlessness vs. Legalism

Legalism and lawlessness: two extremes in Messiah faith

Many churches in the Evangelical world spend a great deal of time condemning legalism: rigid adherence to Biblical laws and the man-made stringencies around them, observance by the letter and not by the Spirit, observance of Biblical laws to gain eternal life with God.

But Yeshua’s words in the Gospels warn of a different issue:

“Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. This Good News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Matthew 24:12-14, Tree of Life Version

While legalism has been and continues to be a problem among believers, especially Messianic believers, its opposite extreme — lawlessness — pulls God’s people away from living godly, upstanding lives.

In this new podcast episode, Messianic apologist John McKee and myself discuss forms of legalism and lawlessness we’ve encountered in our Messianic walk, and how believers can avoid these extremes that tend to be too common in our Messiah faith. Enjoy, fine Kineti readers!

And, a reminder, you can subscribe to our podcast over at MessianicWalk.com

New episode: Tackling Romans for Messianic Believers

John and Judah discussing Romans...and swear words

In this new episode of Messianic Walk, John and Judah tackle the book of Romans and its pressing questions for Messianic believers:

Specifically,

  • 08:35 When Paul says, “A true Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit and not in letter” (Rom 2), is he saying Gentiles are spiritual Jews?
  • 18:32 Digging deeper on “a true Jew…”: if it speaks only to Jews, why is Paul talking about Jews and Gentiles in the previous verses and context of Romans 2?
  • 24:12 Paul speaks about the righteousness of “Gentiles who do by nature the things of the Torah” (Rom 2): is this the moral law, the full Mosaic law, or something else?
  • 37:09 Paul tells the Romans, “We are released from the Torah” (Rom 7). Does this mean the Torah has no relevance the lives of Messianic believers?
  • 49:05 Sidebar, a relevant example of why we need scholarship in the Messianic movement.
  • 54:49 Paul writes, “Let every person submit himself to the governing authorities” (Rom 13). In the coronavirus era, how should this play out? Governors are issuing mandates to wear masks, quarantine for indefinite periods of time, close churches and social gatherings. Should Messianic believers submit themselves to these authorities, or are these issues going beyond what Paul had in view?
  • 1:16:00 Romans 13 speaks about not causing others to stumble over issues of food. Can this be applied to kosher standards today in the Messianic movement? Is it wise use of Romans 13 to discourage Messianic folks from taking a stand over kosher issues? Or can we cite Paul’s “the Kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking” and tell people that food ultimately doesn’t matter to God?
  • 1:31:20 So many missteps with Paul’s letters began with misapplying or overapplying Paul’s words in a specific context to a broader context. How can Messianics apply Scripture today without over-applying it; without getting off on erroneous tangents by misapplying Scripture to overly broad contexts?

I learned a lot just by chatting with John about these issues. I think you will too, fine Kineti reader.

The Messianic Walk: Episode 2 - Did the early Roman believers really celebrate Passover?


In the 2nd episode of The Messianic Walk, J.K. and I discuss the theological objections to Torah observance from a friend, Jonathan, who recently left the Hebrew Roots movement for the mainstream Church.


We tackle several challenges to Torah observance, including:
  • Does Matthew 5 really say the Torah is still in effect?
  • Has God changed, or have people changed? If people changed, does it means God’s law applies differently?
  • Is the Sabbath merely a cultural commandment, meant only for Bronze Age Israel?
  • Did the Christian community at Rome really celebrate Passover?

That last one was an interesting question. My friend who left Torah, Jonathan, had objected to Torah observance by appealing to the book of Romans, saying that Paul's rebuke of sinful Rome was only a rebuke of breaking the moral law, which surely doesn't include laws about Passover:

"Were kosher, feasts and sabbath part of this [moral] law?  Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,” I doubt that a gentile would accidentally keep kosher."

My response is that the leaders of the Roman believers, Acquila and Priscilla, were both Jewish believers who were almost certainly keeping Passover. And that they were ousted with other Jews from Rome during Claudius' reign suggests they were identifiably Jewish. My reasoning, then, is if the leaders of the Roman believers were celebrating Passover, it's reasonable to conclude the laypeople of the Roman community were following their example.

In the podcast, J.K. shed further light on this: many of the laypeople in the Roman community were the "God fearers" of the 1st century: non-Jews who followed the God of Israel, attended synagogue, but lived as righteous gentiles among the nations. These folks too would be likely to celebrate Passover, all the more given Yeshua's imbuing the feast with new meaning.

Check out the podcast, friends, I think you'll enjoy this discussion on Torah, faith, Romans, and the early believers.

One final note, I'm glad to report that we've started a new website home for the podcast: messianicwalk.com. Additionally, the Messianic Walk podcast is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Podcast Addict. 😎