‘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

A Dangerous Doctrine Haunting Messianic Judaism

After attending a Messianic Jewish congregation for nearly a year now, I have been exposed to a few peculiar doctrines that I wanted further clarification on for I was not sure if I was hearing various sentiments correctly. Three different Messianic Jewish ministries the congregation supports have subtly or boldly expressed the concept of all Jewish people are still in covenant with Hashem (God) regardless if they accept Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah or not. This was an instant red flag, nevertheless, I wanted to first verify this is indeed what was being occasionally proclaimed and if so, I wanted an explanation as to how one could come to such conclusions considering Scripture and the Jewish Messiah Himself rejects such connotations.

Upon reaching out to these three different ministries without getting a response, I approached my ‘Torah Club’ teacher, who also is an elder at the Messianic Jewish Congregation I’ve been regularly attending. ‘Torah Club’ is a ministry of First Fruits of Zion, and I found it immensely enriching as I came to learn more about the first five books of the Bible. Truly, while studying the Scriptures in Torah Club, the Holy Spirit blessed me by opening my eyes to so much revelation. I also found my teacher regularly provided additional value by bringing other books and Jewish insight to our class. I respect him as I have found him to be a brilliant teacher with an approachable and likeable demeanor. To his credit, he genuinely attempted numerous times to explain to me the best he could this strange and new-to- me-concept although with little to no Scripture to do so. Being I am a visual learner as well as live over an hour away (one way!) from congregation making it difficult to meet during the week, I inquired if he had articles or knew of video teachings he could guide me to. In hopes of helping me understand, the elder/teacher lent me First Fruits of Zion’s (FFOZ) Summer 2019 publication of Messiah Journal, Issue 134, a recent exclusive membership only publication.

Being hungry for truth and desperate to solve the mystery that has been periodically haunting me for several months, I devoured the journal, reading some of the articles more than once. Surprisingly though, upon reading the articles, I became angry and distressed even to the point of weeping for I could sense an UNholy spirit attempting to deceive undiscerning readers on not just this particular doctrinal point, but another as well (we will save that topic for a later post). One article titled, “Dismantling Replacement Theology” by D Thomas Lancaster defined and thoroughly covered concepts of Replacement Theology and why in the author and FFOZ’s perspective is evil.

“What is replacement theology?”, the author scribes. “It’s the idea that Christians have replaced Jews as God’s people.” Despite already having another red flag in my spirit, I kept reading with an open mind genuinely wanting to hear out his case. After explaining how Replacement Theology indeed teaches a replacement of all things old with all things new (i.e. the New Testament replaces the Old Testament, the Lord’s Day, being Sunday, replaces Sabbath, The Lord’s Supper replaces Passover,etc.), I was thus far mostly in agreement with him until Lancaster penned the following statements a few paragraphs into the article:

“Replacement theology is all about ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ It posits that all these old things were replaced when Jesus came and died and rose from the dead. The good news, the ‘gospel message’, according to replacement theology, is that God has replaced all the old systems with the new system. When stated as succinctly as that, it’s easy to sympathize with Jewish people who reject the gospel. Jews must surely think it puzzling that we would present the New Testament, which ostensibly replaces Judaism and all Jewish religious institutions and functions, as good news for Israel. Where’s the good news in the replacement-theology version of the good news? Israel has been replaced, the Torah has been cancelled, and God’s covenant with the Jewish people is over. Adding insult to the injury, replacement theology posits that Jewish people’s relationship with God has been replaced by a new order and mechanism for salvation, thereby damning most Jews to eternity in hell. Is it really a mystery why most Jewish people are none too excited about this so-called good news?”

While I certainly agree, Jesus/Yeshua did not come to start a new religion considering He too was Jewish and very clearly practiced the commandments found in His Father’s Torah, which isn’t always one and the same as Judaism, He did very succinctly make it clear just because one is physically a descendant of Abraham does not make you by default a child of God, or in Christian lingo ‘saved’, but Jesus/Yeshua does hint at the important spiritual birth of becoming a spiritual descendant of Abraham by doing the works of Abraham, which was faith (Hebrews 11:8-12) as was also expressed by the Apostle Paul.

