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an article by Joel Allen
A question I get asked a lot as a Messianic Teacher is “when am I saved as a believer?” Growing up in a major denominational Christian Church I was always taught that I was saved when I asked Jesus in my heart. For me, that was an altar call back when I was eight years old. I don’t remember exactly what the Preacher said that tugged on my heart that Sunday above all others but it was something that I remember as a key moment in my walk with the Lord even some 31 years later. My grandmother, who was a pillar of faith in my life and a devout Baptist, gave me my first Bible. I remember the smell of that black covered King James Bible and when I cracked open the first page I could read that this Bible was given directly to me. My very own Bible.
It wasn’t until I was about 30 years old that my wife and I began to study the Hebrew Roots of the Christian Faith. We began observing the seventh day Sabbath and gradually began keeping the Holy Feasts we read about in Leviticus 23. Up until this point I thought I was saved. I felt like I was saved but a lot of Messianic teachers started to challenge this notion by saying that we aren’t really truly saved until we are in the kingdom. This caused a panic in my soul as I wrestled with this most crucial doctrine. When are we saved?
After becoming a Pastor I still wrestled with this issue. Over several years of study and asking for wisdom from the Lord finally I believe the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. After teaching on this subject to my own congregation a couple years ago I have received enough questions by email and through conversations with messianic believers so confused, as I was about this issue, that I am putting this teaching in an article. Although this will not serve as an exhaustive study on the subject I hope to draw enough connections to help rid a little bit of the confusion.
Okay so to start this out we have to define some terms that are used in the New Testament centered around the subject of salvation. I am sorry of you think these are “churchy terms” but they are what we read in the New Testament so for the sake of this study please bare with me. I promise it will all work out. If not I will give a full refund for this article ( LOL ). Kidding aside let’s get started!
The first term we have to define is Justification. This is a big word but at its essence is quite simple. To be justified according to the Bible is to be in God’s sight as “just as if I never sinned.” You are in full right standing with God as if you never sinned or committed any transgression at all. I kind of view this as a chalkboard full of marks against you wiped clean. This is an event and not a process. It occurs the moment you put your full trust in Yeshua as your Lord and Savior, casting all of your sins upon the work of the cross and dedicating your life to please the Father. This is a gift, accomplished solely through the blood of Yeshua as He exchanges your righteousness, which is as filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6), with His righteousness. How can we see this in the Old Testament? We can see this clearly through the life and ministry of Joseph, a stark example of the Messiah in the Torah. Pharaoh viewed the Hebrews as abominations as they were shepherds (Gen. 46:34). They would never have favor or audience with the Pharaoh because they were unclean and detestable. However, through Joseph (who was a Hebrew also but hidden) Jacob and his sons were given favor and high estate with the Pharaoh and best of the Land. Without Joseph who saved Egypt The Sons of Jacob had no chance. In like manner, the savior of the world, Yeshua, was slain for the sins of the world so that we who were dead in our trespasses could be accepted as sons and daughters of the kingdom. Yeshua is our Joseph to the Father. Without His righteousness we have no standing with the Father. We are detestable and unclean. Now let’s look at what the New Testament says about Justification:
Romans 5:17-18 “17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Yeshua Messiah.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life.”
Notice in this passage that Paul likens our justification as a free gift. This is not earned as much as Joseph’s mercy toward his brethren was not earned. It is this event in someone’s life that the Bible describes as being saved or justified, not of works lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8-9).
Romans 3:23-24,26,27-28 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua: 26 To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Yeshua. 27 Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
It is clear through the writings of Paul that the Law does not justify us but has a unique purpose in the life of the believer. Justification is starting your class with a 100% grade average. You are setup for victory and blessing. It is by grace and grace alone. It is a gift, the Bible tells us, and a gift you can’t earn or pay for but only receive. So how does one receive the justification and forgiveness of sins that is described here? I don’t think it is an exact formula but a turning of your heart and mind by fully abandoning yourself to the Lord and His mercy towards you. Here is a wonderful outline of how this should happen:[Rom 10:9-13 KJV] 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Yeshua, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
No flaming hoops to jump through or 13 steps just crying out to the Lord. It is meant to be easy and not burdensome. From the drunk on the bar stool to the philosophy professor it is the same gift to be received. It is a free gift to us but it came at a terrible price. Religious men have tried to add conditions and disclaimers to this gift making it very heavy and cumbersome. Like the sect of the Pharisees that went behind Paul who preached a free gift of salvation message and many gentiles responded, but then were told that they weren’t saved yet until they were circumcised by the custom of Moses. Paul was outraged!
Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel…”
We read in Acts 15 just what this “elite” group of Jews were preaching:
Acts 15:1 “And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
This brings me to the second term we have to define which is the term, Sanctification. This is the part that I feel Christianity by in large stumbles over because of a lack of understanding that God does want those that are saved or justified to walk in holiness. There is an understanding to some degree, for instance if a drug addict became justified by repenting their sins and committing their life to the Lord, then the church leadership would certainly disciple that person to continue walking in salvation. But when it comes to keeping the instructions of the Lord as revealed through the Torah, we are generally told in many Christian denominations that keeping commandments are not necessary anymore. Sanctification is not an event but a process. This process begins once you have been justified and not before. What is the Torah example of this? We can clearly see that Israel was saved and delivered from Egyptian bondage, which is our old sinful nature, and this was only through God’s mercy and grace. Israel did not earn this but through the love of God He heard their cries for freedom and set them free. Then Israel is taken to a mountain where they are given instructions for righteous living, also known as the Torah. Over and over again as God is revealing His instructions He tells them that He is the God who sanctifies them:[Exo 31:13 ESV] 13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. [Lev 20:8 ESV] 8 Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. [Lev 22:32 ESV] 32 And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you,
We also see this in the ministry of Yeshua when He sets the adulterous woman free. He is the only one that could have pronounced a death sentence on that woman but he chose mercy. He forgave her (justified) and then He tells her to “go thy way and sin no more” (John 8:11), which is the process of sanctification. Let’s look at some of the letters of the Apostles to see some more examples of this concept:[1Th 5:23 ESV] 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Yeshua Messiah.
How do you keep your spirit, soul and body blameless before the Lord? If justification is all there is then why does the New Testament speak of keeping and guarding that salvation? Many criticize those that keep a kosher diet as being legalistic and not a matter of salvation. I agree that it is not a matter of justification but I strongly believe that it is a matter of your sanctification as we keep our “bodies” blameless as much as we can before His return.[Phil 2:12-13, 15-16 ESV] 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. … 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Here in this passage from Philippians we read about being blameless again in connection with obedience and holding fast to the word of life, God’s instructions. In so doing, you will stand without blemish in the midst of a crooked generation as lights to the world. If you are doing what everyone else is doing you are not a light or shining forth the good works God has called us to do. Have you ever wondered why Paul says to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling? If justification was the only thing that mattered then why fear? Why work anything out at all. Aren’t we living in grace and therefore we don’t have to follow the commands of God?[Jde 1:4 KJV] 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Yeshua Messiah.
Some versions of Jude 1:4 state that some people, believers mind you, are turning the grace of God into a “license to sin.” So the Sabbath doesn’t matter anymore and our diet doesn’t matter because we live in grace, right? He is the Lord that sanctifies you! With what?[Jhn 17:17 KJV] 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. [Psa 119:142 KJV] 142 Thy righteousness [is] an everlasting righteousness, and thy law [is] the truth. [Eph 5:26 KJV] 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Just as we read in the Torah that through the commands God sanctifies Israel, guess what, that same standard is what He sanctifies His body of believers today! He sanctifies us through the Word and the Spirit, which you will never see working separately. The Word and the Spirit always work together as a dynamic duo, just like Faith and Works![Jas 2:14, 17-18, 20, 22, 26 ESV] 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? … 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. … 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? … 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; … 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. [Eph 6:17 ESV] 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
The life of a believer is constantly balancing the Spirit and the Word as well as Faith and Works, in their lives. You need both not one or the other. I see a dangerous pattern emerging among my New Covenant brethren. I see those that are heavily resting on works denying the event of justification in the life of believers because they might not keep all of the 613 commands of Torah. Furthermore, they teach that these believers are actually not believers at all and will be cast in the lake of fire one day. For those brethren I would remind you of Matthew 5:19:[Mat 5:19 ESV] 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Notice our Messiah did not say that they would be burning in a lake of fire but simply considered least in the Kingdom, BUT they will be there. Why? Because they are Justified by the blood of the Messiah through Faith and not of works. Maybe they didn’t get very far in the sanctification part but who are we to judge that! Do you have hatred in your heart? Have you ever lied even a little white lie? Have you stole anything regardless of value? Have you lusted in your heart for anyone, because Yeshua said that if you lust in your heart you commit adultery. According to the Bible liars, thieves, and adulterous will not be let in the Kingdom! Be careful because in the same measure we judge, we will be judged. In other words, if you are harshly judging others you will be judged harshly as well. I don’t know about you but I need MERCY! Perhaps this is where the Bible talks about that there will be many who are first that will become last and last that will become first, simply because of the haughtiness and merciless judgments we make on our fellow brethren. For those that have been justified but don’t think much about sanctification, my warning to you is to not make it a license to sin. Our goal in life isn’t to make it in the Kingdom by a thread but to become like Yeshua. Don’t you want to be considered “great in the kingdom?” Do you realize that you can suffer loss in the Kingdom and miss out on great rewards and being close to the very One that created all things?