Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Jesus Movement Versus The Christ Movement

According to scholar Dr. Barrie Wilson in his book, How Jesus Became Christian, there was a battle after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ between two competing theological camps. One was referred to as the "Jesus Movement" and was lead by James, the Lord's brother. This group followed the teachings of the historical Jesus and was Torah observant. By historical Jesus, I refer to the Jesus that walked the earth. They were Torah observant because Jesus was Torah observant. They saw Jesus as the Messiah, a political activist, and an inspired teacher. This camp emphasized orthopraxy, i.e. correct actions.

The other group was referred to as the "Christ Movement" and was lead by Paul. This group based their faith on teachings about Jesus and is primarily found in the epistles of Paul. They were not Torah observant based on the teachings found in Paul's letters. Paul's teachings were founded on his personal mystical experience with the Christ since he had no encounter with the historical Jesus. This group saw Jesus as the Divine-human who had been raised from the dead to offer salvation to those who would believe in Him. Belief in Christ and His resurrection would bring salvation in the world to come. This camp emphasized orthodoxy, i.e. correct thinking.

There is tension between those that seek to obey God's laws, i.e. Torah, even as Gentile followers of Jesus. That tension is not new, it has been around since the first century. I suggest, that true disciples of Jesus Christ have an affirmative duty to investigate these claims to determine which "Jesus" they are going to follow. The One that was Torah observant, or the One that is not. The battle wages on. Where will you stand?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Celebrate the True Holiday: Passover

You are invited to watch this Passover celebration that was conducted on March 29, 2010. Learn and celebrate the true holiday. Don't be deceived, Easter is a pagan holiday that does not honor God. If Yeshua, Jesus,still walked the earth, He would attend a Passover Seder, ritual meal, and this video offers both explanation and participation. Come to the truth.

The Theft of Judaism

There has been a theft. Early in the history of the church, Gentile Christian leaders made a conscious choice to steal Judaism from Christianity. In approximately 115, Ignatius was bishop of Antioch. He wrote the following in his Epistle to the Magnesians:

"Never allow yourself to be led astray by false teachings and antiquated and useless fables. Nothing of any use can be got from them. If we are still living in the practice of Judaism, it is an admission that we have failed to receive the gift of grace....We have seen how former adherents of the ancient customs have since attained to a new hope; so that they have given up keeping the Sabbath, and now order their lives by the Lord's Day instead."

Ignatius made clear that there should be no Christian participation in Sabbath observance. Such a position is in tension with the Fourth Commandment which requires us to remember the Sabbath. Further, Ignatius was clear that there were to be no Jewish practices. How confusing this would have been to the early believers that had been raised honoring the Sabbath. While there may not have been any people remaining that had walked with Yeshua, certainly there were those who had been taught His teachings by His disciples. Yeshua's teachings were thoroughly Jewish and included Sabbath observance. As the church grew in Gentile believers, the theft became complete and all Jewish roots were eliminated.

The question today for us, "Do you want to take your stand with the thieves or do you want to return that which has been stolen back to its rightful owner?" The Christian faith cannot be fully understood and practiced the way Yeshua did without a return to the Jewish roots. Who are you going to stand with: Yeshua or Ignatius?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Connection Between Torah and the Day of the Lord

There is a connection between the Torah and the Day of the Lord. Malachi 4:4-5 says: Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. (RSV) The word "law" in verse 4 is the Hebrew word torah. Torah means instruction or guidance. Consider how the modern church thinks about the Day of the Lord. Generally, there is the emphasis on judgment, hell, and suffering. Have you ever seen anyone really decide to follow God after being threatened with hell fire and damnation. I recall a group of well intentioned Christians standing on a busy street corner with a bull horn. They were screaming, "You are going to hell, repent!" Consider the Westboro Baptist Church with their demonstrations at soldier's funerals and their signs that tell everyone that they are going to hell. Have you ever seen or heard of this approach producing fruit for the Kingdom?

