Q. We can only enter heaven thru Christ. Does this mean non believers in Christ don't go to heaven, including all the Jews? How do the Jews believe they will enter heaven, if not thru Jesus Christ? And if not entering heaven, is hell the only alternative?
A. Thanks for the question. This answer may contain some writing errors as we concentrate more on answering as many questions as we can and less on writing errors. I think it helps, when we are exploring questions about eternity, to remember that God is trillions of times more powerful and intelligent than us. Therefore, it is important that we realize that we cannot reason everything out on the human level. It is also important to understand that it is good to seek and explore the things of God, even if we cannot always get a perfect picture of what is happening. The answer to this question starts with Abraham. This is where the covenant with the Jews seemed to start. Of course, more than one nation came from Abraham, but the Jewish people are our focus at this point. Abraham was commend by God because Abraham believed that God would justify him through faith. That is, Abraham realized that he could not meet the justice, righteousness, and holiness that was required to be close to God, by his works. He simply could not be good enough to earn God’s love, favor and friendship by his actions. God then proceeded to tell Abraham that he would be the father of all those who trusted God for their salvation and not their own works. This would include all people, not just the Jews. To state it another way, all people who trust God for their salvation, by loving, and allowing Him to control their lives, share in God’s promises to Abraham. Those who try to earn this gift, even if they are very sincere, have missed the boat and are not part of God’s promise. Years later, God brought the law through another godly man, Moses. The law spelled out what it would take for a human to fulfill the requirements needed to have God’s promises and eternal life. God did this to show humans that the requirements were beyond their abilities. He didn’t do it to rub their faces in the dirt, He did it to show us how futile it is to try to be right with Him by are own efforts alone. He is saying, you are wasting your time if you try to earn salvation by your own efforts alone. Turn to Me and trust your life to me and I will save you. Of course, this goes against our pride, since we become hopelessly in debt to Him. We will owe Him everything and be dependent of Him or we will be dammed. Many of the Jews seemed blind to this truth and tried hard to live by the law. They sacrificed in the temple, tried to keep the Sabbath and all the other rules and regulations. There was nothing wrong with sacrificing and keeping the rules, the problem was that they believed that this would bring them salvation. They believed that trying to fulfil the requirements of the law would earn them salvation, and they were wrong. Many of them were proud to be Jews, God’s chosen people, and looked down on other groups of people. Some of them upset God by taking the false gods of the people around them. God needed a nation or group of people that He could work through and teach others in the world the concept of one God. The Jewish people told others of God and what He was like. At times, many of them lived close to God and at other times, only a few did. The people of the ancient world knew something about God because of the Jewish people. Consider several Bible verses: Romans 10:2 & 3 For I can testify about them (Jews) that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes form God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Romans 10:12 & 13 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile –the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for , “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 9:27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.” Romans 4:13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would he heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Romans 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches (Jews), he will not spare you either. Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name (but Christ) under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. As we look at the above verses, and there are many more, we have to come to the conclusion that there is no difference between the Jew and non-Jew when it come to personal salvation. The Bible is also clear that there is only one way to be saved and that is if we have allowed Jesus Christ to live in us and rule our lives. There are only two ways in eternity; heaven or hell. There may be levels of suffering in hell, but I hope no one tries for the least suffering level in hell when heaven is available for all who will come in faith. The Jews who missed salvation did so because they either didn’t care or they tried to obtain it by their own works. Eternal life in heaven is a free gift, in that we cannot earn it, but we can and must sincerely try to seek out, accept and love God with all our hearts, to obtain it. Bob