Messianic Congregation: One Faith
The world teaches us that if you are not part of a specific denomination, then you are not truly saved. They will grab onto one particular verse and build an entire religion around it. Or worse, they will grab onto one theological premise and create a man-made religion that only the devout followers will overcome. The Bible teaches that there is one faith, through one G-d. Through Him, we are gathered together as one family. A Messianic Congregation is the group of people who gather in a Messianic Synagogue. Much like Christians that gather together are called a church. But since we worship the same G-d, it places all of us in one faith.
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one L-rd, one faith, one baptism, one G-d and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
Traditional Judaism Congregation
There are rules and regulations for an Orthodox Congregation as well as a Messianic Congregation. To have all the rights of a Jew, one of two things must happen. First, there is the birthright. According to the Orthodox faith, the birthright ability to call oneself a Jew came through the mother, not the father. Second, there is a conversion.
- Who is a Jew? – Early Judaism placed a separation between the Jew and the Gentile. It even sometimes placed dividing lines between what many consider the Jewish nation. Traditional Judaism reads that a Jew was one who has lineage to the tribe of Judah. It does not go back to Israel. So, in theory, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. However, vernacular set aside, today most accept that a Jew is any descendant in the line of Abraham. This is based on a different definition of the root word of the Hebrew pronunciation of “Jew”.
- Conversion – A person can also become a Jew through a process called conversion. This varies depending on the sect you are joining; it is a lengthy process. It involves studying, an appearance before a Jewish court, immersion (much like the Christian baptism), and if you are a male… circumcision. Then you will be given a Jewish name. BUT one cannot do this by name alone; they must follow the laws and traditions all Jews follow.
- Laws and Traditions – Judaism allows non-Jewish people to visit the synagogue; as long as they act according to the Jewish laws and traditions. These will also vary depending on the sect of Judaism. Anything from head coverings to seating arrangements.
Unlike a Messianic Congregation, a visitor must adhere to rules set out by the synagogue they were visiting. Even an unintentional slip up could be deemed disrespectful or seriously affect the flow of a service. It would be wise for someone to fully understand the procedures through study and asking questions from a Jewish parishioner before making an unintended mistake.
The Christianity Congregation
While Christianity has its own rules and regulations, it is the opposite of Orthodox Judaism. The term “Christian” was first used in Antioch in the first century, right after the first group of believers began to witness about Yeshua to both Jew and Gentile.
- Who is a Christian? – Unlike Judaism, Christianity has nothing to do with birthright. You do not have to trace any lineage to a specific person to be considered a Christian. If you think about it, the lineage itself traces itself back to Adam. Everyone is a descendant of Adam. Jews and Gentiles alike. If you are alive today, you can be a Christian. The primary way a person becomes a Christian is acceptance of Yeshua as the Messiah.
- Laws and traditions – There are no specific laws one must strictly follow to be a Christian. There is a process, also called conversion. But it is not about renouncing a heritage and adopting a new one, like with Judaism. It is about recognizing that man is sinful, that they cannot do anything themselves to overcome it, that they need a savior. Then, believing that Yeshua provided the ultimate sacrifice of His life for everyone – that He rose again, conquering sin and death. Next, confession of your sins, followed by repentance, this is where turning your back comes in. But it’s not on heritage, but the old sinful life.
Christian Congregation: Less Tradition
To be part of a Christian Congregation, one must simply attend a service. There are no prerequisites. There is a certain level of decorum, but not much that some woud deem offensive. Additionally, there are no dividing lines (like women and men separated) or traditions (like head coverings) that are required. Not saying that Orthodox or Messianic Congregation traditions are bad. Most traditions place the parishioner in a mental state of humility before G-d. They see them as beneficial to the perspective of who G-d is. However, Christianity views G-d in a more relaxed fashion. If one chooses they can become a member of a Christian Congregation. This is about committing yourself to the church and to spreading the Gospel and not a requirement for salvation.
The Messianic Congregation
It is safe to say that a Messianic Congregation is where Traditional Judaism and Christianity meet. Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. But they follow many of the Traditional Jewish laws and customs, thus the Messianic Congregation still has its differences from the Christian Congregation.
- Who is a Messianic Jew? – Again, much like the Messianic Congregation, it is a combination of the two-belief systems. However, this is a main point of contention between Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews. The Orthodox Jew believes in the process of “conversion” for one to become a Jew. The Messianic view is that there should be no attempt of converting a Christian (or Gentile) to a Jew. This is not an exclusionary belief; Quite the contrary. It is acceptance of the original premise; “we are all of one faith”. Also, a Messianic Jew still lives within the laws and traditions set out by Orthodox Jews.
- Laws and Traditions – One of the processes of converting to Judaism, according to Traditional Jewish law, is circumcision. But this is based on the thought process that they are still under the old covenant. The new covenant established under Yeshua, put away the old system. It became circumcision of the heart, versus circumcision itself. Colossians 2:11-12, Colossians 3:11-12, Romans 2:12-28, and Galatians 5:6 are examples of circumcision no longer having a hold on anyone who wants to believe in and follow Yeshua.
Messianic Congregation: Traditions
The Messianic Congregation still follows many Traditional Jewish customs, like head coverings, and observance of some holiday festival. But they do not separate men and women in a worship setting. Messianic Jews do not expect anyone to convert to Judaism; in fact, they feel they should not impose that on anyone. They do require a love for the Jewish people, an understanding of what G-d is doing with the Jewish people, as well as a calling to be of assistance to G-d’s chosen people.
“Only let each person lead the life that the L-rd has assigned to him, and to which G-d has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of G-d. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.”
(1 Corinthians 7:17-21)
Messianic Congregation: The Last Days
Biblical prophecy states that in the last days, a flurry of Jews will realize that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. They will make the trek back home to Israel in preparation of the second coming. This means that even the most devout Orthodox Jew will have the opportunity to see Christ for who He truly was; the Savior promised throughout the Tanakh. Messianic Congregation assists in perpetuating this faith. These men and women who have believed will help usher in the restoration of Israel and Yeshua as their returning king.
Ministries like Jewish Voice Ministries seek to proclaim the Gospel to the Jew first, grow the Messianic Jewish community, and engage the Church concerning Israel and the Jewish people. Their existence is to see the Jewish people saved and expand the Messianic Congregation to further the kingdom of G-d.
This article on the Messianic Congregation concludes our series on Messianic Judaism. Read more here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.