aving just begun the year 2004, I thought I would offer my own outlook on the direction in which we seem to be going – a “State of the World” address. Let me tell you at the outset, as I look at the world, I am not optimistic. I see much more bad than good heading our way. Yet, I am not discouraged, because my hope is not in the world, but rather in Messiah and the Kingdom of God! The theme of this month’s article is “corruption.” King David declared, “The Lord has looked down from Heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Corruption is pervasive among fallen human beings, their institutions and societies. The Word of God tells us that in the Achareet HaYameem– the Last Days, the period of time immediately preceding the Second Coming of the Son of God to planet Earth, corruption will be everywhere. Since judgment is to “begin with the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17), I’d like to begin by focusing on the corruption within the Church – Messiah’s Holy Community.
Corruption Within The Church
Rabbi Paul, who was a prophet, warned us that King Messiah wouldn’t return to Earth until there would be a Great Apostasy – a falling away from the genuine Faith and faithfulness to God and Messiah. Scripture clearly foretold that the Church of the Last Days would be increasingly far from God, from truth and from faithfulness to the Word of God. That is exactly what is happening in the North American and Western European Churches. The following is an article which appeared in WorldNetDaily, dated December 3, 2003. The title of the article is, The Church Doesn’t Think Like Jesus: Survey Shows Only 9% Of Christians Have Biblical Worldview. A new survey by pollster George Barna finds only 9 percent of born-again Christians hold a Biblical worldview. Barna, who surveyed 2,033 adults in his study, found only 4 percent of the general population have a Biblical worldview and suggests many of the nation’s moral and spiritual challenges are directly attributable to this fact. “If Jesus Christ came to this planet as a model of how we ought to live, then our goal should be to act like Jesus,” said Barna. “Sadly, few people consistently demonstrate the love, obedience and priorities of Jesus. The primary reason that people do not act like Jesus is because they do not think like Jesus. Behavior stems from what we think – our attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions. Although most people own a Bible and know some of its content, our research found that most Americans have little idea how to integrate core Biblical principles to form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities of life.”
For the purposes of the research, a Biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings. Only 7 percent of Protestants overall maintained a Biblical worldview, according to the study. Of adults who attend mainline Protestant churches, only 2 percent shared those values. Among Catholics, less than one-half of 1 percent had a Biblical worldview. The denominations that produced the highest proportions of adults with a Biblical worldview were non-denominational Protestant churches, with 13 percent, Pentecostal churches, with 10 percent, and Baptist churches with 8 percent.
One of the most striking insights from the research was the influence of such a way of thinking upon people’s behavior. Adults with a Biblical worldview possessed radically different views on morality, held divergent religious beliefs and demonstrated vastly different lifestyle choices. People’s views on morally acceptable behavior are deeply impacted by their worldview. Upon comparing the perspectives of those who have a Biblical worldview with those who do not, the former group were 31 times less likely to accept cohabitation; 18 times less likely to endorse drunkenness; 15 times less likely to condone homosexual sex; 12 times less likely to accept profanity; and 11 times less likely to describe adultery as morally acceptable. In addition, less than one-half of one percent of those with a Biblical worldview said voluntary exposure to pornography was morally acceptable (compared to 39 percent of other adults), and a similarly minuscule proportion endorsed abortion (compared to 46 percent of adults who lack a Biblical worldview). Among the more intriguing lifestyle differences were the lesser propensity for those with a Biblical worldview to gamble (they were eight times less likely to buy lottery tickets and 17 times less likely to place bets); to get drunk (three times less likely); and to view pornography (two times less likely). They were also twice as likely to have discussed spiritual matters with other people in the past month and twice as likely to have fasted for religious reasons during the preceding month. While one out of every eight adults who lack a Biblical worldview had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse during the prior month, less than one out of every 100 individuals who have such a worldview had done so.
