It never ceases to puzzle me when others seem to have the impression that people will be saved because they are nice people who are religious. I am especially astonished when professing Christians believe that all Jews are saved regardless of what they do with Jesus. I also find that there are people in the church who have the idea that most people are really going to be saved as long as they are sincere and do the best they can. We need to take a look at these subjects to discover what Jesus has to say sayconcerning these things. As Lord of the church,he has the final word as the Word of God.
Ministry of Hope started out as the mission to the Jewish people initially. The idea was to help disciples of Jesus to understand the way to witness to their Jewish friends. After all, Paul does tell us in Romans 1:16 (NKJV), 16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.". in other words, Jews and Gentiles both need the gospel of Jesus Christ. It alone is the power of God to salvation for any man or woman or child.
Unfortunately, I was genuinely surprised that the opposition I received from many pastors as well as laypeople insisting that Jews were saved apart from Jesus Christ. I was often reminded of what Paul said in Romans 11:26-27 (NKJV). 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins." Then they would ask me, "Why in the world you think you have to go to the Jews when all of them are going to be saved anyway?" I heard Dr. Franklin Sherman tell a group of people consisting of Jews and Lutherans, "Jews are saved by the law and Gentiles are saved to Jesus Christ." Obviously, there is a lot of Scripture these people have we chosen to ignore, and it is important that you and I bring the full teaching of God's word to people, including a Jewish friends. I will say this. There have been too many Christians witnessing to Jews with very little sensitivity, and they drive our Jewish friends away from the Messiah. There is also the harsh reality that not every Jew or every Gentile will come to faith because only those whom God has called will be calm part of the body of Christ. Yes, I know God would have all men to be saved, but he knows those who have hard hearts. These he consigns to the world because he knows that they will never humbly repent of their sins and surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. Like one Jewish lady told me, "I will never say the prayer of repentance!" She also bragged about her sexual prowess trying to seduce me which put an end to any further contact.
Erroneous doctrines and teachings arise from the fact that even scholars choose to 'leapfrog' through the Scriptures emphasizing the verses that support what they want to believe while ignoring those that may challenge their thinking. God is not going to let us pick out the verses we like while rejecting is Word when it does not appeal to our way of thinking. I remember one lady was so upset to think that God would send anybody to hell. She acted as if she was far more compassionate than God was and far more loving. We talked to some lengths as to why we cannot teach universalism which teaches that everybody will be saved. What kind of a heaven would we have if God allowed people into heaven even though they were not willing to accept him as Lord? We would end up with the same kind of struggles and distortions we find in this world where people are unwilling to let God be Lord.
God has never taught universalism. All we need to do is look at the delugeat the time of Noah to know what how God deals with unrighteous people refusing to submit to their Creator and his righteousness. We need to get even a little more specific now as we speak of the Jewish people. faithful Bible scholars know the fact that God never chose to save every descendent of Abraham. This was made clear to Abraham in Genesis 17:12-14 (NKJV). 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant." Moses learned how to this was while traveling to return to Egypt. He had not insisted that his second son be circumcised, and God threatened to kill Moses until his wife circumcised their son in time to save him. God's word is never to be trifled with, treated as irrelevant or unimportant because this will always bring consequences. People of faith fear the Lord with respect and awe as a seek God's Holy Spirit to help them to live obedient and righteous lives.
it is true that God chose to use Israel as a nation through whom he would bring a Messiah and God's Word which revealed God's plan for salvation. it is also true that the majority of Israelites turned their backs on God's plan for their lives whether we speak of the Old Testament or New Testament. It is sobering to listen to God when he speaks of the whole second-generation that perished in the wilderness. (Remember, only Joshua, Caleb and the Levites of that first-generation entered the Promised Land.) The majority of Israelites proved to be faithless even though they saw all the great works of God because they refuse to surrender their lives to God's Word. They had no interest in God's directions for their lives. There was a good reason for what God said concerning Israel in Hebrews 3:10-11 (NKJV), 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, 'They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.' 11 So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' " I had the joy of seeing some Jewish people come to accept their Messiah in my personal witnessing, but the majority refuse to see any need for repentance and submission to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the majority of Gentiles do not really repent of their sins and surrender their lives to Jesus Christ either. The fallen nature of human beings is very strong, and it takes a miracle of God to bring any man or woman to faith.
Our Lord came first to Israel as their Messiah, but we are told in John 1:11-13 (NKJV), 11 "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The apostle Johnmakes it very clear that there was a distinction between those who accepted them and those who rejected him.those who accepted them were born of God not because they were Jewish in the flesh. Once God's word appeared in the flesh, there was an immediate struggle between those who would have religion based on human ideas and good works versus those who would accept God's grace and submit their lives to Jesus Christ, their Messiah.There is always that struggle, whether Jewish or Gentile, when God invites us to accept Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives to govern us through his Word.
Jesus did not mince words when he spoke to Jewish people in Luke 11:46-52 (NKJV).
46 And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
48 In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs.
49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,'
50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation,
51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.
52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."
