Personal Statement

After reading or hearing about certain aspects of my personal life, some have desired to know more precisely about my own values and religious beliefs. If these topics are of no significance to you, I understand; simply surf on elsewhere. But if they interest you, continue reading. Though I was initially reluctant to post this information on my web site (http://www.jmtour.com), I ultimately decided that the inquisitive should learn from the source rather than from hearsay. Moreover, it might lessen the need for me to individually address the many questions that are arising. However, I suspect that after this posting, the level of questions might even increase since upon exposing oneself on these topics, inquiries (and sometimes inquisitions) can be catalyzed. If you disagree with me on any of the points listed here, that is perfectly fine. You, too, are free to believe as you like, and in that I wish you well. I have no desire to spend my time addressing other’s conflicting arguments, so I will avoid confrontations and further defenses. If you are so inclined to contest these points, I invite you to post your personal statement on your own web site.

Before I embark on this personal discourse, I feel obliged to qualify my academic treatment of students at Rice University (http://www.rice.edu) where I profess, lest some accuse me of bias. Regardless of one’s personal, religious, or ethnic background or views, I make all decisions regarding a student’s academic standing in an unbiased manner. Specifically, in any course that I teach, I program grade cut-off levels and the computer assigns the grades with no respect to the individuals. One’s grade standing in any of my classes is based upon his/her performance on the exams and assigned work, and that performance is the sole criteria for assigning the grade.

Therefore, in light of my Constitutional first amendment freedom to believe and testify of my beliefs in a manner unhindered by any governmental order, let’s begin. Based upon my study of the scriptures, which I have studied more than any other topic in my life, including chemistry, I believe:

  1. The Bible is the inspired word of God. Faithful Jewish scholars have preserved the Old Testament through the ages and it is an accurate account of God’s dealing with mankind, and more specifically, with the Jewish people. The New Testament, particularly the record in the four Gospels, is based upon eye-witnessed historical accounts that are accurate beyond compare to any historical documents of their time.[1]
  2. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and God himself, as declared in the New Testament.[2]
  3. Jesus Christ came to earth as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah to fulfill that which had been written about him in the Old Testament.[3]
  4. Although sinless himself, Jesus Christ suffered and died for the sins of humankind, he was buried, and three days later he physically rose from the dead and appeared to many, including more than 500 people at one time. He then ascended to heaven to be seated at the right hand of his Father.[4]
  5. By the act of suffering, dying, and resurrection, Jesus provided the one and only way for any person to have an eternal relationship with God.[3-5]
  6. Regardless of one’s religious or ethnic background, nobody is born a Christian or automatically comes into salvation.[6]
  7. Salvation, or eternal life in Jesus, comes through a new spiritual birth into Jesus Christ.[7]
  8. There is nothing one can do to earn salvation, but it comes through believing and confessing the work that Jesus Christ did in dying for our sins and in his physical resurrection from the dead.[8]
  9. New birth, or salvation, is witnessed to the world by changes in followers’ lives, actions and words.[9]
  10. To those who have received Jesus Christ as their savior, they are no longer under the Old Testament Law, but are told to obey the commandments in the New Testament, of which there are more than 150.[10] [Letter on Faith, HTML or PDF format]
  11. These commandments not only focus on the physical acts to be valued by Jesus’ followers, but they directly address the followers’ heart attitudes.[11]
  12. God provides sufficient grace for the believer in Jesus to obey the commandments. Grace is the God-given desire and power to fulfill the will of God.[12]
  13. One’s obedience to these commands is a direct relation to their love for Jesus Christ.[13]
  14. The follower of Jesus Christ is commanded to testify of him.[14]
  15. There is a direct command to have fellowship with other believers in Jesus Christ. [15]
  16. The Father God will place honor upon the person who serves Jesus Christ and is willing to die for him. Willingness to die for him is a requirement for being his disciple.[16]
  17. If one has no faith, it is impossible to be pleasing to God.[17]
  18. There will be a physical resurrection of both the followers of Jesus (those who have accepted the salvation provided by Christ) and those who have rejected him. The followers will live eternally with Jesus, while the others will live separated from him.[18]
  19. Everybody will have to give an account for his or her words and deeds.[19]
  20. Jesus Christ will come again, but next time he will come as the crowned King to receive his followers.[20]

There is more I can write, but this will suffice in initially defining my views. Again, these views are based upon my understanding of the scriptures; they are not simply my own.[2-20]