Rabbi Loren’s conclusion: Don’t be among those whose religion of the Last Days is one of “holding to a form of godliness” – a religion that looks good on the outside, but it’s power is denied, a religion where there is no true faith, and no real belief in its reality! Rather, strive to think and believe like Yeshua. Develop a Biblical worldview. How? Become convinced that the Bible is truly the divinely inspired Word of God. Visit our website and read the article entitled, “Apologetics: Is Yeshua the Messiah?” You will find overwhelming evidence that the Holy Scriptures are supernatural, infallible and inerrant!
Don’t approach the Bible as you would a smorgasbord, picking and choosing only those things you like, and ignoring the others! The Holy Scriptures are a “package deal.” Approach them as “all or nothing.” Believe along with King David, that God’s Word is “very pure.” Trust what Paul and Peter wrote, that all Scripture is inspired by God – and that God breathed upon the authors, holy men who were carried along by the Holy Spirit, so that the final product is the inspired Word of God – true, accurate and without error. Believe that until Heaven and Earth pass away, not so much as one book, chapter, word, letter or even the stroke of the scribe’s pen will pass away, but be fulfilled! Your pastor, your rabbi doesn’t believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God? You should leave, or he should leave!
Now, on the positive side, apart from post-Christian America, Canada, and Western Europe, the Church in most other parts of the world is growing. I especially want to highlight the Church in China. When the communists took over China in 1949, there were only about 1 million Christians there. Since that time, in spite of terrible persecution from the godless and tyrannical communist government, the Church has grown seventy-fold! There are approximately 70 million genuine Christians in China today! It is my understanding that the Faith is reaching intellectuals and leaders in the arts and sciences. They are hungry for a new approach to history – not the eastern view that history goes endlessly in circles, but the Biblical view – that history has a beginning, middle and is heading toward a meaningful goal. They want to know what made Western Civilization self-sustaining over the long centuries; why it didn’t collapse; why it was able to produce intellectual and religious freedom and such great advances in science and technology. They are concluding that it was the Judeo-Christian heritage, and its Biblical worldview.
I want to mention three specific areas of corruption within the Church: first, charismatic excess. I’m “charismatic” in the sense that I believe that God can still supernaturally equip His sons and daughters with the miraculous gifts mentioned in the Scriptures. However, I don’t believe that everyone has a supernatural gift. I don’t believe that not having an obvious supernatural gift means that one is not indwelt by the Spirit of God. In my experience with congregations that supposedly are “charismatic,” I’ve discerned that most of the prophecies are not true prophecies, the visions are not sourced in God, and the “tongues” frequently are not a genuine gift from the Holy Spirit, but something that is man-made. Nevertheless, over the years, I’ve heard accounts of what I believe are genuine charismatic manifestations, and so I remain open to the real thing. I don’t want to “throw out the baby with the bath water!”
The second area of corruption within the Church are those churches that are based on “seeker sensitivities,” conducting entertainment-oriented services, but seldom proclaiming the truth, that truly following Yeshua is not about having your needs met – but rather meeting the needs of others. The Christian life is about serving God, denying ourselves and the world, enduring hardship, persecution and trials. I’m not condemning all churches that have “Seeker Services” or use some entertainment, because there may be some that also tell people the truth. But we need to question the re-packaging of the Good News to cater to people’s tastes and have the goal of merely drawing large crowds.
The third area of corruption within the Church is the “prosperity teaching.” It is false teaching. It is a destructive lie. In contrast to these false promises of health and wealth, listen to the Word of the Lord: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way” (Luke 6:20-26). Messiah declared, “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. The one who pursues His life in this world will lose it, and the one who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39). Paul and Barnabas strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the Faith, saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Paul also declared: “I have been crucified to the world, and the world has been crucified to me” (Galatians 6:14). He taught us that it is false teachers, men of sick, depraved minds who teach that godliness is a means of financial gain (1 Timothy 6:5). He made it clear that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires” (Titus 2:11-12). Following God means that we are to limit our worldly ambitions, curb our greed and restrain our desire for material things.
