“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven,* but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:21-29
Several years ago when my husband and I started to learn that Jesus, Yeshua, was a Torah keeping Jew, we joined a group that was studying the “Old” testament. The study is called “Shadows of the Messiah”. It teaches what Yeshua taught the two disciples on the road to Emmaus—the entire “old” testament points to Him!
Our study group met in a church near our home. We met on a weekday evening. The pastor’s wife came to the first couple of lessons. When the third lesson started, the pastor of the church walked into the meeting—not as an attendee, but as the authority of his church. He demanded to know, “Who in this room believes that we are still ‘under the law’”?
The twenty or so people in the room were stunned into silence. No one answered him.
Now, several years later, my husband and I would have an answer for him, “Yes. Of course. Jesus did not come to abolish the law. He was a Torah Observant Jew, and as his disciple, we do what he did.”
After the confrontation from the pastor, the group moved their meetings to our home. We learned, and are still learning the importance of keeping the law.
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
“Workers of lawlessness?” ! Who were these “workers of lawlessness”? Those who thought they were doing things for Him. Did they not do mighty works in his name? So why did Yeshua call them “workers of lawlessness”? Because they did not keep the law!
One of the things we learned early on in our study of Yeshua and “the Law”, is that the word that is translated “law” in most of our English bibles, is “Torah”. Torah is the first five books of the Original Scriptures (the name we prefer for what is commonly called “Old Testament”). “Torah” means instruction, or teaching. Yes, God’s laws/commandments are part of it, but Torah is God’s loving instructions for life. Torah teaches us how to approach Him, and how to live with each other. When Yeshua comes back, Torah will be the constitution of the whole world. We had better learn to follow His instructions now and not be numbered amongst those who are “workers of lawlessness.”
Grace and Torah are not opposites. Grace and Legalism are opposites. We cannot do enough good, or earn our way into the kingdom of God by “keeping the law”. All of us before and after the incarnation are and were, dependent on grace made possible by Yeshua. That’s what he meant when he said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom”. He said, “No one comes to the Father (i.e. enters the kingdom of God) except by me. Since God doesn’t change, the rules don’t change. All the people before and after the cross are dependent on His grace. Abraham saw his day, and rejoiced.
So do we.
*Do you think Paul will be called “least in the kingdom of heaven”? Of course not. He was, contrary to teaching you may have heard, also a Torah observant Pharisee right until the moment he died. When he was brought before the chief priests and the council before being sent to Rome “he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Acts 23:6
He also said, “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.” Acts 26:4-5