The Living Messiah

Elias Newman was born in 1888 in Poland to orthodox Jewish parents. His family moved toEngland where he was converted in 1903 through the work of the Mildmay Mission. After believing in secret for three months, he told his parents and was promptly disowned. He studied with the Lutherans in Germany between 1908 and 1909 and migrated to the USA in 1912. After serving in missions in Canada and Chicago for a while he was placed in Damascus, Syria, from 1924 to 1929, for a work among Jewish students. He continued in ministry in Canada and the USA until his passing in 1967.

The central theme

The living Messiah is the central figure of the true Christian faith. The dominant note of the preaching of the Jewish Christian apostles and the disciples was Jesus and the resurrection. In all the excerpts we have of their sermons, as recorded in the New Testament – Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Stephen’s address before the Sanhedrin, Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill – this is the keynote. In all the Gospels and Epistles the same thing is true; the one glorious theme that permeates them all is a crucified and risen Lord and Messiah.

All the great vital elements of Christian doctrine and life are expounded in the New Testament; prophecy is interpreted, the deadliness of sin and its certain punishment, the inherent depravity, the sinful condition of the human heart, the tremendous facts of heaven and hell, and the sublime fact of the character of God are presented. The practical aspects of the Gospel in relation to the types and shadows of the old dispensation and to Jewish life and manners, and many practical phases of the working out of the Gospel are set forth. But the central theme is always kept in sight. All else is presented in the setting of its relation to that theme, and every doctrine and topic has importance and value in proportion to the great truth of a crucified and risen Messiah.

The Jewish apostles acquired their faith in this truth not as a result of mere reasoning, but as a result of incontrovertible facts, which they accepted slowly and carefully and not fully until complete proof was at hand. Their whole faith was based on the fact that the Messiah rose again from the dead, that He was their living Saviour and Lord. The vitality of the Gospel is proven by the living Messiah it proclaims. The Gospel is the good news of deliverance from the condemnation of sin and reconciliation with God. The story of the risen Saviour as presented in the Gospel meets the deep felt need of the human heart.

A risen Redeemer

The great fact of Messiah’s work of redemption is attested by the resurrection from the dead.  If Jesus had lived the life He did, and died the death He did, and that ended his relations with this world, we would have no assurance that His death had any atoning value. It would only have been a martyr’s death. Stephen and Paul and thousands more were martyrs; but their martyrdom could not bring deliverance to a poor, guilty sinner. The Messiah Jesus rose from the dead, thereby giving the world the most unmistakable divine endorsement of the sacrificial character of his death. It was this that convinced the early Jewish believers. Without a risen Messiah they could not have preached forgiveness of sins through His name. No more can we, for the distracted world of today needs the same assurance – provided in a risen, living Messiah – before there can come to it the sense and conviction of deliverance from the condemnation of sin, or of fellowship with God.

A vital Gospel

Life upon this earth is fraught with insuperable difficulties; courage, endurance, patience, perseverance and faith are tested to the utmost, so that even Paul cries out, “Who is sufficient for these things?”  Left to himself, man would certainly fail. The help he needs is more than a set of rules or pious phrases, more than the assurance of happiness if he succeeds and of woe if he fails. He needs the supernatural and divine strength that only the living presence of a risen and living Messiah can give him.

It is through the sense of the presence of the living Messiah that we who preach His Gospel triumph. It was not by accident that the Saviour coupled the great commission, “Go ye, teach all nations”, with the great promise, “Lo, I am with you always”. Moreover there are sorrows, trials, sickness and finally death itself through which we must pass. The Gospel would be of little value if at such times it did not have a message for us that was deeper than life and stronger than death. Such a message is the assurance of the presence of the living Messiah who said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace.”

A vital Gospel that brings deliverance from the condemnation and power of sin and brings divine courage and living faith for the battles and toil of life, that lifts us above its sorrow and makes us triumphant even over death, must be the Gospel of the living Messiah.