Matters of Salvation

And the Case for Torah Observance

January 21st, 2010

Following the previous article where some of the false traditions of our religious denominations were pointed out, it is only natural that matters of salvation come to mind. As a Christian who began exploring our Hebrew roots, I couldn't help but feel discouraged at the time in finding out that what I was doing perhaps may not be as scripturally sound as I thought. Not only that, but I felt like I lost my sense of identity in my pursuit of HaShem because I no longer had a firm grasp on how I ought to be acting if I truly wanted to draw closer to Him. Amidst this however, I never once questioned my salvation. Yet, at the same time, I couldn't help but wonder if there was more to the picture than I initially thought. When you are faced with the fact that you have done something wrong your entire life, it isn't always easy to accept. Nobody likes to be wrong or find out that they've missed the mark on something. Based on that, the adversary (haSatan) would have us doubt our salvation in an attempt to destroy us. If this has happened to you, then you will know exactly what I mean. But at the same time, rejoice over those doubts, because they are not coming because you are a lost sheep. No, they are coming because you are walking towards the Light of the World. Therefore, do not be discouraged, but trust in G-d, for he fulfills His promises and will not leave behind those who wish to draw closer to Him.

In understanding that fact however, it's important to have a strong grasp on the concept of salvation, and how HaShem has provided this both before and after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah. In keeping the truth of salvation close to your heart, you will be safe in these matters of spiritual warfare.

How are we saved?

The Apostle Paul could not have made it any clearer in his letter to the Ephesians, stating,

"For it is by His grace we are rescued, through faith; and this is not of yourselves, but it is the gift of El-him: Not of works, or else anyone glory (in themselves). (Ephesians 2:8-9 AENT)
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of G-d; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB)
Simply put, we have been saved by grace through faith. It is the gift of G-d; a gift that we cannot earn. Therefore, there is nothing we can do by our works that will earn our salvation (lest anyone boast!) The only thing required on our behalf is that we receive this gift with open arms and a humble spirit. How do we receive it? Well, in the book of Acts, Simon Peter states,

"Shimon said to them, "Repent and be immersed each of you in the name of Master [Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh]-Y'shua for the forgiveness of sins, that you may receive the gift of the Ruach haKodesh" (Acts 2:38 AENT)
"Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38 NASB)
So receiving this gift involves two things: we must be immersed in the name of Yeshua, and we must repent. In Ephesians 2:8 it states that we are saved by faith. As far as I understand it, faith can be looked at as composed of two parts: belief and repentance. Growing up in the Christian Church I became familiar with the idea that all you needed to do to be saved was believe. But this is just not scriptural! John the Immerser (Baptist) makes a point in saying this in his last words,

"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of G-d abides on him." (John 3:36 NASB, emphasis added)
Is it really true that if we do not obey the Son, we will not see life but rather, the wrath of G-d? John seems to be saying that if we truly believe in Yeshua (the Son) we will obey what he says. If we read 1st John, we may notice that the Apostle John echoes this same sentiment many times. James, the half brother of Yeshua, also points out that belief by itself is not enough when he says,

"You believe that there is one El-him; you do well; the demons also believe and tremble. Would you know, O weak man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:19-20 AENT)
Now legalists love using this verse to support being saved by works, but James, like John the Immerser, was not saying that at all. He is only supporting the very same words of Peter in Acts 2:38 where we are told to repent! Repentance means to turn from sin to G-d. We can not, on the basis of our belief in Yeshua's atonement for sin, continue to willingly abide in our sins because we believe that we have "fire insurance". Paul speaks against this several times in saying,

"For if we go on sinning wilfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES." (Hebrews 10:26-27 NASB)
If you take the belief in Yeshua's sin atonement as an excuse to continue on sinning because you have been "saved", then you unfortunately have voided the insurance contract and no longer have liability coverage against the second death. This is what some theologians call "greasy grace" and "sloppy agape" and it had already been happening at the time the letter of Jude had been written, when it says,

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our G-d into licentiousness and deny our only Master and L-rd, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4 NASB, emphasis added)
Licentiousness refers to behaviour without any moral guideline (such as that of Sodom and Gomorrah). Turning the grace of G-d into an excuse for such sin is certainly not acceptable. Paul also says,

