***BE SURE TO READ UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE BELOW***
After attending a Messianic Jewish congregation for nearly a year now, I have been exposed to a few peculiar doctrines that I wanted further clarification on for I was not sure if I was hearing various sentiments correctly. Three different Messianic Jewish ministries the congregation supports have subtly or boldly expressed the concept of all Jewish people are still in covenant with Hashem (God) regardless if they accept Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah or not. This was an instant red flag, nevertheless, I wanted to first verify this is indeed what was being occasionally proclaimed and if so, I wanted an explanation as to how one could come to such conclusions considering Scripture and the Jewish Messiah Himself rejects such connotations.
Upon reaching out to these three different ministries without getting a response, I approached my ‘Torah Club’ teacher, who also is an elder at the Messianic Jewish Congregation I’ve been regularly attending. ‘Torah Club’ is a ministry of First Fruits of Zion, and I found it immensely enriching as I came to learn more about the first five books of the Bible. Truly, while studying the Scriptures in Torah Club, the Holy Spirit blessed me by opening my eyes to so much revelation. I also found my teacher regularly provided additional value by bringing other books and Jewish insight to our class. I respect him as I have found him to be a brilliant teacher with an approachable and likeable demeanor. To his credit, he genuinely attempted numerous times to explain to me the best he could this strange and new-to- me-concept although with little to no Scripture to do so. Being I am a visual learner as well as live over an hour away (one way!) from congregation making it difficult to meet during the week, I inquired if he had articles or knew of video teachings he could guide me to. In hopes of helping me understand, the elder/teacher lent me First Fruits of Zion’s (FFOZ) Summer 2019 publication of Messiah Journal, Issue 134, a recent exclusive membership only publication.
Being hungry for truth and desperate to solve the mystery that has been periodically haunting me for several months, I devoured the journal, reading some of the articles more than once. Surprisingly though, upon reading the articles, I became angry and distressed even to the point of weeping for I could sense an UNholy spirit attempting to deceive undiscerning readers on not just this particular doctrinal point, but another as well (we will save that topic for a later post). One article titled, “Dismantling Replacement Theology” by D Thomas Lancaster defined and thoroughly covered concepts of Replacement Theology and why in the author and FFOZ’s perspective is evil.
“What is replacement theology?”, the author scribes. “It’s the idea that Christians have replaced Jews as God’s people.” Despite already having another red flag in my spirit, I kept reading with an open mind genuinely wanting to hear out his case. After explaining how Replacement Theology indeed teaches a replacement of all things old with all things new (i.e. the New Testament replaces the Old Testament, the Lord’s Day, being Sunday, replaces Sabbath, The Lord’s Supper replaces Passover,etc.), I was thus far mostly in agreement with him until Lancaster penned the following statements a few paragraphs into the article:
“Replacement theology is all about ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ It posits that all these old things were replaced when Jesus came and died and rose from the dead. The good news, the ‘gospel message’, according to replacement theology, is that God has replaced all the old systems with the new system. When stated as succinctly as that, it’s easy to sympathize with Jewish people who reject the gospel. Jews must surely think it puzzling that we would present the New Testament, which ostensibly replaces Judaism and all Jewish religious institutions and functions, as good news for Israel. Where’s the good news in the replacement-theology version of the good news? Israel has been replaced, the Torah has been cancelled, and God’s covenant with the Jewish people is over. Adding insult to the injury, replacement theology posits that Jewish people’s relationship with God has been replaced by a new order and mechanism for salvation, thereby damning most Jews to eternity in hell. Is it really a mystery why most Jewish people are none too excited about this so-called good news?”
While I certainly agree, Jesus/Yeshua did not come to start a new religion considering He too was Jewish and very clearly practiced the commandments found in His Father’s Torah, which isn’t always one and the same as Judaism, He did very succinctly make it clear just because one is physically a descendant of Abraham does not make you by default a child of God, or in Christian lingo ‘saved’, but Jesus/Yeshua does hint at the important spiritual birth of becoming a spiritual descendant of Abraham by doing the works of Abraham, which was faith (Hebrews 11:8-12) as was also expressed by the Apostle Paul.
