September 25, 2017

Divine Healing

I spent a year praying for country singer Joey Martin Feek, and she died. Then Nabeel Qureshi -- the Muslim author and speaker who converted to Christianity -- and he died.

They both succumbed to cancer. Despite the prayers of millions of people -- they died. Was it because of a lack of faith? You may want to refer to our Twog on healing as it provides additional background study.

The context of this post is Matthew 8:14-17 where Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law; and many who were demon-possessed were brought that they might be touched. The apostle wrote that all were healed to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Esaias (Isaiah).

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

In chapter 53, Esaias foresees the suffering servant who will take away Israel's sorrow; and Matthew interprets the prophecy as being fulfilled in the context of physical healing.

Peter, on the other hand, sees fulfillment in the healing of our sin condition:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24).

Faith healers quote Peter (by his stripes you are healed) as validation of their healing ministries. However, the apostle correctly interprets the prophet's submission that sin is a disease from which we have been healed by the scourging of God's servant. (In his commentary on Peter, Dr. McGee concurs with the apostle's interpretation.)

Is there a conflict, then, between Matthew and Peter -- as when James seems to disagree with Paul regarding salvation by faith, or works? Of course, James and Paul are not in disagreement -- nor are Matthew and Peter. The apostles are citing two different verses -- Matthew (v.4), and Peter (v.5):

But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.

Why does Matthew interpret the prophet as speaking of physical healing when Peter rightly interprets the very next verse in context of our spiritual condition?

The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint, was widely used in Apostolic times. Paul quotes from it extensively, and there are about 300 direct quotations or references in the New Testament.

Though it has been disputed for 2000 years, early church fathers --- Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Hegissipus, and Jerome -- gave witness that the original copy of Matthew was written in Aramaic, or Hebrew. This accords with the general consensus that Matthew was addressed to the Jewish-Christian community.

Esaias wrote that the suffering servant bore our griefs, and took away our sorrows. This is a Greek translation of the original Hebrew. Remember, Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience so he alludes to the original meaning -- infirmities and diseases.

The Jewish Publication Society translates the prophet: Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried ...

Sorrows (וּמַכְאֹבֵ֖ינוּ) is correctly understood as mental anguish associated with a guilty conscience stemming from our sinful disobedience towards G-d.

Griefs (חֳלָיֵ֙נוּ֙), however, does not convey the original meaning -- affliction, sickness, disease, and illness.

Matthew and Peter are both correct in their interpretation of the prophet. In fact, Word of Faith might have a more tenable defense if they quoted Matthew rather than Peter; but I suspect they don't understand what either man is saying.

In Judaism, physical and spiritual well-being are interconnected. Our sin condition is reflected in the health of our body and mind.

Recall the story of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof that he might be healed (Mark 2:1-12). Jesus said to the man, Your sins are forgiven. After he had been charged with blasphemy, Jesus simply replied, Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’?

Yeshua literally fulfilled, as noted by Matthew and Peter, the prophet's revelation. The question that must be asked is this:

Does Jesus heal today?

Two thousand years ago, Christ healed the multitudes. He healed completely and immediately. Does Benny Hinn perform such miracles? A mother took her disabled son to several Benny Hinn events in the hope that her child might be healed. Each time she was denied access to the stage. Only pre-screened candidates suffering non-debilitating ailments were permitted on-stage.

The fact is, Benny Hinn could not heal her child. The question remains ... does G-d heal today? This is an issue that tests our faith, and causes some to walk away. A person who prays for healing surely demonstrates the faith to be healed (Mark 5:34). It is taught in both Old and New Covenants that if we seek the LORD our prayers will be answered (Matthew 7:7-11).

I don't know why G-d heals some, but not all. If Jesus fulfilled the prophecy 2000 years ago does the Lord even receive prayers for healing today? We can't know the answer except to live by faith. Clearly, things are different after the Cross, or else Joey and Nabeel would have been healed.

