- Yahshua or Yeshua or Yahoshua are Hebrew versions of Jesus’ name
- Yahoveh or Yehovah are Hebrew versions of the Father’s true name–God or Lord are simply titles and do not express whatsoever the name of our creator. The Jewish ban on pronouncing or uttering the name of our creator is a man made law that holds absolutely no Biblical authority
- jesus christ (absent the caps) denotes the westernized version of our Savior that is taught and believed in orthodox churches. To avoid any such confusion we typically will use the Savior’s Hebrew name of Yahshua or Yeshua
- churchianity (not a widely recognized term) denotes orthodox christianity that teaches and believes in a westernized jesus christ, rejects the Torah, and is based upon tradition and pagan practices and doctrine
- Messianic Believer or Messianic Follower refers to Torah practicing believers and followers of Yahshua. True Messianics are not Messianic Jews. True Messianics believe that Yahshua is the Son of Yahovah and the Savior of the world who will return in Glory to establish His Kingdom here on earth as foretold in the Gospels and the Book of the Revelation
A Great World Religion is Born
In one of the epic moments of New Testament history, the eleven inner circle disciples graduated to Apostles, in strict obedience to the Master’s instructions, gathered on a hillside in the Galilee where they met the soon departed Messiah. It is at this moment that Yahshua delivers to the disciples what would become the central focus of the Christian Faith to this very day:
“…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Mat 28:18-20 KJG)
After delivering this Torah-level initiative, Yahshua unceremoniously ascended to heaven in a cloud in plain view of the eleven. The eleven, after receiving encouragement from a couple angels regarding the Master’s eventual return, departed the Galilean hillside for Jerusalem to await the baptism of the Holy Spirit a few days hence.
Yahshua’s directive to His Apostles was nothing short of monumental and earth shattering. Throughout the Master’s 70-week ministry (or 3-1/2 years, whichever you ascribe to), the Savior’s actual ministerial footprint never ventured beyond Palestine proper. At this point, with the Master having been crucified and shortly thereafter resurrected with all power and authority granted to Him by the Father, He left His disciples with a directive to take His ministry on the road, even so, beyond Palestine. This was unheard of and entirely unexpected. Prophetically speaking, Yahshua was expected to abolish the crushing Roman juggernaut and re-establish Israel and Jerusalem to their former glory and primacy in the world as the Father’s chosen people and the one true holy nation respectively. This of course did not happen. Much less, the very instrument by which these great things were to occur–Yahshua–was crucified by the very government that was supposed to be eliminated in the first place. Without a doubt, the eleven Apostles and the dozens of disciples were utterly confused and dismayed by the outcome of it all. Of course, it was not until the Master opened their individual and collective minds that they understood that the Messiah would first have to suffer before He would emerge as the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords.
Every true believer of Messiah knows the rest of the story. More so, everyone knows the impact that the Master’s directive has had on the world over the last 2000-years. In the first century, thousands were recorded to have been added to the Church of Yahovah. As the Church began to take on a universal influence under the hijacked leadership of Roman emperors in the 4th century, the Great Commission took on an ominous and dark bent beginning with Constantine. History suggests that Roman Emporer Constantine was converted to the relatively new Christian Faith in the midst of a war with another Roman contender Rome’s emperorship.
Eusebius records in his writings what he believed to be the conversion of Constantine to the Christian Faith. October 28, 312, Constantine was facing an opposing army with superior numbers. Desperate, Constantine prayed to the God of the Christians that God would reveal Himself to him, Constantine. Constantine “saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, “Conquer by this.” Later that night as Constantine slept, he claims that “Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.” Bear in mind that prior to this “vision” and subsequent “dream,” Constantine was a pagan who worshiped Mithras, a Roman god.
Upon awaking, Constantine directed his army to incorporate the new symbol which he saw in his dream and vision onto their standards and shields which turned out to be an “X” with a linear line through the middle of the “X” and that line terminated in to a “P.” Prior to this, the cross was a symbol of hateful disdain to all, especially Christians. The cross could only symbolize the punishment experienced by slaves and the point of gallows humor.
