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Church needs Jewish believers, prof says

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–The Christian church needs Messianic believers — Jews who follow Jesus as the Messiah — for the same reason a man and woman need each other to be one flesh, a California Baptist University professor told the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship June 7.

Stokes addressed the afternoon session of the fellowship’s annual meeting, held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 10-11 annual meeting in Indianapolis.

“God is one, and He created man and woman and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh,'” said Bruce Stokes, who also leads The DiscipleCenter congregation in Anaheim Hills, Calif. “She doesn’t become male and he doesn’t become female. The oneness requires both of them.”

In the same way, God’s plan for His church is for Jews and Gentiles to be themselves, standing side by side and demonstrating the unity within distinctions of God Himself, Stokes said.

“The Book of Galatians says I am not, as a Gentile, supposed to become a Jew and a Jew is not supposed to become uncircumcised,” Stokes said. “Judaizing the Gentiles is forbidden; ‘goyification’ of Jews is also forbidden, because God wants Jews as Jews and Gentiles as Gentiles being one in the body [of Christ].”

The Christian church also needs to recover an understanding of the Gospel in the context of its Jewish origins, Stokes said.

“In the same way a diamond is shown off by a beautiful setting, the setting for the Gospel is the Torah and the Jewish people,” he said. “The New Covenant was, as the Book of Romans says, to the Jew first — not just in terms of it starting with them but that the New Covenant was made with Israel.

“Jesus had a bunch of Jewish disciples. He told them to go forth and make disciples of the ‘goyim,'” Stokes added. “Here is a Jewish Messiah telling Jewish disciples to make disciples of the nations. We need to see [the Gospel] from the perspective of the Holy Land coming to us, instead of the perspective of us here at the convention going to the world. The uttermost parts of the earth are here — from Jerusalem.”

The Gospel “is from the Jewish people to the Gentiles, then back to the Jewish people … Jews authentically being Jews and Gentiles authentically being Gentiles” in sharing the Gospel with all peoples.

During their meeting,the Messianic Fellowship also elected officers for the upcoming year: president, Ric Worshill; vice president, Mike Saffle; mission development, Jay Isbell; ministry development, Jay Fielding; ministry training, Bruce Stokes; treasurer, Penny Isbell; and secretary, Connie Saffle.
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press. The Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship website is located at www.sbmessianic.net.

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