100% Jewish 100% Christian; Is That Possible?
I have been told countless times, “You can’t be both Jewish and a Christian; it’s impossible! You have to be one or the other but not both.” But you see; it IS possible! In fact; it makes perfect sense! “How can that be?” you say. Well I am going to explain it in the clearest of terms and in the simplest of language I can think of as I share with you, “My Story My Faith”, my testimony as to how I became a Christian after being born of Jewish Parents.
It all started for me in the 1950’s growing up in a Reformed Jewish home where being Jewish and getting bar-mitzvahed were extremely important, but having any belief in ‘G-d’ was basically non-existent. I was never taught much about G-d in Hebrew school either or even when I had to study for my bar-mitzvah. From the bible stories I read, G-d seemed more like a fairy tale character to me than anything I could construe of as reality.
By the time I reached my late teens, I proclaimed myself to be an atheist. I thought people who were religious were foolish and stupid. I even tried to renounce my Judaism, but my mom and dad told me that that was impossible because it was my heritage. They said I was born a Jew and I will die a Jew.
Then one day when I was in my early 20’s I met some long haired male hippie type character at an amusement park. This guy came up to me out of the blue and asked me if he could tell me about some miracles he witnessed. ‘Hey why not’, I thought at the time. So I decided to let him give me his spiel, while I thought to myself, ‘This should be fun… I’ll show HIM how little HE knows!’
Well I don’t remember much of what he said except that he described several supernatural miracles that had occurred in the name of Jesus; some that he had experienced personally and some that he had witnessed firsthand. This was the first time ANYBODY had ever talked to me about Jesus, and since I was pretty perceptive and this guy didn’t seem like he was crazy or making it up, it really got me thinking. I walked away feeling very intrigued and wondering if there might be some truth in what he shared with me.
About 2 weeks after that encounter, I picked up two young girls hitchhiking who began a conversation with me by telling me how much they loved me and how it was ‘Jesus’ who had come into their hearts that gave them this love. They also made a point of telling me that they instantly ‘felt’ Jesus when He came inside them, and told me if I asked Jesus to come into MY heart, I would feel Him too! Well THAT got my interest!
Then they proceeded to tell me that when they asked Jesus to come in their hearts, that G-d gave them eternal life and that they now would be going to Heaven when they died. Well hearing that got my interest even more so because I was always scared at the thought of dying, especially since I wasn’t sure what would happen to me after I died. Once again, it appeared that the people who were telling me these things were not crazy; in fact they really seemed to believe these things themselves.
Can you imagine, for the first 22 or so years of my life I never hear a word about Jesus or about real miracles or anything about life after death, and then within 2 weeks of each other, I run into Christians who openly share with me about Jesus, about supernatural miracles, and about having eternal life?
Several days after that experience, I decided to stop by a friend’s house on the way home from hanging out with some other friends earlier that evening. When I arrived there, my friend was not at home, but his family was, and to my dismay, they were all in a total state of panic. Apparently my friend’s brother, who was not mentally stable, got hold of a gun, and everybody in his house including his parents, brothers, and sisters seemed sure it was just a matter of time before he shot somebody. That got me really nervous and upset, so I decided to get the heck out of there as quickly as possible and go home.
I remember the whole way home in my car wondering; ‘This could actually happen to ME!’ ‘I could get shot and be dead tomorrow!’ ‘What is going to happen to me if I die?’
When I arrived at home that night I went straight to bed, but I still kept thinking about what would happen to me after I died? Where would I go? Is there really a heaven? Would I still exist?
Then I remember thinking to myself: ‘Could it REALLY be true that Jesus could give me eternal life in heaven if I asked him into my heart?’ ‘Could I really ‘FEEL’ him if He came inside me so I would know for sure He is really there?’
Well after agonizing over this in my bed for a while, I decided to just go ahead and do it since I figured I had nothing to lose anyway; so I said, “Okay Jesus, come into my heart”. Well what happened at that moment was one of the most unbelievably intense experiences I have ever had! In an instant, it felt like an electrical current went through my whole body. It was like the feeling of pins and needles that you get when your hand or foot falls asleep, but only it was throughout my entire body and was much more intense.
