Having held a biblical worldview, lived a Bible-based lifestyle, and been in ministry for many years now I have seen my fair share of people responding to altar calls and getting saved. Or have I?
If you have been involved in any type of Christianity for any amount of time you’ve probably seen the drill. Something is done—often times completely against The Bible—to draw in a larger-than-normal crowd of people to the Church or a traveling Evangelist comes into town and sets up a ministry tent or rents out an auditorium. The Pastor or Evangelist preaches that message that pulls on the heartstrings of everyone involved. Toward the end of their waxing poetic sermon they break into a story of someone who died in some tragic way. Then they call for people to “come to the altar” to receive “Jesus” and their Lord and Savior.
The people come, some of them running because their emotions are at an all-time high. They just heard the Gospel, after all. Then they are led in the “most important” part of the whole production, the so-called “sinner’s prayer”. They repeat the prayer as the preacher leads them, and after the “amen” they are told that they are as sure for heaven as if they were already there, or something to that effect.
Now, I am not describing this scenario in such a negative and demeaning way because I think it’s a bad idea. Well, maybe the “sinner’s prayer” nonsense, because I believe this unbiblical practice, while perhaps well-intentioned, has become one of the biggest doors into deception the Christian faith has ever known. But I find this whole practice is very concerning.
In my very popular message The Narrow Path, Part 1 I presented research done by the ministry of the late Paris Reidhead. They found that only 1 out of every 200 people who respond to these altar calls are truly living a biblical lifestyle just two years later. I would say most quit following Christian faith the day after parroting that preacher’s version of this “sinner’s prayer”. Certainly they weren’t all watching the days and right before their two-year anniversary as a Christian decide it’s time to renounce the faith.
I have been in ministry in some form for over 20 years. In the late 90’s I led a revival onboard a United States Navy warship that was deployed on a mission doing counter-drug operations. The Navy was searching for drug-smugglers. I was searching for souls! It was a wonderful time and in the five months left on the deployment when I reported for duty God blessed my passion for the souls of those men and I took a single Sunday morning “Protestant Service”, as it is formally called in the Navy, where two men were reading Psalms to each other for an hour to a full revival with standing room only for the Sunday worship, a mid-week Bible study, and a Friday evening corporate prayer gathering.
My major in Bible College was Evangelism, and I have always felt a passion for the lost. My perspective on what that means has grown, perhaps I should say matured, over the years. But it has always been at the forefront of my vision for ministry that we must win the lost.
I’m not saying these things to “boast” about whatever little bit I have done for the Kingdom of God. I am telling you this because I want you to know that I know what I’m talking about and, unlike the preachers who need to “stay in business”, I’m not afraid to tell you the truth.
What concerns me is that the majority of Christians today are just as lost, or perhaps more lost, than the non-Christian world. You might wonder how I can say Christians are more lost than the world, but it’s really a very Scriptural statement. In my article …To Win A Single Convert I open with the text from Matthew 23:15, where Yeshua rebukes some of the religious leaders of His day for exhausting every effort to win a soul and when they do so that person becomes twice as likely to wind up in hell. I’ll not dwell on that here, you can read that article to go into depth on that verse.
What many don’t actually realize, as they are not being properly taught in Churches today, is that The Bible gives us a series of characteristics of someone who is truly saved. I do not claim that what I will be sharing is a complete list, but I do feel that the list of attributes I will be discussing in this message may be the biggest indicators that a person is saved and not merely converted to a religion that calls itself Christianity. So let’s begin our journey through a number of traits from The Bible that will answer the question: Are You Saved?
Messiah In You
I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me. And the life I now live in the body, I live by trusting in Ben-Elohim—who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
~Galatians 2:19b-20 (TLV)
Here we see Paul, an Apostle of Messiah Yeshua, saying that he no longer lives his own life but that Yeshua lives in and through Him. This poses a peculiar problem as some might argue that it would allude to a type of possession not unlike demon-possession.
In reality, yes it is a form of possession, but most certainly not like that of demon-possession. In this case the Believer has submitted his or her life as a sacrifice and receives Yeshua to live in and through him or her. It is a completely voluntary action.
Now, one need only read through the Gospel record to find out exactly who this Yeshua actually was. Unlike the multiple views of “Jesus” created by modern Christian doctrines, all of which are counterfeits, Yeshua was a Jewish Rabbi who lived to keep His Father’s Torah. His whole mission revolved around living in complete obedience to the Torah, had it not He could never have been qualified for the cross. 1 John 2:6 says that if we abide in Him, we must walk as He walked. Christians today, for the most part, do not do this. Could this mean that He is not in them and they do not abide in Him?
Most people who refer to the above passage from Galatians tend to read it alone—as if it or any other passage from The Bible stands alone. But a very important key to understanding the full meaning of this statement made by Paul is found just a couple of thoughts before in what is today listed as verse 17.
But if, while seeking to be justified in Messiah, we ourselves also were found to be sinners, is Messiah then an agent of sin?
~Galatians 2:17 (TLV)
I will remind you that there is one primary definition of sin given in The Bible. It comes from John, another Apostle of Yeshua, who wrote, “Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah” (1 John 3:4, CJB). What Paul was saying is that if you claim Yeshua is living in you (verse 20) but you continue to sin—transgressing the Torah—you are literally accusing Yeshua of transgressing the Torah through you. Think about that for a moment. Let it really sink in.
