The Center for
Messianic Learning 

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ב״ה
“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)
Jew and Gentile (Synagogue and Church), one in Messiah. (Ephesians 2:14)
“For He is our peace, Who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, …”
 

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Developing a
Systematic Messianic Theology

“The purpose of careful theological formulations is not to put barriers in the way of people who are seeking salvation, but to define clearly the truths upon which genuine [Biblical] faith rests, so that people will not be misled by false doctrines.” [Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Why You Should Believe in the Trinity: An Answer to Jehovah's Witnesses. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989, p. 18.]
 

An Introduction to the
Science of Theology

Lesson 5: A Brief Summary of Bible Doctrine

In this lesson:

A Brief Summary of Biblical Doctrine

We are about to embark upon a detailed tour of all the major teachings of the Bible. As with any tour, it’s nice to have some kind of an idea of where we’re going and what we can expect to see when we get there.

This section of our study is like taking a brief preview of our travel plans. We’re planning an extended tour of a beautiful, wonderful, and exiting country called Bible Doctrine (those of us who consider ourselves theologians may prefer to think of it as Systematic Theology).

That country is divided into states called “doctrines.” These states have names like The Doctrine of the Bible, The Doctrine of God, The Doctrine of Angels, The Doctrine of Man, and The Doctrine of Salvation.

Each of those states is further divided into counties. For example the state called The Doctrine of Angels has two counties: Holy Angels County and Fallen Angels County. The state called The Doctrine of Salvation also has three counties: Atonement County, Sanctification County, and Security County.

Each of those counties is further divided into cities, towns, and villages, and so forth. In each of those cities, towns, and villages there are a lot of fascinating places to visit like museums, art galleries, souvenir shops, parks, and restaurants.

As Messianic Believers, we spend our entire lives living in and traveling around this country called Bible Doctrine. Most of us are pretty familiar with the area of the country where we live and work. But we get so busy we don’t take the time to visit places right in our home town, like the Oil and Gas Museum, or Blennerhassett Island, or North Bend State Park (tourist attractions in and about my home town). And from time to time we’ll be driving down the Interstate and we’ll look off to our right and see a sleepy little village snuggled back in between the hills. And we’ll say to ourselves, One of these days when we’re not in such a hurry, we ought to pull off the Interstate and drive through that village.

In this preview we won’t take the time to go into detail about all of the things we plan to see in all of the villages we plan to visit, but it should be kind of fun to just take out the map and look at it for a little while.

While we’re only planning our trip, we don’t need to go into a lot of detail. So in this overview of Bible doctrine, we’re not going to take the time to look up all the Scriptures to support these doctrines. But believe me, when we stop to study each doctrine in detail, we will be spending a lot of time in the Scriptures.

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The Bible

The Bible is the literal written Word of God, absolutely accurate and without any form of error in relation to any subject with which it deals. The Bible was “breathed out” by God, who directed specially prepared men to write down what they heard from Him.

Inspiration

While allowing the human authors to bring their own unique personalities and experiences with them to the task of writing His word, Ruach HaKodesh (God the Holy Spirit) so directed the effort that those men recorded the exact message that God intended to be recorded, down to the very spelling of every word they recorded.

Protected Transmission

The same Ruach HaKodesh who inspired and directed the writing of the original autographs (the hand-written original documents) has also preserved His word in such a manner that we can be sure that the Bible we have today, when correctly understood, is of the same inerrancy and authority as the actual parchments that the prophets originally wrote.

Interpretation

The Bible can be properly interpreted only through the enlightenment of Ruach HaKodesh and is to be understood in its literal, natural, historical, grammatical, and intended sense. It is to be accepted as the full and final authority over the Believer’s faith and conduct.

Creation

Since the Bible is without error in any of its parts, the creation account as described in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis is to be accepted as factual, historical, and perspicuous; all things in the universe were spoken into existence from nothing by God in the six days of special creation. [Whether a “creation day” consisted of the same 24 hours that our days currently contain is a matter for debate; I personally believe that it did, but you are welcome to believe what you wish.] This knowledge is foundational in the understanding of every fact and phenomenon in the created universe.

Dispensations”

In His progressive revelation, God has entrusted man with ever-increasing revelation (and therefore ever-increasing responsibilities to obey that revelation) in successive periods of time. During each of the eras, we see divine testing in which the failure of man is consistently seen. Although these eras span the history of mankind, seven are the subject of extended revelation in Scripture: Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the coming age of the Kingdom (the Bible is virtually silent about the Olam Haba, the World to Come). We use these “era names” as convenient references to the particular time period involved, and proper interpretation of the Sacred Text in its appropriate historical context depends upon the understanding of this principle: mankind has had an ever-increasing level of revelation in each of these successive time periods.

