At Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry we spend a great deal of time and energy debunking error, both from the pulpit, on television, and in this magazine and literature. We aren’t alone by any means. This effort has been ongoing by others for 1500 years. Still, most of the world remains steeped in fourth century heresies and 15th century Reformation deviations from the Scriptures. A huge challenge for us is that most of churchianity doesn’t know any better. They blindly trust in clerics and in traditional dogmas. And they don’t bother to test what they are told against Scripture. Once the resistance from unbelieving relatives and friends is overcome, tradition is the next barrier for the new truth seeker. The vast majority are not even looking for truth. They blindly accept the beliefs they grew up with, thinking there is no need to go further. In their minds their inherited belief system has to be right because “Mom and Dad believed it, and that’s good enough for me.”
We read inProverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Do you not agree that testing the veracity of your faith against Yahweh’s Word is serious business? Incredibly, the vast majority leave the most crucial part of life – their personal salvation – up to someone else. If I planned to climb a 10,000-foot mountain peak and someone gave me an old rope to use, I would be crazy not to check that rope for integrity first before I trusted it with my life. Yahweh won’t accept willful indif-ference to the Truth that’s right there in plain sight. He demands that we examine our beliefs and then make necessary changes. “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good,” 1Thessalonians 5:21. Any minister who refuses to take questions from the congregation about doctrinal teachings is playing with their salvation. He is guilty of malfeasance for violating a clear, biblical directive. Today we will zero in on the most widespread and popular of traditional errors. We at YRM test all of our teachings against Scripture, as well as anyone else’s teachings. In fact, we welcome inquiries about what we believe and teach. A prime purpose for publishing the Restoration Study Bible was to answer the many questions people have about certain passages. How else will anyone discover what they may have missed unless they critically test what they believe against Scripture? How else can we come to the Truth unless we separate out error through diligent inquiry? Because of a refusal to put their teachings to the test, a tangled mishmash of error runs deep in today’s church culture.Conflict with the Word is why so many are turned off by traditional belief systems.
A Failed Reformation
Many of today’s popular deviations from Scripture began in the Reformation, driven by a desire to get as far away from the Roman Church as possible, just as the Roman Church itself turned away from the Hebraic roots of the New Testament and developed their own teachings. We can cite their inventing of Easter to replace Passover and Sunday to replace the Sabbath and a myriad of other serious deviations. Where the Bible commands that we honor Yahweh by His real Name, the church manufactured a name and turned titles into names that are still used today. The reformers didn’t do any better by taking off on their own tangents and not dealing with gross errors. Beginning in the 1300s the Reformers themselves threw one baby after another out with the bathwater. until there wasn’t much left of the Apostolic faith. They thought they were cleaning up the church when all they did was whitewash it and overlay more aberrations that proved just as far off from Scripture.
Instead of following the Word as it is written, the 14th century reformers created their own doctrines by twisting the Word and eliminating fundamental teachings of Yahshua that bind the Scriptures into a harmonious unit, as Yahweh designed it. The first big leap into their apostasy was to eliminate the Old Testament as the foundation of truth.
This is news to many today. Because they never looked into the Scriptures and compared church teachings diacritically with the Word, they just assume everything is okay. They believe that their faith flowed seamlessly from the apostles into their church pulpit.
Apostasy was prophesied. Age-old sacrilege was not lost on the apostles in the New Testament era. They saw what was happening, and what was coming.
The brother of James wrote in Jude 4: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, wicked men, turning the grace of our Elohim into lasciviousness, and denying the only Sovereign Yahweh, and our Master Yahshua Messiah.”
They denied Yahshua by ignoring what He taught about obeying the Father. And then there was GRACE. They turned grace into an excuse for lawless living. Quite reminiscent of what we hear today! “Grace over obedience, grace covers all. Just rely on His grace,” no obedience necessary. This is the main problem with modern worship.
They reasoned that the more sin you commit the more grace you get in a corruption of the true purpose of grace and forgiveness.
To show how corrupt things can get, one of Martin Luther’s key objections to the Roman Church was its selling of indulgences to get souls released from purgatory, as if the church had such powers. But the belief degenerated further into the practice of paying the church to absolve you of your sin even BEFORE you committed the sin!
Luther railed against the church’s arrogation of Yahweh’s authority. The world’s way of thinking is to compromise your beliefs, find a work-around. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, just make your own rules and authority. The mindset of the church for centuries has been to change for expediency, back away from truth for the sake of numbers.
No one, including the biggest church in the world, has the right to fiddle with Yahweh’s ordinances and usurp His authority.
Peter prophesied, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of,” 2Peter 2:1-2.
At one time or another, every believer has been criticized for following the Scriptures as commanded. Yahweh will turn such criticism on its head. Those who will not follow the Word are in for some big surprises.
The Protestant reformers missed the mark by failing to follow all the Bible’s teachings.
Often when people leave a group because of a serious doctrinal disagreement they also start believing teachings other than those for which they left.
