Art

Why The Pretribulation Rapture is Sound Doctrine: A Response to Not Afraid Of The Antichrist, Why We Don’t Believe In A Pre-Tribulation Rapture by Michael L. Brown and Craig S. Keener

There is a new book out, written by two well known Biblical scholars.  Its thesis is that there is no solid Biblical evidence for a Pretribulation Rapture.  The book’s title is Not Afraid of the Antichrist, Why We Do Not Believe in a Pretribulation Rapture.

The authors are Dr. Michael L. Brown and Dr. Craig S. Keener.  They both have impeccable academic credentials and there is no doubt in my mind that they are both very serious and committed believers in Yeshua the Messiah.  I’ve met Dr. Brown and as a Jewish believer in Jesus I’m personally grateful to him for his five volume work Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus.  It is an incredible resource and I have referred to it many times over the years.  In addition, several years ago, Dr. Brown made himself available at my request, following the premature death of a prominent member of Charleston’s Jewish community, to address a gathering at The Center for Jewish Studies of The College of Charleston to explain what the Scriptures say about death.  Unfortunately an invitation for Dr. Brown to speak at this gathering was not extended by The College but I was and am very grateful that he was willing to come to South Carolina even on short notice.

However, I do not agree with the thesis of  Not Afraid and that is the reason for this series of blog posts.  Not Afraid does not make the case that there is no solid Biblical evidence for The Pretribulation Rapture of the Church.

Before we get into the details of the arguments presented in this response we need to define certain terms.

Definition of Terms

 I will refer to the seven year tribulation as The Tribulation.  This period of time is the same as Daniel’s 70th week.  The second half of this 7 year period begins with the abomination of desolation.  It is 3.5 years long.  As many authors do I will refer to this second half of Daniel’s 70th week as The Great Tribulation or The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.  The Great Tribulation and The Time of Jacob’s Trouble are different names for the same period of time.  When I am referring to tribulation that does not involve The Tribulation or The Great Tribulation I will use the term tribulation with no capitalization.

In this response to Not Afraid of the Antichrist, Why We Do Not Believe in a Pretribulation Rapture I will use Not Afraid to refer to the book instead of the entire book title.  When I am quoting from portions of Not Afraid, whether written by Dr. Brown or written by Dr. Keener, I will simply identify Not Afraid as the source of the quote and the quoted text will be in italics.

Not Afraid states that not a single Bible text explicitly affirms the The Pretribulation Rapture.  Here is a quote from Not Afraid: 

Since explicit biblical justification for pre-Tribulational claims is missing, the best that pre-Tribulationalism can do is construct secondary arguments for why the doctrine is true even though not a single text explicitly affirms it.

Brown, Michael L. Not Afraid of the Antichrist (p. 36). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Not Afraid also has other objections to The Pretribulation Rapture and we will cover the major ones in subsequent posts.  But in this post we will address the objection that there is no explicit biblical justification for pre-Tribulational claims.  

Please bear with me as I tell you a few things that I learned in my 46 years of practicing medicine that are relevant to this discussion.  My specialty was diagnosis.  How does one make the correct diagnosis for a particular patient?  It’s important that we have some knowledge of that because the way we deal with uncertainties in making the right diagnosis for a patient with a medical problem  is similar to the way we deal with uncertainties in interpreting Bible  prophecies involving end time events such as The Pretribulation Rapture.

Let me give you an example of a very common medical situation.  A 60 year old man comes to the emergency room with severe pain in the center of his chest that began 30 minutes before he arrived.  He feels as if there is an elephant sitting on his chest.  The ER doctor immediately considers a diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).  An EKG is performed and shows the classic signs of an acute myocardial infarction.  Blood tests for cardiac enzymes are abnormal and the pattern of abnormality is specific for an acute myocardial infarction.  The clinical picture, the abnormal EKG, and the abnormal cardiac enzymes rule in an acute myocardial infarction.  Because this condition is the result of an acute occlusion or blockage of a coronary artery, an attempt to restore blood flow must be made immediately.  A cardiologist is consulted and takes the patient to the heart catheterization laboratory to determine if the patient needs a coronary artery stent or possibly even bypass surgery to restore blood flow to the area of blood-deprived heart muscle.  The diagnosis, acute myocardial infarction, is established in this patient beyond any doubt and points the way to what needs to be done next which is to restore blood flow as quickly as possible to avoid irreversible death of heart muscle.  The evidence for acute myocardial infarction in this case is explicit and very clear right from the beginning.  There is little room for controversy.

Let’s now get back to The Pretribulation Rapture.  Imagine if this passage was in the New Testament:

Jesus descends from heaven, where He has been since He ascended to heaven 40 days after His resurrection, but He does not descend all the way to earth.  He stops in the clouds and resurrects all the dead members of the Church from their graves to meet Him in the air.  Less than a fraction of a second later He raptures or catches up all living Church members to meet Him in the air.  Thus the Church, His bride, is with Him in the clouds.  He then takes the Church immediately back to heaven with Him to His Father’s house and each Church member is assigned a glorious dwelling place.  For reasons that we do not yet fully know or understand in addition to the fact that Messiah’s bride is now safe and no longer at risk of suffering horrible things on earth, things that will wipe out a substantial part of the human race, Jesus begins to open the seals of the scroll that will trigger horrible judgements on earth which will last for 7 years.  Jesus will even allow someone called the Antichrist to rise up and orchestrate an attack on Israel and the Jews that is worse than even Hitler’s holocaust and this period, The Great Tribulation, will last 3.5 years.  More will be written about all this by the apostle John in a book he will yet be inspired to write, a book called Revelation.

If there was a passage in the New Testament like the fictitious one above then all who believe the Bible could agree that The Pretribulation Rapture will occur beyond any doubt.

Now let me present you with a different clinical scenario  based on an actual patient who saw me a few years ago.

A 69 year old man, Mr. X, comes to see me complaining of dull abdominal pain when he walks.  He gets the pain at no other time, only when walking.  He has seen several doctors including a gastroenterologist and none of these doctors were able to make a diagnosis.  Physical examination revealed two abnormalities: absent arterial pulses in both feet and a loud noise (a bruit) heard with the stethocope placed over the right carotid artery (in the neck).  Both of these findings suggested the presence of atherosclerotic disease (arteries blocked due to cholesterol build up).  Additional information included a long term history of cigarette smoking, which is a definite risk factor for atherosclerosis.

When a pain comes on with physical exertion, such as walking, a doctor should consider reduced blood flow, ischemia, as a cause of the pain.  Typically when there is poor blood flow to the legs, as this patient likely had (no pulses in the feet on physical examination), walking produces pain in the calf muscles, thighs, or buttocks, but not in the abdomen.  On the other hand abdominal pain due to poor circulation to the gut (the stomach and intestines) usually comes on after a meal, at a time when the gut requires higher blood flow to digest recently eaten food.  But abdominal pain with walking?  I’d never heard of that.

But Mr. X’s abdominal pain was brought on by walking and was relieved by rest, and that sounded like ischemia due to a blocked artery to the stomach and/or intestines.  Perhaps there are collateral vascular pathways between the gut and the legs in Mr. X which allow for diverting of blood to the legs that is intended to supply the gut.  Walking increases the demand for blood flow to the legs.  The increased blood flow “stolen” by the patient’s leg muscles when he walked left his gut without adequate blood flow thereby causing abdominal pain.

What to do next?  I sent the patient back to his primary care physician with a request that an MRI angiogram of his abdominal circulation be done.  The angiogram showed a severely narrowed artery to the intestines.  A vascular surgeon placed a stent in this artery restoring blood flow to normal.

Guess what?  No more abdominal pain with walking!  The patient was thrilled. The diagnosis was subtotal occlusion of the superior mesenteric artery.  I called the pain Abdominal Angina Brought on by Walking.  The fact that opening the culprit artery with a stent brought relief of pain ruled in the diagnosis of Abdominal Angina Brought on by Walking.  

In Mr. X, there was not just one test or one abnormal physical finding that provided the diagnosis.  A whole series of pieces of information beginning with the clinical history of abdominal pain brought on by walking and ending with the response to treatment with a stent to normalize blood flow confirmed the diagnosis of a blocked artery to the gut beyond any doubt.

I could find  no report of another case like this in the medical literature and every doctor I personally queried had never heard of a patient with this problem and one of the doctors looked at me with a facial expression suggesting that he thought I was crazy.  Because nobody had heard of this condition I thought it would be worthwhile to publish this case in a major medical journal.  The patient gave me his permission to do so.  The journal refused to accept my article.  I don’t know why.  Maybe the editor thought that this case was just too fantastic to believe.

