Part 2

Often, well-meaning, Israel-loving people will say to me, “I am Jewish now. I am grafted in.” I never, ever say anything close to, “No, you’re not Jewish.” I focus more on how grateful I am that they love God and pray for the Jewish people. However, it is interesting that the Church went from saying, “You can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus,” to, “All believers are Jewish.”

Which is it? What does the Bible actually say? I will make six statements and then seek to back each one up with Scripture, one blog post at a time:

  1. Jews who receive Yeshua remain Jews, just as a females remains female or a male remains a male, after coming to faith.
  2. Gentile simply means a member of the nations. When a member of the nations comes to faith, he does not become Jewish, but continues to be a member of his or her nation.
  3. However, Jewish and Gentile believers are equal in the sight of God. Jews are neither favored above Gentiles nor discriminated against, in regards to non-Jews.
  4. Salvation is free, but rewards in the kingdom are based on merit, not ethnicity. Intimacy with God is based on the desire and passion of the individual believer, not whether they are Jew or non-Jew, male or female, etc.
  5. Jewish and non-Jewish believers make up the One New Man—a mystery that was hidden in times past. Paul calls this the household of God. In this household, the Gentile believers become joint-heirs with Jewish believers—without losing their own ethnicity and without replacing the Jewish people.
  6. Ethnicity is important to God, which is why non-Jewish believers do not become Jews or Israelis (Israelites) after coming to faith. They are called to stand in the gap for their nation.

Blog One: Jewish believers are still Jews

The early believers clearly had zero issues with the idea of being Jewish and believing in the Jewish Messiah. The question with which they wrestled was, “Can a Gentile believe in Jesus, without converting to Judaism?” The apostles, through their lives and teaching, give no hint of leaving Judaism. In fact, rumors were being spread about Paul teaching Jewish believers “to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs” (Acts 21:21). Paul, upon the advice of the Jerusalem apostles, went to the Temple to make a sacrifice so that, “everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.” (Acts 21:24)

Church Fathers turn against Jews

However, the Church Fathers in the second century began to teach that once a Jew comes to faith, he is no longer a Jew. Many were vicious in their accusations against the Jewish people. Peter the Venerable wondered about the humanity of Jews: Truly I doubt whether a Jew can be really human.

Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117A.D.) – Epistle to the Magnesians

For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God’s favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity.

They lined up to accuse the entire Jewish nation of killing Yeshua (forgetting that He laid down his life by His own free will for them.) Another, Justin Martyr taught that Christians were the true “Israelite race” and that the Hebrew Scriptures now belonged to the church exclusively. He did not believe you could be both Christian and Jewish. He also taught that circumcision was for judgement (as opposed to being there mark of the covenant of Abraham).

The purpose of [circumcision] was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and your cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem.

Apostles continued to live as Jews

However, it was not like this a century before. Paul continued to identify as a Jew, preaching the Jewish Messiah to the Jew first in every city he went. We never see Paul inviting Jews to enter into another religion. To the Jewish leaders in Rome, he shares, “For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain” (Acts 28:20). Certainly the hope of Israel was not a new religion, but the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophets.

We find Jacob (James) the brother of Yeshua, 30 years after the resurrection, praying daily in the Temple. It was said that he was the most respected Jew in Jerusalem from all the sects of Judaism. He was called the “camel-kneed” for the hours that he spent in prayer for Israel. The evidence is clear that he remained a part of the people of Israel till his death.

When Peter preached on Shavuot (Pentecost), he did not present a new religion, but proclaimed to his exclusively Jewish crowd, salvation and forgiveness through Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah.

Paul says in Romans that the gift and calling of God to Israel is “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). He says, in Romans 3, that there is “much value” in being Jewish (Romans 3:1-4). Clearly, Jewish believers in Yeshua are still Jewish and part of Israel.

Neither Jew nor Gentile?

What, then, do we make of the oft-quoted Galatians 3:28?

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.”

Bible teachers have used this statement to say that Jewish believers are no longer Jews. But they miss one major issue. If that is true, then male and females no longer have distinctions, and yet, I have never been able to get pregnant!

So, what then is the point of his passage? That being in Messiah overshadows our other roles and callings. I live in Israel. We have many Jewish immigrants from all over the world. Suppose I brought all the Jewish people together from so many nations and said, “Today, we are not Americans, Ethiopians, Russians or Argentinians, but we are Israelis!” Technically, that is not true. I am still American even though I am also Israeli. But anyone with common sense would understand my intention—that I am focusing on what unites us.

