I see what you say about the laws of the old testament having been
“fulfilled” and therefore do not have to be followed. However, many Jews
still do follow those rules and, it has to be said that in doing so they
are following the word of God as that is what is written in the bible
(albeit an older part of it). They simply choose not to believe or give
the same importance to (I’m not sure which) the new testament. So where
does that leave them? They are undoubtedly worshipping the same God but in
a different way to Christians. However, I have heard it said that they
will nevertheless go to hell. Is this true?

It does seem strange to me that we have to put such faith in the words of
the Bible (for what else do we have?) but that we have two very devout
groups coming to very different conclusions about which ones to follow. It
seems most odd that there can be room for doubt over something so
important given the faith and intelligence on both sides. Both groups
absolutley believe that they are right. Assuming that the Jews are wrong
in not following the new testament and will therefore go to hell, that
does seem to be harsh when they are, after all, following rules which
indisputably were once handed down by God, albeit before the New

Which gives rise to my next question – why do we have to rely on old
written accounts to find out the true rules that God wants us to follow
anyway? Why isn’t there simply one clear law which God hands down in such
a way that we absolutely and definitely know what is correct? The bible
makes it clear that God wants us to love and worship Him so why have all
this doubt, uncertainty and difference when surely it would be so easy for
the creator of the world and the universe to clarifiy things even by
speaking directly to each of us? ASSUMING, that is, that God actually
WANTS to absolutely clarify things. Undoubtedly if He wanted to He could
find a way of doing so. Yet still we have these great differences and it
can be no answer just to say that the other group is mistaken because
clearly they do have genuinely held beliefs and some of them do worship
the same God as us. And God must surely appreciate and understand that
their beliefs are deeply held, even if mistaken. Men are not perfect,
these issues are very complicated to us, we have conflicting and
inconsistent accounts religions and beliefs, and yet it seems that those
who by genuine mistake or ancestry get it wrong will be damned or excluded
after death.

As God has clearly chosen not to provide the whole world with a clear and
indisputable answer (and we have to accept that in reality the bible does
not do that given all the differences of interpretation and proliferation
of religions here on earth) then what are we left with? Presumably that
the whole thing is some sort of test or puzzle for us to work out. A test
of faith. But belief and faith and arguments over the Bible (or the Koran
for that matter) can only take us so far here and although there is
enormous faith and devotedness and belief in all religions, we cannot all
be right. And yet everyone absolutely believes that they ARE right. And
obviously God knows that. And yet we are left to believe that many
millions and billions will be condemned to eternity in hell (or at the
very least denied heaven). As I look at all of this, none of it feels very
benevolent loving or kind and that is not a nice feeling! Do I really have
to put up with “God works in mysterious ways”? I can see little

I am not sure that there can be an answer to all of this (other than
continued blind faith). It is self evident looking at the world at the
moment that whatever evidence that we now have available about the correct
path is simply not going to unify us in belief. And so to reconcile this
we must find a way to accept that this unhappy state for mankind is God’s
will. Or are we just deluding ourselves altogether?


Jesus answered your first question during his own life time. This
proceeds fairly easily from my first answer to your question. He said he
did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill its requirements (as noted
in my previous answer from Matt 5:17-20). The implication, as worked out
by Paul in Romans, Galatians and Colossians, as well as by the Hebrew
writer, is that the death of a perfectly righteous Jesus on the cross put
an end to the need to satisfy the Law of Moses. In essence, the sacrifice
of Jesus both fulfilled and nullified the Law of Moses. Colossians 2:9-19
implies that because of the death of Jesus, following the Law of Moses
becomes of no value in creating righteousness. Besides, Jesus said that
the entire Old Testament was written about him (John 5:39-40). Therefore,
following Jesus supercedes the need to obey the submessage of the Old
Testament. The Hebrew writer said that the Law of Moses had become
obsolete, and was soon to disappear (Hebrews 8:13). This is a key
passage. In the year AD 70 the Roman army destroyed Jerusalemand the
temple, bring to an end once and for all the system of sacrifice. From
God?s perspective, it was time enough for the Jews to accept the lordship
of Jesus and the new covenant he brought to life. So my answer is that
for a person today to try to seek a relationship with God through
observing the Law of Moses?bypassing Jesus Christ is to reject not only
the Law of Moses, but the God who gave that law. No, one cannot be saved
by adhering to just the Old Testament today. It is not a question of
greater or lesser importance. It is a question of a covenant which is in
effect versus one which is no longer in effect. Will all Jews who reject
Jesus go to hell? I will leave that in God?s hands, but let the words of
Jesus speak for themselves: “As for the person who hears my words but
does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the
world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and
does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at
the last day (John 12:47-48). I do not think I could say it any better.

