There is a small but growing movement in America advocating Messianic forms of worship. This movement draws to some degree from Jewish practices but adherents are typically gentiles. They will often argue that Christians benefit from a return to keeping the law, some insisting that the law is not just beneficial, but essential.
This movement first caught my eye a few years ago when one particular group asked to meet on Saturday evenings in my church. Not knowing better, I agreed with the church to grant them the space. Since then I have seen family members get deeply involved in the movement and have heard from members of my present church who have been contacted by local participants.
Because of the growth of this movement, it is important to be informed about it and aware of its significant biblical problems. With its emphasis on a return to Torah and Jewish ritual, this is a movement that influences people to think that their growth in Christ is deepened through (or determined by) their obedience to the Mosaic law, contrary to the clear, repeated, and firm teaching of Scripture.
The rise of Messianic Christianity brings to the forefront a situation common in the early centuries of the church: the struggle between those on the one hand who believe Christians – Jews and gentiles alike – are obligated to obey all the precepts of the Mosaic law, and those on the other hand who hold that the law has been accomplished and fulfilled in Christ.
We will discuss this movement in two parts. The first part will examine what the Bible has to say, looking at the situation found in the New Testament and asking how the early church resolved the matter of gentile observance of the law. Second, we will look at the Messianic movement today and apply Scripture to its adherents’ claims.
To be continued on Monday.