Gentiles have responsibility to evangelize Jews, Glaser says
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Mitch Glaser was born a Jew and once was certain he would die a Jew. He didn't even believe in hell, until a Christian friend mustered the courage to tell him he was lost.
"I said, 'Oh, I don't have to go somewhere I don't believe in, and all I have to do is become a traitor?' because that's what I was taught," Glaser said.
Glaser recounted his journey from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity and challenged students to share the gospel with Jewish people in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 5.
Modern Christians too often leave the first group of people mentioned in Romans 1:16 out of their evangelistic efforts, Glaser said at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary.
"My request and my prayer is that Jewish people in your life do not become the great omission from the Great Commission. I don't care in what way you put Jewish evangelism into your life, as long as you do it," Glaser said. "The 15.5 million Jewish people around the world need to know the Lord."
Glaser serves as president of the New York-based Chosen People Ministries, which coordinates outreach efforts and helps plant churches in the United States, Israel, Germany, Ukraine and other countries around the world. One of the ministry's most recent projects is a Messianic Jewish church plant on the heavily Jewish Upper West Side of New York City, a joint endeavor with the SBC.
Glaser was born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn and went through Orthodox childhood rituals, which culminated in his bar mitzvah at 13.
"At the age of 13-and-a-half, I bolted from the synagogue like every other Jewish kid I knew," Glaser said. "There was no real intimacy or relationship with the living God."
Disheartened by his family's move to New Jersey when he was 15, Glaser went back to the synagogue but found no peace. He instead turned to drugs. After high school, Glaser entered college, but promptly dropped out and moved to California at the height of the Vietnam War protest movement.
After a Christian friend confronted him about the possibility of spending eternity without Christ, Glaser studied the Old Testament to prove her wrong. Instead, he became more receptive to the gospel.
He eventually prayed and asked for a sign from God, wanting to know if God was real. That night he found a New Testament and began to read it.
"I discovered two things: first, that Jesus was Jewish. Second, he was clearly God's Son," Glaser recounted.
Since his conversion and subsequent call to ministry, Glaser has preached around the world, but has maintained a desire to see God move among the 3 million Jews in New York City. He sees his ministry and mission as a biblical mandate.
"The Jewish people are God's chosen people, but chosen for what? We have been chosen to be God's vehicle of blessing for the world. ... God has not set aside the Jewish people because the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ rejected Jesus," Glaser said, while teaching from Romans 11:1-4.
"The fact that there are Jewish people who believe in Jesus is living proof that God is faithful to his covenant promises."
Glaser said Jews feel sometimes as if they have been "chosen" for persecution, but the real answer for the disproportionate sufferings of the Jewish people has a spiritual explanation.
"[God's] choice brings with it a heavy obligation and a whole host of heavenly enemies," Glaser said. "Satan has it in for the Jews because he understands that God wants to bring blessing through the Jewish people."
Glaser emphasized the importance of gentile outreach to God's "chosen people." "God has prepared a remnant of Jewish people who are ready to hear and receive the message of the gospel," Glaser said.
Just as salvation came to the gentiles through the Jews, he added, it is now the responsibility of gentiles to live and proclaim the gospel in such a way that makes the Jews realize their need for a relationship with Christ.
"There is a day coming when the promises of God to bless the world through the Jewish people, through Abraham, will be fulfilled in the most marvelous way. In other words, Paul is saying [in Romans 11:12], 'You ain't seen nothin' yet,'" Glaser said.
"Wait until the end-time remnant embraces the Messiah - then all the prophecies will be fulfilled," Glaser said.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://bpnews.net. Photo title: URGING AGAINST 'OMISSION.'