About “Completed” Faith
by Lonnie Lane
An email came from a new Jewish believer wanting to know what to call herself. She was having a tad bit of an identity issue. The answer may provide you with some new insights, and give you liberty to allow the Lord to take some limitations off of you. As she predicted, this turned into an article.
Q. How do you refer to yourself? As a Messianic Jew? A Complete Jew? Or a Christian? My (Gentile) husband keeps telling me that I’m a Christian and I have been disagreeing with him because I felt that I’m a Jewish person first – a Jewish person that believes in Yeshua. I thought that the Christians were the Gentiles that came along in faith with the Messianic movement. I could be all wrong and would love further knowledge. This could be an inspiration for one of your articles. One pastor suggested that I refer to myself as “a completed Jew.”
A. It’s actually your Gentile husband who is the convert – he has come to believe, that is he converted, to faith in the Messiah of Israel. To convert is to change, transform, switch, or metamorphose into something you weren’t before. He changed from being “outside the commonwealth of Israel….” (Ephesians 2:12) to faith in Israel’s (Hebrew) Messiah. You, however, are living in the fulfillment of your Hebraic faith as there is nothing un-Hebrew or out of accord with the Hebrew Scriptures in Yeshua. But on the other hand, in reality, since Yeshua changed all who believe in Him from sinners to become “a new creation” (Galatians 6:15) when we were born again, in that sense, we all “convert” to become citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Your husband is right in saying you are a “Christian” in that you believe in the Son of God whom the world calls “Christ.” We must not deny that (Him!) at any cost. Christ is another word for “Messiah.” You’d feel more comfortable if he called you a follower of Messiah, the most common term being Messianic. Christians are Christ-followers, just as Messianics are Messiah-followers. It’s a matter of semantics. But it’s not only about semantics because there is some history attached to the issue. The term Christian was at first used in a derogatory manner, to belittle the believers: “Oh those little Christ’s, or Christ-like people,” said sarcastically. We’d take that as a compliment today that our lives reflect His godly character, but it wasn’t meant that way originally. The term Christian for centuries defined a religion which included an anti-Semitic bias against anything Hebrew, resulting in some very unscriptural inclusions in the practices of Christianity, and a rather unJewish portrayal of Jesus.
We seem to be in a period in which the “restoration of all things” is beginning to take place.
I personally prefer to just say I’m a Jewish believer in Yeshua or Messiah Yeshua, though I also use the name of Jesus, knowing He responds to our hearts toward Him, not what name we call Him. I personally almost never use the name Christ, however, because of the connotations the title carries with it that relegates Him to a rather non-Hebrew identity. Yeshua is returning for a bride that is waiting for Who He really is, not the Christ with the pagan issues attached to our idea of Him and how we worship Him that aren’t really about Him! Two obvious examples are the mo’edim (celebrations) God gave to Israel. There are six plus Shabbat which makes seven, God’s perfect number. They each portray a picture of the coming Messiah, all of which He has fulfilled in different ways. They are each about Him! The church, however, has been robbed of these God-given holy days, and instead celebrate only two holidays, Christmas and Easter, both of which have decidedly pagan roots, neither of which God gave to Israel. Three of the holy days God did give to Israel will be required of all on the earth when Yeshua returns to reign on the earth which would seem to validate that God intended that His people (the church) would keep them. But they have been non-existent in the church for almost two millennia.
We think of the term, Messiah as a kind of Jewish thing, but the fact is, Christianity is Jewish! There was never a thought in the mind of either the Messiah or His disciples that His followers would become anti-Jewish or anti-Hebrew and devolve into a religion that would be unrecognizable as being Hebrew or related to Israel. I was once told by a seminary professor that the truth and validity of Christianity is that it has survived the Christians. The more you know about church history, the more that statement proves to be true. But thank God He is restoring the Hebrew Roots of the faith today and many non-Jewish believers are welcoming this restoration so that God’s people are becoming “one new man” (Eph.2:14,15) and the middle wall that separated us is becoming non-existent for the true remnant of God. This restoration is entirely necessary for the return of Yeshua. Peter said on that famous day of Shavuot (Pentecost) when the Holy Spirit came upon the (Hebrew) believers for the first time, talking about God sending Yeshua back to earth again, “that He may send Jesus, the Messiah, appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:20). We seem to be in a period in which the “restoration of all things” is beginning to take place. Hallelujah!
On the day Peter preached that message, the new believers entered into the fullness of all that God has planned for Israel through or in Messiah Yeshua. But does that mean they were incomplete in the dispensation they lived in before? To go back to part of your question, the term “completed Jew” is a rather confusing term to me. Were we Jews not complete as people before we came to the Lord? Would any Jew who hears that be insulted or bewildered? It implies that for 4,000 years all of Israel were incomplete in their walk with God. If you’ve not read my article, “Coming to God’s Defense” you may want to hear my thoughts that the church has an idea of God that He left an entire nation of people in complete frustration of trying to please Him and failing over and over for all those thousands of years until Yeshua came. Such is not the case. He’s not that kind of a God.
I know the Old Testament saints weren’t “saved” as we think of being saved, but there were millions during those centuries who were waiting for Messiah, who lived as righteous a life as possible unto their God. Aren’t they the people whom Jesus led to His Father after His resurrection who were in “paradise” (Luke 23:43) or “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:21) awaiting the Redemption? Yeshua didn’t seem to consider them “incomplete” – their faith was sufficient for Him to go and get them. He wasn’t looking for perfection in them any more than He does in us. He looks at the hearts always.
