There is a Fine Line Between Scare Tactics and Sugar-Coating Salvation

Like it or not, those of us who are to make disciples and be a light in the darkness have to realize we are Salespeople- selling the most important product that anyone could ever have: salvation and eternal joy.

It’s remarkable when you think of the benefits of this product, yet the vast majority of people either don’t want it or are willing to buy a “knock-off” (i.e., a religion that rejects God’s word) and they are happy with it. As Hosea said:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

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The other day on Facebook a friend posted a beautiful message, all about God’s presence in our lives and how he protects us, loves us and wants the best for us. It talked of his ability to provide and his desire to save us. I replied that we need to also remember that he is our Judge and Jury, as well as Executioner and that these promises are not all that we have to look forward to. For those people who accept God and Messiah, there will be trouble and tribulation throughout their life. Following God has many advantages, but the very best of them we will not receive in this lifetime.

In my past, I was a professional salesman (for about 15 years) and I can tell you that to have a good sale, meaning one that will not cancel on you, you must be truthful and not give wrong expectations. You can’t make it sound like accepting God and Messiah will solve all your problems, nor should you use negative selling or scare tactics; these styles will never produce a “good” sale. Preaching “fire and brimstone” scare tactics might convince some people to accept Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah. In the same way, preaching that God loves you just as you are, you can be saved simply by asking for it and once saved you will receive all sorts of blessings will create unrealistic expectations, and that seed will be like the seed the weeds choked them or the birds came and ate (Matthew 13.)

To follow God faithfully we must also love him- you can’t scare people into loving someone; likewise, you will set them up for disappointment if you make salvation sound like heaven on earth. To put rose-colored glasses on unsuspecting and biblically ignorant people, convincing them that once they accept Yeshua they will be saved and blessed, is to send them into battle with a gun that has no bullets.

Following God is hard work- Yeshua didn’t say follow me and have it easy, he said we must carry our execution stake on our shoulders in order to follow him (Mark 8:34.) To obey God and follow Messiah means you might have to give up much: friends, family, sometimes your job, maybe even your life!

For those to whom we are preaching salvation, we must let them know, right at the start, that this is not going to be easy. That they will, over time, have to sacrifice things that they may not want to. We keep them interested in reminding them of the afterlife rewards, as well as the many blessings they can receive while alive. We shouldn’t sugar-coat what they are deciding to do, but we shouldn’t scare them to the point where they lose bowel control, either.

That is the thin line we must walk when we talk to non-believers about God and Messiah. We should be an example of the proper way to act towards God and each other, and we must also tell them that we are still human, frail and weak, and it is expected that we won’t always act in the godliest way; for example, the words I will probably be using when it takes me three strokes to get out of the stinking sand trap! Failing to be godly now and then doesn’t mean we aren’t trying, and this is one of the best things about God: he knows our heart, he forgives our failures and he strengthens us when we ask him to help us be better.

I always try to slide some hint or suggestion in a conversation that will let me see if there is a positive reaction from someone regarding God and the Bible. I might interject a biblical reference or repeat a proverb in a conversation and say I read it in a really good book. If they ask which book, I can then say it is in the Bible, and ask them if they have ever read it? There can be any number of ways to “test the waters” when conversing with someone to see if they are open to hearing about God without tackling them to the ground, sitting on them and asking, “Do you believe in God?”

I can tell you, absolutely, that approach will not work.

My suggestion is that you think of ways you are comfortable with when approaching people about God during a conversation that is subtle and non-threatening to them. Here are some examples of what I do:

  • I work a biblical story or proverb into the conversation and start it off with, “I read this in a book”, and if they ask what book, I tell them. Then I ask if they ever read the Bible?
  • I turn the conversation towards the current social unrest, and ask if they believe there are more problems coming in the future? Carefully I work in that the Bible has stated these sorts of things will happen and ask them if they believe the Bible or if they believe in God?
  • If someone asks advice, I give them a proverb or story from the Bible to justify my advice. I’ll then ask if they knew the Bible covers many inter-personal relationship issues.

These are just some ways I turn the conversation towards God, and I never, ever push myself on people. If they are interested, I go with the flow but slowly, and carefully. It is like walking on thin ice- if I put too much pressure on, I will fall through.

When someone talks only about how good God is and all the wonderful things he does for us, I feel bad for them and the people they are talking to because they are setting themselves up for disappointment; how often have you heard people reject God because he didn’t meet their expectations? That is what preaching only the “happy-happy” side of salvation does- it gets a lot of people to join in, but it also sets them up for disappointment and eventually doesn’t help them. On the other hand, preaching fire and brimstone only scares people, and that will also fail to help them.

