In defining what Messianic Judaism is it is important to deal with the issue of Torah observance and to see what the differing voices in the larger “Messianic Jewish” spectrum say on this issue.
In doing this we can see a clearer contrast between a Messianic Judaism that is a Torah honoring movement for Yeshua and those who hold for a Jewish cultural form of Evangelical Christianity like the organization, Jews for Jesus. This is the divide between Messianic Judaism and the Hebrew Christian/Missions groups.
Jews for Jesus affirms Jewish believers who, for the sake of honoring our heritage and developing a Jewish testimony, choose to give up some of what grace allows to conform to dietary standards and various other Jewish practices. As long as such practices are not presented as incumbent upon others in the body of Messiah, Jewish or Gentile, we hope to be an encouragement to those who desire to uphold their Jewish identity in this way.
(from Fall 2003 Havurah, a publication of Jews for Jesus)
The above quote from JFJ’s Havurah newsletter from 2003 still reflects the views of much of the Hebrew Christian/Missions world of today.
In this post, I want to look further at this statement from the organization, Jews for Jesus.
In their statement above they put forward that a Messianic Jew can observe Torah commands if they choose to give up some of what grace allows to conform to dietary standards and various other Jewish practices.
Torah observance is not an “abandoning of grace“, but an embracing of obedience to God.
Observing kashrut, Shabbat, the Holy Days and other Torah commands is an act of obeying God and faithfulness to the covenant God made with all the Jewish People.
If we choose not to obey Torah commands we are not “living in grace”, but “living in sin”.
Non-observance of Torah commands for Jews (including Messianic Jews) is an act of disobeying God and not walking in His ways, not a benefit of being a follower of the Messiah.
Torah observance like dietary standards and various other Jewish practices is not and should not just shtick to be used for evangelistic outreach (which sadly is the case for Jews for Jesus and other Jewish missions), but it is a matter of obeying God and living lives that honor Him.
I close with a statement by another Messianic Jew on the topic of grace and sin:
What may we say, then? are we to go on in sin so that there may be more grace?
In no way. How may we, who are dead to sin, be living in it any longer?
Let us live in obedience to God and observe His Torah!