Can you help me understand why the Jews need to be evangelized if they are God’s chosen people and believe in Yahweh?”
The question was rather strange coming from a pastor admittedly committed to the theological position that there is no salvation outside of Christ’s atonement.
The pastor went on to explain to our missionary speaker that he was a close friend to the rabbis in his community. One rabbi in particular claimed to enjoy a very personal relationship with God, even though he did not believe in Jesus.
The pastor had also attended some Holocaust Remembrance events at the local temple. These had left him with a heavy sense of guilt for atrocities perpetrated upon the Jewish people, sometimes in the name of Christ. He expressed feelings of shame for trying to tell Jewish people about Jesus after they had suffered so much at the hands of Gentiles.
“Can you explain your perspective as a Jewish believer on all this?” he asked.
He was sincere in his question. He was not seeking an excuse not to witness to the Jewish people. Rather, he was looking for motivation to do what he knew from Scripture was right.
Our missionary began with a bold shocker: Christians who will not share the message of salvation in Christ with Jewish people are worse than the Nazis of World War II. The Nazis destroyed Jewish lives in the death camp ovens, but those who refuse to give them the gospel are allowing them to face fiery eternal judgment without their Messiah.
She further explained that as believers in Christ, it is not our job to defend years of injustice perpetrated in his name, nor to discuss the superiority of one religious system over another. We must always focus on the real issues: Who is Jesus, and is the gospel message true?
Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. He offered proof by coming back from the dead. Terrible deeds done in his name do not negate the reality of the empty tomb. And if Jesus’ resurrection validates his claim of Messiahship, then everything that he taught about sin and the human need for a sin-bearer (himself) is also true.
When Jesus said, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6b), he was talking to Jews. When he said, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father; if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also” (John 8:19b) and “…if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24b), he was talking to the most religious Jews of his day. To die in their sins meant to pay the penalty of sin themselves, since they refused to accept God’s provision for their atonement.
As did the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, Jewish people today who do not believe in Jesus also may claim to know God. But something is missing. We must gently and lovingly let them know that in light of the Scriptures, they are deceiving themselves. No one can have a full relationship with God without knowing his Son, Jesus.
Paul, also a Jew, said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
In Romans 2:29 he taught: “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
To be a Jew in God’s sight, one must be a biblical Jew, i.e., one who is sealed inwardly with God’s Holy Spirit, having accepted the Jewish Messiah according to Scripture. Modern Judaism is not biblical Judaism. Therefore it cannot bring a person into a saving knowledge and relationship with God. He “calls the shots” in this life, and he has the right to do so.
If Jesus is the Jewish Messiah promised by the prophets, then all Jews must accept him in order to be right with God. There is no other way, and we who know him are remiss if we do not tell them.