Luther fit this dynamic. He made a left turn after his original grievances with the Roman church and he struck at the heart of the biblical teaching of obedience itself. He reinterpreted the Bible’s teaching on justification and called it “the chief article of the whole Christian doctrine, which comprehends the understanding of all godliness.” He said the church stands or falls on it. Luther maintained that justification by grace alone through faith alone in Yahshua’s righteousness alone is the gospel, the core on which all other Christian doctrines stand. Luther added the word “alone” to the Bible’s teaching on grace and justification.
Calvin: Organizer, Consolidator
Along comes John Calvin, a latecomer to the Reformation. He took Reformation teachings to a new level. His doctrines permeate most Protestant denominations today. Calvin systemized the doctrines of Protestantism and organized its ecclesiastical discipline. He consolidated the scattered forces of the Reformation.
Whenever someone claims to be saved by faith alone, believes it is impossible for a believer to be eternally lost, and believes in salvationary predestination, he is reflecting Calvinist teachings.
Ironically, Calvin and other reformers based their teachings on the supposed principle that the Scriptures are the sole source of truth. The problem is, they didn’t teach the Scriptures. They totally missed the mark. That led to more controversies, which in turn led to more than 33,000 distinct groups and denominations in the world, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia.
Calvin differed with Luther over the nature of communion. And Calvin could not tolerate Spanish theologian Michael Servetus’ teaching against the Trinity, so Calvin testified against him at a Catholic inquisition and Servetus was then burned at the stake in 1553.
The central idea of Calvinism is the sovereignty of Yahweh. Calvin did not discover the sovereignty of Yahweh. He isolated it as an idea. He exalted the sovereignty of Yahweh to override all other truths of Scripture.
Now, we have no problem with Yahweh’s sovereignty. But Calvin twisted the idea to say that if Yahweh is absolutely sovereign, then it follows that salvation depends entirely on Him and not on man. Exit teachings of obedience. Exit the law. Enter total, supreme grace.
Calvinism Creates More Error
Calvin said Yahshua died only for the ones Yahweh had unconditionally chosen to save. This flies in the very face of the most quoted passage in all the Bible, John 3:16. Yahshua said that anyone can accept the truth and conform their lives to it.
We are saved only at the resurrection. Before that we are subject at any time to falling away. Yahshua clearly tells us in Matthew 10:22: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Paul corroborates that in Hebrews 3:14: “For we are made partakers of Messiah, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
Calvin taught that we are saved now, and once we are converted there is no way we can change our destiny. I discussed this with a Calvinist once and I quoted Hebrews 6:6, saying we surely can fall away once we have been converted. He had no answer, except that maybe those who fall away never were really converted, an argument that contradicts the very definition of being converted.
Calvin said that because Yahweh is supreme and salvation comes only through Him, and because man can do nothing but evil, then when He saves us we need do nothing to remain saved. Two points here:
First, the whole biblical teaching of obedience is turned on its head if we believe Calvin. In Matthew 7:21, Yahshua said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Master, Master, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Hebrews 5:9 reads: “And being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
Paul wrote to the Romans in 2:13: “For not the hearers of the law are just before Elohim, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”
And we find in 1John 2:5-6, “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of Elohim perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
Eternal Security Not Secure
Calvin also taught the doctrine of once saved, always saved, or eternal security. That means that you cannot fall from grace once you have been called by Yahweh, because that would be resisting the power of Yahweh.
This teaching does not take into account that calling does not mean choos-ing. Yahshua said many are called, but few are chosen. Yahweh doesn’t want robots or He would have created automatons instead of humans with free will.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Another major teaching of Calvinism is irresistible grace. It is also called ef-ficacious grace or invincible grace.
Calvinists believe that those who have been unconditionally elected to eternal life cannot resist Yahweh’s grace and His determination to save them. Just as those elected to damnation can do nothing about it, those who are elected to salvation can do nothing to resist it.
Again, their timing is way off. Yahweh chooses us at the resurrection. Until then we are merely called. Elect means chosen. Calvinists say those being called are already chosen.
Titus 2:11 says that the grace of Elohim that brings salvation has appeared to all people (Titus 2:11) and yet millions have rejected it. Each person is accountable for his own life, according to John 12:47-48. Those who reject the teachings of Yahshua are held accountable.
Personal accountability is the central teaching of the Scripture. If we have no accountability, if we are simply on salvational auto pilot and there is nothing we can do one way or the other to be ultimately saved or lost, then the whole plan of salvation of honing a people for Yahweh’s service is irrelevant.
The message of conforming to the image of Yahshua and the will of Yahweh is rendered meaningless by many major doc-trines today as well. Yahshua’s teachings tell us to obey the Father and not the will of man just as He did.
Salvation Based on Obedience, Not Talk
Nowhere in Yahweh’s Word can we find that salvation is instantly guaranteed in a believer’s life based on a mere confession or pronouncement. The Apostle Paul talked about having a “hope” of salvation in 1Thessalonians 5:8-9. He explained in 2Corinthians 2:15 that being saved is a process that is not completed until the end.
