- The Spirit and the Letter
I believe at some point in every believers walk they should seriously consider the question of the law and its place in our lives. Any person with a reasonable amount of common sense understands that laws are important. Those of us who believe in the Bible as the inspired words of YHWH understand that laws became necessary because of sin. These laws provide us guidelines so that we can determine conduct that is pleasing to our Creator.
But what laws are meant to be followed? According to Jewish sources there are 613 laws in the Torah. After a person comes to faith in Christ does the law of Moses apply and if so which ones?
To explore these questions and many more Ken Mentell in his book The Elijah Calling takes you on a Biblical journey in search of answers. I should say right up from that Mr. Mentell makes it clear in this book that salvation is by grace through faith in the atoning work of Yeshua who paid the price for our sins. The questions Mr. Mentell deals with in this book relate to how a believer is supposed to conduct his or her self once they have been saved.
Here are a few subject that stood out to me in Mr. Mentell book:
• What did Yeshua mean when he said, “not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law to all be fulfilled”
• What “commandments” are being referred to in Rev. 14:12
• Is circumcision required of the gentiles
• What does it mean to live under grace
• Are gentiles grafted into the Messiah or Israel
In the spirit of respectful criticism I found Mr. Mantell’s conclusions regarding Acts 15 and the idea that the “law” being referenced in this passage was not the “law of Moses” but rather the oral traditions to of the elders to be lacking. Acts 15:5 does not support this. Taken in its most natural reading the topic under discussion was in fact the “law of Moses” and the subject of circumcision.
• Acts 15:5 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Further to this issue I thought Mr. Mantell overly complicated the subject of the letter of the law which resulted in loosing sight of the spirit. Yeshua’s own works explain the simplicity of the issue:
• Matthew 22:37-40 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
In other words a reasonable case can be made that all “law” can be filtered through these two principles. Those who claim Yeshua’s words annuls the law of Moses miss the point because His words it in fact raise the standard and requires the individual to look at each and every one of his or her actions in light of these two overriding principles. These two principles are the very foundation upon which rests the 10 commandments and every other law given by YHWH to mankind.
When using Yeshua words to support his conclusion concerning the requirement of believing gentiles to keep the law, Mr. Mantell fails to address the context of Yeshua’s words. The vast majority of the time He was addressing His fellow Jewish brethren. Yeshua makes it plain that who his message was sent to:
• Matthew 15:24 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
I believe we as gentile followers of Christ are indeed expected to live our lives by the righteous standard given in YHWH’s word. Its called stewardship. I would agree with Mr. Mantell that far too many in the church today have wrongly used the idea of grace as a license to sin. Having said that I believe that all questions concerning the applicability of the “law” in the Bible must first be filter through the context of the people, place, and time in which each law was given. Then those laws should be further filter through the two principles given by Yeshua in Matthew 22:37-40.
In summary I believe Mr. Mantell raised many important subjects that need to be addressed but overall he made the subject far more complicated than it needs to be.
I agree with Mr. Mantell that the church today has lost it moral footing. Any fair appraisal of the situation clearly shows that we are not in fact suffering from following the Bible’s laws too closely rather we have descended into near lawlessness. Our marriages, families, and churches are bearing this bitter fruit. Quite frankly we have perverted the Bible’s message of grace.
With this sobering facts in mind I encourage each reader to make an effort to see what the Bible really says about law and its place in the believer’s life. It’s a subject that we desperately need to address and I appreciate Mr. Mantell’s courage in exploring this challenging subject.
Author: Ken Mantell
Book Title: – The Elijah Calling: The Hidden & Revealed Messiah (Restoring Truth – Volume 1)
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse
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