Although we will deal more in depth with this subject later in our study, a brief interjection at this point is important. There are some who reject the idea of “dispensational, or progressive, revelation” because they erroneously believe that it means that “God is capricious and changes his mind.” Nothing could be further from the truth. “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” “In him there is no shadow caused from turning.” In fact, anybody who accepts both the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings as equally valid Scripture is, in fact, admitting to at least two “dispensations” or “revelation eras.”

As someone as said, “The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” The “newer revelation” simply continues God’s progressive revelation and builds upon — but does not change — the foundation laid in the “older revelation.”

And so it is with the various “dispensations” or “revelation eras.” Each builds upon the previous, “line upon line, precept upon precept.” This concept will be fully developed when we approach our study of the Doctrine of the Bible. [Go here for an extended discussion of this subject.]

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God

]d'x,a h'wh.y .Wnyeh{l/a h'wh.y lea'r.fIy ][;m.v
Shema Yisrael, ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad
Hear, O Israel, ADONAI is our God, ADONAI is one.” (Deut. 6:4)

The Scriptures, both the Tanakh (the ancient Hebrew Bible) and the Apostolic Scriptures — which are rightfully one of the four major divisions of the Tanakh, along with the Torah (Divine Instruction), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings) — clearly teach the three-fold nature of God[1] (ok, I admit that the teaching is more clearly defined in the Apostolic Scriptures than it is in the Tanakh).

According to Yeshua, the most important mitzvah (commandment) within the entire Torah is this: “Sh'ma Yisra'el! ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad. Hear, Israel! ADONAI is our God, ADONAI is one. And you shall love ADONAI your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

However, the Bible also demonstrates that there are within the one God of the Bible three distinct Persons[2] Who are eternally the same in substance and equal in power: Abba (the Father), HaBen/Yeshua (the Son), and Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit), each of Whom is infinite, eternal, unchangeable, indivisible, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, personal, and perfect in wisdom, power, holiness, righteousness, justice, goodness, truth, mercy, and love. The Personal Name of hwhy (YHWH) is attributed individually to each of these “three Persons” in Scripture.

We therefore hold that there is one, and only one, true and living God as declared in the Sh’ma (Deut. 6:4), Who is echad (one, a compound unity), an infinite, intelligent, and indivisible Spirit Who is absolutely sovereign over all His creation, is the source of all being and meaning, and Who eternally, simultaneously, and distinctly exists as God the Father (Abba), God the Son (HaBen Yeshua), and God the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh), one in essence and attributes, yet three in distinct Person, work, and purpose. Each Person pf the Godhead possess all the attributes of absolute Deity and is infinite, eternal, unchangeable, indivisible, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, personal, and perfect in wisdom, power, holiness, righteousness, justice, goodness, truth, mercy, and love (Yesha'yahu [Isaiah] 43:10-11; Yesha`yahu [Isaiah] 48:16-17, B'resheet [Genesis] 1:1-2, Sh'mot [Exodus] 3:6, Mishle [Proverbs] 30:4, Ephesians 4:4-6).

And so, even though the word appears nowhere in Scripture, we use the term “Trinity” as a convenient “handle” to refer to a revealed concept of HaShem for which we have absolutely no human frame of reference, and which is totally and absolutely incomprensible to the human mind. Any possible explanation we can devise falls totally short of the mark. If we think that we finally understand the “Trinity,” we are deluding ourselves. Yet I believe the following statement is as close as the human mind can come to grasping this mystery.

The Father is all the fulness of the Godhead invisible, John 1:18; the Son is all the fulness of the Godhead manifested, John 1:14-18; the Spirit is all the fulness of the Godhead acting immediately upon the creature, 1 Cor. 2:9, 10. [Boardman. Cited by William Evans in The Great Doctrines of the Bible, Chicago: Moody Press, 1912, p. 28.]

He is the Creator of heaven and earth, of all living beings, and of everything both visible and invisible (Gen. 1:1-31, Col. 1:15-17). Although He is limitless in power, authority, time, matter, and space, He has chosen, in His infinite wisdom, to reveal His nature to humanity in perceivable and comprehendible manners. Scripture records God revealing Himself in the following manners:

   • as fire (when declaring the covenant with Avraham he passed between the two halves of the animals; Genesis 15:17);

   • as the form of a man not born of a woman (when He approached Avraham at Mamre with the two angels, Genesis 18);

   • as a burning bush (when He spoke to Moshe, Exodus 3:2);

   • as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night leading Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22);

   • as Captain of the LORD's armies (Joshua 5:13-15);

   • as a cloud of light and smoke that filled the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35) and the Temple (Ezekiel 10-4; Revelation 15:8)

   • as the fourth Man in the furnace (Daniel 3:25);

   • as the Angel of the LORD (see also Judges 13, especially Judges 13:21-22);

   • as the promised Messiah being a Man made of flesh and born of a woman (Isaiah 7:14, Galatians 4:4; John 1:1-3,14).

