There is much confusion over the issues of faith, works, law and grace. This is an attempt to reconcile these issues in the mind of Jew and non-Jew alike.
We have attempted to developed this study around the personalities of those who just want to know what we believe while providing further explorations of the issues for the studious, through hot links on the Internet. The introduction will state narrowly and specifically the view as we see it here at Zion. For the Internet, hot-links will be connected with each concept which will discuss some of the Biblical references which were key in bringing us to this conclusion. Further hot-links will be provided to expand on elements within this section for those who do not agree, giving them an opportunity to more thoroughly pick our brains on this matter..
In Zion, we do not see a conflict between "Law and Grace" except in understanding how these key words are defined. The laws given to Israel do not necessarily apply to non-Jews, just as the speed limit does not apply to someone who does not drive.
The Torah was given to Israel for the purpose of creating a "nation of priests" (#1} Exodus 19:6). The priesthood provides answers for men and gives examples of the way life should be lived. The world cannot be priest to itself. Israel was "chosen" for that role (#2} Deut 7:6). The six hundred and thirteen commandments given within the Torah are for that end.
Simply put, grace itself indicates that the law is still in effect. Otherwise there would be no need for grace. Christians are not removed from the law. They are removed from the spiritual penalties of having broken the law (#3}Gal 3:13), however, many of the physical penalties are still in effect. For an example, if someone commits murder, accepting the atonement of Messiah does not remove the physical curse for that sin. Complete forgiveness would otherwise result in all charges being dropped, no resulting criminal record and even the resurrection of the person who was murdered.
There are natural and supernatural aspects of the Torah. In the natural we observe the following:
The law was given to us by the "law giver" (#5} Exodus 20:1). The law is important in defining our "lives" in the "natural". Law then is given to us as a guideline for living. Its intent is to improve the quality of life and bring us blessings (#4} Deut 28:1-14). It is also meant to show us the way to a relationship with the law giver. For those who break it there are penalties. The law itself does not bring atonement for sin but it does reveal the atonement process (#6}Lev 17:11). We know that the law looked forward to Messiah Yeshua’s act of sacrifice (#7}Heb 10:1).
In the supernatural, the law brings to pass certain penalties which can only be remedied supernaturally (#8} Rom 6:23). This is why G-d himself had to provide the remedy. He came within human flesh (Messiah #9}Isa 53:14; #9} John 1:1-13) to redeem mankind from breaking Torah. The Torah also contains instructions which help us know how to resolve supernatural penalties beyond the initial "saving of the soul". To do away with the Torah is to do away with the blessings of G-d toward mankind.
Not only did G-d choose Israel to be the priesthood for mankind, He chose mankind to be created in His image after His likeness. When an animal is born which looks like an elephant we don’t have to guess to know what it is. The law for mankind is to bring man closer to being in the image of G-d. It tells us to be generous with one another and to judge fairly in every situation.
For the Gentiles, G-d’s commandments are simpler. The rabbis tell us that non-Jews are only responsible for the laws given to Noach (Noah) and his sons (#10} Gen 9:1-5 and #10} Everyman's Talmud, page 65, third paragraph). The laws given to the Jewish people for the purpose of creating a nation of priests does not apply to them. Another example of laws that are not for everyone is the Nazarite (#10} Num 6:2-4). He or she takes a vow to serve the L-rd in his temple. During the course of the vow, he or she is not allowed to cut their hair, shave the beard or eat of the fruit of the vine. Obviously G-d never intended for the grape to be considered unclean. He even commanded its use in the temple (#11} Ex 29:40). Therefore it was only unclean to the Nazarite.
The commandments for both peoples are found in the Torah.
There are consequences to our actions. G-d is the ultimate authority. Those who do not recognize His authority are not absolved of wrong doing. Even in the laws of physics it is written, "Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction." Therefore even those who do not believe in G-d accept His principles.
For Christianity, the concept of grace has to do with G-d’s willingness to overlook our sins under the condition that we have accepted the atonement of Yeshua’s death in our place. The actions required of us: REPENT (#12} Acts 2:38), acknowledge Yeshua as messiah and ask G-d to forgive our sins under the covenant of Sacrifice. This covenant of sacrifice comes from "THE LAW". The law also requires restitution. Christians view this as being under the curse of the law and hence are often reluctant to do justly toward the injured party. Yeshua’s teachings support the law of restitution (#12} Mat 5:23,24).
