Police in McMinn and Monroe counties in Tennessee as well as in Murray County, Georgia, have said they are keeping an eye out for a person or persons who have distributed ominous letters to over 50 churches in the past two weeks that criticize their church messages. As of yet, the police say no crime has been committed since no specific threat has been issued and they cannot arrest at least one man who has been seen on surveillance camera by several of the churches. In light of several church burnings, church attacks (especially the one in South Carolina), and graffiti incidents across the US, the church members and law enforcement are concerned for their safety. The authorities are working with the churches to establish security contingencies and have lifted fingerprints from the letters.
Judging by the wording in the letters, in my opinion this person who calls himself “The Waster” appears to be a Hebrew Roots fanatic who holds to the false doctrine that one must fulfill all commandments in the Old Testament to get to heaven. The Hebrew Roots movement, which is a broad reference to several religious groups, has been gaining ground in the past decade or so because there is constantly the faulty mentality among many religious people that they must work their way into heaven. People in this movement tend to quote scripture out of context to deceive people into conforming to their doctrine. One of their favorite misquotes is to point out that Jesus said he came not to destroy the law, but fulfill it. Then they push the idea that since this is what Jesus did, anyone who is genuinely a believer must do the same–fulfill the law. They totally ignore other scripture that points out Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf (Romans 10:1-10).
“The Waster” makes the statement, “The following New Testament scripture states that you need to keep all the commandments to enter heaven.” He then quotes James 1:26 and proceeds to point out that Jesus told the people they worshiped him with their lips, but their hearts were far from him. “The Waster” then asks, “Why are their hearts far from the first begotten son of God? You preachers, ministers, and chaplains did not teach them all the commandments.”
Such Hebrew Roots fanatics not only ignore Romans 10:1-10, here are a few more they ignore:
Acts 15:5-11: When Pharisees infiltrated the church to teach “That it was needful to circumcise them [Gentiles], and to command them to keep the law of Moses,” Peter responded by referring back to his vision of unclean animals in a sheet that led him to preach to Cornelius and his Gentile household and how God made no difference between Jew and Gentile, “purifying their hearts by faith.” He went on to say, “…why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved…”
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
The legalistic, prideful Hebrew Roots people have it backwards with their salvation by works doctrines. They falsely believe we must fulfill commandments to earn grace, when grace is unmerited, undeserved favor we receive from God as a free gift just for believing him. He gives us his grace which leads to salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us to keep his commandments out of love. Knowing this, true believers should resist their bullying tactics just like Paul and Barnabas resisted the false brethren in Acts 15.
Source: Sara Sidery, “The Waster” warns dozens of churches with strange letter, WRCBtv.com, November 17, 2015.