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Completing the Reformation: Restoring the things lost by replacement theology

 

14 Nov 2014

21 Cheshvan 5775

“Let the Lion Roar” made a great start in alerting us to the damage caused by replacement theology (RT) so we can make the necessary changes and return to the original condition of the Church. There are some additional things not mentioned in the movie we can all do that will help mend the damaged caused by RT. These things may not seem profound in themselves, but they are all things we can do on an individual level that can help complete the Reformation.

Restore the Sabbath. Many Christians are surprised when I say this because they believe they are already observing the Sabbath on Sunday. Even some major businesses like Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby close on Sunday so their employees can attend services and be with their families, so why would I ask my readers to restore the Sabbath? I say this because Sunday is not the Sabbath. The actual day of rest that God gave us falls on Saturday, not Sunday. In the course of church history, men influenced by RT changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. One of the reasons the early Church gave for this change was the fact that the Lord was raised on Sunday, and Sunday was also the day God began the work of creation, not Saturday. The attitude of the early Church to the Sabbath can be seen as follows:

The sabbath symbolizes Moses, and Christians hope not in Moses but in Christ; the Christian does not think himself pious for keeping one day idle, but for keeping a continual sabbath. The sabbath was given for the hardness of the Jews’ hearts—(Dictionary of Christian Biography)

The fathers did not regard the Christian Sunday as a continuation of, but as a substitute for, the Jewish Sabbath, and based it not so much on the fourth commandment, and the primitive rest of God in creation, to which the commandment expressly refers, as upon the resurrection of Christ and the apostolic tradition. There was a disposition to disparage the Jewish law in the zeal to prove the independent originality of Christian institutions. The same polemic interest against Judaism ruled in the paschal controversies, and made Christian Easter a moveable feast. Nevertheless, Sunday was always regarded in the ancient church as a divine institution, at least in the secondary sense, as distinct from divine ordinances in the primary sense, which were directly and positively commanded by Christ, as baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Regular public worship absolutely requires a stated day of worship.—(The History of the Christian Church)

It is a fact of history that men changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, but there is no Divine mandate for this change. God never changed the day the Sabbath falls on. If the Lord of the Sabbath never made the change, who are we to change God’s calendar on our own authority? As we can see from the second quote, this change resists the Jewish law since it sought to “prove the independent originality of Christian institutions.” It’s time to end this travesty and restore the Sabbath to Saturday, but this won’t be easy.

Restoring the Sabbath to Saturday may make many people uncomfortable. Saturday has a special place in our hearts, but not as a day of rest and worship. For some, Saturday has become a day of recovering from the excesses of Friday night. Others occupy Saturday with Little League practice, soccer games, shopping, and generally doing whatever we want. The original intention of God to make this as a day of rest and devotion to God has clearly been effaced. In order to restore the Sabbath (and also help complete the Reformation) we must be willing to set these things aside and make Saturday the Sabbath again. This has many advantages for those who will pursue it and no disadvantages, unless you count missing out on your former Saturday activities as a disadvantage. When we observe the original Sabbath, we are really obeying the command of God to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy (Exodus 20: 8-11). And the testimony of Scripture is clear about this; obedience brings blessing. Obedience also brings us closer to Him, can there be any higher reward than that? As we approach Yeshua’s return, God is realigning the misshapen and deformed beliefs the church has embraced in RT to its original defaults.

This course of action may not be accepted by all my readers. Many people may be loath to make this change because they want their Saturday for themselves. Some may hide under RT’s argument that this change would be counted as legalism, which is something we shouldn’t do since we are under grace. Some may just say “Saturday or Sunday, what’s the difference?” To all these objections I ask this: What’s really in your heart? Is your heart devoted to God and doing the things that please Him, or following the flawed doctrines of men who arbitrarily changed the day of rest to Sunday? Without Divine sanction, how can we ever say that changing the Sabbath day is acceptable? When we honor the Sabbath and keep it holy, it is a witness to the world of our covenant with God, marks us as a peculiar people, brings honor to God, and it allows the world to see the Father’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. Where is the disadvantage in any of this?

Restore the name Yeshua to the Son of God. Some people may argue that this is just splitting hairs. After all, what does it matter if we call the Son of God Jesus or Yeshua as long as we know who we are talking about? Some may argue that the name Jesus was wrongfully appropriated by unenlightened people in the past, and that it should be our job to reclaim the name and restore it to its proper place of veneration. Whatever your conviction, I won’t be dogmatic about this, but I would like to explain why I believe this has merit. The names of Yeshua and Jesus have different origins. According to Derek Frank, the trend to replace Israel:

had even gone so far as replacing meaningful Hebrew names with Gentile ones. We can only speculate about the extent of the demonic strategy that lay behind the stripping of these names. Especially because there is power in honoring the name of Yeshua, Jesus real name, which means “God is salvation.” (Escaping the Great Deception, p. 18)

The first reason we ought to restore Yeshua as the name of the Son of God because we need to end the work of RT and complete the Reformation. “Yeshua” is our Savior with His Jewish identity intact, but He became “Jesus,” who was a Savior who did not have a clear Jewish identity, which was something RT wanted. If RT had influenced Martin Luther to believe the Church now possessed the covenants and promises, he may have had this non-Jewish Messiah in mind when he believed that the Jews would “come over to us” when they heard the good news of the Gospel. On the other hand, “Yeshua” reminds us that the Son of God was Jewish, and so when we are saved, it becomes clear that we are in communion with Him, and that we are grafted into the tree of the people of Israel. In other words, it helps remind us that we go over to the Jews when we become believers, they do not come over to us.

