Messiah 101
Foundational Principles of Messiah
R' Richard Pustelniak
November 19, 2000

Of Milk and Foundations
Maturing Away From Milk
Foundation Not Refuse
Repentance from Deeds that Lead to Death
Faith toward G-d
Doctrine of Ceremonial Immersions
Laying On of Hands
Resurrection of the Dead
Eternal Judgment

Printable Version Print Version

Back to List of Available Teachings

Warning: The truths contained in this teaching are not for the faint of heart, or the lukewarm! You can be sure that haSatan (the adversary) will do all he can to keep you from understanding and applying the concepts and truths contained herein, but it is our prayer that every one who receives these notes will carefully consider and apply the contents to their lives.

I. Introduction
bible icon...although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the very first principles of G-d's Word all over again! You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby, without experience in applying the Word about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, leaving behind the foundational principles of Messiah (reshit d'var Mashiach), let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from deeds that lead to death (t'shuvah mima'asei mavet), faith toward G-d (emunah b'El_him), instruction about ceremonial immersions (torat hat'vilot), of the laying on of hands (s'michat yadayim), the resurrection of the dead (t'chiyyat chameitim), and eternal judgment (hadin hannitz'chi). And, G-d willing (im yirtseh HaShem), this is what we will do. (Heb 5:12-6:3)

For various reasons in the history of the 'Body of Messiah,' great effort has gone into distancing the 'church' from it's Jewish origins. As a result, much of the understanding of the Holy Scriptures has been lost or blurred. This is because, from cover to cover, the Scriptures are essentially Jewish documents, written by (divinely inspired) Jewish men, brought forth from within a Jewish cultural framework, and reflecting the Jewish mind set and world view. This includes the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant Scriptures), which was written in Greek, the primary common/trade language in the civilized world of the day. And, although it was written in Greek, it deeply reflects the rich Jewish heritage of its authors, with its continuous usage of Jewish constructs and logic, its reflections of the Jewish mind-set of the day, along with its innumerable references and allusions to poetic Hebrew-isms and local colloquialisms.

With the loss of the Jewish mind set in approaching the Scriptures, has come a general eroding of the very foundations of the faith. There are great, seemingly un-bridgeable divisions in the 'Universal Body,' stemming, in part, from the loss of understanding of the 'Foundational Principles' (of Messiah) which we will be discussing in this series. It is hoped, that, as the original understandings of these principles are restored, and the foundation of the 'House' is fortified, divisions within the house can be done away with, and its construction can proceed unimpeded.

Also, because these are 'Foundational Principles,' they should prove to be very profitable for instructing both seekers, and new believers, as to the mission and identity of Messiah, and the meaning of the basic ordinances of the Messianic faith. To this end, our study will be rich with references to the source-book of these principles, the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). We will also be referencing the works of various Jewish sages, and commentators as well as others. Understanding these "foundational" principles, as they are presented, should also prove to be a great benefit for those who long to be able to share their faith, but lack an adequate understanding of what they believe, to be able to communicate it. Since they are, in fact, "Foundational Principles of Messiah," they can easily be shared, "to the Jew first," and to the non-Jew, as well.

top ^
II. Context

A. The Importance of Context

The context of a passage of scripture is extremely important in its examination. It will often prove to be it's best interpreter. So much has been lost because of the failure to remember this principle. The words of Scripture should be allowed to speak from within its immediate context, as it is written, as well as from within its cultural, ethnic, and historical context.

There are many commonly accepted doctrines which have been derived by excising and extracting small sections, lines, or even phrases of Scripture from their contexts. Entire books have been written on these Scripture "Snippets, " and, many divisions have formed in the Body, as well a aberrant offshoots from the faith, as a result of either the acceptance or rejection of these doctrines.

