WHO CAN WE TRUST TO TEACH US?

Daniel C. Juster, Director

"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1)

Who is Trustworthy?

Who can we trust as our teachers in the Body of the Messiah? This question becomes quite pressing when we consider the conflicting doctrinal positions of those professing to be teachers. As there have been aberrant teachings arising out of Christianity, so also there are aberrant teachings that claim to be Messianic Jewish. Aberrations are rampant, from false prosperity teaching among Christians (the claim that all are called to live in opulent wealth) to the Galatian error among Messianic believers, teaching that all Christians are called to keep the same application of Torah as the Jews in the New Covenant. Some have lost hold of the centrality of Yeshua and speak more of Torah study than Yeshua study. Some have lost confidence in the deity of Yeshua. I am, of course, fully committed to study the Torah and to its right application in the New Covenant, but there is an imbalance among some.

The issue of error (imbalanced and false teaching) as it relates to the Messianic Movement is crucial because the devil will seek to derail the movement and make us become a flaky, side-eddy diverted movement. He is intently working toward this end.

Coach Bill McCartney, the former head of the great movement and organization, Promise Keepers, has now started an organization called Road to Jerusalem. The purpose of Road to Jerusalem is to mobilize the Church to partner with the Messianic Jews for the salvation of Israel.

Coach Bill and his team soon found themselves inundated with people who were part of aberrant movements. Some claimed that the true believers in the Church were the lost tribes of Israel. Others held to the Galatians' error mentioned above. Coach McCartney asked me to share at their conferences on basic Messianic Jewish theology and the aberrations from the movement. I was glad to help; deception is a serious problem.

Avoiding Error: Choosing True Elder Teachers

How do we avoid being deceived by aberrant teachers, that is, teachers in deception?

In the Bible, a teacher is one of the five-fold ministers or ministries; this is generally the call of an ordained elder (Eph. 5:11). Elders are to be able to teach (I Timothy 3:3). The most important matter is that we choose elder-teachers whose character is proven. Titus describes the role in these terms, "He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." (Titus 1:9)

Generally, people in the West evaluate teachers on the basis of being able to make a good presentation. While this is a part of the needed gifting of a teacher, an elder-teacher is so much more. There are two primary characteristics of an elder-teacher: the character qualification and gift qualification. Character is always the most important in the Bible. As I noted in my little book, Dynamics of Spiritual Deception, the two most important sources of deception are the heart matters of pride and bitterness. They often go together.

Unforgiveness and unhealed hurt lead to bitterness. Elder-leaders must learn to find their healing in identification with their crucified Lord as the only antidote. The repentance of those who wronged us is not sufficient to provide healing. In addition, there must be true humility. This is so important, for when the heart is right the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth.

A True Elder-Teacher is Accountable and Submitted to other Elders

One key aspect of humility is proper and balanced submission to authority. Elder-teachers are not self-appointed. The Titus text we have referenced was written to Timothy who, as an apostle, was to appoint elders. The qualifications for eldership are given in both the Timothy and the Titus text. The ability to teach is only one of the qualifications. The character qualifications take up most of the chapter! A true elder-teacher does not only exercise authority, but is submitted to authority. His marriage and family are in basic good order. The meaning of his life is not in his status but in his relationships.

Study and Scholarship have an Important Place

In today's world, the ability to refute error requires the skill-set for critical study and evaluation. Many errors occur when teachers do not take into account the whole teaching of the Scripture. False doctrine is usually built on a selective reading of the Bible. Texts that do not easily fit in are ignored. Those who teach the divine right of opulent living ignore the texts that teach modesty and the danger of riches. Those who teach a poverty mentality avoid the texts that teach prosperity. The totality of the texts in context gives us the right view point.

