29-1 Essentially, the Communities are orthodox when measured against the Bible and the historic creeds of the Church. However they do deviate at certain critical junctures.
Do we “deviate at certain critical junctures” from the measure of the “Bible and the historic creeds” or from subsequently developed theological interpretations of the Bible and the historical creeds? NEIRR fails to cite the historic creeds we are supposedly departing from when branding us as heretics and they seem in many cases to avoid including the Biblical basis for our understanding so that the reader can see whether we deviate from what the Bible says or not.
29-2 Without this “outside” contact [biblical commentaries, dialogue with scholars, etc.] Messianic Communities falls into the error of many other end-time, restoration movements. Most of their theology, then, is derived from the books of Revelation and Daniel...
NEIRR asserts without foundation that our teachings are developed without the benefit of Biblical commentaries, for on page 21 it is stated, “Spriggs ... is described as a ?voracious reader,’ and from his teachings it is evident that he uses commentaries and reads other books dealing with the Bible...” The problem seems to be that we do not accept certain opinions offered therein or that we fail to consult them when NEIRR thinks we should — presumably when they support NEIRR’s opinions. Finally they assert without any evidence that most of our theology is derived from Daniel and Revelation, a completely absurd assumption. We do derive much of our eschatology from these books, but it is not inappropriate to derive teaching on the resurrections and judgments from these books?
29-2 Spriggs also makes another critical error in his theological development by relying almost entirely upon the Gospels, Book of Acts, and Old Testament Historical books to support his major doctrines. All Scripture is God’s word and is profitable, however, the historical books of Scripture describe what was and not necessarily what should be ... New Testament theological understanding must first be built upon the epistles of Paul, Peter, James and John. These give an explanation to what the Holy Spirit of God was doing in the Gospels and Book of Acts.
1Neirr makes some very broad and sweeping statements here, without substantiation. First, they have decided, without asking us, what our major doctrines are.2 Second, they ignore, seemingly deliberately, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of references to the New Covenant epistles in our teachings. Third, they seem to have a shallow understanding of the nature of the Scriptures, separating the epistles from everything else in the Bible. They do not seem to realize that the entire Bible is a historical record. Even the epistles are not theological treatises, but a record of instructions and corrections given by Apostles to disciples at a particular time in a particular circumstance. The Gospels also record many, many instructions and corrections given by the Master Himself to disciples at a particular time in a particular circumstance. The reason, apart from the sovereign will of God, that these writings were preserved was that they were found by men to be applicable outside of the particular time and circumstance in which they were written.
The apostle Paul did not take the same position regarding interpretation of Scripture as NEIRR. Paul’s words in 2 Tim 3:16, all scripture is profitable for doctrine, were referring not to the epistles but to what NEIRR erroneously calls the Old Testament Historical books (the Law, the Prophets, the Histories, and the Poetical books), for the New Testament had not been collected as a body of Scripture. Paul said that all those Old Testament Scriptures are profitable for doctrine, etc.
Furthermore, Paul exalts the words of our Master, which we rarely find recorded outside the Gospels:
“If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
So the standard by which everything is to be judged must be the words of the Master.
Paul, according to Peter in 2 Pet 3:16, wrote things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures. What did Peter mean by untaught and unstable? What were they not taught, and why were they unstable? From the point of view of Peter, who was an apostle and received the Great Commission in Mt 28:19-20, the only possible thing that he could have been talking about was the commands of the Master, because that is what he was commissioned to teach the disciples to obey, and these commands are found in the Gospels. Therefore, who is unstable? According to what our Master said in Mt 7:24-27, it’s those who hear and don’t obey His words. And where are those words found? In the Gospels. Therefore, the only possibility for a person, deriving his doctrines from the easily misunderstood letters of Paul instead of from the words of the Master, is that he would be untaught and unstable and distort the Scriptures. That’s the only possibility, because if you don’t have as your foundation the commands of the Master, you are not going to understand Paul. You are going to misunderstand him and you are going to go to destruction.
Although we do not expect NEIRR to change their way of thinking on this matter, we wanted to express clearly why we believe the way we do regarding the “sound principles of Biblical interpretation,” and we invite them to print our understanding in full so that their readers can see for themselves whether we are in error. We believe that if they have integrity, they will not be afraid to publish what we believe the Bible says about understanding the Bible.
29-2 All Scripture is God’s word and is profitable, however, the historical books of Scripture describe what was and not necessarily what should be. Otherwise, justification for a doctrine of polygamy can be developed from a study of the kings of Israel...
It is not in the epistles that one finds the affirmation of monogamy, but in the Gospels. The epistles only require that elders not be polygamous (1 Tim 3:2). It is our Master’s words in the Gospels that express our God’s mind about monogamy (Mt 19:5-6), and that is where we find the foundation of our doctrine concerning marriage. The epistles should not be given an unnatural primacy over Messiah’s words. The students are to become like their Master, not vice-versa. How is it that, to NEIRR, Messiah’s words do not have first place (Col 1:18)?
Comparing polygamy with possessions, the NEIRR’s statement, “Thus, private property was allowable in the early Church with no demand to sell all,”3 could be rephrased, in light of the apostle Paul’s statements in the epistles, to:
Thus, polygamy was allowable in the early Church with no demand to send away one’s extra wives (nor any prohibition against taking more wives than the one or ones one already had).
