August 2014 Yavoh

In recent months and years I have watched both adults and youth walk away from their confession of Yeshua being the Messiah.  These are persons who have been in fellowship with other believers, and in some cases, have grown up with believing parents.  It begs the question of why have they departed.  Did someone speak to them, leading them astray?  Or, were there other circumstances that caused them to question what they believed?

I don’t know the reasons why they departed, but I do suspect certain things.  Many of them leave without discussing the subject further.

There is a specific prophecy about the end times that warns many will fall away from the faith. 

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 
2 Thessalonians 2:3

The Apostle Paul has stated that part of the end-time scenario leading to the anti-messiah and the Day of the Lord will first include an apostasy (a falling away of faith).  So do we say, “Oh well, I guess those people walking away from the Messiah are just fulfilling end-time prophecy,” and forget them?

I don’t think that is the reason for people falling away; I think it coincides with it. Therefore, the question remains, “Why have they decided to walk away?”  I don’t see persecution yet to justify shrinking back from faith in Yeshua.  (By the way, those days are coming.)  Instead, I see something far more insidious at work.  What did they believe about the Messiah to begin with?  Was their faith in the Messiah based on truth or was it based on their relationship with others around them? Did they really believe to begin with?

In recent months, I have started asking believers what they believe in, why they believe it, and to define some very common terms used to express our faith.  I was surprised by the results.  Using a solid base of believers that have grown up with and are active in congregations, I found that many of them cannot answer basic questions.

I asked the question, “Do you believe that Yeshua of Nazareth was and is the Messiah?”  Virtually every person interviewed answered in the affirmative with a direct “Yes” or something like “Absolutely,” “Yes I do,” “For sure…”   But later in the interview I asked them to define the term Messiah.  Many of them stumbled and had to dig deep to say things like “Savior,” “Redeemer,” or “the perfect sacrifice…”  While these are accepted terms used by believers, the question was to define what the title of Messiah meant. Only one gave the purely technical definition of “the Anointed One.”  When it came to asking for the reasons why they believed Yeshua was the Messiah, they reverted to personal anecdotes (the common testimony of believers) as opposed to presenting the reasons to believe that He was the Messiah.

I was amazed that they repeated common expressions but could not define reasons why He was the Messiah.  Believers say that they believe in Yeshua the Messiah or Jesus Christ and yet they can’t define clearly and simply what Messiah means to prove Yeshua.  I discovered that common Christian statements of what they believe, even personal feelings and experiences, were being used in place of evidence that would establish the truth about our faith.  The reality then is that their faith is shallow and does stand up to routine of life.  Once the good feeling or close fellowship fades, their conviction to believe fades as well.  I discovered that many youth believed because their family believed.  Once they left home, their faith stayed at home.

With this as a baseline for many believers, it is no wonder with the distractions of the world, the stress of life, and personal dissatisfactions that some are simply walking away. They never had anything substantive or real to begin with.  They apparently had no relationship with Yeshua at all.

How is it possible to say you are believer of Yeshua and be so deceived as to not know Him?  It’s easy.

Say the same things believers say, do what believers do, and hang out with other believers.  As a result everyone thinks and treats you like you are a believer.  The problem is, of course, you aren’t a believer and it will catch up with you one day when you are bored with it or stressed by something you need God’s help with.

When I have talked with some youth that didn’t want to hang out with believers anymore, I found the normal symptoms of new “unbelieving friends,” but I also found honesty and candor.

“I said I was a believer because my family believed it,” was the common response.

This takes me back to my own experience as a youth.

My material grandmother was a very strong believer.  If the church doors were open, she was there.  She read her Bible and prayed.  She told me about Jesus and taught me how to pray to Him.  I believed in Jesus because that was what Grandma said I should do.  I didn’t actually believe in Jesus; I believed in Grandma who believed in Jesus.  I was okay with this because Grandma loved me and would never lie to me.  It never crossed my mind that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah or that Grandma might be mistaken. In truth, we are to bring up our children to follow our example. And hopefully, they will make their own declaration of faith based on their learning the truth for themselves.  But children are to develop their own personal testimony of faith.

When I reached the ripe age of twelve or so, I concluded that saying I believed in Jesus because Grandma told me so didn’t seem so smart or mature. So, I decided that I needed to make my own decision since the preacher kept saying that everyone should make a decision to accept Christ.  That seemed to make sense.  So, I sat down with myself and decided that I too would believe in the Christ (the Messiah).  I was not sure what Christ or Messiah meant but I knew it was the right thing to do.  Besides, I didn’t know any reason not to believe it.  Making that decision meant I was a good person and I could be like other good folks I knew then.

