Messianic Apologetics

Addressing the Theological and Spiritual Issues of the Broad Messianic Movement

Apologetics

What is apologetics?

Apologetics is the theological discipline concerned with the defense of the faith.

Messianic Apologetics is widely concerned specifically with defense of the faith in a Messianic context, with a focus on the Scriptures of Israel, the Hebraic and Jewish Roots of the Christian faith, and unique issues and topics which emerge from a wide number of communities and assemblies which bear the label “Messianic.”

The simple, yet complex goal, of Messianic Apologetics–is not just to help today’s Messianic people–but to do the best we can to faciliate stability in an increasingly more difficult and complicated world.

This website has a wide variety of Articles, FAQ entries, and reference tools to help you in your Messianic journey and study of the Holy Scriptures.


The goal and purpose of Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics is to gain a fully Biblical and Messiah-like approach toward our faith, life, and position in the world that desperately needs the good news of salvation in Messiah Yeshua.


THE BIBLE

We fully affirm that the Holy Scriptures or Bible (Genesis—Revelation) comprise the inspired, infallible Word of God as revealed in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. We believe that it is the final authority for faith and practice (Deuteronomy 30:14-16; Psalm 103:20; 105:8; 119:11, 28, 38, 105, 133, 160, 172; Proverbs 30:5; Romans 9:28; 2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 6:17; Philippians 2:16; 2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22-23; 1 Peter 1:25; 1 John 2:5, 14;).

While we certainly employ English Bible translations in our examinations of the Scriptures, these translations are subject to the theological presuppositions of their translators. We believe that a literal, or literal-free translation, is the best method of translation, as opposed to dynamic equivalence which can sometimes skew the text. Ultimately though, final authority rests with the Hebrew and Greek texts. We also affirm the importance and necessity of reading Scripture in its original historical and cultural context.

THE PLURALITY OF GOD

We affirm a belief in one Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, and that He has primarily revealed Himself to humanity in three separate, but unified co-existent manifestations: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). We emphasize that as mortals we cannot fully comprehend the Godhead and how He chooses to manifest Himself to us, although it is evident that God is a plurality. This is clear as the Hebrew word for “God,” Elohim, is plural; and that He is one or echad, denoting a composite, not absolute unity.

THE MESSIAH

We fully affirm the complete Divinity of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), that Yeshua pre-existed the universe and created the universe (John 1:1-3; Philippians 2:5-7; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2-3), that Yeshua is to be worshipped (Mark 5:6-7; Matthew 2:2, 8, 11; Matthew 14:32-33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; Hebrews 1:6), and even though in Yeshua’s human Incarnation the Father is greater than the Son (John 14:28), that the Son is genuinely God (John 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1). We believe that acknowledging Yeshua as Lord, meaning YHWH/YHVH, is mandatory for salvation (Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:10-11). We believe that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18, 20, 23, 25; Luke 1:26-33), and that He is the prophesied Messiah of Israel (John 1:45).

While on Planet Earth Yeshua observed the Torah or Law of Moses perfectly (Matthew 5:17; 22:36-40) becoming our blameless Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). We believe that through His sacrifice He took away the curse of the Law, or eternal damnation, for humanity (Galatians 3:13), thus atoning for all sin. We believe that the Messiah was resurrected on the third day (Matthew 28:6-7; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:34; 2 Timothy 2:8), that He ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:9-11), is presently sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Psalm 110:1; Mark 16:19; Luke 20:42; 22:69; Acts 2:25, 33-44; 5:31; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22), and is awaiting His return to rule for a thousand years from Jerusalem (Matthew 24:29-31; 26:34; Mark 12:36; 13:24-27; 14:62; Revelation 20:4; 6).