Of course, it is the Gospels where:
...the original appointment of monogamy is confirmed (Mt 19:6, Mk 10:6-8).4
This is merely an illustration how unstable the principles of Biblical interpretation are in that they are not consistent with the Scriptures themselves, nor able to approve, by themselves (the principles) what the Scriptures say.5 The New Covenant is not a matter of doctrine — it is an affair of the heart. To approach it as doctrinal truths to be discerned, and not as the radical call upon one’s life and sovereignty it is, misses the mark in the most profound way. It is the avowal of the supremacy of the letter over the spirit.
The fact that our Master was establishing a covenant between His disciples and the God of Israel, His Abba, a New Covenant greater than the old one Moses had brought them into, places the words of our Master — His so-called “hard sayings” — into the realm of a personal relationship with Him and out of the realm of doctrine. To suppose that His words are best interpreted in light of letters written to churches and individuals who had already received the gospel He had spoken, and the many different situations they were faced with practically, is to take the gospel out of the realm they themselves received it in. They did not receive the gospel by reading or even hearing the letters of the New Covenant, which were written over a course of many years.
They heard a proclamation of the Good News from sent ones (and it is truly a wonderful thing how our Master spoke of those He sends in all four gospels — Mt 10:40, Mk 9:37, Lk 10:16, and Jn 13:20; see also page 64).6 And where, as an aside, is there one recorded example of someone receiving Jesus into his heart, the sine qua non7 of Christian faith? If the letters are to be understood as the hearers of the New Testament letters heard them, then it must not be through the artificial Christian gloss that these letters themselves were the good news. The good news they heard was contained in the gospels, all four of them, and all that is in them, because what is recorded there is what the apostles experienced in their years with the Son of God. It must be supposed that their loyalty was sufficient to Him that their proclamation of the Good News did not gut the very things He Himself said were essential to eternal life — Mk 10:17-31, Lk 14:33, etc. Further, it must be supposed that they intended to obey the words of the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, ... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” At least this was the situation until Gal 1:8 and 2 Cor 11:2-4 and 13-15 became the norm, as they are to this day.
29-3 This isolation from the outside creates a closed environment where all thinking and critical discussion becomes non-essential and actually destructive of “unity in the body” and the “anointing.” God has spoken through the “apostle,” or the group mind. The truth has come. What need is there for any critical evaluation?
It seems the Messianic Communities members are being portrayed as not thinking at all because they really don’t care what they are being taught, much like members of established denominations who accept their time-honored traditions in order to fit in socially, or college students who accept professorial opinions in order to get good grades. If this is not what the authors are intending to imply, but grant that we do think about what we believe, then legitimate “thinking” is being defined as only that thinking which disapproves of Yoneq’s teaching at some point, for it seems inconceivable to the NEIRR that someone in the Messianic Communities who really thinks would consistently agree with what he is being taught. Very likely this view is due to the fact that dissensions and factions (Gal 5:20-21) have become the norm in Christianity instead of what Paul described in Phil 1:27:
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel...
30-1 Outsiders also will not be listened to because they do not have the Holy Spirit, the “anointing.” The following quotes are all referring to hearing the “gospel” as interpreted by Messianic Communities. Quotations from The Personality of God in Us, Willing, and Stone IV
NEIRR has taken these passages out of context and distorted what we teach. The quotations cited do not support NEIRR’s slanderous assertion that we will not listen to outside criticism. We will and we do, just like anyone who is concerned about the truth. But everything must be judged by the standard of God’s word. What we are talking about in these teachings is the tendency in those who are unwilling to do God’s will to ignore the message of the Scriptures. We believe and teach and have experienced for more than 20 years that it is actually the character of Christian Churches not to listen to “outside criticism.” So the quotation from The Personality of God in Us would better be started with
2 Cor 4:2 — “...but we have renounced these things and are not walking in craftiness.” Christianity handles these things deceitfully — they don’t talk about certain things in the Word because it doesn’t fit into their lifestyle. “If the gospel is veiled...”
Similarly the quotation from Willing should at least include, “That is the key of everything — right there — Jn 7:17.” This shows that the context of the quotation is what our Master says about those willing to do His will being able to recognize His message as being from God. Ironically the quotation from Stone IV does include a scripture reference, but one which supports a passage not included in the quotation. The scriptural foundation for that quotation is 1 Cor 2:14 and 2 Pet 3:16. Perhaps the authors could interpolate a brief comment such as “They derive this understanding from 1 Cor 2:14 and 2 Pet 3:16.”
30-6 How can the Messianic Communities ever be challenged from the outside? To question their authority or legitimacy is to reveal that one is not under the “anointing.” Thus the group is beyond criticism or evaluation. It is analogous to saying, “We are God’s group because we have the truth. We have the truth because we are God’s group.” This is circular reasoning that justifies its own existence. Thus no honest dialogue can ever take place.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of our dialogue with the NEIRR will be, but one thing is clear — they do not have the authority to judge us. Those who have that authority are those disciples who are laying down their lives for one another daily. They are the ones who have authority to speak the truth one to another, putting aside all falsehood (Eph 4:25). If we don’t all listen to the least of the brethren, we will go into error. God’s method of judging His people historically has been that He turned them over to the discipline of the nations. Gamaliel understood this in the first century. The NEIRR would do well to heed his wisdom.
