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Soli Deo Gloria is the writing and teaching ministry of Baruch Maoz in Israel. Baruch is engaged in writing original commentaries on the Bible, and theological and practical works in Hebrew. Some of his books are available in English. His critique of the Messianic movement, Come Let Us Reason Together: The Unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Church, has been published by P&R, and his Devotional Commentary, Malachi: A Prophet in Times of Distress by Crossbooks. Both are available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Shepherd Press is now preparing to print his Devotional Commentary Jonah: A Prophet on the Run.
Baruch is also engaged in writing (in Hebrew) a commentary on Romans and Micah, futher books in the Devotional Commentary series, an Introduction to Systematic Theology, editing a modern translation of the Bible into Modern Hebrew and writing other expositional and theological books. In the pipeline are also books on church life and structure, How to Preach and Listen to Sermons, and daily Christian disiplines. To date, Baruch is the only author writing Christian literature n Hebrew.
Baruch and Bracha are Israeli Jewish Christians who have served in Israel for 5 decades now. Between April 1974 and December 2006 Baruch served with Christian Witness to , most of that time as Israel Field Leader. Betwen May 1975 and December 2008 he served as Pastor of Grace and Truth Christian Congregation in Rishon LeTsion, Israel. Our website reflects the experiences gained in the course of that time.
Our monthly newsletter, MaozNews, is available for the asking, with back-issues to be found on this website (Baruch's Writings/News From Israel). To subscribe, click address at the bottom of this page.
The Whole Purpose of Life
God is so far above us, so radically different from us, that we cannot know him unless he reveals himself to us. All I know of God, I know from God's revelation of himself in his word, the Bible.
From the Bible I learn that God made us for himself. Life is, therefore, all about him: loving, obeying, enjoying and glorifying him. We humans strive to find happiness. We eat and sleep, court and love, create, invent, strive, clamor and fight but cannot find the happiness we seek. Why? Because we're self-centered. We try to satisfy our lust for life, thinking that wholeness and peace are the product of sel-fulfillment and self-enjoyment.
That is an illusion, a lie we tell ourselves.
We were made for God and cannot not find peace until we have peace with him. There is no happiness without holiness, and we are decidedly not holy. That is why we are not at peace with God.
Holiness is not a kind of other-worldliness. It is not achieved by dressing, eating or functioning differently. Holiness is a matter of the heart. It has to do with whether we sincerely love God, or don't. That is what determines our motives and the way we lead our lives. That is what sets our goals.
If we love God, we'll gladly be taken up with him, and then will find the way to peace. I love my wife. I think of her often and want to find new ways to please her. I love my children and am occupied with their happiness although they are now grown and have families of their own. If we love God, we'll be taken up with thinking about him and his wishes rather than the satisfaction of our needs and desires. That is when we become attune to the message of his amazingly wonderful grace.
That is what life is all about.
I trust in God and love him, no apologies offered. I trust and love him poorly, but sincerely. He rules over everything -- all that exists and all that occurs -- with infinite wisdom and grace. If he did not exist, there would be nothing. If he did not rule, all would collapse into nothingness.
The Bible tells us that God made the world with all of its physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual aspects. It exists for him. He is the cause, the logic, the goal and the beauty of it all.
I do not claim to understand how some aspects of reality (brutality, for example, or selfishness) ultimately serve God's purpose or portray his beauty. But I know God enough to trust him, and trust him enough to be assured that he will some how, some day, work all of this out.
The Bible further tells us that there is only one God, and that his oneness is a mystery, the kind of mystery we would expect of him. The one God is greater than one as we know it; he is One who is Three, Three who are One, each of the three being equal in glory and in everything that characterizes godhood, yet distinct from the others; known from the scriptures as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are indivisible, inseparable and yet distinguishable, Three who are eternally One.
I do not understand; I adore. Don't ask me to explain it. I don't know how to bake a cake, let alone presume to approach eternal majesty. But I believe it, without reserve, because that is what I learn from God's word about himself.
I also learn from the Bible that man was made by God and for God, to love, obey, enjoy and serve him forever. Man's happiness is wrapped up in his living for God, who is the purpose of life. Nothing else comes near to maximizing the potentialities God has implanted in man when he created man in his own image. Wholeness, holiness, happiness -- these each have to do with serving God lovingly, consistently and with sincere devotion.
That is why man feels miserable when he acts contrary to his nature by living for himself. Refusing to love, obey, enjoy and serve God, man not only rebels against his Maker (a terrible thing to do!), but works against his own highest good.
God created Adam, the first man and the head of all humanity, good. That goodness, like everything else about man, was mutable: man could lose his goodness just like we lose our keys, our eye sight or our appetite. Only God is immutable. It is in the nature of man to be mutable.
