Month 3:15, Week 2:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:73 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50
Omer Count - Day-After-7th Sabbath #7
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 19 June 2016
Futile Religion IV
Salvation-Present & Energetic Faith
Continued from Part 3
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and mishpachah! May the grace - the undeserved loving kindness - of our Master Yah'shua (Jesus) fill every mind and heart hearing the davar (word) I have to share with you this morning. And may, by the time we have finished, all the glory go to Yahweh and may we leave here filled with His shalom (peace).
Things That Didn't Work Out
Last week we looked at all those things we had planned for in life which did not at all turn out as we expected. The more seasoned of you will, I am sure - I hope - have learned that whilst things did not always go according to our own plan they did, whether we believe it or not, go according to Yahweh's Plan even if the route we were obliged to take seemed like the Jordan River - forever meandering without an readily discernable goal in sight. Yes, we cause convolutions and twistings to appear on the route we walk when we make wrong choices but notwithstanding those, if Yahweh is allowed to take the wheel of our vessel, the overall direction will take us to the goal - the place where we may safely find our shalom (peace) and simcha (joy).
Idols and Unbelief
What causes the road to be so bendy? It is because of the idols we insist on carrying through life, our Plan B's 'in case' Yah'shua (Jesus) doesn't 'show up', 'in case' He doesn't 'deliver the goods'. And every Plan B - every fleshy plan that deviates from the Plan of Salvation for your life - comes into existence for one reason only: unbelief. The choice, as I pointed out last week - and as is true for everyone walking this globe - is between belief and unbelief, between emunah (faith) and unfaith, between trusting and not trusting all that Yahweh has revealed to us in His Davar (Word) to us personally through the revelation of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
The Three Salvations
Central to my message this last month has been the idea that salvation is not just something that is supposed to have 'happened' when a person makes a personal decision for Messiah but that it is something that is supposed to continually 'happen' leading to a final 'event' at the end of life, when we learn whether we are still 'saved' or not. I have spoken of this in the past as 'salvation-past', 'salvation-present' and 'salvation-future'.
Old Testament Salvation
As you read the Tanakh (Old Testament) - and here is where some of its greatest value lies to the talmid (disciple) - you are at once struck by the fact that nearly all the 'salvation' that is spoken of there is about 'salvation-PRESENT'. When a person was 'saved' in the Tanakh (Old Testament) it was usually from a conflict, a dire circumstance or from enemies, all in the present, of course.
Salvation in the Present Continuous
When Christians and Messianics look for salvation in the present, it is to this kind of salvation or deliverance they are principally looking. It may be a current relationship problem, a life-threatening situation like cancer or a person or group of people hell-bent on destroying you. When we seek salvation in these situations, we are asking for it now, not tomorrow, even if we may be prepared to wait until tomorrow...or the day after, though usually we don't want to wait at all. We are not so much concerned about whether we are going to be saved down the line at the end of our life and find ourself in Heaven or the Millennial Kingdom as we are about salvation-present. And that's fine, provided we don't lose sight of salvation-future or forget salvation-past.
Salvation-Present and the Cross
Of course, salvation-present is, as I am sure you are champing at the bit to tell me, a lot more than asking for deliverance from a local situation or circumstance. Paul puts it this way:
"For the message about the cross (haEtz haKelalat Yahweh - the tree of the curse of Yahweh) is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved (being delivered), it is the power (gevurat) of Elohim (God)" (1 Cor.1:18, NRSV).
Contrary to what most Calvinists teach, salvation (from sin and death) is not something that Yahweh unilaterally decided long before we were even created, and it's not just something that 'happened' when we made our profession of emunah (faith) when we made the choice to be a talmid (disciple) of the Saviour but it is something we must keep on doing, or to use Paul's words in the Aramaic:
Salvation-Maintained in Power
"But to us who live, it is the energy of Elohim (God)" (AENT).
