[The following article is an edited transcription of our audio teaching, Living from the Heart of God by John W. Schoenheit.]
I am titling this teaching “Living from the Heart of God.”
I want to tell you that I was tempted to title this teaching “Understanding Torah.” “Torah” is normally translated “Law,” and sometimes in English it is pronounced Torah, but the more proper Hebrew pronunciation is Torah. Understanding Torah or understanding what we normally say is Law, should really be translated as instruction. You will see where we are going as we get into this teaching.
Can we agree that if Spirit & Truth Fellowship International and everyone who listens to us and is involved with us are ever going to build an enduring work of truth, which is what we are trying to do in this ministry-we want to build an enduring work of truth-we have to both understand and then live God’s heart. Can we agree on that? That is what this teaching is about. It is about learning and then living God’s heart.
I am having a bit of paradigm shift in my life, and I am coming into a fuller understanding of the Law of God and how God invested Himself in the Law and how we ought to be aware of what we can learn from the Law in a real sense. I have recently become much clearer about how I felt about the whole Word of God, including keeping the Law.
At this point, I can see someone saying, “Oh no, he is going back to the feasts, back to the Law. Schoenheit is flipping out.” Okay please, do not go there yet. Hang in there and read this entire transcription to see where I am going with this.
For years, I have held what would be a classic dispensational point of view. I held that the Law is gone; the Law was done away in Christ (Rom. 10:4); the Law came to an end; and the Law has little use. That is where I have been. God has been working in me for years. I have done some teachings in the past like the one I did on the Ten Commandments. However, I have now become a lot clearer on how the Law works.
In this teaching, we are going to define the Law. We are going to find out what it means to not be under the Law. In order to understand where many of us as dispensationalists have been-the classic position of dispensationalism is that the Law is dead, the Law is gone, and we do not need the Law anymore. Let us examine history to see how that position came into existence. If we can understand what the Law entails and how we have related to it historically, we would then be in a better position to understand how we who have had a dispensational up-bringing, if you will, have gotten rid of the Law and how we need to bring it back into our life and in what form do we need to bring the Law back in to our life.
Let us first talk about the history of Christianity. In the first 20 years or so of Christianity, we believe, from the research that we have done, that Jesus Christ was crucified in 28 AD. From 28 AD until probably around 49 AD, historians for the most part document the very first Church Epistle of the Apostle Paul in 49 AD. It may have been late 48 AD or unlikely as late as 50 AD—so it is somewhere around 48, 49, or 50 AD.
The first 20 years of Christianity-what was it like? I will tell you that we know from history that the Christians were so much like the Jews that the Romans could not tell them apart. Think about it for a second. Christ was there teaching and preaching and telling people how to live, and then he dies in 28 AD. What were people going to do? They would follow the Law and follow the Words of Jesus Christ, absolutely they would. Why do you think that in Act 3, Peter, James and John were going into the Temple? Why were they there?
The Church Epistles united the Jews and Gentiles, but they had not been written yet. As late as chapter 10 of the book of Acts Peter says, “I am not going into a Jews house.” No way. Up until the start of the Epistles of Paul, people obeyed the Law.
Paul starts writing probably around 49 AD, and he dies in 67 AD. This is less than 20 years. Ladies and gentlemen, Paul’s ministry and his writings spanned a time period of less than 20 years. The Church Epistles are fabulous writings, phenomenal writings. Timothy and Titus were written in less than a 20 year period. Historically, these writings did not have that much impact on the people of God.
Paul spent two years and three months pounding the truth from the school of Tiranus in Asia. Asia is where Ephesus was. Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia. For two years and three months, Paul pounded the truth of God’s Word so that everyone in Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus. What does Paul write by the end of his life? He says it in 2 Timothy 1:15.
2 Timothy 1:15
You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. [“I never thought that they would leave. Wow, they were so on fire.”]
I want to set before you here a bit of a paradigm shift. You see, we thought, “Wow, Paul wrote the Church Epistles, and then everybody got it.” Yes, Paul wrote the Church Epistles; he did do that, but the Church Historic did not get it. Paul wrote and preached over a period of under 20 years, but what is the evidence of that work?
2 Timothy 1:15
You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
2 Timothy 4:3 and 4
(3) For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
(4) They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Just exactly how long after the Apostle Paul died do you think that this happened? The tendency that we have today is that we are kind of myopic. We read that today and look out at Christianity, and we might say, “Wow, people have turned away from sound doctrine.” I want to tell you that people have turned away from sound doctrine incredibly quickly after Paul’s death. It was not 2000 years. It was 10, 15, 20, 30 years in which people turned away from Paul.
