Torah Portion: Vayera

For the first time THIS Friday, November 15, 2019 @ 7pm CST, we are going to attempt to live stream ‘Seabbatical’, an online Bible study where you can watch and participate through the chat box. You will need to access our Flip Flop Fellowship YouTube Channel to do so. Lord willing, the WIFI and technology will work properly! Please do read the Torah and Haftarah portions prior to our live stream. Hope to see you there!

Nov 8|2019: ‘Seabbatical’ Torah Portion

This Friday, November 8, 2019, and on a bi-weekly basis going forth, Carrie and Jerry are hosting a fellowship gathering on their boat they liveaboard full time. Since the Sabbath starts Friday evening at sunset through Saturday at sunset and we are hosting this fellowship on our boat (or at the marina depending on how many people attend), we are calling this aspect of our ministry ‘Seabbatical’ to play off the term ‘Sabbatical’.

Who: Adults interested in learning more about applying all of the Word of God to our lives today, a Spirit-led lifestyle, and perhaps a thing or two about boat life! 🙂 {sorry, due to the nature of a sailboat/water and lack of childcare, this gathering is not suitable for children}

What: We will gather to study the Bible’s weekly designated Torah (1st 5 books of Bible) and Haftarah portions (prophets and other OT Scripture) as well as any relatable New Testament Scriptures.

How: The agenda of the gathering is to light the Shabbat candles, worship in a song or two led by Carrie on her guitar, study and discuss the Word, and pray for one another. Carrie will email you the weekly Torah/Haftarah portions in advance for you to read prior to our gathering.

Why: To grow up in God together as He matures us in the truth of all of His word and the abundance of His love. **We don’t claim to be perfected in love just yet nor have all the answers, but we know the One who does!

When: Every other Friday night starting at 6:30-9pm

Where: Kemah, Texas – Call/Text Carrie @ 281-717-0622 or email us at flipflopfellowship@gmail.com to learn more and get specific directions.

In this week’s study, we will be discussing the ‘Lech Lecha’ portion and any applicable Bible passages. Please read and reflect on the passages prior to your arrival. Bring a snack, song, or applicable passage to share!

‘Distinction Theology’ or Distinguished By Love?

Upon attending a Messianic Jewish congregation for quite some time recently, I was introduced to a relatively newer labeled theology unfamiliar to me known as ‘Distinction Theology’, which sets apart Jewish people from Gentiles even if both are believers in Yeshua/Jesus. The congregation used resources from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ), a Messianic Jewish ministry, which is how I discerned this fascinating, but what I believe to be false doctrine. Moreover, it reveals the importance of being familiar with the word of God, having the Holy Spirit, and discerning all that is being taught as well as the fruit manifesting from various doctrines. In FFOZ’s recently published Messiah Journal, they define Distinction Theology as such:

What is distinction theology? It’s the premise that there is a difference between Jewish people and Gentiles, even after they become Yeshua followers.” , D Thomas Lancaster, First Fruits of Zion, “Distinction Theology and Diversity in the Communities of Yeshua”, Messiah Journal Issue #134, Summer 2019

In the article, Mr. Lancaster goes on to explain this theology is based off of Exodus 19:4-6, which defines Israel as a holy nation and set apart priesthood. After breaking down the verse being exclusively for Israel being the chosen nation and chosen elite priests, Lancaster pens the following,

Likewise, as a holy nation, Israel is set apart. The Jewish people have special priestly duties that the rest of the nations do not. There are things they are required to do that the rest of the nations are not required to do. They also have privileges and prerogatives that the rest of the nations don’t have. That’s what distinction theology is about.

The distinction between Priest and High Priest by uniform and duties could be a prophetic clue to come.

However, when we study the entirety of Scripture along with Exodus 19:4-6, what we will find is the only ‘distinction’ God seems to stress upon believing in His Son, Jesus/Yeshua, and receiving His Holy Spirit, which is the same Holy Spirit dispersed to all of us, is that we be distinct from the worldly lifestyle as set apart people not distinct from one another. In fact, numerous Scripture reveals that once a person believes in Jesus/Yeshua as Messiah, they are considered to be united with Him and others in Him. I suspect in an effort to thwart Anti-Semitism and the false notion that Yeshua came to start a new religion, distinction theology, promoting ethnic Jews and Judaism, was birthed. But rather than emphasizing our genetic and cultural differences, and yet still esteeming Israel at the same time, Scripture seems to implore Jewish believers to no longer view Gentile believers as a lesser ‘unclean’ (Acts 10) class and for Gentiles who believe and follow Yeshua to no longer self-identity as ‘Gentiles’, for Gentiles were not of God, rather now, having been ‘brought near’ or ‘grafted-in’, Gentiles now are apart of Israel…they now are also apart of an eternal, holy nation, a greater or enlarged priesthood alongside believing Jews, and therefore, NOT distinct from Jewish believers in Yeshua. Believing Jews and Gentiles were worshiping together in the early assemblies/synagogues after Yeshua’s resurrection until the works of some UNholy spirits divided them.

