The Third Temple  The Center for
Messianic Learning 

Unapologetically Pro-Torah
Unashamedly Pro-Israel
Irrevocably Zionist
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)
Jew and Gentile (Synagogue and Church), one in Messiah. (Ephesians 2:14)
“For He is our peace, Who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, …”

If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!
If you don’t believe Genesis 1-11, how can you possibly believe John 3:16?
“Indeed, all who want to live a godly life united with the Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted.” (2Tim 3:12)
It is what you actually believe that determines how you walk out your faith, “but avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, quarrels and fights about the Torah; because they are worthless and futile.” (Titus 3:9)

Please Note: Absolutely nothing on this website should be taken as anti-Church or anti-Rabbinic. I am not anti-anything or anti-anyone. I am only pro-Torah and pro-Truth (see “Philosophy”), but sometimes the Truth upsets our long-held beliefs. I know it certainly upset mine! For example, see “Why Isn’t My Theology Consistent Throughout the Website?”

Developing a
Systematic Messianic Theology

“The purpose of careful theological formulations is not to put barriers in the way of people who are seeking salvation, but to define clearly the truths upon which genuine [Biblical] faith rests, so that people will not be misled by false doctrines.” [Bowman]

“It must be clearly and unequivocally stated that theology cannot save you. Only faith in Messiah Yeshua can save you. Theology can only give you sound doctrine.” [RLS]

Unless otherwise specified, throughout the Theology section of my website I use the term “Torah” in the wider sense of including the entire body of inspired Scripture: both the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings. I personally do not consder any other so-called “sacred writings” either inspired by God or authoritative for the Believer’s walk of faith. Thus, I do not consider the Mishnah (the “Oral Torah”) as part of Torah. You should make up your own mind.

[Explanations of rabbinic citations are HERE]

Why Should I Obey Torah?

The Summary of Torah

There are some leaders within the Messianic Restoration Movement who teach that HaShem has two completely different “standards of righteousness”-- one for Jews and one for non-Jews. They teach that obedience to Torah[1] is only “required” for Jewish people and that non-Jewish Believers are only obligated to obey the so-called Noachide Law that is incumbent upon all humanity. Others go so far as to teach that non-Jewish Believers in the Jewish Messiah are not allowed to even try to obey HaShem’s Divine Instruction, that “Torah is only for Jews.”

What the Scriptures teach, however, is that “God does not play favorites” (Acts 10:34) and that in Messiah there is “no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, and free” (Col 3:11 NASB), as far as salvation and righteousness are concerned. The Scriptures say there is neither slave nor free, while at the time they were written there were, in fact, masters and servants, and there continue to be both employers and employees to this day. The Scriptures say there is neither male nor female, while there is a very obvious difference (thankfully). The Scriptures say there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile), when there are obviously those who are the physical descendants of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya'akov and those who are not.

I believe and teach that HaShem has but one single standard of righteousness for all mankind: the Torah. If you have read the chapter on the Jerusalem Council in my manuscript of The Model for the Messianic Community you know that I believe that the record of the Jerusalem Council demonstrates that they specifically did not decide that Messianic Gentiles would be expected to obey only the Noachide Law; in fact, the expectation for Gentile Believers described in the “minutes” of the Jerusalem Council as recorded in Acts 15 do not even remotely resemble the Noachide Law.

Some teach that all mankind will be judged according to the Torah for their salvation; that both Jews and non-Jews must obey every “jot and tittle” of the Torah, and that that one’s eternal destiny depends upon obedience to Torah. I believe and teach that all mankind will be judged according to the Torah for their reward or punishment, but not as a condition of salvation.

If Torah obedience is essential to salvation, then salvation obviously depends upon obedience to every provision of Torah that it is possible to obey; the smallest provision of Torah is as important as its whole. It needs to be noted, however, that many mitzvot (commandments or provisions of Torah) are specific to gender, or to those who have servants or employees. Other provisions are for those living in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) under a theocratic government. Still other mitzvot require the presence of a functioning Temple and Priesthood. It is obvious that not everyone can, or should, obey every single mitzvah (commandment), and that nobody can obey those mitzvot that require a theocratic government, a Temple, and a Priesthood.

Some teach that Believers in Messiah who are not Torah observant have no place in the Kingdom, and that a Believer who violates Torah and dies without repenting will be eternally lost. To which specific provisions of Torah can they possibly be referring? If all provisions of Torah are equally important to HaShem, then violation of any of those provisions would be equally heinous to HaShem (except, of course, those provisions which are physically impossible for us to keep).