I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you…If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham…If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God..You are of your father the devil..” Yeshua/Jesus, John 8:37-44 (NKJV)

Earlier in John 8 verses 23-24 (NKJV), Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You are from beneath; I am from the above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.

Later, in John 14:6 (NLT), Yeshua/Jesus says, ” Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’

So did ‘Replacement Theology’ state Jewish people as well as all other ethnicities cannot enter into covenant with Abba Father except through Jesus, or did Yeshua/Jesus Himself state such truths? Did Jesus say the Pharisees are not of Abraham’s lineage just because they are Jewish or did some theologian come up with that random concept?

Likewise, did the Apostle Paul not express similar concepts when he scribed in Romans 9:6-8 to the Gentile Romans, ‘For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they ALL (my emphasis) children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh (Jewish/Abraham’s physical descent), these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed (spiritually those whose faith is in Yeshua/Jesus.. spiritually born into Israel)”? Again, is this ‘Replacement Theology’ or a teaching of the most successful Apostle of human history inspired by the Holy Spirit?

I found it telling Lancaster provided not one Scriptural proof text that Israel/Jewish people were still in covenant upon Yeshua’s arrival or even after His death and resurrection and yet you find here are loads of Scripture to say otherwise (keep reading). Take note that the Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant loaded with “if/then” terms. For example, “If you obey My voice… then I will…” Conversely, God also clearly states the consequences if THEY break covenant versus other covenants like the Noahide Covenant was NOT conditional based off Noah’s response. There was nothing wrong with the Mosaic Covenant, but Hebrews 8:8 clearly states God “found fault in them“, meaning Israel’s inability to keep covenant by obeying Torah, which is why God provides His Holy Spirit to help those in the new covenant do that which is holy (Romans 7:12, Ezekiel 11:19-21, 36:27; Jeremiah 31:31-33). Please do take the time to dig into the below Scriptures for yourself for the truth will indeed set you free. Likewise, today, in modern times, we too can break up with God by denying Jesus as Messiah or continuing to intentionally sin; hence, why Yeshua says to all the ekklesia/assemblies of the last days, “To he who overcomes, I will give ..” and why Paul warns us in Romans 7, grafted in Gentiles can also be broken off, but he provides hope that it is possible for Jews to be re-grafted in upon believing in Yeshua as Messiah (Genesis 17:14; Exodus 19:5, 32:32-33; Leviticus 26:15,40-42; Deuteronomy 24:1-4/Romans 7:1-6; Deuteronomy 28:1,15, 29:1,9-15, 31:16, 27-29; Psalm 55:20, 69:28; Isaiah 33:8, 50:1; Jeremiah 3, 9:12-16, 11:1-11,15:6,16:10-13, 17:1, 24:4-7, 31:31-33, 33:20; Ezekiel 16:59, 17:15, 44:7, Zechariah 11:10; Luke 8:18; John 8:24, 37-59; Romans 8:28, 11:15-21; Hebrews 8:7-13, 10:26-39; James 5:19-20; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Revelation 2:7,11,17,26, 3:5,12,21, 12:11, 20:15, 21:5-8; 22:14 ).

As if all that wasn’t enough, Lancaster also writes, “A Christian Zionist might say, ‘I don’t teach replacement theology. The Jewish people are still the chosen people, but without Christ, they are still under the law.’ By ‘under the law’ he means lost and going to hell.

According to the Jewish Messiah, Mr. Lancaster, Jewish people who refuse to accept Jesus as Messiah, WILL die in their sins – that’s not ‘Replacement Theology’, that is the gospel.

Lancaster also writes in the next paragraph, “Any Bible-believing Evangelical might say, ‘Christians don’t replace Jews, but Jews need to come to Christ to be saved.’ How is this not replacement theology? The premise is that unless Jews become Christians, they will be damned.”

