Question:

I was wondering why the Jews think Satan isn't evil and of God to test people. They think that hell isn't eternal. And that the Messiah will be a normal man, not the Son of God, who will rebuild the church in Israel and bring people back to Judaism. If the New Testament doesn't counterdict the old, why do they think this?

Do you think that people like David and Moses would have believed Jesus? Are the Jews who lived before Jesus and everyone else going to hell?

I can't think that God would do that to people, but people like the American Indians couldn't have been saved until at least the 15th century because they had no way of knowing what the Bible said. If someone thought something wrong about God all their life, and they died trusting in something that's not in the Bible, do they go to hell?

I don't know what to make of any of this. Does the Bible have anything to say about it?


Answer:

We understand that just because someone calls himself a Christian, it doesn't mean he is following the teachings of the New Testament or that he even understands the New Testament. A person's misunderstanding of God's teaching doesn't mean the correct teaching can't be found in the Bible.

The same goes for today's Jews. There are actually three main branches of Judaism today. Their beliefs vary, but what they choose to believe doesn't necessarily tell us what the Old Testament actually taught.

The Old Testament did talk about Satan. If nothing else, the first two chapters of Job makes it clear that Satan exists and tries to bring down God's people. The New Testament makes the role of Satan clearer, but we expect that.

The same thing is true about Hell. Both the topic of Satan and Hell are dealing with the spiritual realm, a realm no man has direct experience with until after they leave this earth. This wasn't so with Jesus. "Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going"" (John 8:14). Jesus came from heaven. He lives eternally as God and was involved in the creation of the world. "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). Thus, when Jesus came He was able to teach his disciples and us things that we only had hints about previously.

The Jews of Jesus' day and since then absolutely refused to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. For some reasons, see: Why didn't the Jews believe Jesus? Would David and Moses believed Jesus? Clearly the answer would be "yes" because they did believe God and were obedient. Regarding the salvation of those who lived before Christ, see Why did God choose the Israelites as His people?

The question of what happens to those who never learn the truth is usually phrased to gloss over a very basic fact: on our own, none of us could be saved or deserved to be saved. Salvation is a gift, not a right. See The Lost Who Never Heard the Gospel for details. Another point is that it is commonly assumed that the gospel did not make it to the New World but that assumption is made on a lack of evidence and not any proof.