In this timeline documentation of the Christian faith that started with the 1st-century teachings of Yeshua, it will become apparent that the fundamental practice of His beloved faith has gone through some major permutations. As the Son of God illuminated the instructions of Torah through His life, He also verified the words of the Prophets. In so doing, many Jews (as many as 1/3 of the Judean people) connected to His teachings and believed He was the Messiah. But the Gentiles in the nations were unfamiliar with the ways of Judaism. It wasn’t long before the powerful Jewish faith that was shared with them was Romanized, Latinized, and deliberately de-Judaized. Sadly, the original faith of Yeshua was minimalized as the governmental powers of the nations added many pagan practices and exchanged ancient Jewish traditions for rituals that were never recognized by the Messiah or His Jewish disciples. The addition of praying to saints and human entities as well as other false doctrines of man altered the purity of what Yeshua labored to reveal while He dwelt among man. In recent years there has been a redirecting and correction back to the ancient foundational precepts of the 1st-century faith. No doubt, God is working on those “who have an ear to hear” to seek and understand His ancient ways.
30 AD – 45 AD
The Messianic Revelation of the Jewish Faith
It would serve us well if we Christians would just step back and get a better perspective. Yeshua practiced a “faith,” but it wasn’t anything like the Christianity we see today. His faith was rooted in the Torah and the Prophets, the Holy Writings and the Psalms. These Jewish books are called the Old Testament by most Christians but known by the Jewish Community as the Tenach. Yeshua would constantly refer to these Hebrew Scriptures even emphasizing to His followers that everything Moses and the prophets had written about Him must come to pass. Yeshua stated that Moses spoke of Him inferring that all of the Torah was a picture and representation of Him. The New Testament writings would not be written until sometime after His death and not canonized as a Holy Book until centuries later. The fact is – the New Testament validates the old. All of Yeshua’s messages came from what He called the teachings of Moses and the Prophets. In addition to the Hebrew Scriptures, Yeshua would often expound and rightly clarify the passed down stories and Bible commentaries of the famous rabbis and sages. The original rabbinic stories and teachings would later be redacted into what would be known as the Mishnah. Most Christians never stop to think that Yeshua didn’t go to church on Sundays and they seldom realize the faith we practice as Christians today looks very little like His did. He spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and read the Torah in its original written language of Hebrew. He used Hebraic idioms common for His time and culture. He referred to traditions and Jewish ways that were foreign to other nations and perhaps still are today. He emphasized and portrayed a life of Torah obedience being scrupulously watched by Sadducees and Pharisees for errors or non-compliance. He was not convicted to death for the non-compliance of Torah, but rather for blasphemy as He proclaimed to be the Son of God. For the first twelve years after Yeshua’s ascension, the sect of Judaism called “The Nazarenes” was exclusive only to Jews and a few Gentile converts. Families primarily met, prayed, and studied God’s Word in their homes, tents, and camps. This era could be called the days when Yeshua’s treasure chest of faith was revealed.
45 AD – 325 AD
The Hellenized Faith Spiritualized and Good Works De-emphasized
Yeshua came to the Jews first and then commanded the myriads of Jewish followers to share the Good News of Israel’s Messiah with those in other Nations. The pagans, who were appeasing the gods of the nations by participating in Temple prostitution, offering their children as sacrifices and worshipping their cruel and demanding emperors were ready to hear about the redemptive power over sin and death and of the comfort of a loving God. The Gentiles knew nothing of the ways and traditions of Torah. So, once people from other nations started coming into the faith, the Word was explained more on the spiritual levels of understanding, de-emphasizing the outward signs of the faith even though Yeshua practiced both. The inward faith and trust in Christ is the true basis for the outward expression of good works and good fruit. The outward expressions of faith are a sign or evidence of a transformed heart. This era chose to guard many gems from the treasure chest. They trusted in Yeshua’s covenant, rejected false gods, showed great generosity and faith in prayer. They denounced the sins of sexuality, debauchery, drunkenness, gluttony, and witchcraft, and all the while learned to keep Shabbat on the seventh day and the feasts listed in Leviticus 23. The faith, however, was compromised when spiritualization trumped over good works – that is- the evidence of the blessed faith.
325 AD – 476 AD
The One World Faith is De-Judaized and Paganized
In the fourth century, the faith of our Jewish Lord was de-Judaized by the Emperor Constantine. Being a powerful ruler of the Roman Empire, he added to the faith the recognition of several pagan holidays, one of them being the fertility god, Ishtar also known as Easter. He took away the seventh day Sabbath observance and all the appointed feasts of the Lord and added other pagan and Greco-Roman philosophies that differed from that of the genesis of the faith of Yeshua. After hundreds of years of observance, the church lost its memory of the Lord’s beloved feasts. This era replaced a personal relationship with Yeshua through His Spirit with creeds of faith that were memorized. They refocused the fervent and personal prayer to God through His Son with rote prayers to Mary and the Saints. Instead of a purposeful dedication and personal desire of sanctification by being baptized by emersion in the faith of our Savior, the fourth-century church required all people (even infants) to be baptized by a sprinkling of water into the membership of the Church. The fellowship of the saints lost all the gems except the kerygma or proclamation of His crucifixion and resurrection. However, it must be noted, the crucifixion was manipulated by the clergy to bring a massive sense of guilt and unworthiness to the people. The resurrection power was not emphasized, and the people did not know their victory over the powers of darkness.