This sounds quite contradicting to Yeshua’s own proclamation: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets! I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17, TLV). A lot of people somehow conclude that fulfill means the same thing as abolish in some sense, because they claim that if the Torah is fulfilled in Messiah we no longer are bound to keep it today. So, they are somehow making the passage say I did not come to abolish, but to abolish. It sounds silly when you say it like that, but that is exactly how many Christians interpret the statement.
In the past I have broken down both terms and it’s a fascinating study. But a very simple way to understand what “fulfill” means is to flip and make it into two words: fill full. When you pair Matthew 5:17 with Galatians 2:17, 19b-20 you find out that no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me means that Yeshua is filling you full of His Father’s Torah. He is, after all, the Torah made flesh.
John 1:1, 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” While it is the Greek word “logos” used here, we must stop and ask: What was considered the Word of God at this point in the history? Any true student of Scripture knows that there was no such thing as Christianity yet at this point and the Jewish people who regarded Yeshua as Messiah also still regarded the Torah, those five Books of Moses, as the primary Word of God.
Yeshua is also regarded as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). But throughout the Tanakh we find that Torah is also regarded as the way (Psalm 119:1), the truth (Psalm 119:142), and the life (Proverbs 13:4). During the time of Yeshua it had become commonplace to refer to Torah in this way. Thus, when Yeshua called Himself the way, the truth, and the life He was actually telling God’s people: I AM THE TORAH! So, in addition to everything else I have shared, when Paul said no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me he was also saying no longer I who live, but Torah lives in me. This will become even more significant in a moment.
Temple Of God, Temple Of Holy Spirit
Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that the Ruach Elohim dwells among you?
~1 Corinthians 3:16 (TLV)
Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Ruach ha-Kodesh who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
~1 Corinthians 6:19 (TLV)
Typically I would list these as two individual characteristics of the truly saved person, as they are distinct from each other. However, for this study I put them together because of the similarity of the text.
In both passages we are told that our human body is a temple. This is significant to our study for a variety of reasons.
First of all, just like no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me the concept of being the temple of God and the temple of the Ruach HaKodesh (God’s Spirit of Holiness, typically called Holy Spirit in English) shows that Yahweh (God the Father) and His Ruach HaKodesh are also living in and through you. As already discussed, Yeshua is the Torah made flesh. So when Paul said Messiah lives in me he was ultimately saying Torah lives in me. So also, God—Yahweh—wrote the Torah, and so having Him living in you means that you have the very author of Torah living in you.
And then we get to His Spirit of Holiness. As I pointed out in an article titled Is The Ruach Schizophrenic?, where I addressed a heretical view that presented the popular Christian terms Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost as two different things with two different personalities, the proper translation of Ruach HaKodesh into Spirit of Holiness presents God’s Spirit as one that lives in and through you driving you to live holy. When Christians say Holy Spirit or even Holy Ghost (which I strongly discourage as “ghost” always refers to death and “spirit” always refers to life), they are typically portraying the Spirit of God as something outward that will help you when you need Him. Spirit of Holiness, however, becomes more easily seen as being inward and being the very life-force of holy living.
The second major reason why the likening of our body to a temple is important is found when we look at the layout of the Tabernacle/Temple model in Scripture. The most important place in the Tabernacle/Temple structure was a sacred room called The Holy of Holies or The Most Holy Place. In the human body the heart would be the equivalent to The Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle/Temple models.
In Judges 17:6 and 21:25 it speaks of a time when there was no king in Israel, so the people did whatever was right in their own eyes. Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 says that there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it only results in death. Today there are so many in Christianity who fall prey to these very same attitudes. They follow a way that seems right—doing whatever they think is the right thing to do in their own eyes. They try to justify it because, after all, if everyone else at Church does it then it must be right, because those people are all “Christians” too. The problem is that what so many Christians have deemed the right path is void of full Torah-obedience; thus it cannot be God’s path.
This is what happens when there is no king in Israel. If you are truly saved, you will have submitted the throne of your heart to your God and allowed Him to take His rightful place seated on His throne. If God is seated on the throne of your heart, if Messiah lives in and through you, and if God’s Spirit of Holiness has infused every part of your being then your life would be nothing short of a mirror of what the Torah has instructed of us, God’s people.
The third and final point I want to make regarding the body being a temple is that we are supposed to be treating our physical body with the same reverence the ancient Temple in Israel was treated. There were certain commandments given in Torah pertaining to cleanliness, the most noteworthy of them being the food laws. There are also commandments against defacing our body with things like tattoos.
I will also propose that the basic food laws of what types of meats we are told not to eat are not where we should stop. We’re not talking about being prepared to walk into a Temple building, after all. We are now talking about our physical bodies.
As I have noted in the past, referring to the Greek words used in the Apostolic Writings of The Bible (what most Christians call the “New Testament”, the words for “clean” and “unclean” referring to the food laws are katharos (clean) and akathartos (unclean). When you study these out in the Greek used in these portions of The Bible they indicate something more than a mere list of animals that are not to be eaten. Akathartos actually means something is not pure because it is mixed, adulterated with a “wrong mix”, or tainted. Katharos refers to something “without admixture”, unmixed, or without undesirable elements.
