How The Furnace of Affliction Teaches Us Obedience

How The Furnace of Affliction Teaches Us Obedience

Some of the most valuable lessons of obedience are learned in the furnace of affliction. Those who have been through seasons of spiritual pruning or divine discipline can attest to this. The challenge for us believers in Yeshua is remaining faithful in the fire of Yah’s testing. And if our ultimate goal is to navigate this present darkness with biblical fidelity, we must expect to be tested and trust that the Ruach will provide the necessary light to stay on course.

A key to remaining faithful during trials is to remember that:

  1. Embracing and overcoming hardships helps forge resilient and mighty warriors for the Kingdom
  2. Every follower of Yeshua will encounter seasons of testing
  3. The purpose of the test is to guide us toward a profound level of spiritual growth and maturity

Hardships Make for Strong Kingdom Soldiers

Praying for Strength

Times of hardship and soul-crushing disappointments are not unique to believers in the Gospel message. The lives of Moses, Job, Joseph, the Prophets, and Yeshua bear witness to the fact that those who desire to walk the narrow path of righteousness will suffer. This is normal and is to be expected. 

Faithful lives dedicated to the pursuit of righteousness and in service of Yahuah require hardship.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12 (AMP)

The word rendered “fiery ordeal” here is the Greek word purosis.1 It can mean to be on fire, to burn, a conflagration, or any severe trial. It can also be used idiomatically to describe a major calamity. Metaphorically, it represents a trial that puts one’s faith to the test, similar to how gold is refined through fire. In this context, the fiery ordeal serves as powerful imagery that conveys the notion of how enduring trials test one’s faith and purify our spiritual walk.

Moreover, a righteous person is not promised peace and tranquility in this life.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that bears no fruit He takes away. And every branch that bears fruit He prunes, so that it bears more fruit.

John 15:1-2

The Gardener’s special brand of spiritual pruning comes in a variety of disciplines:

  • Discipline administered within a Torah-based congregation  
  • Allowing the person to experience a period of testing
  • Allowing the pressures of life to expose a person’s true character/beliefs
  • Removal of ‘worthless branches’ through death

All true followers of Yeshua who are united to him in faith will devote their time and prayer life to abiding in and drawing from the Vine. 

Theologian Albert Barnes:

Of course, no one in their right mind wants to suffer. Almost instinctively we gravitate toward the twisted mindset of the Laodiceans who presumed that their prosperity was evidence that all was well with them and their Creator. (Revelation (Hazon) 3:17-19)

They were doing the “works” but they lacked enthusiasm — they were just going through the motions.  Their spiritual blindness and the nakedness of their soul were on full display. (Ephesians 1:18) Confession, repentance, and submission were needed to procure true riches from the proper source – Yeshua, our High Priest. 

I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you become rich; and white garments, so that you become dressed, so that the shame of your nakedness might not be shown; and anoint your eyes with ointment so that you see.

Rev 3:18 (Halleluyah Scriptures)

The cure for their pride and perceived self-sufficiency could only come from the purifying fire of suffering.

…so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of [Yeshua ha’Mashiah]. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not even see Him now, you believe and trust in Him and you greatly rejoice and delight with inexpressible and glorious joy, 1 Peter 1:7,8 AMP

Unfortunately the spiritual state of today’s “church” is not much different from the lukewarm Laodicean assembly in Revelation. 

It can be said that many contemporary congregants have a “form” of godliness. They are taught to gorge on grace while ignoring Torah stipulations designed to teach righteousness — the character of the Most High and His Son. They are taught that ‘grace’ absolves them of any responsibility in ‘working out’ their salvation because Yeshua did all the heavy lifting for us. So they sit back and enjoy the ride, believing that since Jesus paid it all there is nothing left to do but wait for the last trumpet to sound. 

Every follower of Yeshua Will Encounter Seasons of Testing

Some assume that suffering is always a sign of punishment from Yah. If this is true, then how do we explain the honor given to those ‘witnesses’ called martyrs who suffer unto death, refusing to bow the knee to religious and political despots? 

They were stoned [to death], they were sawn in two, they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith], they were put to death by the sword; they went about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated.

Hebrews 11:37

While faith is often expressed in words, true biblical faith is always validated in acts.

Moreover, a righteous person is not promised peace and tranquility in this life. To expect this to be true is delusional and misrepresents the Father’s love for us. Unfortunately, this is the message of the apostate church. It is a mindset whereby those who outsource their biblical knowledge and understanding to pastors fall victim to the soulish doctrine that equates blessing with material goods. 

This mindset is pervasive today. We are all too familiar with the heart-wrenching stories of individuals who, despite being bestowed with abundant material blessings, tragically find themselves in a state of spiritual and material deprivation. Their lives of ease led to their ultimate downfall. This is as true of the Moabites as it is of those who adhere to a Laodocean brand of theology.

Moab has been at ease from youth, settled like wine on its dregs; he has not been poured from vessel to vessel or gone into exile. So his flavor has remained the same, and his aroma is unchanged.

Jeremiah 48:11

‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you are saying, “I am rich, and have become rich, and I have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire, in order that you may become rich, and white clothing, in order that you may be clothed and the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed, and eye salve to smear on your eyes, in order that you may see. As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent!

Revelation 3: 15-19

When we abide in Yeshua our thoughts, dreams, and prayers will align with his desires to bless those following Covenant Torah. 

However, we must be willing to go through the fire of adversity with a heart of obedience. It is the only way we can utter “thy will be done” in prayer and truly mean it when we experience life’s hardships.

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:7 

Enduring the Pressures of These ‘Last Days’

Technically, the ‘last days’ began at the resurrection and ascendancy of Yeshua into his High Priesthood. Before departing, he issued this warning:

“I have told you these things so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogues [sacred assemblies]. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do these things because they have not known the Father or Me. But I have told you these things so that when their hour comes, you will remember that I told you about them. I did not tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you.

John 16:1-4

Paul echoed this message in his letter to Timothy.

But understand this: In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Turn away from such as these!

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Paul’s instructions to Timothy apply to us. First of all, we are to draw strength from knowing that even though we are undeserving of it, Yah ( through our High Priest Yeshua) will ‘grace’ us with eternal life and completely pardon our sins in the resurrection. In the meantime, we are not to be entangled with the distractions of this life. This includes a preoccupation with secular civilian affairs such as presidential politics, social media, or entertainment. These are the distractions of the enemy. We must always remember that Yah is the Sovereign of Creation and all outcomes are in His hands. (Psalm 31: 15)

It is He who changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and [greater] knowledge to those who have understanding!

Daniel 2:21 AMP

Secondly, we need to know who the real enemies are: the principalities and powers behind rulers and those in authority who desire to keep us in bondage to a beast system of spiritual, psychological, medical, and financial enslavement.

We have been warned that, as Yeshua’s return draws near, religious hypocrites will be exposed for all to see, and true believers who proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom will be vilified and persecuted. This “falling away” will precede the unveiling of the Man of Sin – one of two personalities referred to as ‘beasts’.        

The Greek word used for falling away is skandalizo,2 which means “to put a snare (in the way), to cause to stumble, to give offense.” Skandalizo is closely related to the word scandalize, which means to speak falsely or maliciously of, or to bring into reproach.

This is exactly what happens when we try to share new insights with professing believers. Many will reject our message and then proceed to scandalize us without ever examining the veracity of what we are proclaiming. This falling away phenomenon has to occur before Messiah’s second coming — so don’t be shocked when it happens.

Let no one deceive you in any way, for it will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness – the son of destruction – is revealed. He will oppose and exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship. So he will seat himself in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2: 3-4

2 Thessalonians 2: 3-4

Enduring Testing Yields A Profound Level of Maturity

As mentioned earlier, testing does not necessarily imply guilt or sin. The Father loves us and wants us to experience the fullness of His Kingdom while still on earth in this mortal body. The goal is to become better saints. The way we get there is by enduring the pressure of the test or trial. The prophets of old understood this all too well.

My brothers, and an example of suffering and patience, take the nebi’im (prophets), who spoke in the Name of Yahuah.

