Today we are going to continue with our discussion with Ken Overby, a missionary to the Jews.
How do we present the Gospel to someone of a different religion, for example a Jew?
A good starting point is Isaiah Chapter 53. You can’t beat the power of this passage. Most Jewish people have never read this chapter. It is not in the daily Synagogue readings as they read through the Old Testament. Even in the time of Jesus, it was not one of the prescribed readings.
We need to avoid talking about the Trinity because they will say we believe in three gods, or they will say that Jesus’ disciples took things too far and made a god out of him after he died. We have got to teach is as one plus two. In other words, was God ever in human flesh? We see this several times in the Old Testament. We need to show the deity of the Messiah. It is true that man can never become a God, but can God become a man? Did He ever do so? Then show them where God appeared and talked to man as a man.
In Genesis Chapter 12, we have God coming to Abraham and giving him the promise, and in Genesis Chapter 18 Abraham is sitting in his tent door and three angels walk up. It actually says three men walk up, that is what Abraham thought. He had a meal with them. Two of the left and go to Sodom and Gomorrah, and chapter 19 tells us they were angles. The third stayed, and it says that Abraham remained yet before the Lord. The Hebrew word for Lord is “Jehovah.” This is were Abraham dealt with God and tried to preserve Sodom and Gomorrah, He brought the number down from 50 to 10. This passage says that the Lord had just eaten a meal with Abraham. It even lists what was on the menu. In this passage we have the Lord, Jehovah, eating a meal on earth with Abraham, and calling down fire from the Lord, Jehovah, in Heaven.
We are not dealing with the Trinity when we handle it this way. Here we are answering the question, Can God be both man and God at the same time? This will be something they will have to chew on a bit before it sets in.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)
If a Jew questions us about our faith and tells us that we are worshiping a man and we need to know how to answer. They believe we have committed blasphemy. We don’t want to get into an argument, we want to lead him to the truth.
Yesterday we talked about cultivating the ground and building bridges before we start planting the seed. When we want to reach the Jews, or anyone else, we want to move toward the cross. The cross is the offense, and claiming that Jesus Christ is God is blasphemy to a Jew. The cross is a landlines, and we don’t start there. We are not ashamed of the cross, and we don’t try to make it more appealing to them. We are moving them toward the cross, but we don’t start with what they perceive the cross to be.
To the Jew, Christianity is Catholicism. Through the dark ages, and even today, there is much antisemitism within the theology of the Catholic Church. Jews see the cross as a sword, convert or die because that was the attitude of Catholicism during the dark ages.
We start by dealing with the issue of a man being God. They will say, men cannot be God, and I always agree with them. The question is, can God become a man? We deal with Genesis 18, and we move to other passengers in Genesis and in the Psalms.
We also deal with, can God have a son? To the Jew, this is blasphemy. They think we are saying that God had a relationship with a woman and had a son.
If God doesn’t have a Son, why does Psalms 2:12 say, “kiss the son, lest he be angry?” Look at this in its context.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalms 2:11-12)
Also listen to Proverbs 30:4:
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?
In this passage God asks what His Son’s name is. He asks if they can tell. These two passages tell us that God has a Son, and if you do not kiss Him and worship Him, you will perish.
If it is blasphemous to say that God has a Son, why would God say that He has one? Who could that Son be? They expect us to drop Jesus on their head with a big cross. I never give them the answer they expect. I want them to see the answer.
Another objection of the Jews it that there is no Trinity, there is only one God. They will refer to the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: (Deuteronomy 6:4)
They know this verse like we know John 3:16. If they don’t know anything else, they know that Deuteronomy 6:4 says there is only one God. This passage is loaded with proof that He is a compound unity, not a one and only exclusive unity. There are two words in Hebrew for one, “echad” is the word that is used here. It is also used in Numbers describing the cluster of grapes that the spies carried on a pole. I ask them that when it says that “echad grape” means that one grape was so big it had to be carried on a pole. They will laugh and say that is ridiculous.
Another example of where echad is used is in Genesis 2:24 where God said in marriage they become one (echad) flesh. Two people become a compound one.
There is another word for one that is better if you want to say it is exclusively one. Yachid is used to communicate an absolute one. In Genesis 22:2, God said “take now thy son, thine only son (yachid) Isaac…” This meant only Isaac, not Ishmael. It is very exclusive. Why did God use echad in the Shema? In the most famous verse that Jews use to say there is only one God, God chose to use the word that says He is a compound unity. There is a lot more you can say, but it really is as simple as that.
Most of us are taught something like the Roman Road in personal evangelism. I call this the Jerusalem Road. When you look at Luke 24 where Jesus was on the road to Emmaus, he had no Roman Road to follow because it had not yet been written. For the first 20 years of Christianity the world was reached without even a piece of the New Testament. They turned the world upside down with nothing but the same Scriptures Jesus used, the Old Testament. These were the only Scriptures they had. Jesus showed them from the law and the prophets all of the things that pertained to Him, especially Hid death, burial, and resurrection.
We by showing them God can become a man by showing that when He appeared to Abraham He became a man. Then we show them that God is a compound unity in Deuteronomy 6:4.
Now we have to go through the Scriptures that teach that Messiah is God. We can go to Isaiah 9:6:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
This is a very good passage to use, but the best passage on the Trinity, or as I like to say, the tri-unity of God, in the entire Bible is Isaiah 48:12-17:
Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The Lord hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. (Isaiah 48:12-15)
Who is speaking here? The answer is Jehovah God. Notice that the pronoun is “I,” meaning that it is in the first person. God is talking about the things that He does. Then we come to verse 16:
Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. (Isaiah 48:16-17)
He calls them to listen closely and says, “the Lord God, and his Spirit hath sent me.” Who is the “me” here? The “me” in this passage is the One who has been speaking throughout, the one we have identified as Jehovah God. Verse 17 identifies Him as the LORD thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. He, the LORD (all caps) sent Me, the Redeemer, the Messiah, the Holy One. God is telling us that He will be God in the flesh, and Messiah.
We are going to stop here for today, but tomorrow we will continue on this same subject.
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