The Christian Message of Salvation - The WHOLE Message?
The concept of salvation is about as diverse as there are denominations. The reason for this is because there are so many scriptures that speak to the subject from so many angles and so many people are looking at the subject from their own perspective as well as their own bias. This complicates the issue drastically, as most of us do not actually pull from the scripture exegetically what it says from the authors intended point of view, but we find the scriptures that fit our viewpoint and then read into them what we already believe.
The belief that one is saved by “asking ‘Jesus’ to come into their heart” is no exception. In my opinion, the origin of this doctrine comes straight out of early 3rd and 4th century Roman Catholic thinking. Much of the doctrine we have today can be attributed to those two centuries. Short cuts in almost every area of the early Christian doctrines were taken for the purpose of making it easier for the pagan world to convert to Christianity. I believe that this over simplified statement of “asking ‘Jesus’ to come into our hearts” is a remnant of that early compromised way of thinking.
It is natural for us to look for short cuts in everything. But compromise always leads to a degradation of Truth. Truth is supposed to be our guiding compass regardless of how it makes us feel or how it rubs against our theological background or current line of thinking. A compromise of original Truth distorts and inhibits the ability for the compass to do what it was created to do. Thus, if a compromise took place in theology 1800 years ago, it is likely that the original Truth over the years would have been changed, even ever so slightly at first, to the point of being unrecognizable. Unfortunately, that is exactly where we are at today. We are trying to figure out what is truth and what is tradition. For some, the emotional upset of finding out that something which was held as a cherished belief could be at worst “untrue” or at best “tradition” is too much to bear and they would rather not know the truth. This is unfortunate as the Word of YHWH says that the Truth can only do one thing: Set us FREE!
31 So יהושע said to those Yehudim who believed Him, “If you stay in My Word, you are truly My taught ones,
32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Yohanan/John 8:31 & 32
The statement that one must “ask ‘Jesus’ to come into their heart” is not necessarily untrue. It is just not ALL of the truth. It is misleading. It is a short cut and misinformation that I believe has caused millions of people over the centuries to have ill-experiences with their Creator because they intellectually trusted a “formula” that was more religious and traditionally based rather than the full truth (that is less popular) that can forever change their lives.
So, what is the truth? In my studies, I have found that the majority of problems in the church, especially doctrinally based, can be traced back to one simple factor: We don’t go back far enough to get the answers - period. The “Church Fathers” seem to be more of a guide for doctrine than do the authors themselves. And we forget that before the Church Fathers were “Church Fathers”, most were pagan, cultic gentiles that hated everything about the Jews. The same Jews that wrote our Scriptures!
How is it that we believe that they had the ability to completely put away their Anti-Semitism, pagan theologies and cultic way of thinking and just so happened to be able to interpret the Scriptures from a completely non-biased point of view? All this while supposedly understanding exactly the meaning of the author himself of which they previously hated!? I do not deny that the writings of the early Christians, in that time period, certainly does have value. I believe that we just cannot give it Scriptural status.
We must go back before Protestantism, Lutheranism, Catholicism and all the way back to the apostles themselves and THEIR background if we are going to find what we are looking for. This subject is no different. We must first understand what the Jewish authors themselves believed and where their concepts came from (the concepts that forged their writings) before we go hunting and pecking to find verses that talk about the subject and then create doctrines out of a few ambiguous scriptures that can be easily be taken out of their intended context.
The concept of salvation for the Jew of the First Century was pretty much the same concept as the Israelite 1000 years earlier. They believed they were saved because they were the “Chosen People”. Their concept of salvation was not that they were being saved “from” something, but were saved “into” something. They were “saved” into His favour because they were of the line of Abraham. This is where they made their mistake. They forgot what a “True Jew” really was. Sha’ul spends a considerable amount of time in the Renewed Covenant explaining this concept of “true Jew” or true child of the Father. One example is in Romans where he is talking about the Gentiles that are actually keeping the Law of YHWH better than the actual Jews themselves and because of this says that the true Jew is one who is circumcised in the heart and not just of the flesh. Sha’ul drives his point home by saying that his converts were obeying YHWH out of sheer love for Him and thus received their praise from YHWH while the Jews in this context were obeying the commandments to get praise from men.
