- Appendix 5 -
Note to Messianic Believers: The following essay originally was written especially for my loved ones in the Christian Church. But it applies just as much to you. Wherever it says "Christian," just substitute "Follower of the Messiah," and wherever it says, "Church," substitute "Assembly of Believers in Yeshua."
True Christianity Debilitated!
The Church's Deadliest Disease
Cancer - America’s second deadliest disease (next to heart disease) - dreaded by everyone. AIDS - incurable loss of immunity to disease, deterioration of health, and finally death. But during the past few years I have been made painfully aware of a far more insidious, pervasive, and devastating disease infecting the American Christian Church - an evil, spiritual malady capable of destroying both body and soul if not checked. Why so painful to me? Because I’ve had to admit that for most of my 70+ years on Earth, I too have been infected by this disease, and I am presently striving, by Yehovah's ("God's") grace, to eradicate it from my own soul. So please understand, dear friend, that I am not pointing an accusative finger at any individual, because I realize that when I do, there are always three fingers pointing back at me. Therefore, if you feel that what is written here is speaking to or about you personally, you’d better pay attention, because that conviction is not coming from me - it is probably God, speaking to you through your own conscience. And it is definitely not wise to ignore the voice (“Word”) of Yehovah. If the shoe seems to fit, rather than getting offended at the shoe, no matter how much you do not like that shoe, I pray that you will wear it until you can replace it with a better shoe.
One other point: If you are not a Christian, some of this essay will not apply to you, because it is directed primarily to Christians, or at least to those who claim to be Christians. But some parts may hit home with you too, and I pray that you will take those to heart. Your (eternal) life may be at stake.
Three Spiritual Maladies
There are two terrible maladies closely related to and feeding the third, most insidious and pervasive evil - the Church's deadliest disease.”
The first is pride, which often manifests itself in a sense of self-sufficiency or a “we’re better than you are” attitude, especially in competitive activities. Pride pervades our whole culture, doesn’t it? America is the home of the rugged, independent, “self-made man.” Pride is a primary motivation for most Americans’ accomplishments. One Sunday, when my wife and I visited a local church in the small farming community in which we lived, we heard the pastor preach an excellent sermon against the evils of pride. But later, we heard the same pastor, who was also the head science teacher at the high school in that community, going on and on about how “proud” he was of his students’ accomplishments. Too bad his own sermon wasn’t taken more to heart. Isn’t pride what the “We’re number one,” “We’re the best,” and “We-are-proud-of-you” cheers are all about at sporting contests? And isn’t building “self-esteem” (pride) in our children a basic goal of education? (I use these examples because I was in education and coaching for 30 years.) But doesn’t this ungodly spirit of pride pervade everything we do - our occupations, our accomplishments, and our accumulation of material possessions? Don’t we take pride in our jobs, our achievements, our promotions, our homes, the vehicles we drive, our family members . . . ad infinitum?15
Some may object, “Well, hold on, Bob. That’s not the kind of pride we’re talking about when we say, ‘We are proud of you’ [as if there are two kinds of pride - one good and one evil]. We’re simply showing our appreciation and support of the ones we love.” Oh, really? Then why not say, “I appreciate what you are doing,” or, even better, “I thank God for you,” or simply, “Good job,” or “I am very pleased with you” (what Father Yehovah told His Son, Yeshua [Jesus]), rather than using a form of that horrible word “pride”? Or don’t you know that pride is one of the three basic, fundamental sins (cf. 1 John 2:16) and that Yeshua listed pride right along with other "evil things" that defile a person (Mark 7:20-23)? Perhaps you are not aware that it was pride that got Lucifer (later called Satan) kicked out of Heaven (Isaiah 14:11-14). It got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden (Genesis 3:5). And pride will get those who are infected by it a hot reservation in Hell, excluded from Heaven (Proverbs 16:18).