SALVATION

We affirm that salvation is a free gift of God available through acknowledging Yeshua the Messiah as Lord (Romans 10:9) through repentance and confession of sin (Luke 5:32; Acts 5:31; Romans 2:4; 10:10; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; 2 Timothy 2:25; 2 Peter 3:9), which results in a person being born again (John 3:3, 7; 1 Peter 1:3, 23) or regenerated by an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Salvation does not come via human action or obeying commandments (Matthew 5:20; John 1:17; Romans 2:12-13, 25; 3:20, 27; 4:14; 8:3; 10:5; Galatians 2:16, 21; 3:2, 11, 21; 5:4; 6:13; Philippians 3:9), but if one is of the faith, then he or she will have “works” (James 2:14-16). The commandments of Scripture define sin (Romans 3:31; 5:13; 6:15; 7:7-9, 12; 8:2; 10:4; Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 7:19; 10:28; James 2:9) and therefore define every person’s guilt.

While a forcefully debated theological issue, we believe that God gives each one of us a free will and choice whether to choose or reject His salvation and to serve Him (Joshua 24:15). All Believers are required to “work out” their salvation (Philippians 2:12), meaning not taking it for granted, and we should all be actively maturing in our walk of faith. We do believe that a person can lose his or her salvation (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-27), but that God is the only One who can make the ultimate determination regarding the eternal destiny of anyone.

We believe that those who receive Yeshua as their personal Savior will spend eternity with Him, whether in Heaven, during His Millennial reign on Planet Earth, or in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

RETRIBUTION

We fully affirm that those who do not repent of their sins and receive Yeshua will spend a conscious eternity in Hell (Deuteronomy 32:22; Job 11:8; 24:19; Psalm 116:3; Isaiah 14:9; Jonah 2:2; Luke 12:5, 16:19-31) and ultimately the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20; 20:10; 15). We totally disavow the belief of an annihilation of the condemned and believe that such a concept is misguided, allowing the unrighteous to experience no sustainable consequence for their sin. Hell and the Lake of Fire must constitute an ongoing, eternal punishment for the damned (Revelation 20:10), not extinction. It is possible, though, that a metaphorical view of eternal punishment more fairly deals with descriptions of both fire and outer darkness (cf. Matthew 8:11-12; 13:41-42; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). This means that eternal punishment may ultimately be considered never-ending banishment, separation, and exile from the presence of the Creator.

THE TORAH

We fully recognize that Yeshua must have observed the Torah or Law of Moses contained in Genesis—Deuteronomy perfectly to be the prophesied Messiah and be sinless (Matthew 5:17; 22:36-40). We believe that through His sacrifice, the Messiah has filled the Torah with His Spirit (Matthew 5:17-20), not annulled it, and has given it greater understanding.

We do not believe that meticulous observance of the Torah is mandatory for salvation (Matthew 5:20; John 1:17; Romans 2:12-13, 25; 3:20, 27; 4:14; 8:3; 10:5; Galatians 2:21; 3:2, 11, 21; 5:4; 6:13; Philippians 3:9), but rather that it is the Torah which has defined sin for humanity (James 2:9; Romans 3:31; 5:13; 6:15; 7:7-9, 12; 8:2; 10:4; Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 7:19; 10:28). By further studying the Torah we can better understand what the Messiah died for and therefore we can enhance our spiritual walk. After salvation, via the enacting of the New Covenant in our lives, with the Holy Spirit supernaturally writing the commandments onto the heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27), we should want to not knowingly break God’s commandments and we should naturally be led into greater obedience (Psalm 1:2; 40:8; 119:92, 174; Romans 7:12; 8:4; 1 Timothy 1:8). The Torah forms the foundation of the entire Bible, and is necessary to understand for properly understanding and interpreting the Prophets, Writings, and Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament). The Torah helps us to understand God’s holiness and character, and thus how we too can be holy (Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:19; Isaiah 8:3; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

We encourage Believers to obey God’s Instruction as they are legitimately able, but most especially as they are genuinely led by His Spirit. Unfortunately, many of those who make a point to call themselves “Torah observant” are not, in fact, genuinely led by the Holy Spirit, being quite legalistic and inflexible, and are not too tempered by the critical commands of love of God and neighbor (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; cf. Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).

