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What is Repentance?
Episode 123rd January 2022 • Our Hope Podcast • Chosen People Ministries
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Repentance—turning to God—is central to the gospel. This act may be difficult, as it means facing our sin and admitting we were wrong. Thankfully, repentance also paves the way for healing. God delights to forgive us and make us new (Isaiah 1:18). Repentance is part of starting to follow Yeshua, and it remains an important practice throughout our lives.

In this episode, we discuss repentance with Seth Postell, PhD, the academic dean of Israel College of the Bible. He has written several books, including Adam and Israel and Reading Moses, Seeing Jesus. We tackle questions such as the role of repentance in Judaism, how to overcome patterns of sin, and why we need to forgive others.

Transcripts

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(guitar music)

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- Welcome to Our Hope,

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a production of Chosen People Ministries.

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On this podcast, you will hear inspiring testimonies,

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learn about Messianic apologetics,

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and discover God's plan for Israel and you.

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Wherever you're listening, we hope you lean in,

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listen closely, and be blessed.

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(upbeat music)

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(piano music)

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Repentance is a central part of the Gospel.

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It is an essential step to believing in the Messiah,

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both when we first turned to Him

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and as we go about this journey with Him.

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Repentance can be a painful process

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as it involves confessing sin

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and acknowledging our need for God's help.

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Thankfully, repentance is also a healing process.

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It paves the way for us to receive

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God's forgiveness and transforming power.

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We hope this episode encourages you

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that God's grace is abundant.

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He delights to forgive,

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and that is sure to change your life.

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It certainly changed the life

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of today's guest, Dr. Seth Postell.

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He's the Academic Dean of Israel College of the Bible

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and author of the books, "Adam as Israel,"

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and "Reading Moses, Seeing Jesus."

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He also contributed several chapters

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to "The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy."

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I now introduce the host of Our Hope Podcast, Abe Vazquez.

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(upbeat music)

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- Welcome back everyone to another season of Our Hope,

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we are now in Season Eight.

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- Yeah.

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- I am just so delighted and excited

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to come this far, it's quite the accomplishment.

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Podcasts can be very hard,

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especially when you're doing them week-to-week.

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And I don't know how people do them day-to-day.

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That's some hard work,

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but we put a lot of our passion and energy

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behind creating these episodes really so that we can just

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continue to encourage you as you listen,

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if you're driving to work,

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if you're cleaning up around the house and you're listening,

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we just wanna be an encouragement to you.

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That's our hope, pun intended.

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And so today, we're really excited to have a new guest.

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In the past, you've heard from Chosen People Ministries

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staff members, and people who you may have heard

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at our conferences before, but this person is new.

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He's spoken at a couple of our conferences

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and you may have seen his video on our social media.

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He shared his testimony on I Found Shalom,

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and we'll talk a little bit about that in a bit.

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Today we have Dr. Seth Postell.

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Seth, thank you so much for joining us,

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thank you for accepting the invitation.

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- Thank you for inviting me.

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- So we ask every new guest,

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a very deep theological question,

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something that you may not be able to answer.

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What is your favorite food?

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- That's a great question,

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I think, a New York bagel, lox and cream cheese

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is among my top favorites.

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- Yes, absolutely.

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- I also think a close second, actually my wife makes

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really good crispy chicken wings in her wok.

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- Oh, that is delicious.

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(Abe laughing)

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That is delicious, me and my wife

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actually just purchased a wok,

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and I cannot wait for it to come in.

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We got the stove attachment and everything

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so we can get the fire nice and hot, so.

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That is awesome.

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Well, like I said, thank you again for being with us.

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We already mentioned

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that you're the Dean of Israel College of the Bible.

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Would you tell us

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a little bit about what makes this college unique?

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- So actually, people will probably better know the name

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One for Israel.

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So it would be the One for Israel Bible College,

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in Israel we call it Israel College of the Bible.

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- Nice.

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- But it's One for Israel Bible College,

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and what makes our college unique is we're actually,

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we are an accredited Bible College that serves

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both Jews and Arabs here in the land of Israel.

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- Wow.

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- We've seen over the years, God's really at work in Israel

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I'd say over the last 25 years, the Messianic congregation

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has grown exponentially.

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- Mmmh. - Nice.