26 So, if an uncircumcised one watches over the righteousnesses of the Torah, shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned as circumcision?
27 And the uncircumcised by nature, who perfects the Torah, shall judge you who notwithstanding letter and circumcision are a transgressor of the Torah!
28 For he is not a Yehudite who is so outwardly, neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
29 But a Yehudite is he who is so inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in Spirit, not literally, whose praise is not from men but from Elohim.
But before we go any further, let’s back up for a moment. The definition of salvation really started in the garden.
15 And יהוה Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.
16 And יהוה Elohim commanded the man, saying, “Eat of every tree of the garden,
17 but do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat of it you shall certainly die.”
There is given in the second chapter of Genesis - instructions for life and instructions for death. Right here in Genesis we have YHWH laying out for us His ideas of what salvation is. And this “idea” will be built upon through the rest of the Scriptures but will never leave this simple structure, which is this: “If man chooses to trust Me AND OBEY ME, he will be given eternal life. If he chooses to walk outside of my Covenant, he will surely die”. This concept will be echoed throughout the rest of the Scriptures. We see here that YHWH makes a “deal”, a “covenant” with man, that man has a responsibility to his Maker. And there are consequences in both directions.
Let’s fast forward to when the Law was written down so the people would not forget it:
26 ‘See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:
27 the blessing, when you obey the commands of יהוה your Elohim which I command you today;
28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commands of יהוה your Elohim, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other mighty ones which you have not known.
Here again, He is defining what it means to be part of His Covenant. It is virtually the same instruction that was given in the garden: “Obey my instructions and you will live. Choose your own way, and you will die.” Here in Deuteronomy the boundaries are crystal clear of what He required of His people if they were going to be part of His Chosen People. Even the gentiles and nations were allowed to join themselves with His people IF they abided by the Covenant. His Law for this reason was called “The Way (2 Sam 22:31), The Truth (Ps 119:142) and The Life (Ps 119:93)”. Many people believe that He only gave His covenant to the Jews, but in fact was offering His Covenant to the entire world using the Israelites as “recruiters”, so to speak. They never did their job. Y’Shua was not making up new terminology in John 14:6 when he said he was the “Way, Truth and Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Y’Shua WAS the Word (John 1:1) and that “Word” was the very instructions (Torah) of His Father.
Y’Shua was not a 'portion' of The Word or another word. He was the entire Word of YHWH made flesh. He did not come to contradict Himself but to provide true meaning to The Word of YHWH and provide proper understanding and guidance. He could not destroy the Word for He Himself is The Word. He was the Torah in the flesh.
YHWH gave instructions. Man has a choice. The Israelites salvation rested in the fact that they had to PROVE that they trusted His Word THROUGH their obedience to it. Sound familiar? James makes this same argument that you are a child of YHWH by your faith and your faith is proven through your obedience to the Word. Same message. The problem with the Israelites and the Jews of the first century (and even today) is they never understood that their mission was to take His Law/Torah (His Word that brings salvation) to the rest of the world.
6 “I, יהוה, have called You in righteousness, and I take hold of Your hand and guard You, and give You for a covenant to a people, for a light to the gentiles,
7 to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 42:6 & 7
They were supposed to be a light. Y’Shua again, is not making up something new in the Sermon on the Mount when he tells them they are the light of the world. His Father had already told them that 1200 years earlier! He was just putting it back into its’ proper context. The gospel of the “Old Covenant (Testament)” was “Follow Me and you will live”. The message of the Renewed Covenant (New Testament) is not a new message. It is the same message, “Follow Me and you will live”. When Y’Shua came to his soon-to-be disciples on the beach, He did not say, “Accept Me into your heart and you shall be saved”. He told them to “Follow Me”.
