Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I covered a little bit of Chapter two of “To the Jew First a textbook on Jewish Evangelism” entitled “The Biblical Messenger” in my response to Elisabeth’s question. This chapter seeks to establish the guidelines for who is to be a biblical messenger. It says that Jew or Gentile can be, and provides some words to help ground a Biblical messenger. Mitch Triestman gives us some key words: Prayer, Preparation and Personableness which he defines as being not personality, but love. He also clarifies some misconceptions by saying that “Jewish people don’t all look alike, spend alike, and they certainly don’t believe or behave religiously alike.” I can certainly attest to that. On May 29th I was in Carlisle PA for an event called Simcha, which means celebration, an annual event put on by Chosen People Ministries. In one of the break-out sessions I learned about New-Age Mysticism as a cultural and religious choice amongst Israeli Jews. As it turns out, many of the New age or Eastern Religion Light practices can fit right into Judaism. Many, many Israeli youth, when they leave the military service go to India to find their own spirituality. It is very common to see Israeli Jews trying to find Shanti Shanti which is “peace” and it is even called Shanti Shalom in some circles. There is a massive market for these religious practices in Jewish circles. This is an important understanding to come to when trying to evangelize the Jews, because not all of them will be able to relate to Isaiah 53 prophecy fulfillment style evangelism, and not all of them will be able to relate to the New Age style of evangelism. It is mostly important then, as Mitch Triestman says, that the evangelist, Jew or Gentile, be a Committed Christian. He relates a story of a preacher in Philadelphia known as the “Walking Bible”. This man was renowned for the depth of his biblical knowledge giving sermons without notes or a bible and referencing perfectly the scripture to the word. I immediately thought of a Jewish Cantor as I read this story. One time Mitch Triestman had the pleasure of giving a testimony when the “Walking Bible” gave a sermon. After the service many people were complimenting him on his vast knowledge and he related a story to them. He spoke of a man in Philadelphia who lived on the street, a drunk, who boasted that he could match anyone on his Bible knowledge. Eventually the “walking Bible” was introduced to the boastful drunk. To the delight of those who had gathered for the occasion, the two combatants went at it. Furiously, they recited passages, naming chapter and verse. One would begin a text, and the other would as quickly conclude it, all form memory. It became obvious that there would be no winner; bother were equally matched. The question that was begging to be asked was finally voiced by one of the spectators. The street person was the one addressed, “How is it that you know the Scriptures so well, and you’re still a drunk living on the street?”

All grew quiet, embarrassed that the question had been asked, but relieved as well, since they all in their minds had already asked the same thing. The drunk said sadly as he walked away, “He’s the “Walking Bible”; I’m just a ‘Talking Bible.’”

I found Triestman’s next words very poignant. He said: “Being a witness may mean that you’re the only Bible some people will ever read. There is something very sad about a talking witness who is not a walking witness.” I remembered the Left Behind series for adults when I read this. There was an associate pastor who had been left behind because he knew what he needed to know, but he had never let the knowledge drop the two feet to his heart. He had never encountered Jesus the way the pastor who had been taken had.

That being said, let’s open up for discussion, What, do you think is the reason that a person can have an intimate knowledge of scripture like the drunkard on the streets of Philadelphia, or the fictional associate pastor, and not make the step of faith and be touched by Jesus? Also what negative results do you think are possible or likely if a person is a talking, rather than a walking, witness? Why? How does being a talker rather than a walker give Christianity as a whole a bad reputation, and how can it turn away our Jewish brethren?

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