January 4, 2015

A Forgotten Fundamental Belief

According to the book of Hebrews, the resurrection of the dead was considered to be one of the “elementary principles of Christ”, and was a foundational doctrine among First Century believers.

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:1-3)

The writer of Hebrews seems to indicate that these things are so basic and fundamental that he did not see the need in “laying again the foundation”. Unfortunately, it seems that the doctrine of “the resurrection of the dead” is no longer a fundamental teaching among believers. Today, popular teachings about eternal life center around heaven, rather than the hope we have in the resurrection.

Nearly all Christians are aware of the resurrection of Yeshua, but they have little or no knowledge about their own resurrection. In fact, a great number of preachers and teachers have no understanding whatsoever about the resurrection of the dead, which is why they are incapable of teaching their congregations this elementary principle of Christ.

The more I study the resurrection, the more I am convinced of its importance to the Gospel message. In fact, I firmly believe that without the resurrection we have no Gospel.

“For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17)

Anyone who preaches the Gospel without speaking of the resurrection of the dead is preaching an empty gospel, and according to Paul, their “faith is futile”.

The resurrection should be one of the very first things we learn when we begin following Yeshua, that is why the Bible says it is an “elementary principle”. By definition, elementary principles pertain to first things, these are the simple things that you learn first before moving on to more difficult subjects. It is the starting point and foundation for building your understanding of other subjects.

It was also considered a fundamental doctrine among the Jewish people, who had understood it for centuries prior. A fact that can easily be extrapolated from the dialogue between Yeshua and Martha concerning the death of Lazarus, when she makes a matter-of-fact statement about the “resurrection at the last day”.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.'” (John 11:23)

Martha apparently had no idea that Yeshua was about to raise her brother from the dead, and it seems that she simply thought He was trying to comfort her, by reminding her of the resurrection at the end of the age. This was obviously not new information to her, as she seemed very familiar with the concept. However, she was in for a surprise when Yeshua called Lazarus up from the grave, and she witnessed firsthand the power He has over death itself.

We know from other passages in the Bible that there were mixed views about the resurrection. The Pharisees, who represented the orthodox view, held to the belief in the resurrection of the dead, but the Sadducees were in opposition to it.

“For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection–and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.” (Acts 23:8)

The controversy between Pharisees and Sadducees over the resurrection of the dead is a topic that repeats several times throughout the Gospels and Acts, and it is one of the things we know for sure that Yeshua and His disciples agreed with the Pharisees about.

I think it is time for us to make “the resurrection of the dead” a foundational teaching once again, so we can UNLEARN the lies we have inherited.


December 29, 2014

The Transfiguration

Often in connection with their belief that Elijah is in heaven, people reference the transfiguration when Elijah and Moses appeared to be speaking with Yeshua. They claim that this event proves that Elijah and Moses are actually in heaven, and that they were able to communicate with Yeshua. Let’s examine the verses in question, and see what the Bible actually says.

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August 20, 2014

Gnostics and modern Christians

The term “gnosticism” is derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge”, because secret knowledge was so important to the Gnostics. Gnosticism forced its way into prominence during the first few centuries, and the Apostles and early Christian leaders opposed this heresy. In fact, much of the early Christian writings were focused on addressing the threat of Gnosticism.

It is important for us to understand the Gnostics and their relationship to early Christianity because it will help us to better understand certain New Testament verses that are written in direct opposition to Gnosticism. It is also important to understand this heresy, so that we can identify it’s influence on the modern Church, and so that we can avoid repeating their mistakes.

The Gnostics were a heretical movement based in early Judeo-Christian beliefs, and did not usually refer to themselves as “Gnostics”, but simply thought of themselves as Christians, followers of Jesus, or enlightened ones. Historians and scholars have sought to find its origins but with no consensus. Some suggest Hellenism and Greek thought, while others say it is rooted in Babylonian thought. Jewish gnosticism predates Christianity by hundreds of years, and Judaism was in close contact with Babylonian-Persian and Hellenistic ideas for hundreds of years, which led into Gnostic Jewish beliefs.

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July 23, 2014

Thief in paradise

As a result of my teachings on the Resurrection and eternal life, I am often asked if the thief on the cross is in heaven. The gospel of Luke tells us about a brief encounter that Yeshua had with two criminals while He was hanging on the tree. One criminal spoke mocking words against our Messiah, while the other criminal showed reverence and fear of the LORD. The second criminal also made an interesting request when he said, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." But I am afraid that many people have misunderstood Yeshua's response to his request.

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June 30, 2014

Is polygamy a sin

I have heard people argue that polygamy is not specifically listed as a sin in the Bible, and it should be allowed today because certain people in the Bible had multiple wives. What does the Bible really say about this subject?

Our Messiah (quoting the Torah) said, “the two shall become one”, indicating that marriage is between two people (not three or more). He was making reference to what happened in the garden when God created one woman for Adam to be his wife. He pulled her from his side, and gave her back to him as a bride. This was God’s plan for marriage from the beginning. The unity between a man and woman in monogamy represents the love and faithfulness that God has for his people.

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