Shalom in His grace!
I hope and pray this letter finds you healthy, safe, and filled with His joy.
I continue to believe that sharing the gospel with everyone should be our greatest priority in life! My personal burden, and the focus of Chosen People Ministries, is reaching Jewish people for Jesus. But, as surprising as this might be, we actually lead as many or more Gentiles to the Lord as we do Jewish people every year!
Yet my heart’s greatest desire is to see my own Jewish people accept Jesus and receive the gift of everlasting life!
It is essential to ask the question, “If Jewish people number only 15 million among almost 8 billion people on earth, why is Jewish evangelism so essential and urgent?”
As the leader of a traditional mission to the Jewish people, I believe Jewish people must accept Jesus to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:16–17; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
I do not believe a Jewish person or a Gentile can satisfy God’s demands for righteousness through his or her merit or good works (Galatians 2:15–16; 3:23–25; Romans 10:2ff.). According to the Apostle Paul in the early chapters of Romans, we must all put our faith and trust in God’s Son, who died and rose for our sins.
THE BIBLICAL MANDATE TO EVANGELIZE JEWISH PEOPLE
(ROMANS 1:16 AND ROMANS 9–11)
The following two passages, in particular, provide a sound biblical basis for the urgency of Jewish evangelism.
The Apostle Paul expressed it this way, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Franz Delitzsch, the well-known Old Testament scholar, wrote, “For the church to evangelize the world without thinking of the Jews, is like a bird trying to fly with one broken wing.”
Of course, Paul was not suggesting that the Roman believers withhold the gospel from the Gentiles until every Jewish person in the world hears the good news. Neither was he implying that the gospel has already come to the Jewish people first, therefore, preaching the gospel to the “Jew first” no longer has any application in 2020. Paul wrote Romans 1:16 in the present tense. So follow the logic of the text with me: If the gospel is still the power of God “for” salvation and is still for “everyone who believes,” then the gospel is still “to the Jew first.”
Paul used the same Greek word for “first” that Matthew used in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus reminded us, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness….” The kingdom of God should always be a priority in our lives, even as we pursue other vital life issues. Similarly, reaching Jewish people with the gospel should be a priority for all who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior.
Wherever Paul, the Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles, traveled in his ministry, he always first preached the gospel to the Jewish people living in that area (Acts 13:13–52; 14:1–5; 18:7–11; 19:8–10), which is why he usually began his ministry by preaching in the local synagogues. The salvation of the Jewish people was an ever-present burden for Paul, and his actions in the book of Acts reveal his understanding of what he wrote in Romans 1:16.
But there is more!
ROMANS 9 –11
In Romans 9–11, Paul pointed out some critical insights about the Jewish people and Jewish evangelism. For example, in Romans 9:1–3, we learn of Paul’s burden for the Jewish people; he expressed his willingness to give up his salvation if it meant that Jewish people might enter the kingdom of God. Romans 10:1–3 describes his heartfelt prayers for his people. In chapter 11, Paul concluded that God has not rejected the Jewish people—there is hope for the salvation of individual Jewish people in the present age and nationally at the end of days.
His first line of argumentation for God’s continued faithfulness to the Jewish people was that he—Paul—was Jewish! Paul was living evidence of God’s faithfulness. I, too, am a Jewish believer in Jesus, and there is a remnant of Jews today who are accepting the gift of salvation in Jesus the Messiah!
The work of Your Mission to the Jewish People can be summarized this way: We are Jewish and Gentile believers searching for the promised remnant the Lord has prepared among the Jewish people. We continue this ministry in the United States, Israel, Europe, South America, and in nineteen countries worldwide! I am a part of the remnant of Jewish believers looking for the others!
THE REMNANT TODAY
There is a remnant today as there was in the Old Testament period, as evidenced by Paul’s recounting the story in 1 Kings 18. God revealed to Elijah that 7,000 other men did not bow the knee to Ba’al. This group remained faithful to the God of Israel. Paul concluded that a remnant existed among the Jewish people of his day who, like himself, received Jesus as Lord (Romans 11:5). Messianic Jews today are God’s signposts of His faithfulness and power to save.
JEWISH EVANGELISM AND YOU
The task of reaching this remnant is also a mandate for the church. In Romans 11:11, Paul specifically called upon Gentile members in the body of Christ to make Jewish people jealous with the gospel message. Ultimately, that jealousy would drive the nation to Jesus, as detailed in Romans 11:25–26.
The link between Israel’s salvation and the Messiah’s return is perhaps a mystery, but true nonetheless. This relationship is spelled out in the book of Zechariah from chapter 12 through chapter 14, where we see the connection between the Lord’s return and the repentance and return of the Jewish end-time remnant.
This connection might even explain why Paul gladly accepted the mantle of apostle to the Gentiles, knowing that the salvation of the Gentiles would lead to the salvation of the Jewish remnant, which, in turn, would lead to the glorious consummation of all things!
The practical implications of these few thoughts are clear. The Gentiles within the body of Messiah have a calling to reach Jewish people for Jesus. As a 126-year-old mission to the Jewish people, Chosen People Ministries is happy to equip and train our brothers and sisters to accomplish this prophetic work.
It is part of our organizational mission statement: “Chosen People Ministries exists to pray for, evangelize, disciple, and serve Jewish people everywhere and to help fellow believers do the same.”
We accomplish this mission by encouraging, providing materials and resources, and building strategic bridges with the larger body of Messiah to fulfill this mandate in the twenty-first century.
One of our staff recently spoke to a Jewish man:
When he started reading Isaiah 53, he asked me who it was about. I said, “Who do you think it is about?” He responded, “Jesus.” Then I pointed out that it was written 700 years before Jesus was born. He said he was “blown away.”
Critical Jewish areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, and Israel are still facing difficult circumstances as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Our hearts break, as Paul’s did, for the salvation of our Jewish people. So many elderly Jewish people, including Holocaust survivors in Israel, are frightened and looking for answers. We know that there is only one answer to the problems and challenges of life, whether it be poor health, the loneliness of old age, or economic instability. Many Jewish people today are also concerned about change and the apparent frailty and instability of life.
We have a golden opportunity to reach Jewish people with the gospel. NOW is the time, and because of our success online, we are talking to thousands of Jewish people about Jesus. We try to visit and minister personally when able, but if not, our missionaries are now all adept at making significant online and phone connections with Jewish people.
Once again, we consider the words of that great Jewish apostle to the Gentiles, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation” (Romans 10:1).