The Recovery of the Jewish Gospel
| Dr Daniel Juster, Director |

Why speak of a Jewish Gospel? Isn't the Gospel universal and for all peoples? Yes indeed. We use the phrase Jewish Gospel to speak of the original context of the message. This context was the first century Jewish community. The Gospel not only was first spoken to Jews in Israel, but was taken to the nations by Jews who understood it in that context. This recovery of understanding the Gospel is not the result primarily of Messianic Jewish influence, though we have had some influence, but is the culmination of 100 years of Christian scholarship delving into the original context of the message of Yeshua. This recovery amazingly parallels the restoration of Jewish people to faith in Yeshua. This is God's providence and has enormous consequences for us all.

The Recovery Turning Point

George Ladd's Crucial Questions and the Kingdom of God published in 1951 was a great turning point in Evangelical Theology. His later publication, The Gospel of the Kingdom was given to me in 1970 by Chaplain Dr. Evan Welsh, my spiritual father at Wheaton College. It has had a formative influence on my understanding of Scripture. The late Ladd was a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. The same orientation is reflected in our book Israel, the Church and the Last Days. John Wimber emphasized some of the themes in his preaching. Finally in the 1990s several popular books reflected this theology: Jan Hettinga's Follow Me, Scott McKnight's The Jesus Creed and Dallas Willard's amazing The Divine Conspiracy.

An Inadequate Gospel and the True Gospel

The essence of all these books is that the Evangelical Church of 20th century America (including Charismatics and Pentecostals) has, with few exceptions, preached and taught a partial Gospel. Sometimes, the very essence of the matter has been left out. The essence of the Gospel is the message of Yeshua Himself. It is that the "Kingdom of God is available to you." Therefore the Good News is that in the coming of Yeshua, the Kingdom has come. Since that time men and women have been invited to enter into this Kingdom and to live in and from it. The grace of God makes this choice possible. Not our good works, but the death and resurrection of Yeshua are the foundation of our citizenship in the Kingdom. Saying 'yes' to the invitation, is however, a 'yes' to Yeshua being our leader. It is a 'yes' to a life of obedience, a 'yes' to discipleship, a 'yes' to community fellowship, a 'yes' to elder leadership as well. One leaves the Kingdom of darkness, of self, and of Satan, and enters into the Kingdom of Light.

Yeshua Really Brought the Kingdom

Yes, something really happened with the coming of Yeshua. The incarnation, the Word becoming flesh, brought the Kingdom of God to earth and made it available to us. This is a Jewish Gospel in context because Jews were looking for the Kingdom of God. For our people at the time, this implied the fulfillment of the hopes of the prophets, including deliverance from Rome, peace among nations, and the elevation of Jerusalem as the capital of the nations. They fully expected the re-establishment of David's throne with his Son the Messiah on that throne. Of course, the fullness of these hopes has not yet been realized. Yet the Gospels themselves are a defense of the thesis that Yeshua in a real sense did bring the Kingdom in what Bible scholars call an "inaugurated sense." His miracles, His preaching to the poor, and His resurrection are proof that the Kingdom has come. Its manifestation is in communities of his disciples impacting every realm of life. Committing to the Kingdom in the present will lead to the coming of the Kingdom in fullness at His second coming.

What is Available in the Kingdom ?

The Gospel of the Kingdom delivers us from a watered-down gospel which both requires less and delivers less, a gospel that does not lead to discipleship and produces carnal believers who are believers in name only. The Gospel of the Kingdom as it is now coming to the fore is the only interpretation that fits the first century context. What is its distinctive importance and benefit? Here are some key points to summarize it. The true Good News of the Bible is an invitation to:

  1. Life in a new realm of the presence of the King though His Spirit.
  2. Submission to the leadership of Yeshua, to His Lordship and a life motivated by the most radical love for God and others.
  3. Fellowship in a new community.
  4. The transformation of our lives to conformity to Yeshua and obedience to His commandments. Commandment is a good and positive word. Transformation includes marriage, family, work, and all else in our lives.
  5. Healing, deliverance, and signs and wonders are part of the manifestation of the extension of the Kingdom.

The Gospel is not an invitation to say a prayer so that we have assurance of heaven. Faith is not merely mental assent, but the right response to a Kingdom invitation --- a response which demands faithfulness. In both Hebrew and Greek, one word stands for both faith and faithfulness. Heaven is part of the promise, but the promise is only to those who have submitted their lives to the King and his Kingdom. All of this is possible because of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Why is this so important? Because we in North America, recently, have had an anaemic Christianity that has done little to disciple. This is because we have preached a cheap grace, whereas the true Gospel saves us by a grace that motivates us to keep God's law as taught by Yeshua. This is crucial for a Messianic Jewish understanding.

In my view, only such a gospel will be powerful enough to see a viable movement for Yeshua among the Jewish people. Only a Church conformed to such a gospel can make Israel jealous.

By Daniel Juster

 

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Comments:
12:40 13Oct04 Kathy Neave -
Amen and Amen.

16:45 13Oct04 Paul Kugelman Jr -
Well put !

14:58 14Oct04 Dan Benzvi -
Every Jew who lives today, regardless of religious affiliation, reflects in his/her life the Jewish experience of the last 2000 years. This cannot be taught; it is a way of life.
What can Ladd, Wimber, Hettega and Macknight, who never been on the receiving end of Anti-Jewish bias, teach us about Jewish life or a Jewish Gospel?

