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Posts Tagged ‘sabbath’

Just have to share  a blog post from a great friend and former SDA.  I could write a book contrasting the worldview of Adventism vs. The Gospel but it would not come close to the clarity these pictures demonstrate from the books that she and I both grew up with.

Please visit her most excellent blog:  Images of Judgment

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Read a great post this morning by David Wilkerson.  He was quoting a Puritan preacher from the 1600s warning London of perilous times ahead.  He called for repentance, for people to lead their families to a place of safety –  not a compound, a bunker, or a cave in the wilderness, but eternal shelter in Jesus.  No matter what befalls us here in this world, He has promised in Him we are more than overcomers.   At times He is the protector in the fire, and in other times He gives us visions of heaven as the rocks fly and our spirits return to Him.  In both cases, we have Him and He is glorified.

Our greatest tragedy should be the prospect that we could deny Him, not to suffer at the hands of men or from circumstances.  I do not fear that He would not forgive this failure, but the terrible grief of having done so.  I can’t imagine the broken heart of Peter with one look from Jesus after he had cursed and denied he knew Him – to keep his own skin safe.  But he had to be broken from trusting his own strength, his own promise of “I will never fall away.”  We cannot promise things to God.  We can only trust His.

Yet Peter’s position in the Ark was not affected by this failure.  When the door of the ark is sealed.. you are in or out.  Your safety depends on the strength of the ark, not your ability to keep it afloat.  Theoretically, Noah could have exerted a great effort to somehow climb out and jump, but is this a discussion we need to have?  People seem to spend more time arguing about how to stay in the Ark than calling drowning people into it, but that’s because we’ve invited so many in with one foot only and told them it was fine.

Growing up as an Adventist, our lives were overshadowed constantly with the belief of the coming “Time of Trouble”, as we called it, when God would test the whole world and divide those who served Him from those who served the enemy.   The dividing line would be the Seventh-day Sabbath – and all who did not remain loyal to this holy day would receive the Mark of the Beast – causing all to worship on the false Sabbath – on Sunday.  We were taught that we would be hunted and many killed for not complying with “Sunday Laws”.  Every disaster or political crisis created a buzz of conversation about how soon the Sunday Laws were coming.  My ark of safety in God was a day, and I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to make it through.  The right Jesus was the Sabbath Jesus.  The only way to know if we had Him or not, was the day.  To abandon the day was to reject Him.  And to fail was to be lost forever.

For much of the world, this tribulation is already here, and growing drastically each day.  The line in the sand is already drawn and many are being hunted and killed for being on the side of Christ.  He is the Sabbath test Himself.  Will we trust His love and finished work or not?  Will we trust someone or something else?  Will we trust ourselves?  I’m sure the temptation is large for those already suffering in the cauldron of man’s hatred.

My expectation of persecution coming to America someday (maybe soon) has not changed all that much – only that now I have total assurance in Jesus alone and not in my allegiance to a shadow observance, or my own ability to be strong.  The world system does want your adoration and trust.  It’s screaming for it, sometimes forcefully, sometimes seductively.  But if your ark is a day or a law, or anything other than Christ, you may have already been taken in while looking to a false sign of reassurance.   We have to go much deeper than external appearances – past the shadows – to the heart of who we love and trust the most.

Wilkerson’s article can be read HERE

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By definition…
Judaize or Judaise
vb
1. to conform or bring into conformity with Judaism
2. ( tr ) to convert to Judaism
3. ( tr ) to imbue with Jewish principles

They have pure devotion to God as their banner and restoration of the Church back to Israel as their mission so the Jewish people may be saved.  Your pagan Jesus is getting in the way of Israel seeing the truth.  By keeping the law of Moses you will no longer offend them with your foreign Jesus and they will accept Him and you both.   Although it may have remained dormant for centuries, this “Moses is for everyone” mindset is nothing new, finding its birth in the unexpected event of a Gentile coming to Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

In the early church, “those of the circumcision” seemed to cause the most controversy.  Today the majority of people placing the yoke of the Law on believers are in fact Gentiles.  You may find it hard to believe after the great effort the Apostle Paul put forth trying to divert people away from this distraction, that 2000 years later, people are now falling for the same divisive teachings.  If the Galatians were bewitched, we are beyond blind.  So many are willingly choosing a theology that requires Paul’s letter to the Galatians be ignored, denied, or twisted beyond recognition – along with many other New Testament passages addressing these issues long ago.