James 5:10 HalleluYah Scriptures
End Time Tribulation

There was no talk amongst them about a pie-in-the-sky ‘rapture’ event that would spare certain believers from the tribulation and stresses of the last days. This brand of religion falsely promises that no one will ever be tested, asked to defend their position or suffer for their beliefs. Instead, they will be whisked away before the really bad stuff hits the fan. In the book Vain Traditions, the rapture doctrine is explained as such:

And indeed, all those wanting to live reverently in Mashiaqh Yahushua, shall be persecuted.

2 Timothy 3:12 HalleluYah Scriptures

Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has been tested, he shall receive the crown of life which the Master has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

Practices Essential to Enduring Suffering

What are the keys to enduring suffering? There are several.

First, we must begin with prayer and trust in the promise of 1 John 5: 14-15:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. and if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

The ‘whatever’ in this passage is limited by ‘anything’ that lines up with Yah’s will for us individually. It has been said that faith is a “relational” response of trust. All relationships have their idiosyncrasies or behaviors unique to each individual. As we spend more time in relationship with the Father through prayer and study, our petitions line up with His. We then are confident in whatever, whenever, and however way He decides to answer, we are going to be alright.

Secondly, we must abide (remain) in the Vine that is Yeshua.

Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me.

John 15:4

Abide is an Old English word signifying progressively to “await,” “remain,” “lodge,” “sojourn,” “dwell,” “continue,” “endure”; to remain stable or fixed in a state.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

In our times of awaiting an answer to prayer, we often experience restlessness, exasperation, and even hopelessness. We want the pain to end or the problem solved now. So we are tempted to fix the problem using our limited carnal wisdom and strength. Instead, we must resist. And in resisting we allow the fire of the Ruach to burn away our fleshly emotions and carnal attempts at solving the problem. We must trust that the Ruach will help strengthen and guide us until the season of testing is complete.

Thirdly, we must believe that this testing is not meant to hurt but to heal and bring us to a greater level of spiritual and relational maturity. On the other side of the test, when the answer has been provided, we will possess the very thing in our spiritual arsenal to help others who are facing the same situation.

Finally, we must take responsibility for knowing what the Scriptures say and obeying the written Torah.

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 AMP
bible study

The only way to know Father and Son relationally is to spend time in the Word. The only way to be shielded from “end time” deception is to love the truth of Yah’s Word as revealed in the totality of the Scriptures. This includes some extra-biblical texts that were removed from most Bibles. 

…because they did not welcome the love of the truth [of the gospel] so as to be saved [they were spiritually blind, and rejected the truth that would have saved them]. 11 Because of this God will send upon them a misleading influence, [an activity of error and deception] so they will believe the lie, 12 in order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe the truth [about their sin, and the need for salvation through Christ], but instead took pleasure in unrighteousness.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 AMP

A New Testament-only focus will keep you in a state of partial scriptural blindness. The Ruach ha’Kodesh (Holy Spirit) left us the first half of the Bible for a reason. The Biblical canon of 66 was meant to be studied from front to back — in its entirety and in context. Simply defined, context is the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. It is derived from the Latin contextus (a joining together).

Uncoupling First Covenant (Old Testament) study from Renewed Covenant (New Testament) study has led to profound biblical illiteracy and the tendency to rely solely on the pastorate to guide our thinking. Yahuah’s set-apart Spirit — His Ruach — was given to help believers understand what the Word is saying. Yah’s set-apart Spirit is never wrong, however, men are apt to make mistakes or champion false doctrine.

Fast and pray for understanding. Remember, the people who will be deceived in these last days will be those who reject the truth. 

Own Your Faith

We have been blessed to live in a time when technology has put a myriad of study materials at our fingertips. It is the individual’s responsibility and duty to show themselves approved through prayer, study, and endurance.  

It is never too late to start owning your faith. A good starting point would be to learn how to study your Bible. Ask the Father to lead you to a Spirit-led community of believers in Yeshua. Build up a library in your home so you can research independently of technology in case the grid goes down. Memorize the Scriptures so you can pray effectively. Learn what it means to walk in Covenant obedience with the Most High. 

Expect to be challenged and pray for the courage necessary to remain faithful until the end.


Main image by Stocksnap from Pixabay


1 G#4451: a burning, calamities or trials that test the character, the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced. (Thayer’s Greek definitions)

2 Strong’s #G4624

Vain Traditions is a not-for-sale paperback book published by It is a compilation of information collected from a variety of sources.

Lessons From Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount: Part II, The Ethos of the Kingdom

Lessons From Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount: Part II, The Ethos of the Kingdom

Yeshua’s sermon on the mount began with a list of blessings or beatitudes that would follow and characterize the people who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven. On their face, these unique characteristics seem peculiar when judged by the world’s standards. When you act like this, some people may call you weak or stupid.

And yet, our High Priest says when believers in him and his Father demonstrate the following lifestyle behaviors, they are blessed:

  • humility
  • mournful over sins
  • gentle, kind & forgiving
  • thirsty for righteousness
  • merciful
  • integrity
  • peacemakers
  • persecuted for doing the morally right thing

You could say that this list is a great example of Kingdom ethos. Ethos is a Greek word that essentially means character. This word is often used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that epitomize a community, nation, ideology, or kingdom. Think of it as a mark of distinction from most carnal (fleshly) kingdoms of the world.

When we strive to adopt these character traits through much pain and suffering, we find ourselves in good company. Our Messiah, the Prophets, Apostles, and martyred believers throughout Biblical history also endured this.

Living As Salt and Light

As Yeshua continues his sermon on the mount, he focuses on the mission of those believers who display the ethos of the Kingdom. He compares them to salt — a preservative, and a lamp or menorah.

As salt and light, believers put Kingdom behavior on display. As ministers of the Gospel of the Kingdom, we are to be about the business of sowing the seed of the Word in the soil of receptive hearts.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.

Matthew 5:13-16

Historically salt has played a major role in the preservation of many societies. In ancient times, salt was used as a form of currency, a way to preserve foods, and a flavor enhancer. Salt as a commodity was deemed to be as precious and valuable as gold. Soldiers’ wages were once paid in salt and before going to war, many countries would ensure that their stockpiles of salt were in abundance so that food stores could be preserved.

salt and light

The lampstand or menorah is symbolic of the priesthood1 which also ties to our commission to go and take the Gospel of the Kingdom to all four corners of the earth. As Dr. John Currid2 so elegantly put it, “The name menorah simply underscores the utilitarian purpose of the lampstand: it is to give light to the priests who work in the Holy Place of the tabernacle.”

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105

For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching [of the law] is light, And reproofs (rebukes) for discipline are the way of life…

Proverbs 6:23

Your No one lights a lamp and puts it in the cellar or under a basket, but on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see its light.

Luke 11:33

According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament:3

Therefore, the symbolism of salt and light supports New Testament statements that Christians are indeed the light of the world whose lamps are always to burn and shine before men, leading the ungodly to Yahuah and basking in a state of blessed expectation of and preparation for Christ’s return.

It has been said that the problem with religion is that it is a system that tries to make the flesh behave. Religious people are good at suppressing their fleshly nature4; making it look good from the outside. However, the true self is hidden. There is a form of godliness but the person is rotten inside.

As those who desire to one day be deemed worthy to be called citizens of Yah’s Kingdom, we must die to self daily so we can become the salt that heals and light that instructs.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19

Kingdom Status is Tied to the Law

Yeshua is clear in his sermon on the mount. He did not come to abolish the Law (Torah). His life is an example of what we should emulate, walking in obedience to Yahuah’s standard of righteousness.

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.

Romans 7:12

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Matthew 5: 17

You can’t get any clearer than this. The Greek word for destroy or abolish is kataluó. It means to overthrow or destroy (both literally and metaphorically). When referring to government laws or institutions, kataluó is also understood to mean to deprive of force, annul, abrogate, or discard. Yeshua walked in perfect obedience to the Father. If he had taken it upon himself to annul the Law he would have disqualified himself as Savior and High Priest.

The Law is eternal and good and will never be abolished. Those who teach otherwise will be considered the least in the Kingdom. Those who choose to obey to Torah will be called great.5

A Higher Standard of Righteousness

While the Law is a standard by which righteousness can be measured, works of the law can not make you righteous. Only Yeshua can do this through his authority as our mediator and High Priest.

