My name is Marlene Rosenberg and I am married to a messianic rabbi in Jackson, NJ. We are called to proclaim Messiah to the Jewish heart of Central Jersey. We have not traded in our lox & bagels for ham & cheese or become culturally gentile Christians. We seek to live an authentically Jewish life completed in the promised Jewish Messiah, Jesus (we call him by his Hebrew name “Yeshua,” which He heard when He walked the earth). We do not force anyone to keep the Jewish holidays or Shabbat. We are more than free to keep the Torah as Jesus did when He walked the earth.
I was very disturbed by the tone of the article “Believers Are Set Free From the Law” (March issue, page 10). It seemed to me to be judgmental and extreme. Because of this kind of presentation (which smacks of anti-semitism) many Jewish people don’t want to know Jesus. Christianity has stripped Jesus of his Jewish identity and attempted to create Him in their own image. We’re trying to put Jesus back into His original Jewish context.
When Yeshua came, he was not a Catholic or a Baptist, but a nice Jewish boy (also God in the flesh). He never celebrated Christmas or Easter. He observed the Law and kept all its commandments including celebrating all the Jewish holidays and Shabbat. He said that whoever teaches others to observe Torah would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven and whoever taught people not to observe the Law would be least in the kingdom of heaven. I think Mr. Barber and so many other Christians misinterpret Galatians because it is not telling people not to observe the Torah. It is saying not to follow the legalistic observances of the Torah. There is a big difference between Torah and legalistic observance of Torah.
Perhaps Mr. Barber might better communicate his message in gentleness and say that we should not be legalistic and impose our belief system on others. That is something that happens whether it’s Jewish or not. I would not impose Jewish observances on the church nor do I want the church to say that it’s wrong for me to do so. In the book of Acts it says that there were many new Jewish believers and they were all zealous for the Law. They didn’t tell them to forsake their heritage.
We live next to Lakewood, a very orthodox community. We have opportunities to share with Orthodox Jews. Do you think any of them would hear about Yeshua from me if I ate pork, celebrate Christmas, and didn’t live a Jewish lifestyle? Of course, that is just a beginning. Yeshua must be living in me and His Spirit active in my life.
Perhaps the most important thing is that in Deuteronomy 18 it says that if anyone comes and nullifies the Torah, then He is not from G-d & is a false prophet. If Jesus came and spoke against the Law then He wouldn’t be Messiah. He would be a false prophet.
Mr. Barber’s statements such as “believers are the only true people of G-d and the only true worshipers of G-d” smack of spiritual elitism. Trying to add Law to Grace is a false rendering of the text. The issue was not keeping the Law, but salvation by the Law. It was never wrong to keep the Law. What was wrong was to say that salvation depended on keeping the Law. Salvation is through faith in the atoning work of the Messiah Yeshua. Salvation and observances are two separate issues.
If Yeshua kept the Torah then it’s good enough for me.
Editor’s response: We sent your letter on to Wayne Barber—and he, and we, are sorry that you feel offended. Neither Wayne nor we intended in any way to deny anyone the freedom to worship as they choose.
If you, for instance, wish to avoid pork and worship on the Sabbath, that’s fine. But if you abstain from pork (for instance) because you feel it is forbidden, then we do have a basic difference of opinion. As Wayne says, “We are free from the ‘condemnation and the performance of the law’ and if not then we are up the creek.”
I do have to reject the implied charge that the article was anti-semitic. Not at all! It was anti-Law.
There are other issues in your letter which could be responded to, but perhaps some of our readers would like to make their own responses. Readers?
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I am very impressed with the Pulpit Helps Magazine. I am a new subscriber as the pastor of First Baptist Dutton. I have only been pastor here since October ‘02. I have already used some illustrations and have been encouraged by the articles that you are printing.
I have been reading a lot of material from Rick Warren. Do you have an e-mail address for Rick Warren? I sure would like to receive more from him. If you can help me I sure would appreciate it.
God bless all that you are doing!! Keep up the good work!!!!
Editor’s Note: For information on how to contact Rick Warren directly, email the church at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the www.pastors.com website.
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