Assistance with Seminary Assignment



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  • Assistance with Seminary Assignment

    Hello Brother Ray,

    I am stuck!!! I am taking a New Testament class in seminary and one of challenges involves discussing Jesus Christ with a fictional character who was a first century Pharisee. My professor uses this character to challenge and deepen our beliefs. Up until now I felt I was doing well until I ran into a brick wall of sorts. Simeon (the fictional character) has challenged my way of describing how Jesus Christ is truly the way - of which I have no doubt. However, I am struggling with putting to words this truth that I know so well in my heart. Would you mind reading through my conversation with Simeon and let me know what you would say in reply to his last post. Perhaps your perspective will get me thinking in a more descriptive manner.

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    Jesus the Galilean or Jesus of Nazareth
    by Michael Smith - Thursday, 17 September 2009, 05:35 PM

    Shalom to you, I have a question regarding the followers of the man you may know as Jesus the Galilean or Jesus of Nazareth. What is your impression of the man and his followers? Have you ever met any of his followers or have you ever seen Jesus? What do you think of his teachings? Has his teachings impacted you in any way?

    Blessings to you,


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    Reply Re: Jesus the Galilean or Jesus of Nazareth
    by Simeon bar Yeshua - Thursday, 17 September 2009, 07:44 PM

    Shalom, Michael!

    As I wrote in response to Jodi's question in the thread labeled "Shalom," I have encountered some followers of the Galilean you call Jesus. In Hebrew his name is Yeshua, which is a very common name and the same as my father's.

    I was just a boy in Jerusalem during the governorship of Pilate, who they say crucified this so-called messiah. Many people have claimed to be messiah and many were crucified on account of it, so I am not surprised that I did not hear of Yeshua the Galilean when I was a boy. If my father knew about the man's teaching or his death, he did not consider it important enough to mention at home.

    I encountered followers of this Yeshua when I was an adult in Jerusalem and more recently in Rome. They go to the synagogues and proclaim him as the Messiah, claiming that God raised him from the dead. The dead have been raised through God's power in the past, and I believe that the dead will all be raised and given justice in the coming age. But I have not been given any good reason to believe their reports of the resurrection of Yeshua. In general, my impression of these preachers is that they are misguided and rather pushy. For both of those reasons they are no longer welcome in many synagogues, including the one that I am able to attend occasionally in Rome. Perhaps if I had listened to them more, I would be able to tell you more about the teachings of this Yeshua, but I cannot answer your questions on that topic.

    Neither his teachings nor his alleged resurrection have had any impact on my life so far. In fact, that is one of the reasons why I cannot believe that he is Israel's messiah. The messiah is to be God's agent to bring in the coming age of justice and shalom. The scriptures promise that in that age the oppressed will be set free. The tribes of Israel will be restored and the nations will bring their tribute into Jersualem. The justice, love, and power of Israel's God will revealed in ways that are unmistakable. Those things have not happened that I can see. As I wrote in response to Jodi, if Yeshua of Nazareth is Israel's Messiah, then why was he crucified, and why am I still a slave?

    I'm sorry if I have been too blunt. I do not wish to offend you or anyone. Perhaps you would like to tell me more about this Yeshua and his teachings?


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    Reply Re: Jesus the Galilean or Jesus of Nazareth
    by Michael Smith - Friday, 18 September 2009, 07:13 PM


    Thank you for your response and willingness to provide insight on your beliefs.

    I would like to preface my response by saying that I can somewhat understand your feeling because I have come from a background where Yeshua was not someone who was discussed in the home. I am impressed by the manner in which you have been able to preserve your Jewish spiritual heritage amidst the challenges of a servant’s life. As I understand it, trials and struggles of life can either cause us to decide to recede from God or draw us in closer to God, I am glad you have chosen the latter.

    According to my (modern belief), God sent a man who had the mission of completing the Jewish law. Yeshua, wrote nothing himself, or at least left nothing written. As you pointed out Yeshua suffered the death by crucifixion. However, the reason for his death went beyond a claim to be Messiah. According to my understanding, he never actually claimed to be the Messiah. His followers who witnessed the miracles he performed assigned the attribute of Messiah to him. Crimes of injustice were committed at the hands of rulers who hid behind the law. The rulers used the law to hide their selfish desires centered on hypocrisy, pride, fanaticism, self-centeredness, and intolerance. Yeshua was a victim of crucifixion because he dared to attack the existing injustices that revolved around a belief system that had become corrupt. I believe virtue (love, compassion, kindness, long suffering, etc) were more important to him than law. He placed virtue above law (that was full of hypocrisy) and religious prejudice. The doctrine of Yeshua has became known only through the writings of his disciples. The Pharisees accused Yeshua of corrupting people by his teaching. However, I believe those teachings to be complete and pure from my own experience. They testify to the greatness of Yeshua’s mission. When a person comes in contact with the source of those teachings something happens within that is difficult to describe. A presence becomes known in their life and some would say it is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Regardless of what it is, it provides personal proof of Yeshua’s mission and a sense of knowing that is not easy to describe. I am certain that in time Yeshua’s true identity will be completely revealed and we all will see that truth emerge “from beneath the bushel” on its own accord.