Therefore no one will be justified in His sight by works of the law. For the law merely brings awareness of sin. But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, as attested by the Law and the Prophets. And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Romans 3:20-22

In his letter to the Romans, Paul was dealing with morality. Since we all fail in our obedience to moral laws, we cannot be justified by that Law. The problem is a lack of conformity of the heart in matters related to life.

This brings us to the scribes and Pharisees. From the outside, they looked as if they were walking in obedience to Torah but they weren’t. They had a form of godliness but their traditions and practices betrayed them. (Matthew 23:25-28) This is why Yeshua said that our righteousness must exceed theirs in order to gain admittance into the Kingdom.

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20

The expression “you have heard that it was said” was common during the time of Yeshua’s earthly ministry. However, theologically, it led to misapplications of the Torah and confusion among the people. These sayings (Matthew 5:21-48) distorted Biblical instruction concerning:

  • Respect for Life
  • Sexual Passions
  • Fidelity in Marriage
  • Taking Oaths
  • Response to Hatred
  • Retaliation

Case in point: The “eye for an eye” expression that is often quoted in contemporary society has been radically misconstrued. In Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:17-20 and Deuteronomy 19:17-21, the legal remedy for harm was intended to make people whole again. It is rooted in the concept of justice for all. American theologian, Albert Barnes offers this commentary:

It serves as a maxim for the magistrate in awarding the amount of compensation to be paid for the infliction of personal injury. The sum was to be as nearly as possible to the worth in money of the power lost by the injured person. Our Lord quotes Exodus 21:24 as representing the form of the law, in order to illustrate the distinction between the letter and the spirit. (Matthew 5:38)

Faith in Practice

Sermon on the Mountain

In his sermon, Yeshua took time to unpack the deeper motivations behind our outward behaviors or actions. When we put our “goodness” on display for the world to see, the sin of pride is always at the root. It’s not just what we do it is why we do it.

This same application can be made concerning the act of fasting. Yeshua says it is hypocritical for us to put something that should be a private interaction with the Father on display. This is something that should be done in secret as an act of contrition or sorrow over sin. When done in this spirit, Yah will reward us appropriately. (Matthew 6:18)

Yeshua stresses the importance of prayer and how this too is a private matter between us and the Father. When we petition the Almighty we must be concise and to the point, speaking from the heart. We reverence His name and acknowledge His coming Kingdom on earth. We acknowledge our sin debt owed him and we release through forgiveness the debt of others who have personally harmed us. As we deconstruct our Messiah’s instructions on how to pray, four things should prompt us to do so:

  • It is expected
  • Sin in our lives that need to be confessed
  • The weakness of our flesh
  • The subtlety of the enemy

As we go through this mortal life, we must stay focused on the eternal life to come. Material things such as homes and cars will decay and rust. Gold and silver coins will be left behind for others after we die. Mammon6 is a spirit that will demand our service and attention. In Luke’s gospel, Yeshua teaches us that wealth does not really belong to men, but as stewards, we may use it to our eternal advantage. Instead of serving Yah and mammon both, we should serve the Most High with our money, and in doing so lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven.

As his sermon draws to a close, Yeshua’s focus turns to other aspects of a believer’s life: the temptation to worry, the danger of judging others, the importance of persistence, staying on the narrow path spiritually, and the importance of discernment. We should become fruit inspectors so as not to be led astray by false teachers. By being attentive to these things we develop an authentic relationship with our Messiah and High Priest – Yeshua. (Matthew 6:25-7:23)

A Sure Foundation

Yeshua ends his sermon on the mount by stressing the importance of obedience. Sermons that tickle the ears and stimulate emotions are worthless. Blessings will come only to those who hear, consider, understand, believe, and obey the doctrine our Messiah just preached. That person will be considered wise — someone who has built his house on the solid foundation of the Word. In doing so, the serious believer can anticipate the everlasting security, joy, and peace that will come as a citizen of the coming Kingdom.

And so it was, when Yeshua had ended these sayings, that the peple were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Matthew 7:28,29


1 Menorah (#H4501): Exodus 25:31-40

2 Dr. John D. Currid is Chancellor’s Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary.

3 Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Volume 2, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, Moody Press, Chicago. 1980. Page 566

4 The ‘flesh’ is a metaphor for desires that are opposed to the way and will of the Ruach Ha’Kodesh – Yah’s set-apart Spirit.

5 Matthew 5:18,19

6 Mammon is an Chaldee or Syriac word for riches. It is a term used to denote wealth.

Lessons From Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount: Part II, The Ethos of the Kingdom

Lessons From Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount: Part I, The Beatitudes

In his legendary sermon on the mount, Yeshua laid the foundation for Kingdom righteousness.  Interestingly, this foundation is based on principles taught in Torah – the Law.  Yeshua never told us that Torah would be abolished. Rather, he claimed to be the fulfillment or completion of the Toraha. His life shows us what we will become when we are made complete by obeying it. This is a covenant promise that is fulfilled upon our resurrection. So there remains a requirement of obedience to the Torah for every professing believer in the Messiah. 

What It Means To Be Righteous

Scripture informs us that righteousness is something that has to be practiced.

Little children, let no one deceive you: the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous.

1 John 3:7

If you were to look up the definition of the word righteous, it would be defined as “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.”1 It is remarkable that this description aligns with the Hebrew word for righteous, which is tsaddiq2 a word which connotes conformity to a moral or ethical standard.

Yahuah is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works.

Psalm 145:17

The earliest uses of tsaddiq pertained to the role of judges, whose decisions were to be in accordance with the truth and without partiality. (Leviticus 19:15) The term also applied to weights and measures. (Leviticus 19:36)

Blessed are those who uphold justice, and those who practice righteousness at all times.

Psalm 106:3

When you practice something you do it repeatedly in order to develop a level of proficiency. As followers and imitators of our High Priest Yeshua, we are expected to practice righteousness. Using him as our example, we walk in his “way.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

How do we practice righteousness? We obey the terms of the covenant that are laid out in the Law.

Moreover Yeshua Mashiach said to his talmidim, “Do not think that I came to throw down the Torah and the Prophets, on the contrary, I came to confirm. I say unto you in truth, that not one word will be diminished from the Torah – that it would not be perform until the end of the world.” [Gospel of Matthew translation3]

Matthew 5:17

Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the Law.

Psalm 29:18

There remains a requirement to obey Torah for every professing believer in Yeshua. This mandate is in addition to trusting in what our Messiah, as our High Priest, will do for us in terms of bringing about our future resurrection.

Yahuah (YHWH) defends those who remain in covenant with Him. The linking of righteousness and salvation is grounded in the concept of covenant. In this way, Yah’s righteousness is demonstrated through His fidelity to promises made. No justice of His can be satisfied any other way.

Biblical Israel4 consists of believers from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people who have put their faith in Yeshua for redemption. This process, also known as sanctification, is carried out by our High Priest and will reach its apex at the resurrection. Through faith and obedience, we have been grafted in. (Romans 11)

For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children…but the children of promise are counted for the seed.

Romans 9:6-8

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Yeshua Moshiach.And if you are Moshiach’s then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:28-29

But First Comes the Test

Prior to giving his sermon in the Galilean countryside, Yeshua spent forty days being tempted (tested) by the devil. Satan’s attempt to entice him with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life5 would fail miserably.

After hearing of John’s imprisonment, Yeshua began his ministry with the same words that had been spoken by the Immerser: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) The start of Yeshua’s ministry was the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1-2:

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.

Like our merciful Savior, every believer should expect to be tested. These tests are designed to build our faith and reveal our true character. They also confirm the trustworthiness of covenant promises for those who meet life’s challenges.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.

Hebrews 4:16

We are told that Yeshua also went about the region teaching in synagogues, casting out demons, healing all kinds of sickness and diseases, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.

So now the stage is set. Multitudes from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and “beyond the Jordan” flocked to him. And from his elevated (literal and figurative) position on the mountain, he taught them.

What Does It Mean To Be Blessed?

At the beginning of his sermon, Yeshua lists certain character traits of those who are truly blessed — traits that are peculiar to this Kingdom and no other. To those who gathered on the hillside that particular day, this must have sounded like crazy talk. They, like us, no doubt believed that real happiness came in the form of riches or beauty, or material possessions. But Yeshua would explain that true contentment comes from within and is not situation-dependent or rooted in pride.

