As we continue our study of Revelation 7, one of the questions that has been asked is: “Do we need to share the Gospel with the Jews of today? If they are God’s chosen people, aren’t they already part of his spiritual family?”
Well, back in 2016, the Vatican issued a statement advising the Roman Catholic Church not to actively try to convert Jews to Christianity. The reasoning behind this is rooted in the belief that God has a special relationship with the Jewish people, as described in the Old Testament. According to this view, the Old Testament contains prophecies about Jesus Christ, and Paul's writings suggest that God's promises to the Jews are unchangeable. Therefore, it is believed that Jews are ultimately saved through Christ, whether they are aware of it or not.
(You can read more here from Time Magazine: https://time.com/4145056/vactican-catholics-jews-convert/)
One quote that is worth noting from the report:
"While affirming salvation through an explicit or even implicit faith in Christ, the Church does not question the continued love of God for the chosen people of Israel.”
In short, the Catholic study group argues, it's not necessary for Jews to have explicit belief in Jesus Christ to experience salvation through Him. Instead, they can attain salvation / get saved simply by placing their faith in the promises made by God in the law.
Again, quoting the report:
“From the Christian confession that there can be only one path to salvation, however, it does not in any way follow that the Jews are excluded from God’s salvation because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God. Such a claim would find no support in the soteriological understanding of Saint Paul, who in the Letter to the Romans not only gives expression to his conviction that there can be no breach in the history of salvation, but that salvation comes from the Jews (cf. also Jn 4:22)… That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery…”
In brief, God has the ability to provide salvation through Jesus even for those who do not explicitly believe in Him. This concept particularly extends to the Jewish community, as emphasized by the biblical quote, "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29). Consequently, this perspective on Jewish salvation suggests that there is no need for the church to actively evangelize or convert Jewish individuals.
And one more quote:
“The Church is therefore obliged to view evangelisation to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views. In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews. While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah.”
I won't cover all the details of this statement here due to space constraints. The significant differences between Protestants and Catholics, especially regarding essential biblical truths, still exist and remain unresolved.
But here at least two responses to this Catholic document worth noting:
# 1 - The statement overlooks that Paul actively preached to the Jews wherever he traveled, as seen in Acts (13:14; 14:1; 17:1-2, 10; 18:19).
It also ignores that in the book of Romans, Paul expresses his strong desire for the salvation of the Jews: "I pray to God for their salvation... For Christ is the fulfillment of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Rom. 10:1, 4).
#2 - This statement seriously misinterprets Paul's message in Romans 9-11.
While it's true that Jews have a unique role in God's salvation history, and that God's gifts and calling are unchanging (Rom. 11:29), it's incorrect to claim that anyone, whether Jew or Gentile, can be saved without explicit faith in Christ. This assertion overlooks Paul's teachings in Romans 11 about the consequences of unbelief. Specifically, it ignores that Paul states both Jews and Gentiles can be "cut off" from God's promises due to "unbelief" (Rom. 11:20). Anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus as the Messiah is, therefore, excluded from God's redemptive work through Christ. In fact, the entire passage of Romans 9-11 serves as Paul's explanation of how God's Old Testament promises remain valid even though most Jews of his time did not accept Jesus as their Messiah. Paul desired the salvation of the Jews, but he recognized that it could only happen through explicit faith in Christ: "For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?" (Rom. 10:13-14).
In essence, the Vatican's statement holds an incorrect view of God's plan for salvation through Jesus, which skews the church's mission. God's mission is to bring both Jews and Gentiles to faith in Christ, the sole path to salvation (John 14:6). He invites His people to partake in this mission and spread the message to all nations (Matt. 28:19-20). Consequently, the Vatican's statement seems to divert people from God's vital mission in the world, and this is a matter of utmost gravity.
We pray that everyone will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and respond with faith. Our conviction is that the Gospel is meant for all individuals, irrespective of their ethnic background. We are committed to spreading the Gospel without bias, recognizing that every person requires the message of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is our duty and joy to share this Gospel with everyone!
(For a great sermon on this topic, please see Dr. Al Mohler’s “To the Jew First” here: https://www.chosenpeople.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ToTheJewFirst-ALL-Pages.pdf)