Moreover, now that we are a new creation in Messiah (2 Corinthians 5:17), consisting of one unit, one body, one faith in Him, we are to be one as we are set apart or distinct from a worldly lifestyle, not each other. Compare the following Scriptures:

  • “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh– who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (NKJV)
  • “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 (NKJV)
  • There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. ” Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV)
  • “You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief (faith & obedience) they (natural Israelites) were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear (keep God’s laws). For if God did not spare the natural branches (Israelites/physically Jewish people), He may not spare you either (grafted-in Israelites/spiritual Jews/former Gentiles). Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but towards you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they (natural Israelites/physical Jews) also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” Romans 11:19-23 (NKJV)
  • “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, let nothing be done in selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:2-3 (NKJV)
  • Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19 (NKJV)
  • “not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;” 1 Thessalonians 4:5
  • And do not pray like the Gentiles…do not be like them..” Matthew 6:7-15
  • “This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations (gentiles)…” Jeremiah 10:2 (also see Deut. 12:4,29-32; 13:1-8)
  • Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and LAWLESSNESS, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14 {Note the antithesis to being right with God (righteousness) is lawlessness (not obeying God’s laws).}
  • “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. ” Ephesians 4:17-24

Furthermore, since Distinction Theology emphasizes the priesthood being exclusive to those of Jewish descent, let’s see what God has to say about the priesthood throughout Scripture for further insight. We see the Apostle Peter directly references Exodus 19:4-6 in 1 Peter 2:9 as well as earlier in verse 5 when He addresses believers in Yeshua are as priests.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. ” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

One could argue that the Apostle Peter, being a minister to the Jews (Galatians 2:7), was directing his letter to Jewish believers as hinted at by addressing those in the Diaspora/dispersion of Jews throughout the world in 1 Peter 1:-1-2. Fair enough! Keep in mind though, Peter writes some important truths in this letter such as “the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work..” in 1 Peter 1:17 and believers are to “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God…” (2:17). We also see the Apostle Peter says in chapter 4:3, “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles-when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, abominable idolatries..” So even though all of Peter’s writings can easily be applied to a believing Jew and believing Gentile, let’s just say for the sake of argument, Peter was definitely writing specifically to believing Jews and not Gentiles indicating the believing Jews are exclusively the priesthood. But then how would you explain away in Revelation 1:6 the Apostle John’s reference to the non-Jewish (Gentile) ekklesia/assemblies/churches (for they all were in Gentile areas such as Ephesus, according to Revelation 2-3) when John states Christ “made us kings and priests to His God and Father..” ? These are clearly Gentile churches he is writing to as “priests”. Or how would you explain Revelation 20:6 which defines those who made the first cut, the first resurrection, as, “priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” as being exclusive to Jewish believers? By the argument distinction theology is trying to convey, this would mean only Jewish believers in Messiah will be resurrected, so obviously we can throw that logic out. Not to mention, as a side note, the logic of First Fruits of Zion establishing a ministry called ‘Torah Club’ teaching Torah to the Gentiles, when according to their own distinction theology, Torah is not for the Gentiles (they believe only the 7 Noahide Laws apply, but Gentiles can tag along in the other commands if they want). Also, how would one reconcile their Distinction Theology with Revelation 5:10 where it defines these believers also “reigning on earth” (with Christ/Messiah) just like Revelation 20:6 and Revelation 1:6 infer as the priests do? Additionally, the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian ekklesia/church, who were non-Jewish, the same exact sentiments that the Corinthians (formerly known as Gentiles) will also rule and reign judging the earth (1 Corinthians 6) imploring them to learn how to discern and judge spiritual matters now for it is all practice for what is to come. Indeed! We need to better discern through the lense of the Holy Spirit rather than fleshly spirits the entirety of the Word of God and stop fashioning doctrines off one or two verses to appease tradition and other motives while producing bad fruit of division and pride.

Now that we have reviewed a plethora of Scripture revealing there absolutely is NO distinction between Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua/Jesus while understanding both believing Jew and Gentile are apart of Israel as well as the priesthood, let’s examine the bigger purpose as to what the role of the chosen enlarged priesthood actually is all about. First, we have already discovered in the above mentioned verses, our set apart calling is not about our flesh or ethnicities for our flesh is temporary, but it is all about the eternal Spirit within us and what it produces in us and through us. In other words, our role in Messiah is not about how we were naturally born nor our ethnic upbringings, but it IS about how we are supernaturally born and that we be brought up to love God and others by serving them like the priest demonstrated.

If we want to understand what our purpose is and how we are to be distinct from the nations/unbelievers, being we are one nation of Israel in Him as believers in Messiah, we would be wise to look at the Biblical priesthood described for such concepts seem to be prophetic clues to our future.

–> First and foremost, we know Yeshua/Jesus is The High Priest (Hebrews 7-10).

