When I was a young man attending Bible college I came to be friends with another young man who was also attending the same school. Let’s call him Jackson. Jackson had recently been discharged from the military and had decided to use some of his education money to attend. He said that he felt God was calling him to become a minister in the church. He was a fairly typical student, normal and well liked by the teachers and other students. One day he came up to me and asked me if he could buy me a new car. I said “Jackson what happened? Did you inherit a fortune?” He said “No, but I know I’m about to win the lottery. I have prayed and I have faith that God is going to give me the grand prize”. I was taken aback and didn’t really know how to respond. I said “Jackson I think you need to talk to one of the schools counselors. I just don’t think that works the way you think it does” I don’t think you get to decide what God is going to do for you”. He was undeterred and accused me of lacking the necessary faith.
That episode happened a long time ago and I have often wondered what happened to Jackson. I do know that he didn’t win the lottery. I wonder did he finish school and go on to become a minister. I wonder how that experience affected his understanding of how faith works. If he is now ministering in a church, I wonder what he tells his congregation about believing and having faith. I hope God used that experience to teach him and that Jackson wasn’t disillusioned by it to the point of loosing all faith. For a while after that I worried about Jackson.
Today I worry for the whole church . I hear television preachers that are still preaching to their listeners to believe just like Jackson. I expect they also, will soon find that it just doesn’t work that way and like Jackson will be disappointed. Now, for the record, I do believe we need faith. Paul said “if you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. I hate to tip over your sacred cow. But, I have too. Belief, even belief with a confession isn’t enough. In order to grasp what I am about to explain to you, you have to understand that the salvation offered to us is predicated on a covenant made by YHVH to Abraham. Abraham was not the author of the covenant. He didn’t make it. YHVH made the covenant. God decided the terms of the covenant and what would be the reward of those that accept the covenant. Abraham did not.
Let’s pretend there is a train leaving at 3:00 pm for a city far away that you wish to go to. You can believe with all your heart and confess to all around you that you will go to that city. You can have all the faith in the world that you will soon be in that city. But if you don’t buy a ticket and get on that train you will not go. The train company has made a covenant that they will take everyone to that city that buys a ticket and boards the train before 3:00 pm. When you buy the ticket and board the train at the appointed time you have taken advantage of that covenant and will go to the city. You are not at liberty to change the terms or destination of the covenant. YHVH’s covenant with man for his salvation is exactly the same. YHVH has told us what it is he requires and what it is he offers. It is up to you to not only believe but also to act on his offer. Hear what Yeshua says concerning that offer.
Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Matthew 9:16-22And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Now, lets look at the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. Now a man named Zacchaeus was there; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to get a look at Jesus, but being a short man he could not see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, because Jesus was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, because I must stay at your house today.” So he came down quickly and welcomed Jesus joyfully. And when the people saw it, they all complained, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I now give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone of anything, I am paying back four times as much!” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this household, because he too is a son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Like Zacchaeus, if you are to take advantage of the covenant that YHVH has made for us for our salvation you must act on your faith. First realize that YHVH alone dictates the terms of the covenant. Unlike my friend Jackson you don’t just decide and unlike Paul you don’t just get to amend the terms to simply believe and confess. Second like Zacchaeus You must Meet Yeshua, repent and begin to obey the commandments. Belief isn’t enough. Yeshua clearly stated that when he was asked about the terms of salvation, that you must obey the commandments. You have to buy that ticket and actually board that train before it’s too late.