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It was understood of the Great Commission to make Jews out of the gentiles who believed

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Q. How did the Bible and its doctrines get perverted from their original meanings?

A. To answer that question I will start from the beginning and try to give a short history and hopefully some perspective on what happened. This is by no means an attack on people or any organization, but a "post mortem" on what exactly occurred.

Because we are so many centuries removed from the original intent and study the Scriptures from a western perspective, our understanding of the Bible is very off. It’s not like we can go up to Peter and Paul and ask them what happened. We have to reconstruct the events based on an understanding of history. To understand, I will try to put what happened into a Jewish setting.

We know from Genesis, God created the earth as a home for man, who was created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth. Adam eventually sinned and man was lost spiritually, including his role as "ruler" over the earth. God instituted His plan to restore man and creation by providing a kinsman redeemer, a "go’el," who would be filled with the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and restore man. This redeemer would be known as the "mashiach" or messiah because he was anointed by the Holy Spirit. This messiah would come to earth about 4,000 years after creation, preaching the "basar" or good news concerning man’s restoration and be killed unjustly. But, God would accept his death, raise him from the dead and by doing so, redeem mankind.

Fifty days after Yeshua’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit fell on believers at the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), fulfilling what was promised by the prophets. These first believers were all Jewish and they maintained a Jewish life-style in their walk with God. Their faith was centered on Yeshua and they remained active in synagogues and the Temple. In Acts 10, a Roman centurion named Cornelius was saved and the basar, or gospel, was now open to gentiles, much to the surprise of the Jewish believers.

Their understanding of the Great Commision was to go into all the world and make Jews out of the gentiles who believed.

As a result, major changes began to take place.

These gentile believers who left paganism were known as "phoubemenoi" or Godfearers and are not really understood by most Bible scholars even today.

They observed the Sabbath and biblical festivals, they ate biblically kosher and followed many Jewish customs. The Torah defined how these people were to be treated and how they were to live. Observance of these laws had nothing to do with salvation and never did. The scriptures defined their faith and practice.

Well, needless to say, many problems began to arise between Judaism of the time and these gentile believers. God raised up Rav Shaul, or the Apostle Paul, to confront these situations and to lay down guidelines so that these two groups could get along. These principles can be found in his epistles. Belief in Yeshua was everywhere in and outside of the land of Israel during the first century. But, at the same time more and more gentiles came to believe as well, and their numbers began to "outweigh" the Jewish believers. In so doing, their opinions began to affect the decisions being made in the congregations outside of Israel. So, during the next 200 years or so the faith that began to develop did not resemble the faith Paul taught and that remains true today. The epistles warned that this would happen.

In A.D. 66, Paul died and at the same time Israel revolted against Rome. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and congregations in the empire underwent massive changes. To support the Jewish people was seen as unpatriotic and the gentile influence began to get stronger and stronger. Anti- Jewish sentiments ran strong, not only politically but spiritually. But, Jews still became believers but pressure was building against them from several directions. First, non-believing Jews didn’t like the power they had, non-believing gentiles didn’t like anything Jewish and then believing gentiles came in with a bias towards anything Jewish anyway, much like today. In 116 A.D., another war broke out between Rome and the Jewish people and they were nearly wiped out in Alexandria, further weakening the Jewish position in spiritual matters. Then, a final war broke out in 135 A.D. where a Jewish leader named Bar Kochba was actually declared the messiah.

Well, Jewish believers in Yeshua would have no part in supporting a false messiah. As a result, these Jewish believers refused to fight and were called traitors and a bitter separation occurred between mainstream Judaism and Jewish believers. They were driven out of the synagogues for good and left on their own. Hadrian, the Roman emperor, destroyed the Jewish army and virtually the nation. Anti-Jewish sentiments were encouraged and even seen as politically correct in the empire resulting in turning the people away from anything considered Jewish. By 325 A.D. religious issues were very fractured and many views prevailed because the people had been ignoring the faith given by God as found the Scriptures.

Anyone who had an opinion could get a following, but they all agreed to avoid the Jewish concepts, festivals and customs. A man named Constantine became Caesar and saw the opportunity to unite these factions into a state religion. He called a council at Nicea to discuss these issues, but did not invite one Jewish leader. Constantine said he wanted to "root out the last vestiges of Judaism" and that’s exactly what he did. Laws were passed forbidding Jews to circumcise their children, it was illegal to keep the 7th day Sabbath as found in the Scriptures. Jews were "forced" into becoming like the gentiles.

Pagan festivals such as Easter and Christmas replaced the biblical ones. Sunday replaced the Sabbath and so on. Not only were the Jewish believers gone, but so were the "phoubemenoi," or gentile believers who had joined themselves to Israel. The faith was now a different religion. Western concepts, theologies, practices replaced the faith once delivered to the saints. It was now a gentile religion. Jews had to give up keeping the Torah to be accepted in the congregations now dominated by western, gentile thought and it largely remains that way today. But, God has always had a remnant of Jewish and non-Jewish believers that have sounded a warning down through the centuries.

Today, this number is growing and God by His Spirit is calling both groups out of these man-made religions back to Himself and showing them how to live and walk in faith before Him. The numbers are growing and many Christian leaders and teachers are seeing what happened and are writing books and teaching the Jewish roots again and people are responding in greater numbers to this call to "come out of her" and I am thankful to the Lord that we can play a small role in that movement in Ellis County.

But, it is not a call to another religion but to a right relationship with the Lord by faith in Yeshua and then learning to walk in the faith once delivered to the saints so long ago. We have a long way to go, but with the Lord’s help, we are on our way. I hope this answers your question and will give you a better idea of what happened. As Paul Harvey says, "Now you know the rest of the story!"

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