The Only Way to Salvation

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In reading an article about the “Son of God” movie I came across a quote that went like this…

How can someone receive the Lord without a clear presentation of the Gospel?

This quote got me thinking a little deeper than normal about  the “way of salvation” ? How are people really saved? In this musing you’ll find more questions to contemplate than answers…

The above quote really got me thinking about whether what I believe is really real or trueI mean, if I believe the above I have to be honest about what that really means and most importantly whether what I believe is just slick theological sound bites or what the Bible actually teaches?

Because if that quote is really true, that means a whole lot of people were and are destined to Hell. ( The final, eternal place of punishment for the unredeemed) Does the Bible truly teach that no matter what a person’s circumstances or lifestyle, if they did not hear the gospel AND follow Jesus specifically then they will be cast into Hell fire for ALL eternity? Does God really leave the salvation of billions of souls in the hands of fallen and disobedient men who are commissioned to share the Gospel?

If that is the case, Hell is the destiny of every person who never heard a clear gospel presentation and put their faith in Jesus: Every handicapped person, every poor and destitute person, every deaf and illiterate person, every person that suffered their entire lives under the hands of abusive parents, dictators, pimps etc. etc. from the time man started to multiply on this earth to the present: Whether it’s millions of years or only 6000 years of human history that’s an incredibly sad picture and an unbelievable number of people who never had a chance. Word’s cannot even begin to describe the horror of that reality. SOOO MANY LOST SOULS!

Furthermore, we are taught that God doesn’t make any exceptions for those who are abused and oppressed by evil people because after all it’s not about our righteousness, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…He does not OWE anyone salvation.

If this is true that would mean every person suffering from deafness, illiteracy, or incurable illnesses in the most godawful third world conditions…never knowing love, kindness or prosperity of any kind…will be sent directly to Hell, no passing “Go”, no collecting $200. Of course it also means the same for every single person (the good, the bad and the ugly) that ever lived on the face of the earth: in the city, the country, the jungle, the remote valleys, the mountains, the arctic and the deserts; worse, no matter how sincerely they lived their life and loved the Creator and their fellow man they are destined to Hell for all eternity because Christians failed to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t know how many people that is, but basic reasoning tells me that the over whelming majority of people have never been presented with a poor gospel presentation let alone a clear gospel presentation. The Joshua project has some stats on unreached people groups.

So I’m left with asking…

Does God ever work salvation apart from the presentation of the gospel?

Do people actually need to hear or read the gospel in order to be saved?

When exactly did God flip the toggle switch in the course of history and make salvation a condition of placing one’s faith in Jesus?

Was Saul’s heart converted by a “clear gospel presentation?”

What happened to all the people of the diaspora living by faith in YHWH at the time of Jesus, but who never got the memo that the rules were changed and now they need to believe that Jesus is God and Messiah in order to be saved?

When and where in history was a “clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ” made concrete to the masses?

Is the gospel clearly presented in the Tanakh? (i.e. the Hebrew Scriptures, also call the Old Testament)

Can God save someone through the Hebrew Scriptures alone?

What scriptures were being used to present the Gospel in the first century (and after) since the Bible (OT and NT together) had not yet been compiled and the epistles and gospels were not available to all congregations?

If faith only comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, how is/was the physically deaf and blind person saved?

If there was a way of Salvation for those prior to Jesus’ coming, is that same way available to people born after Jesus’ coming?

Future Posts…

What is Salvation?
What is the Gospel According to the Torah?

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Psalm 1 Read in Hebrew

Here is an excellent video on how to read Psalm 1 in Biblical Hebrew. What is so helpful about this particular instructors style, David Emanuel, is that he reads each word slowly and then pauses so the student can repeat the word after him.

David Emanuel the instructor on this video also advises his students to pick out a Biblical Hebrew text of 10-20 verses and read through it at least twice every day. For more tips on learning to read Hebrew you can check out his article here .

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Christian History Videos – The First 2000 Years

Eschatology, the study of end times theology, is all the rage amongst Christians. Frequently, Christians make mention of being “in the last days” or the “end times.”  Even Billy Graham has said in recent months, that the second coming of Jesus is very near. Paul and other apostles also thought they were living in the end times. In fact, John the Revelator wrote in the opening verses of his letter …

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Underline added)

So, 2000 years ago, John the beloved apostle of Jesus taught that His return was imminent. As did other writers of the New testament like Paul, who wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:15…

According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For me it’s rather disturbing to think that the greatest Apostles, those who walked and talked with Jesus directly got the season of His 2nd coming so wrong. But that is for another blog post. What I want to focus on in this post is the importance of knowing history, especially church history if you want to understand the prophecies of the Bible.