31-0 Messianic Communities theology is rather like a beautiful, ripe peach that has become disconnected from the tree and over a short period of time (25 years) has decayed more and more until it is almost entirely unrecognizable.
The authors have proven that they do not have the wisdom to even understand our theology. Anyone with any understanding will see this in their Analysis and will see that they have discredited themselves. The Analysis is written to deceive the naive, the untaught, and the unsuspecting.
31-2 “YAHSHUA also took on human nature ... He is divine. Divine nature took on human nature in order that we, the fallen human beings that we are, might take on divine nature. We will always be human but we also will partake in divine nature ... YAHSHUA became human to make us partakers of Divinity. Divinity took on humanity that humanity could take on Divinity...” This is rank heresy...
This is one of many instances in which key phrases and Biblical citations in our teachings seem to be deliberately suppressed in order to distort what we believe. How the authors handle this proves their lack of understanding. They make much of the phrase “take on divine nature” as being theologically deviant, because it implies that we human beings could become divine. But the following sentence, which the authors removed from the quotation, makes clear what “taking on Divinity” means:
“We already have partaken in divine nature, tasted of the Spirit by taking on Ruach Ha Kodesh who is divine.” (1 Cor 6:17)
Any rational reader, having the benefit of this information, would understand that we are not “going off” but simply talking about becoming one spirit with the Lord, even as the Bible verse cited says, and that we are not talking about becoming something other than human.
If the authors wish to portray what we actually believe, they could use the following quotation from the apostle Peter:
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Pet 1:4)
This scripture is mentioned in the next paragraph of that same teaching. They also might want to incorporate the following passage from a more recent teaching:
2 Peter 1:4-5 — Because our Master has granted to us to be partakers in His divine nature, we can do what verses 5-8 say. If we weren’t sharers in His glory, these words would seem hard for us, given to us by a hard taskmaster, it would be like a master’s manual without grace. We are partakers of His divine nature. What does it mean that we are partakers of His divine nature? Does that mean that we don’t have a human nature anymore, but a divine nature? Are we going to transitionalize out of our human nature and come into a divine nature? Partakers — sharers. Divine — uncreated. Are we going to be God someday? Our nature is human and it will always be human, but we have a divine nature, 1 Cor 6:17, if we’ve joined ourselves with Messiah. His Spirit is divine, but we won’t ever be divine ourselves. He is divine, we are human, and we’ll always be human throughout all eternity because our Father doesn’t want us to be divine. He created us to house divine nature. The purpose of human nature is to make visible divine nature.8
31-4 “God is a spirit and what He lacks is a suitable vessel to express His love. The Son was created as a human being ...” The Triune God is by definition complete in and of Himself with no needs or lacks ... this is probably the consequence of not thinking through the implications of such statements.
First of all, we do not teach that the Son was created. This is a scribal error and should read “The Son was made incarnate as a human being...” But we do believe that God needed man, and did not create us on a mere whim. Since no man has seen God at any time (Jn 1:18) we understand that the invisible God (Col 1:15) created man in His image in order to have a means of making visible his Divine nature, which is love (1 Jn 4:8). Of course the invisible God perfectly expressed love within Himself, but since He is not selfish and self-satisfied, He needs a means of expressing His love to those who cannot see Him. The consequence of thinking through the implication of this statement is that we desire with all our hearts to be suitable vessels and to express the love He has poured out in our hearts through the divine Spirit who has come to reside permanently in us (Rom 5:5). Understanding that He created us and redeemed us because He needed us to rule with Him motivates us to deny self in order that His love might be perfected with us so that we could become just like our Master in His humanity (1 Jn 4:17).
32-1 “...If we aren’t for Him, He sometimes leads us into temptation.” Again, this is heresy. It imputes evil intent to God.
In using the very words of the Son of God who taught us to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation ...” (Mt 6:13), we are not imputing evil intent to God any more than our Master was. We understand that there is a very real possibility that we will be turned over to the tempter if we do not love the truth, as Paul wrote:
“... because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” (2 Ths 2:10-12)
Would our Master tell His disciples to pray that their Father not lead them into temptation, if there was no possibility that He would? Our Master was not imprecise when He used this phrase. There is no more evil intent implied in saying God will lead into temptation the one who has fallen away in his heart than in saying that He hardened Pharoah’s heart (Ex 9, 10, & 11) or that He gave those who did not honor Him over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity (Rom 1:24). This is as Lam 1:14 says,
“The yoke of my transgressions is bound; by His hand they are knit together; they have come upon my neck; He has made my strength fail; the Lord has given me into the hands of those against whom I am not able to stand.”
32-4 “Yahshua was a man a little inferior to the angels for a time.” The fatal error of such statements is that it unduly separates Jesus’ divine nature from His human nature. Jesus was never “inferior to the angels.”
This statement proves the authors’ lack of scholarship and abundance of prejudice, i.e., judging us according to their mindset and how they want to define us for their own gain and reputation. In doing so they seem to be accusing the writer of Hebrews of fatal error:
“But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor...” (Heb 2:9)
The word translated lower here means to make less in rank or influence, according to the Lockman Foundation’s concordance of the NASB. And according to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, inferior means of lower degree or rank.
