Month 3:22, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5939:081 AM|
2Exodus 1/40, Omer Count Day 14/50
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 19 June 2014
Salvation Before the Cross
How the Atonement Works Backwards
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua (Jesus) be with you all in this turbulent and, for many, frightening time in world history.
The Pop Prophets at Work Again
The pop prophets are everywhere declaring the End - or the edge of the End - and saying that one biblical prophecy after another is being fulfilled. They are still making much ado about the blood red moons and now the arrival of yet another red heifer they say, portents the imminent construction of the Third Temple. Though a false temple will undoubtedly be built by the Jews on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by those who reject Yah'shua (Jesus) as Messiah and who therefore reject the B'rit Chadashah or New Covenant altogether, it will be of no spiritual or redemptive value to anyone, let alone believers. Rather the Antimessiah or Antichrist will proclaim himself god there. We need not, therefore, concern ourselves with these things.
Salvation Before the Cross
The other day one of my sons asked an important question about salvation before the Cross and it is that question I feel led to answer today. What about those who lived before Yah'shua (Jesus) came? How were, or are, they saved? Before answering that question there are a number of considerations we must carefully note so that we can frame this question in its correct setting.
The Will of Yahweh
Not merely once, but in fact many times in Scripture, Yahweh makes it clear that it is not His will that any man or woman be lost as Peter tells us:
From this alone it is clear that it was never our Heavenly Father's desire that those people who lived on the earth before the Atonement should be left out. They are not some class of spirits doomed to destruction and for that reason were born before the Cross.
"Yahweh is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV).
Human vs. Divine Time
We count time in man-made seconds, minutes, hours, days and years. For us there is a 'before' and an 'after' in time, the kind of time we live in is not the same as that experienced of lived in by Elohim (God):
Forwards vs. Backwards Atoning
"Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with Yahweh one day is as (is like) a thousand years, and a thousand years as (like) one day" (2 Peter 3:8, NKJV).
People struggle with the idea that Yah'shua's (Jesus') atonement could apply to those who lived before Him, but is that question any different from the concept that this same atonement can, and does, apply to me 2,000 years later? Can anyone who has been spiritually regenerated or born again deny that the atonement has somehow reached forward into the future and embraced us too? Why is it unreasonable to suppose, then, that the same atoning power can reach back in time as well? It would be a strange and deficient Besorah (Gospel) indeed if the Atonement only applied to those who were alive at the time that Yah'shua (Jesus) died and was resurrected, and would make no sense to people like myself who unmistakably experienced that same power in 1977, and to those who experience the same in 2014 and will continue to do so until He returns.
Time, Elohim and the Heavenly Realm
Time is, in any case, created - it is the fourth dimension of our physical existence. There was a 'time' when there wasn't any time, hard though that may be to grasp. When Peter says that a thousand years of human time is "like" a day in Yahweh's time, he is not, of course, giving us a precise mathematical relationship. Indeed, Scripture testifies that Messiah, who is Elohim (God), is the "alef and taw" or the "alpha and omega" (Rev.1:8; 21:6; 22:13), "the beginning and the end" (Rev.21:6), "the first and the last" (Rev.22:13; 21:6). Scripture also tells us that Yah'shua (Jesus) "...is, and...was, and...is to come, the Almighty" (Rev.1:8, NIV). He is past, present, and future. When we "call... upon the name of Yahweh" we in fact call upon "the Eternal Elohim (God)" (Gen.21:33, NIV) who is timeless. This may be hard for us to grasp, but Yahweh exists in the past, present and future simultaneously.
In Heaven and on Earth Simultaneously
And Yah'shua (Jesus) - what of Him? For unlike Yahweh He is (and I suppose you could also say, was, and will be) human as well as Elohim (God) even though He entered our space-time dimension in the meridian of our time and 'became' man by incarnation around 3 BC. But even though he was in our space-time, scripture also says that He was simultaneously in heaven, though this is unfortunately not made clear in most modern English translations:
Our mortal Messiah was therefore simultaneously on earth and in heaven, at least the non-human part of Him. The human part, resurrected and glorified, would later ascend into heaven too.
