Can someone who genuinely loves the God of Israel, prays to Him and trusts him go to hell? The New Testament says…

In A Jew does not have to believe in Jesus; love for the God of Israel is enough: one “Messianic Jewish” view, I quoted Michael Schiffman:

(“Messianic Jews” believe that Jesus, whom they call “Yeshua,” is the Messiah, and that the New Testament is the inerrant word of God).

Michael Schiffman a prominent Messianic Jewish leader, says that he knows “plenty of people who believe Yeshua is Lord, savior, etc, etc, who treat people badly and exhibit none of the marks of a true Yeshua follower. All they have is a verbal confession. I don’t necessarily think they will receive salvation. It is not a verbal confession that brings salvation, but a life lived in faith and the love of God. I do believe that people who genuinely love God (the God of Israel), pray to Him and trust him don’t go to hell because God doesn’t send people to hell who genuinely love Him … in short, I think questions of who “receives salvation,” are best left to God, who is the one true judge.”

Dr Schiffman commented:

I really don’t appreciate being misread. I never said Jewish people don’t need Yeshua. I said I don’t believe God sends people to hell who love him. If you believe He does, explain what sense that makes. I guess my answer didn’t fit your catechism. Tell me, did you decide in advance that this was what you were going to read into my remarks. Taking them further than I intended them is not honest. Why would you do that? Is that your agenda? I answered you in good faith. Do you have any scruples at all? I have no issue with what the New Testament teaches, but I think your understanding is a bit narrow regarding its meaning. You throw verses out there as if that answers the question, but you don’t bother to state what you think they mean. Do you think faith and confession are the same thing? They are not. Many people are taught doctrine but if they don’t live it, and only carry it around in their heads and not their hearts, its no better than quoting the US constitution. What makes the difference is having it in their hearts, which I believe will manifest itself in their actions. I see no grace in yours.

I responded:

Dr Schiffman, you say I have misread you.

John 3:18 is clear. If you reject Jesus/Yeshua, you are condemned. To press the point home, you must be familiar with Ephesians 2, whose key verses in our discussion are:

Ephesians 2:8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

And

Ephesians 2:17 and he came and preached peace to you that were far off [Gentiles] and peace to them that were nigh [Jews]: 18 for through him we BOTH have our access in one Spirit unto the Father.

You say that it is enough for a Jew (and Gentiles?) to love the Holy One of Israel. It seems you distinguish between the Holy One of Israel and Jesus/Yeshua. If so, you must reject the trinity. Even if you are a Unitarian, Ephesians 2 and hundreds of other passages make it clear that without faith in Christ, that is, without being in Christ there is no salvation.

You talk of the love of God; it is inseparable, according to the NT, from faith in Christ.
You end with:

Many people are taught doctrine but if they don’t live it, and only carry it around in their heads and not their hearts, its no better than quoting the US constitution. What makes the difference is having it in their hearts, which I believe will manifest itself in their actions. I see no grace in yours.”

In my post, I pre-empted (pre-emptied the force of?) your “mantra” about faith and works with my “Before I get to my main point, let me just say – trite but very true – faith without works is dead.”

Faith without works is dead” is very important to you, and so it should be to all believers, but that fact should not detract from the central emphasis that Jesus/Yeshua and the Apostles put on “faith” – in Jesus/Yeshua. The natural man, in contrast, thinks it more rational and (therefore?) more godly to put the main emphasis on works (of love). Yet, without faith (in Christ/Messiah), we remain dead in sin, as Ephesians 2 says unequivocally.

I say something briefly about “grace.” You said, “What makes the difference is having it (faith) in their hearts, which I believe will manifest itself in their actions. I see no grace in yours.”

I have already dealt with the first sentence. You say you see no “grace” in my “actions.”

First, you use “grace” here in the secondary sense of “being gentle and kind.” I wish you would also emphasise that it is by grace that firstly we have faith and secondly, as a consequence of faith, we are saved (not forgetting that faith without works is dead, and also being aware that works without faith are also dead).

By “actions” you must mean my words (unless you’ve been reading my autobiography or have inside info on my life). You say my words lack “grace;” and I say you are either stumbling, as Paul (Romans 9) describes every Jew who does not believe in Jesus/Yeshua/Saviour, or you are, in your effort to be as rabbinical as you can, a stone over which your fellow Jews – and ignorant roots-aspiring Gentiles – stumble, but hopefully don’t fall.

It is you who are misreading the NT – and thus (unwittingly, possibly) it is you who are misleading/misled.

Here are our verses in fuller context:

Ephesians 2:1-10

1 And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, 2 wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; 3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:–
4 but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus: 8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

Paul is talking to Gentile believers. We read on:

Ephesians 2:11-18
Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12 that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: 18 for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father.

I didn’t hear further from Michael Schiffman.

So, Can someone who genuinely loves the God of Israel, prays to Him and trusts him go to hell? YES, according to the Holy One of Israel, if for that someone the Holy One of Israel must exclude the Son. Let’s hear directly the glorious and very disturbing truth from the Holy One of Israel:

(John 8:19-24)

They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

(John 8:39-59)

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. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

(John 14:1-9, ESV).

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

(John 14:21)

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

(John 15:4-5)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

(John 15:18-23)

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also.

In conclusion, the words of Jesus are so plain, you’d have to be flying high above the clouds not to grasp them. But that’s what we do for those we love: we (believers in Jesus/Yeshua) want to save them from hell, no matter what the cost. That’s in God’s hands. Our job is to believe, understand and tell the truth.

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