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False Prophet of the Month Series: Refuting the Armstrongite Perversion of the Law

*Here is my final article tackling Armstrongism. I had meant to do quite a bit more, but time and opportunity worked against me this month. Fortunately, so many of these anti-Trinitarian groups share the same sorts of errors, so there will be plenty of opportunity to refute their doctrines in the future. 

** All scripture references are from the KJV. 

Probably one of the biggest issues I've encountered with Christians over the past year has been over the Old Testament and the Law of Moses. You wouldn't believe how many Hebrew Roots cultists, Armstrongites and other assorted Judaizers (defined as "those who would have others to live as do the Jews, as the KJV would translate it) I've encountered in seemingly Christian company, all of whom doing their best to pervert the true sheep they had mingled with.

These wicked ones demand that we keep the Law of Moses, that we observe all the feast days, dietary prohibitions, and presumably any other law they find convenient to keep, while demanding we Christians obey them all lest we be denied access to heaven. If you recall, besides their bizarre doctrine on the Godhead, the Armstrongites--no matter what splinter church they're a member of--place Christians under the bondage of Old Testament ceremonial law, consistent with their belief in British Israelism, I suppose.

Not that I attack the Jews here. I remember I was once accused of being an anti-Semite by a cultist because I condemned imposing Jewish dietary laws on Christians as a "doctrine of the devil." But to the Christian, the forbidding of meats is a doctrine of devils, expressly called such by scripture (1 Ti 4:1-4). Even modern Jews are not obliged to keep any of the ceremonial or dietary Old Testament laws, these things having all passed away. The Apostle, in these verses, calls returning to such laws a "departing from the faith," and why not? It represents a departure from the forgiveness and rest we have in Christ, and a return to that "yoke... which neither our fathers [the ancient Jews] nor we were able to bear" (Matt 11:29-30; Acts 15:10).

Having been made free by the blood of Christ, are we to return to those "shadows" of the law even after having grasped their substance in Christ? God forbid! Hence Paul's fierce condemnation--throughout his writings-- of those who would seek to place us again under the yoke of the Jews, and even condemned the Apostle Peter "to his face" for his hypocrisy of shunning Gentile brethren while living "as do the Gentiles" (Gal 2:14).  Take special note of the fact that to live under the law of the Jews-- Biblically speaking-- is consistently called a "yoke" that they were unable to bear, which not even the Apostles bothered to observe anymore in its dietary aspects (at least, when living among Gentiles), and any attempt to force Christians to live under it is even called a heinous act that "tempts God" (Acts 15:10).

In fact, in Acts 15, we have a direct confrontation between the "Pharisees which believe,"who demanded that Christians be circumcised and "keep the law of Moses," with the Christian church (Act 15:5). This isn't just a battle about circumcision, but a battle over whether Christians should follow the 619 laws of the Torah. This Peter calls a "yoke" upon the neck of believers, and an unnecessary one, since God had accepted Gentiles, "[and] put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). And if by faith, it is not by the working of the law, but grace alone. This is an incredibly important point. We are purified, as the Apostles makes clear, not through abstaining from unclean meats or keeping feast days (which ceremonially destroy our purity, according to OT Law), but by the Blood of the Lamb by faith.

The Church Council ultimately rejected the demands of this sect of Pharisees, calling their teachings "subversion," and making it clear that the Apostles gave "no such commandment" to "keep the law" (Acts 15:24). In one fell swoop, the fantasies of our modern Judaizers were crushed long before they were born. The Church only imposed on Christians what is equivalent to the Jewish invention of the Noahide laws (I say "Jewish invention," since I find no Noahide laws anywhere in the scripture), because "Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day" (Acts 15:19-21). In this was restricted the eating of foods offered to idols, and from blood, and foods that had been strangled, besides the obvious prohibition of fornication and other unnamed sins (Acts 15:29).

