A Second Chance for Some of the Unsaved?

1 Peter 4:6, Who are dead. This verse seems to indicate that certain categories of dead and unsaved humans will stand before YHVH’s judgment seat (the white throne judgment of Rev 20:11–15), and will be accepted into his eternal kingdom at some basic level. Perhaps if their hearts showed a willing disposition toward YHVH while they lived, but they hadn’t gone all the way in choosing him for one reason or another, they will be rewarded for the good that they did in their lifetime and will be given an opportunity to accept Yeshua on judgment day. 

It is possible that these are the ones Yeshua who declared would be least in his kingdom (Matt 5:19). Was Paul making a reference to this in Romans 2:12–16 when he talks about those Gentiles who sinned without the law, and who will be judged based on whether they lived up to the basic law of Elohim written in their consciences? Will these people, who lived according to the basic tenets of the Torah (e.g. not stealing, lying, committing adultery, murdering, coveting, honoring parents, living according to the golden rule and, in their own way, and adhered to a concept of a Supreme Being before whom they walked in fear without worshiping idols) be given an opportunity on judgment day to make their faith complete by accepting Yeshua’s sacrifice for their sins? Perhaps this explanation would help us to understand Hebrews 12:23, which speaks of the spirits of just men made perfect, as well as the salvation of the thief on the cross.

With regard to the thief on the cross who professed faith in Yeshua, let’s go one step further. Next to this thief was another thief whose heart remained obdurate toward Yeshua. On Golgatha, we have three categories of people, even as Peter describes three categories of people in 1 Peter 4:18: the righteous, the ungodly and sinners. The first category is self-evident. The second category seems to imply those who lived a decent life, but who never professed faith in Yeshua the Messiah, while the latter category were unrepentant and hard-hearted individuals who made no effort to live up to even the most basic standards of right and wrong that was written in their conscience. This verse seems to describe three categories of people on earth, which are the same three categories of people who were crucified on Golgatha: Yeshua the righteous, the repentant and ungodly thief, and the unrepentant second sinful thief.

With regard to those who never came to faith in the God of the Bible, different biblical religions treat these folks differently by pronouncing different fates on them. For example…

  • The Roman Catholic Church deals with these folks by consigning them to a non-biblical purgatory where, apparently, they can work out their salvation.
  • Rabbinic Judaism consigns these folks to the book of the undecided as opposed to the Book of Life and the Book of the Dead. What happens to those in the middle book, is not clear in my mind, but I assume that they get a second chance.
  • The Protestants consign everyone to everlasting torture in hellfire who never accepted Yeshua while alive physically. There is no second chance for them.
  • Armstrongism had these folks resurrected at the end of the Millennium where they were given “a hundred year period” to come to faith. 
  • My theory, on the other hand, is a middle of the road approach where the wholly wicked will be destroyed in the lake of fire, while those who lived faithfully according to whatever light of spiritual truth they had will eventually be given an opportunity to accept Yeshua. This seems to square with Paul’s statements in Romans 2:12–16 and view of YHVH’s Elohim as being a merciful and just Being.
 

How does a person receive salvation?

 

How Are We Saved?

The Christian church has come up with various formulas to “get a person saved” such as altar calls and saying the sinners prayer. There are no examples these kinds of things in the Bible. Instead, the Scriptures give us general guidelines and examples to follow. There are no formulas. What follows is a list of examples from the apostolic writers of how people were saved in early church era.

For example, in Acts 2:14–37 we read that Peter preached the gospel and that the hearers were pricked in their hearts (verse 37). This resulted in a spontaneous, Holy Spirit-led response on the part of the hearers of the gospel or good news message of salvation. After this, the people were baptized for the remission of sins in the name of Yeshua and subsequently received the Holy Spirit (verse 38). All this happened on the same day (verse 41). When directed by the Holy Spirit, spiritual transformations can happen quickly!

