The following is a list of questions that are likely to be asked about our congregation. This may be periodically updated as more people ask more questions!
Q1: If you are a New Testament congregation, why do you think people should continue to observe the Torah?
A1: One of our teachers provided an in-depth teaching on this topic. We believe this question was answered in this teaching. Please click on this link to see our teaching on this question. (Link to video)
Q2: Do you think non-Jewish believers should keep the Torah?
A2: We believe the answer to this question was also answered in the same video linked in Q1.
Q3: What is your stance on the nature of God?
A3: We have people at our congregation with varying stances on the nature of God. Some view God in the traditional trinitarian sense, others are binitarian (belief in the co-eternal & shared natures of Father and Son, while others do not have a particular stance. If congregants were polled, most if not all of the people would believe God is:
The uncreated and eternal spirit
Pure and holy, yet loving
All-powerful in His sovereignty
Evident through His creation, yet hidden and mysterious at times
He has shown himself most clearly through His son Jesus, who is the radiance of His glory and the exact expression of His being. God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus in order to reconcile the universe to himself (Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 1:19-20).
He bestows His presence and accomplishes His work on the earth through the Holy Spirit
Q4: Why do you sometimes say Yeshua, and other times Jesus?
A4: They are both correct names for the same person. Yeshua - a Hebrew word meaning salvation - was the name Gabriel instructed the virgin Mary to give her child when he was born. Yeshua is how his Hebrew-speaking family, disciples, and enemies usually named him. To put it simply, Yeshua is his historical name.
When the New Testament gospels were translated or written in the Greek language, the Hebrew word Yeshua was translated to its Greek counterpart, Ἰησοῦς. Later, the Bible was translated to English, using a “J” in place of the “I”, giving us Jesus.
So we would say both are fine! One is the cultural & historical name (Yeshua) and the other is an English transliteration (Jesus) of the Biblical name (Ἰησοῦς).
It is interesting to note, we commonly pronounce the names of important people according to their original language. For example, until a couple years ago, Angela Merkel was the chancellor of Germany. Her first name is pronounced with a long “a” and hard “g”, as in “Aahn-gell-uh” - that’s how they say her name in German.
That’s why some really like to say Yeshua because it’s the way Jesus’ name was said in his original language. But translations of his name have been made into about 3,600 languages over the millennia, and that’s normal. So if you are speaking Vietnamese and want to call him chúa Giê-su, go for it!
Q5: Why do you use different names for God? Some people say God, others say Yah, others Adonai. Some even spell out the divine name, but sometimes with only 4 letters.
A5: Various traditions about the use of the divine name have developed in the last 2500 years. In the 2nd temple period, Jewish people began to no longer use the name of the Creator, but instead began to refer to him as Adonai (Hebrew for “the Lord”), & now in modern times, HaShem (Hebrew for “the Name”). We fully respect the reverence that Jewish tradition has placed around using the divine name, though we have come to different conclusions about what it means to not take His name in vain.
At various times in the poetic portions of Scripture, the name of the Creator was simply Yah, a shorthand of the full name of the creator, Yahweh. Both Jewish and non-Jewish scholarly discussions often choose not to say or write the name of the creator, but instead refer to the 4 Hebrew letters that spell out his name in the Hebrew text, in English spelled out as YHWH. We occasionally also use this practice as well.
God has only one name - probably pronounced Yahweh in English - but many titles, appellations, and nicknames:
Some of God’s appellations are generic terms from the ancient world for god or lord - like El and Adonai
The title El Shaddai means God Almighty or God of the mountain
Other terms combine God’s actual name with a descriptor, like Yahweh-Yireh, meaning Yahweh Will Provide
What does it mean to respect the name of God? Should we avoid saying Yahweh except in worship or when discussing the Bible? Or should we alwaysavoid saying His name, and use only his titles and nicknames, like Yah, God or Adonai? What about when we pray, what do we name him in private? The answers to these questions are lived out differently by various people in our fellowship; each person has the freedom to refer to God with His name, or any of his Biblical titles, nicknames, etc.
Q6: Are you a synagogue, or a church? Do you have a rabbi, or a pastor?
A6: Our congregation doesn’t use the term “rabbi” as that term generally applies to a Jewish person who is heavily educated in Jewish customs, traditions, and law that our congregational leaders have not undergone. Another reason we do not have rabbi’s – most rabbinical training is in the Talmud rather than the Bible itself (Consider reading what rabbinical training entails) it seems relevant to point out that Jesus said ‘call no man rabbi’? In that sense we have only one rabbi - the Messiah himself.
