I am Messianic…. That is, I believe Yeshua (Jesus) from Nazareth (~B.C. 4 — 31 A.D.~) as described in the Greek New Testament, is the pre-existent, serpent crushing, eternal Son of YHWH—a.k.a. Fully God & Fully Man—as first promised in Genesis 3:15 to Eve & Adam and the human race. Yeshua is a Hebrew, and He was born under the Law of Moses. He did not destroy the Mosaic Law, rather He fulfilled it. [See also Old v. New Covenant: Defining our Relationship with God]
There are many Messianic congregations across the globe. These are my brothers & sisters according to Abraham’s faith (Romans 9); and I love them in Messiah Yeshua dearly. My fellowship with them is more than enjoyable, and I have learned a great deal from their teachings from the Hebrew perspective—a thing greatly needed! Messianics are part of a movement called Hebrew Roots.
To be sure, those who identify as Messianic do not assert the same errors as the Judaizers, who attacked and troubled Yeshua’s Apostles. They do hold that one is eternally reconciled to YHWH by the grace of Yeshua / Jesus, through faith in Him alone [apart from the deeds of the Law] for obtaining righteousness with YHWH. When the biblical culture found in the Tanakh is observed by Messianics, it is done out of reverential love for Yeshua—to honor the culture that YHWH inscribed & gave to humanity, as found in the Tanakh (Old Testament). When the ordinances / observances are broken, or when the Moral Law is transgressed, Yeshua the Righteous is their only sacrifice for sin & Advocate with the Father (2 John 2:1-3).
The Messianic believers I have met are not Judaizers, and they were extremely careful to show grace and peace when debatable matters of lifestyle arose. I love and appreciate their zeal to expose the infiltration of cultural paganism and blatant apostasy within ‘Christendom’… especially the whoredoms of the Roman Catholic Church.
On the other hand, Messianic teachings and expectations often can come dangerously close to (unintentionally) mimicking or sounding like Judaisation. The following concerns serve as friendly alerts to Messianic believers, so that they can make sure their ‘good shall not be evil spoken of.’
1. Don’t Discredit the Greek New Testament.
While many translations are sub-par and have agendas behind their publication, the abundant Greek manuscripts of the Apostles’ writings are copies of “God- breathed” Scripture. Whether you believe Yeshua quoted the Septuagint translation of the Tanakh, it stands that the Apostles (whom Yeshua Himself commissioned and blessed) wrote to the Gentile churches in Koiné Greek. These texts collectively agree in over 99%+ of their content, and the other percent or less does not change any doctrine. There are also many good, reliable translations of these manuscripts in nearly every language.
BUT, one thing is for sure. If you reject the Greek manuscripts, then you are left with no Good News of Yeshua & 0% of the 99%+ of Apostles’ doctrine. You are bereft of the only texts, which alone are able to inform Hebrew and Gentile non-believers toward faith in Yeshua… ever since the Apostles, who were taught the Tanakh by Yeshua Himself… quite an improvement on merely having the Tanakh; and an infinite measure above the best rabbinical traditions from before or after Yeshua’s first earthly walk.
2. Gentile believers have been grafted into the Remnant of Israel, BUT we are also 1 New Humanity.
The olive tree of Romans 11 is not the fig tree of Matthew 21:18-19; 20-22 and Mark 11:12-14; 20-25. Whereas apostate Israel was always represented as a fig tree, remnant Israel was always the olive tree. Gentile believers have been grafted into that.
On the other hand, by dying for sins & rising again, Yeshua formed an entirely new ‘body’ of humanity.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
In Yeshua there is one (1) new Ekklesia, one Body of Messiah borne after Abraham’s faith, not Abraham’s physical lineage or Moses’ Covenant (Romans 9). Yeshua took down the wall of separation between Jew & Gentile in genome, culture and commandment, making from the 2 one new humanity (Ephesians 2:15). This is equality!
Gentile believers are not grafted into the Judaism of the Mosaic Covenant; they are grafted into the seed and faith of Abraham, which preceded the Law and Jewish customs. They are fellow citizens with the saints (Ephesians 2:19), but they are not Jews. Paul explains this clearly when he tells those who were circumcised (the Jews) “not to seek to be uncircumcised” and those who were uncircumcised (the Gentiles) “not to become circumcised” (1 Corinthians 7:18). There is no need for either group to feel they must become what they are not. Instead, God has made Jews and Gentiles into “one new man” in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:15). This “new man” is referring to the Church, the body of Christ, which is made up of neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:27-29). It’s important for Jews and Gentiles to remain authentic in their own identity. In this way a clear picture of the unity of the body of Christ can be seen as Jews and Gentiles are united by one Lord, one faith, one baptism. If Gentiles are grafted into Israel, becoming Jews, the purpose and picture of both Jew and Gentile, coming together as one new man, is lost. God never intended Gentiles to become one in Israel, but one in Christ. (Got Questions; Hebrew Roots)
No one culture, race, gender or person is more important than another in Yeshua! [Roles and responsibility are different matters]
3. Don’t Diminish, Distort, Disregard or Disobey Romans 14; Galatians 1-3; Colossians 2; 1 Corinthians 13 & the Whole Message of Hebrews.
