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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Judaic-Christian Salvation
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
Judaism and Christianity, at least from the Lord's standpoint, are not two different religions. It is true that men have made a religion of Judaism and other men have made a religion of Christianity. But neither Judaism nor Christianity are religions. Both of them constitute one progressive revelation of the Lord to mankind. Neither one came about as man sought God. Both of them originated as aspects of one Divine revelation.
The unfortunate cleavage between Judaism and Christianity has occurred because of human frailty. Christianity actually is nothing more nor less than the unfolding of true Judaism, that is, of the revelation given to Moses and the Prophets.
The purpose of the Judaic-Christian salvation is to solve the original problem of disobedience to God.
Although many topics will be touched on in this essay, the emphasis can be summed up briefly: God created man in Paradise on the earth. God withdrew Paradise from the earth because of man's disobedience. God has a plan whereby Paradise will be restored to the earth, but first man must learn obedience. The plan includes the forming of a Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, that will install obedience to God on the earth and maintain obedience on the earth for eternity. This is the Judaic-Christian salvation.
God's Kingdom shall come. God's will shall be done on the earth as it is in Heaven.
Eternal residence in Heaven is not the goal of salvation. Somehow the myth got started that the purpose of salvation is to enable us to make our eternal residence in Heaven. This concept is part of Christian thinking, as we know. The Old Testament makes no mention of the spirit Paradise as being the eternal home of man. Yet one hears Jewish people as well as Gentiles speak of Heaven as the place where the righteous go to live forever when they die.
It is not too surprising that Christians should believe that a mansion in Heaven is our goal in that the Lord Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of Heaven. But there is no basis in the Old Testament for such a concept. The Old Testament has to do with the earth and there is little indication in the Old Testament that it is desirable to die or that the saints go to Heaven to live forever when they die.
Perhaps the Talmud teaches that eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of the righteous. Not being a Talmudic scholar we cannot say.
But one fact is clear: neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament speaks of eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of the saints, although Matthew often refers to the Kingdom of God as the Kingdom of Heaven.
Some candidate for a degree in Church history ought to investigate the origin of the concept that going to Heaven to live forever is the goal of righteous behavior or of the Christian redemption. The concept has filtered into Judaic-Christian thinking from one of the world's religions, or from Gnosticism, or perhaps from early Roman Catholic doctrine.
To be continued.