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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 Founders Press. Both are available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon while Shepherd Press produced his Devotional Commentary Jonah: A Prophet on the Run.

Baruch has written  a series of commentaries in Hebrew on Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Jonah, Nahum and Malachi, Matthew, Romans and Colossians. He has written an Introdution to the Life and Epistles of Paul, an Introduction to Systematic Theology, and edited a modern translation of the Old Testament into spoken Hebrew. He is presently translating the New Testament into Modern Hebrew and engaged in other writing projects. In the pipeline are books on church life and structure, How to Preach and Listen to Sermons, and Daily Christian disciplines. 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 Israel, 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 bottom of this page. His faceBook and Linkedin pages serve as blogs and provide almost daily information on the scene in Israel. His postings are also avaialble via Twitter @BaruchMaoz


Following is a link to Baruch's summary to Paul's letter to the Romans (audio, 40 minutes)


Baruch's Musings

Grace and Truth Christian Congregation – An Overview of Its’ History
May 1976 – December 2006

Our joy and calling is to give God glory. Grace and Truth Christian Congregation, founded in May 1976, will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary. This is an occasion for reflection, gratitude and praise to God, as well as an opportunity to thank the many who played large roles in the life of the church. I have had the privilege of seeing many of the events unfold and can affirm without hesitation that Grace and Truth Christian Congregation today is the product of God’s grace and truth to his people, kindly prodding by Christian brethren and stiff-necked stubbornness on the part of those involved.

First Steps
The idea was first broached by a friend and mentor Pastor Walter Chantry, who suggested that a Reformed and Baptist church be established in Israel. It was enthusiastically supported by then-Director of what is now Christian Witness to Israel (CWI), the Rev. Murdo MacLeod. Upon hearing of the suggestion, Rev. MacLeod happily concurred. He further conceded that the Society would stand by the church – literally: it would make its resources available, but under no circumstances control the church. Such were the principles CWI then embraced. For over three decades, from 1976 until my retirement from CWI in 2006, the Society adhered to those gracious, extremely generous and thoroughly biblical undertakings.

It is worth mentioning that Rev. MacLeod was a firm, heartily-convinced Presbyterian, as were and are many of those who later enlisted alongside Grace and Truth. But their ecclesiology was broad enough to embrace those whose understanding of the church differed, and their hearts more given to the glory of God than to the promotion of denominational interests. Their heart was for the Gospel. Over the years, Grace and Truth has been privileged to work with, learn from and be encouraged by Presbyterians, Baptists – Reformed and general – Pentecostals, Charismatics, Plymouth Brethren and many others. The church of Christ is beautiful.

Meetings began with my family, in my wife’s living room, soon joined by Eli Ben Moshe, Arthur Goldberg, Dudu Tel Tsur and David Zeidan. It was agreed that confessional discussions would be conducted for as long as it took us to come to a shared understanding. For just over two years, careful study was conducted, in the course of which a Confession of Faith and a Church Constitution were framed while, one of us, much to the other participants’ sorrow, chose to excuse himself from the process. The other participants found themselves drawn ever closer in agreement. By the time the Confession and the Constitution were completed, there were 19 families in the fellowship.

Grace and Truth Christian Congregation was formally constituted on May 1976, in a service to which all evangelical congregations in the country were invited. Three months later, three Elders were appointed, among which one was designated Pastor.

What The Church Would Be Like
It was agreed that the church would endeavor to reflect God’s ultimate purpose in Christ – his own glory. As such it was agreed as follows:
• That the church must neither be Jewish nor Gentile. It must be Christian, incorporating Jews and Arabs and members of other nations and that, therefore, within the boundaries of the Gospel, it ought to reflect the cultures of our country and of our region without preference to either Jew or Arab; 
• That the life and faith of the church would be based on a shared understanding of the word of God, expressed in a Confession of Faith and a Constitution; Those two instruments were in tandem with the consensus of historic Reformed Confessions.
• That it must be inclusive of all who love the Lord in spirit and in truth while true to its understanding of God’s word; 
• That its’ worship should be God-oriented, biblically instructed, sober, warm-hearted and sincere;
• That it should be Christ-centered, noted for its’ doctrinally informed worship, conduct, fellowship and expositional preaching, all geared to cultivate holiness in the fear of God; 
• That it should reach out supportively and respectfully to other evangelical congregations regardless of disagreement, seeking to be doctrinal but not doctrinaire, and 
• That it should be frankly and extensively engaged in Gospel witness to our societies.