476 AD – 1517
The Universal Church is Politicized and Radicalized
The Universal or Catholic Church became corrupt and slipped into the darkest ages of the faith. Monetary gain consumed the church government. The Papacy gained control over the emperors, and the church became rich, powerful, and overbearing. Crusade campaigns were developed and designed to kill Muslims and Jews in order to cleanse the Holy Land of “the infidel.” It is estimated 1.7 million people died in these campaigns, including children and pregnant women. Entire towns and villages (people and possessions) were destroyed in the name of Christ. The selling of Indulgences was also established by the Catholic Church in order to save one’s soul from hell. Self-flagellation was embraced and enforced. The church lost all of the gems of the first century. Christianity at this time looked absolutely nothing like the faith of Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, author and giver of Life and faith. All gems were lost as the treasure chest of the one true faith was sealed shut, and plagues consumed the empire, killing one-third of the population.
The Long Road of Reformation Begins
During the sixteenth century, Martin Luther, a disillusioned Catholic priest had a revelation. He began to uncover a precious gem called grace, and the Lutheran faith was born with this main idea at its core. So begins what is called the Protestant Reformation. It’s unfortunate that Luther was anti-Semitic and completely ignored the prophecies such as Zechariah 12 that one day (after the fullness of the Gentiles had occurred) God would pour out His Spirit of grace and supplication upon the Jewish people. Nevertheless, he found a beautiful gem – “salvation by grace.” Thus the Church began its slow return to Truth. The Calvinist movement also started during this time as John Calvin clarified that communion was a symbol of covenant and not mystically transubstantiated into the actual body and blood of Christ as Catholicism proclaimed.
A word of caution– relying on grace and not showing forth the works that accompany the faith is considered dead. One must be happy to do the good works of God to bless others and glorify Him!
The Church is Sanctified and Called Out
In the seventeenth century, the Church continues to reform. John and Charles Wesley found the gem called sanctification; thus, the Holiness movement was born. At the same time, John Smyth found the gem of baptizing by emersion, which is an identification process with Christ that goes along with a calling and power to spread the good news of salvation.
A word of caution – many who desire to be set apart or “be holy” often separate themselves and develop a spiritual pride that is actually ungodly. We must still reach out to the lost and love them as even God came to us, “while we were still sinners.”
The Spirit-Led Assemblies and Believers are Endowed with Power
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Church grows to find more truth and light in what was eventually known as the Pentecostal or charismatic movement when the gifts of the Spirit were recognized and poured out upon men. William Seymour found the gem of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of healing, prophecy, discernment, and deliverance.
A word of caution – this revelation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit must be ministered into a sanctified and clean vessel. Opening one’s spirit while in a sinful state can result in a powerful counterfeit.
The Pendulum Swings Too Far
Over the 500 years since the Reformation, the Romanized thinking of division and boasting in revelation has created over 33,000 different denominations. Most denominations arrogantly proclaim that they have the “Truth” often proclaiming everyone else is in error and will not see Heaven. The problem with dividing is, it never unifies. The answer, therefore, is not reformation. The only hope to unify the body of Christ from its many splinters and familial conflicts is “restoration.”
1990s – Two Diverging Roads
Ancient Paths of Yeshua and the Emerging Church of Dominionism
Restoring Ancient Paths
Just before the twenty-first century, a providential move began in the Church as God awakened many to the Jewish theology of Jesus and instilled the desire simultaneously to understand the genesis of the faith before the radical changes of Constantine the Great. This providential movement received a huge treasure of revelation as believers began to see Yeshua in His Jewish context. As many from every denomination began to marvel in the Word from a first century, Hebraic perspective, they left behind their differences and began to realize we all have the first-century faith of Yeshua in common! They re-introduced themselves to a Jewish Lord and began to embrace the true meanings of the Sabbath and the feasts as Yeshua taught. And most important, they began to see that the written Torah is all about Yeshua- it is the blueprint of the Living Savior. As the Words of Torah are now deposited into our hearts, we begin to inherently understand and live them by His Spirit. His new disciples also realize the things that were written against them in the Torah were paid for by His blood. And their hearts began to beat anew because He, the One who followed Torah, and is the Torah (The Word that became Flesh) now lives within them and directs their lives. His disciples are directed by a Living Torah written in them! This is the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus also called The Law of Righteousness, the true evidence of faith.
