This is the title which Mr. Albert Huisjen placed over his article in the latest issue of the Reformed Journal of November, 1954. Mr. Huisjen, according to a footnote in the article, has been for many years, and is now, a missionary to the Jews from the Christian Reformed Churches.
The subject of this article caught our eye because for some time now the matter of Jewish Missions has been of personal interest to me. A year or two ago, while I was studying the eleventh chapter of the Romans with our Ladies’ Society in South Holland, I was amazed to note how much this portion of Scripture had to say about the Jewish problem. In fact, when we were finished with our study I concluded that of all possible mission fields the mission among the Jews was the one which the Lord in His word definitely asserted would be the productive one.
Since that time I have been wondering why it is that our Churches have never, to my knowledge, given serious thought to this matter. While we have considered and even investigated the possibility of missions in other fields, no one, as far as I know, has ever pointed out the necessity of investigating the possible openings in the field of Jewish Missions. Then, too, I have raised the question in my own mind how it is that the Christian Reformed Churches, which, to all intents and purposes have expended years of effort in Jewish Missions both in Chicago and in Paterson. N.J., have only seen a token of success. The question that bothered me was: Has the approach these churches made to the Jewish problem been the wrong one? When I read the informative article, of Mr. Huisjen I could hardly conclude that they have made the wrong approach. And Mr. Huisjen surely ought to know since the burden of Jewish evangelization has been for many years his personal concern.
Mr. Huisjen introduces his well-written article with the rather striking observation that “the apostle Paul, the apostle, who was especially commissioned as the apostle of the Gentiles, has thrown more light on God’s way with the Jews, concerning their salvation, than any other New Testament writer. It was Paul, in fact, who gave the Church her directives concerning her mission to the Jews.” The writer argues that “as the apostle of the Gentiles, Paul was to establish the church as a body of believers called out from all peoples and it was this body of believers whom God would use to bring the Jews under the ministry of the gospel.” Mr. Huisjen bases this observation on Romans 11:13, 14 where he declares: “Paul magnified his office as the apostle of the Gentiles in that he sought to build up the Church in faith and godliness so that she might deport herself as having inherited God’s promises once given to Israel and thus provoke the Jews to emulate her.” This provocation of the Jews through the riches which the Gentile church received is, according to Mr. Huisjen. God’s way with the Jews. So he understands, and I believe, correctly so, such passages as Romans 10:19 andRomans 11:11.
The writer delineates upon his subject in an interesting way and impresses upon his readers that the salvation of the Jews and God’s way with them concerns us in several ways. There are especially four subdivisions in his article which clearly define this Jewish problem as related to us. Writes Mr. Huisjen: “Observe that it involves us in: a divine provision; a particular relationship; an unique mission; and a godly deportment.”
Under the part entitled, “A Divine Provision,” the writer reminds his readers that according to Deut. 32:21, which is part of the Song of Moses quoted by Paul in Rom. 11:14, it is clear that the people whom God would raise up for the purpose of provoking the Jews to jealousy are none other than the Christian people. He writes: “No other people could possibly serve this purpose of God. There have been times that God used other peoples to chastise Israel, but to provoke them to jealousy concerning their salvation, only a people can do who have become God’s people indeed. From this prophetic word of the Lord God we must conclude that our being raised up to provoke the Jews to jealousy concerning their salvation was as much determined by God as was our salvation. In this Old Testament Scriptures lies the embryo of Jewish evangelism, the precursor of our mission to the Jews!”
As to the second part of his article entitled, “A Particular Relationship” Mr. Huisjes writes: “God’s way with the Jews concerning their salvation also involves us in a particular relationship with them, a relationship such as is not found between us and other peoples.”
He then points out wherein this relationship consists. There are four points to which he calls attention: 1. “First, we are particularly related to the Jews in that our salvation is closely intertwined with them. Paul speaks of this in Romans 11:11 when he says, ‘Have they then stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles for to provoke them to jealousy.” The fall of the Jews was subservient to our salvation and our salvation, in turn, is to be subservient to their salvation . . . .”
2. “Secondly, we are particularly related to the Jews in that both they and we are branches of one root. They are the natural branches, we are the engrafted. Paul speaks of this relationship at length in Romans 11:16-24 . . . .”