In 1Corinthians 3:15 he describes sal-vation and being saved as a state no one automatically possesses and is not instantly achieved upon conversion. He wasn’t even sure of his own future but he simply had the “hope” that he might attain the resurrection.
He said in Philippians 3:11-12: “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after…”
If this apostle who was taught by the mouth of the resurrected Savior Himself (Gal. 1:11-12) and who wrote much of the New Testament was not certain of his own salvation, how can anyone today say they are already saved? Yet you hear well-meaning evangelists ask, “Are you saved?” and then tell you just to pronounce a few words to accept the Savior and you are permanently home free.
Those who think they have salvation may then live any kind of life they please and still be assured an eternal reward.
Repentance from Sin
You don’t hear much about repentance these days, yet the act of repentance is essential to being a converted child of Almighty Yahweh in the process of becoming saved. Many have missed this key part of conversion in the New Testament. Without understanding repentance and changing of your life, you cannot know what it means to be saved.
Before we can repent of sin we need to comprehend what sin is.
Everyone knows what crime is. A crime is like a sin. Webster defines a crime as an act that violates a law. The same is true for sin. In the clearest and most precise definition in the Bible, 1John 3:4 says that sin is a violation of Biblical law: Here is the Bible’s fundamental definition of sin: “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” That’s crystal clear.
If sin is breaking of law, then NOT breaking of law means obedience to the law. We can break a law in ignorance because we did not know about it. That doesn’t mean that sin is not imputed to us simply because we were unaware of it. We are still a violator.
We can speed down a highway not knowing what the speed limit is and still be charged with a traffic violation. Ignorance is no excuse.
Everyone has broken Biblical law and therefore all humans are sinners whether they know it or not. The law includes the Ten Commandments. Lying, stealing, killing – these are all acts of sin by Biblical definition. The Bible also gives other laws that Yahweh commands to be observed, and violation of any one of them is also sin by the simple definition of sin. Sin leads to eternal death.
If we are guilty as charged of a lifetime of unrepented, intentional, premeditated sin, our hope of salvation will be dashed.
The Scriptures tell us that unless we confess our sins, seek forgiveness, and turn completely around to live a different life, we are spiritually lost. There is no hope beyond this earthly life unless we change and conform to the Scriptures in how we live.
James 4:4 tells us that the ways of the world make one the enemy of the Heavenly Father Yahweh, and those ways lead to death. On the other hand, Proverbs 12:28 reveals, “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.”
And that is where repentance is pivotal. Repentance moves us away from sin and toward righteousness.
Almighty Yahweh will not allow an unrepentant sinner to sit on a throne in His coming Kingdom. The Messiah Yahshua instructed His followers in Matthew 18:3, “Except you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Conversion requires change and it begins with repentance.
Repentance Is a Transformation
In Luke 13 we read that there were some murdered Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. In verse 3 our Savior said, “Except you repent, you shall likewise perish.”
Repentance is fundamental. Our sins have separated us from our Father in Heaven. Those sins must be forgiven as the first step to salvation.
One Greek word translated repent in the New Testament is metanoeo. It is a verb that includes a realization that one is a sinner. But it goes beyond just realization. It means to change one’s very perception or view of sin and to understand that sin is death. Sin that is practiced in one’s life ultimately ends in spiritual death.
A related word for repent in the New Testament is the Greek noun metanoia. This word signifies a real change in one’s entire attitude toward sin itself, which affects the whole life. It means a change in how we live. It amounts to a complete turnaround, not just to be sorry for sin but to make a 180-degree reverse course in how we live. It means a renouncement of sin and its destructive ways and to practice it no more.
Too often, however, is the more common and erroneous understanding of repentance, signified by the Greek metamelomai. It simply means that I regret what I did because I got caught. It is the kind of regret children often have when their parents punish them for doing something wrong.
In the Bible, it is also the kind of regret that Judas Iscariot felt for betraying the Savior Yahshua. But this is a false regret that lacks the power and force to effect permanent change in one’s life. It is shallow and easily reversed. As soon as the punishment stops, the person is back to his sin again.
Genuine, scriptural repentance is the person who admits his sin, seeks forgiveness, and then makes a complete turnaround – permanently stopping what he or she had been doing, never to repeat it. True repentance leads to true conversion. Nothing less will do.
Just to say I’m sorry is not enough. Just apologizing for your sin but failing to turn from sinful behavior is not repentance. If I steal your car, then tell you I am sorry but I still keep the car, I have not repented. A change must take place in the heart. I must make everything right again by a complete heart transformation
In the New Testament, which in most doctrinal respects is simply a mirror of the Old Testament, we read from Acts 17:30: “And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent.”
Ezekiel 18:21 gives us the proper perspective on repentance. The prophet writes: “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? says Yahweh Elohim: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”
For all its efforts, the Reformation only scratched the surface in church cleanup.It missed the real mark. The reformers, in reaction to what they rightfully saw as a plethora of man-made dos and don’ts in a man-made religion, made a radical turn that derailed truth even further.
By: Alan Mansager
Watch: “What Happened to Worship?” from Discover the Truth TV below.