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Is Obedience a Salvation Issue?

I am repeatedly hearing the statement from the Torah community that obedience is not a salvation issue. This seems to be the new mantra that Hebrew Roots folks are using to make Torah observance more palatable to Christians.

I fear that this may be misleading to some and I feel compelled to point out that obedience, as taught by the Messiah, is central to our Covenant walk. Remember that disobedience is the reason why mankind was expelled from the Garden of Eden. The Garden represented the Kingdom of Elohim on Earth, and it was governed by His Torah. It was mankind’s failure to follow the rules of the Kingdom that resulted in their being expelled, and it was the mercy of Elohim that led to His establishing a Covenant that would make a way for us to return through the Covenant Assembly of Yisrael. Central to that Covenant is the Torah.

As a result, obedience to the Torah is nothing to be ashamed of and certainly not to be diminished. Interestingly, but for the religion of Christianity, this would not even be a discussion. In the past, when a stranger joined with Yisrael they were not typically concerned with a guarantee of going to heaven. They wanted to follow the Elohim of Yisrael and therefore they would agree to obey Him and worship Him as instructed in the Torah. Their actions of obedience to the Torah revealed that they served Elohim and not some other pagan god. It was their actions that defined their status and their relationship with Elohim.

Sadly, Christianity has become so fixated on salvation that they often neglect the path that gets you there – which is the Covenant. It has become a religion so motivated on what a person can get for themselves (salvation) that the entire Covenant gets turned upside down and inside out. They want the desert before the meal, but salvation is the end of the journey not the beginning.

We are supposed to give first and receive later – that is the pattern of the Messiah. He gave His life and trusted the Father to resurrect Him from the dead. We give our lives and our service to Elohim and place our faith and trust in Him. We rely on His love and mercy to take care of us now, and after we die. In the meantime, we live our lives in accordance with His instructions. When we enter into the Covenant we place our faith and trust in Yahushua’s blood, which was shed in fulfillment of that Covenant.

Many modern Christians evangelize by posing the standard question: “What must I do to be saved?” Again, the focus is not “What can I do for God” or “What does God want from me” but rather “What can I get from God.” This is a symptom of our society and culture and it results in a predictable response from the modern Christian religion. The answer is a simple and fast multi-step formula and prayer for achieving salvation. Once the prayer is uttered, it is claimed that the person is instantly saved. Sometimes they only have to raise a hand or go to the front of the church.

This is simply not Scriptural and sadly it appears that this mentality has steeped into the Hebrew Roots community, which consists of many people who have left the Christian Church. They have been so beaten up by the doctrine of grace that they are almost afraid to speak about the absolute need to follow the Law – the Torah.

I would like to encourage my brethren that you do not need to make excuses or diminish your obedience by stating that it is not about salvation. If our Messiah had followed that belief and lived a life contrary to the Torah, He would have disqualified Himself from that position. He needed to be holy and live perfect according to the Torah in order to be the unblemished Lamb of Elohim, and He repeatedly told people to follow Him. In other words, walk the way that He walked and live the way that He lived.

We have all been tarnished by sin and thus we need the washing of His blood to cleanse us. Once clean we need to stay holy and live perfect.  We are to follow that path blazed by the Messiah, which involves obedience.  That is specifically why, when Yahushua was asked what a man must do to inherit eternal life, He responded “ . . . if you want to enter into life, keep the Commandments.” (Matthew 19:17). He then went on to say: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21). He was always encouraging people to go beyond the letter of the Torah and find the heart of the Torah.

He tells us to enter by the narrow gate “because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:14. In fact, He went on to state: “24 Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’” Luke 13:24-27

This is a powerful word. He met with these people. He ate with them and taught them yet He proclaims: “I do not know you.” He does not know them because they are not in a Covenant relationship with Him. We know this because He calls them “workers of iniquity.” They are deemed wicked and lawless because they refuse to follow the Commandments.

The path to life is narrow, difficult and few will find it. So when we talk about obedience being about blessings and disobedience being about curses we need to follow these statements to their natural conclusion. While our actions certainly have immediate and tangible consequences in the flesh, they also have eternal consequences. Your actions reveal your heart, and if you want to obey then you are expressing your love for the Master. To the contrary, if you do not want to obey or refuse to obey, then you are expressing your lack of love.

That is why Yahushua said: “If you love me, keep my Commandments.” John 14:15 Obedience is how we express our love, and obedience to the Torah is how we live righteously. It is the righteous who inherit eternal life and the righteous are defined by the way they live their lives, not because of a simple confession of faith or act that they did in the past. In fact, it is the workers of iniquity – those who refuse to obey –  who are the cursed, rejected and sent away to be punished. (Matthew 25:41-46)

This is pretty serious and that is why I am not being “religiously correct,” because Yahushua was not “religiously correct.” He offended many with the truth because the truth does not usually fit within people’s religious paradigms. Yahushua was trying to save people by getting them on the right path so that they could receive the forgiveness that He provides through the Covenant.

Ultimately, Yahushua will judge all because He has inherited the Earth. Thankfully, He has provided us with His standard of judgment in the Scriptures so there will be no surprises. He told us how He would judge the wicked and the righteous and it always came down to how they lived their lives.

