Do Jews Have to Be Christians to Be Saved?
By Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon
Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. In this first part of our program, which we call our feature article, we’re continuing our discussion of Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Dave, I want to continue the discussion we had last week by quoting some verses from the prophet Zechariah. But before I do, just before our last segment ended last week, you were mentioning that Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah, prior to His second coming, become part of the Bride of Christ. Now, are you saying that Jews then have to become Christians? You know I know the answer to that, but I say that for the sake of some people out there, because some Jews who may be listening, say, that might be offensive to them.
Dave: Well, the first Christians were all Jews, of course, but they didn’t call themselves Christians, and Jesus did not call them Christians. If we go to the Book of Acts, we find Acts 11, the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. That actually is where they had the first Gentile church, and so I guess it was the Gentile believers who were called Christians.
Tom: Yeah. But, Dave, should that be a problem, because we know that “Christ” is Greek for Messiah?
Tom: So if you mention to Jews that you have to become followers of the Messiah, which they have to do. But somehow, when the term “Christ” is put in there, which is the Greek, it throws another sort of onus on that.
Dave: Yeah. Of course, that’s because the Catholic church—let’s just be blunt about it, and accurate historically—persecuted Jews, slaughtered Jews all across Europe, the first crusade under Pope Urban II. When they took Jerusalem, they not only killed Arabs and Muslims, but they chased the Jews into the synagogue where they thought they would have a refuge—someone would respect a religious structure, someone would respect a religious edifice, no matter what your religion was—and they set it ablaze. They killed every Jew in Jerusalem, and they went there, Pope Urban II said, to “Take this land for yourselves.” So a lot of people think the Crusaders went to the so-called “holy land”—in those days it was called Palestine—but to Israel to rescue it from the pagans and turn it over to the Jews. No, the Catholics went there to claim it for themselves, because this is Replacement Theology, that the church has replaced Israel. And this is a Catholic doctrine, actually. It’s rather ironic that some of the main people who stand for this today are reformed theologians, you know. So there was quite a bit of Catholicism that hung on in the Reformation to the Reformers.
But, Tom, you know, does a Jew have to become a Christian? Well, nobody has to become a Christian. Jesus never said you have to become a Christian. Jesus told the Jews in John 8, “Except you believe that I AM…” And those of you who are listening that have a King James Bible, you will notice that “he…” King James says, “I am he.” But the translators added that (they thought) for clarification, but it shouldn’t be there, because I AM is the name of God from the Old Testament as most Jews, I think, would know—Yahweh. And Jesus says, “If you do not believe that I AM…” In other words, “that I am God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you will die in your sins, and where I go you cannot come.”
We have often referred to Christ weeping over Jerusalem, and saying, “How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not.” But if you read the New Testament, you only find Christ weeping over Jerusalem once. So what is He talking about, “How often I’ve wept over you”? Well, obviously He is claiming that He is the God of Israel who sent Jeremiah and the prophets and who wept over Jerusalem, pleaded with them, “Don’t do this abominable thing that I hate! I don’t want to punish you,” and so forth.
So you’ve got to believe the Messiah is who the Old Testament said He would be. If we went to Isaiah 9:6, “Unto us a child is born”—that’s the babe born in Bethlehem. “…a child is born, unto us a son is given.” What do you mean, “a son is given?” Psalm 2 says, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” What “Son” is this the psalmist is talking about? Well, Proverbs 30 says, “Who created this universe,” you know, spread out the heavens, and so forth—“what is His name, and what is His Son’s name?” So, obviously, the God who created the universe has a Son, and He is going to give Him the nations to rule over, okay, one day. All right? So this must be the Messiah.
So you go back to Isaiah 9:6: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders [well, this is the Messiah then] and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor….”
I often tell people: that’s one of the names of Jesus, our Lord, is “Counselor.” You don’t go to Christian psychologists for counsel; you go to Jesus, and you go to His Word, okay?
“…his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father….” Now in that verse alone (this is the great Hebrew prophet Isaiah), what does it say? “A son is given.” And God is called The Everlasting Father. He must be the Son of God. But wait a minute—the Son who is given, His name is “the mighty God, The Everlasting Father”! There is no way you can escape it. So when Jesus said, “I and my Father are One,” He wasn’t making this up. He was in agreement with the prophets in the Old Testament, okay?