The quest for the salvation of the Jewish people (a most worthy cause) works as an effective lure to many Christians, especially as some segments of the church become increasingly interested in prophecy and the restoration of Israel.  But the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Movement pulls in Christians from all branches of the church, for many reasons.   Many no longer refer to themselves as Christians at all.  They have traveled down a path towards a Yeshua/Yahshua/Yehoshua/Yahoshua repackaged by modern Judaism rather than the Jesus of the New Testament Scriptures.  Although they can’t quite agree on a name for their new Messiah, they view their Christian roots as entirely pagan and their Hebrew Roots as not only restored truth, but a spiritual identity that causes them to feign a Jewish ethnic identity as well in many cases.  Some even ditch their Gentile names for Hebrew ones.

When I relate the story of our journey out of this movement, many Christians give me a look of disbelief that anyone could fall for something so illogical.  I am happy to reveal our own foolishness and am always relieved when others see it for what it is.  But as crazy and ridiculous as it may seem to some onlookers, the fact remains that this quietly encroaching disease seems to be taking down people left and right.  Every time I find myself wanting to put this to rest and move on to things I would rather talk about, I am presented with a new example of someone who has given their mind over to this movement.  Its teachers have painted a big, red, bull’s-eye target on your church, because you are the only ones with enough knowledge to understand and desire their complicated messages.  The lost person on the street is of no interest to them.

Spiritual Snipe Hunting
After a few years in this persuasion, focusing on the first five books of the Bible, we deeply sensed the group we led needed to study the New Testament scriptures as well.  We referred to the New Testament (called many things, but never New) when it reinforced the Torah study we were in, but we never approached the New Testament with the same systematic, reverent study as we did the Law.  We followed the same study schedule as the Jewish synagogues.

After one failed attempt to add a mid-week study night, we subscribed to a New Testament study course offered from a “Hebraic” perspective.  Although expensive, we felt it might encourage participation and moved the study to an early Sabbath session, before our main Torah study.  The Torah study took priority and could not be rescheduled or set aside.

I believed at last, after nearly six years, I would finally get to see this Jewish Yeshua that I’d been seeking for all along – to understand and see Him in His fullness.  For me, this had been the original attraction.  I’d been led to believe my Christian Jesus was incomplete and there was some deep wisdom and fabric of life underlying those gospel passages I just could not see.  If someone could bring that out for me, I was convinced I would know Him like never before.

The Hunting Outfitters
We initially chose this particular publisher because they avoided the most divisive subjects in the movement, presenting a sleek, scholarly approach.  Even though we are not customers now, we still periodically receive catalogs and fundraising correspondence from them.  Looking at their offerings with new eyes, I have been wanting to share what I believe are some of the most revealing focus statements.  (The letter discussed here can be read below in its entirety.)  Evaluate the following quotes with the overall pattern and focus of the New Testament writings.

Their Mission Statement:

Proclaiming the Torah and it’s way of life, fully centered on Messiah, to today’s People of God.

Proclaiming what? (Torah)  To Whom? (The people of God).  This is their reason for existence.  Does this align with any ministry found in the New Testament?  Searching the word “proclaim” in the ESV New Testament (often translated “preach” in the KJV) produced 27 results.  They overwhelmingly refer to the gospel of the risen Christ, and related subjects. Not a single example supports the direction of this mission statement above.  No one can proclaim Torah as their first priority and still be “fully centered on Messiah”!  If you are fully centered on Him, you will proclaim Him.

Their Plea:
The first paragraph states this mission is financially suffering and needs your help, even though one of their complete volume studies cost nearly $300 (but you can pay as you go, so it’s fair).

…..over 2 billion people in the world identify themselves as Christians…Almost the entire 2 billion of them are unaware of the Jewish roots of their faith and the amazing, transforming teachings of the Torah.  Who is willing to take this message to them?”

Where does the Word of God ever teach that the Law is the source of transformation for those who are in Christ?  In contrast, we are told:

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3,4

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

What could the Law not do?  Where does our transformation come from?  Who are they replacing with the Torah in these statements?

Some Christians use the Law of Moses as their tool to convict sinners and bring them to Christ, but this ministry is dedicating itself to teaching the entire Jewish system of Law to those who ALREADY trust Christ.  Paul asked the Galatians, “Having begun in the Spirit, will you be perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3)  Good question.

Their Claim:
The letter becomes increasingly bold as it explains why this is so vitally important, a point which is even underlined for emphasis,

Christian ignorance of Torah is the single-biggest obstacle to Jewish evangelism and the restoration of the body.

