I know the Jewish people are called the chosen ones, but why don’t they believe Jesus is the Savior? Also, does that mean they won’t be accepted into heaven?
What a great question! And it leads to an interesting conundrum, both Jews and Christians claim the revelation of God found in the Torah (or generally, the Old Testament) to be the starting point for our faith. We both read and share its stories, we both look to Abraham, Moses, David and Isaiah and the other prophets as men of God who point us towards the Messiah, we both claim to honor and adhere to the Ten Commandments and many elements of our faith and values are shared between us. And never forget that Jesus himself was Jewish!
But on the issue of eternal salvation we have reached different conclusions.
Christianity maintains that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect will – and that sin carries its own judgment, but that the penalty for sin was paid on our behalf by Jesus when he allowed himself to be crucified. We believe Jesus is the Messiah that Isaiah and other prophets pointed us toward. And that by his sacrificial death he paid the penalty for our sin and by his resurrection he offers us both the joy of new life that comes by trusting him and also the hope of eternal life with him in heaven.
Judaism holds that we do not need that sort of salvation, for we are not doomed or fated to sin. Quite the opposite. One translation of the Torah says: "If you do good, won't there be special privilege? And if you do not do good, sin waits at the door. It lusts after you, but you can dominate it." (Genesis 4:7) In other words, you can do good, and if you do, things will go well for you. If you do not do good, sin wants to grab and capture you. But you can control sin, you can control your evil desires, and you can be good. Which for a Jew means that we can be good, or we can be evil. It's up to us. And if we can be good, that means we can be righteous. Of course, we must uphold the Torah (God’s perfect law), or otherwise we might cease to be righteous. But if we keep the Torah, we are righteous.
But Christians counter by saying, no one can perfectly keep God’s law and so no one is truly righteous. Each of us has disobeyed God and turned like wayward sheep to our own ways (Isaiah 53) and so we are doomed unless God himself shows mercy on us – and we believe he has shown mercy to us in the person of Jesus.
So how does a Jewish person attain heaven? They attain heaven the same way anyone else does. Biblical Christianity teaches that there is only one door into eternal life and that door is Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). Many Jews have come to faith in Jesus as their Messiah and they are known as Messianic Jews. But most Jews have yet to receive Christ as the long-awaited messiah. Pray for the Jewish people that many more would be open to hearing about Christ.
Jews are God’s chosen people, but this does not automatically make all Jews saved. Rather, those who are saved are saved because they believe in Jesus Christ as their true Messiah.