- Basic Jewish Beliefs
- Jewish Concerns
- Jewish Treatment Under Early Christianity
- Barriers to Christian Witness
- Jewish Views of Jesus
- Common Objections to Jesus
- Jewish Mission History
- The Gospel in the Old Testament
- The Jewishness of the New Testament
- Major Messianic Prophecies
- The Promise of a Messiah
- The Trinity: Jewish or Gentile-ish?
- Sin: Yours, Mine and Ours
- The Passport
Basic Jewish Beliefs
A Summary of Core Jewish Beliefs Today
It is important to understand the foundation of what Jewish people believe today. There is no single answer. The term dogma, which is much better applied to Christianity, has little place within Judaism. In Judaism, the need for a profession of belief did not arise, and rabbis saw no necessity for drawing up concise formulas stressing Jewish beliefs and faith.
Theologically speaking, it is understood that Jewish people are born into God’s covenant with the people of Israel in Genesis 12:1-3:
The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'
Current Concerns of Jewish People
If you speak with two or three of your Jewish friends, you will find that they hold many similar concerns:
The survival of their people in light of the growing roots of anti-Semitism
Issues surrounding the state of Israel in the heat of political turmoil and battles that rage in the Middle East
Declining numbers of Jewish people, in light of intermarriage and children moving away from religious lifestyles
Social concerns, including disease and oppression throughout the world
Jewish Treatment Under Early Christianity
From the 4th Century to the Reformation
Hugh Schonfeld’s A History of Jewish Christianity records that in the fourth century such fear of the Jews existed that the church thought it necessary to outline the boundaries of inter-relationships between Jewish people and church members.
The sixty-fourth Canon stated:
If any clergyman entered a synagogue of the Jewish people, or the heritage (the Nazarenes) to pray, let the clergyman be deposed. If a layman, let him be excommunicated. If any bishop, Presbytery, or Deacon, or any of the list of the clergy, keeps the fast or festivals with Jewish people, or receives from them any of the gifts of their feasts (unleavened bread, etc.), let him be deposed, or if a layperson, excommunicated. And if any person, whether clerical or faithful, shall take food with a Jewish person, he is to abstain from our communion that he may learn to amend his ways.
Barriers to Christian Witness
Hurdling Barriers that Prevent Christian Witness
Hurdling Barriers that Prevent Christians from Witnessing to Jewish People One key to effective personal evangelism is setting aside stereotypes. Stereotyping any people hinders, rather than helps, our Gospel proclamation to them. When non-Jewish people meet Jewish people personally, they will think about and speak to the stereotypes rather than truly getting to know the person.
Jewish people are involved in all levels of society. Yet, people stereotype them by appearance, cultural or religious differences. Some say that Jewish people are moneyed or that they control financial institutions or the entertainment industry. Others say that Jewish people are close-knit and exclusive of non-Jewish people.
Jewish Views of Jesus
A Brief Survey of Jewish Views of Jesus
My wife and I were talking the other night. I asked her (yes, she is Jewish), “What do Jewish people think of Jesus?” Without batting an eyelash, her response was, “Jewish people do not think of Jesus!” Generally, Jesus is given little to no thought.
Throughout the ages, the question of who Y’shua (Jesus) is has encountered a full spectrum of reactions ranging from He is a myth, fable and the New Testament is merely an assemblage of narishkeit (Yiddish for foolishness)... all the way to He is the promised Messiah, God incarnate who died for our sins and rose from the dead. Quite a spectrum, indeed.
Common Objections to Jesus
Answering 13 Common Objections of Jewish People to Jesus as Messiah
In my personal experience as a missionary to Jewish people, I want to share with you some common objections I’ve heard throughout the years. I call it “A Baker’s Dozen” or, “Thirteen objections – with holes in them – that can be filled with the Gospel.” These are:
- Loss of Jewishness
- The Rabbi Doesn’t Teach it
- Where is the Evidence?
- No Intermediary Required
- The Lord Our God is One
- The Trinity
- No Original Sin
- The Virgin Birth
- The Deity of Jesus
- Not from the Line of David
- Heaven and Hell
- The Holocaust
- Christian Persecution
When it comes to telling Jewish people about Jesus, we find that many objections raised are not necessarily new objections. A whole history of apologetics is today being reviewed and republished, all speaking against the claims of Jesus’ Messiahship.
