Do Jews Believe in Jesus?
Can a Jew be Saved?
Do Jews believe in Jesus? Do they believe that one may safely set Jesus aside or disbelieve in Him? Can a Jew be saved from sin and hell? Can he find eternal life through his religion or in any other way? These are critical questions that relate to matters of life and death, and we hope that you are interested in reading our discussion on this topic!
Let’s broaden this issue by asking, “How can everyone be saved? What if a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a devotee to any other world religion wants to be saved? Can any of them be saved from sin and be united to God?”
Can a Jewish person be saved from sin and go to be with God? Can he or she receive eternal life and enter the Kingdom of God? Some might consider these to be questions that make no sense. “Of course, a Jew is already saved! He belongs to the People of God and thereby enjoys a special relationship with God!”
Children of Abraham
It is true that the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were privileged with a special relationship with God and this is described in detail in the Hebrew Scriptures (which are often called the “Old Testament”). But we know that physical descent from Abraham was not enough to ensure the salvation of a Jewish person.
John the baptizer saw Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him as he immersed people in the Jordan River. His response was telling: “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” (Matthew 3:7b-9). John discerned that it was not sufficient o be a physical Jew.
It took more than being a physical descendant of Abraham to be considered one of God’s children. These religious leaders needed to repent of their sins and come to God in the way He had specified. At this time, God called on these people to repent of their sins, come to the Messiah who was now on the scene, and express their faith and repentance in baptism (cf. Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:4-5). When he saw Jesus coming to him, John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
On another occasion, Jesus Himself confronted certain Jews who claimed to be children of Abraham (John 8:33, 37). These Jewish people declared, “Abraham is our father,” but the Lord replied, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham” (v. 39). Jesus went on to charge these opponents with the use of strong words: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (v. 44). It took more than physical descent from Abraham! They were physically related to Abraham, their “father,” but in reality they were related to Satan himself since they rejected the Messiah and refused to repent! To be true children of Abraham, one needed to believe as Abraham believed and do what Abraham did. One needed to be related to God through a faith in God that was expressed in a faith in Christ.
Paul explained this further: “It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants” (Romans 9:8). God has always been more interested in a spiritual relationship with people than He was with a physical relationship. And this relationship comes through faith in God through Jesus Christ. In another place, the apostle plainly says, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29). If anyone comes to Christ and thereby belongs to Him, God accepts that believer as Abraham’s descendant and God’s spiritual heir of the promises!
What Do We Know about Jewish People Today?
It would seem that some people only think of the Jews as people who belong to a minority religion, ones who were especially persecuted under Hitler. It is true that as many as 6,000,000 of these people were cruelly put to death under this madman, but what else do we know about adherents to this ancient religion?
Today there are twelve to fourteen million Jews in the world, with the greater number of them living in America and Israel, but others scattered around the world in places like France, South America, and Russia. There are three main movements or branches in Judaism. In the United States, for example, there are the very liberal Jews within Reform Judaism. There is also Conservative Judiasm, which is the centrist position (although these too are liberal in many ways). And the group to the right is called Orthodox Judiasm, the smallest of the three branches.
Most Jews today reject a literal reading of the Old Testament, disbelieving such things as the creation account in Genesis, and some even reject a literal view of the Exodus (involving two to three million people). While claiming to believe the Hebrew Bible, many do disbelieve portions of it. Generally American Jews also support the liberal agenda of the Democrat political party.
It is probably difficult for non-Jews to understand the worldview of Judaism and how the common Jew looks at life and the life to come. “Not all Jewish people consider themselves to be religious. Many profess to be atheists, agnostics or secular. . . . Judaism, in all its branches, is a religion of deed, not creed. It is possible to be an atheist and yet an Orthodox Jew!” (Dean C. Halverson, et. al, The Compact Guide to World Religions, pp. 121, 123). To many others, the Jewish religion may seem to be quite liberal, where unbelief prevails. Regardless of this, we can say that every Jew needs Christ, just as every person on earth—whatever their religion—needs to be saved from sin through Christ.
Many Jewish people support the ultra-liberal organization known as the American Civil Liberties. Notice this excerpt:
Most thinking people know that the American Civil Liberties Union is vehemently anti-Christian. What they don’t know is that 3 of 6 of ACLU’s top national leaders are liberal Jewish activists.
Although ACLU’s executive director, Anthony D. Romero, is an in-your-face Hispanic homosexual, second in command is Nadine Strossen, Jewish. She was given the “Woman of Distinction” award from the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism and the “Women who Dared” award from the National Council of Jewish Women. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she is married to Eli M. Noam, professor and founding director of Columbia University’s Institute for Tele-Information.
