Why I Wrote the Book: Freedom From Legalism

Written by Neil Silverberg

December 14, 2021

As I write, we are just a few days from my latest book, Shadows and Substance; the Truth About Jewish Roots and Christian Believers going live on Amazon (December 17th). But you can presently preorder it at Amazon.

You can learn more about the book by going to the book page on this site. Click on the red box at the bottom of the home page.

In my previous blog, I gave some backstory as to how I came about writing this book. In a sense, I carried this book within me for the entirety of my walk with the Jewish Messiah. But it was only in my latter years I became thoroughly acquainted with the Gospel of the grace of God, that I felt equipped to write it. In the same way that Secret Service agents are trained to recognize counterfeit currency by first becoming thoroughly acquainted with real bills, so also as I learned the true Gospel, it enabled me to be on guard against the false.

The HRM (Hebrew Roots Movement) is a rapidly growing movement which has swept thousands of unsuspecting believers (and seekers who have not yet become believers) into its wake. Whenever I talk about the book though many people will tell me they have had no personal experience with the HRM, therefore assuming that the book doesn’t pertain to them. But I am quick to point out that, this book, while addressing a particular form of legalism (Jewish Roots), is applicable to any form of legalism. That’s because legalism, regardless of the form it takes, is the attempt to achieve the things God has for us by our own performance.

Legalism is essentially unbelief. Jesus, just before he expired on the cross uttered a three-word sentence containing the most powerful words ever uttered: “It is finished.” Looking at the tense of the verbs in that statement it could be translated, “it is perfectly perfect, it is completely complete.” In other words, everything needed to redeem human beings has been once and for all accomplished by the Son of God through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Nothing more is needed to accomplish it.

But looking at what passes for the gospel in many pulpits today, you would think that Jesus actually said, “It is almost finished.” It now awaits human beings to complete the work. But that is not at all what Jesus said. He declared with ultimate authority that by his work on the cross, everything is now completed for human redemption.

Two major books in the New Testament deal directly with the danger of legalism (although all the New Testament writings address it in some fashion)—Galatians and Hebrews. Both books make it clear that the Old Covenant was a “shadow of the things to come” (Hebrews 10:1). Both contain powerful revelations of the superiority of the New Covenant. How does Jewish Roots teachers get around books such as Galatians and Hebrews? Some HRM teachers actually teach that Galatians is not dealing with the Law of Moses but with Jewish tradition. How do they make that claim? They take the phrase “works of the law” (Galatians 2:16) not as a reference to the Law of Moses, but to Jewish oral law and tradition. But any reader of the Galatians letter can plainly see that by the phrase “works of the Law” is a clear reference to obedience of the Law of Moses.

How do they deal with the clear teaching of the book of Hebrews? Some go even as far as to assert that there are errors in the book and that therefore the entire letter should be rejected from the canon of Scripture. These are the lengths many HRM teachers will go in order to maintain their legalistic teaching.

There are many other forms of legalism that the book doesn’t address directly; nevertheless, it applies in principle. For example, early in my walk with God, I was caught up in legalism when it came to my prayer life. My first pastor told me if I wanted God to use me mightily, I should pray four to six hours (on my knees) whenever I had to minister. While I am appreciative of the emphasis on prayer I heard in those early days, if ever I fell short of meeting my quota, I went into the pulpit feeling that I had not adequately prepared. It took years to learn that while prayer is essential for preparation for ministry, it is God’s grace alone that grants me his gracious anointing.

So my new book, while dealing directly with Jewish Roots legalism, is a useful tool in combating legalism in all its insidious forms.

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