In Mark 10, a rich man asks Y’Shua what it takes to gain eternal life. Y’Shua tells him what he already knows: to keep the commandments. The rich man responds by saying that he already keeps them. But Y’Shua understands that he is only keeping them out of obligation. His true devotion and heart is not with His Creator, so Y’Shua tells him to go and sell everything that he has and give it to the poor with the intent of testing his allegiance. Deuteronomy 6:5 told him to “And you shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your might. This he did not do.
Again in Luke 10:25-27
25 And see, a certain one learned in the Torah stood up, trying Him, and saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit everlasting life?”
26 And He said to him, “What has been written in the Torah? How do you read it?”
27 And he answering, said, “ ‘You shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’ ”
The answer was found in the same message that was given from the beginning. Man must TRUST YHWH in what He says and this “trust” is proved by what we do: In particular that we love YHWH with all of our heart, soul and strength and love our neighbor as our self.
The focus of the entire message related to having “The Life” revolves around keeping covenant with Him. And keeping covenant with Him revolved around doing what He said. Y’Shua did not change this message. He simply added to it. This is why Y’Shua says in Mattityahu/Matthew 19:17:
“No one is good except One – Elohim. But if you wish to enter into life, guard the commands."
It is why Sha’ul says in I Corinthians 7:19 that, “The circumcision is naught, and the uncircumcision is naught, but the guarding of the commands of Elohim does matter!”
It is why John says in I Yohanan/John 2:2-4,
2 And He Himself is an atoning offering for our sins, and not for ours only but also for all the world.
3 And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commands.
4 The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
And finally, the children of YHWH are wholly identified by John in the book of Revelation as those that keep His Covenant AND believe in Y’Shua:
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to fight with the remnant of her seed, those guarding the commands of Elohim and possessing the witness of יהושע Messiah.
Here is the endurance of the set-apart ones,1 here are those guarding the commands of Elohim and the belief of יהושע. Footnotes: 1In 12:17 they are called “the remnant"
Even Solomon, who was by far the wisest man that has ever lived (other than Y’Shua) boiled everything down to the same message that was given to Adam, Noach, Mosheh, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Prophets and finally to us which is:
Let us hear the conclusion of the entire matter: Fear Elohim and guard His commands, for this applies to all mankind!
If the entire Scriptures is used for context on this subject, it appears, to me at least, that YHWH’s overwhelming focus was His people trusting Him THROUGH their obedience. For some strange reason, we have divorced this concept from our theology and have pitted the favour that Y’Shua came to offer us when we do break His commandments against the commandments themselves. We have watered down the truth to such a degree that the only thing that we know is that “Jesus died for our sins”. And this is true, but we deny unknowingly the power of the rest of the truth. We DO tell them that they are sinners and because of this fact they need a Saviour and that Saviour is Christ. We do tell them that if they accept ‘Jesus Christ’ as their ‘Lord’ and Saviour they will be saved. But most of us really don’t tell them what that means.
We do not tell them that the reason why we are all sinners and condemned to death is because we have all broken the Law/Torah of YHWH, and every year blood had to be shed to pay for that sin. But that blood was not good enough to forever pay for man’s sins. Only a human could pay for another human’s sins. But that human would have to be perfect and without sin himself. The book of Hebrews tells us that the Old Covenant was not perfect because it was administered by imperfect, human priests. But now we have a High Priest that is perfect. Now, for those that believe in this new “High Priest”, they are no longer under the PENALTY of the law (death), but are now shown ‘favour’ even when they do break it. Before Messiah, there was no favour when a commandment was broken. The Law did its’ job and condemned the lawbreaker. But now, the Law does not have the power to condemn those that are in Messiah (Rom 8:1). We now have His favour.
