Archive for the ‘Yahushua HaMashiach’ Category

God as Game Designer

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Arguments about the “nature of God” have divided men for millenia, often to the point of bloodshed, war, and inquisition.  And although Shaul (Paul) distinguished the Biblical Yahushua from “another Jesus, whom we have not preached” in epistles like that to the Galatians, disputes about whether He could be “fully God and fully man” still abound.  Finally, while this author is familiar with differential equations and integral calculus, the math behind “is three identically equal to one” is still beyond my understanding.   But I learned long ago not to ‘divide’ from those who follow Him just because we do the math differently!   At least I have a better grasp of what the Hebrew word “echad” (Deut. 6:4) means in context.

The problem seems to rest on the concept of metaphor.  Torah, or His instruction, includes stories and examples, as well as His “statutes, judgments, and commandments.”  Yahushua taught using parables, among other things.  YHVH is described in a number of ways that humans can relate to — King, Master, Father, Husband, Judge, Lawgiver, Savior, and Creator among them — but He is clearly more than even all of these.   “As the heavens are higher than the earth, My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” *

Some time ago, I came across another, more “modern” metaphor that many people have found helpful, perhaps because it helps avoid certain traditional stereotypes, and may even have some parallels to quantum physics, since most of us struggle with concepts like, “how can the Creator be outside space and even time?”

Consider a brand new computer video/interactive game, like Worlds of Warcraft or countless others.  How does the designer go about developing a whole new “fantasy world”?  There are literally many layers to the effort – from what kind of computer hardware and operating system will run it, to crafting the rules of the game, the types of characters who will inhabit it, and, of course, deciding the purpose of the game itself.**

What the designer does, up front, in other words, is to literally outline the “torah” for this virtual universe — the instruction, even the laws of nature and the rules for the inhabitants.

But more to the point, how does the creator of a world interact with his creation?  How does he test the game, and communicate with its inhabitants?  Does He talk to some of the people – say, from a burning bush or cloud – or does He speak with a voice that rattles the mountains?  Might He even choose to participate in the game in the same form as one of those within it, by literally becoming a player, entering His creation as a character within it, subject to the rules He Himself Wrote?

Think about the implications of the metaphor of YHVH as “Game Designer.”

What do those creatures inside the electronic universe think?  Can they even begin to conceive of how the very fabric of their entire world runs on a computer system that is utterly outside their ability to perceive?  And how much more so, then, the mind and capabilities of the Creator of that entire system?  (Could one even, “see His face and live?”  Certainly not in any way they could understand.)  Even their perception of time is utterly different from the Creator, who is “outside” their time reckoning.  (He can hit the pause button, for example — and they’d never know it.)

So, when the Creator chooses to enter that world as a participant — what is the nature of the entity those WITHIN that universe see?  Certainly an aspect of Him they can relate to.  And it is one which “does the will of the One Who sent Him,” too.  Literally, in the Hebraic meaning of the term, that person “comes in His Name,” and does exactly as He directs.

But, would they say that the representation of the Creator they see from their perspective is “identically equal” to the very person of the Creator ‘Himself’?  And does it really matter?

In THIS Universe, our own Creator has given us His instruction about how to “win the game.”  That instruction includes the fact that we must t’shuvah, or “return to Him,” and seek to obey Him, as we would a Father, King, or Master, so that we might dwell in His house forever.  He even says, “if you love Me, keep My commandments.”  But thankfully, He doesn’t require us to know exactly how His design works, or to understand His nature in full.

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*  Isaiah 55:9

**  How does one save the fairy princess, or liberate the forces of Good from the Dark Tower?  Are there angels and demons, evil armies, orcs, dwarves, and hobbits, or flying monkeys and dragons to lead or to fight?  What powers, capabilities, limitations, and authorities to each have, and so on, and so on.

Cleaning house: Pesach vs Easter

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

The “Spring Feasts” of YHVH occur at this time of year, beginning with the time of Pesach, or Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Most people are aware of the command that we are to eat no leavened bread during that week, and are told (Exodus 12:15, 19, etc) to get the leaven (or “chametz”, in the Hebrew) completely OUT of our houses.

The metaphor which connects yeast or “chametz” with sin is also probably familiar to most readers here.  Yeast, like sin, can literally be a “growing” thing, which takes root in our houses, and spreads — almost like a cancer.  Indeed, “a little leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9, 1 Cor 5:6, and the MANY references of Yahushua to the “leaven of the Pharisees”).  Pesach is the historic time for “spring cleaning”, and getting the ‘sin’ out of our houses, in preparation for the dramatic events to follow.

But there is more to it!

Much of the symbolism of the Passover has to do with marriage, and with both the promise of the Covenant, and the abomination  of idolatry, or literal spiritual adultery.  It is the imagery of unfaithful wives who are called ‘whores’ (like both the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah were, and for which they were sent again into exile and bondage) because they went after other gods.  Time and again, “treacherous Judah” and “backsliding Israel“  (see Jeremiah 3) both committed idolatry, then failed to “return unto Me with her whole heart.

But it is also about reconciliation, and the promise of renewal of ‘right relationship’ with YHVH — if ONLY we will t’shuvah (“turn around”, or repent) and RETURN to Him.

Pesach is also a time of spiritual conflict, between the worship of YHVH, as He specifies, and the “prince of this world”, who has sought to pervert what is Written since the Garden of Eden by ‘twisting’ — sometimes just a little bit, and then later by a lot.  It is why Scripture so clearly forbids “adding to” and “subtracting from” His Word, and warns so clearly against attempting to “honor” Yah in the ways of pagan ‘gods’ (Deuteronomy 12:30-32, among many).

I realize that drawing any distinction between the Passover of our Creator* and the pagan aspects of what has become “Easter” can be a very difficult topic, and a source of strife and division.  I have no doubt that this is exactly what the Adversary intended.  But, if we are to “speak His Truth boldly” — as we ought to, is it something which must be addressed.

