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Mission: Reaching Israel with the Gospel of Jesus Christ

By Lou Perez
     Reaching the Jewish peoples for Christ is not a simple task. There are almost 13 million Jewish people in the world with beliefs and ideologies as diverse as Joseph’s coat.
Many are atheists, agnostics, and skeptics. Some embrace Eastern philosophies, liberal lifestyles, and western materialism. There are those who focus on following Jewish ethical and ritual laws to the letter, while others retrofit the ethics and traditions to keep up with modern times. Some believe that the Scriptures came from God, while others aren’t so sure. There are even Jews in the orthodox religion who are atheists. I know it’s difficult to believe such a disparity, but in Jewish religion, as Richard Robinson so eloquently puts it, “Judaism is a religion of deed, not creed”. In other words, personal beliefs are not as important as following the traditions and rituals.
So how do we reach the Jewish people when each tread with their own unique gait?
Some Challenges and Myths: Among many hurdles to reaching the Jewish people, there are challenges and myths Christians must navigate when sharing the gospel.
One of the first challenges to reaching Jewish people is that to many, Christianity does not square with what it has done to Jews in its name throughout history. Events like the crusades immediately come to mind when some think of Christianity.
Another obstacle to Jewish people hearing the Gospel is the idea that believing in Jesus will somehow make them less “Jewish”, thus losing their cultural identity - That Believing in Jesus is strictly for the gentiles. This is not to mention the social consequences believing in Jesus would engender among the Jewish culture. Paul called the idea of Jesus a “stumbling block” to the Jews.
There are many other challenges that can be mentioned, but let’s talk about some myths that must be dispelled so that we can better reach the Jewish people. Jonathan Bernis gives three:
The first myth is that Jewish people have their own custom-made salvation and don’t need Jesus. Some might debate this in favor of a custom salvation, but let’s remember Paul’s words in Romans 1:16, “The Gospel is to the Jew first”. Also Peter’s words, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 ESV.
A second myth is that Jewish people have a greater knowledge and understanding of what they Bible says than we do – Yet it is believed that “Only about 10% of the Jewish community is actually involved in the study of Scripture”.  This tells us that most Jewish people have never really read the Bible.
The third myth is that all Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah. The fact is that many Jews have no idea who Jesus really is.  Most are conditioned when they hear the name Jesus, what comes to mind is “the God Christians serve”, not the true Jewish Messiah.    Many Jewish people do not know the simple fact that that “Christ” is simply the Greek word for Messiah. 
Being sensitive to these hurdles will give us sensitivity when sharing the Gospel with Jewish people. So how should we share?
Connect before you seek to convert. It is human nature to zealously bring people to our side before we have earned the right to be heard. It has been well said that “Counsel not asked for is not well received”.  The title of a book recently written by John Maxwell also bears this out, “Everyone communicates but not everyone connects”.  When we are connected with someone, the question, “How did you come to your faith?” will naturally come up at some point, opening a door.
We should beware of our “Christianize” (words that only Christians understand). There are “Christian subculture” words we use that, to the average Jewish person, you may as well be speaking in code. Veteran Jewish Christians insist on using the term Messiah over Christ or even Joshua. This is closer to the language Jewish people understand.
Tell them your story.   You don’t have to be a theologian to win souls. People can argue with your theology, but they cannot invalidate your story. As the saying goes, "A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument".  “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony,” Revelation 12:11.
Show them how the Old Testament is totally interconnected with the New Testament though messianic prophecies. To do this, we must read and understand the Old Testament. It says in Acts 28:23 that the apostles “explained the kingdom of God from the law of Moses”. There are over 300 messianic prophecies that can be used to share with our Jewish friends.
Affirm that you believe in the Jewish Messiah. Acknowledge that you cannot be saved without Him. It’s important to note that Jesus is not just the God of Christians, but the God of all. A Jewish person may view converting to Jesus and converting to Christianity as one and the same. But these are two entirely different things. One is a personal thing, and the other cultural. In America especially, a person can be a convert to the Christian culture without really belonging to Jesus. On the other hand a Jewish person can convert to Christ without having to convert to Christian culture.  When I came to Christ at the age of thirteen, I did not have to give up my Hispanic cultural heritage to be saved, only my sin.


 
Lou and Louisa Perez both grew up in New York City and met in the first Church Lou pastored in Schenectady, NY. In 1999 they started Destiny Christian Church in Niagara Falls with the vision of taking Church outside the four walls. Find out more at www.destinychristianniagara.com.