The Pretribulation Rapture is like this patient’s case with an important exception: it has not occurred yet.  So we cannot say that The Pretribulation Rapture will occur beyond any doubt.  But I do believe that if we analyze the evidence in the Bible for the Pretribulation Rapture we will see that we can say that it will occur beyond a reasonable doubt.  That’s a pretty high standard of evidence and for me that evidence, mixed with faith, places The Pretribulation Rapture into the category of sound doctrine.

There are numerous passages in the Bible that talk about the The Pretribulation Rapture.  If we use them in a sequential and cumulative manner, as a good student of inductive Bible study methods would do, I believe that they provide compelling evidence that the Rapture occurs before The Tribulation and, in my opinion, this is beyond a reasonable doubt.  Do I have evidence to back this up?  Yes.  But before I give you that evidence, in the posts that will follow this one, I want to quote something that Dr. Brown wrote in another book:

1. Messianic prophecies are not clearly identified as such. There is not a single verse in the entire Hebrew Bible that is specifically identified as a Messianic prophecy. 

Brown, Michael L.. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus : Volume 3: Messianic Prophecy Objections (p. 189). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I don’t believe that prophecies about the The Pretribulation Rapture are any different than prophecies about the Messiah.

Please stay tuned for the next post in this series.

Thanks for reading.

Arthur P. Wolinsky, MD 

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For those interested in the three part series, The Rapture, originally published on this blog, please click below.

What is the Rapture?  Part I

What is the Rapture? Part II

What is the Rapture? Part III

Posted by Art in End Times Prophecy, 0 comments

How to Share the Good News With Jewish People, Part 3

“Bubbe, please shake hands with Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah.

“I’m honored to meet you, Mrs. Levy,” said Ben as he extended both his hands and warmly grasped both of hers.

Jenny Levy appeared to be in her mid to late 60’s. She was tall and had an athletic build and striking facial features. Her thick iron gray her was arranged in a French twist. She wore a dress that was attractive yet modest. Airs of pride and arrogance seemed distinctly absent. Inner strength and dignity were clearly present.
“Please, call me Jenny.”

“I will. And please call me Ben. Josh and Matt are also here today. They are two of Sarah’s classmates. How are you today?” asked Ben as he guided Jenny to a comfortable chair with a small table next to it that held a glass and a pitcher of water.

“I’m not so good today, Ben. My husband Isaac died suddenly a few weeks ago. We were getting ready to celebrate our 45th anniversary,” said Jenny as a tear ran down her right cheek.

“Is there anything that we can do for you Jenny?” asked Ben.

“Possibly. I need peace, personal peace, and I don’t have it. I’ve never had it. But I’ve never needed peace like I do now, since Isaac’s death,” said Jenny.

“I’m so sorry to hear about Isaac. Would you mind telling me about your family?” said Ben.

“I had two children. Barbara, Sarah’s mother, is alive and well. I had a son, Bradley. He died 20 years ago in a car crash. He was 21 years old. I miss him terribly and I have tremendous guilt in my heart concerning him, Ben,” said Jenny.

Tears were now streaming down Jenny’s cheeks. She was sobbing softly.

“Could you tell us why you have this guilt?” asked Ben.

“Brad lived at home with us. When he was 19 and at college he was suffering from depression. He was even thinking about suicide. He told me that he had no hope for himself. He didn’t know why. We sent him to see a psychiatrist but that didn’t help. Our Rabbi even met with him a few times to counsel him. That didn’t help either. Then he went to a Jews for Jesus meeting on campus. A few weeks later he accepted Jesus, Brad called Him Yeshua, as his Lord and Savior. The depression lifted. Brad seemed to be transformed. He was full of joy. He had been having trouble at school. After he accepted Yeshua he was able to focus on his studies and he became a “A” student,” said Jenny.

“It sounds like good things happened to him after he accepted Yeshua,” said Ben.

“I agree. But then trouble started, a few months later. Brad joined a Messianic Jewish congregation and he was baptized. He told Isaac and me that baptism represented an outward sign of an inner change. He told us all about his new faith and Isaac became enraged. Isaac told Brad that he was a traitor to his people and that he was no longer a Jew, that Jews don’t believe in Jesus. He called Jesus a mamzer and he called Brad an anti-Semite. He ordered Brad to leave our home and to never come back. Isaac told Brad that if he ever came back he would kill him. Brad left and I never saw him again,” said Jenny.

Mamzer means someone of illegitimate birth, a bastard, in Hebrew. It’s translated as misbegotten in Deuteronomy 23:3,” Ben explained to the group.

Deuteronomy 23:3 No one misbegotten shall be admitted into the congregation of the LORD; none of his descendants, even in the tenth generation, shall be admitted into the congregation of the LORD1.

“Jenny, how did you feel about what happened?” asked Ben.

“Terrible. I didn’t agree with what Isaac did but I was afraid to stand up to him. He was a very inflexible man and he had a terrible temper. He changed our phone number and made it unlisted,” said Jenny.

“Jenny, what’s past is past. What do you want to do now?” asked Ben.

“I don’t know what I can do. I know that I want peace. I’m afraid of dying. And I want to see Brad again. I think he’s in heaven,” said Jenny.

“Jenny, what do you know about Yeshua?” asked Ben.

“Brad shared a lot with me after he was baptized but that was a long time ago. I know that Yeshua was Jewish and that those who follow him believe that He was the Messiah and equal to God,” said Jenny.

“Do you have any thoughts about why Brad changed after he accepted Yeshua as his Lord and Savior? You said Brad seemed to be transformed,” said Ben.

“I don’t know why Brad changed but I know that the change was miraculous. It was as if he had hope, irrepressible hope. I remember wondering at the time what power could have caused it. It had to be a good power,” said Jenny. “Ben, I want that hope, the hope that Brad had.”

“Jenny, what do you know about sin?” asked Ben.

“Sin? I know that none of us are perfect,” said Jenny.

“Do you believe in God, Jenny?” asked Ben.

“Yes. My parents believed in God and they taught me that He is real and that there is a heaven and a Book of Life. My father sometimes read Bible stories to me and we celebrated the Jewish holidays,” said Jenny.

“Jenny, God is real. He is alive today. His Son Yeshua who is our Messiah is also alive today. God loves you, Jenny. He also loved Brad. He sought Brad out and rescued him. That’s why Brad changed. God wants to do the same thing for you, Jenny,” said Ben.

“Ben, you asked me a moment ago if I know about sin? Does sin have something to do with this?”

“It does, Jenny. Do you know about the Ten Commandments? Would you mind if we read them now?” asked Ben.

Jenny looked nervous. She was clenching and unclenching her hands. The color had drained from her face.

“It’s OK, Ben. Go ahead.”

“Matt, there’s a Jewish Publication Society Tanakh in the bookcase behind you. Would you grab it please and show Mrs. Levy where the Ten Commandments are?” said Ben. “Jenny, would you please read the verses?”

Jenny read: 2

Ex. 20:1 God spoke all these words, saying:

Ex. 20:2 I the LORD am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: 3 You shall have no other gods besides Me.

Ex. 20:4 You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness of what is in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I the LORD your God am an impassioned God, visiting the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me, 6 but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Ex. 20:7 You shall not swear falsely by the name of the LORD your God; for the LORD will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.

Ex. 20:8 Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God: you shall not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

Ex. 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land that the LORD your God is assigning to you.

Ex. 20:13 You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Ex. 20:14 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house: you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female slave, or his ox or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

As Jenny finished reading tears were streaming down her face. She was convulsed with sobs.

Ben got up and stood in front of her. He took her head and shoulders in his arms and gently hugged her.

“Bubbe, why are you crying?” asked Sarah.

“Because I’m guilty of breaking those commandments. I don’t think I could ever keep them all. Ben, I think I understand what sin is now. Is there any hope for me?” asked Jenny.

Ben went back to his chair.

“There is, Jenny. There most definitely is. Jenny, you’ve just read the Ten Commandments. You’ve confessed that you have broken them. Moses said that righteousness or salvation can only come through the Law if you obey the Law perfectly. Nobody can do that. We are all guilty of breaking God’s laws. The penalty for that is death, eternal separation from God. That’s why we all need a Savior. Jenny, you need a Savior. That Savior is Jesus, Yeshua, the Lamb of God,” said Ben.

“Ben, I know that I need a Savior. I’ve known that for years now. Now is the time. If Jesus can save me so that I can go to heaven when I die, I’m ready to accept Him and follow Him as my Lord and Savior,” said Jenny.

“He can save you Bubbe. He saved me and Josh and Matt and Dr. Kaplan. He is the Jewish Messiah,” said Sarah.

“I believe that now, Sarah,” Jenny said as she smiled through her tears. “Would you take my hand and kneel down with me?”