While our roles/callings are important, none of them bring any special favor with Messiah. In other words, God doesn’t reward me for what he made me. He rewards me according to faithfulness to that calling (Matt. 25:14-30)

Any person—Jew, non-Jew, slave, female, etc., can freely come to Messiah. This was a major difference between the Old and New Covenants and what Paul was so excitedly shared with his Gentile audience: “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Eph. 3:12), no matter what your background, race, class, ethnicity or gender.

So, in Galatians 3, he is not saying something negative about Jews, but something positive about non-Jews—that there are no restrictions keeping them from Messiah. As Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-35).

In the second part, we will address are second statement: Gentile simply means a member of the nations. When a member of the nations comes to faith, he does not become Jewish, but continues to be a member of his or her nation.

Part 2

This is a guest post from my dear friend and mentor Asher Intrater, leader of Revive Israel/Tikkun International. We often fear messages about self control, because we see it as ‘human effort’. But see the smile on God’s face when you say no to the flesh and yes to the Holy Spirit. There is grace for this. More and more I see that self-control regarding our appetites is a major key to spiritual power. Don’t be afraid to read and embrace. We love and bless you!

How we love the fruit of the spirit! – love and joy and all that good stuff. It is the very personality of God within us. There’s one fruit of the spirit at the end that seems to be less talked about: self-control. We could call it the Final Fruit.

 The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self-control… – Galatians 5:22

Perhaps people are less attracted to this fruit because it demands saying “no” a little bit. It means saying “no” to our own desires, or at least restraining them to a certain degree. But this fruit is quite important.

Yeshua received the power of the Holy Spirit, primarily by saying “no” three times to the devil (Luke 4:1-14). Self-control is about saying “no” to ourselves. It is similar to “denying ourselves” (Luke 9:33). It means guarding our minds so that dark thoughts don’t come in at any time (II Corinthians 10:3-5; Philippians 4:4-8). It is keeping the door closed to anything that would give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:25-29).

We receive every blessing by grace because Yeshua was crucified FOR us. At the same time, God calls us to live as if we are crucified WITH Him.

I am crucified with Messiah, and I no longer live, but the Messiah lives in me. The life I live now in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. – Galatians 2:22

We call this the crucified life. It is our response to His being crucified for us. We are not actually crucified physically. We live daily “as if” we are crucified. Self-crucifixion is a spiritual parable. On a day-to-day basis I exercise self-restraint over natural desires. The fruit of self-control is the way we live out the idea of being crucified with Him.

When the Lord wants to bless us, there is first a period of self-control. Sometimes this period is one minute, sometimes one year. Often it seems like forever. Self-control is needed before the blessing, during the blessing and after the blessing.

Just because God blessed you with a nice meal doesn’t mean you have to eat everything on the table. We exercise self-control in order to keep the blessings in their place. We keep the bad things out, and we keep the good things under control. God remains on the throne over us.

This example may be a bit graphic, but self-control reminds me of when you are forced to wait before going to the bathroom. You squeeze a muscle deep down inside and hold it shut tight. On a soul level, that is what self-control is like.

We are not waiting to relieve ourselves. We are waiting on the Lord. We hold ourselves back from our own instincts in order to give the Lord time and opportunity to work in our lives. While we wait on the Lord, we exercise self-control.

Patience is greater than power; and he who rules his own spirit is greater than one who captures a city. – Proverbs 16:32

You can be greater than an army general, an athletic champion or a prime minister. They are heroes. The one who can control himself is a “super”-hero. Self-control is the greatest of victories.

I sense even as I write this that there is divine ability to increase self-control. I pray for you right now as you read this that the fruit of self-control will grow abundantly in your life.

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Testimony of Baruch

Elana and I were flying to Prague for Awakening Europe. I have really changed the way I live. Every day I expect God to use me. Not because I am special, but because He so loves this hurting world.

For years, I prayed this prayer:

I expect divine appointments in my life. I expect kingdom connections to take place daily. I expect to lead Israelis to Yeshua. I expect the gift of healing to work in my life with Israelis! I expect angels to be active in my life, working on my behalf for the glory of God. 

It is a powerful prayer, but I rarely acted on it. I have been a passive evangelist—walking through doors when they opened. Now I am a pro-active one. Now I am seeking out people.

Healing at 30,000-Feet

In the middle of our flight to Prague, a young man (26-years-old) came to front of the plane. He complained to the flight attendants that he was not feeling well. He came several times and I could tell that they were losing patience with him. I thought to ask him if he wanted prayer, but I had a check in my spirit that the timing was wrong.

I waited about a half hour and then began to sense the Holy Spirit’s presence. He was sitting one seat in front of me. I got up and sat beside him across the aisle and asked, “Are you not feeling well?” I asked him if I could pray for him. He said it would not help. I said, “God can do anything and sometimes when I pray for people, they get healed.” With that, he took my hand and allowed me to pray for him. His name was Baruch, which means Blessed!