Painting of the Sermon on the Mount
“The Sermon on the Mount” by Carl Bloch (1877)

There are two verbs in Hebrew meaning “to bless.” One is barak and the other is ashar. Barak is used by Yah when He blesses someone. On the other hand, “to be blessed” (ashre), one has to do something. Usually, this something is positive.

For example, a blessed person is one who trusts in Yah without equivocation. (Proverbs 16:20) A blessed man is one who comes under the authority of Yahuah’s revelation — His Torah. (Proverbs 29:18) The man who is generous to the poor is blessed. (Psalm 41:1)

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or set foot on the path of sinners,or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the Law of YHWH, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, and who prospers in all he does.

Psalm 1:1-3

The Beatitudes: 8 Blessings We Should All Seek

At the start of his sermon, Yeshua revealed the open gate to the Kingdom through which each individual must enter alone. (Matthew 5:1-12)

For those of us who earnestly desire to become worthy citizens of this Kingdom, these Beatitudes shed new light on behaviors we should exhibit and the character we must demonstrate.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The first blessing emphasizes the importance of humility. The “poor in spirit”, those who have nothing but themselves to offer, are awarded VIP status in this marvelous kingdom. Yeshua turns perceptions upside down as he explains that the chief glory and distinction of the heavenly kingdom will be humility. We are to mimic him. (Matthew 11:9)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

The Gospel of the Kingdom provides a much-needed source of comfort for those who mourn over the sins they’ve committed and forsake them. Other remedies will never reach this level of consolation for the soul. The comfort we seek comes in the form of promised forgiveness and peace that comes from the hope of a better world. (2 Corinthians 7:10) (Isaiah 61:1-3) (Luke 4;18) (Matthew 11:28-30)

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Those who are gentle, kind, forgiving, and benevolent are meek. Meekness is not weakness — quite the contrary. Meekness demands that we be patient with people who have injured us, knowing that vindication belongs to Yah alone. (Romans 12:19) Yeshua is the very model of this. Meekness produces peace and it is a testimony to the greatness of one’s soul. (Proverbs 15:1) It takes strength of character and great discipline to be considered meek. Those who exhibit these character traits will inherit the kingdom. (Isaiah 60:21)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

These are people who are striving to live out the Torah. A strong desire for anything in the Scriptures is often compared to the strong pull of hunger and thirst. (Psalm 42:1-2) (Psalm 63:1-2) (Isaiah 55:1-2) The Most High will always satisfy our spiritual longings when we sincerely desire them. There is provision made in the Gospel for those who truly desire to be set apart (holy) for the Kingdom. (Isaiah 65:13)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

People who show mercy, compassion, and patience can expect to receive blessings. That Yahuah is the epitome of mercy is demonstrated in the fact that He has withheld judgment against guilty sinners. His mercy was personified in the person of Yahusha whom he sent to redeem those who repent. Those who are merciful will receive mercy now and at the judgment seat. (Matthew 10:42) (2 Samuel 22:26-27) (Matthew 6:14-15)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see the Most High.

Those having integrity, godly character, and moral courage will experience Yah’s presence now and in the Kingdom to come. Disciples who fall in to this category are those whose motives are pure. Of course everyone is destined to meet our Creator, many will encounter Him as Judge, not as a Father. (Revelation 22:4) The latter will dwell with Him in the New Jerusalem on earth.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of the Most High.

Sons and daughters of the Most High are those who avoid strife and contention while laboring to extinguish it in others (and situations). These are Yah’s legitimate offspring by reason of their likeness to the Father.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

These are those who are persecuted for their commitment to Torah (living righteously) and holding up under pressure; faithful to the end. Martyrs throughout history are in this category. True Prophets of the Most High are also in this category. (Luke 6:23) However, we are not given permission to treat others harshly through inappropriate behavior. We should strive to live righteously, holding up under pressure, and faithful to the end. (2 Timothy 3:12)

From Pride to Humility

In his book Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, Andrew Murray observes that meekness is the chief mark by which those who follow the Lamb are to be known. He astutely observes that humility (the entire dependence on Yah) is the first duty and highest virtue of the creature and the root of every virtue:

And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil. […] Even so, it was, when the serpent breathed the poison of his pride, the desire to be as God, into the hearts of our first parents, that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride, self-exaltation, is the gate and the birth, and the curse, of Gehenna (hell).[…] And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us.

Whereas Satan exalted himself in his lust for power6, our Messiah humbled himself for our sake. Yeshua taught the multitudes on the mountainside (and us) that humility is the only path to the glory of the Almighty and entrance into His Kingdom.

We inherited the unsavory character traits of pride and rebellion from our parents in the garden. But sin will not have the final word. Messiah’s chief glory was his humility. When we take on his yoke and learn from him, we will experience the highest level of blessedness in this life and the one to come.

“And see, I am coming speedily, and My reward is with Me, to give to each according to his work.“I am the ‘Aleph’ and the ‘Taw’, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. “Blessed are those doing His commands, so that the authority shall be theirs unto the tree of life, and to enter through the gates into the city. “But outside are the dogs and those who enchant with drugs, and those who whore, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and all who love and do falsehood.

Revelation 22: 12-15 The Scriptures 2009

In Part II we will take a deep dive into the ethos of the Kingdom as we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount.


1 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, (11th ed.). (2003). Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

2 Tsaddiq (#H6662). The Greek word for righteous is (#G1342) Dikaios: (an adjective, derived from dikē, “right, judicial approval”) – properly, “approved by God”; [HELPS word study] In a wide sense “upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God.” [Thayer’s Greek Lexicon]

3 The Hebrew Gospels from Sepharad, the Gospel According to Matthew, translated by Justin J Van Rensburg, Version 2.2; a literal translation of a medieval Hebrew manuscript in the Vatican Library, Vat. Ebr. 100, March 2020, page 12

4 The word Israel (#H3478) is actually composed of two names: saraw (the root of the word shar) which means “to prevail or have power” and El meaning “strength, mighty, Almighty, or strong.” However, in Joshua 10:13 there is a joining of Yah with the word shar to spell Yashar (#H3474) (Jasher) and also in 2 Samuel 1:17-18. Yashar’el translates to mean “the prince of Elohim in Yah. (Genesis 32:28) The nation of Yashar’el (Yacov/Jacob) is the “people who are called by my name” in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (not Christians, since Christ is a title and not a name).

5 Genesis 3:6. Interestingly, the seed of pride that was sown in Eden that brought forth sin would be replaced by humility in the person of Yeshua who will bring about redemption.

6 Isaiah 14:12-15

a Torah means “teaching, instruction, or guidance.”

Patience Rooted In Love

Patience Rooted In Love

Patience is a virtue. As it pertains to how believers interact with each other, this adage should hold true. Unfortunately, it often does not as our frustrations with one another’s interpretations of scripture become apparent. 

Before we allow ourselves to get annoyed, we should pause and biblically consider how to treat one another. 

We may think: “They are just stuck in the milk of the word” or “They are still brainwashed by Christian dispensationalism doctrine” and so forth. However, the question remains – how should we react to one another when points of view and scriptural interpretations differ? 

This is a complex area to navigate. It involves our most deeply held beliefs about our Elohim Yahuah (God), our understanding of His character, our role in His kingdom, and our relationship with His son Yahusha (Jesus). 

For example, you may have very strong emotional and philosophical reasons about how the names of Father and Son are pronounced. Another person may be fully convinced that the calendar they are following is correct, and so forth.

Nonetheless, we should not be so dug in that we become unwilling to listen and consider different views of scriptural interpretation – lest we risk becoming stiff-necked and hard-hearted. As we interact with one another, we should consider the examples set by Yahusha Messiah and examine how he responded to his disciples and others in similar situations. 

Likewise, we should also examine how the disciples responded to others following Yahusha’s ascension. 

Patience is Forged from Friction

It seems appropriate to prime this section with a biblical reminder that all believers are at different points in their spiritual walk, and only some share the same level of understanding, research, and knowledge. 

But the wisdom from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17 TS2009

Indeed, all true wisdom comes from Yahuah, and what wisdom we do have, we should apply it in a similar fashion as did Yahusha and his disciples. Additionally, believers should remember that we are all different members of the body of the Messiah. (1 Corinthians 12) It is not everyone’s calling to be a Bible scholar, teacher, rabbi, or preacher.