"No one has ascended to heaven but He (Yah'shua/Jesus) who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven" (John 3:13, NKJV).
These are, admittedly, difficult concepts for finite minds to grasp, and probably can only be understood in the spirit. Nevertheless, the implication is that the One who lives in the past, present and future as Elohim (God) must possess an atoning power which, though it took place at a certain point of time in our earth-bound history, is also applied both forwards in time to us as well as backwards in time to the ancients. This is not, after all, an earthly power but a heavenly one, existing in an eternal or endless dimension very different to our created one which had a beginning and will one day have an end.
Salvation is Universal in Application
The apostle John makes this important statement, namely, that Yah'shua (Jesus) "is the expiation (atonement) for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn.2:2, RSV). And the Master Himself said:
Three Point Summary
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37, NKJV).
Let us therefore bear these three points in mind, namely, that:
The Salvation of the Ancients
- 1. Yahweh doesn't want anyone lost past, present or future;
- 2. Human time and Divine time are not the same; and
- 3. Salvation is of universal application.
The 'ancients' were, and are, as valuable as the 'moderns', and indeed amongst the ancients we discover some of Yahweh's most trustworthy and blessed servants. Speaking of these qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) collectively, that include Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham (at some length), Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the nevi'im (prophets), the writer of Hebrews declares:
Yah'shua Has Always Existed
"These were all commended for their emunah (faith), yet none of them received what had been promised. Elohim (God) had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect" (Heb.11:39-40, NIV).
So from this passage it is clear that Tanakh (Old Testament) and Messianic Scripture (New Testament) believers are bound up together in Messiah. To underline the point, remember that Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself said:
Abrahan Understood the Plan of Salvation
"Before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58, NIV).
Notice He didn't say, "Before Abraham was born, I was!" or "Before Abraham was born, I will be!", but "Before Abraham was born, I am!". What this means is that Yah'shua (Jesus), like His Father Yahweh, is eternally present in all and everyone's time, whatever time or age they may live in. Man is finite, Elohim (God) is infinite. Two verses earlier Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
Abraham Trusted That Yah is Salvation
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56, NKJV).
This is a very important statement because it means that prophetically Abraham understood what the work of Messiah would consist of. He understood what salvation was and what was required of him to be saved. So what did Abraham do to be saved? He had emunah (faith) - he trusted, with his whole life and being - his Elohim (God), Yahweh. More than that though - otherwise earlier believers would not have needed to trust in Messiah in order to be saved - Abraham trusted the Name-bearer, YAH-shua ('Yah is Salvation'), the Son who carried His Father's Name, YAH[weh]. Yahweh was doing the atoning through His Son, so trusting in the Son was, for those pre-Cross generations, trusting in the Son. Trusting in Yahweh was knowing His Name, knowing His nature, His character, His mind and His heart.
Indistinguishable in Nature and Character
This same nature is applied to the Son in the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament), Father and Son being so intimately bound that in terms of character and nature it is impossible to tell them apart, in the same way that Abel and Seth were of one qodesh, set-apart or holy mind and heart. They were echad (one, united).
The Sacrifice of Isaac as a Type of the Cross
How was the Cross made known to Abraham? Through the sacrifice of his son Isaac, aborted at the last second since the whole purpose of the exercise was to both test Abraham's emunah (faith) and to show him the Plan of Salvation. Everyone from Abraham onwards who loved the Davar (Word) had this prophetic picture of Abraham offering Isaac on an altar engraved on their hearts and would have known, by the Ruach (Spirit), at least to some degree, what kind of emunah (faith) was required of them. How this was made known to the generations before Abraham is not revealed since we have almost none of the records of the Ante-Diluvian period so there is no point in speculating. We only know what Abraham and those after him knew.