Some degree of scholarship is helpful because scholarship familiarizes us with cultural context and provides a more accurate understanding of the biblical text. While many teachers claim to know some Hebrew and Greek, many of these same teachers make serious mistakes when they seek to work in the original languages. It takes years to do this well, but there are language tools that can be used with much less training. When I believe that the Holy Spirit has revealed a more accurate meaning of a text (and I do deeply believe in depending on the Spirit for understanding), I then check to see if the new insight is supported by good Bible scholars. The fact that that the most significant aberrations from the Messianic Jewish movement have no significant scholarly support is extremely important. I do not know of one peer reviewed scholar who teaches that the New Covenant intends that Gentiles in general are called to keep the whole Torah. I do not know of any such scholars that believe the Bible teaches that true Christians are Ephraim (the Lost Tribes). On the other hand, there is great scholarly support for a basic Messianic Jewish understanding of the Bible.

In summary, ordained elder-teachers have biblical character qualifications, are accountable to authority, are healed from past wounds, and find their meaning in relationships rather than in ministry. They are able to teach and to refute error, and can incorporate a basic level of scholarship in order to stand as bulwarks against deception and imbalanced teaching.

Non-accountable, deceiving teachers can be found in both large ministries and also in little Bible studies that split off from a congregation. This sometimes happens when an articulate person but not a true elder gathers disciples unto himself and away from a truly accountable community. They appeal to what the Bible calls itching ears. Believers need to make sure that they are receiving teaching from qualified elder-teachers. If those who profess to follow Messiah Yeshua are careful to choose to only submit to qualified elder-teachers who are themselves submitted to authority, great error and deception will be avoided.

By Daniel Juster


Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International. Donate to Tikkun International.

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Comments:
07:02 03Mar08 Apostle Amani Tshimenga -
I have read the point of view expressed above and I can agree with you on the importance of appointing elder teachers in the ministry. It also depends on the understanding of the term "elder teacher". An elder teacher doesn't necessary mean a very aged person. You can read in Job chapter 33, where it is said that no white hair are synonymous of wisdom; in a man the mature of spirit is more important. So to be considered elder teachers the ones notwithstanding their ages have been long in a church under the teaching of someone who is able to assess their progress and find them mature to be appointed as ministers of the gospel. This decison depends on the organization of the church. It is a deep matter being at the roots of deviation.
If the responsible of the ministry himself were not taught according the sound doctrine, all the teachers he will establish will be wrong. Hosea 4:6.
Most danger come from the kind of people you refer to in below text from your message, the people not established by elders but who decid to direct a ministry because they feel people can listen to them: "Non-accountable, deceiving teachers can be found in both large ministries and also in little Bible studies that split off from a congregation. This sometimes happens when an articulate person but not a true elder gathers disciples unto himself and away from a truly accountable community."

09:53 03Mar08 Tulita Owen -
Thank you for a much-needed article. I was not aware of the 'true Christians being Ephraim' teaching. I am aware of the many false shepherds; they are truly frightening in terms of the damage they can do, not only to the individuals under their influence, but also to the term 'Christianity' in general.

12:14 03Mar08 Charlie Edwards -
Excellent and timely article, thank you. I have a question though. Dan stated "I do not know of one peer reviewed scholar who teaches that the New Covenant intends that Gentiles in general are called to keep the whole Torah".
I agree that the whole Torah is not applicable to gentiles, especially when it addresses the work of the Levites and Cohanim, yet this statement leaves us hanging without clarification as to what does or does not apply to gentiles. Without clarification, the statement provides an avenue for mis-application to avoid Torah altogether other than the Big 10, which I don't believe Dan intended.
We know that Yeshua is the Torah that became flesh through John 1:14, and He said "If you love me keep my commandments" in John 14:15. So where do we go to find a general list of commandments that Yeshua intended for gentiles to follow? Preferably one that is not so scholarly that the general population can read it and understand it.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Probably after the teaching of Yeshua and the New Covenant which is an application of the Torah on the universal, we should look at what Judaism itself teaches. Generally, in the first century the idea of universal parts of the Torah and the Jewish specific parts of the Torah are distinguished by Hillel's brand of Judaism. This becomes the concept of the Noachide laws. The seven are really a summary of all kinds of law just as the ten are a summary in the same way. In my book Jewish Roots, in the appendix, I distinguish Torah accordingly. I do not think it is so difficult.