Let us look what Peter writes.
2 Peter 3:15 and 16
(15) Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear Brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
(16) He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Even the Apostle Peter was writing about the teaching of the Apostle Paul and that people were distorting them. No record is there of what we call the Sacred Secret being believed and being anchored in Christianity. No record is there that the teaching of the Apostle Paul had any major historic impact in Christianity up until the Reformation.
Why would this be? The Apostle Paul mentions the Administration of Grace and he mentions the Sacred Secret, but it was not in the Old Testament. Who was coming to Christ? It is 70 AD, and Paul is dead. It is 80 AD. It is 120 AD. It is 150 AD. Who is coming to Christ? Who is getting born again? Jews, what do they have? They have the Old Testament. Gentiles, what do they have? They have the writings of Plato, the myths. They are then exposed to what? Bits and pieces of doctrine, what they have learned from Synagogue, what they have learned from the Greek schools and maybe what bit or piece of the Scripture that their Christian leader had.
Remember, the people back in those times did not have the Bible. The Bible that we know as a canonized document, was not even put together until the four hundreds. They just had loose scrolls. It was very seldom that a small local church would even have the money to put together all of the scrolls, or people having the time or education to read them. Free time was at a premium in the Roman Empire. Between needing the free time and the education and then being in the area that actually had all the scrolls and then to begin to read and compare them, my goodness, if I was a brand new convert, and I walked into a place and it had a bunch of scroll, and I knew my Savior was Jesus Christ, I can tell you what I would want to read. I would want to read what was written about Christ. I would be reading Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. That is what everybody did. Where would we be? We would be right back under the Law. Lots of factors were there that contributed to the works of Paul and the great revelation that Paul received. Not being inculcated, believed, and made a part of the Christian Church. Again, think about it; the Sacred Secret, the Musterion, about which the Apostle Paul spoke so powerfully in Ephesians. It is not mentioned at all. Not mentioned, the word musterion does not even occur in Hebrews, in James, in Peter, in First, Second or Third John, or in Jude. It does not even occur in those Epistles. People who are coming to the faith do not have Bibles like we do or able to read and compare everything and figure what the truth is. Absolutely not—they did not have Bibles. What they did was they elevated Jesus’ word, and they read the Old Testament, which was very large and very imposing. They did not understand the teaching of the Pauline Epistles when they did have them. This was because the great teachers who believed in Paul, as far as we can tell, they just disappear from history, as seen with Timothy. Remember, Hermogenes and those guys just deserted Paul. Paul also writes in 2 Timothy about Demas.
2 Timothy 4:10
…for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
What happens at this point is that you get into the 400’s AD, and the Roman Catholic Church starts. What is the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church? It is basically the same exact thesis as the Law. The Roman Catholic Church goes right back to salvation by works. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church adds a whole bunch of baggage that did not even exist in the gospels of the Law. They add Purgatory, mortal sins, venial sins, and add all kinds of hierarchies within the church. You should know the kind of doctrines that the Roman Catholic Church has added. It is salvation by works; not understanding the Epistles of Paul.
Now we get to the Reformation Period. In 1517, Martin Luther boldly nails the 95 thesis to the church door at Wittenberg, and the battle cry of the Reformation (solus scriptoria, sola fidia-only scripture, only faith), the battle cry of the Reformation rings throughout the Christian world and shakes it to its core. People are turning to the Bible, but are they getting the message of the Apostle Paul? Unfortunately, no they are not; rather, they are getting the message of Romans and Martin Luther. This message was that you are saved by faith; however, if you study the doctrines of the Reformation and go back and read the writings of Luther, you will see that they may have understood that we were saved by faith, but they did not understand that faith was permanent. You had to maintain your faith. Saved by faith and not by works-yes, but you had to maintain your faith to stay saved. They had no knowledge of the new birth. The people of the Reformation did not know that salvation was by birth and was permanent. In that sense, maintaining your faith became evidenced by your works. Somebody might say, “Well, yes I am saved by faith, but how do I know whether I have faith or not?” That would be a great question. Well, we would study how you live, so if you live like a Christian then you must have the faith of a Christian; thus, you are saved by faith. Now, if you do not live like a Christian-you are out getting drunk, committing adultery-you would then not have the faith of a Christian; so therefore, you must not be saved.
