Question: "Are Jews saved because they are God's chosen people? Do Jews have to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved?"
Answer: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). The “no one” He referred to includes Jews and Gentiles. Jews are not saved because they are God’s chosen people, but because they believe in Jesus Christ as their true Messiah. There are many Messianic Jews who have accepted Yeshua (the Hebrew word for “Jesus”) as their Messiah.
However, there is no doubt that the Jews are still God’s chosen people. “For you are a holy people unto the LORD your God: the LORD your God hath chosen you to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers…” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
From all the nations and people on the earth, why exactly did God “choose” the Jews? John Gill, in his Exposition of the Entire Bible, says the Jews were “chosen for special service and worship, and to enjoy special privileges and benefits, civil and religious; though they were not chosen to special grace…or eternal glory.” The Jews were chosen to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12). The Jews were chosen to be a light to the Gentiles. So then, are all Jews “saved” just because they are Jews?
According to many modern rabbinical scholars the Christian concept of salvation from sin has no equal in Judaism. Judaism does not believe that man, by his nature, is evil or sinful and therefore believes that man has no need to be “saved” from an eternal damnation. In fact, most Jews today do not believe in a place of eternal punishment or a literal hell. The Hebrew root word for “sin” is chayt, which literally means “to miss the mark.” It is a term commonly used in archery, of one who “misses the mark” of the bull’s-eye. When a Jew misses the mark and occasionally falls into the sin of failing to fulfill the laws of God, the belief is that he can obtain forgiveness through prayer, repentance and doing good deeds.
The book of Leviticus (17:11), the third book of the Torah, clearly gives the prescription for forgiveness: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” The temple sacrifice was always the centerpiece for Jewish atonement. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Levitical High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the temple and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat. Through this yearly act, atonement was made for the sins of all Israel, but the Holy Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, and for almost 2,000 years, Jews have been without a temple, a sacrifice, and a means of atonement.
The Brit Chadasha (the New Covenant or New Testament) teaches us that the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24) precisely at the time preceding the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. “But when Messiah arrived as a High Priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more complete Tabernacle, not made with hands—that is, not of this creation—and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered into the Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been made common, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?” (Hebrews 9:11-14).
The New Testament teaches that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, have “missed the mark” (Romans 3:23). All of us are under the consequences of sin, and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We are all in need of salvation from our sin; we are all in need of a Savior. The New Testament teaches that Jesus the Messiah is “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father” but through Him (John 14:6) And, most importantly, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which it is necessary for us to be saved" (Acts 4:12).
For the Jews, Jesus the Messiah has come as High Priest and through His once-for-all sacrifice for sin offers complete atonement to all people. For there is “no distinction” between Jew and Gentile (Romans 10:12). Yes, the Jews are God’s chosen people, and through them came the Jewish Messiah to bless all the nations of the earth. And it is only through Jesus that Jews can find God’s complete atonement and forgiveness.
While individual Jews must come to Christ for salvation, God is still not finished with Israel as a nation. The Bible tells us that in the end times, Israel will finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). Jeremiah 33:8, Ezekiel 11:17, and Romans 11:26 predict that in the end times Israel will be regenerated, restored, and regathered in their homeland. This regathering took place in 1948 when Israel was recognized as a sovereign country by the United Nations. (Please see our article on Israel’s role in the end times.) Clearly, God is not finished with the Jewish people.
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