12:39 03Mar08 Michelle Kante -
Do you think that keeping God's calendar, not a "Jewish Calendar" but what the Lord calls his appointed times and feasts should not be imposed upon "non Jewish" Believers that are grafted in by their faith? Is His calendar a "Hebrew calendar" or a timetable that heaven and earth moves in according to the Lord's appointed times? I do not personally see a distinction scripturally between Jews and Gentiles when it comes to recognizing, keeping and honoring the Lord's feasts and heavenly appointed times.

  -- Dr Juster replies: It is much more complex that this indicates. The Lord's seasons are called in relationship with covenants given to Israel so one must assume a universality unless there is specific evidence of this responsibility. It appears from the prophets that in the Millennial age Sabbath will be more universal. However, Acts 15, Col. 2 and Gal. 5 truly trump the idea that the words Lord's feasts (Jewish feasts in John's Gospel) are universal.
Does God work around these Feasts? Yes! However, that is different than saying that Gentiles should keep them as Sabbath days. There is no NT evidence for this position. In Gentile lands this would be an impossible hardship. That we are to recognize the seasons for teaching, for appreciation of Jewish roots, OK. That is different than the responsibility for keeping them as full Sabbath days. That includes Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur, the first and seventh Day of Passover, and the first day of Sukkot and the eight day of Shimini Atzeret. In Isarel with civil support we can do this, but wow, in the nations in this Age?
In addition, we are not talking about celebrations that connect to Biblical seasons. That is not what the Bible says, but it says these are to be strickly kept Sabbath days.
Then the Bible does not tell us the calculation of the day. The Rabbis say that the actual day is fixed by human (Rabbinic decision). So they have added a month every few years to reconcile the lunar calendar with solar time.
The Christian Calendar already chose Passover season and Shavuot for Church celebration by a calculation different than the Rabbis but may be more often correct by the Bible.

12:46 03Mar08 Lori Thomas -
A very commendable article. We too have a deep desire to mobilize the church to partner alongside Messianics for the salvation and love of the Jewish people, and Israel. We have also been exposed to many of the troublesome aberrant doctrines and practices that are not in teaching with the whole counsel of the Word of God and His character. And of course the prosperity "gospel" being exported out of the Western church is abhorrent to us!

12:47 03Mar08 Raziela Greenberg -
Hmm, I don't know ... I think we all need to be very humble here, not to judge brothers and sisters who may be receiving insight into truths which have been in secret for centuries. After all "Elijah will come and restore everything". It is natural that there is some exaggeration and inbalanced teaching when you are finding something new that Abba is revealing to you but if you stay humble, everything will sooner or later fall into their right proportions. I certainly do believe that the religion called Christianity has during centuries gone astray in many ways. Time to find back home!
Those Yeshua-believers again who go as far as converting into Judaism and become more Jewish than Jews themselves are probably often times in search of an identity for one reason or another and are more or less confused until they find a balance. Let's not be too harsh on them, ok! Many of them are after all on the right track on their way of finding a deeper revelation of the roots of their faith, they are just a little bewildered, so let's love them through their search till they see clearly and the Lord Himself establishes them. Personally I have not come into contact with really "dangerous" teachers, only earnest truth-seekers. Here's a confession, if I may: I said to the Lord for a few months ago that I want to know who Yeshua really is even if it's different from what I've been taught or who I think he is and that I want to know the whole truth of everything(Ephesians 4:13-15). He replied immediately and said: "Ok, but that will mean persecution."
I believe the Body needs to let this movement of finding it's Hebrew roots go on and remember that every movement of purification or restoration/finding forgotten or new truths has faced massive opposition or persecution from the established system. If you are not walking in the Spirit yourself it is very easy to throw the baby with the bathwater. Right?

13:31 03Mar08 anonymous -
Unfortunately, the full extent of Yeshua's presence in some "Messianic" Jewish congregations is the name, Yeshua, and His title, Messiah. His life, His teachings, and Messianic scriptural studies are essentially absent. It is a tragedy when the stumbling stone is a rock of offense in our own midst.