Really, it was salvation by faith, but not as you or I know it. We know it today that we have faith in Jesus Christ, and he puts in you seed by birth. You are then saved forever, and your salvation is permanent and guaranteed.
Now I will move along a little further in history. Were truths recaptured into Christendom in the Reformation? Absolutely truths were recaptured during this time. Fabulous truths that were hidden from the eyes of Christians literally for 1500 years were recaptured in the Reformation. One of those truths of which we have knowledge is the priesthood of the believer. This is that each believer, him or herself, can go directly to God. That truth was completely buried by the Roman Catholic Church and was un-surfaced in the Reformation of Luther, Swingly, Calvin, Bollinger, and the great Reformers. They, however, had no knowledge of salvation by birth, and they had only some knowledge of the dispensational pattern of Scripture and how important that was, for they knew that Christ fulfilled all the sacrifices. Because of this fulfillment by Christ, things that were in the Old Testament did not need to be done. In the end, they had a vague-fuzzy picture that the rules had changed; however, they did not have the full picture of what dispensationalism was.
A man by the name of John Nelson Darby lived from 1800 to 1882. In 1832 at a conference, Darby revealed publicly his understanding of the doctrine of a secret rapture, that is what he called it, a secret rapture. The idea (which was not fully understood as we have today) of the dispensationalism that provided for the secret rapture. By the way, if you hear critics of the rapture call it the secret rapture, they are going back to John Nelson Darby and what he called it. Well, at that point, dispensationalism and the administration of grace was a point of academic study. It was not well known or well believed, but it was getting greater and greater acceptance in the academic world and in the scholarly world. Why? For the same reason that I believe it and possibly you too, is that when you read it, it makes sense. It makes the Bible make sense, a very good reason that we believe in a dispensational structure of Scripture.
However, it was not until 1909 that Cyrus Scofield appeared. We know him as C.I. Scofield, who put out the Scofield Reference Bible. The Scofield Reference Bible had dispensational notes that explained the Administrations in Scripture, and dispensationalism as a doctrine then took off around the country. People now believed it. This was then the background of modern dispensationalism.
Now, you have to remember; what we know as modern dispensationalism developed and the people accepted that salvation was by grace and discarded the Law, the Old Testament, the Law of Moses, the writings of Christ. Why did they do this? Good question. Remember, at that point in time, we were coming out of the Reformation, and it is now the 1800’s. I am not aware of any knowledge that was known in accepted Christendom concerning the fact that Jesus Christ will one day ride down from heaven and conquer the earth.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.
At this time, a Millennial Kingdom will exist on earth; and then Christ will set up his everlasting kingdom on earth. Remember, in Revelation 21, the city of God comes down from heaven and lands on earth.
Revelation 21:1 and 2
(1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
(2) I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
At the time the doctrine of dispensationalism was being developed, a person could only go one of two ways. You could get saved and go to heaven and be in heaven forever, or you could be unsaved and go to hell. Since salvation led to heaven and being unsaved led to hell, no place was there for rewards, no place was there for the judgment, and no place was there for a kingdom on earth. In the simple system of saved or not saved, heaven or hell, the Law of God played no part. How could it? You are saved by grace, and we are done here. What is the goal? The goal was salvation and to live forever in heaven. Since you were saved by grace, the Law was not needed—we are done. Take it and throw it out. What good was the Law? The Law did not serve any purpose. It was Romans 10:9.
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
What has happened now, today? What has happened now is that we have taken the system of dispensationalism, of being saved by grace and born again and salvation is permanent, but now we are adding a layer of understanding. This layer of understanding that we are adding is, “wait a minute, it is not just that you are saved or you are not saved, going to heaven or hell, but that it is that if you are saved, you then become part of an Eternal Kingdom. You will be rewarded or suffer lack of rewards and possibly punishment in that kingdom based upon what you did on earth. This is a brand new piece of understanding. Bullinger did not get that, and John Nelson Darby did not get that. This is a new level of understanding. We are saved by grace. A dispensation of grace does exist. Birth and new birth is permanent, but what we do on earth matters because it will factor into how we are rewarded in the Millennial Kingdom and perhaps even in the Eternal Kingdom.
2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
I have done this, so I know that it can be done. Now, I challenge you, go find a person, go to your local church or drive down the street and find a church and go in to it. Ask anyone there who believes that you are either saved or not saved; it is either heaven or hell, “What is this about the judgment of Christ?” They do not know. It does not have a part in their system. It does not fit into it. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says that our works are going to be tried. If our works survive, we will be rewarded, but if our works are burned, we will suffer loss but still be saved.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15
(12) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
(13) his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.
