08/02/2014 Sabbath Meeting Transcript


"Sectarianism and Elitism" (Unity Conference)"


EliYah's message:

Blessed be Yahweh. I put my website up there because I think some people here do not recognize the face and tie it to the website. I have been author and webmaster of EliYah.com since, well, I actually started in 1995, proclaiming the name of Yahweh and the Torah.

We have a weekly video broadcast we do every Sabbath, at noon ET, and we host a Festival in Leasburg, Missouri. It is just a ministry Yahweh has given me, and it is my little way of trying to reach out and have the truth of Yahweh go forth to all nations.

So I am excited to gather with other people who are like-minded that way and who I consider in many ways are a product of the Scripture research and study of some of the elders here.

Back in the '70s and '80s, and of course my grandparents, Bob and Lois McDonald, when I was a child were using the names "Yahweh" and "Yahushua," and I asked them about it. And I don't know why, but just as a child, I just knew, "Ok, well, that is His name. That is what I will call Him."

There wasn't any theological discussion, no difficult thing, I just thought, "Oh, that is His name. I have a name. You call me by my name, so why wouldn't I call Him by His name?" So as I came to faith in Yahushua, I actually came to faith using the names.

So I am going to share this message today, and I kind of gave you that background a little bit because I want you to know I am very, very strong on proclamation of the Torah, proclamation of Yahweh and Yahushua and the Sabbath. And nothing I say today, I hope, will cause you to think otherwise.

So I appreciate the elders here and I respect the elders here.

But I want to talk today about: Sectarianism and Elitism. You know, we are here for a unity conference. And one of the reasons why we like to have a unity conference is because we really do not like disunity. We do not like division. We do not like strife. We do not like arguing.

You know, as good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity, how awful and unpleasant it is to dwell together in disunity and discord. And so, I want to demonstrate something from the Scriptures that I found to be a great enemy of unity. It might even be the greatest enemy of unity. And that is a sectarian and elitist mindset.

And I say "dark enemies" of unity because it really is, in my opinion, from the prince of darkness. He is the one that is driving it.

Most of us probably consider ourselves to be non-denominational. It has been actually quite fashionable for believers to identify themselves as non-denominational, and many of us have seen a lot of negativity coming from the denominations in Christianity.

And yet, there are some things that denominations have handed down to us, and sectarians have handed down to us, that might be influencing even our thinking as believers in Messiah and Torah. We may not have a building with a name on it, we may not even be a 501(c) registered religion in our mind, and yet, some of the elements are there among us.

So I want to begin by sharing some scripture that speaks directly to what I am referring to. Sectarianism is basically denominationalism. It is as old as the first century. And it is actually much older than that.

But we are going to look here in Acts chapter 24, verse 1. It says:

 Acts 24:1 - Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator [named] Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.

2 - And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: "Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight,

Of course, they hired an orator. The priests and the Sadducees and the Pharisees hired this guy to speak for them against Paul. And he starts off with flattery, of course.

 Acts 24:3 - "we accept [it] always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

4 - "Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.

5 - "For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Talking about Paul.

And so, we see here that Paul is being accused of being a ring leader of a sect (of the Nazarenes, specifically). The unbelieving Jews considered the believers in Messiah to be part of a sect of Judaism.

Now we know Paul was accused of a lot of things, but I want to draw our attention to the response Paul had in verses 12 through 14. And what he said was:

 Acts 24:12 - "And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city.

13 - "Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.

14 - "But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.

Now notice that Paul never identified himself as being part of a sect or being part of a Nazarene sect. He said "according to the Way." You can find this phrase "the Way" in a number of different verses.

 Acts 9:1 - Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Master, went to the high priest

2 - and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

 Acts 19:8 - And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of Elohim.

9 - But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

 Acts 19:23 - And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way.

 Acts 24:22 - But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of [the] Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, "When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case."

And so, that was their identity as believers in the first century. They saw themselves, not as a sect of Judaism, but as followers of "the Way." And Paul distances himself from being even a part of a sect at all-- "Oh, they call it a sect, but according to the Way, I worship the Elohim of my fathers."

There is a very good reason why he distances himself from that word "sect." It is from the Greek word #139 "hairesis."

Thayer's Greek Lexicon: 139 hairesis {hah'ee-res-is} Meaning: 1) act of taking, capture: e.g. storming a city 2) choosing, choice 3) that which is chosen 4) a body of men following their own tenets (sect or party) 4a) of the Sadducees 4b) of the Pharisees 4c) of the Christians 5) dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims.

I think the definition here, which is the Thayer's Theological Lexicon, included "of the Christians" because of Paul's comments in Acts 24, or at least Tertullus's comments. So how did it manage, though, to be translated "sect" when it means "choosing" and "choice," "the act of taking"? How did it get translated "sect"?

Well, we see some examples:

 Acts 5:17 - Then the high priest rose up, and all those who [were] with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,

The same exact word: "sect."

 Acts 15:5 - But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses."