It would not be out of line to say that the food laws, then, extend beyond the unclean meats of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 and include all of these concoctions being created in science laboratories today that are proving destructive to the temple of the human body. Look at things like artificial sweeteners, artificial food colors, flavoring agents, preservatives, fluoride in dental products, nitrites and nitrates in processed meats, and a host of other things. All of this perfectly fits the description of akathartos—adulterated with a “wrong mix”, tainted with undesirable elements.
Some might want to take exception to this by claiming that I am adding to the food laws of Torah by including things that were not listed. But am I? Look at Yeshua’s famous teaching in His Sermon on the Mount. He took adultery and said that if you have lust in your heart you have committed adultery already. He also said that hate speech toward another Believer is committing murder. Did Yeshua add to the Torah by expanding the basic meaning of these commandments? Of course not!
So it does not seem it is wrong to say that any of these unnatural things that are being pushed on humanity today through food and hygiene products fit perfectly under the banner of the Leviticus 11 prohibitions. After all, studies have found that all animals under the banner of unclean (akathartos) are toxic to humans. This further validates that akathartos is not limited to the list of animals deemed unclean but anything adulterated with a “wrong mix” or tainted with undesirable elements. So, take for example an all-beef hot dog that is filled with added artificial nitrites and nitrates. This hot dog might even be deemed “kosher” under Rabbinic kashrut laws, but it is NOT clean—not katharos—under Torah.
In his book Letters To The Church, which I highly recommend reading, Francis Chan speaks of this and poses a line of questioning about whether or not we would take a sledgehammer to the actual Temple in Israel had we been alive when it stood, or if we are alive to see a new Temple built. So many Christians today would think such a thing absurd, but think nothing of destroying their own body—what The Bible calls god’s Temple—with what they eat.
In similar fashion to what Chan expresses with his sledgehammer analogy, I wonder how many of these Christians tattooing their bodies today, in total defiance to the Torah of their God, would dare take a can of spray paint to the Western wall!
If you are saved, you will recognize that your body is God’s Temple and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, as well as the dwelling place of Messiah Yeshua, and you will go out of your way to ensure to the best of your ability that you are not defiling the Temple with akathartos, tattoos, or anything else. People who have no regard for following food, farming, health, hygiene, and other laws from God’s Torah related to our body clearly are not submitted to the God of that Torah. If He, His Spirit, and His Son are all living within you then you would not eat things that Scripture prohibits and are harmful to your physical body, you would not graffiti your body with tattoos, and you would not do anything else that defiles and destroys God’s Temple.
New Creature In Messiah: New Heart, New Spirit
Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
~2 Corinthians 5:17 (TLV)
The next characteristic or distinguishing factor of a saved person is that they are a new creation in Messiah Yeshua. This, of course, builds on no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me.
Ezekiel the Prophet gives us what I believe are the two major elements of someone who is a new creation in Messiah Yeshua. This is what he said:
Then I will give them one heart. I will put a new Spirit within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may follow My laws, keep My ordinances and practice them. They will be My people and I will be their God.
~Ezekiel 11:19-20 (TLV)
Moreover I will give you a new heart. I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Ruach within you. Then I will cause you to walk in My laws, so you will keep My rulings and do them.
~Ezekiel 36:26-27 (TLV)
Notice that two things are stated here. First is that this new creation in Messiah Yeshua receives a new heart and a new spirit. This is where the human heart becomes The Most Holy Place where sits God’s throne and the human spirit is united with the Ruach HaKodesh. Then it is stated in both passages that the result of all this is that God’s people will follow His Torah.
Are you starting to see a trend in all of this? Everything I have talked about to this point and everything I have yet to share keeps going back to obeying God’s Torah. Do you want to know if you are saved? Read Torah!
So much of the time I hear modern Christians talk about how salvation has nothing to do with following a list of rules. How deceived these people are! Salvation has EVERYTHING to do with following God’s list of rules. In John 14:15 Yeshua said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” He was talking about Torah! And let me interject, I am sick and tired of people who break the Sabbath, celebrate secular-pagan holidays instead of God’s Feasts, and eat unclean things use this passage solely in an attempt to persuade people to pay tithes into their so-called “ministry”. If you do not follow Torah, you do not love Yeshua and your “ministry” is nothing more than deception where you will drag the lawless followers of your lawless example to hell with you. 1 John 2:4 goes so far as to say that if you claim to know God but do not obey Torah you are a LIAR and the truth is not in you!
Recently I heard a Rabbi speaking about concerns he had with why Jews have a hard time accepting Christianity. What he said really jumped out and made me think. One of the greatest dividing factors between Christianity and Judaism has been a misconception that the Jews, even in the old covenant where there is no question they were supposed to follow Torah, work to earn their salvation through obedience. The Rabbi explained that this idea has never been the case; rather they obey to serve God.