(14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
(15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Listen to this warning.
2 John 1:8
Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.
We are supposed to watch out so that we do not lose our rewards. Here is an amazing piece of Scripture. It is amazing, sobering, possibly frightening.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
(3) It is God’s will that you should be sanctified [same root word as holy]: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
(4) that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,
(5) not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;
(6) and that in this matter [in your sexual behavior] no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.
(7) For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
Remember, this was written to Christians.
1 Thessalonians 4:6b
The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.
1 Thessalonians 4:7
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
I have taught this teaching live, and people have said to me, “Wow John, this is very upsetting.” My answer is this, “Well, we can be upset now and change or we can be upset at the judgment when it is too late.” God is calling us to a holy life. Yes, if you are saved, you are born again and guaranteed everlasting life. You will not lose it, but the way that each of us will spend our lives in the Millennial Kingdom depends on how we live our lives today.
This is very important! The church has just ignored God. In so many ways, we have ignored the study of His Word; we have ignored obedience to His command. It is interesting, a few days ago in the mail I got a book written by D. Martin Loyd Jones. In his general introduction, the first page of the general introduction, this is what he writes, “I do not think that it is harsh judgment to say that the most obvious feature of the life of the Christian Church today is alas its superficiality.” Now this is a Doctor of the Church saying that the most obvious feature of Christianity is that Christians are superficial. We have lost our fear of God because we do not understand the rewards and the judgments and the punishments that are coming.
Please get out your Greek Lexicons like I did and look up this word “punish.” Surprise, surprise, it is the word punish. You are thinking, “But John, I did not think that we were going to be punished?” Well, when you sit for a thousand years without any rewards, that is called punishment.
Look at this verse.
1 John 2:28
And now, dear children, continue in him [Christ], so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
1 John 1:9 is a verse that we have to teach at this time because all of us have sinned, and all of us have come short, and all of us have messed up. I am not saying that I am pure as snow here. We are all sinners, but we all have to try hard.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
You and I need to walk holy lives. If we understand this, we begin to see why so many commandments are there for us to obey in the Church Epistles. Go and get an old Bible from the Salvation Army or simply photo copy from your Bible the book of Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians and just highlight all the commands in them. Commands are there for personal holiness, commands about language and what comes out of our mouths, commands to forgive, commands to not be angry or bitter, commands to not take personal revenge, commands to give to others and not to be greedy or steal, commands about our sexual behavior, commands about what we eat and not to get drunk, and so on. If you actually go check, a lot of the Ten Commandments are quoted in the Church Epistles; furthermore, Paul quotes from the Law of Moses to make his points. 1 Corinthians 9:9 is where Paul is talking about him and Barnabas and how they should be rewarded for their work, and what does he use for substantiation of that?
1 Corinthians 9:9
For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned?
Why is the Apostle Paul quoting the Law of Moses to make his point if the Law of Moses has no point? This is the paradigm shift. We are not saved through the Law, but we are rewarded for holiness, and the Law of God contains the heart of God. If we are going to walk in holiness, we need to pay attention to the Law of God.
I can hear someone saying, “Hey, this all sounds like the Law. I thought that we were not under the Law?” Okay, that is a good question and a good point. We need to be serious about this, for this is serious stuff. What about all the verses that say that we are not under the Law? What do we do with those verses, for we are going to look at a lot of them?
This is what we are going to find. A difference will be found between being saved by the Law and living a life that is pleasing to God and free from sin. This is an important point also. The Law is not just so that we will have rewards in Paradise. I know that that is what I have brought up so far; I do know this. I have brought up stuff about being rewarded in Paradise and how important that is in the Millennial Kingdom—it is important; however, do you know what else is important to me anyway? My life is what is also important along with your life being important to me as well as I hope that my life is important to you. I hope that your life is also what is most important to you. This is what Romans 6:15 says:
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?
