A Christian’s Defense

You, a gentile Christian, are on trial for your faith in Messiah, standing in front of a religious court, pleading your case.

Your prosecutors are learned, educated men. Jewish scribes of renown, devoutly religious Jews who have studied the Scriptures their entire lives.

They are accusing you of speaking against the Torah.

If they are proven right, you will be sentenced to death.

What is your defense? Do you:

  • Tell them you asked Jesus into your heart, and they should do the same.
  • Preach the gospel and tell them to be saved.
  • Explain your Christianity and tell them it’s brought you peace.
  • Rush towards the door in a daring escape. (Aided by Jesus Christ, of course.)

Your accusers shout at you,

"We heard you speak against the Torah!"

Is this accusation true?

In a short moment of introspection, you think back to all those times you chided your Jewish friends, “God doesn’t care whether we keep that old ugly Law anymore, so don’t worry, share this Easter ham dinner with me.”

You remember the times you told people how Jesus is all about grace, and not at all about law or those people who try to be saved by works. Jesus = grace, Law = ugly damning works-based religion. “Nobody can follow the law perfectly, so I’m not even gonna try!” was your old mantra.

You think back to those times you said Jesus did away with the Law… “Jesus nailed the Law on the cross.” Or even, “Jesus took the Torah and slew it on the cross.”

Quietly in your mind you concede that, yes, I have spoken against the Torah, but it’s because Jesus abolished it. Paul said so.

But you’re a smart, cool-headed Christian. You know your New Testament. “These charges against me -- I’ve heard them before!”, you think to yourself as you grab your handy little pocket New Testament. You flip over to Acts 6 and 7, remembering the story of Stephen, a man in the same predicament as yourself. You scold them,

“Foolish Jews, you are repeating history! Long ago, a man named Stephen was put on trial by your ancestors for speaking against the Law. Yet God counted him as righteous!”

You begin to read aloud the 2 millennia-old charges against Stephen,

"We heard Stephen speak blasphemously against Moses and against God." They stirred up the people, as well as the elders and the Torah-teachers; so they came and arrested him and led him before the Sanhedrin.

One foolish Jew from the council responds,

“What was Stephen’s defense? How did he justify his speaking against Torah?”

You read on to discover Stephen didn’t actually speak against Torah. To your surprise, Stephen recites the Torah to his accusers, upholding it as righteous, and even chides his accusers for not keeping the Torah.

Woops.

Stephen’s face may have been glowing white, but yours is now a full-blush red!

Regaining your composure, you sheepishly respond,

“Stephen’s defense was reciting the Torah and upholding it. He ended his defense by chiding his accusers for disobeying the Torah. 

But you see, foolish Jews, I am not like Stephen.”

Embarrassed by your self-prosecution, you search your thoughts and remember the same thing was spoken against Paul. Ah, yes! Paul! A Christian theologian’s favorite apostle! We can show how Paul put the Torah down low and and still defended himself!

“Teachers of the Law, don’t you know your ancestors accused Paul of the same thing? You put me on trial and repeat history! Yet God counted Paul as righteous.”

You flip over a few pages to show that this same accusation was made against Paul. You read aloud to the court,

They said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed in Messiah, and all of them are zealous for the Torah. But we’ve heard that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.”

A teacher of the Law responds,

“What was Paul’s defense? How did he justify his speaking against the Torah?

You read on to discover Paul didn’t actually speak against the Torah, and to prove it, even took a Nazirite vow in Jerusalem according to the commandment! Shoot, strike two!

You humbly reply,

“Paul’s defense was upholding and practicing the Torah in the sight of the whole community. 

But you see, teachers of the Law, I am not like Paul.”

Things are looking down for you, but not to worry, you have an ace up your sleeve.

“My dear friends, don’t you know your ancestors accused the Christ of the very thing you accuse me? You put me on trail and repeat history. Yet the Christ is the source of all righteousness!”

One of the dear friends responds,

“What was Messiah’s defense? How did he justify speaking against the Torah?”

You read on to discover Messiah didn’t actually speak against the Torah. Instead, he rebuked his accusers for missing the important matters of the Torah!