It takes only a very cursory study of pagan goddess worship to realize that “Easter” and the vast majority of the “cute harmless traditions” that surround it are exactly what our Creator so explicitly forbade, especially when it comes to “mixing” the clean and the unclean, the ”holy” or set-apart to Him, and the profane.  Not only are eggs, bunnies, and east-facing ‘sunrise services’ all explicitly pagan fertility rites, but the real story of those “harmless traditions” is even more heinous.  Can there be a more severe indictment of Constantinian “Xtianity” than the realization that not ONLY has the most important event in all human history been co-opted in direct rebellion to YHVH, but that the Appointed times of Yah which He repeatedly commanded we keep “forever”  have been changed, and even His very NAME has been expunged — to be replaced by a false pagan goddess (Ishtar, Astarte, Ashteroth, Oestre, “Easter”).

No wonder He Wrote through His prophet such a graphic description of His wrath about exactly what evil was done then, and is again being done now, in Ezekiel chapters 8 and 9.  Read it for yourself, and observe that everything from the sunrise service to Lent (the forty days of “women weeping for Tammuz”) are referred to as “abominations” — and that the death sentence He specifies will “begin at My sanctuary“.

The story points out that there are nevertheless still people who “sigh and cry at the abominations” being done by those who profess to honor Him.  They will receive His mark, and be separated and spared at the time of vengeance.  The lesson is unmistakeable.  And there truly IS, “nothing new under the sun.”

A columnist I admire frequently refers to the concept of “negative learning”, as is now widely taught in what pass for ‘schools’ in much of the world today.  The “negative knowledge” which results is in fact worse than ignorance, because it is simply WRONG, and thus harmful, and in that it must first be UN-learned before the poor student can even get back to zero.  Only then can real, POSITIVE learning again commence.

Unfortunately, this is what much of modern “Churchianity” amounts to — not just things which are in error, but often so WRONG that they must be UN-learned before those who have been so deceived by popes, priests, pharisees, and parasites can even get back to zero.   The ‘baggage’ of tradition which is literally hateful to our Creator, and which Yahushua so consistently condemned, must be unlearned in many cases, and eliminated from our house, before we can return to Him, and learn to “worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

Paganism is a poison.  It is a sin which YHVH forbids in the most explicit way possible.  And, like leaven, it can infect a house.  It can grow like cancer.
Whether we like it or not, such imagery is an abomination, and must be removed from our house, and our lives:

Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: [but] thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it [is] a cursed thing.     (Deuteronomy 7:25-26)

We must get rid of the ‘chametz’ – get rid of the toxic leaven – and get the pagan traditions OUT of our house.

Thankfully, He has already made provision for our failure, and has even borne our guilt.  “‘Return to Me’, says YHVH…Return, O backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding…for truly in YHVH Elohekah is the Salvation of Israel.“     (Yermeyahu/Jeremiah 3:22-4:1)

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*  Note, of course, that YHVH does not call it the “Passover of the Jews”, but in fact, always “MY feasts”, and “MY Appointed Time!”

Three ‘Hot Button’ Traditions — and what they tell us

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Jeremiah 16:19 reminds us that we have “inherited lies from our fathers” ….and that there will come a time when people from all of the nations to which we will have been scattered will wake up and begin to question what we have been taught.  Many of those ‘lies’ take the form of traditions that we accept without question.  They’re so IMPORTANT to us that we just naturally seem to ASSUME that they must be just fine with God.

And maybe that is why some traditions — and, arguably, particularly the most pagan in origin — may be so pernicious, and inspire such vehement reaction when challenged.  And perhaps the “acid test” of whether or not we are willing to separate ourselves from those lies that we have inherited from our fathers is the way in which react to those challenges.  Do we “study, to show ourselves approved” and react like the Bereans, by searching out the Scriptures for ourselves?  Or do we, like those who Yahushua called ‘hypocrites‘ in Matthew 15:7-9, “worship Him in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men“?

On that score I will suggest that there are at least three obvious “hot buttons” that may give us a clue to our own willingness to accept His Word, rather than our own traditions.  Here, then, are three nominations of my own for the “Biggest Hot Buttons” based on the traditions of men, but not of Scripture.  All three are so pervasive, so widespread, that some Christians react with anger even to a mere questioning of their validity.

Certainly this season is one of the times when one of the biggest and most obvious of those comes “front and center”.   It’s Xmas.   But many people who have begun to return to a Hebrew-oriented mindset find that one a good place to start — along, of course, with the Sabbath.  They both have to do with “appointed times” that our Father said to keep “forever“, but the ‘Church’ has said, “no you don’t” — not any more.  His spring and fall feasts have essentially been forgotten entirely — or replaced by other alleged “holy” days.  The Sabbath was changed, but by MEN, and not God.  And, as many of us are now aware, SO was the alleged date of the birth of the Messiah.

It turns out that even a little bit of research will suffice to show that, no – “shepherds watching over their flocks by night” did NOT happen in late December, because it was too cold.  But the ‘winter solstice’ was a time of great significance to worshipers of the various “sun gods”, and the pagan tradition was adopted in SPITE of the warnings like Deuteronomy chapters 7, and 12, and many others*.  While Mithras and any number of other false pagan gods that shared December 25th birthday, the True Messiah never did.

It’s not too difficult to demonstrate that He was probably born in autumn, during the Fall Feasts of YHVH, and almost certainly at the time of Sukkot, or Tabernacles (coincidentally, the word could even be translated “mangers”), when all of the men of the land would have naturally been returning to Jerusalem as commanded anyway.  What time would be more natural for the emperor to decree a tax census?  When we study His Word in context, a consistent pattern of confirmation emerges.