Frankly, at this blatant and obvious rejection of the truth of Jesus and the gospel message, I’m starting to question if Mr. Lancaster is even saved for not only does he contradict our Jewish Messiah’s own words and the message of the good news, but he not once defines what HIS definition of the good news is or how it is he comes to believe Jewish people are still in covenant when Scripture says otherwise!

It would seem to me Lancaster and those aligning with this particular heresy are forming their very own Replacement Theology where man’s opinion, man’s doctrine, or traditions, supersedes the plethora of Holy Scriptures that state otherwise: the good news of the gospel. Furthermore, if there was nothing wrong with the Mosaic Covenant made between God and ancient Israel (not to mention those that aligned themselves with Israel) commonly known as the Old Covenant, what is the point of sending a Savior? In other words, if there is nothing needing to be saved from, why a Savior, God? Mr. Lancaster doesn’t seem to believe the Jewish people need a Savior – just the Gentiles need one perhaps? If the Mosaic Covenant between God and Israel is just fine and dandy, why does the law (Deuteronomy 30) and prophets (Jeremiah 31), Yeshua (Matthew 26:28), and the author of Hebrews (7-10) write about a ‘New Covenant’? What is the point of a New/Renewed Covenant if they are still in the original covenant and everything is honky dory? What is the point of offering a personal subscription to the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant if they are walking in an authentic spirit of holiness already? If Jewish people are automatically, by default saved as this article infers in multiple places, why the need for ‘Messianic’ Judaism? Why proselytize the Jewish people for they are God’s elite chosen people perpetually just fine still in covenant with Hashem? Why did Jesus say He came for the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24) if according to THIS theology they aren’t actually lost?

In what may seems like an innocent and convincing attempt to quell Anti-Semitism, while hoping to proselytize Jewish people (since Jewish tradition also teaches Jews are still in covenant), this dangerous doctrine propagates an even more damning unholy Anti-Messiah spirit that will be loving Jews straight to hell by elevating Jewish blood over Yeshua’s spilled atoning blood. Sadly, upon bringing this critical salvation matter to the attention of the elders through proper channels outlined in Matthew 18, and after being exposed multiple times to the pharisaical religious spirit, I was invited to worship elsewhere should I continue to adhere to the truth of at least the gospel itself known to them as ‘Replacement Theology’. Consequently, I will not damn my own soul while leading others to hell with me by denying Yeshua is the ONLY way to the Father.

Please Note: Hopefully, this erroneous doctrine does not plague all of Messianic Judaism, but if you are seeking or attending a Messianic Jewish congregation, I implore you to ‘Call to Abba’ to seek out things which you do not know for we must test everything and be ready to give an account of what we believe and what we align ourselves with (Romans 14:12). ❤

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.

Never Forget 9-11 or Romans 9-11

If there is one thing Americans and Israelis have in common is the unwanted hateful attention from certain populations. Americans old enough to remember the horrifying events of 9-11-01 will never forget the needless terror and murder of the innocent that tragic day.

In much different terms, but eternally important, is the call of Romans 9 -11, where the Apostle Paul beckons those who believe Jesus is the Messiah, but who are not of Jewish DNA (Gentiles) to never forget their role in God’s plan for Israel. Unfortunately, most Christians don’t realize their duty and how God desires to use them as believing Gentiles, also known as ‘grafted-in Israelites’ or likened to ‘spiritual Jews’ (Romans 2:28-29) to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy (Romans 11:11)! Are they jealous because Christianity typically teaches Jesus taught against God’s Torah? Certainly not for to the Jew, Jesus is an idolater and false prophet according to Deuteronomy 13. Would Jews be jealous of Gentile believers breaking Torah or God’s instructions for life? Certainly not for most Jews believe Gentiles only need to adhere to 7 Noahide Laws (very similar to the 10 Commandments) in order to be considered righteous – not the 613 commands of Torah as were given to the Israelites and those aligning themselves with Israel believing in the One True Living God. Would preaching a law-hating grace-loving gospel accompanied by sensational miracles said to be of the “Holy Spirit” make them jealous? Certainly not for Jews know in the new covenant, according to the prophets, God will give a new Spirit, which will cause one to WANT TO DO Torah (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:19-20,36:27) not hate Torah! So how are Christians to fulfill Romans 9 – 11? Watch this brief video to learn your role in God’s plan and how you can be part of the fullness of the Gentiles as the Apostle Paul references as do many prophets!