The Hebrew Roots solution to antisemitism is to teach Christians how to observe Torah.  Conversely, rejection of Torah, or suggesting Jesus did something new, is often viewed as antisemitic.  They go beyond calling this a reformation but a “restoration” … being entrusted with “the greatest revelation of biblical truth since the apostolic era.”  That is one of the most bold, arrogant claims I have seen. By “restoration of the body”, they mean the inclusion of followers of Yeshua into Israel, which requires their Torah observance.  In their present state, Christians are still defiled and “outside the camp” and the division in the body is our fault for offending our Jewish brothers with bacon and Sunday church attendance.

Jesus was indeed born of the tribe of Judah, keeping the Law, yet the Jewish people as a whole rejected Him then.  Why do these modern teachers think this will work now for the church?  The gospel of John reveals the Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus because, “being a man, he claimed to be God.”  This is still a huge theological obstacle, and many Messianics have obliged by taking this out of the way as well, conceding that Jesus was just a man.

Impressing or Offending?
I asked a Jewish friend and follower of Christ, living in Israel, to share his perspective on effective Jewish evangelism.  Below is a short interview.  I so much appreciate his willingness to share his thoughts, and grateful to God for bringing our paths together.

8thday4life:  How likely is it that a large sector of Gentile “Christians” pretending to be Jewish (observing and adapting Jewish customs to their own liking) would be a catalyst to help the Jewish people accept their Messiah?

Jeremy:  From my observations most attempts by non-Jews to replicate the rituals of Judaism are clumsy. Therefore the effect is to basically defile those rituals. For example, I knew a (Gentile) pastor who draped a tallit over the podium in an attempt to “make Jews feel at home”. Most Jews are horrified to see their ritual objects used in a way for which they were not intended. It would be like taking the wine and wafer of the Catholic Mass and using it for snacks after the Service. (I have to use a Catholic Mass as an example because I can’t think of sacred objects in most Protestant ritual.)  In actual fact it is my observation that among those adapting Jewish customs Christians who leave Jesus far outnumber Jews who turn to Him. (emphasis mine)

8thday4life:  What do you believe is the single biggest obstacle to the Jewish people recognizing Jesus as their Messiah?

Jeremy:  The Veil. This is a prayer thing. I believe that Christians need to pray and God will speak. God speaking is absolutely the best witness. When Christians humble themselves (in imitation of Christ) rather than imitate a work of man, I believe that this speaks. Love speaks. Love speaks to you, doesn’t it (she?)?

One day during the time when people were witnessing to me I came down with a sore throat. My friends could have laid hands on me and prayed for me and God would have healed me (they prayed their roaches away, so I knew He heard their prayers). But they didn’t do that. They made me hot lemonade. Their love healed my throat.

8thday4life:  What would be the best way for the Church to reach out to them in your opinion?  (Realizing – the history of persecution – the Church has done the Messiah no favors with His people.)

Jeremy:  See above. Make more hot lemonade! But in a natural way, i.e. as God leads. Not in a forced way. Richard Wurmbrand was led to the Lord by a man who prayed all his life that God would let him lead a Jew to Jesus. God put it together. Like I said, I think it’s a Prayer thing. A phony can be spotted a mile off!

(You can read more of his testimony and perspective on the Messianic Movement HERE)

It appears that love, compassion, prayer, and being led by the Spirit may be more effective than parading around in a tallit, nailing a mezzuzah to our door, learning the Shema in Hebrew or abstaining from food on Yom Kippur while we argue about the solar and lunar calendars.  And Jeremy also confirms from his own testimony, and many others like him, the veil Paul spoke of is still the spiritual obstacle to Jewish people seeing their Messiah, which remains while they are reading the Law itself as described in 2 Corinthians 3.

But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:14-17

Lifting up Jesus (and acting like Him), rather than proclaiming our own law-keeping and affinity for Jewishness, seems to be the Scriptural approach.

"Back to the Wilderness" by Ramone Romero

No Snipe for Dinner Tonight
In the end, as we studied this esteemed publisher’s course, I still did not see this elusive Yeshua who was so superior to Jesus.  The course consisted of tedious, dry information which relied heavily on the writings of Jewish Rabbis who had never believed in their Messiah.  While these writings are valuable in many ways to understand Judaism and provide interesting historical insight, they are not helpful in understanding the Person they did not acknowledge.  These same sages have in some cases cursed both Christ and His followers.  Judaism was opposed to Jesus as its Messiah 2000 year ago, and last I checked, has not changed this firm position.  I am reminded of what the disciples were asked when they were looking for Jesus at the tomb.  “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Even though we were studying the gospels, it seemed as if the life had been sucked off the pages and replaced with discussions about the Torah, once again.  Because, in this movement,  the law is a god made synonymous with the incarnated God, who is worth an obligatory mention only as He relates to the higher god of Torah.