Perhaps an almost as much of a “tradition of man” that has been accepted without question is the idea that a man can have only one wife, in spite of the repeated evidence of Scripture, from patriarchs and common men to kings, and the fact that YHVH not only allows but even on occasion commands the practice.  Not only does He provide the rules for it, but even YHVH Himself says that He had more than one wife:  Jeremiah 3, and Ezekiel 23.  Check it out for yourself, and “see if these things are true”, or if the Messiah ever prohibited that which His Father did not.     But “Monogamy”  is treated today more like an idol than a tenet of Scripture.  Like Christmas, and Easter, it may offend our tradition, even our sensibility, to discover that practices we accept or reject without question can be pleasing to us, but offensive to Him, and vice-versa.  But the fact remains that the patriarch Yakov (Jacob) had four wives – and indeed all of the twelve tribes of Israel come through them — houses which those who follow Him today still seek to be “grafted in” to.

Worse still, however, is the problem that when we begin to rewrite His rules, especially for something as critical as marriage, the bitter fruit eventually becomes undeniable.   Today, we even hear of “believers” willing to accept state-licensed so-called “gay marriage” that He clearly calls “abomination” – so long as it’s “Monogamous”, of course!

Finally, let us not forget the question of what is “food“, and what is NOT.     This one, at least, has an interesting characteristic that it shares with the first two, but which is more easily seen.  There are several places in Scripture where later texts have apparently been modified to “add” an interpretation which is not supported by the “words in red” of the Messiah Himself, or the Torah He quoted.  For example, in Mark 7:19, some versions add words to the effect that “thus he declared all foods clean” — in spite of the fact that such a change would have clearly contradicted not only His own claim in Matthew 5:17, but the evidence of much of His own instruction!  The question, of course, is “what did the Author of Scripture mean by the words translated as ‘food’?”  Yahushua never declared pigs, for example, to BE food!  And then there’s Peter’s famous dream (Acts 10:9-28).  In contrast to much of ‘church’ teaching — and the traditions of fallen men — Peter actually TELLS us what the dream means (v 28), and that it is NOT about food, but about MEN!  And not only that, but even years AFTER the death and resurrection of the Messiah, with Whom he walked and studied, Peter has STILL never eaten something which he knows is “NOT food”.  If “Jesus declared all foods clean,” then why didn’t He tell Peter?

Indeed, there is a lesson for all of us in all of these three example of “hot buttons” — and it’s exactly what He preached and taught so many times, and in so many ways:  “…by your traditions, you have made the commandments of YHVH of no effect.” (Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:13, etc)

We need to be sure that what we believe is true, really IS True — even to the point of,“let El be True – and every man a liar”.  Thankfully, there’s an easy test:  compare what we have been “told it says” with what is actually “Written”, just as Yahushua stated so many times in His first major public teaching, the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ of Matthew chapter 5.  Not only is He the same, “yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” but His Word is CONSISTENT.  He didn’t tell us to keep His Sabbaths “forever”, and then “do away” with them — much less substitute pagan traditions that He warned us about.  He didn’t change His mind about what He calls “marriage” – and what He did not.  And when He died in our place, He did not change the way OUR bodies, or that of pigs, were designed to work.

When our “tradition” – regardless of how we may feel about it – is in opposition to His Word, it’s we who should learn to change.  He says, “If you love Me, keep my commandments,”  and warns us confusing our tradition with His instruction. 

No question – it’s hard for us to go back and re-examine our prized traditions.  That’s particularly true of some, perhaps, as many who have begun the process are learning.  But that’s an even better reason for making the effort, and earnestly seeking to see what He says about them, rather than assuming we know what He SHOULD have said!

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*  Jeremiah 10 is a shock to many people who can’t help but recognize one obvious pagan tradition in the description the prophet gives.

Does the ‘law’ apply to lost sheep – or only ‘the Jews’?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

We now live in a world which denies the Truth of SO much of Scripture that the promised “curses” for rebellion should be undeniable.  A fake “money” that He calls “abomination”  (Lev. 19:35-6; Deut. 25:15-16; Prov. 11:1, etc, etc) is in the process of a literal world-wide meltdown.  Plagues associated with eating that which is “NOT food” abound.  Other things He called “abomination” are even being licensed as “marriage” – with the same bitter consequences.  And yet some who claim to “believe” in Him, and call Him “Lord, lord,” still do not DO what He says.  (Luke 6:46)

Recently I read a column by an on-line friend and columnist who has generally been a reasonably thorough Bible-scholar, even though we clearly differ on some major aspects of our walk (like Xmas and Easter!)  But because the errors he makes, and the logical trap into which he fell, is so pervasive today, others may benefit from taking a look at them, and one set of rebuttals.

The responsibility of Christians to obey the Law of Moses is a subject that comes up from time to time, which always surprises me because the Bible is perfectly clear on the matter…it is absolutely bizarre that some Christians are still under the impression that they have an obligation to abide by Jewish Law.

Christians are not Jews.  Christians are not obligated to follow Mosaic Law.  Ask any Jew, he should be able to confirm it.  As will the Bible, in Acts 15…

whereupon he proceeds to SKIP OVER the key element to the whole story:  that the disciples agreed that new, non-Torah-literate converts to the Messiah should start with four things (avoid eating blood, and “foods” polluted by idolatry or strangulation, and from sexual immorality) and then proceed to LEARN the REST!  How do we know that?  Because the Torah, or instruction of Moses, is taught “in every city” and is read on “every Sabbth“!  (Acts 15:21)

And Who “Christians” SHOULD be asking about that is He Whom they proclaim as Master, Teacher, and Savior!

But this author then even goes on to distort the obvious rebuttal to his error, from the very first major public address Yahushua ever gave:

The fact that Jesus Christ did not abolish the Law says nothing about its continued inapplicability to those who are not Jews.  In fact, to claim it now applies to non-Jews when it did not before on the basis of Matthew 5:17-20 is clearly self-contradictory, for the obvious reason that making it applicable to people to whom it did not previously apply would be changing the letter of it.