Constantine attributed his success in this and subsequent wars to the God of Christ. As a result, Constantine became the aggressive protector of Christians throughout the empire. And in 313, Constantine proclaims in a letter that all persecution of Christians throughout the empire abruptly end–called the “Edict of Milan.”
In time, seemingly as many as would be converted to the Christian Faith, many thousands would be slaughtered with extreme prejudice for failing to convert to the Christian Faith–which under the leadership and power of Constantine became a mixture of Palestinian Christianity and Babylonian, Greek, and Roman paganism. Sadly, this mixture still exists today with little variation from its start in the 4th century AD.
Let’s Have a Recruitment
Billions of humans have, as a result of the Great Commission (one way or the other), claimed Yahshua Ha Meschiach as their personal savior. Untold masses came to this religion because of forced induction and fear of death at the hands of crusaders and the like; others through generational influence; still others through some type of genuine personal experience.
More so in the last couple centuries, the focus on bringing as many souls into the fold as spiritually possible has led to thousands of tent-meetings, fire and brimstone sermons, the Bible ultimately becoming the bestselling book in history, stadium crusades with 10s of 1000’s in attendance, and 24/7 televised Christian television programming. Truly, Christian leaders throughout history would proclaim the Great Commission to be a Great Success. No other religion in the history of man has had such a profound effect upon the world. Current numbers place Christianity at 1/3 of the earth’s population in terms of self-professing adherents. Despite a noticeable slow-down in the numbers, the Christian Faith continues to grow at a respectable pace.
However, the True Believer of Messiah would question to what degree has the Great Commission been a success. [In other words, has the Great Commission lived up to the expectations of our Savior or has it lived up the expectations of man?]The common measure of sheer numbers of adherents does not provide a true picture of the success and effectiveness of the Great Commission of Matthew 28. Part of the reason for this confusion I believe stems from a misunderstanding of exactly what it was Yahshua was directing His disciples and hitherto modern day disciples to do on that hillside in the Galilee. Additionally, we cannot escape assigning culpability for any skewed misunderstanding of the true meaning of the Great Commission to those who would hijack the True Faith once delivered. As we very well know, Yahshua did not come to start a new religion that would be a slick spin-off from Judaism. On the contrary, the Master Himself declared that He did not come to destroy the Law but to make full that which the Father had given to Moses. Furthermore, and very important to note here, is that the Master made it extremely clear that the Law of Moses would remain fully intact unto such time that all things were fulfilled. Certainly, there remains a lot of prophecy to be fulfilled and it will not be until the Great White Throne Judgment until everything will have been complete.
So exactly what does this mean to you and mean and the Great Commission? Simply that we are fully expected, as disciples/believers of Messiah, to obey the Torah as Yahshua had commanded. We are to live perfect and holy lives as Yahshua lived. We are to travel that arduous road that this Faith embodies and do the work that is before us while it is still day (Matt. 7:14). I have said it before and I’ll say it again: there are no free lunches for the Saints of Yahovah. [We need to also stop this foolishness that has been handed down to us from those who would have us believe in a westernized jesus christ: with the help of the Holy Spirit and obedience to His word, we can live perfect and holy lives. Anyone who would tell you otherwise is essentially telling you to latch on to the pagan christian religion and await the pre-tribulation rapture where you will immediately be changed to a perfect and holy state. Reality of the matter contends that anyone who advocates this mindset is setting everyone up for the position of being least in the Kingdom of Yahovah as our Master warned in Matthew 5:19. ]
A Closer Look at Matthew 28
A loose reading of the King James Version leaves very little to the imagination as to what the Master wanted of His disciples. Essentially, one was to go forth into all the world and (1) teach nations and (2) baptize them and that is basically it. In modern vernacular, this is translated to mean, disciples of Yahshua are to go forth into all the world and preach. Those who respond to the Gospel message should then be baptized. Consequently, this simple model has been the bedrock of modern, traditional Christianity for centuries.