If it is possible for one to lose (or fail to gain) eternal salvation for committing an act of homosexuality or homicide (for example) and failing to repent of that act, then it is just as possible for one to lose (or fail to gain) salvation for committing an act of greed or gluttony or for failing to wear tzitzit (fringes on the “corners” of the garment) or eating a ham sandwich or a single shrimp and failing to repent of that act. If one can not lose one’s salvation for greed or gluttony (or failing to wear tzitzit or eating a ham sandwich or a single shrimp) then how is it possible that one can lose one’s salvation for homosexuality or homicide? If Torah observance is a condition of salvation, then which specific provisions are mandatory and which are not? Do we get to pick and choose which provisions of Torah are important and which are unimportant? What if I am all “prayed up” and all “repented up” and I am driving in my car and look up and see a Mack truck bearing down on me; and I swear a blasphemous oath at the truck driver just as he plows into my car and kills me? Am I then eternally lost for that one utterance? (I know that this sounds an awful lot like, “Can God create a rock so big that He Himself cannot lift it?” It is not intended to be a facetious question.) My point is that either Torah observance is a condition of salvation or it is not. It can’t be a “maybe” or a “sometimes” or a “kind of.”

If Torah observance is not a condition of salvation, then Torah observance is not mandatory for either Jews or non-Jews, and to teach that one must obey Torah is incorrect; but to teach that one should obey Torah is correct, since it is the standard that defines “sin and righteousness.” 

If Torah observance is not a condition of salvation, then why should it be a condition of fellowship? But if Torah observance is a condition of salvation and of fellowship, then who gets to pick and choose which specific provisions of Torah are imperative and which are not? If one is to be denied fellowship in the “Messianic Community” for failure to “correctly” observe Shabbat (or for having a Christmas tree in the living room), then one should likewise be denied fellowship for incorrectly counting the omer or for failing to wear tzitzit or for “trimming the corners of the beard.” If wearing tzitzit and observing the dietary restrictions is critical, then so is the correct method of counting the omer and the wearing of a beard. If the correct method of counting the omer is not critical and if men are not required to wear beards, then neither is Shabbat observance critical.

Who is more righteous? The one who wears tzitzit and observes the dietary restrictions and observes Shabbat but counts the omer incorrectly, or the one who observes Shabbat and counts the omer correctly, but neglects the wearing of tzitzit and eats shrimp at the Chinese buffet? Obviously, it is preferred to wear tzitzit and to observe Shabbat and to observe the dietary restrictions and to count the omer correctly!

I recently read the teaching of an Orthodox rabbi on the subject of Torah observance; unfortunately, I have not been able to find that writing again, and don’t remember where it was that I read it, but it went something like this: Walking Torah is like walking along a forest path strewn with rocks. Some of the rocks are lying on top of the ground, some are half-buried in the dirt, and some are deeply buried so that only their top surfaces show. As we walk along the path, we pick up some of the rocks, examine them, and set them down again. Others we pick up, examine them, and choose to carry them with us. After carrying them for a while, we find that some of them are too burdensome, so we set them down. From time to time we will stop and dig up one of the rocks that is partially buried, dust it off, and put it in our pocket. Some of the rocks are so deeply buried that we cannot dig them out at all. But each of us on our own path must decide for ourselves which of the rocks we will carry with us. The mitzvot are like those rocks.

Of course we should obey the Master’s instruction to teach and obey Torah:

“So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt 5:19)

But each Believer must be given the freedom (but not license) under HaShem’s grace to choose whether (or how much) to obey and be called great, or to not obey and be called least, and to answer directly to HaShem for the result of that decision. Believers should be taught the love and joy of Torah observance, not its “yoke” and “burden.”

Recall the words of Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our Teacher) just before his death:

15“Look! I am presenting you today with, on the one hand, life and good; and on the other, death and evil — 16in that I am ordering you today to love ADONAI your God, to follow his ways, and to obey his mitzvot, regulations and rulings; for if you do, you will live and increase your numbers; and ADONAI your God will bless you in the land you are entering in order to take possession of it. 17But if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you are drawn away to prostrate yourselves before other gods and serve them; 18I am announcing to you today that you will certainly perish; you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Yarden to enter and possess. 19I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants, 20loving ADONAI your God, paying attention to what he says and clinging to him-- for that is the purpose of your life! On this depends the length of time you will live in the land ADONAI swore he would give to your ancestors Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov.” (Deut. 30:15-20)

Choose Torah; choose life!

Joshua 1:7-8

  1. Many Jewish leaders in the Messianic Restoration also teach that the takanot are as important to be observed as the Torah. Takanot (singular takanah, תקנה) are the provisions of the “Oral Tradition,” “Tradition of the Fathers,” or “Oral Torah.” They are Rabbinical regulations, now codified in the Talmud, that either add to or subtract from the requirements of Torah in direct violation of Torah. They are “laws” enacted by the Rabbis that change or negate Torah law. Obedience to Takanot is obedience to the Rabbis instead of obedience to HaShem. In fact, the Rabbis claim that when they make takanot, even HaShem must obey their decisions. MORE HERE. [BACK]

Page originally posted on Thursday, 02 December 2021

Page last updated on Tuesday, 26 September 2023 01:32 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return

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