I yelled, “STOP STOP…!”, and immediately it stopped. I then jumped out of my bed, turned my light on, and went over to the mirror. I recall thinking to myself that I looked okay and I’m still in one piece, and then figured, ‘Well I guess I got eternal life now’, and that’s all I remember about that night. I knew no Christians to talk to about this, so I basically didn’t say anything to anybody; I just continued to live my life for the most part, like nothing had happened.
However, from that point on, I couldn’t say I was a true Atheist any longer. I now considered myself to be an Agnostic, still not knowing for sure about G-d, or whether I really had eternal life or not. The truth was; I really didn’t know what the heck to think or believe!
For the next 5 years or so, I became more and more curious about life and G-d. I started to develop a hunger for the truth, yet I still resisted becoming a Christian because I reasoned to myself that if I became one, I might not be able to continue to do the things I wanted to do that I thought weren’t particularly too Christian-like.
I didn’t exactly know either, just how much ‘the truth’ would actually involve G-d or Jesus, but regardless, everything somehow seemed to always lead me back to Him. It seemed like Christians were showing up in my life all the time wanting to talk to me about Jesus and wanting to pray for me. It was like Jesus was following me around, while I was off doing my own thing.
I searched hard to find meaning and fulfillment in my life those 5 years. I read many self-help books and experimented with some drugs, got into body building, practiced transcendental meditation and yoga, and looked into philosophy, psychology, and parapsychology for the answers, but nothing seemed to bring it together for me for any real length of time and nothing totally clicked for me in my head or in my heart.
By September 1977 at age 27, I really had become very disappointed with most of the things in my life and how my life was turning out. I didn’t like my job or career path anymore; I wasn’t happy with myself or with a lot of my friends and I always seemed to find myself either screwing things up or getting screwed by someone else. It seemed no matter what I did, it didn’t work out right for me.
Although my undergrad and professional background was Accounting, I decided to make some changes in my life and one was to go to Grad school at night for that fall semester and prepare to become a Guidance Counselor, something I felt would be more ‘me’. But who should turn up in my Counseling class, but a Christian. And this Christian turned out to be a lady named Fran whom I had previously met a few months before through my cousin Jan who also happened to be a Christian.
I had gotten much closer to my cousin Jan over the last several years after she moved into my area, and Jan introduced me to Fran at a gathering of her friends when I just happened to pop in at her house one time when she was having a church group over. This Christian lady Fran now befriended me, and we talked inside her car almost every night after class about G-d, psychology, philosophy, parapsychology, and what was going on in our lives.
During that fall season I also met a young woman outside of the college who I considered marrying. When I told Fran about this and that I really wanted to do everything possible to have a good marriage, she offered to pray for me right there in her car for this young woman’s and my relationship. Fran told me if it wasn’t for Jesus in my cousin Jan’s life, that Jan and her husband Tom would not be together today. I was shocked to hear that since I thought they had a great marriage. Well since I was desperate for happiness and I figured I had nothing to lose, I told her to go ahead and pray.
Well Fran took my hand and prayed, and once again, I had one of the most unusual surreal experiences of my life as she prayed for me. I can’t tell you a single word in her prayer, but while she prayed, I felt the most incredible sense of peace I have ever experienced.
It was like there was warm oil inside me that started flowing up from inside my stomach to the top of my head and also down from my stomach into my legs till it reached my feet. I felt euphoric when I walked out of her car with a sense that everything was going to be all right; but it wasn’t going to be, at least not right away.
The relationship with the young woman I wanted to marry soon ended with her betraying me, and around the same time I was also betrayed by two so-called male friends. Feeling more desperate and confused about life, I decided to ask my cousin Jan if I could attend her church with her. She certainly was happy about that since she was one of the many Christians who had been praying for me.
That Sunday morning, November 27, 1977, she took me to her church. I remember the people there being so warm and friendly, plus they seemed so happy to be in church, something I had never seen in my temple when I used to go as a child; back then, we couldn’t wait for temple to be over.
Then I remember sitting in the pew during the service as the pastor gave his sermon. I couldn’t tell you one word this pastor said either, except that everything he said seemed to be directed towards me. I mean, my mouth was hanging open and my eyes were popping out of my head as I starred in amazement that the words this pastor was saying was addressing almost everything that was going on in my head. This pastor was even looking directly at me a lot of the time while he was speaking, which he told me later that he had no idea he was doing.