Believers should pause before judging brothers and sisters in Messiah who have a different understanding of scripture. First, we must determine if what others are presenting is simply a different point of view,  or if it is indeed a strange or blasphemous doctrine. This advice does not suggest that we tolerate blatant lies, blasphemy, evil, or immorality. As believers, we should stand up against such doctrine in those instances. 


However, the focus of this discussion is not on these types of situations, but on those where some believers react negatively to scripture topics that should be open for discussion.

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17 Cepher 

It is essential to remember that when iron sharpens iron there is friction in the process, and although there is friction, the goal is to improve the tools being sharpened. We should be building each other up and encouraging one another as 1 Thessalonians 5:11 instructs.

Is the Medium the Message?

Philosopher and media theorist Marshall McLuhan popularized the expression “the medium is the message.” He argued that the medium (video, print, internet, etc.) through which we choose to deliver a message will determine how that message is received. 

On a personal note, one of the most intriguing phenomena I have witnessed over the years is the quick acceptance of YouTube teachers’ interpretations of scripture versus “face-to-face” explanations. Perhaps a psychologist might better explain this phenomenon of why so many people are receptive to video teachings about a bible topic and so resistant to the same information when presented in a personal conversation. 

Is it the lack of visual aids, charts, graphs, soothing music, or perfectly edited statements? Or perhaps it is the inability of the viewer to talk back, interrupt, or argue – leaving no choice but to either listen to the message or turn off the video. Nonetheless, it seems very disingenuous that believers won’t give full attention and consideration to biblical interpretation to a brother and sisters they know personally, holding strangers they don’t know personally, of which they have no way of judging their fruit above their personal relationships. 

I would challenge all brothers and sisters in Messiah to strive to become better listeners during “in-person” scriptural conversations, as this will undoubtedly result in stronger relationships and more profound scriptural growth over time.

Patiently Building Up or Rudely Tearing Down?

Several biblical topics are deeply rooted in our core values and beliefs. The pronunciation of the name YHWH is one example. 

Many believers are deeply convicted about pronouncing the Father’s name correctly as a sign of admiration and respect toward the Father. Once they discover that the name was intentionally removed from Scripture and replaced with “God” and “LORD”, they may feel that using these titles for Yahuah instead of His real name is disrespectful. This is understandable. I also felt this way during a certain period of my walk. 

However, in doing so I failed to show patience and consideration toward other believers for whom the full significance of the true name had not yet been revealed and who were actively researching and studying this topic for themselves.

The Bible states in Philippians 2:12-13: 

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.


So, did my adverse reactions help build up or tear down my brother? Did my sharp corrections act as a building block, or a stumbling block for my sister? Could I have presented my understanding of the name more positively? 

I could have and should have, in many situations.

Another touchy subject is the calendar. Some believe the traditional Jewish calendar is correct, while others believe the Enoch/Zadokite calendar is accurate. While others’ research has led them to trust another variation of the biblical calendar. 

Many of us are deeply convicted and emotionally connected to the idea of keeping the calendar in the most accurate way possible. Some may feel betrayed and lied to from years of deception from the mainstream Christian church, which falsifies dates about when the Messiah was born and observes pagan feast days dedicated to the false goddess Eostre (Easter). 

I once shared those feelings of betrayal and felt very convicted to make sure that I keep Yahuah’s feast days as outlined in the Bible.  I did not want to offend the Father more than I already had in my former sinful life. These are just a couple of examples.  

As believers, we should be extra considerate of others’ convictions about these topics, given their extreme importance. 

patience with those who have different opinions

However, this is a two-way street. We should not become hard-hearted toward one another. We must remain open to listening to a brother or sister’s research which led them to the conclusion they are presenting. 

We can listen, learn, and disagree with respect and love toward one another. The same approach holds true for discussions regarding:

  • Flat Earth
  • Round Earth
  • The Millennial reign
  • Bible calendars
  • The Crucifixion
  • The Melchizedek priesthood
  • Duties of the High Priest
  • When a Day Begins

 The list of differences goes on and on.

So how do we show love and patience toward one another in circumstances of differing scriptural understanding? The Bible gives guidance in numerous verses, and here are a few to consider regarding this subject: 

  • Romans 14:1-4
  • 1 Peter 3:8-11
  • Proverbs 16:24
  • Matthew 7:12

Together with one of my favorites is 2 Timothy 4:1-2:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.


This verse is very instructive in that it simultaneously advises us to be prepared at all times to reprove (correct misguided interpretations of scripture), rebuke (bluntly reject blasphemy), and exhort (encourage, advise, and appeal to sound biblical interpretation). 

It is an excellent summary of how our approach toward each other should always be. 

We must also apply Ephesians 4: 1-6:

I call upon you therefore, I the prisoner of the Master, to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being eager to guard the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace – one body and one Spirit, as you also were called in one expectation of your calling, one Master, one belief, one immersion, one Elohim and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  


Verse 2 presents a critical point to this discussion: if a person is a brother or sister, we should express humility, meekness, and patience toward one another in love.

Lessons in Patience and Humility

patience and humility

So, what might 2 Timothy 4:1-2 and Ephesians 4:2 look like in practice between brothers and sisters in Yahusha Messiah? Let’s take a closer look at how Yahusha behaved in a few situations to understand his example. 

In Luke 9:46-48 Yahusha reproves his disciples who were arguing about who would be “the greatest” in the Kingdom.  Our Messiah explained that welcoming a child in his name was equivalent to receiving the Father. He also stated that the least (those who humbled themselves) were considered to be the greatest (highly esteemed).

Yahusha rebuked his disciples several times for lack of faith and for being hard-hearted. (Mark 8:33, Mark 16:9-15, Luke 9:49-50, and Mathew 17) Mark 16: 9-15 serves as a great example of what happens when “the messenger” gets in the way of the message. 

Mary Magdalene was given orders by an angel of Yah to inform the disciples that Yahusha has risen. Yet, their response was hard-hearted and they dismiss her report. 

Pause for a second and think about the gravity of this passage and the severe error that the disciples make in rejecting her message. The disciples knew Mary personally as a sister in Messiah. They knew she had sincere love, obedience, and commitment toward Yahusha. They knew this woman had faith and compassion toward them as well. Yet, when times got tough, the disciple’s knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss this woman’s message – in disbelief! Would you recognize a message sent directly from Yahuah through a woman’s mouth? Would I? 

Yahusha responded with righteous anger a few times because of disbelief, hypocrisy, and lack of compassion toward one’s neighbor. 

Many of us are familiar with the account in Matthew 21, John 2, Mark 11, and Luke 19, where Yahusha (Jesus) went into the temple and drove out the moneychangers. His anger at their sinful behavior and disrespect of the temple is evident in this account. A response of righteous anger was warranted.

In Mark 10:13-16, Yahusha expresses his displeasure with his disciples, who rebuked those who brought children to him. Messiah publicly called out their errors and corrected them in front of both children and adults. It must have been embarrassing and humbling, considering they were his trusted twelve who walked with him and learned from him daily.

There are several other instances where the Messiah becomes indignant and displeased, rebuking people and disciples. However, the point is that when appropriate, Yahusha is quick to correct egregious errors in scriptural interpretation, thought, and misstatements in a righteous and very blunt way. Sin is sin. Believers should not pull punches in publicly calling out sinful and unbiblical behavior.

Patiently Exhorting 

Lastly, Yahusha set an example of exhortation – encouraging, advising, and appealing to people earnestly seeking the truth of Scripture. 

Messiah Yahusha showed patience with his disciples and the Israelites’ lack of faith and scriptural understanding on numerous occasions. One good example is found in Matthew 6:23-27  where Yahusha rebukes the storm. Messiah calmly questions their fear and faith. And yet he shows them, by example, what genuine faith in practice can accomplish as he commands the storm to stop. 

In Matthew 13, Yahusha patiently unpacks the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Weeds. Likewise, in Matthew 14, Yahusha tells his disciples to give the crowd of 5,000, something to eat. The disciples lack the faith and understanding to accomplish the task – responding with a list of food inventory (logically) instead of feeding the crowd by faith as he commanded them to do. Yahusha shows them what faith can accomplish. 

Likewise, Yahusha showed patience with Peter when he tried to walk on water. Instead of highlighting his failure, Messiah reached out his hand and asked the disciple why he doubted. 

