Why Christians Should Know About Things Jewish
by: Robert (Bob) Somerville
Something Is Happening Out There!
Something extraordinary is taking place! It is on the cutting edge of Church renewal. Essential Judaic contours of first century Christianity are being vigorously researched and progressively restored to the spiritual value system of the church. Why?
The Bible teaches that both Jews and Christians are the seed of Abraham. Abraham was the first Jew and the Apostle Paul in his Galatian letter leaves no room for doubt that even Gentile believers are his spiritual seed.
"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Ga 3:29) KJV
In view of this, we as Christians are considered both children of God by grace and children of Abraham through faith. For this reason the religious system of Christianity has historically been referred to as the "Judeo-Christian faith" and rightly so.
One's "faith" is a reference to those teachings in which one places confidence as being the truth. Before Christians can come to a consensus on what is truth, there must be a return to the foundations of our faith rooted in the Old Testament - Biblical Judaism.
Don't be apprehensive of the term "Judeo" or "Judaism." Judaism is the name that men have attached to the formative stages of Biblical faith (Old Testament). Christianity is the name that men have attached to the completing stage of Biblical faith (New Testament). From this idea comes the historic reference "Judeo Christian" faith. It has been fittingly said that "Judaism does not need Christianity to explain its existence, but Christianity needs Judaism both to explain its existence and what it believes." That conclusion was undoubtedly drawn from these words of admonition to the Church from the Apostle Paul:
". . . do not boast over the branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root (Israel), but the root supports you (Church)" (Ro II: 18) NIV
Christians have been known to boast of their spiritual superiority over the Jews. Such boasting has led to a propensity for disassociating ourselves from them and consequently alienating us from a rich Biblical heritage that God brought to us through them. Our thinking has all too often been "If it's Jewish, it's risky, tainted or worse cursed."
"Salvation is of the Jews." (John 4:22)
The truth is that everything the Christian believer holds dear, both in word and spirit, is inherently Jewish. Why? Because we are the seed of Abraham who was the first Jew and all of our blessings of truth come through him and his seed. Through them the spiritual blessings from God were made available to all humanity,
"...in thee (Abraham) shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Ge 12:3) KJV
Consider this statement of our Lord:
"Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. " (John 4:22) KJV
Have you any idea what Jesus meant by that statement "salvation is of the Jews." Few Christians do; it is just left hanging, cloaked in mystery. Understanding that little statement could revolutionize your Bible study, your relationship with the Jewish people, your vision into the purposes of God and your eternal destiny. Salvation involves much more than redemption, it means total reconciliation (Col 1:20).
Judaism and Christianity share a common origin having been created by the same God. The question should then arise, how can two religions created by the same God fail to have many things, indeed most things in common? And if not, why not?
We must prepare ourselves to deal seriously with many long overlooked passages of scripture. For example; if questioned, how would you attempt to explain the following New Testament passage? (read carefully):
"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way:..." (Ro 3:1,2)
Can this be true, is Paul serious, whatever did he mean? The Apostle Paul proceeds in his letter to help us with his reasoning for arriving at this astonishing conclusion by stating:
"...chiefly (primarily), because that unto them (the Jews) were committed the oracles of God." (Ro 3:2)
The very least that must be acknowledged is the following: It is from the Jews that we have received two of God's most precious gifts; the Bible and our Messiah, Jesus.
On The Cutting Edge
What one considers to be on the "cutting edge" of progressive Biblical truth may vary in opinion from individual to individual. Some may say it is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church, witnessed by the phenomenal or the manifestation of the miraculous. Others may say it is the increased anointing for evangelism, or both. While these manifestations may indeed be considered a movement of God, they are not new nor are they "what's next." Therefore, the question remains "What is next?"
God, through the Holy Spirit, is preparing to restore His church to the biblical principles found in the Judaic contours of its formative years. The way it will happen is not by an "outpouring" of the Holy Spirit alone but through a Word of God revival. Here is the promise of God:
"My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." (Deut 32:2)
The latter rain will be a rain of truth. If the Church needs anything today, it needs the following: ". . . the washing of water by the word." (Eph 5:25-26)
Christianity has a myriad of differing denominations and associations within it. These divisions do not exist because they differ on the witness of Jesus. They exist because we differ on what the Book (Bible) teaches. We are together in believing on the Christ of the doctrine but remain divided on the doctrine of the Christ. The technique employed by most to maintain some semblance of unity has been, to devaluate the importance of doctrinal unity. We tend to seek unity only in things redemptive and in the manifestations of the miraculous.
We are together in believing on the Christ of the doctrine, but remain divided on the doctrine of the Christ.
Such unity is at best only partial and at worst hypocritical. This condition is not, in all cases, willful avoidance of responsibility. In most cases it is the result of disappointing experiences from former attempts at scriptural dialogue.
Why the existence of all of these doctrinal dilemmas and futile attempts at resolving them? Why cannot preachers and theologians agree on what the Bible teaches? You must know there has to be a fundamental cause for this situation! The answer is simple. We are not using the same tools. We have resorted to more Greek or Hellenistic tools than Hebrew tools for interpretation. It is largely the result of our forsaking or denial of the foundation principles of Christianity rooted in Biblical Judaism. For the average Christian that sounds like over simplification or maybe to the contrary, puzzling and complex. But God is speaking this admonition to the hearts of many believers today.
A renaissance of first century Judeo-Christian teaching is occurring within the Church in our time. It is revolutionizing Christian theology. It will impact all Christian believers. Like the computer age, it is challenging but unavoidable. Why not be on the cutting edge?