Perhaps the authors failed to note that we cited this very verse at the beginning of the paragraph from which they quote, and did not realize that we were merely quoting the Bible. It seems they should explain why in their opinion they do not think the Bible really means that He was lower. It is certainly their right to do so, but it does not seem fair to assert that we, the Lockman Foundation, and the writer of Hebrews are guilty of fatal error without backing it up.
33-3 There are many reasons why this understanding of Jesus’ name is without any Scriptural support...
Once again, NEIRR seems to deliberately suppress certain information in order to discredit us. They do not print what we believe regarding the Name of our Master, which is clearly articulated in the article, Name Above All Names. Instead, they quote statements that refer to what we believe, but do not explain it. They even leave out a sentence in the quotation from The Personality of God in Us which says, “It says Joshua in the footnotes of many Bibles.” This indicates that there is scholarly opinion which agrees with our understanding. One example of this is the footnote to Mt 1:21 in the NIV Bible: “Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord saves.”
We know that “the Lord” is a representation of the sacred name Yahweh or Yah and that Jesus is merely a transliteration (not a translation; NEIRR muddies the distinction between the two terms) of a Greek transliteration of the original Hebrew name. It may have been the best approximation in Greek of the phonetics of the Hebrew name as it was pronounced by the translators of the Septuagint. In our conversations with classical scholars, which the NEIRR says we do not talk to, we have come to understand the limitations of the Greek language, and why IhsouV came to be used in the Septuagint to represent the sounds of the name Yahoshua or Yahshua.
We seem to recall speaking of these things in our conversations with the NEIRR, but we would not be surprised if they have forgotten. We understand that the substitution of the vowel h in the first syllable was due to the suppression of pronunciation of the Name of God in the second temple era. We also know that it was impossible to accurately render our Master’s Name in Greek since the language doesn’t have the “sh” sound, but only the “s” sound, hence the s of IhsouV in place of the “sh” of Yahshua. (Incidentally, as far as the name Jesus is concerned, neither Hebrew nor Greek had any “J” sound, such as in modern English, nor did old English, we are told, which pronounced the “J” character like a “Y” in the beginning of a word.)
Finally, granting that the trailing V is necessary in Greek for grammatical purposes, we can see why it was reasonable to use IhsouV as a Greek transliteration, because it was the closest approximation they could make, given the limitations of the language. How to pronounce it is another matter. IhsouV is used in Greek in much the same way as Chaim is commonly or traditionally used in English to represent a Hebrew name which cannot accurately be transliterated with English letters. But in reading Chaim, the proper pronunciation of the name is nonetheless usually uttered. It would hardly be respectful of a person bearing this name to pronounce Chaim as if it began with the same sound as Chuck and rhymed with maim. So, it is doubtful that the God who revealed his “memorial Name forever” to Moses as Yahweh or Yah ever intended for his Son’s Name, which embodies the Name of the Father (as Jn 17:11 makes abundantly clear), and which was the same as that of Moses successor (transliterated as IhsouV), to be pronounced Yay-sooce or Jee-zuss.
Besides, in English we can pronounce our Master’s real name very accurately with sounds that are common to our language. And it is a normal principle of translation (and transliteration) that you always go directly from the source language to the target language, not taking a detour through a third, unrelated language.
Every language today utters its own version of the pronunciation of the Hellenized, Latinized transliteration of the Name of the Hebrew Savior. But we know that when our Master returns to rule the earth, and His feet stand on the Mount of Olives in Israel as described in Zechariah 14:4, there will only be one Name for this one God incarnate:
And the Lord will become King over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one, and His name one. (Zech 14:9)
35-1 (Concerning quotations from Reasoning 2 about our Master’s agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane) Such statements as this fly in the face of Scripture. Jesus continuously prophesied the nature of His death ... not as some potential eventuality that needed God’s confirmation, but as God’s express will. Jesus’ concern in the Garden was not whether the cross was God’s will, but if there was any other way to accomplish that will.
We can understand the authors not grasping what this teaching was saying, since this set of notes does not clearly articulate what those of us who heard this teaching understood. The question in our Master’s mind was not whether He was to die on the cross for our sins — for this He needed no confirmation. The question was whether it was the right time — whether it was His Father’s will for Him on that day and in that circumstance. We are sorry for the confusion, but this is why we do not distribute teaching notes outside the Community.
But what is still more unclear is the comment of the authors that the Master knew it was God’s will to go to the cross, but wondered if there was another way than going to the cross to accomplish God’s will. This seems to be a contradiction. If He knew what our Father wanted Him to do, why would he wonder if there was another way? We do not believe, as the authors seem to, that He was seeking an easier, broader road. We do not think that He wished He could save His life. If such were the case, then by His own words — “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it” (Mt 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24) — He surely would not have been raised incorruptible (Jn 12:25), nor would he have authority to call others to wholeheartedly and unreservedly lose their lives for His sake. Therefore we do not see any other possibility than that He was praying to know that this cup ? the circumstances of that moment in history — was actually His Father’s will, that it was the right time for Him to go to the cross. If it was not, He wanted it to pass by, but if it was He wanted to embrace it.
35-2 Regarding the death of Christ, it is also taught that His death does not cover “intentional sins” once one becomes a believer.
