A prevalent kind of “messianic Jew” is a believer in the Messiah who continues to practice the Mosaic law. Some of these will say that a Jew who rejects the Messiah revealed in the New testament is condemned, while others will say that as long as a Jew is obedient to Torah, he will be saved. And yet other messianic Jews will make a linguistic thing of it and say that they reject the Christianised “Jesus Christ” but accept the Judaic Yeshua HaMashiach. This last sentiment is of no significance in the plan of salvation (Jesus means nothing, Yeshua everything: Messianic Judaism versus Christianity?)
The New Testament is clear: all who reject the Christ – Jew and Gentile – will not enter the Kingdom of God, no matter how near they may be to it. The law may bring a person near but, because there is an unbridgeable chasm between law and (New Testament) grace, near or not far is not good enough. The flaw in Judaism is the belief that the law saves. The New Testament teaches that no one can be good enough to merit salvation.
In response to Jesus, a teacher of the law says:
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man (teacher of the law) replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.”
Not only Jews but many Christians say – it is particularly prevalent among modern Roman Catholics – that these two commandments are the gateway to salvation; to the Kingdom of God. Thus, salvation is the result of fulfilling the law. Now, when you think about it a little more, who on earth loves the Lord with all their understanding and strength – and loves their neighbour in a similar way, for that is what “’love your neighbour as yourself “implies? First, it can’t be done, and second, to try and fulfill these two laws may bring you closer to the Kingdom but never into the Kingdom. “Not far” from the Kingdom is still outside it. On this crucial point, the letters to the Romans and Galatians are clear.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Back up to Romans 2 and the beginning of Romans 3:
“”For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” (Romans 2:25-29 ESV).
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. (Romans 3:1-2 ESV).
Here’s the nub: because they were entrusted with the ‘’oracles” ( logion, the utterances of the Mosaic law) ), their guilt is even more pronounced. Towards those Jews who reject Him, Jesus words in John 8 don’t mince:
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” (John 8:31-45 ESV).
There remains a believing remnant, of both Jews and Gentiles, who will inherit eternal life; not as a right but as a gift. These are those whom the Father has given to the Son:
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:35-37 ESV).
Earlier, we read: “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2a).
We read on:
“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, ‘That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.’” (Romans 3:2b-4 ESV).
Jew or Gentile, no matter how much they try to fulfill the first and second commandment, they cannot be saved (in effect, save themselves) by their righteous deeds. It goes without saying, mate, that faith without works is מֵת (dead mate).