Okay, wait a minute. If it is real simple, no Law exists; therefore, no sin should be happening; however, that is not what the Apostle Paul said. He said that I am under grace but I can still sin—oops, why? Why, because we do have Laws under grace. Are there laws that get us saved? No there are not, but there are laws which will play a part in how you spend eternity. He said,
Romans 6:15b and 16
(15b) Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
(16) Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
What a powerful verse that is. We should be able to learn from this verse, and it is certainly something that we see in the world around us. Do we not know that when we obey someone, we are then a slave to that person? I know people that are saved by grace and definitely born again and have holy spirit power and will live forever, but in this life right now, they are a slave to alcohol or a slave to sex or a slave to some form of drugs or a slave to video games or a slave to laziness. You see, God does not want that for us. I do not want that for us either. The heart of our heavenly Father, along with Jesus Christ’s heart, is breaking over this. Do you think that God is just passionately uncaringly looking down on His children who are slaves to sin? Oh gosh, we cannot even go there! God wants us to be completely delivered from sin in this life. What has He done to make that happen? God has given us rules and regulations to help us out. Praise God for that.
Do you see that at this point we need to understand what the Law is? What is the Law? Let us now talk about the Law. We are going to talk about it from several different perspectives. I am going to use some analogies. The Law when we talk about “Torah” is like a cake that is cut into several big pieces as if you are cutting it into thirds. You and I can talk about the Law and mean the whole cake or we can also talk about parts of the cake. The cake has at least three major slices that make up the Law. It has the Moral Law, the Civil Law, and the Levitical/Ceremonial Law.
The Moral Law has no civil penalties in the law for breaking it; for example, one of the Ten Commandments is that you should not covet. What if you do covet? Say a guy in the Old Testament was coveting. Do you think that they had “coveting police” that went around arresting people for coveting? No they were not there. God just said, “Do not do it.” You see God is judging the heart. God just said, “Do not covet.” If no civil penalty was there for it, then is it an important law? Yes it was and for two reasons. The first reason is that if you covet, it will make your life miserable, and the second reason is that it does not set you up for a good future even if you are saved, for you will not be rewarded fully. Part of the “Torah” is the Moral Law.
Part of the “Torah” is the Civil Law, and breaking the Civil Law carried civil penalties; for example, you shall not murder is part of “Torah” which is part of the Civil Law. You shall not steal is part of “Torah” which is part of the Civil Law and carried civil penalties.
Part of the “Torah” is the Levitical Law which had ceremonial laws, sacrificial laws about what kind of animal had to be brought and how specifically it had to be killed, what you did with the blood, going to the Temple three times per year, and so on. Now, we have the Law with three pieces to it. A believer who lived during the Old Testament or Gospel Period had to strive to keep all three to be righteous before God. If you were a Jew in the Old Testament, and you wanted to be righteous before God, then you worked to keep all three of the pieces. People will say, “John, even in the Old Testament was it not also salvation by grace?” Yes it was in the sense that you were saved by doing the Law, every piece of it. People could not do parts of the Law at various times. What do you do, for example, after they burned down the Temple in 586 BC? How were they to keep the Law? God’s heart was always that you would “try” to keep the Law. If you just ignored God in the Old Testament or Gospel Period, no you were not saved. It was the “striving” of keeping the Law that was important. In the Age of Grace in which we live today, no one is justified, saved, or receives the gift of holy spirit by keeping the Law.
Now, if we take that point, that today no one is justified, saved, or receives holy spirit by keeping the Law, we will find that that is the point of the verses in the Church Epistles that talk about the Law.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
This is true that we become conscious of sin. Is this a bad thing? Not all the time is this a bad thing because you are not going to be rewarded when you are sinning. Becoming conscious of sin is the first step to getting rid of your sin.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
You can see this in Romans 4 and Galatians 3 via Abraham who was saved by faith before the Law. The point is this: is the Bible saying that we are not supposed to obey any commands or that the commands do not contain God’s heart or that obeying them would not be good for us? No, it is not saying that. What it is saying absolutely and unequivocally is that no one is justified by keeping the Law.
Romans 6:13 and 14
(13) Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
(14) For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
The context of this is what you need to see. Read verse eight in the context.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Live with Christ when? Live with him in the Rapture. It is in the Rapture that we will live with Christ. If we died with Christ, we are saved. In verse eleven, we are then supposed to count ourselves dead to sin but alive in Jesus Christ. Why do we count ourselves that way? We do because our salvation is guaranteed. Now look at what verse twelve says; “Therefore you have no sin, so do not worry about it.” No, it is not what he says. He said that your salvation is guaranteed and saved by grace through faith so:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
Yes sin is there, so do not let it reign. Remember that this is the book of Romans in the Roman World, the slave masters. They were not under the law as a slave master. It was not by obeying the slave talk of the Law that you were going to become righteous or that you were going to get saved before God. That is what all these verses about under the Law are.
