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Featured Jewish Christian or Messianic Jew?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Healing with Jesus, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Healing with Jesus

    Healing with Jesus merciful listener

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    Does it matter if a born-again follower of Jesus Christ is a Jew? If so, why?

    I am an ethnic Jew. I wasn't raised with the Torah. I received the gift of salvation from Jesus as an adult about 10 years ago.

    For the past few months, I've been reading the Old Testament prophets. This, with the gift of understanding granted to me by the Holy Spirit, has helped me learn much more about God. Things I never knew about Him and His people. I can't explain it, all I can say is read Isaiah if you haven't, and don't stop there. I have a newfound awe for the Lord.

    So yesterday I had an interesting experience. I discovered the page of a Messianic Jewish synagogue and did some reading. They maintain that Jewishness is important. They quoted Acts 21:18-25. Then I read verse 26, which I had never noticed before:

    “On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality." Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.”
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭21:18-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    That was interesting to me, because in verse 26 it says that Paul purified himself!

    What is the meaning of this? Am I to be a Jew? What does this mean for me, and all others who are Jews? Should all Christians live as Jews? What about Paul's rebuke of Peter eating with Jews instead of Gentiles? What about the Torah, how can it be kept without relying on it for righteousness? How can we follow the Torah and live in faith?

    Then I remembered something very important last night. On that blessed day I received Jesus Christ as my savior, I was in my new friend's apartment. I asked about something she had hanging on her wall. Was it a cross or crucifix? No. It was a Star of David. I asked about it and she told me that she is a Messianic Jew. I received Jesus Christ as my savior within minutes, and the rest is history. But that was how I met the Lord on that day.

    Wasn't it because of her Jewishness that I came to faith in Jesus Christ that day? You can see why it seems to be significant for me.

    I just want to make sure I'm obeying God and seeking Him first. I really don't know what any of this means. I don't want to be one of the many Jews who stumbles on the stumbling block. In fact, my friend warned me that many Messianic Jewish synagogues are too "into" the law, and end up venerating Abraham and Moses - that is, their forefathers and their heritage - over Jesus. I certainly don't want to fall into that trap. I'd just as soon disregard my Jewishness if I would risk losing Jesus. But if Jesus sees my Jewishness as important, then I want to respect Him and obey whatever He has commanded me to do. And what would that be?

    God bless!
     
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  2. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

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    “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:10–11) (KJV 1900)
     
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  3. Ken Rank

    Ken Rank Well-Known Member

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    I would just throw this out. Most Christian have a demeaning view of the law, mainly, because we are not raised understanding it in context. I am NOT saying keep it or not keep it... I am saying most Christians don't have the context around it they think they do. I don't even mean that in any inflammatory way, I just know through countless experiences over the last 20 years that most people who stand against a Feast keeping, clean eating lover of God like myself... don't really know what I believe and why. You can lose "Jesus" for wanting to obey God and do the very same things HE DID when He walked on this earth.

    As for what you should do... whatever it is you are convicted of. This is your walk, and you answer for yourself. :)

    Be blessed.
    Ken
     
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  4. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Active Member Supporter

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    You may want to read Galatians before you jump into Torah observant Christianity. Besides having a very wide range from extreme to minimal observance, the movement may be more of a hindrance than a blessing.

    Some useful reading from a very reliable group.
    About Torah Observance • Jews for Jesus
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  5. CodyFaith

    CodyFaith Well-Known Member Supporter

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    First off, the moment you placed your trust in Christ is the moment you were forever saved. So you do not have to worry about forsaking Christ, you are a child of God forever.

