Thursday, September 17, 2009

Salvation: Fire Insurance or Extreme Makeover?

How much do we really understand about “salvation”? To most people it seems to mean salvation from an eternity in hell. Therefore our eyes become set on our ultimate future instead of our lives here and now.

But does scripture EVER portray salvation as an escape from hell? It may be surprising to find that most references to eternal damnation are directed towards believers.
Hell was not used as an incentive to turn sinners into saints. If anything it was an incentive for believers to remain faithful and to maintain their fear of God.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him”. (Luke 12: 4-5)

The New Testament message of salvation is far different to the common idea of someone stepping from a state of “unsaved” to “saved”. Yet many people understand that a single step is all it takes. Whether that step comes by God “unconditionally electing” a people, or through those people making a personal response to a preached gospel message, the common idea sees an instant safety from eternal damnation has been obtained. But is that the case?

Romans 8:29 is often used to support the Calvinist idea of an elect few being “predestined” for salvation. Yet the actual reference is not addressing “salvation” (at least NOT the common understanding of salvation). Instead predestination is associated with being “conformed to the likeness of his Son”.
To me there seems to be much more profound and challenging being revealed here than an alleged “elect” group being given an undeserved “get out of hell” free card.

Peter also wrote about being “partakers of the divine nature” – something made possible by God through “great and precious promises” and “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”. Again this tells us something about God’s intention for His people – to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son”

Salvation is not about our future destiny it is about NOW. It is about being brought into relationship with God NOW. It is about being transformed NOW. It is about trusting in God NOW. It is submitting ourselves to God and His provision NOW so that day by day we increasingly become partakers of the divine nature. Day by day we are increasingly conformed to His likeness until that day when “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” and He “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” and “ we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”.

Jesus told us that He is the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through Him. He did not say He is the way the truth and the life and no one avoids hell except through Him.

A secure eternal destiny, being with God in His new creation, is a continuation of our salvation. It is the result of a life lived IN salvation – a life lived IN CHRIST and obtaining a family likeness. It is the result of an ongoing relationship with God. Salvation is intended to bring us into that relationship. Escape from hell is a mere fringe benefit.


Paul G said...

You said;
"But does scripture EVER portray salvation as an escape from hell?"
I fully agree with you on that.

But does the Scripture EVER portray salvation as an offering?

But does the Scripture EVER portray salvation as a provision?

In your previous post, you rightly said;
"Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell."
But if a man does absolutely nothing, can he have eternal life?

Brother, for you to understand that you must understand 'election', and then you would be an excellent grace preacher.
Lots of love,

Onesimus said...

I do understand election. I understand it as revealed by the Holy Spirit through scripture.

CHRIST is the elect
Election is IN HIM and THROUGH HIM.

We have not been elected to be IN HIM.
Through Christ and IN HIM alone do we become part of the elect.

All the way through scripture salvation is portrayed as a provision.
God has ALWAYS provided.

To Adam and Eve He provided animal skins (first indication of sacrifice to cover man's sin).

To Abraham He provided a ram with its head caught in thorns(after Abraham had acted to prove his obedience to God).

To Israel He provided a means by animal sacrifice through which their sins could be covered.

And ultimately God provided His Son to be a ransom for all - so that whoever believes in Him would have everlasting life.

In all of these cases it was GOD who provided the means for man to apply in order to be freed from the effects of sin.

Paul G said...

No Onesimus;
The Lord is a GIVER and not a provider!

God GAVE His Son and did not make any provision.

God has taken our heart of stone and GAVE us a heart of flesh.

We were dead and He GAVE us new life etc.

The provision gospel, or the SMORGASBOARD gospel as I call it, is preached in most churches and for that reason they are dead (spiritually). Some may have a reputation to be alive, but the Lord Jesus considers them dead because He did not give them life.

The gospel of provision demands the preaching of the law and works, because it is void of grace and the Spirit.

Onesimus; if you would put the horse in front of the cart, then you would always preach a gospel of grace (amazing grace).
Regards Paul

Onesimus said...

I'm not going to involve myself in petty arguments over the meaning of "giver" and "provider".

It seems you worship the same arbitrary god of the lottery favoured by Calvinists.

If you delight in considering yourself one of the lucky, divine lottery winners, then I can do or say nothing that will free you from that delusion.

Yes God GAVE His Son but He has not FORCED His Son upon anyone. His Son was given as a ransom for ALL. The Salvation graciously given IN His son is available to ALL.
But not all will receive His Son.

My gospel IS a gospel of grace. God's exceedingly abundant grace (which is the grace described in scripture).
I totally reject the way man has divided grace into several different types, such as "irresistible", "common", "prevenient" or even "amazing".

Grace is GRACE and the only scriptural adjective applied to it refers to a generous quantity and not to different applications.