Although there are numerous examples of God revealing Himself to humanity in various ways and forms, of those ways and forms, He has chosen to refer to Himself in the following primary contexts: as the Father (HaAv), as the Son (HaBen) Y'shua, and as the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit/Breath). What makes these primary contexts important is not only the fact that God used these forms to reveal Himself to humanity, but in doing so, He refers to Himself in these primary contexts as the one and only true and living God.

Adonai and His Word are eternal. That is: He, His Word, and His Will has always been, and will always be, the same. (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8; Matthew 5:18; 24:35; John 1:1-3,14)


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Yeshua HaMashiach

Yeshua HaMashiach is the second Person of the divine Godhead, Who always has been and always will be fully God. He is just as much God as though He had never become man, and just as much man as though He had never been God. He created, upholds, and sustains the entire universe solely through the power of His sovereign will (Col. 1:15-17). In order to redeem both man and creation, and without either permanent or temporary loss of any of His divine attributes, He became also fully man. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Miriam, lived a perfect and sinless life in complete and absolute obdeience to the Torah. He was crucified, He died, and He was buried in a sealed tomb for three days and three nights. His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and totally accomplished the work of providing redemption for both mankind and for all of creation.

He was literally and bodily resurrected from the dead, He ascended into heaven and now, glorified, He sits at the right hand of God the Father where He carries out His High-Priestly ministry of intercession on our behalf. The Bible clearly teaches His return for His Elect, His literal, bodily return to reign physically on the earth for a thousand years, and His ultimate judgment over the living and the dead.

Unlike any other religion known to man, Messianic Judaism (what Yeshua intended for his Body to be — that extremely rare and true form of faith and practice that is based solely on the doctrines and standards of the Bible alone, totally apart from the traditions of men) stands or falls on the Person of its Foundation. Just as there is only one God of the Bible, so also is there only one Mashiach of the Bible (“Christ” is the Anglicized form of the Greek word christos, which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach — “Messiah” — “the Anointed One”), Who was always one (Hebrew echad, a plural unity like one bunch of grapes or one flock of birds) with God the Father from eternity past. He is ADONAI, hwhy (YHWH), the Creator of everything that is created. Besides the God of the Bible, there is nothing that exists that was not created by Mashiach. He has always been fully God and He will always be fully God.

Out of love for a lost creation, He became fully human without giving up anything of His deity. He was born of a virgin through the power of Ruach HaKodesh, He lived a perfect, sinless, human life in absolute obedience to Torah (the teachings of Scripture, not the “traditions of the elders”). He gave up His life voluntarily to fully pay the penalty of sin for all mankind. He was executed by crucifixion, died, and was buried. He was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven in a glorified version of the same body in which He died. He will return in that same body to gather His saints (His Miqra/Ecclesia), to judge the world, to reign physically over all of creation; and ultimately to create an entire new heaven and earth.

He was born a Jew, lived His human life as a Jew, was executed as a Jew, was resurrected as a Jew, ascended into the heavenly realm as a Jew, and He will return as a Jew to reign over the entire earth from His ancestor David’s throne as the Jewish King of the Jews.

Any “Mashiach” or “Jesus” or “Christ” that does not match the description of the Jewish Yeshua Ha’Natseret — the “Jesus” of the Bible — is one of the false messiahs (“christs”) that Adonai Yeshua predicted would appear in the last days (Matthew 24:5,23-26; Mark 13:6,21-23; Luke 17:22-24; 21:8; cp. Acts 5:36). The Yeshua we serve must be the same Yeshua presented in the Bible, because:

• If Yeshua HaMashiach is not God (ADONAI), then He holds no power to save.

• If He is not one with the Father, then He is a liar.

• If He did not become fully human, then His death did not satisfy judgment of God against sin.

• If he was not virgin-born then He inherited the sin nature of Adam, and His death did not satisfy God’s requirement for a spotless sacrifice.

• If He sinned, then He was Himself in need of a Savior.

• If He did not die, then He did not pay the penalty for sin. (“The wages of sin is death.”)

• If He was not bodily resurrected, then He does not have the power to resurrect the Saints (the “Elect,” those who belong to Him).

• If He did not ascend into heaven, then He cannot return.

• If was not, is not, and will ever be not a Jew, then He cannot qualify as the Jewish King Messiah.