–>Second, we know there were numerous distinct roles within the priesthood. So if you are hoping to be “distinct” in God’s perspective, then you will want to pay close attention to this next point.

–>Thirdly and moreover, the purpose of the priests were to serve God and serve others…in other words, they had to specialize in loving God and loving others while teaching others to do the same. The priests had to be experts in knowing God’s instructions, in knowing His boundaries, in knowing His laws, knowing the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean, and how to teach the people in such matters. The priestly role also required many other legal transactions such as judging matters that inevitably manifested.

And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and clean. In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it according to My judgments. They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow my Sabbaths.” Ezekiel 44:23-24 (NKJV)

Simply put, the priest need to lead in love…they need to be firmly rooted and matured in love or perfected in love (Ephesians 3:17, Colossians 3:14, 1 John 4:12). Since we see all throughout Torah how the priests were indeed discerning or judging delicate matters as well as teaching people God’s instructions accordingly, those historical inspired writings would seem to be a good role model for how we are to live today as the “priesthood” as well as prophetic clues to our roles in the Messianic Era when Yeshua returns to rule and reign. Perhaps when Yeshua/Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19 that whoever teaches others not to live by His commands, His instructions, His Torah, will be “considered least in His Kingdom” could be because of the priestly roles established in the hierarchy. Under the High Priest, you had many priests, even broken down into families, each with a separate but highly important role all working as one priesthood…in the Spirit of love and authentic worship. Some were performing the sacrifices (Leviticus 1-6), some were singers (1 Chronicles 9:33), some were gatekeepers/security (1 Chronicles 9:17-21), some were taking things down and were meant to protect the sacred items (Numbers 4:4-14), some were in charge of the oil and menorah lighting (Numbers 4:16) and making ointment of spices (1 Chronicles 9:29-30), some carried the curtains, chords, screens (Numbers 4:21-28), some manages the pillars, boards, sockets (Numbers 4:29-33), some were bakers (1 Chronicles 9:31-32), some were schlepping sacred objects around (Numbers 4:15), whom I affectionately call the “schleppers”, etc. Perhaps likened to the hierarchy of the Levitical Priesthood, there will be a similar manifestation when we all are gathered to Israel upon His return to rule and reign with Him, with Yeshua our High Priest. Depending on if we are good stewards in the flesh now or how we lead in love now may determine our priestly role in our transfigured spirit bodies one fine day. So be careful what doctrines you teach and that you not devour one another in the process or you could end up a “schlepper” in the priesthood to come. Ha ha!

In all seriousness though, after a careful study of Torah and the Scriptures penned afterwards, we know the spirit of all of God’s word is to love God and love others; hence, the instructions on HOW to do so. The Apostle Paul declares over and over again the laws of God are fulfilled when we love God and one another for the Torah and all of Scripture is all about love, including tough love, discipline, self-control and overall distinction from the ways of those who don’t believe in Abba Father and His Son…who don’t have His Holy Spirit guiding them and instructing them, not distinct from those of us who believe in Jesus/Yeshua for we are to be one priesthood.

Like the Apostle Paul described, we are one body with many roles and many giftings and yet, without love, we are just clashing cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1-5). If you want to be distinct, be distinguished by your love for God and for one another.

Shalom and Amen.

Carrie R Turner 10.24.19

Fashioning Idols of Faith

We are meant to worship. 1 Peter 2:9 says we, those who believe Jesus is Messiah and have received Him as such, the redeemed, are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, called out so “that we may proclaim the praises of Him” who called us out darkness into His light. We are created by our Creator to be in relationship with Him…to be in covenant with Him…to worship Him and Him alone. Why? Is He some egotistical God that needs to be puffed up all day long? No. Rather, He understands we become what we behold and He wants us to be holy like He is holy presented by the Apostle Peter earlier in 1 Peter 1:16. Unfortunately, there are many unholy spirits infecting our hearts causing us to fashion and worship idols of faith.

I have been to countless places of worship full of numerous doctrines, but mostly still full of themselves. In each place, Abba Father (God) uses it all to reveal to me not just unholy spirits haunting the halls of churches or congregations, but the unholiness still pulsating in my heart as well. This is why the Lord provides us HIS Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Holiness, because He specializes in removing the unholy and replacing it with holy! Perhaps that is the most accurate type of Replacement Theology – ha ha! 😉