Oh but wait, there seems to be more to the Master’s instructions found in the second portion of the passage at the beginning of verse 20: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
Hmm. If this reads right, one is to teach and baptize first. Then, the Master throws in a statement about teaching them to observe all of His commandments. This dear friends, is not the standard prescription for modern day crusades and evangelical services. There’s preaching indeed. On a few occasions there may be a baptism or two, but certainly teaching converts to observe the Master’s commandments is unheard in modern day churchianity. [Again, a failure to read and understand the Bible.]
This is where I believe the problem rest: churchianity has failed to interpret the Great Commission accurately. What has resulted in a misreading of the Great Commission is nothing short of a Great Mess. A proper reading of this key passage of the New Covenant will immediately dispel the erroneous concept that the Great Commission is about soul-winning. Yahshua did not instruct His disciples to go out into the world and win souls. The concept of soul winning is simply one more greasy, sloppy doctrine of the traditionalists and fundamentalists; more so their evangelical/Pentecostal spin-offs.
Proper exegesis of this key passage of New Covenant will reveal that the Great Commission is about making disciples of the nations. The Great Commission is not a numbers game. The renown Evangelist Billy Graham, as respected as he may be, based his entire ministry on numbers: i.e., how many thousands of attendees of his crusade would respond to his call to conversion. Once the convert-candidate would come down from his or her seat to the crowded field below, he or she would be led in a contrived prayer–commonly known as the sinners’ prayer–and once recited he or she would be assured that their place in heaven was effectively and forever reserved. [The Great Commission has nothing to do with trolling for souls to cram into heaven before the clock strikes twelve.]
Now in defense to Mr. Graham’s organization, I know for a fact that a vast network of churches and organizations are poised to offer the new converts a place to call home after they concluded the sinners’ prayer and have been released by the hundreds of Billy Graham Ministry volunteers. Consequently, the Billy Graham organization is cognizant of the need for follow-up for every new alleged convert. Additionally, the Billy Graham organization is aware that the level of geniuness on the part of the thousands of respondents attending these crusades span a huge gambit–from those who are responding to the call as a result of an emotional tug on their psyche; to those who respond out of a fear of going to hell if he or she does not answer the call; to those who were genuinely affected by the Gospel message and who seek a true conversion experience and are willing to abandon their prior lifestyles for that of being a “Christian.” Thus, the number of true converts is generally known to be very small at best. The failure point to these crusades seems to be the follow-up. Most converts do not seek out the recommended churches and similar organizations, but chose to figure out this “Christian” thing on their own. This mindset leaves out a crucial element of the Great Commission instruction: and that is to baptize and be baptized; not to mention the requisite years of discipleship training that is crucial to any Believer’s well being.
The King James Version rendering of the Matthew 28 passage does not provide the reader with the best sense of the Master’s instruction. Thus, it behooves us to consider other renderings of this passage. The English Standard Version reads as follows:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Mat 28:19 ESV)
While the New American Standard and the New Jerusalem Bible read very similarly.
I believe these renderings unlock the truth of the Great Commission and that is, the Great Commission is all about making and developing disciples of Yahshua. To be a disciple is simply to be a follower of the Master. Consequently, becoming a disciple of the Master requires instruction–that is instruction on that which the Master has deemed relevant. In this case, the Master was quite explicit: teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Mat 28:20 ESV)
Moreover, what is the new disciple of Messiah supposed to be taught? He or she is taught how to live according to Torah; not Jewish observance and obedience to Talmudic-teachings of the Torah: but living according to the fulfilled teaching of Torah that was provided by Yahshua.
In other words, we are certainly not to kill as the Torah stipulates; but Yahshua’s fulfilled version of Torah teaches that we are not to hate our brother in the first place. We are not to steal according to the Torah, but Yahshua taught we are not to covet another’s things. The Renewed Covenant embodies the spirit of Torah from the Master’s perspective. This was the way Yahovah intended it to be in the first place and ancient Israel was to be the test case. Thus, the disciple of Messiah seeks after righteousness and perfection, not based upon blind and rote obedience to Torah that was first recorded upon stone, but righteousness and obedience because of a renewed mind and heart made of flesh–all this working in concert, kindled and fueled by the Holy Spirit. Bottom line: the true disciple of Yahshua seeks to imitate Messiah in every conceivable way.