"What will we then say? Will we continue in sin that grace may abound? Far be it: for if we are persons that have died to sin, how can we again live in it? Or do you not know that we who are immersed into Y'shua the Mashiyach are immersed into his death? For we are buried with him in immersion to death: that as Y'shua the Mashiyach arose from the dead into the glory of his Father, so also we, to walk in a new life. (Romans 6:1-4 AENT)
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4 NASB)
Does the act of immersion in and of itself attain the forgiveness of our sins though? No; rather, it is the belief behind it. When we perform a ritual like this, it is not for the benefit of G-d, for G-d already knows our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). Immersion is for our own benefit, to serve as a sign for the atonement Yeshua provided and as a means to confirm and/or renew our faith. In Acts 2:38 when Peter was preaching this, he was on the steps in the Temple of Jerusalem where, just below him, there were hundreds of mikveh (immersion) baths. These can still be seen today at the Temple Mount outside the western wall. The act of immersion for those people listening to Peter's message was an act of purification from sin; when you repent of your sin, entering into the waters of a mikveh bath was (and should still be) symbolic of sin atonement. Doing it in the name of Yeshua then acknowledges His perfect sacrifice at Calvary as the final atonement for our sins, washing us clean with the blood of Mashiyach. After all, Yeshua truly is the lamb of G-d who takes away the sin of the world. In the Aramaic it is written that we be immersed in the name of "Master [yud-heh-vav-heh]-Y'shua" (Maryah-Eshoa). This is a powerful statement that was lost in the Greek. Those four Hebrew characters as we know is the personal name of G-d (represented by the term HaShem), and they mean "He who is" (paraphrased as "The Eternal One"). Yeshua in English means "salvation". Now, we know that salvation is only offered from HaShem/The Eternal One alone (Isaiah 43:3, 43:11, 45:21-25, 49:26, Hosea 13:4). Therefore, being immersed into the name of Master [yud-heh-vav-heh]-Yeshua means that you are accepting "The Eternal Ones Salvation"! This is the true expanded meaning of our Master and Saviors name. It is also a Hebraic declaration that Yeshua is the Rabbi whom you follow and look to in Torah interpretation (which is what the idiom "fulfilling the Torah" means - interpreting correctly and bringing to realization Torah's true meaning). When we come out of the waters of the mikvah we are symbolically declaring that we are born again or ressurected a new man who follows Yeshua the Mashiyach and has accepted The Eternal Ones means of salvation.

Does our behavior have an effect on our salvation?

So if our salvation comes from turning from our sin to HaShem, placing our trust in His work done through Yeshua, and receiving the free gift of grace where we allow HaShem’s Spirit to work within us, does our behavior then at all affect our salvation otherwise? Saying yes may imply we are saved by works, which is not true; but saying no can also imply that we may do as we please so long as we have “faith”. This is of course, as the Scriptures above point out, not true either. So what is the answer? Well, the fact of the matter is that true faith will be reflected in our character, and we are called to be a light to the world through walking as Yeshua walked. Yeshua Himself pointed out that the world would know that we were his disciples based on one simple fact,

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35 NASB)
The early Netzari faith and Christianity was known for exactly that. In fact, the loving nature of the early believers is why Christianity spread like wildfire among the secular Jews and Gentiles. It was only when it was changed into a state religion (Roman Catholicism) that it lost that moral basis of the early apostles through the quest for political power where this new state religion became forced on people by the likes of Emperor Constantine. You cannot however force such beliefs on someone; they must sincerely choose by their own admission to receive the grace of G-d into their lives and be led by His Spirit (Galatians 5:18). Christianity today still suffers from the burden of carrying that history, but a true believer who is full of HaShem’s Spirit would not have ever acted in such forceful manners. Yeshua in Matthew 7:15-23 outlines that we will be able to spot false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing, but are actually savage wolves, from the fruits that they bear. Paul in Acts 20:29 figured that after his departure there would be savage wolves of this very type who would come and disrupt the flock. The Roman Empire under the head of Constantine is one such example, for his quest to conquer in the sign of the cross along with all those who supported him bore many fruits of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). In fact, it brought to pass a fulfillment of the mystery of iniquity in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-15. But Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, also outlines what the fruits of the Spirit would look like, and these are the fruits we will bear from the work done by HaShem’s Set-Apart (holy) Spirit which we receive through the salvation offered in Yeshua. Paul writes,

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a NASB)
Paul also told the congregation at Corinth to conduct all their affairs in love (1 Corinthians 16:14). Therefore, works contrary to the fruits of the Spirit are done by the admission of our flesh, not of the Spirit of G-d. Our behavior then determines whether we sow to the flesh, resulting in corruption, or to the Spirit, resulting in life that is eternal (Galatians 6:7-9). Peter mentioned in his preaching that we would need to repent in order to receive the gift of the Ruach haKodesh (Set-Apart/holy Spirit). Therefore, only when we turn from our sin is our body ready to be a temple, in which we can receive HaShem’s Spirit,

