When Yeshua announced that he had been chosen by Yahweh to be an Anointed One (Christ) at his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, he explained what he had been “anointed to do” by reading Isaiah 61:1-2a:
The Presence of the Master Yahweh is upon me because Yahweh has anointed me to proclaim the good news (gospel) to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to declare liberty to the captives, the opening of the prison to those who are bound and to proclaim the year of acceptance of Yahweh.
Later he taught from Isaiah 58 to reveal more about who the poor, captives and those who are bound were. God wanted people to “do acts of TZEDAQAH (righteousness)” to make the Yeshua’s Gospel a reality. For Yeshua, “doing acts of TZEDAQAH (righteousness)” was the primary requirement for being a member of his movement and for entering eternal life. Isaiah specifically described the following “acts of TZEDAQAH (righteousness)”:
● breaking your bread with the hungry
● bringing the wandering poor you to your house
● covering one who is naked
● not hiding from your flesh
The other primary requirement for being a member of his movement was TESHUVAH (repentance) – turning from sin and returning to the path of God. Ezekiel introduced TESHUVAH (repentance) to Israelites and Jewish teachers taught people “how to do TESHUVAH (repentance).” The requirements for “doing TESHUVAH (repentance)” are:
1. experience genuine remorse for the sin committed
2. cease doing the sin
3. restore or repair the damage done to the person harmed by the sin
4. return to God’s path and follow His Instructions and Laws.
Ezekiel highlighted the following sins:
4. failure to return property pledged by debtor as collateral for a loan
5. robbing people by violence
6. failure to give bread to the hungry
7. failure to cover the naked with clothing
8. usury (charging interest on loans)
9. adding an increase (adding predatory profits to prices)
One thing that Yeshua and his Jewish audience clearly understood was that TESHUVAH (repentance) is prerequisite for God’s forgiveness -- God does not forgive sins humans commit against other humans until after the process of TESHUVAH has been completed.
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
Yeshua taught that doing acts of TZEDAQAH (righteousness) and doing acts of TESHUVAH (repentance) are requirements for being included in the Kingdom of Heaven and entering into eternal life. It is essential for Christians today to understand the points below:
1. Yeshua did not give his followers a free pass to having their sins forgiven without “doing TESHUVAH (repentance).”
2. Yeshua did not exempt his followers from the requirement of “doing acts of TZEDAQAH (righteousness)” for as long as they lived.
Yeshua understood and supported what Ezekiel taught:
1. If a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die.
2. But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life.
Why weren’t Christians taught Yeshua’s requirements for being included in the Kingdom of Heaven and entering into eternal life?
It is because of a doctrine created by Bishop Augustine of Hippo (354–430), an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity. In 412, Augustine wrote two tracts -- "On the Merits & Remission of Sins" and the "Baptism of Infants," which included the following points:
1. the taint of Adam's sin in infants (1, 13, 68)
2. denied that persons can fulfill the commandments (2,23)
3. attacked the perfection of Job (2, 17)
4. insisted that free will must be ascribed to the grace of God (2, 7)
Augustine reinterpreted the events of the Garden of Eden to support his Doctrine of Original Sin. In Augustine’s new Christian myth:
1. the serpent was Satan
2. this was a cosmic battle between God and Satan for the lives of humans
3. Adam followed Satan and was cursed by God
4. all of Adam’s descendants are cursed at birth because of Adam’s sin
5. infant baptism is required to remove the curse
6. membership in the Catholic Church is required for salvation
7. membership in the Church requires participation in Church rituals
The Eastern Orthodox Church rejected the belief that original sin is passed down through generations. It bases its position in part on Ezekiel 18:20, which says “a son is not guilty of the sins of his father.” The Eastern Church teaches -- in addition to their conscience and tendency to do good, men and women are born with a tendency to sin due to the fallen condition of the world.1
Martin Luther’s Protestant Movement followed the Roman Catholic Church and the second article in Lutheranism's Augsburg Confession repeats the basic Augustinian formula of original sin as a requirement of salvation:
Since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.2
The actual account of the events in the Garden of Eden involved Yahweh, Adam, Eve and a snake (a wild animal created by Yahweh).
1. The text reveals that humans are creatures created “in the image of God” with an “Earth soul” (earthly appetites, desires and longings).
2. At one extreme, humans have the potential of doing acts of TOV like God – acts that protect and preserve lives, make lives more functional and increase the quality of life.
3. At the other extreme, humans have the potential of doing acts like a wild predatory animal like the snake.
4. In the Garden, the two humans chose to act like the snake instead of God.
5. God cursed the snake and the ground, not the humans. They were never cursed by God!
Bishop Augustine destroyed the Gospel of Yeshua. Life on earth became something to be endured until believers go to Heaven. “God’s will being done on Earth” is simply a prayer, not a requirement for members of God’s Kingdom to fulfill.
Look at the world around you and think about what’s happening. Now consider the role Christianity collectively plays in what’s going on.
What would life on Earth be like if over 2 billion Christians actively engaged in doing acts of TZEDAQAH (righteousness) and doing TESHUVAH (repentance) as a normal part of their lifestyle? What if every church was a center for training and supporting members as people skilled in doing acts that protect and preserve lives, make lives more functional and increase the quality of life?
Everyone has a right to believe and say what they want in America. Those who value the teachings of Yeshua have the responsibility of making his voice and Gospel are heard too.
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2 Tappert, Theodore G. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1959.