What Is the Torah Portion & Haftarah About?

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. 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. You will notice all of these passages have to do with sending out (i.e. spies & apostles). I hope you had a peacful, wholesome #Shabbat!

Torah Portion: Behar

This week’s Torah portion is/was Behar, which means “On The Mountain”. While on Mount Sinai, Abba (Father) shared with Moses the need to let the land rest every 7 years and the consequences for the failure to do so manifested many years later. The concept of resting every 7 days and every 7 years is prophetic of the future Messianic era when Yeshua reigns…It also reveals to us that we can rest knowing Abba will provide for us on the 7th day and in the 7th year. #torahportion #shemitah #sabbath

Torah.Behar.FFF

Dear God, Can You Hear Me Now?

Many strive to hear the voice of God for themselves, but haven’t considered the fact that God may not be hearing their voice either.  In order to effectively communicate and produce positive results both parties need to be able to hear one another. In this article, we’ll investigate the possibility that God may not be hearing you and why.

dearGod

Believers are familiar with the famous verse found in James 5:16, which reads:

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Notice the Apostle James connects being aware of one’s trespasses and confessing them to others for the prayers of one who is considered ‘righteous’ evidently gets their prayers answered. This verse also speaks to the importance of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit or Spirit of Holiness as He strives to make us holy by revealing to us our offense (trespass/sin). After being made aware of our offense to God, by confessing our trespass/sin/guilt to others, it also helps keep us accountable.

But before we can really dig into what spiritual truth the Apostle James is revealing to us, we must remember, in order to appropriately interpret any Scripture, we need to understand the background of the author and the culture of the author’s intended audience while letting Scripture define Scripture.

http___scrolls4all.org_scrolls_wp-content_uploads_sites_6_2014_09_lithuania.clearJPGSo where did James or any of the Apostles learn these important truths they conveyed to others? What many refer to as the “Old Testament”, was referred to by Jesus, or Yeshua in His actual Hebrew name, and His Apostles as the “Law ” or the “Law and Prophets”(Matthew 5:17-19; Matthew 7:12), which were the only Scriptures they had access to at that time (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:14-18; 1 John 2:7). After all, the “New Testament” was still in the process of unfolding and being penned through letters much less translated and packaged together for all the world to read like we have it today. So we can see from those verses (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:14-18; 1 John 2:7), the law and prophets, the Scriptures they had from the beginning, are useful for instruction, reproof, and revealing what is right – also spoken of in the word as “righteousness”.

Now that we know Jesus / Yeshua and His Apostles’ teachings are founded on the law and prophets, or what is labeled today as the “Old Testament”, let’s look at similar verses found throughout the law and prophets, which correspond with James’ statement in James 5:16.

  • “Then they will cry out to the LORD, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds.” Micah 3:4 (NKJV)

Wow, so we see in Micah 3:4, the prophet Micah explains God won’t hear people who cry out to Him in their time of need because of their evil deeds. That sounds like what James was getting out when he encouraged the reader to confess their evil deeds, their guilt, their trespasses to others. Meanwhile, the “righteous” will get their prayers answered.

Check out how the Apostle Paul defines the “righteous”, or those right with God, or put another way, those who do what is right according to God:

  • “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 (NKJV)

Note the antithesis to being right with God (righteousness) is lawlessness (not obeying God’s laws) or being in the light verses continuing to live in darkness blinded by sin. For 1 John Chapter 3 reveals to us to sin is the same as lawlessness or being without God’s laws, or even more straightforward, those who don’t “practice righteousness” or God’s laws is one and the same as being without God, but rather being of the devil!