There are many blessings awaiting those who love the Lord and accept Yeshua as their Messiah, both now and throughout eternity, but they come at a price. We like to say “salvation is a free gift from God”, but it really isn’t.  Oh yes- you can have it for the asking, but to keep it you will have to give up much.

We must never push people away from God, and it is just as important that we must never leave them with the wrong expectations. The saddest thing about missionary work is that when we fail to make the right impression, it isn’t we who suffer- it is those we are trying to help. If we leave a bad taste in their mouth regarding God or Messiah, we may end up causing them to lose any chance of salvation, or (at least) we might make it that much harder for the next person.

It’s a thin line we walk when trying to help people come to God.

 

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Thank you for your interest and please don’t hesitate to leave comments or suggestions (just be nice.)

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Is Either Believing or Rejecting the Trinity a Sin?

I recently wrote a message about different ways that verses from the Bible are used, and misused, to prove one’s beliefs. I mentioned the belief in the Trinity as one of those “hot” topics where the same verses can be used to justify either side. When reviewing some of the comments I received, I began to wonder if either belief in or rejection of the Trinity is a sin.

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Before we begin, let me state that I personally, having been raised (and still am) Jewish, do not believe in the Trinity. I believe God is a separate, unique spiritual entity and that the Messiah (Yeshua), although 100% filled with the Holy Spirit, was born as a 100% mortal human and remained that way throughout his lifetime. As for the Holy Spirit …well, I am not really sure how to explain the Ruach HaKodesh, but it is not God and it is not Yeshua.

That being said, I do not deny anyone their right to believe in the traditional Christian teaching of the Trinity, meaning that God, the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit are the same entity, one being in three different forms.

Considering that these beliefs seem to be polar opposites of each other, it would seem that either side would consider the other side as being in sin. The Non-Trins say that the Trins are making Messiah into an idol and thereby violating the 2nd commandment about worshiping other gods. The Trins say that the non-Trins are rejecting the Messiah’s deity and thereby rejecting him. In my opinion, there will never be absolute proof of either of these beliefs until such time as we face God and Yeshua, who will then tell us the truth.

The funny thing about that is when we finally get the definitive answer, it will be too late to make any difference.

Here is what I believe regarding the sinfulness of believing either side: neither side will be in sin so long as we respect and observe the position of each entity with regards to God’s plan of salvation. What that means is this: God is the only one who will forgive our sins; Yeshua is the Messiah, our Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) and our Intercessor, through whom we and our prayers are justified in God’s sight; and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is a comforting spirit which God gives to those who accept Yeshua as their Messiah and who helps us to better understand God’s word and guide us in the path of righteousness.

If I believe Yeshua is God in the flesh, but I do not pray to him or ask him for forgiveness, then what if he really isn’t God? If I still pray only to God and ask God for forgiveness, then I have not worshiped Yeshua as God. If I believe he is God, but I worship and pray to God, the Father, then I have not placed Yeshua in a position where he is idolized, and I have not violated the 2nd Commandment.

On the other side, if I do not believe Yeshua is God but he really is, again- so long as I worship God the Father, then I am following Yeshua’s lead because he prayed to God and he talked about God as something other than himself. Even in the Gospel of John where he often refers to himself and God as one, he is not saying they are the same entity; in John 12:49 he tells us that he only says what the Father tells him to say and only does what the Father tells him to do, so when he said that when we see him we see God he is talking metaphorically. He is saying he is the image of God. He is not God’s puppet, without his own thoughts or feelings, but his teachings are directly from God and his works are directly from God. Jews would understand this relationship because a traditional Jewish thought is that the Torah is a mirror and when we look into the Torah we should see ourselves. That is what Yeshua was saying about himself- he is the mirror image of God.

So the bottom line is this: believing in the Trinity, or not believing in the Trinity, is not sinful in and of itself. I believe there is nothing sinful if we do these two things:

  1. Worship God alone and respect his position as the Father;
  2. Accept Yeshua as our Messiah, looking to him to intercede with God the Father and when we pray for forgiveness or for other things, we pray to God in the name of Yeshua: Yeshua is to be the Intercessor of our prayers, not the Interceptor of them.

If we do anything else, such as praying to Yeshua for forgiveness, praying to a saint to intercede with God, or praying to anyone other then God, himself, then we have committed a sin. Praying to anyone or anything other than God the Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is idolatry and a sin.

I believe you can trust in this: pray only to God, ask only of God in the name of the Messiah, and whether you believe them to be the same personage or not, you will not be sinning.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!!