What is the True Christian alternative to pride? Obviously, it’s humility. Scripture states, “[Yehovah] resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34). And how can we tell that someone is humble? Again, that’s obvious: The truly humble person always gives credit, honor, and glory to whom credit, honor, and glory are due - and that is not to oneself or to any other human being. Yeshua said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). You see, my friend, unless the Lord Yahushua gives us the will, the opportunity, and the power, we cannot inhale one breath, speak one word, take one step, or even think one thought, much less achieve other “accomplishments,” whether we acknowledge Yehovah's omnipotence or arrogantly deny it. Later, the apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord" (Colossians 3:17), and again, “In whatever you do, do it so as to bring glory to [Yehovah]" (1 Corinthians 10:31). That’s both specific and comprehensive, isn’t it? Yet, we insist that pride is OK. In fact, in America, pride is considered a virtue, isn’t it? That just goes to show how subtle and deceitful the Devil is, and what total control, apart from Yehovah’s gracious intervention, he has over our hearts and thought processes.
At a high school activities awards banquet, just before I was fired from that school’s staff, I mentioned that in my four years of teaching and coaching there, I had not once heard anyone - any student, any athlete, any teacher, any coach, any school administrator, any parent, any church leader or minister, or any other member of the community give Yehovah the full credit and glory for the accomplishments being recognized at that banquet. In fact, the most frequent word heard there was “proud.” Now, what’s wrong with that picture? Didn’t most of the people in the community, including the administrators, teachers, and coaches at the school, claim to be good, church-going Christians? And again, I’m not finger-pointing here, because much of my life, especially during my teaching and coaching career, I too was guilty of keeping credit and glory to myself, rather than praising Yehovah for what He had enabled my classroom kids, athletes, and me to do. All that I wanted to do at that awards ceremony and all that I want to do now is to light a little candle in the darkness of self-adulation (including my own). Acknowledging Yeshua (God incarnate) in all that we do, rather than just patting ourselves on the back, is very, very important, with eternal implications, because Yeshua said,
“Whoever acknowledges Me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in Heaven. But whoever denies Me [keeps the credit and glory for self] before others I will deny [disown] before my Father in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
Isn’t stealing the credit and glory for what Yehovah has done, or even giving it to others to whom it doesn’t belong, a form of denying Him?
The second spiritual malady pervasive in the American Christian Church is covetousness (greed). Yeshua said,
“Do not lay up treasures [wealth] on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and burglars break in and steal. Instead, store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moths nor rust destroys, and burglars do not break in and steal. For where your treasures are, there your heart is also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
“Now, wait a minute, Bob,” you may again object. "I live in a community with very modest incomes. No one is extravagant. Everyone works together and shares. I certainly am not greedy - I give to the church and I’m generous with others. I’m just trying to get by.” Well, are you willing to test that assertion against God’s Word (and again, I’m speaking primarily to Christians)? Yeshua said,
“If anyone wants to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and keep following Me. For whoever tries to save his own life will destroy it, but whoever destroys his life on My account will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
And He told a wealthy young community leader who asked what he needed to do to be saved, “Sell whatever you have, distribute the proceeds to the poor, and you will have treasures in Heaven. Then come, follow Me!” (Luke 18:22). So what does Yeshua mean to “deny” ourselves? He means just what He said: Unless we are willing and in fact are in the process of giving up all of our prideful, self-indulgent, worldly pleasures and treasures to follow and serve Him (primarily in bringing others to Him - Matthew 28:19-20), we will have no place in His glorious, soon-coming kingdom with Him. And carrying that cross (the figurative instrument of death to self) is not a comfortable, painless thing to do. And what are “treasures in Heaven”? They are certainly not the things we accumulate on Earth, are they? We can’t take anything (money, homes, vehicles, land, awards, fame, position, pleasure, unsaved family members, etc.) with us after this short “puff-of-smoke” life on Earth is over (Ecclesiastes 2:18). Let me submit to you that the only treasures we can lay up in Heaven are human souls (our own and those of others whom Yeshua saves through our influence). Proverbs 11:30 states, “He who saves souls is wise.” And are you familiar with Yeshua's Parable of the Pearl of Great Price? When a merchant found a very valuable pearl, he sold everything he had to purchase it. What is more valuable than a human soul? Get the picture? Saving souls is God’s heavenly savings plan.