It was further agreed that membership transfers from other congregations would not be encouraged, nor would they be accepted unless the transferees came with the blessing of their previous congregations. Congregational oversight would be transparent, subject to congregational supervision and approval. All congregants would be encouraged to play an active role in the life of the church, with a few additional privileges accorded members. The officers of the church would be Elders, led by a Pastor, Deacons and Evangelists. Preaching would be a theologically informed, culturally sensitive and biblically focused expository undertaking. Church discipline would be loving, fair, firm and gracious, ever with the goal of restoring erring brethren.

High standards were set due to the conviction that God deserves our sacrificial best, and far more than our best.

Growth and Challenges
Attempts at harassment by enemies of the Gospel came to naught when it became clear that the congregation refused to be intimidated, and that every such attempt only provided opportunity for further witness.

When the congregation became too large to meet in a home, a one-room store-front was used, with the toilet alternating between its original purpose and a Sabbath School classroom. Failed efforts by the Orthodox to have the congregation evicted resulted in the first of a string of legal precedents the congregation premeditatedly sought to establish, in order to blaze a path for other congregations in the country. The ruling in our favor was a tremendous encouragement, after we continued to pay rent for a property we were unable to use for the duration of two years, while we fought the legal battle.

A painful schism occurred in the mid-1980’s, when membership of the church dropped from about 70 to 7, but God in his kindness sustained us and, after a healing period, we began to grow again. When the store-front, in turn, proved too small, a house was rented. Foolishly, we had not ensured that zoning restrictions permitted use of the house for worship. Following another period of harassment, the congregation chose to leave rather than threaten the income of the widow who had rented us the building and was experiencing pressure from the Orthodox community.

Until a suitable location was found, we met each week in different locations and, when the weather permitted, in parks and public spaces. After some two years, CWI generously purchased a property that met more than its’ own needs dictated, and hosted the church for well over a decade, never requesting payment. However, as soon as it could, the church assumed responsibility. It commenced paying an increasing portion of its Pastor’s salary, for electricity, city tax and a large portion of maintenance costs. In addition, tens of thousands of Shekels were given CWI each time a sizeable contribution was received by the church.

Immigration from the former Soviet Union faced us with a significant challenge: while committed to what is known as a Reformed Confession of Faith, we were no less committed to loving our brethren and welcoming them into the fellowship of the Gospel. They did not share our theological convictions. We were also used to conducting ourselves in one way, and the Christian immigrants in another. All of us were therefore repeatedly challenged as to the reasons for our convictions and our practices, in the course of which we discovered that some of our set ways could and should be improved upon, that there were better, more biblical practices we should adopt. On the other hand, the immigrant brethren were invited to examine our convictions in the light of God’s word, and an overwhelming majority of them came to embrace the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace.

The Church Facility
A building fund was established, but every time it was thought enough had been collected, the price of land had risen. What finally made the difference was the loving generosity of Christian friends and societies. Robert van Kampen stepped in with a gift of $350,000 which enabled the congregation to purchase land on which the church home now stands. An anonymous gift of $800,000 made the commencement of design and construction possible. A similar gift of a smaller but significant size was repeated by the same anonymous individual. Patmos International, a Finnish Christian organization, contributed hundreds of thousands of Dollars and the Isaac da Costa Fund, established in the Netherlands, commenced its substantial support by having Pastors from the Gereformeerde Gemeenten undertaking a corporate personal loan totaling 200,000 Euros.

Alongside these there were private individuals who went to great lengths for the church, such as Jim Jackson, Eckhard Meier and Jerome Lund. Special mention must go to Jennie Potter, who laboriously knitted and sold bookmarks, and sent the returns to the Building Fund. The last I heard she had contributed over 2,000 British Pounds.

The building was designed to serve as a landmark. It would be cheap to maintain, multifunctional, attractive, obviously meant to serve religious purposes but neither typically Jewish, Christian nor Muslim. It be characterized by Middle Eastern architectural features such as domes and arches, with a main auditorium in which the pulpit was centrally located and the congregation just about surrounding it, and with acoustic qualities that rendered a sound-system unnecessary: God’s people around God’s word. A swimming pool and classrooms were also included so as to render the building multi-functional.