"Woe to you hypocritical scribes and Pharisees! You pay your tithes of mint, dill and cumin; but you have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah -- justice, mercy, trust. These are the things you should have attended to -- without neglecting the others!

You respond to the court and concede it:

“Messiah upheld the Torah and chided the Pharisees for not keeping the important matters of the Torah. 

But you see, dear friends, I am not like Messiah.”

36 comments:

  1. Let's sum it up, as I understand it:

    Average Gentile Believer:

    1. GUILTY of speaking against Moses and the Law, guilty of selectively using the Law and the Jewish prophets when expedient in supporting own theology or financial resources (in case of churches and tithing). Guilty of discouraging Jewish believers from observing the Jewish Law and looking down on them as "weak" in faith and Judaisiers.

    2) Not guilty of not observing the Jewish Law as given to Israel, including Jewish distinctives such as circumcision, Shabbat-keeping, kosher diet, tallit-wear, etc.(but not including the universal moral law as given to all mankind and the universal moral applications of the Jewish Law).

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  2. I see the tone and the point of it. We are not "under the law" inasmuch as not being subject to the punishments, but we are guilty of ignoring it to the point of negligence.

    This is quite brilliant, JH. Do you mind if I use this in my home Bible study?

    Shalom
    Patrick

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  3. Hey guys,

    I almost deleted this after writing it. I felt like it was somehow implying that persecution of gentile Christians is a just cause. That wasn't the intent at all. The people that gave their lives for their faith in Messiah deserve better, so I hope you all understand I am not justifying persecution.

    Rather, I hope to tell a story that underlines how far gentile Christianity has strayed from Messiah and the early apostles.

    Patrick, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Anything written on this blog is copy-left -- do whatever you like with it.

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  4. Gene, are you summing up the story or your own personal theology? :-)

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  5. "Gene, are you summing up the story or your own personal theology? :-)"

    I am issuing a "legal" judgment based on the case presented in your story (which is, of course, based on your own personal theology!)

    In any case, your story is quite unlikely - a Gentile believer wouldn't most probably NOT be brought before a Jewish RELIGIOUS court for speaking against Torah - most Gentiles didn't know Torah or cared about it then, and most probably disdained the Jews and their strange laws and traditions. Nor would Jewish leadership expect that uncircumcised Gentile would follow the Law of Moses.

    However, where you story WOULD have a ring of truth to it, it's if that was a Jewish believer who advocated against Torah. That's a much more likely scenario - and we do know that there are lots of Jewish believers who reject Torah observance as "done away with".

    Now THAT would be something thought provoking because it would be closer to reality.

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  6. Yeah. I don't think stories have to be literal to reveal some truth.

    The thing I'm trying to underline is not that Jews randomly bring gentile Christians to religious court.

    Instead, I used this story to show how far Christianity in general has strayed from Messiah and the apostles, especially in its attitude towards Torah.

    All that said, I think this story isn't too far from reality; we have in Israel today Messianics who are brought to secular trial and thrown out of the country for "missionizing", a politically-correct way to say "we don't like your religion."

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  7. In reading this piece, I can understand the need to want to stimulate Christians' thought to see how far many have strayed from the principles of God's Torah. This is admirable. But has the confrontation approach which marks much of our Messianic faith community been the best?

    Putting this in the trial setting might not be best. It is not a setting that any Christians will probably ever find themselves in with the Jewish community, or the other way around. Instead, they are likely to be caught in a conversation, formal or informal, with a Jewish person inquiring about the Christian's faith in Jesus, or vice versa. Jewish-Christian relations are generally very good today, and the conversation approach is something that we should be encouraging.

    This piece could also have been more informed about the diverse positions regarding the Mosaic Law in Reformation and post-Reformation Christendom. The Lutheran, Reformed/Calvinist, and Weseleyan views of the Law are diverse--with the latter two often having a very high view of the Torah's, at least ethical, commandments. There is a great interest today among Christians for the Old Testament, as evidenced by books such as The Mission of God by Christopher J.H. Wright, and The Promise-Plan of God by Walter C. Kaiser. Knowing about this only helps the Messianic movement for the future, but we have to learn to establish common ground and work from there.