  • “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” I John 3:4 (NKJV)
  • “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil..” I John 3:7-8 (NKJV)
  • “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” I John 3:10 (NKJV)

Now that we know to sin or being unrighteous is being without God’s laws or not obeying God’s commands or being in the dark or of the devil, verses a person who practices God’s laws is considered righteous, being in the light, and of God, because they are demonstrating their belief in God and His Son, let’s take a look at some other verses in both the Old and New Testaments that correspond with James message in James 5:16.

  • One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” Proverbs 28:9 (NKJV)
  • “But your iniquities (trespasses against God’s laws) have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)
  • “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)
  • Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:11-12 (NKJV)
  • Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will (His law/His Torah), He hears him.” John 9:31 (NKJV)

http___www.gospelherald.com_data_images_full_5965_the-power-of-prayerMany verses throughout both the “Old Testament” and what was said and scribed by Jesus and His Apostles later collected as the “New Testament” reveal God doesn’t hear the prayers of those who intentionally sin or intentionally break God’s laws. (To learn more about the difference between intentional and unintentional sins, read “Will We Again Perform Sacrifices? If So, Why?”)

Notice, this concept of God not hearing our prayers due to our sins is even after Jesus bled to death on a cross for our lawlessness…even after the cross and after His gift of grace. (For further reading, check out “What Exactly Did You Repent From?”)

Conversely, Scripture reveals God rewards those who hear God’s laws and obeys them. Here are a few examples:

  • “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” I John 3:22 (NKJV)
  • “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My  name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep my commandments.” John 14:12-15 (NKJV)
  • “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7 (NKJV)
  • “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14 (NKJV) {read Romans 2:18; 12:1-2, to discover God’s will …His Torah)
  • Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…But his delight is in the law of the LORD and in His law he meditates day and night…and whatever he does shall prosper…For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1:1-6 (NKJV)

In other words, dear believers in Jesus, the spiritual truth we can glean from James 5:16 as well as these other Scriptures listed above is this:

If you say you believe in Jesus / Yeshua and His Father, but refuse to hear and submit to the way and the will (see Romans 2:17-18) of Abba (Father God) found in His commandments, His law, His Torah, which is His Voice (Deuteronomy 30 ; John 10), then you should expect He will not hear your voice either. Rather, be obedient in whatever the Spirit of Holiness is teaching you through His word today and in doing so, may your prayers be heard.

Shalom and Amen,

Carrie R. Turner

4.30.19

Mom, Why Don’t You Say, ‘Happy Easter’ Anymore?

Earlier this afternoon on the Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:4-14; I Corinthians 15:20-23), the day Jesus was resurrected, which happens to correspond with Easter this year, my teenage son, who lives in Maryland with his dad, sent me a text, ‘Happy Easter’. I responded with, ‘Happy Firstfruits’. While lounging in the cockpit on the back of our sailboat enjoying the blue skies and fair winds here in Texas, it is then my son and I transitioned from texts to an important phone conversation.

“Mom, Why don’t you say, ‘Happy Easter’ anymore?”, my soon to be 15 year old inquired.

“I’m happy to explain it to you, Christian, if you really want to know. But I should forewarn you, it will probably not be what you want to hear.”

After all, what kid, teenager or not, doesn’t want an Easter basket full of candy and other free goodies, right?!

After asking my son, Christian, if he remembered learning about Emperor Constantine in 6th grade when we did cyber school that year, I went on to tell him what the school’s curriculum did not share with us…

How Easter & Sunday Became Doctrines In The Church

Although Christians have been persecuted since shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection, most of whom were Messianic Jews in the beginning, the Roman Emperor Constantine seemed to significantly alter church history – some for the better, but more for the worse.

  • 312 A.D.

In 312 A.D., Constantine experienced a vision of a cross in the sun, which he and his army interpreted as a vision pertaining to Jesus Christ. Up until then and even thereafter, Constantine had been a worshiper of various Roman gods, such as the Sun-god.

  • 313 A.D.