    In response to your question to Jodi, “if Yeshua of Nazareth is Israel's Messiah, then why was he crucified, and why am I still a slave?” I can sense your frustration especially in light of your pain. Though I believe Yeshua to be the Messiah, I also believe that does not mean everything will be easy. Yeshua suffered and died, in all truth, at the hands of people who were very much like you and me. Because of that suffering he is able to identify with our pain and provide a promise that we will never endure that pain alone. No matter what may happen to us we can be assured that the worst of times, pains and difficulties will be shared. That understanding helps to place purpose to pain and meaning to a life that would have otherwise felt meaningless.

    I too am sorry if I have been too blunt and I do not wish to offend you either. Hopefully this helps you understand our perspective of Yeshua a bit better.



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    Reply Re: Jesus the Galilean or Jesus of Nazareth
    by Simeon bar Yeshua - Saturday, 19 September 2009, 07:53 PM

    Shalom to you, Michael, and thank you for explaining your belief in Yeshua as the Messiah and your understanding of why he was crucified. You have not offended me at all.

    Although you do not name the rulers who crucified him, I assume that you mean a Roman governor or military commander. I can readily believe that they would crucify a good person in order to protect their interests and power. They have had many such victims, as you know. Although many of their victims have claimed to be Messiah, it would be enough, as far as the Romans are concerned, for someone's followers to make that claim.. I wonder, though, if Yeshua did not claim to be the Messiah, why did he not correct his followers on that point?

    I am a Pharisee, although I was a child when they say that Jesus was crucified and I knew nothing of his death. Pharisees are not perfect, of course, but we truly seek to do God's will and to make God's will known among all the people of God. I wonder whether "the Pharisees" have been stereotyped and accused unfairly in the stories that you were told.

    With all respect, I also feel that my question about continued slavery still needs to be answered, if in fact this Yeshua is the Messiah. Yes, I have suffered and continue to suffer pain, but I have also found meaning in the scriptures and in the presence of the living God. I know that God hears my prayers and understands my pain. My question was not just about my own slavery, but about all of the injustice and evil that continue in the world. The promised Messiah will be God's agent to bring justice and peace to the world as God intends it to be. The comfort you offer to me is neither the justice nor the shalom that God has promised. If your Yeshua is the Messiah and if he is alive, then let him do the work of the Messiah. Frankly, I suspect he is dead and his followers are mistaken.


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    Spiritual Enlightment is Unattainable by the Natural Man

    I am grateful to respond, albeit brief.

    Simeon is striving to attain enlightenment by use of earthly means, whereas the flesh must reason while the spirit expresses itself through faith. While Simeon strives to find an intellectual premise for faith in Yeshua, to find a purpose in his status, he will never be able to grasp a satisfactory explanation within his own mind. Faith relies on testimony or reliance of divine authority while reason relies on evidence and examination. Faith relies on commitment and is unbending while reason relies on detachment and changes when a better philosophy comes along. Faith comes my hearing, and the knowledge is quickened by the Spirit.

    Aristotle taught that reason is derived through the human senses, and this reason is metaphysics, asking about the structure of reality.

    Fundamentally, our apologetics is an exhibition of didactics that gives reason for our faith. However, to the natural man, he cannot hear, see or understand. For the things of God are of the spirit and can only be discerned by the spiritual. Unless the Holy spirit beckons a soul and quickens their heart, pulls back the veil over the heart, no man can come unto the Father unless the Son calls him. This moves into the arena of Calvinism, in which I am not a total adherent, but there are certain aspects of the position that is very accurate.

    “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

    In 1 Corinthians 2:14 and 15 the Apostle Paul gives two classes of men – natural and spiritual. He divides all mankind into these two groups. If the Spirit of God has not given them a new nature different from that which they had from birth, he lists them as natural men. He teaches that natural men can never receive the truths of the Gospel unless they are transformed by the Spirit of God into spiritual men.

    The word “natural” is translated from the Greek word “psuchikos,” which means “sensual,” of the senses . It refers to man in an unconverted state. Man in this state is described in Jude 19 as “sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 19). The man must be converted, becoming “a new creature,” to be delivered from his natural state (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    The natural man cannot, will not and does not receive the things of the Spirit of God. He can know the literal sense of the doctrines presented to him. He can know that Jesus Christ was crucified. But there is a wide difference between receiving doctrines as mere statements presented to him and knowing the reality which those statements present. The natural man can know the way of righteousness as a mere statement (2 Pet. 2:21). Other things he can know, merely as ideas presented to him (Titus 1:16; Rom 2:23, 24). But these truths have no transforming effect on his life. The spiritual man, on the other hand, knows them in reality and they have a transforming effect on his life (Rom 12:2; Eph 4:22-24).

    Grace and peace be to you brother Michael. I pray you stand fast to the truth, not allowing yourself to be stained by the false teachings often found in seminary environments.


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