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  8. This piece could also have been more informed about the diverse positions regarding the Mosaic Law in Reformation and post-Reformation Christendom. The Lutheran, Reformed/Calvinist, and Weseleyan views of the Law are diverse

    Talking about the detailed intricacies and diversities of modern religious thinking is one thing.

    Telling a good story is entirely another.

    :-)

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  9. I mentioned Wright and Kaiser as examples in my remarks because it does not seem that many in our Messianic faith community are that informed as to the Christian theologies which are positive-looking toward the Torah. Many Jews are unaware of this as well. I simply suggest that demonstrating to such Jews that there are many Christians who have a high view of the Torah would be a better place for us to start.

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  10. Thanks, JK. I realize there may have been better a approach. I consciously used generalities because it's easier for humans to understand.

    It actually started out very different that how it reads now, I was originally going to retell Stephen's story from a Christian gentile's perspective. I was unhappy with the conclusion, so I rewrote it to what you see now.

    I was uncertain how people would respond to it in this form; as I said above, I nearly deleted it because I didn't want anyone to mistake it for a justification of persecution. I was uncertain what the feedback would be; I guess some positive, some negative.

    That's ok.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    FWIW, I've been having non-confrontational discussions with Christians on this blog for almost 5 years now. I know there is value in that approach.

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  11. I'm taking off for shabbat - shabbat shalom, fine blog readers.

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  12. I realize there may have been better a approach. I consciously used generalities because it's easier for humans to understand

    Exactly and I agree entirely. The old church slogan comes to mind "If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you in court?". We use the legal analogy because of the black-and-white nature of legality as it was intended.

    I probably repeat this too often but it's my bent; that too many Christians abuse their "freedom in Christ", this problem having its roots in ignorance of Torah's relevance to our lives.

    Confrontational Judah's analogy might be, but it is an effective communication tool. Besides, aren't we all a little hyper-sensitive to confrontational things ;)

    Shalom all

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  13. Hi Judah,

    This is very creative and I'd like to see more of this type of writing from you.

    I've been thinking a lot about our discussions and when I think of myself as a wild olive branch being grafted into the olive stump that represents Israel, I am reminded of an older friend who loved to grow fruit trees. His prize was an apple tree into which he grafted many different kinds of apples and each branch produced apples of its own kind even though they were nourished by the same stump. I think that is like you and me, Judah. Even though I have been grafted into the stump of Israel, I am still a gentile and I produce the fruit after my own kind but I am now nourished in the same way that Israel is nourished, by the Spirit of God.

    I don't think I would ever try to outdo a Jew when it comes to knowing the Torah. I could only speak of what I do know and that is Jesus Christ. My testimony would not be like Stephens, it would only be like my own. I would tell them where I was when Jesus was revealed to me and how He has changed my life even though I am an unworthy Gentile and not worthy of the Mercy of God and Salvation through His only begotten Son. I would tell them that I am not against the Law but that I have the Righteousness that upholds that Law imputed to me in Jesus.

    Did you miss me?;-}

    Pam

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  14. Two questions:

    1. Is God's vision of His people one where Jewish people sit on one side and non-Jewish people sit on another, perhaps connected but still separate?

    2. Or, is God's vision for His people an "olive salad," where Israel is the origin of His blessings for all, but all are included on an equal basis because of their common humanity and sin (cf. Romans 5)?

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  15. J.K. McKee...

    It's neither. Rather, it's the Jewish people and Gentile people worshiping and serving their G-d together, while retaining their individual G-d-given identities, cultures, as well as covenantal responsibilities.

    We are part of one Body, but different members have different functions. G-d is not in the business of making us all the same. The Jewish people remain the Jewish people, and will also remain so - as it says in Jeremiah 31:36:

    "If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever."

    There some who proclaim that G-d intends us to all blend into one large nation and erase all differences between us (which He himself has put in us). This clearly contradicts the scripture. Both Israel and other nations will retain their unique identites, but ALL the believers in Yeshua will now belong the Household of G-d.