Most likely due to his vision, Constantine ended persecution of the Christians in 313 A.D. through the ‘Edict of Milan’. This act was the ‘for the better’, but below it gets far worse!

  • 321 A.D.

However, a few years later on March 7, 321 A.D., out of his love and worship for his false Sun-god, which the Roman people worshiped specifically on the 1st day of the week, as opposed to Jews and Christians that worshiped their God on the 7th day of the week, Constantine decided to order all businesses and activities, except certain agriculture, to cease on Sundays. Sunday, or ‘dies Solis’, the day of the Sun, was declared the Roman day of rest in honor of their Sun-god. In doing so, the Emperor’s motive was to unify the God of the Holy Scriptures with the pagan, Roman sun-god, by decreeing everyone worship and rest the same day.

“Do not learn the way of the Gentiles…”

Jeremiah 10:2 (NKJV)

  • 325 A.D.

57435711_2290198001254441_6314683402180100096_nA few years after creating a day of rest to honor the Roman sun-god, the Emperor Constantine along with the Roman Catholic Church, in 325 A.D. at the famous ‘Council of Nicaea’, discussed and decided on many theological issues. It was at this summit, doctrines such as the ‘Trinity’ were established as well as the erroneous and poisonous virus of Anti-Semitism still transmitted in churches today. In that meeting, the early church fathers along with the Emperor, decided ‘Easter’ should be celebrated rather than Passover, to purposely separate themselves from the Jews following ‘that evil way’, which happens to be the only way, according to Yahweh. Those attending this meeting, clearly, did not understand when Jesus said, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me’, He and His disciples were doing Passover (Luke 22) not Easter.

Historical records tells us Constantine wrote the following edict:

 “It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. By rejecting their custom, we establish and hand down to succeeding ages one which is more reasonable. …

“Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. … Let us with one accord walk therein, my much-honoured brethren, studiously avoiding all contact with that evil way. They boast that without their instructions we should be unable to commemorate the festival properly. This is the highest pitch of absurdity. For how can they entertain right views on any point who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them.”

“To sum up in few words: By the unanimous judgment of all, it has been decided that the most holy festival of Easter should be everywhere celebrated on one and the same day, and it is not seemly that in so holy a thing there should be any division.”

“And you shall not walk in the statues of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore, I abhor them…I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.”

Leviticus 20:23-24 (NKJV)

  • 365 A.D.

Many years later, the Council of Laodicea made decisions regarding what day is the Sabbath. Keep in mind the Romans were used to resting on Sunday in order to worship the Sun-god.  This was their proclamation about the Sabbath – notice the virus of Anti-Semitism continues to spread throughout the Roman Catholic Church in those days:

“Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ” (Council of Laodicea, 29th Canon).

You’ll notice in that statement the Council of Laodicea essentially acknowledges the Jews have the seventh-day Sabbath as the correct, God-appointed day of rest, but out of the Romans’ hardened, prejudiced heart, they decreed believers must work on the Sabbath while Sunday, the day already designated as a day of rest to honor their false sun-god was more appropriate. It was in this verdict, many Christians, out of fear of persecutions and being shunned, adhered to this changing of God’s law.

“When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way…”

Deuteronomy 12:29-31 (NKJV)

  • Early 400’s A.D.

Augustine, a theologian of that era, had this to say:

“The holy doctors of the church have decreed that all the glory of the Jewish Sabbath is transferred to it [Sunday]. Let us therefore keep the Lord’s Day as the ancients were commanded to do the Sabbath” (Robert Cox, Sabbath Laws and Sabbath Duties, 1853, p. 284).

If you are interested in many more alarming facts coming directly from the Roman Catholic Church regarding their decision to change the Sabbath from the 7th day to the 1st day, click this link:

http://godssabbathtruth.com/catholicchurchchangedsabbathsunday.html

HappyPassoverIn regards to the term, ‘Easter’, this is the English translation of the fertility goddess known as ‘Ishtar’ in the Babylonian culture, or ‘Eastra’ in the Anglo-Saxon culture, or ‘Astarte’ in the Canaan culture, or ‘Inanna’ in the Sumerian culture, or as ‘Venus’ in the Roman culture, or ‘Aprhodite’ in the Greek culture. Regardless of which culture, fertility and sex was the heart of this goddess and sacrifices were made to her around Pesach / Passover.