How the Old Covenant People 'Knew'
This sacred tavnith (pattern) was revealed to the children of Israel throughout the dispensation of Mosaic sacrificial system, for everything in it pointed to Messiah, what He would do for mankind, and what was required of those claiming to be of the Household of Emunah (Faith). The fact that they assented to this system of animal sacrifice and atonement meant that they assented to the work that Yah'shua (Jesus) would later do even if they did not know the Name of the Son who would perform this on their behalf, and on behalf of all mankind, or understand it fully. So long as they 'moved' in the motions of the sacrifices and the divine tavnith (pattern), and had circumcised or pure hearts, then they were IN Messiah even before Messiah had manifested Himself on the earth or before they knew very much about Him. They were, as it were, investing in the work that was to come, by declaring their emunah (faith) through the preparatory system of ordinances.
Payment of the Grace Debt
Let's put ourselves in the place of an Israelite before the Cross. Yah'shua (Jesus) is our Yom Kippur Sacrifice. All the sins that had been given grace for and forgiven before Him were ultimately paid for in His rejection at the Cross - people could receive forgiveness but the ultimate cleansing of the temple and the doing away of sin came with Yah'shua's (Jesus') atoning death. So those who before Him who truly trusted and depended on Elohim, both for grace and to honour Yah, would recieve grace but that 'grace debt' (the payment owed in order for those people to be able to recieve forgiveness) would be paid for later in Yah'shua (Jesus).
Yahweh-Yireh - Yahweh Will Provide
Like the example given by Job (and David), they were people who threw themselves before Yah for mercy, trusting Him to provide. It was the heart of Abraham that said, when Isaac saw that there was no sacrifice:
They Had the Same Trusting as We Do
"Elohim (God) himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son" (Gen 22:7-8, NKJV)
That is why Abraham named the mountain on which he offered Isaac, Yahweh-Yireh (Gen.22:14), because it was the trusting in Yah to provide atonement that Yahweh Himself would provide the sacrifice and save them. Even while no sacrifice was visible in those moments before Yahweh's physical provision, Abraham trusted, just as we trust in the Blood Atonement of Messiah today. It was the same emunah (faith) we exercise. Those who had the emunah (faith) of Abraham before the Cross trusted Yahweh to provide an atonement for their sins, to save them because they knew the could not save themselves. They totally and humbly depended on Him even before they saw the Lamb of Elohim (God). That is why there was such heightened expectation every Yom Kippur to know whether they would be accepted or rejected.
Prologue to the Gospel of John
These things are not, I know, a simple matter to understand, as it is deep, so let us dig deeper. The first fifteen verses or Prologue of John's Besorah (Gospel) are an excellent summary:
Everyone Receives the Same Light at Birth
"In the beginning was the Davar (Word = Yah'shua/Jesus), and the Davar (Word) was with Elohim (God), and the Davar (Word) was Elohim (God). He was in the beginning with Elohim (God [the Father]). All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was chayim (life), and the chayim (life) was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (understand) it.
"There was a man sent from Elohim (God), whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of Elohim (God), to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of Elohim (God).
"And the Davar (Word) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and emet (truth). John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, 'This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me''" (John 1:1-15, NKJV).
These important verses are jam-packed with revelation. I want you to notice that Yah'shua (Jesus), the true Light, "gives light to every man coming into the world" - every man and woman who is born on this planet receives this Light of Messiah. Everyone, without exception, and in all ages and dispensations, before the Cross and after it. All have a portion of Messiah's presence in them, to guide them, to be their conscience and helper leading them to embrace more and more emet (truth) if they will listen to it. Those who lived in Tanakh (Old Testament) times possessed it as much as we do. This Light is not the fullness, but is a map, as it were, leading to the fullness if we will embrace it. It is what enables us to find Elohim (God) and remain with Him. They, like us, have the ability to refuse to listen to the Light of Conscience, by rebelling against it through willful sinning, and so lose this sense of discernment. So many do. Paul says of such people:
The Defiled Conscience Like a Damaged Map
"Their conscience is weak, it is defiled" (1 Cor.8:7, NIV).