Jewish Mission History
A Brief History of Jewish Missions
Jewish evangelism, the work of bringing the good news that Jesus is the Messiah to Jewish people, is not just a 20th Century phenomenon. In fact, it goes back through recorded human history. Galatians 3:6 reads, “Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' "
People of faith are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are men of faith are blessed through Abraham, who had faith.
The Gospel in the Old Testament
Seeing the Gospel in the Old Testament
In witnessing to someone who is not Jewish you can easily present the Gospel from the New Testament, laying out the claims of Jesus as Messiah, showing how man is sinful and separated from God, and discussing reconciliation and redemption. But you should not do this when talking to Jewish people about Jesus. The New Testament is not acknowledged or recognized as authoritative in their life today. So the Gospel is best presented from the Old Testament.
Listed below is a chain of Old Testament passages, which, when linked together, help to clearly present the Gospel. You may wish to write these down in your Bible. Write the first verse in this Bible chain in the front of your Bible. When you have turned to the first verse, write down the second Bible verse at the bottom of that page. When you turn to the second Bible reference, write the third Biblical reference at the bottom of that page, etc. Your Bible will contain intact an entire chain of thought, without needing to memorize all the verses.
The Jewishness of the New Testament
A Forgotten Book
Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein was curious when he observed one of the teachers in his school reading a book printed in German. Asking the teacher what he was reading, the book was passed to him. He leafed casually through the pages until his eye fell upon the name, "Jesus Christ." Realizing that the little book was a New Testament, he sternly rebuked the teacher for having it in his possession. He furiously cast the book across the room. It fell behind some other books on a shelf and lay forgotten for nearly 30 years.
Major Messianic Prophecies
Knowing the Messiah
Often I’ve asked Jewish people this question, “When the Jewish Messiah comes, how you will know? How will you be able to identify the true Jewish Messiah from many over the centuries who have claimed to be Messiah, but weren’t?”
Most Jewish people today don’t know how they will identify the Messiah of Israel. They typically respond, “Well, when He comes, we will just know it.” Others say, “Our Rabbi will be sure to tell us when the Jewish Messiah is here, but we know He hasn’t come yet.”
The Promise of a Messiah
Messianic Prophecy and the Birth of the Promised Messiah
Each December at the Hanukkah and Christmas season, we find a fresh opportunity to review God’s great promises concerning the Messiah who would come to save us from our sins.
The very first Messianic prophecy is found in Genesis 3:12-15 following the fall of mankind:
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
The Trinity: Jewish or Gentile-ish?
The Lord is One
"Hear, O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai is one. These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of faith; in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eye alone.…So it is with the mystery of the threefold Divine manifestations designated by Adonai Eloheinu Adonai—three modes which yet form one unity." 
A Christian quote? Hardly. The above is taken from the Zohar, an ancient book of Jewish mysticism. The Zohar is somewhat esoteric and most contemporary Jews don't study it, but there are other Jewish books that refer to God's plurality as well.
Sin: Yours, Mine and Ours
What Do Jewish Writings Say About Sin?
What do Jewish Scriptures and traditions say about sin and its consequence? Is there a permanent solution?
Steven was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home. He went to Hebrew school, had his bar mitzvah and observed the holidays. Yet when he turned 15, his parents began to experiment with a more liberal Jewish lifestyle. Perhaps it was an act of rebellion against her own mother, but Steven's mother began making pork chops, a food previously forbidden from the family menu and alien to their palates. At the same time, and seemingly unrelated at first, his father bought a smoke alarm. In case of fire, they would be ready! But as it happened, whenever the mother made pork chops, the alarm would start to blast. Its piercing warning would upset the otherwise peaceful household. Sometimes there was even smoke accompanying the alarm. Steven's father quipped that maybe God was trying to tell them something--namely that they shouldn't eat pork. The rest of the family shrugged off the remark as a joke and the culinary experiments continued. Still, whenever pork was cooked, the alarm sounded. Eventually, Steven's father took the obvious solution. He got rid of the smoke alarm!
The passport is a tool for helping you disciple someone through their early spiritual journey. We all share a common path: birth, life, death, and judgment day. What happens between birth and death makes a big difference concerning our final destination.
Consider using this tool as you reach out to fellow travelers on life’s bumpy roads.