Shortly after construction commenced, a stay-order was issued by the Court. The Orthodox contested the church’s building permit and, much to the delight of the congregation, fought the various Courts’ favorable decisions all the way to the Supreme Court – only to face a precedent-setting decision from Israel’s highest judicial authority.

In the course of time the congregation grew so that, at one stage, it numbered 450, a third of whom were children and another third the fruit of God’s blessing on the church’s evangelistic endeavors. Five Elders worked alongside the Pastor: David Zadok, now pastoring the church, Alex Faibishenko, Eitan Kashtan, Vitali Reznitsky and Sasha Seriapov. There were were three Deacons, Ze’ev Bern, Eddie Golder and Felix Volynsky and a supportive Diaconal Committee made up of Sasha Gurin, Vitaly Tsuriak and Andrew Prochaska. Four evangelists were engaged in Gospel work: the previously-named Alex and Eddie, Sophia Levin and Natasha Kuperman; a work among the deaf was conducted, as well as various outreaches to meet pressing social needs. Committees were responsible for visiting the sick, caring for the Elderly, overseeing cultural events, promoting work among our children and youth and the such like. Social endeavors were carefully kept apart from evangelistic endeavors; they were expressions of a sincere social concern for the needy, not a leverage for evangelism. The Finnish and Dutch brethren helped to fund these endeavors generously.

Serving the larger Body of Christ
An extensive Sabbath School program for children, youth and young adults was designed and is still ably run by Eitan and Orit Kashtan. An Elders’ Training course was devised, in which some of those who now serve the church were instructed. The publication of a Russian-language magazine was commenced and Sunday School material produced and distributed to other churches. Further initiatives to promote cooperation between churches let to the founding of what is now the National Fellowship of Congregational Leaders in Israel, and to a pact between most of the congregations in central Israel, according to which the goals, grounds and steps of church discipline were agreed upon and the churches undertook to support as well as to oversee each other’s disciplinary actions. The right of appeal before member churches to the pact was secured. Again, much of what was done us due to the generous support of Patmos International and the Isaac da Costa Fund.

We had no one in the country from whom we could learn. We had to frame our own Constitution and our own Confession of Faith. When the first burial service came along, we had to devise of our order of service, and when the first wedding came along, that, too, needed to be formulated. Of course, we did not presume to begin from scratch. Rather, we learned from the best of our Jewish traditions and from those created by the church over the centuries. Each was designed to be a true expression of the Gospel and of our unity with the larger body of Christ, as well as a coherent expression of these to our nation by incorporating those elements from our tradition that are competent to serve to that end.

At one stage, overwhelmed by the need of the Russian immigrants who poured into the country in the 1980s, the church put out an appeal for help. The astounding sum of $350,000 arrived in a very short period from all over the world. It was agreed that this was far too much to be held by the congregation and, in consequence, Keren Tkuma, a National Social Aid Fund was set up. By 2009 the Fund had enabled over 100 local Christian families to purchase homes and others to obtain a professional education or set up business.

In addition, although the extent was merely symbolic, the congregation took up the support of mission work in Kenya, sent teams to work in Kenya and aspired to send out its own missionaries. A daughter church was established in Holon, now worshipping in south Tel Aviv, and various national endeavors were undertaken on behalf of the church in Israel as a whole. When proposed legislation threatened to restrict freedom to preach the Gospel, the church initiated and actively contributed to the creation of a cooperative national body that successfully stymied the legislative effort.


Grace and Truth Christian Congregation has far exceeded its founders’ expectations. If it were not for the grace of God and for the many who instructed, encouraged, prayed, gave, criticized and advised nothing of what has been described would have become reality. If it not for the grace of God and for the many who will continue to instruct, encourage, pray, give, criticize and advise, nothing more will be achieved. There is more work to do – much more! Having put our hands to the plough, we must not look back. We must press for the mark of our high calling in Christ Jesus, reaching out for the prize of God’s honor. Thanks are due to all who have made this possible, and – above all – praise to God.

As one who was privileged to witness God’s grace and truth to the congregation, I offer to him my praise and thanks. Thanks are due also to those who served to those ends as instruments in his hands.

