(SEE condensed version)
As Jude the brother of James wrote concerning the desire to write you of our common salvation, it is needful [instead] to warn you of certain men crept in unawares.
Paul spent his career warning the churches against Judaizers, people who try to bring the church back under bondage through the false doctrine of 'salvation' by works. These are men who look on outward appearances, not on the inner man of the heart. In fact, all false religions and cults are based on salvation by works.
Because "many are called, but few chosen", most true Christian churches are heavily populated with members who trust in salvation by works such as good deeds, style of dress, church traditions & sacraments. It is not just the Catholic Church that is guilty of this.
The problem I want to address is Messianic Christianity. The name sounds really good -- right?
First you need to know that my local church supports both the saved Jews, that is, Messianic Jews, and the unsaved Jews, that is, Jews by bloodline that have not found the Messiah Jesus. As proof you may see the files jews.htm and jews2.htm.
There is a difference between Messianic Judaism and Messianic Christianity. Messianic Jews are those who have found the true Messiah Jesus. They are also known as completed Jews. On the other hand, a saved Gentile is a 'Jew' by circumcision of heart, a wild olive branch grafted into the domesticated olive tree.
We do not believe in "replacement theology" that says the Church has replaced Israel in Scripture. God still has a plan for Israel. In the last three and a half years of this era, God will save 'proportionately' more Jews than Gentiles. The last three and a half years are to bring in the fulness of Israel, the blood Jews. God will not save all Jews, but a huge amount. They must accept Jesus Christ of Nazareth as Savior just like I pray you have.
What is Messianic Christianity? Roughly speaking, it is Gentiles that are role-playing as Jews. They are fascinated with the Jewish culture and want to bring this into the New Testament Church. At first glance this sounds "cute". I remember an evangelist who used to say, "Kill Satan while he's cute!" Think about that. You get it?
In Acts Chapter 15, when James the apostle of Jerusalem met with the other apostles and leaders to determine how much Jewry should remain in the church, they agreed:
19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
To the Judaizers, Peter said:
10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the [Gentile] disciples which neither our fathers nor we [Jews] were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” (Ac.15)
In Galations, Paul said:
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? (Chap.2)
You can simply read the whole book of Galatians, rather than have me re-hash what should be fundamental Christian knowledge and doctrine.
What James was saying in Ac.15:21 is that if you are a Gentile who wants to play with Judaism, or if you are a Christian Jew still clinging to some familiar fond traditions --- you all have the synagogues where Moses is taught every Saturday.
Do not under any circumstances bring the Jewish traditions and the accompanying spirit of pride and condemnation into the Christian churches. Try as one may to avoid it, this spirit ALWAYS comes in with Messianic Christianity (Gentiles playing Jewish).
You might say, "We shouldn't use absolute words like ALWAYS."
In this case the word 'always' is appropriate. Why? -- Because the human flesh and the carnal nature just cannot bear Judaism. Only Jesus could.
Let me give you a crude example in a completely different vein that illustrates why Judaism and Christianity don't mix today while we wait for the return of Jesus:
Remember Adam and Eve were naked and innocent in the garden. When they sinned they knew they were naked and covered themselves. Then God made them animal skins, in other words implying, "Yep, you need to be covered". Ok, so now you and I are saved and have back the dominion that Adam had given to the devil. Does this mean we should go back to running around naked again? NO! Why? -- Because the flesh can't handle it!! Even in heaven there will be white robes. Our Spirit is saved; our flesh is not saved, neither can be. Your flesh is your enemy along with the world and the devil. Your flesh must be forced into submission by your Spirit. Part of 'keeping-the-flesh-under' is by wearing garments, so as not to tempt others.
OK, I said it was a crude example, but here is the point: When Jesus comes, He might do the Jewish Feasts in some 'revised' way. Read Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48. He'll most likely even come on Passover Day or thereabouts to take us into the "Promised Land". But NOW ain't the time for the Feasts. The flesh can't handle it.
In comparison to the three-hour Jewish Seder (Passover) meal, the Christian "Lord's Supper" may be simple, but Christ is merely foreshadowed in the former but is actually present in the latter. That makes Communion infinitely more blessed. We need to appreciate that difference, and we also need to mourn the fact that unbelieving Jews don't understand.