So, dear friend, let me ask you a few simple questions. Please answer them honestly, then decide for yourself if you are infected with the covetousness malady.
Your honest answers to these questions should give you a pretty good idea of whether or not you are storing up treasures on Earth, which is covetousness, or in Heaven. And again, my friend, I have to admit that I have wasted most of my life working foolishly and futilely for worldly success and possessions. But, by the grace of Yehovah, I am changing that focus and direction in my life. I pray that, if you are infected with the covetousness malady, you will join me.
But the third evil, spiritual “disease,” which is the child of and is reinforced by pride and covetousness, is the most insidious and the deadliest of all, because most of us Christians are not even aware that it infects us, and when confronted with its existence in us, we tend to deny it. The good news is that, unlike many forms of cancer and AIDS, it is totally curable, if we will face up to and admit (“confess”) it, reject (“repent of”) it, and allow God to replace it with His alternatives - His Truth and pure, unselfish Love. Yeshua spoke His strongest words of censure against the third evil - the Church’s deadliest disease. What did Yeshua call those who claimed to be good, “law-abiding” people, but who were really full of the first two spiritual maladies - pride and covetousness? That is correct; He called them “hypocrites - white-washed tombs [beautiful on the outside but full of dead people’s bones and all kinds of rottenness on the inside].” (Matthew 23:27) Does that description fit you? Are you claiming to be a good Christian - perhaps even a church leader - but are really full of hateful bigotry - condemning and mistreating those who don’t agree with your political, religious, or racial views? Do you claim to be a good Christian, but are really full of pride and covetousness - patting yourself on the back and denying the grace of Yehovah by refusing to give Him the credit for your accomplishments (and encouraging others to do the same), and refusing to deny yourself non-essential material things and to share generously with others, thereby laying up your treasures on Earth?
And again, I’m not pointing my finger at any individual. I have been as guilty of all three of these deadly spiritual diseases as anyone, and it’s only by Yehovah’s wonderful mercy and amazing grace that He has saved me from them and their eternal consequences, although I pray daily for Him to continue to eradicate them from my own soul. (True Christianity is not a static state of goodness and holiness - it is a continual process of “putting off the old person and putting on the new person” or “growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, [Yeshua the Messiah]." I pray the same for each of you whom the shoe fits, before it’s too late. Remember, the blatant sinners were not the ones who were primarily responsible for killing Yehovah’s prophets and His Son; those were the hypocrites - the ones who claimed to be good religious people - especially the religious leaders. Are you considered a “good Christian” or even a church leader, but are really, deep in your heart, congratulating yourself and proudly accepting the praises of others? If so, that’s pure hypocrisy. Please repent and start giving Yehovah all the credit, honor, and glory, and start devoting all that you have to the Gospel, before it’s too late and you find yourself sharing a place in Hell with the Prince of Pride and Covetousness (Satan).
Are you an “almost Christian”?
Yehovah tells believers to . . .
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living the life of faith. Test yourselves. Don’t you realize that [Yeshua the Messiah] is in you? - unless you fail to pass the test (2 Corinthians 13:5).
In other words, search your heart, asking yourself and Yehovah if you are a True Christian or are really just a phony hypocrite - what the Puritan preacher, Matthew Mead, called an “almost Christian.” I’ve been doing a lot of that soul-searching lately, and I invite those of you who claim to be Christians to join me as we share a few points from Mead’s book, The Almost Christian Observed. If you don’t claim to be a Christian, this part may interest you anyway, because it will help you see who in your community is a True Christian and who to avoid because they are infected with the Church’s deadliest disease.
A person may go through all the “steps” of becoming a Christian and even have a highly emotional and spiritual conversion experience in being “saved” - and still be but almost a Christian. The Bible says that even the demons believe in Yehovah and know that Yeshua is His Son - Elohim (God) in a human body - and tremble (Mark 1:34; James 2:19). There is a faith that is seated in the understanding but does not touch the spirit and permanently change the heart and the will. A person may believe in his mind every word of the Bible, be convicted of, confess, and repent of his sins (see the next section), believe in Yeshua, be baptized, and become a member of a Christian church, but still be as lost as one who hates Yeshua and never sets foot in a church. That's because he has never really surrendered himself - body, soul and spirit; "lock, stock and barrel" - to the Lord. His natural mind and conscience may be enlightened by Yehovah’s Word, and he may be “saved” to avoid going to Hell or even out of gratitude to Yehovah for his saving grace in sacrificing His Son for us, but if his heart is not transformed by the Holy Spirit, his “conversion” is basically just a selfish device designed to get him the benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven without the totally new and unselfish life in the Messiah. And the new “Christian” is but almost a Christian.