So these were sectarians. The Sadducees and the Pharisees were participants in various denominations within first century Judaism.

Now they were kind of political in their mentality, the Pharisees. They had their political parties. And Yahushua noted that they sought power, they sought privilege, among the people, having the best seats in the synagogues, and so on. They were respected as priests, rabbis and leaders of the Jewish people.

So first century sectarianism was a key reason, actually, why they sought to kill Messiah. Because they saw Him as a threat to their particular sect, their particular denomination, their power and prestige over the people.

Yahushua commonly exposed their flaws, their errors and their hypocrisy. They did not want Him interfering with their political aspirations. They did not want Him influencing or taking away from their power and respect among the people. They loved to be called "My Great One."

The word "rabbi" means "ravi." "Rav" means "great," "i" being possessive-- "My Great." They loved that name. So they had this motivation to magnify their particular sect. There were the Essenes. There were the Sadducees. There were the Pharisees. And there were others in the first century.

Now notice here in this definition there is an additional section that we would include as part of the definition. And look at how this word is used. At the very bottom of the definition there, five times it is translated "sect" and four times it is translated "heresy."

Thayer's Greek Lexicon: 139 hairesis {hah'ee-res-is} Origin: from 138; TDNT - 1:180,27; n f Usage: AV - sect 5, heresy 4; 9.

And that is why it is called "hairesis." That is from where we get the word "heresy. And when I first saw that, I thought, "What in the world is this word? I mean, which is it?"

So I found that to be remarkable because, basically, sectarianism is heresy. It is the same word. There is no difference. Denominationalism is, in and of itself, heresy. It is the same word. So since they are from the same word, and the root of this has to do with choosing and choice, I think, "Okay, what is this all about?"

It says that it is from #138 there (the origin). "Hairesis" is from #138. So I go back to #138, and it means, simply: "to choose." And it is translated "choose" three times.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon: 138 haireomai {hahee-reh'-om-ahee} Meaning: 1) to take for oneself, to prefer, choose 2) to choose by vote, elect to office. Origin: probably akin to 142; TDNT - 1:180,27; v Usage: AV - choose 3; 3.

This particular word is said to be akin to #142. And if you look that up, it has to do with "raising up," "elevating." And so, it is almost like you see this political element here-- to choose by vote, to elevate, to bring up to the forefront.

And so, we have this word about choice, about political position, about sectarianism, and it is all mish-mashed together from this word family in the Lexicon here.

Now this word "hairesis" is found in Galatians 5 as one of the "works of the flesh."

 Galatians 5:19 - Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

"Heresies" it has there in verse 20...

 Galatians 5:20 - idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,

And it says: "I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim."

 Galatians 5:21 - envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim.

If you practice this word, "hairesis," he says you will not inherit the Kingdom of Elohim. I hope that gets our attention. We do not want any part of what this is about.

It is a work of the flesh. No wonder he did not want to be called the "hairesis" of the Nazarenes. And so, it is a serious thing. It is a very serious thing, and we better figure out what it is and what it is all about.

Now I realize the Church, traditional Christianity, has kind of hijacked this word to mean anyone who does not agree with the Trinity. It is kind of what they have it boiled down to. And this was mentioned yesterday.

And do you know what the amazing thing is? Every study (and I sat and listened to every one of them), every study yesterday had a part of what I'm sharing today in it. The same spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 11:17, Paul is talking to the Corinthians, and he says:

 1Corinthians 11:17 - Now in giving these instructions I do not praise [you], since you come together not for the better but for the worse.

18 - For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.

19 - For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

"For there must also be factions <139, "hairesis"> among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you." There is division in the first century congregation? I thought they had it all together. I thought they were all real close to the Messiah and they did not have this kind of stuff going on.

No, it was there just like it is among us. It was there, too. And he said it has to be there. It has to be there so that those who are approved would be recognized. And what was the culprit? What was the reason for the division? "Hairesis." That is why there is division. Because of "hairesis."

There has to be that among you so that those who are approved may be recognized. It is almost like the tares among the wheat. It has to be there. Now is this getting stranger by the minute, or what? Yes.

Well, it is not strange if you realize how incredibly powerful the sectarian and elitist (I will add that word to it) mindset is, because it has damaged Israel, the people of Yahweh, all the way back to Moshe's time.

Numbers 16, it says:

 Numbers 16:1 - Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took [men];

2 - and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown.

3 - They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "[You take] too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation [is] holy, every one of them, and YAHWEH [is] among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of YAHWEH?"

They were talking to Moshe. They had difficulty believing that this meek, humble guy, who couldn't talk very well, would be "the man" that Yahweh chose. "Oh, we are holy, too. You are not the only one around here, Moshe." Now we know what happened to them. The earth opened up and swallowed them and everything they had.

They were a threat because if they were regarded to be on equal standing with Moshe, they would have the ability to influence what the Torah was going to say, what the doctrines were going to be, what the judgments and statutes and laws were going to be.