As he continued it became apparent that Judaism has always been a faith that seeks to serve God through obedience and Christianity, the way it is being practiced in most circles today, is a faith that relies solely on God serving His people. This is a very key element to the division between the two faiths and reveals how both have an essential piece to the whole truth. Yes, God served us by sending His Son to be the final atonement sacrifice and yes Yeshua serves us through being Messiah and yes God’s Spirit of Holiness serves us by leading the submitted Believer in the ways of holy living. But it is also very true that we have a role to play in this as well, and that’s where this idea that we serve God through obedience to His Torah comes into play. At the end of the day, Judaism may err in not accepting Yeshua as Messiah against all of the evidence, but Christianity has long erred in its rejection of Torah—whether in part or in totality.
If you are a new creation in Messiah Yeshua with a new heart and a new spirit, your life will be a life in line with Torah. If it is not, I question your salvation.
Yes! By saying I question your salvation I really am saying that if you eat things like pork or shellfish, knowing Leviticus 11 adamantly says not to, I question whether or not you really are saved. I actually am saying that if you would rather celebrate holidays that most scholars have stated originate from paganism like Christmas and Easter instead of the Feasts outlined in Leviticus 23, I truly do wonder if you are really saved.
The Distinction Of The New Covenant
“But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”
—it is a declaration of Adonai—
“I will put My Torah within them.
Yes, I will write it on their heart.
I will be their God
and they will be My people.”
~Jeremiah 31:32 (TLV)
“For this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel
after those days, says Adonai.
I will put My Torah into their mind,
and upon their hearts I will write it.
And I will be their God,
and they shall be My people.”
~Hebrews 8:10 (TLV)
The topic of the new covenant has long been a topic of discussion among Christian Believers, but perhaps never to the extent the debate has taken since a large and growing number of those in its ranks have begun to discover that Christianity is supposed to be a Messianic division of Judaism that accepts Yeshua as Messiah. Since that time, more and more people are beginning to realize that the word “new” in these passages may be better understood as renewed.
But I do not want to dwell on that in this message. The focus here is toward teaching you how you can know that you are saved. Or, perhaps, revealing to you that you are not really saved and need to rethink some things.
Once again we see the Torah come into prominence in the picture of true salvation. What was prophesied by Jeremiah and validated by the writer of Hebrews is that a person who comes into covenant with God through this new covenant will have the Torah put into their mind and written on their heart by God Himself.
Think back to where we began this study: Messiah lives in me; Temple of God; Temple of the Holy Spirit. Then we moved on to being a new creation in Messiah with a new heart and a new spirit. Now we have Torah written on that new heart and placed in that new spirit.
While there are a few more characteristics of being saved that I will be discussing, I feel it is appropriate to pause for a moment here, as this truly is the climax of the study. If you are a new creation with a new heart and a new spirit, Torah written on the heart and put in the mind, and Yahweh, Yeshua, and Ruach HaKodesh are all living inside of you then it stands to reason that you will be drawn to The Bible, and especially that portion of The Bible known as Torah.
Someone who has the Torah put in their mind and written on their heart will be a person with an insatiable hunger for the Word of God. This is a person who will be drawn to read The Bible, and when they do the commandments both in Torah and repeated throughout the rest of the Book will connect like a magnetic bond with the Torah written on the heart and set in the mind of the Believer. As this happens, when the Believer reads these commandments they will be compelled to obey them. This is a major key to knowing if you are saved, in whether or not you are simply compelled to obey Torah when you see it in writing. Or if, like most Christians today, you have come up with some type of Scripture-twisting excuse of why you don’t have to follow that commandments.
A very popular passage known as the parable of the sower, Yeshua describes a gardener or farmer sowing seeds with the intent of growing some type of produce. You’ve likely heard it taught on many times. Some seed falls to the wayside, some on stony ground, some in weeds and thorns, and some on good ground. This parable, often used as a model for evangelism or sometimes as an illustration of financial giving toward ministry, inspired me to think of four types of approaches people take to reading The Bible.
The Truth-Seeker: This person reads The Bible diligently because they are truly in love with God and His Word and want the Word to work in their life. They are interested in the truth changing their life and conforming them into who God desires them to be because they have truly submitted their life to Him. This is that person who reads commandments in The Bible and obeys them regardless of whatever modern “Christian religion” says about that matter. In other words, this person is genuinely saved.
The Validator: This person reads The Bible, sometimes even with the same commitment as The Truth-Seeker, but their motive in reading The Bible is a bit different. This person reads The Bible in order to try to find ways to justify what they believe, whether it’s right or wrong. And much of the time it is wrong. This person will also twist Scripture and put meanings into it that really aren’t there, often times to their own destruction. This is the person who sides with modern “Christian religion” on commandments, and if the consensus orthodoxy of the day says you don’t have to follow that commandment today, they support this belief and aid in creating loopholes that only exist through the manipulation of vague texts that don’t actually oppose that commandment if read in context.
The Cherry-Picker: This person likes to read little pieces of The Bible, often as little as a single verse. They, like The Validator, will then misuse passages of Scripture to support doctrines and beliefs that so much of the time are not even in line with what The Bible actually says. These are they that do things like taking the commandments “love God and love people” as stand-alone and ignore all other commandments, claiming these are the only two things we need to do today. This person, more than any other, is often guilty of taking a verse translated into their native language and reading into it an interpretation that fits with their native culture, as opposed to seeking to read The Bible as a Hebrew book written by Hebrew people about the Hebrew God while they lived in the midst of Scripture-inspired Hebrew culture.