Third in command at ACLU is legal counsel Steven Shapiro. As the legal mastermind of ACLU, he may well wield greatest power. Shapiro commands an army of 90 fulltime lawyers, maintaining an active docket of cases harassing the public expression of Christian values across America.
Geri E. Rozanski, director of affiliate support, is also a Jewish activist. Before joining ACLU, she was director for the large field operation of the American Jewish Committee.
Executive Director Anthony Romero may largely fulfill the role of a token Latino/homosexual figurehead. Ultimately, he may be Gentile window dressing, meant to deflect public attention from the real brains behind the ACLU, Strossen and Shapiro. (https://www. truthtellers.org/ alerts/acluheavy withjews.html).
The above article continues to point out that many of these ultra-liberal, anti-Christian, anti-morality organizations are largely led by liberal Jewish people.
But our point is that there are millions of Jews in America, in Israel, and in other nations of the world. And all of them need salvation through Christ. God, in His mercy and grace, has made loving provision for this salvation. And this is the point of our discussion.
Can One be Saved from Sin while Ignoring Jesus the Messiah?
Some seem to think that Jewish people have a special relationship with God that exempts them from the necessity to believe in Jesus, the chosen One of God. God in Scripture plainly answers this argument.
The background of this assertion is plain. It is important for us to understand this since it gives the real reason why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth. Scripture says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We read that “there is none righteous, not even one” (v. 10). And what is the result of this guilt? “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). No one is exempt from this charge of universal sinfulness and universal condemnation. It includes every Jewish person—whether male of female—and it includes every Gentile as well.
When we sin, we separate ourselves from a holy and just God! “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). This includes both Jews and Gentiles—everyone who reaches maturity. The good news (or “gospel”) is that God dealt with this sin “problem” Himself when He gave His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD [Yahweh] has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (53:6). “He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due” (v. 8). “He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (v. 12b). We can see that even in the writing of Isaiah, some 700 BC, God made it clear that the Messiah would die to settle this sin problem. This is something that every sincere Jewish person must face.
This is what the new covenant (New Testament) scriptures mean when it refers to the “gospel” or good news of Christ. There we read, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It is no wonder that this good news of Jesus Christ is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). This means that the message of God’s saving work in the world through Christ and His sacrificial death is the means by which He reaches a person’s heart and forgives his sins, makes him His child, justifies (declares righteous) the person, and brings him into His spiritual family.
Again and again in Scripture we read of the significance of Christ Jesus and His work on the cross to deal with our sins. Paul explained it this way: “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:6, 8-9). This is worthy of another reading.
Can we understand now why the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth came to this earth, lived a sinless life, died an atoning death, was raised from the grave, ascended to God in heaven where He was crowned with glory and honor, and will one day return with glory to judge the living and the dead! This is something that must be acknowledged. If a Jew fails to accept this truth of all truths, we can see that salvation cannot be his. What we say of the Jewish person is equally true of every Muslim, every Hindu, every Buddhist, every Shitoist, every Taoist, as well as every atheist, every animist, and every Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. Every person has sinned and “there is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). Every person needs a Savior who can rescue him or her from sin, death, and hell.
The Exclusivity of Jesus Christ
If Jesus actually is God’s only means of saving the world, we can see how He is the one and only way of salvation? It is not prideful or bigoted for a person to affirm this truth. Why? Because God, our Creator and Sustainer, is the one who has revealed this means of salvation! Who am I and who are you to question or deny this truth? It all makes logical sense and we can see God’s wise plan for our redemption when we see why He came to this earth and died in our place. “The Father [God] has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).
Again and again in Scripture, Jesus Christ declared that He is the only way of salvation. Further, His apostles and other inspired writers make it clear that Jesus is the only way to be saved from sin and hell. For example, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Look at this again: Jesus is the way—the only way—to God in heaven. He is the truth—saving truth—that must be believed. And He is the life—eternal life personified. He is the only way to God the Father; no other way can possibly be found!