On a more personal note, I was born and raised a Jew in the New York City area. Yes, a Jew. And I remain a Jew. On November 7, 1977, while a college student, I came to the realization that Jesus Christ is indeed the Jewish Messiah.[3, 21] I asked Jesus Christ to forgive me for my sins and to come into my heart.[22] The result was an immediate and sustaining sense of his presence, peace and joy in a manner that I had never before known.[23] These came, according to the scriptures, by an indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[24] Therefore, in present-day terms, I am called a Messianic Jew.
My experience was not a conversion to a new religion per se; religious conversion is an event that all gentiles must undergo in order to be saved. Although we must all undergo a conversion of the heart,[25] for a Jew, this is more of a return (making teshuvah) to the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and others through the promised Messiah.[26] These are the very things that were prophesied in the Old Testament, and it is the same return experience that was undergone by the first century apostles (who were also Jews). They never spoke of a conversion, but they spoke of repentance (teshuvah) from sins coupled with a belief and faith in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul argued that this following is not a sect, but the very Way itself, the Way that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.[27, 28] This results in salvation and the entrance of the Spirit according to the words of the Old Testament prophet, Joel.[28] Furthermore, it is a return since it draws the Jew into a deeper and more passionate relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.[23] I also have a heartfelt concern for all my Jewish brethren; hence, I pray for their welfare and the peace of Jerusalem.[29] I am well aware that my views are often upsetting to some Jews; however, I can not deny the truth, as I see it, from my study of the scriptures. Moreover, what I am in the flesh, a Jew, is nothing compared to what I am by the Holy Spirit. For Jesus said that although John the Baptist was the greatest man ever born of woman, “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”[30]

About 30 years ago, through the influence of Dr. T. E. Koshy and Bakht Singh, I embarked upon the daily practice of reading the scriptures, from “Genesis” Chapter 1 through “Revelation” Chapter 22, in that order, by continuing each morning where I stopped reading on the previous day. God illuminates, in a personal way, through the scriptures.[31] My most cherished moments in life are in those daily times alone with my God in scripture reading, contemplation upon the written word and prayer. I also delight in the worship experience of partaking of the Lord’s Supper (some call this communion) in the presence of other followers of Jesus Christ.[32] By this regular act, I reflect on Jesus, remembering him, and his giving of himself for me. It is my deep sorrow that some followers of Jesus do not understand or appreciate the absolute significance and criticality of (1) regular meditation upon the scriptures and (2) the act of worship in the Lord’s Supper. Nor do they sense the need to walk in obedience to these regular practices regardless of the fact that Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”[13] This might be contributing to the phenomenon that many of the claimed followers of Christ have lost their passion for him and fail to display any substantive character or lifestyle difference from those who declare no allegiance to Jesus Christ.

How do these personal beliefs affect my teaching and research? The commandments and teachings of the scriptures greatly influence the manner in which I conduct myself in all private and professional settings, from my speech, to my management of funds, to my treatment of colleagues and students. The scriptures promise that meditation upon those ideals and obedience to them will result in great blessing and success even through the most difficult of life’s challenges; challenges which are common to all men such as sickness, pain and ultimately death.[33] With Jesus, whether we live or die, we are victorious.[34] I pray daily for my work and professional activities including research, writing and teaching. Although I have never heard an audible voice from God, I do not preclude that it could and does occur. My experience is that I ask his specific blessing and guidance upon all my work, and I often sense his direction and counsel in these endeavors. But I must admit that clarity in sensing his precise direction for me is a topic of my constant seeking and I am in need of improvement.

I am thankful that my wife, to whom I have been married since I was 22, as well as our four children, share these views. This affords peace in our home. Additionally, we gather daily for family reading and memorization of the scriptures, and petitioning God in prayer. And each morning and evening, I bless them individually, in the name of the Lord. I am often asked to speak on these topics because some find it interesting that a Jew and a scientist can believe things such as these things described here. Since my time is limited due to family and professional constraints, I give preference to those requests that come from within the Rice University and local community. I am sometimes asked to speak on the topic of evolution vs. creation, and for those interested in what I have to say regarding that matter, I have written more on the subject [HTML]. Finally, I teach a weekly college-level Bible class where I address many scriptural topics. The class is not associated with my position at the university and it is not taught on campus. It is taught on Sunday mornings, 9:40-10:40 AM, at 6218 Auden St. in the gymnasium between Rice Blvd and University. You are welcome to join me.

