A New Beginning in Jesus Christ
The Bible makes it clear that our redemption begins with Abraham, which I will cover in the next article entitled,
“Part 4 The Beginning in Abraham”.
The beginnings in Abraham are not disputed by those in the Hebrew Roots Movement, although many misunderstand what takes place with him and how it applies to us. The real issue comes down to what people believe did or didn’t change with the advent of Jesus Christ. This is a highly controversial issue with Hebrew Roots adherents. I will begin by addressing this issue first so that we may then look at the issue of Abraham and what would change as a result of him.
It would seem the claim is continually made by those of the HRM, that nothing has changed with the Advent of Christ, the Cross, and Pentecost.
The HRM can be divided into two schools of thought concerning this.
1) The first group, which is probably made up of former evangelicals, holds to the standard theology that things did in fact change with the coming of Christ, but we are still obligated to obey the literal precepts of the Law as a covenant.
2)The second group recognizes Christ as the Messiah, and the forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice, but other than that, He did not provide for anything physically or spiritually that wasn’t already available prior to His coming. And of course, the Law is still in affect as a covenant.
The position of both groups remains more of an ideology than a theology, and neither do the claims really specify as to what exactly has or hasn’t changed. What these two groups agree upon, is that there is no new dispensation that would alter the interpretation of the Law and our obligation to it. While I disagree with both groups, I want to focus more on the extremity of group No. 2 to properly clarify this issue.
Of course, we know that whatever claim the HRM makes, it ultimately has to do with their belief we are still under the Law as a covenant, so we have to keep that in mind, even when they are not necessarily promoting the Law directly. The majority of those in the HRM reject anything that might shift the focus off of the total advancement of the Law. The problem with this is that Jesus did not come to point to the Law, but to Himself and to show that He was one with the Father.
If someone wants to say that our obligation to the Law has not changed, then I would consider that a very worthy and credible discussion, even If I disagreed. But, what isn’t credible or worthy, is the extreme position of group No. 2, which states that nothing new has occurred with Christ. This position is based upon the idea that the shadows, and types, and prophecies found in in OT which point to Jesus as the Messiah, have just as much substance to them, as the actual fulfillment of them by Christ himself. This view also proposes that since the Law was present at the time of these shadows and types which are equal to Christ, then the Law is present and in force now with Christ. Please read that again, because if you have not encountered this idea, you will sooner or later.
This is an ideology that has been created as an attempt to remove any and all distinction between the Old and New testaments, therefore making them one, and therefore making the Law of Moses continual an unobstructed by Jesus Christ.
It’s one thing to debate whether or not certain commandments of the Law are still in effect, but to make a general statement that about how nothing has changed with Jesus is blind and callous. To have the Son of God come to earth and walk among us and declare the things of heaven to us is beyond the ordinary. This is placing the laws and commandments of God above Himself in importance and priority, and that is exactly what the Pharisees and people of that time did. Many Torah teachers would seem to place such a high regard for the Law of Moses, they forget man has been estranged from God, and God has worked to reconcile that separation. I’ve even seen the idea proposed that Adam and Eve lived under the Torah because that is God’s one and only means of relationship with man, and that is the only means for man to live unto God. If Adam and Eve had to live under the Torah, then it could be said that they never fell into sin, or conversely, they were born into sin.
Let’s just look at one simple passage in John 3 as a starting place for what was set to occur with Christ coming to earth.
Although this Bible passage is referred to quite often, there is very little exposition on the whole text of John chapter 3:1-21. In dealing with the issue of what has changed with Christ, this chapter lays down the most fundamental and foundational concepts about the purpose and ministry of Jesus which I believe are greatly overlooked. In this passage
What I will do is break this chapter down into 4 major parts:
1)The mandate for change in men.(John 3:3-5)
2)The necessity of that change.(John 3:6, 10, 12, 18-21)
3) God’s purpose in Jesus, and His ministry.(John 3:16-17)
4)The description of that change.(John 3:6-8)
Lets begin with the mandate for change:
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’.”(John 3:3-5)
In verse 4, we see that Nicodemus only understands this mandate as requiring a person to be twice born in the flesh, or twice born “of water”, but Jesus clarifies in verse 5 and 6, that this new birth is not in human terms but from the Spirit. We have to realize that in this whole entire passage, we never see Jesus trying to re-establish any previous methods or mentalities about God’s kingdom. Every verse is revolutionary, but what is very important to note, is that this passage is not revolutionary because God made it so, it is revolutionary because it is abstract to man’s condition and understanding. Jesus Himself tells Nicodemus not to think of it as revolutionary:
“Do not marvel that I say to you,’You must be born again’.”(vs.7)
“Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?”(vs.10)
Nicodemus isn’t being told not to marvel about Jesus, He is being told not to marvel about the necessity for change. The command of Jesus not to marvel, does not come after He explains His ministry and purpose, it comes after He explains the mandate for change.
