Sam At The Yeshiva!
By Sam Nadler
I was invited to teach a 2-day course at a Messianic Yeshiva, sponsored by the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues, held on July 4th and 5th during the Messiah Conference, at Messiah College, Grantham, PA. With 1500 attendees, this is the largest of the Messianic conferences, and their Yeshivah (training for [Messianic] rabbis) is held in conjunction with the other activities.
Though the Lord has recently blessed our work with several Jewish people coming to faith in Yeshua as Lord, I wasn’t asked to teach on Jewish Evangelism (which, as some of you are aware, I’ve taught at other schools and training conferences). Actually, I taught on Transformational Talmidut (Hebrew for “Discipleship”), and I was thrilled!
If I were to say what the greatest need is in Messianic congregations – it’s not evangelism (though that is desperately needed), nor prayer (though that is always required), nor expository teaching (which is so essential to feeding the flock), the greatest need is discipleship. Why, because it is discipleship that trains believers-in-Yeshua to pray, evangelize and teach the word properly. Yet, discipleship is not normally being conducted in most Messianic congregations – not only not in Messianic congregations, but in almost all bible-believing, Yeshua-loving congregations (aka, churches)! Being able to help train future Messianic leaders at the Messianic Yeshiva was a great opportunity and of vital importance.
I began with the call of Messiah for all of His followers to make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). This profoundly important portion of scripture is His last command that must be our first priority. As a young believer, I was taught that we’re commanded to “Go!” and get the Good News out. But the only command in this portion is “make disciples!” and to do that wherever we “go”.
When it comes to “making disciples,” people who grew up in the faith (and most others) assume that discipleship happened through osmosis, or “more caught than taught,” as some describe it. Can you imagine teaching your children to brush their teeth by osmosis?! The dentist would have to attend to the intentional, and now costly, training of tooth care for your kids! Discipleship is intentional and then reinforced by ongoing community values. There are several primary matters that we need to intentionally learn, teach and reinforce in the family and community that live by those same matters. (FYI: these “primary matters” are taught in my book, “Messianic Discipleship”).
For these Yeshivah ‘bochurs” (students), I demonstrated, from the Hebrew and Greek texts, that the various words the bible uses to describe and apply discipleship always have the same goal in mind. For all these words, the “teaching” always includes the idea of correction and discipline, along with the instruction. (God loves us too much to let us get away with it!) It was never meant to be merely ‘information transfer,’ but the instruction was always with application as the expected result (see Exodus 18:20). Torah was given to be lived, not just learned (see Leviticus 18:5; John 13:17; James 1:22-25). That means when you have instructed, you have to also ask and test for application, for people don’t do what you expect, but what you inspect. I learned this lesson as a small child. My mother would tell me to wash my hands. I’d reply, “I did”, showing her my palms. She’d say, “Let’s see the other side of your hands, too!” “Aw, mom!” and I’d have to go and wash both sides of my hands. Like the question all students ask their teachers, “Will this be on the test?” For if it’s not on the test, then why bother learning it? People do what you inspect.
Preliminarily, what was most important to learn are the matters that make the foundations for discipleship:
- The discipleship mandate: you are responsible for your physical and spiritual children’s discipleship (Proverbs 19:18). Congregational programs cannot replace, but only reinforce the training in the home.
- Your chief discipleship tool is the Bible: Know it and make it known, so that we can know Him and make Him known (2 Timothy 3:16-17)! God’s word alone is our milk (1 Peter 2:2), and our meat (Hebrews 5:14), for us to spiritually develop and become spiritually discerning.
- The ultimate goal of discipleship is to learn of Yeshua, to be like the Son (Matthew 11:29). Everything in Scripture points us to Yeshua (Galatians 4:24), and everything works together for one purpose: to conform us to Messiah (Romans 8:28-29).
- As we teach the word to others, disciples won’t follow what we taught, but how we lived the teaching (1 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 13:7).
Of course, I provided training on how one-on-one discipleship meetings should be organized, as well as step-by-step instruction on how the process of discipleship proceeds.
Typical of the comments from the Messianic leaders in the class was one from RC, “Through your course, I now know what I am to do and no longer have feelings of frustration in lack of direction and purpose for ministry.” PR stated, “With the teaching of the Good News of the Kingdom and how to foster healthy communities within our homes and congregations – I anticipate Good Fruit to grow through all the excellent Spiritual nourishment you supplied!”
Thank you for praying for Word of Messiah Ministries, as we not only have the privilege of leading Jewish people to faith in Messiah, but also, to “train them up in the way they are to go” (Proverbs 22:6), even from generation to generation until the Lord calls us home, or until He returns in glory!