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The Church - Jewish Roots?

Jewish Roots? 


Is the church really rooted in Judaism as some claim today? 

Was the Christ-centered faith the child of Judaism, or did it precede Judaism? 


It all depends of what “church” you are talking about! 


God’s true church was first established in Eden, not at Pentecost! Adam and Eve were its first members. Later, Abraham received the church’s first constitution, which simply read, 

Abram believed the Lord, and He credited to him as righteousness. Rom. 4:3. Gen. 15:6. 


The New Testament confirms that this requirement for God’s true church has never changed! 


If we think of “church” as a formal organization with a fixed address or location, then that “church” had its beginnings about the end of the 3rd century AD. Christians took on the framework of organization in order to be recognized by the secular Roman authorities. The early church has no such secularly recognized organization, nor were they fixated on buildings. 


“Church” is an English word that first appeared in Scripture when the Bible was translated into the English language. In the Old Testament, God’s true servants, who were scattered throughout Israel, were simply known as the “Remnant,” or the “household of faith.” In New Testament times these “Called out ones,” or “People of the way,” were known as the “Ekklesia” in the Greek language. Historically, we find that the Remnant, or Ekklesia, were terms that referred to what we today call the “church.” Thus, the true “church” pre-dated Pentecost! 


Religion always contained two opposing elements. God’s true followers (church) were always a minority among those who were called to be God’s people. When Elijah could not see one other person to stand with him, and complained to God that He was about to lose His last follower, God informed him that He still had a remnant of seven thousand believers who had not bowed the knee to Baal. What church did they belong to, and how did they keep their faith alive? 


Israel’s history was plagued by unfaithfulness and compromise. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and other prophets all called on a Remnant, who were the true church of the day, to resist the apostasy of the visible religious establishment. God always distinguished between His faithful remnant, and secularized Israel. 


Some theologians erroneously teach that the true church had its origin in the days of the apostles. Such teachers are either blind to church history, or else are seeking accommodation with the world for political reasons. Jesus and the apostles simply broke open the prison gates and catapulted the hidden REMNANT, the true church, into world view for the first time in centuries. Then, at Pentecost, this revitalized Remnant, the true church, was empowered by the Holy Spirit to take the message of the original church, and its constitution of Righteousness by Faith, to a dying world. 


God had a “remnant of believers,” scattered throughout the world long before Judaism was ever conceived of. These were His representatives, or true church. These true believers seldom, if ever, had a government recognized organization, and they seldom had the protection of the religious authorities, or the visible “church.” Jesus saw His true followers as sheep scattered without a faithful shepherd. Matthew 9:36. Yet these were His true flock, Ekklesia, or “church” in the English language. Remember, originally the real church was not a structured body under human control! 


The present effort by Evangelicals to blend the Christ-centered faith with Judaism is born either out of ignorance of history, or political expediency. A simple reading of the books of Romans, 

Ephesians and Galatians shows that the Christ-centered faith, or the true church, as we call it today, could not possibly be rooted in Judaism. When this idea was being promoted in Paul’s time, he condemned such a thought in the most specific terms. 

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?…I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galatians 3:1-3. 


In the following verses Paul goes on to contrast the irreconcilable difference between Judaism and the Christ-centered faith. In addition, by pointing his readers to the original constitution of Righteousness by Faith that God had given to Abraham, he shows that the New Testament Church that is founded on the same constitution, is a continuation of the Old Testament Fellowship of believers. Hebrews chapter eleven, gives us a partial list of original members of God’s Old Testament church. That is the church that Jesus came to redeem, and that He revitalized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Remember that the first members of the New Testament church came from among the faithful in the Old Testament system or “church.” 


Paul then goes on, in verses 15-20 of chapter 3, to state unequivocally, that the Law, or constitution, later given to the Jews at Sinai could never become part of the original plan God had given to Abraham because it came 430 years too late for inclusion. Furthermore, he makes clear, that the nature of the Sinai contract was not compatible with the foundation God had given to Abraham. Then, in verse 19, Paul states that the law given to the Jews was a temporary measure, solely for the benefit of Israel, and was to last only, 

“until the Seed (Christ) to whom the promise referred had come.” 


Jesus personally verified the temporary nature of the Sinai Constitution when He said that, 

“The Law and the Prophets prophesied until John.” Matthew 11:13. 


Genesis was an era of grace. From Exodus to the cross was an era where the covenant of grace given to Abraham and the Sinai Covenant of works co-existed. Israel had a choice. Most chose to struggle with the Sinai laws while the remnant, like David and the prophets, focused on the grace of God and the coming Redeemer. The Old Testament record is preserved that we might not repeat Israel’s mistakes by confusing the two covenants and missing the mark. Romans 15:4. 


In the light of such specific instruction, how can any sincere teacher of Scripture even suggest that the roots of the true church are in Judaism? To understand what Jesus meant we must understand the history of God’s people from Genesis to the present day. 



In summary - Where is the church rooted? 


1. From Genesis to the Exodus, people communed with God directly. No human mediator 

was needed. Enoch, Noah and Abraham etc. all knew God by personal experience. 


2. From Exodus to the cross, the visible “church” (Judaism) relied on human mediators. 


3. At Pentecost the original church was revitalized by a new infusion of the Holy Spirit, and empowered to come out of hiding and to take the world by storm. These were the Melchizedek, or Royal priesthood of believers, among whom there was no priest-laity distinction. 1 Peter 2:9. 


4. How can Judaism that denies the Messiah produce a Christ-centered faith? 


5. Where are my roots, in Christ, or in a religious system? They can’t be in both! 

See John 15:1,5. Colossians 2:7. Revelation 1:8. 22:16. 


The true church is rooted in Jesus Christ, and not in a religion that denies the Messiah. 


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