I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
How did you get Born Again and receive the spirit? Was it by the Law? No, it was not. Does that mean that we can take the whole Law and just throw it out without obeying any of it? No, it does not. He is saying that you did not get saved by the Law.
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Is that why you get Born Again, because you are so righteous before God, and you do everything right? No, that is not why you get Born Again.
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
I do not rely on observing the Law for my righteousness before God. I am righteous before God because of the work of Jesus Christ. Now I obey the Law to bless my heavenly Father, to keep from being a slave to sin in this life, and to position myself for what Peter calls “a rich welcome into the kingdom.”
Romans 10:4 has been misunderstood and mistranslated. I will say that I have read a number of commentaries on Romans 10:4 and a small library exists that has been written about this verse because it can be translated a number of different ways. It is very important that we get what it is saying, and we get what it is not saying.
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
This is not a good translation. The verse is not saying, “Christ is the end of the Law period, and now the Law is no more.” If you read most versions, they go something like the King James Version.
Romans 10:4 (KJV)
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.
In other words, the word that is aced there fully into the essence of this verse, which is very important that we understand it, is that Christ is the end of the Law resulting “fully into righteousness.” Christ is the end of that. If you thought that you were righteous by your behavior, you are not. Christ is the end of the Law making people righteous. The way that I read it for years was that Christ was the end of the Law. The text might as well have had a period at the end of it. I did not pay attention to the other part of the verse. What God is telling us is that nobody is going to get righteous by the Law. No more righteousness is there through the Law. Our righteousness comes through Christ. What I could do here is that I could do an entire seminar on this. We could literally go through the dozens of verses that mention the Law in the Church Epistles. I do not need to do that. You could do that with a Concordance on your own. You will find what I have been teaching because I have studied the whole thing. I read the verses to make sure that I was being correct here. What you will find is that when the Bible mentions the Law being finished, it is in the context just like Romans 10:4 of it being finished in the sense that no one is justified by the Law. In fact, what we actually find about the Law you will see back to Romans 7:12.
So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
What is Paul’s opinion of the commandments in the Law? It is that they are holy, righteous and good. Okay, if we understand that of the Law being holy and righteous and good, then we had better learn to pay attention to what they are saying to us. This is why the whole Bible, including the Law, is God’s Word. God invested His heart in every letter that He wrote. God invested His heart in the Law.
Now, I want to take you a step further in the study of the Law, and it may help you understand something about the Law. The word “Torah” universally gets translated as “Law”; but in fact, that is a mistranslation. Even in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “Torah” should not have been translated as “Law.” Now, I am sure that many of you have friends that are Jewish, and you know that when a Jewish boy is thirteen years old he goes through a ceremony called Bar mitzvah. “Bar” is the Aramaic word that means “son of” just like Ben is the Hebrew word that means “son of.” “Mitzvah” is the word for “Law.” That is what we would call a statute or a precept or a specific command, such as a stop sign. That is what a mitzvah is, a command or a statute. Please check my work on this and look it up in the Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon. The first definition of “torah” is “instruction.” That is what the Law is.
We have to have the proper attitude about Torah. The attitude that I held about “torah” was that it was a bunch of rules and regulations of which very few of them applied to us today. That attitude misses the point. It is very important that you hear what I am saying about this and understand it. I was wrong on this for years, and I am finally getting a clue about this. “Torah” is instruction. What God has done is that He is instructing His people about His heart. God is doing so by specific statutes, rules, commands, and examples. Let me give you an example of “torah” instruction.
In Deuteronomy 22:8, we read about something that normally would be part of the Moral/Civil Law. “Torah” instruction says this:
When you build a new house, make a parapet [funny word for a railing] around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.
And the “torah” instruction continues. You are going to build a new house? Well, God has an instruction for you—put a railing around your roof. Remember, in the ancient near east and even in the near east today in many cases the roofs are flat. God says that if you are going to build a new house with a flat roof build a railing around it. That is it? That is the only regulation? Go to any builder you see and ask him how big and how thick the book is that he gets from the state about all the things that he has to do to make code. I have seen some of these code books. They are gigantic. They are bigger than the Bible, yet what does God do? He says that He has one rule for you in building a new house. If you build a new house, put a railing around the roof. You and I are supposed to be smart. This is in “torah.” This is in the book of instruction. Now, we sit back and read and think. We pray and consider and say, “Okay God, what is your instruction/torah that you are giving me via the statute? I get it. I get that my houses are supposed to be safe. You see God could have included about statutes about how thick the roof beams were to be so that your guests on the roof would not fall through the house. He could have included instructions or statue laws about how thick the walls should be to support the roof beams, and on and on and on. God could have written chapters on building a new house, but He does not need to do that. This is “torah.” This is the book of instruction. God is just going to give us one little instruction about a railing, and it is your job and my job to say that this Bible is God’s heart for mankind. He has poured His heart into this. He thought about it for a long time before it was ever on paper. Every word is gold. What we are supposed to get is that He is giving us an instruction for us and very little has to do with “railings.” It is every bit about building a safe house. If I am a builder and I am building a house for others, I do not want to put in an electric socket that is not grounded next to a sink because somebody might get hurt. We do this because “torah” teaches me this. It is my responsibility to provide a structure that is safe for the people who live there and their guests.