14:09 03Mar08 Roger Staley -
I just finished reading the book "The Mystery of the Gospel" by D. Thomas Lancaster and for us non-Jews it is a refreshing look at Gentile inclusion in Israel, the "mystery" of the Gospel.

16:25 03Mar08 Tom Dolph -
An important topic extremely well stated. Your comments regarding Authority & Submission were especially welcome. I'm a "fan" of Watchman Nee's writings. He composed a series of lessons as an in-depth study on the centrality of Authory & Submission, but because it was meant as "classroom" study, no one ever thought to publish it. To shorten this subject, Those lessons have finally been compiled into a BOOK by that title and only now released. I have to consider it one of his greatest works. I only "thought" I understood the concept! He carries the basics into deep and subtle areas of practical application. I highly recommend it to anyone. Thank you again for sharing your insights, I found it very helpful.

16:46 Chris Batsikas -
Mr.Juster makes a good point! He mentioned that "unforgiveness and unhealed hurt lead to bitterness," which in return affects the motive or inspiration of selective doctrine in which they teach. The key element in this divine aspect is the Spirit of Truth, Holy Spirit! The heart of the appointed and the appointee must be aligned with the will of God. I also believe that one who is ordained has to have been through a series of applications leading to TRUTH lead by the HOLY SPIRIT. Intellect alone can not be an elders only qualification.

17:10 03Mar08 Zakar -
Amen Raziela! Those seeking the will of the Father should be allowed, within the boundaries of Torah, to find and walk the path as the Ruach will lead them.

02:24 04Mar08 anonymous -
I have been getting your newletters for some time now, and always enjoy reading them. I have encountered many people who feel that all believers should "keep the Torah", both Gentile and Jew. What does this mean and what does it look like? Another lingering question is what makes someone Jewish? What is the difference between a Jew and a Gentile when we are both in Christ? If you have any suggestions for reading that would be awesome.

  -- Dr Juster replies: There are three books that address this question. One is my book Jewish Roots and especially the appendix on the 613 laws. The second is Marcus Bachmuel, Jewish Law in Gentile Churches (former professor at Cambridge and now at St. Andrews in Scotland) and the last, R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology.
In basic summary, the Hillel brand of Judaism in the first century recognized a distinction between universal dimensions of Torah and Jewish specific calling parts. They understood that the whole Torah was given as one covenant to the Jewish people so that the question of Gentile responsibility required application and was not a matter of just assuming they do the same Torah. This became codified in the 2nd century with the idea that the Gentiles are responsible to the Noachide commands which is a summary but also that the teaching in Moses that would be a natural application of the Noachide commands were for all. The New Covenant Scriptures have the same view and may reflect the influence of Hillel on Paul through his teacher Gamliel. The circumcision party may have been closer to Shammai. So the Gentiles were exempted from circumcision and hence the responsibility for the whole Torah as in Gal. 5 teaching. This included keeping the feasts as full Sabbath days of rest and the seventh day Sabbath. It is reflected in the teaching of Col. 2, Acts 15 and Romans 14. On this basis we see Yeshua and the rest of the New Testament emphasizing the applications of Torah that are universal.
God has created a variety of nations and it is not his purpose to homogenize the nations. As Soulen says, the distinction of Israel and the nations remains after the coming of Yeshua and proves that national or ethnic identities are valued by God. There are still nations. Hence Israel has its place as an elect nation and the Church as an elect remnant from all nations. Israel is called to a complimentary and parallel witness. Romans 9:1 makes it clear that the Covenants and promises on distinct Jewish life remain and that includes the cultural distinctiveness of language and land. See Ezekiel 36:24 ff. Gentile believers are call to respect their Jewish Roots in Israel and can participate as they are led.
Jewish people are national Israel is a cultural, ethnic, naitional, religious peoplehood with physical roots. Physical roots are significant but do not sufficiently describe a people who included some Gentiles who came with them in history and those who converted to Judaism throughout history. However, when we understand our status in Messiah, Gentile conversion to Judaism is no longer fitting.
I hope this helps. The books I mentioned are also helpful. You may want to look at my little book The Irrevocable Calling which includes important information. It is published by Lederer-Messianic Jewish Publications.