I had no idea what I really believed in.  I just was a little bit religious, like other folks around me.  My testimony didn’t end there.  I soon discovered that for real issues of life, my faith didn’t really seem to work for me.  But rather than walk completely away, I wanted to find the truth.  So, let’s stop for moment and examine what I believed and why I believed.

Hearsay is not faith.  Believing that Yeshua is the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is not based on what others say, even if they love you and are in the majority.  Presumption (deciding to believe in something without evidence to prove it) is not faith.  No one will be in the kingdom because of anything they did, even the righteous deed of deciding to obey God will not get you there.  There will be many good people who will not be in the future kingdom. Salvation does not come from man or any works of man.

Back to the present: when I questioned believers about why they believed Yeshua of Nazareth was the Messiah, they responded in this manner.

“He healed people,” or “He healed me.”  “I prayed to Him and He answered my prayer.”  “He died on the cross for our sins.”  Some were even honest enough to say that they felt He was the Messiah.

When I asked for up to three specific evidences that caused them to believe He was the Messiah, no one could cite the definition of the Messiah and then compare the words and deeds of Yeshua to that definition.  Everyone just accepted it as fact (presumption) that He was the Messiah without knowing the evidence to prove it.

Have you heard of young believers going off to college and some smart-aleck professor destroys their faith?  I have heard it many times.  The young believer didn’t have a basis for faith and, once away from home and family, easily fell away.

The Bible teaches that truth must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses; therefore, to say that your faith is true, it must be based on evidence.  Anything less is a version of hearsay or presumption.  Let me restate it this way.  If you cannot state at least two evidences to substantiate that Yeshua is the Messiah, then you are just following the crowd and your faith is not grounded in the truth.  You do not have true faith.

Let me go further.  If you don’t have a definition for the word Messiah to begin with, then you have nothing to compare any evidence to establish the truth.  If you cannot identify the specific evidences and weigh them correctly, then you will not have the conviction to believe.

Dear Reader, let’s have a short conversation just between you and me.  Do you believe Yeshua is the Messiah?  Do you know what Messiah means, and can you cite specific evidences so that your faith in Yeshua is based on the truth?  Or, are you wondering where you are right now? 

Let’s go further with our examination. When I asked believers to define faith, they many times offered a quotation from the book of Hebrews saying, “faith is the substance of things not seen” and “the assurance of things hoped for.”  That was good, but in follow-up questions I asked, “What was the substance?”  Sadly, they couldn’t seem to answer.

The answer is found in another Scripture which says that faith comes by hearing—hearing the word of God. This is why it is not seen.  The spoken word of God is not something seen.  Have you ever heard someone disagree with another by saying, “Well, that’s not the way I see it!”?  Faith and truth are not based on what you see.  Faith and truth are based on what you hear, specifically, hearing what God has said.

This is the faith of Abraham.  God promised Abraham a son, many descendants, the land of Israel, and His kingdom.  Abraham saw the land God had promised. Building on that, Abraham believed God for a son before he was conceived or born.  He believed God for a large number of descendants (the stars of the sky) before there was a single one. His faith was counted as righteousness.  It wasn’t his righteousness either; it was the righteousness of God.  This led to his salvation, just like us. When we believe the promises of God, those already given and those still to be given, then our faith is counted for righteousness.  This is not hearsay or presumption; it is truth!  This is what defines our relationship with God.

Our God has promised us a Son in the same manner that God promised Abraham his son Isaac.  Our God has promised that He would send His Son to see to our welfare and benefit, in the same manner as Jacob, who sent his son Joseph to see the welfare of his brethren.  We have seen God fulfill this promise; our faith is based on the promises of God. 

Here is an interesting thing you can do that will prove this point.  Go into the Bible and wherever you see the word faith, substitute the expression “believing the promises of God.” It will actually make many of the verses more clear.

This is the definition of the Messiah as the Anointed One, the One who was promised, the One who was sent by the Father, the One who benefits us, and the One who is called the Lamb of God.  When we hear and believe those promises and believe in the One who was sent, God by His hand works the work of salvation in us.  We are then “born again” spiritually and made into the image of God through the Messiah.  Listen to how Yeshua said this.

Yeshua answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  John 3:5

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  John 3:16-17

Many believers don’t understand the transformation that takes place because of true faith.  The Apostle Paul succinctly stated it for us.

…so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.  1Corinthians 2:5

The Apostle John says the same thing.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,  John 1:12

This verse is not saying that if you repeat the name of the Messiah you suddenly are born again.  It is saying that believing in the name of the Messiah is the power to be born into God’s family.

