Luqas (Luke) 19:1-10 says: Yeshua entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Yeshua was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Yeshua was coming that way. When Yeshua reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Yeshua said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” How does Yeshua's concept of salvation compare with that of most churches today? Yeshua says salvation has come when Zacchaeus has repented as demonstrated by his making restitution to those he had wronged. There is no mention of believing in Yeshua or His mission. The emphasis is on repentance. Now consider the modern evangelical service. There is soft music playing and the minister will ask for those that want to be saved to first raise their hands. He will make sure that no one is looking around because he doesn't want them to be embarrassed. Then they will be asked to come forward and repeat the sinner's prayer. That prayer will acknowledge certain beliefs about "Jesus." After repeating the prayer, the new believer will be told to receive in faith God's gift of salvation. Depending on the particular church, the person may be told that his salvation is permanent and can't be lost even if one willfully sins thereafter.
Some may argue that "Jesus" was speaking to Zacchaeus under the "Old Covenant." The argument goes that since Jesus had not gone to the cross, died, and rose again, then Zacchaeus could not be saved under "New Testament" grace. This is an anti-Semitic approach. The covenant with the Hebrews was also a covenant of grace. It is only Christian theology that creates a salvation by law versus a salvation by grace dichotomy. The truth is that salvation to the Jews was always by grace. The Torah was given after they were redeemed from Egypt. The Torah was provided to separate the Hebrews from the world and to teach them to live in a matter that would please YHWH. Yeshua is the mediator of the Renewed Covenant that provides for the Torah to be written on hearts as opposed to stone. Under the Renewed Covenant, Gentiles can become citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel without converting to Judaism. However, repentance is still the first step a person takes to receive the blessings of the Renewed Covenant.
Don't allow yourself to be deceived by the "cheap grace" offered by the modern church. There is no salvation by saying a prayer. Salvation comes from the act of repentance from a believing heart. We, as Gentiles, are grafted onto the branch of Israel. We do not become Jews; however, we do obey the teachings of Torah. If you ever have wondered why the modern church is so mixed up, now you know. If you disregard repentance and Torah, sin will abound.
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