The obstinate Judaizer might be tempted to say, "Ha! So the Apostles DID impose dietary restrictions!" But this person would only demonstrate their stupidity. If Christians are bound to the Noahide laws, it is still not the Law of Moses that they really demand we obey. But secondly, and more importantly, the Apostles only forbade these things for the sake of the Jews, who were present "in every city" (15:21). We see this in the fact that the 21st verse began with the word "For" (in the KJV anyway), which signals to the reader that this was the cause of the preceding verse. Paul himself declared that foods offered to idols, and any food that was offered to him, was lawful for him to eat, "for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," and that "every creature of God is good... for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer" (1 Co 10:25-31; 1 Ti 4:1-5). (The Armstrongites make the completely stupid argument that the verses in 1 Timothy only refer to foods that were already clean and acceptable. This is refuted by a simple reading of the text. We are told that "every creature" is good, not only "clean" ones, and, furthermore, that they are sanctified by the word of God and prayer, for such a blessing of the food grants men the "free use of any," as Dr. John Gill puts it in his commentary on that verse.) The only limits Paul places on the believer is that we ought to abstain for the conscience of others, such as those, like the Jews, who might be disturbed at the slightest sign of superstition or idolatry. This is that same reasoning behind the Apostles' decision in Acts 15, to avoid offending the Jews for "conscience sake." Clearly, then, we are free from the confines of the law, even the Noahide law, and now live under Christian liberty.

This does not mean, of course, that even what we call the "moral law" of the Old Testament has been removed. There is a Law which we obey, not for our salvation (for that is a free gift, not merited by obedience), but as part of our sanctification--our growing in God (Rom 13:8-10; Rom 4:4-8; 1 Peter 1:2). For justification is always followed by sanctification, or the working of the Holy Spirit within us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Php 2:13). We are "conformed" into the image of the Son, though without the suggestion of sinlessness in this life, but only a continual growing in holiness that nevertheless falls short of what God demands of us (Rom 8:29; Rom 7:24-25). Take special note of the fact that Paul, who obeyed God through situations worse than any of us have ever experienced, still calls himself a "wretched man" in Romans 7:24. How much more are we wretched in the sight of God, who fail every day in our obligations to Him? And yet our modern Judaizers, whether they be Papists or Armstrongite cultists, demand we become righteous enough to enter heaven!

Also note: What does in mean, in those verses in Romans 13 I referenced in the parenthesis, that to love one another fulfills the law, if not that the law is totally fulfilled through love? It does not say, "to begin fulfilling the law," as if we must now turn around and keep the Feast days and dietary restrictions, but that the law is fulfilled by love. There is no mention of the 613 old testament laws, the vast majority of which, having been fulfilled by Christ, make no difference to God or to your neighbor (Matt 15:11; Luk 11:38-41). Indeed, Christ taught over and over again to seek the spiritual meaning of these commandments, and magnified their importance over and above their literal meaning, for the command to abstain from foods was to put the Jews in mind of what they should not place in their own hearts. Further, note the words in those verses in the 4th chapter of Romans: "justified the ungodly" and "righteousness without works." In these two phrases alone, we have entirely destroyed the heresies of the Judaizers. Because: 1) Christ does not demand we be actually righteous to justify us, which is impossible to begin with, "for none are righteous." 2) Because God calls us righteous even in the absence of works, having been justified freely through His Son. This we receive through imputation, not of ourselves, but as the gift of God, having been joined to Christ by faith.

This second point is important, since the Armstrongites bizarrely separate justification from righteousness, claiming that we may be justified but yet not righteous in the sight of God. But the fact that our justification provides us not only freedom from the penalty of sin. but even perfect righteousness in the sight of God, destroys them utterly.

I think this is enough for now. While I could go on forever on this topic, this should suffice to refute the central arguments of the Herbert Armstrong cult, and virtually all their allies who uphold the same old heresy.





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9 comments :

  1. Come on ..not that I am Armstrong follower I believe he is long dead.
    But who are you to judge?
    You teach Pre Trib Rapture, and after many years of bible study/teaching myself.
    No Pre Trib Rapture is written in scripture in fact its theory invented in 1830.
    No one has proved a pre trib its an interpretation of men never taught in the word. Easily disproved if one really hears the word. Still just because you are wrong, I don't call you a false prophet, Your teaching what you believe and in my book its not all right. I just know enough to discern truth from fiction. You really think its the best use of the short time we have left to judge others by your own criteria.
    Seems to me your the one walking on thin ice here.

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    Replies
    1. You're comparing an anti-Trinitarian, works-righteousness group to people who believe in the Pre-Tribulation rapture? Well that's suspicious.

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    2. To anonymous: post-trib, mid-trib, pre-trib... you equate teaching one of these with heresy? That's a bit much and I have to concur with Ricardo. Armstrong taught ACTUAL heresy.

      Also, perhaps the Bible teaches post-trib, but either way your arguments against pre-tribulationism are recycled and oft-rebutted.

      For example, the argument that the word "rapture" is not in the Bible is just plain silly: http://www.unsealed.org/2015/03/will-there-be-rapture.html

      Delete
    3. Also, this statement is a bit silly, too: "But who are you to judge?"

