May 12, 2015 – BE – ‘Bilateral Ecclesiology’ and Me

Written by Rob Roy on Facebook:

“For those who believe that only Jewish people are called by God to keep the 7th day Sabbath, but non-Jews are not, I’ve been wondering: when you meet Jewish believers attending Sunday churches, do you tell only the Jews in those congregations that they should start keeping the 7th day Sabbath, and/or that they should seek out a 7th-day-keeping Synagogue? What would you say to the pastor and/or elders of that congregation if they discovered what you were doing?

This idea (that it’s a sin for Jews to break the 4th commandment, but not for non-Jews) takes a few different forms within the Messianic Movement, and is most commonly put forward by proponents of the theological framework known as ‘bilateral ecclesiology’ (BE). And I believe the intent of BE is good: Jewish identity is relevant, even after the cross (Rom. 3:1, 11:29), and is something worth preserving; and we should be pushing back against supersessionism in all its various forms. But is BE the best way to achieve this goal? Because when taken to it’s logical conclusion, I wonder: what will the face of the Messianic Movement look like 20 or 80 years from now? Will Jewish believers be slowly removed from their Sunday congregations in favor of 7th-day-keeping congregations, leaving God’s people sharply divided along ethnic lines?

How can these two groups ever hope to experience the “oneness” spoken of in passages like Ephesians 2:14, or even be of “mutual benefit” to one another (a stated goal of BE proponents), if one group is being pulled towards 7th-day-Sabbath observance (and thus 7th day Synagogues), and the other is being pushed towards Sunday-keeping, or no-day-keeping?”

My response was a heartfelt “Amen” and here’s why:

I believe that the Jews need to have their identity preserved as they have the calling/command to bring salvation to the nations. If they assimilate too much into Christianity, that calling gets muddied and perverted with anti-semitic doctrines that have wreaked havoc with the gospel message. I also believe that the nations need to obey the commandments as given to them by God in the Scriptures. As far as I can see, there is no distinction between Jews and non-Jews in the commandments of God. There are distinctions between priests and non-priests, men and women, but not between Jews and gentiles.. We are ALL adopted into the Kingdom of God through rebirth and therefore we all have the same Father who has the same house rules for all of his children.

His quote “I wonder: what will the face of the Messianic Movement look like 20 or 80 years from now? Will Jewish believers be slowly removed from their Sunday congregations in favor of 7th-day-keeping congregations, leaving God’s people sharply divided along ethnic lines?”

That was the concern in the first century – allowing the other gods and pagan practices of the gentiles to destroy an inherently “Jewish” gospel.  According to Yeshua/Jesus salvation comes from the Jews (John 4). And, this destruction is what has happened over the past 2000 years. The message of salvation, the new covenant, the celebrations of God Himself have all been removed /denied/rationalized away for perversions and pagan celebrations.  If, as he suggests that Jews are told to keep the commandments (Sabbath as his example) and gentile Christians are not, there is again a DIVIDING WALL between the two. This is what Jesus/Yeshua came to destroy so that both could worship God in the ways He commanded and desires.  Ultimately, God YHVH is not worshipped as the Creator of the Universe which includes everyone irregardless of ethnicity.

I also do not believe that gentiles are to look inherently Jewish either. Paul is clear that we are to remain in the condition called – Jew or non-Jew (the wording in Galatians is circumcised or uncircumcised and was not a discourse on physical circumcision). I believe the Spirit of God has been given to each of us to convict us of sin and guide us into all Truth so that there will be unity through the Word of God and not through man’s interpretations.

I believe there are more divisions, walls of partition,  than just the seventh-day Sabbath, but since that’s in the Big Ten, it’s a great place to begin Jew and gentile worship together, bringing glory to God as the witness of two for salvation and the coming Kingdom of God.

“Being circumcised (Jewish) means nothing, and being uncircumcised (being non-Jewish) means nothing; what does mean something is keeping God’s commandments” (1 Corinthians 7:19).

© 2015 with Rob Roy and Tent Stake Ministries

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