Month 10:22, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5939:289 AM|
2Exodus 2/40, 4th Sh'mittah - Year 49/50
Global Judgment - Day #T-10
Gregorian Calendar Saturday 2 January 2016
From Faith to Works
Surrenderedness & Torah-Obedience
Getting a Proper Perspective of the Saved Life
Shabbat shalom mishpachah and may the undeserved loving-kindness of our Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) be yours today as you claim the finished work of Calvary in every part of your life. My prayer especially today is that hearts that have been shut-down owing to betrayal, or loss or any suffering that has seemed too great to bear may reopen so that Yah'shua (Jesus) may be allowed to do what we, by carnal reflex, keep on trying to do ourselves.
Fighting a Demon
A couple of nights ago I woke up and saw a vision of a demon and something in me was triggered causing me to pounce on it with considerable anger. For a moment, forgetting the unequal struggle that is the reality between a supernatural being like a demon and a natural being like a human, I soon began to drain of energy. Pretty quickly, though, I remembered that I belonged to Yah'shua (Jesus), that Yah'shua (Jesus) has already defeated the demonic realm and that all I needed to do was yield to Him and let Him take care of the battle. Instantly the demon was gone and I went back to sleep again.
The Simplicity of the Gospel
We are apt to forget the simplicity of the Besorah (Gospel) the moment we start relying on our own strength, and the trouble is we do that more often than we would care to admit. There is a daily choice to be in Messiah or be in the flesh that needs to be made. There is also a moment-for-moment choice to walk in the Messiah who completed the work of salvation for us 2,000 years ago or to turn away from that reality and try to accomplish our own salvation in our own works. Even those who have been walking with Messiah for many years need to be reminded of this which is why the simplicity of the Besorah (Gospel) needs to be preached again and again.
The Double Witness
I often think that one of the reasons we are all called to be witnesses or evangelists is not just because the unsaved need to hear the Besorah (Gospel) but that we need to be reminded of its basics continually ourselves. The mroe we preach it the more we remember it. Pride abides in the flesh, as it does in the devil, and both wish to do without Elohim (God) in order to boast of their own accomplishments and acclaim their own sovereignty. The only boasting we are permitted, however, to now do in is what the Saviour as done for us:
Prioretising the New Creation
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation" (Gal.6:14-15, NIV).
I include verse 15 in this quotation to remind many messianics who have an unfortunate tendency to boast of their Torah-obedience in much the same way as many evangelicals love to boast of their lawless grace. Both are wrong for different reasons. Torah-obedience is is, of course, mandated but there is a tendency of the pride of the flesh to elevate it above Yah'shua (Jesus), and to forget that what matters is a new creation, that is to say, the new birth or spiritual regeneration. For without this our Torah-obedience, whilst better than lawlessness as far as society is concerned, is of no spiritual value on its own because by Torah-obedience no man was ever saved. Yes, temporary sacrifices were available under the Old Covenant that had to be repeated again and again for a man to remain in a state of grace, but now a "better sacrifice" (Heb.11:4) has been enacted on our behalf, the blood sacrifice of the Son of Man, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) without which there is no permanent salvation and forgiveness from sins.
The Faded Badge of Circumcision
For Jews and many Messianics circumcision remains important and is worn as a badge by men tucked away in their pants as an emblem of national (Israelite) pride. However - and this is an emet (truth) that so many of those infected by the spirit of Judaism miss - circumcision is no longer the sign of the Covenant, but rather a "new [spiritual] creation" sealed outwardly, in the presence of witnesses, in water baptism represented by the festival of Yom haBikkurim or the Day of Firstfruits.
Our Certificate of New Covenant Citizenship
That is, however, only the first of three steps into the fullness of the Kingdom of Messiah, even though it be the most important step, for without it - without spiritual regeneration leading to a changed heart and a personal relationship with the Master - the remaining steps have no meaning beyond a positive cultural impact on society. These final two are the Betrothal Covenant of the aspirant allegorical Bride in Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'), which is the promise to be obedient to Torah (The Law and Teaching of Messianic Israel) and sealed by the Baptism of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in the New Covenant. That annointing is the empowerment to live the mitzvot (commandments) of Yah'shua (Jesus) as an ahavah (love) offering for the spiritual regeneration of the new birth in Messiah. As the ketubah or marriage contract of the regenerated believer, it is also the Certificate of Citizenship in Messianic Israel, that is to say, the Kingdom of our Messiah.