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- And we've also seen God doing some great things

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among Arabs as well and so, our college is one of these,

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it's a place where Jews and Arabs come together

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to study the word of God,

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and are encouraged to pray for our people,

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encouraged to reach our people with the Good News of Yeshua.

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- That is awesome, Seth, and we just wanted to share,

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we know the story of how you first came to faith.

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Your I Found Shalom testimony

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is one of our top performing videos on our Facebook page.

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So having you here,

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it's hard not to be a little bit star struck,

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just wanted to let you know.

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- I appreciate it, thank you.

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- It's so true.

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So let's jump into today's topic.

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we're gonna be talking about repentance.

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Let's just sort of start with the basics.

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What does the word "repentance" even mean?

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- Yeah, in Hebrew, the word Teshuvah,

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it actually comes from the root shuv, to return.

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- Mmmh.

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- Mmmh.

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- Right, and what I find to be really amazing

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is very frequently, the word is actually applied to God

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and what God would do for our people.

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That God would restore our people,

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that God would bring our people back.

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- Mmmh.

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- But that's at it's foundation,

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at least in the Hebrew sense, it means to return.

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- Mmmh.

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- Yeah. - Mmmh.

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- So Seth, what role would you say repentance plays

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in someone coming to faith in Yeshua?

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Why is it important?

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- Well, it's interesting that when you think about,

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the whole notion of why Yeshua came, right?

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Yeshua came actually to provide forgiveness of sins, right?

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And so we look at, one of the classic chapters

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in Isaiah 53, right?

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The forbidden chapter.

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- Mmmh.

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- And His total role as an atoning sacrifice, right?

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- Yeah.

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- And I think at the very core of a relationship with God,

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I mean, even we talk about Yom Kippur,

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a relationship with God is the realization

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that we've violated His laws, we've broken His commandments.

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There's something essentially broken within us.

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And I think that that's a really key realization

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when it comes to a relationship with God

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that, why would anybody ever turn to Yeshua?

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Were it not for the fact that they understand

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that, "Hey, I'm separated from God.

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My sins have separated me from God."

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- Yeah.

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- Isaiah 6, an amazing passage where the prophet Isaiah

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sees God, and he sees the holiness of God.

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And he hears that these burning ones,

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these seraphim, these angelic beings,

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holy, holy, holy, holy crying out,

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and his response to God is, "Woe is me, woe is me."

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And God in order to use Isaiah,

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where who will go before us, first He says He has to deal

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with Isaiah's unclean lips with his sin.

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- Yeah.

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- And so I think at the very heart of a relationship

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with God is the realization that there's something broken

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that needs to be fixed,

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there's sin that needs to be dealt with,

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and I think that that's where repentance comes in,

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is the realization, "Hey, I'm not right with God."

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- Mmmh. - Yeah.

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- Mmmh, and how do we know if repentance is even genuine?

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I think that's probably, even a firm mature believer

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you play mind tricks with yourself and you wonder like,

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was this even genuine?

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Like how can we know?

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- Yeah, I'm always a little bit careful about,

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when it comes to trying to determine

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what's to genuine, what's not genuine?

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- Mmmh.

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- I think that that's in God's hands.

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- Yeah.

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- I would just simply say this, there's no question that,

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the Scriptures to talk about being born from above

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and in John 3, being born from above,

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that's something very supernatural,

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a passage that I really love is in Ezekiel,

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and let me just read it.

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It talks about what God would do for the people

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in Ezekiel 36:24.

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Hold on, I gotta get my Bible open here, yeah.

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Yeah, God says about our people, "I will take you."

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This is from Ezekiel 36:24-25.

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"For I will take you from the nations,

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gather you from all the lands and bring you

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into your own land.

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Then I will sprinkle clean water on you,

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and you will be clean.

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And I will cleanse you from all your filthiness

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and from all your idols.

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Moreover, I will give you a new heart,

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and put a new spirit within you,

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and remove the heart of stone from your flesh

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and give you a heart of flesh.

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I will put my spirit within you and cause you

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to walk in my statutes,

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and you will be careful to observe my ordinances."

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It's really interesting that as I see this,

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there's something supernatural,

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when God starts to convict us of sins.

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- Mmmh.

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- That's the work of God.

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The very fact that I am worn for my sins,

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that I'm sorry for my sins, right?

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- Yeah. - Yeah.

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- That's not normal, sin is fun, right?

