vrijdag 18 oktober 2013

The Jewish people and the Christian church 1

Asked by the synod of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands (Hersteld Hervormde Kerk) I wrote a booklet in Dutch on the relationship between the Jewish people and the Christian church. The title is De ene olijfboom (The one olive tree). The two main foci are in the first place that both for Jews and gentiles there is only salvation by faith in Jesus Christ and the second place that the Jewish people remains a people especially privilege by God also under the New Testament dispensation. I reject the view that Jews can be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ. When a Jew could be saved apart from the Messiah, then certainly a gentile could. It is the witness of the New Testament that the gospel must be preached first to the Jew and then to the gentile.
In this one sentence we see the two foci in nutshell. Gentiles who confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and the Lord are incorporated in the Israel of God, which is the Jewish remnant that knows and believes that Jesus is the real fulfillment of the law and the prophets. With Paul we pray that the time may soon come that the Jewish people will in great numbers confess Jesus as the Messiah. So the promise will be fulfilled that all Israel will be saved.
It is the duty of believing gentiles to provoke the unbelieving Jews to jealousy. This is done by professing Jesus Christ both in a clear en humble way and by accompanying this profession with a godly walk. Especially I would mention to do well to the Jewish people.
 In the past years I read many books on the relationship between the Jewish people and the Christian church. One book I found especially helpful. That was The Jewish People and Jesus Christ: The Relationship Between Church and Synagogue. Baker Bookhouse gave me permission to make a reprint. I use this book as a textbook in one of my courses the Reformed Seminary connected with the Free University of Amsterdam. When anyone is interested in a copy, you can order it by transferring €32,50  to my bank account NL52ABNA0553416634 (on the name of P. de Vries) with your name and addrees added as information. Then a copy will be send to you. When you order from outside the Netherlands, the costs are €40,--.
 In a very pointed way in The Jewish People and Jesus Christ the real differences between rabbinical Judaism (the synagogue and the Christian church are made clear, namely the person and the work of Jesus Christ. The Christian church confesses Jesus as God who became man and died as a penal substitute on the cross. Rabbinical Judaism rejects these claims because it denies the need of a Mediator. Already from the  very start of the New Testament Christian Church these were the points of division. What in first instance was an inner-Jewish quarrel (because all the early Christians were Jews) about the true interpretation of the Law and the Prophets, became a remaining divide between the synagogue and the Christian church. A second aspect of The Jewish People and Jesus Christ is that it gives us insight in the history of the Jewish remnant within the Christian Church. In the following contribution I will give some information about its author.