Contrary to fundamental/traditionalist thinking, followers of Yahshua must work towards perfection every day. The average traditionalist presumes that achieving the perfection of Messiah is a future promise (when he or she reaches heaven) that is not possible to achieve in this life. The tragedy that is derived from this line of thinking is that the average believer is never challenged to live a righteous life here on earth today. He or she is therefore free to live according to the way that seems fit for their desired lifestyle.
Yahovah’s Way or the Highway
Discipleship as a way of life is not specific to our Faith. On the contrary, the first century A.D. for instance saw a multitude of religious teachers with significant followings. John the Immerser (John the Baptist) had a vibrant following, even concurrently with the following of Yahshua. Furthermore, It wasn’t uncommon for popular Pharisees to have disciples.
The concept of being a disciple of a religious leader is quite simple. The religious leader teaches and his followers listen and obey his teachings. The disciple is committed to being just like his/her leader in every way. In some cases, the disciple is even committed to giving his/her life for the cause.
Traditionalists have failed to live up to the tenets of the Great Commission. They have set their sights upon numbers and to some extent achieving a healthy bottom line. After the convert has accepted Jesus as his/her personal savior, traditionalist organizations then proceed to “church” their congregants.
Essentially, “churching” is composed of indoctrinating the congregants into the ways of westernized Christianity. Political correctness and fear of not being consistent with 21st century western lifestyles forces churches to compromise in their teachings. In many cases churches have thrown out the Bible as the source of its teachings, choosing instead to refer to the secular world for their overall platforms.
[Example recently was a popular mega-church pastor asserting that Allah was essentially Yahovah– http://www.thenattyconservative.com/pastor-rick-warren-says-allah-and-god-are-one-in-the-same/]
Bottom line dear friends: “churching” believers in Messiah is very different from making disciples of the nations as Yahshua commanded on that hillside in the Galilee.
The command of the Master was to go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all of His commandments. The million-dollar question my dear friend is: do we fit the mold of a true disciple of Messiah? For that matter, how does the Bible define as one who would be a true disciple of Messiah?
To begin with, a “disciple” in the Biblical is a “student” of Yahshua. The New Covenant or New Testament as commonly referenced records the existence of many followers but very few disciples by comparison.
The Greek term for disciple is “mathetes” which means “a pupil of a teacher or an apprentice to a master craftsman. (Wikipedia.com)
A disciple is not an apostle although he or she could become one (apostle meaning one that is sent with a message, reference Luke 6:17).
Disciples are not limited to just males. Indeed, the Biblical record denotes at least three (3) female disciples: Luke 8:2,3. In terms of the Master’s cadre of disciples, the Gospel record denotes 70/72 disciples (over and above the inner circle of 12) that were dispatched in pairs by Yahshua on missions trips during His earthly ministry (Luke 10:1). The Biblical record also denotes an unlikely pair of fellows who traveled the road to Emmaus just after the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of the Master in Luke 24:18. One of the men in this pair was Cleopas. Joseph of Arimathea was also a disciple of Yahshua (57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. (Mat 27:57 ESV))
Are You a Disciple of Yahshua?
The life of a disciple as recorded in the Biblical record is unique and carries with it many inherent difficulties and challenges. What follows is a listing of traits and characteristics that the Bible seems to suggest makes for a proper disciple of Yahshua. As you will see, many of these traits and characteristics are foreign to the average Christian of today. This list is in no way comprehensive but meant to serve as a general indicator of what the true disciples of Yahshua experienced during the ministry of the Master.
