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A Twitter Exchange about “Torah-Keepers”

I saw this post on Twitter this morning from someone I will call GRD and felt obliged to respond. I thought the content was worth preserving here in the likely case that something will eventually happen to make it disappear from Twitter.

This is an image of the tweet to which I was responding…

Of course, I disagree with the original tweet about the Sabbath and with the person complaining about Torah-Keepers. Your eternal salvation is not contingent on the Sabbath and most Torah-Keepers do not engage in scare tactics to make you believe you need to keep the commandments “or else”. Most of us are simply trying to live the way God wants us to and some of us are trying to tell other people what God says about how to live.

Some people are all fire and brimstone and trying to scare people straight. Some people are obnoxious and legalistic and all kinds of other negative adjectives, but that’s true of every religion and denomination, not just Torah-Keepers.

So, here’s how the rest of this exchange went:

Me: If you’re open to an honest conversation between brothers with an aim to understanding instead of accusations, I’d love to talk about this topic.

GRD: That depends on: 1. Do you agree with [the OP’s] statement, “There is no salvation without the 7th day Sabbath!”? 2. Can you show me my accusations?

Me: 1. No 2. That was a proposal for a conversation, not an accusation in itself.

GRD: Start a thread. Tag me. Restrict comments to just you and me. Let’s see if it flies.

Me: I believe that Torah defines sin and is God’s standard of behavior for all people, so I’m one of those “Torah-Keepers” who believe in keeping the Sabbath.

I don’t believe that anyone can earn eternal salvation by keeping the Sabbath or any other commandment.

I don’t believe that Jesus or Paul taught people not to keep Torah (aka the Law of Moses). Their words–especially those of Paul–have been twisted and misunderstood to say what they never intended.

[Some confusion about Twitter notifications not working.]

GRD: In your original tweet, you said, ‘I believe that Torah defines sin and is God’s standard of behavior for all people, so I’m one of those “Torah-Keepers” who believe in keeping the Sabbath.’

So, do you believe that the Gentiles in Romans 2:12-16, who do not have the law, but do by nature the things contained in the law, showing the work of the law written in their hearts, keep the 7th-day Sabbath?

Me: No. Paul was talking about those aspects of the law that can be discerned by observing nature and following conscience. The concept of a sabbath could be derived from natural law, but God’s Sabbath could only be revealed by Him. The same is true of almost all of God’s Law. Let me give 2 examples.

1) The need for some kind of mediator between God and Man can be reasoned out from natural law, but the identity and nature of that Mediator can only be revealed supernaturally.
2) Open homosexuals (whom Paul had just condemned as sinners) often show that they are still able to discern some right from wrong when they defend their sin by appealing to monogamy and “committed relationships”. In that respect, they “do by nature things contained in the law, showing the work of the law written in their hearts”, but they are still disobedient in other respects.

GRD: I just discovered your reply and did not get notified of it. Maybe we should follow each other & send DMs when we reply? Missing notifications gets frustrating.

What’s your take on the scripture below, since Torah observers say the New Covenant is really a REnewed Covenant?

Me: Yeah, maybe following will kick the system. Some Torah-keepers say it is a “renewed” covenant, but I don’t think Scripture supports that. Jeremiah 31, 2 Corinthians 3, and Hebrews all say “new”, not “renewed”.

As Peter warned, Paul can be very difficult to understand. Without a thorough understanding of the Torah, he is impossible.

God’s Law had to be written down because the people couldn’t keep it through the spirit alone. Torah itself says that it is blessing if you keep it and a curse if you don’t. Of course, nobody is able to keep every commandment perfectly, so it becomes a ministration of death by it’s undeniable witness of sin. Most of it is very clear in meaning.

However, by faith, by God’s grace, and by Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are spared the eternal consequences of disobedience. The Law proves we are unworthy of eternal life and condemns us to death. God’s Grace forgives our sin, sets aside that condemnation, and promises eternal life. That doesn’t nullify the Law’s ability to define sin. It just takes away the Law’s power to condemn (ministry of condemnation).

As God reforms us in his image and writes his Law on our hearts, the written Law becomes less and less useful. I think the YLT is helpful here.

9 …for if the ministration of the condemnation is glory, much more doth the ministration of the righteousness abound in glory; 10 for also even that which hath been glorious, hath not been glorious—in this respect, because of the superior glory; 11 for if that which is being made useless is through glory, much more that which is remaining is in glory.

10-11 shows that the glory of the written Law that condemns has only diminished in comparison to the greater glory of the spiritual Law. As Jeremiah 31 says, the Law isn’t done away with; it’s only transferred from stone–which can ultimately only condemn because our hearts are unable to receive it–to hearts, where it can become part of who we are, not imposed from without, but natural and instinctive as reborn children of God.

[More confusion about Twitter notifications.]

At this point, GRD decided it wasn’t worth continuing since Twitter wasn’t notifying us when the other person replied. I wish we could have continued this conversation, as it seemed like we might have been able to reach some kind of understanding. In any case, I hope he was persuaded that manyTorah-Keepers are not legalist, salvation-by-works Judaizers.

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