Malachi tells us to remember the law of Moses. That law includes the Biblical feasts and holidays, Sabbath observance, diet restrictions, and the Ten Commandments. When is the last time you heard those items connected with the Day of the Lord. We should be aware that there is a day of judgment coming for each one of us, and we need to be ready. We don't know when it will happen, but until it does, we should heed the admonition of Malachi and "remember the law of Moses." If you follow Malachi's advice, who will you be copying? Who do you know that remembered the law of Moses, kept the Biblical feasts and holidays, observed the Sabbath, complied with the diet restrictions imposed in the Torah, and obeyed the Ten Commandments? The answer is Yeshua, the Messiah. If you say you are following Him, then do what He did. As a matter of observation, Jews are really confused that the Christian church claims to follow Jesus and we don't do the things He did. Do you have an answer for this?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Spring Biblical Holidays

It is very common for the Christian Church to celebrate Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter in the spring season. Except for a poor translation in the King James Version of the Bible, Easter is no where to be found in the Scriptures. In fact, none of the celebrations in the Christian Church are found in the Bible. That should be reason to stop and think what is the "church" doing? Easter is the name of the Babylonian goddess of fertility named Ishtar. The Babylonians held a fertility festival every spring, put on new outfits as the trees produced buds, and worshipped fertility symbols such as eggs and bunnies. Does any of this sound familiar?

The Hebrews had a different set of holidays. On the 14TH of Nisan (in March or April), Passover was celebrated commemorating the deliverance from Egyptian bondage. From the 15TH-21ST of Nisan (March or April), the Feast of Unleavened Bread was held. This feast remembers the Lord's instructions that for seven days, the children of Israel would eat unleavened bread. The bread was made in a hurry without yeast and represents the haste when The Hebrews left Egypt. On the 16TH of Nisan (March or April), First fruits is celebrated. People would offer the first ripe sheaf of barley to the Lord as an act of dedicating the harvest to Him. Notice that the First fruits celebration falls exactly three days after the Passover. Remember to the Hebrew, any part of a day counts as a full day. So day 1 would be Nisan 14; day 2 would be Nisan 15; and day 3 would be Nisan 16. Do you think that this is a coincidence. Let me remind you that there is no word in Hebrew for coincidence.

Perhaps those of us that believe that Yeshua rose from the dead on the third day should resist the temptation to acknowledge "Easter." Perhaps the better term would be "First fruits." Yeshua is the First fruit from the grave and He should be honored with Biblical terms, the ones the Father chose, as opposed to a Babylonian goddess. May you your celebration of First fruits this year be exceedingly blessed!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Revisited: America Begins To Turn on Israel

I made a post on February 27, 2009, that expressed concern over the subtle change in policy by the United States toward Israel. As of today's date, March 16, 2010, relations between the United States and Israel are in a critical stage. Look back at the post from over a year ago and you are likely to see how dangerous our plight is. Also, look at the first post today concerning the Jews preparing for the rebuilding of the Temple. The clouds are forming.

Subsequent to the election of Barack Obama, one of the keys I suggested that we watch was America's treatment of Israel. The below article shows the beginning of a change in policy toward Israel. This is very dangerous; we are close to an economic collapse with the dollar losing value internationally. We are going into massive debt from which there may be no recovery. Our politicians are using tax dollars to fund abortions world wide and now we are turning on Israel. God will not be mocked; He will and is bringing judgment to our nation. The church needs to pray and repent before it is to late.

"In a swift about face from her views as New York's senator, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now hammering Israel over its treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.

As First Lady, Clinton raised eyebrows when she kissed Suha Arafat.

Since she was then seeking a Senate seat the resulting brouhaha caused her to "re-think" her positions.

"I'm a very strong supporter of Israel," Clinton said back in February 2000.

On Thursday, as Secretary of State she had yet another about face in the form of angry messages demanding Israel speed up aid to Gaza. Jewish leaders are furious.

"I am very surprised, frankly, at this statement from the United States government and from the secretary of state," said Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News and member of the NYC Jewish Community Relations Council."

Leo Tolstoy's Perception of the Jewish People

In the words of the famous novelist Leo Tolstoy :

“The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire, and has illumined with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring, and
fountain out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religious. The Jew is the pioneer of liberty. The Jew is the pioneer of civilization.
The Jew is the emblem of eternity.”

Compare the above with the founder of the Christian Protestant church Martin Luther. The following is his opinion of the Jewish people:

Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My advice, as I said earlier, is:

First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in somehellfire.

Second, that all their books their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible, be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted.

Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country. The reason for this prohibition is that their praise, thanks, prayer, and doctrine are sheer blasphemy, cursing, and idolatry, because their heart and mouth call God the Father *Hebel Vorik* as they call his Son, our Lord Jesus, this.

Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing.For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it, because their blasphemous and accursed mouth and heart call God's Son *Hebel Vorik,* and thus also call his Father that. Therefore we must not consider the mouth of the Jews as worthy of uttering the name of God within our hearing. He who hears this name-from a Jew must inform the authorities, or else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away. And may no one be merciful and kind in this regard, for God's honor and the salvation of us all, including that of the Jews, are at stake!

So who is the religious man?

Jews Prepare for Service in the Rebuilt Temple

According to Israel National Service:

( Jews in the town of Mitzpe Yericho are taking practical steps to prepare for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, by preparing descendents of Cohanim (priests) and Levites for service. At the Mitzpe Yericho school, Temple priest hopefuls learn exactly how to conduct the daily Temple service and offer the required sacrifices.

"Today is really a historical event for the Jewish people,” organizer Levi Chazan said as another part of the school was completed. “It is the beginning of the work for the Third Temple.”

The school will include an exact replica of the Temple. The latest addition to the replica was the area in which priests offered wine and water libations. The water offering was traditionally given on the Sukkot holiday, which was celebrated last week.

Festivities accompanied the completion of another step in the school's construction. Among those present was Baruch Marzel, long-time Land of Israel activist and parliamentary aide to MK Michael Ben-Ari. The timing of the work on the school is particularly appropriate due to recent Muslim riots against Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, Marzel said.

A video of the news report can be seen here:

This is prophetically very significant and worthy of monitoring for future developments.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How Far Has Christianity Drifted?

The following quote is courtesy of the ministry First Fruits of Zion:
"Yes, Christianity has drifted far from biblical standards. But the same could be said of all forms of liberal Judaism. Christianity's failure to keep the specifically Jewish aspects of the Torah is not responsible for her moral drift. Rather it is an outright rejection of the authority of Scripture. It is assimilation into the world."

Most would agree that the religion called Christianity has drifted far from practical righteousness. The divorce rate among believers is comparable to those outside the faith. Famous ministers divorcing each other, homosexuality, pornography, prostitution, greed, lying, etc. are far too common among even the leadership in Christianity. Is there a difference between the Christian and the world, and if not, why not? I propose that the modern Christian church has become a business enterprise and is operated like a business. There has been a departure from Torah standards for living as well as a general lack of fear of God. No, I'm not just talking about in eternity, I am talking about in the here and now. God is portrayed as "big grandpa" in the sky that loves everybody and He winks at our indiscretions. Such may be the opinion of leadership, but is it Biblical? Where do you see in the Bible God minimizing sin and its consequences? Where do you see the pastors and prophets seeking to provide "inner healing" from childhood troubles? Where do you see the real fear of God today? Is it in your church? Is it found in your life? If you don't have that real fear of God in your life, I suggest that you have rejected the authority of Scripture. God has instructed us how to live in the Torah; yet, we choose to disregard His instructions on our own authority. We are setting ourselves as gods to make our own value judgments on what is good and bad. Such a path dishonors God, rejects Scripture, and is certain to bring negative consequences in this life. Selah.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Torah Study: What Are You?

If I was to ask you what faith you were, most of you would respond that you are a Christian. What does that mean? Most would respond by saying, "I am a follower of Jesus Christ." Then, I would say, "Are you really?" What day of the week do you go with your community of believers for corporate worship? Jesus went on the Sabbath (Saturday), what day do you go? Jesus kept the Sabbath holy. Do you? Jesus didn't eat pork, shellfish, oysters, shrimp, lobster, or other shellfish, do you? Jesus believed that the Torah would continue until heaven and earth passed away, do you? Jesus never celebrated Christmas or Easter, do you? Jesus celebrated the Biblical feasts and holidays such as Passover, unleavened bread, and tabernacles. Does the modern church even know what these holidays are? Does the church know what there purpose was or what month they occurred in? Jesus did, as He celebrated all the holidays and feasts because they were commanded by His Father, YHWH. Jesus obeyed the Torah perfectly; today, many claim that they are free in the "spirit" to behave as they please without consequences.