In other words, salvation-present is salvation-maintained which is the very experience of being immersed in, and drawing energy and power from, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)! So a saved or delivered person is not merely someone who made a decision 'X' number of years ago on a certain day and received regeneration through being baptised or immersed in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) but he is someone who remains immersed or baptised in that same Ruach (Spirit) which he experiences as a tangible energy or life-force that continues consciously saving and delivering him minute by minute.
Victory of the One Being Saved
A person who is being saved - that is to say, is continuing to walk in salvation - is someone who is being energised with a supernatural power that not only keeps him going in adversity but enables him to triumph over it too. He possesses chayim (life), he "lives", not merely as a biological entity in common with all other human beings who are alive physically, but he lives in an extraordinary way that only occurs through ongoing trusting or emunah (faith) in the Messiah.
What It Means to Be in Yah'shua
We are supposed to be experiencing the power of the cross - that is to say, the power released through the Atonement of Messiah to all those who trust - so that with this power, we may live victorious and not defeated lives. This is what it means to be "IN" Yah'shua (Jesus), this is what an echad relationship consists of and is all about.
The Enemy's Whisperings
The reason we get defeated and depressed is quite simply this: we cut off the source of this saving chayim (life) or energy. We stop believing. We stop trusting. We entertain doubt and wonder if maybe we imagined the whole thing that we call 'initial salvation' or 'salvation-past'. Thoughts are fed into our mind by the whispering of the Adversary to persuade us that our initial salvation was just a fantasy, a kind of religious opium, as Marx called it, taken to help us 'cope' with life's unavoidable difficulties and complexities.
The Lie That Leads to Unbelief
Here is the root of our unbelief, why we stop trusting, why we stop exercising emunah (faith): we swallow the lie that the reason we are disconnected is because we haven't done something we think we were supposed to do. Satan then builds on that foundational lie and adds one thing after another. He keeps on reminding us that we failed to do until it a mental mountain so large develops in our head that we give up in desperation at ever being able to fix the problems because of their shere size.
The Mental Mountain and Losing Hope in the Present
Those who continue to cling onto their emunah (faith) then forget about salvation-present and start investing all their tiqveh (hope) in salvation-future with the attitude that sounds something like this: 'So long as I just hold on in my misery, having my future goal of Heaven in mind, I will be able to grit my teeth and struggle my way through this horrid existence.' There is no thought of being victorious in the present - indeed, the soul of this mind has lost all tiqveh (hope) in the present. And everyone who succumbs to the flesh does this.
Parable of the Prisoner
Imagine that you are a criminal - a really bad one. Let's say, you have murdered someone, you have been sent to prison and are awaiting your execution according to the law of the land. The sentence is just and you know it. Then let us suppose that the King or President grants you an unconditional pardon and you are told you can go free...alive. What would your reaction be? Simach (joy) and thankfulfness, of course, with a great deal of relief!
When Joy and Gratitude in Salvation are Lost
That's what happens to us when we receive Yah'shua (Jesus) as Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour), knowing that we have been freely pardoned of all our wicked deeds or sins, without any cost or payment on our part. The price has been paid for us. That is salvation-past. The question we have been asking is why, in the present, do so many believers lose that simcha (joy) and gratitude? What happens?
From Forgetfulness to Depression
What happens is that he forgets that his salvation was not earned. It was a free gift but he forgets that (which is why he needs to often be reminded of it). What happens is that he remembers all the bad things he did in the past - that got him arrested and put in that spiritual prison and how he became convicted of his sinfulness. He remembers and then Enemy starts accusing him, reminding him what a bad person he is because he is sinning again. This leads him to doubt he was ever saved. Repeated failure will often cause a sensitive man to take his eyes of Messiah and to forget that He was freely pardoned through trusting in the work of the Cross, and before he knows it, he has lost his simcha (joy). He is miserable, despondent and depressed.