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from G-d, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19 NASB)
G-d will not dwell in a defiled temple of deliberate sin and unrighteousness, and as such, He will only be with us when we are striving for obedience (a trip through the Tanach [“old testament”] will show this countless times). The key word here though is strive; for it is unrealistic to expect ourselves to live in perfect obedience. After all, we live in a fallen world where it is impossible to live a sinless life like Yeshua. But having the knowledge of grace and truth in Yeshua the Mashiyach, we should look upon our sin as Paul did in Romans 7:14-25. Though, despite people’s willing disobedience or their rejection of Mashiyach and G-d, HaShem’s grace will always be there for everyone until the day in which we die. We can shut HaShem out by our disobedience and rejection all we want, but He will not give up on us until we condemn ourselves through rejection of His grace on that dreadful day to come (Isaiah 13:4-13).

But to sum things up, although we are not saved by our works, our behavior will be a reflection of what is in our hearts, and we should allow HaShem’s Spirit to dwell within us and refine us (Malachi 3:3) so that we become a reflection of He who created us. The renewed covenant itself states very clearly what this entails by telling us exactly what is to be written upon our hearts,

"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares [HaShem], "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their G-d, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:33 NASB with Name edit)
“For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Yisra’el after those days, declares [HaShem]: I shall put My Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their El-him, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 ISR with Name edit)
What exactly is His law that it be written upon our hearts? HaShem’s law, as stated in the ISR translation, is the Torah. If this is true though, then how come the Torah and it’s observance isn’t being promoted in most Christian churches today? It won’t magically write on our hearts without any work on our part. Yes, through faith in Yeshua we can be born again with a new heart and new desires (for when we are born of the Spirit, the Spirit works in us to give us these new desires – John 3:3-8), but if these desires lead us to repent from our prior sinful ways, then how do we know what we should be doing? How do we know what obedience to G-d is; the obedience that builds the temple for the Set-Apart Spirit to dwell and work within us? HaShem said it best when He told Joshua,
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”(Joshua 1:8 NASB)
So we can see that the answer lies in understanding HaShem’s Law, the Torah, by meditating on it day and night. For truly it is our willingness to obey that allows HaShem’s Spirit into our lives to write this Torah upon our hearts and cause us to walk in His statutes (see Ezekiel 36:27).

What is the Law and what is its purpose?

To fully grasp the renewed covenant, we must establish exactly what Torah, or the law, is. The English word “law” in our Scriptures is a translation for Torah, but Torah does not necessarily mean law. In other places, you will find it translated as “instruction” (though you will likely not associate that instruction with what we know as “the law”). But instruction much more accurately describes what Torah is (see Romans 15:4). If you want to see how powerful of a change this can be, then next time you read through the book of Romans, replace every instance of law with instruction and see what happens. The importance of this distinction lies in the fact that we associate law with punishment. Instruction, on the other hand, is a guideline for us to follow for our benefit. Moshe (Moses) points out this very thing in Deuteronomy 10:12-13. Therefore, Torah is HaShem’s righteous instruction and moral guideline for the benefit of mankind. It teaches us how to worship and love Him, how to love each other, and how to live as a society set apart for Him in this sinful, fallen world. In other words, it is His standard of perfection for us relational people here on earth. Psalm 19:7a states,

“The law of [HaShem] is perfect, restoring the soul” (Psalm 19:7a NASB with Name edit)
“The Torah of [HaShem] is perfect, bringing back the being” (Psalm 19:7a ISR with Name edit)
Being the perfect standard, this is of course something we could never live up to. It is this perfection though that humbles us before HaShem and exposes plainly our need for salvation; our need for a Savior. Christianity often emphasizes this, and they are bang on because we need to turn to Mashiyach, the visible image of the invisible G-d, for restoration and atonement. However, on top of this important fact, all children require instruction from their parents and our Father in heaven provides this through both the Torah and the rest of Scripture.