The gospel never changed. Man must still trust the Word of YHWH and obey it. His children are known by their fruits – acceptance and obedience of Torah. The difference in the message of “salvation” in the Old Covenant verses the Renewed Covenant is this: The people in the OC were required to trust YHWH through obedience to the Covenant. The Israelites were saved from slavery in Egypt through 'favour' and faith -but how many did not enter the promised land, and why not. Believing YHWH was trusting him through obedience. In the Tanak (Old Testament), the Messianic part of the Covenant was hidden. They looked forward to the Messiah and from that standpoint believed in the full Word of the Father. In the Renewed Covenant, the Messianic part that was hidden before is now revealed. He did not add a new commandment to His Word to “believe in the Messiah”. He just revealed what had always been there. Salvation no longer came through obedience to His Word and the sacrifice offered through the earthly high priest. It now comes through obedience to His Word and the FAITH in the one who completed the sacrificial system by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice AND becoming the new High Priest. This is why Y’Shua is the ONLY way to the Father. Because the ONLY way that He chose (after Sinai) to forgive the people was through the sacrifice of the High Priest. The Scriptures declares Y'Shua to be the ONLY High Priest before the throne. Thus, there is no other way to the Father, “but by Him”.
In the same way that the Christians of the third and fourth centuries watered down the Truth to make it more palatable for the pagan world, so we today have maintained to a large degree that same form of evangelism. This type of evangelism does not “set apart” those that are His and defrauds the world from the True, unchanging, eternally powerful Truth of the gospel that was preached in the first century.
YHWH told Adam, “Choose this day whom you will serve. Choose your way and you will die. Choose My way and you will live.” He said the same thing when the Law was given: “I set before you life or death. Obey my commands and you will live, etc…”. Joshua said “Choose this day whom you will serve…” Y’Shua said, “drop your nets and follow me”. “If you want to follow me, you must give up everything you have” (Luke 14:33). When a man told Y’Shua that he wanted to follow him but he first had to bury his father, Y’Shua replied, “Let the dead bury the dead” telling him that you must immediately leave all behind. He tells people to “pick up their cross and follow Him”, etc…Much more could be said of all the warnings that were given in front of the gospel. Y’Shua and the disciples made it clear that this road was hard and much would have to be given up in order to gain eternal life. The focus was ALWAYS on the responsibility of the individual to his Rabbi. To be a disciple of a rabbi was akin to changing your entire identity and will to that of the rabbi you were following…and this was done at any and all cost and without question.
In Mattityahu /Matthew we read:
20:16 “Thus the last shall be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
22:13 “Then the sovereign said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him out into the outer darkness – there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.
7:13 “Enter in through the narrow gate! Because the gate is wide – and the way is broad – that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter in through it.
7:14 “Because the gate is narrow and the way is hard pressed1 which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Footnote: 1Or the way is afflicted.
This does not seem to identify with the seemingly two billion professing Christians in the world today.
Today, we posit to the public that all they have to do is “ask Y’Shua into their heart” and they will be saved. Otherwise, they will burn in eternal fire. We are afraid to tell people that they must live by a different code of conduct and they must be willing to give up everything to follow Him because we are scared that it will “scare” off potential converts. The reality is, that is what the gospel was designed to do, change people’s lives. The Scriptural approach to the gospel kept the body of Messiah pure and set apart. Not that it was impossible to come to the Father for it had now become easier than ever before! “Give up your life and follow Me and you will receive New Life in its stead.” That is the message. That is the Truth.
Another point to consider is that if the Torah/Law really was nailed to the cross as per popular Christian belief today, then why would we need the atoning blood sacrifice of Messiah Yahushua. There would be no Torah/Law and therefore no sin because sin is the transgression of the Torah/Law. Hardly so. The existence of the Torah/Law, the standard of YHWH, reveals to us how in need we are of a Messiah and how awesome the gift of Messiah is.
In my opinion, it is time that we really know exactly what the Truth entails and what makes up tradition. WE are responsible for what we say and what we teach. We will be judged by every word that proceeds out of our mouth. May YHWH remain True and every one of us a liar. But, in the meantime, let every one of us do our best to “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to Elohim, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). We should hold firmly to only the Truth and putting down that which is tradition at the drop of a hat.