He said, "If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you." [Exodus 15:26]

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate

September 22, 2017

Ten Days of Repentance

In these High Holy Days, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish people observe the creation of the earth (year 5778), birthday of Adam and Eve, and a solemn time of repentance when every soul confesses their sins and is judged by YHWH.

The usual greeting at this time is Shanah tovah um’tukah (May you have a good and sweet new year), or in Yddish, Gut yontif (Wishing you a good holiday).

It is traditional to eat honey in hope of a sweet New Year, and pomegranates which represent the Law of Moses.

Though the fruit varies in size a pomegranate averages 613 seeds representing the 613 statutes of Mosaic law.

Christians believe that the Law has been nailed to the Cross. How, then, do they witness to one of Jewish faith?

Tom Cantor, a Messianic Rabbi, has spent millions of his own dollars in an organized outreach to Jewish neighborhoods in Chicago, New York, Atlanta and Miami.

This summer, Cantor's ministry sent mission teams to northern Baltimore -- home of one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States. Dating from the 1830's, it has grown into a tightly knit community that is very resistant to Christian outreach.

Members of Cantor's team were met with great hostility. They received a lot of insults, threats and even physical assault.

However, there was some fertile ground as several teams were actually welcomed into people's homes to share the Gospel.

What is it that a Jewish person is most curious with regards to the Christian faith? Refer to Matthew 16:13 when Yeshua asked his disciples, Who do people say the Son of Man is? In northern Baltimore, as an example, you might hear one of two answers:

He is God of the Gentiles.

-- or --

He was a prophet of the sect of the Nazarenes.

"Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" (John 1:46)

Israel is waiting for the seed of Abraham ... the Son of David ... the fulfillment of Jehovah's promise. If a Christian wants to witness to a Jewish person they would be well advised to begin with the Book of Hebrews.

Incidentally, as I have noted before, Martin Luther disputed Hebrews because it was too Jewish. The greatest sin of the Reformation was that it attempted to strip Jesus of his Jewishness.

It is not unusual for an Orthodox Jew to see Jesus as a Gentile. No, in order to open the eyes of Israel, Yeshua must be presented as heir to the throne of David.

The coming of the Son of David is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Christians argue about the Book of Daniel, 70 weeks, Dispensationalism -- do you know what Dispensationalism teaches? -- the rapture of the church and the Great Tribulation where the Jewish people (save for a remnant) will be exterminated.

Christian, you preach that G-d is love, but in Jewish ears it sounds like holocaust. It is a most offensive message.

Jesus must be presented as the Jewish messiah -- David's descendant. The whole of Jewish prophecy rests on the fulfillment of that one essential fact.

Jehovah spoke to David through Nathan the prophet:

Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).

That is the Davidic Covenant that the LORD made with King David. What is not understood in Israel, or even agreed upon within the Church, is that Jesus Christ is currently sitting on David's throne.

The sons of Abraham expected -- and some Protestants anticipate -- an earthly kingdom; but what did Jesus say?

My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

Where did David see the throne of Mashiac? Peter (quoting Psalm 110:1) on the Day of Pentecost:

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand' ..." (Acts 2:34).

David saw Messiah reigning in Heaven from whence he will return on the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54) to raise up all who believe -- both Jew and Gentile. In this way, wrote Paul, all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

The last day is a concept that throws a monkey wrench into Dispensational theology, but this is what Jesus taught. In fact, Yeshua HaMashiach taught the Gospel from the Tanakh (Old Covenant).

If you have a heart for the sons of Abraham you might begin with our instructional template (click on EMET tab) which highlights Old Testament scripture as it relates to the Jewish messiah -- the Son of David.

May this New Year be sweet, healthy and happy; and may the scales fall from Jacob's eyes.

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate

September 12, 2017

Are You Deceived?

The Word is unchanging. The Word is eternal. The Word is God's revelation of Himself to mankind. The Word is Jesus Christ -- and he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.(Hebrews 13:8).

