2 May 2010 (Rishon/Pesach)|
Day #48, 5934 AM
Beyond the Next Level
If you are a Messianic then you may very well be familiar with Lew White's little paperback book crammed full of information on the pagan sources of popular customs called Fossilized Customs (Strawberry Islands, Louiseville, KY: 2002). If you are not a Messianic, or are a Messianic who has never read the book, then you ought to. But before you read it make sure you have plenty of brain RAM because there is a lot to absorb. I have found this an immensely useful resource BUT...it misses the mark in two ways, one minor and one major:
As a result many Evangelical Christians understandably view Messianics as cultists because they are missing the central point of the Gospel, namely, that it is the Character behind the Name which is appropriated by trusting in the resurrected Messiah (Christ) that is infinitely more important than getting some pronunciation right or observing the correct holidays.
- 1. It is wrong about many issues such as (a) soul-sleeping, an error of many Messianics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, Armstrongites, Christadelphians and others; and (b) It often confuses outer forms with inward realities. The result of this error is that,
- 2. He accuses all Christians of being unsaved and hell-bound simply because they don't pronounce God's Name right and practice a number of pagan traditions.
Don't get me wrong, as a Messianic Evangelical I absolutely do not believe we should celebrate pagan traditions (because that honours the devil) and I believe we should use the correct Names of Deity - when we know them for certain - however, I will not condemn an Evangelical Christian who has been born again of the Ruach (Spirit) and is producing the fruit of genuine salvation in the works of love that he brings forth just because he uses the words 'God' and 'Jesus' and ignorantly celebrates pagan festivals like Christmas. (If he knows what he is doing and that it's wrong, that is another matter). It is for this reason I utterly condemn the Ultramessianics and expose Messianic Heresies because both are a danger to the Body of Messiah and represent an antimessiah or antichrist spirit that is robbing souls of their salvation.
At the same time Lew White is right about promoting Torah and Evangelicals are wrong in accusing commandment-keepers of being 'legalists'. It is for this reason that we represent a position somewhere in the middle of the two. If you are not familiar with our calling, please read Our Threefold Vision and Mission: Reformation, Restoration and Completion. You see, we are both Messianics and Evangelicals...and neither.
We believe that the whole Gospel Plan of Salvation centres first and foremost in getting into right relationship with Yah'shua through accepting His sacrificuial death that results in a new life within. A person thus spiritually regenerated within is far more concerned about fulfilling the Two Great Commandments to love Yahweh-Elohim with his whole being and loving his neighbour as himself, which are a child's simple summary of the rest of the commandments. This inner reality is not unlike the love a small child feels for others and is not concerned with outward observances of any kind. It is the kind of love that endears us to babies and small children. This is the foundational aspect of the Gospel that we can learn best from genuine born-again, love-filled Evangelical Christians.
As children mature and grow up, they have to learn the House Rules. In the same way, born-again believers as they mature in Messiah must learn Yahweh's House Rules, His Torah. Observing the commandments is not legalism - it is a maturing of love expressed in outward deeds and observances. Our Father in Heaven has called us to both relate to Him individually in private prayer and worship as well as to gather together with other believers at the times He has set, namely, the moedim. This is the maturation aspect of the Gospel that we can learn best from Messianics.
When an evangelical refuses to go any further, digs his heels in, and refuses to obey the Torah, he is rebelling against growing up. He wants to remain an egotistical, rebellious child and do things his way, ignoring the directives of his Father in Heaven. He may grow and mature in many aspects of the Gospel but in others he remains disobedient. The result is inevitably spiritual retardation.
A Messianic who tries to skip or hop over the evangelical part of the Gospel, relying on his law-keeping to make himself right with Yahweh, is customising a fossil - he is creating a dead religion even if he gets the names of deity right and obeys the correct commandments outwardly. he may believe he is 'born again' but this is more of an intellectual proposition than a living reality. (Evangelicals frequently make the same mistake, incidentally - they think that repeating a formula 'saves' then when what is required is death to self).
Where many Messianics go wrong is that they think that adding Yah'shua (Jesus) onto Torah-worship is all that is required when everything has to die, even that which is outwardly right, in order to come to our Saviour. When we are conceived in Messiah at Passover and are reborn in Messiah at Firstfruits, we are leaving everything behind that we ever knew, immersing ourselves in the Red Sea (Yom Suf) and starting all over again. You can't bring your dead Judaism or formalistic Christianity with you into your new life in Christ. Impossible! You start from scratch, get a new heart, and begin to live the Torah from the inside out, otherwise all you have is dead-letter Torah and a religion - a customised fossil (an '-ism') - that brings people into bondage all over again. There are no Zionistic Messianic Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Mormons, Adventists, or anyone following an '-ism' in the heavenly dimension but only souls truly alive in Messiah who are living the Torah lifestyle and who understand that they have a heavenly citizenship and an earthly citizenship in New Covenant Israel that will remain scattered until Yah'shua return. We have a Messiah and a Torah lifestyle. And that's it.
Beware of 'fossilised customs', yes, but be even more careful of 'customised fossils'!