I have missed this important piece about this. I cannot speak about you. Maybe you have known this for years, but I have missed a lot of this because I was looking at it like it was the “law,” a bunch of statues and rules and regulations. Rather I should have looked at it that God was communicating His heart to me. I was supposed to take this and bring it out for people. Furthermore, in the Age of Grace, I am supposed to live by these moral laws. The Levitical Laws were fulfilled in Christ. No more animal sacrifices need to occur. The feasts that portrayed Christ, the sacrifices that portrayed Christ, the calendar that portrayed Christ have been fulfilled in Christ.
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
These laws that are civil and moral are not the same.
“If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.
This was actually more common than you think, because remember, everybody had fires. Today, we cook on stoves. I am warm because of my furnace, but in biblical times, people kept fires going basically 24/7. Every house had fires going all the time because they kept warm by them, cooked by them, and sometimes even the smoke would keep insects away. Occasionally, those fires would get out of control and burn down somebody’s property. God says in “torah,” “If your fire gets out of control and burns somebody else’s property, then you have to repay it.” We can pat ourselves on the back and say, “Boy, I can keep that law because I almost never burn a fire.” Now what about the heart of God? What if I have an old jalopy car that I know the brakes are not very reliable, and I park it on a hill and go off and go shopping? The brakes give way and the car goes rolling down the hill and smashes into somebody else’s car and destroys it. Do I not have to repay him? Am I not responsible because no law exists that says anything about automobiles? What we have to do is that you and I have to learn that God’s heart is in the Law.
Jesus Christ, as a Rabbi, would do this too. We will see this in Matthew 5 at the Sermon on the Mount. It is very important that when you and I study the law and study the Sermon on the Mount, that we get to where Christ is going and that we have a feel for what is happening and where the law is taking us. How do you and I take the heart of God and live it out humbly and respectfully so that we are pleasing to God.
Frankly, the Church Epistles have so much about all the ways that we should live: our personal holiness, our language, not being angry, our sexual behavior, not getting drunk, and so much more. We could live incredibly godly lives just by reading the Church Epistles, but how much more powerful to read “torah,” God’s instruction, and learn things like personal responsibility—how to keep others safe and many other things that we would learn if we would study and pray and think about God’s heart in bringing it out.
Jesus is here as a young rabbi. We are going to put him during the Sermon on the Mount at 30 years old. He is a young rabbi with lots of fire and really deep into the heart of God. He is teaching this Sermon on the Mount to thousands of people that have gathered.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
Amen, that is part of the Ten Commandments—thou shalt not murder from Exodus 20:13, which is the sixth commandment. We know from Exodus 21 that the penalty for murder was the death penalty. Christ is right on the money here. This is what you have heard from long ago. Now what is going to happen is that Christ is going to take “torah,” the instruction about not murdering, and he will say that we are going to take this to a deeper level.
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
Okay let us talk. Murder comes from where? The police call this a crime of passion. People who get angry hurt people. They beat people up; they intimidate and murder people. Christ says that I am going to tell you that the law speaks about murder but let us go into God’s heart.
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ [basically this is “you empty head”] is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
F.F. Bruce analyzed these words and said, “Raca referred to your head and what you thought while the words “you fool” referred to your character.” We have to be careful here not to pat ourselves on the back because it is pretty easy here to say, “Oh, I am being pretty obedient here. I have never said, ‘Raca to anybody, and I do not usually call people fools, so I am really doing well here!’ That now misses the whole point. That is the way so many of us have treated these rules. We think, “I am going to read through the Sermon on the Mount and find all the rules, and I am going to make sure that I obey them,” we are then missing the heart of God. What Christ is saying is, “Why do you say you empty head? Why do you say you scoundrel or you characterless fiend?” You say that because you got angry, because you have bitterness, because you have unforgiveness, because you have a judgmental spirit, because you have an entitlement mentality and somebody has crossed you.
