Month 7:7, Week 1:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year 5935:178 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 4 October 2011
Universal Graded Salvation
What It Isn't
Continued from Part 3
Today I wish to address some questions raised about our current topic. If I appear to be a little incoherent at times and to ramble a bit I hope you will extend grace as I am at the height of a rather nasty bout of 'flu that has knocked me for six. So here goes.
Many are under the mistaken belief that Universal Graded Salvation (UGS) implies some sort of salvation by works. They assume that this must be the inevitable consequence of believing in such a system since it is man's action - or lack of it - that supposedly leads to this three-fold grading. Before I answer that erroneous view may I remind those who are promulgating it that in their system there is no explanation for the three degrees of glory described by Paul. If their system is true there should be only one glory akin to the brightness of the noonday sun for all the saved, no glory like that of the moon, no glory like that of the stars, and instead a place of eternal burning with zero glory for the unsaved - for you will recall scripture says the unjust are resurrected too (Ac.24:15) - those who go to hell are not mere disembodied spirits. And since there is to be no second resurrection until the end of the Millennium, and since the unjust (those sent to hell) are to be resurrected at that time, why resurrect them at all if (a) they are to be annihilated (why not just destroy their spirits) or (b) leave them to be punished forever as spirits? Those who believe in such a system must immediately delete those sections of scripture that I have been expounding for the last three days. For the 'either/or' - ungraded unitary heaven/hell people, there are no answers, and they are forced to do what all of us do when we insist on continuing to believe in false doctrine: ignore those passages of scripture that contradict us or try to twist them to mean something else.
I am not here to defend a pre-conceived doctrine. If I was, I'd still be observing the Sabbath on Saturdays instead of repenting of having followed the false Roman calendar all my life, and having grown very comfortable with it and its rhythm. This is our first year observing the Creation Calendar. So my belief in UGS is not because I feel sorry for those in hell. It is not because I want to play God and acquit them when Yahweh has condemned them. It is not because I am some liberal vainly hoping that I can get acquittal for my sins without trusting in Messiah and without obeying the mitzvot (commandments). It is because I want the emet (truth), the whole emet (truth), and nothing but the emet (truth). I do not want to live a life of vain imagination but of reality. That is my motive for sharing these things. Might I just be sincerely wrong? I might, but then the eternal damnation preachers must also make the same confession so that in any discussion there is a level playing field. Those who have already made up their minds and simply want to attack UGS should probably move on. And may Yahweh bless you along the Way.
So let me repeat here, so that there is absolutely no misunderstanding: Universal Graded Salvation is not about a man trying to save himself by his own works. It's about his response to the finished work at Calvary and how he chooses to trust, or not trust.
Many believers live their lives as though the work of the Cross were unfinished. They think they can 'add' - or have to 'add' - to what Yah'shua (Jesus) did at Calvary. This is particularly true in deliverance ministry where you will find all kinds of carnal techniques being used in charismatic circles like screaming at demons to drive them away and even daily forced puking (purging) to supposedly cleanse the soul. Let us be clear: the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus) is wholly sufficient to save and deliver. No other ingredients need to be added. All man has to do is accept that salvation by repenting of his sins by clinging onto Yah'shua (Jesus) and living a Torah-obedient lifestyle. Living the Torah-lifestyle is not how one is saved but a function of whether one is trusting in Messiah or not. Evangelicals frequently accuse Messianics of being 'legalists' because they are living the mitzvot (commandments) because they falsely believe they are trying to earn their salvation. Likewise, Messianics often accuse Evangelicals of not being saved because they aren't obeying all the mitzvot (commandments). As Universal Graded Salvation points out, both are saved if they have been born again, whether they're obeying all the mitzvot (commandments) or not provided that are repenting and daily seeking to draw closer to Messiah! However, both are not going to receive the same rewards when one group has completely crucified the flesh and the other has not.
We become fixed in the salvation we inherit based on a consistent pattern and habit of behaviour that we intend to stick with, no matter what. Remember, that what we inherit at the end of this life is what we have become based on our trusting or lack thereof. For reasons known only to Yahweh, our life is sometimes cut short, a life in which we might otherwise have continued to grow and mature in the already established pattern of repenting. Our spiritual growth stops when we stop repenting. Those who inherit the second resurrection and the glory of reflected lunar light tend to live their emunah (faith) through trusting the spirituality of others instead of having a direct relationship with Messiah. "My pastor says so" then becomes the standard of emet (truth) that they follow, even if the Pastor is (sincerely or not so sincerely) wrong. Since a pastor, teacher, evangelist or any other human intermediary, is made of dust and possesses a flesh nature that he is (or ought to be) wrestling to overcome, unconditionally following such an intermediary will inevitably mean following his flesh-nature too.
