This week’s Shabbat message is titled “The Many” by Warren Tanner
Last week I was speaking primarily to those of us in this so called Messianic/Hebraic Roots movement. This week I would like to speak to my Christian brothers and sisters that might be wondering what in the world has happened to us — are we in a cult? I’d like to propose a deductive line of thinking for a moment.
A person explains to you that he believes:
*Jesus is the Son of God/God in the flesh
*Salvation is by grace through faith apart from works by the shed blood of Jesus
*A person is not saved or kept saved by the works of the Law
*There is a heaven and a hell, a coming judgement, and Jesus is coming again to set up His kingdom — Wouldn’t it be fair to think, at least at this point, the person might be saved?
Ok, now let’s suppose that same person explains he believes the Bible teaches he should:
*Observe the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath
*Observe the dietary instructions (my Baptist hero of the faith Lester Roloff wouldn’t eat pork because the Bible says not to)
*Observe the festivals in the Bible and not Christmas and Easter — Wouldn’t it be fair to conclude that same person still might be saved?
I wrestled with these issues almost from the very beginning of my salvation back in 1973. Because I basically had no Bible or church background, I came to the Scriptures like a “clean slate.” As I read the Scriptures I purposed to find out what it said even if it appeared to fly in the face of my New Scofield Study Bible, or whatever. And that is what I have continually done.
After so many years I finally needed resolution. I searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. From what I could tell it didn’t look like the Sabbath was changed to Sunday (the Roman Catholic Church changed it), the dietary instructions were done away with, the festivals were ended, or many other things that still could be observed though there is no longer a temple/priesthood.
Let me close with this.
You’re on a deserted island. You always lived on a deserted island. One day, somehow, a Bible ends up on your island. Based upon the greatest amount of information that you find:
Would you celebrate Easter and Christmas or the holidays/festivals in the Bible?
Would you rest on the seventh day or on the first day?
Would you roast a buzzard and eat it?
Maybe you’ve wondered about some of this too. It’s for you I write. As you read your Bible, come to it like a “clean slate” and be willing to ask yourself the hard questions. For those of you who fear we’ve been abducted by aliens … let me assure you — they really are green!!
Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of my faith,
Next time: God Wrote A Blog
I was saved in 1973 at the age of 19. At that time I was living anything but the kind of life that I should have been living. When I got saved the immediate change was manifestly evident. It made my parents very happy. My mom even told me she couldn’t believe I was her same son.
But, as time went on their thinking started to change. As I started to read and live out the Bible, go to church three times a week and do Saturday soul-winning they started to get concerned. And after I went off to a Bible college down south they started wondering if I was in some sort of cult. I had to work pretty hard to convince them I wasn’t. But after time they realized that I wasn’t in a cult. I also think the arrival of Judy in my life had something to do with it too — Judy in a cult! I’m sure it never crossed my mom’s mind.
Now many years later I have experienced the same sort of thing from another family I’ve been a part of since salvation — my Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. I find I’m faced once again with trying to figure out how to assure my spiritual family members that I (and Judy too) aren’t in a cult. This seems to be a little harder though.
Anyone that has come into the Messianic/Hebraic mindset has been approached by our brothers and sisters in Christ who have genuine concerns for us. And I must admit that I understand and don’t blame them for seeing us that way.
I try to get outside myself and view us from the perspective of others. At first glance I would probably have the same concerns. Come to think of it — I DID!
After all, we did start looking like, eating like, and keeping the same Festivals as the “Jews.” And if that wasn’t enough to convince anyone, we stopped celebrating Christmas and Easter. And on top of that we now worship on a totally different day.
Perhaps we’re a little unfair with our Christian brothers and sisters for drawing the same conclusions we would (and did) if we were them. And truthfully, I think they come to these conclusions because they really care for us and love us.
So, what do we do about this …? I mean us, not them.
For starters, when they share their concerns we should respond like we would like to be responded to. A little kindness and understanding in our responses might go a long way. I don’t think we intend to be harsh but ….
Also, let’s not become overly “Jewish.” You know … doing those “Jewish” things that aren’t in the Bible. Sure we’re all excited with our new found attachment and involvement with the whole Bible and want others to experience it as well. But let’s be sure we don’t just pick out another batch of new warm fuzzies that make us feel good. Please remember, our identity is in Christ and not in any particular people group — no matter how religious they may appear to be.
We should keep practicing what the Bible clearly says. We should eat what the Bible says, dress as the Bible says, keep the Festivals the Bible says and worship on the day the Bible says. We should be obedient to the Scriptures as best we understand it. But let’s be sure we don’t convey a holier-than-thou attitude or the condescending attitude that I fear we sometimes manifest.
Let’s not focus so much on things like (for example) the three letter hebrew root level of words. I’m glad we’re excited to learn and understand the Hebrew language. However, we need to realize we don’t have to become Hebrew or Greek scholars (or even students) to be able to understand the Scriptures.
How about taking another look at Colossians chapter three. Each time I read it I realize how far I still have to go to live out what it says in plain ‘ole English! Master that chapter and maybe we will earn the right to start telling our Christian brothers and sisters how they’re not doing it all “quite right.”
Understand what I’m trying to get across?
I often think about Spurgeon, Moody, George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Edwards and all the martyred Christian saints that have come before us. They lived a standard we would do well to emulate.
Let’s work on getting out the beams in our own eyes before we stand across the street and throw stones at others. All of us who are saved are in the process of being conformed to the image of Jesus/Yeshua, are we not? He’s our focus.
Both sets of my grandparents had cottages when I was growing up. Many wonderful years of memories remain with me to this day. One of the cottages operated with a deep well much like the house where we live now.
Sometimes however, the pump for the well at the cottage wouldn’t work correctly. When that happened, we would draw water from the next door neighbor’s well. It was in the front yard and looked just like the typical well you picture in your mind. It had the bucket on the rope that we’d let down into the well.
It was so much fun for me to let the bucket down into the well and turn the handle to pull the bucket up. I always wondered what was down there. How much water? How deep was the water in the well? Are there any critters floating around down in there?
There were a few times that we couldn’t use the water we drew because, after having tested it, it was found to be contaminated. It had impurities that made it unfit. But interestingly, every time we got water it looked like water. In appearance the water looked like we thought it should look. But first we had to determine if it was beneficial to us or not — we had to test it.
Today, believers in Messiah have many wells in which they can draw from. The internet has made it possible for pretty much anyone to find a good Bible site that is loaded with commentaries. There are literally hundreds/thousands of sites offering teaching on basically any Bible topic or question you might have. As I’ve heard one person state it: the internet is like eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One must approach it with discernment.
A lot has happened during my 43 years of salvation in relation to the body of the living Messiah — much good and some I’m concerned about. Have we perhaps, to some degree, overlooked a very basic concept of a local assembly? God has so set up the local assemblies in Messiah that they are made up of sheep and shepherds. Paul told the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20 to:
28. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31. Therefore watch ….
It is your local shepherd/elder that has the awesome and wonderful privilege of overseeing the flock under his care. He is the one that will answer to God for you. Only shepherds have a shepherd’s heart.
So … as you are throwing your bucket down the many internet wells you visit make sure to test them. And, the only way I know to do that is for you to get to know your Bible.
Let’s do what we teach our children in the song which says: Read your Bible, pray everyday, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.
If it’s good enough for our children, I have to believe it’s good enough for us grown-ups too.