Jenny and Sarah knelt together with their hands joined. Kneeling behind them, Ben, Josh, and Matt put their hands on Jenny’s and Sarah’s shoulders. Jenny prayed.

“Yeshua, I know now that you are my Messiah, my Savior, and my Lord. Thank you that you died on the cross for me. I know that your blood paid for my sins and I know that I can never repay you for what you did for Brad and for Sarah. Please save me now. Thank you Lord.”

Joyful hugs and shouts of Hallelujah followed!

Posted by Art in Jewish Evangelism

How to Share the Good News With Jewish People, Part 2

“We’re all here, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah.

“Yes, and we’re ready to go! You’re going to tell us more about how to share the Good News with Jewish people, right?” asked Matt.

“You’ve got it, Matt,” said Ben Kaplan.

“So, how do we get a handle on how to share, Dr. Kaplan? What do we need to know?” said Josh.

“Well Josh, I think we should start by looking at the 10th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans and using the first few verses as a guide today,” said Ben. “Matt, would you put the verses on the screen, please?”

Romans 10:1-4 (NASB) Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

“Let’s take this verse by verse:

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

“The Apostle Paul, a Hebrew of Hebrews and a sold out believer in the Messiahship of Yeshua, is speaking and he is explaining how from his very heart he wants the Jewish people to be saved.

2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.

“Paul is testifying about the Jewish people, and he is well qualified to do so. He was a Pharisee and a leading member of the Jewish community in Jerusalem. Paul was saying that the Jewish people had a zeal for God. What does that mean? They had a passion, a fervor, an enthusiasm for God. In a sense they were on fire for God. But their fervor was not based on knowledge. For one thing, they did not have a spiritual understanding of the Scriptures. They did not understand what their own Scriptures, the Tanach or Old Testament, was saying. They did not know that the Tanach prophesied about Yeshua. Their eyes were blinded to the truth. They couldn’t see that Yeshua was their Messiah, that He came to be the ultimate sacrifice for them – the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 – in order to reverse the curse of Genesis 3:15. That curse caused all humanity to fall in Adam and it was the origin of death for the human race. Without this knowledge, their zeal for God could not lead to salvation.

3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

“They needed to know that righteousness in God’s eyes could not come by obeying the Law of Moses. Instead it comes through faith, through trusting God. This was first made clear in the Scriptures through Abraham:

Genesis 15:5-6 (NASB) And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he (Abraham) believed in the Lord; and He (God) reckoned (accounted) it to him as righteousness (words in parenthesis added).

“God made a promise to Abraham that in his old age he and Sarah, who was well past the normal age of child-bearing, would have their own son and that through that son Abraham would have physical descendants as numerous as the stars in heaven. As incredible as the promise seemed, Abraham believed. He trusted in God and His promise. He had faith in God. God knows when a person has faith in Him. And on the basis of Abraham’s faith God accounted Abraham as being righteous. God marked Abraham down in His book in the saved column. Abraham was saved right then. This did not occur because Abraham was obedient to a set of laws. In fact the Law of Moses had not even been given yet.

“There is another verse in the Tanach, from the prophet Habbakuk that helps to make clear that salvation comes by faith and not by obeying the Law:

Habakkuk 2:4 (NASB) “Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.

“Many, but not all, of the Pharisees were proud and their souls were not right within them. They did not have what Abraham had. They did not have faith in God. Therefore God did not count them as righteous. This is well depicted in a parable given by the Messiah, Himself:

Luke 18:9-14 (NASB) And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

“The Pharisee was not accounted righteous by God. He thought he was righteous. He thought that he kept the Law perfectly. He did not know about God’s righteousness. He was seeking to establish his own righteousness by obeying the Law and that is not possible for him or for us. That’s what Romans 10:3 is telling us:

3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

“If this Pharisee was able to keep the Law perfectly that would have included this Law from Leviticus:

Leviticus 19:18 (NASB) You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

“If this Pharisee had been obedient to this law, he would have had compassion on the very tax collector who was praying in the temple at the same time as he was. The Pharisee knew that the tax collector was there and he clearly believed that he was better than the tax collector. The Pharisee was self-righteous. God does not count self-righteous people as righteous.

“But God did count the tax collector righteous. He knew that he could not keep the Law. He knew he was a sinner and he asked God to have mercy on him. We know that God did have mercy on him because we are told that he went to his house justified, said Ben.

“What does justified mean, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Sarah.

“It means that God forgave the tax collector’s sins and declared him righteous. When God sees a person sincerely acknowledge his or her sin and plead with Him to have mercy, God sees that person’s heart and declares that person righteous, forever. That’s what justification means. It is a legal declaration by God. That’s why it’s instantaneous. We can clearly say that the tax collector in this parable was saved by faith. He did not trust himself. He repented of his sins and asked God to show him mercy. He trusted God, he had faith in God, and God saved him,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, I’m thinking of a passage in John and I’d like to read it, O.K.?” said Josh.

“Sure,” said Ben.

John 1:12-13 (NASB) 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

“Are these verses describing what happened to the tax collector?” asked Josh.

“Is this passage telling us how a person is born again?” asked Matt.

“When a person is born again does that mean that he or she is justified?” asked Sarah.

“Yes, yes, and yes! The tax collector received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He believed, he was born again, he was justified, and he became a child of God. I think that all three of you have grasped this,” said Ben.
“Did the tax collector do what the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk said needed to be done?” asked Josh.

Habakkuk 2:4 (NASB Strong’s) 4 “Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.

“He did, Josh. You’re right on target. “But the righteous will live by his faith.” This verse could also be paraphrased this way: “But it is by faith that the righteous person will live”.

“So, righteousness in this context means justification which means all sins are forgiven, right?” asked Sarah.

“Exactly, Sarah,” said Ben.

“But God’s justice is perfect. So who paid the price for this tax collector’s sins? God can’t just forgive sins with no punishment can He?” asked Matt.

“No, Matt, because that would mean that God is not just. He cannot forgive sins without someone paying the price. Do you remember Leviticus 17:11? Would you mind putting it on the screen for us?” asked Ben.

Leviticus 17:11 (NASB) For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’

“So a blood sacrifice is still needed,” said Sarah. “When the Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem one day, will the blood of an animal without defect make atonement for our souls then?”

“No, Sarah. The all sufficient Sacrifice was made once, 2,000 years ago by the Son of God, our Messiah, the Lord Yeshua. He died instead of you and me. He was our substitute. Only His infinitely precious blood can completely and permanently free us from the penalty of sin and make us perfectly clean so that we are fit to be in God’s presence and to dwell with Him for eternity,” said Ben. “By shedding His blood and dying on the cross, Yeshua paid the price that we owed, which is death, and He turned away God’s wrath giving us peace with God. We are reconciled with God. There is a word that describes this: propitiation. The sacrifice of a bull or goat could never accomplish that.

“Let’s put up that last verse:

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

“Douglas Moo, in his commentary on Romans, explains the end of the Law like this: Christ is the culmination of the Law. Christ did not abolish the Law and He did not even get rid of one jot or tittle of the Law. But because He perfectly obeyed all of the Law when He walked this earth, when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior we are counted by God as being fully obedient to the Law. We are given Yeshua’s perfect righteousness just as He bore our sins. We are perfectly righteous in God’s sight. We are justified by God. It’s a done deal! We are saved forever and right then the Holy Spirit begins to progressively conform each one of us to the image of Messiah Yeshua. That process is called sanctification.

“The only way to accept Yeshua is by faith. That means accepting Who He is, accepting what He did for us, and accepting Him as our Lord and our God. We have to believe just as Abraham our father in the faith did,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, haven’t you just told us today what a person needs to know to share the Good News with a Jewish person, or anyone else for that matter?” asked Matt.

“I guess I have Matt. But now we need to go on and talk about some practical pointers about how to share. Lord willing, we’ll do that next week,” said Ben.

“Can I bring my grandmother, Jenny Levy, to the meeting next week? She’s Jewish and does not know Yeshua.” said Sarah.

“By all means! Could we share the Good News with her?” said Ben.

“Yes! I’ve been praying for that to happen,” said Sarah.

“Please pray, all of you, for the heart of Sarah’s grandmother to be open to Yeshua. See you all next week!” said Ben.

Posted by Art in Jewish Evangelism

How to Share the Good News With Jewish People

Ben Kaplan’s medical students were gathered in his office to begin the weekly meeting. Like Ben, Sarah was Jewish. Josh and Matt were Gentile. All were believers in the Lord Jesus, their Messiah.

