Can Sinners go to Heaven?

You would think the answer to the question posed in today’s message title would be a resounding, “NO! Of course not!” However, considering that we are all sinners from birth, I (for one) am hoping that the answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.

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We all know that God gave us commandments through Moses which he wants us to obey. These commandments are fairly simple for us to understand: there are some just for women, some just for the members of the Priesthood (whether Rabbi, Priest, Minister, Pastor, Chaplain, or whatever), and the rest are for everyone. Traditional Christian teaching has reduced the number of these commandments significantly, in that it has identified some laws which they classify as only for Jews, others as “ceremonial”, and then there are the ones they agree they should obey which they label as “moral” laws.

Overall, pretty much everyone agrees that we are sinners and that iniquity (the innate desire to sin) exists within us from birth. Even within Judaism, we have the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination we are born with) and the Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination), which doesn’t come to fruition within us until we are old enough to study and understand the Torah and the Talmud.

Understanding this, let’s go back to the original question: “Can sinners go to heaven?” Sorry to say, the answer is  still “No!

However, God has made salvation available to us through the sacrificial system, which allows us to be forgiven of our sins. And the ultimate sacrifice, the last one which provides forgiveness throughout all time, is the sacrifice of Yeshua ha Maschiach (Yeshua the Messiah), which is available to us despite the fact that the Temple in Jerusalem (the place where the sin sacrifice must be presented) no longer exists.

So, when we take into consideration the sacrifice of Yeshua, the answer to our title question changes to, “Yes- sinners can go to heaven, so long as they have been forgiven through their acceptance of Yeshua as their Messiah.”

But wait a minute!!  There is a missing piece to the puzzle we haven’t discussed, but it is the keystone for salvation: acceptance of Yeshua is necessary, asking forgiveness for each and every sin is necessary (there is no such thing as Once Forgiven, Always Forgiven- I have written about that a few times), but none of this works without true repentance.

Repentance is an absolute necessity for forgiveness. Without repentance, why would God forgive us? If someone stole from you and asked forgiveness, but never said they were sorry for what they did and that they would do it again if given the chance, would you think them worthy of forgiveness?

I hope not! If so, then you aren’t forgiving- you’re a fool.

Repentance, true repentance, is is the first step on the path to salvation which God has provided. . If someone sins and doesn’t repent of that sin, God is not a fool. He knows the heart of everyone, and if someone sins, likes to sin, and intends to continue to sin, they can repeat the “Sinners Prayer” until they are red in the face, and God will ignore them.

The final answer to the question, “Can sinners go to heaven?” is this: repentant sinners who ask forgiveness through the Messiah Yeshua can be forgiven of their sins, and by means of that forgiveness they will be in God’s presence forever.

In reality, no one goes to heaven, we stay on the new Earth- read the Prophets and Revelation.

I have said many times and will continue to do so, that before I was saved, I was a sinner who rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.  And it is only because of that regret, that repentance and constantly, daily, hourly asking God to forgive me through Yeshua’s sacrifice, that I know I will be able to spend eternity in the presence of the Almighty.

We all know people who profess to believe in God and Messiah, and who have been taught that once they say the “Sinners Prayer” they are forgiven and so long as they are a “good” person, they will go to heaven. Some even say that they know they do wrong, but the Bible says God loves them and is forgiving, so they know that he will let them into heaven.

Sorry to bust your rose-colored bubble, but that ain’t how it works.

When we sin we need to ask forgiveness, each and every time, and we need to ask with genuine repentance. I still sin, and there are sins I know I do and have not overcome, and every day I ask forgiveness and strength to overcome sin in the future. Because of this attitude of repentance and humility, I believe that I will be in God’s presence, a forgiven sinner, in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.)

Let me end this with a statement that I believe we all should live by: We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less

 

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Is there a Salvation gene?

If you are asking yourself, “What the heck is a ‘salvation gene?'”, I have to admit that I wonder about that, myself. And I’m the one who came up with the idea!

