Monday, May 22, 2017

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What's in a name?

Sometimes names and terms are thrown around so much they lose their meaning altogether.

Take the term “Messianic Jewish Congregation” for example. The two adjectives “Messianic” and “Jewish” that describe the noun Congregation are very often at the center of controversy.

Consider the response of mainstream Judaism, whatever that really means, to the term “Messianic Jewish Congregation.” Most Rabbis and their followers strongly object to our use of the word “Jewish”, charging us with deception because we are nothing close to Jewish in their eyes. This objection, though passionate, is patently false. We follow a God who revealed Himself through the Jewish Scriptures, spoke through Jewish prophets, used Jewish culture to communicate to mankind, and came to live among us as a Jew. We have every right to unashamedly use this term; there are many genetic Jews among us who profess salvation through Yeshua, yet adhere to a Jewish lifestyle when it does not contradict Scripture.

What about the term Messianic? Usually this term denotes a Congregation that accepts the work and person of the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua. Sadly, most mainstream Jewish groups reject the claims of Yeshua. But perhaps more troubling is that some Messianic Congregations, while claiming to be Messianic, in reality are not. They have the label but not the message. They rarely discuss Yeshua in their sermons or articles, or if they do He is not the main point. They consult the Talmud more than the B’rit Chadashah or Tanakh, and trust in the traditions of men more than the gospel. To them, Yeshua isn’t the son of God or a Redeemer. How ironic that these so-called Messianic Jewish Congregations that profess to “follow Torah” invalidate the entire Torah by effectively rejecting the living Torah, Yeshua.

Can a Congregation claim to be “Messianic” if they do not believe that Yeshua was God or that He alone is our hope and salvation? No, they can’t. To dispute that Yeshua as God, or claim that Jews do not need Yeshua for salvation is to mock God’s atonement. Their teaching forms a different gospel, in reality the form of the gospel but not the power of the gospel.

We cannot let these groups define Messianic Jewish Congregations. Messianic Congregations must profess the gospel, and this includes a Messiah who is fully human and fully God who paid the price for our sins. Anything less than that is to be untrue to the gospel and untrue to the Lord.

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