Now, looking at it from the perspective of instruction, it seems pretty straight forward what the purpose of the Torah is. Yet in Christianity I keep hearing these common themes such as "the Law of Moses is no longer in effect", or “we are no longer under or bound by the law”. These are ideas known as dispensationalism, and more insight on that topic can be read about here. However, on the basis of those two statements alone, I am inclined to say that there is a serious misunderstanding of the “law” by some Christians (myself being one of them once upon a time). To clear this up, let us recall the infamous words of Yeshua when He said,

"Do not think that I have come to loosen Torah or the prophets, I have not come to loosen but to fulfill. For truly I say to you that until heaven and earth pass away not one Yodh or one stroke will pass from Torah until everything happens" (Matthew 5:17-18 AENT)
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17-18 NASB)
Have heaven and earth passed away? Then Torah is still in effect. Yeshua says He came to fulfill both the Torah and the Prophets. Paul says the same thing in Romans 10:4 when he exclaims that Mashiyach is the goal of the Torah,

"For Mashiyach is the goal of Torah for righteousness to everyone that believes in him." (Romans 10:4 AENT)
"For Christ is the end (footnote: or goal) of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4 NASB)
What does this all mean for us? Well, let's look at what purpose the Torah served in the times before Mashiyach came in the flesh. Were people expected to follow Torah as a means to earn their salvation? Was this what the "Law of Moses" was? The answer is no, absolutely not! Nobody has ever been saved by Torah, and nobody ever will be saved by Torah! To expect such a thing is to place ourselves under the authority of the Torah (“under the law”), believing that following it we will be able to justify ourselves on account of the laws authority. But we know that we have fallen short and that this is impossible, and since it has always been impossible, then we are dealing with false theology that has never been true. In Romans 6:14 when Paul says we are not under law/Torah but under grace, He is emphasizing that nobody should have ever been under the impression that they were under Torah, either before or after the coming of Mashiyach. Notice also how he emphasizes in the next verse that HaShem's grace is not an allowance for our disobedience to HaShem’s Torah either (which is what sin is – see 1 John 3:4). But the point is that HaShem never wanted us under the impression that we were ever under or bound by the Torah as I read in mainstream Christian literature today (and those who were righteous never felt this way about Torah either; see Psalm 119:18, 30, 143, 160, etc.). He also never wanted Israel to see it as the means for earning salvation. HaShem did ask us to follow His commandments, yes (Deuteronomy 10:12-13), but it was never the physical act of following the commandments themselves that saved anyone. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews says that is impossible for the blood of animals to atone for sin (Hebrews 10:4). If this is true though, then how were people saved prior to Yeshua, especially if He is the only way to the Father?

How were men of the Tanach (“old testament”) saved?

In answering this, we must recall just who provides our salvation; that is, HaShem of course. He is the judge who will pardon us if our debt is paid, and as we know, He is the one who paid that debt through His only Son. Second, we need to understand how HaShem has revealed Himself since the beginning of time. The Scriptures state,

"But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" (Exodus 33:20 NASB)
"Man has not ever seen El-him" (Yochanan [John] 1:18a AENT)
"No one has ever seen El-him" (1 Yochanan [John] 4:12a AENT)
But in the Tanach we read constantly about how people have seen and talked to G-d face to face, such as Abraham (Genesis 18 and 19), Jacob (Genesis 32:30), Moses (Exodus 33:11) and so on. But how was this possible if no one has seen G-d, and further, they cannot even see Him and live? Paul in his letter to the Hebrews though says,

"G-d, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son," (Hebrews 1:1-2a NASB, emphasis added)
As we can see, G-d has revealed Himself in many ways long ago, including the appearance of a man/men to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18), a burning bush to Moshe (Exodus 3), etc. and only in the last days has He revealed Himself to us through His son, Yeshua (as Yochanan/John confirms many times within his account of the Good News; i.e. John 1:18b, 14:9, etc.) But each and every time, there was a mediator so that the finite could see a portion of the infinite. The Infinite One, our Father HaShem, reveals in this finite universe a portion of His mighty arm (Exodus 6:6, Isaiah 53:1) which is the Spirit of Mashiyach, AKA His Spirit, His very manifest presence within time and space, to redeem/save His people (Isaiah 43:3, 11, 45:21-25, 49:26, Hosea 13:4). In fact, in revealing His outstretched arm, He was revealing His salvation. And what is salvation in Hebrew? YESHUA! Every time HaShem reveals Himself He is revealing His YESHUA. Are you beginning to see a connection?