“Dr. Kaplan, I’ve been reading the New Testament to try to get an understanding of how to share the Good News with Jewish people and there’s a passage that I’m having trouble understanding,” said Josh, as he put the passage on the screen.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NASB) For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

“I’m confused about this passage too,” said Matt. “I see that Greeks are mentioned twice and Gentiles are mentioned once. I thought that Greeks was just another name for Gentiles in the New Testament.”

“Good observation, Matt! The words in this passage for Greeks and Gentiles is the same word in the original language. The word is Hellen which means Greek or Greeks and in some Bible versions all three words are translated Greeks, but we should usually understand the word to mean Gentile or Gentiles,” said Ben.

“Is there some special reason that Greeks search for wisdom is used here rather than Gentiles search for wisdom?” asked Sarah.

“I think there is, Sarah. In my opinion, the NASB translators have made the right choice because Greeks searching for wisdom in this verse refers to people who are actually Greek. So we could read this verse as Greek Gentiles search for wisdom,” said Ben.

“How do you know that, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Josh.

“Because of a passage of Scripture in Acts, Josh. Do you remember when the Apostle Paul was speaking to Greek Gentiles in Athens?

Acts 17:18 (NASB) And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

“Greek philosophers were conversing with Paul. These were men who placed intellect and reasoning above all else. They were interested in the wisdom of the world, not the wisdom of God. Their minds were not open to supernatural things such as the resurrection of Yeshua,” said Ben. “Gentiles in general and Greeks in particular considered Paul’s message foolishness.”

“But what about Jews seeking for signs and Christ crucified being a stumbling block to Jews?” said Sarah.

“Sarah, Let’s look at a passage from Matthew:

Matthew 12:38 (NASB) Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

“Some of the scribes and Pharisees, Jewish religious leaders, who had already seen Jesus perform miracles were asking for an additional sign or miracle. These people should have known better and Jesus rebuked them:

Matthew 12:39-40 (NASB) But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

“Jesus was talking about His death and resurrection symbolized or foreshadowed by what happened to the prophet Jonah The scribes and Pharisees knew all about Jonah,” said Ben.

“Wow! That’s pretty clear, Dr. Kaplan. But what about Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block?” asked Sarah.

“Now that’s a little different, Sarah. The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that a Messiah would come. In fact they were waiting for him hoping everyday that he would come. They were looking for someone who would be a political and military leader, someone who would deliver them from the Roman yoke and bring glory back to the Nation of Israel.

“To them a carpenter, the son of a poor and uneducated couple, could never be the Messiah. On top of that, Jesus said He was God and He proved it from the Hebrew Scriptures and by miracles. He offered deliverance from sin and he offered eternal life. He taught that everyone is a sinner and needs deliverance. And to receive these things we must submit to His Lordship. To these leaders, who thought that they were righteous and needed no personal savior, the idea of Yeshua being their Messiah was entirely offensive. He was a stumbling block to them,” said Ben.

“I think I’m starting to get it, Dr. Kaplan. These people were not righteous. They were self-righteous,” said Josh.

“Exactly, Josh.

“Now let’s look at the 1 Corinthians passage again but this time let’s focus on verse 24. I’m showing it in bold:

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NASB) For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

“The group that is mentioned in verse 24 is comprised of Jews and Gentiles who are the called,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, are those who are the called the same as the elect?” asked Matt.

”Yes, Matt. I believe they are,” said Ben. “They are people whom God has chosen to save from before the foundations of the earth.”

“Does that mean that the first group, Jews and Gentiles who are obviously unsaved are not the elect?” asked Josh.

“Now that is a fantastic question, Josh. What do you think the answer is?” said Ben.

“I think that you’re asking me if all the people, both Jews and Gentiles, in that unsaved group are doomed to eternal separation from God in Hell. Is that right?” asked Josh.

“That’s right Josh. So, are they all doomed?” asked Ben.

“No. I don’t think they are, Dr. Kaplan,” said Josh.
“You are absolutely correct! There is something that we must never forget. As long as there is life there is hope. A particular Jew can regard Yeshua as a stumbling block and a particular Gentile can regard Jesus as foolishness but the eternal destiny of a particular person is not set until he dies. There is a verse in Hebrews that says so,” said Ben.

Hebrews 9:27-28a (NKJV) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.

“But is there anything that can be done to save people in the unsaved group?” asked Sarah.

“You are asking if unsaved people can become saved people? Of course they can. All people are unsaved at birth. And we must remember that none will seek the Lord on their own. That is made clear in both the Old Testament and the New Testament,” said Ben.

Romans 3:10-11 (ESV) 
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

Psalms 53:2 (ESV) 
2 God looks down from heaven
on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

“What can we do, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Matt.

“Several things. First, don’t forget that God desires that none should perish, but that all should repent,” said Ben.

“Is that a guarantee that every person with a heart that is hardened to Yeshua will change and be saved?” asked Matt.

“No, Matt,” said Ben. “Second, we need to pray for those people.”

“Dr. Kaplan, you say we should pray. What do we pray?” asked Matt.

“We pray that God would turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. We pray that God will send the Holy Spirit to convict the unsaved person of his or her sin and of the need to repent, and to give the unsaved person the gift of faith in Jesus Christ so that he or she will call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

Third, we share the Scriptures with them, one on one, as led by the Holy Spirit and we can ask them to come with us to hear Scripture expounded at a meeting where Messiah is exalted and where messages from the Old Testament and from the New Testament are preached, whether in a church or in a Messianic Jewish fellowship,” said Ben.

“Is there anything else? Can you be more specific, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Sarah.

“I can, Sarah. But for now, let’s pray for those we love to receive the gift of salvation. Next week we’ll talk more about specifics and about how to approach people with the Good News in today’s world,” said Ben.

The students and Ben joined hands and Ben prayed:

“Father in Heaven, we have friends and family members whom we love but who do not know You. We fear for them, that they might spend eternity in Hell, separated from You. We know that You desire that none should perish. We ask You LORD to send Your Holy Spirit to convict them of the truth that they are sinners just like we are and that they need to repent, to submit to Jesus as Lord, and to call upon Your Name, that they might be saved, as your Scripture says. Praise, honor, and glory to You LORD.”

Romans 10:12-13 (NASB) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Joel 2:32a (ESV) And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

“See you all next week,” said Ben.

Posted by Art in Jewish Evangelism

Am I Still A Jew After I Accept Jesus?

The weekly meeting was about to start and Sarah was agitated.

“Dr. Kaplan, I just told a Christian friend that I’ve accepted Yeshua as my Lord and Savior and he asked me a question.  “Sarah, when did you convert from being a Jew to being a Christian?”  Frankly I was flustered and didn’t know how to answer.  I know that there are many Jewish people today who would tell me that I’m no longer a Jew because I believe in Jesus, but I did not expect this from a Christian.

“Dr. Kaplan, what should I have said to my friend?” asked Sarah.

“Is your friend Jewish?” asked Ben Kaplan.

“No,” replied Sarah.

“Is he a believer in Yeshua?  Has he been born again?” asked Ben.

“Absolutely, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah.

“Did you sense any animosity toward the Jewish people in your friend’s question?” said Ben.

“No.  Jordan loves the Jewish people and has stood up for them at a cost to himself,” said Sarah.

“Sarah, your friend Jordan and many other Christians don’t understand that a Jewish person doesn’t stop being a Jew when he or she accepts Jesus as Savior.  This misunderstanding is in part due to Galatians 3:28 and several other verses like it in the New Testament,” said Ben.  “Let’s look at that verse.  I think the New International Version translates it best.”

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

“Sarah, you are still a Jew because you are a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  You are now a Jewish believer in Yeshua, or Jesus.  Some people would call you a Messianic Jew.  Others might call you a Jewish Christian or Christian Jew, or just a Christian.  When I am asked what I am, I usually say I’m a Jewish believer in Jesus, so I’m a Christian or better yet, I’m a follower of the Messiah, but I’m OK being called a Christian.  I haven’t stopped being a Jew.  That would be impossible.  Do you get the idea, Sarah?” asked Ben.

“I’m not sure,” Dr. Kaplan.

 “But what about Galatians 3:28?” asked Matt.

“Matt, the Bible divides all people into two groups.  The two groups are Jews and Gentiles.  When a Jew or Gentile accepts Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior he or she is converted from a Jewish or Gentile unbeliever into a Jewish or Gentile believer in Jesus and there is then spiritually no difference between members of these two groups.  They are both members of one body,” explained Ben.  The key phrase in Galatians 3:28 is in Christ Jesus.  

“So Galatians 3:28 is saying that there are no differences between Jews and Gentiles, in Christ Jesus and since all born again people are in Christ Jesus there is no difference between them in Him.  Jews and Gentiles are both saved the same way, through faith in Jesus, and God hears all of our prayers the same way.  However the verse is not saying that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles,” said Ben.

