27 February 2011 (Rishon/Pesach)|
Day #348, 5934 AM
The Saved but Ignorant of the Messiah
The second chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans is all about how to judge righteously. One of the things that pains Yahweh the most, I believe, is when self-righteous Christians and Messianics go condemning unbelievers or lawless believers to hell because they either haven't 'received Jesus as their Saviour' or because they aren't obeying the Torah (Law) or because they don't use the right divine Names.
"When Gentiles (Goyim) who do not have [the divine] Law (Torah) do instinctively (by nature - KJV) what the Law (Torah) requires, they are a law (Torah) to themselves, since they do not have the Law (Torah). They show that the essential requirements of the Law (Torah) are written in their hearts (levavot) and are operating there; with which their conscience (matzpun - sense of right and wrong) also bears witness; and their [moral] decisions - their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts - will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse them" (Rom.2:14-15, Amp.V).
In this chapter Paul warns against such judgmentalism, declaring that there are those who have never heard of the Torah (Law) or who have never heard about the Living Torah (Yah'shua the Messiah/Jesus Christ) or who have no idea what the True Names are who in instinctively doing what is right demonstrate that both the Torah and the Living Torah and Divine Shem (Name) are in the hearts and that they are living the essential requirements of the Gospel. In a word, they are 'saved' pending hearing the full revelation and emet (truth) of the Living Torah.
I realise this is a contentious and grey area for most Christians and Messianics as there is great danger of going too far in either of two directions - too far in excusing unbelievers and too far in condemning them unrighteously. Myself, I prefer to err (if err I must) in the direction of leniency not because I hold any sympathies with Torahlessness or antinomianism (for I do not) but because I know I have a far greater chance of winning an unsaved soul to the fullness by encouraging him in what he is doing right than in condemning him falsely and therefore creating within him a harsh and false image of Christ. I do not wish to be the instrument of jeapordising his salvation by misrepresenting Yah'shua (Jesus) and being a bad example in so doing. However, I think the point Paul is making is that these are those who live as they do before they meet the likes of you and me.
To make sure that no believer is so self-righteous as to believe he can judge and condemn one who is not in the Living Torah, Paul preceeds our passage today with this reminder:
In other words, Yahweh shows no partiality whatsoever! Whether we are under the Torah or in Christ or both we are still sinners by nature and should exercise great care in judging others. Both categories of sinner, Paul says, will be punished! The aorist tense - "have sinned" - stresses wholeness of action because it summarises all the sins an individual has committed during his lifetime! What ultimately counts is performance and not simply being aware of this or that statute, as discussed yesterday in our biblical ethics discourse. So Yahweh looks at the Torah-observer and the Gentile living according to the torah of his conscience and judges him on the basis of what he does, not merely what he believes!
"All who have sinned without the Law (Torah) will also perish [without regard] to the Law (Torah), and all who have sinned under the Law (Torah) will be judged and condemned by the Law (Torah)" (Rom.2:12, Amp.V).
Does this mean that unbelievers are justified apart from faith? Of course not! By doing what is good and right they are exercising faith in those inner impulses that come from the Light of Christ which is given to every man who is born into the world:
"For it is not merely hearing the Law (Torah) [read] that makes one righteous before Elohim (God), but it is the doers of the Law (Torah) who will be held guiltless and acquitted and justified" (v.13, Amp.V).
In other words, every spirit of man that is incarnated as flesh into the world - coming into the world - is given this inner compass of emet (truth) - everyone! Thus when a gentile or unbeliever responds to this inner light he becomes living Torah himself! He partially fulfills the prophecy of Jeremiah:
"There was a man sent from Elohim (God), whose name was John [the Baptist]. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light (Yah'shua the Messiah/Jesus Christ), that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world" (John 1:6-9, NKJV).
This is not an easy way to live which is why it is so much more blessed - and ultimately necessary - to receive the written Torah too. Those who live by conscience alone have all kinds of obstacles to overcome. For one thing, conscience is defiled by unrepented sin. And the Light of Christ can be ignored too until it is no longer functioning very well. The result is that the 'truth' such a person lives becomes more subjective than objective. Nevertheless, those who are honest, and follow the Light, are led by Yahweh to live right too.
"I (Yahweh) will put My Torah (Law) in their minds, and write it on their levavot (hearts)" (Jer.31:33, NKJV).
Those who have the Torah the Scriptures - have a huge advantage but also a greater responsibility and accountability. Those who know the written Torah but refuse to live it are more guilty than those who live by conscience alone because they have never heard of Torah. The one who has Torah also has a conscience and therefore has a double, infallible witness, if he will listen, and respond, to it. And if he does that, then he can only be led to the Author of Torah, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) Himself, whose standard of goodness Torah is!
Why, then, should we bother to take the Gospel to the unbeliever who has never heard it?
What, then, are the "essential requirements" of the Torah (Law) that justify an unbeliever? I think this is open to debate - only Yahweh can possibly know whom He will justify and whom He will not, since he knows the heart of every man and we do not. It does not really matter to us as witnesses because once we encounter an unbeliever it is our duty to witness to Him anyway. What is important is that we acknowledge the Torah that he is living by his conscience, even though He does not know who Yahweh is, and never condemn him for this, but rather teach Him who the Light within really is and why he needs to know more and make the decisions for his life the Gospel requires of him. This then is what we shall do, in love, without judgment, so that the unbeliever may make his own careful choice in the same freedom that Messiah has given to us.
- 1. It is essential because Yahweh has commanded us to do so (Mt.28:19-20; Ac.1:8);
- 2. It is essential because of who Yahweh is that every individual be confronted with the knowledge of Elohim (God) (Is.11:9; Hab.2:14; Is.45:5-6; 52:10; 66:18-19; 2 Thess.1:8) and have opportunity to commit himself to Him, and to increase in knowledge of Him (Jn.14:7; 17:3; 2 Cor.2:14; Titus 1:16; 1 Jn.2:3-6; 5:19-20; Phil.3:8-10; 2 Pet.3:18); and
- 3. It is essential because of who Yah'shua (Jesus) is - the climax of Yahweh's revelation to mankind (Heb.1:1-2).