These are just a few examples from the book of Mathew. Numerous other examples can be found in Mark, Luke, and John, wherein Yahusha responds to a lack of faith and misunderstanding of scripture with patience and understanding. It is not done in a corrective or rebuking manner. 

Patience In Context 

Much depends on the context of the situation and the person’s heart condition as to how Yahusha responds. He is the perfect example of how a mature believer should behave and react. 

When we think of Yahusha’s reactions when questioned by the Pharisees, we most often recall the verses where the Messiah points out their hypocrisy and lack of scriptural understanding. He rightly calls many of them out as a “brood of vipers and sons of the wicked one.” 

However, in some instances, Yahusha responds in more of a reproving and advising manner. 

In John 3:1-20, Nicodemus the Pharisee meets with Yahusha. He confesses that they know he came from Yahuah – because no one could perform the signs he has unless Yah was with them. However, Yahusha responds with an astounding biblical salvation statement in verse three, stating that unless someone is born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus does not understand and asks, “But how can anyone be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” 

This discourse is interesting in two ways. First, it is apparent that Nicodemus is asking the questions earnestly, not with a hidden hypocritical agenda. Second, Yahusha doesn’t perceive the questions as a trap or trick, but instead, he sees that Nicodemus does not fully understand the deeper scriptural mysteries of spiritual matters and knows Nicodemus is thinking only in the physical. 

Yahusha provides a few examples to help Nicodemus understand the spiritual meaning. He even reproves Nicodemus in verse 10, reminding him that as a teacher of Israel, he should know these things. Again, this discourse is not presented as adversarial but is an excellent example of a firm yet respectful and mature discussion between the Master Yahusha and a person with a much different understanding of scriptural interpretation.

Final Thoughts

The reactions of Yahusha in these various situations depended on the content of the questions, the agenda of the person, and the context of the topics. If the line of questioning was a blasphemous or hate-rooted question or challenge, Yahusha rightly put people in their place with a biblically founded, righteous response. 

However, if they asked a question earnestly, they are responded to with grace, wise correction, scriptural guidance, and truth. 

Hopefully, these examples will help Torah-observant brothers and sisters who sometimes struggle to know how to respond to challenges in their understanding of scripture, as I, too, struggle. There are always two sides to the coin –  two different minds at different places in their spiritual growth and walk. It is my hope and prayer that we treat each other with the love, patience, and forgiveness spoken of in Colossians 3:12-13, Ephesians 4:32, and 1 Peter 4:8. 

Through the grace and power of Yahusha Messiah, may we all do as 1 Thessalonians 5:11 advises:

 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 

Blessing and shalom to you all, and thanks for reading.

The Gospel of Pie-In-The-Sky

The Gospel of Pie-In-The-Sky

It wasn’t at all what I expected or hoped for. The twenty-something preacher with the stern look was not playing around on this particular Sunday. He was laying it all out there for me to wrestle with in the private recesses of my tortured soul. 

The pastor spoke of sin, repentance1, counting the cost, and the lake of fire. I wanted to hear about streets paved with gold, eternal bliss, and a Savior who would do all of my heavy lifting in matters related to salvation. I wanted the idiomatic ‘pie-in-the-sky’ gospel message.

When the altar call came, I sat glued to the pew. I was convicted of my sins, but my feet refused to move me in the direction of the altar, or my heart to repentance.

So I left.

A Different Gospel

The phrase pie in the sky was the brainchild of labor activist Joe Hill. In 1911 Hill wrote a song titled “The Preacher and the Slave” which parodied the hymn “In the Sweet By and By” – a song often used by the Salvation Army. Hill claimed that the organization’s promise of future heavenly rewards did nothing to address the earthly needs of the poor.

The gospel of ‘pie-in-the-sky’ is a bit more nuanced. It subtly mixes the truth of heavenly rewards with questionable soulish doctrine.

Here are a few of its basic tenets:

  • once saved, always saved
  • the Law was done away with by Jesus
  • the Scriptures are all about me
  • if you name it you can claim it as yours
  • reciting the sinner’s prayer gets you into heaven
  • a believer’s life will be trouble-free

A person can spend years in church trying to make sense of this brand of soundbite theology; feel-good phrases that misalign what the Scriptures actually say when taken in context. I know, because it happened to me.

These doctrines lead to confusion and disillusionment. They misrepresent the Father’s plan of redemption through Yeshua, our Messiah, and High Priest. Many churches rarely bring up the subject of a believer’s covenant2 with Yah.

In his Notes on the Bible, theologian and Greek and Hebrew scholar Albert Barnes had this to say about erroneous doctrines:

They will not merely eat out the truth in the particular matter to which they refer, but they will also spread over and corrupt other truths. The doctrines of religion are closely connected and are dependent on each other – like the different parts of the human body. One cannot be corrupted without affecting those adjacent to it, and unless checked, the corruption will soon spread over the whole.

The apostle Paul constantly warned his protegee Timothy about the danger of accepting doctrine at face value alone without taking the time to search and study Yah’s word. The Berean believers in Messiah took this to heart.

Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth. But avoid irreverent, empty chatter, which will only lead to more ungodliness, and the talk of such men will spread like gangrene.

2 Timothy 2:15,16

Easy Believism Theology

Many of us in the faith have fallen prey to certain individuals, groups, and institutions promoting a set of beliefs about what it means to be a disciple of Yeshua. The doctrine they teach tickles the ear and stirs up the flesh. 

Wrapping themselves in the ‘seeker-friendly’ mantle they try to make the Gospel that Yeshua preached3 more appealing by making it all about the individual. This is referred to as narcigesis — a combining of narcissim with eisegesis. Through the lens of narcigesis, a person is taught to view the Scriptures as being primarily focused on his or her life at this particular point in time. So, the Bible becomes all about them. Worship is all about them.

The individual is taught that since “God loves me just the way I am” I am absolved of any responsibility in the sanctification process. There is no incentive to obey the commandments from a heart of repentence so I can be changed. The implication is that Yah is here to serve the believer.

Name It and Claim It

Another heresy of the gospel of ‘pie-in-the-sky’ is the “name it and claim it doctrine.” The so-called prosperity gospel falls under this umbrella of teaching whereby you can speak things into existence. People are encourged to proclaim such things as: “That new home is mine” or “I declare that I am wealthy.” They are told to sow financial seed in order to reap a harvest. If they name it they can claim it. This power belongs only to the Most High.

— God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

Romans 4:17 (b)

Let all the earth fear Yahuah; let all the people of the world revere Him. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.

Psalm 33:8,9

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless Yahuah has ordained it? Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High?

Lamentations 3: 37,38

Just Invite Jesus Into Your Heart

The notion of “inviting Jesus into your heart” as a way to everlasting life is another scriptural distortion. Peter did not lead three thousand people to repentance and belief by telling them to ask Jesus into their hearts. (Acts 2:37-41).

Illustration of woman caught in adultery - John 8:1-11
Repentance and Forgiveness – John 8:1-11

Almost as bad is easy believism’s assertion that once you give your life to Yeshua your problems will miraculously vanish. And while it is true that many have experienced quick deliverance from addictions to drugs, alcohol, or smoking — these are the exceptions.

Most will have the same problems and more to face. However, we get help from the Holy Spirit in dealing with our problems and setbacks. What once may have seemed impossible is now possible. But it requires perseverance if we expect to bear the fruit of righteousness. (Luke 8:15) (Luke 13:24) (Hebrews 12:1)

Living a life that shows genuine repentance and is dedicated to walking in obedience to Torah is proof of salvation. (2 Cor 5:17)

We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4

You can’t fake this. When you encounter Yeshua nothing about you will ever be the same. The ‘old you’ has to die to make way for the new you. Everything about your life will change.

The Sinner’s Prayer

Another component of easy believism is the use of the sinner’s prayer to bring someone to a salvation decision while they are in a highly emotional state. Unfortunately for those who sincerely want their sins forgiven, this method is a gross distortion of the way of salvation.

The sinner’s prayer is not in the Bible. It is a tradition of the modern church that was popularized in 1930 by Billy Sunday, an Iowa baseball player, and utilized by Billy Graham during his revival meetings. 

Because of easy believism the church has failed to impress upon people the seriousness of being in covenant with the Most High. There is more to this life than just repeating the words of a prayer. 