Helping Evangelicals Understand Torah
Before I develop this thought further, especially for the benefit of those of you who are perhaps from an Evangelical Christian background and are struggling to understand what the Torah is all about and what its place is in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant), I need to explain precisely what is meant by the 'new birth' and 'salvation' or what we call alef- or alpha-salvation, or 'salvation-past'.
Salvation Past, Present and Future
Because we live in a space-time continuum with the possibility of falling away, we may speak of 'salvation-past' - the day we repented, surrendered and made our choice for Yah'shua and were spiritually born-again or regenerated (and it's important that the regeneration has actually happened, leading to a change of heart, or it's not true salvation but just the motions of salvation without spiritual change). Then there is 'salvation-present' - meaning that that original salvation is still present because we have remained true, trusting in Messiah still, and have not returned to the world and unbelief. Finally, there is 'salvation-future', which is our spiritual state when we die, at the end of our mortal 'race', which will determine what happens to us in the eternities. To maintain that salvation - to remain in Yah'shua (Jesus) - requires a process of overcoming from all sin-areas in our lives, that results in character transformation, that results in Yah'shua (Jesus) having access to areas of our life that we may have consciously or unconsciously denied to Him at our initial salvation.
Being 'born-again' doesn't mean you have had a 'good feeling' even though good feelings invariably are a consequence of spiritual regeneration. Being 'born-again' is an illustration, using a natural process (physical birth), given by Yah'shua (Jesus) to Nicodemus on the occasion of a secret visit by that talmid (disciple) to the Master to explain what was necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Jn.3:1ff.).
Nicodemus' Israelite Citizenship
Now Nicodemus was already a Citizen of Israel by circumcision and by the Shavu'ot (Weeks) Covenant of Torah-obedience devolving upon all who claimed to be Israelites. He bore the sign tucked away in his pants which only his wife could see. As part of the Shavu'ot Old Covenant, Nicodemus would have regularly attended the temple with animal sacrifices to make various kippurim or atonements for his sins, again and again, and especially at the festivals. And though the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) would certainly have operated in his life, as he sought to walk in emunah (faith) with Yahweh and demonstrate that emunah (faith) by being obedient to the mitzvot (commandments) or terms of the Old Covenant, there was not that abiding "new creation" made possible only through the Messiah by being born again [through the Messiah] "from above" (e.g. Jn.8:23; 3:31). No animal sacrifices were needed for that.
New Covenant Israelite Citizenship
Circumcision, the sign of the Old Covenant and Citizenship in pre-Messianic Israel, could not make that "new creation" in the human soul. It was a temporary licence for a temporary covenant for the living only. The sign of citizenship in the New Covenant Kingdom is the spiritual regeneration or a "new creation" - a total transformation of the inner being that puts a man into direct relationship with Yah'shua (Jesus) and in consequence gives him direct access to the Throne of Yahweh to have his prayers answered.
In the world, we are born into a country by circumstance beyond our control and when we become of age we are expected to automatically obey the laws of the land. Failure to obey them leads to disciplinary and often unpleasant consequences. Our citizenship is never in question but merely our relationship to the laws of the land. Likewise, when we obtain citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven through repentance from sin, surrendering of self-will, and spiritual regeneration which is the "new creation", we automatically belong, as heavenly citizens, to a Kingdom that has rules or laws that Yahweh expects us to obey as a requirement of that citizenship. He does not remove the citizenship away from us if we break the rules though He does execute ongoing punishment in various ways and forms, sometimes immediate, sometimes delayed as I spoke to you about a couple of days ago (see New Year's Fate: Swept Along for Another Year?). In the same way you can renoubnce citizenship of your country of birth by, for example, immigrating to another, so you can renounce your citizenship in the Kingdopm my consciously rejecting King Messiah and choosing citizenship in the kingdom of darkness. You can no more escape the consequences of lawlessness in Yahweh's Kingdom than you can in the world with its man-made laws, though by subterfuge you may well escape detection in the latter.