Through my travels since being sent out or called by God to go wherever His Spirit says to go and say whatever He says to say – mostly to His people in a variety of settings, what I have discovered is we are still fashioning idols like the ancient Israelites did when they fashioned a golden calf to worship (Exodus 32). It is fascinating how we can turn anything, even godly things, into a god in of itself, an idol. People of faith often unknowingly fashion an idol out of some spiritual truth they have gleaned, or out of a spiritual gift, or we take our ministries, mission, our causes, etc. and those very good, God-given gifts or blessings become idols we worship rather than God Himself. We are guilty of worshiping these gifts instead of the Gifter. Instead of fashioning a calf out of gold, we have fashioned idols out of theologies, our spiritual gifts, our callings, our ministries and so forth. What makes it especially difficult to discern is they can actually be good things, but elevating our beliefs, practices, or ourselves above our God is obviously not a good thing. I have seen people put the gift of prophecy or their role as prophet or apostolic calling above God as if they ARE God. I have seen the concept of grace elevated so high permitting people to commit any sin abusing God’s grace putting grace above The Gracious God. I have seen believers strive to obey the laws of God and become Torah Terrorists to those who don’t as if THEY are the Lawgiver themselves. I have seen people put their identity or their own Jewish blood above Yeshua’s atoning blood. I have seen people elevate their own ministries above other ministries and even above the Ministry of Messiah. I could go on and on for we ALL do it. I am guilty of it as well – particularly if we come under various teachings or authority in whatever body of believers we align ourselves with we are subjecting ourselves to whatever that “head” thinks and instructs. For what the head thinks, the body will follow. What the eyes perceive, the vision will manifest. What you behold, you become.

For what the head thinks, the body will follow. What the eyes perceive, the vision will manifest. What you behold, you become.

I myself have been zealous for grace, zealous for the Holy Spirit and His gifts, zealous for the roles of the body of believers, zealous for accepting the whole word of God including Torah, zealous for authentic worship, zealous for embracing Jewish/Hebraic roots for more accurate revelation, etc. How easy it is for our hearts to be deceived by putting whatever spiritual truth we have gleaned as well as even false doctrines we have aligned with, whether knowingly or unknowingly, above the Discerner of Hearts.

Today, I invite you to allow the Spirit of Holiness to examine your heart and it’s motives as it looks for and uproots any unholy spirit trying to elevate themself above the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.

Shalom and Amen.

Carrie R. Turner, 10.21.19

The Gift of Grace: Do You Have It? How Do You Know?

Christian culture is centered on the concept of G-d’s gift of grace made possible through His Son, Yeshua/Jesus’ death and resurrection. If you have been exposed to such important concepts, surely you have heard the famous toted verse found in Ephesians 2:8-9:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

These two verses, and these verses alone, are what most Christians think of when they think of grace. However, the very next verse (10) in that same passage seems to be encouraging good works as if grace and good works are related by saying, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The following verses go on to tell the new believing Gentiles in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:1, 3:1), who Paul calls “saints” (Ephesians 1:1) not to behave like the lawless Gentiles because now through believing Yeshua is the Messiah, Gentiles are also part of the covenants (see verses 2:11-13). He emphasizes Yeshua’s death and resurrection provide a way for unity (Ephesians 2:13-19) while seeming to re-emphasize although genetically you are non-Jewish, you are considered a “saint” in G-d’s eyes. The Apostle Paul goes on to explain in the following verses of Chapter 2, Yeshua the Messiah’s death and resurrection paid the debt or the consequence or curse of breaking the One True Living G-d’s covenant or relationship by disobeying Him (see Deuteronomy 28-29) now providing the eventual promise of eternal life through our own resurrection one fine day. HalleluYAH!

Could “grace” somehow cause us to do “good works”?

Earlier in the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes that upon trusting and believing in the gospel message, you will be sealed with the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 1:13). Acts 2:38-39 says essentially the same thing stating the promised gift of the Holy Spirit is for all who repent and are baptized in the authority or identity of Jesus/Yeshua The Messiah.

But did you know receiving the Holy Spirit is a distinct event in a believer’s life? I did not know this either until it happened to me unexpectedly in 2009 many years after believing Jesus is the Messiah (some 26 years later!). Many preach that receiving the Holy Spirit is an automatic, seemingly secret event that occurs instantly upon believing Yeshua is the Messiah, but according to Scripture, it is a distinct, separate, and undeniable event in one’s life.

Acts 2 revealed receiving the Holy Spirit is a noticeable spiritual event that causes a physical reaction. Likewise, in Acts 8:14-17, we see some in Samaria believed in the gospel message and had even been baptized, but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit until the Apostles laid hands on them and prayed for them, then the Holy Spirit fell on the believing people. Evidently, it caused some form of physical reaction for them to observe and record the Holy Spirit falling upon them to where they could surely verify the had received the Holy Spirit. Similarly, in Acts 10, the Holy Spirit provided a vision and the interpretation of the vision to the Apostle Peter, who typically ministered to Jews (Galatians 2:7-8). Through that vision and interpretation, Peter came to understand that the Gentiles were just as loved and wanted by G-d as well as the Jews and no longer considered unclean (Acts 10:34-36; Galatians 2:6) and shortly thereafter, the Spirit provided an opportunity for Peter to minister to the Gentile household of Cornelius and the Holy Spirit also fell on Gentiles causing a physical reaction (Acts 10:44-48). Additionally, in Acts 19:1-6, the Apostle Paul asked some Gentile believers in Ephesus if they had received the Holy Spirit yet, but they answered they hadn’t even heard of the term Holy Spirit prior to then and evidently they had not been baptized yet either. Moments later, they decided to get baptized, Paul laid hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them just like it fell in Acts 2, for the Samaritans, for Cornelius’ crew, and now for these believers in Ephesus, causing a physical reaction to what was happening in the spiritual.