It is asserted by many Messianic believers that Yeshua did not create a new religion when He walked among us over 2,000 years ago. Messianic believers quote Yeshua’s saying, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law and the Prophets…” (Matthew 5:17-20). And, one thing is very clear, the Messiah did fulfill all of the Old Covenant laws & stipulations perfectly. He did not create a new religion, but He did create a New Covenant with stipulations that differ from the Old. The prophet Jeremiah called it a “New Covenant” not like the old one, but one which produces a new heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Yeshua Himself did not call it a “renewed covenant,” but He said, “This is the new covenant in my blood” (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
The passages listed under this section are a good bulk of the Apostles’ inspired doctrine concerning the New Covenant. They apply to Messianic believers, especially as the parameters which constrain insistence on the conformity of other believers to the Mosaic Covenant. No one may judge another believer concerning clothing, the day of worship or diet or Moadim (Mosaic Feasts, YHWH’s appointed times) and still be in good fellowship with Ruach ha’Kodesh.
Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. Acts 15:19-20
Likewise, gentile believers are not to call foolish those who observe the above-mentioned ordinances. As seen above, Hebrews who understood the Old Covenant and were Messianic, informed the early church. Indeed, there is much wisdom in understanding and practicing each of the purposes behind these elements YHWH established… the first of which would be to “provoke Israel to jealousy” (Romans 11), and the second would be living in prophectic accordance. Another good purpose would be advantage in spiritual warfare.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find Gentile believers being instructed to follow Levitical laws or Jewish customs; in fact, the opposite is taught. Romans 7:6 says, “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Got Questions, Hebrew Roots)
Still, we see Sha’ul (Paul) writes that the mature balance to all of this is to “become all things to all men that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). We should be ready to change custom, cultural habits, societal status, and dietary restrictions for the Good News’ sake, so long as these do not lead us to worship in pagan ways and thought, or join with them in their worship (2 Cor. 6:14).
4. Yeshua ha’Mashiach Commands Not Calling Anyone “Teacher” (Rabbi, Master, etc.) in Matthew 23:10.
If Messianics are to properly purify a corrupt and paganised Christianity, then they need to see their own disobedience in revering men with titles, when the gifts are distributed and empowered by Ruach (Romans 12; 1 Cor. 12-14; Ephesians 4). Yeshua not only forbids Rabonni; he also forbids “instructor” or ‘rabbi.’
5. Keep Warning Christendom About the Infiltration of Paganism!
We live in a day of great apostasy, when little-to-no discernment is sought or exercised in churches. You Messianics must keep holding the ropes and crying aloud, so that more may be awakened out of sleep.
There are more pagan traditions riddling “the church” than anyone realizes. I agree that believers are not to take part in these pagan traditions, either by “Christianizing” them or by practicing them with an empty head for the traditions’ sake. We are not to mix pagan ways or implements with what is Holy in worshipping the Creator, the Triune God. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
That being said, imagine standing in the street on these very days (ex. Christmas) and teaching people the true Way with no traditional baggage. Imagine also inviting people to come in and hear the same teaching. That is what my fellowship does when we hold special services on these days. For the Good News’ sake, Sha’ul (Paul) utilized pagan tradition as an inroad to preach Yeshua and Him crucified! Acts 17:22-31; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 This is different than following or Christianizing the pagan tradition / belief. It is looking for an avenue to preach Yeshua (Jesus) as Mashiach (Messiah)!
To all my Messianic friends, you CAN encourage people to understand the wisdom and purpose of the Moadim (YHWH’s Appointed Festival Days of the Old Covenant); you CAN also teach the pagan influence in modern holidays. You may even teach that Christians must not mix worship of YHWH with the implements, symbols, traditions and places of pagan worship! They should remove those things and continue to worship YHWH through His Son Yeshua.
BUT… you may not say that a believer (or whole groups of believers) are in bad standing with YHWH for not observing the Moadim. Furthermore, you MAY NOT separate yourselves from other believers because they do not observe the Moadim or other Old Covenant ceremonial stipulations. To pass this judgment or to separate in this way is to make the error of Peter (Galatians 2:11). But, you CAN & SHOULD separate fellowship from those who mix paganism with worship of YHWH, or who pressure / force you to worship as they do (mixing paganism with Yeshua).