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Why would I ever feel sorry for something

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that's so pleasurable, right?

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But, there's a work in God

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when we start to recognize His holiness.

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- Mmmh. - Mmmh.

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- And we start to, this brokenness,

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but even this beautiful passage where God says,

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"I'll put My Spirit within you,

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and you will be careful to observe my ordinances."

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In other words, I see even a desire for repentance.

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As part of the work of God,

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it's not something I've produced in myself, right?

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- Yeah.

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- It's not something I can muster up

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or try really hard to do.

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What are the steps of repentance?

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I see that in my own life there were just these key moments

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where I was just so overwhelmed with my filth.

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I think a lot of it comes

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with pondering the holiness of God,

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realizing that God is holy, realizing that God is perfect.

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So in terms of determining

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whether repentance is genuine or not,

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my own personal thoughts here

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is that would almost be a rabbit trail.

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If we can end up worrying about that all the time.

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And I think that that would be unhealthy

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for a thriving in spiritual relationship.

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In other words, how do I really know that I've repented?

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How do I really know that I love God?

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Whenever I come to those places,

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I just come back again to the Gospel.

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"For God so loved the world

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that He gave us His only begotten son,

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that whosoever believes in Him,

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will not perish, but have everlasting life."

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Did I believe in Him? I did, why?

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Because I know I was perishing.

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And so that's where my comfort is, right?

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I don't look to how genuine I am.

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I look to the Gospel, I look to God,

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I look to His character.

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I look to His goodness,

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and that's where my security comes from.

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(violin music)

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- We'll be right back.

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(upbeat music)

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- There are many passages in the Bible

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that speak about the Messiah,

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but how can we understand them?

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"Isaiah 53 Explained" written

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by Chosen People Ministry's President, Dr. Mitch Glaser,

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is a great resource for those who are searching for truth,

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and looking to have a relationship with God.

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This book contains testimonies,

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a list of Messianic prophecies and an in-depth look

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at how we can receive atonement for our sins.

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Download the e-book for free at Isaiah53.com today.

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(upbeat music)

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- Shalom, I'm Mitch Glaser,

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President of Chosen People Ministries.

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In Romans 116, the Messianic Jewish apostle Paul wrote,

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"For, I am not ashamed of the Gospel,

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for it is the power of God for salvation

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to everyone who believes.

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To the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

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These words are for all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike.

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God clearly has a heart to reach the Jewish people,

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His chosen people, with the Good News

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that the Messiah has come.

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That same passion, has inspired Chosen People Ministries

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to establish a global outreach among Israelis

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from Israel, to New Zealand, to India,

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to New York, and beyond.

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To discover how you could share the Good News

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that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah

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with Jewish people this year, visit Chosen People Ministries

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at chosenpeople.com/radio.

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- One thing that really resonated with me

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when I watched your I Found Shalom testimony

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is you mentioned how after you first started

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to believe in Yeshua,

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you went through this really bad season of guilt

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where you would repent and be born again,

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and then you would be born again, again,

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and born again again, again,

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and I went through the same exact thing

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when I first came to faith, I was 14.

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And I know we probably have listeners

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who are new believers in Yeshua,

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and who may be struggling with some guilt.

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How would you explain the difference

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between conviction of the Holy Spirit

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and guilt that maybe would drive us away from God?

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- Yeah, it's such a good question.

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As I understand it, I do believe there's a real devil,

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that really wants to, his job is to accuse us,

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and his accusations

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will always leave us with despair, right?

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The devil likes to leave us with total despair.

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- Mmmh.

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- But, never in Scripture when God convicts people of sin,

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are they ever left with despair, at least not for long.

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In other words, if you look at Isaiah 6,

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Isaiah says, "Woe is me from ruined."

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Verse 5, "Because I'm a man of unclean lips,

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I live among a people of unclean lips.

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For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts."

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But then immediately there's no time even elapses

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that God basically sends one of the angels

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with burning coal from the altar, right?

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The whole connection with sacrifice.

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And he touches Isaiah's lips and says,

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"Your iniquity is taken away."

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And so I think that this whole notion of despair

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is definitely not something of God.

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I think that a conviction of sin

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always tends to come with a deep sense of hope.

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- Mmmh.

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- Right, that's the heart of God.

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I mean when you think about, it's interesting,

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if you look at the structure of the Torah,

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almost dead center in the Torah, is the Day of Atonement.