So what does a Jew have to do to enter the church? Matthew 16, Jesus said, “On this rock [that is, the confession, ‘I am the Messiah’] I will build my church.” Okay, well, you have to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, but you also have to believe some things about the Messiah. You have to believe the Messiah is who the Old Testament prophet said He would be: He is the Son of God, and, at the same time, He is God. He’s the Son of the Father. He also is the Father, and all through the Old Testament you have the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Tom, can we take a minute to say it again?
Tom: Sure! This is so important.
Dave: Go to Deuteronomy 6:4. We’ve done this probably several times, I can’t remember. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers…Deuteronomy 6. And this is the Shema that every Jew, if he’s been to Sabbath school, would be familiar with. Verse 4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” Well, the Hebrew says Yahweh. Whenever you see “Lord” with all lower caps, that comes from Yahweh, and that is the name that God identified Himself with to Moses at the burning bush. Moses said, “Well, you’re sending me to Egypt to deliver Your people, but they are going to say, ‘Who is it that sent me?’ What is your name?” And He says, “Yahweh—I AM THAT I AM.” Most Bibles, or Hebrew Old Testaments—well, that’s the only scripture that the Jews acknowledge…
Tom: The Tanakh.
Dave: Right. It would be shown as [J]HWH, no vowels. Now, because they felt they were not allowed to pronounce the name of God, they would substitute Adonai, “the Lord.” So we have it in the King James “the Lord,” but the word is Yahweh, and I guess they got that from the third commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Well, that means you don’t swear in His name, and so forth, but they thought, “Well, we’d better—just to be on the safe side…”
Tom: Right, not take any chances.
Dave: “We won’t pronounce His name at all,” so they substituted Adonai.
But anyway, “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh, our Elohim, is one Yahweh.” This is what it says in the Hebrew. Elohim, that’s a plural form of God—actually three or more, and not a duo but three or more, Elohim. And El of course is the singular for God, so Beth-El means the “House of God,” all right? Well, the Jews today—that is, unbelieving Jews who don’t follow their Scriptures—just like the Muslims, amazingly, who say Allah is a single individual, they say Yahweh is a single individual, single being, a single God. Well, there is one God, but because they say—look what it says: “…is one Yahweh.” But the word for “one” in the Hebrew is echad, and that means a unity. So you would have that in Genesis 2:24, for example, where God creates Eve out of the rib of Adam, brings them together—it says “the two became one flesh.” And many other places where you have echad means a unity. So, “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh, our Elohim…” Whoops! Elohim is “Gods,” Yahweh. “Our Gods” is echad, a unity, one Yahweh.
So if you went to Genesis 1:1, the very first verse in the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Why don’t we say “Gods?” The word there is Elohim. Because—Tom, we’ve probably talked about this a number of times, but I think it’s probably worth repeating—because the verb is in the singular. So you have…it’s like saying, “we is.” Or when God appeared to Moses at the burning bush, this is Elohim who appears. Moses says, “What is your name?” Elohim doesn’t say, “We are what We are.” “I AM THAT I AM.” You cannot escape it! All through the Old Testament you have a plurality and a singularity in a unity, okay?
So Jesus is saying to the Jews in His day, “If you do not believe that I AM…” In other words, “If you don’t believe that I am Yahweh, that I am the Son of the Father, but I and my Father are One, exactly as your prophets have told you, then you are not believing in the Messiah.” Now, if you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then you have some other things to believe, because the Messiah would be the fulfillment of the sacrificial system. The very fact that all these sacrifices had to be repeated day after day, year after year, meant they couldn’t take away sin, and the writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 10 argues if they could take away sin, if this was the real solution to sin, then you wouldn’t have to repeat them, because that would have ended it. So they were looking forward to something—looking forward to what Abraham said.
Let’s get back to your question and another question that I think you want to ask here about where are these Jews if Jews get saved? Are they in the church or aren’t they?
Abraham is talking to his son, Isaac. They are going up Mount Moriah, actually to where the temple would eventually be built, and where the Muslims now, they say, oh, that’s theirs. There never was a Jewish temple there, and that’s where Muhammad ascended to heaven on his magic horse, and so forth. No witnesses to him…
Tom: And Abraham sacrificed Ishmael, erroneously.
Dave: Exactly, right, instead of Isaac. The Bible is very clear on that. But anyway, Isaac says, “Father, here’s the wood.” He’s carrying the wood; he must have been a pretty husky kid. He’s carrying the wood, and, “You’ve got the fire; where’s the lamb?” And Abraham makes an amazing statement: “God will provide Himself a lamb.”
Tom: Jehovah Jireh.