Our main teacher is an ordained pastor, and our two junior teachers retain the titles of “teacher” because they have not undergone an ordination process as of the writing of this FAQ. One of the unique things about our congregation is that neither the pastor nor any teachers are paid. We do the work of the Lord on behalf of the congregation.
Q7: Do you follow the instructions of the Jewish Talmud?
A7: 1,800 years ago, Jewish Rabbis began to write down their interpretations of the Biblical Torah: Explanations, traditional understandings, and extra rules for living. Many of these teachings had been in circulation orally for centuries - sometimes very ancient ideas. These writings became known as the Talmud (AKA Oral Torah), and soon replaced the Biblical Torah as the centerpiece of Jewish religious observance.
Many rabbis have claimed the Oral Torah was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai along with the Biblical (written) Torah. Today the Orthodox Jewish community - about 10% of Jews worldwide - continues to insist on this. However, there is no Biblical, historical, or textual evidence for this claim. On the other hand, there is evidence that the Oral Torah began after the Bablylonian exile.
As the embodiment of Jewish tradition for 2,500 years, the Talmud is valuable. It gives perspective and insight that can help us better understand the written Torah. It can also be a bridge Gentiles can sometimes cross, to show respect for traditional Jewish brothers and sisters.
But just like an overly-large or gaudy picture frame can detract from the artwork on display, these traditions sometimes distract us from the centerpiece of God’s instructions: The Torah, as written in Genesis through Deuteronomy.
Do we follow the Talmud? Generally no, though it does impact our perspective. Sometimes traditions whose origins are from the Talmud are observed, as long as it doesn’t distract, deviate, or dispute the inspired Scriptures. Much of this is left up to what individuals or families choose.
Q8: Does keeping the Torah instructions help you be saved, or stay saved?
A8: We want to be perfectly clear about this: We don’t keep the Torah's instructions in order to be saved; we keep the Torah's instructions because we are saved and because we love Him. The Torah's instructions are part of the covenant between God and his people. He saved his people from Egypt, then gave them the Torah as covenant of loyal love, so we keep this same perspective in mind with regards to the salvation provided by Yeshua and the loyal love we show God once we have received salvation.
Q9: Why does your worship service include Hebrew & Jewish stuff?
A9: Three main reasons. First, the Bible is made entirely of Hebrew / Jewish documents, written by ancient Israelites and converts as God inspired them. And nearly everyone discussed in the Bible is Jewish. Even the New Testament - though written in Greek - was composed with the same Hebrew mindset. In fact, a third of the New Testament is direct quotes from the Old! There is no way to understand or practice the newer without the older.
Second, everything about early Christianity is very . . .Jewish! If you could attend a worship service in 60 AD with Peter, James, or Paul, you would find them reciting Jewish liturgical prayers in Hebrew, singing Psalms, and venerating the Torah. The Apostles laid down the pattern for how we should “do church” today.
Third, churches that imitate the New Testament pattern should be one body composed of Jewish and Gentile members. Since those of us who are Gentile have been adopted into the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12, 19), we should learn from Jewish ways of worship, especially the parts which are directly from Scripture. We are happy to join with our Jewish brothers and sisters to respect our Hebraic heritage.
Q10: What is your stance on tassels (tzitziyot) and head-coverings (yarmulkes)
A10: The Bible says believers should wear tzitziyot: “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.” (Numbers 15:38-39)
“You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.” (Deuteronomy 22:12).
A fellow believer in Messiah, David Wilber says the following about Tzitziyot: "According to the passages above, the command to wear tzitziyot is for the people of Israel. It is to be kept “throughout their generations.” The command would also apply to anyone who joins the people of Israel to follow God. Why? Because the same law that applies to the native-born Israelite also applies to the God-fearing “stranger” (see Numbers 15:15-16). As followers of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, God-fearing Gentiles are no longer strangers to the Covenants of promise, but have been brought near by the blood of Christ (see Ephesians 2:11-22)." (see here for more on what he says concerning this topic).
Regarding the wearing of yarmulkes, we have no convictions on whether one should wear it at our congregation or not. There is no scriptural reason to wear it, but no scriptural passage against wearing them.