What does it meant to be a child of YHWH? I will finish this article by letting the Apostle John answer himself:
1 Everyone who believes that יהושע is the Messiah has been born of Elohim, and everyone who loves the One bringing forth also loves the one having been born of Him.
2 By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and guard His commands.
3 For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy,
4 because everyone having been born of Elohim overcomes the world. And this is the overcoming that has overcome the world: our belief.
5 Who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believes that יהושע is the Son of Elohim?
I Yohanan/John 5:1-5
This belief is not an intellectual assent, but a sincere life change that requires one to leave everything behind to follow His every command. We tell our children, “If you want to live in my house, you will live by my rules”. But for some reason we don’t like to believe that the Creator of the universe has any rules in His house. Every covenant (contract) has clearly defined rules and guidelines. Could it be possible that our ancient forefathers started a process of erasing the boundaries and guidelines to such an extent that today it is very unclear which way is up and which way is down? Could this explain the 600+ warring denominations that we have today? I believe in part it does. If we are ever to witness the awesome power of YHWH as displayed in early Messianic times, we had better start getting back to doing Scriptural things in Scriptural ways.
Acceptance and Faith in Yahushua as our Messiah is the start of the conversion process. In Acts 15 we read of how the converts were instructed to make some immediate adjustments to their lifestyle/habits etc and were then encouraged to attend synagogue every Sabbath where the teachings of Mosheh (Torah) were taught/discussed. It is a lifelong journey with the Set-apart Spirit of YHWH helping and guiding us into a set-apart life to YHWH.
We must also allow the Scripture to interpret Scripture. The Word states that there is nothing new under the sun.
What has been is what shall be, what has been done is what shall be done, and there is no new matter under the sun.
I believe that the story of the Israelites being saved from slavery in Egypt is a shadow of the Messiah and our salvation.
· They (Israelites) were saved from slavery through no effort of their own, but through absolute favour from YHWH and their faith.
· They were protected with the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. They witnessed the awesome mighty hand of The Creator – YHWH.
· They were protected from the plagues and judgments on Pharaoh and his people.
· They were separated to be the bride of YHWH in the wilderness.
· They were set-apart and shown the will of YHWH – the wedding Covenant (The Torah) which they agreed to observe and keep – Shemoth/Exodus 19:8.
· In ignorance they rebelled and created a golden calf and decided how they would worship YHWH.
· They were prevented from going into the promised land and wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. Of the reported three million brought out of Egypt, only two from that generation went on into the promised land – Joshua and Caleb.
Does this not reflect our circumstance today:
· We are saved from slavery to sin (and the wages of sin - death. Romans 6:23) through no effort of our own but through absolute favour from YHWH, the Blood of Yahushua and our faith.
· We shall be protected from the end time wrath of YHWH by the Blood covering of Messiah Yahushua.
· We have witnessed the awesome Creator YHWH our Elohim through His Word and will again witness how mighty He is when He pours out His judgements on the world in the end times - similar to the Egypt experience and how all witnessed how YHWH destroyed the Egyptian gods with His plaques (read the article - The Torah and The Rapture)
· We are to be separated (set-apart) to be the bride of YHWH. The wedding Covenant is the same (The Torah)
· I believe that we have unintentionally and in ignorance rebelled and created our ‘golden calf’ i.e. religion, with our own traditions and pagan belief. We have decided how best to serve YHWH.
· How many of us will see the Promised Land?
It is true to understand that we are 'saved' whilst we were sinners, by the Blood of Yahushua, through the favour from YHWH - with no effort on our part but faith/belief. What should then occur is the act of repentance, with the help from His Set-apart Spirit, which involves a returning to His ways - The Torah. We must understand that we were saved from an existence of sin and death to live a renewed life of obedience (through choice) and where we do fall short we are covered by His 'favour' - the blood of a Messiah.
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Messiah – by favour you have been saved
8 For by favour you have been saved, through belief, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of Elohim,
9 it is not by works, so that no one should boast.
