The Purpose of This Study
Various doctrinal positions are to be found in the body of Christ at large, even within the Messianic community, concerning salvation of individual Jews and of the Jewish nation as a whole. It is the goal of this study to examine these positions on the basis of the Word of God. We will first deal with issues regarding the salvation of the nation as a whole, and then with the salvation of individual Jews.
Which Salvation Are We Dealing With?
"Salvation" has more than one meaning in Scripture. The salvation that we are addressing is eternal life, the nature of which has been defined by Yeshua while in prayer to His Father: And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3). Kenneth Wuest translates it, ...that they might have an experiential knowledge of you.... The salvation that we are dealing with, then, refers to an eternity of intimate and blessed fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, Jesus.
Is the salvation of all Jewish people who ever lived and ever will live guaranteed by Scripture? Some theological background is in order here:
In the last few decades of the twentieth-century, since the awful tragedy of the Holocaust, a number of Catholic and mainline Protestant theologians have proposed an alternative to supersessionism [Author's note: or replacement theology: the church has "superceded" or "replaced" Israel as God's chosen people] that is known generally as two-covenant theology. The key feature is the belief that Jews and Christians are related to God separately by distinct covenants. Christianity offers a covenant relationship to God for Gentiles through Jesus The Messiah. Judaism offers a covenant relationship to God for Jewish people through Torah. These covenants are distinct yet divinely sanctioned ways for their constituents to relate to God. It would be categorically wrong to deny the legitimacy of a favorable relationship to God for Jews or Christians on the basis of one covenant or the other. So, even though most Jewish people do not believe in The Messiah, according to two-covenant theology, Christians should not deny that the Jewish people have a favorable relationship to God, rather they should affirm that Jewish people are in a favorable relationship to God precisely on the basis of Torah. Quite consistent with this, those who take this dual-covenant view of Judaism and Christianity have repudiated Christian evangelism and mission to Jewish people not just as an affront, but as a theological violation of God's covenant with Israel.
~ "The Future of Israel as a Theological Question," Craig A. Blaising, Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Presented to The National Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, November 19, 2000, Nashville, Tennessee.
Simply put, because of certain covenants that God has made with Israel, some in the church at large, and perhaps in the Messianic community, teach that the salvation of all Jewish people who ever lived and ever will live is guaranteed.
Are they correct? Let's consider just a few of the words of Jesus.
Then Jesus said again to them [the scribes and the Pharisees, v. 3], I go away, and you shall seek Me and shall die in your sins. Where I go, you cannot come.... And He said to them, You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you shall die in your sins, for if you do not believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins.
John 8:21, 23-24 ~
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and the dry land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)
The Son of Man goes, as it has been written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born. (Matthew 26:24)
The scribes and the Pharisees whom Jesus was addressing were children of hell, meaning that their father is the Devil, and not God; will die in their sins, meaning that their sins will be unforgiven; and they cannot not go where Jesus will go, which is heaven. And no life would be better off unborn if it would be followed by an eternity in heaven. It is clear, then, that Judas Iscariot was not to be saved, but eternally damned.
Will all Jewish people, then, be saved on the basis of God's covenants with Israel or on any other basis? Obviously not. In fact, Paul points out that only a minority of Jewish people will be saved.
God has not rejected his people whom he chose long ago. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the story about Elijah, when he pleads with God against Israel? "Lord, they have killed your prophets and demolished your altars. I am the only one left, and they are trying to take my life." But what was the divine reply to him? "I have reserved for myself 7,000 people who have not knelt to worship Baal." So it is at the present time: there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
Romans 11:2-5 ~
Only a remnant, a minority, of Israelites of both Elijah's day and of New Testament times will be saved. A majority, then, will remain unsaved. It is worth highlighting So it is at the present time. The present time is the Church Age, in which we live. Only a minority of Jewish people alive today are guaranteed salvation. God has made various promises to the nation of Israel as a whole, but He has never promised that all Israelites of all ages will be saved.
And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is My covenant with them, when I have taken away their sins." (Romans 11:26-27)
This declaration will be fulfilled at a time yet future to our day, at the very end of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), the Great Tribulation; but even then, two-thirds of Israel's population will die unsaved:
And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. And I will purge out from among you the rebels and those who sin against Me.
And it shall be in all the land, says Jehovah, two parts in it shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, It is My people; and they shall say, Jehovah is my God.
