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.


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.