    In the Revelations, we read that there are still nations in the Eternal Kingdom (Revelation 21:24):

    "And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it."

    I have not had anyone explain the above verse to me in a way that means that "we are ALL Israel now".

    Just as husband and wife are so different, yet still one flesh - so is Israel and the other nations.

    In the millennium kingdom it's also very clear that there are still nations, and Israel is at the center from hence Messiah will rule. How can one read Zechariah and say that we will all be one nation Israel?

    Zechariah 14:16

    "Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths."

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  16. @Pam,

    Thanks for the comments and insight. You have a good answer for the Sanhedrin. ;-)

    And yes, I did miss you! I'm glad you're still hanging around.

    Shalom.

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  17. Gene, please allow me to explain a few things.

    All cultures, Jewish and non-Jewish, are to be respected in the Lord and honored for their contributions to the world. But I am unashamedly an egalitarian and I believe that all are equal in the Lord with the same rights and responsibilities--Jewish, non-Jewish, male, and female. This equality begins in the home with a husband and wife in co-partnership with one another, and extends to the congregation where are all are to have equal footing before Him because we are all sinners.

    There is to be variety in the Kingdom of God, yet there is certainly to be unity within that diversity. That's why wild olive branches are grafted into Israel's root, as opposed to some other fruit being grafted on to the olive tree. Sadly, I feel that the mainline Synagogue which does not believe in Yeshua has a better handle on the equality of all human beings before their Creator than the Messianic Jewish community.

    The people of God may have their origins in Israel, but Israel's chosenness is not one to rule over the world, but to serve the world. This is clear from the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. If you cannot see Exodus 19:5-6 as a missional text for Israel to serve the world as God's priests so that all can come to Him, then we really do have a long way to go.

    Your last quote from Zechariah describes the survivors of the rebellious nations--not the redeemed people of God. Likewise, Jeremiah 31:36 describes God's faithfulness to always have seed of Israel, meaning physical descendants. Context is always helpful.

    I am sure that your experiences as a Jewish Believer cause you to be very concerned when non-Jewish Believers in the Messianic movement ask that they be treated with the equal respect that you deserve to be treated with. You carry with you a Jewish history and tradition where there has been a great deal of anti-Semitism and misunderstanding lodged against you, for which there has been significant restitution made in the past century. In Messiah Yeshua, we are to forgive one another and find common ways of working through these issues and discovering solutions. One of the things I have always admired about the Jewish people is their ability to be overly-represented in the world of achievement, given their small size. Jews are some of the most industrious, intelligent people that I know, making significant contributions to the world. They are also some of the most progressive when it comes to social causes and making sure that all are treated equally. Unfortunately, I honestly do not have an answer as to why these magnanimous traits have largely not been transferred over to Messianic Judaism, but if they were Messianic Judaism would have a much more Biblical missiology and would have an unbelievable impact on a world that has lost its way.

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  18. J.K. McKee... since you are a promoter of the Two-House theology (a belief that claims that untold millions of Gentiles around the world, especially America and Europe, are really tribes of Israel), I certainly understand your animosity towards Messianic Jews, since we stand in opposition to this teaching, and consider it to be a false, destructive ideology for the Body of Messiah.

    You claim unity with other believers, but I find the Two-House people as producing some of the most vile venom when it comes to the Christian believers - calling them pagans, idolaters, law-breakers, etc. I also encountered much antisemitic ravings within Two-House ranks, some of it in the guise of "criticism" of Messianic Judaism (much of which sounds eerily similar to "we don't hate Jews, we just hate Zionism").

    In the end, you have created your own false "Israel".

    You said "But I am unashamedly an egalitarian and I believe that all are equal in the Lord with the same rights and responsibilities--Jewish, non-Jewish, male, and female"

    Even within Israel, there were always different responsibilities for different types of people and roles. Within the Body in general, we have different roles - we have leaders, helpers, teachers, counselors. We all do not have the same rights and responsibilities, but only the rights as given to us by the Lord - otherwise, we'll ALL be leaders, which is clearly not the case. Man is called the head of a woman, unless you have forgotten - these not my words (see 1 Corinthians 11:3). Clearly this implies a difference of responsibilities (but not superiority).