- A true disciple is obedient to their MasterThe disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. (Mat 21:6 ESV)19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. (Mat 26:19 ESV)
- A true disciple abandons all for their Master22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. (Luk 12:22-23 ESV)26 “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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Luk 14:26-27 ESV)33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luk 14:33 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah is endowed with authority and power from the MasterAnd he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. (Mat 10:1 ESV)Luke 9:1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Luk 9:1-2 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah knows his or her place is never see his or herself above the Master“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. (Mat 10:24 ESV)
- A true disciple’s ultimate goal is to be like his or her MasterIt is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. (Mat 10:25 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah is favored by all types of peopleAnd whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Mat 10:42 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah is always curious of the truth and asks questions10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Mat 13:10 ESV)19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”b. 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mat 17:19-20 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah is often required to share the fate of his or her Master21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Mat 16:21 ESV)24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Mat 16:24 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah receives revelation of the things that are taught by the Master13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. (Mat 17:13 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah possesses a place of favor in the world despite the contrary nature of those of the world42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Mat 10:42-1 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah will possess a natural curiosity about the ways of Yahshua10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Mat 13:10 ESV)36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” (Mat 13:36 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah never kowtows to the traditions of men over the Laws and Commandments of Yahovah2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? (Mat 15:2-3 ESV)
- Yahshua will reveal to his disciples things that are not for others to know34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. (Mar 4:34 ESV)23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Luk 10:23-24 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah will be questioned and even challenged by the Master23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mar 10:23 ESV)
- The true disciple of Messiah will be steadfast in his or her commitment to the Faith in spite of intense opposition and life challenges66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (Joh 6:66-69 ESV)31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, (Joh 8:31 ESV)
- The true disciple of Messiah will have unconditional love for his/her brothers and sisters35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:35 ESV)
- The true disciple of Messiah is required to bear much fruit8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (Joh 15:8 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah will be valued and loved by the Master9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (Joh 15:9 ESV)
- A true disciple of Messiah is required to follow the commandments of the Master10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (Joh 15:10 ESV)
- The true disciple of Messiah is filled with the joy of the Lord and the Holy Spirit11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (Joh 15:11 ESV)52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Act 13:52-1 ESV)
- True disciples of Messiah may be found in the most unexpected places and be the most unexpected of people10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” (Act 9:10 ESV)And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. (Act 19:1 ESV)
- The life of a true disciple of Messiah is expected to be difficult25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. (Act 9:25 ESV)36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. (Act 9:36 ESV)
- True disciples of Messiah are charitable29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. (Act 11:29 ESV)
- True disciples of Messiah will pledge their very lives for the well being of other disciples of the Most High22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Act 14:22 ESV)
The Master is Now Taking Applications for Discipleship
The Biblical record, though often misused and certainly misunderstood by most, provides the true believer of Messiah a shadow picture of the things that have occurred and will occur in the future. The Master’s life-example in relation to his chosen disciples provides the true believer with an exemplar of how we are to understand and respond to the Great Commission. Bottom line Saints in Training, discipleship is not an easy road. Many who come into the fold of discipleship ultimately leave. Now I’m not talking about leaving churches. Indeed, nary a church does a disciple make dear friends. I’m talking about checking out of the Faith altogether. As we’ve mentioned in previous postings, people are leaving fundamental churchianity in droves; some being just tired of gaining little to nothing from the experience, while others are in search of a relevant Faith that challenges their walk and provides the believer the tools whereby they can actually live the abundant life that the Master promised his followers.
Being a disciple of the Master, as evidenced by the above noted traits and characteristics, is a lifestyle that surpasses any type of lifestyle that one could ever imagine. Unfortunately, Westernized Christianity has taken the True Faith once delivered to the first century Saints, and morphed it into a secularized, tradition-filled, pagan-based, compromising “religion.” Christianity is not in any way associated with true discipleship.
We are NOT advocating any “religion” here. Religion tends to be steered by doctrine and tradition. What we ARE advocating is THE True Faith that was taught to the first century disciples by the Master, who in turn perpetuated these truths to the nations as directed by Yahshua. We are advocating discipleship, pure and simple. Obedience to the commandments of Yahovah; living righteous lives; being led by the Holy Spirit; having love for one another; and teaching others to be disciples.
If we are not meeting the traits listed above as true disciples of the Most High, maybe it’s time to assess how we got to where we are in our Faith, make the appropriate adjustment, and with unabashed zeal commit to being the follower of Messiah whom Yahshua would proudly call His disciple and more importantly, His friend.
Music by Dan O (www.dano.com)