Generally, the church believes that no one could be really righteous or “complete” in their following the Lord before Yeshua. But what about Enoch who “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24) so closely that he was “raptured” away by God? Or Noah who “found favor in the eyes of the LORD….Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time. Noah walked with God” (6:8,9). And what about Joshua and Caleb who believed God when the others didn’t and as a result were the only two of their generation that survived the forty years on the desert? Look what God did with Joshua who fulfilled what Moses couldn’t – bringing Israel into the Land. And about Caleb God said, “My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it” (Numbers 14:24). Fully would seem pretty complete, wouldn’t it? (Would God say about us that we have followed God fully? Selah.) And what about Miriam (Mary)? Would God have put His Son in her hands if she wasn’t equipped to mother Him righteously, or Joseph to parent Him as well, for that matter? Have you read Miriam’s “doxology” – her declaration that revealed that she knew God when she came to Elizabeth’s home? Listen to this and tell me her faith was “incomplete.”
“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. and His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55).
Or how about Elizabeth’s own simple statement of faith: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord” (1:45). Or how about Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah’s declaration of prophecy about his new-born son John when God released him to speak declaring John would be the preparer of the way for the Messiah years later. Read Luke 1:67-70 for those glorious prophetic words. These couldn’t have been the only Israelites who walked with God. They just happen to be the ones we know of.
Admittedly, without Yeshua we are all incomplete; that’s true. But that doesn’t apply just to Hebrews. How come we don’t say someone is a “completed Gentile” when he gets saved? It doesn’t work, does it? So as you can see, I have a philosophical disconnect with the term “completed Jew.” Perhaps a more important aspect of this “complete” issue is to think about “completed faith,” that is that we all “may complete what is lacking in (our) faith”(1 Thes.3:10).
As for you feeling like you’re a Jewish person first, who believes in Yeshua, some believers may see it as being ethno-centric and blasphemous to think of ourselves as Jewish first, then a believer. Being Jewish is the only people group that is a religion, a blood line, a national identity (even if you don’t live in Israel), and an ethnicity and culture (no matter where in the world you live) all bound up together. Even if a Jew assimilates, he still remains a Jew. Having said that, however, Yeshua must be first above every other identity or association. He is primary, central and supreme! And it is within our “Jewishness” that we put Him first and foremost.
Being chosen doesn’t mean more special than anyone else. It means chosen to reveal God in a specific way.
Our Jewishness doesn’t detract from or usurp His position as supreme Lord of all – it confirms it. Being a yielded and committed follower of Yeshua as a Jew validates all that God has said about bringing Israel to Himself through the Messiah in the end days. And it confirms that all else He has promised, including about the Land and the people, will come to pass as He said it would. We’re seeing it happening today as was prophesied: “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.” (Jeremiah 31:35,36). As long as the moon and stars light the sky at night, Israel will always remain identifiable and visible as Israel to the glory and praise of God. And as Jewish believers, we are testimonies to His sovereign power and faithfulness.
Now, I wish to step outside of email answering to speak to you dear readers. The miracle of “one new man” is that the Biblical precepts upon which Israel was established will work in any culture as long as it is walked out in the righteousness God defined through the Hebrews and their Messiah. But holiness is to be walked out the world over, just as Yeshua is to be evidenced in the lives of His people the world over. The Jews may be the “chosen people” but Jews are not better. Remember, “God is not one to show partiality” (Acts 10:34) to people or to people groups. Being chosen doesn’t mean more special than anyone else. It means chosen to reveal God in a specific way. But that’s always true for all who are His. You might want to pray and ask God what His specific purpose is in your own life or cultural identity for His Kingdom purposes. You may be surprised at the answer and how special and “chosen” you are too. We’re all special because we’re His to manifest His presence to others, in the Kingdom or outside, in our own specific and unique ways.
The blessed thing is, Jewish or not, we’re all His. We’re all carriers of His glory! He has chosen us all who are His before the foundation of the world for His purposes so that we would come to know His love. He wants to pour His love all over you, inside and out, whoever you are. His love for you is the same as for us all. His love for each of us is as if we were His only child. There is no competition for His love. There are no favorites. And none of us is without a calling. My prayer is that we will each allow God to lift the limitations off of us that are based on who we are and let Him impart to us Who He truly is. That revelation will release His anointing to fulfill our purposes and callings. This extends to us individually, and the group you identify with. Will you join with me in praying that for yourself and your congregation and for the whole Body of Messiah? Do you think that would go a long way toward God preparing us for the coming of His Son? I would think so.
Find your purpose. He has one for you. Believe that and ask Him to unfold your purpose to you and to prepare you for it. Press in for His anointing. His anointing is the God-given supernatural ability to impact your natural everyday lives with the power and goodness of God. Let Him know continually how much you want His highest will in your life, that you want to know Him as you’ve never known Him before, that you want to be changed by Him so that you are equipped and available for Him to shine His light through you. It’s His anointing you need to be Jesus to others. His highest will for you can manifest in your life so that your life will be unto His glory. Whatever you call Him, or yourself, the important thing – the only vital things is – you’re His! And He loves you. He’s a very big God; expect Him to do big things in your life in this hour in which we live. If not now, when? We have a name – we call ourselves Believers? What are you believing God to do in your life for His Kingdom? Let your life confirm Who He is even on a daily basis. Let your faith be “complete” in Him.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2010.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.