Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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Book Review: The Prodigal God (Keller)

One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do.” –Tim Keller, The Prodigal God

Every once in a while a book comes along that changes your thinking. It is even rarer when the topic is a familiar one, or at least one you think is familiar. This book will have that kind of transforming effect upon your thinking; not presented in an arrogant way, but rather with the gentle spirit of a man in love with Yeshua.

The book is short, to the point, quite clear, and very warm. And because the book so nicely packages key points of the Gospel, it is a great book for those who are curious about the heart of Yeshua. It is not “Messianic” per se (i.e. using Hebraic-minded terms) but this book is so centered on Yeshua it is a perfect choice for Jewish ministry.

In standard practice today, we tend to focus upon the poor choices of the wayward son. The younger, wayward son is often the butt of our sermons as one to not be like, and rightfully so. However, because the parable was directed to those who apparently did not know how to display mercy, Keller stresses that the main point of “who is lost” must also include the poor behavior of the older brother. The one who thought he was righteous and looked down upon his wayward brother. The one who thought he had a great moral record and that the father owed him something. In other words, it points to very same Pharisees and Torah teachers who did not understand God’s mercy as being equally lost with the wayward son. Ouch.

I believe that this book is critical for the Messianic movement today. Many times we think, as many Christians often do, that because we “follow Torah” we are more loved by God. We take pride in our moral record, in our Jewish expressions. We criticize the Church because, by our reckoning, they don’t celebrate the Sabbath. We think we have a higher “righteousness index” because we may not eat pork. In the end, as Keller notes, this is nothing more than “elder brother syndrome.” This line of thinking is what plagued the above-mentioned Torah teachers, and this sentiment is still with us today.

To understand the Gospel means that we must come to grips that our righteousness, comes from Yeshua; He is our righteousness (1st Corinthians 1:30). Keller has produced a work that will help you see the true heart of the Gospel, and it will encourage you to seek after God more and more.

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