02:59 15Oct04 Elizabeth -
You are right about what has been preached, here in the USA as "cheap grace", a ticket for heaven; producing an anaemic group called "Christians". I call it "Churchianity". The shallowness has come also from preaching, teaching that the Law was nailed to the cross, "we are now under grace". The church has become lawless and instead of giving The King of Glory and his Word pre-eminence, "me myself and I" have been placed in the center focus of worship. Psychology, health, wealth and entertainment have replaced true expository teaching. "Churchanity" has also become big business. Because the church is under "grace" the Old Testament is de-legitimized and the New Covenant is taken out of it's Jewish context. No wonder she is anaemic. Your last sentence is so right on.

21:44 16Oct04 The Rev. Dr. Nicholas A. Marziani, Jr.+ -
What can those on the non-receiveing end of anti-Jewish bias teach us about the same? Plenty, I say! It amazes me that this should even be an issue. Of course, we in the Gentile cohort cannot honestly say we have experienced first-hand what it means to be targeted by anti-Jewish diatribes; "on the other hand" (as Tevye might say) "Papa" Ten Boom didn't need explicitly Jewish DNA to know the suffering of the Jewish brethern. Please let's stop this non-biblical racial segregation of another sort that can only serve to separate honest and passionate Gentile brothers and sisters from their Jewish kin; please let's try to be the comprehensive Body of the Messiah, his Holy Bride, composed of those who constitue the New Man, mutually blessed and blessing those in its ranks from the Holy Diversity of Jew and Gentile in the Messiah.

15:20 20Oct04 JoAnne Hauserr -
Good article. Lack of Discipleship teachings and living in both the 'church' and in Messianic congregations is the reason for such an 'anaemic Christianity'. So many in both groups (there is only ONE BODY) are being deceived today because they do not know the Scriptures. They cannot discern Truth because they are filled with too many teachings of men and books written by men. God has said for us to hide HIS Word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him. 'Cheap Grace' and Lawlessness abounds because the Leaders have not taught the Truth of the Scriptures to their people and the people don't know how to discern.

17:03 26Oct04 Dee -
Even more than the power of the Spirit moving among us and through us I believe WE as believers in Yeshua must walk together in unity and REAL demonstrations of love. People are watching our lives not just what we do. It's all about the fruit. When we can come together in real and honest love and acceptance of one another I believe we'll really see the kingdom of God explode.

12:29 28Oct04 Miguel Colon -
In reading your article about the gospel, I can not but fully agree with your perception that we have been teaching and preaching a selfish watered-down type of Chistianity. I personally believe that as believers have been unpegged from the bible, bible reading and study, and have been attached to pre-digested pablum coming from the pulpits of the land we have lost the life that ought to be in the body. One root cause of this is the dumbing of America that has prevailed for so many years through our schools, media, entertainment and proliferation of electronic gadgetry. Also the state mollycoddles our children so they are not taught right decision judging especially under adverse circumstances. Please do not let up in putting forward this essential truth.

11:23 29Oct04 Nick Marziani -
The Gospel of John has been sometimes (wrongly) utilized to both stoke incipient anti-Semitism, and to present an easy "believe-in-Jesus-and-everything's-cool" Gospel. Actually, John endorses neither of these things. As regards what it really means to "believe in" the Lord Yeshua and Gospel according to John we need to understand that John actually said (as the Greek text supports) to "believe into" the Lord and the Good News. That "believeing-into" quality may be seen sacramentally in John 6 where the Lord's Supper is considered as a physically, as well as spiritually, penetrating experience, SYMBOLIC OF EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE GOSPEL - it's like that anti-rusting spray we use to free up gunky locks, it actually PENETRATES and CHANGES what it is injected into. The Jewish-based Gospel that John and all the NT writers proclaim is the kind of Gospel that Dan Juster is writing about, it is dynamic and life-changing. "Jews are like everyone else ... only more so", someone once quipped, and the true (Jewish-based) Gospel is what folks think it is supposed to be ... but also, only MORE SO. If nothing else, the Jewish element of the Gospel will keep us rooted in reality and the INTENSITY by which a "Jealous God" of a Renewed Covenant comes to us in the Incarnation of the Lord, and transforms, in due course, all of creation.

11:27 30Oct04 anonymous -
A lot of this feels familiar to me as a Quaker. We go inward, and seek an ever deeper congruence between our beliefs and how we move compassionately in the world. I am lucky enough to have experienced an opening of the spirit, and inexplicable happenings in my life. These fade, but the commitment remains.

20:16 26Dec04 Rico G. -
Cheap grace and un-called men are the problem of today.

15:41 04Sep06 David R -
I just started taking a Messianic Jewish 102 course within the past few months, and this question of what is the gospel, came up the other evening. I hear Jack Hayford in your article, i.e., the kingdom has come, and the emphasis on becoming disciplined subjects, (perhaps sanctification), is refreshing to this believer. I am a product of grace alone through faith alone teaching, so this is rather new and unsettling to me. Much thinking needs to be done on my part. Thanks though for helping me at least become aware of the Jewish Gospel.

19:58 13Sep06 Jeff Lorick -
I pray that Israel can forgive Christians for the past 1900 years and that the two can come back together to become one, the way it was origionally meant to be. Be blessed in your ministry, I'll pray for you.

15:01 23Mar08 Bob Earl Jones -
I often hear a sound roaring from heaven and try as I may, I cannot duplicate that sound. I often look for the real gospel to stand up and show itself. This is the first time! Amen, Brother!