What's the difference between Jews and Christians? Will Jews go to heaven?

This question often comes up when people realise that Jesus was a Jew.  So how come God doesn't want us all to be Jews like Jesus? 

The simple answer is: because Jesus told everyone to trust and follow HIM.  And if we do, we're called Christians.

In Acts 11:26 we read the it was in a place called Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians" and ever since then, the name has stuck.  It literally means "little Christs" and it was a mean nickname people used for followers of Jesus.  "Oh look at those little Christs walking around trying to be all good and stuff.  What a bunch of losers!"  You can imagine it, can't you?

Personally, I like it.  Jesus followers are trying to be just like Jesus because he's God and he's the one who gives us forgiveness, friendship with God, life to the full and life forever.  So if others want to think of us as "little Christs" or "Jesus people", then that's fine with me.  I'm not surprised the name "Christian" has stuck. Jesus followers are supposed to be like Jesus. :)


But today's question is about Jews and Christians.  In the Bible, Jews are those who are descended from Abraham and many thought of themselves as forever part of God's family just because of that (it goes back to God's promises to Abraham in Genesis 12).  But the Bible is clear that even Abraham (father of all Jews) was made friends with God only because he had FAITH in God's promises...

Romans 4:3

What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

 

So Abraham wasn't saved because of his nationality or because of the family he was born in, or because of the land he lived in.  No.  These things don't make people friends with God.  Abraham was saved by God because God was kind to Abraham and because Abraham put his faith in God's promises and acted accordingly.  In other words, Abraham had the same kind of faith that people need to have in Jesus today, in order to have God's forgiveness and friendship.


So what about Jews today?  Well, when people say they're Jewish today it can mean 2 things:

1. It might mean they're "BELIEVING Jews" who believe in God and all the stories of his work with the Israelites in the Old Testament part of the Bible (Jews call this the Torah).  If they take these things seriously (and many do) then they're still waiting for "Messiah" - a Saviour from God who will bring peace to the world.  They don't think Jesus was the one and so they're not Christians.  They're still waiting.  Christians would say, they've missed him.

2. Or it might mean they're "CULTURAL Jews".  These Jews are Jews because they love their families and all the feasts and special celebrations and traditions that go with it but they might not even believe in God.  I have Jewish friends like this.  They're proud to be Jews because it's a family tradition that they value but they don't think all the God stuff is necessarily true at all!


Will Jews go to heaven?


Jesus, and the teaching of the Bible is very clear about this question because people back then were wondering the exact same thing.  

Here's something Jesus said...

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 

What do you think this means if it's true?

 

And here's what Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome in the New Testament...

Romans 3:21-24

But now God has shown us his saving power without the help of the law. But the Law and the Prophets tell us about this. 22 We are made right with God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. This happens to all who believe. It is no different for the Jews than for the Gentiles. 23 Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God’s glory. 24 The free gift of God’s grace makes us right with him. Christ Jesus paid the price to set us free.

What do think this means if it's true?  

 

I think it's clear that Jesus is the only way anyone anywhere today gets to be made right with God and have a friendship with him forever.

 

So I hope this helps answer this person's question!  

If we think Jesus is worth trusting and following, then I hope we will want to invite our Jewish friends to get to know him too.  We can ask them what they think about Jesus, or if they've read about Jesus in the Bible, or if they've tried praying to Jesus.  And we can love them by listening carefully to understand where they are on their spiritual journey.  And we can try and help them take steps closer to Jesus if they would like to.  Let's pray for them and love them!

 

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