Do I Have to Join a Congregation?
by Asher Intrater, , Revive Israel

Some people ask: "If I read the Bible and pray, why do I have to join a local church?" Well, to receive forgiveness of sins (salvation), one does not have to join a congregation. However, there are many reasons why one should. Here are a few:

1. Yeshua's Intention - right after Simon Kefa''s (Peter) statement of faith, Yeshua responded by saying, "On this rock I will build my kehila (ecclesia, church)" (Matthew 16:18). How can one say he is committed to follow Yeshua, but not cooperate with Yeshua's intention to build His church?

2. Spiritual Warfare - in the same passage Yeshua says that "the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Within a godly community of faith, there should be spiritual authority to protect us from attacks of the devil. If one is not part of a godly faith community, he is needlessly exposed to demonic attacks.

3. Response to the Gospel - In Peter's first message, he encouraged the people to repent, be immersed in water, and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Those who were saved immediately joined the community of faith - "were added to them" (Acts 2:41 and 47). Their response to the gospel was a deep commitment to the Lord and His community on earth (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35).

4. United Prayer - Peter was arrested and put in prison, but was supernaturally set free by direct angelic intervention (Acts 12:3). One of the reasons for that miracle was "at the time Peter was in jail, the church offered strong prayer for him to God" (Acts 12:5). United rayer is stronger than individual prayer. United prayer happens within the community of faith (Matthew 18:19).

5. Moral Accountability - As followers of Yeshua, we are to live according to principles of faithfulness and integrity. When we sin, our brothers and sisters are to help us out by counsel and confrontation. This is supposed to happen within the congregation (Matthew 18:15-19). If there is no commitment to a community of faith, there is no framework of relationships to hold one another to moral accountability.

6. Elders in Every City - Throughout the travels and ministry of Paul (Saul), we see a recurrent pattern: prayer, evangelistic preaching, gathering the new believers into a congregation, appointing elders. "In every church they appointed elders ..." (Acts 14:23). In every place and every city, the believers joined a community with leaders having spiritual authority. There is no other pattern in Scripture.

7. Pauline Epistles - It is ironic that some justify not joining a congregation by quoting verses from the epistles of Paul. Yet most of Paul's epistles - Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians - were addressed to local churches. We are to read the epistles as members of a local congregation.

8. Gifts of the Spirit - Others refer to their being led personally and independently by the Holy Spirit. Certainly the Holy Spirit leads each of us individually. However the primary explanation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is found in I Corinthians 12-14. There we find that ALL of the gifts are ALWAYS for strengthening a local congregation of faith (I Corinthians 12:4, 14, 26, 14:4, 5, 12, 26).

9. Yeshua's Epistles - Not only did Paul write letters to local congregations, so did Yeshua! In Revelation 2-3, we find Yeshua's epistles to 7 different churches. It was obviously His expectation that ALL of His followers would be members of local congregations.

10. Universal Ecclesia - A local congregation is a cell or body part of the greater Body of Messiah. In that way, we participate in Yeshua's headship (Ephesians 1:22), displaying the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10), receiving the glory of God (Ephesians 3:21), revealing the mystery of the "bride" (Ephesians 5:25), and maintaining the pillar of truth in the world (I Timothy 3:15).

A local church congregation may meet in its own building, or in someone's home, or secretly in the middle of a forest! But the basic principles don't change. May we all find a good "family home" as part of a local community of faith in Yeshua.

This article was previously published on 04Feb16 here on the Revive Israel website and on 09Feb16 here on Kehila News Israel

Do I Have to Join a Congregation?
by Asher Intrater, , Revive Israel

Yeshua (Jesus) is described as the lion of the tribe of Judah. The image of the lion is one of strength and victory. It is the image of Messiah as a conquering king.

"Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has overcome to open the scroll and its seven seals." (Revelation 5:5)

The image of the lion also connects Yeshua to His lineage from Judah and David. David is the arch-type of the victorious conquering king. Yeshua was a descendant of David, who in turn was a descendant of Judah. Yeshua carries the authority of king on earth through God's covenants with Judah and David.

The description of Messiah as a lion is a reference to the blessing of Judah in Genesis.

"Judah is a lion's cub...he lies down like a lion ... The scepter will not depart from Judah and the lawmaker from between his feet until Shiloh comes, and to him is the obedience of the peoples." (Genesis 49:9-10)

The figure of the Messiah coming from Judah as a conquering king is prophesied in the first book of the Bible and the last. It is a theme that runs from the beginning to end. The theme of the Jewish "Lion King" gives consistency to the entire biblical narrative.

The word for "obedience" in verse 10 is or "Kohath" from the same root as the name of Kohath, the son of Levy and the grandfather of Moses. So even the family name of the priesthood reminds us of King Messiah ruling the peoples of the earth.

The "obedience of the peoples" is a prophetic hint at the future spread of the gospel to bring "all the nations to the obedience of the faith" (Romans 1:5; 15:18). The fact that Judah's blessing all the way back in Genesis contains a reference to the "peoples" obeying God's anointed, is an astonishing witness to the predestined plan of God.

At one and the same time, Yeshua is eternally described as a roaring lion and also as a lamb led to the slaughter (Revelation 5:6). This dual picture of the Messiah - both conqueror and suffering servant - is repeated throughout the Scriptures. Yeshua is both the son of God and the seed of David (Romans 1:3-4). He is the king of Israel and the head of the Church (John 12:13; Ephesians 1:23).

This article was previously published on 28Jan16 here on the Revive Israel website and on 31Jan16 here on Kehila News Israel

Do I Have to Join a Congregation?
by Asher Intrater, , Revive Israel

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon recently blamed Israel's "settlement policy" as the root cause of the current wave of terrorist violence. The fact that the entire Islamic world is openly committed, not to a two state solution but to the ultimate destruction of Israel, is totally ignored.

Ban opened the recent Climate Conference in Paris with a moment of silence for terrorist victims and a solemn recital of cities where radical Islamists have murdered people, but with the glaring omission of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Murdering Jews is now being officially described as "resistance to occupation" and not terror.

Such thoughts were never expressed when France responded to its recent terror attack. From the Twin Towers in NY to attacks in Africa and Europe, world leaders always endorse a nation's right to protect itself against Islamic terror. But Israel, the nation that has suffered longer and worse than any other nation in the world, is openly condemned as it responds to terror attacks against its citizens.

Pray with us that the powers encouraging people to commit these attacks, will be broken and defeated.

This article was previously published on 01Feb16 here as part of a Zion's Glory newsletter and on 09Feb16 here on Kehila News Israel

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