When the word or name “Jew” is mentioned, many people would associate it with a race of people who are distinguished for their observance of the seventh-day Sabbath and the Feasts listed in Leviticus 23. Besides these, the Jews are also known for their traditional national holidays (most notably Purim and Hanukkah) and their strict adherence to the dietary law in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 — even going beyond that by observing more rigorous kosher laws — and many, many other traditions. Of course, Jews are very much in the news today because of the worsening fight between “Israelis” and neighboring Arabs. [See: God’s Kingdom and Israel. It will explain why the Jews’ claiming their nation to be Israel is a Biblical error.]
In many evangelical circles, it is the generally accepted belief that Jesus came to oppose or put an end to Moses — to that body of writings called the “Law of Moses” or the “Mosaic Law.” That law consists of what the Jews call the Torah — the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). In a word, the belief is that Moses and Jesus are contraries — opposites — even at odds with each other.
The issue of salvation “by grace through faith” and “not of works” (Ephesians 2:8) has challenged people, who find themselves on either side of the fence. The issue, simply, arises from the nature of the apostle Paul’s writings which, as the apostle Peter admitted, contains “some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Thus the divide between those who believe and teach that salvation is by grace alone — without works — and those who believe and teach that salvation is by grace — plus works.
There’s a common understanding and belief that, for Christians, who we are in Christ is more important than what we do. That all that matters is that, in Christ, we are forgiven; what we do after that is less important, if not unnecessary. That any “works” we try to “add” would actually detract from the “finished work” of Christ at Calvary. [See: Law Added to Law Transgressed, Freed From Bondage, God’s Spirit and Obedience and Saved for Good Works.]
Almost a year ago my wife and I had our first-ever opportunity to visit the Great Wall of China, in the outskirts of that great nation’s capital, Beijing. Like most everyone who’s been there, we came away with great awe at the marvel of the massive and extensive engineering work done by these ingenious people long, long before the time we call “the modern age.”