God gave man the possibility and the tendency to love, obey, enjoy and glorify his Maker. Such a possibility, to be real, implies the possibility to choose otherwise. In that sense, Adam was free to choose love and enjoy God, or not to do so. The possibility of choice was expressed by the presence of a forbidden tree, placed in the centre of the Garden, exposed to Adam's frequent sight, calling to his attention: "remember: you are called to love, obey, enjoy and serve God. That is your true joy and happiness." God laid down the law and man's joy was to be found in obeying it.
The choice God gave Adam was a real one. It was not used wisely. Adam aspired to be more than just human. He wanted to be the one to define good and evil, apart from God's command. Rebellion promised him all that, so he reached out, took of the fruit and ate – only to discover that rebellion's grand promises were written on ice.
Instead of rising, man fell. Instead of becoming independent of God he became subject to the grossest animal needs. Instead of becoming wise he became a fool. Instead of joy and happiness he experienced alienation from God, his wife and the world in which he lived. Reality became a conflict that leads to death. Man's rebellion became his prison and his condemnation; and that for all mankind, which he represented.
Since then, as expression of the spiritual and moral unity of all mankind in relation to God, all humans are engaged in the same course of rebellion, its consequent misery and its just and painful punishment.
Man's rebellious foolishness cannot change God, who is as kind as he is holy, as loving as he is just. He made the world to be glorified through it, and he will be glorified in the world, come what may! He made man to be glorified in man. Nothing can deflect the majestic Maker from his purposes, or put the slightest dent to them. Even man's rebellion will glorify God.
So God gave man his law. He called a people into existence and, through them and their history, he revealed himself afresh to man. He also gave man, through Israel, a hope that culminated in the coming of an anointed one (a Messiah), through whom God would save man from himself and from his rebellion. Then, as a climax of what he did for and through the nation, God the Father sent the Son to accomplish his eternal purposes and to undo the damage created by man's rebellion. For that purpose, out of the mass of mankind, God chose those whom he would free from that rebellion.
God entered into covenant with Israel. He brought the nation of Israel into being with the express intention of entering into covenant with it, and using the nation to bring a holy happiness to the world. Israel is not the end all and be all of human history, or of the purposes of God; it is a means to an end.
God gave Israel covenants, promises and warnings. He gave the people kings to lead and defend them, prophets to exhort them and a law to serve as the nation's guide.
Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, Israel chose to go its own way. A short while after the law was promulgated, while the people were still at the foot of the Mountain of God, where the Law was given them, they choose to pervert the image of God into idolatrous terms learnt from the surrounding nations.
My beloved people consequently repeated that mistake with such determined persistence that they were finally driven out of the land, as God warned would happen if they did not obey: a false view of God led to a false view of life, of society, of morality and of privilege. Israel became a hedonistic, materialistic, selfish society in which man consumed man and the weak and needy were abused, neglected and destroyed. God could not and would not leave the nation without punishment, for he is just.
He first sent prophets to warn the people, but they would not listen. He urged the people to turn from their ways and assured them of forgiving grace, but they developed a system of self-reliance and would not budge. Even in exile, when finally purged of overt idolatry, they conjured up a new kind of idolatry – that of the mind, without a physical image. God was made subject to the rabbis, subject to man's abilities, diktats and achievements. His sovereignty was replaced with a view expressed by one of Israel's leading rabbis in terms of "all is predetermined in heaven (by God) – except the fear of heaven (of God)!" In matters of the heart, man was viewed as free, and God could do not more than wish and hope. He was subject to man's beck and call, at the mercy of man's choosing to ignore or obey him.
By the time Messiah came, this system had become in many Jewish minds identical with spirituality. Jesus challenged that system and was rejected for doing so. His disciples were hounded out of the nation, expelled from participation in the day-to-day of Jewish life, branded as traitors to the national cause.
Meanwhile, the church, seeking to distance itself from anything Jewish for reasons we need not go into here, forced the Jewish believers to disavow their Jewishness.
But the message Jesus the Messiah taught is exactly that of the prophets, of the law, of the promises of God to Israel. Faith in Jesus is the most Jewish thing there is! It is high time to redeem the message from its historical contortions and to rediscover its solid roots in the Five Books of Moses, the books of Israel and of Judah's history, in the Psalms and in the words of the prophets.
Israel's future has to do with its faith in Jesus. Israel's destiny is to love, obey, enjoy and glorify Jesus. That is Israel's only salvation.
The Son of God came willingly to do the will of the Father, took on human flesh without ceasing to be himself, lived a perfect life in obedience to God and therefore, when he died, he died the death that we must die for our rebellion.
Jesus, God the Father's Son and mankind's Savior, made up for all of man's rebellion. He laid a just, moral basis on which God could maintain his holy justice and, at the same time, forgive and restore those who turn to him in repentance and faith, seeking to love, obey, enjoy and glorify God.
God the Father continues to rule over everything. He sends his Spirit in the world to ensure that the world does not run out of control, to limit evil, reduce its consequences and secure the accomplishment of the Father's purposes. For these purposes the Spirit works secretly in the hearts of men, moving them to act freely according to his will.
