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JEWISH EVANGELISM AND DISCIPLESHIP
Article 9 of 13:
ENCOURAGING GENTILE BELIEVERS
TO REACH OUT TO JEWISH PEOPLE
by Sam Nadler
Paul wrote to his Gentile friends in Rome,
|But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. (Romans 11:13-14)|
Let's look closer at Paul's strategy for reaching all people, Jews and Gentiles, for Messiah.
You Who Are Gentiles...
But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Though they were believers in Messiah they were still Gentiles, just as Jews that believe in Yeshua are still Jews. There is nothing to boast of in the flesh for anyone. It is Yeshua who is our righteousness before God. But Paul meant to especially encourage Gentile believers in reaching out to the Jewish people. We too want to encourage, train and work alongside Gentile believers as we reach out with the Good News. At Word of Messiah Ministries, our materials are meant to further enable all believers to effectively share the message of Messiah.
I Magnify My Ministry
Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry. Paul’s reaching out to Jewish people magnified his ministry among the Gentiles. The point is, that by reaching Jews, not neglecting them, he increased his ministry to Gentiles. Paul’s concern for the Jewish people demonstrates the faithfulness of God (11:1). God forbid that one would think Paul’s ministry to Gentiles was a sign of God's rejection of Israel! Rather, Paul’s desire and devotion to bring the Good News to the Gentiles was hoped to have the additional result of making Jewish people jealous and desirous of the blessings in Messiah that the Gentiles would evidently enjoy. So, even if like Paul, you are called to Gentile ministry, you will not hurt your work, but rather magnify your work by reaching out to Jewish people where you are.
By Any Means
If by any means I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. This first phrase (also translated if somehow) communicated Paul's deep desire and sense of urgency. By saying if by any means Paul also indicates the various creative methods he was using to reach out to the Jewish people depending on the circumstance of the ministry. In Pisidian Antioch Paul sat in the synagogue and waited to be called upon to speak before saying anything (Acts 13:14-15). Elsewhere, he initiated action and boldly preached in the market places to anyone that happened to be present (Acts 17:17). There were no printing presses, Gospel tracts, radios, TV or the internet so he reached the crowds as best he could. In Ephesus he taught both publicly and house-to-house (Acts 20:20).
In general, Paul made himself to be as a servant to all… that unto the Jews he became as a Jew, to those under the Law as under the Law… that he might be a partaker of the Good News (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Recently a Gentile believer wrote regarding how she might more effectively share her faith. I wrote back, “Try wearing a Jewish Star at work when around Jewish friends. When you are asked about it you'll have opportunity to explain that your Savior is Jewish! You'll be able to further share that the hope, forgiveness and joy you experience is because of the Jewish Savior of the world!” In fact, this is the very idea that Paul had regarding the Gentile approach to the Jewish people. He says in Romans 11:11, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make (Israel) jealous. The idea that the God of Israel has brought salvation in the Jewish Messiah to the Gentiles should provoke the Jewish people to jealousy saying, “Hey, those blessings should be ours!” Yes, they should be, because they are the blessings of Abraham that have come to the Gentiles by faith in Messiah Yeshua, who is the very seed of the promise (Galatians 3:14, 16).
That Some Might Be Saved
This approach of Paul's provides the pattern of outreach to the Jewish people for Word of Messiah Ministries as well. After I had the opportunity to write an article for the Charlotte Observer (“Who Are These Messianic Jews?”), we received many responses. Her response was one of them:
|Hi Sam. I enjoyed your article in the Observer. Could you please send me some info regarding Messianic Judaism? I am a Reform Jew and have always felt in my heart that Jesus was probably the Messiah. Thanks for helping quench my thirst on the subject. Molly*|
In previous editions of the Shmooze Letter, we have reported on encounters with people at concerts, downtown tract distribution, holiday outreaches, and personal meetings and visits. We must do whatever it takes to reach out to the Jewish community with the Great News of Messiah. If one approach doesn't work (or even if it does), we try another and another, even being all things to all men, as a Jew unto the Jews that some might be saved.
Culture, Compromise, or Creative Evangelism?
Many congregations and churches are concerned that by adjusting their cultural expression, they will be compromising their commitment to biblical truth in an effort to effectively communicate to the present generation. One concern is that changing the music from old hymns to a more contemporary style will seemingly validate “all that is wrong with the present generation.” Of course, many forget that some of the old hymns were 'adaptations' of saloon songs of their day. I do understand, though. We should never compromise the truth of Scripture or “water down the Gospel” merely to make it more appealing to people.
On the other hand, the God of Creation is still quite able to give us creative and effective ideas to communicate His truth without diminishing it. I am convinced that if Yeshua was able, through the Incarnation, to come in the likeness of sinful flesh without compromising His holiness, righteousness, and love, then, like Paul, we too can communicate the truth of Messiah without compromising Biblical values (Romans 8:3, Philippians 2:5-8). The problem arises, however, if we have confused our cultural expression with the truth itself, and end up defending our culture rather than the faith. We must ask ourselves if we love our familiar cultural expressions and conveniences more than the Word of God, and the lost for whom He died (John 3:16).
Let us do what we can, to reach all we can while we can. If necessary, set aside old formulas from a past generation if they no longer effectively communicate, not allowing traditions of men to replace the truth of God (Matthew 15:1-9). Let us along with Paul say, If by any means I may move to jealousy the Jewish people and save some of them.
Please pray for Word of Messiah Ministries and the congregations we are helping to plant, as we reach out with the Great News around the world to both the Jew first and also to the Gentile!
*The name has been changed to protect the individual's privacy.
Links to prior studies in the Jewish Evangelism
and Discipleship series may found in our Library
Sam Nadler is director of Word of Messiah Ministries in Charlotte, N.C. This article is reprinted
from Word of Messiah's website with permission, and may be viewed in its original
form at http://www.wordofmessiah.org/july_1.htm. Many other fine articles
and other features may be found at Word of Messiah. Thank you, Sam.
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