Some examples of the origin of the "love and grace" and "only believe in Jesus" theology include the following. (All Scripture references are from the Complete Jewish Bible):
Mark 12: 28 One of the Torah-teachers came up and heard them engaged in this discussion. Seeing that Yeshua answered them well, he asked him, "Which is the most important mitzvah of them all?" 29 Yeshua answered, "The most important is, `Sh'ma Yisra'el, ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad [Hear, O Isra'el, the LORD our God, the LORD is one], 30 and you are to love ADONAI your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your understanding and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: `You are to love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other mitzvah greater than these."
John 3: 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.
1 Thessalonians 4: 13 Now, brothers, we want you to know the truth about those who have died; otherwise, you might become sad the way other people 14 do who have nothing to hope for. For since we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, we also believe that in the same way God, through Yeshua, will take with him those who have died.
One of the reasons Christianity has drawn the conclusion that all they have to do is "believe" is that they are taught very early in their lives that the "Old Testament" is not applicable to them. They are taught that "Jesus" had "done away" with the Word of Yahweh. (In this article, I will use the correct phonetic pronunciation of the name of the Messiah - Yeshua [which in Hebrew means "YHWH is Salvation] - rather than the word "Jesus" which detracts from the fullness of who our Savior was). Similarly, the name "Yahweh" will be used instead of "God"; Yahweh being the phonetic pronunciation of the Hebrew ).
Truth be told, few Christians ever stop and ask if it even makes sense that Yeshua would or even could "do away" with Yahweh's teachings! Throughout Yeshua's teachings while He walked the Earth, He always lived by and quoted His Father's Word and the Kingdom (Luke 4:43). Yeshua always taught from the Tanach - "Old Testament" - which in that era consisted of the Books of Moses - the 'Pentateuch', known today as Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Over the centuries, other Yahweh-inspired writings were canonized (declared authoritative) and added to the Bible. Therefore, today, the Bible includes the 66 Books known as the "Pentateuch", "Prophets," "Writings" (these first three referred to as "the Tanach"), the "Gospel," (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the "Epistles" (the last two comprising the 'New Testament'). Thus, the life and teachings of Yeshua, captured in the New Testament, mean absolutely nothing if the Old Testament is ignored or dismissed because Yeshua knew of and taught from the OT!
Look again at the scripture from Mark 12, above. In verse 29, Yeshua is explaining the "most important mitzvah of them all." ("Mitzvah" is the phonetic pronunciation of the Hebrew word for "commandment".) There is much to learn from Mark 12, verses 29 to 31 - very important to understanding the "missed point" which is our subject.
Yeshua, in Mark 12, verse 29 says: "The most important [mitzvah] is, "Sh'ma Yisra'el, ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad'". Translated to English this becomes "Hear O Isra'el, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." But let's look at that Hebrew word "Sh'ma". Translating "Sh'ma" to English as "Hear" does not do it justice. In Hebrew, the word means: "hear and do." Sh'ma does not just mean to "hear" as in "hear with your ears"; it means "hear these instructions and comply with them"; or more succinctly, "hear and do."
So, just how are you to "hear and do"? Well, Yeshua tells us! Look at the remainder of the verse: You are to "love ADONAI your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your understanding and with all your strength." Note He did NOT say: "You are to abandon Adonai, and follow what you think I am saying about 'grace' and 'love'". Rather, He said to love ADONAI with all your heart, soul, understanding, and strength!
Yeshua goes on to say that the second most important mitzvah is to love your neighbor as yourself. Most people stop reading right there. Consequnetly, they miss an important discovery! Look again at those verses - Yeshua goes on to say: "There is no other mitzvah greater than these." Yeshua did not eliminate the other mitzvot! He did not say "So these two replace all others" or "All the other mitzvah are negated."
Besides, was Yeshua presenting a new command here? Is "love your neighbor as yourself" something new that replaces Yahweh's instruction? If you find yourself responding "yes", then you are strongly encouraged to turn to Leviticus 19, and explain the following:
Leviticus 19:18: Don't take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people; rather, love your neighbor as yourself; I am ADONAI.
Once again, was Yeshua presenting a new command here? Is "love your neighbor as yourself" something new that replaces Yahweh's instruction?
Are the other mitzvot no longer important? Let's take a look at two more New Testament scriptures. First, John chapter 17:2-3. Here you find Yeshua talking to Yahweh saying: "Just as you have given him authority over all flesh that whomever You have given him, he will give to him life that is eternal. Now this is life eternal, that they might know You, that You are Elohim of Truth, and he alone whom You have sent, the Messiah Yeshua." Compare this to the scriptures cited above from John chapter 17 and 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. They are saying the same thing, but in Yeshua's own words He is saying that eternal life is not just "believing" or "trusting" but, rather, it is KNOWING YAHWEH and KNOWING YESHUA.
So we must know Yahweh, and know Yeshua to gain our eternal life. Just how do we do this? We get a clear clue in 1 John 2:3-6: "The way we can be sure we know Him is if we are obeying His commands. Anyone who says, 'I know Him,' but isn't obeying His commands is a liar - the truth is not in him. But if someone keeps doing what he says, then truly love for God has been brought to its goal in him. This is how we are sure that we are united with Him. A person who claims to be continuing in union with Him ought to conduct his life the way He did."