One of the great errors of Judaism that has infected the Messianic Community is the Pharisaic belief that a talmid (disciple) must totally surrender and yield to a rabbi as though he were some kind of God. The result of this dangerous form of discipleship is that instead of the whole Messiah-nature being replicated, it is simply the nature of the rabbi (good and bad) that is replicated in the disciple. One of the characteristics of the 144,000 Firstborn Sons and Daughters of the First Resurrection is that they follow no man but Messiah alone. And whilst this is a mantra in Evangelical Christianity, the reality is usually quite different. These days droves of charismatics are following self-styled apostles and evangelists whose drum beat is leading them to hell itself. It is the default natural nature to absolve oneself of responsibility and struggle by instead following someone and refusing to grow up (it is accepted that as either literal or spiritual children we have to have mentors to grow up imitating), there comes a point when we must leave the metaphorical nest and find out the emet (truth) for ourselves and learn to rely on no-one else but Yah'shua (Jesus).
The difference between the Firstborn 144,000 Talmidim of the First Resurrection and inheritors of the Solar Glory Paul speaks of, and those who are the "Great Multitude" (Rev.7:9; 19:1,6) of the Second Resurrection and inheritors of the Lunar Glory is that the former are overcomers whereas the latter settle down into fixed patterns of fleshy rebellion and spiritual stasis that leads to stagnation. The former are by no means perfect even though they strive to be (not by trusting in their own merits, but in surrendering that much more in Messiah's). What separates the two classes is that the former want all Emet (Truth) with all their levim (hearts), they want to repent and delight in doing so because they trust it will lead them closer to Yah'shua (Jesus) which they want more than anything else. They may have lapses into sin but they do not allow these to become habitual. They react with abhorrence to their sin, repent speedily, and resume their walk along the Way.
Those of the Second Resurrection actually enjoy their sinful behaviour and have little desire to repent and change, because they don't think it is of any consequence. They would rather trust in the lie that they don't actually have to repent because they believe that once saved, always saved, Yah'shua (Jesus) will just take care of it. They have also found rationalisations and excuses for not obeying the Torah, such as it has been "done away" with or "nailed to the cross", twisting those scriptures which are in fact saying that the PENALTY of Torah-disobedience has been done away with for those who repent and adhere to Messiah.
They may simply have learned these lies from pastors and other teachers and don't know any better. And that is the problem: the Firstborn find out for themselves, they are dutiful students of Scripture, they search far and wide, deep and long. They are not spiritually lazy and obese like the children of the Second Resurrection who would rather trust in an imaginary Sugger Daddy in the Sky with a Universal Dispensing Machine of Free Spiritual Candy-upon-demand requiring no obedience (as a child would). They trust in the reflected glory of others, which waxes and wanes like the moon, sometimes being completely dark (at the New Moon). This is a highly dangerous mode of spiritual life to adopt because everyone is working out their salvation (Phil.2:12) - or ought to be. And I'm afraid there are some arrogant pastors and messianic rabbis who think they know it all and are perfect (or near enough perfect to be able to demand 100% obedience from their flocks and unquestioning submission to their every doctrine). Following such is a ticket to either an inferior resurrection (being "least in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt.5:19) or to hell.
Needless to say those who go to hell and eventually inherit that dim, twilight third resurrection, not only refuse to obey the mitzvot (commandments) but refuse to follow Messiah at all. They like the artificial comfort of darkness. Like a child wanting to crawl back into the dark womb of its mother where there are no responsibilities of any kind, and the luxury of being kept warm and being fed for free, so the vast bulk of mankind refuses to see the greater reality around them and are content to riddicule it and persecute those who insist they are deluding themselves by shifting the blame of delusion back onto believers. For most, only death will shatter that illusion, whether it be a religious or an atheistic one. And so they perish without ever having spiritually grown up - they are like embryos that were aborted, never to see the light of day. And Yahweh does not destroy such, however nasty they may be, for they are still children in their core, however 'adult' they pretended to be, weilding the power of adults (whether in politics or elsewhere) and causing great destruction. And when I say they are 'children' I do not mean that they are unaccountable, for in other respects they are not children - what I mean is, they are not accountable in such a way that would either merit them being annihilated or tortured in all eternity. This is very different from demons who are fully and intelligently aware of what they are doing, and why.
