In his letter to the Colossians, Rabbi Paul addressed Christians and Messianic Jews who were doing well, yet being challenged by non-Biblical ideas, false ideologies and flawed religious thinking that threatened the spiritual integrity of that community. To help them overcome these challenges, the divinely inspired teacher from Tarsus pointed them to Messiah and His sufficiency. The very same thing is happening in our day. Human beings continue to devise all kinds of false philosophies and religious movements, claiming to reveal some previously hidden “truth”. On the surface, some of these teachings may seem to make perfect sense, offering what appears to be a viable way to live, but they are not completely wise and true. They are a mixture of truth and error. And, just as when you mix that which is holy and that which is unholy and you get unholiness – so when you mix truth and error, you get error. They may seem to work but eventually fail and lead to death. A pure faith that is focused on the Messiah is vitally important for every human being. Messiah was more than sufficient for all the challenges that the saints faced in the first century, and is completely sufficient for what His people face in the twenty-first century. The following ideas, philosophical systems and religions need to be seen in the light emanating from the Messiah, and then rejected.
Secular Humanism/Naturalism/Atheism: There is no God. There are no miracles. Reality is what we can see, taste, touch, feel and smell. No force outside the universe created the universe. Natural forces within the universe are sufficient to explain reality. Humanity, not God, is what is important. We answer the challenge of Secular Humanism/Naturalism/Atheism by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. Yeshua is real. The Son of God is the visible image of the invisible God. He is Immanuel – God with us. He is a great King with a real kingdom, but His kingdom is not of this world. But, His world and our world are related. Messiah created this world and everything in it. For a brief period of time Messiah left His kingdom, entered this world, did amazing miracles attesting to a supernatural power at work, died on the cross, was raised from the dead, and then returned again to His heavenly kingdom. Yeshua’s kingdom may not be of this world, but this one Jewish man has tremendously impacted the history of the world. Twenty centuries have come and gone, and yet today Yeshua is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat and all the kings that have ever reigned have not affected the lives of men as powerfully as this “One Solitary uot;.
One man observed that Yeshua “has become the most renowned, most studied and most influential figure in the history of mankind. The love He has inspired, the comfort He has given, the good He has engendered, the hope and joy He has kindled are unequaled in human history. No Jewish person should be indifferent to the fact that this one Jewish man has had such a tremendous part in the religious history of mankind”. He is so important that much of the world measures time because of Him. Messiah will come again to take over the kingdoms of this world and will establish His Kingdom on Earth for 1,000 years. Man is important, but man can only be properly understood in relationship to God. Mankind doesn’t function properly apart from a connection to God, and Yeshua, who is fully man and fully God, is the only One who is able to connect us to God so that human life makes sense. The coming of the Messiah as a man is the greatest honor for mankind. Believe in Yeshua and look to Him as the role model for humanity, and you will have a genuinely successful and meaningful life.
Evolution: God and creation are not the explanation for life. The universe came into existence by itself, and its complexity and wondrous beauty and elegance of design is the result of an explosion billions of years ago. According to this view, out of that explosion came matter and energy and all the elegant laws of the universe. Out of that explosion, matter and energy somehow organized themselves and steadily advanced from simple molecules into incredibly complex life that we are not even close to fully understanding. We answer the challenge of Evolution by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. He is the Word of God, and the Son of God, who actually did the work of creation. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him (John 1:2-3). He created everything in the physical, visible realm – the universe with its billions of starry galaxies and everything in them – along with everything in the spiritual, invisible realm, including the millions of angelic beings. Just as most of Yeshua’s miracles occurred quickly, fully, completely and elegantly, so also did His work of creation. Yeshua believed in and taught the account of Creation found in Genesis, and so should we.
International Secular Socialism/Communism: God is irrelevant. Jesus is irrelevant. Humanity is what is important, and the Secular Socialist/Communist State determines what is best for humanity. Only that which serves the interest of the State is good. Man’s primary problem is economic – the unequal distribution of wealth. The way to achieve a utopia is to redistribute wealth – by force if necessary. All governments must come together into a united international secular socialist brotherhood. We answer the challenge of International Secular Socialism/Communism by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. Our main problem isn’t economic, but spiritual – sin and death. We are alienated from the Creator, who is the source of life, goodness and blessing. Messiah’s purpose in coming to Earth was to die to atone for sin, to overcome death and to bring everlasting life. Yeshua did not come to lead an economic revolution. While He did teach us to be generous, to share, and to give to the poor, those things should be done willingly – not by the force of the State. Yeshua, whose name means “salvation”, is the source of our salvation. Believe in Him, love your fellow human beings and be generous with your resources to those in need.
Hedonism: The best thing to do with your life is to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Seek pleasure and avoid pain. Man’s purpose is physical and emotional gratification. Have as much fun as you possibly can. We answer the challenge of Hedonism by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. God’s purposes for man are far loftier than the mere pursuit of pleasure. Yeshua didn’t leave the splendor of Heaven and come to Earth to have fun. He purposely chose to be part of a conquered people, a people ruled by cruel Roman oppressors. He chose to be born to a poor family, among an impoverished people. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He willingly suffered rejection and scorn, torture and death for a higher goal – serving God, loving humanity and accomplishing our salvation. He gave us the example to follow.