Incredibly, in Matthew 7:21-23 it sounds as though He was specifically trying to warn the future Christians when He said: “21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

The word “lawless” specifically means: “without the Torah.” So you might want to rethink the notion that obedience is not a salvation issue. Salvation to me is whether I get back into the Kingdom, back into the Garden, where I can partake of the Tree of Life. That is where we have eternal life.

Once again, the Scriptures are clear on this point: “14 Blessed are those who do His Commandments, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” Revelation 22:14-15

Can it be that the new lie is that obedience to the Torah is not a salvation issue? Yahushua was the Torah in the flesh. He taught the true Torah. He lived, died and was resurrected because of the Torah. Therefore, if you reject the Torah then you are rejecting the Messiah and His message.

The Messiah was very clear about this and we also need to be clear about it so we don’t mislead anyone. Our message must be honest and truthful. Yahushua had many people turn away because they found His message to be too hard. We must be prepared for the same response to our message. It will definitely not appeal to the masses.

It is by the shed blood of Yahushua, the prophesied Lamb of Elohim, that we can enter through the door that leads to life. We also receive forgiveness from that blood when we sin and repent, but it is all within the Context of the Covenant. We are sending a false and mixed message if we attract people to the Torah and tell them that it is only about being blessed in the here and now – essentially making it optional.

The Torah is the rule of the Kingdom and it needs to be practiced, rehearsed, lived and perfected by those who desire to receive salvation after they die (or if they happen to be alive when the Messiah sends out His messengers to gather the elect).

I would therefore suggest that if you are in the Covenant, that you delight in the Torah and boldly proclaim the need to obey the Torah for all those who follow Messiah. Anything less is a disservice to Yahushua, His Message and the Covenant. I wrote a book specifically addressing this issue that I highly recommend you read and pass along to others who struggle with the issue of Salvation: The Covenant Journey.

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Now Available: The Christian Conundrum

  • Is the Bible inerrant and, if so, does Christianity completely follow the Bible?
  • Did Messiah abolish the Commandments by fulfilling the Law?
  • Should Christians obey the Commandments?
  • Did the Christian Church replace the Covenant Assembly of Israel?

The Christian Conundrum by Todd Bennett

These are just a few of the questions addressed in this straight forward and hard hitting book that goes to the heart of the Christian belief system. In this book the origins of Christianity and the teachings of the Messiah are examined and placed within their original contest. The Scriptures that define the Christian faith are detailed and compared to the traditions promoted by modern Christianity.

Click here to purchase paperback version

Click here to purchase the ebook

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Appointed Times Dates 2016

Appointed Times and Month Beginning Dates (2016)

These dates are anticipated based upon the proven historical methods of reckoning Scriptural time found on TorahCalendar.com. While the determination of the day, the month and the year are clear, the evidence supporting the Jubilee determination on that site has yet to be published.

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Announcing the Shavuot Israel Tour 2016

Shavuot 2016 Tour of Israel - with Todd Bennett

We are planning a tour to the Land for Shavuot

Dates and costs are still being determined. Right now it appears that the tour will be approximately 8 days from around May 9 to May 17.

We are looking for feedback from people regarding preferred language and country of origin along with your contact information – Name, address, telephone, email and how many people in your party

If you are seriously interested please complete visit the website at www.shavuot2016.com. We will send more information once the itinerary and costs are solidified.

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Now Offering Essential Oils

Essential oils are mentioned throughout the Scriptures and were a regular part of life and worship in ancient Yisrael. They were and remain the Creator’s provision for health and wellbeing. Studies are confirming the effectiveness of various oils in all areas of life. Do your own research and find out the power of these natural substances and how you can benefit from them. We are now offering essential oil products as an important part of our arsenal to stay healthy, teach and walk in the light of truth.

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Understand Prophecy and the End of the Age

We are currently living in a time when many sense that we are at the end of the age. As such, people are looking to prophecies for clues, signs and indicators to help them better understand the times. Sadly, most lack a solid understanding of history and are unable to place particular prophecies into their proper historical context. I was raised in an evangelical Christian setting that tended to apply a future fulfillment to most prophecies. As a result, I would have been classified as a “futurist.”

As I began to study the Scriptures and look at their historical context, I realized that many prophecies were given at specific times and in specific contexts and had actually already been fulfilled. Those who believe that prophecies were fulfilled in the past are often classified as “preterists.” I discuss this issue in my book The Final Shofar and it is extremely important that people looking for answers in the Scriptural texts understand this distinction.

Now the problem with labels is that they tend to pigeon hole people into different categories. While some people are strictly futurists and others are strictly preterists, I happen to believe that there is room in the middle. Clearly, there are prophecies that were fulfilled in the past, but there are also certain prophecies that remain unfulfilled.

Therefore when reading the Scriptures, and particularly prophecies, we should always be aware of the time in history that they were written, the context in which they were given, as well as the person speaking the word and to whom it was spoken. Finally, we need to consider any translation issues concerning the passage.

