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Ask The Pastor

January 16, 2001

Hi Kathy,

Your question involves a complicated answer. You asked:

> What is the difference between a Messianic Jew and a Christian?
> Why don't they just call themselves Christians. Do they keep
> anything from their Jewish worship and/or Jewish ways into the
> Christian relationship and worship

On the salvation side, there generally would not be a difference, But Messianics are like Christians in that there are all sorts.

First of all there have always been Jewish believers. Most of these folk are brought to the Lord through a Christian witness, just like others are. Most Jewish converts simply become Christians in the full sense of the word. (According to religious demographics, 80% of Jewish converts prefer to worship in a Christian Church.)

What has happened over time is that certain Jewish converts who came out of a primary Orthodox setting, had a strong desire to evangelize their own people. These evangelizers began to establish Jewish works. At first they simply spoke of themselves as 'Hebrew Christians.' The Hebrew Christians did not take airs to themselves and were not trying to be in competition with other Christians. They simply wanted to bring the Jewish kin to the Lord. (This all took place before the modern Messianic movement.)

This bring us to the Messianics. The Messianic movement has some connection with the Christian Hebrews, but there are also very real differences. While the Christian Hebrews concentrated on bringing the gospel to the Jewish people, the Messianics are much more diverse. A great part of the Messianic movement is not made up of Jewish believers at all. In many cases it is merely charismatics on another trip. I realize this sounds unkind, but the truth can seem that way at times.

If you are familiar with the history of the charismatic movement, you will find that it seems to need something new to keep itself going. (This does not apply to all charismatics. Some are very real. Nor are Messianics from a charismatic setting.)

This is where the picture gets more complicated. Some of the emphasis in the Messianic movement is a desire to return to the early Church setting, which, by the way, was entirely Jewish. But this presents special problems. For one thing, the Lord never intended the Church to be a Jewish organization. Nor did He ever intend the Church to dress itself up in Mosaic legislation, that is, the keeping of feast days, Sabbaths, new moons, wearing phylacteries, kosher eating, etc.

From my observation, the number one problem Messianics face has to do with unbalance. And unbalance is most often the result of having an unsettled spiritual life. If we are taking pleasure in Jewish things rather than in a personal walk with Jesus Christ, the result will always be self-righteousness. This holds true when we make any 'other' thing a priority in our lives. (We can be self-righteous Baptist, Methodists, non-denominational, or whatever.)

The answer is Jesus, and Jesus alone.

Hope I've been able to help a bit.

The Lord bless you.


Bro. Buddy Martin - Ask the Pastor

Lawrence "Buddy" Martin

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