Lesson 1: The Basis of Our Faith
Greetings, Modern Berean!
I wish to welcome you as a new student in the Assemblies of Yahweh Correspondence Course in the inspired Scriptures. Your first lesson follows this letter. Please read the following instructions carefully so that you will be certain to receive maximum benefit from the course of study.
The purpose of the Correspondence Course is to acquaint you, as a sincere seeker after Bible Truth, with the sound teachings which are found in the inspired Scriptures. For hundreds of years, almost from the time of death of the Apostles, the Truth which was taught by them and which they had received directly from Yahshua the Messiah has been submerged under pagan influences which crept into the New Testament Assembly. In these last days, just prior to the return of the Savior, you are again able to learn the true message which was taught by the Apostolic fathers. In reality, this pure worship is merely an extension of the religion of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As you study these lessons and observe how both the Old and New Testaments complement and interpret each other, you will feel a spiritual fellowship with the worshipers of Yahweh all the way down through history.
This Correspondence Course has been written with one aim exclusively, which is to give you a better understanding of the Bible. The Assemblies of Yahweh rejects all human interpretations of plain statements in the Scriptures, allowing the Bible to interpret itself. In this determination our organization is unique, because we do not approach the Bible with preconceived ideas and search for passages to support what we believe. We allow the Bible to teach us. We do not find it to contradict if we accept it as it is written. Usually faulty translation will be responsible for apparent contradictions, but these will resolve themselves when we return to the original texts. Frequently we are asked to explain the doctrines which we find in the Bible and which we uphold in our ministry. This course is designed to acquaint you with the doctrines which we find in the Scriptures. As you may have already come to realize, not every organization which uses the Sacred Name is the spiritual body which our Savior has commissioned to fulfill His end-time work. It is imperative that you be able to recognize sound doctrine and its relationship to our search for everlasting life.
You will need some basic tools for your Bible study in order to learn for yourself the deep things which are contained in the originals. I recommend that you obtain a good edition of a study Bible, such as the Companion Bible. A good Exhaustive Concordance is an asset also, and you may wish to obtain one for your studies. Another basic necessity without which you cannot understand the Bible is a dictionary. You may assume that you are familiar with the definition of a certain word which is used, but often the dictionary reveals otherwise. The best dictionary for the average student is the college edition. You may also wish to obtain a Bible dictionary, but this is of lesser importance. I do not recommend that you use a commentary.
To insure that your lessons will be in order and readily available, you should obtain a ring binder notebook. I am designing much of our literature so that it can be placed in a ring binder for safe keeping. Be certain to obtain a generous supply of notebook paper, because you should make complete notes of all that you are learning. It is imperative that you write down all of the Scriptures which appear in each lesson. By writing them down you will become more familiar with them as you copy each word from your own Bible. Be certain to review frequently both lessons and notes so that you will retain the Scriptures in your memory. You may wish to keep a list of Scriptures and notes on important doctrines handy for quick and frequent reference. If questions arise in your mind which are not answered by the lesson subject material, contact us to request more information from our office.
As you study your Bible, you should do so prayerfully, asking the Heavenly Father to guide your thoughts, open your mind, and teach you His age-enduring Truths. This is the most important necessity in your Bible study.
After you have completed your lesson, take ample time to review it and then complete the quiz which is included after each lesson. The quiz will be graded and returned to you with your next lesson.
I wish to thank you for this opportunity to serve you and to show you some of the deep things which we have found in the Bible. We pray that our Heavenly Father Yahweh will show you the Truths which He has revealed in His Word, in the name of our Savior Yahshua the Messiah, HalleluYah.
Few people in this world today really understand the Bible! Few people have ever heard more Scriptures than several of the more popular Psalms, the Beatitudes, or the Resurrection chapter which is usually read at a funeral. It is surprising to observe how many people go to church without carrying a Bible, or perhaps only a New Testament. The Old Testament is pushed almost completely from the picture, being relegated to the “junk heap of the ages” as being irrelevant. Is the Old Testament really dead, no longer necessary for our modern age? Is the spiritual family, as many ministers teach, a New Testament people? Can the basis for our faith be grounded exclusively upon the New Testament? Do we become Jews if we find the basic doctrines and tenets of our faith in the Old Testament? Let us look into our Bibles and see exactly what the New Testament, especially the very words of our Savior, has to say about the Old Testament Scriptures, and then glance backward to see what the Old Testament has to say about itself.
What does the Savior say about the Word of Yahweh? John 17:17. (The Greek word which has been translated sanctify means to make holy, purify, consecrate, set apart.) Please note especially the phrase “THY WORD IS TRUTH.”