~ Zechariah 13:8-9 ~
God will first purge out Israel's rebels and sinners, two-thirds of the nation, by means of death. They will obviously die unsaved, and only the remaining one-third will God bring into the bond of the New Covenant and call them, My people. It is at this point in history - and at no previous point - that all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).
Today we are under the New Covenant, and salvation of individual Jewish people under the New Covenant is clearly conditional.
He came to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name. (John 1:11-12).
Yeshua came to His own Jewish people and, for the most part, they did not receive Him or believe in His name. They were not given authority to become children of God; but those who did believe on Him were given authority to become God's children.
The condition for the salvation of any Jew today
is belief in Jesus:
The apostle John declared,
For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
And Jesus Himself said,
Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes on Me has everlasting life (John 6:47).
By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:8-10 ~
Jesus Christ the faithful Witness, the First-born from the dead and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and made us kings and priests to God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:5-6) ~
The Scriptures make it clear that God sent Jesus to be crucified unto death to pay the penalty of our sins, that God resurrected Him bodily, and that only through faith in Messiah's sacrificial death and resurrection will the sins of any Jew or any other person be forgiven unto eternal life. He must repent from disbelief in Messiah to belief in Messiah. John the Immerser said to a crowd of Jewish listeners, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draws near. Repent, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).
Here's the Gospel, the Good News, in a nutshell:
And, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand; by which you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
In order for a Jew to be saved he must believe that Jesus died for his sins, that He was buried, and that He rose bodily from the dead. The exclusivity of this way was emphasized by Peter in his address to an audience of Jewish listeners: And there is salvation in no other One; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Those who believe that Jews are guaranteed salvation by some (imaginary) promise that God has made to them naturally repudiate all preaching of the gospel to them. This position is easily refuted not only by the preaching ministries of Jesus, Paul, Peter and other apostles, but by this clear declaration of Paul:
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!
Romans 10:12-15 ~
According to Paul, both Gentile and Jew must be saved in exactly the same way: by believing in Jesus and calling upon His name. But how, Paul asks, can they believe and call upon Him if they do not hear the gospel? He then provides the answer: the sending of preachers - and the sending of preachers to Jews, as well as to Gentiles, is regarded - not as an affront - but as a thing of beauty!
Not only is the preaching of the gospel to the Jews biblical and beautiful, it is a priority. To the Jew first, and also to the Greek said Paul (Romans 1:16), which priority Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13), intentionally walked out to the very last days of his life and ministry. Follow his travels in the Book of Acts. You will see that, in whatever locale he ministered, he always went to the Jew first without fail because "It was necessary" (Acts 13:46).
Some in the Messianic community appear to believe that faith in Yeshua (Jesus) plus the keeping of the Law are necessary for salvation. The issue of the means of salvation has already been addressed, but this issue must be addressed directly.
The Scriptures are very clear in this matter.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).
[He] abolished in His flesh the enmity, the Law of commandments contained in ordinances (Ephesians 2:15).
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He [God the Father] has made alive together with Him [Jesus], having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 ~
For truly there is a putting away of the commandment which went before, because of the weakness and unprofitableness of it. (Hebrews 7:18)
Then He said, "Lo, I come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first so that He may establish the second. (Hebrews 10:9)
When Yeshua died on the cross, the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross, brought to an end, abolished, blotted out, taken out of the way, put away.
The Law of Moses is no longer operative today. Even if the Law were operative, by the works of the Law none of all flesh will be justified in His sight (Romans 3:20). The Law of Moses has been surpassed and replaced by the finished work of Messiah, and the Law never did justify anyone. It suffices nothing for salvation. By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
1. Neither the Abrahamic, Mosaic or New Covenant, nor anything other than faith in Yeshua's sacrifice and resurrection guarantees the salvation of any Jew. 2. The salvation of an individual Jew is guaranteed only on the basis of faith in Messiah, and the keeping of the Law contributes nothing to it. 3. Therefore, it is not only biblical to preach the Gospel to the Jewish people, it is imperative. It is also a priority. 4. All Israel will be saved, but only at the very end of the Great Tribulation, and even then they will be a remnant remaining from the whole.
was the cry of the Philippian jailor. (Acts 16:30)
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved," was the reply of Paul and Silas.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life
" (John 3:16).
"And, brothers, I declare to you the gospel.... that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Yeshua implored His listeners, "Believe the Gospel". So we humbly implore you.
Please let me know if you've just begun to believe. God bless you!