• If He does not return then He is a liar and not God. And if He is a liar, then the Bible is a lie and mankind has no revelation and no hope.

 


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Ruach HaKodesh

Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, is a divine Person, possessing all of the attributes of Deity. He is therefore fully God, and is therefore coequal with the Father and the Son. With both the Father and the Son, He was an active agent in Creation.

He is the Supernatural Agent in regeneration and sanctification, “baptizing” (immersing) all Believers into the Body of Messiah, equally and permanently indwelling every Believer, and sealing them unto the day of redemption.

He is the Divine Teacher, Who inspired and superintended the writing of Scripture, Who illuminates the interpretation of Scripture, and Who guides believers into all truth.

The Infilling

It is the privilege and duty of all “saved” persons to be filled with and controlled by Ruach HaKodesh. Each Believer, at the moment of salvation, is endowed by Ruach HaKodesh with one or more special gifts (abilities) through which he or she is equipped to minister to the Body of Messiah for the work of the ministry.

Sign Gifts

During the period in which the Apostolic Scriptures were being written and compiled, Ruach HaKodesh used certain “sign gifts” (notably speaking and translating unlearned human languages, speaking forth new revelation, and the working of miracles “on demand”) to confirm the message of the Shliachim (Apostles). Since the completion of the Canon of Scripture and the cessation of all new revelation, those “sign gifts” are no longer necessary or appropriate for common practice within the Holy Community today. However, God is the Sovereign LORD Who still heals, Who still performs miracles, and Who, on occasion, brings His message of redemption to unbelievers through real human languages (not gibberish) that the speaker has never learned.

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Angels

Angels are created beings, not any form of deity. They were created by God to serve and worship Him, and for that purpose they are organized into different ranks and orders. Though all angels were originally created holy, there was a revolution in heaven and there are now both holy and fallen angels. Fallen angels seek the worship of men in order to take that which belongs only to God. Holy angels do not allow themselves to be worshipped, for only God is worthy of worship.

Holy Angels

Holy angels are “ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). They ministered extensively to Yeshua HaMashiach during His earthly life and ministry, and are involved in a general ministry to Believers. Toward unbelievers, angels announce impending judgments, and will be actively involved in the judgments of the Great Tribulation.

Fallen Angels

Originally know as Lucifer (the Light-Bringer), HaSatan the Deceiver is an angel, a cherub of the highest rank of all angelic creatures. He sinned through the pride of self-will, led a revolutionary war in heaven, and was cast out of heaven along with one-third of the angelic host, who had joined in his revolution. He thereby became the author of sin and the cause of the fall of man. He is the open and declared enemy of both God and man, and with his fallen angels (demons) is in a state of present and open warfare against God and His saints; they will be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire.

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Man (Mankind)

God created humankind, male and female, in His own image. Because He wants us to love, serve, and obey Him out of our own desire to do so, it was necessary for Him to give us the ability to choose to not love, and to not serve, and to not obey Him. Mankind chose to sin against (disobey) God, and in so doing humankind became alienated from God and inherited a sin nature, and is totally depraved. Humankind possesses no spark of divine life, and, of himself, is utterly helpless to remedy his lost condition apart from the grace of God.

Mankind was originally created in the image of God, by God’s own hand and not by any process of evolution or natural selection. He was given the authority and ability to exercise dominion over the created world. Eve was deceived by HaSatan, but Adam chose to disobey God, and because of his disobedience, Adam, all of his descendants, and all of his entire dominion fell under God’s curse. Upon the Fall, sin, sickness, and death entered the world, and the title deed to the earth that originally belonged to Adam was transferred to HaSatan, who is now the god of this world.

If man is in fact not sinful, then Yeshua’s death was for nothing and God has wasted an awful lot of time and energy in providing a means of atonement (kiporah). Also, if man is not sinful, then Yeshua Ha’Natseret (“Jesus” of Nazareth) is a liar, and the entire doctrine of HaMashiach’s person is jeopardized.

If man does not perceive of himself as sinful, then he likewise perceives no need of a Savior. If he perceives no need of a Savior, then he will never turn to HaMashiach for salvation.

If man already possesses the divine life, then he too may be a god; yet the God of the Bible expressly states that there is no God besides Himself, that before Him was no God formed nor will any God be formed after Him, and that He will not share His glory with another (Exod. 8:10Deut. 4:35-39 et al).

If man is able to save himself, then Yeshua’s death was in vain, and man must work out his own salvation by living out his life in total obedience to the absolute letter of the Torah. Since Yeshua Ha’Natseret was the only one to every have lived up to the whole Torah, then no man can ever be saved.

