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Question and Answer

God's Chosen People and the Holocaust

Question:

I am on a spiritual journey which has in turn been a joyous experience and one of confusion. I have been studying the Bible extensively and have found great joy and comfort in the words. I was baptized Catholic, raised Protestant and now have been attending an OPC. But pressing right at the moment is what the OPC believes happened to all the Jews who died in the Holocaust. I have a hard time thinking of God's chosen people not being in heaven. Please help me understand this difficult issue.

Answer:

You're certainly correct that all God's chosen people, or "elect," will be in heaven. As stated in our Shorter Catechism #20, the OPC believes that "God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer." (See, for example, Eph. 1:3-6.) This covenant of grace with the elect was made through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, all who believe in him have inherited eternal life, along with all other blessings from God (Heb. 9:15-17).

The OPC believes what Romans 4:1-12 teaches, that the elect have always been made part of this covenant of grace by faith. However, there was a time when the covenant of grace was differently administered than it is today. "This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the Gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament." (Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 7, paragraph 5; please see the WCF on the OPC website for proof texts). Now, however, the covenant of grace is administered through the Church, which is made up of both Jews and Gentiles (Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 7, paragraph 6). Thus, the OPC believes that God's chosen people today are not the Jews as Jews, but all people (whether Jew or Gentile) who trust in the Cross of Christ for their salvation.

We can confidently say that all the elect who died during the Holocaust went to heaven, for those who believe as Abraham believed are the children of God (Romans 9:1-13). Their eternal reward is certain because nothing can ever separate those whom God has chosen from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:28-39).


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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