“I’m confused, Dr. Kaplan.  Can you explain further?” said Sarah.

“Sarah, you are a woman, and Matt, Josh, and I are men.  In a physical sense we are quite different.  However, in a spiritual sense we are not different.  Does that help?” said Ben.

“Yes,” responded Sarah.

“Before we continue with our discussion we need to briefly digress.  I need to say something now, about the sexes, that even a dozen years ago I would not have needed to say.  The Bible recognizes a person as being either male or female.  There are no other sexes.  God did not create transgender people and He assigned our gender to us before we were born.  God also did not create homosexuals or bisexuals.  This is not our focus today but it is important and you all need to remember it,” said Ben.

“Got it Dr. Kaplan.

“So just as there are differences between the sexes, there are differences between Jews and Gentiles although those differences are not physical and are not as obvious as the differences between a man and a woman.  But in Christ Jesus, meaning spiritually, there are no differences,” said Josh.  “Is that right, Dr. Kaplan?”

“Exactly right, Josh!” said Ben.  “In fact Paul’s letter to the Romans talks about an Olive Tree.  It’s a spiritual Olive Tree.  It has natural branches which are Jewish believers and wild branches that have been grafted in which are Gentile believers.  We believers in Jesus are all branches in the same Olive Tree.”

“So what are the differences between Jews and Gentiles, Dr. Kaplan?” said Matt.

“Dr. Kaplan, can I just ask one other question before you answer Matt’s question?  Do some believers fail to understand that there are differences between Jews and Gentiles, even born again Jews and Gentiles?” asked Josh.

“Yes, Josh!  Sarah’s friend Jordan is one of them.  There are many people who fail to understand that there are differences,” said Ben.

“Does what they say or think matter?” said Matt.  “I mean, are we making a big deal over nothing?”

“No, Matt, because God made certain everlasting promises to the Jews, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and God is going to keep those promises,” said Ben.  “He did not make those promises to Gentiles,” said Ben.

“Do the promises have to do with the Jews being God’s Chosen People?  What exactly does that mean?  And are the Jews still the Chosen People?” asked Josh.  

“Before the Jews entered the Promised Land the LORD, through Moses, said this to them:

Deuteronomy 7:6 (NASB)  For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

“And He said it again:

Deuteronomy 14:2 (NASB)  For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

“And this Chosen status of the Jewish people has never been taken away.  God has not canceled it,” said Ben.

“Now I’m going to say something that sparks outrage on the part of many Jewish people when they hear it.  But I have to say it because it’s true and Jewish people need to know this truth.  If they don’t know this truth they could spend eternity separated from God.  They could perish.  And we do not want that to happen!

“This truth is that  not all of the Chosen People are Jews in God’s eyes.  A Jew in God’s eyes is a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who has had circumcision in the flesh as well as circumcision of the heart,” said Ben.  “A Jewish person who has not had his or her heart circumcised will not inherit the things that God promised to the Jewish people.  Moses spoke about this as did the prophet Jeremiah and the prophet Ezekiel, ” said Ben.

“Can you please give us the Biblical evidence for this, Dr. Kaplan?  I mean, this is really heavy stuff.  I have a Mom and Dad and two sisters who need to know and understand this.  I don’t want them to perish,” said Sarah.

“Sure, Sarah.  Let’s start with three verses from the Old Testament,” answered Ben, as he adjusted the computer projector to bring the verses up on the screen.

Deuteronomy 30:6 (NASB)

“Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.

Jeremiah 4:4 (NASB)

“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord

And remove the foreskins of your heart,

Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,

Or else My wrath will go forth like fire

And burn with none to quench it,

Because of the evil of your deeds.”

Ezekiel 36:26 (NASB)  Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

“Wow!  Those verses are pretty clear!  Circumcision of the heart is equivalent to being born again!  Are there any verses that talk about this in the New Testament?” asked Sarah.

“Yes, Sarah.  Let’s take a look at Romans 9:6-7, where the apostle Paul is anticipating an objection or question that some readers of his letter will raise.  I’m going to paraphrase the question.  Why are the Jewish people, the Chosen People, seemingly no longer in God’s favor as they were in the time of Moses, King David, King Solomon, etc?  Did God’s promises  to His Chosen People, given in the Old Testament, fail?  Did God renege on His promises?” Here is Paul’s answer:

Romans 9:6-7 (NASB)  But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.”

“Paul is saying that Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, but Abraham’s descendants were named only through Isaac.  The same principle applies to God’s Chosen People, Israel.  God is saying, through Paul, that not all who are descendants of the Chosen People are Chosen.  In this very same chapter of Romans, Paul quotes from the prophet Isaiah,” said Ben.

Romans 9:27 (NASB)  Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved;

“Wow!  Are you telling us that there is a subgroup within the Chosen People, the remnant, that are the true Israel, the true Chosen People and that only they will be saved?” asked Matt.  “They are the ones with circumcised hearts, right?”

“Exactly, Matt.  You’ve got it,” said Ben.

“Doesn’t that seem unfair?” said Sarah.

“It’s not unfair, Sarah.  God is never unfair except in His grace to us.  He graciously does not give us what we deserve, which is eternal separation from Him because of our sins.  That’s why He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins,” answered Ben.

“But what about Christians?  Are all Christians truly Christian?  Is everyone sitting in church on a Sunday morning a Christian?” asked Sarah.

“Now that’s a great question!  In fact, not all who claim to be Christian are Christian.  Many, maybe even most, sitting in church pews are not Christians.  They are not born again and they will spend eternity separated from God.  This overall group who profess to be Christians can be referred to as Christendom.  Only a subgroup, a remnant, of Christendom will be saved.  Christendom is in a way comparable to the Chosen People.   Only a remnant of the Chosen people will be saved.

“Many Jewish people say “I was born a Jew and I will die a Jew”.  That is true.  But many who say this don’t understand that a Jew who is not saved, who is not part of the remnant, will spend eternity separated from God.  Jewish people need to know this truth,” said Ben.

“What do we do with this knowledge, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Josh.

“That’s another great question!  Let’s look at what Jesus said about that in Luke’s Gospel.

Luke 19:12-13 (ESV)  He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’

“Jesus is speaking a parable and it has to do with the fact that He went away, back to heaven, 2,000 years ago and He is going to return, soon.  He has given each of us gifts, represented by money in the parable, and He expects us to “engage in business” until He returns.  I understand that to mean that we are to share the Good News of Salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, the Gospel, with everyone He calls us to share it with, until He, Jesus, returns.  We are to share this Good News with Jews and Gentiles and we are to share with Jews first whenever possible just as the Apostle Paul did,” said Ben.  “And we must share this Good News because it is the only way a person, any person, can be saved.”

Romans 1:16 (ESV)  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.

“How do we do that Dr. Kaplan?” said Sarah.

“Let’s make that the focus of our next meeting, OK?” said Ben.

“We can’t wait!” said Matt.  Josh and Sarah nodded their agreement.

Posted by Art in Salvation

Rabbi Greenberg Accepts Yeshua as Lord and Savior

Rabbi Jonah Greenberg approached the reception window in Ben Kaplan’s office and was greeted by Denise.

“How are you Rabbi? I wasn’t expecting to see you today,” said Denise.

“Well, Denise, I have something exciting to tell Ben and his students. I know that today is the day of their weekly meeting and I didn’t want to wait another day to share my news,” said Jonah.

“Rabbi, please come with me. I’ll take you back to Dr. Kaplan’s consultation room,” said Denise.

“Thank you, Denise. But first a question for you if you don’t mind,” said the Rabbi.

“Of course I don’t mind, Rabbi.”

“Denise, do you believe in Messiah Yeshua?” asked Jonah.

“I most certainly do, Rabbi. Why do you ask?” said Denise.

“Because I’ve just accepted Yeshua as my Lord and Savior,” said the Rabbi.

Denise looked at the Rabbi. Within seconds tears of joy began streaming down her cheeks. She could not speak. Instead she hugged Jonah, hard, and then took him by the hand and led him in to Ben’s consultation room.

*

“It’s great to see you, Jonah. How is everything?” said Ben.

“I have some news, Ben. I’ve accepted Yeshua as my Messiah, my Lord, and my Savior,” said Jonah.

Susan, the Jewish student who had originally invited Jonah to come to these meetings, was overwhelmed. “That’s just wonderful, Rabbi!” said Susan, who promptly embraced the Rabbi and kissed him on the cheek.

“Wow, Jonah! What incredible news! The angels are rejoicing!” said Ben as he warmly embraced Jonah. “What finally convinced you?”