COMMENT: Very few people understand the term the Word of Yahweh, or Thy Word. In reality this could not be the New Testament. The Word is the actual quotes of our Heavenly Father which are recorded in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets—the Old Testament Scriptures. Perhaps the best illustration of this thought can be found in Jeremiah 9:23. Note the words which the prophet Jeremiah is told to speak: “Thus says Yahweh …”
Our Savior, in Matthew 4:4 has indicated that man is to live by something other than physical food. Please turn to Deuteronomy 8:3 also and note that this is a direct quote from the Old Testament. What is this special something by which man is supposed to live?
COMMENT: Perhaps the best Scriptural description of a True Worshiper is to be found in these verses which are almost identical in both Old and New Testaments.
What exhortation did Paul give to the young minister Timothy? 2 Timothy 4:2.
COMMENT: According to Bible chronologists, the book of 2 Timothy was written in 67 or 68 CE (Common Era). At that time the New Testament canon had not as yet been compiled, so the “Word” which Timothy was told to preach could only have been the Old Testament quotes of our Heavenly Father as given through the prophets.
Did Paul ever tell Timothy which Scriptures he was to study? 2 Timothy 2:15 and 2 Timothy 3:14–17.
COMMENT: Note especially, Paul told Timothy that these “Holy Scriptures” were able to make him wise (educate him) in the plan of salvation, through faith which is in the Messiah Yahshua. The Holy Scriptures (writings) to which Paul refers could only be the Old Testament, since at that time there would have been no New Testament writings which would have been known as the “Holy Scriptures.” In fact, since Paul was a Jew and well acquainted with Judaism, he would hardly have called his writings, or the writings of the other Apostles, the “Holy Scriptures.” Certainly he would not have wished to place his writings above those of the Old Testament which already bore that descriptive term and were so called by the Jews of that era.
Did this agree with what Yahshua the Messiah said in John 5:39?
COMMENT: At the time when Yahshua the Messiah made this statement, not one word of the New Testament had been written. The only Scriptures which were accepted as being able to educate people in the plan of salvation were the Old Testament Scriptures.
Yahshua the Messiah made a very remarkable statement in John 10:35. Would this mean that the Old Testament could ever be discarded lightly at any time?
Does this statement compare favorably with Matthew 5:18? Study also verses 17 to 20 and reflect upon the meaning of this vital passage.
COMMENT: Heaven and earth have not passed away as yet; consequently, not one small particle of the Old Testament Law has been annulled. The Law and the Prophets are the Old Testament. According to the Masoretes (the Scribes) there are 66,420 yods in the text of the Hebrew Scriptures. The tittle is a small ornament placed on certain letters in the Hebrew text as a decoration. How perfectly plain! Not even the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, or even the most minute embellishment is to be deleted from the Old Testament Law until ALL of Yahweh’s Words are fulfilled. Complete fulfillment has not occurred until now, has it?
How long did the Apostle Peter indicate that the Word of Yahweh (the Old Testament Scriptures) would endure? 1 Peter 1:25. (This is a direct quote from Isaiah 40:8.)
COMMENT: If you can obtain the use of a good study Bible edition in which quotes from the Old Testament are denoted specifically in the New, you may be surprised to see how many times Old Testament passages are quoted. The Apostles who wrote the New Testament, and Yahshua the Messiah also, did not begin a new religion, but they were directing the attention of the people to thoughts expressed previously in the Old Testament Scriptures.
Did the Apostle John indicate that he was writing a new commandment to his audience? 1 John 2:7, 24 and 2 John 5–6.
Did Yahshua the Messiah say that He was delivering a new message from Yahweh, the Heavenly Father? John 14:24.
Would these commandments of Yahweh be taught by those fulfilling the Great Commission of our Savior? Matthew 28:19–20.
After the resurrection of Yahshua the Messiah, did He indicate that a new doctrine would now be taught by His followers? Which Scriptures did He open to the understanding of His disciples? Luke 24:44–49.
When we, as True Worshipers, put on the whole armor of Yahweh, what is the most important and only article of offense which is provided? Ephesians 6:17. Please turn to Hebrews 4:12–13 for a description of how this offensive weapon works.
Is this Word of Yahweh found in the New Testament, or is it found in the Old Testament Scriptures? (Please review the previous questions and Scriptures for the answer to this question.)
How about the shield of Faith in Ephesians 6:16? Is this defined for us in Romans 10:17 as the Word of Yahweh? Can Faith in the Messiah come from any other source than from Yahweh’s Word? 1 Corinthians 3:11.
Does the Apostle Paul indicate upon which foundation we are to build our spiritual houses? Ephesians 2:20.
COMMENT: Please think about this question for just a minute. Who was the greatest prophet ever to live in Israel? Certainly we would have to conclude that it was Yahshua the Messiah. If we were to choose the second greatest prophet, we would have to conclude that this must be Moses. Please see Deuteronomy 18:15–19. The prophets of whom Paul is speaking in this verse are the Old Testament prophets: Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, etc. Along with the writings of the apostles, this is the foundation upon which we must build our spiritual house.