Let’s examine the power of the Messiah and the testimony of Yeshua. Yeshua did not just show up one day and decide to make His own definition of the Messiah.  He repeatedly quoted from the teachings of Moses and the Prophets, comparing His words and deeds to theirs so we could believe with the same faith of Abraham and Moses.  He gave us signs and evidences (things only God can do) for us to establish the truth and base our faith on the truth.

The promises of God in this matter are numerous.  The evidences concerning Yeshua are just as numerous, patterned after what God promised.  We can literally take hold of the substance of God’s word when we recount the story of redemption.  What am I really saying? Abraham promised Isaac that God Himself would provide the Lamb in that place. Abraham was taking Isaac to be sacrificed as God had instructed.  Isaac was not sacrificed!  God was showing him and us what God was going to do with His Son. The children of Israel were redeemed out of Egypt by the life (blood) of the lamb at the Passover.  Yeshua was declared to be the Lamb of God by a Levite Priest (John the Baptist) in accordance with the Law of Moses and the Temple requirements.  Yeshua was lifted up (above the altar) and given by God Himself to be the sacrifice leading to Salvation.  God promised He would do it; God did it.  This is solid evidence to establish the truth.  This true faith is the first step toward salvation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  Ephesians 2:8

We are saved by the One sent by the Father, when we believe that God does the work of redemption in us just as He said He would.  Many have heard these verses, but the words have not yet entered their hearts.

Let’s look deeper into the meaning of the Messiah, because He is much more than just a Redeemer and a Savior.

The prophet Isaiah spoke a particular set of words defining the Messiah that were later spoken directly by Yeshua.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord… Isaiah 61:1-2a

In the Gospel of Luke, Yeshua read and spoke these words of Isaiah aloud to the whole synagogue.  He then spoke something only the Messiah would say. 

"Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your    hearing."    Luke 4:21

Belief is not a decision to believe; it is hearing something (something not seen) from God and then coming to terms with the substance (the conviction) of what He said.  Essentially, Yeshua said plainly for all to hear that He was the One sent, He was the Anointed One.  But He also said much more.  He stated His purpose in coming.

The Messiah is to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners, and to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.  Every one of these objectives can be used to measure if Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah. But this is also why some struggle with Yeshua being the Messiah, especially my Jewish brethren.  Much of Yeshua’s purpose is yet to come.  Many believers have never heard this part about the Messiah.  Many Jews argue against Yeshua because these things have not yet happened.  What am I referring to?  It is the final work of the Messiah – the restoration of all things!  The Messiah didn’t come to die on the cross, call it a day, and go home.  The purpose of the Messiah began before the foundation of the earth.  He was part of the creation.  He worked the work of redemption (bringing mankind back into proper relationship with his Creator through a substitution system to eliminate the curse of sin).  But, the Messiah still has to do the work of restoration.  We believe in what God has done and what God will do!

God always was, is, and always will be.  The same is true of the Messiah!

I mention this because many believers in the church have been taught that the work of the Messiah is complete, that He is just to come back and set up His kingdom and we all live happily ever after.  The truth is that there is much more to the Messiah, and He is still doing many profound things in our days.

Part of this is discovered and understood in the term the Anointed One.  Being anointed is illustrated to us in the use of oil being poured or smeared upon one’s head.  The one being anointed is the recipient.  The anointer is the one who pours the oil and places his hand upon the anointed.  The anointed one is not autonomous from him who anointed him. 

The anointed one is charged with a purpose, consecrated to a task, and given authority to complete those things originating from the anointer.  The Messiah does nothing of His own; He is doing the will of the Anointer (His Father).  Should the anointed one differ from what the anointer wants, he ceases to be anointed.  Therefore, anything the Messiah does is the will of the Father.

But why is oil used?  It distinguishes the difference from one who is appointed to do a task from someone who is anointed.  People are appointed by other people in authority.  The President appoints people to fulfill certain offices of responsibility.  If your mother tells you to go to the grocery store for her, then she has appointed you to a task.  But we never referred to anyone “appointed” as being equivalent to being “anointed.”  The reason has to do with the oil used. Anointing comes not only  with authority but with power.

The Hebrew word for oil is shemen.  The deeper definition means fat or fatness.  In our society the word fat has gotten a bad rap.  The fat the Bible is referring to is associated with fullness and fruitfulness.  A fat land is a very fruitful land.  A fat soul is one that is fully nourished, healthy, and powerful.  Let’s examine the healthy part first.

