Grace is always merited?

11 October 2019

Series: Shabbat sermons

Grace is always merited?

What does it mean to believe in someone? If you believe in a person or a cause, you would automatically change your life to reflect your beliefs. When someone believes in you, you would expect them to act on their faith by supporting you and encouraging you. If someone believes in a cause, we expect them to act on their faith by supporting the cause in every way possible. If, on the other hand, someone claimed to believe in you but never supported you or encouraged you, you would soon say they were all talk. Do you see how we all expect faith to be active?

When a person accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, we would tell them they are justified by faith and saved by grace through faith. Over the years that follow, we would time and time again ask them to avoid legalism at all costs because legalism will make “Christ of no effect.” When they question us to define legalism, so they know what to avoid, we would something along the lines of “Jesus did it all for you, so you do not have to do anything, just believe.”

When a person comes to Christ, we are teaching them passive faith.

Then it gets confusing for most new Christians. After we have taught them not to do anything, we tell them we expect a change in their behavior. We expect them to show their new faith in allegiance to our denominational doctrines. If they cant, adhere to our denominational principles, we consider them to be backslidden and not saved. So it is easy to see that 99,9% of all denominations do expect new converts to show an active faith as long as the object of their faith is denominational principles and doctrines. This is why Christians tend to introduce themselves with their denominational label instead of “I am a Christian, saved by the Blood of Yeshua.”

So what should be the object of personal faith? Ought it not to be whatever the Bible says it should be, considering God wrote the Bible and humans decided on doctrinal traditions?

In John 5, Yeshua says something exciting; He claims to have come in His Father’s name. As Christians, we believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the Son of God. So if God is His Father, and He has come in His Father’s name, what does that mean? The obvious and most plain meaning is Yeshua’s given name.

Yeshua is short for Yehoshua, and Yehoshua means Yehovah saves. Yehovah is the personal name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Bible. So the given name of Yeshua means Yehovah saves, that is why His name confirms His identity as Yehovah. He is Yehovah, who saves. (John 1, 8:58)

The second meaning is in the term “name” or Shem in Hebrew. We all remember how Yeshua spoke Hebrew and was born in Israel. He was raised in a Jewish Hebrew culture and used Hebrew idioms and expressions when He talked. Shem, or name in English, refers to a person’s character and personality. So when Yeshua in John 5 says He has come in His Father’s name, He is saying He has the same character and personality as His Father Yehovah. But He is also telling us how His given name means Yehovah saves.

What is the character of Yehovah? Most Christians are not able to answer this question, because they have been taught time and time again how Yehovah the God of the Old Testament is no longer relevant for them. But as we have just seen, John 5 says we can’t claim to know who Jesus is if we dont know who Yehovah is. So what is the character of Yehovah?

The Bible says time and time again He loves the Torah (the written law of Moses) and He believes it is easy for us to obey it. So because of John 5, we know Yeshua can’t have come to “free us from the law of Moses (the Torah).” Why? Because if He had, it would go against His personality and character. So if you believe Jesus came to free you from the law of Moses, your Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible. Why? Because your Jesus does not share Yehovahs character and personality.

So what about Paul the Apostle? Many Christians would agree that Yeshua came to uphold the law and not to free us from it. But then they would say something along the lines of “but Paul was given the revelation of salvation by grace, through faith. So because of Paul, we know we are only to obey the moral commandments of the Torah.”

In 1. Cor 11 Paul makes this statement, “you imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” Paul, being a Jew, understood the Jewish concept of active faith. If you believe in someone, you show that you believe by imitating them and their life. In Matthew 23:2 Yeshua tells His disciples to obey the Pharisees when they teach obedience to the written Torah. So because of Matt 23:2 and 1.Cor 11, we know there is no way Paul would agree that we are only to obey the moral commandments of the Torah. Paul never stopped being a Jew, so when He makes that statement in 1. Cor 11, He is telling us to do as He did and imitate the Jewish life of our Messiah. You can’t do that and at the same time, believe the Torah was done away with, or only the moral commandments apply to us.

If we take the Bible at face value, there is no way we can get it to say “the written Torah (the written law of Moses) does not apply to us anymore.” Why then do we teach new converts their object of faith is human-made traditions and doctrines? According to the Bible, their object of faith ought to be the Torah.

The Bible goes on to say in 1. John 2:6, and James 2:10-26, when the object of faith is the Torah, we can have the assurance of our salvation. Why?

Why did Yeshua die for us on a cross? The answer is, to atone for our sins. So if we accept the cross and receive His forgiveness, we would, of course, choose not to continue sinning. So we decide to repent and stop living a life of sin. Who gets to determine the definition of sin? The one who died on the cross or the one who need forgiveness?

The answer is, of course, the one who died on the cross. When we know from John 5, He has the same character as His Father; we know He would define sin as breaking the Torah. So then it is only natural for us to repent from breaking the Torah, to start obeying the Torah, when and if we accept the cross.

This is why the Torah and our obedience to it become the prime evidence of our saving faith. When we choose to obey the Torah, we prove to everyone around us, we have repented, and we are genuinely saved. So this is also why obedience to the Torah assures us of our salvation.

Is this not work-based salvation? No, because we obey the Torah because we have chosen to believe in the cross. We could not do anything to earn the cross; the cross is an unmerited gift. But when we accept the unmerited gift, we are expected to show our acceptance in obedience. This is when we go from being saved by unmerited grace to live by merited grace, and the Torah is the source of all the merited grace we need for this life.

Considering what we now know from John 5, a question gives itself. Why should Yeshua heal us, meet our needs, and provide for us?

We know from John 5 He is identical to His Father in character, so He can’t do anything by Himself. And we also know from Numbers 23:19 Yehovah never changes. He is the same Yehovah today as He was in the Old Testament. So to answer our question, we have to ask it this way, how did Israel get healed, provided for and protected in the Old Testament?

In Ex 19 and Deut 28:1-45, we read how Israel walked in grace because they obeyed the Torah. As long as they obeyed, everything was ok, and Yehovah did mighty miracles for them and gave them the desires of their heart. When they disobeyed, Yehovah punished them by cursing them with a disease, enemies, and problems.

Because of John 5, we know Yeshua cant do it any other way in the New Testament. We also see this with His own words in Matthew 6:25-34 when He tells us that as long as we are righteous, Yehovah will give us what we need and care for us.

Do you know see how grace is always merited in both the Old and the New Testament? Do you know see how the Torah, and our obedience to it, is what guarantees us Yehovahs help and Yeshua’s salvation and deliverance in every situation we face?