Why the Good Die Young (Maybe)

Billy Joel had a hit song with the title, “Only the good die young.” We have heard this phrase used many times over the years, and always wondered if it was based in truth. After consideration, I think it may be a valid conclusion.

If you prefer to watch a video, I am not doing one today. Please keep reading- this will be short.

The premise for my argument has a few “givens”:

  1. God has a plan for everyone;
  2. God has given each of us the talents and gifts to achieve his plan;
  3. God isn’t concerned with how others would feel if you were dead.

Working with these foundational premises, the idea that God wants us to achieve something for his glory means that, once we have achieved it, he will either give us a new job to do or “take us home.” Consequently, those who are godly early in life, and who perform wondrous activities for God’s glory, might just beat their own deadline, and as such get called to God sooner than what any human would consider being “fair.”

How many times have you heard or known of a young person who was so angelic he or she made everyone they met love them? Or maybe you have read about a child being killed in an accident and thinking, “How sad- taken away at such a young age. Why would God allow that?”

My point is that maybe, just maybe, God didn’t allow it but caused it. Maybe that young person, or that wonderful adult, had performed all that God wanted that person to perform, and as such their reward was to be with God?

Shaul (Paul) tells us in Philippians 1:21 that he would rather be dead:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have complete boldness, so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. So what shall I choose? 

Of course, he isn’t really saying he would rather die, but he certainly won’t be upset by it! He is living his life to perform God’s work, and when that work is done, he will be done, as well. God even tells Shaul that he has a job to do in Rome (Acts 23:11). And we know that once that job was done, that was it for Shaul. At least, that was it for this life.

So when you read or hear or know of someone who is a wonderful, godly person dying, don’t feel bad for them or think they were “cheated”- be glad for that person! It might be that they have fulfilled what God wanted them to do and now are receiving the reward they deserve. On the other hand, when you feel called to do something, don’t hesitate because you think that doing God’s will may kill you-you will be fine, and so will the ones left behind. And you may have more than one thing God wants you to do.

Shaul was a pretty smart fellow, and he knew it is better to be with God than on the earth; I believe he is right, don’t you?

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Until our next time together, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

(Oy gevalt- now I am going to have the song in my head all day!)

Parashah Va-Ayra 2019 (And he appeared) Exodus 6:2 – 9

In this Parashah we continue with the story of God freeing the Israelites. Previously, Moses and Aaron were unsuccessful in getting Pharaoh to free the people, and in fact, made things worse. Now God tells Moses that he certainly will redeem the people, and the rest of this Parashah goes through the plagues sent against Pharaoh and Egypt, ending with the 7th plague: the hail that fell and burned on the ground.

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The lesson I want to talk about today deals with a very sensitive topic in the “Believing” world, which is the name of God, the Holy Name which is called the Tetragrammaton. The 4 letters that God uses to identify who and what he is, and was first used when Moses saw the burning bush.

I, personally, do not believe it is necessary to use or know exactly how to pronounce God’s name- he knows who he is and when I pray to him, he knows who I mean. The arguments I constantly see in Christian and Messianic discussion groups on Facebook are always, ALWAYS, a waste of time and energy and knowledge. However, I really like what the Chumash says, based on the great Rabbi, Rashi, as to how to understand these 4-letters, and I think this might be a good, meet-in-the-middle sort of teaching for all sides of the “Holy Namers” issue.

Up to this point in the Torah, God has been identified as the Lord or Adonai. In Exodus 6:3 he tells Moses that to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob he made himself known as God Almighty, but not by Y-H-V-H.  The scripture doesn’t say (I am taking this from the Soncino edition of the Chumash) ‘My name, Y-H-V-H, I did not make known to them’ but it says, ‘By my name, Y-H-V-H, I was not known to them.’

The difference here is significant. Rashi is saying that God is talking about the understanding of his nature and everlasting faithfulness to keep his promises. What they did not know was the eternal ability of God to perform what he said he would perform.

God told Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land, but Abraham never saw that happen. Abraham’s understanding of the name “Adonai” and “God, Almighty” was a finite understanding; he knew that God would do what he said he would do here and now. But to Moses, some 400 years later, God is announcing himself as not just trustworthy for the here and now, as the Patriarchs understood him to be, but forever. God is saying that his name meant God almighty, but now means God whose faithfulness and promises extend over centuries and millennia. What the Patriarchs understood was a promise to occur, but now God is telling Moses that this name, Y-H-V-H represents the fulfillment of that promise.

The Tetragrammaton is more than a name- it is an understanding, a significance and a manifestation of the promises God makes.

This is confirmed also by the many other references in the Bible to “God’s name”, which (most of the time) doesn’t mean the actual name, the letters that compose an identifying title or label, but his renown, his reputation, and the understanding of who he is.