Corruption Within The Jewish Community
Not only is there corruption within the Church, but there is corruption within the Jewish Community. The more I think about it, there are only two categories of non-Messianic Jewish people. There are the majority, who reject a traditional and more Biblical worldview. They don’t believe that the Tenach is the divinely inspired Word of God. Theirs is a Secular/Humanistic, Post-Modern worldview. They don’t believe that a close personal relationship with God is possible. They don’t believe in the reality of Heaven, Hell, salvation, eternal life, or hold to moral absolutes. Whether their affiliation is Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or none at all; whatever their level of Jewish expression and identification, the sad reality is that most Jewish people today are basically secular/humanistic in their thinking. As a result their moral life is, for the most part, as corrupt as the rest of the society around them. They are far from God, without salvation and eternal life.
The second category is non-Messianic Jews who have a basic Biblical worldview. They believe that the Tenach (the Torah and the Prophets and the Writings) is the Word of God, but they have several life-destroying problems. First, their version of Judaism is based on a broken covenant: “‘Behold days are coming’, declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:31-32). Non-Messianic Judaism is based on this broken covenant which cannot save us. There is no Temple and there are no sacrifices by which we can be brought near to God and experience genuine atonement.
Second, they deny the New Covenant, which is based on the coming of the Messiah and the Good News He proclaimed, the salvation He offers, the atonement He made, the reconciliation with God He alone provides and the offer of eternal life He promises. The Lord further said through Jeremiah: “‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put My Teaching within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people'” (Jeremiah 31:33).
Third, they have added to the Word of God by according the same level of authority to the Talmud, and the halacha (legal decisions) of the non-Messianic Rabbis. This polluted system has mixed up the Word of God and the word of man, and it is a deadly mixture. It kills true religion, and keeps us far from God. Listen carefully to the Word of our infallible Rabbi, rebuking the Scribes and Pharisees (the forerunners of today’s “Traditional Judaism”): “You invalidate the Word of God for the sake of your tradition” (you cause it to not work properly, so that it doesn’t guide you to salvation and eternal life). “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men'” (Matthew 15:3,7-9). Their worship, their prayers, their religion is useless, empty and meaningless. It accomplishes nothing! I call upon my people to turn back to God, to acknowledge Messiah Yeshua that He sent, to give heed to the entire Bible, both Old and New Covenant Scriptures, to adopt Biblical values and to disavow man-made traditions and laws. This is true Judaism and our only salvation.
Corruption Within The Messianic Jewish Movement
Not only is there corruption within the Church, and within the Jewish Community, but it is also present within our own precious Messianic Jewish Movement. Even though the Scriptures are quite clear that women must not be the leaders of a congregation, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America acknowledges and promotes a female “rabbi.” This willful disregard for the Word of God is wrong and should not be tolerated. Roughly half the congregations within the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations are advocating “Another Gospel,” namely, that Jewish people don’t need to personally place their faith in Yeshua in order to be saved! This false teaching disregards the basic message of the Bible – that the whole world (which includes the Jewish people) is dead in trespasses and sins. All have sinned – Jews and Gentiles, and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But God in His great love and mercy sent us the Savior – Yeshua our Salvation, who alone can save us. The Son of God said that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that apart from placing faith in Him, no man could get to the Father (John 14:6). Yeshua said to a group of Jewish leaders (men who believed in God, who knew the Torah, who went to the Temple in Jerusalem and offered sacrifices), “Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). Simon Peter stood before the Sanhedrin, and declared to the leading priests, scholars and rabbis of Israel that there is salvation in nothing and no one other than Yeshua of Nazareth (Acts 4:12). It doesn’t get much clearer than that! Another of the Emissaries wrote, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12). Paul, perhaps the greatest theologian of all time (apart from Messiah Yeshua) made it crystal clear that if during our earthly life we personally confess with our mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. But, the inverse truth is equally clear: if sometime during the earthly phase of our life we don’t confess with our mouth and believe in our heart, we will be lost. The Rabbi from Tarsus had great sorrow and unceasing grief in his heart because he knew the lost state of his Jewish people who didn’t believe in Messiah Yeshua. In spite of these essential truths, I report to you with sorrow and grief in my heart that the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations has put a man who denies these basic doctrines in charge of their seminary program! As it stands now, a heretic is training these rabbis-to-be! This is intolerable! The potentially destructive effect on the Messianic Community is incalculable – and is the epitome of religious corruption!