THE NAME OF GOD

We affirm that the Almighty God of the Universe has a proper name which in Hebrew is YHWH/YHVH (Exodus 3:15; 6:3; 1 Samuel 24:21; 2 Kings 21:4, 7; 2 Chronicles 33:4; Isaiah 42:8; 52:6; Malachi 1:11, 14), commonly rendered in most English Bibles as “the LORD.” We believe that its exact pronunciation has been lost to antiquity.

In Second Temple Judaism, the verbalization of the name YHWH was reserved only for the high priest on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement (m.Yoma 6:2), and it was not used as a common name. It became common to refer to YHWH by terms such as the Almighty, the Power of Heaven, the Temple, the Kingdom, HaShem (meaning “the Name”), and the ever-common Adonai (Lord) or Elohim (God). It was considered blasphemous in Second Temple times to speak the name YHWH, and it was punishable by death (b.Sanhedrin 56a). We can find no objective evidence in the Apostolic Scriptures that the Messiah or the Apostles ever used the name YHWH, as these writings use the Greek terms Kurios (Lord) and Theos (God), which were employed by the Septuagint translators who rendered the Hebrew Bible into Greek approximately three centuries before Yeshua.

The Third Commandment tells us that we are not to bring God’s name to nothingness, or use it in a profane way (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11). We recognize that there are many Messianics who are discovering that the God of Creation indeed has a proper name, but do not believe that we should use His name casually in respect for Jewish tradition and the fact that we do not know exactly how to say it. We believe that the name YHWH can be used in a scholastic sense, but should not be spoken aloud frequently. We certainly do not believe that it is necessary that one know the name YHWH to be saved, as the God of the Universe looks at the heart of one who is seeking salvation, not whether or not such a person knows how to pronounce His proper name correctly.

We also recognize that the Messiah was fully Hebrew in a First Century context, and that His original name was Yeshua meaning “He saves” or “Savior/Salvation” (Matthew 1:21). The Greek transliteration of Yeshua was Iēsous, originating with the Septuagint Rabbis, and appears as the title for the Book of Joshua in the LXX. The name Iēsous is the name from which the English name Jesus is derived. We totally reject the concept that the Messiah’s English name “Jesus Christ” is pagan because of its Greek linguistic origins. While we encourage use of the Messiah’s original Hebrew name Yeshua, we recognize that many have come to faith through His English name Jesus.

THE PEOPLE OF GOD

We affirm that there exists a universal body of Believers (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:12-13; Ephesians 4:4). The redeemed in Israel’s Messiah compose the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-12) or Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), which incorporates together the physical descendants of the Biblical Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel, today’s Jewish people, and those from the nations. Those who are not physical descendants of Abraham, can claim his promises through faith in Yeshua (Galatians 3:8-9, 16). We certainly believe that God’s promises to Ancient Israel and the contemporary Jewish people are valid and remain in force—including the existence of the State of Israel in fulfillment of Bible prophecy (Isaiah 66:8)—but also that non-Jewish Believers by their faith in the Jewish Messiah are to be regarded as “grafted in” to Israel’s olive tree (Romans 11:17-18). Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua are to constitute a “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15).

While Jewish and non-Jewish Believers do have their distinctions and differences, they also have far more in common than not. Per the prophesied restoration of David’s Tabernacle (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:15-18), the reconstituted Twelve Tribes of Israel will be at the center of this Commonwealth of Israel, yet with enlarged borders and a farther reaching rule to welcome in the righteous of the nations. Non-Jewish Believers in today’s Messianic community, need to be especially called into this unique faith community, in its present phase of development, as they should not only be concerned with being enriched from their faith heritage in Israel’s Scriptures, but to be actively participating in Jewish outreach and evangelism (Romans 11:11, 30-31).

THE LAST DAYS

While recognizing that eschatology is not a salvation issue, we hold to eschatological views consistent with historical pre-millennialism, and we do not hold to amillennial, post-millennial, or preterist eschatology.

We believe that the Messiah will physically return to Earth following the last seven years of Tribulation more accurately called the Seventieth Week of Israel (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19). We believe that during this final time period that a world leader known as the antichrist/antimessiah will arise (Daniel 7:15; Revelation 17:11; 17:13), will demand worship (Revelation 13:15), and will require everyone to receive his mark to conduct trade and commerce (Revelation 13:16-17). We believe that during this time period, the final judgments of God will be poured out on humanity.