The Tetragrammaton is not a label, it is a definition.

God is so far above us that even his name is beyond our ability to understand. The important thing is to know who God is, read and study his instructions to us so we can always please him, and accept that his Messiah is Yeshua, who sacrificed himself so that through him we can have eternal life. Those are the things that are necessary to know; how to pronounce a couple of letters is insignificant and will not affect your salvation at all. God sees the heart and has told us that numerous times through his Prophets- try to believe him on that and not believe the teaching of someone who tells you if you mispronounce God’s name you are praying to idols. They have no real understanding of what God’s name means.

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Shabbat shalom, and Baruch HaShem!

 

What Others Mean for Bad God Can Change to Good

Please remember to click the SUBSCRIBE button in the right-hand margin, and I will not be doing a video today. However, this will be a short read.

When Jacob died and Joseph’s brothers were concerned that now, with their father dead, Joseph would unleash his revenge on them, Joseph calmed them by saying (Genesis 50:20-21):

You planned to harm me. But God planned it for good. He planned to do what is now being done. He wanted to save many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid. I’ll provide for you and your children.” He calmed their fears. And he spoke in a kind way to them.

When we do what is right in God’s eyes, it is almost always going to seem wrong in the eyes of those who are of the world. And it is because of our righteousness, which is a stench in their nostrils because it has the smell of death (2 Corinthians 2:15-16):

For we are to God the sweet aroma of Messiah among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one, we are an odor of death and demise; to the other, a fragrance that brings life.

When we obey God we will be put through trials and persecutions of all kinds: at work, in our home, within our group of friends; and these persecutions may range from being verbally assaulted to being ostracized to being physically attacked. These things are bad things.

If, and when, this happens, won’t we be in the same position Joseph was when he was persecuted by his brothers and sold into slavery?

Those who perform evil deeds against those who are trying to act in accordance with God’s word will never succeed because what anyone determines for evil against the Lord or his children, God will turn to good. Maybe not in our lifetime, maybe not right away, but all that is done to attack God will always result in victory for God.

As Isaiah tells us (Isaiah 54:17):

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LordAnd their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.

So when you are being persecuted, when you feel that it just doesn’t seem worth it, when all hope seems to be lost- that’s when you must really knuckle down and keep going. Faithfulness is the way we receive strength when we are totally out of strength, therefore remain faithful even unto death, and whatever evil has been used against you God will turn to good for you and for his glory.

For those of you who are enjoying a time of Thanksgiving today, may it be a blessing to you and those you with whom you are sharing it.

No Way Out of This One

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I am hoping that you find this title- No Way Out of This One– interesting because it makes you wonder, “No way out of what?” And, remarkably enough, I have the answer, which is, “No way out of obedience to the Torah!”

You see, Yeshua preached and taught from the Torah, but later the Gentile Christian leadership (most notably Constantine and his cronies) changed the dogma and structure of Christianity.

When Yeshua walked the earth, what he taught was something that those Jews who accepted him as their Messiah already knew, i.e., the Torah. And that was the same thing that the Gentiles who chose to follow Messiah and worship God were being taught, which effectively meant they were converting to Judaism.  But after Constantine took charge of Christianity, he created a totally different religion based on Jesus Christ as the Messiah, rejecting everything Messianic (i.e., Jewish) about him, except for the teaching that through him we can receive forgiveness of sin.

The main difference between modern-day Christianity and its root, Judaism, is the Torah. Christians have been taught that the Torah is for Jews, and they only need the blood of Christ. Obedience to all of God’s instructions has been reduced to simply loving each other and being a “good” person; they have been taught that is all you need because this guy Jesus has got your back, so long as you ask him to forgive you.

In Catholicism you don’t even need to ask Jesus to forgive you- the local Priest can do that!

The reason I say you can’t get out of this one is that the Torah, whether anyone likes it or not, is the direct word of God given to Moses. God gave it to Moses to bring to the entire world. It is not, and never was, intended just for Jews. The Torah is not a set of laws, so much as God’s instruction to everyone about how he wants us to worship him and how he wants us to treat each other.

Let me go off on a bit of a tangent: there are parts within the Torah that are specific to a certain class of people, such as certain requirements for the High Priest and the Levites are different than for everyone else. Also, there are some instructions that apply only to women (for physiological reasons.) However, overall the Torah (which means “instruction”) was given to the Jews to learn so they could live it as an example to the rest of the world to show them how they should live.

