The Salvation of the Jews
Do the Jews need Jesus, or is He the Gentile Savior?
Theological liberals have long taken the position that Jews do not need Jesus. Their argument is that the Jewish people have a separate way of salvation — by grace through faith in God the Father as manifested in their obedience to Torah (the Law of Moses). This viewpoint is known as "Dual Covenant Theology." In other words, God has one covenant for the Jews (the Old Testament) and another for the Gentiles (the New Testament). This view reduces Jesus from a universal Savior to a Savior for the Gentiles only.
The Test of Scripture
Needless to say, this viewpoint is thoroughly unbiblical. Jesus Himself said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6). Was Jesus deluded by visions of grandeur or was He God in the flesh proclaiming a fundamental truth?
Peter proclaimed the same truth to none other than the Sanhedrin Council (the highest council of Jewish religious leaders) when he said, "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 had already identified that name as "Jesus Christ the Nazarene" (Acts 4:10).
Paul states in Romans that the Gospel itself was given by God first for the Jews (Romans 1:16). And in Romans 9:1-3 Paul mourns the fate of those Jews who have rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Speaking with great pathos, he writes: "I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh."
The Scriptures speak clearly to the fact that all people, including the Jews, need a Savior and that Jesus of Nazareth is that Savior — the one and only (I John 5:1-5).
Yet, this gross apostasy that denies the Jews' need for Jesus is beginning to spread within the Evangelical community. It can be found primarily among those scholars and preachers who have devoted themselves to a rediscovery of the Jewish roots of the church.
As they have researched the theologically rich spiritual writings of Judaism and have traveled in Israel and developed close Jewish friendships, they have allowed their hearts to overrule scripture. They simply cannot bring themselves to believe that such sincere people as the orthodox Jews have no hope apart from Jesus.
A tragic example of a Christian minister led astray by this misguided sentimentalism is Vendyl Jones of Arlington, Texas. Vendyl started out as a Southern Baptist preacher. As he led expeditions to Israel in search of the ashes of the red heifer, he began to buy into the dual covenant theology. He made this radical shift public when he published his heretical book, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?
Since that time, Jones has completely abandoned the Christian faith. He now denies the deity of Jesus, and he has developed a new cult called the Noahides. This cult, made up mainly of former Southern Baptists, maintains that Gentiles must justify themselves before God by following the seven laws of Noah.
Messiah or Not?
One common theme that runs through the writings of these Evangelical proponents of dual covenant theology is that Jesus never claimed to be the Jewish Messiah. This claim is, of course, absurd.
During Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, she responded to His amazing revelations about her life by observing that the promised Messiah would be able to make similar revelations. Jesus replied, "I who speak to you am He" (John 4:25-26).
The Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of the Jews) had no problem recognizing Jesus' Messianic claim. On one occasion Jesus told them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am" (John 8:58). Later, Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). Both times the Jewish leaders reacted with outrage, accusing Jesus of blasphemy because, as they put it, "You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God" (John 10:33).
After Jesus was arrested, He was brought before the Sanhedrin. The High Priest asked Him, "Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus replied, "I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:61-62). The High Priest was so enraged by this response that he tore his clothes, condemned Jesus of blasphemy, and declared Him to be deserving of the death penalty.
The Jewish Need
People are not saved by sincerity. If they were, then all Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses would be saved. The only hope any person has is through faith in Jesus.
Jews desperately need Jesus. It is a perverted love that says, "I love the Jewish people too much to share Jesus with them because I don't want to offend them." Dual covenant theology is one of the most convoluted forms of anti-Semitism because it is willing, in the name of love, to allow millions of Jews to go to hell.
Tens of thousands of Jews have turned to Jesus in recent years, and Messianic congregations are springing up all across America. Their fulfillment as Jews has come through the evangelistic efforts of ministries like Jews for Jesus, Friends of Israel, Ariel Ministries, and many others.
The key to success here has been Jews witnessing to Jews and emphasizing in the process that Jews do not have to renounce their Jewish heritage in order to accept Yeshua as their Savior. By contrast, ever since the Fourth Century the church has given Jews the impression that they must forsake their Jewishness and become Gentiles in order to be accepted as Christians.
But despite the success that has been experienced in recent years in Jewish evangelism, the Bible teaches that the great remnant of the Jews who will one day accept Jesus will do so only after they have experienced a period of unparalleled tribulation, referred to in Jeremiah 30:7 as "the time of Jacob's trouble." In short, the Jewish people will have to be pounded with the wrath of Man, Satan and God before they are brought to the point where they will be willing "to look upon Him whom they have pierced" and repent (Zech. 12:10).
This concept of a future period of overwhelming tribulation during which two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish (Zech. 13:8) is also anathema to those who are enamored with dual covenant theology. They reject the concept completely even though it is emphasized repeatedly in the Hebrew scriptures (Deut. 4:30, Isa. 2:10-19, Dan. 12:1, Joel 3:12-14, Zeph. 1-3, Zech. 13:7 - 14:9, and Mal. 3:1-4).
Once again, they allow their sentimentality to overrule scripture. They simply cannot believe that God will allow His Chosen People to experience such a holocaust. But there can be no salvation apart from repentance, and the Bible says it will take a period of incredible tribulation to bring the Jewish people to the end of themselves — to the point where they will be willing to bend their knees and confess Yeshua as their Messiah.
One final point. Most Messianic Jews have such an overwhelming desire to share Jesus with their people, that they often express open contempt for Jewish oriented ministries that are not evangelistic.
This is most unfortunate. We must keep in mind that God does not raise up every Evangelical ministry to be evangelistic.
Take Lamb & Lion Ministries for example. This ministry is primarily a discipling ministry whose message is mainly aimed at professing Christians, using God's prophetic Word to call Christians to holiness. James Dobson's ministry, Focus on the Family, is Evangelical but not evangelistic. God raised it up to teach and defend family values. In like manner, Don Wildmon's ministry, the American Family Association, has been established by God to stand for righteousness against pornography and against violence and immorality in movies and television programs.
One of the Jewish-oriented ministries that has been attacked by many Messianic Jews is Bridges for Peace. The claim is often made that Bridges has "sold out the Gospel" in its love for Israel. This criticism is unjustified.
Bridges is a thoroughly Evangelical ministry, but God has not called it to be evangelistic. Instead, God has raised it up to be a source of love to the Jewish people, to be a comfort to Zion in the name of Yeshua. Bridges is doing exactly what God has called it to do, and God is blessing the ministry abundantly.
I am a supporter of both Bridges for Peace and Jews for Jesus. Both have their appropriate place, and neither should be critical of the other.