For both the unsaved and those of the Second Resurrection who will not yield parts of themselves to be delivered (and therefore saved, even if their core being has been born again), this reminder is given by Paul:
One of the things I have consistenly observed in lawless people who want deliverance is that they want to 'fight demons' but not the flesh. And that's the thing: ALL DELIVERANCE IS A BATTLE AGAINST THE FLESH, NOT DEMONS! Demons are involved to be sure, and need to be cast out, but so long as you aren't dealing with the flesh issues, you will never deal with the demonic ones either - they'll just keep coming back no matter how many times they are thrown out by the faith and authority of others.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in Elohim (God) for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim (God), bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled" (2 Cor.10:3-6, NKJV).
What is the greatest obstacle to dealing with the flesh? The adamant refusal to live the Torah-lifestyle, for it is the anti-Torah lifestyle that gives the flesh its power! Trusting in Messiah also requires surrender to the obedience of Messiah (Heb.5:8) by being obedient oneself, does it not? It is through obedience that we allow the power of the finished work of the Cross to enter us and change us and heal us and deliver us. That is not legalism. That is not trying to save yourself through your own works. It is simply allowing the finished work of the Cross access to us! That is what obedience is about (in terms of our own benefit) - letting Messiah fully inside. And that's what the children of the Second Resurrection refuse to do - they want a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) salvation/deliverance with all the drama of being seen casting out demons and doing amazing things with the Name of Jesus - it's as much about their own glory as it is His, even though they may be blind to it. It is not about us doing heroic battle against Satan but us about us crucifying the flesh so that the atonement can work through us and take possession of us for salvation and deliverance.
Militancy for Messiah - being a spiritual warrior - is not about us but about Him. We demonstrate this true militancy by warring against our own flesh and teaching others to do the same IN Messiah and therefore BY His power alone. Paul was aware of the weakness and futility of warring according to the flesh.
One who is spiritually conceived and born again and saved at Pesach and Yom haBikkurim, respectively, remains in that salvation and grows in it. Here is where most of the children of the Second Resurrection usually stop, though some go varying distances forward. They do not go onto Shavu'ot because they refuse to obey Torah - they invent their excuses as we have seen. Therefore they do not wrestle to full victory (assuming they do) because they lack the divine tavnith that would allow them to continue fully in that rest and in that power. Instead they invent their own 'methods' to deal (as they suppose) with their issues and demonic hindrances. And these 'methods', being as they are anti-Torah, are therefore of the flesh. Their weapons become carnal. And so the enemy strongholds remain unbroken. Their initial salvation is still there provided they still cling on to Yah'shua (Jesus) but they cannot grow any more. They remain rebellious and are stagnant. Yes, they may grow in some things, depending which mitzvot (commandments) they are obeying, and the more they obey, the more they are yielding to Messiah, and the more Messiah can do for them to enable them to overcome. And because they are not fully surrendered, they cannot fully rest in the redemptive work of Messiah. Parts of themselves have not been given to Him. Praying away endlessly in 'tongues', getting all psyched up, yelling and screaming, purging and all the other fleshy techniques invented by man, do not change a thing. One who is surrendered and obedient has only to whisper to get the enemy to shut up and back off. Such a one has broken through the powerful lusts of the flesh so that Yahweh can have His way and speak to the core of our being, allowing us to see the Kingdom in a new way. Until then, spiritual bondage is the order of the day - which is why such people cannot inherit the First Resurrection. They have go to get past all fleshy solutions and to total reliance on Yah'shua (Jesus), accepting the divine tavnith (pattern) of Torah.
Hopefully it should now be clear that self-salvation is not remotely a part of the Universal Graded Salvation doctrine whilst not denying that we must make choices in order for the Cross to work in us. My own reliance on Yah'shua (Jesus) by grace has certainly not changed one iota since being converted to this teaching some years ago. I shall not be presenting a list of the good deeds I have done to persuade Yahweh to let me into one of the grades - where I go will be based on what I have become IN Messiah which in turn will be dependent on how much I have let Him into my life.
Tomorrow we shall be looking at another objection to UGS. May you be blessed!
Continued in Part 5