Christianity readily tells us of the penalty for sin (#13} Romans 6:23). Under the definition of law above, this is self acknowledgment that the law HAS NOT BEEN DONE AWAY. The law tells us what we have done wrong and that the penalty for wrongdoing is death (#14} Ex 31:14). The law also tells us what to do to avoid the "curse" promised us for wrongdoing. We are to offer up a "sin sacrifice" of blood unto G-d (15} Lev 17:11). When a person receives Yeshua’s sacrifice he/she is accepting the law’s ordinance which atones for the wrongdoing of the individual (16} Ex 29:14).
Often when repentance is mentioned, it is mumbled or stated rather quickly so as not to alarm the one needing forgiveness. We have defined repentance above but lets look a little closer at this abused and misunderstood word. What are we to repent of? Sin, which is defined above as going against G-d’s will. How do we know what G-d’s will is?
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Paul was the "Apostle" to the gentiles (17} 2 Tim 1:11). He and the other apostles agreed that the rules are different for Jews than they are for gentiles (18} Acts 21:19-25 note verse 25). Most of what is written in Torah does not apply to the will of G-d for gentiles. Essentially, except for the Sabbath, the ten commandments summarizes G-d’s will for gentiles (Noachide Law). The rest of Torah was simply not given to gentiles. This does not mean that G-d doesn’t want gentiles to obey the rest of the Torah. On the contrary, #19} Zech 14 tells us that they are expected to keep other parts of the Torah and #36} Isaiah 56 says any stranger can chose to keep the Sabbath and covenant of G-d and be blessed for doing so.
John was an "Apostle" to the Jews as were the rest of the talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua. He wrote, to the Jews, "Sin is the transgression of the law (Torah)." (#20} 1 John 3:4) Paul told the gentiles, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of G-d." (#21} Romans 3:23; also see #22} Romans 2:14) Therefore we can conclude that there are laws for every people. All of us have broken those laws. We are all worthy of death. G-d’s grace extended to mankind is His willingness for us to be forgiven through blood covenant with Messiah Yeshua. Death is final unless we receive supernatural intervention.
Please note that Paul nowhere tells gentiles that they are not to keep the covenant of G-d. He only says that we should not expect atonement for sin based solely on obedience to some of the commandments. The law itself says blood sacrifice brings atonement. James wrote further, "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet offends (beaks) only one point (commandment), he is guilty of (breaking) the whole law." (#23} James 2:10) He is saying, keeping the commandments cannot produce atonement even if it were permitted. At the same time he said "Faith without works is dead." (#24} James 2:17) Our faith in G-d’s laws cause us to receive the atonement of Yeshua’s blood sacrifice atones for sin.
While it is true that in the natural there is some benefit to being circumcised, the law of circumcision was only given to descendants of Abraham (#25} Gen 14:9-11).
James and the elders at Jerusalem along with Paul told us that gentiles are not to be circumcised (#26} Acts 15:1-20). Paul then circumcised Timothy. How can this be reconciled? Was Timothy placed under the Law through his allowing Paul to circumcise him? The answer is NO! Timothy was already under the "blessings" of the law through his Jewish heritage via his mother. His father was a gentile. Through his Jewish mother, Timothy was able to receive the circumcision given by commandment to descendants of Abraham (#25} Gen 14:9-11). The "curses" from breaking the law were removed from him by his accepting Yeshua as the promised sacrifice for sin (#28} Gal 3:10-14).
Why then was Timothy circumcised? To make him more acceptable as a leader in the Messianic Jewish community. Not because it was necessary for salvation but for the legalistic concerns of other Jewish believers in his region. If Timothy was to be respected in the eyes of the Jewish believers in his region, he would have to be circumcised.
Additionally, Timothy was relying on the law’s fulfillment for salvation. The fulfillment was when the event hoped for, came (Messiah #26} Isaiah 53). At that point, the sacrifice of animals was no longer necessary for atonement. Animal sin sacrifice was a temporary ordinance given to us for the redemption of mankind until G-d could complete the promise of a better sacrifice suitable for all of mankind. Sin sacrifice is still practiced in some Orthodox Jewish circles because they realize that blood atonement is necessary. What they do not recognize is the ultimate victory over the curse of the law given by the sin sacrifice of G-d through Yeshua, HaMoshiach ben Joseph. (#27} Talmud, Succa 52a)
In the same way, circumcision looked forward to the fulfillment of the law in us. In that we would be circumcised in our hearts which makes us truly Jewish (#29} Deut 30:6).