Baruch Maoz


Our great God and Savior, Redeemer of sinners and Sanctifier of the unclean, who delights to bless the unworthy, you who have chosen to glorify your name by the grace you have shown this congregation, we bless, laud and worship you, joining our feeble voices with the thunderous praise of the angels and of all you have made. Heaven, earth and hell bespeak your glory.

You have done on our behalf more than we could have ever imagined. You have blessed beyond our dreams. Be pleased to continue your blessing on this congregation and this facility. Make your presence known here. Save and sanctify the lost, hasten the day of Israel’s redemption and be ever exalted through the members of Grace and Truth Christian Congregation.

This we ask through the merits of your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ the Righteous, Amen.



September 08, 2016 

From my Commentary on Colossians, to be published by Founders Press (Colossians 3:15-17)

Our next mission is indicated by Paul’s injunction: “And be thankful.” Let’s put that in context: “As God’s holy chosen ones, and having been loved, put on great sympathy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing one another and forgiving each other. If anyone has a complaint against anyone—just as the Lord forgave you, you forgive as well. Above all of these, love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of the Christ rule in your hearts, to the which you were actually called in one body, and be thankful.”

Thankful for what? Thankful for being “called in one body.” Thankful for the privilege of belonging to the church of Christ. Thankful for the fact that grace is the grounds for our membership. We do not need to learn another language, adopt another culture, improve or reduce our social standing, or subscribe to a denominational confession. Nor must we embrace the Colossian error, worship angels, or adopt Jewish custom. All who are in Christ are “called in one body.” If we trust in God through Christ for salvation, if we acknowledge his glory and seek to love and serve him, we belong to Christ and are therefore members of his one body. Nothing more is required.

“As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:36–38 NASB)

If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:17–18)

Next, Paul said to the Colossians, “Let the word of the Christ indwell among you richly.”

The phrase is unusual. It appears only here. “The word of Christ” is nothing other than the word of God, the word of the Gospel. Christ only spoke what the Father gave him to say. His message is to indwell the fellowship of the saints. It is to be their major characteristic, the focus of their church life, the guide and arbiter of all differences. It is to indwell them by the reading, teaching, and contemplating of God’s word (a clear indication of the importance of preaching in the life of a congregation). The word of Christ points to his sufficiency and pulls us back every time we deviate. We need the word of Christ to conduct our church life as it ought to be conducted. We do not need the word of tradition or of ecstasies who claim additional revelation. As we focus on Christ, we focus on his word.

Next, as the word of Christ indwells among Christians, they are to be engaged in “teaching and admonishing yourselves with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” Here is a solid standard for song in the church. There is little, if any, distinction between psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in Scripture, and commentators differ greatly as to the distinctions they draw, perhaps evidence of the lack of a solid basis for their arguments. One or another of the terms might indicate singing with the accompaniment of music and another without, but the minute distinctions that may exist are really unimportant. According to Paul, singing has an important role in the life of the church. It has to do with teaching and admonishing.

The main purpose of song in the church is not self-expression but instruction and admonition (an archaic word for “rebuke” or “call to duty”). What we sing should, therefore, have substantial content. The music should serve the words; it should never blanket them. If we sing without thought, or if we hear a song and cannot decipher the words, there is something fundamentally wrong. If the words are tacked on as a justification for the music, or if we sense that the words are forced onto the music rather than the music serving to express and emphasize the words, the song is sub-Christian. Emphasis should be on the words, not on the music, and certainly not on the musicians.

While there is room for emotion in the church (woe betide a church in which there is no emotion), there is no room for emotionalism; our singing should be full of biblical content. It should do more than say “Hallelujah” or “I love you, Jesus,” or even “You’re holy.” It should focus on the biblical message and its application to our lives. It should speak of the glory of God, his majesty, being, and attributes; of creation and the fall; of law and grace; of the incarnation; of Christ’s life and teaching, his crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension; of redemption; of conflict with sin; of hope, victory, and the glory of God.

Yes, Christian hymnody should be theology put to music. Hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs should teach. They should inform us of our faith, call us to our duties, rebuke us for our failures, remind us of our comfort, and express our longing, determination, and hope in Christ to be all that God would have us be.

Next we are told how we should sing: “with grace in your hearts singing to God.” First, we should sing with grace in our hearts; that is to say, out of the experience of the Gospel. Our singing should be outbursts of understanding of what God did for us through the Gospel. Having been taught and admonished, and having come to a fresh or a refreshed comprehension of the wonderful grace of God, we sing, and we sing what we have been taught. We simply have to sing! We have to give vent to our renewed appreciation of God and his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. We have to respond in repentance, gratitude, hope, and commitment.