“I Feel Love”

After I prayed, I asked him what he felt and he looked at me and said, “I feel love…I feel love coming from you.” I sat down with him and shared my testimony in Hebrew. Then he gave me his ‘take’ on God, which was not biblical, but then he added something very interesting. He told me, “God uses people. Sometimes we pray for something and God sends someone to you and you don’t realize that this person is God’s answer to your prayers. Look at me. I came to the flight attendants and they did not want to help me. Yes, they gave me water but really they hate me…they hate me! But you saw I was not feeling well and you decided to do something, and now I feel wonderful and I am having a great conversation with you.”

Small Risks, Big Dividends

It’s so much fun to share God’s love with others through the miraculous. But you must take small risks. These small risks can have huge payoffs. What was the worst that could have happened? He doesn’t get healed and he is still grateful that I prayed for him.

I have Baruch’s email and have sent him my testimony—which has in it, a clear Gospel message—in Hebrew. Pray for Baruch!

That evening in Old Town Prague, we met an American couple looking for someone to take a picture of them. We talked for a while and then Elana looked at Margaret, the wife, and asked something very strange: “Can I pray for you to conceive?” I have been around my wife long enough to know that she was being led by the Spirit. I am jealous with a godly jealousy of her ability to hear the Lord.

Margaret teared up and said, “Yes.” And then, “Oh my gosh, I want to hug you.” Amidst the tears, Elana prayed for her to get pregnant.

Roni the Pizza Guy

Finally, this happened today: I was just leaving the morning session of the conference. The presence of God was as wonderful as I can ever remember at conference—of course I always feel that way when God shows up. Worshiping with 10,000 to 15,000 people is always amazing. I can only wonder how heaven views it.

I left the meeting, almost in a cloud of ‘wonderful confusion’—if that makes sense. I was searching for lunch and ended in the hotel restaurant. The waiter at the other hotel restaurant had told us that the chef is Israeli. Elana had already met him. I looked at the guy behind the counter and realized he was the Israeli. Within minutes I was talking to him about Yeshua. He had already encountered several of the believers at the conference and was so open.

He told me that when he met Elana the other night, she came in with glow upon her. I told him that it was the presence of God. We had a great talk and then I asked him if I could pray for him. This is huge key in outreach. Always ask if you can pray for the person because you never know what God is going to do. As I prayed he lit up and smiled, as the presence of God came upon him. I got his email and sent him my testimony in Hebrew.

The in the evening Elana and I came to eat. He came and sat with us poured out his heart. He has two sons with whom he is not in contact. He longs to see them but one is not interested and the other has been prevented by the mother. We prayed for him—that God would show himself strong. I said to Elana, “The idea that a couple of Israelis would not only talk with him, but listen to his story and pray for him, is surely not what he is used to.” The lonely chef was so happy just to speak Hebrew. Please pray for him that as he reads my testimony and that would see Yeshua as his salvation. What a joy to be in Prague and having divine appointments with Israelis!

UPDATE: He just emailed me saying that we gave him hope! Hallelujah! Yeshua gives hope!

Share with us your story of how God is using you. I know He wants to! Take a small risk.

 

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Some teach that there is no immersion of the Holy Spirit or Second Blessing. However, we can see clearly in Acts 8 (The Samaritan Revival) the distinction between the salvation experience and the Holy Spirit coming upon believers.

“When [Peter and John] arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been immersed in water in the name of the Lord Yeshua.” (Acts 8:15-16)

No Sinner’s Prayer in Acts

Immersion in water, a very common Jewish practice at the time, was the sinners’ prayer of the book of Acts (Acts 2:21, 8:12, 36, Acts 10:47-48) and there was no such thing as “Baptism Classes”. It was the immediate, first expression of your new faith. When you went into the water, you were saying, “I believe in Yeshua, that He is the Messiah and died as a sacrifice for my sins.” (Acts 8:15-16)

But then the apostles came down to lay hands on the Samaritans and see them also immersed in the Holy Spirit, because, “the Holy Spirit,” although He was in them, “had not yet come on any of them.”

First, Salvation

The purpose of the two distinct experiences is clear. The first is for personal salvation; forgiveness of sins. We see this in Romans 6, one of my favorite verses.

“We were therefore buried with him through water immersion into death in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

Immersion in water was the perfect picture of dying to the old way and being raised to newness of life. The water symbolized a grave. What an awesome picture of death and resurrection! Can you imagine on the day of Shavuot, thousands of Jewish people all over Jerusalem going into the, more than 100, mikvot (immersion tanks) in the Old City, only to rise up out of the water, free and forgiven!

Why do we need more?