Unless, of course, we ignore everything else He said, about who it applies to…
…ALL of those who choose to “come unto Him”!  And that included not only “the Jews” (whether that means only descendents of the tribe of Judah, or those who were formerly of the Biblical southern kingdom of Judah, or something different today) but even the Canaanite woman who came to Him in faith.  Most importantly, however, His reply to her in Matthew 15:24 shows clearly just how misguided and uninformed that claim is:

“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

And just who is THAT?  The “lost sheep” of the “house of Israel” — at a MINIMUM — are those who were “scattered” by YHVH, exactly* as He promised!  ALL of that “mixed multitude”; not ONLY the descendents of every one of the tribes of the children of Jacob/Yakov, which included peoples who not only never called themselves “Jews” but never even KNEW their own heritage, because by the time He came, they were obviously already “lost”!  And, just as Caleb was “grafted in” even though he was not a genetic descendent of Jacob, YHVH has allowed those of us who are not even “sons of Israel” (or simply don’t know) to be ADOPTED into His house, and become His.  The reference to “lost sheep” who were “scattered” in Ezekiel 34 is undeniable (as is the “why”, for those with ears to hear!)

And those who still claim that means His message of obedience to His Instruction applies ONLY to “the Jews” have a real “theological problem” on their hands!

So how can the implications of one of the most important “messianic” promises in Scripture – to the lost and scattered sheep of Israel -  be ignored?

“Thus saith YHVH; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come… I will even gather you…and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof
…And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

And do NOT overlook the fact that He says there, just as He does in John 14, that they will obey His statutes (‘chuqqim’ in the Hebrew) and ordinances (“mishpatim”).

Readers here probably already understand why translating the word “torah” from the Hebrew into either “nomos” in Greek or “law” in English can be misleading:  His “instruction” INCLUDES things like statutes, judgments, ordinances, and commandments – but is not LIMITED to them!  After all, why did the Messiah say that He spoke in parables?  And what is the point of stories like Adam and Eve in the garden, and the binding of Isaac by his father Abraham, Joseph being betrayed and sold into bondage by his brothers, and the exodus of the “mixed multitude” from Egypt, and so many others, if not to teach us about Him, and His promises?

But why were the children of Israel — ALL of ‘em, by the way, not just ‘the Jews’ — sent out of ‘the land’ and back into “bondage” to begin with?  An answer to that question, obvious though it might be, exposes the rest of the “Big Lie” being promulgated here.

It’s the same answer – literally – that has applied since the Garden:  Rebellion.  To Him, Who created us, and made us, and warned us, and has “known the end from the beginning”, and promised us His “Yahshua”; literally the Salvation of Yah.

And, while that Truth is repeated over and over and OVER again in Scripture (we are all still evidently “stiff-necked”, and in need of the repeated lessons, reproof, correction, and chastening) one of the most poignant of all is Deuteronomy chapter 30:

“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where YHVH Elohekah drives you,
and you return to YHVH and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,
that YHVH Elohekah will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where YHVH your God has scattered you.

Although some in the Sunday church still try to claim that “all” has been fulfilled (in spite of the painfully obvious fact that the “new Covenant” prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31 to BOTH the house of Judah AND the house of Israel has not.  Is there really any literate Christian who can deny that there are still some people SOMEWHERE who don’t know Him?)…
…it is equally clear that “all” of the lost sheep have yet to be regathered, and (Acts 1:6) He has not yet restored His kingdom to “Israel”  (whatever some teach that may mean!)

The explanation for those facts are also contained in Deuteronomy 30, and serve as a prophetic antidote to the poisonous lie that He “did away with” His own instruction, lied when He said He ‘changes not’, or said “if you love Me, keep my commandments (“mitzvot”)”  — nor that it was “too hard” to do what He asks of us (verses 11-14).  It was, in fact, the “heavy burdens” of men’s traditions that He so rightly condemned…in places like Matthew chapter 23 and Mark chapter 7, which made His Word of “no effect.”

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live…”                       (Deut. 30:19)

Choose life!

His earthly ministry and perfect sacrifice dramatically underscore both the warning and the promise that He made in the first verses of that chapter!  Those things which He said would happen have happened!  And now, those who love Him, must “return” to Him and obey His voice, just as He says.  This, I submit, is why He said that He is the “good shepherd” who came that we might “have life, and have it more abundantly!”  (John 10:10-11)

And note, too, that “heaven and earth” are the VERY SAME “two witnesses” that He referenced in Matthew 5:17-19 when He said He would not change the smallest bit of His own instruction!  They still stand as proof that His promises, and His instruction, for ALL of us whose choose life through obedience to His Word still apply!  If we love Him, obey Him.  Not only does it result in blessing, but it is, as Paul said, our “reasonable service”.

Choose life, “that you may love YHVH…that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days

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*  Proofs from Scripture abound.  See not only Deuteronomy chapter 30, but places like Esther 3:8, prophecies including Psalm 44 and 60, Isaiah 18, Jeremiah 30:10-11, 50:17, and famously chapter 31.  Others include prophecies of Joel, and Zecariah.  But perhaps even more undeniable is are the prophecies of Ezekiel (chapters 20, 28, 29, 36) in addition to the ones quoted above!  If those references aren’t clear – then neither will be the introductions of both Jakov (James) and Kefa (Peter) in their own letters to the “scattered” sheep!

James 1:1 –
Yakov, a bondservant of Elohim and of Yahushua Hamashiach, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings..”