“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you…If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham…If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God..You are of your father the devil..” Yeshua/Jesus, John 8:37-44 (NKJV)
Earlier in John 8 verses 23-24 (NKJV), Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You are from beneath; I am from the above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.“
Later, in John 14:6 (NLT), Yeshua/Jesus says, ” Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’ ”
So did ‘Replacement Theology’ state Jewish people as well as all other ethnicities cannot enter into covenant with Abba Father except through Jesus, or did Yeshua/Jesus Himself state such truths? Did Jesus say the Pharisees are not of Abraham’s lineage just because they are Jewish or did some theologian come up with that random concept?
Likewise, did the Apostle Paul not express similar concepts when he scribed in Romans 9:6-8 to the Gentile Romans, ‘For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they ALL (my emphasis) children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh (Jewish/Abraham’s physical descent), these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed (spiritually those whose faith is in Yeshua/Jesus.. spiritually born into Israel)”? Again, is this ‘Replacement Theology’ or a teaching of the most successful Apostle of human history inspired by the Holy Spirit?
I found it telling Lancaster provided not one Scriptural proof text that Israel/Jewish people were still in covenant upon Yeshua’s arrival or even after His death and resurrection and yet you find here are loads of Scripture to say otherwise (keep reading). Take note that the Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant loaded with “if/then” terms. For example, “If you obey My voice… then I will…” Conversely, God also clearly states the consequences if THEY break covenant versus other covenants like the Noahide Covenant was NOT conditional based off Noah’s response. There was nothing wrong with the Mosaic Covenant, but Hebrews 8:8 clearly states God “found fault in them“, meaning Israel’s inability to keep covenant by obeying Torah, which is why God provides His Holy Spirit to help those in the new covenant do that which is holy (Romans 7:12, Ezekiel 11:19-21, 36:27; Jeremiah 31:31-33). Please do take the time to dig into the below Scriptures for yourself for the truth will indeed set you free. Likewise, today, in modern times, we too can break up with God by denying Jesus as Messiah or continuing to intentionally sin; hence, why Yeshua says to all the ekklesia/assemblies of the last days, “To he who overcomes, I will give ..” and why Paul warns us in Romans 7, grafted in Gentiles can also be broken off, but he provides hope that it is possible for Jews to be re-grafted in upon believing in Yeshua as Messiah (Genesis 17:14; Exodus 19:5, 32:32-33; Leviticus 26:15,40-42; Deuteronomy 24:1-4/Romans 7:1-6; Deuteronomy 28:1,15, 29:1,9-15, 31:16, 27-29; Psalm 55:20, 69:28; Isaiah 33:8, 50:1; Jeremiah 3, 9:12-16, 11:1-11,15:6,16:10-13, 17:1, 24:4-7, 31:31-33, 33:20; Ezekiel 16:59, 17:15, 44:7, Zechariah 11:10; Luke 8:18; John 8:24, 37-59; Romans 8:28, 11:15-21; Hebrews 8:7-13, 10:26-39; James 5:19-20; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Revelation 2:7,11,17,26, 3:5,12,21, 12:11, 20:15, 21:5-8; 22:14 ).
As if all that wasn’t enough, Lancaster also writes, “A Christian Zionist might say, ‘I don’t teach replacement theology. The Jewish people are still the chosen people, but without Christ, they are still under the law.’ By ‘under the law’ he means lost and going to hell.“
According to the Jewish Messiah, Mr. Lancaster, Jewish people who refuse to accept Jesus as Messiah, WILL die in their sins – that’s not ‘Replacement Theology’, that is the gospel.
Lancaster also writes in the next paragraph, “Any Bible-believing Evangelical might say, ‘Christians don’t replace Jews, but Jews need to come to Christ to be saved.’ How is this not replacement theology? The premise is that unless Jews become Christians, they will be damned.”
Frankly, at this blatant and obvious rejection of the truth of Jesus and the gospel message, I’m starting to question if Mr. Lancaster is even saved for not only does he contradict our Jewish Messiah’s own words and the message of the good news, but he not once defines what HIS definition of the good news is or how it is he comes to believe Jewish people are still in covenant when Scripture says otherwise!