    Christ freed us from being bound by all things. You are no longer a slave but free. Are people to still uphold the Law? Yes, of course, as per what Jesus said in Matthew on the sermon of the mount, and throughout the Letters it talks of upholding the law after recieving salvation. But how people, and how Jews, are now to observe the Law looks differently then it once did. People no longer stone people. People no longer follow the unclean laws to the t (imagine washing everything a woman on her period sat on in this day of age). Jesus taught that the Law had main principles that were it's focus, some being faith, justice, mercy, and love - love being the greatest. Jesus said the entire Law is summarized by loving God with all your heart, mind and soul and loving your neighbor as yourself. He said that when one loves, he or she fulfills the Law of Moses.
    Does this nullify the specifics of it all? No. For we wouldn't know the blessing of rest with the Sabbath command and other sabbath related. We wouldn't know the purity and sacredness of marriage without the laws forbidding immorality in that regard. And I could go on. We live by the Law, whether Jew or Gentile. I believe once you settle in your mind and heart what the Law actually is, then you can look to how to fulfill those commands. The Law does not harm you, ever. The Law is not burdensome, ever, but relieves burdens. Jesus said his commands are not burdensome. The Law is serious in the clear-cut do nots, for example adultery, and we are never to justify immorality. But that is not a hinderance, but a blessing.

    In regards to Messianic Judaism, I explored it at a different stage in my life when I first came to Christ. I saw some things I did not like. For one, they call their teachers Rabbis, something Jesus said not to call anyone but him because only God goes by the title Rabbi; for all Christians are brother and sister and equal. I've heard Messianic people say that Jesus meant something else, but I believe that's doing dishonesty to his words. It is clear-cut. Another would be praying with prayer shawls on. Whether it was custom or not prior to Christ, Paul teaches in the Letters that man is not to pray with his head covered, specifically meaning in my view in the religous sense like a shawl. Jesus is man's head, man is woman's head, and God the Father is Christ's head, and it says for this reason a man covering his head in prayer dishonors this fact. Again, Messianics will say otherwise with convincing words (almost anything can be justified away). Another thing that makes me hesitant is the literalistic approach to the Law... however in that one I will not judge but let God judge them in, for it's not my place nor in my wisdom to be able to judge that properly. I will say though if you feel bound in a negative sense, a truly negative sense in that is harms you emotionally, spiritually or physically, that is not from God... so let that be your guide. Another red flag was these specific Messianics distaste and disrespect for Paul. While some of the Messianics I met did not go further into it, they said his name purposely in a derogative manner. "Who said that, Paul?". So I'm unsure if that is a common practice or unique, but it was a red flag enough for me for that specific congregation.

    I know I didn't real get into specifics of the do's and dont's regarding the Law, and that was intentional because I myself am still figuring out my own walk with God in this avenue and do not want to lead astray with things that aren't true. But I did feel the need to comment with at least just this.

    I want to also say that your being Jewish is a special thing. It of course does not mean you are better than non-Jewish believers, as we are all one in Christ, but it is special and unique. So cherish that aspect, embrace it, and fulfill whatever personal destiny the Most High has for you. Shalom and God bless you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  6. Ken Rank

    Ken Rank Well-Known Member

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    I would agree that moving slowly in any direction is wise. But Galatians has a number of interpretations and not all of them are dealing with Jews and the law.

    Remember... do not steal, which is part of the law, isn't a hindrance, it is God's will. The law merely determines what is and is not sin. That is why "Torah" is defined FIRST as instructions and directions rather than law.

    I might add... when Yeshua said, "many will come saying Lord Lord haven't we done ____ in your name?" and he says, "depart from me you workers of iniquity?" The word for iniquity is anomia... which means 'without law.' And it isn't secular law he is referring to. :)
     
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  7. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Active Member Supporter

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    Understood! Moral law is written in our hearts. Ceremonial law has be fulfilled by Christ.
    Blessings
     
  8. Dave-W

    Dave-W Grandparent of six grandchildren, #7 on the way! Supporter

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    YES!!!

    The natural children of Jacob have a special calling and unique function in the New Covenant; not unlike the children of Levi had the priesthood and temple service under the Mosaic covenant.
     