Communion has replaced the seder meal. The seder is not for Christians. In the seder, there is a lamb shank bone. The meat is already gone! This shows that the sacrifice was over before the meal even begins. These Jews do not partake of the Lamb. They can't be saved until they 'consume' the Lamb. Today, the only way to partake of the Passover Lamb is to receive Jesus into your heart. In the seder meal you have a dry bone. In communion, Jesus declares, "This is my body and blood".
Christians who want to be in a Passover Seder should not do so in their own church or home. Instead, try to get an invitation from a Jewish friend, and while you're there, pray for an opening to share to them how the seder has been fulfilled in Christ.
In Messianic Christian churches, the male members are encouraged to wear fringed prayer shawls (tallits) and small head caps called yarmulkes or kiddahs. At times the prayer shawl is worn over the head. This may seem a small thing, but the New Testament forbids men from wearing head coverings in church. The Jew says the tallit and cap show that a man is under God's authority; the Christian belief is that a saved man is already under God's authority and in church should not prophesy (speak the things of God) with ANY hat, hood, or shawl. This cap portrays the 'barrier' that man-made tradition has erected between God and man. This head cap symbolizes that the man is uncircumcized in heart. There is a barrier of deadness keeping him from life.
The tallit and yarmulke are small examples of the bulk of Messianic Christianity where Jewish rabbinical tradition has usurped the truth. It is a love of ALL things Jewish, whereas God commands us to discern between good and evil and hold on to that which is good. The danger is -- all things Jewish are not good. The apostate rabbinical teachings have been mixed in with the Law and the Prophets. God stopped speaking to the Jewish prophets 400 years before the birth of Jesus -- but the rabbis just kept right on writing as if they were still hearing from God, but the Lord was not speaking.
Messianic Christian churches teach from the Bible, from the Apocrypha (corrupt non-canonical, non-Biblical manuscripts), and from the writings of the rabbis. God can use an unsaved person or a donkey to prophesy; this does not justify using these other texts and literature as if they are the oracles of God. There are four verses in the Bible from the Apocrypha. It is simple logic that those 4 verses are now true scriptures. The use of 4 Apocryphal verses does not validate so much as ONE MORE VERSE of the Apocrypha. Neither should the congregation sitting in the pews have to continually discern whether the rabbis being quoted are writing by the unction of God. You can safely assume they ARE NOT.
"Neither give heed to fables ... which minister questions, rather than godly edifying ... vain jangling;
Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
" - 1Tim.1:4,6,7
At the outset of this paper I said that Messianic Christianity leads to legalism, pride, condemnation, and the sin of the Nicolitanes (oppression of the many 'lay' people by a few clerics). How does this work?
A Messianic Christian leader will quote a lot of Hebrew and encourage the congregation to learn as much Hebrew as possible. The fact is, most folks just plainly don't have time. And everybody doesn't have the money for the additional books and computer resources to study Hebrew. This causes a separation between the clergy and laity; The people are taught that the Hebrew Scriptures are better, more accurate, purer, more powerful, and more 'Spiritual' than the good old King James Bible. The people have to come back each week to get fed by their Hebrew 'expert' because he now has become their sole conduit to go 'deeper' into the things of God.
This circumstance reminds me of the Latin language amongst the clergy that continued on in the Roman Catholic liturgy and literature centuries after the fall of Rome when Latin was fading away to extinction. The clergy hid the understanding from the main body of members in the Catholic Church. The leaders did not want the masses to know the truth of the Bible. The leaders wanted to be the pathway to God. They opposed the translation of the Bible into English! Now, the Messianic Church would like us all to go back to Hebrew, if we really want to go 'deep' into God. This is a lie. God can speak to a man in any language. The purest spiritual language is glossolalia, unknown tongues of the Holy Ghost. And even these tongues will cease in Heaven. We will not speak glossolalia or Hebrew or English in Heaven!
Furthermore, I have actually heard from the mouths of Messianic Church members that the name Adonai Yeshua Ha Meshiach is more powerful than the name, the Lord Jesus Christ! Listen, just as God ordained that Koine Greek would be the universal language in the time of the early Church, in the same way, God knew English would be the universal language in this present century!
Acts 4:10,12 says, "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom ye crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole." "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
God ordained that the New Testament should be written in Greek, not Hebrew. Why is Hebrew allegedly superior?