We fully affirm in a gathering of the saints into the clouds to meet the Lord (Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:26-27; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) and that Believers will be spared from the wrath of God (Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 16:1). However, we believe that the wrath of God is poured out on a literal Day of the Lord, promoting the idea of a pre-wrath/post-tribulational gathering of the elect, and that ultimately the “wrath” of God is eternal condemnation in the Lake of Fire reserved for the condemned.


A MISSION STATEMENT FOR MESSIANIC JUDAISM

Today’s Messianic Jewish community has the widescale conviction that it composes “the end-time move of God.” This is based in the Biblical conviction that it is actively involved in the salvation-historical trajectory of “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). A massive salvation of Jewish people is to be regarded as “life from the dead” (Romans 11:15). Given the Apostle Paul’s magnanimous burden of the salvation of his kinsfolk—“I would pray that I myself were cursed, banished from Messiah for the sake of my people—my own flesh and blood” (Romans 9:3, TLV)—everything that today’s Messianic movement does, should be with the expressed purpose of trying to enhance the mission of Jewish outreach and evangelism! Today’s Messianic movement was specifically raised up by the Lord to proclaim the good news of Israel’s Messiah to the Jewish community, and emphasize that they do not have to assimilate into a much wider non-Jewish Christianity to properly express faith in Him.

Many non-Jewish Believers, with a sincere and genuine love for the people and Scriptures of Israel, have been legitimately called by the Lord to be active participants and co-laborers in the salvation of Israel, along with Messianic Jewish Believers. Many of these people are to be regarded as modern-day Ruths, whose loyalty to Messianic Judaism is steadfast to the point of dying with their Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters (Ruth 1:16-17). They have a distinct role to play, in provoking non-believing Jewish people to Messiah faith (Romans 11:11). More importantly, as Jewish and non-Jewish people come together in a special and unique unity, in Messiah Yeshua, they should be representing the “one new man/humanity” (Ephesians 2:15)—a testimony and snapshot of the greater redemption to come to the cosmos in the eschaton (Ephesians 1:10).

IMPLEMENTATION OF MISSION STATEMENT

The above mission statement is hardly the end-all of what the contemporary Messianic experience in North America involves. Yet, it should be a useful starting place for me (J.K. McKee), in my various ministry activities, for people to know what I will be trying to focus my energies around. As the events of 2020 have demonstrated, as the “end-time move of God,” we do not have endless time or resources, as we have likely made a wide leap or two toward the return of the Messiah. I am going to see that this mission statement be integrated into my local ministry outreach, teachings, writings, and likely also broadcasts/podcasts. It will be used as a focal point to explain what I have been called to participate in as a Messianic teacher, and hopefully also get those I encounter (who statistically are more likely going to be non-Jewish than Jewish) consider what degree the Lord may be calling them to participate in the Messianic Jewish movement.

This mission statement stresses that the primary role of the Messianic Jewish movement is promoting Jewish outreach and evangelism, but it also welcomes in non-Jewish Believers genuinely led by the Holy Spirit into the Messianic movement. Questions that will come from the mission statement, are naturally:

  • What are the different components of Jewish outreach and evangelism which have been effectual since the birth of modern Messianic Judaism?
  • How do you get non-Jewish Believers on board, as co-laborers and participants in the Messianic mission, as they acclimate to being involved with Messianic Jewish Believers and Jewish non-Believers?
  • What are the things that we have already seen taking place in today’s Messianic movement, and how do we build upon and adapt them for an increasingly post-modern American Jewish community?