I Peter 1:1
Kefa, an apostle of Yahushua Hamashiach, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…

“He who does not love Me does not keep My Word; and the Word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s Who sent Me.   (John 14:24)

A genuine choice – to “come out of her”

Monday, September 24th, 2012

 

The “Torah Made Flesh” told us on more than one occasion – and in more than one way – that we could not serve “two masters”.  Shaul (Paul) took up the same theme, and added a bit more directly Torah-based midrash, when he observed that “you are his servant whom you submit yourself to obey” (Romans 6:16)

Given the current hype surrounding the “most important election EVER,”  (aren’t they ALWAYS?) this may be a good time to review the issue of the “choice” again being presented to ‘registered voters’ as to which servant of the prince of this world they would rather have “rule over them”.   All over the world, people have been deluded into thinking that “democracy”  (a form of government which was NEVER consistent with, for example, the Constitution for the united States, and which the Founders uniformly rejected and railed against) is something OTHER than “mob rule” or “mob-ocracy”.  In the absence of legal protections against the inevitable (like the long-forgotten Bill of Rights), such a “demon-ocracy” generally degrades quickly into a state where 51%  of people exercise dictatorial control over the lives, liberty, and property of the other 49%.

I have written many times about the fact that, while Scripture cites several examples of things which look a bit like “popular votes” which nevertheless, shall we say, didn’t work out so well…the converse is not true:  usually the masses seem to make the wrong choice, and reject Him.  The story of I Samuel in chapter 8 may be among the best examples, where the people of Israel told the prophet to “give us a king like all the other nations”.   Scripture tells us (I Sam. 8:7) that YHVH even told the prophet to listen to them, “for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”

In spite of additional warnings (which, by the way, sound a heck of a LOT like what Amerikans, and indeed the denizens of most slave states in the world, can see out their own windows) the people persisted.  And the king they got was Saul.

The “End of the Book” (Rev. 18:4) tells us as well that there will come a time when we are to “come out of her”  so as to NOT participate with the sins of “the Whore,” and so that we do not, as a result, partake of the coming, and now-increasingly obvious, “plagues”.   Other admonitions, like “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,” and even “touch not the unclean thing” make a similar point.

People are being fed a lie:  that to refuse to participate in a corrupt, unlawful, and unBiblical process somehow means one should not only have no right to complain (after all, the Freedom of Speech has ALREADY been revoked.  Just look at the so-called “free speech zones” set up well AWAY from the most recent RNC sham.  Not only was the only remaining alternative candidate muzzled and not permitted to speak, or even have his name placed in nomination — in SPITE of the “rules” — but elected delegates were unseated and coerced via the not-subtle threat of arrest and a nearby gulag especially set up for the purpose!)  The opposite is in fact true.  It is those who AGREE to abide by the outcome of a process they choose to participate in who must bear the consequences of their folly.  One could in fact say, as the Bible does, that people who should have known better, “have their reward.”

While the Book of Job is perhaps one of the most difficult in all of Scripture for most people raised as Christians to understand, because it seems to demonstrate that YHVH, who created EVERYTHING, thus permitted “evil” as well as “good” — it also has some of the most poignant lessons for us today.  “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me.”  (Job 3:25)  In order for the choice to love and obey Him to be a real one, the alternative, too, must be a real choice.  Unless the choice to walk in rebellion to Him is genuine, a “choice” to follow Him is as meaningless and hollow as the “choice” facing Soviet citizens under Stalin, or post-Constitutional Amerikans.

Our “savior”  DID not, and will not, come from Washington, DC…or Shanghai…or Moscow, Brussels, London, or the Hague…in spite of what politicians, pundits, and the world’s ‘priests of another god’ would like us to believe.

The Declaration of Independence asserts that lawful government rests on the “consent of the governed”.   When the Founders served lawful notice to the world, and appealed to God as the “Supreme Judge of the world” that they would not submit to a “tyrant” who sought to reduce them to despotism — they literally withdrew their consent from that “other master” who was acting contrary to the Creator.

Wherever we live in the world, we face a similar choice today.  As the fiat economies based on the abomination of “dishonest weights and measures” collapse, and hunger, pestilence, and even famine, spread, the Rule of Law will continue to deteriorate.  The “jackboots” of a worldwide police state, already painfully obvious, will continue to advance as the move to a “mark” without which no one will be allowed to “buy or sell” accelerates.

Given a ‘choice’ in opposition to Him, and His Written Word, we must learn to say, “No!”  A choice between evils is no choice at all:
“You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.”  (Exodus 23:2)

The real choice was the one expressed by Joshua (24:15):
And if it seems evil to you to serve YHVH, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
But as for me and my house, we will serve YHVH.”

Should we fail to understand the choice before us, however, the warning from Samuel is just as poignant today as it was when He first proclaimed it:

“And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and YHVH will not hear you in that day!”

The time to ‘come out of her’ is while we still have a real choice to make!

Hebrew Roots 101

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Perhaps the most obvious, and frequently-asked, of all questions concerning the idea of what it means to “come out of” the world — and of the ‘Church’ of Babylon, or Egypt, or Washington, DC — has to do with what is DIFFERENT about following Him as a “Torah-Observant Believer”.  Isn’t it more than food, or keeping His Sabbath?  Are the differences significant ENOUGH that we might even refer to II Cor. 11:4 and suggest that some of those churches even preach “another ‘Jesus’, whom we have not preached“?*

Certainly we can suggest to people that our faith in YHVH must be built on the Rock that He has always said constitutes the foundation:  His instruction, aka “torah,” and the fact that He, without question or failure, always and absolutely keeps His Covenants.  Every bit of His teaching and instruction, literally from “Bereshiet (Genesis) to Maps,” tells an utterly consistent story.  But when it comes to any number of the ‘doctrines of men’,  most ‘Sunday churches’ still generally teach tradition rather than Scripture.  So to explain to a skeptical Christian what is different about following Him in obedience (and walking according to His commandments) ‘as Written‘ can be anything but a brief undertaking.

Is it possible to explain all of those differences in a short teaching?   Of course!  And the answer is amazingly simple.

Start the way He did!  The teaching known popularly as the “Sermon on the Mount”, contained in Matthew chapters 5 to 7, is a perfect introduction to what He did — because the Messiah Himself tells us what He came to do, as well as what He did NOT!  And it is easy to find, and remember, because it is essentially the very first major teaching He gave.