The following "Snippets" are examples of those which have generally lost their original meanings due to their traditional isolation from their original/intended context. The actual discussion of these passages shall be left for other teachings.

bible iconAssuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven... (Matt 18:18)
bible iconNo one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man... (Mk 3:27)
bible iconFor where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them... (Matt 18:20)
bible iconIf any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him... (Jas 1:5)
B. The Context of Our Study
bible icon...although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the very first principles of G-d's Word all over again! You need milk, not solid food! (Heb 5:12)

The passage we are examining is part of one of the more controversial ones in the B'rit Chadashah, with a multitude of diverse interpretations (with respect to: who is being addressed; what is the purpose of the passage; does this passage touch on the concept of "eternal security;" etc. However, allowing the Scripture to speak for itself, one can deduce that the passage is intended to correct a specific problem. It is apparent that the author is seriously dissatisfied with the level of development he observed in the group being addressed. Given the amount of time that has passed since their introduction to the subject(s) at hand, they should have been fully capable of passing them on to others, but, in his opinion, they needed to start all over again, from the beginning, with the basics.

As we shall see, the author wants to move on to more "meaty" instruction, but the audience was not ready. Although the author appears to be frustrated with the situation, we should be able to greatly benefit from the time we will spend in the 'Basics' or the ABCs of the faith...

top ^
III. Of Milk and Foundations...
bible icon...You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby... (Heb 5:12)

Milk is a foundational food, designed by the Holy One to get babies off to a good start. It is easy to digest, and contains all the nutrients and fluids the baby needs to develop, even at the very rapid growth rates that babies (human or animal) exhibit. However, the goal of the nutrition provided by milk is to bring the baby to the point where it doesn't need it anymore.

A person, just born into the world is a physical baby, in the same way, a person just born into G-d's family is a spiritual baby. This can be clearly seen from Scripture:

bible icon Y'Shua answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of G-d. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'" (Jn 3:5-7)
bible iconBut as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of G-d, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of G-d. (Jn 1:12,13)
bible iconSince you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of G-d which lives and abides forever... (1Pet 1:22,23)

Just like physical babies, new Spiritual babies need nutrition which is easily digested and assimilated. Such a one is unable to feed himself, nor determine for himself what is good for him. He needs G-d's special infant formula, which will strengthen him and enable him to eventually discern, for himself, what is good and right and true.

bible iconTherefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the L-rd {is} gracious. (1Pet 2:1-3)

It is natural for a baby to desire (crave) its milk. If a baby doesn't seem to want its milk, this gives cause for alarm to the mother. In the same way, if a Spiritual baby is not hungry, consideration should be given to why. Is he sick? Has he eaten something which is not good for him? Has he been hanging on to something he shouldn't? Is he getting the love and care he needs? Is he even truly alive (been born)?

top ^
IV. Maturing Away from Milk
bible icon...Anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby, without experience in applying the Word about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil...(Heb 5:13,14)

While it is good for a baby to be a baby, it is not good for it to remain a baby: fully dependent upon its care-givers, unable to discern good from bad, unable to feed itself, unable to reproduce, etc. Babies are irresistible: faces trying all possible expressions, arms and legs moving in all directions at once, cooing and speaking gibberish, etc. But, for one who should be an adult and mature to be found still doing these things is deplorable and sad.

Anyone knows that the yetzer ha-ra (evil inclination or nature) is fully functional at birth. No one has to teach a baby how to be selfish, self-seeking, or demanding. As a matter of fact, it is a very good thing that the baby is so helpless, because the rage that can be expressed when he doesn't get his way could easily result in murder, without remorse. Again, no one has to teach a child how to lie, steal, cheat, or deceive. Part of the maturation process is learning how to master the yetzer ha-ra.

bible iconIf you do well, will you not be received? And if you do not do well, sin (the yetzer ha-ra) crouches (like a lion in ambush) at the door. And its desire (to dominate and control) {is} toward you, but you should master it. (Gen 4:7, author's literal translation)

Never being fed, or refusing to receive and assimilate the milk of the Word, can lead to a failure to mature. The un-mastered yetzer ha-ra can, and will, hinder the maturing process, and with it, the ability to grasp the deeper truths (solid food, meat) may be impeded.