Does it seem correct to call yourself a Christian when Christians don't practice their faith like Jesus did or like the first disciples did? Does it seem correct to call yourself a Christian because a man of questionable morals in the 4TH Century started a religion to unite his country and completely severed the Hebraic connections to the early believers in Jesus? I suggest it is time for a new label, one that correctly identifies true followers of Jesus. A label that connects the role of Jesus as the Messiah with His Hebraic roots. A label that says, I am following my Master, His name is Yeshua (there was no "J" in Hebrew in the first century so He was never called Jesus). A label that says I am voluntarily placing myself under the Torah and will obey to my best ability. I will worship as Yeshua worshipped. I will eat like Yeshua ate. I will celebrate like Yeshua celebrated. I am a believer in Messianic Judaism and His name is Yeshua.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Torah Study: Original Sin

Does the Bible teach the doctrine of "original sin?" Most all Christian denominations teach that we are born sinners because Adam's sin is imputed to us. Some denominations such as the Church of the Nazarene, other holiness churches, and some Pentecostal groups believe that original sin is removed when one is entirely sanctified as a second work of grace. The question is, do we sin because we are sinners, or are we sinners because we sin? The former question assumes that we have original sin while the latter does not. In discussing Adam and Eve, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin said the following:

"In Christian theology this story of disobedience became the Original Sin with which all of mankind was permanently stained. But Jews have never regarded it with the same seriousness. It was an act of defiance, to be sure, and because it transgressed God's command, it was sin. But the idea that every child is born damned for that sin is alien to Jewish thought."

Here are some questions:
1. If Adam's and Eve's original sin was passed on to us, were the rest of their sins also passed down to us? If not, why not (from the Scriptures)?
2. In Genesis 4, when God is speaking to Cain, He tells him that sin is outside the door. Why does God tell Cain that sin is outside the door as opposed to inside him if he was born with a sinful nature?
3. Do you believe that infants are born damned?

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cheap Grace Part 3

We have been looking at "cheap grace" and how it doesn't match Jesus' terms of discipleship. Jesus' terms of discipleship are in Matthew 16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (KJV) If you are going to answer the call and dismiss "cheap grace," you are going to face some consequences. We don't have to look far to find them because the consequences are found in verses 25-26: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (KJV) Your answer to the call of Jesus is determined by whether you want to save your life or lose it.

The Greek here is helpful to understand what Jesus is saying. The word "life" is the Greek word psuche and it means your eternal soul. Now we see the importance of what Jesus is saying. The call to discipleship is not optional (Matthew uses the imperative mood to indicate it was a command in verse 24). There are no followers of Yeshua that are not disciples. If you are going to go through life with you as the "boss," then you are seeking to "save your life." Those that choose to "lose their life" by dying to self and following the will, desires, and commands of Yeshua will find eternal life. I have had people suggest that being a disciple was not required; it was only the "super" Christians that walked such a path, and that many were too weak to live such a life. My response is, where do you find that in the words of Yeshua? That is not what He said; it is what a weak "church" has created so it could become a business enterprise. Today's church is about money and power in the natural world. Jesus' call is about sacrifice and obedience.

Being a disciple is serious business. It is a life lived in obedience. This does mean that you will not sin or that you will be perfect, far from it. Instead, it means that you will not be afraid to call "sin" "sin," especially in your own life and you will repent and not excuse the action as unimportant. Again I ask, who are you following and who is the boss?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cheap Grace Part 2

What type of "Christianity" do you observe? Is it the enterprise focused on money or the one that answers the call to discipleship? Jesus set the terms of discipleship in Matthew 16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (KJV) According to David Stern in his book Jewish New Testament Commentary: "Yeshua's (Jesus' real name) great call to discipleship is his teaching on how to think the way God thinks. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran theologian who was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp and hanged at age 39 by the Gestapo at Flossenburg, days before the close of World War II, wrote in The Cost of Discipleship that there is no 'cheap grace,' no primrose path to heaven. Jews have often thought Christianity to be offering exactly that; and some Christian theologies, by emphasizing God's work and de-emphasizing man's in the salvation process, encourage this misunderstanding."