If they were allowed to proceed, a sect would have inevitably formed because they are not going to agree, right? A sect would have formed-- some people siding with the sons of Korah (some people siding with their beliefs) and some people siding with Moshe. You can see it happening. We know how it goes.

Thus, to choose is at the heart of sectarianism. The integrity of Yahweh's Word in this case was at stake. If left unchecked, it would have undermined what Yahweh was trying to establish when He was establishing His Torah and His nation of Yisrael. He had to deal with it swiftly and quickly.

We also know Moshe's brother, Aaron, and his sister, Miriam, tried to act like they were on equal par. All they did was say, "Wasn't Yahweh among us, too?" and "BAM"! Yahweh shows up. "You three, get into the tabernacle right now!" And He puts leprosy on Miriam. Sectarianism was starting to rear its ugly head, and He dealt with it quickly.

Yahweh could trust Moshe because he was humble, he was faithful, and he would faithfully pass on the Word of Yahweh to the people. He was the meekest man on the face of the earth. But the desire for power and position was at work. And that is the heart of denominationalism, elitism and sectarianism.

Now fast forward to the time of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Jeroboam was given kingship. Yahweh gave it to him. But he was afraid he would lose his position of power and influence.

So he basically set up his own sect and denomination, right? The northern tribes. One that allowed Tel Dan to have a golden calf, and whatever else. One that had a completely different priesthood that did not have the sons of Aaron. And once that happened, it was over.

Not a single king of the northern tribes was righteous. They were all wicked. One hundred percent. Every single one of them. They never recovered from the sectarian denominational thing that Jeroboam set up. And so, sectarianism is incredibly destructive to Yahweh's people.

In first century Judaism, there were the sects of the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes, who knows how many. But Yahushua told them:

 Matthew 23:15 - "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Wow! Obviously, He did not like what they were doing, did He? He did not like their sectarian mentality that they had.

His own disciples were starting to lay down a similar foundation of sectarianism and denominationalism when they would argue. Right after He would talk about His death, they would always go, "Well, who will be the greatest, then?"

He is talking about, "Oh, I am going to be dying soon." He is at the table, there. They just did the Passover meal, and a rivalry started among them (in Luke 21, I think it is): "Who will be the greatest?"

If left unchecked, basically, when Yahushua died, they would all decide, "Well, who is going to take over? Of course, the greatest should take over, right?" And, maybe, they would argue about, "Well, maybe it should be Peter. Maybe it should be Andrew. Maybe it should be John."

And the end result would be, some people would side with John, some people would side with Peter, some people-- "Oh, I am of Apollos." "I am of this." "I am of that." And pretty soon denominationalism takes over, and the whole thing falls apart. Yahushua had to defeat their mentality.

See, denominations have this argument: Who will be the greatest? They do. They all claim to be the greatest, don't they? I mean, "Come on, join our church. Join our group, our assembly. We are the greatest." It is like, "Get on my sports team. You will win!" Really, it is like sports. "We are the elite ones. We are the ones that are saved."

How did Yahushua defeat their mentality? He came to Capernaum (you guys saw pictures of that yesterday), Mark 9:33:

 Mark 9:33 - Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, "What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?"

34 - But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who [would be the] greatest.

35 - And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

 Mark 9:36 - Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them,

37 - "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me."

The ones who desire to be first, shall be last. No claim of power. No claim of position. No desire to exalt yourselves over others. Just serve. Be like a child in humility.

A child is not only humble. They always follow, don't they? If you do something, they follow what you do, right? So follow the Good Shepherd. Imitate His life. That mentality will destroy denominationalism.

You are not worried about position. You are worried about that other person and what they are going through. You are there to serve them. You are there to bless them. You are there to help them. You are there to provide for them, to be there for them, to care about them, to love them.

Who is going to be the greatest? It is not in the equation. It is about who needs help, and "how can I help them?" That mentality will destroy denominationalism and sectarianism among us.

And right after this, John answered Him, saying:

 Mark 9:38 - Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us."

Sectarianism. "He is not part of our group. What is he doing over there casting out demons? How dare he do that!"

 Mark 9:39 - But Yahushua said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.

40 - "For he who is not against us is on our side.

Yahushua did not care if this person was not walking around with Him every day. He said do not forbid him. So what? He is advancing the Kingdom. HalleluYah! So rather than viewing him as competition or a threat, He considered the man a partner.

Ministries and congregations should not consider each other competition, vying for the attention of the people. They should consider each other partners, working together as one voice against the adversary.

Now I want to dig a little deeper into how this first century responded to sectarianism. Titus chapter 3, verse 8-- first century congregation:

 Titus 3:8 - This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in Elohim should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

9 - But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

Wow!

 Titus 3:10 - Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition,

"Reject a divisive < #141, "hairetikos"> man after the first and second admonition."

 Titus 3:11 - knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

Notice the "hairetikos" man is mentioned right after the disputes and contentions and strivings about the Law. Right after it, right? Its context.

