Working Out Salvation

Working Out Salvation

    “And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (Is.33:6)

Verses like the one above are like spiritual divining rods. Our perception of redemption is transformed by their theological breadth and application. “No,” it seems to say to us, “mere belief is just the beginning, not the end. Now, it’s time to get busy.” 

Commonly, we think of “salvation” as a one-time thing. Not a piling up in terms of a form of “wealth”, which implies accumulation. Can “salvation” be acquired like knowledge? Can it become a “wealth”? How do we understand this?

A passage in the Talmud discusses it, actually. Let’s compare what the sages had to say about this verse with the teachings of Yeshua and the apostles.

“Reish Lakish said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And the faith of your times shall be a strength of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge, the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Is.33:6)? Faith; that is the order of Zera’im, Seeds, in the Mishna, because a person has faith in God and plants his seeds (Jerusalem Talmud). Your times; that is the order of Moed, Festival, which deals with the various occasions and Festivals that occur throughout the year. Strength; that is the order of Nashim, Women. Salvations; that is the order of Nezikim, Damages, as one who is being pursued is rescued from the hands of his pursuer. Wisdom; that is the order of Kodashim, Consecrated Items. And knowledge; that is the order of Teharot, Purity, which is particularly difficult to master. And even if a person studies and masters all of these, “the fear of the LORD is his treasure,” it is preeminent.” (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 31a, Koren Steinsaltz translation, Noe edition)

So the Talmud first informs us that this is a strength of salvation. So the idea is not a “piling up of a wealth of accumulated salvation”, but a strengthening of what you have gained. Let’s look at the order of explanation given.

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Cutting the Grass

Cutting the Grass

“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the LORD endures forever.”

– 1 Peter 1:24-25 (quoting Is.40:6,8)

Our lives are fleeting; here today, gone tomorrow. Like mist.

“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

– James 4:14

Depressing? Maybe. But it’s true, nonetheless.

I’m not trying to depress you today, however. Rather, I’ve observed something interesting that I think helps to explain an important spiritual truth, one which is easy to miss.

I have spent my entire life living in New England. The last four have found me near the Canadian border. Winter is very long in these parts. The ground starts to freeze, the snow covers the ground, and white blankets our yard and also the yards of my neighbors for nearly 6 months of the year. This past winter extended nearly into May before the milder days began to outnumber the cold, dreary ones.

There are times in New England when it seems that warm days and green grass will never come again. In fact, one would think, with the inherently short season of life that it enjoys, that we would have compassion on our poor little grass plants, and allow them to flourish unhindered, naturally. You know, real tall, so that the little bunnies can hide in the front yard unseen, and the wildflowers start to grow and shine in their God-given glory.

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