There are other problems in the Messianic Jewish movement as well. The following comes from an outstanding editorial by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, which appeared in the November 2003 edition of the Messianic Times, in response to some of the prevailing attitudes among some leaders of Messianic Congregations.
We are a “branch of Judaism:” If by “Judaism” we mean the Biblical faith of our forefathers, then we cannot be “a branch” – only “the branch.” If we mean the rabbinic Judaism of the past 2,000 years, we are most certainly not its sprouting, neither can the rejection of Messiah be our fellow branch. We are of a different tree – the Olive Tree of Salvation and Blessing. The false Judaisms have been broken off and removed from the Olive Tree.
Jewish-centeredness vs. God-centeredness: If the goal of our Jewishness is our Jewishness, then it is an idol. If we place a yarmulke on a golden calf, we do not wind up with Jewishness but a golden calf with a yarmulke. The point of Jewishness is not Jewishness, but God.
Emphasis on Law; de-emphasis of Messiah: The Law is to point us to Messiah, not Messiah to the Law. If we cannot declare with Paul that we have determined to know nothing but Yeshua the Messiah, and Him crucified, then do we not preach another Gospel?
Messiah demoted: Any demotion of Messiah, any dilution of His deity, is heresy and must be called that. We are to acknowledge no other Savior except God (Isaiah 43:11) and no other Messiah but the Savior, whose goings forth are from the days of eternity (Micah 5:2).
The “Church” as a foreign entity; the Gentile as tolerated stranger: According to the Scripture, the Church is not a foreign entity but a Jewish Commonwealth in which Jew and Gentile are distinct and yet one. This Commonwealth belongs not to Rome but to Jerusalem, where it was started by 12 Jewish disciples. We were not called to reject, disdain or disparage the Church, but to lead it!
Seeking of legitimacy, guidance and authority from rabbinic tradition: We must make up our minds. Either we have the truth, or we do not. If we have the truth, then rabbinic tradition, though of interest as reference material, is premised on error, having rejected the Messiah. The Apostles would grieve and the prophets denounce us should we be found seeking the approval of our people or following the ways of their error instead of leading them with the uncompromised Gospel of salvation. We are under the authority of one Rabbi only – Messiah.
Rabbi Cahn concludes: no man can serve two masters. Nor can a movement. It will, in the end, love the one and hate the other. Woe to us if we, as Esau, forfeit the greatness of our inheritance, having traded it for a bowl of stew – kosher or otherwise. Woe to us should we forget whose love, whose life, and whose blood it was by which we were washed, forgiven and raised to new life. It was not Jewish culture that gave its life for us, not Jewish tradition that was crushed for our iniquities, not the Torah that hung bloodied on the cross for our salvation. It was Messiah alone. To Him alone we owe the full measure of our love, our devotion and our lives. The voice of the Lord beseeches us to return to our first love and the simplicity of our Faith. Only then will we fulfill the high and glorious calling given to this movement and to Israel.
Rabbi Loren adds another problem: Disassociation from Messianic Jewish evangelistic organizations: Some Messianic leaders have publicly disassociated themselves from Jews for Jesus and other worthy Messianic Jewish evangelistic organizations. Perhaps the leaders who disassociate themselves from these ministries do so because the bold and consistent outreach of these evangelistic ministries stands in contrast to the leaders lack of courage, faithfulness and zeal to spread the Good News. Rather than “getting up on a high mountain and lifting up their voices,” too many have been content to “hide their light under a bowl.” Another reason some leaders may disassociate themselves from these good Messianic Jewish evangelistic ministries is because they know that these organizations are disliked by non-Messianic Jews, and they don’t want to endure the same contempt. Paul addressed this cowardice and hypocrisy (see Galatians 2:11-13). The desire to gain the approval of the non-Messianic Jewish Community at the expense of our brothers and sisters in Yeshua, and the unwillingness to “go outside the camp, bearing Messiah’s reproach” (Hebrews 13:12-14), is a grievous sin and religious corruption. We need to be reminded of Yeshua’s words: “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).