3. “The most relevant point in our relationship to the Jews, however, is found in Romans 11:17. There we read, ‘What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it.’ Here we have just such a relationship as naturally genders jealousy. We have inherited that which was first promised to the Jews and which they believe they should have. The Jews indeed have a rich heritage by promise of God. Paul describes this heritage when he says: ‘To whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory,and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.’ The Jews are not devoid of a knowledge of these promises nor of a feeling for them, but in their self-righteousness they have not obtained them. Now when Paul tells us that the election hath obtained it, he has reference to none other than those whom the Lord has called unto Himself in Christ Jesus. By profession we are the members of the body of Christ, we are the elect. Hence, we are the people whom God would use to provoke the Jews to emulation and we are the people whom God can use to that end; our particular relationship with them involves our doing so.”
4. “Although not as specifically set forth in Scripture, but clearly by the providence of God, we are involved in still another meaningful relation to the Jews. They are our neighbors in a true sense of that word . . . . . Increasingly therefore, we find ourselves side by side with the Jews today. Thousands upon thousands actually reside in the shadow of Christian churches, and our Church also has its quota. Do we need proof that this is meaningful?”
Regarding the third point “A Unique Mission,” Mr. Huisjen points out that “God’s way with the Jews further involves us in a unique mission in their behalf . . . . The provocation to jealousy, implemented by our particular relation to them, makes our mission to the Jews unique. The Jew is provoked to jealousy or emulation when he comes to see that the Christian has truly become heir of God’s promises. And this he comes to see by observing Christian life, not the Christian life of an individual Christian merely, but the collective Christian life, the life of the Church, the body of Christ.”
In the concluding paragraph under this third point the writer says: “Now Paul tells us plainly that he labored to condition the church for her mission to the Jews. Says, Paul, ‘For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh and save some of them.’ Obviously, Paul was here not speaking of his labor with the Jews, but, of his labor with and in the Church in behalf of the Jews. Paul sought to build up the Church in faith and godliness so that she might the better answer to her high calling with respect to the Jews.”
Under the last thought, “A Godly Deportment,” Mr. Huisjen writes: “Last but not least God’s way with the Jews concerning their salvation involves us in a godly deportment. Scripture elsewhere tells us that godliness is profitable unto all things and so it is in our mission to the Jews. Without godly deportment there is no provoking the Jews to emulation. In considering this part of our subject we make our observation on the basis of Romans 9, 10 and Romans 11.”
Regarding this observation the writer points out three things:
“First if we would be godly as concerns the Jews we must be imbued with a spirit, of Godly compassion for them, as was the apostle Paul. Paul, observe, had great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart for he could wish himself accursed from Christ for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh . . . .”
“Second, if we would be godly as concerns the Jews it must also be our heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel that they may be saved. ‘Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.'”
“Third, if we would be godly concerning the Jews we must be guided, not by our intuition or feelings, but by the word of God. The reasonings mentioned above might be rational, but it is not biblical. To those who thus reason Paul says, ‘I say then hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I am also an Israelite . . . . God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.’ Then, taking his stand upon the Scripture, Paul brings Elias into the picture and says, ‘Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias?’ Paul had recourse to the Old Testament but we have recourse to both, the Old and the New Testament . . . .”
“Wot ye not what the Scripture saith? ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your, mercy they may also obtain mercy.’ Romans 11:29-31. God’s way with the Jews as concerning their salvation involves us in a mission, and it is a purposeful and glorious, mission. But are we faithful?”
Mr. Huisjen writes much more than that I have here quoted, and what I have quoted I know does not really do justice to his fine article. I do believe, however, that enough has been quoted to show that he is quite well aware of the Jewish problem and the proper approach to its solution. This does not mean, however, that he has answered all my questions also those regarding the conduct of Jewish missions in the Christian Reformed Churches. For example if the approach to the Jewish problem suggested by Mr. Huisjen has also been that of these Churches and it has been meticulously applied throughout these many years of Jewish mission work, how is it that to all intents and purposes there has been so little response and such meager fruits? Unless I have been wholly misinformed, the results of Jewish mission work have been never phenomenal in the Christian Reformed Churches.
Is the answer to this question to be found in the fact that these Churches have spoiled their approach with an offer of grace in the preaching of the gospel? A Jew likes consistency, you know; he hates the contradictory. An offer of grace in the preaching of the gospel is a plain contradiction to what Paul declares in Romans in the heritage of the Jew. I wonder!
But how about our own Churches? When I read and re-read those wonderful sermons of the Rev. H. Hoeksema which he preached some years ago to his own congregation and incorporated in the book called: “God’s Eternal Good Pleasure,” and especially the one on Romans 11:11, my heart thrills with the truth that God has promised to save also the Jew and engraft him into his own olive tree. How much more assurance do we need that, proceeding from this truth, Jewish mission will be successful? I propose that our Mission Committee consider seriously of investigating the possibility of conducting Jewish missions, and advise our Churches of their findings.