New believers in Yeshua often face a bewildering array of questions about their new faith—and may not know where to turn for answers. Author Ruth Rosen has written an effective discipleship manual particularly suited for new Jewish believers in Jesus, called Following Yeshua. This attractive wire-bound book encourages a new believer to dig into the Scriptures to learn about the surpassing gift of eternal life through salvation in Messiah Jesus. Every chapter begins with a Scripture verse for memorization and an insightful question that any Jewish believer could appreciate. Questions are addressed briefly as a teacher might respond to a student, followed by a number of questions referring to a biblical text. Readers are directed to check the Scriptures themselves and write out their answers in the ample writing space that’s provided.
Following Yeshua contains twelve chapters exploring the role of a disciple, salvation and assurance, spiritual opposition, the importance of knowing God and obeying Him, baptism, Bible study, prayer, witnessing, fellowship/worship in a local congregation, and giving. These topics are comprehensive, and Ms. Rosen does a credible job directing new believers to search the Scriptures for themselves as they wrestle through complex issues. The addition of six appendices makes this little volume even more valuable to a new Jewish believer. The reader can explore a Jewish perspective on the Trinity, a comparison of law and grace, and is challenged to consider what it means to be “called” by God. A calendar for reading the Bible in one year is also included.
Following Yeshua is a well-written, effective means to aid in the vital process of discipleship of new Christians. Gentiles will be encouraged in their understanding of the Jewish roots of Christianity, and both Jewish and Gentile believers will be affirmed and strengthened in their commitment to following the Messiah of Israel.
If there is one area in which this discipleship journal could have been strengthened, it is by a more developed usage of the word “sin.” The Scriptures tell us, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2), and commands us to “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us…” (Hebrews 12:1). Although the book does use the word “sin,” the repeated use of phrases such as “natural tendency” when referring to the effect of sin in our lives (chapter six) tends to “de-spiritualize” and obscure this all-pervasive root of our problems.
The concept of sin, and even the word “sin,” is often avoided within the believing community for fear of turning people off. The tragic result is that the sufficiency of the Gospel is undermined, ungodly solutions to life’s problems are substituted, and believers fail to grow to Messiah-like maturity. The author of Following Yeshua does not fall into this trap, but her choice of terms could result in a weak understanding of this critical doctrine in the mind of the new believer. When we are careful to use the Bible’s own words to describe spiritual reality, the more glorious the Gospel of new life in Messiah Jesus becomes in our sight.
Following Yeshua is ideal for one-on-one discipleship of Jewish believers as well as for a small class of new believers. Jews for Jesus has made yet another significant contribution to the Body of Messiah through its publication.