He never could have known what was going on inside me anyway. Never! I didn’t tell him or anybody else anything. Nobody could have known; that is, nobody except G-d.
When church was over I immediately went back to my cousin Jan’s house to talk. After several hours of asking her and her husband Tom a barrage of questions about G-d, the Bible, and Christianity, I went home and it was there that I privately accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. When G-d impressed upon my heart right after I did that, that I had already asked Him into my heart that strange night in my bed about 5 years earlier, I burst into tears of joy. No wonder it felt like G-d was following me around; Jesus was living inside me through His Holy Spirit all that time!
One of the first things I did after becoming a Christian was to read a book by Josh McDowell called, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”. It helped clear up many of the doubts and intellectual questions I had about Christianity, including the accuracy of the Bible, how Science doesn’t contradict Christianity, and how historical records support Christianity. Believe me; I was and still am very intellectual in how I understand things. There is no way I left my brains on the shelf in becoming a Christian.
After that one Grad school semester in 1977, I decided not to make that career change, but to use my free time to study the Bible and solidify my faith. I realized that I had this debt of love to G-d since my salvation was not something I had earned, but it was a gift from G-d that was given to me by His grace when I accepted His Son Jesus’ sacrifice as atonement for my ‘sins’ which in essence means falling short of G-d’s perfect righteous standards. I felt that I needed to be a light and an example for others to see, so it became especially important to me now to develop my personal relationship with G-d to know him intimately that I could grow in character, and in understanding of how this all fit in with truth and reality.
As I began to do this on a daily basis, it wasn’t long before G-d was giving me more and more revelations and understanding than ever before. Everything finally started to make sense to me. Life made sense; people made sense, and even G-d made sense. I understood more of what made me who I am and why so many things in life are the way they are. I eventually learned to truly love myself unconditionally as G-d showed me through revelation, the Bible, and personal interaction with him the incredible love He had for me.
I was also able to make great new friends who became like family; friends who were truth seekers and who were loyal; friends who had integrity and good character. And I kept getting better jobs in accounting and finance until I got established in the field which included becoming a CPA.
After several years of this new lifestyle, the truth about Jesus became so clear and real to me, it became absolutely impossible to deny. I have developed such a strong faith, that I can honestly say now deep in my heart that I know because I know because I know that what I believe about G-d and Jesus IS the absolute truth! No matter what people have said about us humans not being able to know these things about G-d and truth, I know now is simply NOT the truth. My faith IS as real to me as anything I am able to see in the physical realm. No matter what someone might say to me to the contrary, nobody could shake my faith. I have become as solid as a rock in my beliefs.
When I meet and talk with other Christians today, that is ‘Bible believing’ Christians who have asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior and have a ‘personal relationship’ with Him like I do, I find it is also their conviction to know this undeniable truth deep in their hearts. And what is even cooler and more amazing, is that the majority of what these Christians believe and have come to know, is the same as what I have come to know. These people too became solid in their beliefs after walking with Jesus over time.
My faith is not a religion or a cult; it is a personal relationship with G-d through Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha Mashiach, and through the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Ha Kodesh. By birth I am still 100% Jewish through my lineage, and now by faith 100% Christian or Messianic Jew. I am not part of the group Jews for Jesus, but I am a Jew who believes similarly to how they do, that Jesus, Yeshua is the promised Jewish Messiah that is spoken about in the Holy Scriptures; the Tenach, the Writings and the Prophets; and that He came to earth about 2000 years ago as the suffering servant Savior, and will come again soon as Lord and King.
I am not brainwashed or controlled by any human being either, but my mind has been renewed to think in a positive healthy manner according to the truth. I am totally fulfilled and grounded in life with a solid foundation to stand on to face anything and everything that comes my way because I know deep in my heart that I can trust and rely upon G-d in and through all circumstances, who in the midst of them gives me a peace that transcends all understanding, and the knowledge, strength, and wisdom to live victoriously in everything I face and do. This is why I believe. This is why I am 100% Jewish and 100% Christian. This is my story, and this is my faith; Larry Gaines.