I am so thankful that before we finished the gospels, I had delved into Matthew again on my own and seen Jesus like I had never seen Him before – standing alone, above the Law and the Prophets.  This revelation is second only in my life to receiving faith in Him as God and Savior many years earlier, but the grief of my repentance was close to the same, if not deeper, because this time the truth I saw was so simple, I could not find any plausible excuses for my ignorance and vain wanderings.

To its credit, this same study course had a lesson with a description of a rabbinic disciple in the time of Jesus, explaining how they would mimic their teacher in every aspect of their lives.  I realized, by definition, I was not a disciple of Jesus because I was not focusing my attention on His words and endeavoring to imitate Him, but Moses.  I was a disciple of Moses first.  In seeking Jesus, my veil was also lifted.

Don’t Be Led Astray

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.  2 Corinthians 11:3, 14

The closing boast of this letter alarmed me most, and prompted me to write this post.

We are in churches, connected with the Church, and bringing truth to the Church with no concern for denominational lines.  Hundreds of pastors from all different denominations read and study FFOZ materials because…. a shared faith in Messiah and Jewish roots is something we all have in common. (emphasis theirs)

This is not about simply engendering understanding between Jews and Christians, but about drawing Christians into Judaism and away from the simplicity of Jesus Christ.  If the common bond you have with someone is defined as Messiah AND something… anything…. presented as “essential and equal truth” you have been taken in by a man-made agenda.  The Jewish people need to be reconciled to their Redeemer and to see in Him the blood of their Passover Lamb they can no longer even sacrifice.  Christianity does not need to be reconciled to Judaism, which is the end goal of this endeavor.  Genuine love will reconcile people to each other who have at one time been enemies, and this unity also comes only in Christ. (See a pattern here?)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, Ephesians 2:13-19

The wall of hostility in Paul’s day between Jews and Gentiles was the law.  Jews looked down on Gentiles as a sub-species and history shows Christianity later developed a deep hatred for Jews.  Both of these sad developments of human pride are taken away in Christ.  We don’t need to glorify the Law of Moses, but agree with Paul, a pharisee of pharisees, that it has been taken out of the way for both parties, lifting up the Cross where we can stand united, fellow citizens.  Praise God He has done this, is doing this, and will continue to do this, until His Sovereign will has been carried out in this world!

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This Saturday morning, as we were rushing out of the house earlier than we ever did to attend church on Sabbath (Saturday) morning, I realized how much joy I would be missing if I were still there – or if I was lying around in my P.J.’s till 2 p.m. like we did in the Hebrew Roots Movement.  We had Sabbath-keeping down to a science – just as the Israelites were told to stay in their tents and not cook, we managed to follow those guidelines pretty well.  We really did REST, and only met for fellowship in the evening.  We were pretty righteous.

Today, I can’t tell you what we did, because then I’d lose my reward, but I have to say, nothing in life has given me more joy than what I am doing now, nor have I ever seen God move in more amazing ways.  We are back to meeting on Saturday evenings like we used to,  with our present ministry fellowship group, after a long day of …. work.  God provided more today for what we do, than we have room to even store, or time to sort.  In one day!  What a waste it was to sit around and pride ourselves on how right we were.  This was not the obedience God desired, or blessed.  We were left spiritually dying, in agony – cold, hard, without compassion.  Now we are like trees planted by the water and He is with us and sustaining us.  People can argue all day in words about what obedience is, what God wants from us, and how wrong Christians are for not observing the Torah as given to Moses.  But I have walked in Torah, and I have walked with Jesus, and there is such a big difference, words become pointless.  It’s like having had McDonalds all your life, then being invited to a steak dinner.  Some people are addicted to the junk and don’t want the steak.  But I say… pass me the garlic butter and a knife.   I’m too busy to even proof read this so my apologies.  Praying for more time to share.