“There were many things that contributed to my decision, Ben. But two things in particular convinced me as I asked God to show me the truth. The first is that Yeshua is unquestionably God. Permit me to read from the prophet Jeremiah,” said the Rabbi.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 (ESV) “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

“Could you please explain how this verse helped you decide, Rabbi?” said Josh.

“Sure, Josh. The Branch, or tzemach in Hebrew, is a title used for the Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures. He is a righteous descendant of King David. And in these verses God Himself, the LORD, Yahweh, expressly states that this Branch, the Messiah, has a name and that name is the LORD, Yahweh, our righteousness. Isn’t that staggering? The Messiah’s proper name is Yahweh! This is absolutely so wonderful that it’s mind-boggling to me!” exclaimed Rabbi Greenberg.

Matt had a question. “Rabbi, how can Yahweh, who is God the Father, say that His Son, the Messiah, will also be called Yahweh?”

“I think that I finally have the answer to that, Matt. The Father and the Son are equal and they are both Yahweh. They are equal and together with Yahweh Ruach Hakodesh (God the Holy Spirit), these three equal personalities are One God, whose proper name is Yahweh!” replied Jonah.

“Rabbi, that is staggering! That is mind-boggling! But, do you know what Rabbi?” said Matt.

“Please tell me, Matt,” said Jonah.

“I believe it! It makes perfect sense!” said Matt.

“It most certainly does, Matt!” agreed Ben Kaplan heartily. “Jonah, you said that there were two things in particular that helped you decide to accept Yeshua. Would you tell us what the second thing is?”

“Sure, Ben. It’s what Gamaliel said in the fifth chapter of Acts in the New Testament when the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin. I’d like to read it to you if I may,” said Jonah.

“Absolutely,” said Ben.

Jonah picked up his Bible and read.

Acts 5:34-39 (ESV) But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (italics added)

“Ben, I know from my own research that the New Testament is historically reliable. I have absolutely no doubt about that. That being the case, I am confident that Gamaliel said what he is recorded as saying in the fifth chapter of Acts, and Gamaliel was among the most famous of Rabbis. In fact Saul, before he was chosen by God to be His Apostle, studied under him. So Gamaliel is to me an unimpeachable source. And Gamaliel said that what Peter and John were teaching would not be overthrown if it is of God. Well, 2,000 years later it has not been overthrown!

“Now Ben, these were just the final pieces of the puzzle for me in my quest. All that we’ve spoken of in our two previous meetings, and a great deal more, have combined to give me unshakable faith and assurance that Yeshua, Jesus, is my Lord and Messiah!” said Jonah.

“Rabbi, this is so wonderful! Who ever said that a Jew cannot believe in Jesus!” said Josh.

“You won’t ever hear that from me, Josh!” said Sarah.

“Can we all please lay hands on Jonah? I have some anointing oil here. Jonah, may I anoint you before we pray?” said Ben.

“By all means, Ben,” said the Rabbi.

Ben anointed Jonah and then they prayed.

“Father, Lord God, please bless this Son of Israel who has come to faith in You today through Your only Son, Yeshua, our Lord, Savior, and Messiah. Please show Jonah what to do next. Lay out your path for him that he may know the way to go. Please use him mightily in bringing others, both Jew and Gentile, into your kingdom. We pray in Yeshua’s Name. Amen.”

Posted by Art in Salvation

A Rabbi Comes Closer to Accepting Jesus. Another Jewel From the Shema.

Today’s meeting promised to be an exciting one. Rabbi Jonah Greenberg, Ben Kaplan, and Ben’s three medical students, Sarah, Josh, and Matt, were all gathered together in Ben’s office. They had all done their homework and were ready to present information on the all important question: Does the Shema support One God with a plural or complex nature?

Ben opened the discussion.

“Let’s look at the Shema again. I have it written on the whiteboard in English, in an English transliteration of the Hebrew, and in Hebrew:

Deuteronomy 6:4 1. HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.

Shemah Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad

שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

“Last week, Jonah explained the significance of the Shemah when he said ‘These words, recited morning and evening in the synagogue represent the core of what it means to be a Jew. God is One. There is, simply put , no polytheism in Judaism and Moses made that abundantly clear to the Nation of Israel before the people entered the Promised Land’.

“In addition we made a strong case that the word echad means one but not an indivisible one. There is a Hebrew word for an indivisible one and that word is yachid. Echad means one but it is clearly a complex one and we gave a number of examples of this from the Hebrew Scriptures. There are an enormous number of additional examples.

“Thus echad was the first portion of our “case” that the Shema speaks of a God who is most definitely One but He is a complex One. He is a single God with a plural nature,” said Ben.

“I’m with you Ben. Echad is a complex one. So God being called Echad could definitely mean that God is a complex One,” said Rabbi Greenberg.

“Thanks, Jonah. Let’s now take a look at the word Elohenu, written in bold above, and see where that takes us,” said Ben. “Then, we’re going to discuss Dr. David Cooper’s take on all this, OK?”

The Rabbi, and Sarah, Josh, and Matt, all nodded their agreement.

“Now, as we said before, Elohenu is a masculine plural construct noun. That is not controversial,” said Ben.

“Ben, I’ve studied Hebrew for many years and I agree. Elohenu is a plural noun. It is the first person plural possessive of Elohim and so it is essentially the same word as Elohim which everyone knows is a plural noun. No orthodox Jew would debate that. We orthodox Jews consider Elohim, the first word for God in the Torah, to represent the prerogative of a supreme ruler to refer to Himself in the plural form. It’s like a human king saying to his subjects We command you to do this or that. So I don’t see the significance of Elohenu being plural in your argument,” said the Rabbi.

“Jonah, I think that the point here is that Elohenu, a plural noun, cannot be explained by the majestic plural. It just can’t work that way in the Shema,” said Ben.

“Why can’t it work in the Shema, Dr. Kaplan?” asked Matt.

“The LORD gives Moses further instructions for the Children of Israel as they are about to enter the Promised Land.  Let me paraphrase the relevant verse.  Because I hope to make this as understandable as possible, I’m going to paraphrase this as if the instructions were being given to Jewish people today.  And I’m going to put some additional words in parentheses to further facilitate understanding, to make things as clear as possible.  I’m putting it on the whiteboard now.

We (the LORD, using the majestic plural, is speaking to Moses, the Leader and Lawgiver of Israel) command you (Moses) to tell the children of Israel (God wants all Jews everywhere to know what He is about to say) to speak the following twice daily in the synagogue: The LORD Our God (Our God meaning the God of the Children of Israel) is One.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see any way that the majestic plural has any possible place, grammatically or otherwise, in the translation of Elohenu. The majestic plural simply does not fit into Our God. There is just no way,” said Ben.

“I think you’re right Ben!” said the Rabbi. “But I have a question. Why is Elohenu, a plural noun, always translated as our God in the Tanach?”

“May I speak?” asked Josh and then, in an excited voice, proceeded to do so. “I don’t know Hebrew. But, I’m blessed to be able to use software that at least partially overcomes this lack of knowledge. Elohenu is translated our gods, meaning pagan gods of course, in the Tanach in Isaiah 42:17:

Isaiah 42:17 (ESV) They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods.”

“This is great research, Josh. Jonah, what do you think about all this?” said Ben.

“I’m impressed,” said the Rabbi.

“OK, how about we get an opinion now on Dr. Cooper’s work on the Shema?” asked Ben. “Sarah, please share your research with us.”

“For sure, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah. “Matt, could you lead off please?”

“Sure, Sarah. Straight and simple, here is how Dr. Cooper translates the Shema, literally. I’m writing it on the whiteboard now,” said Matt.

“Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our Gods is Jehovah a unity.”

The Rabbi was quick to speak up. “Ben, I don’t buy that translation for one second. Do you?”

“No Jonah. I don’t.

“Jonah, I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Cooper. He was a great scholar. He profoundly loved the Jewish people. His works are phenomenal and have helped me personally. But, although his translation of the Shema may be literally correct, Dr. Cooper is missing the point in this case. Our God is a plural God. Our God has a complex nature. But our God is emphatically One.

“And, the correct translation of the Shema is what we said it was earlier, as it is still written on the whiteboard,” said Ben.

HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.

“Jonah, are you getting closer to accepting the notion that God could be three persons making up one complex God?” said Ben.

“I am Ben, I definitely am. I’m not quite there yet however. I need to pray and think about all this. I’d like to come back in a few weeks. Is that OK?” asked Jonah.

“I think we are all more than OK with that,” said Ben.

Josh, Matt, and Sarah vigorously nodded their agreement.

Posted by Art in Jewish Evangelism

Can a Rabbi Believe in Jesus? What the Shema Can Tell Us.

“Hi, I’m looking for the office of Dr. Benjamin Kaplan,” said the young man.