Even in the natural, fats may not be popular in the modern diet, but they are essential to being healthy.  Fat is what keeps you alive when you have no food to eat!  This positive definition of fat is part of the role and purpose of the Messiah.  The Messiah meets our need for spiritual food to keep our spirits alive, and He is the very joy and fruit of life to our souls. The Messiah is the original soul food for us. 

This is why the Messiah compared Himself to food and spoke of being completely satisfied.

"I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh."  John 6:48-51

Yeshua is defining Himself as the healthy part of the Messiah definition. When I have opportunity to speak with Christians in their assemblies, I like to hold a simple survey.  I ask them to respond to the following question:  “Have you said or have you heard it said by a believer that they are still hungry, that they are not quite satisfied yet with their faith?”  Virtually every hand will rise acknowledging the question.  I then explain that Yeshua said He was bread that satisfied completely, that they would not be hungry again, and that He was drink that they would not be thirsty again.  So, I ask them why they are still hungry and thirsty.  Did Yeshua overstate what He can do, or is it possible the benefits of the Messiah have not yet been received?

Yeshua did not overstate what He could do.  He correctly defined what the Messiah is and what He does for us.  The problem is that many believers have not eaten the bread and drank the cup yet.  Their faith is a religion, a system of religious thoughts and rituals that mimic a real relationship with God.  True faith in God is wholly dependent upon God and what He has promised.  Acting on those promises with conviction is called faith in God.  It is the power to break bread and many eat.  It is the power to eat manna.  It is something beyond what the man considers natural.  The irony is that man is living in the abnormal; what God does is the natural.

Maybe you have been wondering when I was going to specifically mention the Spirit of God in this discussion.  Now is the time.  The power of God works in us through His Spirit.  Listen to what Paul says about God’s power in our lives.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.  1 Corinthians 2:12-14

God’s grace, our faith in Him, and the work of God’s salvation opens the door to receive His Spirit. But if one does not know any of God’s promises, how can one say he has faith in God?  If you can’t define the Messiah as God defines the Messiah, how can you state that you believe Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah?  If you never receive His Spirit, how can you live life with God’s power?

When we believe in God, we enter a whole range of dimensions in relationship with Him.  It is much more than an acknowledgement that God exists.  Consider these things for a moment.

God is called the Creator, we are the created.  He is a King, we are His subjects.  He is a Master, we are His servants.  He is a Father, we are sons and daughters. He is a Savior, we are the saved.  He is a Redeemer, we are the redeemed.  He is a Shepherd, we are His flock.  He is the Bridegroom, we are the Bride. He is a friend better than a best friend; He is closer than a brother.  He loves us and remains faithful to us even though we are sinful and fall regularly.  I could go on, but here is the point.  All of these examples are dimensions of our relationship with God.  Belief is born out of relationship, not just from religious facts.  Belief is trust and hope in the person of God.

As we learn more of God, we grow in our relationship with God.  This is the meaning of knowing God.  This path of growth and more knowledge of God travels through the work of the Messiah.  Yeshua said that no man comes to the Father without coming through Him.  You cannot have a relationship with the Father without the relationship with the Messiah.  Remember, Yeshua said, “The Father and I are One.”  Those who would say they believe in God (the Father) without a relationship with Yeshua the Messiah are truly mistaken.

The Father sent Yeshua.  Accepting Yeshua means that you accept the Father; rejecting Yeshua means you are rejecting the Father.  You must believe in the Father and that He sent Him.  When Peter first confessed to Yeshua that He believed Yeshua was the Son of God, Yeshua reminded Peter that his belief (faith) was not revealed to him by himself. 

And Yeshua said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” 
Matthew 16:17

The same is true of us today. You clearly find the Father and the Son integrated into each type or dimension of our relationship with God.  Without the Father and the Son there is no gift of the Holy Spirit and God’s indwelling presence.  Without the Spirit, there is no Godly power within you.  Your intellect will not carry the day!

So, let’s go back to our original questions to make sure that our faith is based on evidence and is true faith, not hearsay or presumption.  The term Savior is the preferred definition for the Messiah by most believers.  I found that to be true in the surveys I have done.

I believe that this term is the most prevalent because the Gospel is preached that way.  Let me explain.  Christian preachers tell us that we are sinners, sin ultimately leads to death, and the Messiah is the forgiveness of sin leading to eternal life.  He is presented as the Savior, the answer for sin and death.  All of this is true.  But when one begins to walk out the faith as a mortal, there is a struggle to find the Messiah (Savior) relevant to everything else in life.  Where is the “fatness” of life that the Anointed One gives us?  Where is the abundant life that Yeshua promised us?  Where is the power of God that our faith stands on?

