Millions of people have ministered to others trying to get them to accept Jesus. To accept John 3:16, that G-d sent His own Son to die for your sins and if you believe in Him you will not perish. Just accept this notion, say a prayer, and you will receive eternal salvation. Some may think this is too good to be true. It sounds very simplistic. Why didn’t G-d think of this before? Millions of people lived on the Earth before Yeshua was revealed and one would think that they would have wanted to know about this. Maybe believing in Him means something different than we think. Salvation is an important topic, so let’s spend some time looking into what is meant by believe in Him.
John 3:16 says:
“For G-d so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”
Believing in Him seems to be the most important thing one could do. For believing in the Son will cause one to have eternal life. The Greek word used in this verse is pisteuō and means to place confidence in or to trust. John is expressing that we must place our trust, our confidence in the Messiah. What does this trust look like? It is not just believing something to be true, for we are told in James 2:19 (real name Jacob or Ya’acov) that even the demons believe that G-d is one. So, there has to be more to the word believe in Him than just belief. Does that make sense?
Within Judaism, the notion that one needs to believe in a Messiah who will save you from all your sins based on belief does not exist. Now, I understand the difference between Judaism and Christianity, so here me out. Practicing Jews know their Bible really well, far better than even the most knowledgeable Christians. This is not a knock on Christians by any means. In general, Jews have the upperhand with history, knowledge of the Hebrew language, etc. The Jews belief is based on Deuteronomy 30. Deuteronomy 30 explains the terms of their return to the Promise Land. Verses 2 and 3 are the key verses:
and you return to the L-rd your G-d and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the L-rd your G-d will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the L-rd your G-d has scattered you. Deuteronomy 30:2-3
Deuteronomy is Moses last time he address’ the Israelites. He tells them they are going to leave G-d and stop following His commandments. He also tells them how to be restored from their scattering as well. The first thing Moses tells them is to return to G-d. The Hebrew word for return is shuv. Is simply means to return, turn back. Moses is telling the Israelites how G-d is going to bring them back. They must first turn towards G-d. What does this exactly mean? Does it mean believe again? The English word for repentance is teshuva. Do you see the shuva in teshuva? Teshuva is turning from your current ways of sinning and return to G-d. It is a very important aspect of believing in G-d. If you don’t turn from your ways then what you are stating is my ways are more important than your ways. Therefore you have not turned towards G-d.
What is one turning from though? Your sins. John in his first epistle tells us what sin is:
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4
The word translated as lawlessness is anomia and means devoid of the Mosaic Law. Yeshua actually used anomia in Matthew 7:23:
‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Notice, just before this verse this was said to those who thought they were doing things in Yeshua’s name. Yeshua said only those who do the will of My Father. His Father gave us His will back in the Torah. His will is for us to do the commandments!
The second item expressed in Deuteronomy 30:2 is “and obey Him with all of your heart and soul according to all that I command you today.” Moses is quoting an earlier part of his speech to the Israelites. He is quoting a portion of the Shema. The Shema is the most important prayer in Judaism. With this prayer you are declaring the L-rd as your G-d. The Shema is actually quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-9 plus some other verses, but we are going to focus on the beginning two verses:
“Hear, O Israel! The L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is one! You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”
The Hebrew word for hear is Shema and means more than just hear. It means to hear and obey. Literally, the verse is saying hear and obey Israel…. Then Moses says to love the L-rd your G-d with all that you got. Don’t hold back. These words should be on their hearts. Everything Moses commanded the Israelites to do was from the mouth of G-d. They were G-d’s commandments, G-d’s instructions. They are the words of G-d. We are also told that Yeshua was the word made flesh in John 1:14. The word here in John 1:14 is the Torah. I believe this for three reasons:
- The Torah was the actual spoken words to Moses and G-d met Moses and spoke to him unlike anyone else. The prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah for example all saw dreams and visions. They never met with G-d.
- King David wrote of the word often and it always pointed back to Torah.
- When this Gospel was written the Gospels and Epistles would not be canonized into a what exists today as the Bible for a couple hundred years afterwards. Therefore at most, word could be pointing back to the whole Tanakh (Genesis – Malachi) not the “New Testament”
Yeshua also quoted a portion of the Shema when He was asked how to obtain eternal life:
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law (Torah)? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28
You might be surprised that Yeshua did not state the lawyer should believe in Him. Instead, Yeshua asked him what is written in the Torah. The lawyer then quotes a portion of the Shema and Leviticus 19:18. Yeshua told him do these things and you will live. Every Jew knew exactly what the Shema means. They understand it means to love G-d and they understand how to love G-d. John in his second epistle told us how to love G-d:
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. 2 John 1:6
John has many quotes about loving G-d and following G-d’s commandments. This is G-d’s will for us. This is His plans for us. I know what you are thinking, Yeshua nailed the Torah to the execution stake. But He didn’t. There is not one verse in all of the Scripture that says He nailed the Torah to the execution stake. There is one verse that states He nailed our debt of sinning to the stake. That is a big difference.
Believing Yeshua is the Messiah is very important. Please do not misunderstand this message. Believing entails a lot more than just thinking something is true. The notion that one can just say a prayer and everything is hunky dory is just false. We must turn to G-d (which means you place your faith in Him), repent, and accept His ways to have eternal life. Yeshua said so Himself! Any other way is idolatry!
Baruch Hashem….until next time…kadosh, kadosh, kadosh is Hashem!