I recently heard a Christian commentator quote a prophetic passage regarding the Day of the LORD. He proceeded to state with certainty that because the prophecy mentioned the Day of the LORD, then it was clearly referring to the second coming of Jesus. This is a mistake that many people make.

First of all, the Day of the LORD is better known as the Day of YHWH – YHWH being the English equivalent of the Hebrew Name of Elohim. Second, while the return of the Messiah, named Yahushua, may indeed coincide with the Day of YHWH, the Day of YHWH is not a one time future event. Rather, it typically describes a time when prophecy is fulfilled and that often involves judgment.

There have been many Day of YHWH occurrences in the past. For example, some believe that events described in Amos 5 may be one of the earliest references to the Day of YHWH. We know from Amos 1 that the prophecy was given at a time when Yisrael was divided into two kingdoms after the death of King Solomon. Those two kingdoms were referred to as the House of Yisrael (the Northern Kingdom) and the House of Judah (the Southern Kingdom). The prophecy begins by stating: “concerning Yisrael in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Yisrael, two years before the earthquake.” Amos 1:1.

The text in Amos 5 that later describes the Day of YHWH specifically addresses the Northern Kingdom. “Hear this word which I take up against you, a lamentation, O House of Yisrael.” Amos 5:1. So the Day of YHWH spoken of by Amos involved the judgment that would befall the House of Yisrael by the Assyrians – it was specifically given to the Northern Kingdom.

Other prophets would prophesy concerning the destruction that would befall the House of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. That judgment and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians was also considered to be a Day of YHWH event (see Lamentations 2:21). The subsequent fall of Babylon by the Persians was described as the Day of YHWH by Isaiah in what certainly sounds like the end of the world (see Isaiah 13).

From all of these examples we see that it is important to understand the historical context of the prophecies and recognize that they were accomplished in the past. While we can learn about a future Day of YHWH from these passages, they clearly had a previous fulfillment.

Another good example of contextual and translation analysis can be found in the book of Zephaniah, which has no less than five specific references to the Day of YHWH. Let us read the first three verses of Zephaniah, in the New International Version (NIV), which set the stage for the rest of the text.

“1 The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah: 2 ‘I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,’ declares the LORD. 3 ‘I will sweep away both man and beast; I will sweep away the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea – and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble. When I destroy all mankind on the face of the earth,’ declares the LORD.” Zephaniah 1:1-3.

Now according to this text, it initially appears that we are reading about a final judgment when all living things are destroyed from the entire earth. If we look at the context of the prophecy we know that it was given during the reign of King Josiah – King of Judah. From this portion of the text we know that his father was Amon and from the Book of Kings we learn “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath.” 2 Kings 22:1. As a result, we can discern that he reigned from around 640 BCE to 609/608 BCE (see 2 Chronicles 34; 2 Chronicles 35:1-25).

Therefore, when this prophecy was given, the House of Yisrael had already seen their Day of YHWH event that had been prophesied by Amos. That judgment culminated around 722 BCE when Samaria, the capital of the House of Yisrael, fell to the Assyrians. So the context of the Zephaniah prophecy was after the fall of the Northern Kingdom, and it was given prior to the fall of the Southern Kingdom, the House of Judah, when Jerusalem was subsequently destroyed by the Babylonians.

Despite that context, the text still seems to be talking about a judgment upon the entire world, until we examine the translation. If we look at the word translated as “world” in the Hebrew we see that it is “adamah” which can mean “ground or land.” Later, the Hebrew word “eretz” is used which also refers to “land.” The prophecy is clearly talking about the “land” of Judah and the surrounding region. When you read further this becomes evident. It is a very specific prophecy to the royal family of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Judah and neighboring peoples. So Zephaniah is not talking about a future event, or the end of the world, but rather the Day of the YHWH, which was a past judgment rendered upon the Land of Judah.

The point of all this is that we must carefully examine the texts when we look to the future. Many people have misplaced expectations concerning the return of the Messiah because they have inherited poor eschatological teachings. They are expecting certain events to occur that have already happened long ago. As such, many may be found unprepared and caught off guard when the Day of YHWH actually arrives “as a thief in the night.”

Peter described a future Day of YHWH as follows: “But the day of YHWH will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10.

Apparently, many will be unprepared because they will be sleeping. The Messiah described His future return when He spoke the parable of the Ten Virgins (see Matthew 25). They all slumbered and slept and when they were awakened by a midnight cry only half of them were prepared for the wedding. Now is the time to get ready and stay alert. Many are sleeping and slumbering because they erroneously believe that certain events must occur before we begin a seven year countdown or three and one half year countdown, but their expectations may be misplaced.

My book The Final Shofar attempts to place the Scriptures and prophecy into proper historical context and I encourage you to get a copy. My prayer is that we all be found ready for the Bridegroom when the call is sounded.

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La Ley y La Gracia (The Law and Grace in Spanish) – Now Available

La Ley y La Gracia front cover

La Ley y La Gracia is the long awaited Spanish translation of the landmark Walk in the Light series book entitled The Law and Grace. This is a critical book for any Spanish speaking Christian to discover that the Messiah came teaching the Torah and those who claim to follow Him are charged to obey the Torah or face the punishment ascribed to lawless individuals.