Degutting the Gospel
Yah'shua (Jesus) does not want us to look at salvation as solely something for a future time, however important that may be. That is not in the Plan of Salvation. That would be like ripping Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') out of the annual festivals calendar leaving, essentially, only Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). That would be to de-gut the Besorah (Gospel) entirely. Why?
Shavu'ot is Key
Well, what happened at Shavu'ot (Weeks)? The first talmidim (disciples) were baptised, immersed or filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) which is what propelled the Messianic Community into the world then and still does today! It was also the day the Ten Commandments were received at Sinai which is the platform on which that baptism or anointing was given. It's the source of evangelism. That's where the chayim (life) of the Besorah (Gospel) comes from and without it there is no Besorah (Gospel). It is the psychic or emotional part of the Besorah (Gospel) that propels, galvanises, spurs and drives us into action, energises us and gives us deep satisfaction as witnesses. Shavu'ot (Weeks) is sandwiched between the fact of the Atonement (Pesach) and the final spiritual consummation (Sukkot). It is what links mind and spirit together. It's what makes us whole.
The Unduplicatble Miracle
When the malak (angel) told Mary that her Son would "save His people from their sins" (Mt.1:21), this act of 'saving' would become a daily experience for later converts, a supernatural daily experience that the world and other religions could never duplicate. And the soul that was saved and was being saved would then be able to confess, with Yah'shua (Jesus), who said:
Our Total Dependence
"Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5, NIV).
This is a massive statement, a huge statement of emet (truth) that belies its conceptual simplicity. It is a past, present and future statement. It is a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual statement. In context, Yah'shua (Jesus) is talking about being fruitful as a believer:
The Dynamic and Experience of Being Saved
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5, NIV).
You cannot be in - be a part of - the Kingdom, both now and in the future, unless you are in Yah'shua (Jesus), unless you are "being saved", energised and empowered now with a quickened heart and mind. What does it take to "remain" in Him? To keep trusting, to keep believing, to keep having emunah (faith). And if the emunah (faith) is genuine, it will lead to obedience of the mitzvot (commandments) and to the good works that the saved naturally do. It will lead to spontaneous compliance with, and obedience to, Torah. It will cause you to act and behave in a Messiah-like way so that everyone who encounters you will see Messiah working in and through you, and rejoice, and be encouraged and spurred on in their own emunah (faith) - and if an unbeliever, attract them and lead them to want to know more about this amazing Saviour. It will be your victorious living - your empowerment causing you to be loving, humble, meek, generous, patient, long-suffering, persevering and all the virtues that spring forth out of a life in Messiah - that will persuade them to hear the Besorah (Gospel) and be saved. And it will give you the greatest of satisfaction, the greatest satisfaction that there is.
But if we are full of unbelief - well, then none of this chayim (life) will be present, none of the tiqveh (hope) will be there, none of the ahavah (love) which draws people like a magnet to those who possess it. When we are filled with unbelief we will then go seeking for saviours and deliverers elsewhere in the form of any number of idolatries, both lawful and unlawful. And when we thus search for a saviour other than Yah'shua (Jesus), we soon find ourselves in bondage, deep loneliness and abject misery.
Another way of looking at unbelief and idolatry is to call it a 'coping mechanism' - a substitute for actual deliverance and salvation-present. A coping mechanism is just a modern fancy psychological term for idolatry. It's what we run to when we're under pressure instead of Yah'shua (Jesus). Whatever it is we run to when we are spiritually injured, hurt or under pressure to get our mind off an issue or problem is our idol when it isn't Messiah we're running to. Our idols are not infrequently our sedatives for spiritual pain.
How the Enemy Uses Our Personal History
The Enemy knows our personal histories all too well and knows how to tempt us in order to kill, steal or destroy our life in Yah'shua (Jesus). He uses our personal history to develop a temptation that is perfectly suited to us, luring us with something he knows will attract us that we have likely used in the past.