A word of caution – sadly, some Christians in this movement tried to follow the Torah by the flesh in a legalistic manner, which is impossible to do. Torah can only be rightfully followed by His Spirit. Paul mentions a mystery, as we become new creatures in Him. We become alive in the Spirit and born of the new Adam who is Yeshua- as the old Adam of the flesh is buried with Christ. The Lord then writes His Living Torah on our hearts, as Yeshua, the Living Torah now lives within the believer. We now inherently begin to do the things by the Spirit that Torah requires, as we too become Living Torahs.
- The Other Movement – Proceed with Caution
There was another movement at the turn of the latest century that was catching on like wildfire. People were flocking to hear “prophets” and “apostles” with their prosperity messages while demonstrating “astounding signs and wonders.” Yeshua warns us that in the end days there will be false prophets, and although a true and authentic fire will burn, there will also be a strange phenomenon—a strange fire working within the Church at the same time. This will be one of the greatest deceptions of the end times. Discernment will be crucial as this phenomenon grows. Many will teach an ecumenical reuniting of the faiths starting with the encouragement for Protestants to go back to the mother church of Catholicism- the Universal, one world faith or religion. But the true root of the Christian faith is much older than Catholicism. It is the original faith of Yeshua. The first-century revelatory matrix.
The Church of Acts Revived
Another providential move began to explode organically all over the world as many believers in Christ were beginning to feel a “disconnect” with the emerging, politically correct, and millennial megachurches. Many were opting to join small Bible study groups or even small home churches. Seeking Christians are desiring to be accountable to like-minded brothers and sisters in the Lord. Today, even the mega-church movements have seen the need to incorporate small groups and house church meetings as a part of their education and worship efforts. This return to the roots of our 1st-century faith is now ushering in a fresh restoration of unity and acceptance. Not only are Christians unifying, but they are also fulfilling prophecy. Christians from every nation are flooding into Israel, especially during the feasts and specifically the Feast of Tabernacles. This very miracle is opening the eyes of the Jewish people as well. Unprecedented in the history of the world, many Orthodox Jews are reaching out to dialogue with Christians, curious as to why they are supportive of Israel and are returning to the first-century expression of Yeshua’s faith. God is definitely at work building and repairing His Church.
A word of caution – some non-Jews become extremely enamored with the old Jewish traditions (wearing talits, or kippas, dancing with the Torah, etc…). These objects should not be emphasized as your new identity but instead, point you toward Messiah. In other words, it is important to not become focused on the “stuff” but rather stay focused on Yeshua!
What Does the Future Hold? Danger, Caution, Beware, and Be wise!
God always gives us choices. From the time of the Garden of Eden, man has had a choice. Two roads – one is light and leads to God the other is darkness and is void of God. The darkness involves the elevation of man being his own boss controlling his own destiny and leaving God out of the equation. The choice of darkness can be blatant and obviously evil, or it can be subtle – a false light that looks godly but is deceptive. Both are void of the Presence and the Knowledge of God.
There will be a false world peace. A false light that will offer a false peace to the world, especially a false peace to Israel. A false world Messiah sanctioned by a globally accepted deceived religious leader. But Israel will not be the only one deceived. According to the apostle Paul and Yeshua, Himself, an immense number of “Christians” will also be deceived and be involved in what is called the Great Apostasy.
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For the Day will not come until after the Apostasy has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
One must be on guard and be aware that when a world accepted peace treaty is struck with Israel, it will be a false one until the true Messiah comes. The Messiah will not show up through a political system. A mere man will be a charismatic leader and will have great global popularity. Many will think he is the “One” God has chosen. But Satan will enter him, and He will fall right into prophecy.
The true Messiah’s entrance into this realm will be supernatural. He will return as He ascended. Don’t believe otherwise.
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
A third temple will be built according to prophecy. But be aware. It will be in this Temple that the anti-messiah will claim to be the true Messiah but is, in fact, the false one. The world will marvel in his ability to bring peace to Israel and her enemies. Much of Israel will be deceived as well. But he will eventually show his contempt and call for Israel’s enemies to turn against her. All this truth is revealed in Scripture.
Judah’s leaders will be endowed with strength as promised by the Spirit through the prophet Zechariah.
6 When that day comes, I will make the leaders of Y’hudah like a blazing fire pan in a pile of wood, like a fiery torch among sheaves of grain; they will devour all the surrounding peoples, on the right and on the left. 9 “When that day comes, I will seek to destroy all nations attacking Yerushalayim; 10 and I will pour out on the house of David and on those living in Yerushalayim a spirit of grace and prayer; and they will look to me, whom they pierced.” They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son (Zechariah 12:6, 9, 10).
The righteous remnant from the nations and the righteous remnant of Israel will come together in the Lord. One God, one faith, and one baptism. For then, I will restore pure lips to the peoples, that all may call upon the name of the LORD and serve Him shoulder to shoulder (Zephaniah 3:9).
May we be awake, alert, and hear the trumpet sounds of warning! He’s coming soon!