The man was tall and appeared to be about 30 years old. He wore a black frock coat, a black Homburg hat, and had a full black beard. Instead of typical sideburns he had peyes; they were long, full, and spiral. He wore a smile and looked to be approachable.

Dr. Kaplan’s receptionist, Denise, answered. “You’re in the right place. Are you Rabbi Jonah Greenberg?”

“Yes, I am. I’m Sarah’s friend,” said the Rabbi.

“You must be here for the weekly meeting,” said Denise. “Please, come with me Rabbi.”

*

“Shalom, Rabbi Greenberg,” said Ben Kaplan. “We are so glad that you’re here today. Of course you know Sarah. Let me introduce you to Josh and Matt.”

Ben made the introductions, and the Rabbi took a seat.

“Rabbi, Sarah said that you have some concerns but she didn’t tell me what they were. Do you feel comfortable sharing your concerns with the four of us? Of course you know Sarah is Jewish and I’m Jewish. Josh and Matt are Gentile and are believers in Jesus,” said Ben.

“I’m comfortable sharing, Dr. Kaplan. I want to know about Jesus, or Yeshua as you call him. I’m told that you believe he is God. I don’t understand how that could be. If Jesus is God, then who is my heavenly Father? Certainly He, my heavenly Father, is King of the Universe and He is my God. Do you believe in my Father and King, God of heaven and earth, and LORD of the universe?” asked Rabbi Greenberg.

“I certainly do believe in Him, Rabbi,” answered Ben.

“Do you believe in one God? Do you believe in monotheism, Dr. Kaplan?” said the Rabbi. “Do you know the Shema?”

“Rabbi, I want to tell you something before I answer. I sense that your questions are sincere and that you want to know the truth.

“Rabbi, I know the Shema and I definitely believe in one God. I also believe that Yeshua, who is the Messiah, is God and I believe that my heavenly Father and King is also God. God is One but He is a complex One. He is One God in three persons,” said Ben.

“Now you’re including the Holy Spirit, Ruach HaKodesh. He is God too, Dr. Kaplan?” asked the Rabbi.

“Yes, Rabbi. He is God too, the third person of the one triune God,” said Ben.

“Can you prove this to me?” said the Rabbi.

“I believe I can, Rabbi, and I’d like to begin making the case using the Shema,” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, it would be truly amazing if you could do that by using the Shema. I’m all ears,” said the Rabbi.

“OK, Rabbi. Let’s start by looking at the Shema, first in English and then in Hebrew”, said Ben.

With burning curiosity, Josh exclaimed. “Rabbi, what is the Shema?”

“Josh, the Shema was given to the children of Israel by the LORD through Moses. You will find it in the Tanach in Deuteronomy 6:4, which says:

Deuteronomy 6:4 1. HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.

“Josh, these words, recited morning and evening in the synagogue represent the core essence of what it means to be a Jew. God is One. There is, simply put , no polytheism in Judaism and Moses made that abundantly clear to the Nation of Israel before the people entered the Promised Land.

“Dr. Kaplan, can I use your white board?” asked the Rabbi?

“Of course, Rabbi,” said Ben.

The Rabbi quickly wrote on the board.

“The transliteration of the Shema from the Hebrew is:

Shemah Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad

“And in Hebrew the Shema looks like this,” said the Rabbi.

שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

“So, the Shema essentially defines Judaism. It is the most emphatic statement that God is One. Do I have it right, Rabbi?” said Matt.

“You’ve got it Matt!” said Rabbi Greenberg.

“And I could not agree more!” said Ben Kaplan. “But I want to ask a question at this point. Could One have more than one meaning?”

“What do you mean, Dr. Kaplan?” said Sarah.

Ben stepped up to the white board and rewrote Elohenu and Echad so that they alone were in bold.

“I want you all to please focus on the two words that are now the only ones in bold.

Shemah Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad

שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

“Now let me try to explain. Let’s look at the word Elohenu in bold above, the third word from the end, in both English and Hebrew. No expert in Hebrew grammar would deny that this word is a masculine plural construct noun. So it seems to me that Elohenu is a plural One.

“And Echad, the last word in each sentence, means One but it is often a complex one,” said Ben. “Let me give you some examples. I’ve italicized the pertinent words.”

Genesis 2:24 (ESV) Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Numbers 7:27 (ESV) one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering;

Numbers 13:23 (ESV) And they came to the Valley of Eshcol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them; they also brought some pomegranates and figs.

Exodus 26:6 (ESV) And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole.

“There are a great many other examples I could give today but I want to give just one more because in a way, it especially agrees with the use of Echad in the Shema. The verse speaks of the future time of the Messianic Kingdom:

Zechariah 14:9 (ESV) And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.

“Rabbi, you are an expert in the Hebrew language, so I don’t know that I have any explaining to do to you. But for the benefit of my students, I’m going to explain. Each word printed in italics in the above verses is echad in Hebrew and has the cardinality of one whether it be the word one or whether it be the word single. In each verse the single unit described is made up of more than one component yet it is still single or one. A husband and wife become one flesh. One bull, one ram, and one male lamb, become one offering. Many grapes comprise a single cluster. Components of the tabernacle combine to make a single whole. And lastly the LORD who is going to be King over all the earth, is a plural One and His Name, Hashem, is a plural name.

“There are hundreds of examples like this in the Tanach. But what about a one that has no complexity. What about a single unit that can have no distinguishable separate components?” said Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, you are talking about the word yachid and it is used very infrequently in the Tanach. Let me give you an example and I will identify this word, in English and in Hebrew, in italics to make it easy for your students to follow.

Genesis 22:2 (ESV) He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Genesis 22:2 (Hebrew OT)

ויאמר קח־נא את־בנך את־יחידך אשׁר־אהבת את־יצחק ולך־לך אל־ארץ המריה והעלהו שׁם לעלה על אחד ההרים אשׁר אמר אליך׃

“So when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, his one and only son, God used the word yachid, “ said Rabbi Greenberg. “Do you agree with me Dr. Kaplan?”

“Yes!” said Ben.

Matt had a question. “Didn’t Abraham have two sons at this point? Didn’t he have both Ishmael and Isaac as sons? So why is Isaac, Abraham’s one and only son?”

“Dr. Kaplan, do you mind if I answer that question?”

“Not at all Rabbi,” said Ben.

“Matt, Isaac was the son of promise, the son who God gave to Abraham through Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Through Isaac came Jacob and through Jacob came the 12 tribes of Israel. And it is through one tribe, the tribe of Judah and later through King David that God promised that the Messiah would come. This line of inheritance could come through one, and only one, son. That is the reason that Isaac was Abraham’s one and only son,” explained the Rabbi.

“What a great explanation, Rabbi. Now I have a question for you. When the Rambam, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, formulated his 13 Cardinal Principles of the Jewish Faith he said that God is an absolute indivisable unity. But if that is the case, would not God have used yachid in the Shema rather than echad? Why didn’t the Rambam, Maimonides, say that?” said Ben. “Surely what Maimonides said has influenced many millions of Jews over the centuries,” said Ben.

“You know, that is a very interesting question, Ben. May I call you Ben?” said the Rabbi.

“Please do call me Ben. And I’ll call you Jonah if that is OK with you,” said Ben.

“Absolutely, Ben!” said the Rabbi.

“Well, I think we’ve established something today. The Shema refers to God as echad and that means that God could be a complex single God, a complex unity. I do not see this as contradicting any basic tenets of Judaism.

“But there is another word in the Shema that we must investigate. That word is Elohenu and as we noted earlier it is a plural noun. What might that signify?

“Sarah, before our next meeting, I’d like you to go online to www.biblicalresearch.info and see what Dr. David L. Cooper had to say about the Shema. Would you do that please?” said Ben.

“I can’t wait to do it Dr. Kaplan! And if you don’t mind, I’m going to ask Josh and Matt to help me with that assignment,” said Sarah.

“Great Sarah.

“Jonah, could you join us for our next meeting? And would you close us in prayer today” asked Ben.

“I look forward to that next meeting, Ben,” responded the Rabbi. “And let me pray the Aaronic benediction over all of you right now.”

The Rabbi recited the blessing from Numbers, chapter 6.

24 The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

“Thanks, Jonah! See you all next week,” said Ben.

Posted by Art in Jewish Evangelism

Does the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) Help to Support One Triune God?

Yes it does, with two Hebrew words.

Our God, Elohenu (אֱלֹהֵינוּ), is a masculine plural construct noun.

One, Echad (אֶחָד), is a singular word but is often used to describe a single thing which has more than one part.

More about this, in the next full post, coming soon.

The Shema:

Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָֹה אֶחָד

(Bold added by author to help the non-Hebrew reader more easily see the two key words discussed in this post).