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This week we finally sat down to watch a DVD someone loaned us weeks ago called “Furious Love”. A man took a movie camera to document the love of God penetrating the world of Wiccans, drug addicts, and the Asian sex industry.  He  also gave a voice to the Persecuted Church in Orissa, India where the secular media has turned a blind eye.    The whole movie showed the power of the Love of God when people are willing to be used by Him in this fractured world.  This film also intensely demonstrates the reality of spiritual warfare.  Not for young children or the faint of heart.

I would strongly encourage anyone who believes they have been called to bring a special message to the world  (i.e. Torah Observance, Sabbath-keeping, speaking of Sacred Names, or some unique end-time prediction, etc… etc..) to watch this film and ask yourself if those who are being set free need to be added to by these most pressing teachings you have focused your heart and mind on.  Not only that, but has your message ever reached anyone in this way?  Does your “truth” compel you at any point to go out into the streets to seek and save the lost sheep?  And I would not ask this just of those who are labeled as “cult” or “heterodoxy” but also those within the mainstream church who have chosen some special point of truth that defines their purpose… if that point is an accessory to Jesus  Christ.  I find the witness of the persecuted church, and the deliverance of souls from the deepest darkness, to be a testimony to the power of Christ alone.  These are the stories that God used to help me to put down my spiritual idols and showed me how powerless they really were.

Most of the ministries featured here echoed the same sentiments.  In short:  “Wake up Western Church!”  Of the many people interviewed for this film, the words of one Dutch man summarized what I have said here too in different ways.  I was about to watch it again just so I could write it down, but found the clip to share instead, which is so much better.  In fact, I found two!  Many more are posted on Youtube.  I encourage you to watch them.

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I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this in my many years as a Sabbatarian, or how many times I may have said it.  Now I’m saying it again, because I still agree it’s true.  I may not put it on a bumper sticker like I’ve seen some do, but the next time I see one, I might honk and give them a thumbs up.  Just wish I’d have time to explain why I agree.  They won’t understand.

Most SDA Sabbatarians resolve to observe the correct Sabbath Day but hold the largely false presumption that all of Christianity has replaced Sunday with the 7th day Sabbath as the Biblical day of rest.  It’s true that some do, but this does not represent most Christians.  Most evangelicals don’t “keep” Sunday, they celebrate it.  Does anyone tell you to “keep” your birthday, or mother’s day?  Where is the law that demands you honor the people or events these days commemorate?  There isn’t one, but yet you love to anyway.

The fact is, most Christians have never even stopped to think about the correlation between the 4th commandment and their custom of worship on Sunday, which is why so many of them are easy prey for SDA Sabbath teaching, or other Sabbatarian groups.  And some others have been erroneously taught to see Sunday as a “sabbath” and for them as well as Sabbatarians I resound… “Sunday is NOT the Sabbath.”

Jesus is.

Just as the temple sacrifices pointed to the work of Christ’s atoning blood, the Sabbath was also a foreshadow of Christ’s work… HIS work and our rest in that work.  Jesus didn’t rest on the Sabbath during His ministry, and He infuriated the Jews because of it.

The Sabbath also represents our death with Christ on the cross.  The only way we cease from our own works is to die… reckon ourselves dead, as Paul says.  His flesh, our flesh, lay silent in the tomb on the Sabbath.  Every weekly and festival Sabbath pointed to this event.

Hebrews is a book showing the parallels between the Old Covenant pictures, and the New Covenant reality.  It invites us to walk in the reality, not the shadow.  Chapter 4 speaks to the shadow of the Sabbath showing specifically there is a rest for us in Christ… a rest that is every day… all day.  It’s our daily privilege, to rest (die) daily to our own works.

So what is Sunday if it’s not the Sabbath?  Why did the early Christians begin honoring this day as noted in the earliest Christian writings?  Because the most amazing thing to happen so far in human history occurred on that day!!  Their sorrow and total despair (because they had not believed His Word when He said he would rise again) was turned to unspeakable joy at the discovery that He had risen… just as He said!  Jesus honored this day with His presence among them on numerous occasions after His resurrection.  To stop at the Sabbath and not see the glory of Sunday would be like leaving the movie theater in the saddest part of the film and miss the happy ending!  We praise and thank Him for our rest, but we can’t walk in death.  We walk in newness of life… resurrection life!

