The Work of the Gospel in Israel
If their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the gentiles, how much more their fullness! For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Romans 11:12,15
The State of Israel’s 50th anniversary is a testimony to God’s faithfulness, who has kept his covenant not to “cast away the descendants of Jacob and David” (Jeremiah 33:25-26). Since the rebirth of the nation in 1948, thousands of Jews in Israel and around the world have come into the New Covenant established by their Messiah, the Lord Jesus (Isaiah 29:22-24).
A vibrant, thriving Israeli church is now in its second generation. However, the growth of the church in Israel has not been without problems. Congregations in the land are often isolated, lacking in mature spiritual leadership. Numerical advances have not always been matched by spiritual growth; a strategy is needed to help nurture the growing Jewish Christian community in Israel beyond the year 2000. Christian Witness to Israel (CWI) has such a strategy and, God permitting, is determined to work for its implementation.
At the heart of God’s covenants with Israel is his self-giving commitment to them in grace apart from any merit of their own (Ezekiel 26:32). As his people, the church must reflect something of this covenant faithfulness (Matthew 5:48). CWI has pledged itself to the long-term welfare of the Body of Messiah in Israel. CWI intends to labor so that the next generation will be able to witness with a confidence and an authority born out of a deep acquaintance with the Scriptures (Colossians 2:2). Their greatest need is, indeed, to understand the Bible better and to be able to apply its message to every area of life (Psalm 1). However, there is a great dearth of solid Christian literature, no commentary on the whole Bible, few books on essential doctrines and literally nothing in terms of historic Christian biography.
CWI’s work in Israel over the last 25 years hardly scratched the surface of opportunities available. There is a need to ensure that the new generation of believers in Israel is strong, vigorously biblical and evangelistically vibrant, as was the early church in Jerusalem whose wisdom and spirit could not be resisted. To those ends, CWI remains committed to a sensitive, bold, grass roots evangelism conducted by local believers in the country. The Mission praises God for the growing number of Israelis who have put their trust in Messiah Jesus and who now serve him and their people in the fellowship of local congregations. But CWI is greatly concerned over the growth of the Messianic Movement and its divisive influence in the church.
CWI has been working in Israel since 1925. From its very inception the Society was committed to a well-rounded and biblically orientated outreach to the Jewish people that includes evangelism, the encouragement of local congregations, biblical and theological education, and an active practical concern for people. CWI’s work is doctrinally based, biblically informed and soundly committed to the historic Reformed confessions of the church.
CWI was active in the physical salvation of many Jewish children during the Nazi occupation of Europe. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, the Mission undertook to provide medical services to a fledgling State in which there was great need. All along, staff spoke up for the gospel and worked in closely with the local congregation in Haifa, where the work was originally based. Dr. James Churcher, long time leader of the work in Israel, was so highly valued by the city in which he lived that he was granted the keys of the city.
In the past, CWI managed a Christian bookshop in Haifa, which has now been handed over to a local congregation. The Mission also spearheads the support of a number of schools for retarded children. This is done through the co-ordination of work groups that come from various parts of the world to help these needy children and by the purchase of selected equipment for the schools. That important task has also been handed over to a local congregation. CWI believes that it should support the growth of churches, not supplant them. That assumption lies at the heart of the organization’s theology of mission.
The CWI offices are in Rishon LeTsion, close to the center of the country. Its work is conducted and led by a wholly indigenous body of believers who are active in their local churches. One of these churches works in close association with the Mission in a partnership role. Its staff shares the CWI office and some of its equipment, and the Mission shares the church’s.
The backbone of CWI’s work in Israel, executed under HaGefen Publishing, is the production of solid spiritual literature geared to help equip the Israeli church for its important task of glorifying God by the lives of the believers and by their active evangelization of their own people. Due to high production costs and the impossibility of importing books in Hebrew, all productions are heavily subsidized. Among these are: The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, Knowing God by J. I. Packer, The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, The Screwtape Letters by C. S Lewis, Discovering God’s Will by Sinclair Ferguson and various evangelistic books, tracts and booklets. Other publications include a modern Hebrew hymnbook, the only full Sabbath School curriculum in Hebrew, an illustrated Children’s Story Bible and two quarterly magazines. An important project now under way is a limited vocabulary, modern Hebrew version of the complete Bible for children with contemporary Israeli illustrations. The writing of a Bible commentary in Hebrew is also envisaged.