On another note, I have written a short testimonial on the impact that the Scriptures have had on my life, “Impact of The Scriptures/Faith of a Scientist.” [HTML or PDF format] Or you could download “Impact of the Scriptures/Faith of a Scientist” in an audio message that I delivered. Click on Audio Files, below , to download that file or any other audio messages by me.

J. M. Tour’s AUDIO FILES

In service to him who gave himself for me,

J. M. Tour

Non-Exhaustive References:

  1. Strobel, L. “The Case for Christ”, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1998, and references therein.
  2. John 20: 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and myGod!” John 10: 30 I and the Father are one.
  3. Isaiah 53, “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our grief’s He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
  4. I Corinthians 15: 1-6 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep. Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
  5. John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
  6. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Isaiah 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
  7. John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
  8. Galatians 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.
  9. Luke 3:8 Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
  10. “The Law and the prophets were until John [the Baptizer]” (Luke 16:16a). So how long was the Law in effect for God’s people who are born-again? “Til the Seed [Jesus] should come to Whom the promise was made” (Galatians 3:19); “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4); “The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Furthermore, are those who are under the works of the Law under a blessing or a curse? “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse” (Galatians 3:10). Are Christians under the curse of the Law? No. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law” (Galatians 3:13). Is anyone justified by trying to keep the Law? No. “No man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the Law is not of faith” (Galatians 3:11-12). Did Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and pre-Law Moses, live by the Law or by faith? By faith (Hebrews 11:4-30). Why was the Law given later by Moses and what was the purpose of the Law? “It was added because of transgressions” (Galatians 3:19); “The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:24-25). I have written more extensively on this topic, so for the interested, you may see the following Letter on Faith, HTML or PDF format.
  11. Christians under the New Covenant have a much higher calling to holiness than did the Old Testament saints under the Law of Moses. Does this sound like grace is a license to sin? That concept is a straw man that some have constructed. Again, we have a higher calling to holiness under the Covenant of Grace. Instead of committing the physical act of adultery to be guilty of that sin under the Law, under the Covenant of Grace you are guilty of adultery if you even look at a woman to lust after her (Matthew 5:28). Instead of having to physically kill someone to be guilty of murder under the Law, now if you even hate your brother you are guilty of murder (1 John 3:15). Instead of having to bow down to an idol to be guilty of idolatry, now, if you are covetous you are guilty of idolatry (Colossians 3:5). More could be cited regarding this, but the point has been made clear. Because Christians are not under the Law, does that mean we can do whatever we choose? No. “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the [Old Covenant] Law, but under Grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the Law, but under Grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:14-15).
  12. It should be made clear that though Christians are not under the Law but under Grace, this is in no way a license to sin. Indeed there is an almost total lack of understanding concerning what grace is. Grace is not mercy. Grace is not overlooking our sins or failures or mistakes. Grace is not merely unmerited favor. Grace is not compassion. So what is grace? Grace is the God-given power and desire to do God’s will. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” This is what grace is. Grace is given to the humble, not the proud (James 4:6). If you are trying to be justified by the Law you have fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).
  13. John 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
  14. Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 8:38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
  15. Hebrews 10: 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
  16. John 12: 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
  17. Hebrews 11: 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of hose who seek Him.
  18. John 5: 28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. Acts 24: 15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Daniel 12: 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
  19. Matthew 12:36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.
  20. John 14:3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. Acts 1:11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Revelation 19:16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
  21. Isaiah 9: 6 (verses 5-6 in some editions) For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. Micah 5:2 (verse 1 in some editions) But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity. Matthew 2:4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, ” In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 “and you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” Zechariah 12:10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
  22. Romans 10: 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
  23. Acts 3:19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
  24. Luke 11:13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
  25. Psalm 51:13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. Matthew 18:3 Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. John 12:40 he has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them (Is 6:9).
  26. Isaiah 44: 22 I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
  27. Acts 24: 14 But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.
  28. Acts 2: 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 and it shall be in the last days, God says, “that I will pour forth of my spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Joel 2:28 It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
  29. Psalm 122: 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you. 7 May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces. Romans 9: 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.
  30. Matthew 11:11.
  31. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
  32. 1 Corinthians 11: 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22: 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “”Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “”This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”
  33. Psalm 119: 97 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word. 102 I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, For You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 1: 1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
  34. Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 1 Thessalonians 5:10 [Jesus] who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.