Your conscience is like a map. If you don't take care of it - if you let it tear, or let it get wet, or get stained, then the map may be defective. It is "defiled", it is no longer pure or reliable. Those who have a defiled conscience cannot easily tell the difference between truth and error because they have allowed this inner Light of Messiah to become corrupted by sin. The Enemy obscures or hampers a man's ability to discern right from wrong once he starts to willfully and habitally sin. Everyone has this Light pure and undefiled when he or she is born, but it becomes progressively dimmed when conscience is rejected and sin is pursed. As author James Herriot remarked:
Corruption and Guilt
"Once you embark on a life of crime it gets easier and easier all the time. Marking a start is the only hard part."
As our conscience becomes more and more defiled, so sinning becomes easier too, because the pangs of guilt are not so readily sensed any more, until they are not sensed at all. That sensitivity is progressively lost. When we describe habitual criminals as 'hardened criminals', that is what we are talking about. Their hearts become hardened, they become desensitised. We are all criminals - violators of Torah - in Yahweh's eyes as we become progressively desensitised to Yahweh's Torah or Law. The process of progressive corruption of the soul is described in another way by Thomas Manton who said:
Assuming the Character of the Flesh
"First we practice sin, then defend it, then boast of it."
As the Light of Messiah is progressively pushed aside and buried within, so the darkness of Satan enters in and changes our whole personality so that it becomes like his! A new-born baby has the light and radiance of Messiah but as the child grows and sins without repenting, so it loses that Messiah-nature and assumes the nature of the flesh which is in the image of the devil. We become what we are by our choices - we are not made that way. And though we carry within our flesh that devilish nature too, it is still our choice whether we listen and follow it or not.
The Testimony of Romans
This means that Yah'shua (Jesus) was within the ancients just as He is within us 'moderns' - no different, just as the fallen, Adamic, carnal, fleshy or devilish nature was in them too as it is in us. Paul teaches these truths clearly in the first two chapters of Romans, and especially starting at the 20th verse:
The Evidence of Elohim is Around and Within
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Elohimhead (Godhead), so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew Elohim (God), they did not glorify Him as Elohim (God), nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible Elohim (God) into an image made like corruptible man -- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore Elohim (God) also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the emet (truth) of Elohim (God) for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason Elohim (God) gave them up to vile passions..." (Rom.1:20-26, NKJV).
He goes on to talk about the sexual immorality that existed in his day, just as it does in ours. So what is Paul saying? He is saying that the Gentiles - those who never knew the written Torah - were just as able to discern Yahweh's "invisible attributes" just by looking around and within - at the Creation, including themselves, for they were designed, as the opening verses of John's Besorah (Gospel) testifies, so that these self same attributes of Yahweh "are clearly seen". The emet (truth) is built into everything around us, and it is build within us too, in our consciences, on account of that portion of the Light of Messiah that we are born with, "the chayim (life) [that] was the light of men", the very essence, nature, and character of Messiah, "the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world".
Restoring a Sensitised Conscience
It's all there - it has been all there since Adam and Eve. Messiah is within but it's up to us to listen and follow the Light of Emet (Truth)...or to reject it. What are we to do if our conscience has been defiled and we can no longer discern? Well, we can start by declaring that we have sinned precisely because we can no longer discern, repent of our carelessness and rebellion, ask for forgiveness, and call upon Messiah to cleanse us and restore our conscience again so that we are once more sensitised.
Re-teaching the Conscience
If we don't know Messiah, because our conscience has become defiled, we also have His Davar (Word), the Scriptures to retrain it. Why are the Scriptures - the Bible - given?
Conscience Operated in the Moral and Ethical Sphere Only
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of Elohim (God), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of Elohim (God) may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim.3:16-17, NKJV).