Second, and this is part of the point of Paul’s letter to the Colossians as a whole, the “we” who should sing should be the community. Paul was not vying against individual worship, nor forbidding solos any more than he was forbidding an individual leading in prayer. He was concerned because the Colossian Christians were being encouraged by the false teachers to aspire to something beyond the normal experience of Christians. They were being told they should set themselves apart by adding to what they (and others) had received in Christ. But as we have seen, Paul insisted that there is nothing beyond Jesus. There is nothing beyond what he has achieved.

We’ve also seen Paul insist on the unity of the church. He would now have that unity expressed in song—there should be more “we” in our singing than “I.” We should sing as a community of the redeemed, conscious of the fact that we are not redeemed on our own, nor do we worship on our own. Our worship in song (and song is not the only way we worship when we come to church) should be a foretaste of what is yet to be for all eternity: “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns’” (Rev. 19:6). 
Third, our singing should primarily be directed “to God.” On the one hand, we teach and admonish one another in song. On the other, we worship. But we never entertain. We speak one to another (which leaves room for solos and for the choir) and to God. But we do not perform, and there is no room for clapping in appreciation of the choir any more than there is room for us to clap in response to a sermon.

Finally, Paul called upon the Colossians to focus on Christ as they aspired to increased spirituality: “And everything whatsoever you do, speaking or acting, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The immediate application of such an admonition was related to the Colossians’ spiritual endeavors, but there is no sphere in life in which we are free from serving God or seeking to grow in grace and in the knowledge of his ways.

“Everything,” Paul said, “whatsoever,” without distinction; whether it is washing dishes or driving your car, teaching a Bible lesson or relating to your spouse, singing a hymn or disciplining your children, at work or at play or in your spiritual life, in “speaking or acting, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Don’t aspire to go beyond him. Relate all you do to him, and whatever you cannot do in the name of the Lord Jesus, don’t do. That is spirituality. That is the height to which you should aspire: “everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,” with one important addition that will bring us back in a full circle to Christ: “giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In other words, do everything as an act or worship and as an expression of gratitude to God for him.



August 30, 2016

From my commentary on Colossians , to be published 2017 by Founders Press (Colossians 3:14)

The apostle proceeds to tell the Colossians what they should put on: “Above all of these, love.” Of course, love is expressed in all the aforementioned characteristics: sympathy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing one another, and forgiving each other. It is the motive behind them all. But why should a slave love his master, and what kind of transformation must the master undergo to love his slave? Why should a Jew love a Gentile or a Gentile a Jew? The answer is ready: because of the Gospel, which recognizes no such distinctions and calls people from every nation under the sun to love and worship God, and to do so, among other ways, by loving one another. How could they love each other when they differed from another and had such a history of mutual exclusion? Once again the answer is ready: by the grace of God, by the power of the Gospel, by the moving of the Spirit.

Love, then, is “the bond of perfection,” or perhaps better, the perfect bond. Nothing binds better than love. Nothing binds us firmer to God than his love for us. Nothing blinds us more to ignore other people’s faults, moves us to care for people, bear with them, and sacrifice for them more than love. It is the perfect bond, capable of uniting diverse individuals who would not normally relate to one another by demanding of them, exemplifying to them, and motivating them toward a love that captures the heart and drives them to admit most willingly that “we love because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19).

Rather than engaging in conflict, competition, or the tendency to compare themselves with others, Paul called upon the Colossians, “Let the peace of the Christ rule in your hearts.” Be at peace with one another by virtue of the Gospel. Be at peace with one another as Christ has made peace between you and the Father. 
Could there be a greater difference than the divide between him and us? He is holy and we are unclean. He is wise beyond measure and we are foolish beyond anything we can imagine. He is good and we are selfish. He is righteous and we are quick to take advantage of others' weaknesses. He is eternal and we depend on him, on food, drink, air, and sleep. We rebelled against him, corrupted his word and abused his world, worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, and preferred temporal pleasure to eternal holiness. Yet he loved us with an everlasting love and, at the price of his Son, established peace between us.