Let’s unpack this:

1) First, we can see receiving the Holy Spirit is a distinct separate event to occur sometime after a person believes Yeshua/Jesus is indeed the Messiah.

2) Secondly, we see receiving the Holy Spirit is not limited to some formula of first believe, then be baptized, then receive the Holy Spirit for although some of those believers had already been baptized (Acts 8:14-17; 19:5-6), others had not (Acts 10:44-48) and yet they received the Holy Spirit. Incidentally, this is what manifested in my case as well (first received the Spirit then baptized by immersion into Him). We can deduce from this that not only is receiving the Holy Spirit a separate, noticeable, and distinct event that occurs sometime after trusting the fact that Yeshua is Messiah, but it is not limited to first being baptized or another outward expression of faith.

3) Thirdly, we can see them receiving the Holy Spirit was no act or choice of their own, an event that could not be forced or manipulated, but rather, an event given only by the grace of G-d, in His time, and His way, after they simply trusted Yeshua is their Messiah, their Redeemer, who paid for the cost of their lawlessness, and were open to receiving His Spirit of Grace.

4) Fourthly, we learn from these passages that receiving the Holy Spirit causes some sort of physical reaction to what is transpiring in the spiritual (i.e. speaking in tongues, but not limited to speaking to in tongues). Similar to when G-d, who is spirit (John 4:24), spoke, then something physical manifested (Genesis 1). What transpires in the physical often reveals what is happening in the spirit realm.

5) Lastly, we can discern from these passages, that G-d does not discriminate for the Holy Spirit was poured out on both Jews and Gentiles.

Did you know the Holy Spirit is not just referred to as the ‘promised gift’ (of the Father- see Acts 1:4-5, 2:38-39), but also the ‘gift of grace’ (Ephesians 2:8), and ‘the Spirit of grace’ (Zechariah 12:7; Hebrews 10:29)? So it would seem to me, when various authors in Scripture refer to G-d’s grace, they are referring to not just believing Jesus/Yeshua is Messiah, but the manifested promise of believing in Yeshua through receiving His Holy Spirit, which did not become readily available to all until Yeshua the Messiah rose from the dead (see Galatians 4:6)!

Did you know even though the Holy Spirit has existed from the beginning (Isaiah 63), it is what makes the new/renewed covenant distinct from the other covenants? Jeremiah 31:31-33, as well as Ezekiel 11:19-20, and Ezekiel 36:26-27, and Hebrews 10 as well as other passages like Joel 2, informs us while various chapters in Acts demonstrate to us Abba Father will pour out His Holy Spirit on those who believe (Yeshua is Messiah) as a sign of a new covenant made, similar to physical signs He has provided other times when He made a spiritual covenant with His people (Romans 4:9-14) and that the purpose of that Holy Spirit being deposited within us, also known as the ‘Spirit of Holiness’ is to cause those who believe to do that which is holy (Romans 7:12), to seal G-d’s laws on the hearts of His disciples (Isaiah 8:16), and to educate, encourage, and empower us to obey His Kingdom Constitution or put another way, The Father’s household instructions being found in the Torah and elaborated on throughout the rest of Scripture.

In other words, the gift of grace is receiving the Holy Spirit, who then takes us from living a lawless, unholy lifestyle to a lawful, holy lifestyle in His time little by little, step by step. In our natural selves we cannot to do so nor want to (Romans 8:7), but the supernatural being within our flesh causes a physical reaction to do the good works Ephesians 2:10 refers to! HalleluYAH!

But I Thought The Law Was Just For The Jews, Not Gentiles?!

Many believe, however, that obeying Abba Father’s instructions only applies to Jews and not Gentiles, but my Bible does not seem to teach that the Jewish people receive a different Holy Spirit than the Gentiles. In fact, the Bible seems to reiterate there is no partiality or difference in Abba’s perspective between His natural kids (Jews) and His adopted kids (Gentiles), He loves us all the same and His household rules applies to all His kids. Just the very essence of referring to the G-d of the universe, the One True Living G-d, as Father, infers He is our authority, our parent. Just as children are taught to honor their father and mother by obeying them, Abba Father’s spiritual kids must do so also. Unfortunately, there is an ugly spirit of sibling rivalry among believing Jews and believing Gentiles seeming to assert one’s status over another.