In the preceding passage we have seen what the New Testament says about the Old Testament Scriptures. The New Testament writers compliment the writings of the Old Testament rather than is assumed commonly—that they held them in disrepute. We must conclude that the writers of the New Testament were Jews for the most part, and that they were well versed in the Old Testament Scriptures. As a matter of fact, Paul studied with one of the greatest of Talmudic scholars, Gamaliel, who was the grandson of the famous Hillel. Please turn to Acts 5:34 and Acts 22:3. It would have been a sin akin to blasphemy worthy of death for them to do violence to the Law of Yahweh or to seek its overthrow. Yahshua the Messiah had been well educated in the Law of Yahweh also, having begun His training in this field at an early age, Luke 2:46–47. He is called “Rabbi” on several occasions in the New Testament (for instance, John chapter 3).
The Old Testament Speaks
Whose word does Isaiah 8:20 indicate would be the basis for all knowledge and light?
COMMENT: Now ask yourself the question, “Would the New Testament writers wish to be known as those who had no light?” Please note 1 John 1:5. Did John say that Yahshua the Messiah was the light of the world? John 1:5–9. Can the True Worshiper be an instrument of this true light also, to show the light of Yahweh to the world? Matthew 5:14–16 and Luke 11:33.
Is there any light (knowledge) when Yahweh’s Word is rejected? Jeremiah 8:9.
Is the Word of Yahweh to be our lamp? Psalm 119:105. Is the Word of Yahweh to bring us light? Psalm 119:130. Will this light give us understanding?
COMMENT: Remember that we have already seen that the Old Testament is the Word of Yahweh.
How long is the Word of Yahweh to stand? Isaiah 40:8 and Psalm 119:89. (Be certain to read Psalm 119 in its entirety at your earliest convenience.)
COMMENT: Often in the King James translation, the word which has been translated forever is olahm in the Hebrew. Be certain to remember this word, since it is of paramount importance in studying the Bible. In Strong’s Concordance Lexicon #5769, the definition which is given is concealed, i.e., the vanishing point; generally time out of mind (past or future), i.e., (practically) eternity; always. From these definitions and the previous Scriptures we must conclude that the Word of Yahweh is forever settled and sure, never given to flexibility, annulment, or change.
Does Yahweh ever change? Malachi 3:6. Please note also Hebrews 13:8.
COMMENT: This is almost diametrically opposite to what is taught by most of nominal religion today. Contemporary Bible teaching is that a different direction occurred at the time our Savior died and that now the Old Testament is no longer applicable. It is imperative in our study of the Bible that we bear in mind that our Heavenly Father does not change nor does His Word. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Does the Old Testament say that it is a criminal offense for anyone to add to or to delete from any of the Words of our Heavenly Father? Deuteronomy 4:2 and Proverbs 30:6. Is this the same injunction repeated at the end of the Book of Revelation? Revelation 22:18–19.
COMMENT: To have His own Words (the Old Testament Scriptures) changed, added to, or deleted from, is a very serious offense against our Heavenly Father. As a consequence, from meditation on these Scriptures we must conclude that the Word of Yahweh, the Old Testament Scriptures, must be studied constantly so that our lives will show evidence that we are obedient in all things and are not guilty of falsifying His Words.
To how many generations has Almighty Yahweh commanded His Words? Psalm 105:8 and 1 Chronicles 16:15.
COMMENT: I once sat down at my desk and figured that standing between myself and Adam were 100 men, allowing for the long lives of the patriarchs. Just think, only 100 generations since creation! The above verse must then make us understand that the Word of Yahweh is certain to exist for at least ten times as long as men have already lived on this earth. How plain and obvious! Our Heavenly Father has given us a time period which is comprehensible in terms of human understanding so that no mistake can be made in interpretation on our part.
Were a certain people selected to perpetuate this Word of Yahweh? Psalm 147:19–20. Please see also Romans 3:2. Note Acts 7:38 where these oracles are called “living oracles.”
COMMENT: The word oracles means words (thoughts uttered by the mouth). Here we have another remarkable lesson. The Words of Yahweh are living, viable, and, when connected with His Name which means Eternity, they will never die! In these last days they are once more being resurrected from seeming death and are being proclaimed around the world by the Assemblies of Yahweh. Modern Israel, we who are proclaiming the message, is the Israel of Yahweh, Galatians 6:16.
Does the prophet Zechariah indicate that eventually the Jew would have a big part to play in teaching Truth? Zechariah 8:23. Whom does the New Testament indicate is a Jew in our time? Romans 2:28–29.
COMMENT: Now we may understand that Paul was speaking about the Jew who had been regenerated spiritually. The ten men in Zechariah 8:23 could be referring to the ten lost tribes of Israel who have become lost to history, but may now be located by using the Scriptural method of identification.