Now that we know what God intended the Torah to be, let’s address the wrongful teaching that it is only for Jews. To do this we first have to establish some basic “givens”:

  1. God gave the Torah to the Jewish people;
  2. God has stated throughout the Bible that all who sojourn with the Jewish people (i.e., live with and worships as) are subject to the same treatment as natural-born Jews (Lev. 24:22; Numbers 15:15);
  3. God says eventually the entire world will worship him (Isaiah 60:1-3; Zech. 8: 22-23)
  4. God wants the people to learn Torah from the Jews (Deut. 4: 6-8);
  5. Yeshua’s Disciples preached obedience to the Torah (Luke 24:47; John 14:15; Romans 3:31; John 2:3-6; Rev. 22:14)

All of these statements from the Bible lead us to the same conclusion: the Torah is what God gave to the world so we can live and worship as he wants us to so that we can have eternal life.

And it is most clearly stated in Numbers 15:15 (your bible may have it as 15:14 or 15:16):

As for the congregation, there shall be one statute both for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you, a statute for ever throughout your generations; as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. 

That’s it! If you profess to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which means if you are a Christian you are included in that group, there is no way you can argue that God or Messiah say you are not subject to the same requirements for worship and interpersonal relationships as the Jewish people are.

God said it- one law for Jews and anyone who sojourns with them. And the New Covenant writings also confirm, absolutely, that if you have faith in God and Messiah you are an adopted son or daughter of Abraham- in other words, like it or not, as an adopted child of Abraham you are required to live subject to the same rules as his natural-born children.

Period; end of argument; close the door on your way out.

I know many of you have been taught differently, and you may not only dislike what I am saying but will passionately refute it. Go ahead- try. Look throughout the Bible and find the place where God says his commandments are just for Jews. Find where Yeshua says forget what my Father told you- it isn’t for you. Show us any place in the entire Bible where God or Yeshua or any of the Disciples say Christians don’t have to obey any of the laws or commandments in the Bible.

Obedience to Torah just makes sense, doesn’t it? If you are going to worship God then you should want to do as he says. Abraham did, David did, the Prophets did, the Apostles did, and even that nice Jewish tentmaker from Tarsus did. And the Gentiles that were accepting Yeshua as their Messiah, and worshiping God instead of their pagan deities were converting to Judaism… and THEY also were doing as God said to do in the Torah. Not all at once, but slowly over time they were expected to learn it (Acts 15:21.)

Starting right now, if you have been living your life separated from God’s instructions, read the Torah. What can it hurt you to learn how God wants you to live? And once you know what is in the Torah, if what some “person” has told you is the way to worship God but it is not confirmed by the Torah, ignore it.

Most people know that if something is really easy to do it probably isn’t all that worthwhile doing, and believe me when I tell you that worshiping God correctly, as he said to do it in the Torah, is not easy. But it is the most worthwhile thing you will ever do.

Stuff Happens

Before we begin today’s message, let me get the administrative stuff out of the way:

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This has been an interesting week: it started last Thursday night when Donna (my wife) broke a molar. The dentist couldn’t see her until yesterday, and fortunately, there was no pain.  The result is about $350 for a crown.

Next, the Saturday after she broke the molar we noticed the freezer wasn’t keeping things too cold, and by Sunday we knew that the fridge wasn’t working. Long story short, we couldn’t get anyone (after calling half a dozen appliance repairmen) to even look at it until the other day, and they need to order a part which, as I am writing this now on Friday morning (almost a week after the fridge died) we still don’t know if the part is even here. Yesterday Donna spent the whole morning throwing away who-knows-how-much money worth of food that we couldn’t use anymore because it had been defrosted and sitting unrefrigerated for days.  The repair will cost us somewhere around $350, as well, without even considering the cost of replacing the foodstuffs.

So, what do we do? Complain? There are many who would say they are “under attack” and try to figure out why God is punishing them.

“Oy! I’m on a fixed income and I just lost close to $1,000 by the time we replace the food! What did I do to deserve this?” 

Is that the right thing to do? If you’re asking me, I would say no. Are there times when we are under attack from the Enemy? I am sure there are- usually, when people first turn to God and Messiah they find troubles abound. That’s because the Enemy doesn’t care about people when they don’t care about God but once God becomes important to them, he attacks them to turn them back away from God. Think of the parable (drash) Yeshua told of the sower and the seeds in Matthew 13:18; the seed that was immediately eaten by the birds is similar to those who come to God and are quickly turned away.

I see this as what happens to you when you live in a fallen world. There are two kinds of gravity: the one in the physical world that is an attraction between objects, and a spiritual gravity, which is what attracts us to spiritual things. For instance, if I drop my cup of coffee, it falls to the ground and spills. I have a mess and, worse than that, no more coffee: that is the physical gravity we live with.

