SIMI VALLEY, CALIF. — Senior Pastor of First Baptist Dallas and Fox News contributor Dr. Robert Jeffress joined radio talk show host Dennis Prager for the “Ask a Jew. Ask a Gentile” event Sunday at the Reagan Presidential Library. The wide-ranging and warm discussion among friends began with Prager noting that “American Christians are the blessing the world doesn’t recognize. This Jew recognizes that America’s Christians made the best country in the history of the world.”
Jeffress noted that Jews and Christians worship the same God, revere the same Scriptures, and are united in their support of Israel. “The real difference between Christianity and Judaism,” said Jeffress, “comes down to the most important question in the universe, the way to salvation: is it through our own self-righteousness, or through Christ’s righteousness?”
Prager noted that in Judaism, the most important thing is actions as opposed to beliefs. Thus an atheist or a pagan could find themselves in heaven someday if their actions are righteous. Christianity, on the other hand, noted Jeffress, affirms that God demands perfection in actions—a standard no human can attain on their own. Thus for the Christian, salvation is attained not by good deeds, but by trusting the work of Jesus Christ, who though perfect, died in our place and for our sins so that we may go to heaven when we die. Not that actions are unimportant, for, as Jeffress noted, “there are rewards given in heaven to Christians based on their deeds while on earth.”
Coming back to the theme of whether God expected perfection, Prager noted that God, like a human father, may have a list of rules that he demands his children obey, but he doesn’t realistically expect they will completely obey. A human father is happy with good intent and progress as opposed to perfect obedience.
When asked why he believed Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, Jeffress pointed to three things. First, there are 64 fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament regarding the life of Christ. The odds of just eight prophecies being fulfilled in one person is eight in 10170. Second, if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, what happened to his body? The disciples scattered to the winds in fear after Jesus died. They were in no state of mind to steal a body. The religious officials could have stopped Christianity in its tracks by showing the body of Jesus if they had taken it. The only satisfactory answer, according to Jeffress, is that Jesus rose from the dead. And finally, according to Jeffress, the very resurrection itself “declared [Jesus] to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).
Jeffress affirmed his belief that Prager would indeed become a Christian someday. Prager asked Jeffress with regard to himself, “Is there no voice in you that says, ‘Is he really going to hell?’” Jeffress responded, “You’re smart, open-minded and want to do good. If I got to decide who would be in heaven, you would be there. In fact, I would open up heaven to everyone. But it’s not up to me; it’s up to God. So I do pray for you to become a Christian because God has said Jesus is the only way to heaven.”
Prager pronounced this “a beautiful answer,” and concluded by saying, “I do think we will be laughing together in heaven.”
The discussion can be viewed in its entirety here: https://www.facebook.com/
Dr. Robert Jeffress is a best-selling author of 24 books, a nationally and internationally syndicated TV and radio host and the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, one of the largest and most influential churches in America. Pathway to Victory, Dr. Jeffress’ broadcast ministry, airs daily nationwide on more than 900 radio stations and is broadcast live to 195 countries. His latest book, “A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths About Your Eternal Home,” is available in bookstores everywhere. He is an evangelical adviser to the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.