It is just like what Christ said in Mark 7—it is out of the heart that all these evil thoughts will come. Jesus Christ did not tell us not to call someone a fool or Raca so that we will avoid those two words. He taught it so we would get the heart of God. Those words come from the heart that has that kind of posture. That kind of evil and dark heart is unacceptable in the sight of God. That is “torah.” Jesus Christ is giving us “torah.” He is giving us instruction.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’
Again, this is in the Ten Commandments.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Amen! So many people who are walking around with the Ten Commandments such as do not commit adultery; what are they doing? They are looking at girly magazines or looking at pornography on the internet or undressing every girl that they see walking down the block, yet they are saying, “I am not committing adultery or fornication.” That is not good enough. That is not what God wants for us. God wants us to be pure before Him in our hearts. Christ is here saying, “Torah said, ‘do not commit adultery.’” You see the people in Christ’s time were as dense as sometimes we Christians have been. We are running around patting ourselves on the back because we are not committing adultery, but we have all kinds of sexual sin running around in our heads. Sometimes we excuse it. You see, Christ is saying, “Look, can you guys get this about torah?” God’s instruction was do not commit adultery; we are the ones who are supposed to know that you only commit adultery if you have adultery in your heart.
Let us look at another example. Let us go to an example of oaths because this is pretty powerful.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’
This commandment is certainly anchored well in the Old Testament.
(34) But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
(35) or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
(36) And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.
(37) Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
What is Jesus saying here? Can you imagine this? People are talking about things and making handshake deals. Then one person goes back on his word, but when he is questioned about it, he says, “Well, I didn’t promise. I didn’t take an oath, did I?” Honestly, you and I cannot believe that we are absolved before God for what comes out of our mouth if we do not take an oath. If I tell somebody that I am going to do something, is that worthless unless I take an oath? No it is not, not before God!
What is “torah”? What is the instruction? The instruction is that if your heart is in the right place, and you say yes, then it is yes, and if you say no, then it is no. You do not need any oaths. That is what Christ is saying. This whole thing is about the heart. He is basically begging us to get our hearts right before God. Let us get our hearts in the place where we are right in the sight of God.
If you and I will take a look at what God is doing, then we will find out some interesting things. First of all, if we start really examining the Church Epistles and pay attention to how many times an Old Testament law or instruction, if you will, is repeated in the New Testament…in fact, let us look just at the Ten Commandments. Murder: is murder mentioned? Let us look at the Sermon on the Mount, verse 21 murder: is that mentioned in the Church Epistles? Yes it is. Verse 27, adultery: is that mentioned in the Church Epistles? Yes it is. Divorce: is that mentioned in the Church Epistles? Yes it is, 1 Corinthians 7. Oaths: is that mentioned in the Church Epistles? How about Ephesians and its mentioning about keeping your word? What about loving your brother starting in verse 43: anything about that in the Church Epistles? Absolutely it is there. What about chapter 6, giving to the needy, anything about that in the Church Epistles? What about verse 5, prayer, in the Church Epistles? Yes it is there. Fasting in verse 16, places are there in the Church Epistles that talk about not being a hypocrite and that is the point in verse 16 that these people were hypocrites. Do not judge your brother, chapter 7:1. What is the point? What is going on here? The Sermon on the Mount has very little that cannot be found in the Church Epistles.
People can say that they are kind of fussy on this, “Are we back under the Law?” No we are not. Let us read what Paul said. Let us understand the administration of grace and let us get this clearly. I, John Schoenheit, am a Christian. I am righteous before God because I have faith in Jesus Christ—Romans 3:22. I am saved, and my salvation is secure—Ephesians uses the word “guaranteed.” My salvation came by faith in Christ without law; however, as a child of God, I want to please God. I want to be free from the bondage of sin in my life. I do not want to be a slave to sin, and I want to have rewards in the future. To do that, I need to be an imitator of Christ, and I need to get God’s heart from His Word, all of His Word. I then need to take God’s heart and live it in the flesh. To do that I need the wisdom from God; I need God’s “torah,” His instruction, to come from the Bible into my life. God invested His heart in the Word. Now I have got to take that heart from the Word and put it in my heart so that I have the same heart as God. If I will do this in my life, and you will do it in your life, together we will build an enduring work of truth.
I hope that this has helped your life.
God bless you!