In the Babylonian culture, the people would sacrifice infants and use the baby’s blood to dye eggs – hence, the tradition of Easter eggs! Still want to dye eggs with YOUR babies? I didn’t think so. (source: https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/ancient-pagan-origins-easter-001571 and http://www.thinknot.net/easter.htm )

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;”

Ephesians 4:17-18 (NKJV)

In summary, I pray the truths I shared with my son, not coincidentally named Christian, will guide him as he and others continue their faith journey with God and circumnavigate His course.

As for me and my boat, we will serve the LORD.

yahways

Where Are We “Raptured” To?

If you have read our testimony found on our home page, ‘Walk His Way’, as to how Abba (Father God) called us out of our very own proverbial Egypt or Babylon to follow His cloud so to speak wherever He leads us, then you know He has incorporated the ‘Feast of Tabernacles’ also known as the ‘Feast of In-Gathering’ into our journey. In the beginning of this peculiar quest, my husband and I had an elementary understanding of this prophetic and important feast of Yahweh. I certainly did not know then what I know now and am so grateful His Spirit (Ruach) continues to teach us more and more about Him and His way the more we surrender the lies we once believed and instead embrace His truth.

I must warn you though it is far harder to surrender a lie than it is to embrace the truth.

It is far harder to surrender a lie than it is to embrace the truth.

The Gathering

Did you know what most refer to as “the rapture” is more accurately referred to as the gathering throughout Scriptures? Here are a few examples:

  • “And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of the earth to the farthest part of heaven.” Mark 13:27 (NKJV)
  • “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all the countries, and bring you into your own land.” Ezekiel 36:24 (NKJV)
  • “And it shall come to pass in that day (day of the LORD – see verse 1), that the LORD will thresh, from the channel of the River to the Brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel.” Isaiah 27:12 (NKJV)
  • “For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you.” Isaiah 54:7 (NKJV)

To read more about gathering, study these verses: Deuteronomy 30:3-4; 1 Chronicles 16:35; Nehemiah 1:9; Psalms 106:47; 107:2-3; 147:2; Isaiah 11:11-12; 43:5; 56:8; Jeremiah 29:14; 31:8,10; 32:37; Ezekiel 11:17; 20:34,41; 28:25; 34:13; 37:21; 39:27-28; Hosea 8:10; Micah 2:12; Zephaniah 3:20; Zechariah 10:10.

Now that we have established the more accurate terminology is referred to as the gathering of the saints verses the not once mentioned word of the rapture according to Scripture, we can investigate where believers are gathered to.

All of YHVH’s Feasts are His Holy Holidays and prophetic in nature. The Spring feasts being Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and even Pentecost/Shavuot were already fulfilled in Yeshua/Jesus’s first coming while the Fall feasts of YHVH will be fulfilled at His second coming. It is no coincidence the Bible connects the gathering with the ‘Feast of Ingathering’ for that is when they would rejoice in the gathering of their harvest and celebrate their freedom from sin and a corrupt culture such as their freedom from Egypt (Exodus 23:16; 34:23; Leviticus 23:33-44). Remember, ‘Feast of Ingathering’ is also referred to as ‘Feast of Tabernacles’ or ‘Sukkot’ in Hebrew.
Where Are Believers Gathered To?

Scripture makes it very clear where we are gathered to upon Yeshua’s second coming. At the last trumpet, the graves will open, the sleeping saints or sleeping beauties if you will, shall awake..shall be resurrected when the Prince returns, and the saints who endured the horrible persecutions of the tribulation shall be gathered to a specific location where Yeshua, the Prince, will rule and reign along with His saints (Matthew 24-26; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-11; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 11; 14; 20).