The Non-Reader: This person claims to be a Christian but doesn’t even read The Bible at all. There may be rare occasions here or there that they read a verse or a short passage, usually only when it’s up on a large video screen during a Church service, but unlike The Cherry-Picker it’s not really a habit or a regular practice. In general, they don’t read their Bible at all. They might use an excuse like “I just don’t like to read”. Let me assure you, if you are really saved, then God’s Spirit of Holiness living inside of you will compel you to read The Bible. While some might debate whether or not The Validator and The Cherry-Picker are saved, I can assure you that a person who has absolutely no interest in reading The Bible at all is not saved.
Now that we have established that a truly saved person with Torah in their mind and written on their heart will be a person drawn to The Bible, there is a second part of this that needs to be considered. I believe, and you can call it my opinion if you want, that a person with Torah written on their heart and infused in their spirit will be a person who obeys the Torah. They will be drawn to read Torah and upon reading any of the 613 mitzvot they will naturally want to follow them.
Roughly half of the commandments actually apply only to Levite priests and their duties in the Temple or to other similar appointed positions, such as those in judicial or governing roles. The general Believer will still desire to see these mitzvot being upheld, even though they are not those who are to do these instructions. But regarding all others the truly saved person who possesses all of the characteristics mentioned to this point will follow all commandments that can be kept by anyone.
As a side note, the food laws (Leviticus 11), the Feasts of God (Leviticus 23), the Sabbath, and numerous other commandments rejected by a majority of Christianity today ARE NOT exclusive to the Levites. They are to be kept by everyone whose life is governed by The Bible, which includes everyone who accepts Yeshua as Messiah.
What I am saying is that if you are really saved you will obey things like the food laws, the Sabbath, keeping the Feasts, and even things like refraining from wearing wool and linen together. A saved person would no more try to twist Scripture to create fictitious loopholes around these commandments than they would regarding things like murder and rape.
I’ve just never understood this. Why is it that Christians will come up with some excuse, resulting from the gross twisting of the Apostolic Writings, to justify eating pork, celebrating unbiblical secular-pagan festivals (like Christmas, Easter, and—for the really unsaved imposters in Churches across America and the world—Halloween) instead of keeping God’s Feasts, ignoring the Sabbath Day (which is NOT Sunday—the Bible clearly defines the Sabbath as the seventh day of the week, Sunday is the first day of the week), or other things but they don’t make these same excuses regarding murder, adultery, lying, stealing, or other such thing? I mean, if we are “free” to eat unclean meats, break the Sabbath, and celebrate the festivals of pagan religions then we should be free to have sex with whoever we want (opposite sex, same sex, children, and animals—nothing would be off limits), steal whatever we don’t want to pay for, kill people for no other reason that we don’t like them, and lie about all of it.
Why is it that preachers will tell you we’re not under the “Mosaic Law” until it’s time for them to talk about tithing? Have you ever wondered that? I know I have!
This is the hypocrisy of the modern Christian religion. It is very apparent that most Christians do not have Torah written on their heart and put into their mind. When Torah is in your mind it will become all you think about. When written on your heart it will become your greatest passion. If Yahweh, Yeshua, and Holy Spirit are all living inside of you then your thoughts and passion for Torah, resulting from it being in your spirit and on your heart, will be to your spirit what blood is to you body.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed—heirs according to the promise.
~Galatians 3:29-29 (TLV)
I hear Christians quote this all the time. There is even an old Sunday school song that is sung in many Christian Churches. You’ve likely heard it at some point:
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord.
But what does this really mean to be Abraham’s seed?
If we jump back a little bit in Galatians 3 to verse 16 we find a very important statement that sets up the context we ultimately arrive at in verse 29. It tells us that there were promises given first to Abraham and then to his seed; that seed being singular: Messiah. Then in verse 17 Paul continues in saying that Torah, which was given to Moses 430 years later, does not cancel the covenant given to Abraham. Then in verse 21 Paul asks and answers his own question: Is Torah against the promises of God? May it never be!
Beginning in verse 23 and leading to verse 29 Paul goes on to explain that Torah previously held a role as a guardian, but then having entered into the post-resurrection new covenant we are no longer under the guardian. Does this mean we no longer have to follow the rules? Of course not! Reading all of Paul’s teachings in context shows that he was always in favor of Believers following Torah. Galatians 3 is no exception.
So much of the time Christians have made the Book of Galatians their standard for showing that we don’t have to obey that old outdated Mosaic Law, but this passage really says quite the opposite. Consider what Avi ben Mordecai says in his great theological work Galatians: A Torah-Based Commentary In First-Century Hebraic Context:
From Paul’s viewpoint, there is neither slave nor free, male or female, Jew nor Aramean; all are equals when it comes to receiving from the written Law from YHWH and both must obey the written Law from YHWH in the same way that it was taught by Moses. However, no man or group of men has the authority to shut anyone off from entering into the blessings of the promised covenants of the Land and the Torah, through the Messiah, which according to Hebraic thought, represents a Redeemer for all Israel, and a restorer of its lost sheep. According to the Torah, all of us have only one master and we are servants of one another. Rabbinic halacha or Ephraimite religious customs are extraneous and are of no value to how our righteousness is established in Heaven or on Earth.
