What must one do to be saved? The answers to that question reveal the answer to another question – What does it mean to be a “Christian?” – that have been given over the past 2,000 years. Interestingly, the one answer that I have not been able to find among all of those is the answer given by the Real Yeshua. Why?
Have you ever worked on your genealogy? I have been the family genealogist for a long time and love searching for and finding ancestors. I want to introduce you to a new term – memealogy or memeology. Remember this word because in the very near future it is going to revolutionize the way you understand Belief Systems.
In 1976 Richard Dawkins introduced the world to “memes” in his book The Selfish Gene. To emphasize commonality with genes, Dawkins coined the term "meme," which comes from a Greek word[i] that means "something imitated."[ii]
A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events such that more copies of it are created in other minds.[iii] A gene is the unit of genetic heredity and a meme is the unit of memetic heredity.[iv] Memes are units of information that exist only in the human mind.
Memes are the thoughts we share with others that are reproduced in their minds. They have histories which can be traced just like genes. They also evolve as they are passed from mind to mind and when we place this information in chronological order it paints a very interesting picture. If you haven’t read my earlier blog – How We Received the Words of Jesus – I recommend that you take time to read it and study the two graphics before you continue.
Before I discuss Yeshua’s salvation message, it is important for you to understand the following:
(1) He was speaking to a Jewish audience.
(2) He was speaking to them about a Jewish subject they completely understood.
(3) It was a message for Jews about their salvation.
(4) It was not a message to non-Jews about their salvation.
Now let’s look at Yeshua’s salvation message. Every Christian probably knows the following words very well – they just don’t understand that it was Yeshua’s salvation message. His message is found in Matthew 25:31-46 (the format will be different from your Bible):
Narrator: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory and before him shall be gathered all nations. He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. He shall set the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Narrator: To those on the right:
King: Come, you (plural) blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. (I was) naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.
Right: Master, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and gave you a drink? When did we see you (as) a stranger and took thee in, or naked and clothed you? Or when did we see you sick or in prison and came to you?
King: Amen! I say to you, inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me.
Narrator: To those on the left:
King: Go from me you cursed into the eternal fire, having been prepared for the devil and his angels, because I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked and you clothed me not; sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.
Left: Master, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or as stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?
King: Amen! I say unto you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.
Narrator: The ones on the left shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous (ones on the right) shall go into life eternal.
What did the ones on the right do that those on the left did not do?
(1) Gave food to those who were hungry.
(2) Gave drink to those who were thirsty.
(3) Gave shelter to a stranger.
(4) Provided clothes for those who needed clothing.
(5) Visited those who were sick.
(6) Visited those who were in prison.
Those who did the above things entered into eternal life, while those who did not went away into eternal punishment. The people on the right were saved from eternal punishment during the Great Day of Judgment. A lot of people leave off the ending – eternal punishment or eternal life -- and mistakenly view the message as a poverty program.
But Yeshua and his Jewish audience understood that these are not merely humanitarian acts. They are rooted in the divine command to love Yahweh. Each act done by those on the right was an act of SHALOM – a subject that was well known by the Jewish audience.
● Yeshua -- “Blessed are the SHALOM makers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who purse TZEDAQAH (righteousness), for they are the kingdom of God.”[v]
● Hillel -- “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving SHALOM and pursuing SHALOM, loving your fellow-creatures, and drawing them near to the Torah.”[vi]
● Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel – “On three things the world is sustained: on truth, on judgment, and on SHALOM, as it is it says (Zechariah 8:16): `Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make SHALOM.’"
SHALOM is usually translated “peace,” which English speakers interpret to mean “the absence of war or strife.” The Hebrew word SHALOM means something very different.
SHALOM is the state of wholeness and completeness.[vii]
The three quotes above agree that SHALOM is God’s highest priority. “Making SHALOM” means “make the lives of people you encounter in your daily life whole and complete when you see they are not whole and complete.” A hungry person’s life can be made more whole and complete when you give him or her food. The list of things Yeshua gave in his message – food, water, clothing, etc. – doesn’t mean that these are the only things that people will be judged for. His audience clearly understood the message to mean that when one becomes aware of a lack of wholeness and completeness in the lives of others – make SHALOM!
They also knew that Yeshua was simply repeating a lesson that is found throughout the Jewish Scriptures and that “making SHALOM” was synonymous with “love.” It should also be noted that the Bible taught people to do acts of “love,” even when the word “love” itself does not appear in the text – and love isn’t done just for one’s friends.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and Yahweh will reward you. (Prov. 25:21)
If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey (which has) gone astray, you shall bring (it) back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under his burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it, you shall help him lift it up. (Ex. 23:4).
It is precisely in such deeds of love that the command to love Yahweh and love your neighbor can be seen in a proper perspective – love is the norm that the Creator expects of the creatures He made in His image.
After the crucifixion something new happened to Yeshua’s movement – non-Jews learned about it and wanted to join it. Pay close attention to the account recorded in Acts 15:1-21 (Jacob is the brother of Yeshua who is usually called “James”):
Narrator: And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brothers.
Judeans: Unless you are circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved.
Narrator: Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and arguments with them (the brothers) and determined that Paul, Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being sent on their way by the congregation, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling in detail the conversion of the nations, and caused great joy to all the brothers. And when they came to Jerusalem, they were received by the congregation, apostles and elders. They reported what God did with them.
Narrator: Some of the ones from the sect of the Pharisees who believed stood up.
Pharisees: It is necessary to circumcise them, to command them to keep the Law of Moses, and for the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
Narrator: There was a great deal of arguing.