Below are a couple of videos that deal with the first 2000 years of church history. These videos are just to whet your appetite for doing your own research on the history of your faith. Another important study for understanding the new testament is reading about Jewish history both before and after Christ. One book I recommend is The Jews in the Time of Jesus by Stephen M. Wylen.

Christian History the First 1000 Years

Christian History the Second 1000 Years

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The Jewish Meaning of the Title Son of God

anointing with oilTo understand better who Matthew (the gospel writer) and those he wrote about thought of the person and nature of Jesus, we look to the terms and titles used for Jesus in the gospels.

One title in particular that intrigues me is Son of God. I came across an interesting article that speaks of what the term “Son of God” meant to the Jews. For example in Matthew 8 when Jesus encounters the demon possessed men in the region of Gadarenes they shout, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

For more insight into the title “son of God” check out this article “What did the phrase son of God mean to the Jews?”

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Jewish History of Demon Possession

demons and exorcismMatthew 8 recounts the story of Jesus encountering the men in the Gadarenes region who were demon possessed. They refer to Jesus as “son of God” and ask whether Jesus has, “come here to torture us before the appointed time.”

So, the question is, what did the first century Jews think about demons and demon possession? And specifically did they perform exorcisms? If so what made Jesus’s exorcisms different or stand out? We also read about the 70 disciples sent out who return and tell Jesus, “Even the demons were subject to us in your name.”

Here are some links to different articles on the topic. Including references that Josephus the Jewish historian makes concerning demons and exorcisms.

One observation concerning Jesus’ exorcisms is that Jesus drove demons out with a word. He did not seem to use complex formulas or require assistance as we find in historical references. Additionally, the disciples report the demons were subject to us “in your name.” Food for thought, “What name are they referring to?” Jesus, Yeshua, Iesus?

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Biblical Hebrew Learning Tools

This is a resource page of helpful Biblical Hebrew Learning tools. You can learn Hebrew online at MEMRA.

Biblical Hebrew Alphabet Song

The above video is from Biblical Hebrew Made Easy

How to Write the Hebrew Alphabet from Zondervan

The Hebrew Vowels – Video

Qal Perfect Past Tense Examples – Verb Conjugation

4 Part Mystical Meaning of Hebrew Letters and Language
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The above videos are from an organization called Jews for Judaism. Their mission is a direct response to the Christian evangelization of Jews. Though I obviously do no adhere to their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, I do value the depth and breadth of their teachings about the language and their faith in YHWH from the Tanack.

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An Examination Of The Sabbath

Exploring the Sabbath from Old to New Testament Through Early Church History

No Christian, therefore, should rest till he has satisfactorily discovered the mind of God in this matter. If the Christian Sabbath be of divine institution, it is doubtless of great importance to religion that it be well kept, and therefore, that every Christian be well acquainted with the institution. (Jonathan Edwards, The perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath)

(Links to articles in this paper should not be considered an endorsement of the site linked to or their beliefs. Proceed with caution and discernment. Test everything by the Word.)

For the last few years I’ve been studying the scriptures and church history concerning the Sabbath. When I first discovered early in my walk with Christ that Sunday was not the 7th day of the week, I began to wonder why Christians in general are not taught to observe the Sabbath. This subject has been nagging my conscience for many years until I decided to do an in depth study on the topic and as Edwards says, decided not to rest until I “satisfactorily discover the mind of God on this matter.” One thing I discovered in my research, compared to the other 9 commandments, there is an abundance of controversy, confusion, ignorance and varying opinions on the subject of The Sabbath. Here are just a few of the types of comments I’ve heard from believers concerning the Sabbath:

  • The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Quoting Jesus and insinuating there is no commandment anymore to follow the Sabbath).
  • Oh, I didn’t know Sunday was not the 7th day of the week?
  • You can’t know what the 7th day of the week really is.
  • The Sabbath, that was only for Israel.
  • The Sabbath that was under the Old Covenant we’re under the New Covenant now.
  • Jews observe the Sabbath; Christians have the Lord’s Day.
  • The Sabbath is just a 1 in 7 principle so you can observe it any day of the week.
  • The Sabbath was changed to the first day of the week.
  • I work in ministry and have to work on Sundays so I take another day as a Sabbath.
  • There is no more Sabbath rule to follow because Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.

This study is divided in 5 parts:

  • Part 1:  A Look at Both Old and New Testament Scriptures on the Sabbath.
  • Part 2: The Sabbath History of the First Century Ekklesia.
  • Part 3: Summary and Conclusion
  • Part 4: List of all Sabbath Related Scriptures From Old Testament and New Testament
  • Part 5: Famous Theologians and Denominational Quotes About the Sabbath

To read the paper in its entirety click this link: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SABBATH: Exploring the Sabbath from Old to New Testament Through Early Church History.