Now, if I find the iniquity in my inner being pulling me to, say, porn sites or to take advantage of someone so I can gain something of theirs, that is a gravity of the spiritual nature which attracts me to the Enemy. Or- I could feel the need to help someone in trouble, buy food for a homeless person on the street or donate to a godly cause, and that gravity is a spiritual gravity that attracts me to God.

Currently, I don’t feel under attack because we got hit with both physical and financial tsouris all within a few days. It is just the sort of stuff that happens in this plane of existence. We will get by, and here is what I do when this sort of thing happens that is the main message for today:

When (bad) stuff happens, I thank God for what we do have.

I thank God that we have the money to pay for these things, that we even have a refrigerator that we own. I thank God that we even had food to lose! I thank God that Donna wasn’t in pain and that the problem wasn’t worse than what it is.

And I could go on and on and on thanking God for what we DO have, instead of complaining about what we lost.

We live in a fallen and cursed world, which will never be kind or generous or even fair. That shouldn’t come as a surprise or a revelation to anyone. But what might surprise you is that when things get bad, when you have more tsouris than you can imagine, what will help you get through it is to thank God for what you do have. Just the act of making a list of the blessings you still have will reduce the impact of what you have lost.

And always, always, ALWAYS trust in God to provide: it may not be what you want, but it will always be exactly what you need.

So when bad things happen, make that list of the blessings you still have. Even when you lose something valuable to you, you can thank God for letting you have it for as long as you did.

No matter how terrible the tsouris you are going through when you make a list of the blessings you have received and still have I guarantee that you will begin to feel better.

Who’s Truth is the Real Truth?

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What is the truth?  Often, what was “truth” at one time was later shown to be a lie: the earth is flat; cigarettes are good for you; the moon is made of cheese; I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.

Even those things that have been taken as absolute Gospel, for instance, well…uh..the Gospels- even within these there have been truths that have been proven false. For instance, Jesus was the name of the Messiah- that’s wrong, it was and still is Yeshua (or, to be fair, some form of this name.) We celebrated (and still do) his birth as being on December 25th- that is wrong; most every biblical scholar today agrees he was born in the fall, sometime around Sukkot.

The Bible is known to be the true word of God, yet there are over 2 dozen different English translations of the Bible, each one with significant differences in many of the verses. And these English versions are translations of the Hebrew and Greek versions that came before them. Then we have to include the translations from English into many different languages, making dozens upon dozens of different translations. And as we all know, Hebrew to Greek to English to whatever other languages won’t translate exactly the same. When we look at any one line within the Bible, we can find many different ways to say it, each with its own cultural, linguistic, and historical influence which can significantly change the understanding of that line.

So even with the Bible, how can we know the REAL truth about God, Messiah, and God’s plan of salvation?

I know the real truth of it all, but that is only my truth. Your truth may be slightly different. Your truth may be slightly different from mine, but someone else’s truth may be way out there!

As an example, what about the law being “fulfilled?” Matthew 5:17 is one of the most misused verses there is in the entire set of Gospels: some people say “fulfilled” (as in the law being fulfilled) means that it is done away with. Others say that the term means that the law was properly interpreted. Still, others say that the “moral” laws remain in force but the ceremonial laws (as if anyone is able to know one from the other) are done away with.

So who do we believe? Who really knows the absolute, undeniable truth of God’s Word? There is only one who does know the absolute truth about everything in the Bible, and that is- God.

And he isn’t talking about it. Why? Because he has already said all he needs to say.

God doesn’t have the ego problems we humans have; he can say what he wants to say and stop there. Humans, mainly the ones who insist they know the truth, can’t shut up about it. You discuss it with them, but they ignore what you say and keep going on with their version. If you disagree and cite biblical verses to prove your point, even if you do this properly by explaining within the written, linguistic, spiritual, and cultural context, they still insist that you are wrong. And when you say that it is time to agree to disagree, they keep at it, still saying you are wrong, pagan, stupid, need to study…whatever insulting and condescending verbiage they can muster in order to make you admit that they are telling the truth.

And maybe they are, but it’s not for them to say. In fact, I don’t think anyone should say what is the absolute truth or what is an absolute lie. We each should believe what we choose to believe, and allow others to believe what they chose to believe. Yes, we should (if we are certain we are correct) try to show them why we believe what we do, but they have a right to disagree. That is from God, who gave each of us Free Will to choose what to believe. We have to respect that right, even if we are absolutely, undeniably, and positively correct (in our own mind) about the truth.

What is the real truth? Who cares! Really! What matters is not so much truth, as faith.

