Posted by: celticanglican | June 18, 2007

Do Jews Have to Forsake Their Culture to Become a Christian?

Do Jews Have to Forsake Their Culture to Become a Christian?

I’m not sure if the person asking this question meant cultural heritage or following the 613 Old Testament laws, so I’ll address both.

Acknowledging one’s cultural heritage is not sinful in and of itself. There are those out there who are of Jewish ancestry that identify with the Jewish culture, but don’t follow the religion. I have a friend who was raised Jewish and is now a Lutheran who still indentifies with the Jewish community. However, observing the Jewish laws does present a conflict with Christianity.

Romans 2:11For God does not show favoritism. 12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (NIV)

Those who are under the law of Moses will be judged according to how they followed the Law. Christians are under a new law of grace.

Romans 3:18″There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[1]
19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (NIV)

The Law was intended for God’s chosen people, Israel. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel sinned and returned to God numerous times. Their failure to obey the Law helped show that we can’t save ourselves, that we need a Savior.

Romans 4:12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. 13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. (NIV)

Abraham, one of the most faithful Jews who lived, was saved by his faith. All the great men and women in the Bible who lived before the time of Christ were saved by their faith in God.

Galatians 2:20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (NIV)

I think this verse speaks for itself. If we could do it on our own, there wouldn’t have been any need for Jesus’ sacrifice.

I’ll also note, too, that traditional Jewish teaching regards Jews who convert to Christianity as apostate Jews. A new Christian in this situation may face rejection from their family and friends in some cases. If this is a situation you might encounter, please seek lots of prayer support from other Christians and find a church home if you haven’t already.

With Jesus, all have equal access to God-Jew or Gentile.

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