State Punishment Whether Ignorant or Cogniscent
Interestingly, most citizens do not know the tiniest fraction of their nation's laws. How many of you know all the laws of Sweden, South Africa, the UK or America? Admittedly, the laws of our countries have grown and grown as our nations have become more corrupt, yet we all know basic laws like not stealing and not killing and what their consequences are because we have been taught these at school or by our parents and peers. If we fail to pay taxes or parking ticket fines, we know there will be consequences too. Sometimes we come up against laws that we never knew existed and can get quite upset when the law falls mercilessly on us and exacts a punishment, yet our ignorance is never an excuse. The state will exact its punishment whether you are ignorant or aware.
Christians Live Different Sets of Laws
Yahweh's Law is no different. If you commit adultery or tell lies, there are consequences which become obvious in the resultant fractured relationships and in a sudden diminishing of the flow the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Evangelicals live their lives using this index. However, in order to live faithfully this way, there must be an intimate relationship with Yah'shua (Jesus). If we are living in sin, that relationship can be damaged and the communication lines to heaven imperfect. But even when you take as examples the most righteous and spiritually-tuned Christians you know, you will nevertheless find that there are differences in what laws they consider to now be of Yahweh and which ones they consider to have been modified or revoked by Him. Even if they have a deep heart-love for Yahweh, you will find they are usually living similar yet different sets of laws.
Can Anyone Know Yahweh's Perfect Will By Personal Revelation Alone?
This alone should be a red flag for the one who loves emet (truth) because what we learn from this is that no one is that close to Yahweh as to know His perfect will at all times. And it is for this reason that Yahweh has given us the Scriptures which contain His laws and rulings about different matters. Yahweh tends not to give direct revelation on matters that He has already spoken about in His Davar (Word).
All are Torah-Obedient to Differing Degrees
All born-again believers are Torah-obedient to different degress. Spiritually regenerated, born-again Christians apply some biblical laws and ignore others, and they do this because they have been taught false traditions and are not dividing the Davar (Word) properly. Some of these traditions have been around for centuries and are deeply engrained in the religious communities that espouse them.
From Shavu'ot to Confirmation
The first believers were, like their Old Covenant forebears, not only Torah-obedient but properly instructed. Not only that, but once properly instructed, they entered a covenant of Torah-obedience (usually at Shavu'ot) to which they were held accountable by their brethren. Over time, as rebellion against the mitzvot (commandments) accellerated owing to apostacy in Rome and elsewhere, this Covenant was replaced by another ordinance, which finds no mention in Scripture, called 'confirmation'. Baptised members would attend classes and learn the Catechism of the Church they were a part of, and once the priests or elders were satisfied that their applicants had a proper grasp of the true doctrine as they understood and believed it to be, they were 'confirmed' - usually by the laying on of hands - and were permitted to partake of the Eucharist, Communion or Lord's Supper. Different denominations over the centuries modified the requirements, conforming their investigators to one or other set of creeds and doctrines. Thus an Anglican would be expected to accept the Westminster Confession.
Every Church Has Irs Own Torah
Whatever church you go to these days you are usually expected to formally or informally comply to a set of creeds, rules or doctrines that are that church's 'torah' or system of belief and practice. Some are more careful about doctrine than others, some have careful instruction and some do not. Some are liberal and some conservative. However it works in a particular local church or denomination, a teaching or torah is heard and learned following much repetition. So every church or assembly has a 'torah' that its members are expected to adhere to. These torah's are usually a mixture of biblical and man-made doctrine.
Dogma vs. Real Life
Every Christian group expects some sort of 'torah'-adherence even if they don't call it that. And it's a 'rule of life' that everyone follows unconsciously, that every grouping of people follows a set of rules. You can't avoid them. If I turn up at a Baptist Church claiming the Trinity doctrine is not biblical, I'll be out on my heels. The Trinity Doctrine is part of Baptist torah just as Homosexual Marriage is part of the Metropolitan Community Church's torah. No conservative evangelical Pentecostal would baptise me if I claimed their speaking in tongues was not of Elohim (God) and likely of the devil even if I have clearly been regenerated, and even if some did baptise me, they would never fully accept me into membership and I could never expect to become an Elder or Pastor in their congregation. That's just the way religious business is done in real life.
Unnailed From the Cross When Needed?