These three legislators did not have any question as to what Jesus meant. When Jesus said, "Woe. . .", it was not spoken as a blessing on Jewish people. This was an announcement that the religious leaders were headed for condemnation. They were in the same situation is that second-generation we mentioned earlier. They were people rejected God's word who came to dwell in their midst because they did not like what he had to say. They wanted their Messiah to submit to their rule, and they were not going to submit to his teachings.
There were many encounters where religious leaders and Jesus had difficulties. In one place, he called the religious leaders sons of the devil. (See John 8:44) I'm going to the dialogue Jesus had with the wonderful Jewish man named Nicodemus. It is good to remember that there were some will truly were searching for God's will in their lives. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night out of fear of his fellow Jews knowing what he was doing, and he wanted to know the way of salvation. Jesus answered him in John 3:16. 16 "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." We need to also include what Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:18 (NKJV)? `18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. " it would take a great deal of distortion for anyone to conclude that Jews were excluded from the need to believe in Jesus Christ, and only Gentiles were saved by faith in Jesus Christ. When Jesus says, "He who believes in him. . .," it is an inclusive clause in philosophy which means that every man woman and child falls into this category. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are saved: those who do not believe are condemned.
Honest study of God's word is sobering for those of us who take God's word seriously. God has made it very clear that anyone wishing to be part of the body of Jesus Christ is to put complete faith in God's word. Those who oppose God's word fall into the category of antichrist. It is a tragedy when some members in our congregations have become part of a perverse generation daring to twist and distort what Jesus, the Word of God incarnate, had to say. The apostles made no allowance for unbelieving Jews or Gentiles who refuse to accept Jesus as God's son. Listen carefully to what the apostle John had to say in 1 John 4:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. I would not like to be in the shoes of any teacher or pastor who has dared to distort what the apostles teach, let alone what their Lord Jesus says. If there is any question as to whether the person to whom you are talking is saved are not, just ask them this question, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and is of God?" If this person you are talking to rejects Jesus as the son of God, you are speaking to a person with the spirit of an Antichrist, and this person is not saved whether he is Jewish or Gentile.
John makes it even clearer as to who can be saved when he writes in 1 John 5:1-5 (NKJV),
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
There can be no compromise! We are saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ, and all who are saved will want to keep his commandments by God's grace. No wonder Christians are those who really take their Bible study seriously as well as faithful worship in God's house. Whether you are talking to a Jew or a Gentile, you can ask that person, "Do you believethat Jesus Christ is the son of God and we should be keeping his commandments?" The response you receive from this person, whether he is Jewish or Gentile, will tell you whether this person is a child of God according to the apostle John. John this and the only one that says we are going to be different in our obedience to our Lord if we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus. The apostle Paul says the same thing in Romans six where he was talking about being united with Jesus in our baptism. He carefully explains what are the results of anyone who is united with Jesus in his death and resurrection. we are deeply challenged as we read Romans 6:14-16 (NKJV). Notice that whether we are Jewish or Gentile there is this result for all who are baptized into Jesus Christ. 14 "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" just going to church is not impressed God. Whether we are Jewish or Gentile, our Creator requires total surrender as God gives us victory over our sinful nature's day by day by his grace.
I still have a great love for the Jewish people, and my heart longs to share their Messiah with them. I will never forget that if it was not for believing Jews, Gentiles like me would never have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am indebted to the Messiah of Israel for including me when he paid the price for our sins on the cross, and I am indebted to those Jewish believers who risked their lives and property to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.
God has a warning for those who hate the Jewish people in Genesis 12 where he made a promise to Abraham of what would happen to anyone who hates his descendents. You might like to read it yourself in Genesis 12:3 (NKJV). 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
It was God who required his son to be crucified to pay the price for our sins, and the use some Jewish leaders to accomplish this. He also used the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and the Roman soldiers to actually crucify him. He only needed a small handful of Jewish leaders to insist on this crucifixion, but they did not speak for all of Israel. Too many pastors have been careless when presenting this truth as if every one that hailed him on Palm Sunday suddenly hated him. The truth is, the leaders, who planned his crucifixion, met early in the morning because they feared the crowd who saw him as their Messiah. This is mentioned several times but you might look at Luke 22:1-2 (NKJV). 1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people.
I have had the joy and privilege of seeing Jewish people come to faith in Jesus as their Messiah, and I cannot think of a more exciting experience in my ministry than to have watch God's Holy Spirit bring my Jewish friends to faith. I have also seen the harsh, cruel and indifferent approach of those identifying themselves as Christians, people claiming to be part of the church, who presume to hate the Jewish people God loves.
There are some Christians, who tried to witness to the Jewish people, but do not know how. They do not realize that the whole gospel was included in the Old Testament just as Jesus told his disciples in Luke 24. He took his disciples to Moses, the prophets and the Psalms so that they might know him. I am convinced that many of the distorted teachings in the Church todayare the result of people not having seen the gospel in the Old Testament as well as in the new. Of course, those living in the Old Testament had to look forward to the promised one found in Moses and the prophets. They also learned like us from the law, they could not meet God's requirements on their own so they offered sacrifices of animals in anticipation of the coming Messiah would be the final sacrifice, the Lamb of God.
May our Lord richly bless you and lead you into new depths of understanding of what it means to have a risen Messiah who lives as Lord of the Church today.