“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees… How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”—Matthew 16:6, 11-12
Division within the Christian community causes confusion. Division? What division?
Some are saying we must worship like the Jews.
“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’”—Acts 15:1
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”—2 Peter 2:1-3
Some are saying we don’t have to worship like the Jews.
“…The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: ‘Greetings. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”—Acts 15:23-29
How then are we to worship, and who then should we believe?
First, we need to get back to basics. What does that mean? It means we need to define which part or parts of the Bible we need to read and embrace. Paul said it well when speaking through his letter to Timothy:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”—2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture. For us, this means Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21. All of it is valid… or none of it is valid! We need to accept, by faith, that the Holy Spirit prepared this Word for us to read, study, search and learn. The Bible that we read today (in many versions), has been agreed upon by many Bible scholars over the centuries. The term is called canonized scripture.
It is very easy to pick and choose that with which we agree upon, and that which we find inconvenient. We can also decide, on our own, or within a group, how to interpret any given set of scriptures and make them fit into our belief system.
Since this can happen to any of us at any time by well-meaning instructors, we must thoughtfully question ALL that we are taught. Just as the Bereans did when Paul and Silas presented the message of salvation through Messiah Yeshua, they eagerly searched the scripture to see if the things they were saying were indeed true!
“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”—Acts 17:11
There are many well-meaning people who say the Christian has replaced the Jew as the “New Israel,” and may even go so far as to suggest that those who believe otherwise are engaging in heresy.
What does the scripture say? Read Romans 9-11 fully and understand that this is part of the Apostle Paul’s dissertation on the separation for a time of Jew and Gentile; then, the bringing of both back together as the One New Man as stated in Ephesians 2:
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”—Ephesians 2:14-16 (emphasis added)
- We must worship God in spirit because He is Spirit.
Jesus Himself made this statement to the Samaritan woman at the well:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”—John 4:23-24
- Who then should we believe?
The most reliable source for interpreting the Word is the source of the Word. We have been given the Holy Spirit as our Counselor and Guide:
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”—John 14:25-26
Men are fallible, language and terminology changes over time, and traditions develop that can mislead us. We must understand that we change, but God doesn’t:
“‘For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts…”—Malachi 3:6-7
- What then, is required of us?
We are not required, as Gentiles, to follow all of the various feasts as outlined in Leviticus 23 (see Acts 15 above). We don’t have to worship on Friday and Saturday—the Sabbath. But we are required to love God and love our fellow man no matter how unlovable they are:
“Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’”—Mark 12:29-31
- Choose to Be Blessed.
There are blessings connected with keeping the Feasts of the Lord—these are not just for the Jew only—they are the Lord’s appointed times (see Leviticus 23). It will be of great benefit to us to learn and know their meanings and to participate in the blessings by observing them.
Blessings are connected with the keeping of the commandments of God, including the keeping of a Sabbath day—one day of the week, Holy to the Lord, and the Lord’s Feasts.
These are good things that we should all take notice of. We should always desire and seek for the best that the Lord has to offer us!
- Choose to Be Diligent.
Do not let the leaven (teachings, traditions, attitudes, anti-Semitism, prejudices, etc.) taint your view or understanding of the Word. Search it out for yourself. Selected scriptures are used to press a point given by a speaker, writer, or preacher, but go back and search them out for yourself. As a diligent follower of Christ, this is your responsibility. It is okay to question.
Pray over any Word you are given. Just because a person seems older and more knowledgeable, doesn’t mean they are always right. Godly men and women are people who pray regularly, read the Word of God diligently, and seek other Godly men and women to help reinforce their understanding of what God has for us. Then they go forth and spread the Word of God (see Matthew 28:19-20).
So, witness to those who will listen, and live out Christ to those who will watch. Align yourself to Christ’s will with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Reconciliation of the various Christian ‘traditions’ begins with us (me and you).