The fact of Yeshua’s resurrection is just the beginning. We all face a lifelong sanctification process of regeneration through faith and works, and we will not experience the fullness of sanctification until we are resurrected.

Our part involves a commitment to walk in his ways by obeying Torah – instructions on how to live. Yeshua’s part as our High Priest involves interceding4 with the Father on our behalf. This goes beyond an emotional choice made during an altar call. This process of intercession includes obeying the call to repentance and returning to the ancient paths. 

This is what Yahuah says: “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths: ‘Where is the good way?’ Then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it!’

Jeremiah 6:16

For when I brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt, I did not merely command them about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but this is what I commanded them: Obey Me, and I will be your God, and you will be My people. You must walk in all the ways I have commanded you, so that it may go well with you.

Jeremiah 7:22,23

The Testing of Our Faith

The faith we profess to have in Messiah will be tested. Believers should expect their life to be filled with many hardships5 and trials. (Acts 14:21-22

Paul and Barnabas were very clear in their message while visiting Lystra, Derbe, and Antioch. It was during this time that Paul was stoned and left for dead. The ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t begin until after we are resurrected. Right now it is time to train for the battle that is on the horizon. (1 Peter 1:3-7) (1 Peter 4: 12,13

Our brother in the faith James (Ya’aqob) wrote: 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:3,4

Counting the Cost

Salvation is offered to us as a free gift but it cost our Messiah everything. We are expected to die to self and conform to the likeness and behavior of Yeshua. This takes time and commitment.

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting for Yahuah, for whom and through whom all things exist, to make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. For both the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are of the same family. So Yeshua is not ashamed to call them brothers. Hebrews 2:10,11

The Gospel demands that we count the cost of our salvation

The thought of being persecuted for our faith in Messiah is foreign to most brothers and sisters who live in America. We recoil at reports of Christians being martyred for their beliefs in other countries. But, quite frankly, most of us would rather click away from those stories or change the channel. 

Watch the movie “Perpetua: Early Church Martyr” 

While a believer’s life in his mortal flesh is a life of challenges, it is also a life filled with hope, love, joy, peace, and blessing. Yes, we are overcomers and more than conquerors, but the ability to move mountains can only be obtained through faith and obedience.

What is the Kingdom of Yah worth to you as a believer? Are you willing to die for your convictions? Knowing that ‘the way’ is paved with suffering, do you still desire salvation?

The Gospel of Truth

The only way to know if you are being served a slice of the ‘pie-in-the-sky’ gospel is to know what your Bible says. New Testament-only churches do a grave disservice by ignoring the first half of the book, or by only referring to cherry-picked scriptures from the Old Testament to prove a pet doctrine. 

Who in their right mind would not read a novel from cover to cover? If we believe that the scriptures are here to instruct us in righteousness, we need to consume every page of every chapter.

We have been told that in the last days, many will not tolerate sound doctrine. They will seek out teachers who suit their soulish desires and turn away from the truth. (2 Timothy 4:3,4) These teachers who promote a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ gospel are unwittingly producing churches full of narcissistic believers. They suck you in through love-bombing then push forward doctrine and practices that keep people confused, enslaved, and carnal. 

Through tenets of easy believism, modern-day Scribes and Pharisees convince biblically ignorant followers that all they have to do is practice love to get to heaven. They suppress the weightier matters of the Torah by elevating their traditions. (Matthew 23:1-34

We must pray for both well-intentioned teachers and well-meaning people who sincerely desire to become disciples of Messiah. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

Yeshua modeled a righteous life in obedience to his Father. We are expected to do the same. What does this look like?

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10) speak of the characteristics of those who will inherit the Kingdom of God. In the rest of the chapter, Yeshua instructs us on how we are to behave in this life. (Matthew 5:11-48) The last verse of Matthew 5 sums up what Yah expects of his children —

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

The Greek word for perfect is teleios (G5046). It means “brought to completion; fully accomplished, fully developed, or fully realized; brought to its end, wanting nothing necessary for completeness.” 

If we hope to be resurrected to eternal life, our High Priest is telling us how we should be living now. While we understand that we will sin, we have been given a mechanism to deal with our sinfulness. 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

The perfection that Yeshua desires to see in us is an uncompromising dedication to righteous living. Our main goal in this life should be focused on emulating Yeshua. It is the highest calling for those of us who pray to be found worthy to inherit the coming Kingdom. 

The Rest of My Story

After I left the church that Sunday, I wrestled all afternoon with the Holy Spirit. Years and years of living a sinful life had caught up to me. I finally realized I needed a Savior, and only Yeshua was qualified to offer the forgiveness I so desperately needed. 

By the end of the day, I repented and surrendered. I picked up the phone and called my mother to tell her that I was ready to become a Christian and turn my life over to Christ. I could hear the joy – and relief – in her voice.

Fast forward many years and I am more committed than ever to seeing this narrow walk through to the end. This road has not been easy. I have struggled (and still struggle) to understand the Bible (cover-to-cover). With the help of the Ruach, I have managed to cast away the residue of the ‘pie-in-the-sky’ doctrine that clouded my understanding for many years. 

I have lost friends and alienated family members along the way. But this journey has been more than worth it.

My prayer is that someday Yeshua, as my High Priest, will vouch for my authenticity as a true believer before the Father. My heartfelt desire is to be deemed worthy to be called a citizen of Yahuah’s glorious Kingdom.

Until that day, I press on toward that goal and take to heart these words of Paul the apostle:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should embrace this point of view. And if you think differently about some issue, God will reveal this to you as well. Nevertheless, we must live up to what we have already attained.

Join one another in following my example, brothers, and carefully observe those who walk according to the pattern we set for you. For as I have often told you before, and now say again even with tears: Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame. Their minds are set on earthly things.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body. Philippians 3: 12-21


1 The Hebrew word for repent is teshuvah (#H7725) which means to turn back.

2 Simply put, a covenant is an agreement that secures a relationship of commitment between Yahuah and his people. The reality of our covenantal relationship with Yah has sometimes been called “Christianity’s best-kept secret.”

3 Read Chapter 10 and the Epilogue section of The Gospel Worth Dying For to understand the Gospel of the Kingdom that Yeshua taught. (Download a PDF of the book here.)

4 In Romans 8:34 the Greek word for interceding is entugchano (#G1793) and can mean to ‘entreat’ (in favor or against).

5 The word used here for ‘hardships’ is thlipseon. It is in a category of tribulation that implies persecution, affliction, distress, and tribulation. These are stresses that we experience in our inner being. Put another way, it is a type of internal pressure whereby a person feels they have no options or no way out.

Featured Interview: Ken Heidebrecht

Featured Interview: Ken Heidebrecht

Ken Heidebrecht lives in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It is a land of historic lighthouses, vibrant music, and wine. How fitting for a man whose mission in life is spreading the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Ken shepherds two ministry efforts — Hanging On His Words and Mountains Into The Sea — both of which can be found on YouTube. It is my belief that Ken is part of a younger generation of men who our Messiah has raised up to challenge false doctrine. When you survey his online catalogue of teaching videos, and listen to his music, several things become crystal clear:

  • He is not afraid to tackle contentious religious topics
  • He has a gift for making the complex understandable
  • He loves Scripture
  • He loves people

Although we have yet to meet face-to-face, I feel as if I know him. (Yah has a way of bringing believers together that way.) We connected via email over a year ago when he reached out after reading a copy of our book The Gospel Worth Dying For. Our purpose behind writing the book was to pull together all the pieces of the Gospel of the Kingdom message in one place. Ken’s endorsement served as a witness that what we had written was cohesive, comprehensive, and honored our Father in Heaven.

Ken Heidebrecht
Ken Heidebrecht

Who Is Ken Heidebrecht?

When you visit Ken’s ministry channels, subscriber comments echo my impression of this remarkable brother in the faith. Here are just a few of the reactions he gets from followers and supporters from all over the world:

Screen Shot 2023 02 11 at 5.47.28 AM
Screen Shot 2023 02 11 at 5.54.53 AM

As one of thousands who has been profoundly impacted by Ken’s ministry, I was curious to know more about him — his background, challenges, and outlook on life through the lens of the Gospel. He graciously responded to my request for an interview.