That peace should “rule” in our hearts, so that we are unruffled by those who differ from us and never feel threatened by another’s opinion or a contrary custom. Bedouin custom requires one to belch at the end of a meal to show satisfaction. Try that at a dark-suit dinner party in, say, France or England. Who is to say that one custom is better than another? Middle Easterners embrace and kiss; why is that any less acceptable than a handshake? Africans sway as they worship, while “cultured” whites stare frozen in place at the preacher. Which is more appropriate? There should be peace among us. The peace that Christ established between the Father and us should rule our hearts. It should govern our reactions to those whose differ from us.

“To the which [peace] you were actually called in one body.” There is a reason, the apostle insisted, that we were actually called in one body. After all, God could have chosen to create two—or more—bodies of Christ. He could have established a Gentile church and a Jewish church. He could have established a church for freemen and one for slaves, one for women and one for men, one for Spanish speakers and one for those who know English (or, for that matter Greek, Korean, or Hebrew), one for blacks and for whites. Oh yes, and one for Presbyterians and one for Baptists, one for Arminians and one for Calvinists. But he didn’t. He established one church for all. Existing divisions are man-made. They run contrary to God’s purposes, contrary to the Gospel, and contrary to the essential nature of the church.

The church is to be one. One! The church is a fellowship of grace to which anyone can belong on the grounds of grace in Christ and only on those grounds. There is no room for the compartmentalization of the church. There is no biblical basis for the divisions that exist in the church. The church is to include Gentiles and Jews; freemen and slaves; women and men; Spanish, English, Greek, and Hebrew speakers; blacks and whites; Baptists, Presbyterians, Calvinists, and Arminians. These are to mesh and clash and be sanctified and grow together as they worship God and serve him as one body. They are to learn from and love one another sincerely in spite of their differences and the difficulties these differences create. God’s intention is to “gather all up into one.” (John 11:52). His “plan for the fullness of time is to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10). He is doing that through the Gospel. That is what we should be doing.

Christians acknowledge this truth. We pay it frequent lip service, and sometimes we even reach over the fences that our lazy preferences for comfort and sinful pride have created. We then consider ourselves exemplary, large-hearted, and exceptionally kind. The truth is that we betray the Gospel by allowing the fences to exist in the first place. We should not reach over them; we should break them down. Like President Reagan in Germany when the wall still divided Berlin, we should call, “Tear down this wall!”

We are called into one body to exemplify a peace that transcends differences and gives expression to God's ultimate eschatological goal: to undo the consequences of sin; to create a united, redeemed humanity, the members of which live together on the grounds of God’s grace and enjoy a God-centered harmony that gives him glory; to restore Eden at the expense of conflict.

Is Christ not sufficient to unite us? Are we to allow culture, language, race, social strata, or doctrinal differences that do not touch upon the essence of the Faith to divide what God has united in Christ? Is our culture or language or comfort more important than the Savior? The church is to be a harbinger of what is to come, a demonstration of the power of God and of the grace of the Gospel. The church is to be a visible enactment of the future, when the wolf and the lamb will lie together and the ox and the bear will feed beside each other. What are we saying by our divisions? What message are we conveying to the world?


August 23, 2016

From my commentary on Colossians (3:12-13)

Patience is obviously related to meekness. Meekness leads to patience, which in this case is described by Paul as “bearing one another and forgiving each other. If anyone has a complaint against anyone.” Paul was not discussing Christian character in abstract; he was addressing a situation in which a distortion of the Christian Faith was introduced as a means of higher spirituality and which, in fact, served to create a lower state of contention, competition, pride, insensitivity to one’s own failings, and blindness to the qualities of others. In such a context, differences between people are accentuated and harmony is unlikely.

Patience inevitably means “bearing one another,” and the willingness to do so is necessary in any human context because none of us is perfect. “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). 
Angels neither wed nor are given in marriage. We marry precisely because we’re not angels. (If only we remembered that, we’d be spared many a disappointment.) Marriage is a challenging, edifying, sanctifying, humbling experience in which we can learn the validity of much of what Paul had to say in this portion of God’s word. As much can be said of church life and of life in society.

Bearing one another means forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against anyone. One would wish the if here expressed doubt. It does not. Human reality makes it clear: we often offend one another and, at least as often, have complaints one against another. If here is the now-familiar if of contingency meaning, “when” or, if you wish, “since you will undoubtedly have complaints the one against the other.”

