SHABBAT SHALOM! That's the Hebrew way of wishing Sabbath peace to a friend, and that certainly is our wish to you. And that is also our invitation to you to attend the Shabat Shalom Hebraic Studies Fellowship (formerly named the Shabbat Shalom Jewish Christian Fellowship) at one of our Friday evening services or at one of our special events.
Having just said that, we know that your mind is now filling with a number of questions: Why such a strange name? Is this some kind of weird cult? What can people who call themselves Jewish Christians possibly believe? Aren’t Jews and Christians opponents or adversaries in many ways? Do I have to be Jewish to attend? Will this be some kind of strange service that will make me feel very uncomfortable if I go? Will I have to become Jewish or practice Jewish law? About this time you are probably saying, "Oy Vey!!" (See, already you’re a little Jewish, and it didn’t hurt a bit).
You may have a few more questions besides these, but these are typical of the spoken or unspoken thoughts on the minds of those who are considering attending the Fellowship for the first time; many of these questions may still be on the minds of those who have already attended once! But don’t be dismayed, there are good and sensible answers to all of these questions, and we would like to take a moment to answer them here.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
First, why the strange name? Simply put, we believe that – given the opportunity – the very best way to have learned the message of the word of God would have been to be discipled by Y’shua (Jesus) Himself. Failing that, the next best thing would have been to be taught by one of the Apostles. Even that we cannot do in this age in which we live, but we can do something rather close: we can study the Holy Scriptures in the same way as the very earliest groups of believers did. And how was that you ask?
Well, think about if for a minute.
The earliest believers were entirely Jewish; this is historic fact, like it or not (believe it or not there is a great deal of latent and not so latent anti-Semitism within ecumenical Christendom today). However, Jesus Himself was a Jew, the disciples were all Jews, Jesus came for the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Jews), He taught and traveled almost exclusively among Jews both in Galilee and Judea, and those who first received the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) were all Jews. What they saw in Y’shua was the promised fulfillment of God to provide a Messiah Redeemer who would atone for the sins of His people. Now they gathered together in homes and synagogues to pour over the only scriptures they knew -- the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, what we now call the Old Testament -- to see them in a new way. They now saw how all the traditions required of them by their God pointed to and foreshadowed the coming of the man they had seen and known in person: the Word of God made flesh!
THINKING LIKE THE EARLIEST BELIEVERS
So, realizing all this, our objective is to emulate that earliest group of believers, those that had the passion to intimately know Jesus, and to see that – through Him – they could be restored to fellowship with their God. To do this we know that we must first look at the Scriptures from the perspective of their way of thinking, their culture, their language. Remember, these are the people who wrote the Scriptures as God inspired them to put down the words, but what they expressed and the way that they expressed these inspired words was woven into the fabric of their culture, their way of thought and their language – a combination of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. So to properly understand the Bible, both Testaments, requires what we call, "seeing through Jewish eyes". Let us hasten to add at this point that there is no other motivation here; we do not espouse this approach for the purpose of lifting up Jews or Judaism, or to urge a Jewish way of life. We have simply found that the Word of God is ONLY fully understood when it is understood with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and seen through the grid of the culture which produced it, and that was a decidedly Jewish culture.
GOING BACK TO THE KIND OF SERVICE JESUS WOULD HAVE KNOWN
Our service is one that might typically have been followed by a home fellowship or synagoge meeting in the era of 40AD. We observe a Sabbath-eve worship service just as the early believers would have. We observe several Jewish customs and traditions such as kindling the Sabbath candles, saying Hebrew prayers, chanting the Shema, displaying a scroll of the Torah, taking wine and bread as a thanksgiving to God, and observing the "Feast" days commanded by God for all His people. This creates an atmosphere by which we can better understand the Word of God, and helps us to build a sound foundation for our faith. No one is required to observe any Jewish "laws"; what we learn is to distinguish man-made ceremonial law as heavily practiced at the time of Christ from the true Torah, or instruction of God. God’s ways, we see, are only worthwhile if they are the expression of the desire of our hearts, not the display of external conformity to rigid legalism. So, no, you don’t have to be Jewish or become Jewish to attend, and you wont feel the least bit uncomfortable.
DEDICATION TO STUDY OF THE WORD OF GOD
Our evening is one that concentrates heavily on deep study of scripture to bring out the fullest understanding of God’s plan and its fulfillment in Y’shua. We encourage participation to ask questions and make comments. It is a small group that represents what we truly believe to be the form of "church" that God desires: to be a knit-together body of believers that becomes a spiritual family formed by God. We call this "Mishpocha" which means family, and this is true fellowship as the body of Christ should be. Further, we are a body of believers that adheres to the process of one-on-one discipleship (the way the true Church of Christ grew and flourished) as directed by our Savior. Small, humble groups meeting in intimate settings were the pattern of the earliest church groups in contrast to the grand cathedrals with all their pomp, ceremony and ritual which has been added by man over the intervening centuries.
We belong to no denomination nor do we have any organizational associations or doctrines. Our sole (soul?) text is the Word of God, and when approached with the right heart attitude, we find that the Word of God does a great job of explaining itself. This is the same approach to study that is expressed through "SHALOM" the related radio ministry of the Fellowship. If you want to get a good preview of what the discussion at the Fellowship is like, then just go to Shalom Radio, and click on any of the recent programs which you can download at your leisure.
DEEP HEBRAIC ROOTS
Hopefully, by now, you will have concluded that this Fellowship is not some weird cult, but actually makes a great deal of sense for the person who is "seeking diligently after God". The other major realization that will come out of this consideration is that the "dividing wall" between Jew and non-Jew should have been done away with long ago, and the fact that it still stands so tall and wide is a great testimony to the efforts of our common opponent, Satan, to keep God’s called-out people at odds with one another. True Christianity has its roots deep in Jewish soil, and nothing can dispute the truth of that fact. Unfortunately the vast majority of teaching in today’s churches either denies the reality of that truth or is just plain ignorant of it to the great loss of the respective congregations. They are missing the foundations of their faith, the revealed plan of God, and, therefore, do not possess a faith with the unshakeble roots of understanding they require to weather the storms of this present age.
If, deep in your heart, you know that you desire to know God and to serve Him with all your heart, soul, and strength, then join us for a venture into scripture that will utterly revolutionize your understanding of God’s Word, and will, without question, render you a little bit Jewish; after all, as Rav Shaul (the apostle Paul) said, "you are spiritual heirs of Abraham."
WHERE WE MEET
ON-LINE!!! Beginning in 2014 we have chosen to suspend our "live" Fellowship meetings and switch to on-line webinars as a way of reaching many more people who would like to participate in our meetings. Our thinking was that a virtual Fellowship meeting was much better than no meeting at all, and we will do our best to make these webinars interesting, interactive and enjoyable. All you have to do is send us a note (see previous page) saying that you would like to be added to our email notification list.
Also, stay in touch by listening to "SHALOM", the radio ministry of the Fellowship, which airs every Saturday morning at 9:30am and repeats every Sunday afternoon at 3:30pm on KKMC at 880 on your AM dial (this covers the central coast area of Northern California), or . . . . . . . you can listen via the internet at www.arielministries.net by selecting the "Radio" tab.
If you would like to be added to the Fellowship mailing list for newsletters and notice of special events, please e-mail us your name and address to SSJCF@netpipe.com