Approaching One Law Controversies: Sorting Through the Legalism

bookcoverimage2A definite controversy that has been present in the Messianic movement, is whether non-Jewish Believers are at all supposed or anticipated to keep (any of) the Torah or the Law of Moses. Many have committed themselves to a Messianic walk of faith, wanting to live more like Messiah Yeshua, in obedience to the Father’s commandments. They have taken a hold of things like the seventh-day Sabbath/Shabbat, the appointed times of Leviticus 23, and eating kosher, as a means of grace, approaching these practices as being an important part of maturing in faith.

There are Messianic Jewish leaders and teachers who do not believe that non-Jewish Believers are to follow the Torah, there are others who are more open to it, and then again there are others who believe that all of God’s people should be striving to adhere to Moses’ Teaching via the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Within the 2000s, and now into the 2010s, divisions have been witnessed in various sectors of the Messianic world, per what has been commonly labeled as the “One Law” issue. At much of the center of the discussion, involves quotations from Torah passages such as Exodus 12:49 or Numbers 15:29. They have been frequently invoked by non-Jewish Believers to emphasize that within the community of Ancient Israel, both the native and welcome sojourner were supposed to adhere to the same basic Torah instruction.

For many adherents of a “One Law” theology, the emphasis is on today’s Jewish and non-Jewish Believers both taking instruction from Moses’ Teaching, and being united together in Israel’s Messiah as brothers and sisters, as fellow members of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13; 3:6). Many have used Torah passages emphasizing “one law” or “one statute” to stress the equality of God’s people (cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11), and how a relatively uniform standard of jurisprudence for all within the community of Ancient Israel, was certainly contrary to the different law codes of the Ancient Near East.

In practice, however, the One Law/One Torah sub-movement is not broadly facilitating assemblies and fellowships where study of the Torah and being discipled in its precepts—as a person grows in the Messiah and His love—is what is emphasized. What people too frequently encounter from the One Law/One Torah sub-movement, is a great deal of legalism, judgmentalism, pride and superiority, a condemnatory spirit, and stifling environments widely devoid of the presence of God’s grace. Assemblies where “one law” or “one statute” is emphasized, hardly tend to be places where the Holy Spirit can easily write the Torah’s commandments on hearts and minds at the Holy Spirit’s pace onto a redeemed man or woman (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). This resource hopes to provide some fair examination of the different Torah passages employing the terms “one law” or “one statute,” while at the same time stressing that we do indeed live in a post-resurrection era with some new spiritual realities.

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