Every generation laments the changing times, and reminisces about the good old days. It's not the times that are changing, but the people. The further we get from the Cross, the greater becomes man's sin. It has always been so. Israel would seek the LORD in times of great distress, but when times were good the people would forget their deliverance.

During the great storms of our times even the atheist prays to God.

But we live in a post-Christian world. One hundred years ago Christianity was at least respected. Today, the Bible is vilified as hate-speech ... bigoted and intolerant.

The Word that spoke the universe into existence is everlasting. What was sin in the beginning is sin today. This generation's buzzwords -- inclusive and tolerance -- have been co-opted. There is none more inclusive and tolerant than the LORD our God.

In this age of grace, the biblical conception of inclusive and tolerant is that the LORD has provided -- through His son Jesus Christ -- a way of salvation for all those who repent and confess his name. Those who confess not their sins are seduced by one of the most detestable sins of all -- pride. And not even the colors of the rainbow can hide a haughty spirit.

The serpent's idea of tolerance is to encourage sin. Satan did not lie to Eve, but he deceived her (Genesis 3:4). Speaking the truth while twisting its meaning is how the Devil ensnares all of us.

Biblical love is not tolerant of sin. It is not inclusive of those who refuse to confess and repent. The greater love is this -- that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Love is corrective not permissive. A parent who disciplines their child exercises a biblical type of love.

For the LORD disciplines those he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights (Proverbs 3:12 ).

The world has been deceived, but so has the church. This is not a new phenomenon. False teachers introduced heresy even before the death of the last apostle.

Jesus Christ conferred apostolic authority upon the twelve. I believe that Paul was the 12th apostle to succeed Judas because he was chosen by Christ while Matthias was chosen by lot. One of the distinctions of the twelve apostles is that they were personally selected by Jesus. There are many self-appointed apostles in the charismatic movement, but were they anointed by Christ?

To hold the office of an apostle meant that the holder had the authority to bind and loose the dictates of heaven. For example, when Paul wrote that homosexuals will not enter into the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) he was simply expressing the LORD's will.

Paul is disparaged by Red Letter Christians who abide only the words of Jesus Christ. The Sermon on the Mount is their Bible. What Paul or Peter had to say is irrelevant.

One young woman, in defense of her support of the LGBTQ community, simply stated, "Jesus told us to love." When showed Paul's condemnation of homosexuals she exclaimed, "I don't believe that!"

This is the crux of the matter -- ignorance of the Bible, or an unbelieving heart. Satan is more Bible-smart than some Christians, and he uses that knowledge to deceive the unsuspecting. In this current age, the Evil One still whispers in our ears:

"The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin."

 "But men wrote the Bible."

"Inspired men."

"Didn’t these men say that you should love your neighbor?"

"Yes, but …"

"Isn’t your cousin gay?"

"He knows how I feel."

"But you love him, anyway?"

"It is still a sin."

"Your Bible teaches that love covers a multitude of sins. Shouldn’t you be more forgiving … like Jesus?"

"I suppose …"

"Isn’t it a sin to judge people? Aren’t you being hateful and bigoted? After all, you are not perfect."

"Only Jesus was perfect …"

"Exactly, you should be more tolerant and accepting of other people’s faults. I’m sure we don’t need to discuss those, shall we say, little habits of yours?"

Bows head in shame.

As in the Garden, Satan is very clever. In our scripted dialogue he did not misquote the Bible, but he did take it out of context. 

These are challenging times for Christians, and I encourage you to support the Nashville Statement on biblical sexuality. The preamble reads:
Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being.  
It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences.  
This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age?
The 2009 Manhattan Declaration was a similar call for the Church to unite on these bedrock issues. The body of Christ needs fearless men and women who will stand up for Christian principles, and not fall victim to the whispering deceit that befell Adam and Eve.

It is the loving thing to do.

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate

Email New Posts