bible iconAnd I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual {people} but as to carnal, as to babes in Messiah. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able {to receive it,} and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where {there are} envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like {mere} men? (1Cor 3:1-3)

Even when food (milk or solid) is actually consumed, if the nutrition contained in it is not extracted and assimilated, it does not promote the maturation process. Therefore, the baby remains a baby. The way that the nutrition, if you will, contained in G-d's word is extracted and assimilated is by putting into practice (doing) what is received and learned. Then maturing process is simply a natural result. It cannot be speeded up by force of will. It simply will occur at the rate intended by the creator, but it will occur.

bible iconTherefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted (engrafted, fruit-bearing) word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (Jas 1:21,22)
bible iconI write to you, fathers, because you have known Him {who is} from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him {who is} from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of G-d abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one. (1Jn 2:13,14)

It is only the mature that are able to handle the storms and trials of daily life, and who are able to pass that ability on to others (by teaching and coming alongside to strengthen and aid).

bible iconTherefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matt 7:24-27)
bible iconBlessed {be} the G-d and Father of our L-rd Y'Shua the Messiah, the Father of mercies and G-d of all comfort (strengthening), who comforts (strengthens) us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by G-d. (2Cor 1:3,4)

It is by putting into consistent practice, that the surety of the foundation is tested and expressed. Knowledge without practice reveals a true lack of understanding and maturity.

In spite of the emphasis placed on rationality by halachah (Jewish code of law), it is essential to grasp that the importance of "doing" never lost its pristine place in Judaism. Judaism was never turned into a rationale at the expense of being a living faith. On the contrary, it ever upheld as its banner the declaration of the sages to the effect that "he whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom shall endure. But he whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, his wisdom will not endure" (Aboth 3,12). Grounded in reality, Judaism never allowed the Torah or its ideals to become so heavenly that they were no earthly use. The stress and emphasis always lay on living in the manner compatible with its ideals so that "heavenly days on earth" would be possible. Doing is not merely a casual consequence of antecedent events. It is an expression or vehicle of meaning conceptually tied to an underlying pattern of thought or intention. Whether this pattern is fully comprehended or not, the act of doing both presupposes and actualizes the background structure.
top ^
V. Foundation Not Refuse
bible icon...Therefore, leaving behind the foundational principles of Messiah (reshit d'var Mashiach), let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation... (Heb 6:1a)

Most modern "Christian" interpretation of the passage of Scripture we are examining says that the author is intending to provoke the recipients of the letter to lay aside the Old Testament (Jewish) shadows of New Testament fulfillment. As we have stated before, the context of a passage of Scripture is generally the best interpreter of the passage. Careful examination and acceptance of the context, will easily lead one to the impression that what the author is expressing is the need for full understanding of the foundational truths before one can progress into deeper, more meaty instruction.

The truth is that unless the foundational truths listed here are grasped, whether by direct instruction, inference by other Scriptures, or just plain spiritual instinct, one simply cannot understand the mission and purpose of the Messiah, or how to correctly determine and recognize His identity.

bible iconThen He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Messiah to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Lk 24:25-27)

The list of truths which we are about to examine, in some detail, is not a list of Jewish religious practices which are to be superseded by "Christian" philosophy and faith-oriented thinking. Rather they are essential, foundational truths to be learned, understood, retained, and built upon as a sure foundation.

bible iconTherefore thus says the L-rd G-d: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily". (Isa 28:16)
1 All Scripture references are from the New King James version, unless otherwise specified.
2 Abraham Hirsh Rabinowitz, The Study of Talmud: Understanding the Halachic Mind (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1996), pp. 39,40

Home | Services | Lifecycles | Site Map
About | Teachings | Ministries | Contact Us

Copyright © 1994-2002 - Beit Avanim Chaiot, Inc., a Messianic Jewish Congregation. All Rights Reserved