CWI is also engaged in evangelism, in promoting unity among local Jewish believers and in providing the churches with opportunities for co-operation in evangelism. The Mission’s staff initiated the founding of Mishkan, the quarterly International Forum on Jewish Evangelism; Keren Tkuma, the national social aid fund; the National Intercongregational Fellowship, and the National Evangelistic Committee. We also played an active part in the founding of the Theological Education by Extension program in Israel and are active in various aspects of the local and national life of the congregations in the country. Its offices and some of its staff initiated the founding of and then, for an extended time, served the Messianic Action Committee which led the struggle against proposed legislation to restrict freedom of religion in Israel.
The work in Israel is now faced with new and exciting opportunities. The children’s Bible should be completed within the next few years and many other valuable books await publication. CWI would also like to take a more active role in evangelism, accelerate the production of its magazines, produce a magazine for the younger age group and respond to repeated requests for help in various areas of need and opportunity around the country.
In its ministry to the Jewish people, Christian Witness to Israel maintains its unreserved allegiance to God’s Holy and inerrant Word, the Bible. The Mission also affirms the historic Reformed confessions of the church, including the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. Among other things, CWI’s Basis of Faith requires that its missionary staff believe and teach faithfully the following:
That God is one God in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
That God created man in his own image. By wilfully sinning against God, Adam fell into the sin and misery into which all children of Adam have been born, their natures have been corrupted and every aspect of their being is in bondage to sin. Therefore, Jews and gentiles alike are under the condemnation of God, prone to do evil and liable to eternal death from which they cannot be delivered except through the unmerited grace of God our Savior and by his own act of redemption.
That God has not left the world to perish in its sin but, out of his great love from all eternity, has graciously chosen an innumerable multitude of Jews and gentiles to be delivered from their sin and misery, and–of them–to restore his covenant kingdom of righteousness in the world.
That God, in fulfilment of his promises to Israel, has redeemed his people through the promised Messiah, Jesus our Lord, who, though he was and ever continues to be the eternal Son of God, was born under the law and of the lineage of David. We believe that he bore the penalty for our sins, fulfilled the obedience owed to the righteousness of God, and that he now represents the redeemed before his Father to the praise of the glory of his grace.
That Jesus the Messiah, our Redeemer, died, was raised for our justification, and ascended into the heavens, where he sits at the right hand of the Father Almighty.
That the full and final redemption accomplished by the Messiah is applied to all his people by the Holy Spirit through regeneration and sanctification. That the Spirit is granted to the redeemed so that they may do those good works which God has prepared beforehand for them to do.
That God has one people in the world–his Church–which is made up of believing Jews and gentiles. That he has endowed the church with the ministry of the Word and of his holy ordinances in order that the gospel may be made known in all the world and that its effects be continuously experienced by the redeemed.
That Jesus the Messiah is to come a second time, in glory, to judge the world. That all who die in Messiah shall then be made perfect in holiness and go home to the Lord, and that all who do not die in Messiah shall consciously abide under the just and eternal wrath of God.
As of the year 2000, all branches of CWI, including HaGefen in Israel, are to be funded from designated contributions. Contributions sent to the General Fund will be used to support the headquarters’ operations, to meet general needs in the Mission’s various branches around the world, and for emergencies as and when they arise. Contributions may be sent directly to each field or via the International Offices in Britain. Savings due to the difference in exchange rates are possible when contributions are sent directly to the designated fields. All monies received are used in strict accordance with the donor’s wishes. Contributions are receipted and audited. Ongoing inflation and a relative freeze of the exchange rate has created an enormous gap in the support base of the Society’s work in Israel while the Society’s new financial policy has placed the larger part of the burden of finding support on the staff in Israel.
Members of the CWI staff in Israel regularly visit the United States and are available to interested churches for speaking engagements. All inquiries should be sent to the CWI Israel office:
HaGefen Publishing, P.O. Box 75, Rishon LeTsion, 75100, ISRAEL.
Tel. 972 (0)8 869 2542, Fax. 972 (0)8 869 2531, E-mail: email@example.com
Come, Lord Jesus
Surely it cannot be long till day. Nay, hear Him say, Behold I come, my dear Bride; think it not long. I shall be at you at once. I hear you, and am coming. Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus, come quckly, for the prisoners of hope are looking out at the prison windows, to see if they can behold the King’s ambassador coming with the King’s warrant and the keys.