A person may hate sin and go far in repenting of sin, overcoming sin in his own life, and opposing sin in others - indeed, be a great crusader against evil - and yet be but almost a Christian. Every human being, somewhere in his soul, although it may be seared over by much wrongdoing, has a conscience - a sense of right and wrong, good and evil. Most would agree that rape, murder, stealing, greed, abuse of others, arrogance, selfishness, and other attitudes and actions that the Bible calls “sin” are wrong. And they may hate that sin in themselves and others. And they may go far in eliminating sinful attitudes and behavior in themselves and helping others do the same. They may even make those changes in response to the enlightening of Yehovah’s Word, the Bible. And so they consider themselves and others consider them “Christians.” Yet those changes may be but natural and rational - not spiritual. Their natural and rational hearts, attitudes, and behavior are changed in hoping that they will receive the benefits of a sinless life (basically a selfish motive), but their spiritual hearts are untouched by the Spirit of Yehovah. So they remain but almost Christians.
A person may be under great, visible changes—may become a “good,” moral person and yet be but almost a Christian. There is an outward civil and moral change as well as an inward spiritual and supernatural change. And one may be changed outwardly without being changed inwardly. Many are changed morally, even to the extent that it is said of them that they have become “new” people; but they are, in heart and nature, the same still. A person may be converted from a profane life to a form of godliness, from filthy to clean, wholesome conversation and behavior, and yet the heart is basically the same in one as in the other because it is not permanently renewed by the Holy Spirit. King Saul changed greatly when he met the Lord’s prophets, even becoming a prophet himself. Indeed, it was written of him that Yehovah gave him “another” heart (1 Samuel 10:9). But in the end, Saul was not saved after all: an evil spirit entered him and the Spirit of Yehovah “departed from him” (1 Samuel 16:14). That’s because there’s a critically important difference between having “another” heart and having a “new” heart. God can give someone “another” heart to transform his outward attitudes and behavior temporarily, or he can give that person a “new” heart transforming him from the inside out eternally. A person whose outward attitudes and behavior are changed but who has not been given a new heart is but an almost Christian.
A person may be very religious - a zealous church leader and even a pastor and a pillar of the community - and yet be but almost a Christian. Jehu, a king of Israel, served Yehovah and did what He commanded, destroying all the worshipers and priests of the false god Ba’al, and was very zealous in His service, proclaiming, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord of Hosts!” (2 Kings 10:16) And yet, in all this, Jehu was a hypocrite, making no effort to live wholeheartedly according to the Word of Yehovah and refusing to turn from the sins introduced into Israel by King Jeroboam. So a person may be a very religious, zealous, and devoted church member, and yet be but almost a True Christian.
A person may go farther yet. He may have a “love” for Yehovah, the people of Yehovah, his friends, and even his enemies, and yet be but almost a Christian. There is a natural affection for those who love us and bless us. Some will even go so far, Yeshua said, as to give his life for his friends. But this is basically a selfish “love” which loves only those who return that love, even if it’s just a “Thank you” from them. But when Yehovah gives a person a new heart and fills it with His totally unselfish love, which blesses and even lays down one’s life for someone, including an enemy, expecting nothing in return, as Yeshua did, then that person is a True Christian. Yes, a person may even go so far as to give his life for his enemies - even to the point of being tortured or burned at the stake - and still be lost. How? Because when he does anything primarily for the purpose of getting something in return - perhaps only a reputation as a martyr or the salvation of his own soul - then his love is basically conditional and selfish. So, a person may have great “love” and make great sacrifices for others and still be but almost a true Christian.
