What Are the Fundamentals of the Hebraic Christian Faith?
By Nathan Lawrence
Hoshana Rabbah Biblical Discipleship Resources
Used by permission
What are the fundamentals of the Hebraic Christian faith for which the Bible instructs the saints to earnestly contend? The modern Messianic or Hebrew roots movement, as opposed to mainstream Christianity, while purporting to be returning to the Hebraic, Torah-based foundations of Christianity, in many places, is getting sidetracked or even, dare we say, derailed from the first century, book of Acts faith once delivered as revealed in the writings of the apostles of Yeshua. So just what are the bedrock tenets of the apostolic faith that the end time saints are called to defend?
Even in the first century, Jude, the brother of our Savior, writes that he is concerned that the saints then were abandoning the bedrock principles of the faith that had once and for all been delivered to the saints of that era. If Jude was lamenting that the saints of that era were already apostatizing from apostolic faith only several decades after the death and resurrection of Yeshua, then how much more should the people of Elohim be concerned about doing the same 2,000 years later? Jude writes,
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. ( Jude 1:3)
For the record, when we add the term “Hebraic” to “Christian faith,” we are distinguishing between the beliefs and practices of the first century, book of Acts disciples of Yeshua the Messiah as opposed to what subsequently evolved into Roman Catholic Christianity and its various offshoots including Protestantism and its Eastern Orthodox spiritual daughters.
Sadly, in the modern Hebraic roots movement, it seems that every spiritual cornerstone of our faith is under attack and open to question. It is open (hunting) season and countless so-called Bible teachers have taken aim at areas of our faith that, previously, seemed indisputable such as the deity of Yeshua, the seventh day Sabbath, the traditional family, and even the canon of Scripture.
And this is just the beginning.
There is no end to the questions being raised resulting in doubts and confusion among many saints who were once stable in their faith. For example, some men are advocating plural marriage and are taking on extra wives, others say the weekly Sabbath should begin in the morning, while others declare that the earth is flat. The list of questions seems endless. Which calendar do we follow? The Hillel II, the abib barley, the Noah, the Enoch, one of several followed by the Qumran community or something else? When is the moon new, so that we know when to celebrate the biblical feasts? At the first sign of the visible crescent, at the astronomical conjunction (the “dark moon”) or when it is full? How do we pronounce the name of YHVH? Which Bible translation is inspired of Elohim to the exclusion of all others? Do we meet in church buildings or homes? Do we have congregational leaders, or no leaders at all? Do we follow the dictates of rabbinical Judaism or not? What about paleo-Hebrew and hidden codes in the biblical text? How about Jewish mysticism? Should all non-Jewish Christians be called Gentiles or are they really lost and found Israelites who are returning to their spiritual heritage? What about aliens and the nephilim? Or the so-called Illuminati et al? What about the extra-biblical books that did not make it into the canon of Scripture? Should they be part of the canon of Scripture? Should women wear head-coverings? Should we celebrate the biblical feasts outside of the land of Israel? And the list grows daily. All of these issues and many more have caused countless and never-ending disputes and divisions among leaders and teachers as well as congregations. Surely this cannot be a work of the Spirit of Elohim, or is it?
So what is the faith once and for all delivered to which Jude makes reference?
Jude tells his readers to “earnestly contend” for the faith once and for all delivered ( Jude 1:3). Just before this, he tells us that he wanted to write to the saints concerning “our common salvation,” but because of ungodly teachers who had crept into the body of Yeshua intent on destroying it, he had to write a warning letter instead because of false teachers.
Jude then goes on to warn them of evil spirits that would run rampant in the church as typified by Cain, Korah and Balaam. Cain-type people are those who come in to murder their brethren (literally or figuratively). The Korahs of the world want to reject divinely mandated spiritual authority or usurp authority that is not theirs. Finally people who have the evil spirit of Balaam are greedy for power and control over people.
Jude is not alone in warning the saints of the Most High. Similarly, Paul predicts that in “the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy” (1 Tim 4:1–2). Paul then goes on to instruct Timothy that the time would come “when men would not endure sound [or healthy] doctrine, but after their own desires or lusts because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim 4:3–4). In the previous chapter, Paul warns Timothy that “evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim 3:13).