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Sin

The word “sin” is an archery term which means “to miss the mark.” Since the target is the perfect example set by Yeshua HaMashiach, that is, the very nature of God Himself, then anything that falls short of that goal misses the mark and is by its broadest definition sin.

Rabbi Yochanan (the Apostle John) writing under the influence of Ruach HaKodesh gives this simple definition of sin:

 Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah. (1John 3:4, CJB)

There are two classifications of sin: original (imputed) sin, that sin nature which every man inherits from his father Adam, and personal sin, the individual choices each man makes to either willfully or ignorantly disobey God and his commandments recorded in the Torah (what Yochanan was talking about).

The penalty for sin is separation from fellowship, which takes one or more of three forms: separation from God (spiritual death); separation from the Body of Messiah through discipline and “excommunication,” and separation from mankind and from the physical body through physical death. The physical illness and death of all earthly creatures is the direct result of Adam’s sin. Additionally, some — though certainly not nearly all — illness and death may also be the result of an individual’s sin.

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Salvation/Redemption

“Salvation” is to be declared righteous by God and restored to fellowship with Him in spite of our sin. It is the free gift of God brought to sinful man by the unconditional grace of God and received solely by faith in ADONAI Yeshua HaMashiach, Who accomplished complete redemption by His substitutionary death and shedding of His precious blood and His bodily resurrection. Salvation comes by faith alone in the Person and work of Messiah, plus nothing else! Because of his total depravity, man does not possess even the weakest spark of saving faith, and so it also is provided as the gift of God. Man therefore is not in any way a participant in his salvation, only the recipient of the unmerited grace of God.

Redemption is a closely-related word that means to be purchased back out of bondage or captivity. Romans 7:14-25 teaches that we are “sold into bondage to sin,” but Galatians 3:13 teaches us that “The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf;.”

This simple definition of salvation creates a number of difficult issues which will be discussed in detail when we study the doctrine of salvation in detail, including:

   • How were people declared righteous before Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice?

   • If salvation is a free gift, does it impart any responsibility upon the recipient?

   • Is it possible for God to declare someone righteous who has never heard of Yeshua HaMashiach?

Here are a couple of Scriptures to get you thinking:

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God. (Rom. 4:3, Gal. 3:6, Jas. 2:23; Gen. 15:6)

… whoever calls on the name of ADONAI (hwhy YHWH) will be saved … (Joel 2:32; Rom. 10:13; Acts 2:21)

Hint: Yeshua HaMashach is not mentioned in any of these seven references.


Sanctification

The word “sanctify” means to set apart for a specific purpose. I have a skillet that I have sanctified for the sole function of cooking eggs. Directly associated with salvation, sanctification is a setting apart of redeemed person unto God for His purpose. Sanctification consists of three steps or stages in the Believer’s life: positional sanctification, progressive sanctification, and ultimate sanctification.

Every Believer, by virtue of his or her position “in Messiah” and thus partaking of all that He is, has a complete standing before God. Yet every Believer, because he retains a sin nature which cannot be changed nor eradicated in this life, lives in a present state that is imperfect to the extent that he fails to fully appropriate the power of Ruach HaKodesh by which to live a holy life, and is therefore in need of a progressive sanctification by growing in grace unto spiritual maturity. Every Believer will be fully and completely sanctified when we shall see the LORD and shall be like Him.

Security

Because of the eternal promise of God, because of the nature of the Word and promise of God, because of the immutability of the unchangeable covenants of God, and because salvation and sanctification are all the work of God and none of the work of man, every redeemed, blood-bought, regenerate, and sanctified child of God has entered into a relational covenant with God, is permanently indwelt by Ruach HaKodesh, and is constantly interceded for by Messiah as His role as our Great Kohen HaGadol (High Priest). He or she is therefore absolutely secure in Messiah forever.

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The Holy Community

The true and universal Holy Community, the Miqra in Hebrew or Ecclesia in Greek, is the Body and Bride of Messiah. It is a spiritual organism, of which Messiah is the Head, made up of all born-again Believers of all ages, Jew and non-Jew alike. The establishment and continuity of local congregations is clearly taught and defined in the Apostolic Scriptures, in that the members of the one spiritual Body are directed to associate themselves together in local assemblies. As local manifestations of the true and universal Body of Messiah, local assemblies should willingly cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the true faith.

Authority in the Holy Community

The one supreme authority for the Holy Community is ADONAI Yeshua HaMashiach, and the order, discipline, and worship of the local assembly are appointed through His sovereignty. The biblically-designated shepherds who serve directly under Messiah and immediately over the assembly are called Elders (also called Bishops, Overseers, or Pastors).