The second reason we should consider this is because “Jesus” has become associated with many bad things in the Jewish community. RT has so altered the teachings and perception of Jesus that the Jews have now come to associate persecution and violent aggression with the name of Jesus and the church. It has hardened many Jewish hearts against the Gospel and caused them to turn away from the truth. Referring to Yeshua as the Son of God allows us to break with the past and move away from the bad things that have been associated with the RT’s version of Jesus. In this sense, Yeshua and Jesus couldn’t be more different. RT’s version of Jesus created by the church demanded forced conversions and total repudiation of Jewish identity. On the other hand, Yeshua humbly knocks at the door of our heart and allows us to decide whether we will open the door. When I use the name Yeshua, I mean the authentic Messiah of Scripture who knocks at the door; the same Yeshua who makes Jews and Gentiles into one flock. I also prefer Yeshua because it is more faithful to the original. I encourage everyone who finds value in this to begin using Yeshua as the way to refer to our Savior. Let us work together to end RT, complete the Reformation, and introduce Yeshua to the Jewish community and the world.

The sins of RT are a matter of historical record; therefore part of completing the Reformation and healing our relations with the Jewish community must take this into consideration. Even a cursory reading of history shows how the visible church mistreated, demonized, and persecuted the Jews in the name of Jesus through the centuries. The sins and errors of our ancestors are clearly part of this problem; sins committed in the past leave a legacy that can still have detrimental effects on us today and keep us from reaching our full potential. Confessing the sins of the fathers must not be confused with our personal confession when we first believed. Our initial confession forgave the sins we committed, but the entanglements of the sins of our ancestors remains in force until they are confessed and their power is broken. Don’t take this lightly; the sins of the past can be powerful influences in life as this portion of Scripture shows:

In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

2 Kings 15:8-9 (ESV)

If you read about the kings of Israel, you cannot help but notice that the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat are constantly mentioned as their downfall. The sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat still had an adverse effect long after he died. Not only that, it appears that unresolved sins of the past can also increase in intensity:

And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.

1 Kings 14:22 (ESV)

The only way to stop the effects of sins committed in the past is to confess the sins of our ancestors. Confessing the sins of the past is the first step to departing from them and breaking the power they have to affect us today and our posterity. The Scriptures tells us:

But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

Lev 26:40-42 (ESV)

When the Babylonian captives returned to the land of Israel, Nehemiah and the people confessed and broke with the sins of the fathers (Nehemiah 9: 1-38). They did not want to repeat history; they wanted to be free from the entanglements of sins in the past so they could be a holy and righteous people for the Lord. Derek Frank includes a testimony on page 106 about this also in his book “Escaping the Great Deception.” We need to confess these sins so our walk will not be affected by past sins. When we are free from the power of past sins, we can walk before the Lord and be perfect. This good witness provokes the Jews to jealousy so that they will want what we have (unlike the fruit of RT, which dives the Jews away). This helps complete the Reformation because it reunites Jews and Gentiles again in one flock, which was the original condition of the church Yeshua established (John 10: 16).

Having said all this, everything I have mentioned is within the power of every reader to perform. You must decide whether the true Sabbath will be honored in your home, whether you use the name Yeshua to refer to our Savior, and whether you will confess the sins of your ancestors and break their power. If you would like to craft a prayer to confess the sins of your ancestors, you can use the prayer of Nehemiah 9: 1-38 as a template which you can customize for your own circumstances. Pray about these things, and if Yeshua leads you, pursue these things fully.

May the Lord Yeshua bless you, my beloved.

Messianic Jewish Symbol

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Let the Lion Roar: Ending the damage of Replacement Theology

 

I have recently viewed the new movie “Let the Lion Roar,” and I thought it might be helpful to share some observations about it. The cast includes some big names in the Christian community such as Chuck Pierce, Dani Johnson, Jaci Velasquez, Sid Roth, and Mark Biltz, and this cast was one of the things that attracted me to this production in the first place. I would also like to make some additional inferences that were not directly mentioned in the movie.

The story centers on a vision that Derek Frank received about the church years ago. In this vision, he saw a building with Greek columns and heard the words “finish the reformation.” According to Derek Frank, it took some twenty years before the interpretation of these words became manifest. In the course of time God brought him to the very church building he saw in his vision, which turned out to be the church John Calvin preached from in Geneva during the Reformation.