It is in these strivings that the "hairetikos" man is able to do his work. He is able to come in, find fault with an interpretation, draw away people after himself.

Oh, I have seen this, you know. [They say] "I can tell, you have different a perspective than some of the people here. I can tell, you are more like me where I am at. I can really tell," and flatter him a little bit, and then pretty soon hauling him off like a wolf hauling off a lamb.

Lexicon for "divisive": 141 hairetikos {hahee-ret-ee-kos'} Meaning: 1) fitted or able to take or choose a thing 2) schismatic, factious, a follower of a false doctrine 3) heretic. Origin: from the same as 140; TDNT - 1:184,27; adj Usage: AV - that is a heretic 1; 1.

I can't even say it in the Greek with the proper accent on the final syllable, so I will just say “hahee-ret-ee-kos.” Same word family as "hairesis." It is from #140, it says, which is in turn from #139 and traces back to "hairesis."

These kinds of men we are told to reject after the first and second admonition. These kinds of men were there in the first century. What they did was they tried to draw people away, to divide up the people of Yahweh. Basically, they are sectarian in mindset. The same word family is used to describe denominationalism and sectarianism.

In this case, they would use an argument from the Law, or contention, (or some kind of foolish thing to argue about), to draw men away into some kind of sect. Now the sect that they formed may not have a building and a name on the door and a 501(c) incorporation, but it is there. All the elements are there.

The ruling in Acts chapter 15 had everything to do with sectarianism and it creeping into the first century congregation.

 Acts 15:1 - And certain [men] came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

"You cannot even be saved until you are circumcised, my friend. Do you think Messiah saved you? Sorry, not enough. You need circumcision. You need to come under the knife before you get to be saved."

Who were they? Verse 5 tells us who they were: from the sect of the Pharisees.

 Acts 15:5 - But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses."

"You have to keep that circumcision and law keeping before you can even be saved." That is basically what they are teaching. We know how it ended up.

These men were sectarians. They did not believe that one was saved until you were circumcised. As if you are going to come to a Gentile with a Torah scroll in one hand and a scalpel in the other (you know, the knife), and start telling them about Messiah.

They are going to look at you, and go, "Excuse me," and step away. That is not going to work. You have to ease somebody into it.

Paul wrote about these men in Galatians. In fact, the whole book of Galatians, in many ways, is about these sectarians. The whole book of Galatians is addressing their claim-- "If you are not circumcised yet, you are not saved. I cannot sit at the fellowship table with you. You are not a part of us."

 Galatians 6:13 - For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.

How about that? Those sectarians do not even keep the Law themselves. Yahushua said the same thing about the Pharisees. He said, "Not one of you keeps the Law. Not one of you, and yet, you judge Me by the Law."

He (Paul) says, "But they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh." So they can brag. That is why they want you circumcised. Not because they care about you.

They want to brag about you to their cronies back at their meetings there, and say, "Oh, guess what? I have talked to this person and now they are a part of us. They are in." They wanted to basically "bag a foreskin" and brag about it.

So what was James' decision? What did he decide? "Well, let's circumcise them"? No. How did they deal with sectarianism?

 Acts 15:19 - "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to Elohim,

They are turning toward Elohim. They are in this process. They are just getting started.

 Acts 15:20 - "but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, [from] sexual immorality, [from] things strangled, and [from] blood.

These are not the only things because we know Paul wrote a lot of other things to them besides the four.

 Acts 15:21 - "For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath."

In other words, since the Gentiles are already hearing the Word every week (He met a lot of the Gentiles where? In the synagogues), they would have the opportunity to hear the Word of Yahweh being taught.

And so, James and the rest of the disciples decided on some basic things to demonstrate repentance: Refrain from idolatry. (You cannot be worshipping idols and claim to be a believer.) Refrain from sexual immorality and from drinking blood and from things strangled.

And so, in keeping with the fundamental message of what the good news of Messiah actually is: 1) repentance and 2) faith in Yahushua Messiah. That is the fundamental thing that we need in order to enter into a relationship with Yahweh.

And these are some things the first century Gentile believers could do to demonstrate they really were turning to Elohim-- forsaking idolatrous practices and an opportunity to hear more of Yahweh's Word.

So if they are willing to hear Yahweh's Word and they are willing to forsake these idolatrous practices, and these kinds of things, then we are going to accept them into the brotherhood, love them as one of our own. They are obviously led by the Holy Spirit. They would learn and grow at a pace to which they could bear.

Rather than being pressured by sectarianism, and saying, "No, not until you do _____ (fill in the blank) are you saved. Repentance and faith in Messiah is not enough. You must also _____." What else? Fill in the blank.

The ruling in Acts 15 is the antithesis of sectarianism, is the antidote, is the opposite mentality. It puts Yahweh in the position of authority over their life rather than man telling them, "You must do this, or else."

