I am confused about the Jewish people and salvation. How do God’s chosen people become saved? Is it only by faith in the life and work of our Savior Jesus Christ? What about those who lived and died before He came? Are they lost forever?
From earliest times it was understood that a Messiah would come to redeem God’s people. Jesus made no bones about the fact that He was sent to save the lost of Israel (Matt. 15:24), but the fact that He would also facilitate the redemption of the Gentiles was understood as well (See Isaiah 49:6 for example). He made it abundantly clear that He’s the only way to reconciliation with God. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 )
Although Jesus gave His life for us on a specific day in time, His was a once-for-all-time sacrifice (Hebrews 10:12). Those who lived and died before His time had to believe the Redeemer was coming to save them from their sins and give evidence of this by offering sacrifices for their sins. Those who have lived and died since His time have to believe the Redeemer has come to save us.