The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.    John 10:10

Our relationship with the Messiah is more than wisely turning off at the last exit on the road of our mortal life before eternal judgment. This is like the question asked earlier about bread and drink and still being hungry and thirsty.  Where is the abundance (and I am not talking about money and stuff)?  This is more to believing in the Messiah. 

Consider again what Yeshua said. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  That is a very powerful statement!  He also said that He was the light of the world. The Pharisees claimed that His statements were false because He was testifying only of Himself, but He responded with a core definition of who the Messiah is. 

Yeshua answered and said to them, "Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true; for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and He who sent Me. Even in your law it has been written, that the testimony of two men is true. I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me. So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Yeshua answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also."  John 8:14-19

Do you remember me saying earlier that the path to the Father is through the Son?

Yeshua amplified this spiritual truth even further, addressing the reason that some believers don’t have the abundant life and why they aren’t really believers.  Selah—think deeply for a moment.  Yeshua is about to explain why many believers fall away from faith in Him.

So Yeshua was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."  John 8:31-32

Yeshua is talking to believers.  He explains that they truly are His disciples if they continue in His teaching of the truth and that the truth will release them and make them free.

But these believers are only thinking in mortal terms, not spiritual, and argue that they are descendants of Abraham (a free man).  Yeshua explains further that the release they need is from sin — that they are caught up in the slavery to sin.  Truth, He says, is what brings the freedom.

The same is true of believers of today.  Many believers, especially those who emphasize the Messiah as Savior, find themselves trapped in this mortal life to a host of sins and curses.  But they won’t believe in the Messiah when He says He is the truth and the release from those sins. Part of the Messiah’s sacrifice was to hang on a tree (the cross).  This, according to the Law, represents punishment for curses.  Why don’t believers have a release from curses in their lives?  I have met many believers who are still cursed, according to them. Why don’t they believe the work of Yeshua on the cross for those things?

Didn’t the Apostle Paul states that all those judgments against us were put on the cross?

… having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  Colossians 2:14

If we don’t understand the full work of the Messiah, then we won’t believe in Him for those things. As a result, there is no abundant life and no satisfaction in our lives, yet we say He is Savior.  This is why Paul emphasizes our growth in the Messiah as the path to victory and power.

…in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:3

Belief in Yeshua as the Messiah is also the belief in Yeshua as the Truth—the Truth that sets your life free (if you continue to abide in Him).  The Truth and the Spirit work together.

We have all seen many believers start out with a confession of faith, “Yes, He is Lord and Savior.  Absolutely, no question about it, I sure do believe in Him.”  But what follows is disappointment, dissatisfaction, and being confronted with troubles.  So much for the abundant thing…

But what really happened?  They didn’t believe; they did not grow in the Messiah.  They acknowledged the Messiah but didn’t allow the truth to set them free or the Spirit to teach them.  Yeshua addressed this activity in a very direct way.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'  Matthew 7:21-23

Whenever I quote this verse, I remind people that the folks who Yeshua is speaking about are a very religious people (they call Him “Lord, Lord;” they prophesy, they cast out demons, they do miracles), but they don’t do the will of the Father, which is the core of believing (hearing and doing what God says).

When you practice lawlessness you deny what God has said or commanded.  In the Law (Torah), God told Moses that He would give us a Messiah, but that we would then be required to do what He said.

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.”  The Lord said to me, “They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”  Deuteronomy 18:15-19

Just as God said at Mount Sinai, “to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:6), Yeshua said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

The writer of Hebrews said this:

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6

Confessing that you believe in Yeshua as the Son of God, He who was sent by the Father, and that He is the Messiah promised in the Scriptures is a good first step.  But it is not a confession of faith if it is just repeated words you were advised to say.  Nor is it the power of God to salvation if it is built with blocks of religious ritual using the mortar of presumption to fill in the cracks.  Like the walls of Jericho, that wall will tumble one day.

Our faith must be equal with the truth, established by evidence, and empowered by His Spirit beyond what mortal mind and thought can grasp.

Having been in the ministry now for many years, I have met many believers.  But, I must confess, how many of them are using hearsay and presumption as a substitute for true faith?  When I consider the future, when all of us will go through the fire of tribulation, will all of us make it through, or will many fall away for lack of faith?

All of us should ask ourselves these questions.  Do we believe Yeshua is the Messiah?  What is our definition of the Messiah?  What evidences do we see in Yeshua’s words and deeds that convince us that He truly is the Messiah?  Can we recount and do we believe what the Messiah has still promised to do?

Paul spoke precisely to these questions for us today.

… so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.  For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach -- if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.  Colossians 1:10-23