Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Messiah and the Church -- A Chasm of Difference!
"Christianity," it appears, is the only religion which expressly discards its own founder's creed and puts in its place the very philosophical and abstract creed of the Council of Nicea. Mark 12:29 has had to give way to Nicea 3:25. Is no one perturbed about this? Is it not the failure of whistle blowers to sound the alarm which is the cause of such legitimate public concern in so many fields? Is it only the church which is beyond criticism?
by HOIM Staff
Critics of popular Christianity in its various forms focus often on the more external issues of church. They don't like the music, the excessive salaries of some leaders, or the liberal view of sexual ethics, etc. But few, it seems, take a long and constructively critical look at the very substance of what we call Christianity. There is nothing of course wrong with Christianity, if by that term we mean the religion (and relationship with YEHOVAH God should be a religion, which means a "linking up with YEHOVAH God") taught and modeled by its founding preacher and teacher (Hebrews 2:3), Yeshua the Messiah.
The root problem with churches is that they seem not to listen to the Messiah much at all! If that sounds preposterous, give it some further thought. "People of Christian persuasion seem generally not to be very interested in what Jesus did in his time," said a learned professor of theology. There is a good basis for this criticism. But it seems to point to absurdity in our approach to the Messiah! Let me suggest why.
When the Messiah was asked about the greatest and most important commandment, on which all else depends -- can you get more basic than that? -- he replied that the one indispensable consideration for us all is our response to the so-called Shema, the "Hear O Israel." Imagine my shock, then, when opening the learned Word Biblical Commentary on Mark. I read that Mark's quotation of the Shema by the Messiah is "neither remarkable nor specifically Christian."
I hope this statement will give you food for some protracted meditation. "Wait a minute," I hope you are saying. "I thought the Messiah is the one we as Christian churchgoers believe and obey." If he said that the definition of YEHOVAH God as a single LORD (not two or three lords) is the most important of the commands of YEHOVAH God to us humans, then can we blithely dismiss the Messiah's words and substitute our own "improved" version of the creed?
Can one strike at the Messiah's own definition of YEHOVAH God without dismantling the very center of true Christian faith? How much do we love the Messiah? Enough to pay attention to his teaching?
Chances are that if you are a churchgoer you have, in fact, adopted a creedal statement quite different from the one announced as so vitally important by the Messiah. You have, in all probability, submitted yourself to a creed defining the one God as a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a so-called triune God -- a God "existing eternally as three Persons."
The Messiah did not recognize that creed. Indeed, he made no attempt to alter in any way the "Jewish" creed of his Old Testament heritage. Read it for yourself (Mark 12:2834). And then reflect on the sobering words of the Messiah in his final discourse in John -- that we are to be judged by the words of the Messiah, the words which he promised are lifeimparting and spiritually enlightening (John 12:48; 6:63).
How well will that triune confession match up to the declared confession of the Messiah that YEHOVAH God is a single LORD (Mark 12:29), the Father of the Messiah, who is the first-born Son by a resurrection?
It strikes us as astonishing and amazing that people seem quite unconcerned about the chasm of difference between Yeshua the Messiah and Church, on this the most important issue of defining which God we are serving. The Messiah is the one we are to listen to, to be saved. The Father pointed to His first-born Son and said "Listen to him." The Messiah protested over and over again that salvation is to be found in an intelligent reception of his words/teachings. It would fill a magazine to quote texts to that effect.
Anyone who espouses any teaching other than the "health-giving words of our Lord Jesus Christ" is an ignoramus, Paul asserted (1 Timothy 6:3). "If anyone comes to you and does not bring the teaching of the Messiah," be warned, John the apostle said! (2 John 7-9). You are flirting with danger. More specifically, here is how you conduct a test for authenticity: "Every spirit which confesses Jesus Christ as the one who came as a human being is from God and every spirit which does not confess THAT Jesus is not from God... Here is how you know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error" (see 1 John 4:1-6).