Ephesians 2: 5,8 & 9
It goes on to say in verse 10:
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah יהושע unto good works, which Elohim prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The good works is refering to obedience to Torah - His Ways. We are saved from the death penalty. I firmly believe that the Blood of Messiah Yahushua, the favour displayed by YHWH, will protect us for a period of time. The time will however come, and is soon arriving, when YHWH will call us to account and will reveal His truth about His ways (Torah) and all will be forced to make a decision on whom they will serve.
The Word says in Hoshĕa/Hosea 4:6
“My people have perished for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being priest for Me. Since you have forgotten the Torah of your Elohim, I also forget your children
Here it is clear that YHWH is linking the Torah to 'knowledge'.
And in Dani’ĕl/Daniel 12:4
“But you, Dani’ĕl, hide the words, and seal the book until the time of the end. Many shall diligently search and knowledge shall increase.”
Many believers think that the ‘knowledge’ being referred to in this prophecy refers to an increase in intellectual knowledge in our modern world. This is what happens when we think using a Greek mindset. YHWH is not interested in our intellect and would not mention it. He is more than likely referring to an increase in the knowledge of Torah in the end times amongst those that diligently seek Him. One only has to do an internet search to see the rapid growth in believers returning to Torah observance. This re-discovery of Torah is also not due to man's intellect but is brought about by YHWH removing our blindness in this end time and revealing Truth to those who have a heart and desire to draw close to the Him.
And YHWH states in Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah:
14 “Return, O backsliding children,” declares יהוה, “for I shall rule over you, and shall take you, one from a city and two from a clan, and shall bring you to Tsiyon.
“I love those who love me, And those who earnestly seek me do find me.
‘And you shall seek Me, and shall find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart
There are many features of the Renewed Covenant that can not even be compared to the Old Covenant, because the two Covenants are so vastly different in nature. The Old Covenant was a set of rules to live by, and whose end was death. The Renewed Covenant is a seed of Life, whose end is a Tree of Life, and whose ability to keep the Covenant is inherent in that Life. It is the Master Yahushua Himself that keeps man’s half of the Renewed Covenant, through His Favour, on behalf of those that have truly entered into covenant with Him!
Perhaps the most surprising feature of the Renewed Covenant is that it is one in which there is no compulsion. We observe that Yahushua does not compel anyone to become a bond servant. He does, however, compel people to come to Him to be set free, and to repent, and then compels them to come in to dine with Him. He then desires that those that come to Him, of their own free will, would enter into the Renewed Covenant with Him; and that because of their love for their Master, they would choose to become bondservants to Him.
Love, by its very nature, can not be made compulsory; it must be of the free will, and of the heart. Yahushua sets us free (Yohanan/John 8:36), so that we are then truly free to choose whom we will serve. We may then choose to serve Him, and to please Him, and delight to do His will, or we may choose not to do so. Whatever choice we make, reveals whether we love Him, or do not love Him. However, let us also remember that He has told us:
No servant is able to serve two masters, for either he shall hate the one, and love the other; or else he shall cling to the one, and despise the other. You are not able to serve Elohim and mammon.
This is a warning that Yahushua has issued to all that would make that choice to know Him, and to serve Him, and to delight to do His will. After He has set us free from all forms of bondage, we must take heed not to allow ourselves back under any form of bondage. To do so would threaten our relationship with Him, and even jeopardize the very favour that enables us to walk with Him, and to serve Him as our only Master. In order to truly serve Him, however, we must move from the realm of death, to the realm of Life; That is, we must move from the realm of living by the externals of the letter of the Law, to the realm of living by the internals of the Law on the heart.
In order to acquire a deeper perspective on this subject, read the section ‘The Torah’ and an additional article ‘The Way of Salvation’.
Shalom and be blessed in your seeking.
Scripture portions taken from ‘The Scriptures’, Copyright by Institute for Scripture Research. Used by permission".
PREFACE to ‘The Scriptures’