When our defiled conscience is malfunctioning because of neglect or sin, then we have the Bible to correct us, for instruction, to complete us spiritually, equipping us to live the Torah-obedient lifestyle in Messiah. Our conscience leads us in the moral and ethical sphere - not to steal, or kill, or hurt, or make afraid, or commit adultery - all these things we know not to do through the Light of Messiah within. The Light of Messiah enables us to make a start in our journey, but we need direct revelation and the baptism of the Ruach (Spirit) and the guidance of the mitzvot (commandments) to do all the extra things Yahweh wants of us, so that we can then be "thoroughly equipped for every good work" that also includes the more practical things like eating a godly diet, observing the correct sabbaths and festivals. And though we have the Light of Messiah to ground us in basic morality, we still need to be saved, and this Light will guide us to the place where we may be saved. As the King James Version of the Bible puts it so eloquently:
When the Conscience Determines Salvation
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of Elohim (God). For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not Elohim (God) made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of Elohim (God) the world by wisdom knew not Elohim (God), it pleased Elohim (God) by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor.1:18-21, KJV).
Following the Light of Messiah will not in itself lead us to salvation, though if we never hear the Besorah (Gospel) preached or never read about the Besorah (Gospel) in the Scriptures (Bible) whereby we might be saved, Yahweh will show grace and judge us on the basis of His foreknowledge of the choices we would make had we heard or read the Besorah (Gospel). Paul explains this to the Corinthians:
When External Observations are Not a Consideration
"(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the Torah (Law), do by nature things required by the Torah (Law), they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the Torah (Law), since they show that the requirements of the Torah (Law) are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when Elohim (God) will judge men's secrets through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), as my besorah (gospel, good news)) declares" (Rom.2:14-16, NIV).
In other words, the Gentiles, who have no knowledge of written Torah, or who have never heard Messiah preached to them, will be judged on the basis of their response to the moral Torah within that is in the Light of Messiah given to every man entering this world. They will not be judged in regard to sabbaths, festivals, kashrut, or the required external observances of Yah's Kingdom. But those who are given the Bible, and who are given preachers to preach pure Bible emet, will be judged if they fail to observe these too. Is this not a wonderful example of Yahweh's grace - His undeserved loving kindess?
The Function of the Light of Messiah Summarised
So let us recap - the Light of Messiah which everyone is, and has been, born with is given everyone so that they can:
- 1. Live the moral Torah through the application of a clean conscience; and
- 2. To lead souls to Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) and to salvation if they will accept the One whose light they have been responding to within to live upright morally clean lives.
Saved by Grace Through Faith in Both Covenants
- 3. When we fail to respond to the moral impulses of the Light of Messiah within, this will not only result in a defiled conscience, making is harder and harder to discern the moral Torah because we no longer feel any guilt when we sin, but it may require drastic intervention through preachers or life circumstances to bring us to our senses so that we are given the opportunity to hear or read the Besorah (Gospel) and make a positive or negative response for the offer of Eternal Chayim (Life).
Are you beginning to understand how the Atonement worked for the ancients even though in this time-space continuum the event that made the Atonement possible did not happen until after 4,000 years worth of humanity had lived and died? And can you also see that salvation before the Cross was never by works but by grace through emunah (faith) in exactly the same way as in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant)?
Yah'shua Preaching in Hades
The apostle Peter said:
Prior to His Resurrection
"For Messiah died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to Elohim (God). He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Ruach (Spirit), through whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when Elohim (God) waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built" (1 Peter 3:18-20, NIV).
While Yah'shua's (Jesus') physical body lay in the tomb, His invisible ruach (spirit) was proclaiming His atoning death and forthcoming resurrection to those who had died before this event, so that they would not be left out of the promise which applied to all men in every dispensation.
