The Heart of Jewish Discipleship (Part 3)

In the previous two articles of this series, we began exploring discipleship in 1st century Israel; how this important topic may have been understood by Jesus’ Jewish disciples. In Part 1 we learned that the heart and core of Jewish Discipleship is the art of imitation! In Luke 6:40, our Rabbi Jesus said, “Every disciple, after he has been fully trained, will be like his Teacher.” When the disciple was fully trained, he became a carbon copy of his teacher, a mirror image, who would then pass on what he had learned from his rabbi to others, who then passed on what they learned, etc. Discipleship was much more than just learning some elementary principles of the faith. The goal of a 1st century, Jewish disciple was to become fully trained so that he could become just like his teacher. In Part 2 we learned four imperatives of a disciple: Memorize Their Teacher’s Words Learn Their Teacher’s Traditions and Interpretations Imitate Their Teacher’s Actions Raise Up More Disciples No Lukewarm Disciples In Revelation 3:20-22 Jesus says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and […]

The Heart of Jewish Discipleship (Part 2)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) When Jesus said go and make disciples, it was a Jew speaking to other Jews within the context and culture of 1st century Judaism. Those words had a very specific meaning and were clearly understood by His 1st century Jewish listeners. Since then, those words have been translated into Greek, and then into Latin, before being translated more than 1000 years later into English. To more fully understand what Jesus said, we first need to ask how those 1st century Jews who first heard those words would have understood them. Only then are we in a position to ask what might those words mean as we apply them to our modern efforts of discipleship. In Part 1 (https://equip412.com/2019/11/06/the-heart-of-jewish-discipleship-part-1/),  I talked to you about the kind of absolute dedication and loyalty that disciples held for their Master. In our churches, Christian schools and colleges, or in our culture, there is nothing to compare that to. Imagine if, rather than just hanging out in school and having […]

The Heart of Jewish Discipleship (Part 1)*

The heart and core of Jewish Discipleship is the art of imitation!! In Luke 6:40, our Rabbi Jesus said, “Every disciple, after he has been fully trained, will be like his Teacher.” When the disciple was fully trained, he became a carbon copy of his teacher, a mirror image, an exact replica. He then passed on the teaching to disciples of his own, who in turn, when fully trained, became teachers and raised up disciples of their own. Discipleship was much more than just learning some elementary principles in the faith, like we typically do today. The goal of a 1st century, Jewish disciple was to become fully trained so that he could become just like his teacher. A true disciple was expected to be able to repeat his Master’s teachings word for word! He was expected to live in such a way that was a mirror image of his teacher. That was at the heart of Jewish discipleship. How it Worked In the days of Jesus, all young boys (and in some cases girls) were taught by their local rabbi the Torah and the Prophets beginning at age 5; meaning that at age 5, they began to memorize the […]

SALVATION AND IMITATING OUR RABBI*

In order to gain a fuller understanding of salvation, I want to, first, examine how it was viewed by the ancient Greek mind compared to the ancient Hebrew mind. Second, I want to consider how our salvation is to be lived out accordingly. GREEK MIND To the ancient Greek mind, the concept of salvation is centered entirely on the state of the soul. Salvation is right thinking by its very definition. Simply to ‘believe’ in a certain set of creeds is to know the right things. The appearance of creeds in the early church is important because they began to form what became known as the “confession of faith,” which became necessary to be received into the Christian Church. The confession of faith was what decided who was a Christian and who was not. A person who agreed with or “confessed” the correct set of beliefs gained the standing of being “saved.” It was about intellectually agreeing with a certain set of doctrines. How many times have we heard teaching in the church that emphasizes mainly right thinking? Non-believers are pleaded with to “believe in Jesus” by raising their hand, walking an aisle, praying a prayer, or signing a card. […]

JESUS’ JEWISH NEIGHBORHOOD–Part 2

GREEK THOUGHT VS. HEBREW THOUGHT In Part 1 we began our study of Jesus’ Jewish Neighborhood by looking at the importance of context when studying the scriptures. We learned that we must never forget that the Bible is essentially a Jewish document. Therefore, studying the Jewish context of the Bible opens up previously overlooked windows of meaning. To expand on that, this time I’m going to examine some differences between how the ancient Greeks thought versus how the ancient Hebrews thought. Greek Thought Beginning around the time of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. to the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 B.C., “Greek thinking” gradually became the dominant influence in the region. Hellenism, as it came to be known, mixed the social and cultural traditions of Greek life with traditions of the various nations which Alexander had conquered. The Greeks were known for their philosophy. To the religious Greeks at the time of Jesus, right belief, or right ideas, was what was most important. They were more concerned with right thought, right mind, right purpose, and right doctrine. To them, knowledge was salvation. One merely had to say the right things and believe the right things. Saying and believing […]