Posted by Art in Jewish Evangelism

A Muslim Student is Saved! Questions About Islam, Part II

“It’s great to be here again, Dr. Kaplan,” said Sarah. “I’m really excited about our topic today.”

“It’s great to see you too Sarah, as well as all the rest of you. How are you Josh, Matt, and Hassan?” said Ben.

Josh spoke for all four students. “We’re looking forward to gaining an understanding today about why so many Arab nations are hateful toward Israel and the Jews.”

“And for that matter, I’d like to know why they hate Christians too,” said Matt.

“But Dr. Kaplan, it is not just Arab nations that are involved. My family is from Iran and we are not Arabs. We are Muslims however,” said Hassan.

“Absolutely Hassan. Islam started in Arabia, the home of Muhammad, but it spread widely and there are many Islamic nations that are not Arab nations.

“We do indeed have some difficult things to discuss today,” said Ben. “But first, I want us all to remember that the most important thing we can ever do is lead people who do not know the Lord Jesus to saving faith in Him. Anything else we talk about here pales in significance compared to that. Do you understand that Josh, Matt, and Sarah?”

“We certainly do, Dr. Kaplan,” responded all three.

“But what about me, Dr. Kaplan? Don’t I get to believe in Yeshua too?” said Hassan.

“Most definitely Hassan! But are you ready to accept Him?” asked Ben.

“Believe it or not, I think I’m getting close! I’ve been thinking about Yeshua constantly since our last meeting. In fact, I want you to ask me again if I am ready to accept Him after we finish today’s discussion, OK?” said Hassan.

“I promise you that I will not forget to ask you!” said Ben.

“OK. Let’s start our discussion by defining some terms. Islam is the religion practiced by Muslims. The holy book of Islam is the Qu’ran. The Quran is to Islam what the Bible, comprised of Old and New Testaments, is to Christianity, and what the Tanach, the Old Testament, is to Judaism. Like the Bible, the Qu’ran teaches that there is one God. Islam is a monotheistic religion,” said Ben.

“So the three great religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all have one God. How do we know which religion is the right one? Or could they all be right?” asked Hassan.

“Yes, Dr. Kaplan, why couldn’t they all be right?” asked Sarah.

“Great questions!” said Ben. “I believe there are clear answers. Let me try to explain. Jews and Christians both believe the Old Testament, so there is no disagreement there, although Christians and Jews do not interpret all of the Old Testament in the same way. But those Jews who do not accept Jesus as their Messiah, the vast majority of Jews, do not believe the New Testament. What about Islam? Islam teaches that the Bible, but not the Bible we have today, is the inspired word of God. Islam teaches that all Bibles today are the product of corrupted translations from the original languages and are wrong. Although we might discuss this issue in the future, I need to tell you emphatically now that this is completely wrong and there is an enormous amount of evidence to back up what I am saying.

“Practicing Muslims certainly do believe the Qu’ran so we need to examine the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran definitely disagrees with the Bible so one of those two books is wrong. That’s why all “three great religions” cannot be right.

“Let’s look at some passages from the Bible and from the Qu’ran today and compare them. We’ll look at passages that talk about salvation, about how God forgives our sins.

“We’ll look at the Bible first,” said Ben.

Leviticus 17:11 (ESV) For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

“In this Old Testament verse, God is telling us about the need for a substitutionary sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. This is the reason that animals were slaughtered daily by the Jews in ancient times. The blood of the sacrifice provided atonement for sins. This forgiveness of sins was not permanent however. Each new sin committed required a new blood sacrifice. But an important principle was established by God. A blood sacrifice, the death of a living being, was required for forgiveness of sins.

Romans 5:8-10 (ESV) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

“These New Testament verses also speak of a blood sacrifice, a much better one. The Son of God, Yeshua the Messiah, was sacrificed one time, on the cross. His death and shed blood provide permanent forgiveness of sins for all who accept Him as Lord and Savior because His sacrifice is perfect. But there is something in addition to forgiveness of sins that is provided. Just as the Son died on the cross, He was resurrected to life. We who believe this are included in what happened to Jesus on the cross. We are baptized into His death. Water baptism is a picture of this true spiritual baptism. We see this explained in Romans, chapter 6.

Romans 6:3-5 (ESV) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

“We died in Christ when we believed and we were born again to newness of life. We are now slaves to righteousness rather than slaves to sin. The Jewish Messiah, the God-Man, did this for us at great cost, at an incalculable cost.

“Let’s now look at two verses from the Qu’ran, from surah 2,” said Ben.

“159 Those who conceal the evidence of the truth and the guidance We have revealed, after We have made them clear to people in the Scripture, will be rejected by God and so do others.

160 But from those who repent and mend their ways and make known the truth, I will certainly accept their repentance: I am the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful.1

“Verse 159 explains that those who go against the teaching of the Qu’ran, who sin, will be rejected by God. But verse 160 explains that Allah will forgive those who sin if they repent and change their ways because Allah is most merciful. No mention is made, here or elsewhere in the Qu’ran, of the need for a substitutionary blood sacrifice for God to forgive sins,” concluded Ben.

“Dr. Kaplan, why does God require a substitutionary sacrifice in order to forgive sins?” said Hassan.

“Let me explain, Hassan. God is perfect and His Law is perfect. So when a person breaks God’s Law, He requires the punishment that His Law demands. That punishment is death. Only by this punishment, capital punishment, can perfect justice be rendered. God can have nothing less than perfect justice because He is God and God is perfect. But God is also love. He loves us so much that He provided a substitute to die in our place. God sent His own Son, Jesus the Messiah, who is equal to God, to bear the penalty for the sins of all of us so that instead of death we can have eternal life,” said Ben.

“And Allah just forgives sins because he is merciful, without requiring a blood sacrifice?” said Sarah. “Isn’t that OK?”

“I’m afraid not Sarah. In order to forgive the transgression, the penalty required by God’s Law must be paid. A blood sacrifice, a death, is required. A life for a life. Do you see the divine symmetry here?” said Ben.

“I think I do,” said Sarah.

“Why doesn’t Allah require what the God of the Bible requires?” asked Matt.

“Matt, do you remember that at our last meeting Hassan showed us that Allah, the god of the Qu’ran, contradicts himself? Well, just as the one true God cannot contradict Himself, the one true God cannot forgive sin without demanding perfect justice and perfect justice means the sinner must die,” said Ben. “The only way around that is to accept Yeshua, Jesus, as your substitute. Either He pays the price for you by His death or you pay the price by your own death.”

Hassan spoke up. “How could Allah be God and be less than perfect?”

“He can’t be, Hassan. Allah is not God and the Qu’ran is not a divinely inspired book. I’m afraid that the religion of Islam, the god Allah, and the holy book called the Qu’ran, are all satanically inspired and they are all false. There is no other way I can say it, Hassan. I can only speak the truth,” said Ben.

“So why do Muslims hate Jews?” asked Sarah.

“Sarah, not all Muslims hate Jews. There are millions who do not hate Jews. But Islam and its holy book, the Qu’ran, teach hatred of Christians and Jews and worse,” said Ben.

“Couldn’t those Muslims that don’t hate Jews and Christians modernize the religion of Islam, rewrite the Qu’ran, and remain Muslims?” asked Sarah.

“I’m afraid not Sarah, not if they want to know the true God. He has ordained only one way of coming to Him and that is through His Son, Yeshua the Messiah,” said Ben.

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

“But why are so many Muslims deceived? It is so sad. I have a number of Muslim friends and I love them. I don’t want them to die separated from the true God,” said Josh.

“Do you remember from previous meetings that there is an adversary of our souls? His name is Satan. He has other names too. One of them is the thief. Look at what Jesus said about him,” said Ben.

John 10:9-11 (ESV) I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Hassan burst out. “There is such a contrast between Jesus and Allah! This cannot possibly be fiction! Dr. Kaplan, I believe! You don’t have to ask me again if I want to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior! I want to accept Him and I want to accept Him now!”

Hassan prayed.

“Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Thank you for paying the price for my sins. Thank you that I now have eternal life instead of eternal death. Please come into my heart now and be with me forever and also please save baba and maman, and my sisters and my brothers. Thank you Lord!”

“Wow! I am so blessed!” said Sarah. “You are now my brother in Christ! How wonderful! I so look forward to all of us having fellowship together.”

“Absolutely!” said Josh.

Ben spoke. “Having you all here today has been a tremendous encouragent to me! We must get the word of truth and love out to Muslim people anyway we can. I know that it’s not easy. I’m so glad that you brought Hassan to this group!”

“See you all next week,” said Ben.

Posted by Art in Salvation of Muslims