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- Mmmh.

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- I mean, it's literally,

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like a chapter short of being dead center in the Torah.

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So the heart of the Torah is God's provision

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for a removal of sin, right?

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And so again, I would argue that for me,

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I think with my own testimony,

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I think that despair came about because of some lapses

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in my own understanding of the Gospel.

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I do I believe that I was made new.

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- Mmmh.

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- God changed me when I put my faith in Yeshua.

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That said, it took me a few years

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to really come to a clear sense of the fact

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that I didn't need to be scared to death of God,

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because he really did love me.

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- Mmmh.

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- I mean, the proof of His love

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was in the Messiah Yeshua.

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And so as a sinner, I can run, not away from God

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and cowering in fear.

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I can run to Him, assured that He has removed my guilt,

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that He has taken all of my sin on the cross.

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- Mmmh.

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- So, again, any time that God is at work,

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repentance ought to lead us to hope.

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If there's despair, then clearly

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we're not looking to Yeshua, we're looking to ourselves.

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And whenever we look to ourselves, we'll always despair.

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As soon as we start to look to at ourselves,

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we're gonna feel guilty and horrible.

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The first thing we need to do is look immediately

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to Yeshua and His perfect sacrifice.

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- Amen, thank you so much for explaining the difference

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between those two things.

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Now, you grew up in a Jewish household

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and you also just know a lot about Judaism.

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What does Judaism teach about repentance,

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and how it relates atonement?

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Does it relate to atonement

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in Judaism the way they understand it?

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- Well, at least the way I see it,

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at least in the land of Israel,

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I see that the Day of Atonement,

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you can really think in terms of repentance oftentimes,

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it's associated with the Day of Atonement.

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And as I see it played itself out,

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there's sort of this process of thinking about the people

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that you've heard and going in and making amends,

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but what ends up happening is there's a confusion,

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almost that the repentance itself makes atonement.

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- Mmmh.

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- Okay, in other words, there's a sense in which my actions

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are what actually makes atonement for my sin,

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but that's a total misunderstanding of the Day of Atonement,

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and it's really interesting in Leviticus 16.

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In Leviticus 16, towards the end, let me just get there,

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here on this here, verse 29.

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"This shall be a permanent statute for you

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in the Seventh month of the 10th day of the month.

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You shall humble your souls and not do any work,

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whether the native or the alien who sojourns among you.

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For it is on this day, that atonement shall be made

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for you to cleanse you."

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- What's really interesting is that the Day of Atonement

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it's not a feast, it's not a festival.

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In other words, there were three festivals

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where you came up to Jerusalem three times a year, right?

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The Day of Atonement, you're commanded to stay home.

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And the only work that you have to do,

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the only thing you do, is you afflict your soul,

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which I do believe this is the fast, right?

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To feel sorry, okay?

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But what's interesting is the fast thing here,

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or the affliction of the soul does not make repentance,

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or it doesn't make atonement, it receives atonement.

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And in other words, the work of atonement

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is completely out of our hands.

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It's completely the work of the High Priest.

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The High Priest does all the work,

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and we simply by afflicting our souls, by repenting,

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you can almost replace the word fasting here with believing.

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In other words, I don't make atonement for myself,

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I receive atonement.

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- Mmmh.

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And atonement can only be made by the High Priests.

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- Right.

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- No one else can make atonement.

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That's why we believe in the priestly work of Yeshua

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as a priest, according to the order of Melchizedek.

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So, again, as I see things played out in Israel,

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it's almost as if the repenting is what makes atonement.

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- Mmmh.

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- Which I think is a fundamental misunderstanding,

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I think that there is no atonement

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apart from the High Priest.

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There's no atonement apart from a sacrifice,

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my repentance in a sense receives by faith,

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the atonement that it's been made for me.

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- Wow, so just kind of in that same thought,

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how would you explain then "repentance" in light of Yeshua

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to a Jewish person?

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- How would I explain repentance to a Jew?

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Well, again there's no question

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when you look at the Scriptures, if you look at the Torah,

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there's just something that you find again and again,

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a fundamental brokenness, a separation between us and God.

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And I think that repentance is this recognition,

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it's coming to an understanding that I'm separated from God

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because of my actions that I have offended Him

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in my behavior, in my selfishness, right?