And remember who He was talking to!  For the most part, they were people who had some understanding of the Scriptures, but who had been deceived by teachers who had not been doing their jobs.  He would later call many of such unfaithful servants and blind guides things like “hypocrites”  — and worse — for exactly that reason!

These were people, however, who arguably had a better understanding of ‘the Torah’ than many in today’s churches do.  But, like those who have been deceived by the modern Pharisees, many in His audience had been misled to believe that their own, often pagan, tradition was what Scripture actually SAID (they may have even claimed it was ‘law’).

Yahushua started with things they knew, at least in part, because Scripture promises blessings for obedience to YHVH.  These include things like the beginning of Deuteronomy chapter 28, and culminate in the ultimate directive to “choose life!” of chapter 30, verse 19.  His introduction, therefore, is a reprise of the blessings YHVH bestows upon His children.  The first time He speaks directly of Himself and what He has come to do, however, it is about ‘torah’.  After all, He is the “Word Made Flesh”, and makes VERY clear right up front that He has NOT come to ‘destroy the torah‘ but to “fulfill”…literally to “fill up” His instruction, and the testimony of prophets who spoke of Him, with meaning that had not, until that time unfolded, been clear:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.   (MatitYahu 5:17)

Furthermore, we can see that “heaven and earth” still exist.  And since even most children understand**  simple logic, the meaning of His next statement is undeniable — even if it conflicts with much doctrine of ‘the Church’:

“For assuredly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle will by any means pass from  the [torah] until all is fulfilled.  (v. 18)

Having established that He did not come to change His own Word, and warning against “teaching men so” besides, He proceeds to give just about the best point-by-point refutation of the ‘doctrine of the Pharisees’ — both of that time, and those that followed — that a new Believer will find.  It was His choice of repeated verbal ‘template’ and imagery that is so profound — and so VITAL for us to recognize!  Time and again, He makes the same point:  “You have heard it said“  illustrated by some example of a Biblical-sounding doctrine with a bit of a twist, followed by His own correction, “...but I TELL YOU.“  In every single case, what they had “heard it said” was wrong, as He patiently explained, and what He told them was EXACTLY WHAT WAS WRITTEN.  Why, because He was the “Word Made Flesh”, of course!

And what better introduction to the differences between what each of us has “heard it said” that He taught, or — well, SHOULD have taught, if only He understood whatever traditions and doctrines of fallen men are being promoted at the time — and what is actually Written than His very first sermon!  Yahushua, as opposed to “another ‘Jesus’ — who came to change His own instruction and thus make Himself out to be some type of false prophet,” makes perfectly clear the difference between what it means to BELIEVE Him, as opposed to merely believing IN Him.

No wonder the summary of that teaching ends with the observation that those who heard it “were astounded!

For he taught them as [one] having Authority.”  And why that is should be obvious!

The best way for us to explain the difference between the real Yahushua, who didn’t change the smallest part of His teaching and instruction, and “another Jesus, whom we have not preached,”  is to be able to do so exactly as He did:  What you have “heard it said” is NOT necessarily what “is Written!”

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*  II Cor. 11:4

** Case in point:  When a father tells his son that — if he expects to earn some desired reward  — but not “until you clean this room” and wait “until after supper”, it means BOTH conditions must be met.  Those with seminary degrees who claim that the “law (meaning His Torah) is done away with” because “all” has somehow been fulfilled need to understand simple logic as well as a child.

In the Name of…

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

 

How many times have we heard expressions in various Christian churches about the claim to do any number of things “in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ”?  Do we really understand what that phrase means? Yahushua made it clear that He came “in the Name of” His Father, YHVH, and frequently said things like, “the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.” (Yahuchanon/John 10:25)

Even more dramatically, what may well be the most blunt warning in Scripture hinges on an understanding of that concept.  Yahushua reminded people that it was DOING the will of YHVH that mattered, rather than simply claiming His Name, and then added,  “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! ‘ ” [disregard His Torah]    (Matt. 7:21-23)

Is it possible to claim to “come in His name”, and yet not know what that means?  Is it possible that there might be more to it than knowing how to pronounce the ‘tetragrammaton’ –  YHVH — or recognizing that His earthly mother never actually called the Savior “Jesus”?

To understand the meaning of the phrase, we must understand the Biblical Hebrew culture.  And perhaps the best example of the concept is found in the story of the search for a bride for Yitzak ( or Isaac) in Bereshiet/Genesis chapter 24.

The story of the servant of Abraham who is sent to bring home a bride for his son is the longest personal narrative in the entire Torah.  The level of detail, in contrast to most other stories, is striking…and there must be a reason.  And yet, in spite of that level of detail, the servant himself is never once identified by name.**   It seems that the fact that he WAS such a ‘good and faithful servant’, who did what his master sent him to do, is the thing that really matters.

Abraham asked his servant to swear that he would contract with and bring home a suitable bride from his own kin; that he would faithfully execute the task he was charged with fulfilling.  He then sent his servant out on a large caravan of camels, laden with goods which would serve both as gifts for the bride and her family, and surety to demonstrate that he did, in fact, have the authority to contract on behalf of his master; that he really did, “come in his name”:
“…for all his master’s goods were in his hand.”   (Bereshiet/Genesis 24:10)

His master’s wealth, and his son’s future, was literally placed in the servant’s hands.  He was entrusted with a tremendous amount of responsibility, and empowered to first find, and then contract “in his name” for one of the most fundamental of all human relationships.  To put the matter in terms familiar to a modern lawyer, Abraham’s servant was given his “power of attorney”.  And such a servant, if he acts lawfully, must exercise what is called “due diligence”.

And Scripture shows that ‘the man’ did in fact do his duty faithfully, and was miraculously blessed by YHVH in the process!