Because there is not a human relationship in which any one of the partners never has a complaint against another, this injunction is extremely valuable. A forgiving attitude is necessary to those who have been forgiven. Remember our Lord’s warning:

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, “Pay what you owe.” So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.

Then his master summoned him and said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. (Matt. 18:23–35)

How should forgiveness be granted? Paul did not leave us with the question; he said, “Just as the Lord forgave you, you forgive as well.” The Gospel teaches us to treat one another as God has treated us. He sought us when we did not seek him. He prepared the grounds for our forgiveness although he had a well-established grievance against us. He wooed us with his kindness, without sacrificing his justice. He firmly but lovingly brought us to the bar of his justice and showed us our guilt, and then he moved us by his tender, mighty mercies and the gracious promises of the Gospel to turn to him and be forgiven. When we repented, he laid no further demands on us but to love him sincerely. Since then we failed repeatedly, but he continues to forgive with a liberality that transcends imagination. “Just as the Lord forgave you, you forgive as well.”




August 18, 2016

From My commentary on Colossians (Colossians 3:12)

The next spiritually moral characteristic to which Paul called the Colossians is “humility.” Once again, the relationship between humility and the former qualities is obvious. Sympathy and kindness are the products of humility because humility is what teaches people to love their fellow humans as they love themselves; humility forbids an individual from thinking that his concerns, joys, needs, fears, wants, and ambitions have the right to be of the highest priority.

Humility reminds us that others are worth as much and dear to God as much as we consider ourselves to be. Humility is what enables husbands to love their wives, wives to accept their husbands’ leadership, parents to lovingly respect their children as they bring them up in the Lord, and children to follow their parents’ lead by obeying their loving demands. It is also what enables Christians to bear one another’s burdens, forgive each other, and live together in harmony in spite of their differences.

Pride, on the other hand, is one of the most destructive forces on the face of the earth. It has brought more suffering to mankind than anything else. It lay at the root of Nazi arrogance and of all historical imperialistic aspirations. It laid the ground for Western colonial abuse of Africa, for the suppression of nations under the heel of Islam, for the heinous slave trade, and for both the First and Second World Wars. Pride destroys families, divides churches, and paves a straight path to hell.

We need to remind ourselves how Christ humbled himself, became one of us, underwent our temptations, experienced our misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and mocking rejections, bore our sins in his own body on the tree, suffered, died, and was buried. His humility for our sakes should be the grounds and motivation of ours.

Next, Paul called the Colossians to “meekness.” In Roman times, meekness was considered a fault, not a virtue. In Paul’s day, prowess was either military or political, and the two were often intertwined. Morality, a humble fear of God, and unselfish liberality were signs of feebleness of mind or heart—or both. Today’s values hardly differ. We have merely added keeping up with the Joneses, being aggressive salesmen or entrepreneurs, and standing up for ourselves in society. Paul called the Colossians to go against the grain of their society’s values, as we are called to go against ours, and be known for meekness.

Meekness is not evidence of weakness; it takes a large degree of emotional security to agree to appear to be weak. Nor is meekness an expression of an inability to cope with reality or a lack of ambition or drive. Meek individuals can be ambitious and highly motivated, as was Jesus. A meek person is gentle, not self-assertive, although he may very well be capable of projecting a sense of rectitude and authority that will move others to submit to him.

Living together as we ought, in the family, at church, or in society, involves a good deal of compromise. Even when we think we’re right, we often need to compromise until others come (if they come) to see things as we do. While it is wrong to comprise fundamental principles, we should not make everything a matter of conscience. It is right and good to be highly principled, but meekness should be part and parcel of our principles.

We should beware of being over-righteous (Eccl. 7:16). The Pharisees were over-righteous when they forbade healing the sick on the Sabbath or the plucking of grains to satisfy hunger. Paul warned the Roman Christians not to impose their sensitivities on those who did not share them (Rom. 14:1–12). We must respect each other’s liberties at the same time that we respect their sense of duty. Living together in the family, a church, or in society requires a meekness that does not seek to impose one person’s personality or preferences on another but makes room for frank, respectful, gracious discussion, sometimes resulting in continued disagreement.

Our Lord exemplified a dignified, conquering meekness that should serve as a beacon and a call for us. His meekness as he lived on earth and related to people like us should be the grounds and motivation of ours as we relate to God and to others.