Preventing an Idol From Meeting Our Needs
Now here's the problem if we are a believer and have committed ourselves by covenant to Yahweh. In His loving kindness, Yahweh will not allow any idol to meet a believer's needs! We often refuse to give up an idol because it worked so well in the past when we weren't believers. But now it isn't working because Yahweh won't let it work! So what does the Enemy do? He whispers that the reason the idol isn't working so well anymore is because we're not doing or using enough of it! This puts the believer under pressure to go even deeper into sin because he believes that will relieve his pain.
Outward Symptoms of Idolatry
Because Yahweh is now in the equation and the idol isn't working, the believer gets more frantic. It's easy to spot Christians or Messianics who are trapped in this cycle - they show apprehension, uncertainty, dismay, distress, and depression. And here is the key - the man of emunah (faith) shows NONE of these symptoms. A person who is walking in victory, in salvation-present, who is energised by the Ruach (Spirit), is neither apprehensive, uncertain, dismayed, distressed nor depressed because these negative energies simply cannot dwell in the Ruach (Spirit).
Four Types of People in the World
Michael Wells says there are only four types of people in the world::
The Three Christian Categories
- 1. The first says, 'I, not Christ!' This group includes such people as Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics and atheists;
- 2. The second says, 'I and Christ!' These will let Christ be fire insurance to keep them out of hell, but will take care of everything else themselves;
- 3. The third type says, 'Christ and I!'. These are the most miserable Christians, because they want Christ to be Lord, and yet if He does not act according to their plan when they think He should, out come the idols; and
- 4. The fourth kind says, 'Christ, not I!'. Having learned the secret of dependence upon trust in Christ alone, they enter into God's rest and cast all anxiety upon Him" .
Christians and Messianics fall into categories #2, #3 and #4 and they are quite different. In the first, 'I and Christ', Yah'shua (Jesus) is but an appendage, to be used only in emergencies when needed. The second, 'Christ and I', is the category we have principally been looking at for they may be very dedicated believers so long as things seem to be going their way. And the third, 'Christ, not I', is, of course, the goal, not in the distant future but now because that is the way Christians/Messianics are supposed to be living. There are no postponement options in the true Besorah (Gospel)!
The Overcoming Life vs. OSAS
The overcoming life is all about moving from #3, 'Christ and I' to #4, 'Christ, not I'. #2, 'I and Christ', is typical of your casual Calvinist who believes in 'Once Saved, Always Saved' (OSAS). I would suggest that such are not really believers at all because they are not in the business of overcoming. Such are not struggling because their view is in salvation-future for the most part.
There are Two Kinds of Idolatry
Next week I want to zoom in and look at some examples of idolatry of which there are essentially two kinds:
Fate of the Unbelieving Believer
- 1. Those ugly, obvious ones that come from the evil side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; and
- 2. Those subtle ones that at first do not seem so bad that may seem harmless that come from the good side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
We'll also be looking at various sub-categories of these. Some idols even appear beautiful! But no matter which side of the Tree of Death they come from, they will always fail us and rob us of our simcha (joy) in Messiah. 'Good' or 'evil', our idols or coping mechanisms all come from unbelief and there is never salvation in unbelief. Indeed, the unbelieving believer is in so many ways a most miserable creature and he will either:
- 1. Persist until he has overcome; or
- 2. Give up the fight and abandon the Besorah (Gospel).
The Assurance and Conviction of Faith
All Live By Faith in Something
"Emunah (faith) is the assurance (substance) of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen" (Heb.11:1, NASB).
We all live by faith, even atheists because such a large chunk of life is invisible yet no less real. Everybody knows this even if they be in denial as to what or who that invisible world is steered by.
Faith, Testimony and Evidence
"Indeed, by emunah (faith) our ancestors received approval. By emunah (faith) we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Davar Elohim (Word of God), so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible" (Heb.11:2-3, NRSV).
