Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Are Jews Saved

I grew up in a Bible believing church and experienced the love that true believers have for their Christian messiah and God’s word the Bible.  It was an evangelical church that sent missionaries around the world to get the Gospel message out to lost sinners.  Among evangelicals there is a deep burden to reach all with the Gospel message contained in the Bible according to Christian interpretations and theology.  This zeal for the lost sinners of the world mistakenly includes Jews who are considered lost since they don’t accept the Christian messiah.  A messiah who said in his own words in Matthew 15:24 that “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” not the House of Judah.

The Christian view is that their messiah came and died for their sins.  Because of this, Christians repent and return to God and follow His words in the Bible.  The Christian messiah is the tool being used by God to bring man to repentance and a subsequent return back to following God’s instructions for living – The Bible.  Christians view their messiah as “the word (Torah) in the flesh” and it is faith in this and following his example that gets them saved or connected back to God.  As such, some Christians dance and sing for joy around the living word – their messiah.

In a recent trip to the West Bank in Israel in October of 2009, I stayed with Orthodox Jews and toured ancient biblical sites like Shiloh and Samaria.  I was there during Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles.  At the end of Sukkot I attended the local Synagogue for the Simcha Torah celebration.  Simcha Torah means Joy of Torah in Hebrew.  During the celebration, the Torah scrolls are taken out of the sacred area where they are stored.  The members of the congregation are allowed to hold the scrolls as they dance and sing around the Synagogue.

The Simcha Torah celebration opened my eyes to a very important fact.  The Jews have a love and relationship with God’s written word just like the Christians I grew up with.  Both groups access God through a relationship with His word.  For Christians, the Christian messiah is the “word in the flesh” that leads to the written word and they revere both.  For Jews, it is the realization that the Torah is the actual words of God given to Moses at Mount Sinai.

In staying with Orthodox Jews, I also saw God’s love exemplified in how they treated me as well as each other.  It was obvious that they had God’s spirit and love flowing through them.  I had seen and experienced the same love among many Christians.  God’s people are identified by love, not by hate.

When I returned to the US, I was asked by my Christian friends if I had an opportunity to give the message of the Christian messiah to the Jews I encountered?  I replied that I didn’t see a need to as they already had a relationship with God and loved His word, the Torah just like us.  They were connected to God by repenting of their sins and living by God's instructions, the Torah.

By experiencing both the Christian world and Jewish world, I had learned much.  I had learned how much we are alike.  I had also learned that our perceived differences were often times misunderstandings.  I had been taught in my church that Jews were legalistic and had to keep all the commandments to get to heaven.  What I discovered was that the Jews believe that the Torah is God’s instructions for living.  Nobody can keep them all but they do their best as that pleases God.  The Jews I met strive to keep God’s instructions out of love for pleasing Him.  That is exactly what my Christian church had taught me!

Another misunderstanding I saw was on the Jewish side.  The Jews view the Christian messiah as a false messiah that has resulted in Christian persecution of the Jews as Jews were told to convert or die.  Because of this the Jews have a deep mistrust of Christians and lump all Christian denominations into the same category.  The Jews don’t see a difference between evangelical Christians and other types of Christians.  When they see Christians they see centuries of hatred and anti-Semitism.  They see missionaries as a sneaky extension of the convert or die doctrine.  They also see no need of the Christian messiah as they have repented of their sins and have faith in God’s Holy Word.  The Jews are still under the original covenant of God and have not left Him.

So, from a Christian perspective are Jews saved.  I believe the answer is a resounding yes!  They are connected to God the same way that Christians believe – through repentance and faith in God and His word.  Not all Jews have that connection just like not all that call themselves Christians have that connection.  You can know the messiah's name without knowing him and you can know the messiah without knowing his name.  God’s true people are identified by His Love, love that can look beyond theological differences and accept each other as brothers.

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