Now if there is still some confusion in your mind about being both 100% Jewish and 100% Christian, then just think about this; if the Messiah came today, and suppose his name was NOT Jesus, would the Jews who believe in Him be any less Jewish? Of course not! They would be as Jewish as a Jew could possibly be! And you too will eventually be able to feel this way even if you believe like I am sharing with you.
Here are a few historical facts that you should consider; Jesus Himself was Jewish, His 12 disciples were Jewish, all the writers of the New Testament were Jewish with the possible exception of Luke, and mostly every one of the first followers of the Faith was Jewish. Christianity for those Jews who believed, started out to truly be a Jewish Faith with all its cultures and traditions; hence the birth of Messianic Judaism and Messianic Synagogues. Back then Jewish believers in Jesus were called Messiahists instead of Christians.
But the majority of Jews did not accept Jesus as their Messiah. They were not looking for a suffering servant teacher Messiah who would show and teach His people the heart and spirit of the law, but instead (like many Jews today), were looking for a mighty warrior King Messiah, who would bring peace to the world through force. This new teaching did not sit well either with the very pious self-righteous Jews of that day who were trying to follow the letter of the law, and therefore rejected Y’shua as their Messiah and Savior.
Soon, the first century Messianic Jews were given the call by G-d to share the Gospel not only with their fellow Jews, but with the Gentiles also, the non-Jews of the nations of the world. Many of these Gentiles with all their diversified cultures now accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and churches instead of synagogues began to form. And since the Jews who became believers in Y’shua as their Messiah were much smaller in number compared to the Gentiles, Christianity gradually turned into a fundamentally ‘culturally’ Non-Jewish Faith with none of the Jewish traditions.
But Baruch Ha Shem, there ARE MANY believing Messianic Jews today who come from all backgrounds including Ultra-Orthodox, Conservative, as well as Reformed, and who are attending the many Messianic Synagogues that are out there TODAY who believe and feel they ARE as Jewish as they can be. Some Messianic Jews go to regular churches like I did for a while and have no problem with them, but many believing Jews feel the need to express their Faith according to their Jewish roots and attend a Messianic Synagogue. I did that for a while also.
Do a Google on ‘Messianic Judaism’, ‘Messianic Congregations or Synagogues’ or “Messianic Jews’. You will be amazed at what is out there. There are plenty of Messianic Jews around to have fellowship with, and plenty of Messianic Synagogues you would be able to attend that shouldn’t be too far from where you live where you could grow to feel very much at home in your Jewishness and Judaism, and where you could also grow in your Faith.
Also consider this; ‘Christ’ and ‘Messiah’ both mean ‘Anointed One’. ‘Christ’ is the Anglicized word ‘Christos’ from the Greek which was the original language of the New Testament, and ‘Messiah’ is the Anglicized word ‘Mashiach’ from the Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament. There are over 300 Messianic prophesies in the Old Testament that were prophesied and written over 500 years before Jesus was even born that Jesus Himself fulfilled in the New Testament!
Now although the interpretations of those prophetic scriptures have been disputed by many rabbis, there are at least as many studies that show the fallacies of those rabbis’ arguments and make a STRONG case for what Messianic Jews’ AND Messianic Non-Jews believe about them. We can if we choose to, argue forever about what something in the Holy Scriptures means, but regardless, the MOST convincing evidence for me believing that Y’shua is indeed the Jewish Messiah, is my personal walk with G-d and what He has revealed to me, coupled with the many other Jewish and Non-Jewish believers in Jesus I know who believe similarly. Nothing anybody can say about any interpretation of Scripture will ever nullify what we believers have seen, experienced, and come to know deep in our hearts through our personal relationships with G-d.
Nevertheless, I truly understand if this is difficult for this Faith to become a Jewish one in your mind; therefore I urge you to seek Ha Shem Himself for the truth. Even though the idea of ‘Jesus’ or ‘Christianity’ may seem to be the antithesis of Jewishness or Judaism, it is anything but and only YHWH can reveal that to you. I urge you to seek Him! G-d promises if we seek Him and search for Him with all our hearts, we will find Him!
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