Abraham’s man WAS a  “good and faithful servant” precisely BECAUSE he performed the task he was assigned in the same way he knew that his master would have.  Each of the true prophets of Yah faithfully spoke the Words that He commanded them, because they did so “in His Name”, and by His Authority.  Yahushua came in His Father’s Name, and did exactly what He came to do — even to the point of saying, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”  (Luke 22:42)

Our Savior says, “if you love Me, keep My commands.”  (Yahuchanon/John 14:15)   And His “parable of the talents” makes the point that we must learn to be faithful using what He has given us, to DO what He asks of us.  It is not enough to “claim” His Name, if we don’t follow His instruction (torah)!  If we claim to act on His behalf, it must be in accord with His will, and by keeping His commandments.

There can be no greater reward for any of us that to someday hear the glorious words, “well done, good and faithful servant!”

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** While other references in Scripture suggest strongly that the name of the servant in the story is probably Eliezer, he is always called “Abrahams’ servant”, or simply “the man” during this narrative.  That, too, seems to be an important aspect of the lesson:  it was what he DID that mattered.

Insidious Creeping Paganism

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Most people who have begun to understand what Revelation 18:4 means — where we are admonished to “come out of her, My people“, so that we do not participate in the sins of a corrupt “Babylonian” system or suffer from her coming plagues — recognize that a return to keeping Sabbath and His “appointed times” is one of the first steps.  Separating ourselves from obvious abominations like Halloween and the pagan trappings of Xmas (Jer. 10, etc) soon become similarly part of the process, even if that is not necessarily easy at first.

But there is another element of the Babylonian ‘mindset’ that is equally pervasive, and arguably equally destructive — even if it may appear to be harder to understand.  This is no doubt because it is also deeply rooted not only in pagan goddess worship, but protected by the mantle of “political correctness”.  It is the modern fallacy that men and women must somehow be made “equal” — even though His instructions for us clearly have countless distinctions — and that marriage has now “changed” so that it no longer follows the patriarchal model of Scripture.

In fact, the PC-mindset is often so deeply ingrained that even a word like ‘patriarchy’ seems to inspire many to anger, and makes it difficult for some seekers of His Truth even to be willing to read further.  But that is the point of this article!  And while neither the domineering autocrat or the “sole breadwinner” (see Proverbs 31!) who “brings home the bacon” are patriarchal models particularly supported by Scripture, these seem to be the typical pictures invoked by those who rebel against what is actually Written.  Television, in other words, often does not paint a realistic picture of what YHVH describes a marriage should be.

Whether this particular Big Lie is called ‘egalitarianism’, or even ‘radical feminism’, it is rooted in the hubris of the Whore of Babylon who will not repent of her idolatry (Rev. 18:5-7).  It is about why the ten tribes of Israel were sent into exile for idolatry (spiritual adultery).  It is about the worship of a ‘goddess’ who will not submit to the Authority of the Creator of the Universe, and instead says “I will see no sorrow.”  It is about Authority, and rebellion, and — eventually — repentance (tshuvah) and submission.   And it is a demonic doctrine which attempts to undermine the most important concepts in Scripture – from covering and Covenant to Redemption.

But the fact is that men and women are different, and have different functions in His plan for us.  “Male and female He created them” is a succinct statement of the fact that our Creator made us that way — for His own very good reasons.   And His instruction (torah) for us spells out different responsibilities and commandments for men and women as a result.  The Hebrew word “tamim” (complete, but unfortunately often rendered as “perfect”)  has a different connotation in His Word than most English-speakers recognize.  A better way to understand the word might be “fit for the PURPOSE for WHICH HE MADE US”.   We are different:  not “equal”, and certainly not better, or worse, or any such twisting of His intent.   Properly understood, that is a clear blessing*.

While entire good books** could be (and have been) written on the topic, a short article like this one can serve primarily as an introduction, and an admonition to be like the Bereans, and “search out the Truth for yourself“.  And, as is so often the case, the place to begin is “In the Beginning“, or Bereshiet (Genesis).

The essential elements of the story which concern authority and responsibility follow in chapter two.  They may be summarized, admittedly too briefly, as follows:

HaAdam (literally, ‘the man’) was first formed.  (“Temporal authority”)
Adam was tasked to give names to all the animals.  (“Naming authority”).  Later, Adam gave Chava (‘Eve’) her name as well.

(In the process, no “etzer kenegdo“, or suitable “helper” was found for him.  While in hindsight we might now consider the point obvious, it is clear that YHVH had His reasons for the activity!)

Chava (Eve) was created FOR ‘the man’ (HaAdam).
Chava was created FROM the man.
YHVH brought Chava TO the man.

Adam was given the commandment NOT to eat of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” before the creation of his wife (“isha”).  Scripture is silent about whether she “added to” the single simple commandment (by including the “neither shall you touch it” clause) or her husband did.  But, either way, it helped give the serpent (“nacash”) more than enough room to twist the truth with the famous “Two First Lies” in history.

Perhaps the most important clue in the story is contained in Gen. 3:7, however.  Read it carefully!  Chava ate first; whether it was seconds, minutes, or hours, later that her covering failed is also not part of the detail we are given.  But what IS clear is that ONLY when he finally ate, were the “eyes of BOTH of them opened“!

And — arguably the most important point of all – it is Adam who was held responsible by YHVH.  (See Rom. 5:12, I Tim. 2:13-14, etc, and note that the principle is outlined in Numbers 30:15 as well.)  This in fact MUST be the case, and it is the reason why the understanding of authority and literally the reason for the ENTIRE REST OF THE BOOK follows as a direct result!

Tom Shipley’s book*** summarizes the importance of the understanding this way:

“If Adam was not the lawful authority over Eve before the fall, then Adam’s sin could not logically be imputed to Eve or his other descendants.  If Adam’s authority over Eve is denied, then the imputation of Adam’s sin to his other descendants is denied as well.”

And then what would be the point of the sacrifice of our Messiah?

The whole story of the remainder of Scripture is about reconciliation with Him via His provision for us!