All Christians and Messianics obey some sort of torah because every group has a 'teaching' (which is what the Hebrew word torah means). You will soon find out that the doctrine that Yahweh has done away with the Torah in the New Covenant by 'nailing it to the cross' is not, in practice, believed by anyone. It just doesn't happen in practice. Though you will hear various mantras about the Law being fulfilled or being no longer relevant, moral and ethical matters not covered in the New Testamenr find resolution in the Tanakh (Old Testament). If you ask an Evangelical Pastor whether it's OK to marry your sister, he will be forced to go to the Torah where it says you cannot even though he at other times claims the Law has been nailed tlo the cross and doesn't have to be obeyed any more.
The Invented Doctrine
So there is man-made torah and there is Divine Torah, and the claim that all Torah has been done away with is proved to be a lie, because everyone is torah-obedient in some way or another. Technically there is no such thing as an 'antinomian' or person without any sort of Law. The whole idea is in any case preposterous and the theologians who invented the doctrines did so because they didn't want Christianity to be associated with the Jews at a time when Jews, who of course followed Torah, were unpopular and being persecuted in the Roman Empire. They wanted to look as different as possible. The doctrine of the Law being nailed to the cross and being abolished, as opposed to the penalty of the Law being nailed there, was in all likelihood the invention of those trying to be accepted by mainstream Roman culture by being politically correct.
The Importance of Doctrinal Instruction
The problem that we face in this matter of the relationship between salvation and Torah-obedience therefore really lies in which rules people pick and choose and not whether there's a straight choice between the one or the other. You can no more separate them than you can inhalation of air from exhalation. Here we see just how important doctrinal instruction is, so important that in the true Messianic Community a Betrothal Covenant is taken once the basic Torah has been taught, understood and accepted.
The Illustration of Citizenship
It's a bit like the old process that immigrants seeking US citizenship went through before Obama turned everything upside down. First they learn the language and then about the American Constitution a way of life before swearing allegiance. This is why born-again, spiritually-regenerated believers are required to 'learn the language' and 'constitution' of Yahweh's Torah before they can be 'confirmed' or admitted as sons and daughters of Torah at Shavu'ot, that is to say, citizens of Messianic Israel, the nation of the saved. You don't just 'get saved' and remain stateless - you become citizens of a Kingdom - the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of Elohim (God), and every kingdom has its laws, no less Yahweh's own Kingdom. And even though the churches deny it, in truth they are mini-kingdoms with their own laws, as we have seen.
Both citizens and aspirant citizens of Messianic Israel therefore study the Scriptures and make a point of becoming acquainted with Torah. Most messianic congregations have 1 or 3 year Torah study plans (some have longer) to make sure that the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses, which are the foundation of both the nevi'im (prophets) and the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament), are properly fathomed. That is why we have Torah Portions and Haftorah portions too, with New Testament parallels, which we diligently teach and learn. We don't hop over the large portions of the Pentateuch as most Christians do because they don't think they are relevant any more. They could not be more mistaken.
Man-Made Traditions From Judaism
Obviously Torah (Pentateuch) study is nowhere near enough. We also need to know and understand our New Testament thoroughly. Furthermore, in messianism, you also have to be careful man-made Jewish traditions, which leach their way into even these studies and can lead you astray if you are not careful. Therefore doctrine must be pure, Biblical, 100% of Yahweh and free of demonic and man-made invention.
Being 'Spirit-Filled' and Walking in Revelation
It is naïve at best, and foolhardy at worst, to suppose that if you focus on your relationship with Yah'shua (Jesus) that Torah study won't be needed - or not needed very much - because you are walking in the Ruach (Spirit) and therefore supposedly in open revelation. How many people who claim to be 'Spirit-filled' have you met who make similar claims? Yes, there is some Scripture study (some study more than others, obviously) but you will consistently find emphasis being laid on parts of the Bible at the expense of others.
The Whole Counsel of Scripture
If Pastors in particular, but also all teachers and witnesses, are to be found guiltless of the blood of this generation, then they cannot neglect the whole counsel of Scripture, even as Paul taught:
Breathing In and Breathing Out
"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of Elohim (God). Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) has made you overseers, to shepherd the community of Elohim (church of God) which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:26-29, NKJV).
That is not a small matter. The "whole counsel of Elohim (God)" is both the whole message of salvation and the complete instruction of Torah which makes the soul complete in Yahweh. It is true, as many evangelicals complain, that some messianics neglect the message of salvation because they are overly preoccupied with Torah. However, the answer is not to neglect Torah but to find the right balance between it and the message of salvation. There is a divine order - salvation comes before Torah just as breathing in (the first breath of Adam that came from the Ruach/Spirit) comes before breathing out. Milk comes before meat as baptism comes before Bar Mitzvah.
