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Discipleship: Embracing The Most Foundational Commandments

Dr Daniel Juster, Director

To understand the most foundational commandments is the first and most important rung of the ladder of discipleship. Those Messianic Jews - and Gentiles who have joined them - who do not have an ambivalent attitude to commandments are poised on that rung - we know that we are a commanded people!

We understand that Yeshua defined the process of discipleship - making disciples - as teaching others to observe all that He commanded (Matthew 28:19,20). Because Yeshua exhorted us to teach and apply the commandments given through Moses (Matthew 5:17,18) and also ordained the authority of the apostolic writers of the New Covenant Scriptures, all of the commandments of the Bible need to be taken seriously and applied. We understand that commandments have to be applied according to their intended purpose in context. This is a tall order: where can we even begin?

The Big Two

There are two commandments that are so important, so foundational, that if we can attain to them, all of the rest will eventually be attained. Yeshua told us from the Torah that the greatest of all commandments is first to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and, second, to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:30,31) It is amazing to think of how encompassing this is. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan and the injured Jew are neighbors! Husbands and wives are neighbors in the same house and even in the same bed. If we can learn this way of love, everything else will come together. Yeshua taught that if we love Him, we will keep his commandments (John 14:21). But that is the rub: How can we achieve this kind of love?

Enabling Commands

God has given us a few commandments that are the keys to establishing these two most important commandments in our lives. The first of these enabling commands is obeying the call to be immersed in water, with all that it implies.

What is implied? Through water immersion, the believer is making a full commitment to be a disciple. Many miss this important step. We are to teach the person to fully identify in immersion with the death and resurrection of Yeshua and to be filled with the Spirit. This will help us to understand the significance of the act. Immersion is a deep commitment to die to self and live for the Messiah by his power in us. The call to discipleship expressed in immersion means submitting to those who will mentor and hold the new believer accountable as they learn to live out the commandments of Yeshua. All this should be settled in immersion! Of course, this process only works safely if the mentors are themselves disciples in submission either to other mentors or to a peer group who hold them accountable, not only for their own lives but for their discipling of others.

The second of these is obeying Yeshua's command to abide in the Vine; for He is the vine. New believers soon discover that they cannot love God as commanded. They also cannot love their neighbors as commanded. The answer to this dilemma comes through abiding in the Vine. John 14-16 provides the most important material in the Bible on how to grow into this love. This is the way to build faith. We spend time in the Word, meditating upon Yeshua, praying to Him, listening to Him and receiving anew His Holy Spirit power. Without this, the practice of the commandments will be an external effort, full of frustration and failure. This means that believers need to be discipled into a deep and fruitful devotional life. As they read through the Word, they are to be discipled into asking questions of the text so they can accurately understand and apply what is written. As with immersion, this process will only work if those discipling others themselves have a rich devotional life that they can model and teach by example.

We love Him because He first loved us. Therefore, we are mandated to spend time simply opening ourselves to Him, seeking to perceive and embrace the love God has for us which is manifest in Yeshua. Paul explained in Romans 6 and Galatians 2:20, that we are to constantly renew ourselves to that place of death to self and resurrection life that lives for others. Our faith is centered on Yeshua Himself.

The Rest Will Follow

A person who truly pursues God in this way, with the help and encouragement of his disciple mentor(s), and in openness and accountability in a small group of believers that meet for mutual edification and prayer, will be on the way to full discipleship.

This love for God and others also leads to the walk of forgiveness. As one walks in forgiveness, one will learn to forgive others; not only in those situations where a person truly repents and we forgive them, but even on those occasions where a person does not repent and we - like Yeshua - must say, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34) This does not mean that justice is destroyed, but rather that our heart's desire is for the person to repent that they might be blessed of God. Our heart is not for vengeance but for restoration. Most problems in community life are due to selfishness and the lack of walking in forgiveness.

As people grow in these most basic lessons, they will learn, for example, how to control their tongue thereby reducing gossip among the believers. For love's sake, they will be open to mutual correction in their walk in community.

Our love for God and hatred of sin will lead to moral purity in our lives and in the lives of our children. Children will be brought up in the fear of the Lord, our teens will be raised to live in moral purity and so much more. The key is in the first critical steps of laying the foundation, "the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Messiah Yeshua Himself being the corner stone." (Ephesians 2:20) My prayer is that we will become communities that practice this life of discipleship.

By Daniel Juster

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

Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.
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12:17 01Sep08 Sean Steckbeck -
You really hit the head of the nail with this article. It is a very apostolic article and the heart of the message of the gospel of the kingdom - to go and make disciples.

16:34 01Sep08 Linda Schauer -
The essence of this article, Dan, was excellent. It was like a refreshing wind blowing through the legalism of ridgidity that has enveloped the faith. What has happened to truth and grace? You mentioned accountability. If people are not able to feel free and safe in confessing their sin(s) to one another how can the Body of Messiah remain "Holy"? I have experienced, both in my own life and others, that the "Goodness of the Law and G-d's Word" has been used as a shield to hide behind. An example of this would be keeping Kosher. If someone is starving and cannot find a Kosher meal would it be a sin to eat a non-kosher meal. A legalistic rigid response would say don't eat it! A grace filled loving response (I know the Rabbis would agree) would be eat it for the provision has come from G-d. Or you could be a ridgid Charismatic and say "Oh G-d will provide me the Kosher meal" and die! Lots to consider here. By the way Dan, where is the voice of women in Tikkun? "Let us make humankind - not just man - in our image"

09:25 02Sep08 Paul Kugelman -
Well put. Begin with what Messiah tells us are the two most equally important commandments, join the community, walk with a heart for restoration understanding that we all fall short, and study. Nicely said.

09:28 02Sep08 Paul Kugelman -
In response to Linda Schauer's comment - according to Jewish tradition, it is always kosher to remain alive, even if you have to eat pork to do so. I would ask that people seek to understand before casting a negative light on matters, especially when it comes to our traditions.

08:13 03Sep08 EMA -
Glory to YAH! Toda Abba for re-acquainting us on Discipleship!
AMEN, sister! Linda Schauer: "how can the Body of Messiah remain "Holy"?" without cleansing ourselves together in prayer to keep our Shalom in Love :o)

11:19 10Sep08 Kerry J Heering -
This just solidifies what is happening in our church locally. A need to be held accountable in love and to reach out to the entire body of Christ within our community with Christ's love. We believe in being one as a body, not as the name of a church. With that kind of love (God's pure love), we are praying for a bonding among all brothers and sisters here. May God continue His good work. Thank you for sharing that this is also your heart and God's.

13:16 20Sep08 Donald Lee -
Your article on discipleship truly addresses the problem in the church. Do you have any manual for those pastors that truly want their sheep discipled?

Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Eitan Shishkoff: Spirit of Adoption
Moshe Morrison: Tell Them I Just Stepped Out
David Shishkoff: New Israeli Messianic Scouting Program