What Christians have so often tried to use to say that we don’t have to follow commandments anymore is really saying that we are all under the same Law. But this really isn’t anything new. If you read through the Torah you will find throughout that there was and is one law for the native born (Hebrews) and the sojourner or stranger within their gates (Gentiles who embraced the Hebrew faith).
Genesis 26:5 says that Abraham obeyed all of God’s mitzvot, decrees, and instructions. Torah would not be handed to Moses for hundreds of years and yet somehow Abraham knew God’s mitzvot. So too, if you are Abraham’s seed through Messiah Yeshua then you will obey God’s mitzvot—His Torah.
If we turn back to Genesis 12 we find out that God promises to bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him. I have heard this taught as meaning that non-Jews who bless the Jewish people will be blessed and non-Jews who curse or harm the Jewish people will be cursed. I agree with this, but perhaps not in the same sense most who promote this view do.
I believe that when Galatians 3 says we who are in Messiah are Abraham’s seed we become heirs to this promise. What this means then is that the key to the blessing of Abraham is not found in blessing the modern Zionist nation of Israel or blood-Jews whether they hold a Messianic Jewish faith in Yeshua, an Orthodox Jewish faith that denies Yeshua, or have rejected any form of biblical faith be it embracing atheism, secular humanism, or one of the other many world religions. The key of the blessing of Abraham is found in blessing those who in Messiah Yeshua are the seed of Abraham—those who both accept Yeshua as their Messiah and place obedience to Torah at the center of their faith-walk.
…and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off and you—being a wild olive—were grafted in among them and became a partaker of the root of the olive tree with its richness, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, it is not you who support the root but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” True enough. They were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear—for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Notice then the kindness and severity of God:
severity toward those who fell;
but God’s kindness toward you,
if you continue in His kindness;
otherwise you too will be cut off!
And they also,
if they do not continue in their unbelief,
will be grafted in;
for God is able to graft them in again.
For if you were cut out of that which by nature is a wild olive tree, and grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
~Romans 11:16-24 (TLV)
This passage speaks about the assimilation into God’s Kingdom by likening the process to that of a farmer grafting a healthy fruit bearing branch into a cultivated tree. In the passage the illustration uses the olive tree, which undoubtedly is a result of the great prophetic significance of the olive in Scripture.
I’ll not take a lot of time on this point as I have covered the idea of non-Jews being grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel in an article appropriately titled simply Grafted In. What I do want to mention here for purposes of this study is that the passage tells us that the Believer, whether Jew or Gentile by ethnicity, is grafted into the Hebrew faith that traces all the way back to Abraham. Again, we are Abraham’s seed.
A lot of people talk about the Jewish roots or Hebrew roots of Christian faith. But, as I heard one prominent Messianic Jewish teacher from Israel once say, it’s not just the roots that are Jewish or Hebrew. The roots are Jewish, the trunk is Jewish, the leaves are Jewish, and the branches are Jewish. Even if you are a wild olive branch, the moment you are grafted into the cultivated Jewish olive tree, you become Jewish. Christianity is Jewish, and any form of Christianity that denies this is a counterfeit religion.
The importance of understanding our being grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel cannot be stressed enough. A long part of Christian history has opposed the Jewish people to the point where millions of Jews were tortured and slaughtered in the name of Christian faith during events like the Crusades and the Holocaust. Men like Martin Luther have written the most hateful anti-Semitic works in the history of the world.
In the last segment I noted that the blessing of Abraham is extended not toward those who have Jewish DNA but to those who are Abraham’s seed in Messiah Yeshua. However, a saved person who is Abraham’s seed—someone who is a new creation in Messiah Yeshua with a new heart and a new spirit, Torah written on that new heart and placed in their mind, who has Yahweh, Yeshua, and Ruach HaKodesh living inside of them—WILL have a heart for Israel and God’s chosen people. In Zechariah chapter 2 we are told that the Israelite people are the apple of God’s eye. This does not change with the establishment of the new covenant, true Believers being the seed of Abraham through Yeshua Messiah, and being grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel. Those with Jewish blood are still the chosen people of God and the apple of His eye.
While the blessing of Abraham may not be about blessing the land of modern national Israel or those who are Jewish by ethnicity, a truly saved person will have a heart for the Jewish people and the land where our Messiah lived and carried out His earthly mission. A saved person would never—and I do mean NEVER—say things like: Jewish people should have their Torah taken from them, their Synagogues should be burned to the ground, their houses be destroyed, their Rabbis be forbidden to teach at the threat of execution, and safe passage be forbidden to them. You might ask who said such horrible things: Adolph Hitler perhaps?
No! Those proposals come out of a book you don’t hear about much in Christianity today: On The Jews And Their Lies by Martin Luther. Yes, the Martin Luther credited with spearheading the Protestant Reformation. And people wonder why I have a lot of issues with Luther and Protestant Christianity!