The word “Rabbi” simply means “teacher.” Though used in Messianic and non-Messianic Jewish congregations to refer to the congregational leader, any teacher of Torah can rightfully be considered a Rabbi. It its technical use, the term “Rabbi” is generally, though certainly not always, used to refer to a Teacher, Elder, Overseer, etc. who has been specifically trained to make decisions and interpretations in matters concerning halakha, or Jewish law and jurisprudence based on the Talmud.

The local congregation is to be composed solely of true Believers, autonomous and free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations. Each local congregation, through its multiple Elders [Beit Din] and their interpretation and application of the Scriptures, is the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation as well as on all matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, government, and halakah [remembering that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation without the illumination of Ruach HaKodesh (2Peter 1:20)].

Although every member of the Body of Messiah is called to be a servant (shammash, diakonoß, diakonos), there are to be men specifically appointed as Deacons (Servants) within each local assembly to look after the physical needs of the members of that assembly. This enables the Elders to concentrate on their primary responsibility of prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). Although the Scriptures ascribe no spiritual authority to these Deacons, it is clear that they are to be spiritual examples and assist the Elders in the ministry to the Body. Both Elders and Deacons must meet rigid spiritual qualifications, and God will hold them strictly accountable for their actions within the assembly.

“Ordinances”

The dictionary definition of an ordinance is “an authoritative order, a decree, or a piece of legislation enacted by a municipal authority.” The “authorities” of the Roman Catholic Church have decreed seven “sacraments”: baptism, eucharist, reconciliation (penance); confirmation; marriage; holy orders, anointing of the sick (Last Rites or Extreme Unction). Of these seven “sacraments” the “Protestant Church” recognizes the authority of the Pope in regard to two, which it calls “ordinances: baptism (by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling, depending on the denomination) and the eucharist (communion or the so-called “LORD’s Supper”).

Since the position of the majority of the congregations in the Messianic Restoration Movement is that there is no ecclesiastical authority to declare “ordinances” outside of that congregation’s own Beit Din, it would be inaccurate to say that Messianic congregations recognize any “ordinances.” There are, however, two practices that are common to all Messianic congregations that I am aware of: tevilah (self-immersion) and the “LORD’s Seder.”

The Protestant Church recognizes two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s supper. Most Messianic congregations hold a somewhat different understanding of these two activities.

Tevilah

Because it was the practice of the Schliachim (Apostles) to witness (not perform) the (tevilah) (self-immersion, also called mikvah from the body of water in which the tevilah is to be performed) of all new Believers upon their confession of faith in Yeshua HaMashiach, it is appropriate for all new Believers to immerse themselves in water as a public testimony of their faith. The act of immersion is in no way a condition of salvation, nor any part of the salvation process, but rather an outward demonstration of the inner change which has already taken place in the life and heart of the believer, and a symbol of identification with the Body of Messiah. Because of its similarity in form to a burial and resurrection, it indicates a death to a former way of life and a rebirth to a new way of life in Messiah. [Click here for a complete study of this practice.]

The LORD’s Seder

What the Church refers to as “Communion” or the ““LORD’s Supper” (or eucharist) is rightfully a part of the Passover Seder, a brief acted-out memorial “sermon” in which the Body of Messiah shares in His “body and blood.” It looks back on His life and death, and looks forward to His soon return. The Scriptures teach that on the night he was betrayed, during the Passover Seder, Yeshua took the “Bread of Affliction” (Deut 16:3) and the Cup of Redemption from the Seder and used them to demonstrate the sacrifice of Himself that He was about to make. He then told His Talmidim (Disciples) that as often as they partook of the Passover Seder in the future, they were do so in His memory. (This bread, the Bread of Affliction, and this cup, the Cup of Redemption, are only consumed as part of the Passover Seder.)

For what I received from the Lord is just what I passed on to you - that the Lord Yeshua, on the night He was betrayed, took bread; and after He had made the b'rakhah He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you. Do this as a memorial to Me"; likewise also the cup after the meal, saying, "This cup is the New Covenant effected by My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, as a memorial to Me." For as often as you eat this bread [the Bread of Affliction] and drink the cup [the cup of Redemption], you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he comes. (1Cor 11:23-26, CJB)

Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, ... (1Cor 11:20, NAS)

Stewardship in the Community

The rule for giving in the Holy Community is that the needy be provided for, that the work of the ministry be adequately supported, and that the Elders derive their livelihood from the ministry of the Word. Giving for the Believer is therefore to be done:

(1) regularly each week;

(2) into a private fund (“put aside”) at home from which fund he makes distributions; and

(3) in proportion to God’s prospering, for which Torah commands a minimum of a tithe (tenth portion).

Every Believer should be a faithful steward of all his or her resources (time, talent, and finances) for the furtherance of the Gospel of the Kingdom at home and abroad.

