Salvation is a journey, not a one time event…

Deuteronomy 2:31, Begin to possess [the Promised Land]. Possession of the Promised Land was a process—a journey, at times a difficult one. This concept is as true for us as much as it was for the children of Israel. The idea in mainstream Christianity that when you receive salvation at the beginning of your spiritual walk and that’s all there is to possessing or entering the kingdom of Elohim is a seriously incomplete one. It doesn’t fit the biblical models or the teachings of the apostolic writers about the need for the believer to persevere and overcome to the end to receive his ultimate eternal inheritance.

When this verse states that Israel“began to possess [the Promised Land],” what does this mean? Why didn’t YHVH give the Promised Land to Israel all at once? What did Israel have to do to “possess” the land? What do we have to do to possess our spiritual inheritance? Does YHVH just hand it to us, or do we have to persevere, overcome and fight for it? 

Leaving Egypt is a picture of a believer’s initial salvation, while entering the Promised Land is a picture of a believer’s ultimate salvation involving his glorification or the redemption of his physical body and being granted eternal inheritance at the resurrection. It’s also a picture of rewards for obedience. Between the time of leaving Egypt and entering the Promised Land, there was a 40 year-long journey, which is a picture of our time as physical humans on this earth with all of its ups and downs, trials, victories and so on.

Much more could be said on this subject as the apostolic writers show us. Suffice it so say, the idea that the mainstream church propagates that receiving salvation is a one time event like getting your ticket punched to a movie theatre, amusement park ride or train station falls woefully short of the biblical truth about walking out a righteous and sanctified life. The failure to understand this has led many people to become discouraged and to fall away spiritually. 

Yes, the initial steps in the process of salvation are relatively easy, but then there’s repenting of sin, learning how to live a sanctified life, becoming obedient to the commands and lordship of Yeshua, overcoming one’s sin nature, and using one’s  spiritual talents to help advance the kingdom of Elohim. All of these are aspects of the redeemed believer’s journey through the wilderness  of life en route the Promised Land of our spiritual inheritance, and how we do will help to determine the levels of one’s eternal rewards. All of these things are precursors and steps in the process to actually receiving eternal life and a resurrected glorified body.

The children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and 40 years journey to the Promised Land is a picture of this process and all the steps in between.

The idea that the saint can have it all here and now is not a biblical one, but an ear-tickling message promoted by hireling gospel peddlers and corporate church merchandizers who have something to sell you. Beware of these false and misguided teachers who refuse to tell you the whole truth as presented in the Bible! Let the buyer beware.

When this verse states that Israel“began to possess [the Promised Land],” what does this mean? Why didn’t YHVH give it to Israel all at once? What did Israel have to do to “possess” the land? What do we have to do to possess our spiritual inheritance? Does YHVH just hand it to us, or do we have to persevere, overcome and fight for it? Leaving Egypt is a picture of a believer’s initial salvation, while entering the Promised Land is a picture of a believer’s ultimate salvation involving his glorification or the redemption of his physical body and being granted eternal inheritance at the resurrection. It’s also a picture of rewards for obedience

Much more could be said on this subject as the apostolic writers show us. Suffice it so say, the idea that the mainstream church propagates that receiving salvation is a one time event like getting your ticket punched to a movie theatre, amusement park ride or train station falls woefully short of the biblical truth about walking out a righteous and sanctified life. The failure to understand this has led many people astray spiritually. Yes, the initial steps in the process of salvation are relatively easy, but then there’s repentance, the sanctified spiritual walk, obedience to the commands and lordship of Yeshua, overcoming one’s sin nature, and the use of  spiritual talents all of which determine the levels of eternal rewards. All of these things are precursors and steps in the process to actually receiving eternal life and a resurrected glorified body.

The children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt and 40 years journey to the Promised Land is a picture of this process and all the steps in between.

The idea that the saint can have it all here and now is not a biblical one, but an ear-tickling message promoted by hireling gospel peddlers and corporate church merchandizers who have something to sell you. Beware of these false and misguided teachers who refuse to tell you the whole truth as presented in the Bible! Let the buyer beware.

 

Dear Natan: Is the “Once Saved Always Saved Doctrine” Biblical?

Question from Mark: What do you think about the “Once Saved Always Saved Doctrine”?

Natan’s answer: Is the “once saved always saved” doctrine of the Protestant reformer John Calvin biblically accurate? Apparently not everyone in Christendom since that time thought so. Jacobus Arminius didn’t. Neither did John Wesley and Charles Finney. Some notable biblical personalities didn’t subscribe to this doctrine either including Yeshua the Messiah, Paul and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. 

The Bible clearly indicates in several places that one can lose one’s salvation.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away [or apostatize], to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. (Heb 6:4–6)

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins… (Heb 10:26)

In the Parable of the Sower, Yeshua teaches that when the good seed of the Word of Elohim is sown onto the ground, three-fourths of the seed begins to germinate, but eventually dies. Only one-fourth of the seed actually falls onto good soil and produces fruit (Matt 13:1–9). He then goes on to explain that many people who receive the word of Elohim can and will eventually fall away due to a variety of factors (vv. 18–23). 

Paul specifically mentions two people who became believers, but whose faith become shipwrecked and they lost their salvation.

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Tim 1:18–20)

The Book of Acts gives the account of Simon the Samaritan (who is well known in early Christian historical accounts as Simon the Sorcerer and who became an enemy of the gospel) who was saved and even received the Spirit of Elohim, but because of his evil heart, lost his salvation (Acts 8:14–23).

Paul even suggests that he could lose his own salvation.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified [or become a castaway, KJV]. 1 Cor 9:27)

Paul warns the saints that they could lose their salvation, and even includes himself in this warning.

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified [Greek, unapproved, rejected, reprobate]. ( 2 Cor 13:5–6)

New believers are especially vulnerable to losing their salvation, since they are like young and tender plants that are not deeply rooted spiritually. Once one has walked in the faith for a long time, had their faith tested, passed the tests, and has repeatedly overcome the pulls of the world, the flesh and the devil, assuredly they are less likely to lose their salvation. In fact, in several places the Bible talks about being sealed by the Spirit of Elohim (John 6:27; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30; 2 Tim 2:19). This seems to indicate that at some point, one either can’t or is less likely to lose one’s salvation because they have established a proven track record of faithfulness to Elohim, and they would die before turning from their faith. 

However, Paul, the might apostle of Elohim, in humility, never assumed that about himself. He erred on the side of caution in assuming that he could lose his salvation. Maintaining such a mental disposition assured that he would always stay alert, keep up his defenses and his guard against anything that could imperil his salvation. The wise saint will follow Paul’s example.

 

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