A little later in Acts chapter three (verses 11 to 26), Peter preached another short sermon and then invited the people to “repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted Continue reading


 

Saved By Grace Unto Good Works

Exodus 24:1, Worship you far off. This verse clearly tells us that man can approach to worship YHVH only on the basis of the blood of the Passover lamb, but not on the basis of his own works of the law, since YHVH had not yet given the full Torah to the Israelites (that would occur later at Mount Sinai in Exod 24:12).

That is not to say that the works of the Torah are not essential in one’s spiritual walk. Rather, they simply are not the basis of our salvation, but rather a guide to lead us in the paths of righteousness once we are saved, and to keep us on the path of righteousness until we die (Eph 2:8–10).

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

not of works, lest anyone should boast.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Furthermore, Yeshua taught that our works will determine our level of rewards in his kingdom (Matt 5:19), though not our initial salvation.

Some have misunderstood Paul’s teachings to mean that since we are not saved by keeping the law, we therefore no longer need to keep the law. This is not what Paul taught! In numerous places in Paul’s writings, he upheld the validity of the Torah in the life of the redeemed believer, and even confessed that he was obedient to the law in his own life.


 

Your good works will not save you!

Mark 12:34, You are not far from the kingdom. Yeshua makes this complimentary statement to the scribe who had correctly and succinctly summarized the message of the Torah (both its letter and spirit intent) in verses 32–33.

However, note that Yeshua didn’t say, “You are in the kingdom of Elohim (i.e. “you have eternal life”).”

What was the one thing that was keeping this scribe from being in the kingdom? It was doubtless the same thing that kept the rich young ruler from obtaining the eternal life that he sought (Matt 19:16). After having obeyed the Torah the best that he could, the young ruler still needed to surrender all to Yeshua the Messiah, and to follow him unreservedly (Matt 19:18–22).

Not only is it difficult for humans to surrender all to the Master, and then to follow him wherever he leads, but after having followed the Torah the best we can, we must still humbly recognize that without the righteousness of Yeshua in the equation, our best efforts at Torah-obedience will still miss the mark of YHVH Elohim’s acceptable standard of righteousness, thus leaving us maybe not far from the kingdom, but definitely not in the kingdom of Elohim.


 

Jacob’s Ladder YHVH’s Plan of Salvation From Genesis to Revelation—The BIG Picture!

Introduction to the Study of Genesis 28:10–22

Jacob’s vision of a ladder to heaven is one of those enigmatic Scriptural passages which has befuddled the
keen intellects of many Bible scholars down through the ages. Perhaps the deeper elucidations of Jacob’s
vision has escaped the reader as well. If so, you are not alone, for well-known Christian commentators such as Matthew Henry and Adam Clarke have stabbed at its meaning realizing it has something to do with the Person of Yeshua the Messiah and his heaven-ordained ministry to reconcile earth’s inhabitants to their Heavenly Father and Creator. Keil and Delitzsch don’t even connect this dream to the Person of Yeshua. Other than vague explanations as to the dream’s interpretations, these esteemed scholars have nothing more to proffer the reader. Little if anything is said of the allegorical meaning of the ladder, the dust, the stones (plural) becoming a stone (singular) or of the significance of “the place.” Even the unusually insightful biblical scholar Arthur W. Pink in his book, Gleanings In Genesis, though he draws 101 parallels between Joseph and Yeshua the Messiah, can gives us no more insights into the spiritual and prophetic implications of Jacob’s ladder than do Henry and Clarke. This is some of the best that Christianity has to offer on this subject.