The other day I was thinking (yes, it hurts when I do that) about what it means to be made in God’s likeness, and how everyone has a soul. As I thought more on the matter, I wondered if the soul isn’t the only thing we get from God when He forms us in the womb: maybe being made in His image, whatever that entails, includes recognition, at the genetic level, of God. A gene that is a “salvation gene”- one designed to give us a subconscious, deep-in-the-bones knowledge of God’s existence: knowing God exists because it is something that we have built in to our physical make-up.

I thought of this when I was considering why so many people just hate to hear about God’s word. Especially those people who do not believe in God, or who constantly make up their own rules and “understanding” of God’s word (so that it fits into their lifestyle.) I wondered why they are so unwilling to even discuss it; after all, they are willing to argue, ad-infinitum, about politics, sports figures, or almost anything else, but talk about God?- the moment you start they raise shields faster than Captain Kirk seeing a Romulan war bird de-cloak in front of him!

Why? If they don’t believe in God, why be so adamant about not talking about Him? If they think that they are properly following God’s commands (mainly because they have been taught that), why be so afraid to hear a different viewpoint? The answer came to me that maybe, just maybe, it’s because we all have a little bit of God’s Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) in us from birth, even from the moment of conception! When we received a soul, we received also (in God’s image) an innate understanding and recognition of God’s presence in the universe, and what He wants from us.

I once read about what geneticists call a “Hidden Gene”- a gene that might have been active at one time, maybe elongating life, that a mutation reduced to being physically present but no longer functioning. It sits dormant and inert, waiting for a matching gene to find it or some mutative event to allow it to do what it is designed to do.

That is what I am calling the salvation gene. It is there, in our very DNA, recognizing God’s existence and making us know of Him, but it is not fully active. When we accept God’s Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), and He delivers the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to us, that is the match, so to speak, for this gene to re-enable it. Our very DNA is changed so that the spiritual becomes more important to us than the worldly. We get more pleasure from doing what is right in God’s eyes, and we “mutate” into a better person, slowly, but surely.

Just as God told us He would do, it literally writes His Torah on our hearts.

Doesn’t that make sense? Doesn’t that explain why everyone has some sense of God, even if he or she is absolutely confident, sometimes zealous, that God doesn’t exist? It would explain why people who do not have the Holy Spirit hate to talk about God. They know, deep in their DNA, in their very essence, that God does exist and that they are in rebellion and fighting a lost battle- not a losing battle, not a battle that they have any chance of winning, but a lost battle where their loss is devastating.  I believe that everyone knows when you fight against God, you have no chance of winning. Consequently, they don’t want to hear about their sinfulness and how they are killing themselves; they don’t want to hear about a better way because they know, intrinsically, that it means they have to give up their sin; they don’t want to discuss anything that is different than what they are used to, or what they have convinced themselves is all they need to do, because it means they have to leave their comfort zone.

They are being led by blind leaders who are walking not into a hole, but directly to the edge of a high cliff over a deep ravine!

So, what do we do? Those of us who have the completed gene, we are the ones God wants to save these people. But, we can’t do it by directly telling them how much trouble they are getting themselves into because that won’t work. When I was in sales I learned that people believe no more than half of what you will say, but they believe everything they say: the trick is to get them to say what you want them to say so they will believe it. You can’t do that by telling them what they know is wrong, you do it by asking them questions that will make them doubt their own position.

In other words, ask them the questions they should be asking you, and gently and calmly point out to them that their answers make no sense. Before they will start to hear the truth of what you say, you need to get them to doubt what they are saying.

Maybe this entire lesson is baseless- maybe there isn’t any such thing as a “salvation gene”; maybe what I am thinking is wrong or just fantasy. Then again, maybe it isn’t. Does it really matter?

If you know people who have rejected God and/or Yeshua, whether Jewish or Gentile, or (even worse) people who have been raised as Christians and think they are saved (but have never really accepted Jesus on their own), then it is up to you to try to get them to realize that what they think is the truth is not the truth. You have to try because we who have heard God’s true word are obligated to spread that word. God constantly told the Prophets that if they did not spread His word to the people then the blood of the sinners would be on the Prophet’s head; but, after preaching His message, if the sinner still rejected it then their blood would be on their own head, and the Prophet would be held blameless for their death.

I don’t want to have anyone’s blood on my hands when I meet the Lord- do you?