Q. 191. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come)…we pray…(that) the Jews (be) called...
This question and answer comes from the Westminster Larger Catechism, a staple within Reformation churches, theology, and history. In it, we are told to pray that God’s kingdom would come to Earth and a way to do that is to ask the Lord that He would call the Jewish people home through faith in their Messiah. Some are surprised when they first learn that Reformed history is full of men who believed in the future conversion of the majority of ethnic Israel as well as the importance of Jewish evangelism. Charles Hodge wrote, “The second great event, which, according to the common faith of the Church, is to precede the second advent of Christ, is the national conversion of the Jews…As the restoration of the Jews is not only a most desirable event, but one which God has determined to accomplish, Christians should keep it constantly in view even in their labors for the conversion of the Gentiles.” John Murray wrote, “Unfaithful as Israel have been and broken off for that reason, yet God still sustains his peculiar relation of love to them, a relation that will be demonstrated and vindicated in the restoration.” John Calvin wrote, “Thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first born in God’s family.” Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Nothing is more certainly foretold than this national conversion of the Jews in Rom. xi.” A good number of past missionaries who held to the truths of the Reformation went to the Jewish people scattered abroad and it was their belief that Jewish evangelism was important to the Father that motivated them to go. The history of Reformed missional and evangelistic passion towards the Jewish people did not die out with these men of the past but continues on today through Reformed ministries such as CHAIM.
CHAIM was created in 1989 by PCA ordained evangelist Fred Klett who was specifically called and set apart to evangelize the Jewish people. According to the same source “At that time there was no Jewish mission in the USA firmly committed to a Reformed and Covenantal position.” CHAIM “subscribe(s) solely to the Westminster Standards” and means “life in Hebrew, and stands for ‘Christians Announcing Israel’s Messiah.’” Their purpose is to “promote the gospel among the Jewish people through direct evangelism, motivating and equipping churches, and discipling Jewish believers. It is their desire to “help rebuild the Reformed witness to the Jewish people in the U.S.A.” After CHAIM was established, the PCA had to decide whether or not to officially recognize them. At their 20th General Assembly, the overture regarding CHAIM was passed and they became an officially recognized ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America. After that, Reverend Richard Anderson, a Jewish and Reformed believer in Jesus, joined the team.
The Motivation Behind CHAIM
In an interview with Fred Klett, Director of CHAIM, he said that he felt a calling to Jewish ministry almost immediately after his conversion to Christ. With all the other Christian ministries to the Jewish people, some have undoubtedly wondered why he hasn’t joined those organizations. His reasons for not joining those ministries and starting his own was because as someone who isn’t Jewish, Dispensational, Arminian, or Premillennial, there didn’t seem to be much opportunity to do Jewish ministry. As one who has been in the field of Jewish ministry for decades, he has seen a lot of theological error coming from Dispensationalism that has negatively influenced the messianic movement. One particular way he’s seen this theological error manifested in the various messianic and Jewish ministry circles is a belief in different covenant responsibilities and promises for the Jewish people which leads to errors in orthopraxy. In essence, he says, the main problem is that Dispensationalism diminishes the work of Messiah Jesus, who is the ultimate heir of all the blessings and who gives those blessings to all who are in Him, both Jew and Gentile.
"The main problem CHAIM ministries has found is that Dispensationalism diminishes the work of Messiah Jesus, who is the ultimate heir of all the blessings and who gives those blessings to all who are in Him, both Jew and Gentile."—@lamont_english
Another motivation behind the formation of CHAIM is that one of his and Rick’s goals is to teach the Reformed approach to apologetics as an important strategy in Jewish ministry. Klett once went to a debate between a Jewish Christian and a Jewish non-Christian on the topic of whether Yeshua of Nazareth was truly the promised Messiah. The non-Christian brought up the seemingly good point that Jesus hadn’t brought the Kingdom of God as the Hebrew Scriptures promised the Messiah would. The Christian responded that He hadn’t brought the Kingdom but He would at His return during the subsequent Millennial Kingdom. Klett mentioned how different it would’ve been had a Reformed Christian, instead of that Dispensational Christian, been in the debate in order to answer that objection by informing him and the audience that Jesus has indeed already inaugurated the Kingdom of God as the Hebrew Scriptures promised He would and that it would come in its fullness at His return.
When asked about the reception of CHAIM, Reverend Klett noted that they have been well received in the PCA as people are thankful to see a non-Dispensational Jewish ministry in existence. Anderson and Klett are grateful for the support they’ve received in CHAIM and would love to see continued growth in the area of recognition and value for Jewish ministry within the PCA. When asked why that is, Klett responded the same way as other Reformed men of the past such as John Murray and that is that Jewish evangelism is not simply one of historical priority. It is one of continued biblical priority based upon Romans 1:16. According to Reverend Klett, CHAIM is calling children of the patriarchs back to the covenant because Paul says in Romans 9-11 that unbelieving ethnic Israel are still beloved for the sake of their forefathers. Klett finished by saying that Jewish evangelism is a covenantal priority, similar to calling the wayward children of believers to repentance.
A Call to Action
Jewish evangelism and ministry is a priority of God and the same was true of the Apostle Paul (Romans 9:1-4). As such, it should be a high priority for the Reformed church. One can get involved in Jewish ministry by going to CHAIM’s website at www.chaim.org, studying their helpful resources, and then putting it into practice. They host a time each year where they invite people onto the streets of Philadelphia with them where they engage in evangelism to Jew and Gentile. Lastly, pray. Pray for continued ministry faithfulness for CHAIM. Pray that God would give you a heart for Jewish evangelism and ministry, and pray that He’d equip you through CHAIM to lovingly share the message of Messiah Yeshua with His kinsmen according to the flesh so that they may be grafted back into their own olive tree (Romans 11).