Dave: Right. It sounds like Jehovah, Yahweh, is going to be the lamb Himself. Wow! Well, Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” I think He’s talking about what Abraham is saying—God is…He’s the ultimate Lamb. He’s going to come Himself to this earth as a Man and be the sacrifice.
So I don’t know whether John the Baptist understood what he was saying, but, inspired as a prophet, he was speaking under the inspiration of God when he saw Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Wow! This is the Lamb that is going to pay the penalty for our sins, and therefore it will be a once-for-all sacrifice—not like the Catholics try to do, the sacrifice of the Mass, over and over and over. Tom, the Bible is such a fantastic book.
Tom: So, Dave, if a Jew believes in the Messiah, does he or she then become part of the church?
Dave: If a Jew believes that Jesus is the Messiah, that He has come, and that He has paid the penalty, they are saved, born again by the Spirit of God, as Jesus tried to say to a rabbi, Nicodemus; as He taught His disciples. And, Tom, you often quote John 8:31: “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Now, what Word is He talking about? Not just what He’s teaching them, but that is His word, the Tanakh, as you say. The whole Old Testament, that’s the Word of God, that’s the Word of Jesus. He is the living Word. He’s introduced in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, the Word was God.” So you believe in Jesus as the Messiah, not just, “Oh wonderful, we need a Messiah! We need somebody to come riding in on a white horse leading an army and deliver us from the Romans…”
Tom: Bring peace.
Dave: Yeah, that was their idea. No, no, you believe in the biblical Messiah, and you believe in the prophecies about His coming, and you believe that Jesus fulfilled them, and you trust Him for your salvation as the one who paid the penalty for your sins—Jew or Gentile, you are born again! Now, a lot of Gentiles out there who think they are Christians, they’ve never had this explained to them. Oh, they believe in Jesus. “Oh, isn’t it wonderful,” you know, but they don’t really know who He is and why He came, and what that had to do with them being under the penalty for sin, okay?
Tom: Dave, one of the issues here that maybe some people wrestle with, and maybe they don’t think about—maybe haven’t understood—is that, first of all, next week we’re going to talk about the “chosen people.” So the Jews were the people who were chosen of God to be a people to whom the Messiah would come.
Dave: Exactly, because He would be a Jew.
Tom: Right. Now when we talk about Jews entering the church (let’s use another term here), it’s also called the Bride of Christ. So we could go to John…
Dave: Or the body of Christ.
Tom: Right, but I want to talk about Bride, because the Bride of Christ, we have the example in John 14, all right? Jesus said, “I go away to prepare a place for you.” So my point here is that this is a Jewish thing here. Even though Gentiles are involved, we as Gentiles are grafted in. So for a Jew to think, “Oh, I have to become a Christian,” well, wait a minute. You have to accept what the Old Testament prophets said. You have to receive the Messiah, and then you become a part of the Body, or the Bride of the Messiah.
Dave: Right. Okay, Tom, before we end—we don’t have much time—we had better get to this: Well then, are they in the church or aren’t they? Well, it’s very clear: Jew or Gentile, this is the only way you get saved. Jew or Gentile, the same way, they are members of the Body of Christ. As you just said, you could go to Ephesians 2, and it talks about, “You Gentiles…” Paul is a Jew. He’s saying, “You Gentiles, you had nothing to do with this. You were aliens from Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise. You were without God; you had nothing. But Christ Jesus has opened the way, and now we’ve become one, one new man, Jew and Gentile.”
So Jews and Gentiles comprise the church, those who have believed in Jesus as the Messiah from a biblical standpoint. What about when we have the Rapture? Well, they are going to be raptured. Then there’s the great Tribulation, and the gospel goes forth. You’ve got 144,000 Jews preaching, you’ve got a couple of witnesses, and so forth.
People who get saved then, are they in the church? Do they get raptured? We’ve raptured everybody; who was raptured? Was Abraham raptured? What about David? You know, here we have really a controversial issue, Tom, and we’ll get some letters about this, but I believe, first of all, there is only one Rapture—that’s when the dead in Christ rise. “Those who sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him.” Wouldn’t Abraham, who Jesus said, “He rejoiced to see my day,” wouldn’t he be sleeping in Jesus? Isn’t he sleeping in faith? In other words, wouldn’t he be absent from the body, present with the Lord—David and so forth? The only other mention of a resurrection you have is at the end of the great Tribulation, Revelation 20, where it says those who were martyred during the great tribulation, they are raised from the dead, brought back.
Program Number: 1938