Since Yeshua and the Father are One, obedience to His commands is required for us to know Him. But the typical Christian thinks he/she is already being obedient to His commands just because they know of the "Ten Commandments" and "believe in Jesus"! As described above, the Christian learns early that the Old Testament commands were "done away with"; thus, they conclude that simply "believing" is "obeying". But is this true? Would the Father provide instructions on life, compel his people to document these instructions, repeatedly ask for our obedience, and then send His Son to give His Word life and to show us the way to eternal life, only to turn around and say, "Oh, never mind; you can now forget about my rules and regulations"?
What this article is attempting to convey is that the scriptures are the "trees" and the Bible is the "forest"! To see the "forest" we must look at how many times the Bible - Old and New Testaments together - demonstrates in one way or another that we must obey Yahweh:
(This list, while certainly long, is not comprehensive. You'll find as you study this list, that the commands to be obedient (the mitzvot) is not always direct. It is also not always "general" - that is, sometimes the command is to obey a particular mitzvah. Sometimes the command is followed with reasons as to why this is a good thing to do. Sometimes it is the corollary - that is, it describes the troubles or punishment you face if you don't obey.)
Altogether, in a study which is admittedly far from exhaustive, 281 scriptures were found where Yahweh clearly expresses His requirement to obey his mitzvot! In none of the these scriptures does Yahweh ever say "obey until...." or "this mitzvah expires when...." In many of the scriptures, in fact, He tells us why it is important to obey.
That number, 281, does not even include the many dozens of times the Psalms express the psalmist's pleasure or triumphs because of his obedience to Yahweh's mitzvot. These Psalms were not counted because they don't directly say to obey; rather, they are expressions of the outcome of obedience. The number 281 also does not include the many references to "wisdom" in Proverbs. A study of Proverbs reveals that the "wisdom" spoken of is Torah. So when a scripture in Proverbs says to "seek wisdom," it is actually referring to "Torah."
In the Scriptures we find that:
- 102 tell us to "obey" the mitzvot.
- 67 tell us to "observe" the mitzvot.
- 60 tell us to "listen to" the mitzvot.
- 45 tell us to "keep" the mitzvot.
- 7 tell us to "remember", or "not to reject", or to "do" or "do not" (as in do not forget).
- 40 tell us to observe a particular event or item (such as the Sabbath, Pesach, or Sukkot).
- 226 are from the OT.
- 55 are from the NT.
- 210 are expressed as "positive", that is, the good that follows from obedience.
- 71 are expressed as "negative", that is the bad that will come (or came to those) for lack of obedience.
The absolute numbers presented here are not important. Not everyone will agree that a particular scripture is regarding obedience to Yahweh's mitzvot. The total numbers may go up or down depending on context, interpretation, and translation. There are many chapters of several Books in the Bible that are entirely about obedience to the mitzvot! How are these scriptures counted? And though the NT is light on the use of key words such as "obey", "observe", and "keep", the entire NT is about Yeshua teaching the truth of Torah, the importance of obedience, and separating out the false teachings of man! So, actually, all the NT scriptures should be counted! Nevertheless, the total number is staggering - there are approximately 300 times where Yahweh directly asks us to obey Him. Please do not miss this point!
And thus "The Missed Point", which this article set out to address: The Bible is not the "story of God"; it is not "man's fall and deliverance"; it is not the "OT vs the NT"; it is not about "those old rules that don't apply to us"; it is not "love" and it is certainly not "grace". The Bible is: Yahweh asking us to obey Him - This is clearly stated at least 281 times! Yahweh wants nothing more than for us to obey Him. One does not obey Yahweh by simply "believing" while, at the same time, continuing to sin and ignoring Torah! (Hebrews 10:26 - "For if we deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…") Thus, to obey Yahweh and to have Torah written on our hearts (Romans 2:15) means that people will at least try to learn and obey Torah, and to begin to integrate it into their daily lives!
In the OT perhaps Proverbs 4:2 says it best: "...for I give you good instruction, do not forsake My Torah."
In the NT, perhaps Yeshua says it best: (John 14:15) "If you love me, you will keep my commands."
Yeshua sought to show us the way to the Kingdom of Yahweh. Along the way, He showed us love and the meaning of obedience, and most importantly, He died for our sins. But let us not forget that Yeshua only taught what Yahweh sent him to teach! Yeshua said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that Day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! Didn't we prophesy in your name? Didn't we expel demons in your name? Didn't we perform many miracles in your name?' Then I will tell them to their faces, 'I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!'" Who are "workers of lawlessness"? Those without obedience to Yahweh; those without Torah....
It is genuinely hoped that the message of this article has come across loud and clear. To believe that Messiah died for your sins is a requirement for your salvation, but it is not sufficient by itself. To fully satisfy all that Yahweh and His Son, Yeshua HaMashiach (The Messiah), have asked of you is that you both believe and obey. To obey means that you are trying with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your understanding and with all your strength ... to obey Yahweh and His Divine Instructions: Torah. This is the "missed point" in Christianity!