The 'battle' between salvation and Torah is an invention of the devil to cause division and strife. Nobody who believes, practices and teaches the doctine of salvation by grace through emunah (faith) alone is entirely torahless. Liberal Christians may be less Torah-obedieent than conservative Christians, and conservative Evangelicals may be less Torah-obedient than Messianics, so what is needed is a complete spiritual education and lifestyle. We don't, in any case in practice, 'do' salvation one day and Torah the next - they go hand in hand.
What the Saved are Supposed to Do
When we are repenting of sin in order to be cleansed in the blood of the Lamb and receive salvation (or indeed in the continuing life of a saved believer) we have to know what we are repenting from, the the Torah tells us that by identifying sin for us. But it's more than a means of knowing what sin is so that we can repent (the approach of Ray Comfort and the late Charles Spurgeon) - it's also the day-to-day implementation of a lifestyle. Truly saved believers have a divinely ordained way of living that includes observing moedim or divine appointments each week (at Sabbath), each month (at Rosh Chodesh), each year (the 8 annual festivals), each 7 years (the Sh'mittah or Sabbatical Year) and each 50 years (the Yovel opr Jubilee), eating kashrut, and much else besides.
Illustration of US Citizenship
There is a dynamic between living in salvational relationship with Yah'shua (Jesus) and obeying Torah and you cannot separate them, even though they are not the same thing. Salvation itself has nothing whatsoever to do with the works of Torah, for "a man is justified by emunah (faith) apart from observing the Torah (Law)" (Rom 3:28, NIV), meaning that no amount of Torah-obedience will save him from the penalty of Torah-disobedience which ultimately is death and separation from Elohim (God). Likewise, unless I was born in the USA or became a naturalised citizen, no amount of my obeying the Constitution or US laws will ever make me a US citizen! And though I will undoubtedly profit by living by many of them, I will not be a US citizen.
THE SIX ELEMENTS OF SALVATION
1. Made Spiritual
We ought perhaps to finish today by running over the elements of salvation. Why do we need to be saved? First of all, because when Yahweh-Elohim created Adam in Gan Eden or the Garden of Eden, he had a perfect relationship with Yahweh - he was in communion and fellowship with the Most High. Because Elohim (God) is spiritual, the one who worships Him must worship Him in the Ruach (Spirit) and in Emet (Truth) (JUn.4:24). Before Adam sinned and fell, he was able to freely have communion and fellowship with his Heavenly Father on Yahweh's own spiritual level because Adam was created by Him as a spiritual being in His own image.
2. Disobedience Leads to Death
Second, when he disobeyed the single mitzvah (commandment) in the Garden by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam spiritually died and passed this spiritual death to all mankind.
3. Transgressing Torah and Separation From Yahweh
Third, sin is transgressing the Torah (Law) of Elohim (God) and disobeying His Davar (Word) in Scripture. Sin separates man from Elohim (God) and sin causes both physical and spiritual death.
4. The Plan of Salvation
Fourth, in order to be reconciled back to Yahweh, man needed to confess his sins to Elohim (God) and accept His Plan of Salvation for man. This Plan was accomplished on behalf of man through the death of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) on the cross and the shedding of His blood for the remission of sins.
5. Saved By Grace Through Faith
Fifth, by repenting of our sins which we do by comparing our behaviour with the mitzvot (commandments) of Torah, and asking Yah'shua (Jesus) to come into our heart and life so that He can become our Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour) of our souls, we are saved by Yahweh's grace (undeserved loving-kindness, unmerited favour) through our emunah (faith, trusting). We are not saved by good deeds or by being a good person (Eph.2:8-9)
6. Repentance and Spiritual Regeneration
Sixth, before we accept Yah'shua (Jesus) as our Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour), our spirit is spiritually dead, that is to say, separated from Elohim (God). When we make teshuvah or repent of our sins by asking Yah'shua (Jesus) to come into oue heart and life and be our Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour), our inner or spirit man becomes "born again" or spiritually regenerated - we become completely changed by a supernatural act of the Creator, thus becoming a "new creation". We undergo what some describe as a 'change of status', meaning we change from being a sinner to being a saved believer who will go to heaven and spend eternity with Elohim (God).