    "Your last quote from Zechariah describes the survivors of the rebellious nations--not the redeemed people of God."

    Really? And those survivors are all unbelievers and unredeemed? Is that who G-d will have "worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths."?

    Likewise, Jeremiah 31:36 describes God's faithfulness to always have seed of Israel, meaning physical descendants."

    No, in Jeremiah 31:36 it says that they will remain a "people" or a "nation" - which implies a whole lot more than just scattered survivors.

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  19. Gene,

    I am not going to go around and around with you at lumping me in with the Two-House extremists out there. I have more in common with Messianic Judaism theologically than most of the Two-House movement. If you have read anything that I have written, you would see that I am a very moderate Two-House advocate. I believe in the restoration of all Israel on the basis of unfulfilled prophecy, *not* on the basis of any kind of identity of this tribe going this place or that from some pseudo-history. Dispensational theologians agree that all Israel is yet to be restored. Please do not state things about me which are not true, when you do not have the quotes to back them up.

    I would seriously challenge you to quote from me one statement that is blatantly anti-Semetic or anti-Christian, where I encourage gross disrespect for the Synagogue or the Church. I have no quarrel with Messianic Judaism over the Divine Name, the calendar, or traditions associated with Shabbat, Chanukah, Purim, etc., as do many Two-House advocates. I constantly speak against Church-bashing and have done so consistently for over 10 years. But what makes me dangerous to Messianic Jews like you is that I do consider there to be inequality promoted in Messianic Judaism that is unacceptable for the Kingdom of God. Once we can consider ourselves all equal before Him as sinners, then we can discuss what is going on in the Messianic movement.

    Man is the kephalē of the woman, meaning that he is her source. Please read my article on Galatians 3:28, even though given your tenor I seriously doubt we can (ever) come together in reasoned, solution oriented conversation, as I believe you are trying to defend things that go against the trajectory of Scripture.

    http://www.tnnonline.net/theonews/messianic-issues/gal_3_28/index.html

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  20. "Once we can consider ourselves all equal before Him as sinners, then we can discuss what is going on in the Messianic movement."

    I have not met a single Messianic Jew out there (doesn't mean that there's none) that doesn't consider a Gentile believer his equal before the L-rd. I am as bad a sinner a my Gentile brothers and sisters - all my MJ friends believe the same. I do not consider myself superior to anyone - but I do consider myself a Jew. And I do not expect my Gentile brothers and sister to be just as I am. Why is that wrong?

    But I will translate for others what you are really saying:

    "Once the Jewish believers accept the Gentile believers for the lost tribes of Israel that they claim they are, THAN...the Two Houses of Israel and Judah will finally come together and we'll all sing kumbaya."

    You said "I have more in common with Messianic Judaism theologically than most of the Two-House movement."

    Well, how that should we Messianic Jews feel about the Two-House movement, if most of it is as theologically uncommon with us as you say it is?

    "Dispensational theologians agree that all Israel is yet to be restored." They certainly do not believe that Gentiles represent the remnant of Israel, do they? Of course not all Jews are in the Land yet! I am here in America!

    "Please read my article on Galatians 3:28, even though given your tenor I seriously doubt we can (ever) come together in reasoned, solution oriented conversation, as I believe you are trying to defend things that go against the trajectory of Scripture."

    I will read your article.

    Gene

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  21. Gene,

    I did not use the word "lost tribes" in my remarks, and I do not consider myself one of the "lost tribes." I am simply a Believer in Yeshua who has an interpretation of eschatological promises. If you are familiar with the prophecies relating to the Two Houses of Israel at all you will see that it includes the entire world. In Isaiah 49:6 the Lord clearly states, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (NASU).

    The restoration of Israel is bigger than either Judah or scattered Ephraim, and the Two-House movement is in serious error for not bringing this to attention. The restoration of Israel involves everybody, Jews who remain Jews and non-Jews who become full-fledged citizens, representing that "one new humanity" (Ephesians 2:15) that serves Him as His Temple. If we are all equal in the Lord, then it is His responsibility in the end to sort out who-is-who when He returns. Unfortunately, many Two-House advocates would like to make unwarranted speculation about their genetics rather than sticking with the text.