Brenda: We are told that the Word of Yah is a mirror, reflecting the true condition of our soul. When you gaze into that mirror, who do you see?

Ken: When I gaze into that mirror I see two things. I see a man who continues to age through the frailty of mortality (which is why I need Jesus to resurrect me), but also a man whose appearance slowly reflects the character of God’s Son each time he approaches the mirror. I try to approach the mirror in light of how James constructs his teaching in the first chapter of his brief epistle. When I keep practicing the commandments of God (which is what doing the Word means in his letter), I can leave the washroom after looking at myself in the mirror and remember what it is that I looked like in that reflection. If I don’t actually do the good works of the Law, then I will leave the washroom forgetting who it is that I had just seen in the mirror — and worse, others around me won’t recognize who I am either. My life goal is to reflect the light of Christ through my faith AND works, so that the world around me can see the purity of that light and glorify our Father in heaven.

Brenda: Most believers can point to a specific day or experience that convinced them the Bible was true and Messiah real. When did that happen for you?

Ken: I don’t recall ever having a definitive moment where I knew that the Scriptures were true. I grew up reading the Bible and always held a belief in the God of the Bible (though my walk would definitely not reflect that at intermittent stages of my life). There was, however, one particular moment in my life where my faith in Yahweh and His Word was cemented — and that occurred after I reached a very low point in 2012. I cried out to the Father in desperation to know Him more and begged Him to reveal the truth of what life is all about in a tangible and coherent way. Shortly after that prayer, I “stumbled” across certain online ministries that helped open my eyes to truth in Scripture that I had never seen or considered before.

Brenda: You have such a gift for teaching. What led you to start your YouTube ministry Hanging On His Words?

Ken: After Yahweh responded to my prayer in 2012, I began to study His Word more fervently. I craved it like a person who craves a particular food. That passion led to me scouring the internet in an attempt to find others like myself who were studying the Scriptures with fervency, who weren’t afraid to ask good questions, and who could test doctrines without being judgmental and condemning. Over time I met Sean Griffin (Kingdom in Context) on a Facebook chat thread. He noticed my passion and interest in discussion and reached out to me to see if I would be interested in joining a study group that he was a part of. I accepted his invitation, which led to us spending years of studying the Scriptures together. We put to practice the method of iron sharpening iron. Sean decided to start a YouTube channel called Kingdom in Context in 2018 for the purpose of preaching concepts in Scripture that we had both never heard of growing up, but felt were extremely important for the body of Christ to understand. He wanted to reach the masses with the gospel message of the literal Kingdom of God — and I did too. About eight months later, Sean suggested that I also consider starting a channel as he considered me well-versed in the knowledge of God’s Word. I don’t like the spotlight and I don’t like talking on camera. However, I decided that it would be character building for me to try something new and took a step out of my comfort zone. I released my first video in September of 2018 and almost four and a half years later, I can say that I am so thankful that I did. It has been a blessing to hear various testimonies from people saying how the content I have created has blessed, encouraged or helped them. All for the glory of the Father!

Brenda: Your other passion is music. I am amazed at how your lyrics and compositions differ from so-called contemporary Christian and Torah inspired music. Can you elaborate on your process and approach to songwriting?

Ken: When I came into this particular faith walk which involved keeping the covenant commandments of God, comprehending the literal promises of His Kingdom to come, understanding the first resurrection and its timing, acknowledging who the Son of God is and appreciating the various roles that he plays, and the importance of grasping Yahweh’s creation model with all of the intricacies that are interconnected with that — I felt I had to express these ideas through a medium of music.

ken heidebrecht in his music studio
Ken in his recording studio

Music has been a huge passion of mine ever since I picked up my mother’s brush and pretended it was a guitar at age 6. I quickly recognized that our faith community lacked the type of music that touched on all of the aforementioned concepts in their lyrical content and decided to fill that void by writing and recording new music. I was in bands throughout my teen years, and even produced my own secular music as a hobby when I was in college, so my love for music has always been a part of my life.

When I write a song, I start with a guitar part. Then I take that guitar part and come up with a drum beat. Bass and synthesizer/piano pieces follow that process. Then I think about a topic that I would like to communicate lyrically and begin searching for a melody that can accompany the lyrics. Both melody and lyrics fuse together as I listen to the other parts of the song. That’s typically how I write music.

Ken Heidebrecht Music Discography

Brenda: The times in which we live seem to be shrouded in doom, gloom, and negativity. However, as believers we are admonished to stay hopeful. In your opinion, how do we do this?

Ken: Reminding myself about the covenant promises of God is what usually helps me snap out of any periods of fear and depressiveness that I’m in. Meditating on the Scriptures that allude to those promises helps a lot. Knowing what the message that God has tried to communicate to mankind is, is imperative if we are going to navigate the dark barriers of this world. When you know Scripture and what the overarching contextual message is, you can possess the type of confidence that the apostles had even in their time of persecution. Believing that Yahweh and His Son are bringing a massive home down through the sky so that we can all live in it forever as resurrected immortals is a great message to hold onto as the days grow shorter and the darkness increases.

Brenda: As a man of faith, what gives you the greatest joy? What are your most profound challenges?

Ken: What gives me the greatest joy is my comprehension of God’s message to us and how that message has effected the lives of others who also believe it. In John 8:31-32, Jesus told those who had believed the message that the Father had given him that, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” As a humbled disciple of God’s Son, I have come to know the truth that he asserted I would receive if I remain in his word as a disciple. I have seen this come true in my life. I feel liberated. Nothing has given me more joy than to understand and believe what my Messiah taught while he walked the earth in mortal flesh. However, my most profound challenge would be the “abiding” part in that text. I can abide now (though I stumble and fall at times), but when faced with intense adversity and persecution, will I go down defending my faith and the authority of my Messiah as Peter attempted to in Gethsemane the night that Jesus was betrayed, or will I succumb to the pressures of Babylon and deny him as Peter also did hours later when Jesus was being held in a mock trial? I’m preparing my mind and my heart to abide for the long run.

Brenda: What is your recipe for perseverance?

Ken: Remaining steadfastly glued to the Word of God and being in some sort of a community with others who also love God is my current recipe for perseverance. We all need fellowship with others who share the same love for the Scriptures, and the God of those Scriptures. We need to be encouraged by our scattered body of fellow believers. We need to lay the infighting aside, and work on edification and lifting each other up. The Adversary wants to divide and conquer. He wants us isolated and fearing everyone and everything. The way that we combat that and persevere will be through the power of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of those who can love God and love their fellow brothers and sisters too.

Brenda: What is the best advice you can give someone new to Torah?

Ken: The best advice I can give is — don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Enjoy the journey. The Father opened your eyes and He will guide you along the way. I have been trying my best to keep the instructions of God (Torah) for over 10 years now and I still have a lot to learn. Yahweh knows your heart and knows your desire is to please Him and to love Him the way that He receives love, so don’t be too hard on yourself or others around you who haven’t been awoken to the beauty of His liberating Law. Also, refrain from seeking the council of those within Judaism. I have personally seen people get sucked into that religion of man-made tradition and it defeats the original purpose of trying to keeping Yahweh’s commandments through faith and love.

Brenda: Anything else you would like to share?

Ken: In closing, I would just like to encourage you. You can know the Word that our heavenly Father communicated to His prophets of old. You can comprehend the message that He so desperately wants us all to clue into. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t allow the Enemy to fluster you and kick you while you are down (you will have down times – that’s where Jesus helps us as our High Priest in the tabernacle above). Disciple after the ways of your Messiah and seek a community of believers who share the same passion and love for the Creator as you do. You can do this! It’s God’s will for you to do this! It’s why we were all created in the first place.

I am profoundly grateful for young men like Ken Heidebrecht who encourage brothers and sisters in the faith. It is through their painstaking research, which involves testing Bible canon against ancient books banned by religious gatekeepers, that believers in Messiah have been motivated to test the scriptures for themselves. In doing so we are finally able to see and hear what the Spirit is saying. I believe that when the Gospel of the Kingdom is fully understood and embraced, it will stiffen our resolve to live courageously, righteously, and faithfully.

If you haven’t already, please take time to check out Hanging On His Words and Mountains Into The Sea. Ministries like these deserve our prayers and support. You can support Ken’s efforts financially by clicking on the links below.



Bandcamp Music