Saved to Only One Heaven?
That's the simplified, elementary version of the Plan of Salvation, and it's where we must all start. 'Heaven' is not, however, a single place, but has at least three divisions. So many Evangelicals and Messianics close their eyes to this emet (truth) because they don't want discipleship to be any more demanding than the simple message of salvation by emunah (faith). If saved believers are honest with themselves, they do not usually yield full sovereignty of their lives to Yah'shua (Jesus) when they are born again. Most of their yielding is concerns areas they are not conscious of and so their declaration of surrender contains a large measure of intent - only Yahweh knows whether they are being genuine or not.
The Need for Continual Overcoming and the Three Heavens
There are unsurrendered parts in every believer's life which requrires overcoming to be done in the area of full submission which is why Paul admonishes us to "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil.2:12, NIV). It's not something done passively. It requires struggle and effort. Few complete this journey which is why Heaven is not a single place and why there are at least three different resurrection glories. Thus Paul would say to the undisciplined and extremely immature and troublesome Corinthians:
Why There is More Than One Glory and Heaven
"There is one glory of the sun (Heaven Category No.1 - the "third heaven" of 2 Cor.12:2), another glory of the moon (Heaven Category No.2, the 'second heaven'), and another glory of the stars (Heaven Category No.3, the 'first heaven'); for one star differs from another star in glory (sub-sections of the Third Heaven). So also is the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor.15:41-42, NKJV).
Why is it this way? Why isn't there one heaven and one resurrection glory as so many Christians believe? Because not all fully repent of their sins, not all fully invite Yah'shua (Jesus) into every area of their lives. Why have they not fuilly repented? Because they don't like the whole of the Torah (Law). Some don't want to give up their bacon or shrimps. Some don't want to observe the festivals and other moedim. Some don't like the marriage laws and want an easy divorce and softness on fornication. Some covet money. Some want to carry on smoking, drinking and taking drugs. There are hundreds of reasons people don't want to repent and surrender and it's because they don't like many of Yahweh's mitzvot (commandments) so they either ignore them, twist them or argue that Yahweh has done away with the Torah allowing them to make lifestyle choices based on their feelings rather than on the revealed emet (truth) of Scripture. This is why there is such a controvery over the Torah (Law) because there has always been - and always will be - a controversy over sin. Believers want to be saved but on their terms and only in those areas that suit them.
The Path of Sanctification
We don't have to be perfect to receive our initial salvation. We just have to be convicted of sin, experience the genuine regret that leads to restitution (like returning what was stolen or other form of compenstion), and have a passionate desire to change - not in our own power, but in Messiah's resurrection power. That takes a lot of struggling, a lot of surendering of pride and self-sovereignty. Sometimes we fall backwards into sin but so long as we get up and continue struggling until we have overcome, asking for forgiveness and relying on His grace, determined to make an actual end to sinning, we are in right relationship with our Master. We are saved and are continuing to be saved. As we leatrn obedience through submission, so we become progressively cleansed and made worthy to become Yah'shua's (Jesus') Bride. As our sin gets scoured out, so our character changes, and we become progressively sanctified and prepared to become the Bride of Messiah.
From Spiritual Infancy to Adulthood
There are those who argue that those who continue to sin aren't really saved. I understand what they are saying but they have not grasped the whole picture. The issue is not whether such are not fully delivered but whether they had a real encounter with Messiah and became a new creature or not. Yahweh knows when our repentance is real or not and when it is, we are transformed in a way that is unmistakable. The imagery of Yah'shua (Jesus) in John's Gospel is such as to make us understand that one who is born again is a spiritual infant, not a fully matured spiritual adult. There has to be character development, a progressive purging and transformation of the whole soul until the Adamic nature is well and cruly crucified and attracts us no more. Sin may be obliterated in the new birth but continuing to sin is still our choice, and must still be dealt with, as we spiritually mature.
