We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.64)
C.S. Lewis, one of the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th Century and in his classic work, Mere Christianity, offers an interesting point on the atoning work of Yeshua and it’s application. Lewis was not a Messianic Jew, but was as he referred to himself an ordinary member of the Church of England. Though not from our worldview, Lewis offers some important insights for us.
Lewis clearly puts forward that salvation is only attained by the death of the Messiah. Yet in contrast to much of the Church and the Missions movement, Lewis puts forward that the atoning work of Yeshua may not be as limited as is taught in Evangelical Christendom, wherein salvation is only made available to those who consciously pray a “sinner’s prayer” and conform to evangelical standards of doctrine. Lewis in the context of his book was looking at the issue of the “other people”, those who had not been presented the message of Yeshua.
For us we need to look at the Jewish people who have both been living lives of faithfulness to the God of Israel by living Torah faithful lives and also the fact that they have not been offered a Jewish message of Yeshua for over 1900 years and still are not hearing one from the Jewish missions groups.
Is it not limiting the atoning work of Yeshua by saying that those Jews who were not given a Jewish Yeshua to follow, and therefore rejected the Gentile Christian Jesus and held tightly to faith in the God of Israel and to the Torah in their study and practice are categorically damned to eternal separation from God? These being the same kind of Jewish people that Paul said “earnestly serve God night and day” [Acts 26:7].
If Rashi, Rambam, Heschel and other Torah faithful Jews are now in the presence of God they are there based on the atoning work of Yeshua. Do I know this for sure? I would have to say “No”, Scripture is clear that assurance of salvation is only attained by a conscious faith trust in Yeshua, but I don’t see this precluding God’s application of the atoning work of Yeshua’s death to those faithful Jews who lived Torah faithful lives and were unable to see and accept the “Jesus” of the Church or the Y’shua of the Missions as the Jewish Messiah.