Elohim hates contention and strife!

Mark 9:38–41, Yeshua forbids sectarianism. Though someone may not be in our spiritual camp, if they are doing good and are not against us, we’re to give them credit of the good they are doing. This is the high road of love, mercy and grace that Yeshua expects his disciples to follow in regards to those of other congregations, denominations or ministries.

Mark 9:38–50, Avoid strife and contention. This is a very enigmatic passage that commentators struggle with trying to explain, since Yeshua links together so many seemingly disparate concepts. I say “seemingly,” since there is nothing average about the Master’s intellect, or his knowledge of spiritual truth. Our inability to comprehend his sayings should only spur us onward to dig all the more into their heights and depths of meaning, thus uncovering the nuggets of truth from within the transcendent intellect of our Master and Creator!

Yeshua the Master begins his discourse by discouraging sectarianism. “Those who aren’t against us are for us.” He then promises rewards to those who are kind to his disciples, implying that his disciples should in turn be kind to others who, though they may not be a part of your particular group, they may not necessarily be working against you, for they may also be kingdom workers but with a different assignment than yours (vv. 38–41).

Next, our Master warns against offense—especially those who offend (or cause to stumble) the little ones who are still young and tender in their faith. Linked with the preceding thought, the implication may be that Yeshua’s servants need to beware of not offending any of his kingdom workers whether they are part of “our group” or not. Only the Almighty sees the larger picture much as a general oversees his troops. The individual soldier knows his own marching orders, and may be oblivious to the orders of other soldier’s elsewhere, and is thus in no position to judge another soldier who has other marching orders.

Yeshua then issues a strong warning against any actions (the hand), or any directions of our lives (the foot), or any perspective (the eye) that may lead us to sin in causing one of YHVH’s kingdom workers elsewhere to stumble spiritually. Such an offense may bring us under the severe and unquenchable fires of YHVH’s eternal judgment. In other words, when we, through offensive actions and perspectives, cause one of YHVH’s kingdom workers who is operating outside of our limited view of things to stumble, we may be doing irreparable damage to the advancement of the kingdom, thus risk bringing the wrath of Elohim squarely down upon us (vv. 42–48).

Yeshua concludes his discourse with an even more mysterious statement that commingles a variety of biblical concepts. Many biblical commentators admit the difficulty of understanding this passage (e.g. Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, Beale and Carson). He indicates that his disciples, as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), must allow themselves to be laid on the altar of YHVH’s service like the animal sacrifices of old. As these sacrifices went through the sprinkling of salt (Lev 2:13; Ezek 43:24) and the burning of fire on the altar of sacrifice, even so, as living sacrifices doing YHVH’s kingdom work, Yeshua’s disciples must be willing to endure the fires of trials and adversity. Fire both consumes and purifies, while salt both preserves and seasons—two activities that are continually needed in the disciple’s life as part of their spiritual refinement in order for them to become perfect and sin-free like their Master.

Yeshua ends with the admonition to be salty or spicy (in our words and actions) as we advance his kingdom. But we mustn’t be offensive in our demeanor such that it causes others to stumble, thus breaking the peace between our fellow coworkers, since we are all working together for the same Master. No matter what, maintain peace one with another (vv. 49–50)!

This final admonition brings us full circle back to Yeshua’s initial point in his instructions to his disciple to avoid sectarianism and to be a peacemaker among spiritual brethren. YHVH hates division and strife within the congregation of the righteous and calls it an abomination (Prov 6:16–19). Those who cause it are to be avoided (Rom 16:17; 2 Thess 3:6) if not excommunicated (Tit 3:10)!


The Local Congregation—Love and Support It or You’ll Lose It!


After pastoring a local congregation in the Hebrew Roots Movement for the past 18, I’ve recognized a serious problem. Those who have a local congregation take it for granted, while those who don’t are aching to have one. Most of those who are blessed to have a local congregation to attend weekly take it for granted and do not fully appreciate the work and sacrifice that it takes to keep a congregation going. They take it for granted. On the other hand, those aren’t blessed to have a local fellowship long for one.

Here are some things for everyone to consider in this regard.

Hebrews 10:25, Not forsaking the assembling. The broader scriptural context of this verse gives us some valuable clues about the importance of believers in Yeshua assembling together on a regular basis. What was in the mind of the writer of Hebrew that caused him to place this admonition about assembling together after his discussion about the earthy versus heavenly tabernacle, how Yeshua is our Great High Priest, and how the blood of Yeshua is much more efficacious in cleansing us from sin then the sprinkling of animal blood on the mercy seat in the tabernacle? What’s more, the writer goes on to talk about the saints boldly entering the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary by way of the blood of Yeshua and being washed by the water of the Word of Elohim. After this, he admonishes the saints to not forsake assembling together, and so much more so as they see “that Day” (i.e., the day of Yeshua’s coming) approaching. What does all this have to do with the saints assembling together? It is this: The saints coming together (on the seventh day Sabbath, biblical feasts and any other times) should be a holy of holies experience — the nearest thing to heaven on earth this side of heaven! In as much as the holy of holy, in Hebraic thought, is a prophetic picture of the bridal chamber where YHVH will meet and spiritually commune with his people, by the saints assembling together, they are rehearsing the soon coming reunion between Yeshua and his bride (redeemed believers who love Yeshua by keeping his commandments) at his second coming. This is the larger context behind the admonition to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.”

The Benefits of Being Part of a Local Congregation

Church attendance is plummeting in America. Though roughly 85 percent of Americans claim to be Christian, only a very small percentage of these people attend church services weekly. Those who do, spend only one or two hours a week in church at the most. Even Continue reading


Why the Bible Commands Church Attendance — Blessings and Benefits of It

Did you know the Bible commands church attendance in both the OT and NT? You can’t reach your full spiritual potential without it. It can help keep you from backsliding into Laodiceanism. The writer of Hebrew likens it to a holy of holies experience that helps prepare us to be the bride of Yeshua at his second coming. There are even more blessings and benefits. Watch the video to learn what they are.


Why Go to Church?

Hebrews 10:25, Not forsaking the assembling. The following is a brief study on the importance of being in spiritual fellowship with other redeemed believers.

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What do the Scriptures say about the necessity of believers assembling together?

Torah commands Israelites to assemble weekly on the Sabbath (Heb. Shabbat) and at the seven annual feasts, which are set-apart convocations (Heb. miqrai kodesh) and appointed times (Heb. moedim) (Lev 23:2).

Consider this: How can one properly obey the Torah without assembling weekly on Shabbat and the biblical feasts? To not be part of a congregation (a community of redeemed Israelite believers in Yeshua) and to not assemble on YHVH’s regular appointed times is to disobey the very heart and core of the Torah!

Keeping Torah is a community affair. Those who are independent and act like Robinson Crusoes and Lone Rangers are not fulfilling the requirements of the Torah. Torah was for the nation of Israel, and Israel was meant to be a united community, not a bunch of scattered, selfish, and narcissistic individuals each looking out for himself and doing what was right in his own eyes irrespective of other members of the community.

The Testimony of Yeshua (the New Testament) record shows us that the first century kahal (church) was a community. The apostles expected that redeemed believers would be attending a congregation each Shabbat (Acts 15:21).

The kahal is like a human body; in fact, it’s the spiritual body of Yeshua (Rom 12:4–5; 1 Cor 12:12–30). All the parts cannot function properly unless they come together. Shabbat and the feasts are YHVH’s appointed times when this occurs.

In Acts 2:42, we find listed the main purposes of the spiritual community of the redeemed.

The local congregation is Continue reading