[1Co 3:10-15 ESV] 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw– 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. [Luk 12:47-48 ESV] 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Now the last term to be defined is Glorification. This is also an event that takes place when we, as believers are finally in the Kingdom with Yeshua in our glorified bodies. This is the fulfillment, the very summit of a believer’s journey. This is when there will be no more sickness, no more death, and no more sin (Rev. 7, 21). This is the day that Paul so desperately was longing for speaking of our current sinful state in comparison to what we will become one day:[Rom 7:24 ESV] 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? [Rom 8:23 ESV] 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. [1Co 15:50-54 KJV] 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
The Apostle John wrote of the same thing:[1Jo 3:2-3 KJV] 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
In the book of Romans we can also see the connection with first event of Justification and the ultimate event of glorification, the finished product:[Rom 8:16-17, 29-30 KJV] 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Messiah; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. … 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Now what does any of this have to do with a grill? Okay so let’s put all of this together in an easy to understand parable. Yeshua liked to teach in parables, so here I go giving it a shot. Justification is like going to the store and being handed a brand new grill. Is was more than you could afford but someone else paid for that grill and gave it to you, free of charge. You are so blessed and grateful for your new grill. You sing and giggle all the way home and share your grill with your whole family, explaining how it was a gift. You once did not have a grill but now you have one! Your neighbor had one that you could smell cooking all summer long and you wished and wished you could have a grill like your neighbor and finally it was here! Now, not only do you have a new grill but your whole family get’s to benefit from your new awesome grill. Time goes by and you are still excited about your grill but as you smell your neighbor’s grill cooking you notice that yours does not give off that same aroma. You think you got cheated or maybe you were given the wrong denomination or oops I meant brand. You walk over to your neighbor’s house and ask him where he got his grill. You realize he got it at the same place as you, so you ask what brand it was, and sure enough it was the same brand. So why was his grill smelling so good and producing yummy delicious steaks and yours was not? Your neighbor asks you if you had put your grill together yet? You say no, it is still in the box. Your neighbor chuckles and says you have to put it together in order to use it, silly. You feel stupid and a little betrayed by the store for not telling you about putting it together. Your neighbor goes on by saying that it is really simple, all you have to do is open up the box and read the instructions, the rest will make sense once you start the process. So you are super excited again and you rip open the box that was collecting dust in the garage and you start to follow the instructions for the first time! Wow, everything starts to make sense and the grill is closer to being ready to fire up a sizzling steak than ever before! You can almost taste it! Finally, after a long process of getting the grill and putting it all together with the instructions you grab a delicious steak and cook it to perfection. What a sweet smelling aroma and what a rewarding finish!
You see the grill represents your salvation through justification. You didn’t earn the grill, it was originally given to you as a gift. All you had to do is receive it! Then you realized that you needed to open up the box, which is the Word of God, and follow the instructions, which is the Torah. Without the instructions you still have a grill but it isn’t a pleasing aroma to the Father, like your neighbor’s grill which is in full use. Our lives are attractive to people when we are doing God’s Word. It draws people to us just like the smell of a steak cooking on the grill. This is the sanctification process. There are so many believers that have a grill and it is collecting dust in a box. So many believers don’t own a Bible let alone open it up and actually do what it says. This is unprofitable for you and your family as none can benefit from a grill in a box. Finally, the steak is cooked to perfection. This is a picture of glorification. This is when we do what we are made to do. One day we will be there in the Kingdom but the more we dig into the instructions and follow His ways now we will actually act and produce fruit as though we are already in the Kingdom. Kind of like Phineas who was given the covenant of peace before it is actually fulfilled in the kingdom to come (Num. 25:12).
Justification is an event (I was saved) = FAITH
Sanctification is a process (I am being saved) = WORKS
Glorification is the final product (I will be saved)= Faith is established
I am that I am- Asher HaYah Va HoVeh Va Yavoh
Who was and is and is to come
I am the Lord who sanctifies you…
In conclusion, please if you haven’t gotten a grill please take the time to pray to the Father to forgive you your sins and to accept Yeshua as your Lord and Savior. Receive your free gift of salvation today! If you have already done this then please go get your grill box (Bible) and open it up and follow the instructions so that you, your family, your friends, and neighbors will benefit from your living sacrifice, a sweet smelling aroma unto the throne of God. If you have been studying the instructions for a while please be like the good neighbor who gently points people with your lifestyle and stop telling believers they don’t have a grill but inspire them to open the box and read the instructions. Who knows you might be invited to their next cookout and taste the rewards of discipleship. May God richly bless you with His Shalom.