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  9. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Active Member Supporter

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    Hello Brother,
    I do not wish to cause friction among Christians however your statement is exactly why there is yet another division among the Body of Christ. There is only one Body and we are all in it equally.
    Blessings
     
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  10. 1213

    1213 Disciple of Jesus

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    I think it all depends on what is the reason for doing so. If one does it, because loves God, then it is good. If one does it to gain eternal life, that is not good.

    For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. His commandments are not grievous.
    1 John 5:3

    All God’s laws are good and for the good of people. They are not burden, but as guide to good life. All is lawful, but not all is good, if person is righteous, he wants to do what is good, because he understands it is good and right.

    ”All things are lawful for me," but not all things are expedient. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be brought under the power of anything.
    1 Corinthians 6:12

    "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are profitable. "All things are lawful for me," but not all things build up."
    1 Corinthians 10:23

    And lastly, all God’s commandments are in “love your neighbor as yourself”. If you do so, you show love to God and you don’t do anything evil.

    Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not give false testimony," "You shall not covet," [TR adds "You shall not give false testimony,"] and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love doesn't harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.
    Romans 13:8-10
     
  11. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    Hello and welcome! :) I'm going to start by recommending the book Don't Call Me Christian by Paul Liberman. He had some strong feelings about wanting to be called a Messianic Jew rather than a Hebrew Christian, plus it goes into the background of the Messianic Movement.

    https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Call-Me-Christian-Jewish/dp/1508608105

    I am also an ethnic Jew who wasn't raised on the Torah. My mom became a Christian in her 20's, so I was raised thinking of myself as a Gentile Christian, so it is hard for me to think of myself as a Jew, though I have considered myself to be a Messianic Jew for the past 8 years or so.

    Jesus did not come to start his own religion following a different God, but rather He was Jewish Messiah of Judaism, who practiced Judaism by perfectly keeping the Torah and by teaching his followers to obey it by word and by example. All Christians were Torah observant Jews for roughly the first 7-15 years after Christ's resurrection up until the inclusion of Gentiles in Acts 10, so Christianity at its origin was the sect of Judaism that accepted Jesus as its Messiah. Jews who became followers of the Jesus did not consider themselves to be converting to a different religion, but rather they were simply acting in accordance with what is prophesied in Judaism. The issue in Acts 15 was whether Gentiles had to become Jews in order to become members of Judaism and followers of the Jewish Messiah, but now today we have the opposite problem where Jews are expected to give up their Jewish identity in order to convert to being a Christian.

    There are many verses that describe the Torah as being instructions for how to walk in God's ways, such as Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Isaiah 2:2-3, Joshua 22:5, Psalm 103:7, and many others that I could cite, so the Torah was not given as instructions for how to live as a Jew, but rather it was given as instructions to God's followers for how to express His character traits, such as holiness, righteousness, goodness, justice, mercy, faithfulness, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Jesus expressed these character traits through his actions, and what that looked like was complete obedience to the Torah, so that is what it should look like when he is living in us. Our sanctification is about being made to be more like Christ, to have and to express the same character traits, and to be restored fully into the image of God.

    When we have a character trait, then we will express it through our actions, so when God imputes His righteousness to us and declares us to be righteous, He is also declaring us to be someone who expresses His righteousness through our actions in obedience to His instructions for how to do that found in His Torah. In other words, the reason we have received the righteousness of God is not in order to hide it under a bushel, but in order to let it shine through our obedience. So the reason why we are required to obey the Torah was never in order to become righteous, but because we have been declared righteous.

    In Matthew 23:23, Jesus said that faith is one of the weightier matters of the Torah, so obedience to God's instructions is about having faith in Him to guide us in how to rightly live. Living by faith is always associated with having a willingness to obey God's instructions, such as with the examples of saving faith listed in Hebrews 11, whereas disobedience to God's instructions is referred to as breaking faith, such as in Numbers 5:6. In James 2:17-18, he said that faith without works is dead and that that he would show his faith by his works, so obedience to the Torah is not about adding our own efforts on top of our faith, but rather it is what our faith looks like, which is why Paul said in Romans 2:13 that it is only the doers of the Torah who will be justified. So we are not saved by our obedience to the Torah, but rather we have received grace to bring about the obedience that faith requires (Romans 1:5), so the same grace and faith by which we are saved also requires our obedience, which is why Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-10 that we have been saved by grace through faith, not by works, but rather we have been made creations in Christ for the purpose of doing good works.