So why do we need the second blessing? The first blessing, salvation, is for you. But the second is to empower you to reach others. God would come upon these new believers with His Spirit so they could preach with conviction and do signs, wonders and miracles. The best picture of this is Simon Peter. This fellow cut off a guy’s ear and denied he knew Yeshua just 50 days earlier. When they met in Galilee he was dejected. But after the Holy Spirit comes on him in power, he stands on the Temple steps and proclaims Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, saying, “Men of Israel…”

His message was so powerful that his hearers were cut to the heart, and 3,000 Jewish men, plus women and children, came to faith in Yeshua. (Acts 2) And then, he sees a crippled beggar. He prays for him and the paralyzed vagabond jumps up, praising God. That is the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

Have you received Yeshua? He is ready to forgive you and receive you and give you newness of life.

Have you received the Holy Spirit’s empowerment? If not, ask God for it. It is his great joy to “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)


Please consider a gift to Messiah’s Mandate. We just committed to up our giving to our Tel Aviv congregation by 2,000 a month. We can only do that with your partnership. God is doing a great work at Tiferet Yeshua! Thank you.

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I was lying down, just resting and suddenly I had vision or a dream or maybe drevision. I was walking along Israel’s main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with someone whom I did not know. He told me that the newest lane, the outside lane—actually the shoulder—would soon fall into the ground because of sinkholes or erosion of the land. I was walking as far outside as one could get while still being on the shoulder. I felt a pull, like a magnetic force, pulling me off the road and into the brown grass.

Then I realized it was a vision.

Interpretation

The road is our life. The area off the road—dead grass—is sin, temptation, addiction, etc. If the road was going to fall into the ground on the side, why was I walking there? I should, at least, have moved to the other side of my companion, if not hugged the center of the highway.

The warning and encouragement is to not walk too close to the flame, lest you get burned. Or as Solomon rhetorically asked, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without burning his clothes?” (Prov. 6:27) The words the Lord spoke to Cain come to mind:

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:7)

The key to ruling over sin is not merely resisting. Notice I said merely. Yes, resisting sin is part of it. James does tell us to resist the devil and he will flee. (James 4:7) (Ironically the same chapter and verse as the Genesis passage.) However, resisting is not enough.

In His Presence

If sin is represented by the area off the road, then the opposite of sin must be in the center of the road. Yeshua lives in the center. His presence is in the center. The key to overcoming sin or “ruling over” sin is spending time with Yeshua. There is no sin in His presence. There is life, love, forgiveness, joy unspeakable and a peace that passes all understanding. It is hard to give into temptation, much less sin, when we are in His presence.

I once remarked to a repentance preacher, “Holiness is not the absence of sin, but the presence of God.” The key to overcoming lust is not found in human effort, but in our desire for God. When we are hungry for God, we will not be hungry for sin.

How ‘Bout Them Apples

I remember when I started eating healthy. For snacks, instead of cake or a candy bar, I was told to eat an apple. I rarely ate fruit. I didn’t want an apple. But amazingly, after a few days of eating apples, I began to crave apples. In the same way, if you give yourself to seeking God, hungering after Him, you will find your appetite for sin decreases and your need for His presence increases.

Angels

And when we overcome sin, we can expect His presence. Many have taught about how Yeshua overcame temptation in Matthew 4—three times Yeshua fights off the enemy—but I have rarely heard anyone comment on what happened next. After He resists the enemy, something special takes place: “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matt. 4:11)

When we overcome sin, we can expect angels to come and minister to us. You can be sure of this: God loves you and wants to help you in your struggle. It starts with strengthening that relationship with Him. Build up a hunger for healthy God and don’t give in to destructive sin. And though you can’t see them, angels are ministering to you.

We have to stop walking so close to the edge and get closer to Yeshua. When someone asks, “What is the least I can do and still get into heaven,” they are missing the point. That is like having 50-yardline seats at the Super Bowl, but hiding in the bathroom. Yes, you are there, but you are missing the best part. God is fun. God is joy. God is victory and life and love.

In the World, not Of the World

“But if I separate myself from the world to be with Yeshua, what good will I be?” Good question. Walking far from the edge doesn’t mean that we don’t have contact with sinners. Hello. Look at Yeshua. He walked so close to the Father—to the point that He said that He could only do what He sees His Father doing (Jn. 5:19)—and yet, He spent His time with prostitutes and tax collectors.

You can walk far from the edge and yet be right in the midst of those who need Yeshua. In fact, that is where we are to live. Just as Yeshua intimated—we are to be in the world, but not of the world.

“I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14-16)


God is doing an amazing work at Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv—a Hebrew-speaking congregation dedicated to reaching Israelis with Yeshua’s message. We are hungrier than ever before for a move of God. Stand with us in prayer and support as we share the bread of life to our people here in Israel.