Did you know that the Trinitarian creed demands as a consequence that the Messiah is "man," but not "a man"? Did you know that this is the theory of official Christianity? According to that well entrenched creed the person of the Messiah is the eternally existing "God the Son" who united to himself "generic human nature." The result is that one cannot and must not say "Yeshua was a man," because that would make him "two persons," a God person plus an individual man. So the official view is that the Messiah is "man," but not "a man."
Is the churchgoing public demanding explanations for these amazing (yet often hidden) facts? Did you know that to conform to the creed "on the books" of your church you must be able to say of YEHOVAH God that "He are one" and "They is three'"? Read all about it in evangelicals' leading Trinitarian scholar's book: God in Three Persons by Millard Erickson.
Christianity, it appears, is the only religion which expressly discards its own founder's creed and puts in its place the very philosophical and abstract creed of the Council of Nicea. Mark 12:29 has had to give way to Nicea 3:25. Is no one perturbed about this? Is it not the failure of whistle blowers to sound the alarm which is the cause of such legitimate public concern in so many fields? Is it only the church which is beyond criticism?
Let all Bible teachers, especially, be sure that they can explain and justify to the rabbi Yeshua, when he comes, their allegiance to a creedal definition of YEHOVAH God which is not that of the Messiah. Was the Messiah a Trinitarian? Was the scribe with whom he agreed a Trinitarian? If not, is there not something of importance at stake here?
Defining YEHOVAH God properly is only one of many issues in which the Messiah can get lost in church. Yeshua's primary command to us all is "Repent and believe the Gospel about the Kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14-15). This is the Messiah's and Mark's brilliant heading and caption over the whole of the Christian faith. But in church we have been told to believe only that the Messiah died and rose. Yeshua said little about these (also) vital truths, but he did speak extensively of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God as Gospel. (Paul echoed the Messiah perfectly. For this, see the amazing parallel between Acts 28:30-31 and Luke 9:11.)
"Repent" means "rethink" and believe in a new way, and live a different sort of life. "Believe the Kingdom of God" means believe and get on board with YEHOVAH's immortality program for you and yours, and everyone. You and I lost our royal glory when in Adam we failed to listen to the royal Gospel that we are to be vice-regents of YEHOVAH God. We "fell short of the glory of God" meant for us (Romans 3:23).
The Messiah came on a mission to restore that lost destiny. He comes to invite us to regain our royal future and glory in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, that revolutionary new world order which is to be introduced at the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:11-14), the trumpet signaling the end of human chaotic rule and the beginning of the government of YEHOVAH God, the Messiah and the saints of all the ages (see Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27; 2:44 for a brief synopsis of the Kingdom Gospel hope).
The Messiah came planting the seeds of the future Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth. He invited all to respond intelligently to his "seed message" (Luke 8:11) of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:19). The seed so planted is the creative energy of YEHOVAH God to produce eventually immortal human persons. The word of the Kingdom Gospel is a vital and dynamic creative energy at work in the believers (Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The Devil's work is to snatch away that Kingdom word from the heart (understanding) so that "a person cannot believe it and be saved." If you thought the Gospel is about the Messiah's death and resurrection, please rethink. Luke 8:12 and Acts 8:12 should be consulted.
The Contaminated Spiritual Source
The degree of poison which entered the church from the beginning of the second century A.D. goes unnoticed by most. That poison from the world of Greek philosophy has led to a disastrous impurity in what we have accepted as "the faith." The expert whistle blowers have been heeded as little as the Messiah and Paul themselves, who warned over and over again that careless acceptance of unexamined tradition, a mindless faith, will not suffice when judgment comes. Only a passion to know and love truth will demonstrate our genuineness as lovers of the God of Israel (2 Thessalonians 2:10) and his first-born Son Yeshua the Messiah.
