Who we are AND who we are Not!
Though it’s been stated (mostly by those who do not know us), but also by those who think that they know us, that we “have become Jewish” or of “Messianic Judaism” or “legalistic” etc… the truth is we have not become any of those things!
Have we become Jewish?
The facts are that Yahshua (HIS True Name) was born into the Jewish tribe of Judah. HE came to fulfill prophesy given through over 4000 years concerning HIS Life, HIS Ministry and HIS commitment to the Covenant people of YHWH, who ended up being referred to as the JEWISH people! Contrary to popular belief today, Yahshua walked in PERFECT harmony to The Torah/Law given by YHWH, though HE did break their traditions and man made laws on several occasions! Even though we do not believe that we have been grafted into ISRAEL (thus becoming Jewish), we do believe that we have been grafted into “the Vine”, MESSIAH, by faith in HIM and what HE did and is doing in/through HIS People (all who place their trust in HIS Atoning work on the stake). So really, as we experience being “in HIM”, it stands to reason that we will take on HIS characteristics, virtues and values more and more as we obey HIS Word and “walk just as HE walked.” (1 John 2:6)
Have we become Messianic?
Some have also mistakenly labeled us “Messianic,” as it usually applies to those in an Messianic Judaism, that is more devoted to the additions and subtractions by the rabbinic authorities, many of whom completely rejected Messiah Yahshua. The Truth is we have become “Messianic,” in the sense that we have come to know that Yahshua is the name of the Messiah foretold in Torah and The Prophets, and that He is The Living Torah, THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE. Therefore we are committed to being disciples of the True Messiah, making us, truly, Messianic.
The misunderstanding by many seems to be in light of the fact that we have distanced ourselves from the un-Scriptural, lawless practices of “Sunday Sabbath keeping” and the lawless, traditional holidays of “traditional Christianity” and have begun to observe the Scriptural Sabbath and the Scriptural Feasts of YHWH. Most Christians make the mistake of calling HIS Feasts “Jewish Feasts” because for almost 1700 years that is what has been taught, thinking that “all of those people for all of those years couldn’t be wrong!?” Or could they? Speaking absolutely biblically, for 1700 years MANY, if not most were wrong! But not all! Nowhere in the Scriptures do we see a mandate from YHWH, HIS SON nor the SET APART SPIRIT to change HIS Sabbath or HIS Feast Days, or to relegate them to ONLY be observed by Jewish people! (See Leviticus 23 / Isaiah 56 / Mat 5:17) So, because we began to take HIS Word literally and to observe HIS Feast Days (including the 7th Day Sabbath), many folks have come to the conclusion that “if they haven’t become Jewish, then surely they must be involved in traditional Messianic Judaism!” We chuckle about this, but seriously we are no more interested in the extra-Scriptural, un-Scriptural, or man-made traditional practices of Messianic Judaism than we are interested in the extra-Scriptural and/or un-Scriptural, man-made traditions of professing Christendom! This error seems to come from a general misunderstanding of Scriptural obedience altogether, which leads us to discuss a third accusation; that we “have become Legalistic.”
Have we become legalistic?
Well, first off let’s discuss the word “legalistic or legalism.” The word is NOT found in the Set Apart Scriptures, but is a contemporary term thrown around to umbrella a number of perspectives today! It seems that anytime a serious believer in MESSIAH is challenged by HIS WORD to be more obedient, more disciplined according to HIS Word, today’s Christian vernacular (instead of calling it “discipleship”), refers to this person as becoming “legalistic”, thus associating biblical obedience with bondage of some kind! For some strange reason, Christianity refers to “grace” as the means whereby they are somehow enabled to live in opposition to the Word of Yahweh because, (they say) that “JESUS (not His real Name) fulfilled The Law so that we don’t have to live by it!” Obviously those who would believe such a thing must also misunderstand the word grace, as used in the Scriptures. According to the Strong’s Concordance of Hebrew and Greek, the word “grace” is defined in Hebrew as favor, kindness to, and in the Greek it is also defined as “favor, kindness, but especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life. So from the meanings of these two words; “legalism & grace” we can see that those who refer to disciples as being legalistic are actually saying that we now place MORE emphasis on our observance of the Word of YHWH (HIS TORAH/LAW), than we do on HIS grace (HIS divine influence upon our hearts, producing HIS reflection in our lives). NOTHING could be further from the truth! In fact, we see HIS work of grace IN our lives producing that desire in us to obey HIS Word! Philippians 2:13 says for it is Elohim (literally Mighty Ones, usually rendered God) who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. This verse is confirming that we ARE recipients of HIS NEW COVENANT, as spoken through the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31:33, knowing that it is the work of Grace producing that reflection in us to have the desire to be obedient to HIS Law, HIS Word, etc. instead of those beliefs and practices established by man! We concur that one cannot be saved by simply obeying the Law! However, we also believe that one who is truly born again, being a recipient of the New Covenant, and the Set Apart Spirit of Elohim, will have a desire to please Him and walk just as Yahshua walked, being empowered and led by the Spirit to walk in obedience to HIS Commands! James 2:20 says “Faith (in MESSIAH, the LIVING WORD of Elohim), without works according to the work of divine grace in the heart, producing the reflection of that work, is dead!” Actually, what James is referring to as being dead is what Yahshua, Paul and John also referred to, calling it “Lawlessness!” What we (at MESSIAH Fellowship) are coming out of is a lawless belief system, made up by man that exhibits a form of righteousness, but denies the power of true, Scriptural righteousness!
What is lawlessness?
“Lawlessness” in the New Testament according to it’s biblical definition is derived from the Greek word “anomia” meaning “illegality, violation of law.” Did you get that? It is in reference to being in OPPOSITION to law!!! What law? The only Law established by YHWH that the New Testament writers were acquainted with at the time! (The Law beginning in Genesis and finally written to/through Moses)
So, instead of the blessings, ascribed to those committed to biblical obedience, what we see in the following references are to those who reject HIS Law (i.e. “lawlessness”), resulting in CONDEMNATION!
In Matthew 7:23 those who “practice lawlessness” are told to depart from HIM!
In Matthew 13:41, those who “practice lawlessness” are cast into the fire!
In Matthew 23:28, to those who add to and/or delete from HIS Law, (which by the way is the basis for much of the traditions of today’s Christianity) HE calls hypocrites and lawless!
In Matthew 24:12, HE says that because of “lawlessness” in the last days, love…will grow cold!
Paul uses the term 3 times in his epistles;
In Romans 6:19, he exhorts the Roman believers in MESSIAH to yield themselves to righteousness (by faith obeying HIS Word) NOW just as they once yielded themselves to “lawlessness” prior to their conversion.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, he reminds them that “righteousness” (biblical obedience) cannot have fellowship with “lawlessness.” (biblical disobedience)
In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, he confirms that the “lawless one” will deceive the “lawless”, (those in opposition to the Law of YHWH), and will lead them to destruction!!!
So you see, because of our decision to take the Scriptures literally, committing to obey HIS WORD in demonstration of our love for HIM, the ONE who first loved us, and demonstrated HIS love for us, some have considered us to be “odd, Jewish, Messianic, legalistic, etc…” I guess if we have to choose which to please; man or YHWH, we’ll choose to obey HIM! We pray that you make that same choice as well!