A person may have great spiritual gifts and yet be but almost a Christian. Yehovah can use anyone or anything through whom or which to manifest His gifts. He spoke to the pagan prophet Balaam through a donkey (Numbers 22:28). That was a gifted donkey! He then spoke through Balaam to the pagan king Balak a true word of prophecy concerning Israel (Numbers 23:16). But neither the donkey nor Balaam were true believers, were they? So, a person may speak amazing prophecies that come true, do astonishing miracles, heal people, speak in other tongues supernaturally (Antimessiah and the False Prophet will do all these things), and still be but almost a Christian.
Now you may ask, “If a person may hate, repent of, and go far in overcoming sin in his life, become a ‘good,’ moral person, be a zealous and devoted church member, love and make great sacrifices for others, and manifest powerful spiritual gifts in his life, and still be but almost a Christian, how in the world may I know that I am a True, saved Christian?” The answer is simple and takes us back to the beginning of this article: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord [Yeshua]” (Colossians 3:17), and again, “In whatever you do, do it so as to bring glory to [Yehovah]" (1 Corinthians 10:31). If there is the tiniest element of selfishness or pride in anything we think, say, or do as Christians, then that is not True Christianity - that is hypocrisy - the deadliest spiritual disease. Fear of going to Hell may drive us to Yehovah, or gratitude to Yehovah for what He has done for us may draw us to Him (self-interest is what motivates unsaved people), but fear of Hell or hope of Heaven, by themselves, will not keep us saved. When we are truly saved, He gives us a new heart and fills it with His pure, unselfish love, and we are no longer as concerned about the consequences or benefits to ourselves as we are in glorifying Him and blessing others. Yes, of course, in our humanity, we all want to be blessed in this life and saved from the horrible destruction soon to come on this world, but, as Christians ("new creations in [the Messiah])", those basic human desires are no longer our focus and no longer provide the primary motivation for our lives. If any impulse other than the pure, unselfish love of Yehovah governs our attitudes or behavior, then we are but almost Christians and will perish with the rest of the unbelieving world.
The Bottom Line
So, what is the conclusion - the real difference between a True Christian and a phony, “almost” Christian? It is very simple: The True Christian is a person who has come to the full realization that he is not basically and naturally a good person . . . that, in fact, apart from the indwelling Spirit of God, there is absolutely no goodness or righteousness in us (Romans 3:10-12). And whatever goodness is in us or whatever good thing that we do is really the Messiah in us . . . that, as the apostle Paul affirmed, “It is no longer I who live, but [the Messiah] lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). The True Christian is one who has come “to the end of his rope” as far as attempting to live the Christian life in his own goodness or power, repented of his sin in arrogantly attempting to do that, surrendered his life totally to Yehovah in the name of Yeshua the Messiah, and allowed God the Holy Spirit to totally take over his life. The phony Christian has never gotten to the point of absolute surrender to Yehovah. He still clings to the delusion of Satan that he is basically a good (god-like) person (Genesis 3:5) and can live a good, Christian life in his own righteousness and strength, except, maybe, for needing Yehovah’s help occasionally when the going gets tough. He lives by the old deluded, self-sufficient dictum: “God helps those who help themselves.” He does not understand Yeshua who said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). And he does not understand nor has he ever experienced the wonderful “mystery of godliness” which is “[the Messiah] in you” (cf. 1 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 1:25)
The New Covenant16
And the reason that most Christians do not understand and have never experienced the Spirit-filled life in the Messiah is because they do not understand the New Covenant which was promised to Yehovah’s ancient People Israel (Jeremiah 31:33) and ratified by Yeshua’s death on the cross (Matthew 26:28). They think that, when the New Covenant went into effect, the Old Covenant of Yehovah with His People Israel, which was His promise to bless them if they kept His commandments or Law (Torah), was totally replaced by the New Covenant. But what they do not understand is that the Hebrew Torah was not comprised of just the legal requirements of the Law of Yehovah, but was all the instructions for living righteous, good, happy, prosperous, successful lives as His People. That is why Yeshua said,
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law [Torah] or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law [Torah] till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
And how did Yeshua fulfill the Torah? In two ways: (1) He fulfilled the legal requirements of the Torah by keeping all of its commandments perfectly, so the Messiah is actually the living personification of the Torah, and (2) He fulfilled the prophetic implications of the ceremonial aspects of the Torah. For example, the Torah required that blood be shed in animal sacrifices for the sins of the people. The shedding of Yeshua’s blood on the cross to atone for the sins of the world fulfilled, once and for all, the prophetic significance of all those animal sacrifices throughout Israel’s history. But, as Yeshua stated, the Torah has not been done away with, because its commandments (especially the Ten Commandments) and instructions are still being fulfilled in the lives of the Messiah’s Body of People on Earth (the "Church").