Sometimes people say, “Christianity is okay for you, but I choose to believe in the ancient way of Hinduism.” The Muslim, in turn, says, “We must acknowledge that Allah is the only God, and Muhammad is His prophet.” The Buddhist may say that meditation is the only way to Nirvana. The Jewish person may claim that simply living a good moral life with high ethics is the way to be acceptable to God. The Catholic may claim that we are to be “baptized” as a baby, observe the sacraments, and belong to the Mother Church to be pleasing to God. People simply don’t acknowledge that we are “helpless” (Romans 5:6) and can’t save ourselves. As Paul would say, salvation is “not of yourselves” but is only through Christ and His saving death (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Soon after Christ returned to God in heaven, through the majestic ascension, Peter declared, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). He tells us that Christ alone is the way of salvation. We must be saved through Him and His name, and if one rejects Him, there is no hope. There is salvation “in no one else”—neither Muhammad, nor Buddha, nor Krishna, nor anyone else can rescue from sin, defeat death, and lead us to Paradise!
Notice another bold statement by Paul the apostle. “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). How many mediators are there between God and us? Only one! There is “one mediator” and this one mediator is Jesus Christ. We can’t go my means of Buddha, Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or anyone else.
A final scripture we could notice is 1 John 511-12: “The testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” Do we want eternal life and all of the blessings that come with it? We can only find and experience this eternal spiritual life “in His Son,” Jesus Christ. If we don’t have the Son of God, we don’t have spiritual life. In fact, we dwell in spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1).
We Must Acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God
Adherents to most world religions have much difficulty confessing that Jesus is God’s only unique Son. The Jew considers it blasphemy to claim that Jesus is God’s Son. The Muslim also believes it is sacrilege to declare that Jesus had a Son—the Lord Jesus Christ. They will even claim that Jesus was virgin-born and worked miracles, but they deny that Jesus was the Son of God, died on the cross, and was resurrected. The Hindu may be more willing to say that Jesus was God’s Son, but they have an irrational way of accepting many people and adding them to their pantheon of 330 million gods. Why is Christ’s Sonship so much of a barrier to people?
The unbelieving Jews who heard Jesus were “seeking all the more to kill” Jesus. Why? Because He “was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18; cf. 10:33). They thought that if Jesus claimed to be God’s Son, that would place Him on the same level as God the Father—and they were right! This is what led to Christ’s death, through the instigation of unbelieving Jewish leaders and the execution of Roman soldiers.
But Jesus asserted that it is absolutely essential to believe that He was and is God’s only unique Son. He said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). He also said that He performed many miracles “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). John later wrote, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10. “The Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (v. 14).
Whether it be a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Shintoist, a Taoist, a liberal Catholic or Protestant, or anyone else, we all must come to the point of believing that Jesus is God’s only Son and that we will confess this saving fact to God and everyone else. This doesn’t mean that God the Father had physical relations with Mary the virgin, as Mormons might believe and teach. No, Jesus Christ, who created the heavens and the earth (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-3), came to this earth as God’s spiritual Son, lived among us humans, died on a Roman cross, was raised from the dead and now offers eternal life to all who would believe and obey Him.
We must Repent and Believe in Jesus Christ
Someone may say, “I can see that Jesus is the only means of receiving eternal life with God, but why doesn’t this come automatically with everyone?” We’ve seen that Christ did suffer death to pay the price for our sins, and through this we may be united with God, the Giver of life. But this doesn’t come to everyone unconditionally. Eternal life, salvation from sin, and reconciliation with God only is given to those who consciously and sincerely “accept” the free gift of salvation. “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). Life is in Christ, and we must come to Christ if we would have the life in Him.
Faith is the key that unlocks the riches of heaven that are bestowed on us through Jesus Christ! Paul explains, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The gift of God comes to guilty sinners only because of the grace (and mercy) of God, and this salvation is given through faith—to those who genuinely have faith in Christ, in His Person and work of redemption!
This is the constant theme of Scripture. The gospel (good news of Christ) is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). To whom? Those who believe! Whether it be a Jew or a Greek (or Gentile), all must have faith in Christ. In one of the most beloved passages in God’s Word, Jesus said, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17). Notice that only those to “believe” in Jesus will not perish (in hell), but they will receive eternal life.
Further, God didn’t send His Son into the world to “judge” the world, for they were already judged and condemned for their sins. They were already guilty and were bound for eternal death and destruction and everlasting punishment. But it was God’s intention that “the world might be saved through Him.” These people must believe in Christ to escape judgment and find true life!
In Christ’s “great commission,” we read, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). This is simple. One who wishes to be saved must believe and be baptized. Conversely, one is condemned if he has “disbelieved” in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
John the apostle tells us why he wrote the Gospel that bears his name. He says the reason for his writing is that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah or “Anointed One”], the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Again, this is a very simple truth. We must believe that the historical Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ (Greek for Anointed one or Anointed King), the Son of God (conceived of the virgin Mary to be the only spiritual son of God), and if we believe in this Savior and Lord, we have eternal life through Him (through His name).
