Sunday, February 5, 2017

Salvation 101 (Part 1) - Saved? Saved From What?

Saved? Saved from what?

I hesitate to answer these questions directly. 

Many people think they already know what I'm going to say. If I state the answer concisely using words they know, it will sound to them like I merely chose from a list of things they've heard many times before and say, "I knew it." Their ears will shut and they will not listen to what I mean. Instead, they will point at me while walking away and declare, "See? I told you so. Your answer is just like the rest. Tell me something I don't know."

Actually, I don't blame them. 

I thought I've heard it all before at one point, too. I started reacting the same way. The bad news was getting old and losing it's power to convict me. Yet, I hope they will listen to what I have to say. This time I'm convicted and the doctrine does have power, meaningful power. At the same time, I don't want to shout at their backs as they walk away. 

I desire to speak to you, dear reader. So, if you are still with me now, still facing these words I've written, stay with me, please. This is where love, understanding and compassion come in; so sorely needed in this conversation, yet sorely amiss. Such a simple question, and yet what deceptive rumors are afloat.

What we are saved from has no power, no meaning, under God's grace.

When Paul told the Ephesians they were "saved by grace through faith," he was simply declaring how salvation was and is for everybody in every age. Abraham was saved by grace through faith. David was saved by grace through faith. Paul was saved by grace through faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

If you are a Christian, you are saved by grace through faith. Once saved, no one can snatch you out of the Father's hand, and no one is greater than the Father. Nothing will separate the Christian from the love of Christ, neither life nor death, nor anything in all creation. What you are saved from has no power over you. None.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, 
and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, 
and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 
(John 10:28-29)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
(Romans 8:38-39)

Through Christ, God took care of all the problems that would separate us from Him, as well as the limits of our nature and condition, in the offer of salvation. If we put our trust in Him for our soul salvation, He will save. We are saved. What we are saved from is the result of a sentence handed down through Adam: condemnation. (For more about what makes someone lost, see "How did I get lost in the first place?") By His grace, through faith, we are justified. We are imputed with His righteousness.

The only reason what we are saved from remains is because many reject Him.

What we are saved from is God's wrath. There, I said it. That's what I hesitated saying. And it's probably already being taken out of context. However, the misconception I want to address head on is that many people think God's wrath is still because of personal sins. It's not. It doesn't even make sense that personal sin would be an issue. That would mean the work Christ is somehow incomplete, unfinished, and insufficient. It's not.

He is the propitiation for our sins, 
and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 
(1 John 2:2)

Personal sin is not an issue in salvation. Christ took care of that, 100%. Of course, that doesn't mean everyone is reconciled to the Father. Many reject Christ. But, personal sins are not counted against anyone. In other words, personal sin doesn't get in the way of your being saved.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against themand entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

If anything, believing your personal sin will somehow hinder your salvation may cause you to doubt the completeness of God's solution. Somehow you need to perform the rest. But, as Christ declared on the cross, "It is finished." He did the work. All of it.

God's wrath -vs- Propitiation

Propitiation is a big word that simply means 'fully satisfied'.  This word communicates that God was fully satisfied by Christ's sacrifice for all personal sins, for all time. No other sacrifice would ever be needed again. In addition, there is no other name by which we must be saved.

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." 
(Acts 4:12)

Yet, although God was fully satisfied by Christ taking on all personal sin, the wrath of God remains unchanged for those who reject Christ. Why? They remain condemned because they reject God. 

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
(John 3:18)

This doctrine is key to understanding why other simple verses, like John 3:16, can mean what they clearly say. Whoever believes means whoever. Because of the work Christ did, God is now fully and explicitly satisfied that the personal sins of the whole world are not the issue in salvation. Now the issue is simply, do believe in Christ?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." 
(John 3:16)

The lost are condemned already, having been born condemned by inheriting Original Sin, from the trespass of one man, Adam. We all started at the same place, under the same condemnation. But, those who reject Christ stay condemned not because they continue to commit personal sin, or live a certain lifestyle (see "Can a person's lifestyle condemn them?"), but because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 
(John 3:17-18)

What we are saved from is easily avoidable, it's the simple gospel: Believe in Christ and you will be saved. What we're saved into is where grace gets really amazing. Stay tuned!

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