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 8 Yeshua talks about saying only what the Father has told him to say. He says in John 8:31-32 (CJB):

So Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted him, “If you obey what I say, then you are really my Talmudim, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

The “truth” Yeshua is talking about here is the truth that he is the Messiah God promised to send and to obey what he said meant to honor the Torah, of which he is the living representative. In other words, when Yeshua said to obey him he was saying that we should obey the Torah, and that obedience has nothing to do with earning salvation but is the result of believing, faithfully, that Yeshua is the Messiah.

But, then again, that is my truth. That is what I believe, and you can accept that as your truth or reject it altogether as a lie. That is your choice.

Let me conclude by saying, straight-out, what today’s message is: speak your truth, listen to the truth of others, and choose to believe what you will. No matter what anyone else says, God is the only one who knows absolutely what he meant, what he means, and what he wants you to know from his Word. And that may be different for you than it is for me.

Each one of us will choose truth and justify it for ourselves. What we choose may be wrong, and if so we will have to face God when the time comes and explain why we chose that particular “truth.” And, although I can’t speak for God, as I have said many times, if what we chose to believe is only what someone else told us, we will still be held accountable for it.

So whatever you choose to believe, make sure that belief system is founded in the belief in God, the belief in the Messiah that he sent, and the trusting belief that God’s promises are forever and trustworthy. That’s your starting point- from there, you better be able to verify and justify anything else with proper biblical exegesis and understanding, which you can get from the author when you ask for it.

And that’s the truth!

If the Law is Done Away With, Then What is Left is Lawlessness.

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In the letter Shaul (Paul) wrote to the Colossians, he said:

When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Messiah. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to sin the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the execution stake!

This passage has been used too often, and incorrectly, to mean that the “law” was done away with. And when we say “law”, we are talking about the Mosaic Covenant.

Of course, the problem with this teaching is that it is wrong. First of all, God gave the Mosaic Covenant as an all-encompassing set of commandments- the Ten Commandments and every other commandment, law, regulation, ordinance or whatever are what God told us all to do. He did not separate them into different types of laws; every commandment from God is how we are to worship him and how we are to treat each other…always.

No laws have ever been done away with, and the only laws that we do not obey without incurring sin are those that deal with the Temple in Jerusalem, which no longer exists. The sacrificial laws are still valid and required, but since they also are required to be done at the Temple, when there is no Temple we cannot perform those laws. They aren’t done away with, they are just not able to be done.

What God has said we should do, no man (or woman) can change. In fact, he tells us in Deuteronomy 4:2 not to add to or subtract from any of the laws that he has given us.  That commandment refers to the entire Torah. If you look at the Torah, it is a single scroll- it is not really made up of separate books. The differentiation in the Torah scroll between the major sections (what we refer to as books) is nothing more than some extra spacing between the last sentence of one “book” and the first sentence of the next “book.”

So, the commandments that God gave to Moses, the ones Christianity has wrongly said were “nailed to the cross” are not invalidated by Yeshua’s sacrifice. Christianity has separated “ceremonial” from “moral” laws in order to help make this lie more “sensible”, but in God’s eyes, they all should be obeyed. Period.

At this point, you may be wondering, “If the Mosaic Covenant is still valid, then what was nailed to the execution stake?”

To answer that we need to learn a little history: in the days when crucifixion was the popular means of capital punishment, the list of crimes (in other words, the criminal’s “sins”) which the criminal had been found guilty of was nailed to the stake above their head. In Yeshua’s case, Pilate nailed above his head “King of the Jews”, which was the crime the power elite in Jerusalem accused him of having proclaimed about himself, which was treason against Caesar. In our case, the sins which we have been collected against us are nailed to the execution stake when we first come to proclaim faith in Yeshua as the Messiah and ask forgiveness through his sacrifice. Those sins are the ones we have already committed and they are the ones that will be forgiven, but that doesn’t cover any sins we commit afterward.

I have expounded on this topic recently- you can review it here.

Now that we have the basics- all commandments are still valid and the only thing that was ever nailed to the execution stake along with Messiah Yeshua was the existing sins against us- we can address the main point of today’s message: if the law was done away with, what does that leave us?  It is obvious: when there is no law, there can only be lawlessness.

And what does the Bible tell us about lawlessness?

Matthew 7:22 says, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” 

Thessalonians 2:9 says, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,”

        1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”

        1 John 3:10 says, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do

                                  what is right is not God’s child,”

The commandments that Yeshua gave were not original or new- he taught from the Torah. He lived the Torah and obeyed every commandment in the Torah- that is why he, and he alone, was acceptable as the one sacrifice for many.

