Friday, June 18, 2010

Beware of Radical Judaizers with a Messianic Afterthought

This week on Facebook, I fell into a den of radical Messianic Judaizers. OK. Let me first say who I am not talking about. I'm not talking about Jewish people who discover Jesus and exhibit the joy of being what some have called "completed Jews." Those people normally are a blessing to encounter. That's not who I ran into.

It would take too much space to tell you all about my encounter. But suffice it to say that these people were the most divisive, legalistic "believers" in Jesus that I have ever encountered. Now, I know there are some bad examples of Christianity out there (think Westboro Baptist in Topeka, Kansas protesting at funerals, but I digress . . .)

These so called believers in Yeshua rant and rave about the church being pagan, and Pentecostals being demonic, and Christians not keeping Sabbath and following the Torah. The don't want to be called Christians, they don't believe in our Jesus (Their words, not mine). One of the women responded and said, "I am not a Christian and I don't follow your Jesus, I follow my Yeshua . . .)" Is this the unity Jesus prayed about in John 17?

Alright, I understand the drive of Jews who find Jesus to hang onto Jewish practices to some degree. But guess what: most of the people I encountered this week,if not all of them, were Gentiles.

Now, I have known people over the years that pursued Jewish traditions as a way of practicing what I can only assume they felt was a more authentic approach to Christianity. Obviously there is a lot to be gained by understanding Jesus through the eyes of messianic Judaism. The Sedar, the feasts, etc. all can be a blessing. But going back into the Law is not what Jesus intended.

The Apostle Paul was a "Hebrew among Hebrews" (Philippians 3:5). In other words, he was more authenticly Jewish than any of the people I met this week. In the book of Galatians, we see that Paul was concerned about a group of people who were attempting to pull the Galatian Christians back into legalism and the Law. These people were Judaizers. In Galatians 1:6-10, Paul said:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

It's amazing to me how that these modern day Judaizers feel qualified to question the New testament and act superior to the Apostle Paul! In one place Paul says, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice (Philippians 4)." That's good enough for me.

Bottom line: this thing is about grace, not going back under the Law. If Paul came out from under the Law, who do we think we are to go back under it? Paul said to the Galatians:

1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort (Galatians 3:1-3)?

Beware of those people who think you have to go back under the Law to find a deeper place in Christ. Let's not replace the Presence of God with ritual and ceremony. It's not what He wants.

LAST WORD: Nowhere in the New Testament does anyone say, "Want to be a better Christian? Become a Jew. Observe Old Testament laws." Not Paul (Hebrew of Hebrews), not the Apostles in Acts 15, not the Apostles to Paul in Galatians 2. And what about the vision Peter had just before Cornelius visited (Acts 10)?

24 comments:

  1. Amen! I also find that too many Christians ignore the Torah becaus we are not under law but under grace - forgetting that none of the law will pass away. The law can point us to a deeper revelation of Christ (which we all need), can be a blessing from a caring Father (e.g. resulting in a healthier lifestyle) and even give us a glimpse of things to come (e.g. via the as-yet-unfilled Feasts found in Leviticus). In the end, the law must be written on our hearts so that we have the freedom in Christ to fulfill it, not in bondage that requires us to meet every requirement while ignoring the Spirit.

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  2. Yea, the idea is not that we don't fulfill the law, it's just that now we do it because it has been written in our hearts! Paul said the law is fulfilled when we love our neighbor as ourselves (Romans 13:8-10)

    8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

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  3. Growing up in a traditional Catholic family we were taught that we needed the priest or a certain amount of prayers to receive forgiveness of our sins. Somehow we needed to “do something” in order to get Gods approval and forgiveness. That’s what I was taught and traditionally so was most of my family. It just seems too simple too most Catholics that all you needed to do was believe by faith that Jesus is the complete finished atonement for our sins- forever. So that makes me no more or less saved than lets say the pope.
    I think the traditional Jew has a similar background insomuch as it is still too simple to just believe. What makes one man “holeyer” and another, is it knowing the scriptures better, praying more, being a priest a rabbi or a minister? Can it be as simple as just believing in Jesus and loving your neighbor as yourself?

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