Contrary, to popular modern doctrines of mainstream Christianity, we aren’t whisked away to heaven at Yeshua’s return with the ‘to hell with ya’ll mentality’, although we do meet Yeshua in the air (I Thessalonians 4:17), we are gathered to…

  • “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” Ezekiel 37:12 (NKJV)
  • “So it shall be in that day; the great trumpet will be blown; they will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, and they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” Isaiah 27:13 (NKJV)
  • “I will bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, for Israel My glory.” Isaiah 46:13 (NKJV)
  • “So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 51:11
  • “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound the alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand:” Joel 2:1 (NKJV)
  • “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant who the LORD calls.” Joel 2:32 (NKJV)
  • “But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness..” Obadiah 1:17 (NKJV)
  • “Thus says the LORD: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy Mountain.’ ” Zechariah 8:3 (NKJV)
  • “I will bring them back, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness.” Zechariah 8:8 (NKJV)
  • “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.” Revelation 14:1 (NKJV)

To read more verses about where we are gathered to, study Psalms 2:6; 48:1-2; 74:2; 78:68; 87:1-7; 102:16; 125:1; 132:13-14; Isaiah 2:3; 59:20; Jeremiah 3:14-18; Micah 4:2, as some examples. If you only pick one of these to follow up, read Jeremiah 3:14-18.
So where are we gathered to at Yeshua’s return?
Is it heaven? Where are verses stating we are raptured to heaven? There is none. Instead, Scriptures state very clearly we are gathered to..
MOUNT ZION, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL.

Shalom and Amen.

Carrie R. Turner

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5 Traits of the Anti-Messiah / Anti-Christ Spirit

The Holy Scriptures give us a few traits or clues to beware of when discerning the Anti-Messiah or Anti-Christ spirit. As we sojourn the halls of various places of worship, carry on conversations with others, or peruse social media, be on the look out for any of these 5 traits:

  1. The most obvious clue is anyone who denies the fact that Yeshua/Jesus of Nazareth was/is the Son of YHWH (G-d), died for the sins of the world, and was resurrected on the 3rd day. Anyone who rejects Yeshua as Messiah is a carrier of the Anti-Messiah spirit. 1 John 4:1-3.
  2. The Anti-Messiah spirit will seem to be culturally “cool”, very likeable, popular, persuasive, and intriguing, even offering people many lucrative incentives, but inwardly he/she/they are infected with a dangerous spirit. Daniel 8:25; 11:21,23,24,25.
  3. The Anti-Messiah spirit will seek/has already sought to speak against, change and distort G-d’s laws. The Anti-Messiah spirit is even referred to as ‘the lawless one’ (one without Yah’s laws). The Anti-Messiah spirit will proclaim their will, their laws, their way is the correct interpretation verses G-d’s will, laws, and ways written in His word. Essentially, the Anti-Messiah does away with the One True G-d and His will by replacing G-d with a god of their own ideologies. Daniel 7:25; 11:28,36-39; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; 2 Peter 3:14-18; Revelation 11:1-2.
  4. The Anti-Messiah spirit will slander, shun, persecute, torment, and eventually seek to kill those who keep or practice G-d’s holy covenant, namely those who keep G-d’s commandments and believe Yeshua is Messiah. This vile spirit is very anti-semitic/anti-Jew/anti-Israel/anti-Hebrew in all forms conceivable for the Anti-Messiah spirit knows not only was Yeshua a chosen Jew from Israel, but those who are chosen as native Israelites as well as the grafted-in Israelites, who both believe in Yeshua the Messiah and keep their Heavenly Abba(Father)’s commandments, are being a light to the ever-increasing dark world. Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 51:4,7-8; Daniel 8:24; 11:28,30; Revelation 7:1-8; 12:13-17; 14:1-13.
  5. Conversely, the Anti-Messiah spirit will reward those who don’t keep G-d’s commands, are against G-d’s temple, and sacrifices, which are a part of G-d’s covenant in the Torah. Daniel 11:30-35; Revelation 11:1-2; 13:4-18; 17:8,15.