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And so repentance is as I would understand it,

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it would be simply an understanding,

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"Hey, I have sinned and I need a way back."

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- Mmmh.

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- "I am separated, and I need a way back."

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I think Isaiah 53,

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to a certain extent kind of summed it up very well.

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Verses 4 through 6, "Surely our griefs,

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He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried.

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Yet, we ourselves esteemed, Him stricken,

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and smitten of God, and afflicted,

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but He was pierced through for our transgressions.

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He was crushed for our iniquities.

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The chastening of our wellbeing fell upon Him.

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And by his scourging, we are healed."

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Verse 6, "All we like sheep have gone astray.

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Each of us has turned to his own way."

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That in and of itself, the realization

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I have turned my own way, I have gone astray.

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- Mmmh.

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- I think that is crucial, in a return to God,

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but how do we return to God?

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Is it something I didn't know, it's the realization

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that the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all

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to fall on Him.

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And I think it's at that moment of the realization

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that I've gone astray, I started my own way.

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And instead of punishing me, God, put my sin on the Messiah.

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I think that that's the core of what repentance looks like.

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(upbeat music)

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- So Seth, throughout Scripture,

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there are times when God called the Israelites

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to collective repentance.

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We see it with the prophets turn back to God,

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turn back to God, turn back to God.

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Would you say communal repentance still has a place

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in our world today?

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- Yeah, you look in Nehemiah, Nehemiah and then Israel

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where the people collectively gathered

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and cried out, of course, I think that there's something

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as a community, I think that there is a place,

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I also think that, I look at Daniel 9,

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where Daniel was also grieving over the sins of his people

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when he ceased praying and he's crying out.

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So I do think that there is a place of the community

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- Mmmh.

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- Interceding for, and praying for, and crying out for,

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and confessing sin.

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The book of Jacob,

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James talks about confessing our sins one to another.

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And so I do see that there's something very important

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in a communal approach to God where we collectively

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confess our sins.

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I do think that there's something very healthy,

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and very beautiful in that.

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- Mmmh. - Mmmh.

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And as the body of Messiah, as believers in Jesus,

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in community with each other, and even out in the world,

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there are times when we're gonna offend people.

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And there are times when there's gonna be misunderstandings.

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So, how should we repent and seek each other's forgiveness?

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- Yeah, obviously, when Yeshua talked

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about the two greatest commandments, right?

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Loving God and loving our neighbor,

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and I think that that's something that the moment

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that we understand that we've offended somebody,

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I do think we don't wait till,

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a few days before Yom Kippur to get things right.

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I think that it's really important to live a lifestyle

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that to the best of our ability, when we know

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that we've offended somebody that we confess our sins

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and we say, "Listen, please forgive me."

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- Mmmh.

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- I think, as a witness for people,

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by the way, I also think that there's a beautiful model

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in Stephen, as Stephen was being stoned.

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- Yeah.

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- Right, and the final words before he died was,

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"Father forgive them."

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Which I think is also, not just us going to people

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when we've sinned against them.

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I think that that's, to a certain extent,

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that's far easier than forgiving people

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that have sinned against us.

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- Mmmh. - Mmmh, yeah.

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- Right, and I think that this whole notion

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of I think Stephen living this life of his final words

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were letting go of the enemy kind of an-

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- Mmmh.

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- Any hatred or bitterness

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towards those that actually hurt him, right?

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- Wow.

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- And so, yeah, I think that it's an important way

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to live and of course,

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and we all know there are some relationships that,

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there are some people that will refuse

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to live at peace with us.

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- Yes.

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- Unfortunately we live in a world

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where there are certain people that will choose

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to never reconcile, or if they,

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they will never live estranged from them short of a miracle.

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- Mmmh.

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- And I think in those situations, what we need to be doing,

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and I try my very best to practice this myself,

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is that the very people that you know that you have no power

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there's nothing within your own hands

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that can bring some kind of a healing or reconciliation,

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those are the people that I regularly pray for.

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- Mmmh. - Mmmh.

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- So that in my own heart,

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I don't allow bitterness to creep in,

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in my own heart, I don't allow myself to live

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with any sense of having been treated

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unfairly or bitterness.

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- Mmmh.

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- I think the root of bitterness is very, very dangerous,

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and very, very destructive.

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And I think that we need to make sure

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we're never gonna allow ourselves to be,

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never to put ourselves in the prison

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of bitterness and unforgiveness.

