A gracEmail reader who is weighing the claims of Christ writes: “I cannot hold in scorn humans whom I know to be decent and caring, simply because they have a different belief about salvation. Is my Jewish friend a sinner because he practices his religion? He certainly does many of the very things we ascribe to Jesus as being virtuous.”
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As one speaking on the authority of Scripture, I am authorized to promise that whoever believes in Jesus has forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43); that whoever refuses to repent will perish (Luke 13:3); that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16). Whoever understands the gospel — truly understands it — and rejects it will be lost (Mark 16:16). But so will the person who understands other, lesser, light from God and chooses to reject that.
I am not authorized to judge those who have not heard, or those who have heard with their ears but not with their hearts. I do not believe that your friend is condemned because he is a Jew. However, since I believe that the gospel message communicates an objective reality, I do not believe that Judaism can reconcile anyone to God, apart from Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:1-4, 11). I do not know what God sees in your friend’s heart — or in yours, or perhaps even in mine.
I am limited to saying that those who now enjoy God’s salvation are those who know and believe what Jesus accomplished for sinners (Eph. 1:13-23; Col. 1:3-6). I am limited to saying that the only certain hope of life hereafter is through knowing and trusting Jesus Christ now (John 6:40, 47). I am limited to saying that those who finally will be lost will be people who have knowingly rejected God’s rule in their lives based on the knowledge of God they personally had (Rom. 2:5-6). And I am limited to saying that God can and may and will finally save whomever he wishes, in keeping with what he sees in hearts — and that he will do so only through and because of the atonement which Jesus Christ alone has accomplished (John 14:6; James 4:12).