    In is important to distinguish between what is said about man-made laws and what is said about God's Torah in order to avoid making the mistake of interpreting something that was only against obeying man as being against obeying what God has commanded. For example, in Acts 10:28, Peter referred to a law that forbade Jews to visit or associate with Gentiles. However, this command is found nowhere in the Torah and is in fact contrary to its instruct to love the stranger as ourselves (Leviticus 19:34), so he was speaking about a man-made law. It was this law that Peter was obeying in Galatians 2:11-16 when he stopped visiting or associating with the Gentiles. It does not say anything about what they happened to be eating primarily because that wasn't relevant to what was happening.

    I would agree that it is no good to become so focused on the Law that we lose sight of Jesus. My congregation spent about two years going through a sermon series on Finding Messiah in the Torah, so he is the focus of everything in the Torah. I also recommend that to you, as well as other studies and articles at our site:

    Genesis- Messianic audio Torah teaching by Rabbi Stan Farr
     
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  12. Radagast

    Radagast is a Trinitarian Christian

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    Jesus is God. He's not just a Jewish rabbi.
     
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  13. Radagast

    Radagast is a Trinitarian Christian

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    Well, no, actually.
     
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  14. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    While we are all one body, the body still has different parts with different functions. Even within Jews there were those with different roles, such as with the priests and non-priests, and even within the priesthood, there were different roles, such as with the High Priest or those who were in charge of moving the tabernacle.

    1 Corinthians 12:15-26 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
     
  15. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    The fact that He is God does not negate the fact that He was also a Jewish rabbi who had Jewish disciples.
     
  16. Radagast

    Radagast is a Trinitarian Christian

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    Galatians is pretty unambiguous.
     
  17. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    Paul was a servant of God, not his enemy, so he shouldn't be interpreted as speaking against obeying what God has commanded.

    The Bible does use the category of ceremonial law, nor does it distinguish between moral and non-moral laws. If there were non-moral laws, then there would be some examples where disobedience to God was considered to be moral, but there are no such instances. Rather, any disobedience to God's commands is always sinful and immoral.

    "To fulfill the Law" means "to cause God's will (as made known in the Law) to be obeyed as it should be" (NAS Greek Lexicon pleroo 2c3). After Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law in Matthew 5, this is precisely what he then proceeded to do six times throughout the rest of the chapter by teaching how to correctly understand and obey it. In Galatians 5:14, loving your neighbor fulfills the entire law, so it refers to obeying the Torah as it should be obeyed, and refers to something countless people have done, not to something unique to Christ. Likewise, Galatians 6:2 says that bearing one another's burdens fulfills the Law of Christ, so you should interpret it in the same way as fulfilling the Law and the Prophets, namely obeying it as it should be, not as doing away with it. In Romans 15:18-19, it says that Paul fulfilled the Gospel, which again referred to causing Gentiles to become fully obedient to it in word and in deed, not to doing away with it.
     
  18. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

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    It ranks pretty high among the most misunderstood books of the Bible.
     
  19. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Active Member Supporter

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    I do not see in scripture where Jews and Gentiles have a separate set of functions in the Body of Christ apart from all who is in that Body. I clearly see what Paul is speaking of however not what you are speaking of.
    Anyhow , we don't need to go back and forth on our differences. I am well aware of your views and I just do not agree. Lets keep the peace.
    Blessings
     
  20. Radagast

    Radagast is a Trinitarian Christian

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    By some people who don't realise that it totally condemns the entire "Messianic Jewish" movement.

    Ἴδε ἐγὼ Παῦλος λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε, Χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφελήσει -- Take note! I, Paul, am telling you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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