Paul said that he “testified to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21; cf. Mark 1:15). Here we see quite plainly that lost sinners (whether Jews or Greeks) were required to repent toward God and express faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation was not unconditional; it was very conditional.
Our Believing Response
This response to God by faith or belief is coupled with genuine repentance. This means a change of heart and mind, initiated by a sorrow for our sins and a commitment to new life through Christ. Peter says that God “is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9b). A few days after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven, Peter declared, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Act 2:38). Again we see that one must repent of his sin, his rebellion, his apathy, and his unbelief. He must determine to live a righteous life for God in the future.
As we noticed in the previous verse, we must respond in faith and repentance by being baptized (immersed) in water and the Spirit, into Jesus Christ, that we might be forgiven of sin and receive eternal life. Ananias told Paul, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). Jesus said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16a). In baptism, we die to our old self, are buried in water, and rise to walk a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:11-12; Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Peter 3:21). Our comprehensive response to God through Christ, consisting of a repentant faith expressed in baptism, is God’s means of accepting us into His eternal family and forgiving our sins.
Jews are Accepted Fully by God!
We began our discussion with the question of whether a Jewish person can be saved. Indeed, Jews can be saved by the mercy and grace of God! “All Israel will be saved” in the way that Paul explains in Romans 11. It is by faith in Christ (the Messiah). “God has shut up all [Jews and Gentiles alike) in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all” (v. 32). Salvation is given “to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Yes, Jews may be saved—in the same way that Gentiles are saved, by faith in Christ!
Gentiles “have been brought near [reconciled to God] by the blood of Christ,” and this is precisely how the Jews are also reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:13). Christ “came and preached peace to you who were far away [the Gentiles], and peace to those who were near [the Jews]; for through Him we both [Jews and Gentiles] have our access in one Spirit to the Father” (vv. 17-18). There is no distinction between the Jew and the non-Jew in coming to God the Father for His free salvation. All can come to the Lord through repentant faith (expressed in baptism); all can be saved from their sin and from an eternity in hell! All may be reconciled to God through Christ and find sweet fellowship with Him that will last into eternity!
What is true of the Jew, is also true of the Muslim, the Buddhist, the Hindu, and all others! “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him” (Romans 10:12). Paul then says, “Whoever will call on the name of the LORD will be saved” (v. 13). God bestows eternal life to all who are willing to come to Him through Christ, regardless of their ethnic background or past religion.
We have shown that the Jew can be saved from sin and find eternal life—if he or she is willing to come to God on His terms, through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father. This is true of members of all world religions! Whether one lives in Japan, India, China, Iran, Egypt, Brazil, or Indonesia, all may receive the grace of God and find eternal life in Christ.
The Muslim can’t find eternal life and become a child of God through Muhammad and praying five times a day. He must receive eternal life “in His Son,” and “he who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11-12).
The Buddhist can’t find eternal life by submitting to Buddha and his principles, regardless of the hundreds of millions who seek to do so. “There is salvation in no one else”—other than Christ Jesus (Acts 4:12).
The Hindu cannot be saved from the guilt of his sin through the 333 million Hindu gods, or through working off his bad Karma. Accepting any god other than the true and living God, the Father of Jesus Christ, is the chief sin in the world. We must “turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them” (Acts 14:15).
The devotee of Confucianism, Catholicism, Shinto, or Taoism cannot be saved through their religions. Religion cannot earn or produce spiritual reality or bring us to eternal life. This comes only as a gift from a gracious God. Salvation is “not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness” (Titus 3:5), nor can it be found in “a righteousness of my own derived from the Law” (Philippians 3:9). Rather, it is a “gift of God” and “not as a result of works” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The major world religions have it all wrong. They are seeking to establish their own righteousness, their own salvation, their own connection with God or any “god” that they may imagine. God says No. It can’t be achieved; it must be received.
A Jewish person—as well as a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, and all others—may be saved if (and only if) he or she is willing to humble himself and admit his own sin, his own guilt, his own unworthiness. That is when God is able to reach the person’s heart and draw him to Christ Jesus, the only way of salvation! “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord; and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).
What about You?
And what about you? Are you a committed Jewish person? Maybe you are in the Reform tradition, or maybe you are devoted to Conservative Judaism. Maybe you an Orthodox Jew and observe the traditions handed down to you.