Why will people fall for these false teachers? In 2 Timothy 3 we read,
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The spiritual diseases of giving heed to seducing spirits, not being able to endure sound doctrine, following teachings that tell us what we want to hear, and of ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth seem to be pandemic in our day. People just seem to have a hard time finding the Truth and then sticking with it. We are always enticed and drawn in by that which purports to be “new and improved” or the latest version of something, whether it is right or not.
How can we prevent ourselves from falling victim to these last days false teachers, who sneak into our midst as grievous wolves not sparing the spiritual flock of Yeshua? Many of them are laughing at us all the way to the bank after we have purchased their latest book, video or whatever else they are peddling. This is easily done if we know what the bedrock truths of the Bible are, be willing to live by them, fight for them and, if necessary, even die for them!
The Scriptures must be our guide in all things, and so what do the Scriptures consider to be the foundation blocks of our faith? We can never go wrong looking to the Bible, Word of Elohim, for guidance!
First, Revelation 12:17 and 14:12 identify the end times saints as those who keep (Gr. tereo meaning “to guard, attend to carefully, take care of ”) the Torah-commandments of Elohim and have and keep the gospel of Yeshua. So from this, we can deduce that Torah-obedience must be a foundational or basic tenet of our faith. Secondly, we must adhere to the basics of the gospel message. After all, our salvation—whether we inherit eternal life or not – is bottom-line of this whole thing, is it not? By reading the writing of the apostles, it is obvious that the gospel message includes salvational issues such as who Yeshua is (i.e. Son of Elohim, his deity), and what he came to do (i.e. his Messiahship, Savior or Redeemer, his sin-atoning sacrifice on the cross, and his resurrection that gives us the hope of eternal life, and his present role in heaven at the right hand of the Father as our Great High Priest), and the reality of his second coming to judge and rule the world, and to give rewards to his saints with the ultimate reward being the gift of eternal life or immortality.
Furthermore, an important aspect of the gospel message would also include a belief in the restoration of the two houses of Israel (a regathering of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, see Matt 10:6; 15:24), or the restoration of the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16), and that when believers are “born again” they become the one new man, become redeemed Israelites and are part of the covenants and commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:11–19), and are the offspring of Abraham (Gal 3:39; Rom 4:16; 9:8–11). These saints comprised of Jews and non-Jews that have been gathered in from the nations are “the Israel of Elohim,” as Paul terms it (Gal 6:16).
What’s more, Hebrews 6:1–3 lays out “the elementary [or foundational] principles of Messiah,” some of which we have already mentioned. These basic doctrines include (a) a belief in Yeshua as the Messiah, (b) repentance from sin (i.e. Torahlessness, see 1 John 3:4), (c) faith in YHVH Elohim and Yeshua the Messiah, (d) baptisms (plural, including baptism for the remission of sin [Acts 2:38], and the baptism of the YHVH’s Set-Apart Spirit [Acts 1:5]), (e) the laying on of hands (for ordination, receipt of the Spirit of Elohim, for anointing, and for physical healing), (f ) the resurrection of the dead, and, finally, (g) the righteous judgment of Elohim that is to come. This includes YHVH Elohim rewarding the righteous, and condemning the wicked (i.e. those who are Torahless and who have failed to put their faith in Yeshua the Messiah). However, before the author of Hebrews lays out these seven foundational “principles of Messiah,” three verses before that (see Heb 5:12), he refers to the “first principles of the oracles (sayings or Scriptures) of Elohim.” To what is he referring here? The oracles of Elohim are referring to the Torah-commandments that YHVH Elohim gave the Israelites at Mount Sinai (see Acts 7:38 and Rom 3:2). Therefore, the first principles or bedrock foundation of our faith are YHVH’s Torah laws or instructions in righteousness, which tell YHVH’s people how to live without sinning—how to love him and their fellow man.