“Therefore, if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will surely be united with Him in a resurrection like His….. So you must also reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. – from Romans 6

We find no written command anywhere in the New Testament to the church concerning any specific days or observances outside of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  To worship God on Sunday is to voluntarily rejoice and honor a risen Lord,  a freewill offering of love and corporate fellowship.  And through the Spirit, we can have this joy on any day as the church in Acts met in some form, daily.  It says, “With great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…”  Acts 4:33

If you delve into the message of the apostles, you will find a big emphasis on the resurrection.  Sabbatarians in my experience as a whole, spend very little time on this event in their worship and discussion.  Most refuse to even gather to worship at the yearly celebration of this event… Resurrection Sunday during the Passover season.   We never saw the magnitude of a completed covenant, and the joy of the New one.. in a risen Christ.

Sunday is not the Sabbath, this is true.  The Sabbath pointed to a future rest the adherents of the Old Covenant could not truly enjoy, just as the sacrifices pointed to a future complete atonement the blood of animals cold not procure.  The first (or eighth) day points to something even greater we are looking to now; our own glorification and final union with our Lord in the coming resurrection, our Blessed Hope. Until then we have the seal and promise of His Spirit as we walk by faith, trusting He will do as He said.

He Lives

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today.  I know that He is living no matter what men say.  I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer.  And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

Rejoice Rejoice O Christian, lift up your voice and sing Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!  The Help of all who seek Him the Hope of all who find.  None other is so loving, so good and kind.

He Lives, He Lives, Christ Jesus Lives today!  He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.  He lives, He lives, salvation to impart.  You ask me how I know He lives?  He lives within my heart.

Hymn by A.H. Ackley

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Wonderful article from JGIG!

The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended

In the last several months the Law of Christ has become clearer for me.  Not that I haven’t necessarily understood what is the Law of Christ, but expressing that understanding has been challenging, especially when in a discussion with those who believe that we, as believers in Christ, are commanded by God to keep Mosaic Covenant Law…  CONTINUE READING

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In many ways I am thankful for our time in the Hebrew Roots Movement, simply for the perspective we gained.  I find it so difficult to express in words the magnitude of the contrast between a law-based approach to the Word of God and  a Christ centered one (so this post might be a jumbled mess).   In the HRM our eye was filled with the Torah and the modern nation of Israel.  I was recently looking over the website of a self-proclaimed Messianic “prophet” and had to dig long and hard to find any mention of  Yeshua.  I finally found Him mentioned almost in passing, and no New Testament scriptures were referenced anywhere in all his teachings that I could find.  I asked him via email what he believed regarding Yeshua, and he agreed we were reconciled to God through His atonement, yet this fact was not worthy of addressing in his writings. (And of course not applicable if we refuse to obey the Law of Moses.)  Plenty of criticism of Christianity for not keeping the Torah, and other such things, but no gospel.  Not even a false one.  Our focus was not much different. Of course we claimed faith in Jesus, but we seldom spoke of Him unless it was how He upheld the Law in some way.

Reading the gospels now, we sense so strongly the tension Jesus created when He began to declare His  authority both in Word and in demonstration. The point of contention truly was His authority.  The religious leaders were not remotely interested in genuine righteousness or justice.  The Torah put them in the “seat of Moses” so they were not about to let anyone rob them of the influence and authority this gave them.  When Jesus challenged them and the Law itself, establishing His own authority as God, they sought to kill Him.  They said..”What will we do?  Look.. the whole world is following after Him!”  Even Pilate sought to set Him free “For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. ” Matt. 27:18.

John tells how they came to take Him in the Garden and He asked, “Who are you looking for?”  They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  He said… “I AM”.   My Bible translates it “I am he” but the footnote says the pronoun is not there in the Greek.  John 18:6 says that when He spoke this, they drew back and fell to the ground.  This is the name of God.  Did it occur to them they were seeking to kill God in order to sustain their own authority?  Isn’t this the bottom line for all of us?  We all have chosen our own authority at some point over God’s.  When we have done so, we also are members of the angry mob yelling “Crucify Him!’

Jesus declared I AM several times through the gospels.  It seems like a subtle way to say.. “I am God, and this is what God is for you.”  I AM the bread of life, I AM the water of life, I AM the light of the world.  In all these things He was showing Himself to be the sustenance of our humanity, our true Source for life and light, and the fulfillment of all the types and shadows contained both in the Law and in the mighty acts of God in the past to sustain and deliver His people.  At the end He prayed to the Father, “I have made your name  known to them.”