The Spirit moves and enables people to hear, believe and respond to the message of God's holiness and kindness. When they believe and respond, he changes their hearts, frees them from the shackles of rebellion and begins to repair the damage to human nature imposed by that rebellion. He comforts those who believe, encourages them, moves them to love his commands as they are to be found in his moral law, provokes their consciences when necessary and stirs them to love, obey, enjoy and glorify God at any cost.
All those the Father chose for salvation will be freed by the Spirit on the basis of the Son's sacrificial death. They will be remade into the image of their Maker and enjoy both in this life and – far more substantially – in the eternal order of things that is to come, the fruits of the Father's love, the Son's atoning sacrifice and the Spirit's power.
This brings us back to the beginning: the only way man can truly know God is if God reveals himself to him. God is so different from anything with which man is familiar that, even if man was not blinded by negative spiritual and moral influences that crept in, he has no means to find or understand God. God is a Spirit; man is body and spirit. God is ultimate; man is but for a time. God is perfect; man is inevitably limited. God cannot change; man changes as does the weather, in every sense imaginable.
Because knowing God is man's greatest joy, and because God is love, he has chosen to revealed himself to man. His did so to a limited extent in creation. His did so far more substantially in the complex of declarations, commands, promises and covenants that combine to make up what we call the Bible – God's wonderful word to mankind. The Bible teaches us how to love, obey, enjoy and serve God, and to do so forever.
The message of God's amazing kindness to rebellious human beings is not a product of human wisdom. Nor need it stand the test of such wisdom. It proclaims a wisdom of its own and has a power of its own to convince, convict, convert and transform. I know because I have experienced the power of this message, that is why it is now mine.
The extended Maoz family, July 2012
Other audios may be found on Sermon Audio (click here) or by browsing the Internet.
Last updated: 2013-08-13 09:27:42
Shame in Tel Aviv
Learning to Learn and Grow Together (Baruch's biography continued)
Ministry and Family News
To read our most recent issue, or any backissues, please click on the link below this box
Baruch and Bracha are engaged in their 2013 tour of the US, in the course of which they expect to be driving through Oregon, Montana, North or South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisianna, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Washington State.
Baruch is available for ministry in most of these states, He is prepared to preach, report on the scene in Israel, or offer an expository seminar on a biblical book. If your church is interested, please write to email@example.com
Israel and Iran
Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin (Bibi) Netnayahu thrives on scaremongering and crises-fomenting. Iran is unlikely to concede its aspirations to military nuclear capability any more than it is likely to forgo its desire to gain leadership of the Muslim world. Buttressed by firm religious fervor, the likes of which the listless West lost ago, Iran will continue to sacrifice as it seeks to realize its national ambitions.
True, the West lacks the backbone necessary backbone to force Iran to forgo nuclear ambitions, and Iran is very much aware of that reality. But the interim agreement achieved freezes Iran's process and even rolls it back somewhat, making room for a final settlement within six months. It remains to be seen what kind of agreement will then be reached. Meanwhile, silence is more appropriate than press releases.
On the other hand, should Iran at any stage draw closer to military nuclear capability, Israel may well have no choice but to pre-empt an attack -- regardless of the cost.
I have deep respect and love for Baruch Maoz, and the work that he is carrying on in Israel, despite obstacles and opposition. He has been a dear friend for many years. I’ll never forget doing a conference for him in Israel several years ago. I pray that God may use his sound theology, helpful preaching, excellent books, and numerous gifts for the conversion and spiritual maturation of thousands of Israelis and for the abundant glory of God. Rev. Joel R. Beeke, Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation, Author
Baruch Maoz has been a minister of the gospel, author, publisher, and voice for believers in the land of Israel for four decades. I have seen firsthand the fruit of his ministry and I cannot recommend it too highly. Baruch’s preaching, teaching, and writing ministry should be supported by all who care about the gospel and its impact in Israel and beyond! Pastor Jerry Marcellino, Audubon Drive Bible Church, Federation of reformed Evangelicals – Laurel, Mississippi
Knowing and embracing our Lord’s clear directive to bring the Gospel to the “Jew first” I, along with BPC have been extraordinarily blessed to work in partnership with the effective biblical and faithful ministry of Baruch Maoz. His ministry of evangelism, discipleship, along with his strategic and insightful writing/translation projects, only enhance my opportunity to recommend him and his ministry. Rev. Harry Reeder, Senior Pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Birmingham AL
Tom Ascol of the Founders Movement writes: "Baruch and Bracha Maoz serve in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Baruch has served as a pastor, publisher, author and church reformer in his homeland of Israel. He has ministered several times with our Grace Baptist Church family in Cape Coral and our people have come to love Bracha and him dearly. I highly recommend his and his ministry to any church that values expositional preaching and the gospel of God's grace." Dr. Thomas Ascol, Grace Baptist Church (SBC), Founders Movement, Cape Coral FL
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