Gentle as a Dove and Wise as a Serpent

shapeimage_3I learned a little bit about myself the other day that disturbs me.  After all these years in Jewish ministry, I am still susceptible to an Ad Hominem argument.

Jewish people, and I suspect most people respond often with such an argument.  The Ad Hominem fallacy is to attack the individual in some way rather than the argument itself.  This happens so often in talking with Jewish people.

So, the other day, I was involved in a discussion with a Jewish man who was bringing up the article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from last February!  Yes, I know, you’re getting tired of hearing about that article.  Frankly, sometimes, so am I.  But so much dialogue has come out of that little front-page article.  This particular time, as he was confronted with the proclamation of the Gospel and his need for forgiveness, rather than wrestle with the Scriptures, Jesus, or even God Himself,  he chose to dismiss our ministry because we were insignificant “white bread and mayonnaise” Jews in a “small storefront in a rundown neighborhood.”

Now, to be honest with you, I know better than to get into these kinds of discussions.  They are usually fruitless, and best disengaged from so that our time is not wasted.  Usually, these kinds of arguments come from those who are “confirmed in their disbelief” and simply want to engage us so that we can’t engage others who might truly be open to a spiritual conversation.  (That’s why our Aish HaEmeth events are open to “reasonable dissenters.”)  But my pride sometimes gets in the way!  The piece that hit me below the belt was the crack about Dogtown being rundown!  How silly.  Yes, I love where I live, and at 156 years old, it has some wear to it, but it doesn’t need defending.  There’s plenty of people who would love to live here… (Argh, here I go again!).

Steve Cohen was out handing out Gospel tracts at a Monkees concert recently.  In one of his e-mail responses to the tract, the woman used the same argument.  Rather than addressing the point of the tract, she attacked the illustration and referred to the tract as litter.  Nowhere in her reply did she wrestle with the point of the tract, her need for a Savior.

Gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent.  I get it now.  In our witnessing, we need to recognize diversion tactics and be vigilant in sticking to the point.  Let the Scriptures speak for themselves and lovingly lead a person to discover their need.  Being gentle as a dove will open many opportunities for sharing our faith.  Being wise as a serpent will help us use the time we have well!


3 thoughts on “Gentle as a Dove and Wise as a Serpent


    The Israelites spoke against God and Moses, so God sent fiery serpents among them because they sinned and many people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:4-7)

    God gave them a plan to escape death.

    Numbers 21:8-9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (NKJV)


    1. Not one Israelite said “Looking at the bronze serpent did not save me from death, because I was saved the minute I believed in the message of Moses.”

    2. Not one Israelite said “I was saved from death by faith alone, and looking at the bronze serpent was just an act of obedience.”

    3. Not one Israelite said, “Looking at the serpent of bronze was a testimony of my faith, however, it had no bearing on my sins being forgiven by the Lord and I was saved from death before I looked at the bronze serpent.”

    4. Not one Israelite said, ” Looking at a serpent of bronze is a work and works cannot saved anyone from death.”

    5. Not one Israelite said, “Moses meant that we were to look at the serpent of bronze because we were already saved from death.”

    6. Not one Israelite said, ” You must look at the serpent of bronze in order to join the local synagogue, however, it has nothing to do with being saved from death.”

    7. Not one Israelite said, There are three modes of looking at the serpent of bronze. 1. Looking at the serpent of bronze. 2. Talking about looking at the serpent of bronze. 3. Reading a book about looking at the serpent of bronze.

    8. Not one Israelite said, “Looking at the serpent is an outward sign that we have already been saved from death.”

    You notice, that unlike the denominational churches of today, the Israelites did not write down some man-creeds in order to be saved from death from snake bites. They believed the words of Moses, as spoken by the Lord.

    If only men today would simply believe what God says about the terms of pardon under the New Covenant.

    THE TERMS: 1. Faith-John 3:16 2. Repentance-Acts 2:38, Acts 19:3 3. Confession-Romans 10:9 4. Water baptism-Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21



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