If you have been taught that the law was nailed to the cross, please realize this is a lie and was created by the Enemy of God so that he could control you and bring you into condemnation. God wants you to separate yourself from the world, which is controlled by the Enemy of God; the Enemy of God wants you to accept worldly things so that you will separate yourself from God. That is why, through misinterpretations and false teachings, HaSatan gives people what their iniquity demands: easy salvation. A salvation that is not just easy to get, but easy to keep. A Get Out of Jail card they can hold forever, without having to change their lifestyle or habits. That is the salvation the Enemy promises.

It is NOT the true salvation that God offers us.

God offers us salvation through faith in him and Yeshua, the Messiah. When we proclaim that faith and do T’shuvah (repent) God demands that faith is proven through deeds and good works: that is why James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:14.). And these good works are not to be done just once or twice, but for the rest of your life!

Salvation will not be taken away, but it can be thrown away by our acceptance of lawlessness and continually sinning on purpose.

In Hebrews10:26-27 it says:

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” 

So be certain, Brothers and Sisters, that if you accept the lie that the law is done away with, you will be sinning deliberately. Not only that, but because God said his commandments were to be “throughout your generations”, if you accept that the law is no longer valid then you call God a liar, and since Yeshua taught God’s commandments, you will also be guilty of rejecting the teachings of Yeshua.

Believing the law is done away with is living in lawlessness, which the Bible tells us is sin and leads only to death.

 

Once Saved, Always Saved Results in Unsaved

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You may be asking yourself, “How can I be saved for all time and end up not saved at all?”  That’s a fair question, and the answer is that the “Once Saved, Always Saved” teaching is a lie. 

From this point I will write “once saved, always saved” as OSAS.

Here’s the reason why I say this: first off, I think we can agree that someone who doesn’t repent of their sins will continue to sin. And, as far as salvation is concerned, we all sin but those are unrepentant will not be able to be saved. The Bible is clear that God will not forgive someone who sins over and over because they choose to sin rather than to obey. 

Messiah died so that we can have a shot at salvation, and the first step in gaining salvation is to repent of our sins and desire to sin no more, which in Hebrew is called T’shuvah.  After we repent, if we haven’t already accepted Yeshua as our Messiah, that is the next step. The third step is to ask forgiveness in Yeshua’s name by means of his sacrifice, and the last step is to go forth from that point working out your salvation through learning God’s word (all of it- from Genesis to Revelation) and obeying it as best as you can. 

That’s how salvation is gained, in a nutshell.

OK, Steve- I get it. That’s how we are saved, but that doesn’t tell me why OSAS is a lie.  After all, that is what many Christians have been told is how it works. We have been told, “Yeshua died for your sins which were all nailed to the Cross” (Colossians 2:14), so why should I worry anymore? 

Here’s why: the sins that were nailed to the Cross were only the ones that you already had performed. In the days when crucifixion was the standard punishment, above the head of the one being crucified was a list of the crimes against them.  So, when your sins were nailed to the Execution Stake along with the Messiah, it was only those sins (crimes) that you had committed up to that point in time. The sins that you do AFTER your T’shuvah and AFTER you receive forgiveness are not automatically forgiven. That is the lie of OSAS.

Salvation is irrevocable, which means that no one can take it away but it does NOT mean that we can’t lose it by throwing it away ourselves.

If someone believes that their sins are automatically forgiven, which is the very foundation of OSAS, then when they sin (which we all do and cannot stop doing) they will believe these new sins are already forgiven. That is what OSAS tells us; however, the truth is that the sins we commit are being listed against us until such time as we ask forgiveness. And we must ask forgiveness for every sin we commit, which (as you may recall from earlier) starts with our T’shuvah.  And without T’shuvah, which is the first step in receiving forgiveness, there can be no forgiveness.

When someone believes that their sins are automatically forgiven, they will continue to act as they always have with no regrets, with no worries and thereby without repentance. We just go along on our merry way, doing whatever we do confident in knowing that when we screw up we are automatically forgiven. 

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the danger of the OSAS lie- it removes our accountability for having sinned, and thereby our responsibility to obey God.

Salvation must be worked through- it is a gift from God, it is his Grace to us, but just like any gift that is given we can lose it. If you believe that because Yeshua died for your sins you are automatically forgiven, you are in BIG trouble and need to get on your knees right this second and ask God for forgiveness. 

God understands that you have been taught by those you trust something that is wrong, but he has told all of us what he considers to be right, and just like when you tell a cop that you didn’t know what the speed limit was, when you tell God you didn’t know OSAS was a lie, you will get the same answer: ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.