In our last issue of Kindred Spirit we considered God’s heart for the Arab people and promised to follow that discussion with a look at God’s heart for Jewish people. The issue you hold in your hands explores that very topic.
Several months ago I joined a number of other evangelical leaders in considering what Scripture reveals as God’s heart for the Jewish people and how evangelicals should view Jewish-Christian relations. In the end I joined an esteemed group of leaders in signing a public statement prepared by the World Evangelical Alliance. Here’s what we affirmed:
As evangelical Christians, we want to express our genuine friendship and love for the Jewish people. We sadly acknowledge that church history has been marred with anti-Semitic words and deeds; and that at times when the Jewish people were in great peril, the church did far less than it should have.
• We pledge our commitment to be loving friends and to stand against such injustice in our generation. At the same time, we want to be transparent in affirming that we believe the most loving and scriptural expression of our friendship toward Jewish people, and to anyone we call friend, is to forthrightly share the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
• We believe that it is only through Jesus that all people can receive eternal life. If Jesus is not the Messiah of the Jewish people, He cannot be the Savior of the world (Acts 4:12).
• We recognize that it is good and right for those with specialized knowledge, history, and skills to use these gifts to introduce individuals to the Messiah, and that includes those ministries specifically directed to the Jewish people (1 Corinthians 9:20–22).
• We deplore the use of deception or coercion in evangelism; however, we reject the notion that it is deceptive for followers of Jesus Christ who were born Jewish to continue to identify as Jews (Romans 11:1).
• We want to make it clear that, as evangelical Christians, we do not wish to offend our Jewish friends by the above statements; but we are compelled by our faith and commitment to the Scriptures to stand by these principles. It is out of our profound respect for Jewish people that we seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them, and encourage others to do the same, for we believe that salvation is found only in Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world.
This is just one of many examples of the church reaffirming her commitment to her own roots. As my friend, the late Dr. Harold Hoehner, said, “The gospel is for all—Jew or Gentile. We want Jews to see the Messiah has come to save them from eternal separation from Him and to enjoy Him forever.” God’s heart for Israel is the same as His heart for all people: that they might know Jesus Christ and make Him known.
—Dr. Mark L. Bailey