Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, January 18, 2020
The First Pillar of Dan Juster’s Twelve Pillars (See the RR from yesterday if this confuses you.) is Pillar One: The Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom. What follows is what I have to say on the subject. If you want to know what Dan has to say, I will have some of his books to give away next Shabbat. Or, Dan wrote a paper on the 12 Pillars many years ago. Reply to this message and I’ll send you an electronic copy of his paper.
What is the gospel? There is confusion because it is a spiritual message, (and if Satan can confuse this particular message, his homework is mostly done) and like all spiritual messages, we can’t just run down to the store and buy a pound of it, so it’s hard to tell if we got it right. The reason this is the first pillar is if we get this one right, all the rest will line up fine. OTOH, if we whiff on this one, we will also miss on the others.
Like a lot of lists, the reason an item gets on the list is to balance a counterfeit. That is to say, by saying what we are or believe we are also saying what we are not or do not believe.
So let’s say what the gospel is not. It is not a formula to get you (or anyone else) to heaven. That false message is believe in Savior and be rewarded by a trip to heaven. Why you may as well wish upon a star or perhaps a Care Bear. If all it takes is a wish, then God really is our genie in a bottle.
What’s missing from the above false narratives can be boiled down to “repent.” The gospel is preached by Peter on the first Pentecost, when Peter answers the question… Acts 2:37b “Fellow brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh.”
What does it mean to “repent?” What ever it is, it requires change. The Bible even addresses false repentance… 2 Corinthians 7:10 For the grief that God wills brings a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret. But the world’s grief brings death.
Let me spell it out. Repentance that leads to salvation requires a change of lifestyle. Grace is the power of God (see Ephesians 1:19) in our lives that produced a change of direction that sets us on the road to Jerusalem (God’s highway). We cannot water down the gospel message of salvation!
The gospel is more than a message for the “great by and by.” It’s also a message for the here and now. God wants us to live godly lives before him according to the prophesy first given to Father Abraham. (I’m using the Amplified Version because here I believe the TLV is criminally inadequate.) Genesis 17:1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; Walk [habitually] before Me [with integrity, knowing that you are always in My presence], and be blameless and complete [in obedience to Me].”
I could go on (and probably will on Monday) but in the interest of Shabbat, I’m going to close here with a simple, “Shabbat Shalom.”