Does this mean that all law has been done away with because it has been fulfilled?
Only the parts of the law that needed to be fulfilled was final sin sacrifice and circumcision of the heart. The sin sacrifice part was fulfilled through the Messiah. Now there needs to come a fulfillment, as prophesied, in us (#30} Jeremiah 31:31-34). The rest was already perfected in that it points out our obedience or disobedience to G-d the law giver. The law then establishes the need for repentance and the grounds for blessings.
Faith is the same thing as trust or confidence. I trust G-d to deliver me from the curse of the law and thereby am forgiven of my sins by what was written in the Torah (Messianic atonement). My trust causes me to continue to obey the law knowing that in spite of the ridicule I get for doing so, the rewards will be as promised (#31} Hebrews 10:35-39).
Faith caused Abraham to obey all of G-d’s commandments (#32} Gen 26:5). When G-d told Avram, leave your homeland, he departed for a land that he knew not.
My faith, like Abraham’s, is not in the law but in the law giver. I trust Him to direct me and lead me by His written word (the Torah / law, #33} Ps 119:97-102) and by His Rucah (spirit) (#34} 1 Cor 2:10). As I become obedient to his commandments, by natural body is changed to be more accommodating to the spiritual rule of my L-rd. As I grow in confidence and obedience, I purify my flesh to be a Holy (dedicated to G-d) temple for Him to inhabit (#35} 1 John 3:3).
Obedience is required but not for "salvation" according to the popular view of atonement. If one considers salvation to be only "eternal life" and nothing more, then obedience is not required for salvation. However if obedience does not follow salvation, what has one repented of? (#37} Acts 2:38)
Revelations 12: 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of G-d, and have the testimony of Yeshua the messiah.
Rev 14: 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Yeshua.
If one wants to be a part of the remnant of "her seed" (#37} Isaiah 54, #37} Gen 3:15), he/she must keep the "commandments of God". If we are refusing, for any reason, to keep His commandments we are not part of that remnant. Keep in mind that the commandments of a Jew can be different than the commandments of a non-Jew. (#38} Isaiah 56:1-8)
A person can have "the faith of Yeshua" and "keep the commandments of God" at the same time.
Ephesians 2: 8-10 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10) For we are his workmanship, created in messiah Yeshua unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
Notice that Paul did not say, "Don’t do good works because they will put you under the law." On the contrary he told us, "… created in messiah Yeshua unto good works,…" So these good works should be the by-product of salvation. They do not bring salvation, but salvation brings good works.
This is why Timothy could be circumcised after having received messiah Yeshua and still not be "under the law".
Works do not save you, but they are expected after salvation.
While those who put their trust in keeping commandments to save them are in error, keeping commandments after salvation should be encouraged. Even the Gentiles were encouraged to study the laws of Moses in synagogues, by the apostles. (#26} Acts 15:19-21)
Persons wanting to unite with the covenant people who are a physical example to mankind for living, should be encouraged to do so (#26} Isa 56:1-8).
Legalism is judging others by their works (#39} Matthew 7:1) or trying to force others to walk by our standards. The only parameter which determines "eternal life" is accepting Yeshua as messiah and His atonement of our sins.
Yes we each should be demonstrating faith, works, law and grace as we walk through this life as an example for the lost and dying world around us.
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3} Gal 3:13 The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah (law), by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh (Old covenant) says, "everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse."
4} Deut 28:1 And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen diligently unto the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the LORD your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth: 2) And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen unto the voice of the LORD your God. 3) Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4) Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your goats, and the flocks of your sheep. 5) Blessed shall be your basket and your store. 6) Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. 7) The LORD shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. 8) The LORD shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouses, and in all that you set your hand unto; and he shall bless you in the land which the LORD your God give you. 9) The LORD shall establish you an holy people unto himself, as he swore unto you, if you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and walk in his ways. 10) And all people of the earth shall see that you art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of you. 11) And the LORD shall make you plenteous in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers to give you. 12) The LORD shall open unto you his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto your land in his season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend unto many nations, and you shall not borrow.13) And the LORD shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath; if that you hearken unto the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day, to observe and to do them:14) And you shall not go aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
7} Hebrews 10:1 For the law has in it a shadow of good things to come, and not actual manifestation of the originals. Therefore, it can never by means of the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, bring to the goal those who approach the Holy Place to offer them. Otherwise wouldn't the offering of those sacrifices have ceased?