04:45 05Mar08 Shannon -
I have personally experienced the pain and confusion that can come from false teachers of the two house/ephraimite movement. It has destroyed the innocence of the christian faith of many of my family members. When I read Dr. Juster's articles I rejoice in the fact that I hear truth that benefits and feeds the Body of Christ instead of dividing it. I believe God is moving in the hearts of his people( Jew and Gentile) to unite.
Unfortunately Satan takes this movement and twists its message to become hokey to some and dangerous to others. It has been a slow and painful process to undo what these false ministries have done to our family but Our Lord is faithful and full of Mercy. Thank you to this ministry for being a light place in dark times.

09:59 05Mar08 Lee Allen -
Thank you for your interesting article. Certainly scholarship is important to reduce error, yet if I had to choose between the scholar and the fisherman who had intimacy with Abba Father then I would chooose the fisherman. The most offensive sin to Jesus was the scholarly Pharisees who had it all right; this is a big problem in America where religious people have the truth in their head but little intimacy with abba - I was there for many many years so I speak of personal experience. Each day now I am growing in intimacy with my Abba Father and this then flows through me in love to my family, my work, my community; it is really good. Last night at an election caucus a stranger viciously attacked me verbally - I could only love him and thank him for his son's service in the military; a few years back without Abba's love I would have responded in the same anger he gave me. May Israel receive Abba's love for them.

18:35 05Mar08 Ran Ricard -
I appreciate your sentiments here and agree with much of what you are saying. It does appear however that I might be the only 'Two House' proponent to comment. I take exception to your use of the word aberrant in relation to the Two House Restoration teaching and in relation to the so called 'Galatian error'. Weren't the Commandments of The Holy One of Israel given to ALL Israel ... all the tribes and those who sojourned and chose The Master of Legions as their G-D?
  -- Dr Juster replies: That is the point. The Torah as a whole is a covenant with Israel and not with the world. Part of that covenant is that the world is to be blessed through Israel, but the Church is not the northern tribes of Israel, otherwise circumcision would be the correct implication. Once you deal with Paul's doctrine on Gentile believers and circumcision, you will find that if this Law is not intended for Gentiles, it implies that many others are not intended for their responsibility. With the coming of the New Covenant and the acceptance of uncircumcised members as equal partners in the Body of Believers, one needs to distinguish what in the Torah is universal in principle and what is Jewish specific.
Why is that aberrant and your position that only Jews are to live in Torah not? Are we (non-Jews) not allowed to live in and accept the joy and blessings that living a Torah observant life brings? Are those promises only to the Jews? My wife and I and many, many of our friends find it a great joy to live within the framework of Torah. Would you deny us that because we are not Jews? Why is that stance not aberrant?
  -- Dr Juster replies: The article did not say that Gentiles were not allowed to do this. Very little is not allowed; circumcision mainly. The issue is the reason for Gentiles embracing the Jewish parts of the Torah. It is not the superior chosen life for all by God's design or the superior from of Church life. Rather the reason for doing so is the leading of the Spirit and one desiring life with and before the Jewish people as a special calling. If a Christian finds it rich and fulfilling to live according to the Christian year, there is no reason to disparage this so say that Jewish life is superior. Since we have gentile members in our congregations, we obviously see that Jewish life is an option for gentile believers.
I don't want to be argumentative and I am an admirer of your work, I truly am, but it strikes me as somewhat selfish to say that the joy of living out our Father's Torah is for the Jew only. Judah wasn't the only group that received The Instructions and said they would obey. Why is it aberrant to want to please our Heavenly Father by being obedient to Him. If we are not to follow His instructions for our lives, then what 'rule' book do we follow?
  -- Dr Juster replies: Keep in mind that we say as did the ancient Rabbis that some parts of Moses reflect God's universal standards for all. In that sense all are called to Torah. And all are called to learn and understand from the Jewish specific commands. However, circumcision and keeping all the Sabbath days and more are not the responsibility of the Gentiles. You may find this enriching for several reasons and I do not know which it might be.