It allows Yahweh to minister to individuals by the Holy Spirit rather than pressuring people to conform by threatening them with words to doubt their salvation. Yesterday, I think it was Brother Frank, said, "Yahweh leads. Satan shoves." And that is what I found. You cannot shove a group of sheep into a pen. They will out maneuver you.

You have to lead them in. I learned that being a shepherd for a few years. You cannot do it with chickens. You cannot do it with any flock. You cannot scare them into the pen. They will go somewhere else. They know they are going to get trapped in there.

And so, it is the same thing. We have to lead, not push and shove and control and manipulate and threaten. Threatening people by telling them, "You are not saved until you do what I say I think is important," is the spirit of denominationalism and sectarianism. It is heresy. It is a work of the flesh. It is. That is the same word.

So take this to a modern day application today. Suppose there is an unbeliever. He is living a very sinful lifestyle. Maybe a biker, in a gang, or some of the worst of the worst. And this unbeliever was in a hotel room one night, and he opened up the drawer and he saw a Bible in it. In the drawer a Gideon Bible is there, and he began to read it.

He became very interested. He began to get conviction. He began to realize the life he had been living isn't really what he wanted to do anymore. He wanted to be clean. He wanted to be free. He wanted redemption.

And he gets on his face with tears of repentance and he believed and he expressed faith in Messiah spoken of in that Bible he read. And he desired to enter eternal life through Him, and he wanted to change his life and live right.

Now that man may be almost completely Bible illiterate. He knows very, very little about Yahweh's will for his life, but his heart is in the right place, isn't it? And he gave his life to the heavenly Father. And that Bible he had, in it had the word "Jesus."

Is Yahweh up in heaven saying, "Sorry, son. I can't save you. You did not pronounce My Son's name correctly"? Is He? I mean, is Yahweh going, "You haven't kept your first Sabbath. Therefore, I reject you in your cries for salvation. I don't receive you. You are not good enough, yet"?

I do not believe that. I hope that you are not one who believes that. I do not think anybody here is. But that is not the way our Father works. He does not wait until you pronounce His name right to get salvation, as if you say some magic word, "Open sesame," and you open the door. It is the Person.

He doesn't wait until you keep your first Sabbath and then save you. The man who gets on his face didn't join a denomination. He didn't join a sect. He didn't join a congregation. He entered into a relationship with the Messiah at that moment.

And if he died tomorrow, you will meet him when you get to the Kingdom. If you endure to the end, you will meet him there. I believe that. Because his heart was turned to the Father. And that is the key.

I mean, at one time he was Yahweh's enemy. At one time, he was walking in the way of darkness. But now he has turned his heart toward following the holy Scriptures, and he is ignorant of all kinds of stuff.

Let me ask you a question: When does a person become a believer? Is it when he has 10% truth? Is it when he knows 30% of the Bible and how we are supposed to live with Messiah and what we are supposed to do? Is it when you have 50%? 100%? When do you become a believer? How much truth do you have to have to become one?

If we are going to judge that man because he does not yet know something we know, where are we on the scale? Maybe he is at 1%. Where are we on the scale? I do not even know where I am at. Somewhere... because I do not know where the end is. I have a whole lifetime of learning from what I have found. I keep finding new things all the time.

I am, "Hey, wait a minute." There are things about my own heart I haven't even realized... 5 years... 10... 15... 20... I have been in this for 24 years, or 25 years... and I didn't even know this was in my heart the whole time.

There are truths in the Scriptures I have read a thousand times. One thousand and one time-- it jumps out at me, and says, "Son, you have some work to do." Right? It is an ongoing understanding, a growth process. And so, I do not know where I am at along the percentage.

And if I judge that man and say he is not a believer yet, because he does not have whatever percentage of truth I have, what about myself? Where am I at?

Yahushua said:

 Matthew 7:2 - "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

3 - "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

If we say that man is still an unbeliever simply because he has not yet come to the truth that we happen to have found, we happen to enjoy, then what if we are lacking some spiritual truth somewhere? What about us? I am afraid of that. I am scared about it.

Do we not realize we have this two-by-four hanging out, you know? And here we are knocking that guy over with our two-by-four and telling him he is not saved yet because he has not received what truth I value. So we need to view Yahweh as He is: a Father. He is a Father. We are His children.

Now, as parents, how many of us would reject our child who came to us in tears and humility and confessing they did something wrong, and they want us to help them not do it anymore, they do not want to do wrong anymore, would we go, "Sorry, I reject you"?

Or would we say, "Oh, son, come here. Yes, I love you. I will help you. I forgive you. I am willing to help"?

Well, the prodigal son, he was accepted when he changed his attitude, right? When he changed his attitude toward his father.

Scripture says:

 Psalms 103:12 - As far as the east is from the west, [So] far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 - As a father pities [his] children, [So] YAHWEH pities those who fear Him.

14 - For He knows our frame; He remembers that we [are] dust.

He understands. I dare say He understands even more so than many of us as parents understand.