9} John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2) He was in the beginning with God. 3) All things were made by him; and without him nothing was made which was created. 4) In him was life; and the life was the light of mankind. 5) And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness does not comprehended .... 11) He came unto his own, and his own received him not.... 14) And the Word became a human being, and lived with us, and we saw his Sh'khinah (glory), the Sh'khinah of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.
10} Genesis 9:1-6 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, ... 3) Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4) But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5) And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. 6} Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
10} Everyman's Talmud, page 65, paragraph 3;"To the gentiles who were not prepaired to enter the fold of Judaism, a moral code known as the seven commandments of the sons of Noach, was offered. It consists of the precepts: 'The practice of equity, prohibitions against blaspheming the Name, idolatry, immorality, bloodshed, robbery, and devouring a limb torn from a live animal' (Sanh. 56a). By righteous conduct, based upon these fundamental laws, they would earn the divine approval."
10} Numbers 6:2-4 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: 3) He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. 4) All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.
12} Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be immersed in water, every one of you in the name of Yeshua the messiah for the remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit).
12} Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if you bring your gift to the Temple altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you; 24) Leave there your gift before the altar, and go to your brother; and make peace with him first , and then come and offer your gift.
13} Romans 6:23 see #8 above
15} Leviticus 17:11 see #6 above
18} Acts 21:19 And when he had greeted them, he described in detail what things God had done among the Gentiles through his efforts. 20) And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all eagerly keep the Torah (law): 21) And they are told about you, that you teach all the Jews which live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses commandments, saying that they should not circumcise their children, nor walk after the customs. 22) What is to be done? they will hear that you have come. 23) So do what we say: We have four men which have made a vow; 24) Take them, and purify yourself with them, and pay their fees, so they may shave their heads: and all will know that those things, that they were told about you, are not true; but that you also walk according to the customs and keep Torah (the law). 25) Regarding the Gentiles which believe, we have written and decided that they are not required to do these things, except to keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.
19} Zecharia 14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17) And it shall be, that whoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18) And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19) This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
25} Genesis 14:9-11 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10) This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11) And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
26} Acts 15:1-20 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved. 2) When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. ... 5) But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6) And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7) And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, … 10) Now therefore why do you tempt God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11) But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah we shall be saved, even as they. 12) Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. 13) And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: ... 19) Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20) But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollution of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
26} Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2) For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3) He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not honour him. 4) Surely he has borne our grieves, and carried our sorrows: yet we considered him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. 8) He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you will make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12) Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
27} Talmud, Succa 52a ‘Messiah son of Joseph was slain, as it is written, "They shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son" (Zech. Xii. 10)’ (Succa 52a) (Everyman’s Talmud by A. Cohen, page 348 paragraph 3.
28} Galations 3:10 ... 11) But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith… 13) Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: 14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Yeshua the Messiah; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
30} Jeremiah 31:31-34 Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: ... 33) But this will be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they will be my people. 34) ... for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
31} Hebrews 10:35-39 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great repayment of reward. 36) For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise. 37) For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38) Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39) But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
33} Psalms 119:97-102 MEM. O how love I your law! it is my meditation all the day. 98) You through your commandments have made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. 99) I have more understanding than all my teachers: for your testimonies are my meditation. 100) I understand more than the ancients, because I keep your precepts. 101) I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep your word. 102) I have not departed from your judgments: for you have taught me.
36} Isaiah 56:1-8 Thus says the LORD, … 3) Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD has utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. 4) For thus says the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5) Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 6) Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant; 7) Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. 8) The Lord GOD which gathers the outcasts of Israel says, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.
37} Acts 2:38 see #12 above
37} Isaiah 54:1 Sing, O barren, you that did not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you that did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, says the LORD.... 3 For thou shall break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.
38} Isaiah 56:1-8 see #36 above.