JESUS’ JEWISH NEIGHBORHOOD–Part 1

By Bill Venard Author Ken Bailey is a prominent biblical scholar, known for his insights into the gospels based on his long familiarity with Middle Eastern culture and languages. He was once asked the question, “why is it important to study the Jewish roots of Christianity?” He answered: “suppose I spent my life going to a beach. I’ve seen waves splashing against rocks, ships on the water, fishermen casting lines. One day at this beach someone says, ‘Ken, I have two snorkels. Let’s go.’ Suddenly I see coral, seaweed, and fish. These undersea views in no way invalidate the beauty of what’s above. In my work, I’m looking for the coral and the fish.” As Christians are we willing to dive deep to discover the beauty, the depth and the wonder of what lies below the surface of the Word of God? We must never forget that the Bible is essentially a Jewish document. Therefore, studying the Jewish context of the Bible opens up previously overlooked windows of meaning. Also, I am convinced, will also deepen our faith and strengthen our walk with Jesus. It’s All About Context When teaching believers how to study the Bible I always start by […]

Be The Difference — Lesson 11: “Warning: Deal Quickly With Discouragement”

Elijah was the man of the hour. He courageously and fearlessly confronted King Ahab and the 850 false prophets on Mt. Carmel. He trusted God, prayed and fire fell from heaven. Then he prayed a short time later and skies that had been cloudless, suddenly filled with storm clouds that released torrents of rain for the first time in over three years. Immediately following that, God empowered Elijah to outrun King Ahab and his chariot down the mountain and twenty miles back to Jezreel. He had just experienced a spiritual high like most of us will never experience. At the close of chapter 18 it says, “the hand of the Lord was on Elijah.” That strikes me as being one of the biggest understatements in the entire Bible. That’s a little like someone who just won the Power Ball jackpot saying, “I picked up a little extra spending money over the weekend.” I think we can safely say that Elijah was on a roll. When Elijah came down off Mt. Carmel he was confronted with the harsh reality that one battle won does not mean the war is over. Maybe he started celebrating a little too early, or perhaps his […]

Be The Difference — Lesson 8: Pursue Personal Holiness (excerpt)

God’s Central Attribute The holiness of God is the central attribute of all of His attributes. All of His attributes reflect His holiness. His wisdom is a holy wisdom. His power is a holy power. His faithfulness is a holy faithfulness. His goodness, justice, mercy, and grace are all wrapped in perfect holiness. The apostle John wrote that “God is love.” Yet even God’s love comes from His holiness. Nothing that He does or says in His word has the least bit of sin, wickedness or evil attached to it; not the tiniest spot or shadow of sin. His holiness is so far above sin, that it is not even possible for it to touch Him. Everything is perfect holiness with God. In Isaiah 6:1-7, the prophet experienced a vision that none of us will experience until we stand before the Lord in heaven. He was overwhelmed with heavenly images the likes of which we will never know in this life. No matter how hard I try to paint word pictures in your minds, nothing can come close to what Isaiah witnessed firsthand. His vision was so clear to him that throughout the remainder of his book, Isaiah refers to […]

Be The Difference — Lesson 7: Hate Your Sin (excerpt)

Maybe you have never given much, or any, thought to what it means to hate your sin or why. Let me give you five reasons why you must hate your sin. First, the simple answer is because God hates sin. We must learn to hate what God hates and love what God loves. God hates sin because it is the very opposite of His nature. The psalmist describes God’s hatred of sin this way: “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You.” The Bible describes sin as putrefying sores, defiling filth, darkness and a scarlet stain. Also, some sins that are often winked at separate us from God just as much as the so-called “biggies.” “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Sin always separates. God hates sin because He hates being separated from us. Second, sin tempts us to focus on worldly pleasure instead of God’s blessings. The psalmist says that those who have their sins forgiven can say, “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” […]

Be The Difference — Lesson 6: Practice Repentance Daily (excerpt)

About one hundred fifty years ago, a man named Charlie Peace was arrested and convicted of murder. He was sentenced to die in Armley Jail in Leeds, England. On the morning of his scheduled execution, he slowly walked behind the prison chaplain on his way to the gallows, as the chaplain rather routinely and sleepily read some Bible verses. Charlie touched the chaplain and asked him what he was reading. “The Consolation of Religion,” was the reply. Charlie was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man so unmoved under the very shadow of the scaffold as to lead a fellow-human there and yet, dry-eyed, read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could the chaplain possibly believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes its victims, and yet slide over the phrase without any emotion whatsoever? Is a man human at all who believes in a literal hell, but can say without tears, “You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings?” All this was too much for Charlie to take. So, he preached to the chaplain. “Sir,” he said, […]