Now what does the best of rabbinic Judaism have to offer us by way of explanation of Jacob’s dream? It goes without saying that their interpretations will be devoid of any references to Yeshua, but can we learn anything else from them. After all, they have been studying this passage for more than 3800 years! Rashi, viewed by some as the greatest Torah expositor of the last 1000 years has little to add to our understanding as does Samson Raphael Hirsch, the great nineteenth-century Torah teacher. The Baal HaTurim in his Torah commentary adds some interesting insights relating to the subsurface or hidden meaning of some of the Hebrew words used in the text that not only confirm the simple or plain meaning of the text, but add depth to it as well on an allegorical or prophetic level. We will cite a number of other Jewish scholars who between them contribute greatly to our understanding of the text. But for all their collective wisdom, they, not surprisingly, fail to connect the meaning of the ladder to YHVH’s plan of redemption and salvation for mankind. They fail to see the big picture and master plan involving the Messiah, the Living Word of Elohim sent from heaven to redeem lost mankind. 

Both the Christian scholars and the Jewish sages are blind in part since both have rejected half of the key to unlocking the full depth and panoramic understanding of this vision. The former has, to one degree or another, rejected its Jewish or Hebraic roots and the relevance of the written Torah to theological understanding and lifestyle, while the latter has rejected Yeshua, Living Word or Living Torah sent from Heaven to give us wisdom, understanding, redemption and salvation. Each side is spiritually blind in part to one-half of YHVH’s truth (Rom 11:25). Both have stumbled over the stone of stumbling and the rock of offence (Isa 8:14). The Christians have rejected much of the truth of the written Torah, while the Jews have rejected the spirit of prophecy as revealed through Yeshua, the Living Torah (Rev 19:20). To understand the heart of the Father as revealed in his written word, Yeshua said that it would take both spirit and truth (John 4:23–24). With these thoughts in mind, let us proceed to understand this vision of Jacob.

The Text 

Let’s now read the text in Genesis 28:10–22 pertaining to Jacob and his dream of the Continue reading


 

Was Abraham saved by faith or by works or both?

Genesis 26:5, Because. Based on Paul’s teaching in Romans 4, we see that the Abrahamic Covenant is the model for salvation, which is salvation by grace through faith leading to or resulting in good works or righteousness (Eph 2:8–10).

From this verse, it might appear the Abrahamic Covenant wasn’t a faith-based covenant at all, but a works based one. In other words, Abraham had to do something to be counted righteous or to come into good standing with Elohim—a concept which is commonly referred to as “earning one’s salvation through one’s good works.”

The fact is that in the Abrahamic Covenant, Abraham only had to have faith and believe in YHVH to be justified or to be considered righteous by Elohim (Gen 15:6). It was on this basis that YHVH granted him “salvation.”

But this initial step of faith on Abraham’s part and the righteousness Elohim attributed to him was but the first step in Abraham’s faith walk. From that point, he had to walk out his faith and continue trusting YHVH (see also Gen 19:5).

The apostolic writers present the idea that one’s spiritual journey is a walk, not a one time event that occurs at the beginning of that walk. Our faith walk is more than just mental assent with a few emotions thrown in for good measure. It’s more than just following the golden rule about loving our neighbor in some nebulous sort of way. It involves faithfulness to YHVH’s instructions. James clearly states in his epistle that this is how one demonstrates the legitimacy of one’s faith when he declares that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:18, 20, 26; see vv. 12–26 for context).

Abraham demonstrated his faithfulness by his obedience to YHVH’s Torah or YHVH’s Word or voice. Furthermore, as a result of this obedience, YHVH promised to bless him beyond simply being granted initial salvation or righteousness.

This two-step approach or model still holds true in the Testimony of Yeshua. One is saved or delivered from the wages of their past sin (Rom 3:25), which is death (Rom 6:23) by their faith (initial salvation), and then one ceases from that sin by continuing in the good works of Torah obedience (Eph 2:8–10).

Moreover, Yeshua and the apostolic writers in numerous instances reveal that future rewards (both temporal and eternal rewards) come as a result of one’s good works (e.g. Matt 5:19). The ultimate reward is being granted eternal life and inclusion in the family of Elohim.