So understanding this is the key to understanding why the disciples made such a ruling in Acts 15. They wanted to know: Are these people really repentant? Are they showing some fruits of repentance here? Or is it just confession and walk away and live any way you want?

They wanted something to show for it. But they also understood they could not lay the whole Law down on them at once. In the same way, we cannot eat a five-hundred course meal in one sitting. We have to digest some for a while, then eat the next meal, right?

They could not digest the entirety of Yahweh's Torah in one sitting, let alone live it out and practice it. We are all still trying to live out and practice something. I hope we are all growing.

Now suppose that same believer goes down to the local yocal First Church of the Whatever, and he says, "Wow! That pastor! He knows his Bible! Wow!" and sets his own Bible on the shelf, sits back, "I am just going to listen to what the pastor tells me. He knows a whole lot about the Bible." He left his first love. Now man is in the place of Yahweh.

Where is the relationship? Now it is through a man. There is no relationship. Where is it? Walking on dangerous ground now. Now he has made a huge mistake.

Now the reason I am sharing this is so that we understand, as people of Torah and Messiah who call upon the name of Yahweh, the foundational aspect of what the good news is, because it is not about how far you have traveled. It is whether you are on "the Way." Are you on the Way?

It is not how far along the Way you are, it is whether you are on the narrow path. It is not about whether you know "this" or you know "that." It is about whether He knows you.

So they said:

 2Peter 2:1 - But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, [and] bring on themselves swift destruction.

Heresies. What is the word? "Hairesis."

 2Peter 2:2 - And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

"The way <3598> of truth will be blasphemed." A contrast. They are the ones leading people to "hairesis" and sectarianism. You are not saved until you are _____ (fill in the blank). "You have to do what I do, do what I am doing over here. You have to get circumcised." You have to follow "this" and follow "that."

And then there are those who are of "the Way."

Now along with that sectarian mindset typically comes false doctrine. I am not denying it. But the word translated "way" is from the Greek word "hodos." It is the same word if you were to look in the Septuagint and read the Greek translation of the Old Testament.

First of all, it is this word here (way). We looked at these verses in the book of Acts. But the Septuagint translates this word as "hodos" as well. It has to do with "properly, a way," "a travelled road," "a travellers way," and so on.

Lexicon for "Way": 3598 hodos {hod-os'} Meaning: 1) properly 1a) a way 1a1) a travelled way, road 1b) a travellers way, journey, travelling 2) metaph. 2a) a course of conduct 2b) a way (i.e. manner) of thinking, feeling, deciding.

Origin: Apparently a root word. TDNT - 5:42,666; n f Usage: AV - way 83, way side 8, journey 6, highway 3, miscellaneous 2; 102.

I like this-- Proverbs 4:18. It says:

 Proverbs 4:18 - But the path of the just [is] like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

And the Greek translation of this Hebrew scripture is: "The 'hodos' of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day." That is the way, right? Your path is getting brighter into the perfect day. That is the point.

I like this, too-- Isaiah 2:3. It is found here, as well.

 Isaiah 2:3 - Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of YAHWEH, To the house of the Elohim of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of YAHWEH from Jerusalem.

"We will walk in His paths (hodos)." Why? It says, "For out of Tsion will go forth the Law." That is why. So the Law is telling us the way. It is informing us about the way of truth.

Also, John 14:6.

 John 14:6 - Yahushua said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Yahushua is the way because He not only cleanses us from all sin, but He also provides us with a perfect example of Torah observance. We are supposed to be followers of Him-- the WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE.

So this is so, so important that we understand this. It defines us. It becomes an identity of who we are. We are followers of the Way.

Sectarianism has a way of becoming an alternative identity, like: "Well, I am a Mennonite." "I am a Jehovah Witness." "I am a Methodist." "I am a Whatever-ist." "I am a Sacred Namer." "I am this." I am that."

Now wait, you do not identify yourself with just one doctrine out of the Bible. You identify yourself with the Messiah. He is the One we are trying to follow. So it is identity, the way we identify ourselves as. Identity is extremely important.

You know, if a guy wants to be a biker, what does he do? He gets the leather garb, gets himself a Harley, puts the shades on. Maybe have a little ponytail in the back and a beard. He goes down the road like a tough guy. That is the identity that has kind of been developed over the last few decades, right?

So the sectarian mindset also offers an identity. And you will be pressured by men to fit that mold of what that identity is when you join that particular sect or group, or whatever. Whether it is biblical or not, you would be pressured to do that.

And so, you would be more motivated to fit the denominational mold than you would be by Yahweh and the holy Scriptures. And, therefore, man again gets in the way of what Yahweh is trying to teach you through the Word.

So why can't we just let our identity be, "Well, we are just following the Way, shining ever brighter." Not going to say, "I have arrived." Not going to say, "Come to me." Come to Messiah. We are just trying to follow Him.