I have discovered along my faith journey that there are various teachings found in the Body of Messiah that seem to teach a different lifestyle of holiness or infers (perhaps unknowingly) that a different Holy Spirit is poured out onto Jews than Gentiles. Here are the 3 common teachings regarding obeying G-d’s laws in summary: 1) We are not under law so neither believing Jew or Gentile in Messiah ought to keep Torah anymore; 2) Only the Jews in Messiah are required to keep Torah, being the Jews are the chosen priesthood, but for the Gentile obeying Torah is optional; 3) Upon receiving G-d’s grace and being filled with the Holy Spirit, a believer in Messiah, whether genetically a Jew or Gentile will be Spirit-led to obey Torah in His time.

It’s About His Blood, Not Our Blood

From what I have discerned from Scripture thus far is the gospel message that is repeated over and over again (within the pages of the Bible) is not only that we become apart of G-d’s family through faith in Yeshua alone through His blood, not our blood, not our genetics (Romans 3:28-30, 5:9, 9: 6-8, 10:9-13) but that Abba Father shows no partiality between genetic Jews and genetic Gentiles. I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as I share with you numerous verses leading me to this conclusion.

Since we were just discussing Ephesians, please investigate Ephesians 4:4-6 which reads,

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Does it say there are different faiths or a different Holy Spirit given depending on if you are Jewish or Gentile? Do we have a different Father?

In Acts 10, the Apostle Peter, who typically ministered to Jews (Galatians 2:7-8) came to understand after seeing a vision that Abba is after the hearts of not just the Jews, but the Gentiles as well. “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, ‘In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Shortly thereafter, as discussed earlier, Peter witnessed first hand the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48).

{warning: theology rant}

The Apostles expressed numerous times that there is no difference between His genetic Jewish kids and His genetic Gentile kids for we are one family in our Father’s house upon believing Yeshua is Messiah; hence, the tearing of the veil (Matthew 27:51), the breaking down the barrier between Jew and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14) for Yeshua is our High Priest (Hebrews 5-10) and all in Him, including Gentiles, are His Chosen Priesthood (1 Peter 2:5-12; Romans 11). He is not concerned with your physical dna, per se, rather He is more concerned about your spiritual DNA…your circumcised heart, your spiritual maturity gleaned through your spiritual giftings and overall role in His body. Do you have different backgrounds, different experiences, different genders, eye color, shapes and sizes, and natural tendencies? Of course! But neither your past or your flesh have a place in the kingdom in light of eternity for He is making you a new creation in your identity in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). Stop making it be about genetics for that is carnal. In the end, our DNA is a fading flower. The flesh is temporary, the spiritual is eternal. Put another way, it’s not about your physical temporary body, it’s about HIS spiritual eternal body.

Likewise, do you have different spiritual gifts? Different spiritual roles in G-d’s kingdom (i.e. apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelist, pastoral, etc)? Of course, and yet, you are still one, according to 1 Corinthians 12. Just as there is no one gift better than the other or how no one body part in the human body can properly function without all the others working in unity, neither is woman better than man (1 Corinthians 11:11), man better than woman (I Corinthians 11:11), Jew better than Gentile, or Gentile better than Jew. “Distinction Theology”, a relatively newly defined theology circulating in some of Messianic Judaism and some even more limited circles of Christianity, fosters division elevating Jews above Gentiles, by teaching Torah is required for Jews, being they are G-d’s special chosen people, His actual priesthood, but the Gentiles can do their less serious role by adhering to the moral laws of Torah. It like “Replacement Theology” are false doctrines that foster division and discord. “Replacement Theology”, the most predominant theology circulated for centuries throughout Christianity, creates division by elevating Gentiles above Jews and typically teaches the Torah is irrelevant to both Gentiles and Jews. Both of these contradict Scripture and demonstrate sibling rivalry at its best or more accurately, worst! If I had to pick a theology that best describes my perspective regarding unity and honoring Abba Father’s instructions for His kids, it would be “One Law Theology”, circulating in the Hebrew Roots Movement as well as Messianic Judaism, but even that could use better clarification because it implies every single command in Torah applies to every single person, which it does not. For example, can a man obey the commandments provided in Torah specifically for woman (i.e. her menstrual cycle)? Do the commandments intended for farmers or the military apply to everyone? Do the commandments pertaining to the Levitical Priesthood apply to the average person (i.e. what clothing to wear or not to touch dead people)? Moreover, it is clearly difficult to label and explain the mysteries of G-d and His family dynamics plus we are all at different mile markers on the same narrow path (hopefully). I certainly can appreciate attempting to explain various revelations, but we must do so being founded in the entirety of G-d’s word and in His love while fostering the atmosphere of being in one accord. Is our theology demonstrating fruit of the Spirit, demonstrating love or are we creating doctrines that place one over another? Is that the Spirit of Grace? The Spirit of Holiness? Yeshua taught us to serve others, to be humble, to love. He ministered to all walks of life lowering Himself even to the point of death for ALL of us. Perhaps a better label could be “One Family Theology” or “One Love Theology” or “One Father Theology” or “The Functional Faith Family Theology”. It grieves me to see those who claim to believe in One G-d be so divided.