 

The Parable of the Sower in Context Explained

Matthew 13:14, Hearing you will hear. In Yeshua’s Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3–23), we are confronted with the difficult issue about who will receive the gospel message and thus enter into the kingdom of heaven and who will not. Put into modern vernacular, Yeshua is discussing who will receive YHVH’s free gift of salvation resulting in immortality and who and who will die in his sins to perish for eternity.

Yeshua’s discussion all started when his disciples asked him why he taught the people using parables. To them, it was as if he were deliberately obscuring the gospel message.

A superficial reading of his response in verse 15 to their question may imply not only a lack of impartiality but a brutal selectivity on the part of Elohim when it comes to determining who he will choose to receive the gift of salvation including the gift of immortality. If this is the conclusion one draws from Yeshua’s response, then what he said contradicts other scriptures that indicate Elohim’s unconditional love for the whole world and his desire that all be saved (John 3:16; 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 2:9).

The fact is that a thorough reading of this passage shows us another important truth, which in no way impugns the character of Elohim, but instead leaves the onus on man.

After giving this parable, Yeshua quotes Isaiah the prophet (Isa 6:9–10), where we learn that it’s up to the individual as to how far they want to go with Elohim spiritually. All humans have eyes and ears to see and hear, but merely seeing or hearing doesn’t equate with understanding or perceiving. Sadly, many people want to dabble in religion, or to have a religious experience, but they don’t want to change their lives spiritually, to give up their sin, and then to submit to the will of Elohim by adhering to his commandments as revealed in his written Word, the Bible. This is because they have willfully hardened their hearts and closed their eyes (Matt 13:15). YHVH isn’t going to cram “religion,” so to speak, down their throats. For example, in the Gospel record, we read that many people followed Yeshua out of curiosity and in hopes of being healed or getting fed physically or seeing a miracle (John 6:26; Matt 12:39), but when he demanded obedience, many turned away from following him (John 6:66). The same is true of people today. Human nature, the condition of man’s heart, remains the same down through the ages. Though Yeshua calls many to follow him, few actually do (Matt 20:16; 22:14). Of the thousands who flocked to see Yeshua during his earthly ministry, only about 120 people remained faithful to him (Acts 1:15).

Why would Yeshua (and Isaiah) express reluctance at having some people come to saving faith in Elohim? The answer lies in the Parable of the Sower itself. Yeshua explains that the good seed of the gospel message is sown on various types of ground. Only that which is sown in the fertile soil produces fruit. Though the seed germinated and began to grow in the bad ground, it eventually died because of unfavorable external factors. Yeshua in explaining this parable to his disciples says that many people receive the good seed (i.e. they hear the gospel message), and they respond favorably to it initially, but they’re not willing to go all the way, for their hearts and minds are only open superficially. Once the excitement and emotions of their spur of the moment decision dies down, they go back to their old lifestyle. Peter describes those who initially respond favorably to the gospel, but turn away in this way in 2 Peter 2:20,

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Yeshua the Messiah, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

Of those who are superficially converted but turn away, Yeshua, elsewhere likens such a person to a house that gets cleaned and swept spiritually of evil spirits, but if that person doesn’t guard his house to keep it clean, the evil spirits will come back in greater force than before to repossess the house. Yeshua exclaimed that the latter state of the man is worse than his first state (Matt 12:43–45).

It is perhaps for these reasons that, though Yeshua clearly desires all to be saved in a general sense, he only wants those who will be serious about their spiritual walk actually to be saved. This lessens the possibility of those who are less serious from making spiritual commitments, getting saved, then falling away into a worse spiritual state than before. Yeshua values quality over quantity when it comes to his disciples.

What’s more, he spoke the mysteries of the kingdom in parables, so that those who were serious would be forced to take the step of faith necessary to gain understanding. Those who are unwilling to push forward in the pursuit of truth aren’t worthy to have the mysteries of the kingdom entrusted to them. It would be like casting pearls before swine or giving that which is holy to the dogs, as Yeshua elsewhere states (Matt 7:6). Again, many are called and few are chosen.