August 10, 2016

From commentary on Colossians (3:12)

What follows is also in the plural. Taking note of this little fact will help us get the point of Paul’s message.

“There is no place for Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave freeman . . . but Christ is everything (all) and in all, “so as God’s holy chosen ones, and having been loved, put on great sympathy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing one another and forgiving each other. If anyone has a complaint against anyone . . .” In these verses, Paul was spelling out the practical implications of the demands grace put upon the Colossians. They were God’s holy chosen ones and were required to act as such. They were holy because God had made them holy by the sacrifice of his Son and the workings of his Spirit; he had cleansed them of sin, released them from its compelling bondage, put his law in their hearts, and made them his in a special way.

They were holy because God chose and separated them from the mass of sinful humanity to be holy and without blame before him. In spite of their many sins, they were God’s chosen ones. They did not choose him; he chose them. They loved because he first loved them, “and having been loved,” it was their duty to love their fellow Christians by putting on the characteristics of true love, all of which are necessary to love as one body in Christ:

First, “great sympathy.” The apostle was speaking of the ability and the honest willingness to see things from the other person’s point of view, with his interests as close to one’s heart as one’s own. He was speaking of the ability to share another’s sorrows, understand his concerns in a loving manner, and support him as he fails; of doing for others what you would want them to do for you. This kind of sympathy is the opposite of selfishness; it is a reflection of the beauty of Christ, who bore our pains and sorrows and underwent the temptations and trials of life that we experience, and is therefore able to succor us to the full extent of our need and beyond. His sympathy toward us should be the grounds and motivation of ours toward others.

Such sympathy is especially necessary for Christians of diverse backgrounds and social standings to enable them to live together in gospel harmony, sharing the grace of God and rejoicing in his goodness. An openness to other cultures, a willingness to bear with radically different personalities, and a realization that our way of understanding or doing things might not be the only way are necessary for a happy marriage, an edifying church life, and a stable society.

“Kindness” is grace’s next requirement. Kindness is a good-natured willingness to please others and do them well. It’s relation to sympathy is obvious. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul called upon his readers, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

He then set before them the supreme example of kindness: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:1–8). Christ’s kindness and his humble generosity should be the grounds and motivation of ours toward others.

Church life is one of the important contexts in which we have both opportunity and need for kindness. It is where we give ourselves to others for God’s sake as disciples of Jesus. Like in a family and, to a slightly lesser degree, in society, a sincere concern for others is what oils the hinges of relationships and transforms them into positive experiences of the kind of grace that is God-like because it exemplifies the Gospel.

Kindness leads us to be alert, aware of, and sensitive to others and their needs. It means that we hold the door for the person entering the building behind us, that we give others leeway and forgive them liberally when they err. Kindness means that we are sincerely and practically committed to other people’s welfare and do not act as if the world revolves around us. Kindness makes us patient under trial and generous when in need. Kindness is simply Christlikeness.




August 2, 2016

From my commentary on Colossians. In summary of 3:1-11

This is the moment to draw your attention to an important fact: the “you” from verse 5 onward is plural. Paul was not addressing individuals in the church but the body as a whole. It is much easier to break bad habits and replace them with good ones when we enjoy the support and encouragement of community. It is much easier to break away from one’s former way of life and adopt another when we are in loving, exhorting, rebuking, inspiring, motivating fellowship with others engaged in the same spiritual and moral pilgrimage. That is one of the reasons why church life is so necessary to Christians. If you have noticed the similarity between the Spirit’s work and that of the church, do not be surprised. The Holy Spirit uses the church for the accomplishment of his purposes. The church is God’s habitation through the Spirit (Eph. 2:22).

As a community the Colossians had put on Christ. As a community they had clothed themselves with the new man. As a community they were being remade into the image of the Creator. No individual can by himself reflect the fullness of the infinite glory of God. All of redeemed humanity cannot do that, let alone any individual. John heard no solos sung in heaven, no individual performances. What he saw was a congregation so large it could not be numbered. 
The more united the church is, the more effectively it can reflect the image of Christ and the more

The Recent MaozNews
MaozNews No. 102, August 2016

to access, click below

In This Issue:

Our Oneness in Christ, pg. 1

Ministry and Family News, pg. 5

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God, Science, and Objective Reality

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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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