Half Gospel Church?
By Jim Huskins
The Nazi Holocaust and the death of six million Jews are appalling, but even most Christians are unaware of an event which could have exterminated virtually all of the Seed of Abraham. This attempted genocide was thwarted by the bravery and faithfulness of a young Jewish woman named Esther.
The Book of Esther is a thrilling story. Through unlikely circumstances, she became the wife and queen of the leader of the mighty Persian Empire. An unscrupulous court adviser named Haman tricked Emperor Ahasuerus into granting Haman permission to exterminate every Jew in the Empire. Since Persia dominated a vast portion of the world, few Jews would have escaped. The plot was thwarted because Esther risked death by confronting her husband.
Speaking to the King unbidden could be a capital crime. While Esther agonized over whether she should take such a risk on behalf of her people; her uncle, Mordecai, asked a question which has reverberated through the ages: “Who knows whether you have attained (your) status for such a time as this?”
Every believer with eyes to see and ears to hear is aware that our world is permeated by clear and present danger to God’s people and His agenda. In addition to the manic proclamation of viral pandemic and expanding waves of violence, Biblical values are under assault at every level of society. Practices clearly labeled “abomination” in scripture are now enshrined into law by the Federal Government and every state. People who dare to proclaim and live out Bible teaching often find themselves vilified in person and through social media. Job losses, growing scarcities, and escalating costs for necessities are causing grand-scale desperation. Perhaps the safest thing for present-day believers is to keep their faith to themselves.
But is the safest thing for me the best thing for God’s Kingdom? Part of Messiah’s clarion call is that His disciples must be salt and light. Significant quantities of either are impossible to hide. They command attention because they alter their context. As the satanic agenda permeates our culture, anyone who attempts to exhibit Biblical righteousness will stand out. Standing out, even for a holy purpose, can be dangerous.
Bible prophecy defines God’s people as those who have faith in Jesus and also keep God’s commandments. Jesus did not say that having a warm, gushy feeling toward God and a warm, gushy feeling toward people fulfills the commandments. Defining love as any type of feeling is a Greek concept. The Hebrew definition of “love” is obedience. Jesus says bluntly, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He also says that every pen stroke of the instructions for living revealed through Moses will be in full force for as long as heaven and earth remain.
The “true” Gospel is that everyone who exhibits faith which leads to righteousness can be grafted into God’s family, the Kingdom of Israel. That is why the core of Jesus’ message is summed up in Matthew 4:17, “Turn from your sins for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” He preached this same message throughout His ministry. He never mentioned His own death, burial, and resurrection. Those events became an important part of the gospel message since that was the way He became the perfect sacrifice for sin under the terms of the Torah, but they are only part of the message. Hebrews 4:2 says that Israel received the same Gospel message at Sinai that we now receive.
The Sinai covenant administered through Moses was not about imposing impossible burdens or arbitrary barriers between God and His people. The Torah—falsely labeled “The Law” in Greek and English translations—teaches us to live according to God’s standards of righteousness. Jeremiah 31:32 reveals a key aspect of the new covenant: “But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—it is a declaration of YHVH—‘I will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart.’” Jesus did not revoke or alter the Torah. He made us capable of hosting the Spirit of Holiness.
Most Christians believe that the Torah is a “burden” from which believers are freed. When we are part of the New Covenant, we have within us a great desire to obey God’s instructions for righteous living. That’s what it means to have His Torah written on our hearts. 1 John 2:3-4 says that the only true indication of our relationship with the Messiah is that we keep His commandments. James 2:20 says that faith without obedience is dead.
The good news Jesus taught is that God is in the process of establishing a Kingdom where He can once again dwell amid His people. Our age makes light of sin, but sin is what separated us from God’s presence. God has, from the beginning, taught His children how he wants us to live, and He made those lessons unmistakable when His Son took flesh and became our example. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice nailed the death penalty we deserve to the cross and made it possible for us to follow His example.
Our age cries out for Messiah’s disciples to choose obedience underscored by Esther’s joyful proclamation: “If I die, I die.” Grace is not an excuse for God’s people to sin. “Grace” and “obedience” are not mutually exclusive. The message of scripture is that those saved by grace through faith want to lead lives focused on righteous obedience. No one achieves salvation through obedience. Only Jesus was capable of perfect obedience, but the life He lived is our example. How did He live? He kept the Torah. His true disciples will do the same. That is the meaning of, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is both true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. See Revelation 14:12. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship. You can read more from Jim HERE.