Have you ever watched a mystery unfold in a movie?  I enjoy movies where you really can’t predict the outcome.  They hold your attention till the very last minute when everything is finally explained.  The climax of the whole story is to know the TRUTH about what had taken place.  We read the Old Testament now with full knowledge of how Jesus fulfilled it.  We lose sight of the climax factor in the story.  Try to imagine reading the Bible for the first time with no knowledge of the outcome as you read.  Do you realize how HUGE Jesus is to the scope of the story the whole Bible tells?  He is just not one of many interesting stream of characters, He is the climax of the history of the entire human race!  How on earth can we shove him under the table as essential for salvation, but unnecessary in knowing God and His will for us?  How can we look to a contract with an ancient people for our ultimate revelation of who God is?  This is a good definition of insanity now that I look back on it.

So many gain followers by merchandising secrets, but the truth about God is no longer a secret or a mystery!  It has been declared and made manifest in His Son!  Instead we get bored with that simplicity and try to find some other complex hidden thing that no one else has ever found in the 2000 years of the faith.  I promise you.  There is no new truth under the sun.  Lies are often recycled, but truth has been made plain.  We can grow deeper in it – but it doesn’t move.

I have been working through the Gospel of John several times and am seeing a very interesting picture I hope I have time to write about soon – if I can get a working outline.  Jesus truly is everything.

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I would like to present some real-life examples which illustrate the parable I wrote a few weeks ago,  Deceitful Duck Logic.

A very common practice in  Adventism in order to gain converts is to rent a public facility for meetings and send invitations in mass mailings to the community.  The colorful invitations include promises to explain Biblical topics relating to end times and other subjects people may have questions about.  What they don’t include is any mention of who they are.  Most who attend these meetings are already Christians attending other churches, as these are the people with the most interest in prophecy subjects.

I heard the following account from a person directly involved.   Feel free to check out the facts of this if necessary.  In July 2009 the Adventist  “It Is Written” ministry rented the Performing Arts Theater in Lancaster, California for three weeks, at the cost of thousands of dollars a night.  They sent out over 200,000 invitations to the community and named the series of meetings  “Countdown to Eternity”.  An ex-Mormon and other concerned Christians decided that someone needed to at least inform the attendees about the identity of their hosts and their key beliefs.  After the meetings ended they passed out fliers to those leaving the building.  They delivered more than 500 in the first couple of meetings and many expressed their gratitude for the information.  Observers of the first meetings reported no one would have suspected they were not mainstream evangelical.  They promised to help their audience “understand prophecy better”.  No church affiliation had been indicated.

I have seen this method in action myself, on a smaller scale.  When our own small local SDA church organized similar meetings at the local college,  we were asked to lie in response to questions about the speaker – that our SDA pastor teaching the series  “may be the pastor of a church in the area in a few months”.  We did not agree to lie for him.

Recently another former SDA I know in Nevada received a brochure at her door.  She immediately recognized it as having the Adventist flavor, but no name was listed.  She called the number provided and this is what transpired:

I called the phone number on there.  When the lady answered I told her I had this brochure.  I asked what church was sponsoring it.  She said, “No church.”  I could not stand the lie, so I told her I was a former SDA and I recognized SDA doctrine when I saw it.   She  did a LOT of protesting and I kept on telling her she was not telling the truth.  That is when she admitted she was SDA.  I told her it was a lie to say she did not know what church sponsored this,  and that they had given it to the wrong person.  – Diana R. Lopez

A couple who are in the process of leaving the SDA denomination recently confronted the church’s practice of initially hiding their identity in evangelistic outreach activities.  The following is a response to this issue, a direct quote from the associate pastor of the high-profile Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary, Andrews University.

The discussion of whether our evangelistic advertising should include the church name has been a live discussion in the church ever since I can remember. Many agree with you that
all of our evangelistic advertising should always include the Adventist name. Most of our evangelistic meetings are held in our own churches because it’s less expensive than renting public facilities, and in these cases the advertising does include the church name by necessity. The other argument is that surveys indicate that the average person on the street confuses us with Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc., and to include the Adventist name would not be communicating truthfully to such people.  I won’t claim that there is never an  attempt to deceive, but I think it’s safe to say that that is rare. Other motivations are involved. – Skip MacCarty

So we see the line of logic is “honesty requires us to not tell the truth.”  Of course the REAL question is, “Why do people confuse you with the other two cults?”  And another, “Why is it okay to lie in order to teach people they should keep the 4th Commandment?”

