I can still remember the moment when the locked door was opened. Though the book was imperfect, David Stern's "Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel" contained a very simple idea--an idea that destabilized my own personal Christianity:
Jewish outreach requires opening one's eyes to the valuable, native Jewish context of the Gospel.
In short, true Jewish outreach must change the outreacher.
But, as I said, there are serious flaws in that book. One minute Stern says the Gospel must be separated from its original context so that the spread of the Gospel to other cultures will be "unencumbered":
"...[A]s soon as the early Messianic Jews began reaching out to Gentiles, it was necessary to separate the Gospel from its cultural context, so that its essential message would not be encumbered with cultural baggage unnecessary for salvation," Stern, Messianic Jewish Manifesto, pg. 241.
"What Type IV Evangelism requires is not a Gentilized Gospel contextualized for Jews, but a restoration of the Jewishness which is in fact present in the Gospel but which has become obscured. Moreover, Gentile Christians too need aspects of the Gospel which a restoration of its Jewishness will bring them," Stern, Messianic Jewish Manifesto, pg. 249.
LOCK#1: Law is "Fulfilled"
Yeshua fulfilled the Law (i.e. He completed it, rendering it obsolete. In other words, it's usefulness is at an end).
LOCK#2: We're not "under the Law"
Paul said we're not under the Law but under Grace. To preach the Law is to preach against Grace! (There are of course a number of "problem" Pauline passages but the "under the law" vs. "under grace" dichotomy is emblematic of such passages).
LOCK#3: The Jerusalem Council gives only 4 Laws for Gentiles
Acts 15 says that Gentiles only have to do 4 things. Bottom line: they do not have to become circumcised or keep the Law of Moses. To preach that Gentiles should keep the Torah is to reject the Jerusalem Council's decision in Acts 15!
But, in the life of a Messianic, somewhere in the past, HaShem systematically inserted a key into each lock and turned the key. Here are the 3 keys:
KEY#1: Pleroo doesn't mean "abolish"
Here is the passage at issue:
In conclusion, Christianity took a very clear passage in which Yeshua states that His followers must keep the Torah and locked it up. But once this passage is analyzed logically...CLICK! One lock down. Oh, and by the way, Yeshua also said:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you..." Matthew 28:20KEY#2: Not "under Torah" but rather "within Torah"
Here are three of the main "problem" passages:
"To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law [tois hupo nomon hos hupo nomon] though not being myself under the Law [hupo nomon kerdeso]; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but rather [en-Lawed or "within law'] to Christ [ennomos Christou] so that I might win those who are without law," 1 Cor. 9:20-21
"For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace [ou gar este hupo nomon, all hupo charin]. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace [ouk semen hupo nomon, all hupo charin]? May it never be!" Romans 6:14-15
"But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law [hupo nomon] being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed," Gal. 3:23
"Do we overthrow the law through faith? By no means. On the contrary, we uphold the law," Rom. 3:31
"What shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means," Rom. 7:7
"Thus the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good," Rom. 7:12
Opening the 2 previous locks is not enough. The 3rd lock is one of the sturdiest of all: Acts 15. Christians love to cite to Acts 15 if the discussion gets out of hand. When a Christian refers to the Jerusalem Council decision, he's bringing out the big guns. Because, as everyone knows, Acts 15 is where Gentiles are released from having to keep those awful Jewish laws and, instead, only have to do 4 things (a list which the Christian is unlikely to have memorized and is even more unlikely to have read in the Greek source text).
Here's the reality about Acts 15: