The rabbis teach that on Rosh HaShanah God opens the books in heaven and begins to judge the world. Then He closes His books and seals them on Yom Kippur – having written everyone either in the Book of Life or the Book of Death for the next year. Jewish people all over the world are fasting and praying, repenting, and hoping that they will be written for another year in the book of life.
But if you really believe in these things, you have to wonder, “am I in the Book of Life or will I be blotted out from it?” I am forgiven for all that I’ve done? When I die, will God receive me into His presence? No one really knows. One can only “be the best person” they can be, and then hope for the best. That is the dilemma of our Jewish people. Most leave the synagogue unsure of their position with the Lord.
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai was one of the greatest non-Messianic rabbis of the first century. He was known as one of the greatest Torah scholars. He was called “the light of Israel,” “the right pillar,” and “the strong hammer.” This was a man of great intelligence. It is said that rabbi Yochanan grasped the whole Torah, including all its interpretations, laws, and legends; his every word was carefully weighed, and he did not engage in idle conversation. He never walked even a short distance without laying tefillin (putting on Phylacteries) or without speaking about the Torah. He was never seen sitting idly or asleep, but he was always engaged in study.
When he was on his deathbed, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai’s disciples came to visit him, and he wept in their presence. They asked: “Rabbi, why do you weep?” he replied, “When a man has to appear for trial before a king whose rule is only temporary, who kindness is passing, and whose anger does not last, he is seized by terror; how much more understandable is the terror that seizes one who is to be tried by the King of kings, whose rule is eternal, whose anger is everlasting, and whose kindness endures forever.” (From The Encyclopedia of Talmudic Sages, pages 152-163).
If this great sage had no assurance of atonement, no certainty that He would be accepted by God and he would live forever, then how can the average Jewish person know that they will be forgiven by a holy God? The answer is that they can’t.
Unfortunately, many Messianic believers are like our non-Messianic brethren. We think that if we yield to any of the sins that so easily entangle us, that God will close the gates of heaven and blot our names out of the Book of Life.
God wants us to know that we can know that we are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In the first century that was another Yochanan, Yochanan Ben-Zavdai (the son of Zebedee), John the apostle, who assures us in his first letter that those of us who believe in the Son of God can know (in the present) that we have (present possession) eternal life (1 John 5:13). “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Yochanan wants us to know that we have eternal life, that we are eternally safe and secure, provided that we truly believe in the name (Person and Work) of the Son of God. Salvation brings with it great assurance, so that we can have shalom shalom – perfect peace, a peace that passes all understanding, knowing that we will live forever.
- Salvation is by its very nature eternal. Isaiah stated: Israel has been saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you will not be put to shame or humiliated to all eternity (Isaiah 45:17). My salvation shall be forever, and My righteousness shall not wane… My righteousness shall be forever, and My salvation to all generations (Isaiah 51:6, 8). The apostle to the Hebrews writes in Hebrews 9:12 that Messiah Yeshua has obtained “ge-ulah olam” – eternal redemption. Yeshua accomplished eternal redemption, not a temporary redemption. The Son of God forever bought us out of the slave market of sin and death. We will never be sent back there. We are through eternity His possession. We belong to Him forever and ever. We will never be given up. The redemption we possess is an eternal redemption, because sin is forever forgiven; Satan, death, and hell are forever vanquished; everlasting righteousness is brought in. The redemption that Messiah has obtained will last throughout eternity. Salvation is part of a divine chain of salvation that stretches from eternity past, through the present, and on into eternity future. Rabbi Paul tells us in Romans 8 that we have been foreknown by the Eternal One, who predestined us to become conformed to the image of His Son. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. We are part of the eternal purposes of God, foreordained from the depths of eternity. Messianic Believers are part of the purposes of God before the foundation of the world. Those who He predestined, those He called to Himself; those who were called to Himself, these the Righteous one justified – He declared them to be righteous in His sight. Those who have been declared righteous in His sight, will be glorified by God. They will be brought to their full potential. They will shine like the stars in the heavens forever and ever. The Word of God, which cannot lie or be mistaken, assures us that all who are called by God’s sovereign intention from eternity past, will be glorified in eternity future. Each link, from everlasting to everlasting, is forged by God Himself. Each link is certain and sure. Those who are called from eternity past will reach the destiny divinely appointed for them.
- It is God’s will for us to have eternal life – not temporary life that can be lost or forfeited. Is it eternal life if you can lose it, or have it taken away? No, that would be temporary life – not eternal life. Messiah Yeshua, the infallible Son of God, assured us that this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life (John 6:39). God’s will is the supreme will in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. Do you think that God’s will can be thwarted? No, it can’t. No one can oppose His will. Then if you behold the Son and believe in Messiah Yeshua, you will have eternal life, for that is God’s sovereign, supreme, almighty and irresistible will.
- Salvation means that we are protected by the power of God. In 1 Peter 1:5 the great apostle, Simon Peter, informs us that we are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed. Is God’s power limited? No, His power is unlimited, infinite, and almighty. He’s all-powerful; therefore we are all-protected until that time when we enter into the fullness of our salvation, which one day will be revealed. What power in the universe is there that can separate us from God? Wicked devious men, angels, archangels, demons, or perhaps Satan himself? Rabbi Paul was convinced that nothing in the universe, neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing (including ourselves) shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is found in Messiah Yeshua our Lord. Rabbi Paul knew of the absolute powerlessness of all heavenly and earthly things to ever separate us from the God of our salvation. We have the Word of God’s assurance that God is able to bring us safely to the goal.Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy (Jude 1:24). One day we will come into God’s presence, and each one of us will be presented to the Holy God in a state of faultlessness, blameless in His sight. We will be filled with great joy – not with shame or everlasting contempt. Why? Because He is able – not because we are worthy. We will stand in His presence – not fall, and not be cast away – because of His unlimited ability – not because of our limited strength or goodness.
- We have the Son of God’s promise that we will never perish, and that we will have eternal life. I give eternal life to them, and they shall never (ever-double negative in Greek) perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand John (10:28-30). Yeshua is the Lord of heaven and earth. All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on Earth. He rules over all things, according to the power which is given unto Him in heaven and in earth. Who or what power can destroy Him, or thwart Him? He has already defeated Satan and all his demonic host. There is no power or principality in the universe that is able to overcome Him. We have His promise of the Amen of God, the True One who cannot lie or be mistaken, that He will protects us. And that the Father, who is greater than all, will keep us safe in His had as well. It is the power of Yeshua and infinite greatness of the Father, not our worthiness, that protects us!
- Salvation means that we have been forgiven for all of our sins: past, present and future. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our sins (Col. 2:13). Not one sin is left that will be held against you, that will drag you down to hell. Whoever believes in Yeshua has perfect, remission, atonement and forgiveness for all his sins. Our sins are not temporarily covered over, but all of our wickednesses, all of our rebellions, all of our transgression and sins have been atoned for. But let us never forget the price that it cost for us to receive the forgiveness of all of our sins. The Lord of glory came to earth make atonement for our sins by the sacrifice of His own unending life! The eternal, self-existing Word, that Eternal Life which was with the Father, became a man, and of His own free will laid down His life for the sheep. The King of kings and the Lord of lords became a man, and allowed Himself to be whipped, beaten, spit on, humiliated, stripped naked and crucified! By dying in our place, by bearing our sins on the cross, by satisfying all the claims which a holy God had against us, by becoming a sin-offering and a curse for us, the problem of sin has been perfectly dealt with. His life is better than that of the Levitical priests, His blood is better than that of bulls and goats, and His ministry is far superior to the earthly altar. He died to sin once and for all. He took upon Himself all of our guilt, all of our sin, all of our condemnation, and all of our shame. Messiah Yeshua has taken away all of our sins by His one, perfect, final and complete sacrifice. Because of the Son of God’s ultimate sacrifice and the perfect atonement that He accomplished on the cross, God’s ability to forgive all of our sins is infinite and complete. Once you come to understand that the Son of God completely atoned for your sins, and that because of His obedience to the point of death God the Father has exalted Him to His right hand, and that He has entered into His heavenly glory, and you are in Him and united to Him forever and ever, you should have no more consciousness of the weight and burden and penalty of sin. If Yeshua is your Lord, you have already been washed, you have already been made clean, you have already received a full atonement and a perfect pardon for all of your sins. Yeshua assured us:The one who has bathed only needs to wash his feet, and then he is completely clean. After you are joined to Yeshua you only need to confess your sins and trespasses on a daily basis, with sorrow and humility, so that your daily sins are cleansed and forgiven. But you should no longer be weighed down by the burden and defilement of sin, and the fear of going to Hell.
- We are not just forgiven from all of our sins, but we are actively and positively made righteous.We are justified (made righteous) as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Messiah Yeshua (Romans 3:24). Rabbi Paul goes on to state that much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him (Romans 5:9). If God so loved us, that He will willing to have His Son die to for us when we were not righteous, how much more will He act to save us now that He has declared us righteous. We are abundantly, eternally saved from God’s wrath because of the salvation provided by Yeshua. We have been made the righteousness of God when we are joined to the Messiah. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). God views us as having the same righteousness, the same right relationship with God, that Yeshua has. Joined to our living head, we are now bone of Messiah’s bone, we are now flesh of Messiah’s flesh. The Father sees us joined to Messiah and sees His dearly beloved Son. The Father sees us joined to Messiah and behold, we are whiter than snow. The Father sees us joined to Messiah and He sees all the beauty and grace of the Lord Yeshua. The Father sees us joined to Messiah and declares that we are the righteousness of God when joined to Him. Messiah loved His bride, the Holy Messianic Community, so much that He gave Himself up for her, so that we might be made holy, cleansed, holy and blameless, and finally presented to Messiah in all our glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:25-27). Rabbi Paul adds that we will be presented to Messiah one day as a chaste pure virgin is presented to her husband (2 Corinthians 11:2). This is the destiny of every child of God. It is not affected by degrees of human merit and worthiness. This is the standardized achievement for all of God’s beloved sons and daughters.
- Rabbi Paul tells us that by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is a free gift from God, and the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Salvation does not come from anything to do with human works or human efforts or the number of mitzvahs that you observe, or how good a person that you are. Salvation comes to us as a free gift, bestowed by God, so that no human being can boast that he earned or merited salvation in any way. It is accomplished by God alone; it is not accomplished by man. It is not based on vacillating human merit but on God’s unmerited, unearned, undeserved grace. If salvation could be earned by us, it could be forfeited by us. If salvation is given by God, then the riches of salvation are sure and reliable, and are eternal in character, because it is the power and greatness and faithfulness of God that upholds them. Because salvation is a free gift from God it is accomplished instantly and with all the infinite perfections that come from the Almighty. It is accomplished by the infinite power of God Himself.
- We are not only saved by grace but we continue on in the present to stand by God’s grace. Rabbi Paul informs us that we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand (Romans 5:2). Grace is not a one time event extended at the time of salvation. God’s all sufficient grace is ours at the time of salvation and continues to be ours throughout this life, and it reaches all the way to eternity. We are now and forever constantly encapsulated ensphered by God’s amazing grace.
- Salvation means that we belong to Messiah. “The firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His'” (2 Timothy 2:19). Seven times in John 17 Yeshua declares that we are a gift from God the Father to God the Son. “I manifested Your Name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours, and You gave them to Me” (John 17:6). A great transaction has taken place. We are a gift from God the Father to God the Son. God the Father chose from eternity and gave to God the Son certain human beings. The Father has given each believer as a gift, as a very special present, to His Son. We are all the more precious since it is God the Father who has given His beloved Son this treasure. Like a chest full of precious jewels, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, sought out, collected one by one, so we appear in the eyes of the Son of God. He will n