Saturday, June 7, 2014

Let No Man Deceive You

The following is a post that I was asked to write about my experience in the Messianic movement.  I'm afraid that it never was used as it wasn't as vitriolic as the requestor was undoubtedly hoping for.  I always try to bring correction with love and grace.  With that in mind, I do feel that in these days this message is one that needs to be expressed.

Let No Man Deceive You

I was raised in a conservative Jewish home. Growing up, we would attend synagogue most weeks as well as celebrate the Jewish holidays. During those years God was busy with me, planting His Word in my heart – His Word that I heard during the weekly services. As I grew and became a little more familiar with Scripture I began asking questions, like when did God stop requiring us to make sacrifices. All my questions seemed to do was make people uncomfortable, but I kept searching for answers.

When I was 17 years old I accepted Messiah and the atonement He made, once for all, on the cross. I was certain that I was the only Jew to ever have done so. Not too long after that I went to church with a friend of mine. Unfortunately there were a few things that I just couldn't get past. One was that it seemed like the sermons were focused not on Scripture, but on the founders of that particular denomination or how we can live better, happier lives. The other was the fact that the people there kept trying to convince me that I was no longer Jewish and that I didn't need to hold on to my Jewishness, my traditions, etc. Needless to say I did not feel comfortable there, so I stopped going. I did, however continue to read the Bible and learn about God.

Fast forward 10 years or so. I was now married and while I had shared everything with my husband, there was one little detail I had managed to keep secret – my faith in Christ. My husband had been raised in the Lutheran church, but had not yet come to salvation. One day, amidst some very troubling circumstances, I shared my faith with him and he agreed to go to church with me. When I looked in the phone book I saw that there was a Messianic congregation in town, so we decided to go there as I thought I would feel more comfortable.

When we first started attending I did indeed feel more comfortable. I was very happy to see that Jewish believers were worshiping in a Jewish way, much like an Hispanic or Aftican-American church would worship within the context of their culture. It was also nice to see non-Jewish believers there as well. But the longer we were there, some things started getting us concerned. There was a trend among the leadership in the congregation to try to impose Mosaic Law on believers in Christ. They supported keeping kosher and other legalistic duties – duties that I never kept before coming to Christ. I couldn't understand how they could justify requiring people to keep these laws now that they were in Christ and free from the law of sin and death. They also held the view that non-Jewish believers were “less than,” and would not allow them to hold certain positions simply because they had not been born a Jew. This view was also held by many who were pillars of the Messianic movement. Added to all of this was a general disdain for anything “church.” While I completely understand that many, many Jews are repelled by the church because of historical violence that the church has committed against Jews, I couldn't understand how those who had come to Christ could justify the positions they were taking. When I started asking about this and pointing out that Scripture teaches that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile but we are all new creatures in Christ, or that God made all food acceptable to eat I was met with condescension. They tried to convince me that I obviously didn't know what I was talking about. It wasn't too long before we left that congregation.

We have been part of several churches since that time. The sad thing is that whenever there has been a question over a teaching, policy or doctrine, I've been met with the same attitude of condescension. The even sadder thing is how God's Word has come to take a back seat over people's agenda. Sometimes the Word has been moved from the back seat to the trunk and isn't taken seriously at all.

Over the years I have tried to keep things simple, relying not on man's word, but on God's. It doesn't matter if a person is a pastor or a layman. If what they are teaching doesn't agree with Scripture, don't believe it. In Scripture we are told, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11 NIV) If people were checking Paul's teachings against Scripture to make sure that he was correct, how much more diligent should we be! As time goes on there will be more and more false teachings, more and more wolves in sheep's clothing trying to deceive believers and lead them astray. There will be more and more deception within the church as well as without, all designed to keep us from God's truth. Be diligent in studying the Scriptures daily so that you know God's Truth.

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