One reason for my recent posting silence is that words are not coming easy these days. There are issues that I am wrestling with, having to do with the tension between our role and God’s role in salvation and sanctification. I will hopefully be posting on these topics (and other related mullings) over the next few days and weeks.
Peter over at Stronger Church has these thoughts on the message that he gave his church yesterday:
One of the things that I want our people to grasp is that they are not Christians because they prayed a prayer, went forward at an evangelistic meeting, asked Jesus into their hearts, etc. They are Christians because they believed (had faith, trusted – those are biblical responses) in the Gospel of Christ’s death on their behalf, and as a result God declared that they were right with Him.
Maybe it is judgmental to say this, but we evangelicals are not very deep in our understanding of the Gospel. I pointed out that we need to know what salvation is all about for several reasons, one of them being to understand where our security lies. I’ve heard too many people question their relationship with God on the basis of either not knowing if they “really believed,” were “really sincere,” or “really understood” when they prayed a prayer, went forward in an evangelistic meeting, etc. How liberating to realize that our standing before God is not based on what we did, but on God’s unchanging declaration that we are righteous in His sight on the basis of the sinless life and substitutionary death of Christ! [Emphasis mine]
I’ve spent more time than I should have as a Christian stuck in this trap, because I didn’t understand some basic facts. Salvation is not based upon performing a ritual correctly. Neither is it based on my feelings, or what others do or think about me.
Salvation is all about Jesus. It’s about what He has done, not what I have done. And it’s certainly not about what others do.
These are not breakthrough theological insights. They appear quite simple on the page, yet it is so easy to miss them! We’re not called to turn over a new leaf. We’re called to become a new leaf.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
– 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Ever tried to become something entirely new? Impossible! We humans are fragile bundles of insecurities, misconceptions, misperceptions, and broken parts. But when God places us in Christ, we are immediately a new creation. Only our Creator can re-create us! I’m beginning to wonder if there’s really anything we can “do” about this. The growing knowledge of my total dependence on Him for even the basics, like faith for instance, is freeing.
I feel the scriptural tension and balance between God’s sovereignty and His expectations for our behavior and works. For Scripture is surely not silent regarding what we are to do when we are a new creation. A good example of the tension I speak of is the passage below:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
– Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
Notice that the category for this post is “meditation”, not “theological treatise”. I am working out the tension described in that deliciously contrasting – almost coy! – passage above with fear and trembling, ready to be corrected.
Of this I am sure, though. If God has a will and the desire to work out His good pleasure through me, I know He will do it. Who could possibly stand in His way? Certainly not this cloud of atoms – this vapor – that I am.
I am His workmanship. I believe this from Scripture, and the thought that my Lord would desire to make me into something useful for Him is reason enough to bow down in awe and thankfulness and, like the elders in the Revelation, cast what crowns I have at His wounded feet.