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- And in light of forgiving others,

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why is it important that we forgive others?

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And why is it not just enough

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that we know that God forgives them?

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Why do we need to forgive them?

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- Well, I think it's interesting in Matthew 18,

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how many times do we forgive, seven times,

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and Yeshua says seven times seven,

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and I think why do we forgive?

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Is because we've been forgiven.

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And no matter what people have done against us,

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it doesn't compare to a lifetime offenses

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that we've accumulated against God.

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- Mmmh.

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- Right, and so, I think that the recognition,

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the realization of the Gospel that God has forgiven me

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of all of my sins, He holds nothing.

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I've been graciously and completely forgiven.

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And so we forgive because He forgave us,

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we love because He first loved us.

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So to that extent I think that,

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I think that when we choose not to forgive,

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we're actually choosing to deny the truth of the Gospel

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that saved us.

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- Mmmh, Seth, as we wrap up this amazing episode,

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thank you so much, for just walking us through this.

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I'd like to just ask this question,

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how has God's immense grace changed your life

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as a Jewish believer in Messiah?

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- Yeah, you've heard my testimony,

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and I think that there was a period in my life

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where I really detested and loathed myself.

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I felt detestable to God and detestable to those around me.

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And one of the greatest moments of my life

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was the realization that I'm not detestable to God,

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that He loves me with an everlasting love.

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And it's really interesting that that moment of embracing

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God's perfect love, which was a real moment

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in my own spiritual development,

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it has sort of become the theme of the rest of my life.

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Like I am very drawn to people who hate themselves.

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It's easy to typically spot the people

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that loathe themselves, right?

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- Yeah.

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- And so I'm really drawn to the down-and-outers,

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because I was down-and-outer.

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And one of the passages that has meant a lot to me,

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is in Isaiah 42.

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Isaiah 42, it talks about the Messiah

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"Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold,

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My chosen one in whom My soul delights,

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I can put my spirit upon Him.

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He will bring forth justice to the nations.

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He will not cry out or raise His voice

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nor make His voice heard in the street."

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Verse 3 is really important.

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"A bruised reed, He will not break.

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And a dimly burning wick, He will not extinguish."

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And I think that the love of God in my life,

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there was a time where I was a dimly burning wick.

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I was a very bruised reed, and Yeshua didn't crush me.

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- Mmmh.

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- He didn't break me and He didn't extinguish me,

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He fanned the flames.

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- Mmmh, wow.

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- His own love in my heart.

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And so I think that has really been something

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that it gives me more delight than anything else

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I can think of is to find those people

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that feel completely dejected, rejected, ugly in God's eyes,

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ugly in people's eye, and with the Gospel,

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the Good News that God loves them unconditionally,

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and do anything and everything I can to encourage them

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to fan those flames.

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- Yeah.

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- So that's really been, I'd say the theme

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of most of my adult life.

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- Amen.

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- Thank you, Seth.

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Thank you for being a part of this.

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It was really, really special episode.

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Thank you so much.

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- Thanks Seth.

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(upbeat music)

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- Whatever you have done in the past,

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whatever you may be struggling with,

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however far from God you may feel, there is hope.

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When we repent and trust in the Messiah,

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we can be confident that God forgives us.

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Not only that, He forgives us joyfully,

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and makes us a new creation.

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Living a life that honors God is an ongoing journey,

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and we'll never do it perfectly until Yeshua returns.

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Thankfully, God's grace is immeasurable.

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We will close by reading Isaiah 1:18.

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"Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord.

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Though your sins are as scarlet,

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they will be as white as snow.

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Though they are red like crimson,

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they will be like wool."

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Thank you for listening to this week's episode

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of Our Hope, featuring Dr. Seth Postell.

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If you enjoyed this, there's three things you can do for us.

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Again, that's ourhopepodcast.com/support.

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This episode was produced by Nicole Vacca, and Grace Swee,

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written by Rachel Larsen, and edited by Grace Swee.

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This episode was also created, thanks to Dr. Mitch Glaser,

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Kieran Bautista and John Bautista.

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I'm Abe Vasquez, until next time.

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(guitar music)

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- Thanks for listening to Our Hope.

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If you like our show and want to know more,

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check out ourhopepodcast.com or chosenpeople.com.

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You can also support our podcast by giving today

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