Post Title: Living in Urgent Times
From the Hebraic perspective of Jesus and the early church, salvation is more about a way of journeying in this life than our final destination. It is a matter of emphasis. Salvation does not mean receiving and putting a faith token in your pocket so that when you die, it goes in the slot, and you watch as the pearly gates swing wide open. Salvation means you are — here and now — in a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, through Jesus. You have personal, ongoing communion with him characterized by his presence and power working both in and through you. To be saved means to be in a right relationship with the living God that changes how you live today. And it all begins with the renewing of your mind. If discipleship is optional, then it is an offense to both YHWH, who came as a Teacher, and his son Yeshua, who came as a rabbi (teacher). To be a disciple means more than merely acquiring data about God. It is about knowing him and growing up in our faith. That is why Peter says, There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 3:16-18 I am not asking you to become a scholar; you can be a scholar and still be far from the knowledge of God. In the Kingdom, it is not a matter of degrees; it is a matter of relationship. The apostle Peter, whom I just quoted, was a simple fisherman with a powerful witness. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. - Acts 4:13 Salvation, to use a Jewish metaphor, means to be born again. It means you enter into eternal life and then grow up in it. Again, let's listen to Simon Peter. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. - 1 Peter 2:2-3 How do you grow up into your salvation if it only means being on the other side, in the world to come? To grow up in salvation means daily developing a dynamic, maturing relationship with the Holy One of Israel. Biblically speaking, salvation is a synonym for life. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him (Deut 30:19-20). Jesus came to save us, which means he came to bring us into life. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life (John 6:63). And how do you come into the fullness of life? By laying hold of the Life-giver. To study, do, and teach means to imitate God in all your ways — in your thinking, your behavior, and your witness. As I understand it, that is the this-world goal of salvation. We are to be transformed rather than conformed. By imitating him in all we do, we are not conforming to our natural desires or the pressures of this world. Instead, we are slowly and surely transforming into the image of our Lord, Jesus the Messiah. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:1-2 My friends, I exhort each of you in your own way to make a more serious commitment to discipleship than you have ever done before. In my judgment, to do so is evidence you are connecting with the Jewish roots of your faith. Conversely, to do otherwise is to engage in a bit of hypocrisy. Central to the synagogue liturgy is an ancient Jewish prayer made up of eighteen benedictions known as the Amidah. The opening benedictions extol God and humbly ask him to grant wisdom and understanding. Requests for repentance and forgiveness follow that. What does this teach us? True knowledge leads to repentance, and authentic repentance leads to true knowing. We live in urgent times — God is searching the earth, looking for righteous men and women who are willing to do what it takes. We study because study sanctifies our thoughts, we pray because prayer sanctifies our words, and we obey because obedience sanctifies our deeds.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
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