The Result of Salvation
Deciding to become a 'Christian' or a 'Messianic' does not automatically mean that you have become a "new creation". Salvation is a supernatural, not a natural, event. It's a complete change of mind and heart that leads to a spiritually facilitated, enabled and joyful change in direction in life. We are delivered by salvation from bondage to the devil and from oppression. We are made safe internally and frequently externally too. A result of salvation is welfare, shalom (peace) and happiness in the face of difficulties and hardships surrounding us. The forgiveness of sins, which saves us from judgment, and admits us to His Kingdom as a Citizen, is crucial. Salvation delivers us from spiritual unrest, an accusing conscience and a fear of death. This is accomplished practically by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) quickening our conscience to a knowledge of our guilt and remorse over our sins and creating emunah (faith, trust) in our hearts, giving us the experience of a forgiveness of sins and "the knowledge of salvation" (Lk.1:77, NASB). We become converted and justified, we become renewed unto sanctification and kept in emunah (faith, trusting) to the end, lading us to consummate salvation or taw- or omega-salvation - to salvation-future - that consummate salvation in the final Kingdom of Glory, where salvation reaches its wonderful climax (1 Thess.5:8), the crowning act of the totality of salvation (Rom.8:23; 1 Cor.1:30).
Walking in Surrender
So it is simple but also huge. In the general sense, it is all about continuing surrender, but in its details is is all about trusting (having faith), and through trusting obtaining the empowerment to obey the Torah. We know we are walking in surrender when we are spontaneously and joyfully walking in all the Torah. We can measure our surrenderedness by our response - favourable or hostile - to the mitzvot (commandments). That's what they're there for.
Working Out and Walking In the Faith
Salvation is by grace through emunah (faith, trusting) in the crucuified and resurrected Messiah. "Stand[ing] firm in the faith" (2 Cor.1:24, NRSV) is the embedding of that salvation in Torah-obedience - Torah-obedience is salvation in action, a working out and a walking in of the faith which is trusting that leads to obedience.
Helping Evangelicals Understand Their Dilemma
I hope this brings a measure of understanding and shalom (peace) to evangelicals and messianics alike. I am sometimes asked what response should be given when an evangelical (for example) asks us what the Torah is and why it is important. For there is a certain schizophrenia in Evangelical Christian which says, on the one hand, that the 'Law' has been done away with and on the other hand they are forced to make an authoritative appeal to the very Law they reject in order to answer fundamentally important questions about correct Christian living. They not only do this all the time but they have, denomination for denomination, invented their own books of torah, law and rules. I hope this discourse has helped unpack this dilemma somewhat and pointed to the solution.
Undoing a Life of Programming
I realise, though, that there is a lot of programming to be overcome when you have had lies drummed into you since you were a child. That can't always be done in a day. I have various friends from the Reformed faith (particularly Reformed Calvinistic Baptists) who have enormous conceptual difficulties to overcome. Logic is paralysed by their desperate attempt to reconcile these contradictions, making discussion nigh impossible, because what glues the contradictions together in their own minds is a power in which blind faith has been invested, at which interface all intelligence and critical thinking is abandoned. At such a point only Yahweh can break in and expose the demonic bottleneck. Then prayer is the only recourse left.
Different Meanings for the Word 'Saved'
Every now and then we have to stand back, put our dogmatic traditions and filters to one side, and read the Bible with fresh eyes inviting the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to be in full control. I do this at least once every seven years. For that reason, I have found it helpful to read Bible translations like the Jewish New Testament (JNT) and Institute for Scripture Research Version (ISRV), even if I don't always agree with them, because they use alternative words for the English ones we are accustomed to and which have become invested with a lot of extra-biblical meaning by our cultures. For instance, the word 'saved' means different though similar things to different denominations because behind a single word like that is a concentrated doctrine that may have evolved over many centuries built upon several assumptions that may not be biblical. There are those, for instance, who think that once they have been saved that they can never lose that salvation (see OSAS).
Different Meanings for the Word 'Law'
It was the Jewish New Testament (now part of the Complete Jewish Bible - CJB) that forced me to seriously ask the question, "Which law?" as I read familiar passages from Paul's writings, for not every reference to 'law' in the New Testament is to Yahweh's Torah, and what is sometimes being done away with is the Rabbinical traditions and not Yahweh's Torah itself! Sometimes the references are to Roman jurisprudence. That is why careful Scripture study is vitally important for the Remnant. Indeed a brother recently lamented that it was sometimes so hard to know which is being references by the apostle.