Nihilism: Values are meaningless. A true nihilist believes in nothing, has no loyalties and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. Symptoms of nihilism include fascination with serial killers, interest in horror movies, involvement with extremely violent video games, random violence. We answer the challenge of Nihilism by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. We can agree with Nihilism – apart from God life really is meaningless! Without Him nothing makes sense, and nothing lasts. The wicked are like chaff – insubstantial and light-weight – and are easily blown away. But Messiah makes life meaningful. He came to give us abundant and unending life. God has a wonderful plan for the universe, and His good plan is centered on the Messiah. This present universe will be destroyed by fire (ironically, something a nihilist might enjoy seeing), but then Messiah will create a new and better universe, and usher in everlasting righteousness. He will rule over redeemed humanity forever, making our lives eternally rich, supremely meaningful and joyous.
Eastern Religion/New Age: There is no personal God. The universe itself is god. Consequently, you are part of god. Your problem is that you just don’t know it! By various beliefs and rituals, including some dangerous occult practices, you can realize that you are part of god and achieve “enlightenment” and merge with the impersonal universe. We answer the challenge of Eastern Religion/New Age by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. The Son of God perfectly reflects who God is – a Person possessing the attributes of mind, emotion and will. God is not impersonal, but personal. Messiah died and came back to life as the same Person. He did not lose His personality and blend into some greater impersonal cosmic soul. If you believe in Messiah, you will be raised from the dead and be given a new body equipped to live forever. If you are joined to the Messiah, when you are resurrected, you will be the same person, but enhanced with greater wisdom, strength and understanding, and a nature that can’t sin.
Moral Relativism/Multiculturalism: There are no absolutes, nothing that is always right or always wrong. There is no “You shall not” or “You shall”. The values of one culture are never superior to the values of another culture. We answer the challenge of Moral Relativism/Multiculturalism by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. He is the Truth with a capital “T”. He is pure truth. He is infinite wisdom. He is absolute goodness. He is perfectly right. The rules He established come from the standard of who He is. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He has the right to make rules and insist that we live according to them. He has the right to tell us what to do, how to live, and what to believe. Yeshua lived according to moral and spiritual absolutes, and made statements of moral and spiritual absoluteness. He said that He was the way, the truth and the life, and that no one comes to God except through Him. He said that unless we believe in Him, we will die in our sins. He commanded us to live a pure and holy life, according to the teachings of the Word of God. While no culture is perfect, but is a mixture of good and bad, the values of some cultures are better than others, and can be determined by how closely they reflect the truth of the Messiah.
Objectivism: If you strive to be your best, and look out for yourself first, humanity will function in the best way. It is not regarded as virtuous to sacrifice yourself for others. One’s moral purpose is found in the pursuit of his/her own happiness. We answer the challenge of Objectivism by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. Messiah lowered Himself and thus became even greater! He came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. True love sacrifices itself for others. The greatest kind of love is expressed in laying down your life for others. Messiah sacrificed his life for us – not while we were His friends, but His enemies. He gives us the example of how to live. Yes, strive to be your best, but your best includes looking out for the well-being of others.
Islam: Mohammed is the ultimate prophet, and the Koran is authoritative, and we must submit to Mohammed’s religion. We answer the challenge of Islam by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. Yeshua, not Mohammed, is the ultimate prophet. He preceded Mohammed by over six centuries! He is the divine Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who literally died on the cross and came back to life in order to atone for our sins. His bodily resurrection from the dead proves that He is the Messiah and the ultimate prophet. Messiah did many miracles that demonstrate who He is. Mohammed did none. Mohammed’s teachings contradict who Yeshua claimed to be, and so must be rejected.
Catholicism: Faith in the Lord Jesus alone is not sufficient for salvation. To be saved, a person must not only believe in Messiah Yeshua, but also perform meritorious works and obey the decrees and man-made traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. We answer the challenge of Catholicism by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. Messiah rejected man-made traditions and corrupt religious bureaucrats. He appointed godly Jewish men who knew the truth to be the leaders of His New Covenant Community. They possessed a simplicity and purity of devotion to the person of Messiah. Theirs was a pure faith. They did not look to the mediation of other men or of Mary, or create a New Testament priesthood, or invent man-made sacraments to earn salvation. They proclaimed a simple message of salvation in the Messiah. Messiah Yeshua Himself is salvation. He is all we need. That is the Good News, which simply needs to be embraced for salvation to occur. Salvation does not come about through a distorted message about the Apocrypha being part of the Scriptures, the pope as the infallible head of the church, the sacrifice of the Mass, the unbiblical doctrine of transubstantiation, prayers and Masses for the dead, indulgences, the veneration of Mary, prayers to the saints, adoring a piece of bread, the use of icons in worship, holy water, rosary beads and scapulars, a Roman Catholic priesthood, the demand of celibacy from these priests and nuns, and confession to priests to obtain absolution.