It grieves me to see those who claim to believe in One G-d be so divided.

Some of the Messianic Judaism communities seem to attack the Hebrew Roots communities while some of the Hebrew Roots communities seem to attack Christianity and some of Christianity seems to attacks its own variations/denominations…it is never ending division. Hopefully, you are hearing my heart on these important matters for when the trumpets start blasting in the end (see Revelation 8-11), I promise you, you won’t care what your theology is called, you will need each other and finally start fulfilling the heart of Torah by BEING love, as the Body of Messiah, simply to survive.

I invite you to explore the following verses that foster wholeness and the heart of our Father…

“..God shows no personal favoritism to no man..” Galatians 2:6

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise….And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba Father!’ Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 3:26-29, 4:6-7

Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19

Incidentally, do you remember Paul referenced believers in both his letters to the Ephesians and Romans as “saints”? Did you know the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation refers to “saints” as those who both believe in Yeshua as Messiah AND keep G-d’s commandments (see Revelation 12:17 & 14:12)? It doesn’t say the “beast” makes war with just the Jews or just the Gentiles, does it? But Scripture says in 2nd Thessalonians and Revelation, the LAWLESS one, the beast, goes after those saints who believe in Yeshua and do G-d’s Torah/Law! Let that sink in for a bit.

Back to being one family obeying the Parent…

that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” Ephesians 3:6

Set your mind on things above and not on earthly things for you died and your is now hidden with Christ in God….Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all in all.” Colossians 3:2-11

But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” Colossians 3:25

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.‘ ” 2 Timothy 2:19

..for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, stife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos’, are you not carnal?…For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:3-9

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16 (see note below)

But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness- indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:8-10 (My interpretation of this phrase ‘to the Jew first’ mentioned here and in Romans 1:16 is the Jews were offered salvation and blessings of obedience first and then such things were also made available to the Gentiles – see Romans 9-11).

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. ‘For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.‘ ” Romans 10:12-13

For if God did not spare the natural branches (Jews), He may not spare you either (Gentiles).” Romans 11:21

Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:29-31

Before I proceed, notice Paul writes in the last phrase of Romans 3:31 “we establish the law”. But if the Jews are already well-acquainted with Torah, having had it established thousands of years prior, then who were the Apostles focused on establishing the law with in addition to the Jews? The Roman Gentiles (Romans 1:1-7). Not to earn their salvation, but because of their salvation..because of their repentance for sin, which sin is Biblically defined as breaking Torah or being without Torah (1 John 3:4) and then the eventual receiving of the Holy Spirit, who in turn, causes those who have believed and received to obey Torah. Paul writes in Romans 1:5-6, “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship FOR OBEDIENCE TO THE FAITH among all nations for His name, among who you also are the called of Jesus Christ..

I see believing Jews as being the “oldest” in the family, the firstborn, the ones who know better and who can help instruct the younger siblings in what Abba Father expects. That seemed to be my role as oldest and best explains this family dynamic too.

We have learned thus far, we are in a new covenant and a sign of that covenant is the outpouring of Holy Spirit onto both Jew and Gentile alike. But why make a Holy Spirit anyway as a sign or gift? Why not make a glowing cross in the sky when a person believes Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah like G-d made a rainbow when He made a covenant with Noah? The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to help us honor Abba Father by obeying Him, by obeying the terms of all the previous covenants (to those that apply anyway) since clearly without the Holy Spirit, it could not be done – Welcome to the Renewed/New Covenant (see Ezekiel 36:27). In addition to it’s not about if you are genetically Jewish or genetically a Gentile, it’s also not about converting to Judaism, not that there is anything wrong with being a Jew, Gentile, or practicing Judaism, in fact, I do practice Messianic Judaism the best I know how at this time in my faith journey. Overall, dear reader, in my interpretation of Scripture, it is about making disciples and cultivating an authentic lifestyle of holy worship upon receiving G-d’s gift of grace.

In summary, having obtained grace is having obtained the Spirit of grace/the Holy Spirit, in G-d’s time and His way, through no merit or doing or manipulating of our own, other than simply choosing to believe Yeshua is the Messiah. We will receive the promised Holy Spirit when G-d deems it time – His grace. That Spirit of Holiness, once received, will begin spiritually circumcising our spiritual hearts, removing the unholy and replacing it with holy, eventually causing our flesh to follow accordingly. In other words, the inward spiritual workings of the Holy Spirit, will produce physical outward works, good works (Ephesians 2:10), which if led by the Spirit, will produce love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, etc (Galatians 5:22-23). Similarly, G-d’s presence and law are centered in Jerusalem, likened to a heart, but will be circulated and enforced throughout all the nations one fine day likened to the body when He returns and the Spirit of Holiness encamps the whole earth bringing us into shalom, into wholeness, unity, and one accord (see Isaiah 2, 51; Micah 4; Zechariah 14:16+). Can’t wait! 🙂

Moreover, upon receiving the ‘gift of grace’ or ‘Spirit of holiness’, which is the Holy Spirit, He begins to teach us the heart of the Father, and what love looks like as exampled by His Son. The Spirit flowing in us and through us, explains, educates, encourages, and empowers His kids to walk like our big brother Yeshua walked, to follow Him, and to love G-d, His word (all of it), and consequently, we will love others for love is the summary of Torah- it’s what His Torah and the Gift of Grace is all about!