The Final Choice
So what was happening here? All those who had died before the Calvary Event (Cross) were taken to the world of spirits, and those who had either lived by former covenants of Yahweh or those Gentiles who had lived in accordance with their consciences, were placed in Paradise. Those who had done neither of these - had not lived by Yahweh's former B'rit or Covenant, had not lived the mitzvot (commandments) with pure or circumcised hearts (Dt.10:16; Rom.2:29), or had not lived by the Light of Conscience in the moral sphere - were placed in spirit Prison. Yah'shua (Jesus) went to annouce to everyone - the good and the evil - what He had done and to tell them of the resurrection power that would be released to those who were in a position - based on their choices whilst alive - to receive it. In other words, they could inherit the same blessings as those who would receive Him, or live by the Light of Conscience never having heard the Besorah (Gospel) preached to them, this side of the Cross. That is what He went to do, to complete the work for salvation for the righteous before the Cross.
The False Soul-Sleeping Doctrine
This is a very controversial passage of Scripture, I hasten to add, and is not liked by those who deny we are conscious after the death. Amongst such folks are the Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Armstrongite Churches of God, Christadelphians, many Messianics and others, who claim we are either unconscious or non-existant. These people subscribe to the false doctrine called Soul-sleeping. Needless to say it would not have made any sense at all if Yah'shua (Jesus) had gone to make an announcement to those who were either asleep (and therefore unable to hear Him) or had ceased to exist - the trip to this world of spirits would have been a total waste of time. This error has crept into many denomination because they take a number of figurative Tanakh (Old Testament) passasges literally. Those who are interested can study this matter out more fully on our Soul-Sleeping website.
A Trip to Hades and the Thief in Paradise
So where did Yah'shua (Jesus) go when His crucified and embalmed body lay in the tomb? He went to Hades, which literally means 'the place of departed spirits', which is divided into a Prison House ('Hell') and Paradise. When Yah'shua (Jesus) was suffering on the cross, he said to the dying thief:
The soul-sleepers would have you believe that the thief is still in the grave, unconscious, but here Yah'shua (Jesus) says the thief would be with Him in Paradise . Even the soul-sleepers don't believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) is 'asleep' in the grave!
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43, NIV).
Yah'shua and the Thief Were Both Conscious After Death
Our English word 'hell' can be a little misleading because it translates two different words. It covers both gehenna, the place of divine judgment (symbolised in ancient Jerusalem by the cities garbage tip that was continually burning), and hades, the place of departed spirits. The fact that Yah'shua (Jesus), while addressing the saved thief who trusted in Him, as "you" (a conscious individual) and of Himself as "Me" (Lk.23:43) is all the proof we need that our identity is neither lost in the future life nor does it temporarily cease to exist as the soul-sleepers would have you believe in the period between death and the Final Judgment.
Preaching the Gospel to the Conscious Dead
So that we are in no doubt as to the emet (truth) of this matter, let us examine a comment of the apostle Peter who said:
Preaching to Yahweh's Memory?
"For this reason the Besorah (Gospel) was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to Elohim (God) in the spirit" (1 Peter 4:6, NKJV).
Like I said, you don't preach to dead people if they can't hear or if they don't exist. Many soul-sleepers claim that the dead exist only as a 'memory' in the 'mind' of God, waiting to be re-created de novo at the resurrection. But this silliness means that Yah'shua (Jesus) then went and preached to the mind or memory of His Father, which makes no sense at all. You preach to people who are alive, conscious and listening, not to a supernatural memory of someone ot to someone snoozing in the grave.
The Most Important Issue
But the bigger and more important issue, and the main subject of my teaching today, is the understanding that Yahweh is not unjust concerning those who died before Messiah. Moreover, those who died under the Mosaic or earlier covenants, still have to receive the atonement and resurrection power of Messiah like we who are this side of the Cross do, and it is for this reason that Yah'shua (Jesus) went down to Hades, or the world of spirits, to preach this Good News to the dead . They had their final choice to trust in Him or not, remembering that He was not yet resurrected in glory - they had to take His word on this just as we do! This means that the Besorah (Gospel) was presumably preached to them under the same conditions of trusting as it is to us - millions could equally well have refused to believe that He was about to be physically resurrected, and did. After all, all they could see was a spirit as they were .
