Tamuz/Av 5773 July 2013
MA CHADASH? WHAT’S NEW?
Please pray for our outreaches this summer. In addition to our outreach at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, Rabbi Glenn and I are planning to invite our neighborhoods to our homes once a week for three weeks to discuss the following topics: Five Reasons for God’s Existence; Ten Evidences That Demonstrate That the Bible Is Unique Among All the Religious Books of the World, and That It Is the Divinely Inspired Word of God; Six Evidences Why Jesus Is the Messiah.
THANKS VERY MUCH!
Do two walk together unless they be agreed? (Amos 3:3). In context, the prophet was speaking about the sovereignty of God – that inevitably His purposes will be established in the Earth. But this oft-quoted verse affirms the reality that in order to have cooperation you first have to have agreement on a matter. Unity – particularly unity on important issues – should never be taken for granted. It is precious! We know full well that sharing Messiah with Jewish people is highly unpopular in today’s politically correct climate. Naturally, the Jewish community disdains it; but unfortunately so do many Christian denominations and their leaders. Consequently, we don’t expect large numbers of people to stand in agreement with us. The fact that you, the readers ofShema!, really do share our commitment to evangelism is something about which we rejoice! We are grateful to God, and thankful for you who “walk” together with us. May the Three-in-One God of Israel pour out His choicest blessings on you all!
DO THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST! PART ONE
The Lord has been making it increasingly clear to me that one of our primary responsibilities as individuals and as Communities of the Messiah is to do the work of an evangelist, to regularly engage in evangelism, to be involved in proclaiming the Good News on a daily basis, as part of our life.
There are reasons for this:
Humanity’s greatest need is the Good News – more than money, social justice, politics or more education. Here’s why: In the beginning, Adam and Eve joined the rebellion of the fallen angels. As a result, they were alienated from the Creator. After the Fall, when they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, instead of getting closer to God, they ran away from Him and hid from Him.
Not only was the image of God marred, and their relationship to God damaged, but Adam and Eve’s destiny was ruined. They were not allowed to eat from the Tree of Life and were exiled from the delightful Garden of Eden. They were no longer headed toward life but death – the First Death – physical death, followed by the even worse Second Death – Gehenna, Hell, the Lake of Fire.
The Catastrophe of Eden affected every aspect of the humanity of Adam and Eve – their bodies, their souls, their wills, their minds, their emotions, their spirits, their relationship to God, to nature, later their relationship to other humans, their destiny. Every aspect of who they were became damaged, broken, corrupted. As a result of the Fall, sin, the sin nature, domination by the demons and death took control of humanity.
What happened in Eden didn’t stay in Eden. Damage to the human body, soul, will, mind, spirit, sexuality, relationship to others, relationship to God, loss of eternal life – all of it – was passed on like a horrible disease, infecting all of their descendants, including you and me.
The answer is not laws to control the worst of our behavior. Better education and better politics and more social justice are good, but not enough to help us where we need help the most!
We are not just a little sick and in need of a little healing. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. Sin has killed all of us – Jews and Gentiles included. We have no spiritual life. Just as the physically dead can’t give themselves life – they are dead – so the spiritually dead can’t give themselves spiritual life. They are spiritually dead.
Not only are we spiritually dead, but our nature has been ruined. We need a new nature. But we can’t give ourselves a new, godly nature. We need help from outside ourselves, outside humanity. We need divine intervention. And the Good News is that divine intervention has come! The Good News is that what we are utterly incapable of doing on our own, God is completely capable of accomplishing! To overcome the real and ruinous forces of Satan, sin and death, and the corruption of human nature, we simply need to understand and accept what the Three-In-One God has done to rescue us.
Here is what He did: God the Father sent His Son on a great rescue mission to save human beings from Satan, sin, death and a ruined nature. The Son of God left Heaven and through the incarnation, came into this world and became a human being. The Son of God was born into the Chosen People. The young carpenter from Nazareth became Israel’s Messiah – our ultimate Prophet, Priest and King and Savior.
Rabbi Yeshua lived a perfect, sinless, Torah-observing God-honoring life. He taught us great truths and was used by His Father to do tremendous miracles, showing He was very close to God and would be the miraculous Healer and Savior of humanity and the rest of creation. Then, Yeshua accomplished His greatest work of all. The Son of God willingly allowed Himself to be whipped, beaten, spit on, humiliated, stripped naked and crucified! By dying in this way, the Messiah became the ultimate sacrifice to completely atone for all of humanity’s sins and end our alienation from our Creator.
When we understand this, and transfer our loyalties to the Three-In-One God, we are saved! All our sins are forgiven! Our relationship to God is restored! We are freed from the control of Satan and the demons! We become born-again! We receive a new nature! We will not die, but live, and live forever! We must know this Good News, act on this Most Important Message ourselves, and then communicate it to everyone we can! Do the work of an evangelist! Why should we do the work of an evangelist? Because humanity’s greatest need is to hear, understand and act on the Good News.
Why else should each one of us see ourselves responsible to do the work of an evangelist? Because we have been entrusted to carry on Messiah’s mission. Before He ascended to Heaven, He entrusted us with the responsibility to continue His mission. Messiah’s parting words to us were: Go and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Going and teaching is a duty, a responsibility entrusted to each one of us.
Why should each one of us see ourselves responsible to do the work of an evangelist? Because we will be in the most serious kind of trouble if we don’t proclaim the Message of Salvation to the people around us. Messiah sternly warned us: “What I have whispered in your ear, shout from your house-top. If you deny Me before men, I will deny you before My Father.” Do you think the Son of God is giving us an empty threat? Look, what keeps most people from proclaiming the Good News is fear – fear of rejection, fear of punishment. It seems like we’ve got to fear somebody. So, who would you rather fear? Weak mortals? Or the Son of God who is able to deny you before His Father so that you don’t enter His very real and eternal Kingdom?
Why should each one of us see ourselves responsible to do the work of an evangelist? Because healthy Christian and Messianic Jewish communities and individuals engage in evangelism. When we proclaim the Good News to others, we get closer to God. We are doing what Yeshua and His representatives, the Apostles, did; we are being faithful; we are being obedient. When we declare the Message of Salvation to others, we learn; we grow; we get spiritually stronger. Those individuals and communities who do not make it part of their life-style to proclaim the Good News lose spiritual vitality. Their religious focus is off-center. They are in danger of becoming in-grown, self-centered, self-absorbed, unhealthy.
I hope I’ve convinced you, if you were unconvinced, of the need to proclaim the Good News, and that it’s the duty of each one of us to do the work of an evangelist. Next month, Lord willing, I want to give you some practical ways of doing that.