Both groups may see themselves as right, but they cannot both be right.
Either Jesus was the Messiah?the Savior of Israel?or he was not. To
reject Jesus is to reject God. Being devout does not bring forgiveness of
sins. Forgiveness is brought about by the grace of God, through faith,
which implies obedience. There are plenty of devout Hindus, Shintoists
and Scientologists, but sincerity does not equal truth. You say there is
room for doubt. I do not agree, given the evidence of the miracles Jesus
did and the prophecies he fulfilled. This, of course, does not mean that
there is no doubt in your own mind. You must thing about these things for

You ask why God does not speak to us directly. Why does he use some old,
musty writings from a long time ago? Good question. I am not sure God
gives an exact answer to your question in any one passage, but let me give
you my own reflection. If God gave us all personal revelation, it is not
clear where this would leave free will. Besides, the revelation from God
involves salvation by the blood of a perfect sacrifice. This sacrifice is
once for all (Hebrews 10). To me it does not make sense that Jesus would
provide a once-for-all sacrifice for sins, yet God has to remind every
single person on an individual basis about this. Belief in Jesus involves
evidence concerning things which happened 2000 years ago. This is
unavoidable, Therefore, in order for us to believe, it must involve
evidence about something which happened in the past. Jes
us does not die
for our sins every year. I simply do not see what you propose to be a
better system of revealing truth to us besides a written document which is
supported by a massive amount of evidence (miracles, consistency,
fulfilled prophecy, etc.) If we all get our own personal revelation, what
is to say that this is not some sort of personal fantasy? What is the
evidence that this is real? If it is absolutely compelling, then where
does free will come in?

You state: and it can be no answer just to say that the other group is
mistaken because clearly they do have genuinely held beliefs. To be
honest, this is an irrational statement. If one person believes in the
law of gravity and another does not, then one person is mistaken. If one
person believes that God is real and another sincerely rejects this
belief, then sincerity has nothing to do with whether one or the other is
right. Jesus claimed to be the only way to heaven (John 14). Look, this
is either a true statement or it is false. Yes, it can be a valid answer
to say that another group is mistaken. One says that salvation for our
sins and a relationship with our creator is brought about by faith in
Jesus. Another says that Jesus was not crucified and he does not bring
salvation. One thing I can say for sure, these two cannot both be right.
Sorry, but the Muslims are mistaken. Sincerity does not cancel out being
wrong. Sincerity does not get one to the moon, neither does it get one to
heaven. It is our job as human beings to look at the evidence and
decide. It is true that some have less exposure to Jesus Christ. If you
find that hard to accept, then you had better get out there and tell more
people about Jesus. Perhaps you should move to a country where he is
relatively unknown and start telling people about Jesus. Rather than
bemoan the fact that some people do not know much about Jesus, I have
decided to travel to distant places to help spread the gospel.

Another quote: “As God has clearly chosen not to provide the whole world
with a clear and indisputable answer.” I vehemently deny this claim.
Jesus made it absolutely crystal clear. Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in
no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which
we must be saved.” The means of salvation is through repentance for one?
s sins, acceptance that Jesus is God and Messiah, and baptism into Jesus
Christ (Acts 2:36-39). Now, you may not yet be in a place where you can
put your full weight of faith in this claim. I totally understand that.
However, to say that the Bible leaves it unclear what God wants from us is
not speak falsely. The fact that the world is confused does not mean that
the message in the Bible is confused or even confusing. Are there
difficult, unresolved questions? Yes, but the basic questions (How did I
get here? Why am I here? Where am I going?) are given perfectly cogent
answer in the Bible. The BIG questions have a clear and indisputable
answer. The question is whether one is willing to obey this message, not
whether it is clear. Let us not get bogged down in the less important
questions?the ones which are, admittedly, debatable.

I definitely understand your confusion. It is absolutely reasonable.
Bottom line, you cannot understand how God can allow such confusion, given
that his message is so clear. Why doesn?t God step in and clear up all
the confusion? This is because God respects our own free will. God does
not drop a paper in your lap one morning, telling you what to do. In
fact, even if he did, I doubt it would make any difference. Like Abraham
said to the rich man (admittedly a parable, but the teaching is quite
relevant) “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.”
(Luke 16:25-31). In this parable, the rich man, who is suffering, begs
Abraham to do essentially what your emotions are asking for as well.
Please send a miracle to my brothers?help them to believe. The reply is
that if these guys have the right heart, they will respond to the Bible.
If they do not have the right heart, then working a miracle in front of
them or dropping a note from the sky or whatever?. will do no good. You
(Mark) have all you need to decide what is right. God has made it plain
to you (even if there are people in the world to whom he has not yet made
it perfectly clear). The important question for you is this: will you do
what is right? If the answer is no, then all other questions are

Sorry if I got a bit carried away. I am a bit passionate about this.
Remember this. No matter what anyone says, a statement is either true or
it is not. It is your/my job to look at the evidence and decide. What
anyone else does is, in the end, not relevant to what you do. This is
what free will is all about.

No, this sorry situation is not God?s will. It is the result of sin and
stubbornness of heart. God?s will is that all be saved, but he does not
force us. There is the rub.

John Oakes

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