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!

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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.

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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.

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The Cause of Death

Have you ever been afraid of dying? We all know that everyone dies at some point. There are no exceptions. But is there anything that we can do about Death? I’m quite serious. Is there anything that can be done to forestall this problem of Death or is it just a foregone conclusion that we will all die and that that’s the end of it, the end of everything? Have you ever been to a funeral and heard a visitor say to a bereaved family member “He’s in a better place now”? What could that possibly mean? And did the person who said it have any idea what he was saying? Frankly, I very much doubt it.

If we want to “get a handle” on Death does it not make sense that we must know the cause of Death? We must find out the etiology of Death, what the underlying cause is, if at all possible, because then we might be able to find an effective treatment for Death just as we would for any other illness or condition. So, can we get to the root cause of Death itself? Can we uncover the fundamental reason for Death?

It seems to me that it is reasonable to say that Life and Death are connected even though they are, in a sense, opposites. So could it be that if we found the cause of Life that that might help us to find the cause of Death? To my knowlege no scientist, including experts in the field of evolutionary biology, has ever been able to find the ultimate cause or origin of Life. So could it be that we need to look outside the field of Science for answers to the questions of the underlying causes of Life and Death? I believe that the answer is an emphatic yes. Now we want to be entirely reasonable here. We don’t want any fantastic explanation or explanations used to explain the origins of Life and Death. We want to deal in facts. At this point, I think we definitely have one fact that we can hang our hats on. Here is that fact: Science cannot explain the ultimate origin of Life and of Death.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I know that cancer can kill, I know that a blocked coronary artery can cause a heart attack that can kill, and I know that a major car crash can kill, and I know that Science can sometimes help with these things. I know that well because I practiced medicine for 46 years. But I’m talking about Death on a much deeper level, a level that transcends all of these things that unfortunately happen every day in our world. If we must seek answers outside the realm of Science for the ultimate cause of Death, from what realm should we seek the answers? And is there a realm that might provide a narrative that clearly explains things and that clearly provides a solution to our problem? We need a practical and an understandable answer, and a solution, to the problem of Death.

So what realm do we search in, if not Science? What other realm do we look to that will still keep us dealing with facts and will keep us thinking in a logical and practical manner? I believe that we need to search for answers in the field of philosophy, specifically in the field of metaphysics, which deals with fundamental or first principles. But where would knowledge of first principles come from? My dear reader, knowledge of first principles comes to us from the Bible which is the word of God.

Are you now going to tell me that you don’t believe the Bible? Perhaps we’ll talk about the reliability and infallibility of the Bible another time but for now please permit me to ask you one question. Do you have a better source of knowledge to tell us the ultimate cause of Death? Perhaps you’d like to wait just a bit before you answer, until after I show you what the Bible has to say on this subject.

There is a verse in the Bible that can shed light on the fundamental cause of Death. It’s from the New Testament.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

What is this verse telling us? It’s telling us that Sin caused Death. It, Sin, came into the world through one man. That man was the first man, Adam. Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden by disobeying God.

Let’s read from Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Genesis has something to say about first causes.

Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (emphasis mine).

Please note that God commanded Adam not to eat of the specified tree and God told Adam that if he broke this commandment he would die that very day. We know that Adam did not die physically the day he broke this commandment. The death he experienced that very day was spiritual death. He became separated from God. He and Eve had to leave the Garden.

Did you know that ancient rabbis even taught that there is no death without sin? The following is an excerpt from the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 55B: An objection was raised: Said the ministering angels before the Holy One blessed be He, “Lord of the universe, how come you have imposed the penalty of death on the first Adam?” He said to them, “I commanded him one easy commandment, but he violated it.” They said to him, “But isn’t it the fact that Moses and Aaron, who kept the entire Torah, also died?” R. Simeon b. Eleazar says, “So, too, Moses and Aaron died on account of their sin: ‘Because you didn’t believe in me … therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them’ —lo, if you had believed in me, your time would not yet have come to take leave of the world.”

Please observe that we know that Sin entered Adam because the verse in Romans tells us that this happened.

Adam consciously and knowingly sinned by disobeying God, and Sin entered into Adam and became part of his constitution, part of who he was. We, Adam’s posterity, all sinned because all of us were literally in Adam, in an inchoate form. We came from Adam. And all people yet to be born, future to the time of this writing, also were in Adam. We were all in Adam when he sinned, so we sinned then too and since Death comes through Sin, we will all die. Even a seemingly innocent baby sinned in Adam because every baby was in Adam when he sinned. That’s why even babies can die.

Now you might not like what I’m telling you here. But God, speaking to us through His word, is telling us that we were all in Adam when he sinned and therefore we also sinned, including even Moses and Aaron.

There’s something else that I want you to know. Because Sin became part of Adam’s constitution after he sinned, and because each and every one of us is descended from Adam, Sin is part of our constitutions too. Because of that we all have a rebellious and sinful nature just like Adam did, and just like Moses and Aaron did, and because Sin is part of each one of us, we are all born spiritually dead. There are no exceptions. At birth, we are by nature rebellious and antagonistic to God.

Is there anything that can be done about this? Yes! Most emphatically yes! We now know what the root cause of Death is. It is Sin. Knowing this we can now seek a cure. We must be born again. We must be born spiritually alive. We must be brought from Death to Life. How can we do this? We can’t do this but God can. That is why God sent Jesus to die on the cross and we can now seek a cure for Death from God. We can ask Jesus to save us. You see, Jesus conquered Death. Please read what He, Jesus, said to Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin and a famous Jewish teacher.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

You see, we are talking here in eternal terms. Eternity is forever. Wouldn’t you like to have eternal life?

What to do? Please read the next post.

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