I said a saved person would never say things like that, then I noted that Luther said them. Yes! I don’t care who has an issue with me saying it, I question the salvation of a man who would say such horrendous things about God’s chosen people, the apple of God’s eye, as much as I question the validity of the religion he started. Maybe he made a few positive contributions to getting us where we are today. But I don’t really expect to see someone in heaven who wanted to do that to God’s people. If he’s there, that was God’s choice and I respect that choice. I fully acknowledge that when it comes to my opinion I could be wrong, but I just find it hard to believe that anyone who wanted to torture and kill the Jewish people would find favor with the Jewish Messiah.
Kingdom Of God Is Within You
Nor will they say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For remember, the kingdom of God is within you.”
~Luke 17:21 (MEV)
This passage may be translated different ways in some English translations of The Bible, which may lend to a potential alternate set of interpretation, but many English Bibles render the verse to say the Kingdom of God is within you. I think it is worthy to consider that this is at least one valid way to view what Yeshua was saying here, even if there are other acceptable ways to look at the statement.
Considering all that I have already presented in this study, I do not think it out of line at all to literally claim that the Kingdom of God, or perhaps we might say heaven, is within you. After all, to this point we have seen that the characteristics that prove someone born-again includes Messiah in them, their body being the Temple of both Yahweh the Father and His Ruach HaKodesh (Spirit of Holiness), they have a new Torah-infused spirit and a new heart with Torah written on it making them a new creation in Messiah, he or she is Abraham’s seed, and finally the born-again Believer is grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel. If that’s not a picture of the Kingdom of God (or heaven), I don’t know what is.
Christian focus in faith and evangelism often focuses on some type of hope of a place called heaven somewhere in the cosmos away from Earth. They portray a place meeting certain descriptions from The Bible with streets of gold and a sea as clear as crystal. Perhaps there is such a place, I am not saying there is not and I do believe in the reality of heaven in this aspect. But whatever heaven is in the future or any afterlife experience must be preceded by the experience of heaven on earth. Consider what N.T. Wright says in his book Simply Good News: Why The Gospel Is News And What Makes It Good:
I received an e-mail the other day from a man I have never met (a frequent enough occurrence). He had read one of my books, though — or at least part of it. He had seen enough to make him want to confront me with a question that, I suspect, bothers a lot of people. He wrote, ‘For a start, the Christian faith isn’t “news”. It’s two thousand years old. And we’ve learned a lot since then. For another thing, when I hear you people talk about it, I don’t think it’s very “good”. All that stuff about a distant deity threatening us with hellfire and damnation and then — if you’re lucky enough — offering you a sneaky way out round the back. Calling it “good news” seems a bit of a con, to put it mildly.’
Those are excellent questions. Indeed, how can something that happened two thousand years ago still be considered news, and why are we so convinced that it deserves the adjective good? As I mentioned above, good news can only be understood in the context of a larger or earlier story. And if the gospel’s back story is that we’re all going to hell unless a new way opens up, then that message often comes across not in terms of news (an announcement of something that has happened) but in terms of advice (guidance on what we must do). The good advice sounds like this: ‘There is a heaven, and there is a hell, so if I were you I’d grab my chance to make the right choice.’ If there is any news there — perhaps the suggestion that Jesus offers a way of making that choice successfully — then my correspondent would be right: that is quite old news, and it is only good for the lucky ones who heed the advice.
The problem with explaining the gospel this way is that Jesus himself didn’t actually say much about heaven in the sense we normally mean it. When he spoke of heaven’s kingdom, he wasn’t talking about a place called heaven to which people might or might not go after they die. He was talking about something that would become a reality ‘as in heaven, so on earth’ (Matt. 6:10). So instead of suggesting that we could escape the earth and go to heaven, Jesus’s good news was about heaven coming to earth. And there are many people inside and outside the church who have never heard this news. It isn’t only the atheists who have got hold of the wrong end of the stick.
Wright is also quoted as saying, in another time and place: “Our culture is so fixated on dying and going to heaven when the whole Scripture is about heaven coming to earth.” Let’s think about this. The Kingdom of God is within those who are saved and Scripture is about heaven coming to Earth.
If the Kingdom of God is within you, how in the world can you be living contrary to the Constitution of the Kingdom: The Torah? You see, once again it goes right back to keeping Torah. No matter where you look in The Bible, salvation is always synonymous with obedience to God’s Torah.
So many Christians brainwashed by the fake gospel and fake “Jesus” mentality of modern Christianity (see 2 Corinthians 11:4) look at the growing number of Believers whose eyes are being opened to Torah and shout: “HERESY, LEGALISM, OLD-TESTAMENT BONDAGE!!!” What these people fail to realize is that if the sign and seal of the new covenant is that Torah is written on the heart and placed in the mind, then opposition to Torah-obedient Christianity is the heresy and blasphemy. Those who are fighting against following Torah are literally at war with the Spirit of God!
Are You A Christian?
Check up on yourselves. Are you really Christians? Do you pass the test? Do you feel Christ’s presence and power more and more within you? Or are you just pretending to be Christians when actually you aren’t at all?
~2 Corinthians 13:5 (TLB)
A lot of people today don’t want to think about judgment. There is even a major chain of fitness gyms that is built around what they call a “judgment free zone” where people can pretend to be doing exercise and feel good about it.