We are not going to say, "Well, my group is the only one. My group is THE denomination. We are the ones." That is the error of denominationalism. That is the error. People find a little bit of truth, hold it up, have the little piece of steak, and they think have the whole cow. Seriously, that is what they think.

They think they have it all because they have this one piece that nobody else happens to notice in the Bible. But we do not want to do that.

And with that one little piece of steak they build their empire. Out of Protestant Christianity came Luther. He had some truth. People set up shop, were stuck. If Luther did not teach that, "Well, then, we are not going to do it."

Someone spoke up in that group. "Well, wait a minute. This Bible verse says this right here."

"Oh, well. We don't believe that, you know. It is not like us, so it is not part of our identity."

They go off and start their own identity. Out of that group, someone rises up, and says, "Well, wait a minute. This Bible verse says this."

"That is not who we are now. That is just not who we are."

And so, there is this pressure to fit these stereotypes, these denominational "how things look." And that keeps people from growing. It does. This is one of the lies inherited from our fathers.

Now these kinds of things are not just found in Protestant Christianity. I see them among us, too. (I might get in trouble.)

But it is evident in how a believer in the Sabbath treats someone who doesn't yet know about Sabbath keeping or is not yet convicted about it. It is evident in how a believer in the Sacred name treats someone who uses "the LORD," "God," and "Jesus." It is there.

Some who believe like us treat those who have not yet received some of the truths that we value and we believe in as if they are lost outsiders having no salvation and having no relationship with Messiah at all.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard (especially early on, as I was new into this--in the early '90s), that people who believe in the Sacred names call those Christians all Ba'al worshipers-- "Oh, they are worshippers of Ba'al over there, doing this and doing that."

I was one of them. I joined in with them. "Oh, yeah, they are all Ba'al worshippers." Then I got to realizing, "Now wait a minute." As if no person who believes all the truths I found could possibly have a relationship with the father. Is that really truth?

Yet, the same people who would call a Christian a Ba'al worshipper, by the same breath would say, "Well, yeah, I did have a relationship with Yahweh before I used the Sacred names. I just didn't know about it, yet." The same person will say both sides as if there is one standard for you and one standard for everybody else. You cannot do that.

It damages people. When you treat people that way, it damages people, and it damages the movement that we are trying to bring out, the truth we are trying to bring out.

So we come to the Christian with this mentality. We cannot do this. We come with this mentality and it endangers our own salvation, because with what judgment you judge, you will be judged.

Oh, you have this truth. Okay, great. Well, you who are spiritual, restore them in meekness or you will be tempted, and you might not do so well.

That is how denominations become traps.

You become twice the son of hell you were before, because all those judgments you made on other people who were not of your particular understanding come in remembrance before the King.

So if we come to a Christian with this mentality they are lost and headed to the lake of fire simply because they have not heard and accepted something that we value and we know is right, then we enter into a sectarian, elitist mentality.

And we are basically believing a false evangel, a false good news, that says, "Unless you _____ (blank), you cannot be saved." Really? Fill in the blank.

We all said the man in the hotel room entered into a relationship. Well, which is it? When does he lose that relationship? When does he enter it? Circumcision? Law keeping? Does that make him saved?

Does keeping Sabbath make him saved? Or is it repentance and faith in Messiah for the forgiveness of sin-- repentance from what you know is wrong with the expectation you are going to continue to seek out what is right and what is wrong and faith in Messiah?

To say all people who identify themselves as Christians are going to the lake of fire is to reject the message of the early disciples and aligns us with a sectarian denominational mindset and an elitist spirit that we are above everybody else-- "We are the greatest." Same argument the disciples were trying to make.

That mindset is heresy. It is not in accordance with the good news of Messiah.

Now, innumerable Christians I know have been turned off by those among us who promote the sectarian way. We come to them in condemnation, invalidating their experience with Messiah and how He has changed their lives so much. We forget how patient Yahweh has been with us.

We forget how patient He is today with us. We forget how longsuffering and merciful He is with us. People who might say, "Well, salvation in no other name," would also say, "You keep the commandments, or you are going to the lake of fire."

Are you keeping every commandment? Is there a commandment you missed somewhere? Did you gloss over something? Into the lake of fire you go if that is what we are going to go by and there is no such thing as mercy in Yahweh's vocabulary toward someone who is ignorant. Okay, if that is where you want to go, that is where you will go.

But I really do think it is Yahushua who is changing their lives for the better. Many of them were rotten sinners when they got saved. He changed their life. You cannot deny His work in their life. They were drug users and abusers of men. They were this. They were that. He changed their life.

And you come along, and say, "None of that even happened. It wasn't even Him." You are going to be a stumbling block. They are not going to receive anything you have to say to them. "You did not pronounce the name of the Messiah right. How could you be saved?" Nonsense! Absolute nonsense. It is not the vocalization. It is the Person.

Now I believe in pronouncing the Father's and the Son's name. I am all for it because it is truth. We should not change the Bible and put some title in there. You cannot take His name out of His own Book. How dare you! Who do you think you are doing that? I am all for the name. But He can overlook our ignorance.