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God’s Name and the 3rd Commandment

Most everyone knows the 3rd commandment (3rd – depending on how you count them).

In case, you’re not sure here’s a reminder:

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20)

Pretty important to understand wouldn’t you think if “the LORD” “will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” In order to observe this command it would be necessary to know 2 things “what is the name of God?” and “What exactly it means to “Take His name in vain?”

Let’s look at both of these questions a little closer.

First, What is God’s name? As you may know, God’s name is not God, nor is it LORD. In fact the word LORD is not a translation let a lone a transliteration of the Hebrew for God’s  Name.  The personal name of God is YHWH. Actually YHWH is not exactly His name, YHWH is a transliteration of God’s name from the paleo Hebrew which you can see in the picture to the right. The top graphic shows the paleo Hebrew which is the way the name of God was preserved even in some translations of the Greek Septuagint. The bottom graphic shows God’s Name written in modern Hebrew.

So Exodus 20 actually reads closer to….

You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain, for YHWH will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20)

Why is this important? Consider what YHWH told Moses:

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD (YHWH) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ (Exodus 3:14-15)

YHWH said “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations” meaning this is the Name by which He wants to be known and remembered. It is the personal name by which He revealed Himself to Moses and told Moses to use to share the good news about His covenants.

Secondly, the third commandment tells us not to take the name of the LORD in vain. The word “vain” is Strong’s H7723 shav’ and it means the following:

  1. emptiness, vanity, falsehood
    a) emptiness, nothingness, vanity
    b) emptiness of speech, lying
    c) worthlessness (of conduct)

Now consider, that nearly every modern English Bible translator has intentionally removed the name of God, “YHWH” and replaced it with the title LORD. In fact according to the Blue Letter Bible/Strong’s concordance this has happened 6,519 times in the Old Testament alone. Do you think YHWH considers it “vain”by the above definition to replace His personal name from His revelation to mankind with a man made title?

Now also consider how many Christians (maybe even yourself) know and use the personal name of God as He has commanded us?

Jesus said, “I have come in my Father’s Name and you do not receive Me, if another comes in his own name, him you would receive.” (John 5:43).

Jesus also taught His disciples to pray like this:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
…”

Jesus reaffirmed that we are to consider holy and sacred the Name of His Father – that name Jesus was referring to is YHWH (commonly pronounced Yahweh or as the Strong’s transliterates it Yehovah Strong’s H3068) not the title Father.

God’s people are warned in Deuteronomy 4:2 …

Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it. But keep the commands of the LORD (YHWH) your God that I give you.

I hope this study has stirred you to consider the importance YHWH places on His Name and to test it out for yourself.

To aid in your own studies of YHWH’s word I recommend the Blue Letter Bible.

Remember to test everything, cling to what is good, and reject all evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

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Passover or Easter – A Biblical Historical Perspective

Why do we observe Passover and other Biblical Feasts in lieu of Easter in our home? Here are a few reasons…

  • We desire to live by scripture alone before the face of YHWH.
  • We believe 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is for our edification etc. and instruction in righteousness.
  • Heavenly Father instructed His Ben Yisra’el (Children of the prevailing God) to observe passover as a lasting ordinance (Exodus 12:14)
  • Those who are in Christ are the children of the promise regarded as Abraham’s offspring (Romans 9:8) and therefore have the joy and privilege of entering into worship and service to YHWH on His appointed feasts.
  • Pesach/passover as well as the other Biblical feasts are YHWH’s appointed times set apart to meet with His people. They are His Feasts. (Leviticus 23:2)

These are just a few of the reasons we have begun studying and observing the Biblical Feasts. If you are interested in studying this topic further, I invite you to download by clicking here: THE BIBLICAL HOLY WEEK : PASSOVER, THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD AND FIRST FRUITS

This article covers the following topics and much more:

  • Why Observe the Biblical Feasts instead of Easter
  • The Apostolic Tradition concerning Passover/Unleavened Bread
  • New Testament Scripture on the Topic
  • The difference between Biblical Feasts and Jewish Feasts
  • How Easter got into our Christian Culture
  • YHWH’s Calendar
  • Persecution for Worshiping God According to His Word

To download a simple Christian Passover Meal Haggadah (a telling of the story of Passover) to use with your small group or family Click Here Please.

Let me leave you with one thought to ponder, “Christian, can you reason from the scriptures why the LORD would not want you to observe His Feasts?”

Remember, don’t take my word, test everything, cling to what is good, reject what is evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Be a Berean. (Acts 17:11)

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