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Future Things


The “Rapture” of the “Church”

Excerpted from “Will Christians Be Secretly Raptured?” by Jeramie Rinne
October 9, 2014

The doctrine of the secret rapture emerged during the early 19th century through the teachings of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882). Darby was one of the early leaders of the Plymouth Brethren movement, and his teachings became known as “dispensationalism.”

Darby’s dispensationalism distinguished sharply between Israel and the church. The former was earthly, he believed, and the latter heavenly. God had two distinct peoples and separate plans for each. Thus Darby understood Old Testament prophecies as applying only to Israel, the earthly people of God. Rather than “spiritualizing” such prophecies, he expected a literal fulfillment of God’s promises to literal Israel. So when, according to dispensational thought, would God fulfill his prophecies to Israel? During the millennium (Rev. 20:1–8) after Jesus’ second coming.

So in order for God to resume these plans for Israel, Darby believed, God would first need to remove the church from the world. Hence arose the need for the secret rapture. Darby had in effect proposed something new: a two-stage return of Jesus. Jesus would first come to “rapture” the church, and then return again in visible glory.”

 …

Ultimately we must assess doctrine not on the narrative of church history, but on the text of Scripture. That fact that the secret rapture, and dispensationalism, are the new kids on the eschatological block doesn’t necessarily mean they are false. Previous generations could have misinterpreted their Bibles. As Protestants we hold Scripture, not church tradition, to be authoritative.

But the secret rapture faces biblical challenges as well. There are no biblical texts that explicitly teach it or anything like a two-stage coming of Jesus. Passages that supposedly describe the secret rapture could just as easily be read as referring to the glorious second coming, and in fact have been read that way throughout the church’s history.

For example, the New Testament repeatedly warns that Jesus will return unexpectedly “like a thief” (e.g., Matt. 24:42–44; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). Many read this as describing the any-moment return of Jesus at the secret rapture. However, in each of these passages the context seems to indicate the coming in question is Christ’s public, triumphant return in glory on the Day of the Lord (e.g., Matt. 24:30–31; 1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Pet. 3:10-13).

And then there’s Jesus’ warning that at his coming “two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken, the other left” (Matt. 24:40–41). Doesn’t this describe the rapture? Two people are in the car: one is taken, the other left. Hence the bumper sticker: “In case of rapture this car will be unmanned.”

But again, the “coming” of Jesus to take people (24:39) has already been identified as his coming in glory in the immediate context (24:30–31) without any clear textual indication that another coming is in view. Further, the Old Testament analogy of Noah and the flood suggests that those “taken” are actually the ones swept away in judgment (24:39)!

While it’s possible these texts or others describe a secret rapture separate from Jesus’ return, it’s not clear or, perhaps, even probable. Again, part of what drives the doctrine of the secret rapture is the function it serves in classic dispensationalism to separate God’s current workings in Israel and in the church.

Source: thegospelcoalition.org/article/will-christians-be-left-behind/ accessed Friday, September 20, 2019 at 11:20 p.m.

A significant problem that I personally have with the “Rapture” theory is that it is part and parcel of supercessionism (Replacement Theology), and smacks seriously of antisemitism.

One of the tenets of dispensationalism and supercessionism (the two philosophies are really inseperable) is that Israel and “the Church” are two totally separate entities. It totally ignores the fact — clearly taught in Scripture — that the covenants and blessings of HaShem are all made only with Israel; indeed the “New Covenant” is made only “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31); individual gentiles are partakers in the New Covenant only as they are individually grafted into, and become citizens of, the Commonwealth of Israel. The Bible says absolutely nothing about a single covenant made with “the Church” (especially none to the exclusion of Israel).

What the Rapture theory teaches is that when the Anti-Messiah comes to power he will severely persecute God’s people. Because “the Church” has received Messiah and Israel has “rejected” Messiah, God will rescue “the Church” and save them from the Tribulation, but allow the Jesus-rejecting Jews to stay and suffer the punishment they so richly deserve.

If HaShem allowed Israel, who corporately clings to His Torah and His Moadim (and has faithfully done so for 4,000 years), to endure the tribulation of the Holocaust, how could He possibly be justified in rescuing an apostate, paganized “Church” — one that rejects the Moadim, the Torah, and all things Jewish — out the Tribulation and leave the “unbelieving” Jews to suffer another Holocaust?

The Tribulation

Prior to the establishment of the Kingdom, the earth will experience the fulfillment of “Daniel's seventieth week,” a period of seven years which will include the reign of the Anti-Messiah and of his wrath being “poured out” upon the earth, followed by a time of God’s righteous judgment upon the whole unbelieving earth.