As a proper name, Yeshua means “HaShem saves” or “HaShem is Salvation”. So as mentioned, every time HaShem revealed Himself, He did this on the basis of saving His people by providing a means of salvation for them. Now, we know that it is only by grace, through faith, that we are saved. How then were the men of the Tanach saved? By grace, through faith! Is that too simple? Paul didn’t think so, because the entire fourth chapter in his letter to the Romans is devoted to how men before Mashiyach were justified by faith (Romans 4). He brought the same message to the Hebrews in the eleventh chapter (Hebrews 11). Despite what the heretic Marcion proposed, HaShem was just as loving in the Tanach as He was seen through Mashiyach’s presence and work here on earth (check out Psalm 103:7-14). As also recorded in the Tanach, every time HaShem came to the rescue of Israel in their disobedience, He did this on the basis of His grace, and it was through faith in that grace that the people of Israel were always delivered. HaShem knew if they had faith for He can see their hearts (1 Samuel 16:7); but their faith was built and demonstrated to others by their obedience to HaShem’s instruction (the Torah), which are G-d’s righteous standard for setting Israel apart from the other nations. It was the gift that allowed them to be a light to the nations so that all flesh would be drawn to the true Creator. Now if the Torah was not abolished by Yeshua, then is this same thing expected of all those who enter the faith by the acceptance of G-d's grace today? Absolutely!

The Law in the Faith Once Delivered to the Set-Apart Believers

"My beloved, while I take all pains to write to you of our common life, it is needful for me to write to you, encouraging you to maintain a conflict for the faith which was once delivered to the Set Apart believers" (Yehudah [Jude] 3 AENT, emphasis added)
At the time the letter of Jude was written, there was already a conflict against the faith which was once delivered to the Set Apart believers. What was this conflict? Earlier I quoted the next verse where the NASB states that there were "ungodly persons who turn the grace of our G-d into licentiousness". AENT has "impurity" in place of licentiousness, and both denote a way of living without a moral standard or guidance. defines licentiousness as "unrestrained by law or general morality; lawless; immoral." In other words, there were men who were perverting the gift of grace as a means to live without Torah, the Law, our moral standard and guideline for righteous living and loving HaShem. Indeed, the very thing that sets us apart as His people.

Now, HaShem’s Torah includes things such as clean/kosher eating, the Feast Days (HaShem's appointed times; Leviticus 23:4), and the Sabbath (which Yeshua is Master of; Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5). The sad case, however, is that these are seen as "Jewish things". The modern day attitude is that kosher eating is Jewish eating, the Feast Days are Jewish holidays, and the Sabbath is a Jewish observance. But the only reason these are seen as such is because the Jews are the only ones trying to observe them! Yet, it’s not about being Jewish / circumcised; it’s about following the commandments of G-d! (1 Corinthians 7:19) The Feast Days for example are not the Jew's feasts; in Leviticus 23:4, G-d Himself states that they are HIS feasts and HIS appointed times! And what is a Jew? A Jew is a descendant from the tribe of Judah. But Judah is only ONE of the twelve tribes of Israel. Subtract the Levites and those left of the tribe of Benjamin (both of whom were grafted in with Judah) and that leaves nine other tribes that some people may even have a blood heritage with. Yet, Scripture is clear that HaShem is no respecter of persons based on blood linage (Acts 15:7-9); no, the Torah is HaShem's instruction to ALL who would be His children, whether descended from Jacob (Israel) or not,

"The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before [HaShem] : The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you." (Numbers 15:15-16 NIV with Name edit, emphasis added)
The fact of the matter is parts of Jewish culture are not so exclusively Jewish after all. While the Jews were entrusted with Torah it was their mandate to share that gift with the world (Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 56, etc.). HaShem's Torah is for everyone who is called to be His set apart people through His grace, the free gift we accept by faith. The Jews are just the only culture as a whole which considers its observance, so of course it's going to be filled with various Jewish traditions and such. In fact, so many traditions exist that they had to be recorded down in what is now known as the Mishna, the Gemera (commentary on the Misha), etc. But, the oral tradition of Judaism aside, HaShem's Torah that was written down by Moshe, those instructions in righteousness for mankind, remain for all of us to observe. Not for the sake of salvation, but for our love towards G-d (1 Corinthians 9:17, 1 John 5:3, etc.). Though we are saved by grace, the Scriptures are abundantly clear that we express our love for G-d through Torah Observance (1 John is full of this). These are acts of faith, counted to us as righteousness, for the righteous will live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, etc.)

Now, is this what the early Apostles expected of the Gentile believers? Let's turn to Acts chapter fifteen where, at the council in Jerusalem, these matters concerning the Gentiles and the faith which was once delivered were discussed,

"Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue." (Acts 15:1-2 NASB)
First we have a group of men claiming that you must be circumcised (and thus converted to Judaism) if you want to be saved. Paul and Barnabas rebuked this teaching, and, after their debate, they took the matter to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem,