Revelation Chapter One, verse three says, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein" -- You have to understand the Word to keep it, and that Word is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The main power dynamo is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. That is the name that cuts to the quick of human hearts. Even sinners curse in the name of Jesus. If you speak the name Adonai Yeshua Ha Meshiach in a crowd, few heads, if any, will turn. I don't discount the Hebrew name completely; but it is lacking a universal effectiveness. As to the word Yahweh, frankly, no living human being knows how that is really spelled or pronounced. Ancient Jews considered the name [YHVH] too holy to pronounce. Hebrew became a nearly dead language which was revived in 1881, as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and his friends agreed to exclusively speak Hebrew in their conversations. As a result, the language, which had not been spoken as a mother tongue since the second century C.E., once again became the national language of Israel.
The name 'Yahweh' became a fad in the seventies and eighties used by a lot of religionists who are afraid to use the phrase, Lord Jesus Christ, because they don't have the boldness of the Holy Spirit. I know one speaker who toured the country encouraging people not to pay taxes or to get marriage licenses; one of our elders asked him, "Who is your God?" and the speaker replied, "Yahweh." Why Yahweh? -- Because the guy obviously did not know the God of Israel! He didn't have the metal to proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
C O N C L U S I O N :
I said that Messianic Christianity leads to legalism and condemnation. How does this happen? Answer: People feel they have to learn Hebrew to be 'better'. They have to get their shawl and headcap to be part of the gang. They are driven to learn and do all of these traditions, most of which were never in the Bible anyway, but are part of apostate rabbinic tradition, apostate, not apostolic. The emphasis is external, not the internal man of the heart. It is about knowing more and more of the Jewish tradition; hence, it becomes a race for knowledge, where the 'smartest' guy becomes the center of attention, instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole mess becomes a competition, where the people who feel that they personally just don't measure up to the standard -- fall into self-condemnation. Where there is a spirit of competition, there is a spirit of condemnation, loss, and failure.
In Messianic Christianity there is an ever increasing glut of 'new' information that 'purportedly' supports the Bible, cute correlations with rabbinical teachings, or from teachers' private revelations. What you experience is tedious, detailed teaching of unsubstantiated so-called "facts", without any real evangelism going on. Knowledge is being worshipped instead of Jesus. People aren't being saved, but they are being proselytized and seduced away from other denominations and churches.
The following verse comes to mind, "For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:6,7. And also, "But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden." Rev.2:24
Of course they don't call it "the depths of Satan"; they call it the "deep things of God".
No doubt, there are varying degrees of error amongst various Messianic Christian groups. In any church there are good guys and bad guys. The Lord won't separate all the wheat from the tares until the end. There are organizations such as Messianic Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and 7th Day Adventism which have some truth; but you'll be far better off if you eschew attendance there. It is guaranteed to give you a headache and heartache. I have been there. Avoid being entangled again into the yoke of bondage. Abstain from these churches.
The elegant paraphernalia of the Messianic Christian Church is like the ruby wine that sparkles in the crystal decanter, hypnotizing the charmed onlooker, but at the last, it bites like a venemous viper. If you flirt with this seductive environment, you'll get sucked into its whirling undertow down,down,down unto the bottomless depths.
But the minions of Messianic 'Christianity' are not content to browse in their own meadow; they will pop up in other pastures also -- in your home church! They have an agenda; they'll come with the yarmulke caps and prayer shawls; they'll donate a 'free' prayer shawl to your pastor; they'll ask to 'enlighten' the congregation with teachings on Judaism; they'll teach classes on Hebrew; they'll teach about the Jewish Feasts culminating with a seder ceremony on Resurrection Sunday, substituting death for life; They'll flatter your leadership, and then ask to use or rent your sanctuary for Saturday Messianic services, turning your church into a two-headed monster. Your church cannot serve two masters.
Paul spent the remainder of his life fighting the 'savage beasts', those of the circumcision. It was his prayer that the serpent should not beguile us, as the serpent beguiled Eve, "so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" [2Cor.11:3]. Jesus said the legalistic Pharisees were "vipers"!
Paul asked, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain?" Galatians 3:1-4.
We must serve Christ in the liberty of the Holy Spirit or we will slip back into the enshackling chains of bondage. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can keep the perfect Law. His work is finished. Let us not attempt to recrucify Him again. END