Growing up Jewish, I was taught that any Jew who “believes in Jesus” is no longer a Jew, but now is Christian and a traitor to Judaism.
Listening to Christian missionaries, I am told we must “believe in Jesus” to be saved, and when we do we are no longer Jewish or have to obey the Jewish laws.
It seems the only thing Jews and Christians have in common is that believing in Jesus means you are no longer Jewish.
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But we know, based on James 2:19, that because the demons know God exists and is one, they must then also know Jesus who sits at the right hand of God, right? So, since the demons “believe in Jesus”, are they now saved?
I don’t think so!
It seems the term “believe in Jesus” has some meaning, but what is it, really?
NOTE: I will be using the name “Jesus” instead of Yeshua because it is more relevant to the topic, and so please don’t comment on or open a discussion about what the “real” name of the Messiah is because it is irrelevant to this lesson.
Frankly, if you ask me (and since this is my ministry, I will ask if you don’t) believing in Jesus doesn’t mean anything because we aren’t told just what we are believing in.
“Believe in Jesus” can mean anything from believing he existed to believe he is the Messiah, the son of God, and many Christians believe that Jesus is God, himself.
Many Jews believe in Jesus, but only to the point where they accept that he existed and was just a Rabbi; they believe this because his existence has been mentioned in the works of Josephus, a trusted and respected chronicler of history.
Muslims generally believe in Jesus in that they believe he existed and was a prophet, but not a Messiah or related to God other than being his prophet.
Then there are the atheists who don’t believe in God, at all, but might accept that Jesus existed, but only as a man with some historical significance.
And since the name “Jesus” has no etymology within Judaism, even the name is questionable to many as a valid identifier of the Messiah.
So, that brings me to the conclusion that to “believe in Jesus” essentially means nothing in particular because it can mean so many things.
Some Christians today are eager to learn about their Jewish roots and are beginning to recognize the importance of obedience to the commandments in the Torah, whereas most Christians want to believe only what they have been taught, which is that Jesus did away with all that “Jewish” stuff and all they need to do is believe in Jesus (there’s that term again), be a good person and love their neighbor and they will go to heaven when they die.
Yeah, well, that’s not really how it works, but it sounds good so just about everyone likes to accept that and won’t read the Bible for themselves.
If it was up to me, I would never use the term “Believe in Jesus” because it really means nothing- there is no substance to it and it doesn’t really tell anyone what encompasses that belief. Instead, I would say we need to accept that Jesus (but I would use his real, Hebrew name of Yeshua) is the Messiah God promised to send, and because of his sacrifice, we don’t need to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem (which no longer exists) to be forgiven of our sins; that’s why he is now the ONLY means by which we can be forgiven of sin.
I think that is much more direct, making it clear why when we accept that Jesus is the Messiah we can receive salvation, other than just saying “believe in Jesus”.
Don’t you agree?
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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch haShem!