The Protestant Reformation identified many egregious errors that were commonplace in the visible church of Martin Luther’s day. The Bible was in Latin, which restricted its audience to those who could understand it. This made it unavailable to the general public, and since the people couldn’t read the Bible for themselves, they couldn’t identify or challenge church practices that varied from the Scriptures. The church also used the doctrine of indulgences as a way to raise money. History records that that John Tetzel would tell the people that “as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” It made a mockery of grace and infuriated Martin Luther. He nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door to invite discussion about these abuses, but instead it mushroomed into a full blown revolt against the excesses of the Catholic Church. One of the most powerful things Martin Luther did to bring reform was to translate the Bible into the everyday language of the people. Now the common people could read the word of God for themselves, and it liberated them from the tyranny of the Catholic Church which sought to keep it for itself. It sounds like we are off to a great start, but as Derek Frank points out, a deception remained unchallenged that has brought all kinds of harm to the Jewish people and weakened the influence of the Gospel.

The problems Derek Frank identifies are anti-Semitism and replacement theology as its origin. Not many people are aware of the anti-Semitic writings of leaders of Martin Luther and John Calvin, but they are out there. Martin Luther’s writings against the Jews were especially tragic because Luther initially welcomed the Jews and wrote favorably about them. Later in life Luther became disillusioned with the Jews because “they didn’t come over to us” as he hoped they would, and so he denounced the Jews in public and in his writings. Hitler would later cite these very writings to justify the actions he took against the Jews. The man who did so much to challenge the abuses and excesses of the Catholic Church ended up advocating replacement theology and reviling God’s chosen people.

The key is “they didn’t come over to us;” Derek Frank points this out as the problem. Should the Jews come over to us at all? Or should we go over to them? Enter the doctrine of replacement theology (or supersessionism); this doctrine maintains that the church has replaced the nation of Israel (because the Jews rejected the Messiah) and that the covenants and promises were also transferred to the church. It also holds the primacy of the New Testament. This doctrine has helped make what should be good fruit on the tree bad.

Derek Frank makes a solid case for the damage caused by replacement theology and for refuting its tenets.  I agree that we must rid ourselves of any vestiges of this errant theology, and this production is a good start on that cure, but there is more damage that I would like to discuss that was not mentioned in this production. This is especially needful given the hour we are in.

We are about to witness the second of four blood moons (called a tetrad). The next blood moon will be visible during the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) on 8 October 2014. The next two blood moons will be visible during Passover and Feast of Tabernacles in 2015. These events signify that some very serious events are about to take place, but most people do not have any clue about the significance of these blood moons. I believe that the blame for this must be laid at the doorstep of replacement theology. When replacement theology establishes the primacy of the New Testament over the Old Testament, it has essentially put the cart in front of the horse. Let me explain.

The Old Testament is like a compass; it functions like a compass because it points us to the Savior of all mankind, the Lord Yeshua (Jesus). It is like a guide book that contains all the information we need to identify the Savior. Consider God’s instructions to Noah when he was constructing the Ark: it was to have one door (Gen 6: 16). There was only one entrance to the safety of the Ark. If we go to the New Testament, we read that the Lord describes Himself as a door and the only way to the Father (John 10: 7, 14: 6). One may argue, if we have found the Savior, what do we need the compass to find Him with anymore? That’s an interesting and flawed perspective. The fact is that the Old Testament is still a valuable guide to us and helps us understand the New Testament and things to come. The New Testament is woven into the fabric of the Old Testament, and vice versa. Yeshua and the Apostles constantly referred to Scriptures in the Old Testament, and if they needed to reference them, are we so much better that we can get along without the Old Testament? Among the many things the Old Testament tells us are the three times a year God has appointed to meet with us (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles). If we read the New Testament with replacement theology glasses on, we regard these feasts of the Lord with nostalgia for something that no longer applies. That is more damage caused by errant replacement theology, and it needs to be rooted out of our thinking.

The feasts of the Lord are still important, and it is no accident that the blood moons will be visible during feasts when the Jews were to assemble in Jerusalem. When the Jews gathered in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, they witnessed the sacrifice of the Lamb of God during Passover. Later they witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. At a future gathering of the Jews in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles, Yeshua will return and make His dwelling among us. This is why the Lord God brought the Jews back to their homeland, so that the Jews could gather again in Jerusalem for this future feast of Tabernacles to be fulfilled. Replacement theology dismisses any further relevance of the feasts, but that is not the case. It is unfortunate that many Christians who have unwittingly accepted the tenets of replacement theology (in whole or in part) don’t know anything about the significance of the feasts to the end times. They have neglected to make any serious study of the feasts or the Old Testament because they accept the primacy of the New Testament and regard its predecessor as over and done with.

There is not much time left, and if you are a Christian who has neglected the Old Testament, there is still time to catch up. I recommend the book “Blood Moons: Decoding the Immanent Heavenly Signs” by Mark Biltz (also available as a DVD) as a quick way to understand the feasts and the significance of the four blood moons. Don’t let the day of the Lord come upon you as a thief in the night; I encourage you to be like a wise virgin who properly prepares for  the coming of the Lord (Matt 25: 1-13).

Blood Moons by Mark Biltz Lion pride on a mission

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