So, if the Old Covenant, which is the promise of Yehovah to bless those who keep the commandments of His Torah, is still in effect, what is the New Covenant? The Bible tells us exactly what the New Covenant is:
But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says [Yehovah]: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." (Hebrews 10:15-17)
In other words, according to the New Covenant that Yehovah has made with His People the Followers of Yeshua (but was originally promised to Israel - Jeremiah 31:33), we not only no longer have to continually make bloody sacrifices for our own sins (the once-for-all sacrifice of His Son on the cross has taken care of that), but He has put his Torah - his instructions for living a happy and successful life in the Messiah - into our hearts and written them on our minds, so that, with the enabling of His indwelling Spirit, we can keep His commandments from our hearts in the Spirit of Yehovah’s wonderful love rather than just going through the religious motions, keeping the commandments of the Lord out of duty or in a perfunctory, legalistic way. That is why Yeshua said,
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 14:21)
His biggest challenge with the Pharisees was not that
they kept the Torah (the “Law”), which
they did very fastidiously, but correcting their misperception that keeping the
Torah was a matter of legalistic,
external observance rather than a matter of the heart. Ironically, in neglecting the Torah of the Lord and insisting that it
no longer applies to them, Christians often substitute one legalistic system
And that is why it is so important for Christians to embrace their Hebrew roots, which is basically keeping the Torah of the Lord Yehovah from our hearts and in His love.17 When we do that we discover that, rather than being a burdensome exercise, keeping the Law of the Lord is a wonderful way to live our religious lives - joyfully keeping the commandments of our God out of pure love for Him and others, not because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t obey Him! Thank Yehovah for His wonderful New Covenant!
The Apostate American Church
Sadly, the vast majority of American Christians have neglected the Lord’s eternal Torah which is a “schoolmaster” that leads us to the Messiah (Galatians 3:24) and gives us a framework for our life in Him. In doing away with the “Law” (the Torah) (“nailing it to the cross”), they have killed the schoolmaster and destroyed the framework of the school where we continue to learn about life in the Messiah. And in attempting to establish their own righteousness through good works apart from the Lord’s Torah, kept by His enabling Spirit, they have fallen out of love with their heavenly Father and forfeited His presence and blessings in their lives. It is as the apostle Paul predicted,
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord [Yeshua the Messiah] and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of [the Messiah] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)
"That day" is the "Day of [the Messiah]" (the Day of His return). And the "falling away" (Greek: apostasia), which must occur before the son of perdition (Antimessiah) is revealed, is what is called the Apostasy of the Church - falling away from true Christian faith and practice.
So, is American "Christianity" True Christianity? If we take a realistic, honest look at the Church in America, it is blatantly obvious that it bears little resemblance to the first century apostolic Church of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. In fact, American "Christianity" is thoroughly permeated with the sin - the pride, the covetousness, and the hypocrisy - described in this essay. For an overview, please read the discussion of American religion in Appendix 1 - Who is Modern Babylon?
