Dear friend of the Jewish people,
Shalom from Brooklyn – the “other” holy land! For more than 120 years, Chosen People Ministries has been diligent in remembering the importance of bringing the Gospel to the Jew first. The first week of January is a great time to reemphasize this calling.
I love this tradition and want to continue it, so allow me to share a brief portion of the message I gave at the conference held last fall at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan, entitled The People, the Land and the Future of Israel. We are already working on producing the book, which should be released sometime in the next nine to ten months.
Pastor David Epstein, Senior Pastor of the historic Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, speaks at the conference last fall.
To the Jew First (Romans 1:16)
Let me tell you why I believe Paul penned the well-known words in Romans 1:16,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
By understanding this passage, we will better appreciate why the Bible teaches that the Jewish people still have a key role to play in God’s unfolding plan for all humanity!
The reason why Paul believes the Gospel should go out to the Jewish people first is founded upon his understanding of the events of the last days. When Romans 1:16 is viewed from this perspective, the urgency of Jewish evangelism becomes evident.
As my good friend and conference participant Joel C. Rosenberg says, “Humanity is headed towards a Romans 11:25 future.”
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery – so that you will not be wise in your own estimation – that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved…
You cannot separate what Paul writes in Romans 11:25-27 from Romans 1:16. The Apostle’s admonition to bring the Jewish Gospel to the Jewish people first is based on his understanding that in the very last days, the turning of the Jewish remnant to Messiah will bring about the second coming of Christ.
The Greek word used by Paul and translated as “first” implies a priority, rather than a sequential order of events. This word is also used in Matthew 6:33, where the Lord Jesus reminds us to “seek first the kingdom of God.” The kingdom of God should always be a priority in our lives, even as we seek other things. In a similar way, reaching Jewish people with the Gospel must be a priority concern for all who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior, but not to the exclusion of reaching non-Jews.
We placed our Isaiah 53 ads on New York City Transit Buses
with routes in Jewish neighborhoods
What Would Paul Do?
Paul, called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, focused his ministry on reaching non-Jews with the Gospel message – but this did not lessen his concern for the salvation of the Jewish people.
Wherever Paul went in his ministry among the Gentiles, he also preached the Gospel to the Jewish people living in that area (Acts 13:13-52; 14:1-5; 18:7-11; 19:8-10). He would regularly make sure that this was his first evangelistic effort in a particular city before he spoke to the Gentiles.
Paul’s actions in the Book of Acts reveal his understanding of what he penned in Romans 1:16. His theology was enacted in his own strategy for missions, and this is why we should follow suit.
The Apostle’s argument would be as follows: If Jewish people believe in Jesus, then Jesus the Messiah will return. Therefore, Paul argued that if the church desires to witness the second coming of Christ, the Jewish people must be evangelized.
Based upon the above, the church cannot think of Jewish evangelism as just simply evangelizing “another people group.” The Jewish people have been tagged with a theological import unlike other peoples. This emphasis needs to be respected, and therefore the Church must make Jewish evangelism a priority in light of Romans 1:16.
Steps You Can Take in the New Year
I believe there are certain steps we should take in light of the Bible’s clear teaching that links the second coming of Jesus to Jewish evangelism!
Pray for the Jewish People in 2014
Your Mission to the Jewish People needs your faithful prayers in 2014! As King David wrote, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem;” adding a promise, he said, “they will prosper who love you.” So please pray for us as we open the new Messianic center in Brooklyn. It’s incredible to see the interest that religious Jewish people now have in Jesus!
Also, continue to pray for our twenty-plus staff members in the Holy Land, especially now as we continue our ministry through the Hebrew-language Isaiah 53 Campaign that is just getting underway in this country of more than six and a half million Jewish people. Please pray there will be great responsiveness!
Witness to Jewish Friends and Neighbors
I would love to send you a free copy ofIsaiah 53 Explained – the centerpiece of our Isaiah 53 campaign – to give to one of your Jewish friends. You can either order one at www.Isaiah53.com. If you give us the name and address of your Jewish friends, we will send the book directly to them. Either way – we want to help you share the Gospel with your Jewish friends and neighbors.
Generously and Faithfully Support Jewish Missions
Our founder, Rabbi Leopold Cohn, and his son, Joseph, used to encourage Christians to begin the New Year by giving a generous gift to Jewish evangelism through Chosen People Ministries. I hope you will consider putting “shoe leather” to Romans 1:16 and giving the first fruit of your missions giving to support the work of reaching Jewish people for the Lord Jesus. It is even a great tradition to instill in the hearts and lives of your children.
You might also approach your local church to consider doing the same. Giving a generous New Year’s “to the Jew first” gift to Jewish evangelism would be a tremendous help to us, as oftentimes giving is quite low in January.
Thank you so much for your prayers in support of Chosen People Ministries – we believe that 2014 is going to be an amazing year because of the increases in our staff, the opening of the Brooklyn Center, our continuing Isaiah 53 campaigns (especially in Israel) and so much more that I do not have time to describe! We are positioned as never before to impact the Jewish community with the message of the Gospel.
Our Brooklyn Messianic Center will be fully open for a number of thriving ministries in 2014
But we cannot do this without your help and active participation. This is a partnership, and on behalf of our global Chosen People Ministries staff, I want to thank you for helping us bring the message of the Jewish Messiah to the Jew first… and also to the Gentile!
Happy New Year, and may the Lord bless you and your family in 2014!
P.S. I will share some further thoughts from my upcoming chapter in the new book based on the The People, the Land and the Future of Israel conference. If you would like to hear the entire sermon, please visit videos.chosenpeople.com and enjoy the entire event! And feel free to pass this site along to your friends!