  1. Jewish life is rich.
  2. You may never have know the richness of the Christian traditions which are also ancient and very wonderful.
  3. You may have a special call to the Jewish people.
You have liberty in the Messiah to embrace Jewish practices.

09:22 06Mar08 Saji Chelengra -
Can you provide me with more information on eldership ...

  -- Dr Juster replies: Well, the best thing to do is to begin reading I Timothy 3, Titus 1 and I Peter 5. Many books deal with this. I have a section in my books Relational Leadership and in Due Process, both available from internet orders.

02:12 11Mar08 Donald Rogan -
I sense a feeling of alienation from the apostles and Yeshua. After reading this article today which I received by mail, I felt a sense of concern and pain. I want to be a part of a congregation that is closer to the actual teachings of the apostles and Yeshua. One that expresses its life more in keeping with the life that they lived. The gentile church seems to be sort clueless as to how far away from our roots we really are. They teach what they were taught, and if they weren't taught really well, then they do the same. This modalism heresy is of them. I really don't see how dispensationalism is taught today, pre-trib rapture, tithing to a church pastor/minister, or things like Sunday school, etc. Things like Sunday School promote foreign teachings to the disciples of the Lord. At least I know it's foreign. I could stay home, but is that best? There really are no sound churches in town. And what impact does Tim Hegg's article on the Noachide Laws have on your thoughts? In other words, where has Hegg gone astray?

  -- Dr Juster replies: Congregational life in the Southern Hemisphere is so much closer to original Biblical faith. We are able to use all kinds of modern methods to deceive ourselves when we are not producing Kingdom fruit. Yet the fellowship of believers in the Spirit is not a option and eldership is not an option. So here are some choices:

  1. Find the best congregation you can and give yourself to prayer that they can be all they can. Humbly serve and build trust until you can positively be an influence.
  2. Find something like a house church movement congregation in your area.
  3. Train in some kind of an association and become ordained and sent to start something.
We are never powerless or victims in Yeshua. There is a way for you.

11:05 13Mar08 Jill Allerton -
Thank you for this article. I believe there is so much deception in these (last) days. It's so easy to get caught up in legalism and lose freedom in Christ.

16:30 13Mar08 Bruce Kelso -
I agree about the elder teachers. This seems to be what the Lord is bringing about in our congregation. But where are the prophets and apostles? Is a pastor always an elder? As an elder I belive my non-verbal teaching is probably more important than the verbal. That is, my attitude toward others, the way I live concerning family, work, finances, fellowship times, non-believers etc. - Can I honestly say with Paul,"follow my example."?
Has anyone at your ministry ever read the works of Fredrich Neumann? He was a Jewish believer who, I believe, was way ahead of his time. He died in 1967 after a 40+ year walk with his Messiah. His vision for a church in Israel and all his work lead one to the praise of the glory of God. A few of his gems can be found on certain Christian internet sites. Shalom.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I am sorry that I did not know Mr. Newman. We do believe in all five gift ministries and as we said, the importance of character is key for all. All elders need to be able to convey biblical truth, not necessarily pulpit teaching. Modeling the life of Yeshua is central indeed.