Will the entire world eventually have to learn the Truth of Yahweh? Isaiah 2:2–4 and Micah 4:1–4. (To teach means to speak words of instruction to the people.) Does Isaiah 2:5 indicate that this teaching of Yahweh will be light from Jerusalem?
COMMENT: We may find many Scriptural passages which proclaim that our Heavenly Father will finally take a hand in organizing the affairs of this world. From an atmosphere of chaos and disorganization which is common in our day, we find that when the Messiah will be ruling and reigning from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, pure words of doctrine or teaching will be sent forth and enforced.
When the Messiah returns, will the Word of Yahweh go forth from a certain city on this earth? Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2.
COMMENT: Today, laws are made in many different places and we have reached a time when few are enforced rigidly. When our Heavenly Father sends the Messiah to set this earth to order, His Word will be the Law of the day.
Where should the Word of Yahweh be at all times? Psalm 119:11. Please turn also to Deuteronomy 30:10–14 and Jacob (James) 1:21. (The word engrafted is from a Greek word meaning implanted.)
COMMENT: It is not good enough to find the Words of Yahweh in the Scripture. They must be inside us, motivating our very lives and directing our actions each day.
The New Covenant
When someone makes reference to the “New Covenant,” our mind usually goes back to Hebrews chapter 8. In this chapter we find that the writer indicates that the Old Covenant is now ready to vanish away and a New Covenant will take its place. From some of the references that are made in the Bible to the New Covenant we may learn some surprising lessons.
Is a full description of the New Covenant given in Hebrews 8:8–12? Please read carefully the entire chapter and study it.
Will a testament ever be in force as long as the one drawing the will (making the bequeath) is still alive? Hebrews 9:15–17.
COMMENT: The Greek word diatheke can be translated as both covenant and testament. A covenant can be entered into by two individuals and it can be put into force without a death occurring. A testament is a legal document in which a person bequeaths and assigns to another individual his possessions upon his death. As a consequence, the testator must die before another person can claim the testator’s estate and property.
Is the New Covenant found in the Old Testament? Jeremiah 31:29–34. Please take time and study this passage thoroughly.
COMMENT: Again, we may note ample evidence of the importance of the Old Testament Scriptures for our day today. The Old Testament is actually the basis of our Faith, the very foundation upon which we must erect our salvation. The Old Testament actually complements and explains the obscure passages in the New Testament, as we shall observe in the forthcoming lessons of this Correspondence Course in the Inspired Scriptures.
There is a definite reason why the Bible which you are studying contains both Old and New Testament Scriptures. In fact, it is one complete unit and must be studied in this manner. To omit any portion from consideration as we study to find the will of our Heavenly Father and to learn the meaning of life would mean that we would veer sharply from the pathway which has been marked out for us. If you were building an intricate machine and would omit any portion of the instructions or a small component, you could hardly expect the machine to function properly, could you? This has been the case with nominal religion in the past, as numerous basic explanatory Scriptures from the Old Testament have been ignored, perhaps because they would have dictated a teaching which would have been unpopular. By failing to take into consideration every Scripture which deals with a particular subject, the world has become filled with different religious sects and denominations, each one proclaiming that they are the “True Church” which was founded by our Savior. With the widely divergent doctrines taught by the groups on the religious spectrum, the sincere student may soon come to realize that each one cannot be correct. However, the words of our Savior Yahshua the Messiah are still just as certain as they were at the time that they were expressed in Matthew 16:18. Somewhere there exists today that Body of Messiah about which He spoke.
In giving both Old and New Testaments the opportunity to speak with authority, one explaining the other and, as a consequence, becoming forged into one complete unit, we may observe emerging from the pages of the Bible a completely unique worship. The Assemblies of Yahweh has allowed the Inspired Scriptures to speak on all of the subjects in the Scriptures without dictating to them. We have tried to take a literal interpretation from the Bible wherever such an interpretation is justified. Human intelligence cannot interpret the Scripture correctly, 2 Peter 1:20–21. The Bible is filled with definitions which have been handed down to us from the heavens, so that we need not interpret the Bible. It has been opened to our understanding in a marvelous way by the One who wrote the book. To take away from or add to the words of our Heavenly Father would be a criminal offense for which He would rebuke us severely, if not give us a harsher punishment.
The people of this world may not admit this, but they have been very anti-Semitic in past history. The Bible is an Israelite book. The Hebrew people have been the central characters in the drama. It was to them that wonderful promises of blessings for obedience were given by our Heavenly Father. If we accept the Faith which they practiced, we shall inherit these promises also, as we enter into a covenant agreement with our Heavenly Father through faith in Yahshua the Messiah.
Complete the following quiz and submit it for grading.