All emunah (faith) is based upon testimony or evidence - no evidence, no emunah (faith). Yahweh has sent His Son into the world to redeem men: and He requires men to accept Yah'shua (Jesus) as the Messiah. Not, however, without ample evidence. He has prepared for and presented to the world through His Davar (Word) sufficient evidence to convince the world that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Messiah. As John the Apostle said:
Hearing the Word of Salvation
"Many other signs therefore Yah'shua (Jesus) performed in the presence of the talmidim (disciples), which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Messiah, the Son of Elohim (God); and that believing you may have chayim (life) in His name" (Jn.20:30-31, NASB).
Not Blind Faith, Ample Evidence
"So emunah (faith) comes from hearing, and hearing by the Davar Mashiach (Word of Messiah)" (Rom.10:17, NASB).
Yahweh does not demand blind faith as so many men do but has provided the world with ample evidence to produce emunah (faith). Thus all men and women everywhere are required to believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Messiah and submit to Him, and will be condemned if they do not. As He Himself testified:
"Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins"
"And without emunah (faith, trusting) is is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to Elohim (God) must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb.11:6, NASB).
"He who has believed and has been baptised (immersed) shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned" (Mk.16:16, NASB).
Witnessing the Word of Salvation
That is why people like myself who know these things through emunah (faith) and experience are commanded to preach this Besorah (Gospel), and all those who know this same emet (truth) are commanded to share or witness of it in their own way. And, furthermore, since unbelievers, who have ample evidence, are to be punished, and since emunah (faith, trusting) is dependent upon evidence, Yah'shua (Jesus) commanded His followers to:
To All Nations
"Go into all the world and preach the Besorah (Gospel)..." (Mk.16:15, NASB).
The Besorah (Gospel) is to be "made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of emunah (faith)" (Rom.16:25, NASB).
Faith is Conditioned by the Evidence
"And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom.10:14, NASB)
"Elohim (God) was well pleased through the foolishness of the message to save those who believe" (1 Cor.1:21, NASB).
Remember, though, that emunah (faith) is not only dependent upon evidence but is conditioned by it. It partakes of the very essence of the testimony or evidence producing it. If the evidence is grotesque, fanatical or false, so will be the faith it produces. If the evidence is true, so will be the emunah (faith). Divine testimony, divine emunah (faith). Like evidence, like emunah (faith). It is absolutely essential, therefore, that the Besorah (Gospel) be preached in purity, which is why there are warnings against false teachers in Scripture (Gal.1:8). It is not 'faith' - faith in just any sort of gospel - that will save, but emunah (faith) in the true and unadulterated Besorah (Gospel) of Messiah.
The Faith That Saves
In the final analysis, salvation is dependent not on 'faith', but upon 'the faith' and for this reason Jude (v.3) exhorts believers to "content earnestly for the emunah (faith) which was once for all delivered to the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones)"
Investing Time and Effort
This is why time and effort have to be expended in studying the Scriptures to make sure the correct message of salvation is preached. We all of us have to know what we are saying, be sure it is accurate, and - most important of all - be sure that we are ourselves saved living in salvation-present. The message has to be alive in us else it will have no attracting power and no toqef (authority). For people are not just listening to or reading our devarim (words) but they are also interacting with the energy, power or spirit in us too. And if that spirit is not the supernatural Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) with which men's souls can resonate and be transformed by, then our witness is in vain and our religion futile.
My prayer, then, is that all of you find and grow in this pure, unadulterated emunah (faith) that saves and empowers. Nothing else really matters. I pray, then, that we will all surrender so that our witness, our empowerment and our living is 'Christ, not I'. And may you, with that surrender, know His simcha (joy) and shalom (peace) and with these be faithful witnesses! Amen.
Continued in Part 5
 Michael Wells, Sidetracked in the Wilderness: Find the Way Back to a Victorious, Abundant Life (Devotional Life Press, Littleton, Colorado: 1991), pp.46-47
 The New Interpreter's Study Bible - New Revised Standard Version With the Apocrypha (Abinghdon Press, Nashville, TN: 2003)