Shalom and Amen.

Carrie R. Turner, 10.6.19 and 10.9.19

*Please note these conclusions are my own and don’t necessarily represent the beliefs of Messianic Judaism.

Torah Portion: Devarim

Did you know when Jesus / Yeshua read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue on Shabbat (Sabbath/Saturday), which we can read about in Luke 4:16-30), He was reading from that specific week’s “Haftarah” portion? For thousands of years, those of the Judaism faith have read from the Torah and Haftarah. A major part of the Jewish worship service since the days of escaping Babylonian captivity (see books of Ezra & Nehemiah), is the public reading of the Torah.For the Jewish people learned the hard way while under Babylonian captivity to forsake God’s instructions will inevitably lead to physical and spiritual bondage. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Law, or God’s instructions for life on HOW to love, HOW to live, and HOW to worship. Each week, in today’s congregations of Judaism, Messianic Judaism, and many Hebrew Roots’ congregations read a certain portion of the Torah in their services. So the whole world (of those groups) is studying the same portions in unity. However, many years ago, circa 175 BC, when Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the temple, he outlawed the public reading of the Torah, replaced the holy artifacts with pagan gods within the temple, slaughtered pig, an unclean and abomination according to Leviticus 11, Deut 14, and Isaiah 65-66, as a means to mock God’s ordained sacrificial system, and even tormented and killed Jews for holding to their belief in the one true God and their desire to adhere to His laws. All of this was an “abomination of desolation”, which will happen again according to prophecies found in the Books of Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation. Consequently, the rabbis of those days researched and prescribed related passages of the Torah found in the Prophets to be read each week instead of the Torah during that tumultuous time. This became known as “Haftarah”, which means “conclude”. After that horrific time, the practice of reading from the Prophets stuck so today, passages called portions from the Torah and the Haftarah, which are related are read. In Messianic Judaism (and possibly Hebrew Roots too), related portions from the Brit Chadesha (Renewed/New Covenant) are read as well. This photo captures this week’s. The Torah portion’s title is selected from the first few words of the passage.

Torah Portions: Balak / Pinchas / Mattot & Masei

Forgive me for the delay…I have been exceptionally busy these last few weeks, but here are this week’s “Torah Portion” of Mattot and Masei as well as the last two weeks (Balak & Pinchas).

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Did you know when Jesus / Yeshua read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue on Shabbat (Sabbath/Saturday), which we can read about in Luke 4:16-30), He was reading from that specific week’s “Haftarah” portion? For thousands of years, those of the Judaism faith have read from the Torah and Haftarah. A major part of the Jewish worship service since the days of escaping Babylonian captivity (see books of Ezra & Nehemiah), is the public reading of the Torah.For the Jewish people learned the hard way while under Babylonian captivity to forsake God’s instructions will inevitably lead to physical and spiritual bondage. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Law, or God’s instructions for life on HOW to love, HOW to live, and HOW to worship. Each week, in today’s congregations of Judaism, Messianic Judaism, and many Hebrew Roots’ congregations read a certain portion of the Torah in their services. So the whole world (of those groups) is studying the same portions in unity. However, many years ago, circa 175 BC, when Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the temple, he outlawed the public reading of the Torah, replaced the holy artifacts with pagan gods within the temple, slaughtered pig, an unclean and abomination according to Leviticus 11, Deut 14, and Isaiah 65-66, as a means to mock God’s ordained sacrificial system, and even tormented and killed Jews for holding to their belief in the one true God and their desire to adhere to His laws. All of this was an “abomination of desolation”, which will happen again according to prophecies found in the Books of Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation. Consequently, the rabbis of those days researched and prescribed related passages of the Torah found in the Prophets to be read each week instead of the Torah during that tumultuous time. This became known as “Haftarah”, which means “conclude”. After that horrific time, the practice of reading from the Prophets stuck so today, passages called portions from the Torah and the Haftarah, which are related are read. In Messianic Judaism (and possibly Hebrew Roots too), related portions from the Brit Chadesha (Renewed/New Covenant) are read as well. This photo captures this week’s. The Torah portion’s title is selected from the first few words of the passage.

Torah Portion: Chukat

A “chukat” is a Hebrew word found in the first few verses of this week’s Torah portion meaning “statute”. A “chukat/statute” is a command from God with no rational explanation (i.e. red heifer ashes for purification; Moses & Aaron speaking to a rock). Can you find the connections in these Bible readings?