We have used the term intentional sins by way of contrast with the English word unintentionally which the NASB uses to translate the Hebrew shegagah (referring to a sin of inadvertence). This term is apt to be misunderstood by those who are not familiar with our teachings. A better word of contrast would be defiantly or high-handedly (which is what intentional is meant to express) as in Numbers 15:27-31:
“Also if one person sins unintentionally, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven. You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien who sojourns among them. But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be on him.” (Num 15:27-31)
We understand that the law of sacrifices in the Old Covenant was a type of our Master’s sacrifice in the New Covenant. Thus it is understandable that His sacrifice would not cover the willful, defiant sin of a disciple who despises Messiah’s word, either, as the writer of Hebrews makes perfectly clear:
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” (Heb 10:26-27)
Acts 3:22-23 also warns against despising our Master’s word:
“Moses said, ‘The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you. And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’”
This penalty of utter destruction implies that Messiah’s sacrifice cannot be applied to those who refuse to heed everything He says once they have come to the knowledge of the truth by revelation of that truth in their heart. Defiant means going past something you know. (We know from reading the Gospels that He commanded much more than just simply that we should believe in Him.)
These passages in the New Testament scriptures are warnings to those in the Church, not to unbelievers. For example:
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
This passage leaves no doubt that believers can commit sins for which they cannot repent. We understand these sins to be the sins unto death that 1 Jn 5:16 speaks of:
“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.”
Since the wages of sin is death, there are clearly certain sins for which believers must pay the wages with their own death. These willful sins are ones for which they cannot repent in this age, for which there is no sacrifice, and for which intercession is useless.
This does not, however, mean that believers lose their eternal place in the Holy City. Death for a believer, one who is in the covenant, is disciplinary and remedial and not eternal, as indicated by the following passages:
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it ... each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. ... If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Cor 3:10,13,15)
“But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Cor 11:31-32)
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor 5:10)
“And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Mt 18:34-35)
“I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor 5:5)
We believe that these passages indicate that believers will taste death if they disobey the Master deliberately (Jn 8:51) and can be assigned a place in Hades along with the unbelievers during the time of the 1000-year Messianic Kingdom, beginning at the time of our Master’s return:
“But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him, and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers.” (Lk 12:45-46)
As we said in Show It to Me in the Word (page 30), one is on pretty shaky ground to say that Christians going to hell is not an orthodox belief in Christianity. Out of the billion and a half Christians on the earth today, almost two thirds are Roman Catholics, who believe that a Christian who dies with mortal sin on his soul is going to be eternally damned. And if one tries to stand on the ground of Protestant orthodoxy, then one has to ignore the millions of born-again Pentecostals who are convinced that they could backslide to the point of sinning a sin worthy of eternal damnation. We do not ignore the Bible verses which these groups feel support their views, but we recognize that these verses apply to entering the Kingdom (millennial reign) rather than the Holy City (eternity).
It will do no good for the staunch Evangelical, who trusts in a doctrine of eternal security, to argue before the throne of judgment:
“But according to my interpretation of Hebrews 10, all my sins were already paid for, even my deliberate bearing of false witness, my immorality, my greed (which was idolatry), etc.” (Rev 21:8; Gal 5:19-21).
For the answer of the Almighty and Just Judge has already been recorded:
“But to the wicked God says, ‘What right have you to tell of My statutes, and to take My covenant in your mouth? For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you. When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you associate with adulterers. You let your mouth loose in evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you, and state the case in order before your eyes.’” (Ps 50:16-21)
35-4 “Everyone who does not take heed to what our Master says will be utterly cut off.” (Footnote 6: This particular teaching also equates Spriggs’ teachings with God’s Word.)
The teaching merely quotes Acts 3:22, which draws from Dt 18:15-18, bringing it into the New Covenant. Nowhere does this teaching equate Yoneq’s teachings with the Scriptures. If NEIRR wishes to accuse us of such a grave and blatant arrogance, they should at least document it.
35-5 Not only are there sins that are not covered by the death of Christ once belief in Him has been professed, but most damning, Spriggs teaches that there are essentially three groups at the end of time: those who make it to the Holy City (Messianic Communities); those who are consigned to the Lake of Fire; and worthy members of the Nations who make it to heaven apart from the death of Christ. They are saved on the basis of living according to the light of their conscience based on Gen 3:16-19. This is absolute heresy that has far reaching implications ...
There are a number of errors here. First and most blatant is the assertion that we believe that some people will make it to heaven (citizenship in the Holy City) on the basis of doing good deeds. Those who believe this are not found within our ranks but within the ranks of Protestantism and Catholicism, or so it seems, according to the following sources:
Zwingli, a prominent Protestant reformer, also believed in God’s mercy for “good” people of conscience: “There has not been any good man ... from the very beginning of the world even to its end, whom you will not see [in paradise] with God.” Luther concluded that Zwingli was a heathen.9
Catholics believe that the baptism of desire comes also to every person who sincerely and honestly lives up to his best lights [his conscience]. Thus, persons who have never heard of Christ or His Church receive God’s Grace and can attain salvation, provided they have perfect contrition.10
These examples are “highly instructive for comparative reasons” (to borrow the authors’ turn of phrase), and we think it would only be honest of them to publish these excerpts in the interest of truth, so that the readers of their Analysis would have an unbiased assessment of the spiritual landscape on which the authors are trying to locate us.