So the next question is, why in verse 10, does Jesus expect him to have known these things already? Being born of the Spirit is a fundamental change. When people fail to realize that the main purpose of God’s law is to show a distinction between God’s holiness, and man’s depravity, then they simply don’t feel that a fundamental change must take place. But the point Jesus is making is that if this man was a teacher of the Law, the need for a fundamental change should be obvious. The Law was given from God’s perspective, not man’s. When a person does not see a need for fundamental change, it is because he is viewing God’s Law from an earthly perspective, and this earthly perspective, is a result of being born of the flesh. This is what Jesus emphasizes to Nicodemus in verse 6, and 11-13. Lets read:
“That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit…Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended from heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.”
These passages are extremely, extremely important because this is where Jesus makes a transition into declaring His ministry from God. Once Jesus clarifies the need for rebirth, and the lack of heavenly perspective to Nicodemus, verse 13 shows us that Jesus is declaring Himself as the only one Born of the Spirit with a heavenly perspective. And it’s this position of Jesus which makes Him called of God, and sent to Israel as the way to God, as we can see in verses 14-21.
Most of us should be familiar with John 3:16-17, which outlines the simple Gospel message, of how Jesus is our reconciliation to God. What is overlooked about these two verses is that they are set within a framework of how Jesus has become the complete reference point for God’s Kingdom because He is the only one born of the Spirit with a heavenly perspective. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of Nicodemus to truly understand how revolutionary and wild this concept is of Jesus declaring Himself as the sole steward and only determining factor for how Israel relates itself to God. Think long and deep about that. Jesus has basically stepped into a culture chosen by God, steeped in history, heritage, commandments, traditions, prophets and covenants, and says “I come from God to be the only means and way of determining how you stand before Him.” It could also be suggested that Jesus was saying, “I define the Kingdom of God, and the identity of Israel. What is right or wrong, pivots upon Me.”
Having said all that, there is still one more point and verse to consider. This point has to do with the description of change. Let’s read:
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”(John 3:8)
This is truly a mysterious verse indeed. One way of breaking this down is to point out that Jesus is saying there is an intangible or invisible aspect to being Born of the Spirit. We might also add that there is a lack of identity in this description. When we take the topics of this passage such as,
and we apply this description to them, what we can conclude is that the kingdom of God is not constituted in what is tangible or visible. We can also say that the kingdom of God is not determined from our perspective, nor is it on our terms.
In summary, this one single passage deals with a very profound and fundamental concept of change that would take place because of Christ. I have not stated what the actual changes are subsequent to this passage, but I am simply showing that this passage makes it clear that the ministry of Jesus begins with a full blown mandate and recognition for change and transformation. We can see that Jesus deals with the mandate for change in 4 specific aspects:
-The condition and disposition of man.
-The perspective of heaven being made available in Christ.
-Change that would take place apart from human terms and recognition.
-Jesus Himself becoming the sole identity and standard for Israel.
Since this blog is about dealing with an ideology, we must ask ourselves what constitutes the kingdom of God for us? Is it an ideology from our perspective based on tangible and visible proofs? Do we have an agenda for the kingdom that is based upon the flesh, or is it of the Spirit?
Does our perspective originate in heaven?
The HRM enjoys making the claim that they teach and learn the Bible from a “Hebrew perspective”, but there is no such thing, and neither is there any guarantee that a “Hebrew perspective” gives someone the perspective of heaven. Let’s read what Jesus had to say to those who thought they had the right perspective, yet refused to see Him as the fulfillment:
“You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have eternal life…Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you – Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.” (John 5:39-40, 45-46)
Please see Part 4 The Beginning in Abraham