Question from a reader:
Are people born in Israel automatically saved and going to Heaven (Romans 11:26), or do they still have to accept Jesus as their personal Savior to be truly saved?
Answer from Julia (Stager) Mayo, former EPM research assistant:
You refer to this verse in Romans 11: “And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”. Earlier in Romans Paul wrote, "... For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring...This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring." (9:6-8). So Paul had previously specified that being an ethnic Jew was not enough to achieve salvation. Personal faith is the basis of salvation. However, Romans 9-11 does seem to imply there is still some sort of special role for Israel in God's redemptive history and its own salvation, but it's debated among Christians what that is specifically.