In spite of their fear of being associated with JW and LDS, Adventism has done an amazing job in the last few decades of presenting itself as a mainstream Christian church which simply meets on Saturday.  I meet so few Christians who know what Adventists actually believe, or that they also have a prophet like the Mormons.   Evangelical factions exist within the denomination who do not hold to the historic precepts which launched the church into existence.  Yet the official stance from the organization remains unchanged in crucial areas that deviate from the tenets of orthodox Christianity.  For an overview of these differences, an excellent Evangelical Resource is “The Truth About Adventist Truth” – by Dale Ratzlaff, former SDA pastor.

Truth does not need to hide or deceive.  It is not afraid of being questioned or tested.  This practice alone tells me there is something wrong with Adventist “truth.”  I dearly love Adventist people.  I know many believe their message is so important it justifies the means.  But I also have a burden for unsuspecting prospects to not take the bait, but to be aware and discerning.

I have been given permission to share both the exit letters and church response which contain the above quotation. (links below) The church requested this couple always include its response with copies of their own letters.  While this couple is under no obligation to do so,  we are in agreement that the church response says much than their exit letters ever could have.

Dana Kendall’s Exit Letter

Scott Kendall’s Exit Letter

Pioneer Memorial Church Response

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When giving our own testimony about leaving Torah Observance for Jesus alone and His Covenant,  I have always tried to make a distinction between the Hebrew Roots Movement (comprised almost completely of Gentiles) and Messianic Judaism, which I had no direct experience with.  Watching it from a distance I assumed this was culturally relevant for Jewish people having these customs as their background.

When I came to meet the brother who has shared this booklet I’m passing on to you, my theory was turned on its head.  I am so thankful that God has led him to write and freely share the wisdom he has learned from God’s Word.  He has blessed our lives incredibly with his words and I pray it blesses many others.

Judaism has beautiful elements in its practice and can be extremely alluring to those who mistakenly think they can learn to  “do what Jesus did.”   This is just the beginning of many distractions and deceptions, leading people to flirt with practices and philosophies of Judaism.   To draw from this well, as a believer, whether Jewish or Gentile is to drink from a broken cistern, guaranteed to run dry on you, most certainly NOT the Living Water that leads to everlasting life.

This booklet entitled “What Went Wrnog With the Messianic Movement” is a Jewish believer’s plea to reject the futility of false religion and inherited lies in favor of the One saving truth of Jesus Christ in a powerful, honest, heart-felt manner.  I praise God for the deliverance He has so graciously given so many of us who were once blinded, but now the veil has been taken away as we turned to Christ.  Here is an excerpt and a link to read the PDF copy.

“Judaism appears to be righteous and godly, but anything that turns away from or hates Jesus and His wonderful work also turns away from, i.e. hates, God as well. Therefore, because the spirit of Judaism is so virulently set against Jesus and His work on the Cross, the God of Judaism cannot be the God of Mt. Sinai, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the prophets or any god at all. That Judaism and practitioners of Judaism hate Jesus reveals something much deeper in the character of the religion and the practitioners thereof. He who hates Jesus, hates God and cannot be said to be in any way godly.

But there is a redeeming characteristic to normative Judaism. Zeal. The day will come when “all Israel will be saved”, and when that day comes it will be with great zeal. The knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and the prophets will be added to zeal, to the eagerness to serve God. Lying, legal (and other) fictions and manipulative mental gymnastics of the mind of man will be put aside. The eagerness to seek God — the readiness on the tongue to discuss Godly matters —will be added to the clear vision of the eyes of faith. But it is dishonest to say that that day has come. Normative Judaism is not a beautiful religion for those who mean to seek the very face of God as described in the New Testament.

This booklet is not written for Jews who have never known Jesus. They should enjoy their religion in good health. However, for believers in the shed blood of the Messiah, normative Judaism is nothing short of spiritual adultery. In Romans we are told that we were made to die to the Law in order to be joined to (married to) the Messiah.”  p. 10

“Our heritage is beautifully described in the sixteenth Psalm:

“The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; Thou dost support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” Psalm
16:5, 6 (emphasis supplied)

When David the psalmist says, “my heritage is beautiful to me” we should know that our heritage as believers in Jesus is not our culture; our heritage as believers is God Himself in diametric contradistinction to what has been handed down to us from our fathers. “Thou wilt make known to me the paths of life. In Thy presence is fullness of joy. In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.” These three amazing things (knowing the paths of life, fullness of joy and pleasures forever) are not obtainable from
our fleshly fathers; not from rabbis and not from books or lectures. Only the inheritance that we have as sons of God through Jesus (John 1) can bring us this inheritance.”  p. 42

Click below for full version

What Went Wrnog with the Messianic Movement

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