I was talking with the Lord one morning, when something came to mind. But the neatest thing about what came to mind was that it was basically the topic that I was ABOUT to read from my morning Bible study in Galatians 3, I just didn’t know it yet:
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced (suffered) so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ (Genesis 15:6)
Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3, 18:18, 22:18) So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (Deuteronomy 27:26) Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” (Leviticus 18:5) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree (or impaled on a pole)” (Deuteronomy 21:22-23) He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” (Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 24:7) meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
I titled this talk “Will Jews Automatically Be Saved?” The discussions that came to mind when I thought of this was that common question about the fate of the Jews in the end. The common Christian answer would be, “No, they’re not saved without Christ.” But then, they are God’s people, and always will be since God never backs down on His promises. But does that mean that they will be saved in the end even if they still do not accept Jesus as the promised Messiah? So that is the question I hope to tackle today.
“So what about the Jews?”
First of all, to ask this is to separate Christianity among the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians, and that is not a correct thing to do. Not only because Jesus came to save the world from sin, but also because of our knowledge of the early church, the Church in the first-century A.D., for the first “Christians” were in fact Jews who believed the message of the Messiah (the Gospel). In fact, other than the cultural differences and prejudices, Jewish and Gentile “Christians” were originally seen as being of the same faith (or people of the “Way”). The 2 main reasons I understand for the separation were because of:
- Constant persecution by the government among the Christians
- The fact that as the Apostles were being killed off, their Gentile disciples were sort of being raised up to represent them. So what was previously (and originally supposed to be) recognized as one Church, as Paul said, “…neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free…”, quickly became recognized as a Gentile religion.
Another reason to recognize the connection of the Jew and Gentile Christians (ones who have believed and accepted the Messiah and His message) as one faith is because Acts 21:20 tells us about how James had mentioned that thousands of Jews had believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Plus, when Jesus told His disciples to go out into the world and make disciples, they had understood the importance of the Jews as being their (original) target audience. So Jews who believed are technically “Christians” (though many today prefer the title, “Messianic Jews”).
Now, remember in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) when God called the Israelites stubborn and disobedient (“stiff-necked”) people (Exodus 33:3)? Though the scriptures say that God wanted to destroy them, He decided against when Moses stepped in as their mediator (Exodus 33:15-17). Instead, they just didn’t make it into the Promised Land…Joshua and Caleb were the only 2 of the original Israelites, of those who escaped from Egypt, who entered it (even Moses didn’t enter!).
So in disobedience and disbelief, many Israelites didn’t receive God’s promise to Abraham. Remember, Abraham was seen righteous to God by his faith in God, not by any works of a Law, especially since the Law was not yet given (and Paul touches on this fact in Galatians 3:17-18).
Yes, the Jews are God’s people…all the more reason for their necessity to accept and follow/obey Jesus, for:
- Jesus is their promised Messiah
- Jesus is their Promised King, seed of David who will reign forever
- Jesus is the fulfillment (or means of fulfillment) of God’s promise to Abraham.
- Jesus is the seed by which God made His promise to Abraham
- Gentile Christians = “Christians” (Saved)
- Messianic Jews (Jewish Christians) = “Christians” (Saved)
- Non-Christians (Jew or Gentile) = “non–Christians” (Not Saved)
Here’s another way of looking at this: Jesus told a parable of a feast…a wedding feast: All the townspeople were invited, but they all gave empty excuses for why they weren’t attending the feast. So in order to fill the seats, the host invited people outside…outcasts, homeless, foreigners, etc., and they gladly accepted the invitation. (I know there are other messages in this parable, but) in comparison with this topic, the ones originally invited were the Jews, and the outsiders who actually attended were the Gentiles (and the guy who wasn’t dressed for the wedding was an example of the gentile NON-Christian). Now understand, this is not a condemnation to the Jews…I’m not anti-semitic. In fact, in terms of salvation, “locals get in free”. But they’ve gotta walk through the door if they’re going to get in, and that door is Jesus Christ (as stated in John 10:9 and 14:6). The Jews had the Mosaic Law as their trainer (“nanny”, according to Paul), to train them up (and the Jews have so far had over 3000 years of training). So since Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, there’s no more training needed for the Jews. The Gentiles, on the other hand, have to go through “on the job training”, so to speak, for they never had the Law to train them up as God’s people. And THAT’s how the Law is to be used among Gentile Christians. But salvation is only found through faith in Christ.
Jesus came for the heirs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…He was God’s Promise to them, spoken of through Moses and the prophets. Therefore, by rejecting Jesus, they are actually rejecting God’s promise, which God made to Abraham. And if they reject God’s promise to Abraham, then they are no different from their grumbling and stubborn ancestors in the wilderness, whom God called “Stiff-necked”.
Therefore, if this is correct (and I have checked with other Pastors and Christians), and if I am also hearing Paul correctly, then the Jews will not automatically get into heaven (not unless they’ve accepted Jesus as their Messiah), and therefore, it is also extremely crucial that we include present-day Jews in our audience for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Understand, however, that this is not a means to boast of our salvation – far from it. If anything, it should terrify us and bring us to our knees with praises to God for His Son’s accomplishments on the cross and for raising Him 3 days later! It should also prompt (push?) us to share our message with the world all the more (the Truth of the Gospel should burn inside of us!), for it reveals just how critical it is for everybody to accept Christ Jesus. For if God won’t even grant eternal life to the Jews unless they accept Christ, then all the more reason for the Gentiles’ need to accept Him, also.