"But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe [Aramaic: guard] the Law of Moses." The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter." (Acts 15:5-6 NASB, emphasis added)
When the issue is brought up there, debate once again arises. Now, notice how it was Messianic Believers originally from the sect of the Pharisees who were promoting the need for circumcision prior to learning about the Torah/Law of Moshe. In the Aramaic it says "those who believed from the teachings of the Pharisees". Therefore, they were men who, although they believed in the Messiah, came from a background where the Pharisees tradition was part of their religious walk. Part of the Pharisaical tradition was that Gentiles were unclean and had to be circumcised/converted in order to appear acceptable to G-d (which was something Yeshua addresses in Peters vision in Acts 10, as we will see later). The Aramaic also does not say observe the Torah, but rather "guard", referring to putting a fence around the Torah (as opposed to simply obeying the written word). This fence is the religious tradition of the sect of the Pharisees that had developed, and as mentioned above, this included Gentiles being unclean and needing circumcision/conversion before learning about Torah and developing a relationship with HaShem. That tradition, however, is contrary to both Torah (as we see that Abraham and others lived our their relationship with HaShem first and then got circumcised later) and Mashiyach’s work as Peter will discuss right away here. Let's see what happens next,

"After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe "And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith." (Acts 15:7-9 NASB emphasis added)
Powerful words! Peter first mentions the vision he received in Acts 10:13-17 and 28, where G-d commanded that Gentiles were to be grafted in because they too are made clean through faith in Mashiyach. He proclaims that G-d knows and judges the heart, not the outward appearance, and that their hearts are indeed cleansed by faith. Peters continues, saying,

"Now therefore why do you put G-d to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are." (Acts 15:10-11 NASB, emphasis added)
The legalistic traditions that developed in some sects of Judaism was a burden that nobody had been able to handle, but the truth of the matter is that it is by the grace of our Master Yeshua the Mashiyach that we are all saved, not by the religious works of the whatever camp you belonged to. Conversion to Judaism before learning about Torah and developing a relationship with HaShem through Yeshua then is not required. In fact, it can be a barrier! Part of a yoke which neither their fathers nor they were able to bear! James, the half-brother of Yeshua, then goes on to say,

"After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, "Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how G-d first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, 'AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT, SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,' SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM LONG AGO." (Acts 15:13-18 NASB, emphasis added)
Quoting one of the many prophecies concerning the grafting in of all people to faith in HaShem, James is in full agreement with Peter. James continues,

"Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to G-d from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath." (Acts 15:19-21)
This is very key instruction that reveals to us what was expected of the Gentiles. James first points out that they should not discourage (trouble) the Gentiles who are turning to G-d by forcing legalistic traditions on them and expecting them to convert and be Jewish. After all, as Simon Peter pointed out earlier, conversation to Judaism would do nothing for their salvation. Rather, it is faith in the grace of Yeshua the Mashiyach which cleanses their hearts. But, as pointed out throughout all of the Apostolic Writings, grace is no excuse to sin against HaShem. Therefore, James proposes four things for the Gentiles to start with, knowing that every Shabbat, the Torah (given through Moshe) is read in the synagogues. That very statement is a fulfillment of Isaiah 56:1-9 where it was expected that Gentile converts would be observing Shabbat and learning Torah alongside the Jews as one body of believers under Mashiyach! How and when this attitude changed is a topic which exceeds the scope of this essay though.

So, did the Apostles of Yeshua want the early Gentile believers to convert to Judaism? No. Did they want them to be Torah Observant? Yes! Therefore, can you do this while keeping aspects of your culture and not being Jewish? Absolutely! Jews were actually called to give up some of the traditions they had (i.e. Gentiles being unclean, even if they accepted Mashiyach), just as Gentiles were expected to learn what G-d wants them to do every Shabbat (getting rid of the pagan idols and customs in the process). Both Jew and Gentile were therefore called to put off the old man and become one new man in Mashiyach, observing Torah and worshipping HaShem as He commands (not as how false religion commands). The body of believers is the Bride of Yeshua, but in becoming this neither Jew nor Gentile should remain engaged to their ex-fiancé. For the Jew this would be the oral traditions/attitudes that were not of G-d but rather became stumbling blocks, and for the Gentile, this meant the days and celebrations of other idols that were not of G-d either. Sadly, neither group was able to accomplish this without Yeshua reigning over them as King; therefore it won't be until the second coming when Mashiyach establishes His Kingdom that such a divine unity under Him will be a universal reality (see Isaiah 65:17 and 66:23, an image of the greater fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31-33). However, I believe that the current Messianic and Hebrew Roots movements are aiming to work towards that reality, for the glory of both the Father and the Son; and this is one of the many reasons I support them!

