ORLANDO, FL -- God has not turned His back on the Jewish people, Bruce Mills told members of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship June 12 in Orlando, Fla.
Explaining that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) "came from a Jew to Jews," Mills said that God still loves the Jewish people and that "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26) when "the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25). Mills presented his views at the Rosen Centre Hotel prior to the June 15-16 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Orange County Convention Center.
Mills, a founding deacon at Jerusalem Baptist Church, used Jeremiah 29:11 -- "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" -- as his primary text.
Mills pointed to a crucial moment in Israel's history to illustrate that God still has a plan for the Jewish people. When Jesus was on trial before Pilate, the Roman governor said to the people, "I am innocent of this man's blood.... It is your responsibility!" (Matthew 27:24). The people then answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" (Matthew 27:25).
This statement of apparent condemnation, Mills said, "can also be taken as a proclamation of salvation. After all, it is by the blood of Jesus that all of us -- Jew and Gentile -- are saved." He went on to explain that the blood of Christ is "'the balm of Gilead' that can heal the sin-sick world, both Jew and Gentile."
Affirming that the Jewish people are still very much alive in the plan of God, Mills urged the church to make them a priority in evangelism, not just a secondary option. "Salvation is from the Jews [John 4:22]," he said. "It's not from the English, not from the Germans and not from the French. Salvation is from the Jews. It is a fact of history. And Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, the King of the Jews and Savior of the world."
The message, Mills said, is clear: The church should be evangelizing the Jewish people because they are the conduit through which Christ came into the world.
"Jesus is the only hope for both Jews and Gentiles," Mills concluded.
Ben Martin*, an International Mission Board representative serving in Israel, told the group Christians are called to "share the Gospel with Jewish people. The Bible mentions two kinds of mission fields -- not local and foreign, but Jew and Gentile. We labor because of the promise that all Israel will be saved."
Martin said the efforts of the church to bring salvation to the Jewish people is proving fruitful as "more Jews know Christ today than at any time since the first century."
This fact should inspire the church to be even more determined in reaching the Jewish people with the truth of Jesus Christ, Martin said, noting, "We will not stop speaking the Gospel until we see the salvation of Israel and all of God's [chosen] people throughout the world."
H.B. London, vice president of ministry outreach/pastoral ministries for Focus on the Family, also spoke to the Messianic fellowship. "What God calls, ordains and blesses, He is also going to protect," London said. "These are tough times, but God knows who you are. He knows your name, knows your circumstances and is not intimidated by them. He will lead the way in what you are doing."
Mike Saffle was re-elected as the fellowship's president and Ric Worshill as vice president. Saffle is pastor/rabbi of Shalom Adonai Messianic Baptist Fellowship in Wichita, Kan.; Worshill is a police chaplain in Lindenhurst, Ill.
Other leaders in the fellowship are Jay Isbell, mission development manager; Randall Clark, ministry development manager; Bruce Stokes, ministry training manager; Penny Isbell, treasurer; and Margie Bohning, secretary.