Shipley concludes, ” If the doctrine of Adam’s headship over Eve is denied, then we are left logically without a Gospel!”

The insidious doctrine of egalitarianism, with its denial of Scriptural authority and headship, goes far beyond even the carnage we see in so many “semi-Biblical” marriages today, which have a form of Torah-obedience, but ‘deny the power thereof’.  There is a blessing for obedience to our Creator, and much to be gained from continued study of His Word.  But, much like Halloween, some pagan doctrines and practices which might seem innocent enough are literally attacks on the most fundamental principle of His torah.

Do not be fooled!  Since we know (Isaiah 46:8, etc) that YHVH literally declared the end from the Beginning,  those who look forward to the eventual “Wedding Feast of the Lamb” as prospective brides must understand how the pieces fit together, and under Whose Authority they desire to be.

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“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love YHVH, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28

**  Such as Man and Woman in Biblical Law, by Thomas Shipley
    ISBN Number: 978-0-557-52900-1

***  Ibid., p. 5

Sukkot is here!

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

My apologies for the paucity of posts over the last few weeks…the time of the Fall Feasts is not only my favorite time of the year, but among the busiest!

Today’s discussion on the “Torah Teachers Round Table”, about Sukkot, may help to provide some insight into what has been, and WILL be, going on, however:

 

TTRT for 12  October, 2011 – Sukkot

Hebrew Nation Radio – TTRT page with audio player

The Biggest Lie in Xtianity

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Most people who have ever been to a sun-day church have unfortunately heard something like this taught, at one time or another:

“NO ONE can possibly EVER keep the Law” (so don’t even try)!  After all, “it’s TOO hard!”  And then there’s the ever-popular, “Jesus did away with the Law” anyway…when he “nailed it to the cross”.  The trouble is that every single one of those statements is a lie, even though they may be popular with a people who don’t care for the fact that He “changes NOT,” and is the same “yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

In other words, perhaps the very biggest Big Lie of what should probably be called “Xtianity” — in order to distinguish such religion from that taught in Scripture — is that the very Savior called the “Word Made Flesh” somehow did away with His own Written Word!

And while that is easy to prove, just from the witnesses of His own Disciples in the apostolic Writings, His Words make far more sense in CONTEXT, since the whole point of Scripture is to establish the “Rock”, the Foundation upon which everything else must rest.  For example,  after an introduction in which Yahushua explains what it means that He “comes in My Father’s Name”, He chastens those who claim to believe in the Scripture revealed through Moses, but really do not.  Yahuchanon (John) 5:46-47 then says “if you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me.”   His next statement, however, truly reveals the fallacy of the Big Lie above:
“But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe my words?

Over and over again, the Savior talks about the importance of a firm foundation, building on His Rock as opposed to shifting sand.

When it comes to a single section of Scripture which encapsulates the rebuttal to the Big Lie, my own personal favorite is almost certainly Deuteronomy chapter 30.  In speaking to the children of Israel shortly before his own death, Moses clearly knew* what would happen to them, and how they would turn to “other gods”, to idolatry, and ultimately be exiled from the land and scattered.  As such, he laid out for them not only a clear warning, but a clear choice.  And in one eloquent, and perhaps even sarcastic, exposition, Moses demolishes every aspect of the bogus claim that following the Torah of YHVH is “too hard” for us.**

Debarim (Deuteronomy) 30:10-14
“For this commandment which I command you today [is] not [too] mysterious for you, nor [is] it far off.
It [is] not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
Nor [is] it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ “

That pretty well sums it up.  No… (A) it’s NOT too hard for you, and (B) you don’t have any excuse for claiming otherwise!

“But the word [is] very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

Over and over again, Scripture says that the essence of what it means to “love Him” is to follow His teachings and obey Him, with “all our heart”, and “all our soul”.  Remember, too, that the Hebrew word for “hear” (shema) is an ACTIVE word…it really means “hear and OBEY!”  Do!

And there is another equally compelling understanding about what has been “done away with”, and what, most certainly, has NOT!  That can be found in the TWO witnesses called in verse 19:

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…
…that you may love YHVH your Elohim, that you may obey His voice…”

What is interesting about those two witnesses in particular is that — unlike EVERY single other living person who heard those Words that day — they are STILL here for us now!  Each of us can look around and see them.  And they are the SAME two witnesses that your Savior invoked in His “sermon on the mount”, quoted in Matt. 5:17-19:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets.  I did NOT come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle will by any means pass from the Torah until ALL is fulfilled. ”

Yahushua Himself confirms that He did NOT come to “do away with” his own instruction (“torah”) and references the same two witnesses that Moses did to emphasize the point!

And finally, as we now enter into the period of the Fall Feasts, it is important to remember one more thing that these same verses help make so very clear.  Not only do “heaven and earth” still witness to the Truth that He ‘changes not’, and that we are to keep and obey “His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments” — but that “all” is certainly NOT yet fulfilled that He has promised!

While those who do not know Him may indeed find that their hearts fail for fear, other witnesses, like Shaul in I Thess. 5, tell us that we should NOT be “overtaken” by what is coming, because we can walk in His light.  IF we are obedient to Him, and learn to follow His voice, and His instruction.

This same verse, Debarim 30:19, also provides perhaps the most succinct summary outside of John/Yahuchanan 14:15 of the choices we face:
to serve YHVH or ‘the adversary’ – life or death – blessing or cursing:

…I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life…”

It’s an open book test — and He has already given us the answer.  Choose life!

 

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*  Deut. 31:27, etc.

** Do NOT be fooled by the    (sunday – shuffle;   the Constantinian Con)  the fact that salvation is a free gift, and cannot be “earned”, does NOT in the LEAST mean that our Father does not expect those who love Him to be obedient to Him!  After all, given all that He has done for US, what is our “reasonable service”?  And, fer cryin’ out loud — “why do call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and not DO the things which I say?”  (Luke 6:46)