Agape and Grace - The Unconditional Love of HaShem

In my last article entitled “False Religion” I brought up several issues I've seen with in our religious institutions that may be contradictory to Scripture and what G-d actually wants us to do. Now, if anyone is practicing unscriptural rituals, holidays, and behaviors, does this mean they have automatically forfeited their salvation? Absolutely not! As mentioned, we are saved by grace, through faith, not by our works, lest any man boast. It is a free gift from the unconditional love (Greek: agape) of HaShem. Now in this article I've emphasized my feelings for and reasoning behind the importance of Torah and its observance. Is every Christian then who is not actively making an effort to observe the Torah left without the salvation offered through Yeshua haMashiyach? Once again, absolutely not! HaShem’s grace and unconditional love covers ALL of our short comings and un-willful ignorance in this life (i.e. stumbling when we don’t know any better). We only run into problems when we deny the truth in Yeshua by sinning on purpose as Paul pointed out earlier (Hebrews 10:26-27). Peter brings an even harsher warning for some in this regard,

"For if, when they have escaped the pollutions of the world by the knowledge of our Master and Redeemer Y'shua the Mashiyach, they become again involved in the same and are vanquished, their latter state is worse than the former. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after having known it, to turn back from the Set Apart Commandment that was delivered to them. But the true proverb has happened to them: the dog returns to his vomit and the pig that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire" (Second Peter 2:20-22 AENT, emphasis added)
Now, although I don't see Torah Observance being emphasized in Christianity today, every Christian who has been born of the Spirit by genuine belief and repentance knows that they should no longer be living in their sin. In fact, everyone who has been born again knows the feeling of simply not wanting to sin anymore! And on the basis of that alone, true Christians on average already keep 69 to 87% of Torah! Imagine how easy it would be to observe (and how pleasing it would be to HaShem!) if everyone emphasized and practiced the rest of Torah as a means to love the Almighty!

My introduction to Torah observance was contradictory to the general attitudes I had been exposed to as a Christian. But I knew that if there was any shred of truth or any small chance that these conflicting attitudes were indeed correct, I had to know; I wanted the truth. Now, my pursuit of these things wasn’t because I was concerned for my salvation (lest I feed the carnal man and starve the spiritual man in boasting about what I find). No, on the contrary, my pursuit of these things was because of my love for G-d. I was at a point in my life where all of my heart and all of my being thirsted after Him. He was my Rock and my Comforter, and He had already done so much for me with His abundance of grace and unconditional love; what now could I do for Him? That moment within my Christian faith where I realized that ignoring our Hebrew roots meant that I wasn’t as close as I could be to our Father in heaven… that was when my study of the Scriptures changed forever.

"But from there you will seek [HaShem] your El-him, and shall find Him, when you search for Him with all your heart and with all your being" (Deuteronomy 4:29 ISR with Name edit)
"And you shall seek Me, and shall find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13 ISR)

The Kingdom of Heaven (Malchut Shamayim)

"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19 NASB)
There are debates on what it means to be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; whether that means you’re saved but without treasure stored up in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), or if you’re heading through the wide gate that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14); condemned to the lake of fire with those who are not found in the Book of Life. There are also debates on what commandments Yeshua was referring to, and who His audience is in this statement. Ultimately however, I feel Yeshua’s words in its context are pretty straight forward. Reading just a few verses earlier, we can see that the commandments Yeshua is talking about is the Law/Torah of Moshe; every last little detail, as well as the Prophets. Now, His audience at the time may have been primarily Jewish, but I believe that the same message applies to all of us today. This is because later in the Good News of John Yeshua states,

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NASB)
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10 NASB)
The entire first letter of John also emphasizes this message, and James proclaims that those who love him will receive the crown of life (James 1:12). The question then is: are these commandments referring to what is written in the Torah? Based on the context of Matthew 5, I am inclined to say yes. Based on the fact that Yeshua is the very vessel or person who reveals the Father and that the Father’s words are what Yeshua teaches and those are therefore the same words that Moshe would have heard in the first place, I have to also say yes. And further, based on the fact that Yeshua did not teach against anything in the written Torah (though He spoke against any oral tradition, idea or practice that conflicted with the truth), I’d have to say yes once again. Truly, all the commandments Yeshua taught are ones found in the Torah, he just properly explained them and amplified them which is exactly what the Hebraic term “fulfill” means. And if we pay attention, we’ll see that in amplifying and properly explaining the commandments, He makes some of them a lot more serious, bringing up the intention of the heart (Matthew 5:21-22; 27-28). Yes, Yeshua taught the same Torah was given to Moshe on Mount Sinai.