From the extensive literature on this topic, we conclude with these words from historian/theologian Jacques Ellul. He does not mince words as he exposes what is falsely called Christianity, a hodge-podge of philosophy and paganism parading as the faith of the Messiah. At the core of traditional Christianity there is a glaring piece of pagan philosophy which controls the public's understanding of the nature of a human being and conditions everything that is said in church about death. It is propagated at funeral sermons day after day. It is cherished, but not biblically founded. But who protests? It has become part of the fixed furniture of church, yet it has nothing to do with the Messiah; it is derived from the poisonous philosophy of Plato. Ellul wrote:
"A familiar example of the mutation to which revelation [the Bible] was subjected is its contamination by the Greek idea of the immortality of the soul. I will briefly recall it. In Jewish [biblical] thought death is total. There is no immortal soul, no division of body and soul. Paul's [and the Messiah's] thinking is Jewish in this regard. The soul belongs to the psychical realm and is part of the flesh. The body is the whole being [cp. "somebody" or "anybody" = "any person"]. In death there is no separation of body and soul. The soul is as mortal as the body. But there is a resurrection. Out of the nothingness that human life becomes, God creates anew the being that was dead. That is a creation by grace; there is no immortal soul intrinsic to us.
"Greek philosophy, however, introduces among theologians the idea of the immortal soul. The belief was widespread in popular religion and it was integrated into Christianity. But it is a total perversion [as Paul predicted, the original Christian faith was perverted and polluted by the poison of paganism]. [In view of the immortal soul] everything is not any more dependent on the grace of God and assurance of immortality comes to be evaluated only by virtues and works. All Christian thinking is led astray by this initial mutation that comes through Greek philosophy and Near Eastern cults. An ardent work brings to light this sort of deformation. Louis Rougier in his Astronomie et Religion en Occident (Paris, 1980) shows how belief in the soul's celestial immortality arose in the second half of the fifth century BC on the basis of astronomy. Pythagorean astronomy radically transformed the idea of the destiny of the soul held by Mediterranean peoples. For the notion of a vital breath that dissipates at death, for belief in the survival of shades wandering about in the subterranean realm of the dead [which is equally pagan!], it substitutes the notion of a soul of celestial substance exiled in this world. This idea [which is now accepted uncritically by most churches] completely contaminates biblical thinking, gradually replaces the affirmation of the resurrection [to occur when YEHOVAH God comes back] and transforms the kingdom of the dead into the kingdom of God" (The Subversion of Christianity, p. 25).
The only antidote to this poison of pagan philosophy is a careful listening to the words as preached as Gospel by Yeshua the Messiah, his Gospel about the Kingdom which is the One God's program and plan to confer immortality on us -- an immortality which we do not have by birth! We need to begin to acquire it through believing the seed "word" Gospel of the Kingdom, which is the germ of rebirth and eventual immortality. Note how constantly and insistently the Messiah called attention to his own Gospel teaching:
"Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life [life in the future Kingdom, tasted now in the spirit] and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24). The Messiah then said to those Jews who believed him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples" (John 8:31). "I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you" (John 8:37). "Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot bear to hear my word" (John 8:43). "`Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.' So the Jews said to him, 'Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, Whoever keeps my word will never taste death"' (John 8:51-52). "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him" (John 14:23). "But if you do not believe Moses' writings, how will you believe my words?" (John 5:47). "If anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day" (John 12:47-48). "Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me" (John 14:24). "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you" (John 15:7).
This impressive chain of sayings could not be overemphasized. We are to heed the word(s)/teaching(s)/Gospel as preached by the Messiah. We are to be corrected by his sayings and we are to reject the falsehoods of pagan philosophy which run counter to the inspired words of Yeshua the Messiah.
Reflection might begin with a consideration of what the Messiah termed the most crucial of all the words of YEHOVAH God: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one Lord" (Mark 12:29). "One God in three Persons" is a very significant departure from the pure words of the Messiah. Second only in importance is the proper definition of the Messiah as coming into existence through the normal human sexual relations of his father Joseph and his mother Mary -- see Matthew 13:55; Luke 2:33, 2:43, 3:23; John 1:45, 6:42. The shift to a prehuman Messiah, who cannot by definition be essentially human, hardly sounds like the Messiah who is strictly the descendant of Abraham, David, Judah and Eve through strictly human reproductive means.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
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