It would seem to me Lancaster and those aligning with this particular heresy are forming their very own Replacement Theology where man’s opinion, man’s doctrine, or traditions, supersedes the plethora of Holy Scriptures that state otherwise: the good news of the gospel. Furthermore, if there was nothing wrong with the Mosaic Covenant made between God and ancient Israel (not to mention those that aligned themselves with Israel) commonly known as the Old Covenant, what is the point of sending a Savior? In other words, if there is nothing needing to be saved from, why a Savior, God? Mr. Lancaster doesn’t seem to believe the Jewish people need a Savior – just the Gentiles need one perhaps? If the Mosaic Covenant between God and Israel is just fine and dandy, why does the law (Deuteronomy 30) and prophets (Jeremiah 31), Yeshua (Matthew 26:28), and the author of Hebrews (7-10) write about a ‘New Covenant’? What is the point of a New/Renewed Covenant if they are still in the original covenant and everything is honky dory? What is the point of offering a personal subscription to the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant if they are walking in an authentic spirit of holiness already? If Jewish people are automatically, by default saved as this article infers in multiple places, why the need for ‘Messianic’ Judaism? Why proselytize the Jewish people for they are God’s elite chosen people perpetually just fine still in covenant with Hashem? Why did Jesus say He came for the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24) if according to THIS theology they aren’t actually lost?
In what may seems like an innocent and convincing attempt to quell Anti-Semitism, while hoping to proselytize Jewish people (since Jewish tradition also teaches Jews are still in covenant), this dangerous doctrine propagates an even more damning unholy Anti-Messiah spirit that will be loving Jews straight to hell by elevating Jewish blood over Yeshua’s spilled atoning blood. Sadly, upon bringing this critical salvation matter to the attention of the elders through proper channels outlined in Matthew 18, and after being exposed multiple times to the pharisaical religious spirit, I was invited to worship elsewhere should I continue to adhere to the truth of at least the gospel itself known to them as ‘Replacement Theology’. Consequently, I will not damn my own soul while leading others to hell with me by denying Yeshua is the ONLY way to the Father.
Please Note: Hopefully, this erroneous doctrine does not plague all of Messianic Judaism, but if you are seeking or attending a Messianic Jewish congregation, I implore you to ‘Call to Abba’ to seek out things which you do not know for we must test everything and be ready to give an account of what we believe and what we align ourselves with (Romans 14:12). ❤
UPDATE January 2020: Upon studying Scripture these delightful Shabbats in January, the Holy Spirit led me to some fascinating and illuminating passages that I suspect may be what some Messianic Jewish ministries may have been referencing regarding God honoring the Abrahamic Covenant by ultimately saving Jews/Israel and bringing back the scattered tribes to the land as promised. While I am still processing various Scriptures found in the prophets and in the New Testament with one another, it appears some genetic descendants of the twelve tribes/Israel (possibly the 144K discussed in Revelation 7 and 14) are indeed gathered like a Second Exodus or what mainstream Christianity would label as “raptured” to the land of Israel in one day (Ezekiel 36:33; Zephaniah 2:7, 3:8-20) and in the process experience being baptized in water and Spirit by the LORD (Ezekiel 36:24-28) like God Himself literally is physically saving them and spiritually saving them in a reversed type of born-again experience. Similarly, Ezekiel 37 reveals Abba Father resurrects all of Israel (Ezekiel 37:11) and does a similar type of reverse born-again experience (Ezekiel 37:13-14) enacting a new and improved covenant with them. Likewise, Jeremiah 30-31 and Zechariah 12-13 seem to express similar if not the same sentiments of genetic Israel being “saved” eventually. Based off the fact that the following chapters of Ezekiel match various chapters and verses in Revelation (i.e compare the birds and beasts eating the deceased/fall of Babylon in Revelation 19:17-18 with Ezekiel 39:17-18), it would appear this Second Exodus and Resurrection usher us into the Messianic Era/Millennial Rule and Reign of Messiah.
In addition to the natural birth children of Israel being miraculously transported to the land of Israel, the adopted, grafted-in children of spiritual Israel (Romans 11; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:11-22) experience the same inheritance described in the New Testament. So it would seem both genetic Jews/Israel and the adopted/spiritual Jews/Israel (formerly known as Gentiles) are circumcised of the heart through the Spirit of Yeshua, the Holy Spirit, but as to how and when is what differs. Nevertheless, they all are blended into one olive tree, one new man, one Family, one kingdom, one nation of priests eventually (Ezekiel 37-48). NOW, I think I understand what my teacher at the Messianic Congregation as well as Mr. Lancaster, of First Fruits of Zion, was trying to explain, but it would have been helpful to go into such details with Scripture. Regardless of our plethora of interpretations and ideologies founded on Scripture, ultimately, Abba decides whom He deems is “Israel” and will have mercy on.
Romans 11:28-36 (NKJV)
28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.