Archive for April, 2010

The Concept of Salvation

So I finally read the book “Easy Chairs, Hard Words” and have to say it was definitely an interesting read. Lots of real-world examples that make very compelling arguments. At the end of it, I had to sit back and think about whether or not my theological perspective had changed. I came to the conclusion that mostly it had not. However, as I started thinking about one particular position, it led me to an interesting idea, and one that I’ve tried to defend: that salvation only affects us as we cross from this life into eternity.

Here’s my thinking. If salvation is a gift from God (as is explained in Ephesians 2:8), then it seems like if we have free will we have the choice to open the gift or not. However, God has predestined some to open that gift, and others not to. This allows for the idea of unconditional election while still giving credence to unlimited atonement. I’ve been thinking that if salvation is really being “saved from our sins,” it doesn’t really take affect while we’re still on the earth, because it doesn’t really stop us from sinning. In that sense, salvation is the removal of our sins from us when we die, so we can be made perfect (the concept of glorification) and fit for heaven.

However, WIFE brought up a good point earlier this week. She said that salvation isn’t necessarily just from our sins, but from being enslaved to past sins and tied down to them. Another friend, who we’ll just call Theology Man, said something similar in a brief text discussion. I tend to think this is more in line with the concept of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, the point at which we accept Jesus as Lord in our lives and the Holy Spirit begins to work in our lives (sanctification). This is how 2 Corinthians 5:17 becomes a part of our lives, as the old is gone and the new has come.

Interestingly, I was surprised that Paul addressed this very issue of salvation vs. sanctification in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, which says, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” It seems evident from this verse that salvation and sanctification are tied together with faith. So what is the relationship between salvation and sanctification? The relationship between salvation and glorification?

In short, my theological perspective has changed slightly. I now believe (which I assume is not an uncommon position) that the 3 big Bible words (sanctification, justification, glorification) are encompassed by the overarching concept of salvation. Salvation includes these three things, which is why God is able to use the past, present and future tenses in the Bible when discussing the salvation He has given us. I still believe that salvation is an eternal decision that is extended to all men, but I think at least now I better understand why.

Is WIFE correct? Yep. Is Theology Man correct? Most definitely. Am I correct? I think so now. What once was a belief that salvation is tied to glorification has now turned into glorification as the final step to salvation. Thank you Lord, for providing a Word that gives us a glimpse into Your awesome ability to do such works in us, and what exactly that means in the course of eternity!

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The Centurion Believed – Why Can’t We?

Given that this past weekend was Easter weekend, the subject matter of many church sermons (including the one at my own church) centered on both the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While many people surely know the events of the crucifixion, and there have been in recent years plenty of accounts of what exactly Jesus endured leading up to His death on the cross, it was a verse after the actual death of Jesus that caught my eye this weekend.

Matthew 27 tells the account of Jesus death. The verse in question is Matthew 27:54, which says, “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the son of God!'”

I’m sure the timing of the earthquake had something to do with the terror felt by the Roman guards, but in thinking about it, it probably wouldn’t have meant anything if not for what triggered it. Verse 50 says, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.”

For those of us who know a bit about crucifixion, we are aware that most of those who died on the crosses did so of asphyxiation. Those nailed finally lacked the strength to pull themselves up on their nailed hands to get breath, and the pleura would fill their lungs and cause them to suffocate and die. This is a long process and at the end the crucified was probably exhausted and extremely weak.

Yet not so with Jesus! No, He “cried out again in a loud voice.” If Jesus had mumbled His final cry (which we know from other gospels to be “It is finished!”) and then the earthquake happened, it would have been easy for those around to call it a coincidence or make up an excuse. But that Jesus was not suffocating was surely a powerful thing for a centurion, who had likely been to many crucifixions, to see. He was still full of energy, and with His loud cry and the subsequent earthquake, the centurion had to believe that the timing of the two was not coincidental, but divine.

Note also that in verse 50 it doesn’t say, “And then Jesus died.” No, it is, “He gave up his spirit.” Jesus had full power, even in death. Death did not overcome Him; He gave His spirit to death to fulfill the promise of His sacrifice. These powerful occurrences were easily enough to sway those who so recently had been mocking Jesus. I wonder where the centurion went after this. Perhaps he went to see Jesus’ buried to pay homage to the man he now believed to be the Son of God. No doubt this centurion was less surprised (and more in awe) when he found out that Jesus was no longer in the tomb three days later; He already knew firsthand that Jesus was capable of more than the average man.

So I guess my question for you as the reader is what it will take for you to change your heart in the way that this Roman centurion and his soldiers were changed. How loud does Jesus need to cry for you to listen to Him? And what is evident in the world today that you would attribute to coincidence instead of the power of the Lord working mightily?

It’s Friday…But Sunday’s Coming!

Lord of Lords