    I have taken on the many problems within the Two-House movement for years, and I have stated very candidly in many places that the enemy has had his hands in it and that certain things need to stop. There is an inherent fundamentalism that dominates Two-House people (but also is present even in parts of Messianic Judaism). Yet, just because there may be ungodly things to be purged, that does not justify disregarding the Biblical expectations of Israel's restoration.

    Please consult my article "Revisiting the Two-House Teaching," which summarizes my views:

    http://www.tnnonline.net/two-housenews/two-houses/revisit-2house/index.html

    I am not expecting you to agree with me on very much, but do understand that I am self-critical of the Two-House Messianic sub-movement, and I do recognize the need for further refinement and theological engagement. I am in the process of compiling an entire list of Scriptural references that require detailed exegetical analysis, something seriously overdue.

    If you are interested in discussing this privately with me, feel free to do so, as I do not think that this blog's host wants us to go on and on with a topic that is not related to his original post.

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  22. J.K. McKee...

    Question: as you know, we Messianic Jews worship (at least many of us sincerely try) G-d by observing the applicable Mosaic Laws and many of the traditions of our fathers, much of which come from our unique cultural and communal upbringing developed over a number of millenia (Ashkenazim in my case). Being an ethnic group with our own language, culture, food, traditions, and now our own country and currency, we are much the same as say Korean or Nigerian congregations who express their love for G-d in their own unique cultural ways, led by the leaders from their own people with no voice of opposition in sight. In what PRACTICAL ways do we Messianic Jews discriminate against the Gentile believers to the point where the latter would consider themselves a "second class" or "unequal"?

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  23. Gene,

    Doing the good Jewish thing, I will answer your question with a question:

    If Israel was originally called to serve all humanity, does a Messianic Judaism (almost) exclusively led by Jews and whose outreach is (almost) exclusively to Jews accomplish or deter such a mission?

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  24. "If Israel was originally called to serve all humanity, does a Messianic Judaism (almost) exclusively led by Jews and whose outreach is (almost) exclusively to Jews accomplish or deter such a mission?"

    J.K. McKee,

    I am not sure if you have noticed, but most Messianic Congregations are over 50% Gentile. I also think that it's quite safe to assume that most of the Gentile believers attending those congregation are there by personal choice and not by any compulsion. Even if most of the leaders are Jews (what a surprise - a Jewish congregation would have a Jewish leader!)

    Is the above statement correct?

    By all accounts, with Gentiles representing a majority of many of the congregations AND (VERY IMPORTANT!) attending those congregation TOTALLY WILLINGLY, we are MUCH more of a picture of a Jew/Gentile relationship, outreach to the nations, and unity than many of the churches out there. Both Gentile and Jewish people have found salvation in those congregations.

    Oh, let's not forget this one not so unimportant little fact: it's only within the last 40 years that the Jewish believers (many of whom are children of survivors of the Holocaust that almost decimated our people) have started to come to faith in their Messiah, and only recently have our number grown.

    I, and most of my Jewish friends, have served in outreaches to the nations for years - just a few years ago I went on my third Venezuelan evangelism trip. Our Jewish people have been historically ignored and hated by those who called themselves believers. I am here to comfort them, my own people.

    Give us a little break and time to bring salvation back to Israel now as well, OK. G-d will use Israel/Jewish people specifically to the fullest again to proclaim his Good News:

    Zechariah 8:23

    "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

    Shalom

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  25. Gene,

    I commend your ministerial efforts, and I rejoice in how you have been a blessing to your wider community!

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  26. For what its worth ... as a gentile, I've been to a couple (2) different MJ services. One seemed about 30% gentile ... the other seemed about 55% gentile. Both had Hebrew clergy (one from the states ... the other from abroad) ... or so it seemed to me.