The second error is to represent that we claim “those who make it to the Holy City” as solely equivalent to the Messianic Communities in New England. If this is actually what we say, the authors should be able to quote such a statement from the 500 or so teachings they have at their disposal. As we have told them, we believe one must make a covenant with the Son of God according to His terms, described in the New Covenant Scriptures. Anyone who has done this has permanent, irrevocable citizenship in the Holy City, and his name is recorded forever and ever in the Lamb’s book of life. Rev 7:9 describes those who have “washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb” as a great multitude which no one could count.
The third error is that the authors do not represent what we do believe regarding justification. Instead, they present their understanding of the Scripture as the standard of orthodoxy and assert that we do not agree with it. This is errant even from the point of view of their own avowed standard of judgment — the Scriptures and the historic creeds (i.e., the decisions of the councils of the entire Christian Church) — for, as far as we know, there have been no ecumenical councils which have established Calvinist theology as the standard of orthodoxy. What we see in the scriptures regarding justification is as follows:
Rom 2:5-8 speaks of the Day of Judgment described in Rev 20:11-13 and Mt 25:31-46 when all the nations will be judged according to their deeds:
“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”
At this judgment, after being resurrected from the first death, which is the penalty for sin, men will be judged as to whether they struggled against the sin they inherited as the fallen seed of Adam, while persevering in doing good, or whether they were selfishly ambitious like Satan and his angels, loving and practicing sin (Mt 25:41; 1 Jn 3:8).
Rom 2:13-16 also speaks of this same judgment according to deeds, at which, apparently, some will be justified to escape the second death, after having suffered the first death, not because they were Jews (hearers of the Law), but because they instinctively did the things of the Law even though they were Gentiles, who had nothing more to go by than the instinctive knowledge of good and evil in their conscience:
“...for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:13-16)
The untaught and unstable (who do not have as their foundation the words of our Master) might not understand Paul’s words concerning “those who persevere in doing good” and “do instinctively the things of the Law.” We must not reason away what the Master said about this judgment of the nations (Mt 25:32; Rev 20:11). In Matthew 25:31-46 He makes it clear that there will indeed be sheep of the nations who will be separated from goats of the nations. The sheep will be ushered in to a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, by a judgment based on their deeds.
Paul’s words regarding this judgment are on a slightly different subject from his comments on the righteousness of God and glory of God in Rom 3:21-24:
“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus...”
Here he is no longer speaking of those who are judged according to their deeds, after having suffered death, to determine whether they will suffer a second death. He is instead speaking of those who are not judged at this judgment, as our Master said in Jn 5:24:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
Here John is talking about the imputed righteousness of God, which is ours by faith in the sacrifice of our Master, which enrolls us forever and ever in the Holy City, which has the glory of God, from which all men have sinned and fallen short. No one can attain to the Holy City through any means other than this justification which is given by His grace through the redemptive work of our Savior.
So the Holy City, then, is a different justification and a different righteousness than what is involved in the judgment of the nations described in Mt 25, Jn 5:28-29, Rom 2, and Rev 20, for believers do not come into that judgment, and have no possibility of eternal torment in the lake of fire, regardless of their deeds prior to obeying the Gospel.
There is no explicit indication anywhere in the Bible that the wages of sin is the second death. The first death, which is not eternal, terminates at the Great White Throne judgment, and only those judged worthy of a second death of unending torment go to the lake of fire.
So it is not surprising that the apostle Peter declares Lot to be righteous (2 Pet 2:7-9), although there is no indication that he was justified by faith like Abraham or was included in the cloud of witnesses. His righteousness was according to natural law (Rom 2:14-16).11
36, f7?? “As an aside, it is incredible that someone like Hitler would be judged “more righteous” than an ex-member of Messianic Communities simply because he never heard their “gospel” as proclaimed by one of their “sent ones.”
Evidently our Master understood this principle and spoke about it in several places:
a) In Lk 10:12-16, where He proclaimed that it would be easier for the city of Sodom in the day of judgment, who rejected conscience, than it would be for the cities which had rejected Him, and the gospel He brought. (See also Mt 11:20-24 and 10:11-15.)
b) Rejecting the Good News, as our Master said in Jn 3:18-21, means you don’t even qualify for the judgment of conscience — for your deeds — you don’t need to go there, you are judged already. See also page 50.
c) Jude 7-13 also speaks of those who defile the Community with their sin. Theirs is a special, just punishment.
There is a reason for this. Those who hear the Good News are those who could have been used by our Father to bring about an end to the tyranny of Satan and instead bring in the everlasting righteousness spoken of in the Scriptures of the Holy Prophets (Dan 9:24 and Rom 16:26). They become guilty, like Christianity, of the blood of all those slain on the earth, Rev 18:24, especially if they leave and persecute the true Church. Then they bring all the guilt of all the righteous men slain on the earth on them as our Master spoke of in Mt 23:35.
37-3 ...they combine the critical doctrine of justification by faith with the keeping of the Law. In one of their freepapers they write, “As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:19 ?Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commandments is what counts.’” The problem is what the Communities understand as being necessary for God’s grace “to count” for the believer. This includes divesting one’s self of all material goods and giving them to the “apostles;” living in their community as the only place where God’s “anointing” resides; keeping the seventh-day Sabbath; following selective dietary laws; being totally obedient to the “elders;” ...
It is amazing that the authors can quote from a freepaper that thoroughly explains what we believe regarding faith, and yet not quote our explanations. Instead, they assert that we teach that, in order to be justified, a person must keep the law. On page 36 of that same Freepaper, Faith that Works, it is clearly stated:
We know for certain that it is only by grace that a person can be saved. There are no works that one can do to save himself; it is only through faith, which is a gift from God, as Ephesians 2:8-9 makes absolutely clear. But Ephesians 2:10 makes it equally clear that a person is saved for the purpose of “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
In any case, it does no good for them to hide our conviction that faith produces deeds of obedience (Jms 2:14-17) or to misrepresent us as believing that we must obey certain rules in order to escape eternal damnation. (See also: Lk 14:33; 1 Jn 2:19-20,27; Ex 31:13; Heb 4:9; Mt 24:20; Heb 13:17; 1 Jn 3:22; Jn 8:29).
It is evident that the authors stumble over this, accusing us of being a classic Galatian heresy because they do not see the kingdom. No one will enter the kingdom who does not do the will of the Father (Mt 7:21). Entering the kingdom and ruling and reigning with Messiah is based on doing the works prepared beforehand for us to do. When we talk about obedience, we are talking about the real issue for the believer — whether or not we will be found worthy to rule and reign with Him for 1000 years. The issue of having eternal life is based solely on Messiah’s finished work on the cross for us. These are two entirely different issues, but the authors lump them into one and then accuse us of being under the law because they are blind to the kingdom, proving to not be born of the Spirit (Jn 3:3). They apparently think that everyone who asks Jesus into his heart will rule and reign in the kingdom. But the King of that kingdom has made it clear that we must strive to enter it (Lk 13:24; 20:35; Phil 3:11; Acts 26:7).
38-3 “In the Old Testament, all those outside of Israel who were to be saved had to come into Israel and be circumcised ... Today our Father is calling His people, etc.”
This leaves out an important sentence regarding baptism, and leaves instead an impression that God is restoring mandatory circumcision according to the Law of Moses, which He is not. Please replace the sentence on baptism.
38-f11? These prescribed laws can even regulate ... the number of sheets of toilet paper allowed at each bathroom visit ...
The wording of this footnote is designed to create an impression in the reader’s mind of oppressive, exacting, demeaning behavior control. But that is a fabrication in the authors’ minds — it is not the reality of our life, which they know in their consciences, based on their own experience while in our midst. The very concept that such a thing would be regulated conjures up absurd scenarios of elders rationing out the supply or hurrying into the facilities after each visit to take inventory lest someone “break the rules” and use four sheets. Hakam explained our thinking and practice in this matter to Mr. Pardon, but he has deliberately chosen not to publish what we said.
39-2 “The Edah is the 12 tribes — not eleven, or the witness won’t be complete — there will not be enough power to have a strong enough light. Revelation 7 is proof that there are 12 tribes in the holy city.”
Revelation 7 is not the proof that there are twelve tribes in the Holy City. This is a scribal error. It is Revelation 21 that gives proof of the Holy City (in eternity) being identified in the mind of God with the twelve tribes of Israel. Rev 7 speaks of the last days of this age, in the lifetime of the ten kings of Rev 17:12 and Dan 7:24, the very time at which the God of heaven will raise up a kingdom that will fulfill Dan 2:44.
39-f12? In their desire to “Old Testamentize” the New Covenant, Messianic Communities claims that the term edah, an Old Testament term usually translated as “community,” is the appropriate Hebrew equivalent for the Greek ekklesia, church. Such is not the case... There is something indefinable about Qahal. It conveys a sense of only those who have heard the call and are following it, like ekklesia. Edah, on the other hand, conveys the idea of the permanent community into which one was born.
We believe that our Master’s words, “... I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Mt 16:18), are parallel in thought and subject matter to Jer 30:20, “...their community [edah] shall be established before me, and I will punish all their oppressors.” The word edah has a rich meaning that includes community, swarm (of bees), witness. According to our understanding of the limitations of the Greek language, there is no accurate Greek equivalent for this word. Ecclesia and synagogue refer to meetings or meeting-places. So does qahal. But edah carries with it, even in the opinion of the NEIRR, the sense of a permanent community. We understand, not through linguistic scholarship but through just plain common sense and the witness of the Scriptures, that what our Master came to establish was not a temporary meeting that would soon break up, but a permanent community against which the gates of Hades would not prevail. He gave Himself in order to redeem a purified and zealous people of His own (Titus 2:14), a royal priesthood and holy nation (1 Pet 2:9) that is the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12). This is clearly what our Master had in mind in Mt 5:14 (a city set on a hill cannot be hidden) and Mt 24:14. It is for this reason, and not for the sake of making a superficial appearance of being “Old-Testamentish” that we use the term edah.12
40-2 According to Spriggs, God’s original intent was that the apostle Paul would gather from amongst the Gentiles (Nations) the ten “lost” tribes...
This would be more accurately expressed as follows:
Paul’s desire was to unite the Gentile nations (into which the remnant of the ten tribes of Northern Kingdom, Israel, had been indistinguishably scattered) with the Jews (the remnant of the Southern Kingdom, Judah) in a New Israel of the Spirit. This would not have been a restoration of the physical nation of Israel, but would have contained elements of the remnant of physical Israel who responded to the call of the Spirit. However, due to compromise, leaving their “first love,” and outright sinful disobedience, the early Church disqualified itself and thereby disappointed Messiah.