The Reason for it All
Now, you may be asking yourself, why is Bob writing all this stuff? Does he have an ax to grind - something against Americans or members of the Church? Or is he trying to cover up his own inadequacies as a Christian by judging us? Believe me, my friend, I have done a lot of praying and soul-searching regarding my own motives for putting together this book. But I believe that God does want me to publish it, and this is why: As a chief offender, I have tasted the sweet relief and joy of Yehovah’s forgiveness and His grace in grafting me, a wild branch, into the cultivated olive tree (cf. Romans 11:24), and I want to share that with others! As I have mentioned throughout this essay, no one has been more arrogant, self-centered, and hypocritical than I have been. But Yehovah, through His wonderful grace and mercy, has shown me the way out of that bondage into the exhilarating freedom of His pure, unselfish love. And I believe that He wants me to share that way out of selfishness, pride, and hypocrisy with you, just in case you too want to be free - gloriously, joyfully FREE - to love others unconditionally and to serve and glorify your Lord in everything you do. And what He has shown me is that I first need to fall on my face daily and continually - every time I have a proud or selfish thought - confessing that to Yehovah, repenting of it, and begging Him to replace that sinful impulse with gratitude to Him and His special God-kind of love for Him and others. And as He enables me to do that more and more, I am finding that, more and more, I am being liberated to enjoy His wonderful presence in my life - His special, spiritual joy, peace, hope, and love. Have you ever done anything - competed in an athletic event, cleaned your house, done your job, helped another person, or anything else - out of pure love for others and the desire to glorify Yehovah, with no thought of what attention or profit (even just a “Thank you”) that you were going to get out of it? If you have, then you’ve had a little taste of the unsurpassed joy that comes from being free from the bondage of selfishness and pride and free to love with the God-kind of love. And that, my friend, is why I am writing this book - for, “He who is free in the Son [Yeshua said] is free indeed!” (John 8:36) And I want that freedom and that joy for you. I don’t want anyone to miss out on the joy of the Lord’s salvation.
Meanwhile, I pray that you will take all the things you have read in this “commentary” to heart, because The End is near, and Yeshua said to His disciples whom He sent out to share the news of the Kingdom of Heaven,
“. . . if the people of a town will not welcome you or listen to you, leave it and shake its dust from your feet! Yes, I tell you, it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town!” (Matthew 10:15)
Then, if you are confident that the Lord’s great salvation is yours, The End is just The Beginning for you! Please read In The End, there’s GOOD NEWS! to see what unimaginably fantastic things are in store for you!
15Pride also motivates anti-Semitism. Even though Christians may say that they are pro-Israel and even that the Jews are the People of Yehovah, they usually consider Jews second-class citizens in the Kingdom of Yehovah, or not really the People of Yehovah at all. The apostle Paul wrote the entire eleventh chapter of Romans to refute and warn against that view, explaining that the Jews are the original People of Yehovah who have been temporarily put “on hold” - blinded to the fact that Yeshua is the Messiah - so that the Gentiles who are branches of the “wild olive tree” who come to faith in Yeshua, could be “grafted into” the “natural olive tree” (Israel). So, the grafted-in Believers in Yeshua should certainly not look down their noses at the Jews, because if the natural branches could be cut off but later grafted back in, how much easier would it be to cut off arrogant, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist grafted-in branches? (cf. Romans 11:1, 13-25) Paul further explains the relationship between the Jews and the grafted-in Believers by calling them “fellow citizens” in the “commonwealth of Israel" (Ephesians 2:12, 19). So, it is actually more correct to say that Gentiles who have come to faith in Yeshua are (spiritual) Israelites than it is to say that Jews who have come to faith in Yeshua are Christians.
16Some Hebrew Roots or Messianic Believers, in over-reaction to the claim of many Christians that the Torah (“Law”) has been replaced by the New Covenant, object to the term “New Covenant,” preferring “Renewed Covenant.” Both extremes miss the point. What makes the New Covenant radically different from the Old Covenant is not that it replaces the Torah. What makes it radically different and therefore “new” is that it enables Believers to keep the Torah from our hearts, in the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than in the perfunctory, legalistic way the Old Covenant was kept by most of Israel (cf. Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).
17"Embracing our Hebrew roots" is not replacing Christianity with legalistic Torah observance or Christians and Jews with the alleged physical descendants of the "ten lost tribes of Israel," as many "Messianic" and "Hebrew Roots" adherents claim. See Appendix 6 - Flaws in Hebrew Roots/Messianic Doctrines for details.
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