Consider the typical Christian evangelical service. After the message is preached, the piano begins to play softly and the minister says something like this: "Now with every head bowed, and every eye closed and no one looking around; if you would like to accept (or they may say invite or make a decision) Jesus Christ into your heart, raise your hand." Then the minister will coax them to the front where they will repeat a "sinners prayer." They are then told that they are saved and some denominations tell them that there is nothing they can do to lose their salvation. Compare this approach to Matthew 16:24 and you will quickly see the difference. The Gospel is not about what God can do for you or your "accepting" Him (although I'm sure He appreciates your vote of confidence) or you finding your purpose. The Gospel is about your death to self and the following of Yeshua all the way.

God's way of discipleship requires sacrifice. No, it is not easy and it is not supposed to be. The American enterprise of Christianity is selling a different religion from that the Jewish Yeshua offered. So, which one are you buying?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cheap Grace Part 1

The American church has developed into an enterprise of "cheap grace." "Say this prayer," "shake my hand," and "repeat after me" type of prayers that offer salvation for all eternity are very prevalent today. Jesus' set the terms of discipleship in Matthew 16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (KJV) Remember that in the first century, Rabbis set their own terms for a disciple. Unlike today's educational system where the student picks who he will study with, in the first century it was the teacher that picked the students. When Jesus approached his disciples, He would extend an invitation to be His disciple. Today, we look at the connection between the call by Jesus and the call to Abram. Both require real faith.

When you accept the call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are answering the call to die to self. When God called Abram, He was telling him to leave his family, his security, and his way of life to go somewhere that he did not know. Abram didn't know the destination when he started his journey. Likewise, when you say, "Yes" to Jesus, you don't know what the journey will be like, but you know the destination. You know that the destination is your death. Death to your ways, will, and desires. It requires real faith to answer that call. Do you have this type of faith? Or, is your faith limited to attempting to manipulate God into giving you what you want if you say the right thing the right number of times. True faith says, "I am willing to die for my Teacher." What are you ready to die for?

Can you say "yes" to the question, "Am I a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ?" This goes so far beyond the issue of church membership, working for the church, or saying the correct "sinners prayer." This is about faith that takes you wherever He leads. Abram didn't know where he was headed, but you do? Have you begun the journey to Calvary?

Cheap grace says what I do doesn't matter because I have "said the prayer." True discipleship is a call to your death. Which have you answered?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Passover Miracle by Hank Stanton

I found this on the Internet and thought you might enjoy reading it.

It is a true story that took place during the Holocaust.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Look Back: Should You Celebrate Easter?

I posted this last year, and I wanted to re-post it since we are approaching the "holiday" again. What is the origin of Easter? What would Jesus be celebrating if He walked the earth today? Does the Word give us any specific instructions about Easter? This message answers these questions. Be prepared to be shocked if you celebrate what the church today calls Easter.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Evolution of Christianity

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise, and when a fellowship changes into an enterprise, it becomes a prostitute. Unknown

Monday, March 1, 2010

Torah Study: Joy

Tzvi Freeman wrote:
"There are many kinds of barriers: Those from within and those from without. Barriers between people. Barriers that prevent you from doing good things. Barriers of your own mind and your own hesitations. There are the barriers that exist simply because you are a limited being. Joy breaks through all barriers." What are some barriers between yourself and others? Are there some people that you find yourself in constant conflict with? Psalm 30:5 says: "For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

The word "joy" is the Hebrew word rinnah and it is a feminine noun indicating glad shouting, joyful singing, crying out. It refers to the utterance and sound of a shout, a cry. The root word appears over 50 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. The initial use of the word is in Leviticus 9:24 where the shout of jubilation is connected with a divinely appointed sacrifice. This usage describes the joy of Israel at God's saving acts is seen throughout the Scriptures. The main use of the verb is directed toward God. It would seem that joy doesn't deny the problem, but instead focuses on praise to God in the midst of the problem. Now look at Freeman's quote again. Shouts of praise directed to God will overcome barriers with others! What a method of conflict resolution!

Questions to ponder:
1. What part of "joy" can be found in my life? Remember that in Hebrew, you don't know something unless it impacts your actions.
2. What can I do today to increase my joy?
3. What is God leading me to do based on this teaching?

Post some comments and lets get a community response!