Peter: Men and brothers, you understand that from the old days, God chose among us, that through my mouth the nations should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, who knows the hearts, witnessed to them giving them the Holy Spirit, as he did unto us; and put no distinction between us and them, by faith purifying their hearts. Now therefore, why do you test God, to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But through the grace of the Master Jesus we believe to be saved in the same was as those also.
Narrator: Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had worked among the nations through them.
Jacob: Men and brothers, listen to me. Simeon has declared how God at the first did visit the nations, to take out of them a people for his name. The words of the Prophets agree, as it is written:
After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up, that the rest of men might seek after the Lord, and all the nations, upon whom my name is called, says the Lord, who does all these things.
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is:
We trouble not the ones from among the nations who are turning to God. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, from fornication, from things strangled, and from blood, because Moses from ancient generations has in every city the ones proclaiming him, being read in the synagogues every Shabbat.
Keep in mind that purpose of this meeting was to answer this question -- What must non-Jews do to be saved? The members of Yeshua’s movement who were also Pharisees argued that they must be circumcised, which meant the non-Jews must convert and become Jews. Jacob, as the leader of Yeshua’s Movement ruled that the only requirements that should be placed on non-Jews are these:
(1) abstain from pollutions of idols
(2) abstain from fornication
(3) abstain from (eating) things strangled
(4) abstain from (eating) blood
(5) keep the Shabbat
Most people miss the last requirement, but in Greek it is clear from the statement “because Moses from ancient generations has in every city the ones proclaiming him, being read in the synagogues every Shabbat.” This reveals another interesting point about conversion to Judaism. Before anyone can convert to Judaism, they must be taught about Judaism and demonstrate they understand they lifestyle they will be living as a Jew. This is reflected in Jacob’s decree – the non-Jews will be attending a synagogue every Shabbat and hearing the Law of Moses read and discussed. I have little doubt that he expected many of them to convert when they understood the Law of Moses that Yeshua taught and lived. They would also understand what his salvation message meant.
Many of the non-Jews that were showing up were followers of Paul, a man that declared that he had received the only true Gospel from Yeshua after the crucifixion – a Gospel that no other apostle had been given. He also declared that he had also been appointed to be an apostle – even though no other apostles knew anything about it. The new meme he introduced was his salvation message – one must believe that it was through the resurrected that Yeshua became the Christ. Paul replaced the requirement for salvation -- “making SHALOM” -- with “believing what he said about Yeshua.” In other words, “right beliefs” replaced “right acts.” The Real Yeshua would not have agreed with Paul!
New memes would emerge over the next 2,000 years. Keep in mind that these were not part of the Real Yeshua’s message, but many became requirements for “salvation” in Christian churches (the number is the year they appeared). I will also switch to the term “Jesus Christ”:
● 325 – Jesus Christ and God are from the same substance.
● 381 – There is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
● 418 -- The Doctrine of Original Sin adopted.
● 451 -- The Doctrine of the Trinity adopted.
● 1215 -- There is only one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.
● 1525 -- The Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God; the only source for Christian doctrine; and, it is accessible to all. The Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself. Justification, being declared right by God and saved, is received by faith alone, without any mixture of or need for good works. Salvation comes only by God's grace or "unmerited favor." Salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action and those who will be saved were determined at the time of the creation.
● 1560 -- God saves every person upon whom he has mercy, and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or inability of humans; people are not by nature inclined to love God but rather to serve their own interests and to reject the rule of God; God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself; and, atonement is intended for some and not all.
● 1600 -- Rejected the pre-existence of Christ; Jesus Christ did not exist until he was conceived of the virgin birth; humans are created mortal in the beginning and would have died naturally whether Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree or not; rejected the doctrine of original sin; rejected the view that the death of Jesus was the atonement of sin; God's omniscience was limited to what would definitely happen and did not apply to what might happen).
● 1610 -- Salvation and condemnation enabled by the faith or unbelief of man; the Atonement is limited to only those who trust in Christ; unaided by the Holy Spirit no person is able to respond to God's will; man may resist the Holy Spirit; and, believers are able to resist sin through grace, and Christ will keep them from falling.
● 1689 -- Once Saved, Always Saved (once persons are truly "born of God" or "regenerated" nothing in heaven or earth "shall be able to separate them from the love of God").
● 1727 -- Free grace, free salvation, free will, the Bible is the very word of God without error in all that it affirms, conditional eternal security, voluntary tithing, totally abstention from alcoholic beverages, no work on Sunday, and rejected the doctrine of "once saved always saved."
● 1727 -- The Bible is the inspired word of God; there is One God eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; salvation came by grace through faith in Christ, a free gift bestowed by God on those who repent and believe; Christians should live as brothers; Church is to be separate from the State and committed to peace; a lifestyle of discipleship, good works service and holy living; and, if good works outweighed the bad works God will allows a person to go to heaven.
● 1745 – The distinguishing proof of salvation is a personal religious experience of overpowering emotions.
● 1895 – The essential requirements for salvation are belief is the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, the Atonement of Jesus for human sins, the physical Resurrection of Jesus, the imminent return of Jesus to earth, and the inerrancy of Scripture.
Literally thousands of answers to the question of salvation have come from Christian leaders and institutions over the past 2,000 years – just look at the Christian memealogy. The question that Christians usually ask after becoming aware of the memealogy is – Where do we go from here?
My answer is – Why not just do what the Real Yeshua taught? Regardless of what one’s theology is or isn't – if people committed to “making SHALOM” the world will become a better place for many people and the lives of those making SHALOM will be more fulfilled.
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