The biggest issue that I foresee involving Jewish outreach and evangelism, is how we can better reach the Millennial generation, and respond to the issues and questions which matter to the Millennial generation. Some of these matters are already widely known and openly discussed in many evangelical venues, as they may involve young people sorting through LGBTQ matters, or perspective issues surrounding Genesis 1-11 and human origins. I suspect that in dealing with a relatively progressive and younger American Jewish community, that some of the traditional resistance to Yeshua of Nazareth from encountering the Messianic Scriptures (NT), is going to give way to more of a resistance to God and the Bible. While the ministry outreaches of today’s Messianic Jewish movement rightly tend to stress a familiarity with Messianic prophecy, a knowledge of Christian anti-Semitism and offensive religious terms (i.e., cross), and a long-term patience in developing trust with Jewish people—the future is doubtlessly going to involve more engagement with post-modern issues and matters of Biblical reliability. The mission statement I have composed attempts to surely be compatible with what has been witnessed in the previous Messianic Jewish experience up to 2020, but also be able to integrate more into the potential portfolio of our theology and spirituality, improving our effectiveness in Jewish ministry.


ABOUT THE EDITOR

Wesley’s Chapel, London, July 2008

John Kimball McKee is an integral part of Outreach Israel Ministries, and serves as the editor of Messianic Apologetics. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma (Class of 2003) with a B.A. in political science, and holds an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary (Class of 2009). He is a 2009 recipient of the Zondervan Biblical Languages Award for Greek. John has held memberships in the Evangelical Theological Society, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and Christians for Biblical Equality, and is a longtime supporter of the perspectives and views of the Creationist ministry of Reasons to Believe. In 2019, John was licensed as a Messianic Teacher with the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS).

Since the 1990s, John’s ministry has capitalized on the Internet’s ability to reach people all over this planet. He has spoken with challenging and probing articles to a wide Messianic audience, and those evangelical Believers who are interested in Messianic things. Given his generational family background in evangelical ministry, as well as in academics and the military, John carries a strong burden to assist in the development and maturation of our emerging Messianic theology and spirituality. John has had the profound opportunity since 1997 to engage many in dialogue, so that they will consider the questions he postulates, as his only agenda is to be as Scripturally sound as possible. John believes in demonstrating a great deal of honor and respect to both his evangelical Protestant, Wesleyan and Reformed family background, as well as to the Jewish Synagogue, and together allowing the strengths and virtues of our Judeo-Protestant heritage to be employed for the Lord’s plan for the Messianic movement in the long term future.

J.K. McKee is the son of the late K. Kimball McKee (1951-1992) and Margaret Jeffries McKee Huey (1953-), and stepson of William Mark Huey (1951-), who married his mother in 1994, and who is the executive director of Outreach Israel Ministries. Mark Huey is the Director of Partner Relations for the Joseph Project, a ministry of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA).

John has a very strong appreciation for those who have preceded him. His father, Kimball McKee, was a licensed lay minister in the Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church, and was a very strong evangelical Believer, most appreciable of the Jewish Roots of the faith. Among his many ministry pursuits, Kim brought the Passover seder to Christ United Methodist Church in Florence, KY, was a Sunday school teacher, and was extremely active in the Walk to Emmaus, leading the first men’s walk in Madras, India in 1991. John is the grandson of the late Prof. William W. Jeffries (1914-1989; CDR USN WWII), who served as a professor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD from 1942-1989, notably as the museum director and founder of what is now the William W. Jeffries Memorial Archives in the Nimitz Library. John is the great-grandson of Bishop Marvin A. Franklin (1894-1972), who served as a minister and bishop of the Methodist Church, throughout his ministry serving churches in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Bishop Franklin was President of the Council of Bishops from 1959-1960. John is also the first cousin twice removed of the late Charles L. Allen (1913-2005), formerly the senior pastor of Grace Methodist Church of Atlanta, GA and First Methodist Church of Houston, TX, and author of numerous books, notably including God’s Psychiatry. John can also count among his ancestors, Lt. Colonel, By Brevet, Dr. James Cooper McKee (1830-1897), a Union veteran of the U.S. Civil War and significant contributor to the medical science of his generation.

J.K. McKee is a native of the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati, OH area. He has also lived in Dallas, TX, Norman, OK, Kissimmee-St. Cloud, FL, and Roatán, Honduras, Central America. He presently resides in McKinney, TX, just north of Dallas.


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