40-3 “But is it so unreasonable to think that the apostles were raising up a twelve-tribed nation of Israel, a New Covenant Israel, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, united together by the Holy Spirit? No, not at all, because the Scripture from which Paul quoted said first, ?It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob...”
This paragraph would be much clearer if it began with the quotation referred to, i.e.:
For thus the Lord has commanded us, “I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, that you should bring salvation to the end of the earth.” (Acts 13:47 quoting from Isaiah 49:6).
The next two pages of text do not consist of the authors presenting what the Communities believe, but of the authors discrediting that which they claim we believe, but which is a misconception. Our actual beliefs are well presented in pages 8-10 of Show it to Me in the Word (here slightly edited for continuity), which NEIRR is welcome to quote in full:
The scriptural basis for saying that we are Israel is first of all Ephesians 2:12-13:
“Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Paul is saying here that those who were formerly excluded from the commonwealth of Israel are now included in Israel by a covenant in Messiah’s blood, as he said in 1 Corinthians 11:25, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” And it is very clear in Hebrews 8:8 that the new covenant is with Israel: “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” So the old covenant under Law is obsolete, but, the new covenant under grace has been made with Israel, the Israel of God, composed of both Jews and Gentiles.
Paul labors for all of Romans 11 to make this fact very clear, that the Gentiles who are saved are “grafted in” to Israel:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25)
In fact, Paul wrote to the Ephesian church, who were Gentiles by birth:
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” (Eph 4:17-18)
The word Gentiles means “the nations other than Israel.” So if Paul insisted that the Ephesians no longer live like the nations other than Israel, there was only one way left for them to live: like the new covenant Israel that they were.
And this is the holy nation that Peter is writing to in 1 Peter 2:9-10, a new-covenant Israel made up of Jews and Gentiles, who were not the people of God prior to receiving mercy though the blood of God’s Son:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
We take total identity in this holy nation.
Israel has always been a people made up of twelve tribes. It was so in the Old Testament days. It will be the same in eternity, according to Revelation 21:12, where the holy city, the bride of Christ, is described:
“It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”
So why shouldn’t the holy nation of New Covenant Israel be made up of twelve tribes? This wasn’t weird to Paul. He said at his defense before King Agrippa:
“I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day.” (Acts 26:6-7)
Was he saying that the unbelieving Jews were earnestly serving God night and day? Who was he trying to flatter? He said in 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 that the Jews
“... both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.&rdquo
Do you really think that the apostle who wrote half of the books in the New Testament was two-faced? Did he tell the Thessalonians that the Jews were under the wrath of God while he pretended to Agrippa that they were earnestly serving God? No! It was the disciples — New Covenant Israel — who were earnestly serving God night and day, not the Jews.
But if the first century church was made up of twelve tribes it seems that there would be some other mention of it besides one statement in the book of Acts, doesn’t it? Have you noticed the book of James? It is obviously written to the churches, to those who believe in the Son of God. But it is addressed to the twelve tribes. Those who reckon this to be the Jewish converts should remember that the Jews had not had an identity as twelve tribes since the Assyrian captivity (see Jms 1:1).
Also in the book of Revelation, chapters 7 and 14, it mentions 144,000 followers of the Lamb of God who are on the earth in the last days, 12,000 selected and sealed from each of the twelve tribes. Now you may think this is talking about physical Jews, but if you look at the list in Genesis 49 of the physical tribes of Israel, you will find that one of them, the tribe of Dan, is missing from the list in Revelation 7. That may not seem very important, but Revelation 7:4 states very plainly that these 144,000 followers come from every tribe of the sons of Israel. So did the Holy Spirit make a mistake when He wrote the book of Revelation by leaving out the tribe of Dan? Of course not! Well, what then does all this mean? Are the tribes listed in Revelation 7 something other than physical tribes — that is, is their citizenship in Israel based on something other than physical descent?
We believe that they are Israel because of the blood of the Lamb whom they follow, “brought near by the blood of Christ,” like Ephesians 2:13 says.
41-5 James, too, is not referring to the newly “restored” twelve tribes in his opening salutation. His book is probably the earliest writing in the New Testament, approximately 45 AD.
It is amazing how easily the authors confuse their opinions with fact and jump to conclusions that other scholars consider untenable. According to Harold Lindsell, a conservative, Evangelical scholar, there is by no means any consensus on the date of the epistle of James:
“Nothing can be established as to the date of the letter. If the traditional identification of the author is correct (as James, the brother of the Lord), the letter must have been written before AD 62, the date of the martyrdom of James. Some hold it to be the first New Testament book to be written, around AD 45. Those who do not accept the traditional identification date it much later, toward the end of the first century or beginning of the second century AD.”13
The Harper’s Bible Dictionary says:
“...the fact that 2:14-26 appears to be a reaction to an abuse of Paul’s letters poses difficulties for the traditional view, inasmuch as James’s death prior to AD 66 would allow little time for the collection and use of Paul’s letters.”
Also, judging from the deplorable condition of the universal church that James was addressing, it is unthinkable that the date was only twelve years after the death and resurrection of our Master.