I have even been told of people who had experiences at this chain where they were asked not to use so much weight on strengthening machines that would cause them to breath heavy or make sounds of exertion because of this “judgment free zone” or that the machines were altered to limit the amount of weight that could be added. I saw a commercial this company did where they had a muscular man working out talking about all the mirrors at his gym where he could see himself and glory in his body. They told how that is not the type of “intimidating” person you will encounter in the “judgment free zone”.
I am not the most physically fit person in the world, but then I am not trying to be a professional athlete or anything. But if I were to go to a gym, I would want to see the big muscle guys and the ultra-athletic women. Why? Because I want to see what I am there to attain.
Why would I want to be involved in a version of Christian faith that wants to be no different from the world, without distinction to the devil’s kingdom? But that’s what many Churches are today, a Christian “judgment free zone” where you can come as you are, stay as you are, and go skipping along the broad path to hell with the rest of the Christians. And then when someone like me comes along it is: “Oh, we don’t want that type of message around here. This is the ‘judgment free zone’. We don’t want to offend anyone. We want to give everyone a place to worship ‘Jesus’ on their own level.”
I don’t want to go to a gym where people aren’t really working out, lying to themselves that they are exercising when in reality they are just faking it. And I DON’T WANT TO BE PART OF A BODY OF SO-CALLED CHRISTIANS WHO ARE LYING TO THEMSELVES ABOUT BEING SAVED!!!
So we come to these questions. Are you a Christian? Do you pass the test? Or are you just pretending to be a Christian when in reality you aren’t even saved at all?
Test? There’s a test we have to pass?
That’s what The Bible says!
The word “Christian” literally means someone who is like Christ. I realize the term has been perverted by the Torahless masses of a counterfeit religion calling itself Christianity. But there is still a genuine Christian faith. There are still those who want to follow the purity in doctrine of the first century Believers who were taught directly by Yeshua Himself.
Some would argue that the “first century Church” wasn’t all that pure, citing all the problems we see the Apostles addressing in their writings to the various Churches and leaders. True enough, there were problems. But the doctrines of the first century Apostles were pure.
Let me tell you a thing, big-shot preacher with your library of best-selling books: Your books are not part of The Bible, the Apostles Writings are. You better think about that before you try to argue that the first century Church was no better than the modern American Church.
I am honestly sick and tired of the shenanigans of modern preachers. We, the Body of Messiah in general, have given these people a platform and an audience and now they act like they can do no wrong.
I heard one not too long ago. His Church is so backslidden it is in desperate need of reform. But he got to preaching good one night, talking about how they were “winning souls”. So he got a pride-filled moment and said something to the effect of: “If you want to talk about what this Church is doing, this is what we’re doing. We’re winning souls to the Kingdom. That’s what we’re doing. And don’t you get in my way.” The saddest part is he was presenting information about a recent Internet hoax and the overwhelming majority of what he said was actually false.
Hey, look, if you’re winning souls to the Kingdom I’m with you 100%. But if you are generally backslidden and your methods of soul winning are more worldly than biblical than I have to question if you are even getting people saved. You know, Yeshua rebuked those who exhausted every effort to win a single convert merely to make them doubly bound for hell than those leading the charge. If you are using anything other than The Bible, the message of the cross, lifting up Yeshua, and the Holy Spirit to win people to the faith you are doing it wrong and you probably are creating counterfeits instead of converts.
Messiah said: “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to Me.” You don’t need pagan Easter egg hunts, pictures with Satan Claus the demon-god of Christmas, or Trunk-or-Treat to win souls to the Kingdom. How ridiculous! You might as well erect a giant statue of Buddha in front of your Church. People will come to figure out what in the world is going on there. Then you can preach the Gospel to them. Right?
A “gospel” blended with the ways of the world creates worldly religious people, not converts to the Christian faith. Why do you think we have so many social clubs and so few true houses of God? The only difference between most Churches and the local nightclub is that the Churches don’t have beer on tap. And some Churches are even eliminating that distinction these days, putting full bars in their foyers and fellowship halls.
So I ask you: Are you a Christian? Are you really saved? Do you pass the test? Do you feel the presence of the Hebrew Messiah in you? Are you drawn to the Torah? Are you attracted to The Bible? Do you hunger for its pages? Do you have a natural desire to simply obey God’s commandments?
Or are you like two billion other professing “Christians” today, pretending to be saved, playing the games of religion, but bound for hell?
If this message has touched you, if it has rocked your world and caused you to question what you have been taught, if it has shaken your faith to its core and caused you to question everything, don’t worry, there is hope. My suggestion? Get a Bible, start from the beginning, and do as one famous preacher used to do: read for thirty minutes, pray for thirty minutes, and repeat. Do this as often as you can until you know that you know your life has been changed and you feel that genuine hunger come in you. When you pray, cry out for God to write His Torah on your heart so it consumes your passions and put it in your mind so it is all you can think about. Pray that His Spirit of Holiness will take residence in your life, flowing through every vein of your body. Pray that He will show you what it is to be grafted into the olive tree that is Israel. Pray that you will know what it means to be Abraham’s seed.
What I have shared with you is merely an overview. It will take reading The Bible and praying for these things to take root in your life. But if you commit to it, if you truly repent, He will give you these things. May it never be said that you were presented with the truth and chose to continue in the religion of the masses.
~Blessings and Shalom~
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