Question / Comment - What do you think of the Messianic Movement?


Hello,

Thank you for your site. It is very encouraging and interesting.  I have some questions that I have come across lately. I am wondering if you have any insights on them.  My sister and my parents attend a Messianic Congregation. I attend my own church. I visited the Messianic Congregation occasionally for a year. I liked and wanted to know more but keep my commitment to my church.  I recently attended a bible study through the congregation and was perplexed by some of the ideas that were in the room. 

1.) A discussion arose (because of me) that it was not okay to use ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christ’ in reference to our Messiah but only use Hebrew approved names such as Yeshua.
2.) That in evangelizing to a Jewish person one must be highly aware and sensitive to their culture-I disagreed. My point was that it is not a requirement to be culturally sensitive to Jews- although it could help, but that God’s word can cut through all of the misunderstandings when he chooses to.  I was met with a lot of hostility.  I found that strange and not very loving. 

I briefly talked to an associate pastor from the church  and he mentioned the historical persecution in the church against Jewish people. I do not disagree with this at all and I do think we are to study our history and learn from our mistakes.  What are your thoughts on the Messianic Movement? I know there are many different beliefs within the movement but its definitely got me thinking. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

Thanks

 

JPN Reply 

Hi,

hmmm... you are right that there is a whole range of beliefs within the Messianic Movement and that is what makes it tricky. I should say at the start that I have had little personal experience of such congregations so take what I say just as someone who looks in from a distance... I am far from an expert here. 
 
I consider myself, and my site, "Israel fiendly". That is, I have a great love for the Jewish people and look forward to the day when 'All Israel' is saved. The day when they are grafted back into their olive tree. But there are things that give me concern about some 'Messianic' congregations and your first question is one of those. I have a lady who comes to my home group who works with someone (a gentile) who goes to a so called 'Messianic' congregation and she was getting hounded most days about the need to keep the law (especially Kosher dietary laws), do no work on the Sabbath, keep the Jewish festivals, and only call Jesus 'Yeshua'. I think it may have gone a bit further and been apart of the 'sacred name' movement. I think they looked down at others who hadn't been 'enlightened' in these matters as possibly not saved. Not surprisingly, they disliked Paul and his letters in the Bible (especially Galatians!) which teach us so much about our freedon in Christ. Now I'm sure that your congregation wasn't as extreme as this. But quite frankly, whenever I hear about a congregation not allowing Jesus to be called Jesus, my first thought is run. Cos it is doubtful things will stop there.
 
If people want to call the Lord Yeshua, then great, fine. That is His name in Hebrew. But it doesn't make someone more spiritual and it isn't a law! Whether you call Him Lord, Savior, Immanuel, Jesus, Yeshua... or whatever, He looks at the heart!
 
So I don't know where your parents' Messianic Congregation is at, but beware of the following warning signs:
:: Any legalism or return to the law to make a person 'truly' right with God. Returning to these things isn't a good sign! (See Gal 3:1-12, 4:9-11)
:: Any dividing of the body of Christ between Jews and Gentiles. Jesus came to break down that wall and make a 'new man'. See Eph 2:11-17
:: Any hint that Jews or Gentiles in Christ are 'better' or 'more fortunate'. In Christ there is no Jew nor Gentile (Gal 3:28)
 
It is interesting that Paul especially went to great lengths so that we didn't look at each other and judge by earthly means in terms of our identity (and this includes the things that Jews or Gentiles may take pride in naturally). All that matters is the 'New Creation'. For example: 2Co 5:16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Php 3:3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh--
Php 3:4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:
Php 3:5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;
Php 3:6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Php 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
Php 3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Php 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Probably gone off topic now so I'll move on! In terms of your second question, it is true that Paul was sensitive to his own culture when witnessing to them. This is what he meant when he said: 1Co 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
1Co 9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
1Co 9:21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law.
I have written about this briefly here:
http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/questions/PaulLaw.htm 
 
Having said that, you and I aren't Jewish and while we don't want to be culturally insensitive, I don'tthink a Jewish person would expect a Gentile to act like a Jew! I have a book at home called 'Messianic Judaism is not Christianity'. It was written by a Jewish believer called Stan Telchin. He is the well known author of 'Betrayed' and 'Abandoned'. He writes about three 'Myths' in evangelising Jewish people - Myths 2 and 3 say:
 
Myth 2: "You must approach Jewish people within the context of Judaism. As I have also previously explained, less than 7 percent of American Jews attend a synagogue on a regular basis. Most are not seriously invloved with 'Judaism'."
Myth 3: "It is best if a Jewish person reaches out of other Jewish people. this too is false. The overwhelming majority of Jewish believers were reached by their Gentile friends.'   
 
What Jewish people need to see is what gentiles need to see as well. And that is the work and presence of God in a true believer. This attracts people when they see that we have 'something' different'. This provokes them to jealousy! Paul wrote:
Rom 11:13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
Rom 11:14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.
Well, I hope that helps a bit. What do you or your parents like about the congregation? Has it changed how they act? Is it clear that there is no Jew or Gentile in Christ? Is it clear that the New Covenant is based around grace, not law? Do you as a Gentile feel as equal and welcome in the congregation as the Jews? And in your group discussion, what did they say was wrong with using the name 'Jesus'?
 
All the best,