What is the Church?

This is a question you may have never thought of.
But is one that needs to be addressed. The “Jewish Voice Today” magazine, of which I am a subscriber, had the following article in its May/June issue. Their website is www.jewishvoice.org and is headed by Jonathan Bernis. You may have heard of him and his work among the Jews of Russia and other Eastern European countries. Our friend, Linda Caffaro, has worked with his organization for many years. She has worked on ships bringing the Jews “home”.

Here is the article in question:

“Dear Jewish Voice,
I love ministries such as yours that reach out to the unsaved Jews. However, I don’t understand why the Jews that become Christians don’t come to church. In our city, we have a “Messianic Synagogue” where Christian Jews go. Why don’t they go to church on Sunday, since they are now Christians? Doesn’t the Bible say, “To God be the glory IN THE CHURCH?” CAF, Jackson, MI”

Dear CAF,
Thank you for writing with your kind encouragement and thoughtful question. You are referring to Ephesians 3:21, which indeed says this exact phrase. We must look at this phrase, however, within the context of who was speaking, to whom it was spoken, and what it meant in that context. We must consider that at the time this verse was spoken/written, “church” did not have the same meaning that it has today. (We can see this idiomatic phenomenon with the word “gay“ very clearly.)

Let’s look at the Greek word used in this text for “church”. ekklhsia, pronounced “ekklesia”
say (ek-clay–SEE–ah) It means:

1. a gathering of citizens ‘called out’ from their homes to a public place
2. The assembly of the Israelites
3. An assembly of Believers gathered for worship in a religious meeting
4. The whole body of Believers scattered throughout the earth
5. The assembly of faithful Believers already dead and received into heaven

Are you surprised? Most people think that “church” means a building that Christians go to on Sunday – but that is not the biblical definition. God desires that He be glorified through the lives of those that love Him, whether we are gathered together to worship, pray or study, or simply living our daily lives as His child.

Regarding Messianic synagogues; these would be similar to the meetings of Yeshua’s followers and the Apostles of the First Century. The concept of a building that people go to on Sundays had not been considered. The total break from the Hebraic foundation and expression of faith did not occur until later centuries. As we have addressed in this issue, this was a very decisive move to break ties with the Jewish People due to rabid anti-Semitism. It was not birthed by God. After the Third Century, the Hebraic expression of faith became extinct as “the Church” was radically altered, changing the days of Biblical observance, including a change from Saturday to Sunday, and accommodating the pagan practices of the Roman empire. For 13 centuries, the Bible was forbidden to the common man, and “the Church”
(Catholic) ruled with an iron hand. A step toward restoration came through Martin Luther. However, in 1967 when Israel regained Jerusalem, there was a rebirth of the “First Church”, or Hebraic style of worship. There was also the phenomenon of Jewish people coming to faith in Messiah – the first time in such numbers since the First Century!

With these Jewish Believers in Messiah came a God-birthed desire to reach the Jews with the message that the long awaited Messiah of Israel had come. With the advent of Messianic synagogues and the restoration of the Hebraic (Biblical) roots of the faith, a message that has been irrelevant at best and hateful at its worst to the Jewish people, became recognizable and more easily embraced. Messianic congregations have sprung up all over the globe with membership including large numbers of Gentiles that have embraced this vision.”
from “Sarah”

What “Sarah” didn’t say was that Jews need to be Jews. They need and want to be obedient to Torah not just follow pagan customs that have become infiltered into the “Church”. Y’shua did not come to start a ‘new’ religion – He came to correct to original one that had been comprimised and to further its growth. His disciples were not Christians! They were Jews. The Scriptures Timothy told us to study was the Torah – the “Old” Testament. They kept the Sabbath and G-d’s holy days. We made them holidays and quit observing them and instead substituted the pagan ones.

Many Gentiles have seen the truth and have joined their Jewish brethren in Messianic synagogues. After all, we (Gentiles) are adopted in to the Commonwealth of Israel and are now part of G-d’s family. There is one law for all. So let’s let the Jews be Jews and let’s join them in Spirit and in Truth and do it G-d’s way!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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