If the Torah is the foundation of our faith, then the rest of the Bible—the word of Elohim from Genesis to Revelation—is the house that has been built upon that foundation. Nothing is to be added or subtracted from the Torah (Deut 4:2; 12:32), or from the entire Bible (Rev 22:18–19; Prov 30:6). In other words, we must view the whole of Scripture as the Word of Elohim, and if we do not have this as a foundational doctrine, the rest of what we believe is irrelevant!
With regard to the foundational Truth of faith in the Messiah, let us elucidate on this point. How is one redeemed or saved spiritually from the wages or penalty of sin (i.e. lawlessness or Torahlessness; see 1 John 3:4) which is death (Rom 6:23; Ezek 18:3)? The Bible presents no exact formulas as to how this spiritual transformation occurs within a human being. One thing is certain, however, and the apostolic writers go to great lengths in order to lay this Truth out in numerous places: One is saved by the grace of Elohim through a heartfelt faith in Yeshua’s salvific work at the cross, and this is not based on the works or good deeds of men (Rom 10:9–11; Eph 2:8–9). The spiritual fruits in one’s life of that saving faith and the resulting transformed life (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17) is that a person loves Yeshua by walking in the Spirit of Elohim (Rom 8:1; Gal 5:22–25 ), and is doing the good works of his Torah-commandments ( John 14:15; Eph 2:8–9, cp. 10). Those who keep YHVH’s Torah commandments in a spirit of love (see 1 Cor 13) will receive the highest place of honor and highest level of rewards in the kingdom of Elohim (Matt 5:17).
With regard to Torah observance, the ten commandments are the cornerstone of the Torah, and all the rest of the more than 600 commandments of the Torah expand out from these ten basic tenets. The key commandments that have kept Israel together and more or less on the same page over the years are faith in YHVH Elohim and in his Word, the seventh day Sabbath, the biblical feasts, and the dietary laws.
With regard to belief in Yeshua the Messiah, let each of us be on guard lest we find ourselves unwittingly following ear-tickling teachers who are promoting the spirit of antichrist. How do we know what the spirit of antichrist is? It is very simple to tell. From 1 John 2:18–19, 22; 4:3; and 2 John 7 we learn that the Antichrist and all spirits of antichrist deny that Yeshua is the Messiah (Savior and Redeemer of man), deny that Yeshua is part of the “Godhead,” is deity and is the Son of Elohim, and deny the incarnation of Yeshua.
One foundational doctrine that is not included in the lists above but is critical if we are to stay in the faith, is a belief in the validity of the local church or congregation. Whether it meets in a church building, a home or in a park is irrelevant. The fact is that YHVH’s people come together locally regularly. After all, Paul tells Timothy that the church or congregation of people is the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15). It is the local congregation where the early believers learned to be in one accord where they were taught the apostles’ doctrine, had fellowship, shared in meals, and prayed together (Acts 2:42). A mature Torah-obedient saint and disciple of Yeshua will seek out fellowship with other believers. Scripture calls the Sabbath and the seven biblical feasts “holy convocations” or commanded group gatherings (see Lev 23). If a local congregation is not available, then one can find fellowship with members of the body of Yeshua in some other way whether via telephone, social media, some other form of digital electronic communications, or informal meetings, when possible, in a home or somewhere else. In so doing, we will be active members of the body of Yeshua learning, growing, and helping others by exercising our spiritual gifts as Paul teaches in Ephesians 4:11, Romans chapter 12 and 1 Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen.
This then is what the apostles of Yeshua considered to be the most important doctrines that should form the spiritual, bedrock foundation for all the saints of Yeshua, and for which we are expected to “earnestly contend.” These are the trunk of the tree issues. Everything else is secondary or are like branches or twigs on the tree of Truth if even that. Beware of those Bible teachers who try to make the twigs into the trunk or vice versa. They probably have something to sell you and are trying to gain a following.
So how do you know what the bedrock Truth of Elohim is, and whether what someone is teaching is the Truth or not? There is no shortcut! You must read, study and know what the Bible, the Word of Elohim, says so that you will know who the false teachers, imposters and grievous wolves are who are feeding on Yeshua’s flock, and who are not teaching the Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the Truth.