Now let’s look at another one of Yeshua’s statements in Matthew just a few chapters later,

"Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11 NASB)
Based on this statement, whoever is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is still greater than Yochanan the Immerser. Would this group of individuals be who Yeshua was referring to as the ones who are called least in the Kingdom of Heaven? If that’s so, I can only conclude this as support that once we enter the Kingdom we will be transformed into a greater state then any of us are in right now here on earth. But who exactly would be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven? I’ve seen, listened to and read teachings from people who have what seems like genuine faith in Jesus as the Christ, yet they speak against the Sabbath, the Feasts, the dietary instructions, and other aspects of Torah and it's observance. Now as sincere as they may be, I believe they are who Yeshua was speaking against in Matthew 5:19, stemming from the very fulfillment of Paul's words in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-15. Do I feel that they will be denied into the Malchut Shamayim? Well, referencing the Scriptures, Yeshua states,

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:21-223 NASB, emphasis added)
What is lawlessness? In Hebrew and Aramaic it is defined as “iniquity”, which every Hebrew believer knows refers to a transgression of Torah. Greeks however wouldn’t be so quick to get that, and so when the Scriptures were translated into Greek, they clarified that iniquity means transgression of the law, or “lawlessness”. The Human Instruction Manuel (HIM), a translation yet to be released, therefore simplifies the statement in saying,

"Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who do not keep Torah.’" (Matthew 7:23 HIM)
Yeshua also goes on to say,

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46 NASB)
James further instructs us saying,

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25 NASB, emphasis added)
Peter then warns,

"Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position." (2 Peter 3:17 NIV, emphasis added)
And Paul passionately teaches,

"Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." (Romans 3:31 NIV, emphasis added)
And long before that King Solomon mentioned,

"He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination." (Proverbs 28:9 NASB)
As well as the Psalmists,

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever." (Psalm 111:10 NASB, emphasis added)
"All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." (Psalm 119:160 NIV, emphasis added)
And last, but certainly not least, Yeshua's final testimony in Revelation, first quoted here from KJV which uses the Greek manuscripts that read "poiountes tas entolas" (do his commandments) instead of "plunontes tas solas" (wash their robes),

"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14 KJV, emphasis added)
The original Aramaic agrees (and further clarifies) in stating,

"Blessed are they who do His (Master [HaShem's]) Mitzvot, that they may have a right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city." (Revelation 22:14 AENT, with Name edit, emphasis added)
Now, I am not in a position to make such a judgment call as to who enters the Kingdom, but I do know that they will have to account for all of their thoughts, words and deeds on the Day of Judgment (Proverbs 18:5, Ecclesiastes 12:14, Matthew 12:36) and that the Almighty will let them know then if what they taught was the right thing or not. But despite that, I do feel that all those who fear (Psalm 111:10) and are humbled before HaShem (James 4:6) are saved by grace through their faith and will enter the Kingdom; even those who may break the least of the commandments and teach others to do the same. Though, who really wants to be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven?


To sum things up, we are saved by the gift of grace from G-d, through faith in Yeshua our Mashiyach. This gift is unwrapped by our repentance, where we then receive HaShem’s Set-Apart (Holy) Spirit, with immersion (mikveh) being a sign of the atonement and washing away of our sins. Upon being born again from the Spirit, we receive a new heart with new desires (Ezekiel 36:26). This renewed covenant is where Torah will be written upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33) and the Torah is G-d’s righteous instruction, which teaches us how to love Him and one another, producing the fruits of the Spirit we receive from turning towards Him (repenting) and having Him work in our lives. Torah observance was, over time, expected by the original Apostles of all who would join in the faith (both Jew and Gentile; Acts 15:21). We are all one in Mashiyach, and as such, keeping the Torah and Feast Days is about serving HaShem, not being Jewish. Jewish customs and traditions are not guaranteed to line up with the Scriptures themselves, and being one under Mashiyach means to follow Him exclusively. Both Jew and Gentile have to give up traditions and practices in order to be united in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Life that is in our Master and Redeemer, Yeshua the Messiah; the Word made flesh.

Immanuel my brethren

For more information on these teachings, I recommend that everyone visit and purchase a copy of the Aramaic English New Testament, one of the translations used in this essay. It is complete with approximately 1700 footnotes and 350 pages of appendices based upon the original Netzari faith from a strict Scriptural basis (not bound or funded by any religious denomination or doctrine; only guided by the Spirit of G-d for the love of HaShem).

May Adonai bless you and keep you all.

Shalom U'Vrachot.


Want the same message given from a Mainstream Christian source via a passionate sermon? Then please take the time to watch this entire video. Remember, there is nothing more important than our eternal deliverance from death.