 1John 1:8 - If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

We all have something to overcome. We all have some area where we need to grow. We all do.

 John 9:39 - And Yahushua said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind."

40 - Then [some] of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?"

They did not think they were blind.

 John 9:41 - Yahushua said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, `We see.' Therefore your sin remains.

Wow! Wow! Just chew on that for about a week... or a month... or the rest of your life. Because Yahushua can overlook our blind spots and not even charge us with sin if we are ignorant. It is a Father-son relationship.

If my son did not know something was wrong and he came to me and told me he did this, I wouldn't discipline him. I would explain to him what he did wrong first. I do not hold him accountable until he knows, right? Isn't that how a father-son relationship is supposed to work?

Wouldn't we want that from our fathers if we were children? I would hope so.

Now if he was arrogant and claimed to know everything as a know-it-all, refusing to really listen to me, well, I probably would hold him accountable for everything, because he thinks he knows everything.

What is Yahushua telling us right here? Same thing. "You claim to be the seeing one. Well, okay, I am going to hold you to what you claim to be." That is the danger. That is what I am talking about. That is the great danger of sectarianism and denominationalism.

You claim to see. You claim to have arrived. "We have the answers right here. You come to us. And there is no salvation outside our group, by the way." Big mistake. Big mistake. We should fear that. So we have to accept His good news.

Who is to say you are more righteous than the average Christian? Let's say you are judging a man for his non-Sabbath keeping. But then, he might be more loving than you are. He might be more peaceful than you are. He might be more kind than you are. He might be more giving and more patient than you are.

In fact, he might be more like Messiah in fifty other ways that you are not. He might...!

He might be a better father to his children than you are. He might be overcoming lust and you are not. He might be having a more intense prayer life and have more faith than you have. What is to say your truth is more important than that?

Now I understand what we are trying to do. We think that we have to put on this united front or we will be invalidated somehow in our walk. You know, we have to make it strong: "Hey, unless you do this, you are in trouble." As if the real believer, who loves truth, who wants it, would ever be motivated by that anyway.

It is only the unbeliever who is scared, or someone who is weak and going to be intimidated into it. You do not want him to be intimidated into the truth. You want him to be inspired to walk it. Truth is important, but we have to respect other people enough and be humble enough to recognize that maybe we are not the greatest after all.

I mean, what I want to say is, as a group, I have seen assemblies that attend these unity conferences really mature and begin to accept each other more even though we have differences, because the thing that does unite us is repentance and faith in Messiah. And we have some things that really are common ground.

If someone comes into our group and they are going to be treated like an outsider who is not as great, we become this clique. The people who are Christians, we have to receive them and assume they love the Father, first of all, until demonstrated and proven to be otherwise.

And most of the time you do not even know, because Yahweh knows those who are His.

 2Timothy 2:19 - Nevertheless the solid foundation of Elohim stands, having this seal: "YAHWEH knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Messiah depart from iniquity."

Yahweh knows. And there could be unbelievers in this room because they are not really repentant in their walk. They are just confident-- "Well, I have the truth. I have the Sabbath. I have the Torah. I am done. I am a retired believer now. I'll cash in in the age to come."

It does not work that way. It doesn't. So when we grumble at somebody else over their lack of understanding, remember who is standing at the door.

 James 5:9 - Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

Remember what the true good news is.

 1Peter 3:15 - But sanctify YAHWEH Elohim in your hearts, and always [be] ready to [give] a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

The fruits of the Spirit. The antidote for the works of the flesh.

 Galatians 6:1 - Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who [are] spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

So if you use judgments on that person, it can come up for a memorial, and Yahweh will allow the enemy to attack you in that same spot, and you may not do as well as he does.

 James 3:13 - Who [is] wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct [that] his works [are done] in the meekness of wisdom.

14 - But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.

15 - This wisdom does not descend from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, demonic.

Whoa!

 James 3:16 - For where envy and self-seeking [exist], confusion and every evil thing [are] there.

Trying to get a following, trying to build a denomination, trying to construct something of men. I have noticed the harder someone tries to make everybody else in line and in unity, the more division there is, the more splits, the more the whole thing blows apart.

 James 3:17 - But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

18 - Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

If you want to sow Yahweh's Word into the heart of a man who is doing something wrong, sow it in peace-- not strife; not debate; not, "I am better than you"; not, "I am holier than thou"; not, "You are lost and I am saved"; not "Come up higher where I sit on my high perch while I scowl at you."

Get underneath them and build them up. That is the way of Messiah.

May Yahweh fill us with those fruits of His spirit. May Yahweh help us to sow the Word that way. And may Yahweh forgive us if we stray from the fundamental good news of Messiah.

Let us be more accepting of people and assume that they are His unless shown otherwise, and embrace the good news, walking away from the sectarian, elitist mentality.

And as we do that, may Yahweh bless you.

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