Keep Your Brains in Your Head and Your Heart in its Pericardiac Cavity
To get anywhere does require complete honesty when things don't appear to add up, as when sometimes it appears Paul is against the Torah and sometimes when he appears to insist on it. His 'apparent' contradictions are not hard to resolve when you look at context and take the whole counsel of Scripture together on a subject. Yahweh's Davar (Word) does not contradict itself. Equally one must be careful not to let ones brains fall out of ones head, or rip their hearts out of their pericardiac cavity, as some have sadly done, and go to the opposite extreme to question everything, including Yahweh's personal revelation to them. That is suicide.
Extremes to Avoid
If you have been "born-again", if you have been spiritually regenerated, if you have become a "new creation", then there are some things your soul knows and which should never be placed on the anvil of atheism. To do so is madness. The alternative is the fantastic and unbelievable religion of evolution, and it takes a lot more faith to believe in that, with its naturalistic Fairy God-Mother making nothing out of nothing with a magical wand, than it does to believe in the Divine Intelligence and Love of the Creator of the Universe.
We Do Not Become the Bride at Salvation
We are saved by grace through emunah (faith) but that is not the end of the Besorah (Gospel). Emunah (faith) must have a response, and that response is good works in Torah-obedience. Working synergetically together like a pair of legs moving the body of our being forwards, faith produces the salvific righteousness of Messiah in us and and works - in Messiah again - the righteousness of a godly character that lead to sanctification and transformation into the overcoming Bride. We do not become the Bride upon conversion but after it through purifying ourselves of all wickedness through repentance and trusting in the finished work of the cross made available to us by Yah'shua (Jesus).
The Testimony of the Qodeshim on Purification
Thus Jacob would say to his family:
and the apostles would say:
"Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes" (Gen 35:2, NIV)
"Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for Elohim (God)" (2 Cor.:1, NIV)
Only Yah'shua Can Purify the Inner Man
"Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:8, NIV).
Is this, in any sense, works-based salvation? No it is not, for it is perfectly clear by what power we are to do these things!
The Difference Between the Saved and the Saved Bride
"If we confess our sins, He (Yah'shua/Jesus) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9, NIV).
It begins and ends with Yah'shua (Jesus), he is the alef and taw, the alpha and omega, the A and the Z, the Beginning and the End (Rev.1:8; 21:6; 22:13), but we have our choosing and the effort or struggle that that choosing often involves. When we choose to be purified it is understood that the power of purification is resident only in the Blood of the Lamb and not in the will or strength of mortal man. This is what we always mean when we speak of man's part for it is always in tandem with the empowerment of the Ruach (Spirit) and never by uncoupled psychic power. Thus if I choose to obey Torah, be it of whatever part, from sexual morality to observing thesabbaths and festivals in purity, it is to always be understood that such obedience is only attainable thought the resurrection power of Messiah indwelling our beings. But it is also to be understood that we cannot pick and choose what to obey in Torah - all of it devolves upon us, the the Bride will never be found neglecting any part of it. And that is the difference between the Saved Bride and the merely Saved, for the former has attained - through Messiah - only to the spiritual fullness of the spring festivals whereas the latter has attained - through Messiah - to the fullness of Sukkot. The Bride is the obedient and faithful Remnant, and the Saved is that vast company of other believers who trusted but who did not trust fully to be fully obedient. The difference between them is obedient faith verses disobedient faith.
The Great Antinomian Controversy MUST Be Resolved
What an unfruitful source of devilish controversy this has been over the centuries yet it can not be ignored to viewed casually. Too much is at stake. Efen if he does not keep us out of Heaven, Satan can still rob us of our greatest inheritance and reward by encouraging us to believe in lies that would make us lazy and unprofitable servants. Satan makes a major breach in the Body of Christ over this singularly important issue which is why we must understand it well and not get caught up in the twisting of words by the lovers of lawlessness.
Our journey to Heaven is totally and exclusively in Messiah, let that be understood both at the beginning and at the end, but it is not a passive journey. We have our very important and consistent part to play if, requiring effort and time, we are earnest about becoming the intimate Bride of our Master and not merely a late and distant entrant into the lowest heaven with the dimmeststar-like resurrection glory. Though that is infinitely better than ending up in hell it is far from what we were created for. Yah'shua (Jesus) wants a spiritual wife, not a concubine! We were made for the glory of the blazing sun and not the faint twinkling of a star. Consider these things well and enthusiastically get on board, now! Amen.
 Eddie Chumney, Who is the Bride of Christ? (Serenity Books, Hagerstown, MD: 2001)