Monday, March 6, 2017

Book Review: Jews Don't Need Jesus

Jews Don't Need Jesus…and Other Misconceptions: Reflections of a Jewish Believer. Avi Snyder. 2017. Moody. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: IF WE’RE GOING TO consider whether the gospel message is relevant to the Jewish people, then we ought to start with an understanding of the message itself. The word “gospel” means good news, but in reality, the message is both good and bad.

Premise/plot: In this one, Avi Snyder argues that Jews DO need Jesus, DO need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, DO need to experience the rebirth. He argues presumably with believers who for various reasons choose to believe that Jews are saved another way--through another covenant, by keeping the law. Snyder insists that being a descendant of Abraham wasn't good enough to save you when Jesus walked this earth, and, it's not good enough to save you here and now. He also resists the notion that Jews will come to faith only when they see Jesus face to face the day of his return. He points out that on that day--the day of the Lord--it will be too late for Jew or Gentile to come to faith.

The book isn't written solely for Christian believers but for a broader audience.

My thoughts: This one was well written. I agreed with Snyder's arguments. I thought he did a good job defending his point of view and advocating biblical truth. I loved how Snyder's go-to source was the Word of God. He used Scripture to counter each claim or excuse. And that is how the book is presented. He tackles the problem one excuse, one argument at a time.

If Jesus is an imposter, then belief in Him threatens our survival as a distinct people, chosen by God. But what if He is the prophet like Moses whom God promised to raise up? What if He is the One whom God commanded the Jewish people to heed? And what if we Jews will be held accountable by God if we fail to listen to what He’s said, just as Deuteronomy 18:18–19 warns? Then to withhold the message of the gospel from the Jewish people specifically because we’re Jews is not an act of love. It’s probably the most anti-Jewish act that a Christian can commit. This is not an easy matter to consider, but we can’t push it aside. Either He’s a blessing for Jews, or He’s a blight. There’s really no middle ground, just as there was no middle ground between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. Also, if Jesus is not the Messiah of Israel, then He’s not the Christ of the nations. That means that Christians who worship Him are guilty of idolatry, and they’ll be judged by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for worshiping a man who claimed to be God (John 10:33). Ultimately, it comes down to this: either Jesus is Lord of all, or Jesus is not Lord at all. Either He must be worshiped, adored, and obeyed by Jews and non-Jews alike, or He must be rejected by all as a false savior. Either everyone must hear the message, or no one needs to know His name.
Chosen to bear witness and proclaim. What a privilege! But there’s a problem. We Jews cannot proclaim the gospel until we believe the gospel. We cannot carry His light to the nations until we carry His light in our hearts.
No one is saved by virtue of birth, but by virtue of rebirth. That’s foundational to the gospel; we must be born again.
The problem doesn’t lie with a God who refuses to shed His light. The problem lies with our unbelieving hearts that refuse to receive His light. And the problem lies with believers who refuse to bear His light to those who are looking for a way out of the dark.
If the greatest commandment is to love the Lord wholeheartedly, how can we love Him if we don’t know who He is? How can we love a Lord whose name is a mystery, and whose deeds on our behalf have never been explained?
The purpose of repentance is not to increase the believer’s burden of guilt over generational sins. Rather, it’s to free the believer from the penalty and the shackles of those sins. Wonderfully, the chain to a family’s sins is broken by Yeshua’s cross.
Receiving God’s forgiveness must be followed by proclaiming God’s forgiveness. We’re commanded to make His deeds known. From repentance, to pardon, to proclamation for the sake of those who haven’t yet believed.
True love cannot be silent, if silence allows the beloved to die. True love cares more about the outcome facing the beloved than about the consequences facing the one who speaks. True love compels us to speak. Silence is the enemy of the salvation of any people. All too often, our silence takes two tragic forms. We choose silence before people, and so we fail to speak. Or we choose silence before God, and we fail to pray.
WHY IS IT INTOLERANT if we speak the truth? Why is it unloving if we speak that truth in love? Why is it arrogant if we implore a person to embrace the same life-saving truth that rescued our own lives from imminent danger? And why is it an act of aggression if we tell Jewish people that the Hope of Israel has come?
The gospel is offensive, and this is why we must proclaim the gospel in love. But no matter how lovingly we endeavor to present the good news, the naked reality of the bad news—that we’re sinners who have offended God—will always bring about either the pain of righteous conviction or the pain of self-righteous indignation. The key does not lie in seeking to eliminate the offense of the cross. The key lies in making certain that if offense is taken, it is taken because of the clarity of the message and not because of the callousness of the messenger.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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