At the beginning of the “Tribulation Period,” there will arise a world leader who will either enter into or confirm a treaty with Israel which will guarantee them peace and safety, at least within the city of Jerusalem, for a period of seven years. The Temple will be re-built and Levitical worship with the complete sacrificial system will be re-established. During this period there will be 12,000 “missionaries” from each of Israel’s families or “tribes” — a total of 144,000 — who come preaching the return of Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom. They will be “sealed” by Yeshua HaMashiach so that no harm may come to them for three and one-half years.

At about that same time there will also be two powerful prophets ministering in Israel. Some teach that these two prophets will be Moses and Elijah, others that they will be Enoch and Elijah. But this is a matter of speculation, because they are not specifically named in the Scriptures. They will prophesy for three and one-half years, at the end of which they will be killed and left to lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three and a half days. They will then be resurrected and taken up into heaven in plain view of the entire world.

After that, the world leader will break his treaty with Israel. He will enter the Temple and demand that he be worshipped as a god. He will consolidate all the governments of the earth under his power (just as Constantine die), and will appoint a religious leader over all the religions of the world (just as Constantine did), which will then worship this new emperor. This marks the beginning of the last half of the Tribulation period known as the “Great Tribulation,” during which there will be unimaginable world-wide financial collapse, wars, plagues, famines, and natural disasters, resulting in the death of most of life on earth.

The Kingdom

The period of Great Tribulation on the earth will be climaxed by the return of ADONAI Yeshua HaMashiach to the earth just as He went, in Person and in the body in which He was crucified, now glorified, coming on the clouds of heaven, and with power and great glory to introduce the Millennial Kingdom Age, to bind HaSatan and place him in the abyss, to lift the curse which now rests on the whole creation, to fully restore Israel to all her own land (from the Nile River to the Euphrates River) and to give her the final realization of God’s covenant promises, to bring the whole world to the knowledge of God, and to personally reign over the whole earth for a thousand years.

The Final Battle

Following the release of HaSatan from the abyss at the end of the Millennium, he will again deceive the nations of the earth and gather them to battle against the saints and against Jerusalem, where they will be destroyed by fire from heaven.

The Final Judgment

HaSatan will then be cast into the Lake of Fire, where the Beast and the False Prophet live in eternal torment. All of the remaining dead will then be resurrected to stand before the Great White Throne, where the books of their lives will be opened and they will be judged according to their deeds (according to the standards of Torah). But regardless of their deeds, “since not one was found ever having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15, literal), where they will experience eternal conscious torment.

The Eternal State

The elements of the earth will then be dissolved with a great rushing sound and God will create a completely new heaven and earth. The “New Jerusalem” will come down out of heaven and will be the eternal dwelling place for all (and only) those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, where they will enjoy eternal fellowship with God and with one another. Having fulfilled His redemptive mission, ADONAI Yeshua HaMashiach will then deliver up the kingdom to God the Father.

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Public domain image obtained from Clker.com
Image obtained from Clker.com, “an online sharing service where users share free public domain vector cliparts, …” The image is belived tp be in the public domain.
 

Time to take a break and catch your breath! 

Oh, no, Charlie Brown. It’s not over. We’re just getting started. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. All we have done so far is to talk a little bit about what we’re going to be spending a lot of time talking about in future days and weeks and months. About all we have accomplished in this session is to look at a very brief definition of some basic terms that are used extensively on this website.

 

Therefore, leaving behind the initial lessons about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death, trusting God, and instruction about washings, s'mikhah, the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. And, God willing, this is what we will do. (Hebrews 6:1-3, CJB)

Continue to Lesson 5

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  1. Please note: If we could be able to clearly and definitively define God in terms we could actually understand, He couldn't possibly be the God of the Bible. If HaShem (literally “The Name”) can crate the entire universe by simply speaking it into existence, He can do anything He wants to, and He can appear in any form that He chooses, and we are forever unable to comprehend the infinite. Over the span of recorded history, he has appeared to mankind in many forms: as the Angel of the Lord, as the Captain of the Lord’s armies, as a burning bush, as smoke, as cloud, as lightening, as thunder, as a pillar of fire, as a Man in a furnace (and others), and lastly as the Man Yeshua.

When we discuss the “Persons” of the “Trinity,” it is important to understand that we aren’t even close to the Reality that is HaShem. We are only attaching convenient “handles” to see if we can possibly begin to grasp His glory and His functions as related to humankind. [RETURN]

  2. A person is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of property, or legal responsibility. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit each meet this criteria.  (Wikipedia) [RETURN]

 Revised Shabbat, September 21, 2019

Page last updated on Tuesday, 09 February 2021 01:20 PM
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Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)