17:03 05Apr08 Martin F. -
Very interesting! It seems to me that the expressed solution to error is better leadership. Is this Yeshua's model for dealing with erroring leadership? It does in fact seem that Yeshua was turning people a way from seeking leadership roles, as there was an inherit conflict with their grow in His Kingdom. Don't your think that focusing on better leadership would in fact help foster the probably of creating atomshere of inhibits true spiritual growth. In all the Messianic congregation I have attended there was a greater focus on developing leaders rather than disciples.
Secondly, any young budding leader may one day have an opportunity to rub elbows with the likes of Coach McCartney or some other famous leader. Does this not also feed in the same type condition that can produce a failure to grow spiritually as Yeshua warned against?
Thirdly, what if current leadership within Messianic Jewish circles are producing a culture of leadership ranking that is continuing the leadership weakness rather than healing it, because the case in point is that young people will be called into roles of ministry before their charactor is fully developed. It would be a deception for them to think that they are "approved" or "good" when they are simply just "called".
Fourthly, Does not Gal. 5 discribe heresies as work of the flesh. Greater spiritual maturity in the Lord will work well in keeping the individuals addicted to the need for heresies.
Conclusion: Doesn't a continual focus on developing better leadership keep the focus on the wrong things; wouldn't producing better disciples of Yeshua do more in serving the Congregation. You cannot honor the instruction of "Not many of you should presume to be teachers" if you are continuely focused on developing leadership.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I do not see an either/or re: developing leadership and developing disciples. To make disciples is our first charge, but Yeshua gave himself to both disciple and then to develop the 12 into leadership. Paul charges Timothy and Titus to raise leaders, and in Timothy, those leaders need to be able to raise other leaders who can teach and disciple. Because leadership and servanthood are one in the New Covenant, the only real issue here is humility. The result of Yeshua's ministry was better leadership! This leadership changed the world.

09:51 07Jul08 Ron Robinette -
A quote from your article above states "I do not know of one peer reviewed scholar who teaches that the New Covenant intends that Gentiles in general are called to keep the whole Torah." How do peer review scholars interpret Acts 15:20-21? These verses seem to say that Gentile believers are to keep the essentials of Moses teachings as well as open themselves up to further instruction from Moses by hearing Moses preached and read in synagogues "every Sabbath." How do these verses fit into the daily life of a Gentile believer?

  -- Dr Juster replies: Of course the key is the word "whole." There is even long Christian tradition that Gentiles are to keep the universal commands of the Torah as reflected in the teaching of Yeshua. Acts 15 on Moses being read every week in the synagogues is interpreted by some scholars to mean that there is ethical instruction on the universal in the synagogues and on how to have fellowship with Jews (what is the minimum necessary) not as how to live in the same way as Jews. Of course, Gentiles are not precluded from the celebrations of the Feasts, but it is as they are led by the Spirit. One needs also to look at Acts 21 where the New King James rightly translates that regarding keeping the whole Torah, James says they have written to the Gentiles to observe no such thing.

23:41 09Feb10 David Niles -
I have been a believer for only ten years now, and was apart of the Messianic/Hebrew Roots movement for several years. The things I heard and saw under the guise of "Torah observance" was truly appalling. Yeshua said that false prophets and false doctrines would be rampant in the Last Days before he would return. While I learned a lot by "seeing Jesus" in the Feasts and within the Torah, I did also see what can only be desribed as a"infatuation" with Rabbinic/Orthodox Judaism and Kabbalah. I have since "returned" to evangelicial Christianity, and found it to be one the best things I ever did. Yeshua alone is our Rightousness, and he must be our everything. Sadly, false teaching is found elsewhere in the Body of Messiah, not just Messianic Judaism. I pray we, as Jesus said, "could be one, as he and the Father are one" (John 17).

14:23 15Aug10 Michael Sanders -
Good words! I have to give a hearty amen to your reference to elders needing to be, "healed from past wounds," and "find their meaning in relationships rather than in ministry."
Most of us look at the character and educational qualifications for an Elder and think, "yeah, duh!" but we forget that we all have wounds and if those wounds are not healed they can turn toxic. In true "fellowship" - relationships are critical. A Shepherd will always smell like his sheep because he's always in and amongst them. As a Teaching elder who is relatively new to the Hebraic Roots movement I exercise great caution and do quite a bit of praying as I prepare to teach and guide.
We do need a clear picture of what "balance' looks like. There is a regretable division growing between Jew and Gentile as they follow Yeshua. What does the destruction of the dividing wall of antagonism look like. Why do we make physical heritage a measure of fellowship and ministry?


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Eitan Shishkoff: The End Is Near! So What?
Marty Shoub: Casting Our Net
Eddie Santoro: Sharing The Light In Jerusalem