Non-Messianic Judaisms: God made covenants with Abraham and with the Jewish people at Sinai. The Jews are the Chosen People. Yeshua is regarded as anything from a deceiver to a good rabbi to a prophet, but His claim to be the Messiah is denied. The various forms of Non-Messianic Judaism are the right way to believe and live. We answer the challenge of Non-Messianic Judaisms by pointing people to the sufficiency of Messiah. Yeshua really is the One promised to us by the God of Israel, the One who fulfills the prophecies about the Messiah. In fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and David, Messiah was God born into humanity. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel, Messiah came before 70 A.D. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah, He was born in Bethlehem and yet originated from the days of eternity. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah, He entered Jerusalem triumphantly, yet humbly on a donkey. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, He was rejected by the majority of Israel, especially the leaders. He was silent before His accusers. He was tried and condemned even though He was innocent. In fulfillment of the prophecies of Micah and Isaiah, Messiah Yeshua was beaten and spat on. In fulfillment of the prophecies of the Psalms, He was mocked and taunted, lots were cast for His garments, and He died by crucifixion. In fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah and David, Messiah rose from the dead. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah, He brought in a New Covenant, unlike the one made at Sinai, which we broke and is in ruins.
He is Israel’s Messiah, the Anointed Ruler that God sent to save us, who in Himself fulfills the three offices of prophet, priest and king. He is the greatest Prophet, who most clearly heard from God and told us the truth. His teachings are supreme. He is our chief rabbi, our Teacher who guides us into all truth, our Wonderful Counselor who gives miraculous advice – unfailing in the depths of its wisdom – to everyone who asks Him for it. He is the fulfillment of the Torah. He is the true Torah, the Living embodiment of the Word of God.
He is our High Priest. He is the one and only Mediator between God and Mankind. He is Jacob’s Ladder, connecting Earth and Heaven. He is our High Priest who offers sacrifice for us, atones for us, reconciles us to God, continues to intercede for us, and who even now prays for us, and forever saves us because of His eternal life. Not only is He our High Priest, but He is also the Final Sacrifice, enabling us to be reconciled to the Creator, from whom the whole world is estranged. He is our sin offering that atones for us, our burnt offering that enables us to be dedicated to God, the peace offering that brings us wholeness, completeness, well-being and peace with God.
He is the Son of Abraham, the Lion of Judah, and the final King of David’s royal line, who will save Israel, gather Israel, protect Israel, rule over Israel and restore true worship to Israel. He will establish peace and righteousness and salvation and the knowledge of God to Israel and the other nations of the world. He will usher in the fullness of the New and Eternal Covenant that will bless Israel and all the families of the Earth.
Not only does Yeshua fulfill the prophecies about the Messiah, but also the types, symbols and people connected with those prophecies. He is the true Israel, who succeeded where Israel failed. He our Sabbath Rest, who brings relief to the weary soul. He is our Passover Lamb, enabling God to pass over our sins, saving us from our “Egypts” of sin and death. He is our Matzah – the Unleavened Bread, the Sinless One, who was victorious over sin and who can break the cycle of sin transmitted from generation to generation. He is the Firstfruits, the First One to be raised from the dead, thereby giving hope that all who believe in Him will likewise be raised from the dead. His Second Coming is connected to Yom Truah – the day we blow the shofar (see, for example, 1 Thessalonians 4:16). He is the Yom Kippur Azazel (scapegoat), who removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west, bringing perfect and final atonement. He is our Sukkah, who enables the harvest of humanity to dwell with God. He is the true Temple in which God dwells. He is the Holy Ark in which the Word of God dwelt, over which the presence of God hovered. He is our Bronze Altar, atoning for us; our Washbasin, which cleanses us so we can serve God; our Golden Menorah, which sheds the true light of God on us; the Bread of the Presence, which feeds us; the Golden Altar, which enables our prayers and praises to ascend and be accepted by God. He is the Seed of the woman, who will destroy all the works of the Devil. He is the Rock that was smitten, providing us with the living water of everlasting life, so that our thirst for God, for life and for meaning is quenched. He is the Bread of Life that came down out of Heaven, giving life to the world, infinitely better than the manna our fathers ate in the wilderness. He is the Star that was to arise from Jacob. He is the Sun of Righteousness and the Light of the World, shining the light of Heaven on those living in darkness. He is the Branch that brings forth the fruit of everlasting life, so that believing in Him is like eating from the Tree of Life. He is the Stone that the builders rejected, but the Stone that God set firmly in place to be the foundation of all He is building – the Cornerstone which will support our lives eternally.
Don’t be taken in by the empty deception of man-made philosophies, persuasive arguments or the traditions of men. Don’t be deluded by some man-made philosophical system or false religious system that at first seems persuasive, even if it quotes the Bible and has religious ideas. Keep a pure faith in Messiah, who is sufficient to meet all of the challenges of our day or any day!