The Roman philosopher Cicero, who was not a believer, once wrote:
No Favouritism in Elohim
"If a man enters a house or a gymnasium or a forum, and sees reason, method and discipline reigning there, he cannot suppose that these came about without a cause, but perceives that there is someone there who rules and is obeyed. How much more when he contemplates the motions and revolutions to be seen in the universe (e.g. the heavenly bodies) must he conclude that they are all governed by a conscious mind."
Similarly, Yahweh's invisible attributes are clearly visible in Creation and are apparent also when the Light of Messiah in humans is undefiled and shining, as in newborn children. When the apostle Peter went to the house of Cornelius, as reported in Acts 10:34, he said:
Svetlana Stalin's Testimony
"I now realise how true it is that Elohim (God) does not show favouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right" (Acts 10:34-35, NIV).
Nearly two thousand years later, Svetlana [Iosifovna Alliluyeva] aka Lana Peters, the daughter of the communist dictator and mass-murderer, Joseph Stalin, says of herself:
Here is an example of the Light of Messiah at work in someone brought up in an atheist environment, and a testimony to the emet (truth) of the words of the apostle John who described Yah'shua (Jesus) as "the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man" (John 1:9, NASU).
"I was brought up in a family where there was never any talk of God (Elohim). But when I had become a grown-up person I found it impossible to exist without God (Elohim) in one's heart. I had come to that myself, without anybody's help or preaching. But that was a great change to me, because since that moment my main dogmas of communism had lost their signifance to me."
We see, then, the perfect justice and ahavah (love) of our Heavenly Father in His dealings with men, and above all we understand that His grace or unmerited favour has always operated from the beginning, even within different covenants. The means by which we are saved has never changed, even if the outward ordinances have, and the Atonement of the Son of Elohim (God) is one eternal round, like Yahweh Himself, stretching backwards and forwards in our time, being available to anyone who will receive it in emunah (faith). Thus Paul could say that "those who believe [in Yah'shua/Jesus] are children of Abraham" (Gal.3:7, NIV) because both are, and were, saved in exactly the same way. Amen.
 Soul-sleepers like the Jehovah's Witnesses try to wriggle out of their doctrinal knot by adding a comma after "today" so that the passage reads, "Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise" (Lk.23:43, NWT). They use as their authority the occult-inspired Westcott and Hort translation. The older Old Syriac (S) and Aramaic Peshitta New Testaments resolve this dispute by unequivocably rendering this passage: "Truly I say to you that today you will be with Me..."
 The claim is made that when Yah'shua (Jesus) appeared in the world of spirits while His body lay in the tomb that He appeared in glory, so there would be no mistaking who He was. Though this is possible, no such statement is made in 1 peter 3:19-20. The fact that Yah'shua (Jesus) possessed, and possesses, the "keys of death and Hades" (Rev.1:18) and the key to the Abyss (Rev.9:1; 20:1) does not prove that he appeared to the spirits in prison in glory. Rather, the evidence seems to be that the glory is not apparent or visible until after the resurrection: "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body" (1 Cor.15:42-44, NIV). Thus Yah'shua's (Jesus) glory would not have become visible until the third day when He was resurrected
 I could be wrong in this since the Malak Yahweh or Messenger/Angel of Yahweh's Presence (the pre-incarnate Messiah), the only malak (angel) to whom worship was permitted, did appear in glory to Moses yet that glory was concealed when He appeared to Abraham with the two other malakim (angels)
 Frank Colquhoun, Hard Questions: A Discussion of Thirty-Eight Basic Christian Problems (Falcon, Church Pastoral Aid Society, London: 1976), pp.82-84