    -Trent

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  27. J.K. McKee, you said: "I have taken on the many problems within the Two-House movement for years, and I have stated very candidly in many places that the enemy has had his hands in it and that certain things need to stop...... I am not expecting you to agree with me on very much, but do understand that I am self-critical of the Two-House Messianic sub-movement, and I do recognize the need for further refinement and theological engagement."

    Yes, reading your site I can confirm that you're one of the more moderate Two-House advocates out there. That may be, but as you know, some of the most prominent voices in the Two House movement are the likes of Angus and Batya Wootten (the founders of the Messianic "Israel" Alliance) Koniuchowsky, Eddie Chumney, Monte Judah, etc. It is THEY who today represent the voice of your movement.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

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  28. Gene,

    Thank you for recognizing that I present a more moderate perspective than the names you mention. Our ministry policy has been to deal with *teachings* rather than *teachers* and I can personally confirm that none of those people speak for or represent my views on any subject.

    I would appreciate that you take this into consideration for the future, and that you would evaluate what I believe and teach on its own merits. One of my long term plans is to write an entire series of exgetical papers on the Scriptures in question, where I will doubtlessly take to task some of the en vogue views present in sectors of the Two-House sub-movement.

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  29. "I would appreciate that you take this into consideration for the future, and that you would evaluate what I believe and teach on its own merits."

    J.K. McKee, consider it a "deal".

    Do you consider yourself a "physical" Israelite - and if you do, what do you base it on? (I know, I know.... it really doesn't matter according to your thinking - since in your view ALL believers are Israel regardless of origins. Yet, I still would like to find out how YOU view yourself since you don't believe that EVERYONE in the Body is a physical Israelite or has to be one).

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  30. Gene,

    This is a fair question, and I will simply answer it with Philippians 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah."

    My identity in the Messiah is secure, so anything regarding physical Israel only concerns the future fulfillment of prophecy to me, with God having to sort out all the specific details.

    Just as Paul says in Galatians 3:28 that there is "neither Jew nor Greek," we are all to be honored as God's people of distinct nationalities. I can prove my ancestry is Scots, English, Dutch, French, and German--and the contributions of my ethnic background to the world are to be honored every bit as much as the contributions of your own Jewish people. Because my identity in Him is secure I do not need to find any lost Jewish or scattered Israelite ancestry to be any more or less accepted as a human being made in God's image.

    But as a Believer maturing in faith, it is my responsibility to not ignore prophecies of Israel's restoration. My view of such prophecies does lead me to the opinion that much more is probably at work in the Messianic movement than Messianic Judaism may wish to acknowledge.

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  31. Judah,

    I like what Pam said. I had written a response, just after you had posted it, that was a little less than gracious. I hit the publish button and my internet chose that momemt to stop working. Needless to say, my response didn't get posted...God is good!

    My short answer is:

    I would preach the Gospel

    What happens next, depends upon the answer to the following question:

    Are my accusers any different than those who accused Stephen, Paul and Jesus?

    In Christ,
    Gary

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  32. Hi Gary.

    Well, I'm glad I didn't see your ungracioius response. ;-)

    I'll try to keep this short.

    In the story, our Christian Hero found that the founders of our faith were in the same situation. Their responses?

    -obedience to the Torah (Paul)
    -reciting the Torah (Stephen)
    -teaching the Torah (Messiah)

    Would your preaching of the gospel contain any of these?

    I fear the modern Christian response is, "No, our gospel is law-free!" I hope yours isn't.

    Be blessed, Gary, I hope you and your family have a great Thanks-Giving.

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  33. Judah,

    I would preach the only Gospel by which men are made holy, righteous, and accepted in the Beloved...the only Gospel by which men are saved. I would urge them to place their faith in that Gospel...specifically:

    Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
    1 Corinthians 15


    Is there another way to be made right with God; to be saved?


    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Pray that I don't eat myself into misery :)

    In Christ,
    Gary

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  34. Gary,

    The Scripture says only through Messiah's atoning sacrifice we're saved.

    That doesn't mean we ought to preach a Torah-less Messiah. The responses of Stephen, Paul, and Messiah should teach us that much.

    Don't worry about eating too much food. Just fall asleep on the couch and your body will be unable to speak to you. (Until you step on the scale, anyways!)

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