      See #2 here: http://www.unsealed.org/2016/05/top-10-lies-christians-believe.html

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What comes into my mind is that it is God Who sees the end from the beginning, we do not know what tomorrow brings. We can only work out our own salvation daily, as the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor and Comforter teaches us God's ways. I love the way that when we are born again of God's Spirit we have access to the mind of Christ through which we can have access to understanding God's ways and thoughts and not the ways and thoughts of the carnal mind.

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  4. Interesting theory but wrong on many levels. Those who follow Mr. Armstrong's teaching have made the same mistake you did. We who are of the faith are to follow the law of righteousness under Messiah Yashua. Please notice I did not write yeshua which is the act of salvation or being saved. We are under the LAW as written in the book of the Hebrews in the order of Malchezidek. We have our great High Priest who went into the real Holy Place in the Heaven of Elohim/God to present Himself one time for all. Under this covenant there must be a change in the Law not a doing away with it completely. As it is written; there is no place in the Torah where anyone from the tribe of Judah is the High Priest under Melech-Zadik the King of Righteousness. But the Lord makes this clear that we who trust in Yashua are in that priesthood, for He has been made a Priest forever in the order of Malchezidek. Now we who follow Him also rest as the Lord did on the seventh day as it has been written in Heb. 4:9, and we keep the feast of Passover as commanded in the word of the Lord, I Cor.5:7-8. With these things being said it is in keeping with the truth that Paul/Shaul also said in the book of the Romans. Do I therefore nullify the Law by my faith? God Forbid; I do not nullify but I uphold the Law by faith. And again in the Gospel of Mathew/ Mattatiyahu our Lord said " heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not pass away." Mathew states; in Math.5:17-19 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fill to overflowing. But this Law is the law of righteousness under our High Priest and Messiah Yashua Ben- David. Rock

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    Replies
    1. "nd we keep the feast of Passover as commanded in the word of the Lord, I Cor.5:7-8"

      The Lord's Supper should be celebrated every time Christians meet, not just during Passover, if that is what you are implying. Augustine, in fact, and most of the early church, seemed to celebrate it every day, or at least to recommend it. It is not the Passover feast of the Old Testament. Furthermore, if we are under the law of Moses and must keep the Passover feast as a matter of divine command, Biblically this command includes the prerequisite of being circumcised, which, naturally, has already been abrogated:

      Exo_12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

      Gal_5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

      The fact that circumcision is now "nothing" clearly demonstrates that the old covenant is not merely "modified," but entirely abolished and superceded by the new. Circumcision was the gateway into the Jewish faith, the sign and the seal-- much like baptism-- that inducted the individual/infant into the covenant of God. Without circumcision, being of the seed of Abraham availed nothing at all:

      Gen_17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

      Hence the Apostles clearly declare that they never gave any Christian command to obey the Laws of Moses, but were only given those instructions and prohibitions that we find in the New Testament. If the Apostles intended that we keep Jewish feast days, the various Old Testament sabbaths, new moons, etc., they would have explicitly commanded them.

      As for the law: Christians are not under law, but grace, and no true Christian is under condemnation for not following the law of Moses. We have only one law, the law of Christ, as explicitly laid out in all its simplicity in the New Testament again and again:

      And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
      (1Jn 3:22-23)

      Pretty simple, but too simple for the works-righteousness cultists.




      Delete
  5. "No Pre Trib Rapture is written in scripture in fact its theory invented in 1830."

    Oh for crying out loud. If I hear one more post-tribber spout this nonsense, I'm gonna go postal. How many times does this garbage need to be refuted? Five? Ten? A thousand? It's like a bad case of herpes...it just never goes away.

    And on top of that, let's assume for the sake of argument that you're right (which you aren't, but follow along):

    Q. Why would it matter?
    A. It wouldn't.

    All that matters is whether or not it's *biblical*, which it is.

    Now, did God wait until the early nineteenth century to allow the doctrine of the pre-trib Rapture to be recovered and to begin to become widely disseminated? Yes. Why? Because His timing is perfect.

    Every time I hear someone trash the biblical doctrine of the pre-trib Rapture because they claim it's a "new" doctrine that was "invented" in the nineteenth century and so therefore should be rejected as a spurious heresy, I always like to remind them that the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone was only recovered and widely disseminated in the *sixteenth* century by the Protestant Reformers. Does that mean it, too, should be rejected as a spurious heresy? Just curious.

    ReplyDelete


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